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30 Apr 04. As the decision on the winner of the U.K. Support Vehicle requirement reaches fruition with an announcement expected in June, all eyes will now turn to the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVs) requirement which will replace the current fleet of TUL/TUM/TUH vehicle which include the current fleet of Land Rovers, estimated to be 15000, Pinzgauers, the RB-44 white elephant and a number of other marques. The MoD has not bought any Land Rovers for five years in spite of attrition in Iraq.

The procurement of OUVs will be handled by the new SUV IPT Team, an amalgamation of the DPA-based CSVL and elements of the DLO-based CSVS IPTs that brings the skills and expertise of both organisations together to provide a genuine whole-life approach to the provision of vehicle capability to military forces. Formed on 1 October 2003 under Col Carew Wilks MBE as a dual-accountable IPT with responsibilities both to the DPA and DLO, and hosted by DGES (Land) at DLO Andover, the IPT is currently spread across four main sites. Initially, vehicle procurement activity will continue from Abbey Wood; in-service management from Andover; specialist airfield vehicle acquisition from Brampton; and spares provisioning from Telford.

The OUVs requirement as it stands is for a fleet requirement of 9000 vehicles to be bought into service between 2009 and 2012. The vehicles payload range will run form 1 to 6 tonnes although exact breakdown of numbers has not been decided.

Mercedes-Benz told BATTLESPACE at a recent drive day that they were very confident about its ability to offer the whole range from 1-6 tonnes from its GWagen thru to Unimog; the MoD already has two Unimogs on trial. Mercedes also told BATTLESPACE that it was unlikely that the MoD would award it the Support Vehicle programme and OUVs, hence the company was showing its complete range that day. The company is right in its assessment of capability and capability, at first sight it the only manufacturer able to supply the complete range with one badge and support. Land Rover, which has been supplying vehicles to the UK military since 1948, and has an estimated 15000 vehicles in service, has a separate dilemma; the company’s payload range, without a 6×6 variant, stops at the 1 tonne payload range and it is unlikely that the Ford parent will spend considerable sums to develop a prototype vehicle over this payload range for a limited number production. The company also has plans for a revamped Defender with a Euro IV engine. It was unfortunate that the UK MoD decided against the 6×6 variant, chosen by the Australian Armed Forces. It was recently mooted as having further life left becoming a requirement for the new Overlander project being bid by Tenix Defence with Land Rover as a partner to replace the existing 541 6×6 vehicles , originally designed by Land Rover and SMC Engineering and delivered by JRA Australia in preference to the Unimog. Development of the 6×6 since 1982 with MoD experience and service life could have produced a world-beater against the Duro, Supacat and Pinzgauer vehicles.

Outside Mercedes other company’s wishing to bid OUVs could include GD with its Mowag and Duro range, but it would need a light variant and AM General with the HUMVEE, Ford and General Motors Defense which already has vehicles in service with the British Army at its Suffield training base in Canada. This leads the likes of Supacat and Automotive Technik in a strong position to join a team led by a major manufacturer along the lines of the Stewart & Stevenson team bidding for the Support Vehicle requirement. Having said that at first sight Mercedes look very strong for OUVs but there is a long way to go before any decisions are made.

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