THROUGH LIFE SUPPORT CONTINUES TO GAIN MOMENTUM
By Julian Nettlefold
As European MoDs develop a process for responsibility for cradle-to-grave management of their vehicle fleets, the combination of defence budget restrictions, a technology gap and environmental considerations, has led to an increased interest in Through Life Support capabilities. Another development has been for governments to look at the Intellectual Property element of their fleets and to take control of the Through Life Support process. In land systems the IP element came to the fore in the FRES debacle when the MoD stated that IP ownership was a key part of the proposed GDUK contract. Quite rightly GD baulked at handing over IP at the early stage of the process without any promise of a production contract. MOWAG, the main receptacle for GD’s IP relies on its IP and technology to support its products from its Swiss plant. Thus, any loss of IP to the U.K. MoD would cause a huge drop in the viability and profitability of the FRES vehicle and in effect create a competitor to Piranha in Europe. However, for those systems which the MoD paid for partly or in total, there is a new momentum growing for more MoD control and ownership of these systems which include the Land Rover Wolf, Jackal, Warrior, Challenger 2 and CVR(T). The latter three may be complicated by agreements made to allow IP to be transferred to the manufacturer.
The continuing IED threat in Iraq and Afghanistan has given rise to many militaries looking to replace their existing Light Vehicle fleets with new better protected vehicles. Projects include LPPV and OUVS in the U.K., M-ATV and JLTV in the USA, the German Bundeswehr’s GFF programme, Overlander 4 in Australia and Scorpion in France.
However, these projects have proved costly and will stretch the lives of existing fleets for at least another six to eight years whilst new Procurements take shape. 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. Thus Through Life Support of existing fleets using Asset Managed parts is becoming the norm.
“New world and EU directives on the disposal of obsolete vehicles mean that military fleet users in particular are now looking at innovative ways of managing their fleets to comply with these requirements,” Peter Hobson, Managing Director of Hobson Industries said.
“We proved in that instance that it was possible, using our Asset Management techniques, to salvage well over 60% of existing parts from wrecked vehicles and Asset Manage them to build ‘as new’ vehicles. We now have a full Asset Managed Land Rover parts list of well over 3000 items; we offer a full two year warranty on our vehicles and parts. We estimate the extra cost of an Asset Managed vehicle delivered back in full military specification to the MoD to be in the region of £15,000 well below the new price of £45,000+. Thus for a fleet buy of 5000 vehicles this would save £2.00bn in procurement costs, a huge saving in fleet renewal, spares inventory and driver and mechanic training.”
“But also we will also take over the liability to dispose of old fleets, if required, using our EU Approved disposal system; thus any liability to the customer under the Environmental Protection Act to dispose of its vehicles has been absolved. The Land Rover is probably the most ‘eco friendly vehicle’ in the world giving the company a huge advantage when it comes to recycling and rebuild over its competitors,” Hobson continued
“We can offer our clients a complete One-Stop Shop from cradle to grave to manage fleets during their life time and then dispose of them. We have proved this with our RUC customer where, by the use of Asset Management we have reduced fleet costs by 30% a year. The company has a complete range of engineering and workshop facilities to undertake all aspects of vehic