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By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE

20 Sep 06. BATTLESPACE has had a number of comments with regard to our BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.8 ISSUE 37 15 September 2006 piece, BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.8 ISSUE 37 FRES – WHAT A MESS?

One reader said, “You are spot on in much of what you say about FRES and the MOD’s ineptitude in armoured vehicle programmes. They have fiddled about for years and men have been unnecessarily killed as a result.”

Others suggest the possible candidacy of Boxer for the 8×8 role. ‘After the UK withdrew in 2004 (at a cost to the UK taxpayer and with no preserved rights and nothing to show for the money spent, reasons being it was “too big” and because money was needed for FRES!)Germany and Dutch carried on the programme. It will be ordered as a production vehicle next year. I am sure that once they have got the two home Governments on board KMW will come to market the vehicle aggressively in UK. In terms of protected mobility for mechanized infantry it is likely to outperform all the other 8 X 8’s which are in the frame, particularly in key areas like mine protection. If they select it they will have to negotiate workshare for UK and will have no intellectual property in something which the UK started and put a considerable amount of money into. And UK industry will have no export rights and no interest in the German and Dutch work.

Another reader’s suggested that the UORs for vehicles in particular have ‘cut out the middleman’ and the Army is now communicating directly with suppliers to arrive at solutions arising from experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of these is the 430 Bulldog Upgrade Programme being lead by BAE. This project has brought in a number of new technologies including a protected commander’s cupola and the possibility of the fit of the Thales all-round camera system as seen at DVD, a computer system supplied by the likes of DRS as well as a Driver’s Vision Enhancer, also supplied by DRS as one candidate.

BATTLESPACE understands that the contract longevity for the 8×8 Requirement could cause concern for Patria in particular given that the company will have to establish a key team in the U.K. over a period of time, a huge cost for a small company. Other observers suggest that Ken McGinty’s wish to bring the Sika design into the U.K. however protected by Joint ITAR agreements could still fall foul of ITAR requirements.

So Lord Drayson’s wish for industry to employ more risk could be an open ended cheque book for Project which still needs better definition. Until a proper definition is achieved then industry should keep its chequebooks firmly shut.

In better news QinetiQ told BATTLESPACE that the company has made considerable progress with its electric drive solution for the U.S. FCS Program. Since down-select QinetiQ is working on four prototypes for installation.

QinetiQ’s advanced design for a hybrid drive transmission has been selected for manned ground vehicle (MGV) integration of the US Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) as part of a US-based team led by BAE Systems. The lightweight QinetiQ transmission makes electric drive military vehicles a reality for the first time.

QinetiQ will develop its E-X-Drivetm tracked vehicle transmission as part of the overall traction drive system (TDS) for the US Army’s planned fleet of tracked military vehicles as part of a team led by BAE Systems’ new Land & Armaments business, together with Honeywell in the USA.

“Our design is set to revolutionise drive systems in specialist military and will be of undoubted interest to the UK’s Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) and the Swedish future tracked vehicles programmes. We are delighted that the technology behind our electric drive transmission, which our engineers developed from scratch, was critical in securing this win for the team,” says Graeme Ferrero, QinetiQ’s Managing Director Defence Technology. “We believe the implications of this tec

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