Ocelot – Light Protected Patrol Vehicle

Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV)

Unless you have been on the moon you will by now be aware that the MoD has selected the Force Protection Europe Ocelot as the preferred bidder for the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle requirement.

Let’s not be churlish, this is a great result but also let’s spare a moment and think about the wasted opportunities, money, legs and lives that have preceded today’s announcement.  The vulnerabilities of the Land Rover Snatch have been known since the early nineties, reinforced in Iraq in 2003 onwards and amplified in Afghanistan.

Of all the MoD programme we can get vexed about, this surely is one of the most shocking and by the time it comes into service will have taken nearly a decade to resolve.

Designed, developed and built in the UK by Force Protection Europe and Ricardo plc, together with Team Ocelot partners Thales, QinetiQ, Formaplex, DSG and Sula, Ocelot is the weight for weight, the best protected and most agile vehicle of its kind – capabilities that have been proved by more than 12 months of blast and mobility testing.

The Ocelot has comprised a 7.5-tonne vehicle including a 1.5-tonne payload. Earlier in the year, Force Protection officials also confirmed that there was an 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.

As can be seen in the videos below, the turning circle is exceptional and a vital characteristic for the type of urban terrain these will be used in. It is a genuinely innovative ‘clean sheet’ design, its armoured ‘skateboard’ spine holds the transmission components and the interchangeable body ‘pods’ are fitted to it. The vehicle can be re-roled or easily repaired by simply swapping these modules and components.  Pods could include load-bearing; fire support; flat-bed; troop carrier; ambulance and open-top vehicles. The Ocelot is also compliant with the MoD’s emerging Generic Vehicle Architecture standard to simplify future systems integration and maintenance.

The initial uses will be simply as a Snatch 2A/Snatch Vixen replacement, 200 as a UOR and an additional 200 to follow but given the modular nature and obvious growth potential, we should be thinking seriously about fleet rationalisation. As a result of numerous UOR’s the Land, the fleet has grown like weeds, creating a number of serious training, maintenance and logistic challenges. The next obvious applications are as a replacement for the Land Rover WMIK, Ambulance and even GS types.

Only if we standardise, adapt the basic design and buy-in quantity will we be able to realise the benefits of volume. Even 400 is nowhere near enough, the order should be in the thousands and not a piecemeal trickle. Give Force Protection Europe a long term contract and allow them to subcontract to other manufacturing locations, take advantage of the volume production skills and supply chains in the civilian industry and map out a long term strategy that provides a measure of certainty. this long term road map will support investment in cost reduction activities so that we don’t end up, yet again, with a boutique, niche capability that simply complicates and costs more.

The IED cat is out of the bag so the basic Land Rover in military service is going to have to be relegated to niche, low threat activities. The same could be said for many of the light logistics vehicles and command vehicles like Panther and Husky, what now for these vehicles?

The future is Ocelot.

That is of course if we can progress from Preferred Bidder to In Service, remember the FRES UV debacle

Ocelot has also been shortlisted for an Australian requirement

What about huge quantities, high hundreds or even thousands, of Land Rover Snatch that are already in service and will no doubt be heading their way over to the disposal outlets?

Marshal Land Systems have suggested that surplus Snatch Land Rovers’s could be used as the base vehicle for a semi sacrificial unmanned mine/IED detection system. The MoD is reported to have released initial funding for a Technology Demonstration programme that could ultimately lead to the development of a number of unmanned vehicles for base patrol, logistics and Counter IED. It is also in discussion with G-NIUS about the possible use of the Avantguard unmanned ground vehicle. I suppose we could do what everyone else does and go and buy a Husky, where would the development contracts be though!

I have rounded up a few videos of the Ocelot below.

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27 Responses

  1. Yay, unmanned robot LandRovers, add some MetalStorm launchers and just hope that:

    1. No one ever hacks them
    2. SkyNet does not take over…..

    :-)

    As for Ocelot – Couldn’t we have lightweight un-armoured bodies for use in the UK on general service ? less wear and tear on the roads ??

  2. Excellent news. Let’s hope the orders are placed and in large enough numbers . We should be looking at the Ocelot to replace all the land-rovers, pinzgauers and the jackals. They could probably replace some of the huskys and most if not all the panthers

  3. Thanks for this, boss. It seems like a lesson in what *can* be done, given that it was done from scratch, might out-turn an FX4, and (childhood Lego fans rejoice) can flex the body. Worth repeating that list of successful adaptations to various other project management teams. In its own way not all that different from the design revolution of CVR(T) and at least as useful for its time (which, you’re right, has been the last twenty years at least. Seems that at least sometimes the MoD, like the US according to Churchill, will do the right thing once it’s exhausted the alternatives.) Yes, definitely, push for an all-round replacement programme, especially since you can do such deliberately different things with different cab fits.

  4. This vehicle reminds me of the Humber Pig and Saracen APCs that rendered such sterling service from the 50s to the 70s. i guess the more things change, the less they change.

    While there is no doubt that Ocelot incorporates advanced technology in its design and construction to provide the kind of protection that’s so urgently needed, i agree that it has taken an unholy amount of time to develop – time that has cost additional lives over the years required to advance it to mission ready status. Hopefully the technology will, as you suggest, be applicable to a wider family of vehicles – even a FRES UV contender!

    Were we right to quit the Boxer MRAV programme and prioritise this instead? I know Boxer is a fundamentally different and much larger vehicles, but it performs essentially the same role: transporting soldiers safely from A to B. I shall be interested to see how the level of protection they each offer compares. If Ocelet genuinely provides the same level of protection in a vehicle weighing only a quarter as much as Boxer, then it represents a stunning achievement.

