DVD AND MILLBROOK – ENABLING THE MoD TO DEVELOP NEW LIGHT VEHICLES
By Julian Nettlefold
U.K. MoD SUV IPT
The foresight shown by the U.K. MoD SUV IPT team in 2001 in the establishment of the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) Exhibition, laid the foundations for what is now Europe’s largest military vehicle Exhibition. From small beginnings at Chertsey in 2001 and 2002, the move to Millbrook in 2003 added a new and vital dimension to the event.
Whilst Chertsey gave the SUV IPT a snapshot in the development and capability of these vehicles, some of which went on to the Gatekeeper trials, it did not give the IPT that key edge in proving the vehicle’s worth – independent evaluation
The move of DVD to Millbrook and the subsequent partnership with Millbrook in the evaluation process has given the MoD a unique process whereby vehicles can be evaluated and purchased in a streamlined procurement process. Again, little did they know how important this process would become and how the two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan would change not only the manner by which vehicles were procured but the vehicles themselves.
Basing DVD at Millbrook has enabled the MoD to put vehicles through their paces over Millbrook’s extensive military test facilities. However, what the visitor sees and drives at DVD is only a snapshot of Millbrook’s true capabilities.
At the heart of Millbrook’s military operations is an ability to simulate the challenging usage conditions faced by a wide range of vehicles. Millbrook’s remarkable ability in this field is recognised as ‘The Home of the UK MoD’s Battlefield Mission,’ a carefully defined simulation of typical operational usage.
Millbrook is now the Track of choice for the MoD’s Battlefield Mission testing, a role which has come into prominence with the very rugged conditions faced in theatres of operation such as Iraq and Afghanistan. The Company has added new track features, a Tilt Table and a new trailer test facility to ensure that trailers as well as vehicles survive the rugged conditions. The three key words are Capability, Repeatability, Reliability.
The Millbrook test site has constantly evolved and been added to since it opened in 1968. When DVD was relocated to Millbrook, Millbrook undertook a facelift of the off-road Circuit which during the show came to the notice of the MoD, who then, thru the SUV IPT, has concentrated automotive testing here for such Projects as MPPV, OUVS and LPPV. DVD is in effect a shop window for Millbrook’s capabilities for manufacturers and the MoD. In addition, Millbrook’s staff and expertise have increasingly been used in an automotive consultancy role to advise IPT’s on vehicle capabilities, requirements and selection.
Millbrook’s specialists have spent the last six years working very closely with the military to understand how their needs are changing. This has allowed it to develop facilities that are focussed on solving the vehicle engineering problems they face today, and in the future. Increasingly this means compliance with automotive homologation requirements, cost reduction and suitability for a much wider range of tasks.
The Military Test Track
The network of on- and off-road tracks, which can simulate almost any usage condition world-wide, is just one of many purpose-built test and development facilities behind the high security fence that makes a substantial contribution to the quality and performance of military vehicles worldwide. As well as one of the world’s finest off-road courses, Millbrook’s resources include a wide range of hills and special surfaces, laboratories for safety, powertrain and component testing and a dedicated VCA office to help ensure fast, efficient type approval.
The Millbrook off-road test track has 49 different tests running from standard Hill Climb thru 1-in-1 slopes, truck slopes, Belgian Pave and wading to sand dunes, deep ditches, Rock Run, axle bumps to the new HMMV Hollows which were built