NRF “Viper” ARV (Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle)

The NRF “Viper” ARV (Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle) is a low to mid-TQ 2-man scout vehicle designed for light-recon teams.

As with most Russian vehicles it emphasises durability and armour over comfort and hi-tech. Atypical of NRF vehicles it utilises an all-over armour design with no vision slit and relies upon external camera systems (vehicle and gun-mounts) and multiple covered GPS and sat-nav systems, as well as a variety of pop-up scanning devices which, when out of use, tuck away underneath armoured covers in various parts of the hull. Internally there are screens for displaying a variety of information on both sides of the Viper, typically the pilot concentrates on the terrain and the co-pilot manages search systems, weapons and comms.

Viper armour is a generic cerametal of around 7mm thickness with a pleasing-to-the-eye sleek design, which offers superior resistance to light armour piercing rounds from many angles.

The rear-engine power source can be one of a vast variety of systems ranging from the lowly diesel plant to high-tech micro-fusion plants. It is not advanced enough to utilise E-sink power sources although it does have standard battery-powered capability for limited usage (~2 hour maximum). It is real-wheel drive, front-wheel steer, with a high, springy suspension system that is surprisingly durable and very simplistic and that offers an “interesting” off-road driving experience.

Top-speed on the road is 175kmh, off road its limits are largely defined by the courage (or insanity) of the crew driving it, but 80+kmh is easily and often achieved. Unsurprisingly the crew has a 4-way belt system to prevent them being tossed around needlessly within the cockpit. The doors and T-bar are removable and open-top versions are common in very hot climates.

Armament is a, typically Russian, hefty 30mm cannon that uses external ammunition packs (80 rounds), requiring the crew to disembark to change ammunition. A serious disadvantage to energy weapons or internal ammunition storage, however the design was never intended for prolonged or open engagements and the weapon is for self-protection against other recon troops, un-armoured or very lightly-armoured opponents, not for anti-armour or even heavy-infantry encounters.

The best defence for Viper teams is to get out of trouble as fast as possible (or avoid it altogether) and its lightweight and high-speed enable it to cross rough terrain at very high-speeds. It is quite common for Viper teams to roll the vehicle during excessive manoeuvring but it is so light that it can be rolled back on to its wheelbase by 2 people (1 if they are boosted). The top-mount weapon is occasionally removed by some crews and additional roll-bars added to actually allow the vehicle to roll completely over. This is also typical of the civilian version used in the Paris-Dakar and Theismann Rallies, where the Viper has won on numerous occasions.

The Viper has no mine-resistant features but its SOP is, wherever possible, not to use roads at all, so it was never intended to provide an MRAP patrol style aspect.

Stowage space is external other than a small internal rifle rack and other than its small size the Viper has no innate stealth capabilities, it does have built-in air-conditioning although it is not NBC or XE (Exo-Environment) capable.

Despite all of its many drawbacks the Viper is immensely popular with troops, in large part due to the sheer thrill of charging across rough country at high-speed and the pilot-style pride of being a Viper driver within the NRF gives it a reputation above other much more capable vehicles. Nevertheless the Viper has a proven track record in all conditions with many different Habitat troops and a long successful military history as the light-recon vehicle of choice within the NRF. The NRF even has a Viper Display Team that regularly tours the Technosphere.

The NRF and its customers ‘love’ the vehicle and it has sold in excess of 200,00 units across all ranges of TQ and has even been exported to the Sol system in the diesel-powered, non-cerametal format.

It has often been described as an little more than an armoured dune-buggy by its detractors, and as little more than an armoured dune-buggy by its proponents also.

In typically Russian fashion the Viper is cheap, rugged and gets the job done with the minimum of fuss and technology.