BAE SYSTEMS DROPS OUT OF OUVS?
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
23 Jan 08. The sudden announcement on January 23rd regarding closure of the BAE Systems Pinzgauer Plant in Guildford has ramifications for the Company’s aspirations in the light to medium market.
BAE Systems announced plans to discontinue the production of the Pinzgauer 1 vehicle and close its manufacturing facilities at Guildford and Fareham, with the potential loss of up to 102 jobs. The plans are based on a thorough review of current and future potential workload, the current cost base of Pinzgauer vehicle production, duplication of capability across BAE Systems sites, and how the product fits within BAE Systems’ wheeled vehicle strategy.
The Company plans to establish a new Pinzgauer support business – as part of its successful military vehicle support business – at the Guildford site that will retain a core team of about 25 people to continue supporting Pinzgauer fleets, primarily in the UK and New Zealand.
BAE Systems acquired Pinzgauer in August 2007 as part of the Armor Holdings acquisition.
The development of the new Pinzgauer 2 vehicle will be transitioned to the BAE Systems South Africa business, which has the infrastructure to continue to develop, manufacture and market these light utility vehicles.
Assembly of the final Pinzgauer 1 and Vector vehicles for the UK Ministry of Defence will be carried out at Guildford and Fareham, and will be completed at another BAE Systems site, which remains to be confirmed. The likelihood is that this will be the Newcastle Plant which may mean increased costs and delays to the troubled Vector Programme. Permali Gloucester carried out the design and development for the first tranche of e Vector vehicles which was then believed to have been transferred to Armor Holdings following the buy by BAE. The Edior saw a Vector vehicle recently and the angle of the front wheel show the problems when armour fits are made to a vehicle already at the tope nd of its weight limits.
BAE Systems will enter consultation with employees as soon as feasible on these plans. Where possible, every effort will be made to mitigate any job losses through redeployment of employees within BAE Systems. To help employees seeking suitable alternative employment, an outplacement support service will be established.
This is another example of the myth of the medium weight military vehicle market and if BAE Systems cannot crack it without a major investment, this shows why Projects such as OUVS and JLTV are facing problems and delay.
One can trace the need for this variant of military vehicle to the late seventies when more mobility was required but with a low visible signature and enhanced cross-country mobility. The Bedford 4 tonne workhorse whilst ideal for general cargo requirements was not versatile enough to be heli-poratble and its leaf spring axle system, as found with the Saxon armoured variant, meant that its cross-country abilities were limited to slow plodding manoeuvres.
The Editor discussed this problem with industry expert Bill Waddell of Roush, previously AutomotiveTechnik, last year at IDEX. We suggested that we write a joint book about the aspirations and failures of companies establishing themselves in this sector, many of whom with dreams of great riches! The companies we discussed were DOSCO, Stonefield, Hotspur, SMC Engineering, Supacat, HMT and AutomotiveTechnik. The Editor was sales Manager at SMC Engineering when the company was bought by Hotspur armoured products and on purchase he was expected to sell 1300 vehicles in the first year because, ‘That is what the Investors had been promised,’ the company went bust three years later. Supacat HMT had similar aspirations to replace all the ACMAT vehicles and become a multi-million pound company, DOSCO ceased production and Stonefield went bust.
When Stewart & Stevenson purchase Automotive Technik, it was believed that the main target had been