The Light Protected Patrol Vehicle

Although it has been in the equipment programme for some time the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) has been in the news this week as Gordon Brown chose to announce something that had been announced several times before. Of course this is par for the course for the Labour government, why say something one when one can say it again and again at every opportune moment.

Setting the scene for the announcement were charges of underfunding from the Chilcott Enquiry and sundry ‘ex somethings’ and the Inquest into the deaths of 4 service personnel in Afghanistan, in which the Snatch came in for yet more criticism.

What better time for some good news?

The announcement detailed a purchase of 200 vehicles to replace the Snatch Vixen, jumping immediately on the number the opposition and media jumped on the fact that the original tender documents called for a quantity of 400, more cuts in spending to beat the government with.

In fact, the tender actually stated ‘up to 400’

Responding to the accusations the MoD issued a rebuttal saying the first batch of 200 would be purchased as a UOR with additional follow on orders some time after. It failed to mention how many would be in the follow on phase though, all very vague.

The issue of the Snatch Land Rover is one of the most shameful episodes in the MoD’s acquisition history because unlike most disastrous programmes that just involve taxpayers cash, the Snatch debacle has cost many lives and even more limbs. It is a huge subject and would take many posts to even scratch the surface. Defence of the Realm has excellent coverage and whilst some of the conclusions drawn are incorrect the general thrust, the need to stop using vulnerable patrol vehicles in a theatre where the IED is the weapon of choice is one that is fundamentally correct.

The original tender documents were issued in February 2009, one might wonder, given the obvious urgency of the requirement why it has taken over a year to get even to this stage.

The need to replace the Snatch Vixen, which replaced the Snatch 2A was discussed even further before that. In a written statement, the then Secretary of State for Defence (John Hutton MP) stated there would be no public enquiry over the use of the Snatch Land Rover in British service.

We do not believe that there is a better vehicle than Snatch Vixen currently available anywhere in the world to fulfil the LPPV requirement. But we are also looking to the future and anticipating new threats, and we have begun a programme to develop the next generation of LPPV which will in due course take the place of Snatch Vixen.

The date of this statement is the 16th December 2008 and in it there is mention of ‘new threats’

Does anyone know what new threats these might be, have the Taleban suddenly started deploying sharks with laser beams on their heads or is the principal source of coalition casualties still the Improvised Explosive Device, albeit with some modest improvements. The fundamental nature of the threat remains the same but in the same time period, the US have managed to field a number of iterations of their equivalent vehicle.

It is easy to be critical but any progress is good.

The LPPV is designed to replace the Snatch Vixen and likely the Land Rover WMIK, a similar sized vehicle but with much greater protection, in service in 2011, at least two years from the decision not to hold a public enquiry into the Snatch.

The requirements from the tender are…

The LPPV will be a wheeled vehicle with an estimated gross vehicle weight of around 6 to 7 tonnes, capable of carrying up to 6 crew (2+4), integrated with a range of communication and electronic equipment providing protected mobility. LPPV will replace in-service light legacy platforms based on the Land Rover based SNATCH vehicle. Additionally, the platform may be used as the basis for the replacement to Land Rover WMIK.

The vehicle must provide the optimum levels of protection against a number of known and emerging threats of a varied nature including Ballistic, Blast, Mine and Fragmentation. As a guide the requirements for protection should be a minimum of level 2 ballistic and level 2 blast as detailed in STANAG 4569.

LPPVs are principally required for a wide range of patrol tasks and are normally expected to operate on roads and rough tracks and trails in urban, semi-urban and rural environments; they need to be sufficiently agile to provide high cross country mobility. To achieve the desired levels of urban manoeuvrability the vehicle will ideally have a width less than 2m and a turning circle less than 12m.

The weight and size mean it will be deployable by Chinook (externally slung) and other aircraft such as the C130 Hercules and A400.

STANAG 4569 Level 2 Blast protection means that at a similar weight it will be better protected than the Panther and hopefully a great deal roomier, the Panther can carry only small soldiers and only if wearing only their underpants.

So who are the contenders?

There have been a number of potential contenders with 16 companies responding the pre qualification bid including the Team Z (Creation UK and Bacock) Zephyr, Universal Engineering Ranger 4×4 and the Rheinmetall Armoured Multi Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) but they have been down selected to two, the Supacat/NP Aerospace SPV and the Force Protection/Ricardo Ocelot. The down select should have been down to four but Babcock withdrew at the last minute, therefore disqualifying Team Z and the NP Aerospace Phoenix was not ready in time.

