Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)

Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)
Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)
Scorpion/Scimitar recognition guide
Scorpion/Scimitar recognition guide
Type Reconnaissance
Armoured personnel carrier
Command and control
Recovery vehicle
Place of origin United Kingdom
Production history
Designer Alvis [1]
Designed 1967
Produced 1970
Variants FV101 Scorpion
FV102 Striker
FV103 Spartan
FV104 Samaritan
FV105 Sultan
FV106 Samson
FV107 Scimitar
Alvis Stormer
Weight 17,800 lb (8.074 tonnes)[1]
Length 5.288 m (17 ft 4.2 in)[1]
Width 2.134 m (7 ft 0.0 in)[1]
Height 2.102 m (6 ft 10.8 in)[1]
Crew Between three and seven depending on variant

The Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) —or CVR(T)—is a family of armoured fighting vehicles (AFV)s in service with the British Army and others throughout the world. They are small, highly mobile air transportable armoured vehicles designed to replace the Alvis Saladin armoured car.[2]

First designed by Alvis in the 1960s, the CVR(T) family includes Scorpion and Scimitar light reconnaissance tanks, Spartan armoured personnel carriers (APC)s, Sultan command and control vehicle, Samaritan armoured ambulance, Striker anti–tank guided missile vehicle and Samson armoured recovery vehicle. All members of the CVR(T) family were designed to share common automotive components and suspension; aluminium armour was selected to keep the weight down.[3][4] By 1996 more than 3,500 had been built for British Army use and export.[5]

Scorpion and Striker have now been withdrawn from British Army service. Scimitar and Spartan are expected to be replaced by newer vehicles from the Future Rapid Effect System programme and the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle.


Design and development

In the early 1960s, the United Kingdom's overseas commitments were proving costly to garrison and a drain on the defence budget. A new strategy was proposed, that troops and equipment would be airlifted to trouble-spots from their bases in Europe. To support the air-landed troops, a requirement was identified for an AFV that could provide fire support with an anti-armour capability and be light enough to be airportable. At the same time consideration was being given to the replacement of the Saladin armoured car.[3]

In 1960 work began on what was called the Armoured Vehicle Reconnaissance. The vehicle would mount a 76 or 105 mm main gun in a limited traverse turret, which also housed the three-man crew; namely: driver, gunner and commander. An anti–armour capability would be met by a Swingfire missile system (then under development), mounted at the rear. The design would come in both tracked and wheeled versions and share the same engine and transmission as the FV432 APC. The final weight of the prototype was over 13 tons, which exceeded the weight limit if it was to be to be transported by air.[3]

To reduce weight, aluminium armour was selected instead of steel; research revealed that it provided greater protection from artillery shell-splinters because of its density.[3] To fit inside the transport aircraft of the time, the vehicle's height had to be less than 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in), its width had to be less than 2.102 m (6 ft 10.8 in). To meet the ground pressure requirement of five psi, the tracks had to be 0.45 m (1 ft 6 in) wide. The width also dictated the engine used had to fit next to a driver in full winter clothing. The engine compartment could only be 0.60 m (2 ft 0 in) wide. No tank engines in production or development at the time were suitable except one, the Jaguar 4.2-litre petrol engine.[6]

The driver, being located at the front of the vehicle alongside the engine, dictated that the turret would have to be at the rear. The fire support version, armed with a 76 mm gun, was named Scorpion as the rear-mounted turret suggested a sting in the tail. Following the example of Alvis predecessor vehicles Saladin, Stalwart and Saracen, all CVRTs started with the letter 'S'.[6] The other vehicles were named to reflect their function; Striker anti–tank guided weapons, Spartan armoured personnel carrier; Samaritan ambulance; Sultan command and control and Samson recovery vehicles. In addition the British General Staff had requested another vehicle armed with a 30 mm cannon which became Scimitar.[6]

