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Defence

Royal Marines to get new snowmobiles

Royal Marines will strike faster and further across the Arctic snow thanks to a £10 million investment in new snowmobiles for reconnaissance and raiding operations.

Image courtesy Royal Navy

The UK Commando Force is the nation’s specialist extreme cold weather troops, capable of surviving, moving, and fighting across the Arctic’s inhospitable terrain. Royal Marines have traditionally moved across the snow on skis, snowshoes or towed by their armoured vehicles (known as skijoring) to get into combat.

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However, the Commando Force’s battlefield tactics have rapidly evolved, with smaller teams deployed across a wide area on reconnaissance, raiding and strike missions to disrupt the adversary behind enemy lines, allowing freedom of action for the UK’s F-35 stealth jets operating from a Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carrier.

That means there is a growing need to move more quickly over longer distances and across very difficult terrain.

With that, there is fresh investment with the purchase of up to 159 Lynx Brutal Over Snow Reconnaissance Vehicles made by Finnish subsidiary of Canadian firm Bombardier Recreational Products (BRP).

The snowmobiles will be supplied by BRP from March 2025 onwards.

The Lynx Brutal is custom built to operate in deep snow and is ideally suited for taking Commandos and their equipment deep behind the adversary’s lines and help give them the tactical advantage as they deliver special operations in the High North.

Captain Nick Unwin RN, Commando Force Programme Director, said: “This is the next step in the transformational change taking place across the Commando Force in terms of what they do and how they do it. The Lynx Brutal is a well-proven vehicle operated by many partners and allies, and will play a key part in the Commando’s ability to operate in areas and in ways that are beyond the capabilities of conventional forces in the High North.”

Steve Hayward, Team Leader for the Specialist & Autonomous Mobility (SAM) team at Defence, Equipment and Support (DE&S), added: “It has been a pleasure to award a contract for supply and through-life support of BRP Over-Snow Reconnaissance Vehicles. The breadth of equipment that we develop and procure for the Armed Forces is as diverse as the terrains that they operate in. Securing these essential capabilities for the Commando Force is yet another step forward in ensuring that our Armed Forces are properly equipped and supported at all times.

“This contract follows an intense period of Assessment Phase trialling underpinned by some outstanding collaboration between DE&S, Navy, UKSC and Industry.

“The commercial milestone marks an important step towards DE&S delivering and supporting new equipment that will enable the Commando Force to operate effectively in extreme cold weather environments, including the High North. We look forward to moving into the Demonstration and Manufacture phases at pace.”

While the Commandos already have snowmobiles this investment reflects the change in tactics and the need to maintain an operational advantage.

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The snowmobiles will deploy as part of Littoral Response Group (North), a Royal Navy amphibious task force with Commandos at its heart, designed to react to world events in Northern Europe’s waterways, including the complex Norwegian coastlines, the High North and the Arctic.

Royal Marines have just completed major military drills in the Arctic alongside NATO allies.

They attacked vital adversary infrastructure and carried out covert reconnaissance missions as they paved the way for large-scale NATO forces to move into the Nordic regions.

The commandos, led by strike teams of Royal Marines of Arbroath-based 45 Commando, tracked down adversary technology used to deny access to airspace and airwaves, creating favourable conditions for heavier armour to enter the region.

Their operations enabled HMS Prince of Wales and the UK Carrier Strike Group, including F-35B Lightning jets, to strike the adversary’s targets deep inland.

These missions were during Exercise Nordic Response as part of Steadfast Defender 24, NATO’s largest military drills in Europe in a generation, which test allies’ ability to reinforce the continent’s frontiers from North America and across the Atlantic in the face of an aggressor.

Nordic Response focused on amphibious landings on Norway’s complex northern coastline, bringing troops across the Arctic and into NATO’s newest members Sweden and Finland.

The arrival of the new snowmobiles next year goes hand in hand with new amphibious vehicles. Sixty of the Future All-Terrain Vehicles replace the fleet of older Bv 206s and Viking vehicles as part of an £140m international agreement.

The new All-Terrain Vehicles, complete with amphibious swimming capability and better lift capacity, will be in service until 2058.

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