The MoD have decided to go with new and innovative vehicles that maximise protection and mobility rather than derivatives of existing vehicles like the Panhard PVP which would likely offer very little over and above the Snatch Vixen.

The Ocelot design clearly shows the V shaped hull and the demountable crew pod is an innovative idea that has been a feature of many vehicle concepts from the SEP to the Boxer, although the notion of quickly whipping one out and replacing it with another type never seems to have been realised in practice. Force Protection and Ricardo have clearly started with a clean sheet; the Ocelot is not a derivative of a commercial chassis and has an armoured central spine or ‘skateboard’ design that enhances survivability. The challenging target of a 12m turning circle (achieved with 4 wheel steering) and weight of 7.5 tonnes is comparable with the Land Rover derivatives but it has a very low centre of gravity.

The Supacat SPV is available in 4×4 or 6×6 configurations and the 4×4 version (SPV400) is Supacat’s entry into the LPPV competition. Built on the proven Jackal platform the crew pod is designed by NP Aerospace and with many common components the logistics burden should be lighter than with custom designs.

The design and capabilities of the contenders would leave many to wonder where it will leave the Husky and Panther vehicles, arguably similar but with less protection. If the UOR is absorbed into the main programme then where does it leave OUVS

The Ocelot looks the more purposeful design and has the advantage of starting from a clean sheet but no doubt all are competent designs that offer a step change in protection from the Snatch.

Whichever is chosen they will be a welcome improvement, at long last the Snatch can be retired.

UPDATE:

Thanks to various people making comments there is some updated information in the post.

43 Comments
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Euan
March 9, 2010 12:24 am

I think I like the Ocelot design better not just because they have a cool video but because it is purpose designed for the task and has some good design features. Also by the looks of that video they have actually built the design and I suspect they have most likely tested it possibly with the MoD watching. Although postman pat’s van may share some commonality with the Jackal I don’t think that carries enough weight to justify procuring the Supacat design. If the Ocelot can with a module change fulfil the same role as jackal then things might get a tad confusing as Jackal would be looking a bit odd. How far should we take the concept of standardisation it could be used either way, a jackal derived family or a new Ocelot derived family something to ponder.

Jed
Jed
March 9, 2010 1:16 am

I don’t know why we don’t just jump onboard the various US Army and USMC programmes to build similar vehicles, then we would benefit from much larger procurements leading to lower unit price, and probably cheaper logistics / support going forward.

Euan
March 9, 2010 2:36 am

Jed I think you know some of the answers to your own Question but nonetheless it is still a good question and would make sense especially as the programmes are still in the early stages. However I would still be fine with just going it alone and getting something like the Ocelot as it should avoid problems. What about you?

DominicJ
March 9, 2010 11:16 am

It might seem controversial, but should the British Army Light Vehicle for the next 20 years be designed primarily to protect crew in the event of a mine strike?
It certainly makes sense in Afghanistan, but anywhere else?

Fiale
March 9, 2010 11:29 am

The Ocelot looks like a good vehicle. The pod design would allow it to be any platform you wish (would the platform be stable enough for heavy Mortar or TOW).

The main advantage of Ocelot would be costs, if the pod is damaged you un-clip it and replace it with another and the vehicle is ready to go. The POD can then be repaired / scrapped as needed. vis a vis the vehicles body the same.

Also a small vehicle capable of carrying supplies, troops, cannon, all in one design seems hard to knock. If however they go this route it needs to be done whole heartedly, not yet more mish mash of vehicles, parts, and inter-changability.

paul g
March 9, 2010 12:30 pm

out of all the choices i think the supacat has to go to the back of the queue simply as it’s a drawing and we need to remove thumbs from backsides and put equipment into theatre, you can’t go out on patrol with a picture of something that is good but not issued yet!!

the ocelot has a lot to offer with the pod system it can be adapted (possibily an answer to jeds question of futureproofing for the next 20 years) i wonder if they do an ambulance pod as this vehicle has a tight turning circle then it could be used to casevac from urban areas to a better defended HLS, recent events with a very relived chinook pilot re-enforce that thought for me!

the main point is get them and get them out there ASAP otherwise the only vehicles we shall see is hearses’ bringing our troop home

phil Darley
March 9, 2010 1:54 pm

Bugger I have been writing a post on this very subject. Oh well… To put the record straight there are in fact only two contenders, the others either pulled out or were not short-listed. The two vehicles are the Supacat SPV 400 and the FPE/Ricardo Ocelot.

