The TPz (Transportpanzer) Fuchs or “Fox” was originally developed in the late 1970s by Daimler-Benz, and saw service as the second wheeled vehicle added to the West German Army fleet. Because of its effective and modular design, the TPz Fuchs continues to be in service today and has seen use by allied forces in recent conflicts in the Middle East.
Built by Thyssen-Henschel in 1979, the TPz Fuchs uses a monococque hull design, welded with non-distortable armored steel plating. This tub like configuration provides effective protection against small arms fire, RPG’s, land mines and other devices.
Similar to the Soviet BTR-80 and the VAB developed by the French, the purpose of the Fox is to strike a balance between mobility, cargo capacity, and protection for the occupants.
With varying roles from troop transport, ambulance and bomb disposal, its later role became more focused on nuclear, biological and chemical threat detection. The original design of the TPz Fuchs would stay in production from 1979 through the mid 2000’s when it was superseded by the Fuchs 2, which offered a number of improvements over the original in terms of capability and protection. Still, with more than ten times as many first generation TPz Fuchs in service as there are Fuchs 2’s, the original remains far more prevalent on the battlefield.
The internal cargo and troop section of the Fuchs MK1 was roughly 10.5ft long, 4ft high and 5ft wide, featuring either three or four hatches installed in the roof with rear access through two rear doors. In APC layout, the Fuchs 1 offered seating for ten troopers with two in the front compartment.
For amphibious maneuvering, the Fuchs 1 was outfitted with two rear mounted four blade propellers that could swivel a full 360 degrees, allowing the vehicle to swim almost completely submerged. Bilge pumps were equipped to remove water, while a trim vane that is stowed while traveling on land would be hydraulically deployed before entering the water.
Over the years, numerous variants of the TPz Fuchs 1 were created, and it saw use not only as an armoured personnel carrier but also in bomb disposal, nuclear, biological and chemical detection and surveillance, as well as electronic warfare roles. To date, roughly 1,200 examples of the TPz Fuchs have been produced since its initial introduction.
The original TPz Fuch weighed in at roughly 23.5 tonne in combat ready form, at more than 22ft long, 10ft wide and more than 8ft high, it is an imposing sight. Though the Fuchs 2 would expand its dimensions in all of the aforementioned measurements, its modernised powertrain boosted horsepower by nearly fifty percent while keeping the vehicle’s weight essentially unchanged.
Designed in the early 2000s and first built in 2007, the Fuchs 2 was an updated version of the TPz Fuchs MK1, the former developed by Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH.
Unveiled at the 2001 International Defence Industry Exhibition in Kielce, Poland, the Fuchs 2 was the result of continued development of the original TPz Fuchs throughout the 1980s and 90s. First deliveries of the TPz Fuchs 2 began in 2007.
The Fuchs 2 boasted a number of design improvements over the original vehicle, including an upgraded drivetrain consisting of a water cooled, four stroke TE20 turbo diesel V6 with 456hp at 1,800 rpm, mated to an updated ZF 6HP 602 gearbox and like the original, featured six forward gears and one reverse gear.
Designed to enhance survivability for its personnel, the Fuchs 2 was updated with advanced passive armour package. Its roof was raised by 5.7 inches to improve internal space, but troop capacity in the rear section was reduced to nine passengers due to the new blast resistant seating.
Due in part to its enhanced powertrain, the Fuchs 2 had a payload capacity of over 5.9 tonne, more than a tonne greater than that of the original TPz Fuchs.
Maneuverability was also enhanced by way of power steering on the front four wheels, while a central tyre inflation system option was available in its standard configuration to improve capability. 30mm cannons, 7.62mm machine guns, and anti-tank missiles comprised some of the weaponry the Fuchs 2 could be outfitted with, while a chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) defense system was equipped to the Fuchs 2 as standard.
To date, roughly 100 examples of the TPz Fuchs 2 have been built, though future requirements should bring this
figure to over one thousand units by the end of its production cycle.
While the original TPz Fuchs was operated exclusively by the West German Army during its initial production, today the vehicle and its numerous variants are operated by militaries all over the world, including Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, and Algeria, the latter of which was granted permission in 2014 to undertake production of the Fuchs 2.
Noting the impressive capability of the original Fuchs design after it saw use on loan from the German government during Operation Desert Storm in 1990, the United States military decided to create a version of their own using much of the German APC’s specifications.
The result was the M93 Fox. This version tailored for American use, features a mass spectrometer, which analyzes soil and air samples for CBRN defense purposes. In the mid-2000s, a batch of M93 Foxes was further upgraded to a new M93A1 standard in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Concerns about biological warfare use during this operation saw the M93A1 spec focus largely on improved chemical threat detection methods by way of the M21 Remote Sensing Chemical Agent Alarm, which allowed operators in the M93A1 to detect such threats from up to 5 kilometers (3.1 miles) away. Though its crew is reduced to just three, the M93A1 is capable of chemical and radiological
reconnaissance operations within contaminated areas with no need for chemical protective gear or masks for its crew.
For such an elderly base vehicle, the Fox has proven to be a well liked, reliable vehicle and is continuing its role on the front line as a cutting edge all wheel drive truck with on going hi-tech upgrades.