A Guest post from Andrew B
Although I have no military background I take a keen interest in procurement especially where vehicles are concerned.
I have been a been a Police Trafﬁc Ofﬁcer for some 20 years and I’m a self confessed petrol head. I’ve also seen how the procurement of Police vehicles has changed during this time. With many good decisions some poor ones the service is now faced with similar constraints to the military and the same limited budget.
An avid follower of this site for some time I’ve taken a keen interest in the various posts.
I’ve been looking at potential replacements for the long standing Land Rover now that the Defenders days are numbered due to emission regulations and Euro NCAP crash testing.
Defender ends production 2015
Looking at a replacement vehicle of this weight and size there are a number of considerations. Over the years light commercial vehicle design has changed beyond all recognition. Today they are equipped more like cars than vans. The addition of Air bags, Air conditioning, electric windows and increased crash survivability has had a considerable impact and has increased their weight and size.
The knock on effect is that the legislation in relation to vehicle weights have not changed.
The vehicles now have much greater unladen weights which has seen the payloads diminish. The modern 3500kg van now has a payload of under one tonne yet is available with high roofs and long wheel bases. I regularly ﬁnd these vehicles being driven in excess of there permitted weight. It is not uncommon to ﬁnd vehicles being driven at almost double their design weight.
Driving licence regulations have also changed and without taking a separate specialist test a newly qualiﬁed driver is unable to drive anything over 3500kg.
Like the military this change in regulations has had a big impact on the Police service.
Almost every new recruit must take a separate category C1/ D1 test.
In such large organisations this additional training is not such an issue. But it does come at a cost.
So we return to the Land Rover.
Under the current owners, India’s Tata, Land Rover are now very proﬁtable with their current product line up. The Evoke has been such a success that they can not build enough of them. A replacement Discovery and Freelander is imminent and a prototype Defender has been previewed.
It looks unlikely that a replacement for the Defender will be made and if they do I suspect that they will be reluctant to build a military version due to production capacity and what in real terms is a small part of their business.
Alas I suspect that we will have to look at an alternative, so while we are at it why not start to think outside the box.
So what do we look at?.
We can no longer expect our personal to jump into the back of a 4 tonner or Land Rover.
They need to have proper seats and restraint systems.
Gone too are the days of taking un armoured vehicles into theatre. But we simply can’t justify using the likes of Foxhound for training and running around on base.
The General Service Role
I propose that we use commercially available vehicles for the General Service role and retain the Big toys for operations.
There are a number of ways to do it.
- The most obvious is a like for like replacement. The MOD would most likely spend time and money demanding an evaluation then ask for changes to the standard spec before buying it then keeping it for years.
- The next would be to select a Commercial off the shelf vehicle keep it for a ﬁnite period of time and sell it on while there is some value in it.
- Another would be to buy a limited number of vehicles. Then use a Hire contract to acquire any additional Car, Van or 4×4 that is appropriate for a short term purpose.
There are a number of militarised vehicles that are show potential
The Rheinmetall Volkswagen Amarok M
The size of the vehicle is good it will also take a Euro Pallet between the wheel arches.
We all know how important these are!
Achleitner also have an interesting vehicle again based on the Amarok called the Geson. Available in Double cab or single with a cargo box its able to seat upto 6.
Oviks previously developed an interesting vehicle called Cameleon a modular mission vehicle with an interchangeable hook lift cargo module.
I understand sales haven’t been great and it’s perhaps a little too complex for every day use but interesting.
It looks like its discontinued the Cameleon to concentrate on the Crossway family of vehicles which by the look of them are aimed squarely at the Land Rover.
Available in 4×4 and 6×6 they have a range of payloads.
But we still have the problem of payloads!.
Another type of vehicle I think is worth considering is the next size up.
Iveco Daily 4×4
There are a number a COTS options the ﬁrst being the Iveco Daily 4×4.
Available in both a 3500kg and 5000kg versions the choice would have to be the latter to get some kind of
usable payload. It’s also available in single or double cab Ofen considered a mini Unimog.
The next choice of would be Oberaigner.
An Austrian engineering and automotive production ﬁrm who provide the all wheel drive know how for Mercedes.
They offer a range of vans, pickups and double cabs all based on Mercedes Sprinter.
The jewel in their crown especially where payload is concerned is the 6×6 Sprinter.
This vehicle has the loading height of a standard Sprinter but with it’s twin rear axle the maximum weight is 7000kg. This gives a payload of the best part of 4 tonnes.
Finally there is Mercedes. Offering a range of all wheel drive military vehicles from the G Wagon through the Sprinter to the Unimog.
Double Cab Pickup
The next option is the Commercial off the shelf option, something that is a general purpose vehicle a bit like a car.
I’m a personal fan of the Double Cab pick up. This strikes a great balance between passengers and cargo, and keeps the two separate which is inﬁnitely safer in the event of a collision.
It’s the Japanese that seem to have had this market for a number of years. Just about every insurgent loves his Toyota Hi Lux.
With most manufacturers having plants in the UK we could insist that they are built here by any of them who win the contract. However I suspect the cost of setting up a production line in the UK would add to the cost.
My preferred option is to keep within the EU.
It appears that there is an increase in Double cab 4×4 Commercial vehicles being introduced across the MOD ﬂeet.
Ford had a reasonably large order last year for their Ranger.
A very impressive vehicle off road which I had the opportunity to drive at DVD. Even more so when I discovered it was a brand new vehicle with road tyres. It performed admirably against some serious terrain. But sadly not built in the EU.
The Next option is for a Mixed ﬂeet of outright purchase and Hire when necessary.
Again the Ford Ranger gets my vote for purchase. I’m not a huge fan of hiring in when needed. The Hire ﬁrm are in business to make a proﬁt. For them to have a guaranteed level of availability would push up costs. Returning a vehicle with even minor damage will get charged at considerable cost. It would all come down to a good contract negotiation.
My proposal is a ﬂeet of of Double Cab pick up trucks built to a utilitarian speciﬁcation.