FAST AND FURIOUS – DEMAND SOARS FOR SPECIAL OPS PATROL VEHICLES
By Julian Nettlefold
01 May 14. The demise of the lightweight versatile 4×4 unarmoured patrol vehicle has been predicted for years because of the demands placed on lightweight MRAP vehicles such as the Oshkosh M-ATV and JLTV in the USA Foxhound in the UK and the myriad of projects across the world to address the threat of IEDs on the battlefield. These, we will call them ‘JLTV-type’ vehicles cost more to build and run and are less versatile and manoeuvrable then their unarmoured counterparts. It is very unlikely that the numbers predicted in the ‘like for like’ replacement of existing soft skinned fleets will ever occur due to costs and logistics costs. The predictions of a fleet of 25000 JLTVs looks more like a pipe dream to lure in contractors looking for longevity and reduced costs due to numbers purchased. But, looking at the UK’s Foxhound vehicle requirement in particular, here we have a fleet number targeted at around 450 vehicles in total (there are 8200 Wolf Land Rovers in service) with a Training Fleet based in the UK. GDUK is already upgrading the 30 training Foxhound’s to the Theatre Entry Standard at its Telford works where all Foxhound work is being done. Ricardo, the design and development partner and V Trade are no longer involved. This will streamline production and reduce Through Life Costs. Thus, the fleet of the future of the ‘JLTV-type’ vehicle looks like being a home-based Training Fleet of a number of vehicles, in one place in the UK and multiple locations in the US with a Combat Fleet of several thousand which will either be pre-positioned or flown in by C-17 to Theatre. The new Roulements will then transition to the Combat Fleets rather than bring their own vehicles. The drivers, crews and mechanics will have had training on the vehicles before departure to Theatre.
In 2008 the Editor wrote in our DVD Edition ushering in the 60th Anniversary of the versatile and unique Land Rover vehicle that to predict its demise along with HMMV was a brave move as the ‘JLTV-type’ Programmes were either spluttering or like OUVS in the UK killed off. Now six years later both the Land Rover and HMMV fleets are growing across the world and ‘JLTV-type’ fleets lie floundering in a mire of cost reductions, lack of funds and stretched Programmes due to lack of budget.
In April The UK MoD attempted to kick start the stalled OUVS project with the issue of a prior information notice to encourage industry to participate in the concept stage for the procurement of Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected (MRV(P)), Non Articulated Vehicle-Protected and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance. The start date for award procedures is scheduled for October 2016 after the selection process has ended. The MRVP requirement has existed for a few years now, initially as the operational utility vehicle systems (OUVS) but the programme was cancelled in 2011 as the MoD prioritised urgent procurements to support troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The OUVS requirement initially surfaced in 2003 when many different vehicles were considered as options to replace Land Rovers and Pinzgauers. Leading contenders were General Dynamics’s Eagle IV and DURO IIIP, variants of the Iveco ‘Lince’ LMV, the G wagon from Mercedes, the Sherpa from Renault and Thales Australia’s Copperhead, which is the Single Cab Bushmaster Utility variant. As a final addition, the Navistar MXT (Husky) was also shortlisted for OUVS. The exact scope of the current requirement is not clear but the OUVS requirement had called for 8500 vehicles.
In fact, in the old USSR countries such as Poland, Slovakia and the Czech Republic there are new requirements, given the Russian moves into Ukraine for a number of fleets of lightweight patrol vehicles matched by similar requirements in Belgium, Spain and Austria. In the USAS a new fleet of SOCOM and Casevac vehicles are being procured. The common feature of all these vehicles is t