This has JUST appeared on the MOD website. No new news, nothing newsworthy yet it takes priority over evertything else.....why? Viking vehicles are saving lives in Afghanistan 10 Jan 07 The new Viking amphibious all terrain vehicles, whose bodies are constructed from armored steel, are being credited with saving British Forces lives in Afghanistan. Viking armoured vehicles race in to recover Royal Marine Commandos after a patrol in Afghanistan [Picture: PO (Phot) Sean Clee] The Viking is on its first operational tour and British Service personnel speaking to the media, have said that considerably more troops would have died if it had not been for the introduction of the vehicle. Despite weighing 10 tonnes the Vikings 5.9 litre turbo diesel engine is capable of producing speeds of 50 mph (80 kph) on roads. And they maintain excellent mobility on soft terrain, such as snow, mud or sand, because of the even load distribution over its four tracks. The vehicle retains mobility even if a track is damaged by a mine. And it can operate in temperatures from -46Â°C to +49Â°C. The Viking can ford through water up to a depth of 1.5 m without preparation and is fully amphibious, being able to swim in deeper water, fully laden with marines and stores, with less than two minutes' preparation by the crew. The water speed is 5 km/h. "Nothing matches it. We've been here three months and would've lost considerably more blokes without it." Sergeant Major Simon Williams, Royal Marine They can also be lifted by Chinook helicopters, driven into a C130 Hercules aircraft or carried on a landing craft. They can also be split into two sections in just 20 minutes to be carried by the Merlin helicopter, so are capable of being easily dropped, ready to use, into a war-zone. Britain's Armed Forces are the first in the world to use the vehicles with 108 having been bought for the Royal Marines following a gruelling two year trial and development programme. A Viking at development trials in Bovington Exercise area in Dorset [Picture: CPOA (Phot) George Tweedie HQRM] Sergeant Major Simon Williams, aged 36, one of the Royal Marines who helped Swedish firm BAE Hagglunds design the Viking, said in an interview with the media: "It's a phenomenal piece of hardware, the most manoeuvrable vehicle in existence. Nothing matches it. We've been here three months and would've lost considerably more blokes without it. "British soldiers are coming home to their sons and daughters without missing limbs and most importantly alive, thanks to the Viking." "We have no complaints with this vehicle. It's hoofin' (brilliant)." Marine Michael Robertson Marine John Westwood, 24, also talking to the media said: "Enemy mortars landed just two metres away from my Viking the other week and there wasn't even a scratch on her. Small arms fire rounds just bounce off her like stone chippings." Marine Michael Robertson, 25, from Kilmacolm, Renfrewshire, said: "We still have the odd moan about kit - not enough ammo or not enough guns - but we have no complaints with this vehicle. It's hoofin' (brilliant)."