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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

‘From little acorns’, is a phrase well applicable to DVD. DVD was originally conceived by Jeremy Greaves and his MoD SUV IPT in 1999 as Defence Vehicle Dynamics, a shop window for Abbey Wood to see the latest in defence vehicle technology at Chertsey. The move to the extensive Millbrook testing ground has given the show the space and facilities required to manage a world-class International Defence Motor Show. DVD is quickly establishing itself as Europe’s primary Military Motor Show. The excellent Millbrook facilities, offering visitors a real drive experience at speed and cross-country is unique to any other venue throughout the world.

DVD 2004 started with the comprehensive brief by Brigadier Charlie Hobson,
DEC ELS – Director Equipment Capability Expeditions Logistics and Support Industry Day briefing which gave industry attendees an in-depth briefing on future requirements which is expected to be repeated in 2005 to the magnificent Gala Dinner held in the Bedford Corn Exchange which went away from the traditional military programme to produce some outstanding acts after an excellent three course meal and an auction to follow which raised £800 for SSFA and the BEN automotive charities.

“Following the huge success of DVD 2004 attracting over 2,500 people, DVD is now a permanent fixture in the industry’s calendar. DVD is managed by the
MoD’s Specialist and Utility Vehicles IPT and is billed as one of Europe’s largest exhibitions of specialist vehicles dedicated to bringing together industry and customers within the defence and emergency services sector – a once a year opportunity to assess vehicle capability within the extreme operating environment,” said Robert Hobbs, D TL, SUV IPT

The improved facilities introduced by the Millbrook team at DVD 04 provided an exciting stage for the exhibitors to put their vehicles through a comprehensive cross country experience. Wider tracks, increased access and a special off-road track for quad bikes and motor bikes created an atmosphere of dust, diesel and fumes so lacking in today’s defence exhibitions, now, in the main, held in air conditioned halls in sterile atmospheres reminiscent of a teaching hospital. For those readers who remember the Firepower and Mobility displays of BAEE in days gone by, DVD is emulating these and improving the pace, accessibility and excitement. The press facilities for photographs as can be seen by our collection were first class, giving journalists the ability to get right up close to the vehicles.

By there very nature, military vehicles are built to travel fast over rough terrain with heavy loads or troops. Certainly those exhibitors offering Ride and Drive experiences during DVD 04 rose to the occasion with a number of white knuckle rides on offer throughout the two days.

“Millbrook is committed to helping the MoD make DVD more impressive every year,” explains Julian Bryan, head of strategic marketing. “We’ve consulted a wide range of users from military and non military sectors to help us come up with a package of improvements that will enhance safety, add new terrains and allow an even more spectacular demonstration of extreme capabilities.”

There were quite a few useful ideas. Some of the courses, such as the rock run and sinusoidal waves have been substantially extended, while others such as the 25 degree side slope have had additional safety features added. The clay pit now has a concrete structure with a water depth up to 1.75 metres and the ‘snake path’, a tortuous narrow track that might be more usually found in North Africa, has been given a more pronounced V shape to make it even more challenging.
There are also several all-new facilities, including two kilometres of extra tracks offering a mix of surfaces and special features, and a new loose log run, typical of wet forested regions, that should tax even the most capable suspension and driveline

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