The Ministry of Defence is aiming to buy hundreds of new armoured vehicles to protect British troops fighting in Afghanistan from the threat of roadside bombs, it was disclosed.
The MoD confirmed that officials were engaged in negotiations with the Treasury over the provision of a package said to be worth £500 million.
According to the News of the World, it will comprise 600 vehicles, including 100 heavily-armed, 4x4 Jackal patrol vehicles and 100 armoured logistics vehicles based on the Mastiff.
The paper said that the vehicles - which will replace the Army's "thin-skinned" Snatch Land Rovers - could be in Afghanistan by the start of next year.
A MoD spokesman confirmed that discussions with the Treasury were under way but refused to go into details. He did however pointedly praise the performance of the Army's existing Jackals and Mastiffs.
"The MoD is constantly looking improve the equipment provided to its forces on the front line," the spokesman said.
"During the past two years over 100 Mastiff, one of the best-protected patrol vehicles in the world, and 130 new Jackal vehicles were provided for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they have saved the lives of countless military personnel.
"We are in discussions with the Treasury in relation to the provision of additional vehicles, it would therefore be inappropriate to comment further."
The move to acquire more heavily armoured vehicles reflects the switch in tactics by the Taliban who are increasingly turning to the roadside bomb - or improvised explosive device (IED) - as their main method of attack. The lightly armoured Land Rovers offer no real protection against such devices, leaving British troops highly vulnerable as they move around the country.
The News of the World said that the arrival of the additional vehicles would mean that the Land Rovers would only have to be used when commanders were sure that conditions on the ground were safe.