MILLBROOK – HOME OF THE BATTLEFIELD MISSION
By Julian Nettlefold
BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold takes a pre-DVD Tour round Millbrook’s extensive MoD test facilities
Basing DVD at Millbrook has enabled the MoD to put vehicles through their paces over Millbrook’s extensive military test facilities. However, what the visitor sees and drives at DVD is only a snapshot of Millbrook’s true capabilities.
“How would you describe Millbrook’s military capabilities?” The Editor asked Julian Bryan, Head of Military Strategy at Millbrook.
“At the heart of Millbrook’s military operations is an ability to simulate the challenging usage conditions faced by a wide range of vehicles. Millbrook’s remarkable ability in this field is recognised as we are the home of the UK MoD’s Battlefield Mission, a carefully defined simulation of typical operational usage.” Julian Bryan said.
“When were the military test facilities established at Millbrook?
“When the MoD was looking at replacing its post-war truck fleet in the 1950’s Bedford at Luton was one of the contestants. Bedford won the Contract with the Bedford RL, the ubiquitous 3 tonner, using the test facilities it had established at Chaul End, close to the factory to demonstrate the vehicles capabilities.”
The Bedford TK range replaced the S type in 1959, but the RL continued in production until 1969, when it was replaced by the M type, which used the basic cab of the TK and the mechanicals of the RL with minimal changes. This vehicle was fully developed using the brand new military test track facilities at the new comprehensive proving ground that General Motors had built at Millbrook to support its complete vehicle range. The British Armed Forces still use four-wheel drive Bedford MKs — a variant of the TK. The proof of the pudding was in the eating and the Bedford remained the MoD’s workhorse until 1989 when the Leyland DAF T244 G replaced the bulk of the fleet. But even as the contract was placed, the Mod ordered a further 2000 Bedfords and upgraded a great deal of the old fleet!
“Has the MoD used Millbrook since that time?
“Yes, Millbrook is now the Track of choice for the MoD’s Battlefield Mission testing, a role which has come into prominence with the very rugged conditions faced in theatres of operation such as Iraq and Afghanistan. We have added new track features, a Tilt Table and a new trailer test facility to ensure that trailers as well as vehicles survive the rugged conditions. The three key words are Capability, Repeatability, Reliability.”
“How many people does Millbrook employ now?”
“We have a combination of permanent and contract staff totalling 350 to 400 at any one time on the site. Given the challenging conditions required by the MoD, we have 100 drivers on site, all trained in-house to handle each vehicle and the rugged 40,000 mile Trials Cycles which take around 4 months at 10,000 miles per month.”
“Has Millbrook always had such extensive Test Facilities?”
“The Millbrook test site has constantly evolved and been added to since it opened in 1968. When DVD was relocated to Millbrook, we undertook a facelift of the off-road Circuit which during the show came to the notice of the MoD, who then, thru the SUV IPT, has concentrated automotive testing here for such Projects as MPPV, OUVS and LPPV. DVD is in effect a shop window for Millbrook’s capabilities for manufacturers and the MoD. In addition, Millbrook’s staff and expertise have increasingly been used in an automotive consultancy role to advise IPT’s on vehicle capabilities, requirements and selection
Millbrook’s specialists have spent the last five years working very closely with the military to understand how their needs are changing. This has allowed us to develop facilities that are focussed on solving the vehicle engineering problems they face today, and in the future. Increasingly this means compliance with automotive homologation requirements, cost reduction and