Supacat do have a vehicle now see below

http://www.armyrecognition.com/united_kingdom_british_army_wheeled_vehicle_uk/spv_400_supacat_light_wheeled_protected_vehicle_british_army_united_kingdom_technical_data_sheet_des.html

Yes it does look like Postman Pat’s van. It also has a Reliant Robin look about it.

I think OUVS is dead. This and the orders already placed for the TSV (Husky, Coyote and Wolfhound) will finish it off. No bad thing in my view is it was going the wrong way in my opinion.

The good thing about the SPV is that they are proposing a 6×6 version as well. With both 400 and 600 versions these could replace the Jackal and Coyote (both of which are flawed in the protection department).

I don’t know if there are plans to offer a 6×6 Ocelot, if so, with the changeable bodies it already has, this could replace an alful lot of totally unsatisfactory Landrover/Pinzgauer and Jackal based vehicles and some of the SV vehicles as well (particularly the 5 tonne truck).

phil Darley
March 9, 2010 1:59 pm

Jed, just read your post on jumping on the US Army and USMC programmes. Until recently I would have agreed with you. I still believe that the JLTV is a far superior approach to that of OUVS. The downsize is that the US vehicles are HUGE. The US equivalent of the LPPV is the M-ATV (Won by Oshkosh). This thing is massive 15+ tonnes. Its the size of a truck (and a bloody big truck at that).

Jed
Jed
March 9, 2010 2:03 pm

Euan – you know me, always playing devils advocate :-)

I like the modularity of the Ocelot. I have never been under armour, my unit had LandRover Wolf and 6 wheel Pinzgauer. However I think light armour (7.62 proof) and, in response to Dominic’s question, mine/IED protection now has to be the lowest common denominator. Upgrade kits for RPG protection must be easy to add, and hopefully not destroy base levels of mobility. So, as Ocelot modularity seems to suggest it could replace more vehicles in more / different roles, leading to a bigger buy, but with savings from common logistics and support infrastructure – it gets my vote :-)

Fiale
March 9, 2010 2:09 pm

Jed, I was thinking along those line.

The Ocelot would seem to be a perfect vehicle as it would provide everything needed. A truck platform, infantry mobility and fire support platforms for them, presumably signals and comms versions.

Then if going to war, you would change the pod element to reflect your mission – drive through a warehouse with some stored pods and totally change the military makeup easy and quick (I have no idea how long they take to clip on/off) but it is great versatility.

If you buy enough that they are common, and standard throughout all forces (I guess Warrior will need to remain for armoured support functions)then it seems a great idea.

paul g
March 9, 2010 4:25 pm

thanks for the link phil, think i’d defo stay with the ocelot, the supacat just doesn’t cut it (nice big storage bins to fly off as well). the ocelot just seems to have greater mission capabilities as described in previous comments

Richard Stockley
March 10, 2010 5:26 pm

Looking at the comments the general consensus of opinion goes for the Ocelot, which I agree with, however I can’t see the RAF flying out different sets of body pods into theatre that would sit gathering dust in hanger, only to fly them back again. Its a good/unique feature but I would be suprised if it was actually utilised much in the field. 10/10 for ingenuity though.

Also, I know the Ocelot shown is only a prototype, but:

It has no drivers door, which would be handy if you had to bale out in a hurry.

It has no windows in the rear doors, which would improve situational awareness.

A 6×6 version would be great for shifting stores; apart from that, pretty good.

Jed
Jed
March 10, 2010 7:51 pm

Richard – I don’t think the comment ref a warehouse full of different bodies was meant to confer tactical flexibility in theatre, but it would certainly provide some amount of strategic flexibility in deciding exactly which variants to tailor to send to theatre in the first place.

Ref the lack of windows, all UK ‘protected’ vehicles have had their windows (armoured vision blocks) removed, look at a Husky or a UK Mastiff versus a US Cougar. It appears the British army either thinks the armoured glass is not up to snuff, or they do not appear to think the additional situational awareness is required by the dismounts. I supposed cheap under armour ‘web cams’ and ruggedised LCD screens in the back can substitute ?

Panther is more heavily glazed, but it was supposed to be a light armoured ‘scout’, so a decent view for the crew probably surpasses IED survivability in the priority list.

