Canadian American Strategic Review






AVGPs  for

Background  – Armoured Vehicle, General Purpose  –  Cougar  DFSV

Cougar AVGP – From Tank Trainer to Direct Fire Support
A Cougar was easily distinguished  from other AVGP  family members by its large Alvis turret  (as used on British CRV(T) Scorpion recce vehicles). The main armament  was the 76mm L23A1, a Royal Ordnance medium-velocity gun. The original idea was  that Cougars would  familiarize  Reserve units with tank tactics without the costs of operating larger numbers of Leopard C1s. When the Grizzly ISCs deployed overseas, the Cougar with its 76mm gun was a natural choice to provide peacekeepers with direct fire support.[1]

The Cougar's gun lacked the punch of  higher velocity weapons but its shells were large enough to pack a useful  high-explosive charge. High Explosive Squash-Head rounds gave the Cougar a limited anti-armour capability –  which became important in the Balkans. The L23A1 gun also fired cannister and smoke shells. [2] Downsides were the cramped quarters and the aluminum turret armour. [3]

Multiple overseas deployments wore out the Cougars. While other AVGPs went through the WLAV-LE, under the Equipment Rational- ization Plan, the Cougar fleet was halved with only a limited chassis upgrade.  The Cougars were returned to Reserve units for training purposes after refurbishing. Tank familiarization was no longer needed [4] so Cougars needed a  training  task  reassignment.

Neither Sword nor Stealth? – Cougar AVGPs as Reserve Recce Stand-Ins
The decision was made to employ the Cougar as reconnaissance vehicles until the Reserves could be supplied G-wagons  (or a way found to use the 'Milverado' pickup in the role ). The Cougar was hardly ideal as a recce vehicle. [5] Its gun was too slow-firing to 'fight for inform- ation' and the vehicle too tall to be stealthy on even a practice 'battlefield'. Soon, the Cougars were retired. They were offered for sale abroad with limited success, [6]  others are on display.

[1] In reality, Cougars deployed to Africa or the Balkans operated like conventional armoured cars rather than direct fire-support vehicles.
[2] With its modest velocity (533m/sec) gun, the Cougar was never going to be a tank-killer but L29A5 HESH shells were effective against bunkers. Nor did canister rounds need high velocity – being essentially over-sized shotgun shells with 700 tapered projectiles. The smoke rounds were of  base-ejected type. L23A1 elevation was 35° as was the coaxial GPMG. Eight 66-mm grenade launchers were also mounted.
[3] Cracked aluminum armour was inherited from the Alvis FV101 Scorpion line. The turret's 20 year old Radnis optical sights also became unreliable and difficult to find parts for.  The solution was adapting the Grizzly's image-intensifying sights (M36E4+) to the Cougar turret.
[4] At that time,  it was intended that  the remaining Leopard C2 tanks would be withdrawn.  This changed with the Kandahar deployment.
[5] As a counterargument, it should be noted that similarly-armed  British Army FV101 Scorpions were recce vehicles from their inception. These lower-profile tracked vehicles were later re-armed with 30mm auto cannons. Re-arming was never seriously considered for Cougars.
[6] Some 44 ex-CF Cougars were sold  to Uruguay for UN peacekeeping duties.  These turretless hulls were refurbished in Chile by Famae.