Unlike many other military vehicles the Fennek found it’s origin in the private sector. The Dutch company DAF Special Products Aerospace & Vehicle Systems (referred to as DAF going forward) developed the vehicle on their own initiative and resources. This came about as market analysis had shown that there had been a market gap for modern scout cars. Therefore development started on what would later become the Fennek.
The first production prototype was available for company testing by the end of 1992. The vehicle had space for 3 soldiers and was intended for reconnaissance, anti-armor, engineering and command & control roles. As early as August 1985 the German Aufklärer (Reconaissance) leadership submitted an initial request for a new reconnaissance vehicle to replace the Spähpanzer Luchs.
This new light Spähwagen was to be quiet, feature a low silhouette, be able to fulfill a large number of tasks, have a 3 man crew, protection from small arms fire, off-road capability and a command & control system. For self-defense the ability to engage unarmored targets was deemed sufficient. On the 10th of October 1988 a finalized set of requirements was sent to the Ministry of Defense.
To meet the set demands a procurement project was launched in 1992. Evaluation trials were held between the French Panhard VBL and the German Zobel scout car developed by Gesellschaft für Systemtechnik.
The Netherlands joined this program in 1993, as it was looking to procure a similar vehicle for its own Armed forces. The two countries consolidated their requirements which resulted in some features like amphibious capability and a rear facing driver position getting removed. The vehicle did still require a 3 man crew to and needed to provide enough cargo space for the crew to be able to store enough supplies for a five day mission behind enemy lines. Air transportability via C-160 and C-130 cargo aircraft was also required.
In the end a joint venture between the Dutch DAF and German Wegman emerged as the winners of the program. DAF was responsible for the vehicle chassis while all other components were supplied by Wegman. Because the Dutch Army was planning to adopt the largest number of vehicles a memorandum of Understanding was be signed to solidify Dutch leadership within the project. In December of 1994 the Directie Materieel (Dutch procurement agency) signed a contract with the newly formed DAF/Wegman joint venture for the production of 4 prototypes, 2 built by DAF and 2 built by Wegman.
The first prototype dubbed TVM 1 was delivered on 18 December 1996 with the remaining 3 being delivered between 1997 and 1998. These four vehicles underwent trials with both the Dutch and German procurement agencies between September 1997 and August 1998. These trials were led by the German armor school in Munster and Dutch OTCMAN in Amersfoort. The trials consisted of six individual five day long simulated reconnaissance missions for each pair or prototypes. Additionally the vehicles each performed 35 separate day/night reconnaissance courses, spanning distances over 120 kilometers.
The separate reconnaissance courses mainly served to gage the vehicles fuel consumption as well as its cross-country mobility. These trails had shown that a number of the vehicle’s requirements either were not necessary or needed to be modified. The DAF/Wegmann joint venture was asked to further refine the vehicles concept based on these new requirements. The companies presented their updated proposal in June of 1997. This lead to the production of a fifth prototype.
This prototype was delivered on the 2nd of July 1999. All further trials were be conducted with this vehicle. In 2001 a production contract was awarded for 612 Fenneks. 410 vehicles for the Dutch Army and 202 for the German Army. However in 2004 DAF’s Special Products Aerospace & Vehicle Systems division went out of business. This lead to The German KMW along with their Dutch subsidiary Dutch Defense Vehicle Systems taking over production.
Germany later purchased another 30 units from the Netherlands for conversion to Joint Fire Support Team (JFST) variants.
- LVB Fennek 1A1; Base reconnaissance variant equipped with the KMW 1530 RWS and BAA surveillance module.
- LVB Fennek 1A2; Base reconnaissance variant equipped with the FLW 200 RWS, CG-20 IED jamming equipment, increased frontal protection, BAA surveillance module and IR headlights.
- JFST TACP Fennek 1A3; A variant of the Fennek equipped with advanced communications equipment for calling in close air support. These were also equipped with the BAA II surveillance module.
- Forward observer Fennek 1A4; A variant of the Fennek for calling in artillery fire. This model is equipped with the FüInfoSysH command and information system, ADLER 3 artillery command system and BAA II surveillance module.
- Fü-/ErkdFzg Pi Fennek 1A1; Command and pioneer variant of the Fennek which lacks the BAA surveillance module.
