Born of the British Army's "Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked)" (CVR-T) initiative of the 1970s, the FV103 Spartan fulfilled the role of Armored Personnel Carrier (APC) in the lineup. The system emerged from design and testing to be formally adopted by the British Army in 1978 with several hundred being procured over time. Foreign use then followed by the forces of Belgium, Botswana, Iraq, Jordan and Oman. Due to its design pedigree, the Spartan shares a high commonality of parts with its sister vehicles in the CVR-T family line. The vehicles emerged from the Alvis brand label (now BAe Systems Land Systems) out of Telford, UK.
The Spartan tops the scales as a 9-ton vehicle featuring a running length of 17 feet, a width of 8 feet and a height of 8.5 feet. Its low profile and compact size make it an agile and small target on the battlefield. As an infantry mover, the vehicle is armed solely with a 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG) for self-defense and suppression of enemy infantry. Eight smoke grenade dischargers (two banks of four each) are situated along the vehicle's sides and used for screening the vehicle. Power is served from either a gasoline- or diesel-fueled powerpack, though the latter is fitted to newer vehicles. Maximum road speeds reach 60 miles per hour with an operational road range out to 320 miles. The Spartan retains an amphibious quality, relying on an erected (by the crew) floatation screen and propelled through water sources by the movement of its own tracks. Running gear consists of a "track-and-wheel" arrangement featuring five rubber-tired road wheels to a hull side, the drive sprocket at front and the track idler at rear. No track return rollers are featured.
A standard Spartan operating crew is three though two are used when arranged to carry more infantry. Four passengers can be fitted with the standard three-crew. The driver sits at front-left with the powerpack to his immediate right and this then opens the bulk of the hull for the crew, supplies and storage. A cupola is identified just aft of the driver's position for the commander and can mount the machine gun armament. An NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) system and night vision equipment are provided. The FV103 is the standard carrier model and this has also seen use as a missile carrier for the FV102 "Striker" anti-tank vehicle. The Spartan has also been evolved into its own anti-tank form as the FV120 Spartan MCT (with the "MILAN Compact Turret" housing two crew) which changes the internal configuration some.
Spartans were used in operational service during the Iraq War and Bosnian conflict of the 1990s. In the British Army inventory, the type has been steadily replaced by the more cost-effective Iveco "Panther" 4x4 wheeled Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV). The Spartan does, however, remain in service with a few of the aforementioned operators including Iraq which commands some 100 vehicles.