A SEA CHANGE IN ARMOURED VEHICLE PROCUREMENT?
By Julian Nettlefold
30 Sep 08. The News of the World, the BBC and the Times announced that ‘Britain is to spend £500 million on hundreds of heavily armoured vehicles to protect troops in Afghanistan.’ BATTLESPACE understands that the bulk of these vehicles are the Tactical Support vehicle Requirement which we covered in a previous issue.
BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.10 ISSUE 37, 19 Sep 2008, Tactical Support vehicle requirement.
‘19 Sep 08. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the Tactical Support vehicle requirement to provide a fleet of vehicles to supply existing fleets of Mastiff (Heavy), Medium (a competition between NAVISTAR and Thales Copperhead) and Light (Supacat HMT) will be decided once the business case is presented to the MoD and the Trasury in October. The fleet Requirement is for 400 vehicles, 100 Heavy, 150 Medium, 50 (68) Light. Sources suggest that the Navistar MxT is ahead as the favoured choice for the Medium requirement. The vehicles will be flatbed support vehicles and will also include the fleet of Yamamaha Quad Bikes, militarised by Roush with trailers to support the infantry.’
The MoD responded on Sunday by stating: “The MoD is constantly looking improve the equipment provided to its forces on the front line. 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 Times went on to say that the decision to acquire 600 vehicles that can withstand landmines and roadside bombs comes after criticism of the Ministry of Defence from the families of servicemen killed while on patrol in lightly armoured “Snatch” Land Rovers. Susan Smith, from Tamworth in Staffordshire, whose 21-year-old son Private Phillip Hewett died in Iraq in 2005, is suing the MoD for providing vehicles that “gave little or no protection against improvised explosive devices”. Des Browne, the Defence Secretary, has been negotiating with the Treasury over the plan to buy the 600 vehicles, which will partly replace the Land Rovers but also add to the stock of heavier troop-carrying systems in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is hoped that the new vehicles will be in place by next spring, in time for an expected resurgence of Taleban fighting.
This statement is in contrast to Colonel Charlie Clee’s statement at the UOR Day that the MoD is still on the hunt for a SNATCH 2 replacement.
The sense of urgency surrounding the provision of better protection for troops was underlined yesterday when it was confirmed that 100 of the 600 vehicles would replace the Viking armoured vehicles, which came into service with the
Royal Marines in 2006 and have been deployed across Helmand province in southern
Afghanistan. The Viking has proved to be vulnerable to landmines. About a dozen
Viking drivers from the Royal Marines and the Queen’s Royal Lancers have been
killed or seriously wounded by mine strikes, and steps were taken to thicken the armour under the driver’s seat.
Under the new proposal, the Vikings will be replaced by 100 better-protected
“high-mobility tracked patrol vehicles”.
Sources suggest that the replacement for the Viking would be the Bionix tracked vehicle made by Singapore Technologies and possibly supported by Thales. The Bionix, whilst resembling Viking has much better underfloor mine protection.
However, the announcement of a £500m UOR will also put pressure on the FRES Requirement. With General David Petraeus, the new Commander of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM), stating yesterday in London that the Taleban intends to continue the war into the winter the requirement for an 8×8 UOR looks to be the next step. (See: BATT