LONGLIVETY –ASSET MANAGEMENT
By Bob Morrison
The Land Rover has been in British military service for over six decades, first seeing action in a combat zone during the Korean War and then nudging the purpose-designed Austin Champ to one side in the mid-sixties. Other than the WWII jeep, from which it was conceptually derived, few other light utility vehicles are so iconic as the military Land Rover or have such a reputation for longlivety, to use Peter Hobson’s favourite phrase.
Peter, whose company Hobson Industries bears his name, knows all about keeping Land Rovers on the road as that has been his livelihood since the former Weapons Engineering Officer left the Royal Navy in the eighties. Today, after a great many years of refurbishing both the armoured police fleet for Northern Ireland and military vehicle batches for UK and overseas Ministries of Defence, Hobson are Land Rover’s military strategic through-life support partner tasked with extending the service life of ageing military fleets in as cost-effective and environmentally sound a manner as possible.
Until the nineties the UK Ministry of Defence periodically cast large quantities of military Land Rovers which had reached the end of their perceived economic life and replaced them with new vehicles off the Solihull production line. This new for old system was accepted practice until climate change and associated ozone layer depletion reared its ugly head in the late eighties, forcing governments to show unprecedented international solidarity by signing the Montreal Protocol to hopefully limit the effect of greenhouse gases and global warming.
At the time of the Montreal agreement Britain had only just introduced the coil sprung Ninety and One-Ten Land Rover fleet for military service and it would be another decade before emissions and recycling issues had a major impact on fleet replacement, with the introduction of the 300Tdi diesel engined Defender ‘Wolf’ TUL/TUM HS (or XD in Land Rover nomenclature) for military service. During the Wolf procurement phase it was clearly stated that the new vehicle would need to have an in-service life of at least fifteen years with manufacturer support to match, though even then there was talk of twenty or more years before replacement being likely and, unlike with previous Land Rover purchases, it was decided from the outset that the new vehicle would be a battlefield asset like a tank or personnel carrier effectively meaning it was likely that it’s life cycle would be extended through upgrades rather than it just being replaced when tired as had formerly been the case.
In the past Battlespace has looked at how Hobson Industries were involved in producing asset-managed military Land Rovers, the Green Machines, to help extend the life of the UK Ministry of Defence fleet with schemes like Project Hermes. Initiated by Hobson Industries and Land Rover, this project led to the asset-management and conversion of over one thousand soft top 12-Volt Wolves, which had already seen eight years of service, into 24-Volt hard top versions to better suit UK MoD operational requirements.
Last year Peter Hobson took us further into his confidence over an evolving project which was leading to his company becoming Land Rover’s approved military strategic through-life support partner responsible for supporting both UK Ministry of Defence and foreign government existing military vehicle fleets through to the end of their projected service life. At the time we were asked not to probe to deeply into what was taking place due to contractual sensitivities, but Peter promised us first bite at the cherry as soon as he was able to talk more freely and recently he granted both the author and editor a day of his valuable time to go into the current process in some detail at his Lincolnshire operations centre.
With the Hobson Industries and Land Rover partnership now fully implemented Peter and Gary Brain, Land Rover’s Military Parts Manage