- Fü-/ErkdFzg Pi Fennek 1A2; Command and pioneer variant of the Fennek that kept the BAA surveillance module, FLW 200 RWS, CG-20 IED jamming equipment, increased frontal protection and IR headlights from the LVB Fennek 1A2.
- AD General service (Algemene dienst); Base model of the vehicle equipped with a High Frequency radio set and KMW 1530 RWS (Equipped with an M2HB) often used to transport command personnel.
- AD 81 mm Mortar transporter; Base model of the vehicle used to transport an 81mm mortar and ammunition for it.
- AD VCP; Mobile command post variant build on the base model vehicle.
- MRAT/LRAT; Base model of the Fennek used to transport an Spike MR/LR ATGM team.
- LVB; Base reconnaissance variant equipped with the KMW 1530 RWS with an M2HB and BAA surveillance module.
- SWP; A Fennek equipped with a Stinger Weapons Platform holding 4 Stinger MANPAD missiles on a remote controlled turret.
The Netherlands is undertaking an MLU program for their fleet of Fennek with a C-4I system as well as other updates. 322 of the Dutch Fenneks will be updated between 2022 and 2027 by KMW.
Capabilities specific to the German Fennek 1A1 and 1A2
- The vehicle is powered by a 177kW Deutz BF 6M2013C 6-cylinder engine and Renk 606 transmission capable of bringing the vehicle to a 115kph top speed. However in German service they are limited to 90kph.
- The 230 liter fuel tank gives it a 1.000km road range or 450km cross-country range.
- German recon variant features STANAG-4569 Level 3 protection (7,62x54R AP).
- All have integrated mine protection capable of withstanding blasts from 5kg of TNT.
- Overpressure based NBC system, air conditioning system and automated fire-extinguishing system.
- The BAA surveillance module is equipped with a thermal camera feeding into a black and white display as well as a day sight camera and laser range finder, This module can also be installed on a tripod up to 37m away from the vehicle. The Zies thermal camera has a detection range of 7.000m, classification range of 5.000m and identification range of 2.500m. The laser range finder can meanwhile store the range results for the last 50 lased targets.
- An advanced C3 system running FüInfoSysH can seamlessly transmit the vehicles location and target data to connected units.
- 2 SEM 80/90 and 1 RHM 7400 HF radio are installed in the vehicle an additional portable SEM 52 SL is also carried onboard.
- Armament consists of either a KMW 1530 RWS on the 1A1 or FLW 200 RWS on the 1A2 with either an MG3AIT, H&K GMG or M2HB (only on FLW 200).
- An Impulse-controlled smoke system is also installed in the rear of the vehicle with 6 launchers capable of deploying a smoke screen up to 50m in front of the vehicle.
- Additionally an CG-20 IED jammer, additional frontal protection and IR headlights were be installed on the Fennek 1A2.
- Qatar ended up being the only export customer for the Fennek. Qatar purchased 32 units split between JSFT and FAO variants. These were delivered between 2017 and 2020.
The Netherlands has pledged an unknown number of Fennek to Ukraine but so far these have not been seen in active service with Ukrainian forces.
- 5043 – Fennek Der Spähwagen Fennek und seine Varianten in der Bundeswehr written by Ralph Zwilling
- Fennek (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fennek#:~:text=The%20Fennek%2C%20named%20after%20the,Wegmann%20and%20Dutch%20Defence%20Vehicle)
- Ukraine received Fennek reconnaissance vehicles (https://mil.in.ua/uk/news/ukrayina-otrymala-rozviduvalni-mashyny-fennek/)
- Militaire steun aan Oekraïne (https://www.defensie.nl/onderwerpen/oostflank-navo-gebied/militaire-steun-aan-oekraine)
- Tank Masters (Photos) (http://tank-masters.de/)
- KNDS THE FENNEK AD (https://www.knds.de/en/systems-products/wheeled-vehicles/fennek/fennek-ad/)
- Fennek with Mortar walk around (http://www.primeportal.net/apc/ulrich_wrede/fennek_w_mortar/)
- Fennek Walk Around (http://www.primeportal.net/apc/hans-hermann_buhling/fennek/)