Though rarely considered a military powerhouse in the same breath as the United States, Great Britain or Russia, it seems that Sweden has always stayed on the cutting edge of their military endeavors choosing a more calculated, balanced and defensive-minding approach to their hardware. With experience garnered from tank production prior to the Second World War, it only seemed a matter of time before the country would follow suit of its counterparts in the West and offer up an armored personnel carrier worthy of her army. The Pbv 302 (Pansarbandvagn 302) was just that, an APC in the mold of the American FMC M113 system - appearing outwardly similar to that system in fact - yet peppered with Swedish innovations throughout.
The earlier Swedish armored personnel carrier came in the form of the Pbv 301 which featured a 20mm main gun with passenger accommodation for 8 infantrymen. But age was finally catching up to the 301 and a new design solution was in the works. The resulting carrier became the Pbv 302 series and would become the backbone of Swedish Army forces for several decades.
Outwardly, the 302 was of a most basic design. Straight edges greeted the viewer with the notable exception being the well-sloped frontal hull of all-welded steel. Five large road wheels were provided for either track side with power derived form a Volvo-brand 280 horsepower 6-cylinder engine. The crew of two consists of the driver, seated at the front center of the hull, and the commander to the right and rear. Up to 10 combat-ready infantrymen can be carried in the rear hull with entry and exit made possible through a twin doors in the rear.
Basic armament for the Pbv 302 is a single 20mm Hispano-brand cannon. The cannon is fitted to a powered turret that is mounted to the extreme forward of the hull roof and to the driver's left hand side. Self-defense is further augmented by 6 smoke grenade dischargers and 2 x Lyran flare launchers are also present.
Like most other successful armor designs, the chassis of the 302 has seen further service in other forms that include the prototypical command, fire direction post and observation post vehicles. Proposed designs have included an Mk 2 mark with varied improvements over the initial production model and a dedicated infantry fighting vehicle mounting a 25mm main gun in a turret assembly.
The 302 was offered for export to Swedish allies though none were purchased. The country maintains strict export rules so the reach of any Swedish-made system is usually limited to Sweden itself. In any case, the Pbv 302 continued the long-standing tradition of quality Swedish-born weaponry that have formed the basis of a highly-respected defense industry.
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