In 1967 Alvis were awarded the contract to produce 30 CVR(T) prototypes. Vehicles P1–P17 being the Scorpion prototypes, P18–P30 were prototypes of the other six CVR(T) versions.[7] Having to work under strict cost limitations imposed by the Ministry of Defence, the first prototype was completed on time and within budget on 23 January 1969,[7] after extensive hot and cold weather trials in Norway, Australia, Canada and Abu Dhabi.[7] In May 1970, the CVR(T) was accepted into British Army service; a contract was agreed for 275 Scorpions and 288 Scimitars.[2] The first production Scorpion being completed in 1971, initial delivery to the British Army was in January 1972.[2]

By 1986 the United Kingdom had taken delivery of 1,863 CVR(T)s. Total production for the British Army was 313 Scorpions, 89 Strikers, 691 Spartans, 50 Samaritans, 291 Sultans, 95 Samsons and 334 Scimitars.[2]

Life Extension Programme

In 1988 Alvis plc was awarded a £32 million contract to carry out a Life Extension Programme (LEP). The initial contract was for 200 CVR(T)s and supply kits for a further 1,107 vehicles. The LEP was carried out on the Scimitar and Sabre reconnaissance vehicles, Spartan APCs, Sultan command post vehicles, Samson recovery vehicles, Samaritan ambulances and the Striker anti–tank vehicle. The major part of this upgrade is the replacement of the current Jaguar 4.2-litre petrol engine by a more fuel efficient Cummins BTA 5.9 diesel engine.[8]

A second contract for 70 vehicles was divided between Alvis and the Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO). ABRO was then contracted to upgrade about 600 of the remaining CVR(T)s to the LEP standard.[8]

Alvis also offered a comprehensive upgrade for the export version of the CVR(T), which includes a diesel engine, upgraded suspension, new track and vision enhancements. Brunei is the only country known to have returned vehicles for an overhaul.[8]

Battle Group Thermal Imaging programme

In 2001 Thales Optronics won the contract for the Battle Group Thermal Imaging (BGTI) programme. The contract will replace the image intensification sights installed on British Army Scimitar and Royal Engineers Spartan vehicles. They were replaced by a new gunner's sight with a day thermal image and laser rangefinder sight. The vehicle commander will have a monitor and a map display and the driver a navigation capability.[9]



small armoured vehicle alone in the desert. The flag of the United Kingdom can just be seen on the rear
Scorpion advancing across the desert during the first Gulf War.

The FV101 Scorpion was originally developed to meet a British Army requirement for the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked). Scorpion was accepted by the British Army in May 1970, with a contract for 275 which later rose to 313 vehicles.[2] Main armament consisted of a low velocity 76mm main gun with a coaxial 7.62 mm GPMG and multi barrelled smoke grenade dischargers.[10] The first production vehicles were completed in 1972. The first British regiment to be equipped with the Scorpion were the Blues and Royals of the Household Cavalry in 1973.[2][11] In November 1981, the RAF Regiment took delivery of the first of 184 Scorpions and other variants of CVR(T). These were to be used for airfield defence and served at RAF bases in the United Kingdom, Germany and Cyprus.[12] All British Scorpions were withdrawn from service in 1995.[13]


three vehicle in line, with the crews in front. the right hand vehicle has its missile launchers raised
Three Strikers in desert colours, the vehicle nearest the camera has its missile launchers raised

The FV102 Striker was the Anti-tank guided missile version of the CVR(T). The British Army ordered 48 of the version,[13] which were armed with the Swingfire missile system. Striker had five missiles ready to fire in a mounting at the rear of the vehicle, with another five stowed inside.[14] Secondary armament consisted of a commanders 7.62 mm GPMG and multi-barrelled smoke grenade dischargers. Striker looked very similar to Spartan in appearance and it was only when the missile tubes were raised that identification was easier. Striker is no longer in service since the Swingfire missile was replaced by the Javelin in mid–2005.[15]


Spartan vehicle facing to the left, the driver can just be seen. To the rear is a Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank and a large concrete building
Spartan with IFOR markings

