|Type||Armoured Scout Car|
|Place of origin||France|
|Used by||See Operators|
|Weight||5.5 tonnes (6.1 short tons; 5.4 long tons)|
|Length||5.11 m (16 ft 9 in)|
|length||3.79 m (12 ft 5 in) (hull)|
|Width||1.97 m (6 ft 6 in)|
|Height||2.07 m (6 ft 9 in)|
|Crew||3 (commander, driver, gunner)|
|90mm GIAT F1 (20 rounds)
60mm Brandt mortar (53 rounds)
|7.62 mm MAS coaxial machine gun (2400 - 3800 rounds)|
|Engine||Panhard 1.99 l (121 in3) Model 4 HD flat 4-cylinder air-cooled petrol
90 hp (67 kW) at 4,700 rpm
|Power/weight||16.36 hp/tonne (11.9 kW/tonne)|
|Fuel capacity||156 litres|
The Panhard AML-245 (Auto Mitrailleuse Légère, or "Light Gun Car") is a fast, long-ranged, and relatively cheap first-generation armoured car with excellent reconnaissance capability. Designed on a small, lightly armoured 4X4 chassis, it weighs an estimated 5.5 tonnes - much lighter than a tank - and is therefore more rapidly employable. Since 1959 AMLs have been marketed on up to five continents; several variants remained in continuous production for half a century. These have been operated by fifty-four national governments and other entities worldwide, seeing regular combat.
The AML-245 was once regarded as one of the most heavily armed scout vehicles in service, fitted with a low velocity DEFA D921 90mm (3.54 in) smoothbore cannon firing conventional high explosive and high explosive anti-tank shells, or a Brandt LR 60mm (2.36 in) breech loading mortar with 53 rounds and dual 7.5mm MAS AA-52 NF-1 machine guns with 3,800 rounds, all mounted coaxially in the turret. An AML is capable of destroying targets at 1,500 meters with its D921 main gun. In this configuration it is considered a match for second-line and older main battle tanks.
AMLs have appeared most prominently in Angola, Iraq, and the Falkland Islands, where they were pitted against British FV101 Scorpions by Argentine forces, as well as in the Lebanese Civil War between 1975 and 1990.
- 1 History
- 2 Service history
- 3 Variants
- 4 Operators
- 5 In popular culture
- 6 Gallery
- 7 See also
- 8 References
- 9 Further reading
- 10 External links
During World War II, the French Army and their Free French successors used a wide variety of vehicles for reconnaissance duties, ranging from the compact Laffly S15 to the Panhard 178, which could mount the same 75mm armament as contemporary heavy tanks, and multi-wheeled designs such as the Type 201. After the war it became less desirable to maintain this plethora of armoured cars. In July 1945 Paris issued a requirement for a postwar design combining those features of previous assets - especially the Type 201 - that had shown potential both during and prior to the Battle of France. This led to the 8x8 Panhard EBR (Type 212) which entered service in 1950. Similarly, in 1956 the French Ministry of Defense was persuaded to commission a replacement for the Daimler Ferret scout car. Also manufactured by Panhard, the successor was the AML (Type 245) which entered service in 1961.
As with much postwar hardware based on the experience of subsequent colonial theatres, the AML was recognized for its outstanding ruggedness, dependability, firepower-to-weight ratio, and adaptability to the numerous minor conflicts waged since 1945. This reputation has led to amazing export success in over forty countries, Africa being one of its biggest markets.
The Panhard AML was birthed as a private venture by the Société de Constructions Panhard et Levassor, a military subsidiary of PSA Peugeot Citroën. It was derived in part from the Daimler Ferret, offering important similarities in external design. The first prototype appeared in 1959 and the vehicle was put into production in 1960, with more than 4,000 examples constructed by the time production ended.
