CDS on Military Being Used As Spare Capacity In Strikes + Ben Wallace Tells Military Housing Contractors to Raise Their Game + BAE Systems Wins Large Order For FATV’s + Babcock International Wins First Land Sector Contract in France
Searching for good news is these troubled times is not exactly easy but at least my final comment in relation to an important order received by BAE Systems and Babcock International’s winning of its first defence land sector global air support in France goes some way towards that! First though, comments that I might otherwise have preferred not to make:
Chief of Defence Staff – Army Must Not Be Used As Spare Capacity
I think that we all know where the Chief of Defence Staff, Admiral Sir Tony Radakin was coming from in his interview yesterday when he apparently suggested words similar to the above but I would still rather that he might have better thought them rather than actually said them.
Of course the Army is there in order to support whatever the Government requests them to do – be it driving Green Goddesses when the firemen went out on strike in the seventies, humanitarian rescue work helping struggling families who may have been cut off by snow or floods and which it has done brilliantly so many times in the past or undertaking urgent temporary construction work on bridges or swollen river during flooding or, as I guess the Chief of Defence Staff was implying, driving ambulances if required because of the upcoming strike.
The bottom line is that those who serve know full well that they are there to support the wider population in all emergencies if required and that may occasionally include strikes by other crucial public services. Of course, the hope is that that the Government will only call on them as a last resort and after much consultation.
But it is to me, not such a good idea to hint or suggest that the Army or for that matter, either of the other two primary military services, should have a say in what they may be asked to do by any government and in what the elected government of the day may deem to be a national emergency situation that requires it.
DIO and Pinnacle Rightly Receive Dressing Down From Ben Wallace.
One may be forgiven if you have never heard of Pinnacle Group but if you happen to be someone serving in the military and where Pinnacle Group through the DIO (Defence Infrastructure Organisation) are responsible for maintaining military housing that they are contracted to look after, it is a name I can guarantee that many know well.
I will spare you specific detail of issues that I have written on many times before over the past twenty odd years and you can, I am sure, imagine just how angry service families, particularly members of the Army, are living in properties that are supposedly supported by Pinnacle and where perhaps central heating has failed, water leaks into their properties, damp, mould, and many other failings, feel about the lack of support they receive from the DIO/MOD contractors responsible for the welfare of serving military and their families.
There’s a lovely PinnacleSF page on the internet that tells those who have problems how to contact Pinnacle by email or via what purports to be a 24 hour repair phone line or even via social media, but it seems that despite spending to make themselves sound good, it seems that many of those living in the 46,197 homes managed by DIO/Pinnacle contracts, the level of satisfaction provided leaves much to be desired.
I am pleased that following various press articles and complaints published on social media that the Secretary of State for Defence, Ben Wallace has already met with providers and will meet the Chief Executives of organisations responsible for military housing upkeep during this week. He has already told them to up their game and it frankly is just not good enough for Pinnacle Service Families to say on their Twitter page this week that “they are experiencing “extremely high call volumes and that they can only take emergency or urgent calls for repair at present”. For a family with young children for instance, any problem in a military home be it a house, flat or apartment in an immediate emergency.
I will live in hope that as we approach a time of year when more members of service families are together that Pinnacle gets its act together and that Mr. Wallace’s words are taken as a threat – get you act together or else.
One particular tweet that I read this week and that Mr. Wallace should also investigate is the very sensible member of the military who, because he could not get his heating to work and, I assume, got no service from Pinnacle or the DIO, called in a private contractor himself to get the job done only I believe to have been scolded for not following the rules!
BAE Systems Wins Huge Land Equipment Order
With a value of $760m, it is excellent news that under the International Collaborative All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV) programme, Sweden, Germany and the United Kingdom have reached an agreement with BAE Systems to purchase a total number of 436 of the BvS10 Future All-Terrain Vehicles (FATV’s).
To be manufactured by BAE Systems Hägglunds plant in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden and powered by Cummins engines produced at its Darlington UK facility, the BvS10 is based on terrain accessible North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) standards.
