Followers of the 3rd Battalion Parachute Regiment on social media may have recently noticed a post about the use of the Land Rover Defender WMIK as opposed to the Supacat Jackal. The new Land Rover Defender has now been announced and shown to be very different to the ‘traditional’ Defender and Series Land Rovers that the British armed forces have used since their introduction in the late 1940s. It does make one wonder whether the Army, or just units in it, are lobbying a little to ensure that their Land Rovers continue to be supported and perhaps even replaced with a like-for-like product when the time comes.
The inference from the posts is that the Land Rover is a more suitable vehicle for their airportable role than the Jackal. It’s a lighter and more compact vehicle that can be carried both under and inside the Chinook as well as inside the fixed wing transports of the Royal Air Force. It also requires less modification and preparation that the Jackal for transport.
Whilst there is a significant weight increase with the Jackal, it does so with the enhanced protection which suits the environment into which it was first introduced. There is, however, an argument that the Land Rover is a truly maintainable vehicle that does not need mechanical support for the basic tasks and this suits a more remote role.
The British Army, and particular the Parachute Regiment, have ever-changing demands and needs to satisfy a range of capabilities. To do so, it cannot be expected that a single vehicle will be able to do all of the jobs needed; therefore, there exists a place for both Jackal and Land Rover. The bigger question is what will happen when the current Defenders reach their end-of-life and Land Rover doesn’t have a replacement in the offing. Perhaps these recent posts are the units starting to express their view.