Panhard AML

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Panhard AML-245
Panhard AML-90 img 2308.jpg
Panhard AML at the Musée des Blindés, Saumur.
Type Armoured Scout Car
Place of origin France
Service history
Used by See Operators
Production history
Designed 1959[1]
Manufacturer Panhard
Produced 1961–
Number built 4,000[2]
Variants See Variants
Weight 5.5 tonnes (6.1 short tons; 5.4 long tons)[3]
Length 5.11 m (16 ft 9 in)[4]
 length 3.79 m (12 ft 5 in) (hull)[4]
Width 1.97 m (6 ft 6 in)[4]
Height 2.07 m (6 ft 9 in)[3]
Crew 3 (commander, driver, gunner)[4]

90mm GIAT F1 (20 rounds)
60mm Brandt mortar (53 rounds)[4]
7.62 mm MAS coaxial machine gun (2400 - 3800 rounds)[4]
Engine Panhard 1.99 l (121 in3) Model 4 HD flat 4-cylinder air-cooled petrol[5]
90 hp (67 kW) at 4,700 rpm[3]
Power/weight 16.36 hp/tonne (11.9 kW/tonne)[3]
Suspension Wheeled 4x4
Ground clearance 0.33mm[3]
Fuel capacity 156 litres
600 km[4]
Speed 100 km/h[4]

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.[6] 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.[7] These have been operated by fifty-four national governments and other entities worldwide, seeing regular combat.[8]

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.[9] 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.[10][11]

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.


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.[5] 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.[12] 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.[13]

As with much postwar hardware based on the experience of subsequent colonial theaters, the AML was recognized for its outstanding ruggedness, dependability, firepower-to-weight ratio, and adaptability to the numerous minor conflicts waged since 1945.[5] This reputation has led to amazing export success in over forty countries, Africa being one of its biggest markets.[12]


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 4000 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.[14] 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.[5]

The new Panhard AML-90, one of several which entered early French service with the National Gendarmerie.

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.[14] 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.[15][16] 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.[3]

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.[5]


Fitted with coil spring suspension and drum brakes, the AML lacks hydraulic assist on either brakes or steering; only front wheels steer.[5] It also uses nitrogen-filled inner tubes (in this case Hutchinson V.P.-P.V.s), similar to the EBR, providing run-flat capability, on 16 in (41 cm)-diameter wheels; its 11 in (280 mm)-wide Michelin tires can be deflated to reduce ground pressure to as low as 70 to 110 kPa (10 to 16 psi).[5]

Service history[edit]

Iraqi AML-90 Lynx abandoned during Operation Desert Storm.


French military doctrine recognised two separate fields of armoured vehicle deployment, the first consisting of primary tasks such as maneuver 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.[17] Initially equipped with AMLs and jeeps modified for scouting purposes, these units worked closely with the French police and national 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.[17]

Each DOT troop came to include three AML platoons.[17] 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.[17]

As the AML was readily air transportable, it came to form the materiel strongpoint of the French Foreign Legion's rapid deployment force.[9] 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.[9] 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) helped repel a major counter-offensive by the Chadian Democratic Revolutionary Council, which was backed by fifty Libyan T-55 tanks and EE-9 Cascavel armoured cars.[18]

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.[19] France is still believed to possess three hundred AMLs in storage.[20]

Middle East[edit]

At least 52 AML-90s were delivered to the Lebanese Army in 1970-72,[21] and saw considerable action during the Lebanese Civil War (1975–1990). AMLs of the Irish Army (under UNIFIL) were also involved in actions against Lebanese militia armour at Atiri in South Lebanon in 1980. Two crew members received one of Ireland's highest military honours, the Military Medal for Gallantry, for their actions at Atiri.[22]

The Israel Defense Forces ordered 29 AML-90s in 1960 and received them by the end of 1963.[23] At least 9 were in service with a reconnaissance company of the Harel Brigade during the Six Day War.[24] These vehicles participated in the capture of Ramallah in June 1967.[25] Several were later destroyed attempting to engage Jordanian tanks on the Damia Bridge during the Battle of Karameh.[26]

