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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor BATTLESPACE

Nigel Gilhead the U.K. MoD’s Specialist & Utility (SUV) IPT Leader, hosts for the DVD Show, gave BATTLESPASCE Editor Julian Nettlefold a brief with regard to the theme for DVD 05.

“Through Life Support is now the vital element in the procurement of vehicles by our SUV IPT,” Gilhead said, “We now require bidders to show that they can support their vehicles for at least a ten year period. This support will include training of both drivers and technicians, spares and maintenance support, technical upgrades and improvements and financial strength. The convergence of such projects as the JAMES Logistic requirement into this process coupled to the use of such items as Elapsed Time Indicators (ETIs) and Etags and on-board diagnostics and the use of laptop maintenance systems will ensure that the logistic supply chain is shortened and simplified, thus reducing cost and the support needed for vehicles in theatre. We will use dealer networks of suppliers in some circumstances but still retain our in-house REME Support Teams for certain vehicles. The ability to plan and predict servicing requirements for vehicles will cut down the inventory and cost of spares. Using one manufacturer for certain types will also cut down cost and spares.”

“Does this mean that the MoD is changing the manner by which it procures its ‘B’ Vehicle fleet to be more in line with those practices now offered by such companies as BAE in the ‘A’ Armoured vehicle fleets?” the Editor asked.

“Yes, in time,” said Gilhead, “But the international truck and light vehicle manufactures are more diverse in the choice of product and specification than the armoured vehicle manufacturers so we although have greater choice this also means a more complex procurement process.”

“Will this mean that the original proposition that the OUVs Procurement be made from one supplier be re-thought?” the Editor asked.

“As OUVs is now slated for 2011 we are examining various methods of procurement over the next two years. One method we are looking at is the procurement by the weight requirements of vehicles from a 6 tonne top end, to the smaller end of quad and motor bike, from different suppliers. Now that the SUV Team has been re-organised under one roof in Andover, dealing with in-service vehicles and future procurements, we can build on the experience of our existing procurements to build the future fleet requirement,” Gilhead said.

“Does this mean an end to the MoD practice of procuring vehicles direct from specialist manufactures?” the Editor asked, “Given that we are making Through Life Support as a must for Future Procurements, we have to be sure that these companies will be around in ten years and have the financial clout and international coverage to support our products, thus it is more likely that we will procure specialist vehicles through a major supplier. “

Land Rover has used this practice for years using their Approved Converter Network. Any specialist vehicle body builder or converter wishing to use the Land Rover chassis as a baseline vehicle has to go through a complex Land Rover Approval Process to ensure that the conversion matches the requirements of the parent.

“What lessons were learnt from the recent Gatekeeper Trials for the Medium Requirement for OUVs?” the Editor asked. “Whilst the details of the trials are not Commercial in Confidence, we learnt a lot from the experience in the provision of one vehicle type for a number of applications such as radio and command vehicles and Ground Stations. We were particularly impressed by the new Mowag Duro III vehicle which now has the support of the Mowag engineering expertise and General Dynamics financial clout, FCS technology availability and world-wide support network.”

“Has the increased weight and armouring requirement pushed Land Rover out of the equation for OUVs?” the Editor asked. “Quite the opposite,

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