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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

25 Jun 07. The following PQ on ‘Armoured Fighting Vehicles: Procurement,’ points the way to the final outcome of the FRES selection. For some time we have stated from Reports and sources that FRES will be a Europe solution which will offer a common platform for the Utility and other variants. This PQ (See below) appears to confirm that OCCAR will be involved in future procurements.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what proportion of future rapid effect system vehicles will be required to be manufactured in the UK. [144762]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 25 June 2007]: The FRES programme is currently in its assessment phase. In common with all equipment programmes, the decision on where manufacture will take place will be confirmed when the main investment decision has been taken. It is envisaged that the majority of the vehicles will be manufactured in the UK but existing production lines located overseas may be used to manufacture initial batches of FRES vehicles in order to promote early delivery. We are clear, however, that the intellectual property rights, design authority, and systems architecture of the final FRES vehicle must reside in the UK.

Mr. Wallace: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what role he intends (a) the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) and (b) the EU Defence Agency to play in the future rapid effect system project. [144763]

Mr. Bob Ainsworth [holding answer 25 June 2007]: For the Utility variant, on current plans, there is no scope to collaborate at the overall programme level but there is scope for co-operation at the sub-system level. The Reconnaissance, Fires and Support vehicle families are also likely to offer further opportunities for co-operative working.

In other news MASS Consultants told BATTLESPACE that the company, which is a subsidiary of Nick Prest’s Cohort Group is acting on behalf of NEXTER to promote the VBCI vehicle for FRES and that logistics firm Quorum is also a Team Member. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the Trials of Truth are bogged down in a new requirement from the IPT for all the teams to display all data from the Trials of Truth with be loaded onto a shared data environment and shared with UP TO 6 potential bidders for the Vehicle Integrator Role. The response has been met with a negative response!

Sources continue to support the stories that NEXTER is well placed to win FRES. BAE is keeping remarkably coy about its role in FRES and whether it will be concentrating on the Integrator or SOSI role. Certainly the company would be well placed to work with NEXTER on the Integrator role to bring its vehicle technology and systems into VBCI. But, is a wider development being put in place whereby NEXTER, which will eventually be looking for partners/takeover if the new French Government starts the promised disposals of State Holdings in Industry, would form part of a new Pan-European Land Systems Company involving BAE’s UK assets, leaving Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei to carve out a deal in Germany, with EADS eventually taking control? Whether or not BAE chooses to keep Hägglunds post-SEP and CV90 is debatable in the long-term. Could a Hägglunds Patria axis form part of a strong Nordic Land Systems body for Saab? Patria has a long association with Hägglunds as its AMV vehicle formed the wheeled solution for SEP in the early days. General Dynamics holds a large share of the European capability through Mowag, Steyr and Santa Barbara, whilst IVECO and Finmeccanica/Oto Melara have a large Italian capability. Rumours abound that Otao Melara and Rheinmetall are in discussions; the outcome of the WLIP Turret requirement could be a catalyst here. Further consolidation could bring the Italian industry into one of the above consortia?

The SOSI debate still rumbles on with some sources suggest that there is not much profit in this role. However G

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