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18 Jul 02. The U.K. MoD is believed to be within 2 weeks of selecting the preferred bidder for some 400 eight-wheel drive articulated 20,000 litre tankers. The contract is between Marshall’s the incumbent tanker supplier and Oshkosh, the supplier of the HET tank transporter.

BATTLESPACE believes that the Marshall vehicles, developed with Multidrive, meet the requirements of the MOD in every significant respect. To achieve this they have designed a system, which enables a powered trailer to rotate 50 degree in every direction about the tractor unit. This enables the vehicle to disembark from a landing craft with 40 degree ramp angles and to turn in a smaller space than a Bedford 4 tonne.

The competitor Oshkosh has a 6×6 tractor hauling a tandem axled trailer where only 60% of the weight is on the driven wheels.

In short Multidrive can meet the improved User Requirement specified for the new vehicles. It is unlikely that Oshkosh would improve on the performance of vehicles already in UK service. We believe the soldier wants the Multidrive not the Oshkosh. We also believe our through life costs are lower.

Comment: This decision has come down to the wire and is believed to be a close call between fleet enhancement and mobility. The Multidrive solution offers greater mobility for the Armed Forces which is particularly important for the rough terrains encountered by the Army in Bosnia and the Gulf where the existing Multidrive vehicles have proved themselves and the desire by the MoD to work with large U.S. and European truck manufactures to develop long term relationships.

It has long been noticed that the MoD has a habit of building on a vehicle type once it has been procured to meet other requirements. This has benefits in that it provides commonality and in addition the MoD has knowledge of the vehicle. But in cases where the abilities of the Armed Forces to operate in difficult terrain are curtailed this may cause logistic problems and danger to operational capability.

This has already become apparent in the case of the Bucher Duro vehicle chosen for Cormorant. The MoD has now downgraded the performance of this vehicle to low mobility. This may suit a system such as Cormorant where the MoD state that it is not needed to be operated in rough terrain with a 3.5tonne trailer but not for systems such as Skynet 5 and Falcon where high mobility is required. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the Swiss Government and Bucher is finding the going tough finding new sales and that a review of the project is underway with the believed departure of the marketing director.

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