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05 May 04. The article in last week’s Sunday Times that truck Oshkosh had been tipped to win a £3billion UK Support Vehicle requirement set the jungle drums pounding around the bazaars. BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold, spoke to all four contenders and it became apparent that the article was not ‘placed’ as first suggested by some observers but had been the result of some thorough investigation by the Sunday Times.

We ran the story, ‘BIDDERS SLUG OUT UK SUPPORT VEHICLE BID TO THE END’, (BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.6 ISSUE 16 23rd April 2004), which suggested that MAN and Stewart & Stevenson may be in the frame as the last two contenders.

However, since that story we received an in-depth report from our U.S. correspondent, Scott Gourley entitled, ‘ARMOR, ARMOR EVERYWHERE’, to be published in our next issue, which gives a detailed account of the extensive up-armoring operations being carried out on soft skinned vehicles in Iraq following the huge rise in road side bomb attacks.

We spoke to Jonathon Shorer at Oshkosh and John Stoddart in the US who both confirmed that Oshkosh was heavily involved in the up-armoring process of its and other trucks and vehicles in Iraq. “Whilst armoring cabs has always formed part of the SV specification from the outset, the requirement for armored cabs has risen to the top of the pile since the Iraq war started and these roadside attacks claimed so many lives and vehicles. Thus, the requirement now is for the Support Vehicle chosen by the UK to have a 2 tonne armoured cab together with the best load carrying capacity and cross-country ability which can be provide on a minimum of a ten tonne capacity,” Shorer told BATTLESPACE.

Previous MoD experience with such vehicles as the Leyland DAF 4 tonne meant that when the vehicle was equipped with a crane, the resulting all up weight meant that only one laden pallet could be accommodated on the platform. The urgent armoring requirement was also raised by Col. Carew Wilks during the interview for this year’s DVD exhibition for which armoring for soft skin vehicles will be one of the features.

Training requirements and legal vehicle weights must ensure that the British Army has the ultimate tactical truck available to undertake expeditionary warfare with the maximum protection and cross-country ability available.

“That’s why we stuck to the MTVR as the most likely contender for the 6 tonne and upwards class, as it gives us the ability to protect the vehicle, carry the load and have the cross-country ability the British Army require,” Shorer said. Skeptics, had suggested that MAN and S&S had the advantage of a 4×4 configuration as it gave greater airportability, less support and lighter weight. But these new developments may have given Oshkosh the advantage indicated in the Sunday Times.

“In addition, we have the advantage on our competitors that our tanker and HET has been trialed by the MoD and thus, with the commonality of the MTVR range, a lot of ‘lessons learnt’ from our range will have been ironed out for the other vehicles in the 6-18 tonne range offered to the MoD. In addition such items as the BOWMANN configuration in the cab are also common,” Shore said.

A number of observers have always pointed out that the MoD is looking for a ‘one-stop’ shop for its trucks and with Oshkosh already established with HET and Wheeled tanker, this latest news may tip the balance. In addition the contract could bring more than 1,000 jobs to South Wales and strengthen the ABRO organisation.

Oshkosh is understood to have pledged to create a European headquarters at its Geesink Norba plant in Llantrisant, South Wales, which at present mostly makes refuse trucks for local authorities. Production of the military vehicles would start in 2006 and run until 2016. It is thought about 1,000 jobs would be created.

But, there is many a slip, as the saying goes, and the MoD has

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