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Jankel – Firing On All Cylinders! By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE



It was great pleasure to join Dan Crosby, Jankel’s Commercial Director at the Company’s new plant in Rustington, Sussex, UK. The last time the Editor had a site visit was to the Company’s Weybridge HQ in the late 2000s when the current CEO, Andrew Jankel, was new in the job and taking on the legacy where his father left off.

Well, how has he done? In short spectacularly!

At the time of the last visit, the UK’s specialist military vehicle industry was booming with niche suppliers supplying new and refurbished vehicles to meet the demands of UORs in the UK and overseas to meet the rising new IED threats in Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition, Police forces across the world had to develop new vehicles, many armoured, to meet new and emerging terrorist threats. Jankel was then one of many such UK Companies which included AutomotiveTechnic, manufacturer of the Pinzgauer,  now part of BAE Systems, Land Rover, whose Defender production has ceased along with its Government and Military Division, Hobson Industries whose founder Peter Hobson announced his retirement this month, Dytecna which went into administration in 2015, Force Protection, now part of GDELS,  Oshkosh now booming with JLTV orders, DSG, now part of Babcock, Alvis and Vickers, now part of BAE Systems, Macneillie, now part of Babcock and reportedly struggling, Penman, which went into administration in 2016, Supacat, manufacturer of Jackal, V Trade, now part of Jankel, OVIK, Marshall Aerospace & Defence, Universal Engineering which went into administration in 2015, NP Aerospace, now part of Morgan but with its Coventry site closed,  and Ricardo which prospers in the automotive engineering but has closed its Specialist Vehicle Division in Shoreham.

At one time or another since we started our annual June, now September, bi-annual DVD issue, which focused on new developments in the UK light vehicle segment, the Editor visited all of the above companies to discuss their aims, dreams and aspirations. Three CEOs of the above list, Peter Hobson of Hobson Industries, Roger Medwell of NP Aerospace and Nick Ames of Supacat were voted by our readers as BATTLESPACE Businessman Of The Year. Jankel was seen in the middle tier of all of these; ticking over but not setting the world on fire!

Then, in 2009, the world changed with the pull-out from Afghanistan, the end of lucrative UORs and MoD cuts. DVD held at Millbrook every year, which in its heyday was the buzzword for new vehicle technology, was cut to a bi-annual event and the flow of orders stopped with the venerable Land Rover Wolf being kept operational until 2024 and nothing in the pot to replace the Protected Mobility Fleet bought under UoR for Afghanistan. This was mirrored in the size of our June issue which in its heyday was perfect bound with at last 27 pages of adverts, from most of the above companies and others.

So, with all this in mind as background it was timely to meet Jankel CEO, Andrew Jankel at Eurosatory and subsequently to come down to the Company’s new Rustington production plant. As we shall see as this article unfolds, Andrew Jankel and his team have been quietly establishing a world leader in defence and security automotive engineering, partnering such top names as Toyota, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, GM and Jeep, although both these last two relationships have now ended.

Dan Crosby gave the Editor a brief history of Jankel. “It was established by Robert Jankel, Andrew’s father in 1955. He developed the best-selling Panther sports car and then branched out into coachwork for the likes of Rolls-Royce and Bentley, making armoured Head of State vehicles and in 1997 branched out into building vehicles for the UK MoD and Police.  Our first vehicles were armoured Jaguars for the RUC in 1997 followed by a specialist fleet of GM-based vehicles for the Met police. Customers came from all over the world with the Middle East being a key market. It was this Middle East connection that brought about the development of the relationship with King Abdullah II Design and Development Bureau (KADDB) in Jordan. Jankel is now a $100 million business, employing over 150 people in the UK; circa 75 at each of our two facilities, Weybridge and Rustington, and 80 in North Carolina in the USA.”

KADDB and Jankel formed the Jordan Light Vehicle Manufacturing LLC (JLVM) in 2002.

JLVM is a joint venture between KADDB and the Jankel Group Ltd of the UK to design, develop, produce, and market military vehicles. Its main products are the Al-Jawad and Al-Wahash armoured troop carriers for internal security uses. JLVM won the King Abdullah II Award for Excellence in 2010. JLVM’s production strategy is ‘Build to Order’ and/or ‘Engineer to Order’ to the customer’s specific requirements ranging from soft skin and special purpose vehicles to fully armoured Internal Security Vehicles (ISVs) based on a variety of commercial off the shelf chassis. Other soft skin products such as 4×4 utility vehicles, ambulances, and mobile medical vehicles are part of JLVM products portfolio.

“Well, this is certainly impressive and shows how Jankel has bucked the trend and is not only winning new orders in Europe in particular but also entering new technologies such as seating. How has this been achieved?”

“As you know Jankel has always prided itself on a strong work ethic, an entrepreneurial approach and good design and engineering, working with partners and customers to develop what they want at the best price and shortest delivery time. In short, we listen to what our customer wants! Over the years we have also brought in new capability to keep abreast with developing technologies, and to this end we have continued to grow the capability of our team with a number of key appointments including Mike Mullen, Jankel’s Managing Director from Prodrive, Geoff Newman, Director of Product Development, who has joined us from McLaren and Paul Tarry our Programme Director who came with the V-Trade acquisition in 2015. We moved into our Rustington site here in 2017 after we had outgrown six smaller facilities located in Shoreham-By-Sea.” Dan Crosby said.

