More comfy, more powerful

I was a tank hunter during my national service days with the 3rd Guards.

My choice of ride? The old Light Strike Vehicle (LSV) that has been in use since 1998.

On Tuesday, its successor - the Light Strike Vehicle Mark II (LSV MK II) - was officially launched during Exercise Wallaby at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, Australia.

The LSV MK II was put through rounds of live firing with various weapon platforms, carried underslung by helicopters and participated in battlefield and navigation drills.

I had the opportunity to preview the LSV MK II at Bedok Camp - where I commanded my own LSV crew five years ago - and sat in it for a test drive earlier this month.

Even though I spent barely five minutes in it, I found the new vehicle to be more comfortable and powerful - imagine upgrading from a Toyota Corolla to a Camry.

The LSV MK II's acceleration was unmistakable as it roared to life, pushing me back against my seat as it took off - something I would not have expected of its predecessor.

And as it made sharp turns smoothly and with ease, I barely felt a bump, thanks to its improved suspension system.

The new vehicle is designed to be more mobile, stable and powerful in its primary role in taking out armoured threats.

It also retains its predecessor's weapon systems - the anti-armour Spike missile launcher or the automatic grenade launcher (AGL).

ERGONOMIC DESIGN

What also pleasantly surprised me the most was the ergonomic design of the LSV MK II, which is built by Singapore Technologies Kinetics.

A utility model of the vehicle can carry up to six personnel, which is twice that of its predecessor.

The other two models - where the vehicle is mounted with Spike missiles or an AGL - allows up to four soldiers to be seated.

The driver's seat is now centralised, allowing for easy access to the general-purpose machine gun on the right or the Battle Management System - which pinpoints the locations of allies and allows the crew to communicate with them - on the left.

But crucially, the LSV MK II operates on automatic transmission compared to its semi-automatic predecessor.

This will make it easier for full-time national servicemen to familiarise themselves with the vehicle, said Lieutenant Colonel Chua Chay of Headquarters Guards, who was also the operations manager of the LSV MK II project.

"Driving (will be) easier to learn since most Guardsmen coming for training do not have a Class 3 driving licence," the 38-year-old said.

One important question remains unanswered: Will I get the upgraded version when I report for my reservist training?

THE LSV MK II VERSUS THE OLD LSV

LSV MK II
Weight: 1,800kg
Length: 4.9m
Height: 1.8m
Width: 2.1m
Maximum land speed: 110kmh
Weapons systems: 7.62mm general-purpose machine gun (GPMG), 40mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL) or Spike anti-tank missile launcher
Maximum power: 136 horsepower (hp)
Maximum crew capacity: Six

LSV
Weight: 1,500kg
Length: 4.25m
Height: 1.9m
Width: 2.11m
Maximum land speed: 110kmh
Weapons systems: 7.62mm GPMG, 40mm AGL or Spike system
Maximum power: 104hp Maximum crew capacity: Three

rloh@sph.com.sg


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