The FV103 Spartan is a small APC; it can carry seven men in all, the crew of three and four others in the rear compartment. In the British Army it is used to carry small specialised groups such as engineer reconnaissance teams, air defence sections and mortar fire controllers.[16] In mid-2006 the British Army had 478 Spartans in service,[13] which from 2009 were being replaced by the Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle in some roles.[17]


The FV104 Samaritan is the ambulance version of the CVR(T), 50 were produced for the British Army.[13] In appearance it is similar to the Sultan Command and Control vehicle. It has a crew of two and capacity for three stretchers; being an ambulance it is not armed except for multi-barrelled smoke grenade dischargers.[16]


Vehicle drives up onto a roll-on/roll-off ferry's lowered loading ramp in Split harbour during Operation Joint Endeavor
Sultan Command Vehicle

The FV105 Sultan is the British Army command and control vehicle based on the CVR(T) platform, 205 were in service in 2006.[13] It has a higher roof than the APC variants, providing a more comfortable "office space" inside. A large vertical map board and desk are located along one side, with a bench seat for three people facing it. Forward of this are positions for the radio operator with provision for four radios and the vehicle commander. Armament consists of a pintle mounted GPMG and multi-barrelled smoke grenade dischargers. The back of the vehicle is designed to be extended by an attached tent to form a briefing area.[16]


Vehicle in white winter camouflage. House roofs can just be seen behind and in the distance a range of snow covered mountains
Scimitar during Exercise Cold Winter '87, a NATO military exercise

The FV106 Samson is an armoured recovery vehicle. The hull of the Spartan was adapted to contain a winch which was operated to the rear of the vehicle. A hinged spade anchor was designed in two halves to preserve access to the rear door.[13][16]


The FV107 Scimitar is very similar to the Scorpion but carries the 30mm RARDEN cannon for self-defence. Secondary armament consists of a coaxial GPMG and multi-barrelled smoke grenade dischargers. Stowage is provided for 160 rounds of 30 mm and 3,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition.[18] In 2006 the British Army had 328 in service.[13] which are expected to be replaced by the scout version of the Future Rapid Effect System.[19]


The Sabre was a hybrid vehicle, with the turret from a Fox Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle on a FV101 Scorpion hull and armed with the same 30mm RADEN cannon as the Scimitar. One Hundred and Thirty Six of the hybrid vehicles were brought into service in 1995, after some modifications were made to the turret. These modifications included; redesigning the smoke grenade dischargers, replacing the standard machine gun with a L94A1 chain gun and domed hatches to improve headroom for the commander and gunner. They were assigned to reconnaissance platoons of armoured and mechanised infantry battalions before being withdrawn from service in 2004.[13]

Sturgeon and Salamander

Sturgeon (based on the Spartan) and Salamander (based on the Scorpion) are visually modified vehicles used to represent opposing forces in training exercises at the British Army Training Unit Suffield.[20]


Vehicle facing right with eight anti-aircraft missiles mounted on top
Stormer with the Starstreak High Velocity Missile
vehicle facing right in desert camouflage 120 mine laying dispensers on the flatbed part of the vehicle. To the rear is another armoured vehicle carrying two metal Fascine
Flatbed Stormer with the Shielder minelayer system

The Alvis Stormer was originally designed as a private venture in the 1970s as an APC, using the CVR(T) range as a starting point. It is a larger, heavier (12,700 kg) vehicle with steel and aluminium armour. Production began in 1982 and Malaysia ordered 25 of the APC variant.[21]

The British Army selected Stormer in 1986 to carry the Starstreak missile anti–aircraft system[22] and a flatbed version fitted with the Shielder minelaying system.[23]

BAE Land Systems, the descendant of Alvis military vehicles, market Stormer with various weapon systems for many purposes. Indonesia have received about 50 Stormer variants, including the APC, command post vehicle, ambulance, recovery, bridge-layers and logistics vehicle. Malaya have 35, Oman four and the United Kingdom have over 170.[21]

