05 Jul 03. Colonel Carew Wilks and his CSV(L) team in conjunction with the Millbrook team, should be congratulated on the excellent presentation of this year’s DEFENCE VEHICLE DYNAMICS (DVD) Exhibition. It is very unusual for an Editor to find overwhelming praise for the organisation and presentation of an exhibition, and this year’s DVD was an exception, all round praise from exhibitors and visitors alike.
The Millbrook facility was upgraded to present a fantastic cross-country course to go with the existing on-road test tracks. The facilities here rival any produced at international shows such as DSEi, which ahs no off-road capabilities and Eurosatory which has a limited display. Having evolved as a small DPA showcase for vehicles, DVD is now a national Military Motor Show, rivalling anything else in the world. BATTLESPACE understands that politics is currently preventing DVD from becoming an international event with existing military shows such as DSEi, claiming that mantle and Emergency shows such as the one in Bristol claiming specialisation in that area.
The ability for manufacturers to show their vehicles in situ is vital to future sales. In addition DVD allows potential customers to drive or ride in the vehicles. “DVD is unique in that it allows our customers to see and drive the vehicle, discuss future requirements and see our staff in a vehicle-centric location,” David Findlay, Managing Director of Automotive Technik told BATTLESPACE.
The vehicles chosen by the Editor as stars of the show were, in the heavy range, the Multidrive 4x4x4 heavy load carrier and the Supacat 6×6 HMT in the light range. The Supacat 6×6 HMT was developed for a number of requirements running from ground stations thru gun tractors to Special Forces vehicles. Nick Jones of Supacat told BATTLESPACE that the 4×4 version of the HMT had such successful trials in the USA that the 6×6 version was developed there and then and continued with more trials. The company is expecting its first US order soon to fulfil roles where the HMMV vehicle is unsuitable for towing. The US Marines have a requirement for the HM177 howitzer gun tractor.
The air suspension technology of the HMT allows at least 180mm of extra roof space to be built into the vehicle and still be C130 deployable. The company has now enlisted the services of a number of companies including DML to build components for the vehicle which will be manufactured at a new facility at the company’s Dunkenswell facility. The head count at Supacat now numbers over 80, a clear reflection of the company’s success.
The Multidrive 4x4x4 Heavy cargo vehicle, originally developed for the UK’s Wheeled Tanker Requirement, is a tribute to UK vehicle engineering. Multidrive has used its UOR Bosnian tanker work to develop this versatile machine to carry heavy loads using a powered 4×4 trailer with hydraulic steering over rough terrains. The ride of the vehicle is quite superb with little effort by the CAT engine taking the 16 tonne loads up and down slopes of 1 in 1.3. It is not surprising that this vehicle is being trialled in the USA and once again the UK appears to have lost out on a world-beater, which should be looked at again for special heavy lift requirements from fuel to logistics.
There was no announcement with regard to FRES at DVD (See BATTLESPACE MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS Vol. 2 Issue 4 June 27th 2003, HAWK IN ALVIS OUT?), with some observers suggesting that Bill Jameson’s appointment to run the FRES requirement, replacing Richard Wigley was vital for the company to retain the £70m Assessment Phase 1 contract.
Sources suggested that AlvisVickers may become a bid target from GD or United Defense with some saying that GD had requested permission as early as July last year to purchase the company. The UK MoD is believed to have turned down the request given the company’s strong UK Land Systems exposure with Bowman. United Defense may be a candidate but the high share price of £2 may slip