“Whatever your problem, Jankel will solve it. OEMs who need a trusted partner rely on Jankel for our ability to develop cutting edge, fully integrated solutions that position our partners to win. We go further than the brief, adding value each time as we challenge ourselves to drive innovation for Jankel, our partners and our industry. With over 200 (and counting) solutions to some of the trickiest industry challenges, our comprehensive knowledge means the answer may already be on our shelves or within our research programme. We are respected and trusted partners on government research initiatives so have a deep understanding of industry trends.” Crosby continued.

“As well as developing your automotive capability, Jankel has also branched out into new areas such as BLASTech seating and Hot Formed Armour techniques?”

“Seating has been a particular success for Jankel. The BLASTech seat design came from our work with Supacat on the Jackal where we are suppliers for the armour package. Jankel’s survivability assessments on the Supacat HMT base platform in 2006 identified the driver’s and commander’s seating positions as challenging areas as located over the front axle, thus making the occupants vulnerable to IED blast. We developed the BLASTech seat to mitigate the blast to the vehicle occupants and quickly found that blast seating technology was in its infancy in the UK, Europe and the USA. To enable the Company to benefit from the huge numbers of MRAPs being built in the USA, Andrew Jankel decided to establish Jankel USA in North Carolina and moved his family over there to establish and run the business. This investment has paid off and to date we have supplied over 75,000 BLASTech mitigation seats to customers in the UK and USA.”

“The list of recent contracts won has shown a number of key wins in Europe, Belgium and France in particular. At a time of Brexit and worries about access to European markets, this is a considerable achievement.”

Following the 2016 contract to supply the Belgium Ministry of Defence (BeMOD) with over 100 FOX Rapid Reaction Vehicles (RRV), Jankel this year secured a second prestigious contract with the country’s military to supply a new fleet of specialist tactical vehicles; 199 new light troop transport vehicles (LTTV). Jankel specialises in fully engineered solutions that utilise commercial-off-the-shelf base platforms and meet exact military customer requirements, standards and operational needs. The contract will see Jankel execute on this specialty by using the Mercedes UNIMOG platform to deliver the 199 LTTVs to the Belgium army. The LTTV will be designed by Jankel’s team of engineers to provide a modular vehicle solution that will benefit from unique removable mission modules that enable the vehicle to be re-rolled for operational platform versatility.  Alongside a fully integrated suite of military sub-systems that includes a removable ballistic protection kit, a Roll-Over-Protection-System (ROPS), weapon mounts and communications fit, the platform will provide full interoperability with the FOX RRV fleet.

More than one hundred Jankel Fox Rapid Response vehicles (RRV), selected after competitive tender by the Belgium MOD in 2016, are now in full series production, with the first batches completed and delivered. This significant milestone for the Jankel Fox RRV contract has seen Jankel successfully complete the Belgium programme trials, development and product sign off gateways. Jankel met the Belgium Ministry of Defence (BeMOD)’s requirement to upgrade their military fleet with vehicles offering greater mobility, tactile agility and protection while on the ground. The Fox RRV is designed with enhanced weight carrying capacity, internal CH-47 air transportability and increased off-road agility to push the boundaries of payload, mobility and performance. Having agreed the production schedule, entering the final phases of the contract is a great success for all parties involved.

“As part of our strengthening brand in Europe we are developing partnerships and licensing deals for the Fox range. Our flexible and tailored offer is proving valuable and is encouraging more localised Fox fleets across Europe. In Belgium in particular we saw that the customer required a vehicle based on existing civilian mainstream automotive technology. To that end we continued to develop the Fox vehicle with its Toyota Technology and ensured local sourcing through technology transfer to local companies so our bids are cost effective and meet sourcing criteria. We are also working on a 6×6 Toyota variant with an Australian partner with further details on that coming later this year.”

“Jankel has gained another European success, this time through its continued strong partnership with Technamm in France. The contract is to deliver Fox Long Range Patrol Vehicles (LRPVs) to the French MOD as part of the VPS 2 urgent requirement. On the back of the recent order from the Belgium MoD for over a hundred Jankel Fox RRVs, this new request will see the Fox vehicles manufactured under licence from Jankel in the Technamm facility in Southern France. The vehicle, to be known as ‘Jankel Fox by Masstech’ enables 4 to 6 occupants to cover more distance over longer periods. Its platform firepower, manoeuvrability and supportability make it a highly versatile vehicle, ideal for many roles both in rural and urban situations. The vehicle offers a highly mobile fire support and tactical force protection platform and caters for a range of weaponry with configurable mounts at locations around the platform. The order is in response to an urgent requirement by the French MOD for vehicles that can operate in specific regions such as West Africa, where the LRPV is well suited to this type of terrain.”

“We are now using the same partnering techniques in Holland where we are in the final stages of a competitive tender against Mercedes Benz and Defenture, the Dutch company offering the Vector. To that end we are already establishing a new support business in Holland to service our European customers.”

“You appear to have a one-stop shop capability to service all your client’s requirements?”

“Yes, we have all services under one roof: modelling, prototyping, blast testing, homologation, EMC, and ECM / EW fits, so can quickly and cost effectively deliver our Customer’s fully integrated solutions. We keep going until the job is more than done, providing through life support services from delivery to disposal.” 

“This is certainly a very impressive story in a time of budget cuts and uncertainty. How will you keep up this momentum?”

“We are constantly evolving the company bringing in new systems, techniques and employee experience to keep ahead of the game. We have established key partnerships across the world, a leading range of vehicles and specialist tactical vehicle sub-systems, and a flexibility to transfer the technology to build anywhere globally including our already established KADDB and North America plants.” Dan Crosby concluded.

As the Editor drove away, it will be little surprise to your readers that Andrew Jankel has been selected as candidate for BATTLESPACE Businessman Of The Year 2019!

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