Service history

United Kingdom

In British Army service the CVR(T) is mainly used by the Formation reconnaissance regiments which are the Household Cavalry, 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards, 9th/12th Royal Lancers, Light Dragoons, Queen's Royal Lancers and the Queen's Own Yeomanry.[24] Scimitars are also used by one of the four squadrons in an armoured regiment and the reconnaissance platoons of armoured infantry battalions.[18][25]

In August 1974, Scorpions from A Squadron 16th/5th The Queen's Royal Lancers, were transported by C-130 Hercules to Cyprus, to protect the British Sovereign Base Areas during the Turkish invasion.[4]

During the Falklands War in 1982, two troops from B Squadron, Blues and Royals were attached to the task force. They were equipped with four Scorpions and four Scimitars supported by a Samson and were the only armoured vehicles used in action by the British Army during the conflict.[26] The two troops deployed provided fire support for the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment during the Battle of Wireless Ridge and for 2nd Battalion Scots Guards during the Battle of Mount Tumbledown.[27][28]

By the time of the Gulf war, the CVR(T) was well established in the British Army and all versions were deployed. The divisional reconnaissance regiment attached to the 1st Armoured Division, the 16th/5th The Queen's Royal Lancers were equipped with 36 Scimitars, 16 Strikers, 12 Spartans, nine Sultans and four Samaritans. A Squadron 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards had 16 Scorpions, four Spartans, two Sultans, one Samaritan and one Samson. The armoured regiments and armoured infantry battalions reconnaissance troops also had eight Scorpions or Scimitars each.[29]

The CVR(T) family were deployed with the British Army's formation reconnaissance regiments– part of the NATO Implementation Force (IFOR), a multinational force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.[30]

The next deployment for the British Army's CVR(T)s was the 2003 invasion of Iraq (Operation Telic). The initial force contained the 1st Queen's Dragoon Guards and D Squadron, the Household Cavalry, both equipped with CVR(T).[31][32][33]

After Iraq, CVR(T) equipped formation reconnaissance regiments have taken part in Operation Herrick in Afghanistan, notably during Operation Panther's Claw with the Light Dragoons.[31][34]


Three other European countries used CVR(T): Belgium, Spain and Ireland.

The Belgian Army ordered CVR(T) in the Scorpion, Scimitar, Sultan, Spartan and Samaritan versions which were delivered in 1975. They were used by the 1st/3rd Lancers Regiment and the 2nd/4th Regiment Mounted Rifles, both part of the 7th Brigade. The Belgian Army used its CVR(T) vehicles on UN deployments in the Balkans and Somalia. Belgium had disposed of all its CVR(T)s by the late 1990's.[35][36]

The Spanish Marines obtained 17 Scorpions in 1985. All their Scorpions had been disposed of by 2004.[37]

The Irish Army obtained a small number of Scorpions for use by the Irish Army Cavalry Corps. As the United Kingdom, Belgium and Spain have all disposed of their Scorpions, Ireland remains the sole user of the type in Europe.[38]

South and Central America

In South and Central America, CVR(T) operators included Chile, Honduras and Venezuela.[1]

The Chilean Army have 28 Scorpions, which are used in a reconnaissance role alongside Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks.[39]

The Venezuelan Army operates a fleet of 50 Scorpion 90s and two Sultans.[40]

South East Asia and the Pacific

In South East Asia and the Pacific, CVR(T) operators included Brunei, Indonesia, Malaya, Thailand, the Philippines and New Zealand.[1]

Brunei is understood to have a fleet of 19 CVR(T)s, which comprises 16 Scorpions, two Sultan command post variants and one Samson armoured recovery vehicle.[1]

The Indonesian Army uses the Scorpion 90 armed with the Belgian 90mm Cockerill cannon and the Stormer. The Stormer variants include the APC, command post vehicle, ambulance, recovery, bridge-layers and logistics vehicle.[21]