In the late 1950s, the French Army successfully operated a number of Ferret scout cars in Algeria. Impressive as they were from a conventional standpoint, the rest of France's existing light armour—such as the Panhard EBR and M8 Greyhound—were not suitably equipped for counter-insurgency; battles of the Algerian War often involved short, sharp, skirmishes which required indirect fire support such as mortars rather than solid shot and shell. In addition, the North African conditions demanded a lighter, less sophisticated, vehicle which would be simpler to maintain and operate. As an interim measure France had purchased two hundred Ferrets from the United Kingdom. These were light enough but carried only a single general-purpose machine gun, which was inadequate for offensive purposes. Nevertheless, they were sufficiently successful that there was a possibility of producing the Ferret under licence in France. However, Saviem, Berliet, and Panhard petitioned for bidding on a home-grown vehicle, and in 1956 the Ministère de la Défense issued specifications for an indigenous wheeled armoured car of similar dimensions and layout to the Ferret but mounting a breech-loading mortar. By 1959, this had emerged as the Auto Mitrailleuse Légère, designated Model 245 by Panhard. Early prototypes were completed in mid-1959 and by the end of 1961 at least one regiment in Algeria was receiving them. The AML was equipped with a 60mm Brandt gun-mortar and two medium MAS AA-52 NF-1 machine guns.
The AML was immediately successful, but as the Algerian conflict diminished so did the need for a light mortar carrier deployed in anti-guerrilla operations. A more primary concern was the conventional threat posed by Soviet airborne fighting vehicles in the event of a Warsaw Pact invasion. Meanwhile, South Africa, an AML customer which had considered adopting the British Alvis Saladin, also charged Panhard technicians to look into the development of an AML variant with equal or superior fire support capability. This and the adoption of a highly effective 90mm smoothbore cannon led to all new AMLs being refitted with the H-90 turret sporting the new gun. It fired fin-stabilised, shaped charge, projectiles boasting a muzzle velocity of 760 m/s and more than capable of penetrating 320mm of rolled homogeneous armour. In consequence, the later AMLs could even engage main battle tanks. In addition to its HEAT shells the H-90 also carries fin-stabilised High-explosive projectiles, the total number of rounds stored being 20, compared with the 56 of the original 60mm mortar version.
To provide a complete family of wheeled armoured cars, Panhard used AML components to engineer a small personnel carrier, the Véhicule Transport de Troupes, better known as the Panhard M3. The M3 consisted of a boxy, all-welded, hull with an engine relocated behind the driver in order to provide a large troop compartment at its rear. Its wheelbase was also increased from the AML's 2.5m to a higher 2.7m. and the track from 1.62 to 2.5m. In spite of this, maintenance alongside the AML fleet is rather simplified, given that both vehicles share a 95% interchangeability in automotive parts.
Fitted with coil spring suspension and drum brakes, the AML lacks hydraulic assist on either brakes or steering; only front wheels steer. Consequently, the steering wheel requires considerable strength to turn while the vehicle is in motion—while stationary it remains effectively locked. The motor and gearbox have been harnessed via a centrifugal clutch with electromagnetic control, eliminating the need for a clutch pedal. Powerplant design was inspired by the Panhard EBR and incorporates an air-cooled, 156 litre, four cylinder engine developing 67 kW (90hp). AMLs may also be fitted with a variety of liquid-cooled engines, although as demonstrated by its Eland counterpart this requires a costly rebuild of the rear hull to accommodate the new cooling apparatus.
The AML uses nitrogen inner tubes (in this case Hutchinson V.P.-P.V.s) adopted from the EBR, providing run flat capability on 41cm (16 in.)-diameter wheels; its 280mm (11 in.) wide Michelin tires can be deflated to reduce ground pressure to as low as 70 to 110 kPa (10 to 16 psi).
French military doctrine recognised two separate fields of armoured vehicle deployment, the first consisting of primary tasks such as manoeuvre and combat, while the second included other tasks such as rearguard defence, liaison, and deception. The latter was to be the responsibility of a mobile reserve which provided interior security during wartime - designated Défense Opérationnelle du Territoire (DOT) armoured cavalry regiments. Initially equipped with AMLs and jeeps modified for scouting purposes, these units worked closely with the French police and National Gendarmerie. Their goal was to intercept hostile special forces or airborne units which specialised in deep penetration behind the front line. Secondary tasks included counter-insurgency, passive observation, and guarding static installations.