Fiale
March 10, 2010 8:05 pm

Richard,

I meant prior to being sent to theatre they could alter the mix, so if their was a humanitarian mission in a low threat zone more truck versions with just a few MG mounted ones could go. Just seems a very cheap way of offering a lot of flexibility.

looking at the Ocelot body, there does not appear to be any reason why it could not have a 6x wheel variant.

paul g
March 10, 2010 10:24 pm

any truth in the rumour that parcel force requested the 6×6 supa-pat (sorry cat) for the bigger packages!!!:-)

Jed
Jed
March 11, 2010 1:40 am

I referred back to your post on OUVS at:
https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/09/ouvs-operational-utility-vehicle-system/

And the following post on British Army Vehicles at: https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/09/british-army-vehicles/

Both excellent resources – but I feel a summary / “modest proposal” article coming on…. !

DominicJ
March 11, 2010 8:24 am

Re: Flexibility

In the opening stages of a “hot” war its likely that the anti tank modules would be the most in need, so you could fly them out first, as the campaign progressed, fewer anti tank plqatforms would be required, and more infantry support platforms would be, so rather than flying out a whole new vehicle, you could just fly out the new weapon module and swap out some of the anti tank modules
And as the campaign progresses even further, you would need less infantry support and more transport, well, thats just another module that needs flying out.

I presume a single Ocelot base could support a variety of armament modules, ATGM, 105mm light gun, 120mm mortar, multiple 40mm grenade launchers, multiple heavy machine guns, autocannons along with palletised stores and troop transport modules?

Ib Balicanta
March 11, 2010 11:23 am

My money is on the Supacat SPV400, it has so many common components with the troops are using now, it looks more futuristic and cooler than the Ocelot and most importantly it is BRITISH made.

paul g
March 11, 2010 1:57 pm

ocelot will be built in britain and not wishing to sound arrogant, but looking “cooler” isn’t really a life saving requirement.

Ib Balicanta
March 11, 2010 2:48 pm

and i would like to think that Ocelot being ugly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a safer platform. All things being equal the Supacat does make the troops look good, and thus a morale booster. and What I meant by ‘British made’, is ‘British made’ in all sense of the word. 100% British based company. Not having to wait for U.S. congress’ approval if ever we need parts or if ever we would want to export them to other countries that the U.S. doesn’t particularly like.

Phil Darley
March 11, 2010 11:27 pm

Ib Balicanta, Supacat is owned by General Dynamics an American company and thus is no more Britsh than the Ocelot!

DomicicJ the Ocelot is a very small vehicle and could not mount a 105 gun or 120 mortar. .50 cal machine gun and 40mm grenade launcher would be possible.

The point really is getting these vehicles ordered in large numbers ASAP as the Snatch and WMIK not to mention Jackal and Coyote are not really up to the task in terms of protection.

Ib Balicanta
March 12, 2010 2:30 am

Supacat is owned by General Dynamics? I think it’s just but proper to show any proof that that claim is true. any links? Because as far as i know Supacat is an independent British company. Only the Supacat’s High mobility Transport is under licence from Lockheed Martin.

DominicJ
March 12, 2010 8:09 am

Not turret mounted, so you’d have to turn the vehicle to aim them, would they still not fit?
I was thinking along the lines of the Tank Destroyer and Assault Gun concepts

Oh well, it was just a thought.

Still, having a single chasis that can go from tank hunter, to mortar/grenade bombardier to water carrier to ambulance over the course of a single day should be pretty useful

Richard Stockley
March 12, 2010 11:29 am

Dominic, if you need a tank destroyer you could always mount a Javelin on top in a similar manner to bolting a Milan to the roll bar of a Land Rover DPV. The 105’s and 120 mortars would definitely have to be towed. Given the light weight of the LPPV, a dedicated assault gun or a tank destroyer role would be way out of its league.

Given the height of the vehicle any substantial weight above wheel level is going to affect the stability. I agree with Admin, I’d stick to lighter weapons for a lightweight vehicle.

