29 Jun 06. Seasoned BATTLESPACE readers will be familiar with our coverage of the Mowag Duro vehicle range and the Supacat HMT and the various developments and comments we have made about these vehicles over our DVD coverage.
We covered the range of vehicles available in our ‘COMPETING FOR THE MEDIUM REQUIREMENT’ feature in this year’s DVD issue. This covered not only the above vehicles but the Iveco Panther vehicle now coming into service around the world and the exciting new entrant from JCB, the HIGH MOBILITY UTILITY VEHICLE (HMUV)
However to concentrate on the non-armoured sector, the HMT and the Duro, it is quite clear that the two projects have divided in terms of development, fielding and support. It would seem churlish to repeat our oft quoted statement that the U.K. is flooded with failed vehicles in this segment from Hotspur, Stonefield and Dosco to name a few. The one common factor in all these projects is lack of testing and engineering at the inception of the product and capital to support continued refinement and development. This is usually because, like Supacat HMT, the ‘idea company’ has not got the required knowledge or money to push the project through to final test and assembly to productionise the vehicle. The investment from Lockheed Martin and DML has enabled the product to develop to a viable specification.
We have praised the HMT design in its 4×4 role but the 6×6 version does not seem all that it is cracked up to be. The addition of the overhanging cab on the 6×6 that was absent on the 4×4 appears to be one problem together with reports of chassis cracking on MoD trials. This is before any form of armour is applied to this version or to the LIMAWS (R) version on show at DVD. The LIMAWS vehicle is believed to be at its weight limit and has had smaller tyres fitted and a 6×4 drive and four cylinder Cummins diesel as opposed to the 6 cylinder version on other models.
As reported earlier, DML has a 3m contract to iron out these problems to meet the required October ISD for the Soothsayer requirement where the vehicles are GFE from the SUV IPT. Sources suggest that both DML and the SUV is struggling to meet the required delivery dates given these problems which may cause embarrassment for late delivery to Lockheed Martin. During this time Lockheed Martin has not only bought the rights to the HMT for the USA, it has also bought the company and thus a third party beneficiary to the £3m investment! It is also the Main Contractor for Soothsayer. The vehicle is also the preferred vehicle for the BAE Falcon requirement.
Nick Jones of Supacat assured the Editor at DVD that there were no serious problems with ironing out these problems and that they were within the normal problems associated with bringing a vehicle into service. The portee vehicle for the M777 BAE Howitzer is a derivative of the HMT vehicle.
In our coverage of the HMT project there has always been the perception in some quarters that the company has unconsciously sold huge numbers of the vehicle from paper forecasts before any have been built or actually sold! The forecasts seen by the Editor in 2003 predicted huge and impossible sales in what is and always has been a niche area. The arrival of JCB on the scene brings a company that not only has huge R&D resources but also the huge international parts network required to support such a vehicle overseas.
From what the Editor saw as a poor relation in the sector in 2002, the Duro range, under its Mowag/GD ownership, has been quietly establishing itself in world markets. The company announced 18 more armoured Duro III 6×6 vehicles for the U.K. MoD EoD requirement built by Penman Engineering and Mowag is working on a Swiss armoured version using a kit designed by Penman to go alongside its vehicles already ordered by the German Army.
The Duro team told BATTLESPACE at DVD that given the demand for its Eagle 4×4 Armoured vehicle, based on the DURO chassis and the existing Duro