After nearly a decade of pressure from their special operations troops Australia has agreed to buy 89 highly regarded “special operations vehicles” for about $1.05 million each. The SOV-Cdo (Special Operations Vehicle-Commando) are supplied by British vehicle manufacturer Supacat. The common name for these vehicles is the Extenda MK2 high mobility vehicles. Supacat has long supplied high mobility vehicles for industry and the military.
The Extenda is a variant of the older Jackal off-road patrol vehicle. The main difference is that the Extenda can be converted to six-wheel drive by quickly inserting a vehicle extension in the rear, which includes a third axle. All this can just as quickly be removed to return to four wheel drive. Adding or removing the extension takes about two hours and produces an 11 ton vehicle capable of carrying four tons.
Britain already has several hundred of the MWMIK Jackal armored patrol vehicles, while Australia has 30 of the nearly identical HMT 400s. Weighing 6.6 tons (less than half as much as an MRAP), the 4x4 Jackals do most of their travelling off road, thus avoiding most roadside bombs and mines. Jackal is basically a patrol vehicle, carrying up to five people. This vehicle is armored on the bottom to give protection from mines but is largely open up top. The vehicle mounts 12.7mm and 7.62mm machine-guns, as well as a 40mm automatic grenade launcher.
The Supacat chassis has been around for a while and comes in 6x6 versions as well. It has excellent cross country capabilities. Top speed of the MWMIK is 80 kilometers an hour, and the vehicle normally carries 3-4 troops. These were initially bought for the SAS commandos, who were quite pleased with the vehicle. The British Army began ordering Jackals for Afghanistan service three years ago.
Jackals are fairly compact vehicles (5.4 x2x2 meters) with one meter ground clearance. The Extenda version is seven meters long. Top road speed is 130 kilometers/81 miles an hour. Jackals are usually armed with a 12.7mm and a 7.62mm machine-guns. About half the Jackals are the Jackal 2, which seats four, has better overhead protection, and better resistance to IEDs.