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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE

07 Sep 06. In the latest MoD Contract Bulletin the DPA has asked for ’Expressions of Interest’ in a huge Long-term Support Package for its ‘B’ Vehicles fleet worth between £100m and £140m over a period expected to be 10 – 25 years. The number of vehicles stretches into thousands from Land Rovers, Pinzgauers, Supacats, HMTs, the dreadful RB44, Leyland, Bedford and Scammel trucks and many other vehicles. The usual suspects are expected to bid for this requirement, ABRO, BAE SYSTEMS, LEX, JCB, Marshall SV, VT, Lockheed Martin Insys, Thales (with Oshksoh)and Land Rover itself. Other companies such as Ricardo, Roush and Dytecna could also be involved as sub-contractors. Given its U.S. expertise DRS is also expected to look at this requirement.

One company which is expected to be ‘there and there abouts’ is Hobson Industries Limited as a main sub-contractor. The Editor visited Hobson Industries this week to see the process pioneered by founder Peter Hobson in 1987 left the Royal Navy, to take old chassis (mainly Land Rovers)from scrap and re-engineer the parts taken from them into new spares and/or full sub-assemblies such as axles, engines, gearboxes and transfer boxes.

Peter Hobson is the archetypal engineer, bluff and well spoken but not suffering fools gladly! Very similar to the Editor’s first boss in the defence business, Peter Jones of SMC. These people are a unique mould of Britishness and will be found in small specialist engineering companies all over the world. Large Corporations do not understand the way they work and when they try to emulate their specialist products or processes, usually fail without support of the entrepreneur.

“We work very closely with Land Rover and our military customers in developing our processes and products,” Hobson told the Editor. The Editor was invited to Hobson’s after the article written at DVD on the company’s new armoured Land Rover displayed on Land Rover’s stand during DVD. (See: BATTLESPACE MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS Vol. 5 Issue 3, 28 June 2006, DVD 2006 NEWS, DAY 1, ‘HOBSON INDUSTRIES LAUNCH THE HOBSON RANGER AT DVD.’)

Hobson Industries used its extensive knowledge in building vehicles for the RUC in Northern Ireland in particular to launch the Hobson Ranger Land Rover vehicle. The company has assembled and supported 340 RUC armoured Land Rovers.

Ranger is armoured to Stanag Level 1 on a 4.1 tonne gross chassis that gives the vehicle a large interior given the use of advanced materials.

“We are using a totally new ceramic armour developed by U.S. textile specialist Milliken. In addition the Ranger has a foam filled, blast resistant false wall on the side of the vehicle that absorbs the first hit from an RPG thus preventing any fragmentation or shock in the interior. Ranger is available in either a 3.5 V8 Petrol or TD5 Diesel 24v suppressed variants are also available and, like the 300TDi MOD version, has a full through life support package. These power train options enable the Pod to be fitted to existing vehicles using Hobson Industries Vehicle Reconditioning Asset Management Through Life Support programmes.

The vehicle is fitted with a full fire protection package and, with its improvised weapon and RPG trigger plates, it gives significant protection against most hand held terrorist weapon threats. A transparent armoured glass system has been developed in conjunction with Romag to enhance repairability replacement in the field.

The vehicles’ modular construction ensures that all transparent armour, steel armour, Macrolon shrouds and steel fixtures are completely interchangeable between vehicles and a full support package is available to meet operational requirements worldwide.

The vehicle is fitted with a Coolair high output air conditioning system and a Webasto 3.5KW demountable heating system which is designed on a ‘Fitted For’ but Not W

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