The Scimitar is an armoured reconnaissance vehicle used by the British Army and manufactured by Alvis in Coventry. It is very similar to the Scorpion but mounts a high velocity 30 mm L21 RARDEN cannon instead of a 76mm gun. It was issued to Royal Armoured Corps, Armoured Regiments in the Reconnaissance role where each Regiment had a Close Reconnaissance Squadron of 5 Troops of 8 Scimitars.
The Scimitar is one of the CVR(T) series of vehicles and entered service in 1971. Initially the engine was the Jaguar J60 4.2-litre 6 cylinder petrol engine, the same as used by several Jaguar cars. This has now been replaced by a Cummins BTA 5.9 diesel engine in British Army Scimitars, under the CVR(T) Life Extension Program (LEP).
The Scimitar lifespan has once again been extended to accommodate the shift in timeframe with the FRES (Future Rapid Effect System) program which would have seen new armoured vehicles introduced to replace the ageing CVR(T) range of vehicles. With new modifications, air filtration units and gearbox upgrades (late 2009) as well as hull alterations (late 2009) and the creation of a CVR(T) Spartan & CVR(T) Scimitar hybrid the CVR(T) range (early 2010) is expected to continue well beyond 2017.
The Scimitar is used by the five formation reconnaissance regiments of the British Army. Each regiment has three squadrons each of 12 Scimitars, The Household Cavalry Regiment has an extra squadron to support 16 Air Assault Brigade. It is also used by some support groups within infantry battalions like the Irish Guards Recce Platoon.
After the Strategic Defence and Security Review in 2010, some regiments are seeing their Challenger 2 tanks replaced with CVR(T) Scimitars.
Two troops from B Squadron, Blues and Royals served in the Falklands War. The CVR(T) were the only armoured vehicles used in action by the British Army during the conflict. At least one Scimitar was seriously damaged by an Argentinian landmine, but the crew were unscathed, and the vehicle was salvaged by a Chinook HC.1 helicopter and soon brought back into service by the attached REME section.
In the First Gulf War 16th/5th The Queen’s Royal Lancers, with attached reinforcements, fought as a regiment during this war and was equipped with Scimitar. A troop of Scimitars engaged and knocked out Iraqi T-62s, penetrating their frontal armour with sabot rounds. One Scimitar was engaged and hit by an Iraqi T-55 and the penetrating round passed through the thin aluminium armour without injuring the crew.
Scimitars of C Squadron Queen’s Dragoon Guards were used in the Battle of Al Faw in the opening days of the 2003 Invasion of Iraq. Plans for an amphibious landing of Scimitars were abandoned due to extensive mining of the beaches and instead they crossed into Iraq by land.
In Afghanistan on Operation Herrick, Scimitars were deployed either in standard Troop organisations or as part of Jackal composite troops, in which role they provided additional firepower to complement the Jackal’s high mobility.