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BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold talks to Nigel Gilhead, MoD SUV IPT Leader

“The management of the MoD’s vehicle fleet, GATEKEEPER, is the central theme for DVD 2006,” Nigel Gilhead, SUV IPT Leader told BATTLESPACE, “My responsibility is to advise the MoD on their choice of truck for their product, such as a Communications Box. In 2005 we started a process of centralising data on a series of vehicles so that we could inform other IPTs who are managing the payloads and systems. All these tests were carried out in secure areas and independently observed. Centralisation of vehicles and commonality gives easier logistic management process and saves costs. Whereas in the past we bought vehicles without Through Life Support, this has all changed. Now, any vehicle manufacturer wishing to sell vehicles to the MoD must provide us with a Support Package for at least 25 years. Thus, in 2006 we asked all companies to give us technical details of their products. This information gathering process enables SUV to offer across industry a standard interface and documentation to compare one vehicle with another; this includes comparison of the maturity of Logistic Support in particular. Once chosen, we will then procure these vehicles and support them throughout their MoD life.”

“Does this not put the specialist vehicle manufacturers at a disadvantage in terms of size?” the Editor asked.

“Unfortunately, as you have reported on many occasions, the MoD has had its fingers burnt by manufacturers supplying specialist vehicles which meet expectation in terms of performance and payload but fall down woefully in terms of reliability and support. The Gatekeeper process irons out the flaws in the procurement process and sends the message back to these manufacturers that if they want to sell us product they must provide a full package of support and reliability.”

“We understand that you had been trialling a number of vehicles for the Medium Mobility Role?” the Editor asked.

“Yes, this is one of the fastest growing sectors in the market due to new payload and armouring requirements. Bowman taught us a lesson that the installation of a new and complex radio systems brings with it its own problems of payload and space. The Iraq lesson in protection also brings its own payload problems. Do you sacrifice a system for protection and if so, how do you rationalise the system or do you buy a bigger vehicle with the whole system and protection package?”

“To that end we have spent a year trialling the Mercedes Unimog, the General Dynamics DURO III and the HMT. We have supplied all three manufacturers with the data gathered and asked them to look at changes and improvements.”

“We understand that the HMT, in particular, although possessing many qualities, suffered from an immature chassis and driveline?” the Editor asked

“Yes, we now have a number of HMTs in service in various configurations and the vehicle is attracting overseas interest. Denmark has recently placed an order for 15 4×4 variants. The trials produced some very important data and we have contracted DML in a multi-million pound contract to improve the reliability and immaturity issues. DML will also provide the Through Life Support required. Once these problems are overcome, the vehicle may become the carrier for Falcon and Soothsayer if it meets Lockheed Martin’s requirements.”

“Why did the ESS IPT join DVD?” the Editor asked

“Through Life Support of vehicles and Combat Infrastructure go hand-in-hand. Vehicle Support in the field will only work if the proper systems, spares and workshops are provided at the Base Areas. Thus Vehicle Supply, Logistic Support and Combat Infrastructure work hand-in-hand. In addition, we have had the Support Vehicle IPT at DVD for some time. Past DVDs gave Peter Hardistey and his team a good opportunity to discuss the trucks and see them perform. Apart from this, other IPTs have seen the succes

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