The Malaysian Royal Armoured Corps of the Malaysian Army is known to use both Scorpion and the newer Stormer.[1][21]

The Royal Thai Army was forced to expand its forces after the fall of South Vietnam and the increased tension in the area. As part of this expansion, they obtained 144 Scorpions between 1973 and 1976.[41]

The Philippine Army operates up to 40 Scorpions in its Light Armor Division.[42][43] This formation uses a mixture of wheeled and tracked vehicles but the Scorpion is the only fire support or anti-armour vehicle in their inventory.[44]

The New Zealand Army operated a small number of Scorpions, up to squadron strength. These have now been replaced by newer vehicles.[45]

Middle East

In the Middle East CVR(T) operators included Iran, Jordan, Oman and the United Arab Emirates.[1]

The Iranian army deployed its Scorpions with the reconnaissance regiment of the 28th Infantry Division in the 1980–1988 Iran–Iraq War. Little is known of how they performed or what losses they incurred.[46] In December 1997, it was reported that Iran had manufactured a light tank named Tosan. Tosan was equipped with a 90 mm gun and appears to be based on the Scorpion.[47]

The Royal Jordanian Land Force has obtained 80 Scorpions and 100 Spartans. Some of the Scorpions are reported to have been captured by Iraq during the Iran–Iraq war and handed on to Jordan.The Spartans were obtained when Belgium disposed of their CVR(T) fleet.[48][49]

The Royal Army of Oman replaced the Saladin armoured car with between 30 and 50 Scorpions. They were delivered between 1982 and 1983, along with three Samson armoured recovery vehicles. In 1985 a second order for up to 30 vehicles was delivered. The second order included Scorpion, Sultan, Spartan and Samson vehicles. Oman operates the newer Stormer.[1][21]

The United Arab Emirates Army has obtained 76 Scorpions, for use by its armoured brigades. It is not known if these played any part in the Gulf War.[50]


In Africa CVR(T) operators included Botswana, Nigeria, Tanzania and Togo.[1]

The Nigerian Army reorganised from an infantry to an all arms formation after 1979. Part of their AFV inventory includes an unknown number of Scorpions.[51]

Scorpion turret

two wheeled armoured vehicles, with some tree branches used as camouflage on rolling grassland
Canadian AVGP Cougars with the Scorpion turret

The Australian Army did not use CVR(T)s but did use the turret of the Scorpion mounted on top of M113 armored personnel carriers. Known in the Australian Army as the Medium Reconnaissance Vehicle, they were used in a fire support role. They have now been replaced by newer vehicles.[52]

The Canadian Army also used the Scorpion turret. They were mounted on the AVGP Cougar. A total of 195 Cougars were originally procured, but the fleet was reduced to 100 vehicles in 1999 and are now exclusively employed by reserve armoured units.[53]

Enhancements and Future Developments

As a result of combat experience in Afghanistan, the British Army upgraded several Scimitar light tanks to Mark 2 standard. The improvements included a new aluminium hull based on that of the Spartan troop carrier, which provides greater internal volume and protection, and a new fuel system, environmental control system and suspension. New hulls have also been built for the Spartan, Sultan, Samson and Samaritan variants.[54]

