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By Julian Nettlefold

The Editor was delighted to accept an invitation to Chair the timely and informative IMechE Conference, ‘Military Vehicles Resetting and Upgrading,’ held in Bristol in April.

The combination of defence budget restrictions, a technology gap and environmental considerations, as European MoDs are now responsible for their cradle-to-grave management of their fleets, has led to an increased interest in Reset and Upgrading military fleets.

The continued and growing IED threat has given rise to many militaries looking to replace their existing Light Vehicle fleets with new better protected vehicles. Projects are suffering from the ‘growing pains’ of militaries attempting to develop better protected vehicles to meet these increased threats using the same payload and performance they are used to from lighter vehicles at an affordable price; many of these projects have been cancelled or are stalled.

Given the technology gap between new and current fleets, Defence Ministries are reluctant to spend money on buying intermediary fleets due to the high costs of new inventory of vehicles, spares and training. This impasse in the development of new vehicles and the current squeeze in defence spending militaries across the world are looking at Resetting and Upgrading existing fleets to plug this gap for the foreseeable future whilst new Procurements take shape.

There were nine papers presented in total we give extracts from a number here.

In-Theatre Case Study: Equipment Sustainability System (ESS) Regeneration Capability Workshop in Camp Bastion, Afghanistan. Lt. Col. George Kohler REME, ESS Project Officer, PJHQ and Dave Burgess MBE, Head of Total Support Force Development, Defence Support Group (DSG).

DSG personnel are responsible for the essential regeneration of a wide range of Army equipment at Camp Bastion’s Equipment Sustainability System (ESS) Regeneration Capability Workshop. To send a vehicle back to the UK for depth maintenance is costly and time consuming and could put pressure on the UK’s strategic air lift capability. So the decision was made to carry out this sustainment activity in theatre. Reducing the time the vehicles are out of theatre also means the size of the fleet does not need to be as large as it would otherwise have to be. Regeneration is planned up to six months in advance to ensure that the type of vehicle, its repair schedule, the parts required, special tools and technical publications are all in place in readiness for regeneration to commence.

When DSG first deployed to Bastion they worked in a large non-air conditioned tent which was freezing cold in winter and boiling hot in summer. But this was only a temporary solution whilst a brand new workshop was built as part of the ESS project. Officially opened in January 2011 by Liam Fox MP, the then Secretary of State for Defence, the purpose built workshop enables DSG fitters to carry a depth of repair not normally carried out in an operational theatre. This allows vehicles to be maintained and repaired close to the troops that use them; saving the Treasury a significant sum of money in transportation costs alone. The workshop is reputed to be the biggest purpose-built building in an operational theatre since the Korean War. With 26 crane swept bays, air conditioning, a piped in oil supply for 4 commodities, a communications equipment repair facility and a calibration laboratory the workshop is an excellent facility.

The DSG team of around 130 mechanics, technicians and support staff working in the ESS Worksop in Camp Bastion regenerate all manner of vehicles and equipment in the military fleet; ranging from protected mobility vehicles such as Jackal, Ridgback, Husky and Mastiff; the logistic fleet of MAN SV trucks, tankers and loaders; Quad bikes and trailers through to a range of protected plant equipment such as excavators, bulldozers and generators.


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