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01 Apr 04. Multidrive Ltd, the Yorkshire-based vehicle engineering specialist asked BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold up to Thirsk to see its range of products and to discuss its current work programme including its partnership in the Stewart & Stevenson team for the UK Support Vehicle requirement; the preferred bidder for which is expected to be announced by the MoD next month.

“Multidrive’s history is one of exploiting advanced engineering techniques and processes to produce the most advanced multi-wheeled vehicles available anywhere in the world today, “ said Chris Chambers, Managing Director of Multidrive,” Our founder, David Brown, (whose sad death we announced recently), cut his teeth on the provision of advanced multi-axled logging vehicles in the Cameroon. He realised that advanced multi-wheeled systems were required to penetrate the jungle as well as to perform road operations in bringing the wood to market. This is the basis of the Multidrive concept, advanced cross-country ability with the ability to move at speed on roads.” The history of the company proves this, DJB Engineering, founded by David Brown was bought out by Caterpillar for an undisclosed sum, because of the work the company carried out on advanced trucks for the construction industry; Caterpillar again purchased another product, the side-mounted fork lift truck. The company has recently introduced its massive 8×8 M8 series of 40 tonne trucks which, unlike most of its competitors, can move huge amounts of spoil or waste off road and take it on-road for dumping. The Editor saw this huge, imposing, yellow monster during the visit, and it is impressive.

“We are selling this vehicle all round the world,” Dave Tetchner told the Editor, “It’s off-road load carrying capability coupled with its impressive on-road speed of up to 65mph makes this an ideal vehicle for military applications such as Rapid Runway Repair.”

“We provide the Stewart & Stevenson Support Vehicle team access to our advanced engineering multi-axle R&D system development,” Chris Chambers continued, “Working on our extensive experience in providing the UK MoD with all-terrain tankers for arduous duties, procured under a number of UOR’s, for use in the first Gulf war, Bosnia and Kosovo, we have developed the flex-frame 4x4x4 vehicle which we recently offered the MoD for it’s wheeled tanker programme, won latterly by Oshkosh.” Although the vehicle failed to win selection the concept, this vehicle, with its 4×4 counterpart, has attracted the attention of the U.S. military for applications in its Future Truck Programme. “The U.S. military saw the vehicle brochure during DSEi and immediately asked if they could lease one for application trails,” Tetchner told the Editor. “We are already working closely with Stewart & Stevenson on other projects such as the armored cab concept announced at AUSA (See BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.6 ISSUE 9, March 8th 2004). We expect further co-operation as the relationship develops and as the Future Truck requirement continues to develop. We know that the U.S. military is particularly interested in powered trailers, a technology where we lead the world,” he continued

He then took the Editor out on the Catterick trials course to test the 4x4x4 vehicle and its sister 4×4 ‘Multidrive Support Vehicle.’ We started the trial going up the almost vertical knife edge, strictly reserved for armoured vehicles, and the truck flew up with a load of 22 tonnes. The most remarkable feature of this vehicle is the ride characteristics. “The 4x4x4 configuration spreads the load and weight enabling the ride to be transferred across all the axles. In addition the position of the engine, behind the front axle eliminates any vibration when stopping or traversing large obstacles as was demonstrated when the vehicle crossed the high-steppes, again usually reserved for tracked vehicles” Tetchner said. “This vehicle could keep up with any tracked vehicle I have see,” The Editor said,

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