The South African firm OVIK has designed a vehicle named "Meercat" based on the CVR(T), anticipating that large numbers of these will become available for refurbishment in future years when they are replaced in British service, and perhaps several other armed forces. The hull has been redesigned, and the driver has been moved back into a central cupola, shared with the other two crew members. The engine has been replaced by a Cummins 5.9 litre or 6.7 litre diesel engine. The turret has been removed and will be replaced by a modular weapon "cassette", which will mount remote weapon stations armed with a .50 M2 HB machine gun for example.[55]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l "Scorpion". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2009-January-11. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f Foss & Sarson, p.10
  3. ^ a b c d Foss & Sarson, p.5
  4. ^ a b Foss & Sarson, p.11
  5. ^ "Scorpion". The Tank Museum. Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  6. ^ a b c Foss & Sarson, p. 8
  7. ^ a b c Foss & Sarson, p. 9
  8. ^ a b c "ABRO wins main UK CVR(T) LEP contract". Janes Land Forces. Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  9. ^ "Thales Optronics wins BGTI deal". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  10. ^ Chant, p.37
  11. ^ Foss & Sarson, p.4
  12. ^ Foss & Sarson, p.20
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h "Written Answers to Questions [4 July 2006 Defence Military Vehicles"]. House of Commons Hansard. Parliament of the United Kingdom. Retrieved 2009-January-16. 
  14. ^ "Striker". Retrieved 2009-January-16. 
  15. ^ "Javelin AGM". Army Technology. Retrieved 2009-January-16. 
  16. ^ a b c d "Spartan and Other CVR(T) Vehicles". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-16. 
  17. ^ "Panther". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-16. 
  18. ^ a b "Scimitar Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicl". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  19. ^ "U.K. Vehicle Industry Gets Boost, but Delays Loom". Defence News. Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  20. ^ Army Rumor Service Wiki: CVR(T). [1]. Retrieved 4 Nov. 2010.
  21. ^ a b c d e "Stormer". Jane's Information Group Light Armoured Vehicles. Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  22. ^ "Starstreak High Velocity Missile". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  23. ^ "Shielder Minelaying System". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  24. ^ "Reconnaissance". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  25. ^ "Equipment". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  26. ^ Foss & Sarson, p.21
  27. ^ Smith, p.109
  28. ^ Smith, p.110
  29. ^ Rottman & Volstad, p.21
  30. ^ "Light Dragoons regimental history". Light Dragoons. Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  31. ^ a b "The Regiment today". Light Dragoons. Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  32. ^ "1st The Queen's Dragoon Guards". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-18. 
  33. ^ "Household Cavalry". Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom). Retrieved 2009-January-18. 
  34. ^ "Mapping Operation Panthers Claw". BBC. Retrieved 2009-January-17. 
  35. ^ "Historique du Premier Régiment de Lanciers". Belgian Army. Retrieved 2009-January-19.  in French
  36. ^ "2/4 Régiment de Cyclistes". Belgian Army. Retrieved 2009. in French
  37. ^ "Boletin de Infanteria de Marina". Buscador Armada Española. Retrieved 2009-January-19.  in Spanish
  38. ^ "Army Corps, Cavalry". The Defence Forces. Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  39. ^ "Chile Land Forces military equipment and vehicles Chilean Army". Army Recognition Magazine. Retrieved 2009-January-22. 
  40. ^ "Venezuelan Army Military equipment and vehicle Venezuela". Army Recognition Magazine. Retrieved 2009-January-22. 
  41. ^ Sandhu, p.408
  42. ^ "Light Armour Division". Philippine Army. Retrieved 2009-January-21. 
  43. ^ "Equipping the Light Armor Division". StrategyWorld. Retrieved 2009-January-21. 
  44. ^ "Armor assets". Philippine Army. Retrieved 2009-January-22. 
  45. ^ Carpenter & Wiencek, p.235
  46. ^ "Persian Gulf War: Iraqi Invasion of Iran, September 1980". Arabian Peninsula & Persian Gulf Database. Retrieved 2009-January-18. 
  47. ^ "Tosan". Global Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  48. ^ Cordsman, p.219
  49. ^ "Jordan receives Belgian Spartans". Jane's Information Group. Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  50. ^ "Emirati Army". Global Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  51. ^ Peters, p.144
  52. ^ "Australian Military Units". Australian War Memorial. Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  53. ^ "Equipment". Canadian Army. Retrieved 2009-January-19. 
  54. ^ "DSEi 2011: Scimitar Mk 2 deployed". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 
  55. ^ "DSEi 2011: OVIK Meercat displayed". Retrieved 30 October 2011. 


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