Following successful trials of four prototype vehicles Taiwan’s Ordnance Research and Development Centre is building 15 pre-production examples of the 8 x 8 CM-32 Yunpao (Cloud Leopard). The CM-32 is based on a design from Timoney Technology. Seven vehicles will be configured as APCs fitted with a remote-control weapon station armed with a machine gun and eight will be built as IFVs with a two-person turret armed with a stabilised 25mm M242 cannon. The APC will have a combat weight of about 22 tonnes while the IFV will have a combat weight of 24 tonnes. The army has indicated a requirement for 1,200 CM-32s including assault gun, command, 120mm mortar carrier, missile carrier, engineer and ambulance variants.
Explaining its FRES strategy the UK MoD wrote in May 2007: “To meet the Army’s minimum requirement for protection, the FRES Utility Vehicle needs to operate in the 27-30 tonnes weight range, without compromising capacity or mobility requirements. Only Current Development vehicles have the potential to achieve this, whilst retaining the ability to upgrade FRES in the future.” This stance is a clear reflection of the current threat to armoured vehicles in Afghanistan and Iraq from RPGs, land mines and improvised explosive devices. The need for survivability has blurred the ‘traditional’ distinction between lighter wheeled AFVs for medium forces and heavier tracked vehicles for heavy forces.