DominicJ
March 12, 2010 12:44 pm

Fair enough, thanks for the walkthrough.

paul g
March 17, 2010 9:42 am

i believe BAe have come into the race late with a vehicle called the RG35, a 6×6 weighing 33,000kg it can carry 15 bods due to side mounted engine with the ability to be a hybrid as well, can also be 4×4, there is a link below

http://www.army-technology.com/projects/rg35/

paul g
April 14, 2010 5:13 pm

many posts on here by fans of the ocelot, i’m guessing that this link might mean the LPPV contract is going the way of supacat.

http://www.profeng.com/archive/2010Articles/April/13041070.001.htm

C&S
C&S
April 19, 2010 11:57 pm

Supacat have built three LPPV (SPV400) prototypes – one of which was used for blast tests with the other two being used for mobility and reliability trials. The crew survival pod is designed and manufactured by NP Aerospace. The front and rear modules are sacrificial. Turning circle is only fractionally greater than Jackal and the vehicle is light enough to be underslung by Chinook. There is a manufacturer’s video embedded in the http://www.combatandsurvival.com front page.
C&S

Sean Noble
Sean Noble
June 26, 2010 2:40 pm

A Little info on the Ocelot. The whole vehicle is due to be made at the Ricardo site in Shoreham near Brighton, the pod as can the powerpack can be changed in under an hour, it has 4 wheel steer which locks out over 15kph and will lock out if a malfunction occurs to ensure vehicle safety, it had a very successful showning at DVD millbrook this week where 5 vehicles were on display including one that took punters around the cross country circuit, unlike the Supercat SPV which had to be towed onto its stand (PR disaster) becouse the vehicle they took was a non runner. The majority of parts for the Ocelot are COT’s so spares are easily available and should be provided where necessary as swap out packs so if you require nuts, bolts washers etc to complete a task they will all come with the spare to complete the task instead of needing to demand upto 20 items at a time.

Mike W
July 6, 2010 11:36 am

We certainly need the LPPV in service as soon as possible. There was item on BBC News yesterday Monday (5th July) about the RAF Regiment on patrol in the Stan. I hope I am not wrong about this but I’m sure that they were still using Land Rovers! I couldn’t believe my eyes! The problem was that the images disappeared too quickly for me to identify them for sure but they did not even appear to be the updated version of the Snatch(Vixen?).

Can anyone confirm what I saw? If they were Landies, isn’t it beyond belief? How many years is it since the whole Land Rover Snatch issue blew up in the press?

Mike W
September 22, 2010 5:17 pm

I caught on the News today that the MOD have finally chosen a Snatch replacement, which is very good news indeed. It is to be the Ocelot. The information given on Ceefax suggests that it is a British designed vehicle. What concerns me, however, is to what extent it is a British vehicle overall. It is to be produced by Force Protection, isn’t it, and that’s American. No opportunity for British exports there, then.

My second concern is that by the time the vehicles are produced and the bells and whistles are decided upon and added by our fast-moving procurement people, we shall be out of Afghanistan. Would be useful in some future counter-insurgency campaign, though.

Richard Stockley
September 22, 2010 5:40 pm

MikeW,

Re: secong concern, I was just thinking the same thing, are we buying it as it is, ready to go, or are we going to fu*k about and modify it for the next few years so none of the parts resemble the original design?

Mike W
September 22, 2010 5:57 pm

Richard,

Thanks for the reply. My money would be on the second option, wouldn’t yours? Get the damned thing in service as soon as possible!

Jasons
Jasons
September 22, 2010 6:03 pm

The fact that it is a Force Protection product might be it’s saving grace seeing as they produced Mastiff and Ridgeback.

The MOD press release says that they have been selected as “preferred bidder” so it’s not a done deal yet.

The proposal is to be available for Training in 2011. Possible numbers ????

I hope they have improved the off-road performance.

Personally I am skeptical of the whole concept of an MRAP of this size.

c
c
September 22, 2010 8:43 pm

I’ve read ocelot is non-ITAR so it should be exportable and according to Defensenews.com its being built in the uk by Ricardo at its factory at Shoreham on Sea so good news for them.

Ricardo also do all the mods on the existing Land Rover Snatchs so its not inconceivable for them to be able to turn out vehicles quickly, it is afterall a “relatively simple” patrol vehicle. I know everythings “relative” with the MOD but I haven’t seen any images of Ocelot with a RWS station or anything too complicated so except for radios and ECM whats to add?.

The design looks good to me so lets hope the MOD/Industry get cracking and start rolling these out

paul g
September 22, 2010 10:02 pm

in theory as it’s a pod design billy basic troop carrier can be assembled pronto and the seperate pods can be done before/during/after as they not part of the chassis, I’m guessing here obviously

paul g
September 22, 2010 10:13 pm

just noticed that the ocelot on sky news has no front doors!!!
oh and well done sky for bleating about the poor protection of a snatch and then showing a photo of a WMIK and calling it a snatch, sack the lazy journo!!