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By Julian Nettlefold

26 Jun 08. DVD was the setting for the new Defence Support Group (DSG) headed by Archie Hughes to demonstrate future capability following the merger of ABRO and DARA. BATTLESPACE met up with DSG PR supremo Alan Robertson for the interview held after an excellent lunch of spit roast pork and salad and of course, lashings of crackling!

Formation of DSG

April 1st 2008 saw the launch of the Defence Support Group (DSG), which brings together the ABRO business units with those of the Defence Aviation Repair Agency (DARA) into a single new Government-owned organisation.

As one of the Ministry of Defence’s Trading Funds, DSG’s primary focus will be in providing expert in-house maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for the through life support of key land and air based platforms and equipment for the UK Armed Forces. It draws together many unique capabilities that have been developed over several decades for the direct benefit of troops and their equipment at both home and abroad.

The combined businesses will turnover in excess of £200m, with a workforce of around 3500 strategically located throughout the UK at 12 sites including Catterick, Telford, Bovingdon, St Atahan, Bicester and Sterling. Directly responsible to Ministers and Parliament, the Chief Executive of the new organisation is Archie Hughes who previously held similar positions in both ABRO and DARA.

DSG had its reputation of quality to live up to right from the onset as DSG’s facilities form a pivotal role in the supply of key Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) into both the Iraq and Afghan theatres.

Archie Hughes CEO of DSG told BATTLESPACE, “The reputations of ABRO and DARA for delivering quality services to our Armed Forces are recognised and acknowledged throughout the world. It is not uncommon for our employees to be right up at the Front Line supporting our troops and making sure the equipment on which they rely is fit for purpose and fully serviceable. DSG staff are out there in Theatre to do a job and do it well, which is readily acknowledged by our military customers.”

“In creating DSG, Ministers and the MoD had a clear idea of what they expect from us, we must focus our skills and expertise on supporting our defence customers. Diversification into non-defence markets is a distraction we can no longer afford and our vision is unequivocal – we will excel in supporting defence.”

The size and complexity of the UOR process was clearly outlined by Colonel Charlie Clee who heads the MoDs UOR Requirements Branch ant a brief on the BAE Stand during DVD. BAE Systems are the Design Authority for most of the legacy fleet and thus work very closely with DSG in fulfilling these Requirements.
“These are busy and challenging time for the British Armed Forces and our industry partners,” Colonel Clee said, “The MoD has spent £3.5 billion in UOR Requirements equating to 100 active Programmes. To meet the specific needs in specific theatres we are exploiting technology and novel ways of deployment.”

Jim Imrie, Managing Director of Weapons and Vehicles for BAE Systems outlined the work done by BAE, much of which was done in association with ABRO, particularly the Warrior and FV432 UORs.

BAE has supplied 6000 kits for Bulldog including powertrain upgrades, sighting system enhancements, air conditioning and force protection packages including the reactive armour kit and bar armour.

Warrior has had 17 capability upgrades including bar armour, the reactive armour kit as fitted to Bulldog, plexiglass screens and wire cutters. There is an ongoing Study Programme for upgrading the powertrain.

Viking has had bar armour fitted as well as a composite armour package for protection against 20mm. We were told that it is not unusual fro a Viking to return to barracks with 2-3000 round hits on its armour! The wish list as required by the user for Viking is an overhead weapon station (OWS), an ambul

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