Each DOT troop came to include three AML platoons. As they were expected to remain faithful to the traditional mission of reconnaissance where observation had priority over combat, a number of the Panhards seem to have been stripped of their main armament, necessitating crew dependence on the vehicle's secondary automatic weapons. Nevertheless, as French reconnaissance theory also suggested the occasional need to engage hostile armour and force it to deploy, AML-90s were favoured as well. DOT regiments came to hold a generic pool of sixteen AML-90s and thirty-four other AMLs of varying configuration.
As the AML was readily air transportable, it came to form the materiel strongpoint of the French Foreign Legion's rapid deployment force. The Legion AMLs saw combat overseas, either as part of single deployments by the 1st Foreign Cavalry Regiment or to provide fire support for other Legion regiments. Crews perfected unique airfield assaults in which AML-90s were unloaded directly from Transall C-160s onto the objective, with infantry joining them by parachute. These vehicles first saw combat against BTR-152s manned by FROLINAT rebels in Chad during Opération Tacaud. In the subsequent months, additional AML-90s rushed in by the Régiment d'infanterie-chars de marine (RICM) repelled a major offensive by the Chadian Democratic Revolutionary Council, which was backed by fifty Libyan T-55 tanks and EE-9 Cascavel armoured cars.
The Mobile Gendarmerie operated over a hundred AML-60s and AML-90s, which were allocated to nineteen separate squadrons. In subsequent decades, a number may have been replaced by the much heavier Renault VBC-90. France is still believed to possess three hundred AMLs in storage.
An order of 29 AML-90s placed by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1960 marked the first sale of AMLs to a foreign power, ushered in a new era of French arms sales to Tel-Aviv, and helped cement Panhard's success on the export market. The IDF armoured cars had been received by the end of 1963 and were first displayed publicly on the eve of Yom Ha'atzmaut, 1966. Israeli units were primarily impressed by their high mobility and ergonomic nature, which was deemed ideal for airborne operations. Nevertheless, the AML-90's envisaged deployment by new Aérospatiale SA 321 Super Frelons also purchased from France did not materialize, as the helicopters could not handle its 5,500 kg combat weight.
At least 9 AML-90s were in service with the 41st Reconnaissance Company of the Harel Brigade during the Six Day War under a Major Amnon Eshkol, participating in the capture of Ramallah in June 1967. The AMLs were initially posted at Mevaseret Zion following the fall of East Jerusalem. They were among the first IDF armor to cross into the West Bank during the conflict, probing for Jordanian resistance. Major roads had been blocked by tank barriers although these could be easily bypassed in nimbler armoured cars. The much more cumbersome Super Sherman and Centurion tanks tasked with leading the IDF's spearhead towards Tell el-Ful failed to reach their objective; most were forced to turn back in the face of difficult terrain. Joined by the surviving seven Shermans and eight M3 half-tracks, Major Eshkol's AML-90s later helped defeat a Jordanian counterattack with M48 Pattons.
In the War of Attrition, Israeli AMLs faced Jordanian M48s again on the Damia Bridge during the Battle of Karameh. Originally tasked with screening the IDF Shermans as they crossed the bridge, the lightly armoured AML-90 was at a unique disadvantage when confronted by entrenched Pattons. Moreover, the Jordan River was in flood and vehicle crews were unable to exploit their manoeuvrability in the muddy farmland. Several AMLs were knocked out by tank fire or towed anti-tank guns. They were withdrawn from service not long afterwards.
Saudi Arabia ordered 235 AMLs as part of an $90 million arms deal with France in 1967. The purchase was made in response to a Royal Saudi Army requirement for an armoured car proven in a desert warfare, equipped with a large gun of considerable stopping power. Panhard competed against Alvis, which offered the Saladin, and Cadillac Gage, which offered the V-100 Commando, for the contract. It was initially awarded to Alvis for 83 Saladins with a ten year option on spare parts. The Saladin order was abruptly cancelled by Sultan bin Abdulaziz after negotiations with France in Riyadh that February, and no official explanation was given beyond Abdulaziz's assertion that the AMLs were selected as part of King Faisal's policy to strengthen the army with a greater infusion of modern arms. Panhard undertook the delivery amid much protest by pro-Israel lobbies; the French government insisted that it did not class AMLs as "heavy war materiel" covered by Charles de Gaulle's Middle Eastern embargo, and heralded the sale as a major business and political success.