BvS10 has a modular design construction that allows the vehicle to be reconfigured for varying missions and can be delivered in multiple variants that include those of carrying personnel, communication and control, ambulance, vehicle repair and recovery, logistics support, situational awareness, and a weapons carrier with additional mortar capability.
Working alongside the UK’s European and Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF) Arctic partners in the High North, the Future All-Terrain Vehicle (FATV) is planned to be in-service until 2058 and in the UK, it will replace BV206 tracked and older BvS 10 ‘Viking’ models.
The UK will receive 60 FATV’s with its deliveries commencing in February 2025 under a £140 million contract. These articulated mobility systems provide optimal manoeuvrability across varying terrains enabling them to traverse snow, ice, rock, sand, mud or swamps, as well as steep mountain environments. The vehicles’ amphibious feature also allows them to swim in flooded areas or coastal waters, and a logistics variant can carry 6 tonnes of equipment.
Designed for operations in the harshest and most remote environments, BAE Systems military all-terrain vehicles are considered as world leaders in respect of all-terrain solutions. The BvS10 and Beowulf articulated mobility systems provide optimal manoeuvrability across varying terrains and can traverse snow, ice, rock, sand, mud or swamps, as well as steep mountain environments. This latest agreement further strengthens the company’s strong position as the industry leader in this highly specialist capability.
The joint Swedish, German and British procurement will see a total of 436 vehicles being delivered starting in 2024, with 236 BvS10s going to the Swedish Defense Materiel Administration (FMV), 140 to the German Federal Ministry of Defence and as mentioned above, 60 to the United Kingdom Ministry of Defence (MoD). These will be the latest version of the BvS10 currently operated by Sweden and will include variants for troop transport, logistics, medical evacuation, recovery, and command and control.
This latest acquisition follows Sweden’s order last year of an additional 127 BvS10 all-terrain vehicles for its existing fleet. In parallel to this agreement, Sweden is also procuring an additional 40 BvS10s in a separate contract valued at approximately $50 million.
BvS10 is currently operated by Austria, France, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. Of additional note is that the BAE Systems’ Beowulf, the unarmoured variant of the BvS10, won the U.S. Army’s competition for its Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV) program in August. The U.S. Army will receive 110 vehicles over a five-year period.
Babcock International Wins 10-year contact for global support of air transit and operation in France.
The following announcement which I have reprinted below being spotted by me shortly before I have finished today’s commentary is yet another piece of excellent news for Babcock International which is already engaged supporting France with aerial emergency medical services (HEMS) operations and has an 11-year contract with the French Air Force (FAF) for their F-Air 21 military flying training programme. In our HEMS operations, we operate from 21 bases across the country, own and maintain a fleet of 34 specialist HEMS aircraft and provide an end-to-end service for our customers, including the provision of specialist medial air crews and aircraft engineers. In our military operations, we partner with Dassault Aviation to provide a complete system to the FAF delivering world-class training to upcoming jet pilots and weapons systems officers.
Babcock International has today announced the award of a 10- year multi-million contract for the global support of air transit and aircraft operation equipment by the Aeronautical Maintenance Department (French Ministry of Armed Forces).
This is Babcock International’s first significant Land Sector contract in France, and will be supported by capability transfer from our UK business. France is a focus country for Babcock, and this new contract extends its support for the French Armed Forces. In the first half of 2023, Babcock, in partnership with AES and TLD (part of Alvest Group), will set up operations on five military bases in France, including a customer-focused support coordination centre in Bordeaux Beauséjour. Teams of technicians will work on 26 military bases (Air Force, Navy and Army) in France and abroad with a workshop truck.
Babcock will be responsible for management, fleet management including fleet rationalisation and renewal, and maintenance of a large part of the equipment. AES will be responsible for logistical support, supply and delivery of spare parts and TLD will provide specific high value-added equipment. Pierre Basquin, CEO Babcock France said: “This first GSE contract is an important and strategic step for Babcock in France, and we are proud that the Aeronautical Maintenance Department has trusted us to provide this essential service. This new contract places us in a good position for future opportunities in the land sector and with the French armed forces. We are looking forward to this new challenge.
CHW (London – 19th December 2022)
Howard Wheeldon FRAeS
Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd,
M: +44 7710 779785