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02 Jul 04. Concerns were expressed to BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold at DVD that the reported decision, not confirmed, by the MoD to announce the winner of the Support Vehicle (SV) contract after the Parliamentary recess on July 22nd, may indicate a win for Oshkosh, One source said that, “The Minister is trying to find a time and a place to announce the contract winner without being in a position top have 3 arrows through the heart!”

Mercedes-Benz told BATTLESPACE that they, MAN and Stewart & Stevenson had spent the best part of £4.5m each, on Merc’s part , over 8 years to bid this contract and that is external costs, not taking into account internal costs and time, a huge sum. Certainly Mercedes said that they would be wary of bidding OUVs against an incumbent such as Land Rover and would require assurances that the bid process would be handled fairly. Industry cannot go on forking out huge sums of money where a contract winner is known in advance, as happened in the attack helicopter programme where both BAE and GEC took legal advice as to whether they could sue the MoD.

Certainly, as has been observed by the Editor for previous vehicle bids, the MoD likes to build on an established fleet in its inventory. Oshkosh has the advantage of the HET and Wheeled tanker projects under its belt, an established business tie-up with ABRO and a Welsh facility, where the Welsh Agency is a keen lobbyist.

Indications from all the teams suggested that the contract numbers could be halved (See ‘OUVS GOES UP TO 6 TONNES’) with a £500 of savings if the existing Leyland DAF and Bedford 4×4 fleets could be kept in service and replaced under OUVs. The ability to split the requirement formed part of the contract terms.

The MoD would then procure a fleet of tactical 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles the Unit Support tanker with 490wreckers (some observers suggested that the existing fleet with EKA kit could be refurbished). But problems exist with recovering the existing DROPS and BR 90 vehicles with the Fodens so there appears to be an urgent need for a heavy wrecker.

Jonathon Shorer of Oshkosh told BATTLESPACE that, “An increased buy of Oshkosh vehicles would fit in with the MoDs plans for whole fleet management. The 3rd line spares are kept, by Oshkosh at Donnington in a rented warehouse and these could be added to without the need for another vehicle range and could result, eventually, with a 100% Oshkosh SV buy in a 50-60% reduction in MoD spares holdings. In addition we have carried out the BOWMAN and EMC fits for the HET and Wheeled Tanker thus these are paid for and easily transferred for SV. Savings in driver training and REME technical support and technical documentation are also significant and a common armour kit is already developed with Plasan-Sasa a U.S./Israeli JV where trials are already taking place.”

If the outcome is as reported here, whilst in no way taking any limelight from the Oshkosh offering, it will certainly deter more companies from bidding to the MoD in a costly and time-consuming process which ends in a contract loss.

Trucks are not the only area raising contract concerns, the DII requirement has already claimed Lockheed Martin and Hewlett Packard with possibly more to come.

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