AT LAST THE BRITISH ARMY GETS THE PROTECTION IT DESERVES
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
13 Sep 06. In our TAILPIECE in June we quoted as below:
THE NEED FOR GOOD WEAPONS
‘When great forces assemble for battle it is obvious that the armies must be properly equipped and be supplied with the best possible weapons and equipment. We need not look far back in history to see what happens when this is NOT done. And in this respect it must forever redound to our shame that we sent our soldiers into this most modern war with weapons and equipment that were quite inadequate; we have only ourselves to blame for the disasters that early overtook us in the field. Surely we must never let this happen again; nor will we. And we can show our earnestness in this respect during this ‘Salute the Soldier’ Campaign. (Source: The Memoirs of Field Marshall Montgomery, Collins 1958)
Yesterday, the Army displayed its two new vehicles designed specifically for protection of soldiers. There has been large and unwarranted criticism of the Land Rover SNATCH vehicles in the press recently. Quite clearly the wars in Iraq have, as in Northern Ireland, produced new threats that need to be addressed by new protection. This was the case in Northern Ireland where the introduction of the Hotspur 6×6 Armoured Land Rover was made because of the new threat posed by IRA bombs. The Humber Pigs, re-purchased from a Belgian scrap heap and upgraded by Hotspur were not man enough for the explosives deployed by the IRA in 1980. Subsequently there had to be a further upgrade due to the use of pipe bombs. Thus it is not the fault of the SNATCH vehicles that soldiers are being killed it is the fault of the MoD and the Government not to provide money to pay for new solutions to protect our troops. At last it has happened after too many unnecessary deaths
The first vehicle shown was the Force Protection Mastiff, known as Cougar in the U.S. On August 11th Force Protection, Inc. was awarded an FMS contract by the MoD for more than 85 Cougar Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) vehicles. These vehicles will be known as Mastiff Protected Patrol Vehicles (Mastiff PPV). The contract also includes associated spares, technical manuals, and field service support and is worth approximately $63m. The vehicles will be supported by Force Protection personnel in theatre, where the firm already has a strong presence.
“The success that U.S. forces have had with our vehicles since 2003 has been noted by government and military leaders around the world,” said Vice President for Army Programs Damon Walsh. “We are rapidly expanding into international defense communities based on the results-driven reputation of Cougar’s counterblast technology.”
Force Protection’s Cougar and other mine-protected vehicles have been deployed with combat engineers and EOD teams for more than three years. First deliveries on the new contract will ship from Charleston, SC in November 2006.
“We judge that this vehicle meets our requirement for a well-protected, wheeled patrol vehicle,” said British Secretary of State for Defense Des Browne in an address to Parliament in July. “We have received excellent cooperation from the U.S. government, military and industry – an example of the special relationship bringing real benefits for our [British] soldiers on the ground.”
After literally thousands of IED and landmine detonations against its vehicles, Force Protection continues to “protect and save lives” around the globe. To date, it has experienced no fatalities in any of its vehicles.
The background to Force Protection can be traced to South African experience in Mine Protected Vehicles. The U.S. saw the value of this technology after a number of attacks in Iraq and arranged for the technology to be transferred to Force Protection Inc. Force Protection, Inc. manufactures ballistic- and mine-protected vehicles through its wholly owned subsidiary. These specialty vehicles are protec