The Saudi vehicles were blooded near Daraa during the Yom Kippur War, having been airlifted to assist its Syrian defenders in Lockheed C-130 Hercules aircraft loaned from Iran. At least four were lost in subsequent Israeli air and ground strikes, including one captured. Saudi Arabia has since retired much of its Panhard fleet and exported surplus stocks to various African nations, including Somalia, Senegal, Niger, and Morocco.
At least 52 AML-90s were delivered to the Lebanese Army in 1970-72, and saw considerable action during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). The armoured cars were favoured by the Lebanese militias due to their flexibility, especially in urban combat situations which saw them deployed against heavier Syrian armour.
In 1980, AMLs of the Irish Army were deployed with the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL), where they saw considerable action against militants at Atiri in South Lebanon. Each UN service battalion included a troop of AML-90s, ostensibly for passive reconnaissance, which functioned as a support company. As the most heavily armed of the national contingents, the Irish squadron also became a mobile force reserve. Two Lebanese half-tracks used to harass UNIFIL convoys were destroyed by an AML-90, several others being abandoned by their crews after taking warning fire from the AMLs' coaxial machine guns. The armoured cars also held a tense standoff with militia Super Shermans around Atiri, although the latter declined to intervene in the fighting and were ultimately not engaged by peacekeeping forces. Two AML crew members received one of Ireland's highest military honours, the Military Medal for Gallantry, for their actions at Atiri.
In the Falklands War, the Argentines deployed 12 AML-90s from Escuadron de Exploracion Caballeria Blindada 181 (181st Armoured Cavalry Reconnaissance Squadron) and an unknown additional number from Escuadron de Exploracion Caballeria Blindada 10 near Port Stanley. During the Battle of Wireless Ridge the only armour versus armour engagement of the war was fought when these units encountered FV101 Scorpions and FV107 Scimitars of the Blues and Royals. The armoured cars were abandoned in Stanley after the conflict ended.
During the Portuguese Colonial War, the Portuguese Army operated AML-60s in Angola, Mozambique, and Guinea-Bissau. Approximately 50 were ordered in 1965 to replace the heavier Panhard EBR. Severe maintenance problems were encountered in the corrosive African environment, and custom air intakes cannibalised from utility vehicles had to be installed accordingly. Local engineers also copied several modifications applied to the Eland Mk7 for improved performance in this theater. In Portuguese service, the AML-60 equipped reconnaissance platoons, mainly used in convoy escort.
In 1987, during the Toyota War, FANT's use of swift wheeled vehicles, including AML-90s, allowed Chadian forces to break through combined arms formations and cause severe damage before the slower Libyan tanks could track or engage their targets. The Panhards, deployed in concert with MILAN missile teams at strategic hill junctures, frequently ambushed T-55s at a range of under three hundred metres.
The Ecole de Formation et d'Application des Troupes Blindes, at Mbanza-Ngungu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, was originally established by French Military Cooperation Mission to instruct African AML crews. Today, the academy can host 70 trainees; ten African armies are currently participating in the program.
All the versions have a common configuration: the driver is seated in front with a two-seater turret on top. There is a door on each side and the power unit in the back.
- AML-60: Known simply as the AML HE 60-7, this was Panhard's initial production model and included a rounded turret with twin 7.62mm machine guns on the left and a breech-loaded 60mm (2.36 in.) Hotckiss-Brandt CM60A1 mortar on the right, with 3,800 rounds of 7.62mm and 53 mortar projectiles, respectively. The mortar can still be muzzle loaded from outside the vehicle in conventional manner, but is unique in its opening breech locked by a falling block much like direct fire artillery. The AML-60's reload time can be slow for inexperienced vehicle crews, as multiple ranging and ordnance calculations must be made by the commander to ascertain firing angles. In several armies it has been replaced or complemented by the AML HE 60-20, a variant which replaces both 7.62mm machine guns with a 20mm autocannon and five hundred stored rounds. An upgraded model, the AML HE 60-20 Serval, is also available. The AML HE 60-12 replaces the twin general-purpose machine guns with a single 12.7mm heavy machine gun.
