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By Julian Nettlefold

08 Sep 08. Defence Secretary Des Browne, on a visit today to NP Aerospace Coventry, announced a £60m contract to deliver 170 Mastiff 2 – the next generation of Mastiff.

Defence Secretary, Des Browne said: “The Mastiff is already a hero in Iraq and Afghanistan. Today’s contract for Mastiff 2 will deliver a vehicle that is even better – improved thermal-imaging for the drivers, increased armour and specially designed seats that will give the soldiers that extra protection – it is the next generation of vehicles for our commanders on operations.

“NP Aerospace and its workforce are to be congratulated on the support they are
providing to our Armed Forces – the equipment they deliver from body armour
plates to helmets is saving lives on a daily basis.”

The Mastiff 2 vehicles will have:
* Improved axles and suspension to cope with the harsh terrain;
* Better thermal imaging for the drivers;
* Explosive attenuating seats – providing better protection to the soldier on impact;
* Improved armour;
* Greater crew capacity – 8+2.

The MoD would not confirm which thermal imaging system had been procured with system being offered from an Ultra team which included DRS, Selex and a company believed to be outside usual defence contractors.

The £60m contract with NP Aerospace will turn the Cougar 6×6 base vehicle from Force Protection Inc into Mastiff 2.

Nigel Gilhead head of the SUV IPT said that the Mastiff was performing very well in theatre and that 30 training vehicles which are basic Force Protection Cougars will be upgraded by Thales. This brings the total number of Mastiffs to 282 with 152 Ridgbacks also to enter service. Gilhead confirmed that ex-Procurement supreme Lord Drayson had ordered that the SUV IPT UPPV Requirement be combined with Ridgback. However, with trails undertaken by the SUV, the Ridgback came out top. He also said that the OUVS Project was now being run by the GSV IPT with Annualise Look and her team transferring there with the SUV being free to run the UORs and the legacy fleet including land Rover, RB 44 and Pinzgauer.

While visiting the facility, the Defence Secretary praised the company for its outstanding job in transforming basic Cougar vehicles into the sophisticated
Mastiffs, and in providing Osprey body armour plates and MK 6A helmets to our
Armed Forces – undoubtedly saving numerous lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
NP Aerospace is a world-leader in the production of personal equipment and armoured vehicles designed to protect military personnel in combat environments.
The firm also manufactures state-of-the-art full body armour suits worn by our bomb disposal operators, complete with integral air conditioning that allows wearers to operate in high temperatures.

Des Browne told BATTLESPACE that 600 vehicles of varying types have been procured under UORs and more will be procured in the near future to meet new threats. He would not confirm whether or not this included a FRES-type vehicle such as VBCI or whether the whole FRES Project had been affected by these extra vehicles.

The new contract will lead to around 100 new jobs being created at the firm while it also boosts the region’s supply network. There will be 70 manufacturing jobs with 10 coming from the MoD’s DSG and 30 clerical jobs.

The Birmingham Post reported that the announcement came of the same day as the Government restated its commitment to provide Coventry with a new Manufacturing Technology Centre. The company is one of the largest thermosetting moulding companies in Europe. It manufactures an extensive range of products in engineering thermoset and composite materials for a wide variety of customers in the Defence, Aerospace, Electrical, Automotive and Medical Industries.

NP Aerospace chief executive Roger Medwell said: “This is very good news for the
firm and it will mean us taking on around 100 people, which

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