In our previous post the Springer generated a few comments, mainly saying ‘how f***ing much!
The original contract was reported as 75 vehicles for £7m, which in first impression would lead one to believe they cost just over £93k each. Given that the base vehicle, a Tomcar TM5, is available off the shelf from the US manufacters website for around £12k that does seem like a rather hefty markup, even by MoD standards.
If one looks at pictures of the Springer and Tomcar it is obvious that there are a number of differences; armoured doors, integrations of communications and ECM equipment, cargo racks, weapon racks, wire cutters, loading racks/sand ladders and many more. As it was a new vehicle in UK service it would have needed manuals, maintenance personnel training, initial spares packages and even an upgrade to a diesel engine.
So by the time these have been factored in, perhaps that increase in cost is not as large as imagined.
The Springer is not a patrol vehicle, its simply a logistics mule to ferry supplies forward or from a Forward Operating Base (FOB) to a Helicopter Landing Site (HLS). It might also be used for short range casualty evacuation and other similar tasks.
Whilst one might be happy that an operational need resulted in a fit for purpose vehicle for those in theatre, one slightly disappointing aspect of the Springer story is that it was obtained despite the MoD paying Roush Technologies £3.5million to develop and bring into service what would seem a similar vehicle, a few years earlier.
The LAS 100RE is a 6×6 all terrain vehicle that actually entered service with the Army in the latter half of 2005, rumoured to be with special forces. A high performance vehicle, it has 1,300kg payload, a 600kg trailer and a top speed of nearly 50mph but because of its lightweight honeycomb aluminium structure weighs less than 800kg. A modular payload system allows a variety of uses to be made of the base vehicle.
With ECM protection, standard NATO compliant electrical system and an engine that can use diesel, JP8, JP5 and B20 bio diesel the LAS100Re is a fully militarised vehicle, not an adaption of a civilian type. The project was known as ‘Harewood’ and one of the key requirements was that it was able to be underslung by a Lynx or internally carried by a Chinook. Although relatively low speed its off road performance is said to be excellent.
Towards the end of 2008, Roush launched a two seater model that was significantly faster yet retained the same mobility, weighing only 750Kg it has a payload of 1,450kg. The walking beam suspension is said to provide excellent ride quality as well.
Roush also helped to develop the Light Tactical All Terrain Vehicle (LTATV) in conjunction with their US parent. The base vehicle seems to be the ATV Corporation Prowler II Side by Side. Quite what the relationship between Roush UK, Roush UK and ATV is not known, perhaps Roush licence build the vehicle with UK specific requirements or different engines.
Using the same diesel engine common to its diesel quad bike, payload performance is inevitably not as high as the LAS100, rack capacities are 136 kg on the front and 272 kg for the rear. The unit also offers a towing capability of 680 kg.
The LTATV is designed to carry a forward facing crew of two, plus an optional rear facing crew member position if required. Rollover protection to SAE J2194 ROPS standard is fitted, including fold-down pins for air-portability. The vehicle also includes three light machine gun mounts, all-terrain tyres with run-flat systems, a 4000lb synthetic winch rope and both white and IR driving lights.
Roush Industries is a US company and was parent to Roush Technologies in the UK, the UK arm was purchased by an investment group and renamed to Revolve Technologies.
Roush Technologies Limited helped to develop the Arctic Cat Diesel Quad bike which I think is based on the Yamaha Grizzly base vehicle with diesel integration being completed by Roush and Arctic Cat have now put this into serial production. The recent UOR for quad bikes was also fulfilled by Roush, taking the standard Yamaha units and adding a NATO towing hitch, winch, run flat sealant for the tyres, IR lighting and other minor modifications.
Why the LTATV or LAS 100RE were not deemed suitable to fulfil the Springer UOR is not certain, commercial, technical or other factors may have come into play, perhaps Roush didn’t even bid but interestingly, the product remains on the Revolve website. The requirement was urgent, so perhaps the Springer was the only option available in a short space of time.
The contract for the Springer was actually awarded to a UK company, Enhanced Protection Systems Ltd of Leicester, a company better known not for vehicles but ballistic protection. In this June 2009 article the EPS Business Development Director (John Stoddart) details the history of the requirement. The article describes how EPS is better known for ballistic protection rather than automotive integration and the business development director has a background in procurement.
Springer is designated the Light Role Load Carriage Platform and is based on the Israeli designed, US manufactured 4×2 Tomcar. Whilst billed as a logistic donkey the company also believes there is potential for other roles and has developed a patrol variant, the Terrier. If it does go into service they will have to find another dog related name because Terrier is already taken!
Whatever happened to the Roush vehicles?
Thought the extra background information might be interesting…