- AML-90: Known simply as the AML H-90, the vehicle was engineered for fire support and aggressive reconnaissance. Its turret includes a single 7.62mm machine gun on the left and a low-velocity 90mm (3.54-in.) DEFA D921 cannon on the right, with 2,400 rounds of 7.62mm and 20 High explosive or High explosive anti-tank shells, respectively. The turret is manually powered, the main gun lacks stabilisation in elevation and azimuth, and there is a optical fire control system. With upgrades, it fires a complete range of 90mm cartridges in shell and projectile form, from atypical discarding SABOT kinetic energy rounds to canister and a variety of smoke rounds. Armoured targets can be successfully engaged at up to 2,000 metres. There is a large double baffle muzzle brake which reduces the recoil force exerted by the gun on the small Panhard chassis. An upgraded model, the AML-90 Lynx, incorporates night vision features, a laser rangefinder, and superior turret controls.
- AML S530: Designed as a self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon, the AML S530 was developed solely for export and is operated by the Venezuelan Army. It carries two 20mm autocannon, with 600 stored rounds.
This section is about operators of the Panhard AML. For operators of the South African variant, see Eland Mk7.
- Algeria: 54 AML-60
- Argentina: 50 AML-90
- Bahrain: 23 AML-90
- Bosnia and Herzegovina: 10 AML-90
- Burkina Faso: 15
- Burma: 50
- Burundi: 30
- Cameroon: 31; ex-Bosnian Army
- Chad: 85; likely replaced by the Eland
- Côte d'Ivoire: 20
- Democratic Republic of the Congo
- Dominican Republic: 20 AML-90
- Djibouti: 24; 20 operational.
- Gabon: 18
- Ecuador: 27
- El Salvador: 12 AML-90
- France: Over 300 in reserve
- Iraq: 170 delivered between 1967 and 1976; 10 operational.
- Kenya: 82; refurbished by an Israeli firm in 2007.
- Lebanon: 74
- Lesotho: 6 AML-90; 4 operational.
- Mauritania: 60, 39 AML-90 and 20 AML-60
- Morocco: 210
- Niger: 36
- Nigeria: 137
- Pakistan: AML-60
- Rwanda: 15
- Sahrawi Republic
- Saudi Arabia: 235; purchased from France in 1967 for $95,000,000.
- Senegal: 54
- Somalia: 15 AML-90
- Sudan: 6 AML-90; 5 operational.
- Togo: 10
- Tunisia: 18
- United Arab Emirates: 90 AML-90
- Venezuela: 10
- Yemen: 185
- Amal Party: Inherited from the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF).
- Angola: Likely captured from Portugal.
- Cambodia: 15 AML-60s in service between 1965 and 1975.
- FNLA: 1 AML-90; now on display at the Museu das Forças Armadas, Luanda.
- Ethiopia 56 AML-60
- FNLC: 1 AML-60, some AML-90s
- Ireland: 18 AML-20, 15 AML-90
- Israel: 29 AML-90
- Lebanese Forces: 12 AML-90 inherited from the LAF.
- Libya: 20 AML-90
- Malaysia: 140 AML-60 and AML-90s
- Portugal: 56 AML-60, some AML-90s
- South Africa: 100 AMLs procured in 1962, swiftly replaced by Eland Mk2.
- Spain: 140 AML-60 and AML-90s
- UNITA: 4:35 AMLs acquired clandestinely through Zaire; saw service during the Angolan Civil War.
In popular culture
The Panhard AML has made some major film appearances, most notably in The Living Daylights, when two Moroccan army AML-90s were mocked up as Soviet reconnaissance vehicles pursuing Afghan Mujahadeen. These examples included mounted RPK machine guns and communications not dissimilar to those in the BRDM-2.
AMLs were first portrayed in the 1973 French thriller The Day of the Jackal, and 1974 Italian war film Finché c'è guerra c'è speranza, which featured an AML-90 of the Portuguese Armed Forces during the Guinea-Bissau War of Independence.
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- Based on adding together all operators in the map and those listed below.
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