NEW U.K. ARMOURED FIGHTING VEHICLE STRATEGY PUTS DSG CENTRE STAGE
By Julian Nettlefold
BATTLESPACE met up with Archie Hughes, CE of the Defence Support Group (DSG) to discuss the implications of the new strategy
The MOD used the RUSI Land Systems Conference in June, held during DVD, to announce the Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) Sector Strategy. Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies M.P., gave an outline of the strategy and was supported by statements from Director Land Equipment Maj. General Ian Dale and Chief of Materiel (Land) Lt General Dick Applegate. The Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) Sector Strategy is one of five Sector Strategies being put together for the Land Systems Sector.
The Defence Industrial Strategy set out the U.K. Government’s approach to the delivery of the capabilities required by the Armed Forces now and in the future, including industry’s contribution. The AFV Sector Strategy, as part of the broader Land Systems Strategy, through which MOD, led by DE&S, will engage with an appropriately-shaped industrial sector in order to support the delivery of current and future AFV capability.
There are two fundamental drivers which will continue to shape the MOD’s approach to the procurement and support of AFVs, one the need to maintain appropriate operational sovereignty and two the need to increase value for money in the sector. Optimal use of DSG is a key driver to this policy to deliver best overall value for Defence. It will also be important, once a competition is completed, to find a mechanism whereby the winning contractor integrates DSG into extant or new support partnering arrangements designed to secure long-term value.
“This new strategy puts DSG at the heart of the new MOD Procurement Strategy for Land Systems?” The Editor asked Archie Hughes.
“Yes, DSG is the only organisation in the U.K. which has the in-depth knowledge to maintain and support the U.K.’s armoured vehicle fleet through life. There is recognition in the MOD of the complementary skills that we have to enable the Prime Contractor to complete the contract on time and within budget. Unlike other countries where the manufacturer services the fleet, DSG in its different guises, has always been the central Maintenance Repair and Overhaul (MRO) facility for the MOD since World War 2. Thus, we are the natural choice to be the central MRO facility for the whole AFV fleet, including soft skinned vehicles and light vehicles such as the Land Rover. Currently, the MOD is often constrained in its ability to modify vehicles because of the limited rights it holds over the use of vehicle design information. This limits the ability to contract for subsequent UK-specific modification activity, as well as routine upkeep and update work, with someone other than the original design entity. The securing of appropriate rights over the use of design information, where affordable, will be an important element in the MOD’s future approach to vehicle acquisition. The mere fact that DSG is a Government Trading Fund, allows it to use this important IP. In addition, given the ever-changing landscape and global aspects of the defence industry, no Plc. can guarantee that it will retain key U.K.-based capability which is key for the long-term support and availability of the Land Systems fleet.”
The AFV strategy recognises two key activities for the U.K.’s ability to maintain and operate its AFV fleet, one is the ability to understand and manage the structural integrity of the vehicles and two, the ability to repair and regenerate battle damaged or operationally time-expired vehicles onshore. The retention of DSG partially meets this need, although not completely or in isolation, thus the MoD will remain dependent on an appropriate industrial component to support DSG’s outputs.”
“It is incredible how the market has changed. At our last DSEI interview in 2007, the MOD’s strategy appeared to be directing all vehicle procuremen