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By Julian Nettlefold

30 Nov 10. The UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) has signed a £180m contract with Force Protection Europe (FPE) to supply 200 Light Protected Patrol Vehicles (LPPVs) to finally replace the much-maligned Snatch Land Rover fleet delivery of the vehicles is scheduled to be completed by Spring 2012. FPE’s 4×4 ‘Ocelot’ vehicle, which beat Supacat and NP Aerospace’s SPV400 to preferred bidder status in September, will be renamed as ‘Foxhound’ by the MoD.

Specifically developed to protect against improvised explosive device (IED) threats in Afghanistan as part of an urgent operational requirement (UOR), Foxhound is expected to be available to troops for training in 2011, the MoD claimed.

In-service Land Rover Snatch and Snatch Vixen vehicles have been highly
criticised by troops over recent years, especially on operations in Afghanistan, for their lack of protection against IEDs and other threats. They had originally been designed for taskings in Northern Ireland. An official MoD statement described how Foxhound would ‘allow troops to carry out a wide range of tasks in environments that may restrict larger, heavier vehicles- for example moving with ease through narrow alleyways or crossing bridges’.

Sir Kevin O’Donoghue, Chief of Defence Materiel General, said: ‘Its V-shaped hull will help it withstand the kinds of explosions caused by Taliban bombs.’ The Ocelot, which was developed in collaboration with Ricardo, comprises a 7.5-tonne vehicle including a 1.5-tonne payload. A modular protected pod solution could be manufactured in a number of variants including load bearing; fire support; flat-bed; troop carrier; ambulance and open-top vehicles.

Earlier in the year, Force Protection officials also confirmed that there was a MoD requirement for a weapons mount on board the LPPV, most likely to be either a 7.62mm General Purpose Machine Gun (GPMG), .50-calibre Heavy Barrelled weapon or 40mm Automatic Grenade Launcher.

The vehicle also incorporates Formula One racing technology and was developed by engineers from the World Rally Championship, McLaren F1 and BMW.

The announcement means that Force Protection Europe’s unique new light protected patrol vehicle can now lay claim to two important industry firsts. The Ocelot will be the first ever British designed and built protected patrol vehicle to include a fully composite pod to protect the occupants. This innovative module has been developed by drawing on technology from the motorsports industry.

Ocelot will also be the first British military vehicle to accommodate the MoD’s new Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) requirements. The objective of the GVA project is to create a single, standard digital electronic and electrical architecture for UK vehicles that will enable crew to manage power and handle data efficiently on the vehicle, and for the vehicle to be easily adapted when the need arises.

The award is also a significant boost to Force Protection Europe’s supply chain which is 90 percent British by value.
Designed, developed and built in the UK by survivability specialist Force Protection Europe and automotive specialist Ricardo plc, together with Team Ocelot partners Thales, QinetiQ, Formaplex, DSG and Sula, Ocelot is the most highly protected and agile vehicle of its size and weight that is available today. A clean sheet design, Ocelot has undergone more than 12 months of rigorous blast and mobility testing before being chosen by the MoD.

David Hind, Managing Director, Force Protection Europe, said, “We are absolutely delighted to be awarded this important contract. Ocelot is a step change in protected mobility for this weight and class of vehicle and I am confident that it will be used to great effect in Afghanistan and any future operations. My number one priority now is to ensure that these vehicles are delivered to the MoD within the agreed timeframe. We are fully geared up to achieve

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