Saudi Arabia purchased 235 AMLs as part of an $90 million arms deal with France in 1967.[23] 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.[27] Saudi Arabia has since retired much of its Panhard fleet and exported surplus stocks to various African nations, including Somalia, Senegal, Niger, and Morocco.[28]

AML-90s were deployed, somewhat ineffectually, by Iraqi reconnaissance units against USMC and Saudi National Guard forces during the Battle of Khafji.[29]

South America[edit]

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.[30]

At least one AML-90 was destroyed by FMLN insurgents with rifle grenades and an M67 recoilless rifle in the Salvadoran Civil War.[31]


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.[23] Severe maintenance problems were encountered in the corrosive African environment, and custom air intakes cannibalised from utility vehicles had to be installed accordingly.[32] Local engineers also copied several modifications applied to the Eland Mk7 for improved performance in this theater.[32] In Portuguese service, the AML-60 equipped reconnaissance platoons, mainly used in convoy escort.[33]

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.[34]

In mid-December 2010, AMLs manned by Laurent Gbagbo's supporters were used to intimidate Ivorian civilians in Abidjan and the western countryside.[35]

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.[36]


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: 60 mm breech loading mortar and a 7.62 mm machine gun
  • AML 60 HE 60-7: 60 mm breech loading mortar and 2 × 7.62 mm machine guns
  • AML 60 HE 60-12: 60 mm breech loading mortar and a 12.7 mm machine gun
  • AML 60 HE 60-20: 60 mm breech loading mortar and a 20 mm cannon
  • AML 60 S530: self-propelled anti-aircraft weapon with dual 20 mm cannons used in Venezuela
  • AML 90: Giat Industries' smoothbore 90 mm F1
  • AML 90 Lynx: Hispano-Suiza designed turret with a rifled 90 mm GIAT F1 gun, night vision equipment, and telemeters laser
  • Eland 60: South African version of the AML 60 HE60-7
  • Eland 90: South African version of the AML 90
  • AML 20: Irish Army version which replaced the AML 60 armament with a 20mm cannon.
  • Panhard M3: An armoured personnel carrier variant of the Panhard AML.


This section is about operators of the Panhard AML. For operators of the South African variant, see Eland Mk7.

Map of Panhard AML operators in blue, with former operators in red and operators of the related Eland Mk7 in teal
Panhard AMLs of the Niger Army in a forward staging area during Operation Desert Shield.
AML-90 in UN colours.

Current operators[edit]

Former Operators[edit]

In popular culture[edit]

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.

Two AML-90s erroneously presented as German scout cars serving with the Afrika Korps appear in the 1984 French war film Les Morfalous.



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  8. ^ Based on adding together all operators in the map and those listed below.
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  25. ^ Simon Dunstan & Peter Dennis. The Six Day War 1967: Jordan and Syria (2009 ed.). Osprey Publishing. p. 29. ISBN 978-1-84603-364-3. 
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  41. ^ AML-90 Véhicule blindé léger (Egypte)
  42. ^ Israeli arms transfers to sub-Saharan Africa
  43. ^ Guy Martin. "Lesotho defence force gets new chief". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
  44. ^ "Pakistan: Military takes security of Airports, Prisons and Defence Installations". Retrieved 15 November 2014. 
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Further reading[edit]

  • Christopher F. Foss, Jane's Tank and Combat Vehicle Recognition Guide, HarperCollins Publishers, London 2002. ISBN 0-00-712759-6
  • Peter Gerard Locke & Peter David Farquharson Cooke, Fighting Vehicles and Weapons of Rhodesia 1965-80, P&P Publishing, Wellington 1995 ISSN 0-473-02413-6
  • Steven J. Zaloga, Tank battles of the Mid-East Wars (2): The wars of 1973 to the present, Concord Publications, Hong Kong 2003. ISBN 962-361-613-9

See also[edit]

External links[edit]