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By Julian Nettlefold

18 Jun 08. “We’re nearly there.” Scott Lustig, Director, Land Vehicle Systems, Lockheed Martin, told the Editor at Eurosatory.

Scott Lustig gave the Editor a brief on the forthcoming launch at DVD of the Company’s newest vehicle – the AVA–1.

To understand Lockheed Martin’s vehicle strategy it is worth revisiting the development of the segment following the purchase of HMT.

The Editor drove the new HMT 4x4vehicle in 2001. We had written about the vehicle in 1999 for the DSEi show and had already marked it as ‘one to watch’.

Val Dare-Bryan, who designed the Lotus 18, was the design force behind the HMT range, ably supported by the Duke of Hamilton and his Family Trusts, who have been involved in a number of cross-country vehicle projects following the ATMP trials on Jura in the early 80s, where the relationship with Supacat Ltd first started. Latterly, following negotiations with Supacat, HMT Vehicles Ltd and Supacat entered into a Licensing Agreement for Supacat to develop and manufacture the vehicle.

Commercial Type Approval was received for the 4×4 variant in 2002 with the 6×6 Type Approval following next year. The vehicle was chosen by the SUV IPT as one candidate for its Gatekeeper Trials. Gatekeeper was a process whereby the SUV IPT could centralise its various Requirements in the 2.5 tonne and upwards markets on a lilted range of vehicles to allow for commonality in spares and support.

The Project took a major step forward when on September 16th 2004, Lockheed Martin announced that it had entered into a license agreement with HMT Vehicles Ltd. to manufacture and sell tactical wheeled vehicles to government customers in North America.

The agreement gave Lockheed Martin exclusive rights to supply light (4×4) and medium (6×6) tactical wheeled vehicles directly to military and government markets in the United States, Canada and Mexico. The agreement also will enable Lockheed Martin to pursue international sales via the U.S. Government’s Foreign Military Sales program. Lockheed Martin later bought HMT Ltd in 2005. Lockheed Martin has submitted a variant of the HMT design for its JLTV offering.

“Is the AVA-1 a development of your JLTV offering?” the Editor asked

“No this vehicle is a multi-role Advanced Urban Fighting Vehicle developed using the HMT suspension and driveline but utilising new designs for payloads in a 4×4 or 6×6 configuration. AVA-1 is in effect an agile MRAP giving protection levels above those currently available the current MRAP variants.”

“Lockheed Martin is not a vehicle Company we are a Systems Company engineering systems into vehicles, bringing a host of innovation from our electronic systems capability, as we have done with JLTV. To achieve the design of ABA-1 we have used a whole open COTS system architecture approach working with urban warfare experts in the USA, Israel and the U.K. The vehicle was designed in Owego and Havant and we worked with Permali in Gloucester who assembled the prototype for us. The IP will reside with Lockheed Martin but will have U.K. sovereignty, thus leaving it free of any ITAR restrictions.”

“Have you used the same spaceframe chassis as the other HMT vehicles?”

“No we have used a ladder chassis which enables us to give increased payload and GVW. The 4×4 gives 7-12000 tonnes GVW whilst the 6×6 gives 10,800, 18000. Payload depends on the body configuration. We have developed a number of body configurations from fully armoured with a collapsible RWS to a soft skinned vehicle for cargo configuration and a range of mission modules.”

“Does the announcement of this vehicle mean that Lockheed has taken the next step in the evolution of your vehicle segment in the U.K.?”

“Yes, we will be announcing the creation of a new vehicle concept centre at our Havant facility. This will not be a manufacturing facility but will design vehicles to meet the current and future MoD Requirements.”

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