    Before I start singing the MoD’s praises, which I’d be delighted to do, I need to be sure that this thing does exactly what it says on the tin. Operational trials will be interesting. If, in addition to protecting men on the ground, Ocelot also shows that procurement processes are starting to come right, then it will be a flagship project indeed.

  5. Another defence/anti-EU blog won’t approve as it isn’t a monocoque. The good doctor couldn’t get his mind around the fact that a mine proof body on top of a separate chassis is safer than monocoque.

  6. I wonder if we’ll ever be able to scrutinise the reasons why Ocelot was chosen over SPV400 – not that I have any beef with the choice. The Supacat vehicle always looked, to me at least, to be more mobile and far better suspended than Ocelot (although in that third youtube video it looks much better than in previous clips) but if trials have proven that the Ocelot is the better vehicle then let’s get on with getting them out to where they’re needed.

  7. “Even 400 is nowhere near enough, the order should be in the thousands and not a piecemeal trickle.”

    Admin, lets calm down a little. Even the best kit can have its Achilles Heel. Lets get the initial batch tested in the field under proper conditions before we commit in the long term.

    Don’t forget Jackal then Jackal2, and Mastiff then Mastiff 2. In a couple of years we may be talking of Ocelot 2, lets not jump the gun. Otherwise we’ll end having another long debate in a couple of years time regarding MOD incompetance over the Ocelot issue!

  8. Fair point Richard, but you can see what I mean about plugging it into a long term programme that provides confidence to the manufacturer and achieves economy of scale and commonality for the forces

  9. Nicholas
    The project took so long because the Government refused to fund it.
    Had the government issued an order in 2003 the things would have been in theatre en masse before it kicked off in 2006.
    The Boxer would be better than a land rover, but its still not a vehicle designed to withstand serious mine strikes. Its protected against anti personal mines, an afghan fertiliser bomb would rip the boxer to pieces.

    X
    He doesnt seem that annoyed about the vehicle choice, more the time it took to purchase the things.
    Understandly since he raised the flag 7 years ago.
    I think he does issue a valid warning, the Taliban have had 4 years bomb making practice now, how long will it take them to crack Ocelot?
    Hopefully a long time.

  10. Dominic,

    I think the comparison with Boxer is valid, because both Ocelot and Boxer are highly mobile in addition to offering increased IED protection. As good as Mastiff may be, it is a bit of a lumbering beast with axles and suspension components constantly breaking due to the weight of the vehicle and state of the roads. Do you know how the level of protection in the Ocelot compares to that of the Boxer? Is it superior? If it is, then it is a great achievement. i am sure the makers are already working on a larger version with an increased load / troop capacity. Whatever, I very much look forward to the day that IEDs become a non-issue in Afghanistan.

  11. Monty the Boxer was designed to take more than anti-personnel mines. If I remember correctly it was 2x6kg anti-tank mines. It was a superb vehicle and in my view it still is. However I think the Ranger would probably be a better bet now but I would not have been too upset if we had staid in the programme.

  12. For the most part, IEDs are pretty simple, working on blast. Granted they can be made larger, but then they are easier to spot, harder to bury and take more resources, both to make and emplace.

    To crack a decently protected vehicle, you need to get smart, and that isn’t as easy as you might presume.

    IEDs are a part of modern asymmetric conflict, and aren’t going to go away. Really we should have learnt from the South African experience, but the Western world had retained the belief that the tactical threats were key and failed to develop mine protected vehicles. Even if we leave Afghanistan, the next conflict will have similar features, so all vehicles should have some degree of protection against blast threats.

  13. @ DominicJ

    With enough explosive anything will give!! I have just had a look at his blog and he does seem a tad angry.

    I just found his obsession with monocoque odd…….

  14. The BOxer site now shows the follwing in the protection section:

    * Proven protection against ballistic threats

    o Highest protection level in its class – in terms of heavy machine guns, automatic medium calibre machine cannons, bomblets and artillery fragments

    o Crew compartment completely covered by spall liner
    o Optional reactive and active protection systems against e.g. RPG7

    * Integrated state-of-the-art protection against mine/IED

    o Resistant against all kinds of AP and AT mines under wheel and belly
    o Protected against IEDs with heavy blast at short distance
    o Optional protection kits against IEDs and mines with EFP and heavy fragments, e.g. TRMP6/7

    * Modular mounting of versatile protection systems

    o passive armour (incl. ceramics), reactive armour and active systems can be mounted
    o enabling easy adaptation to different threat scenarios and integration of future technologies

    All in all a very capable vehicle indeed and one we could be using now! but hey, we helped fund it so its costs the Germans and dutch less. See not all bad news!!!

  15. I wonder if the Ocelot can be developed into a larger variant similar size to the Bushmaster able to take a full infantry section?

  16. A disappointment.

    Again the MOD is introducing a stand alone new system.

    The SPV400, a completely British design using numerous components already in use with the Jackal and it seems daft when an era of terribly tight budgets we are introducing yet another stand alone platform

  17. Face I am not sure exactly what bits of the spv400 are in the jackal. It’s not the engine, or the body. I am not even sure the suspension is the same. The Ocelot can be developed further and if a 6×6 version was added it could replace the Jackal, Coyote, land-rover,Pinzgauers and even tge Husky and ridgeback.

    I see this as the start of the army getting a core of vehicles that will finally be fit for purpose, something the previous vehicles never where.

    My only concern is the power-plant. I think tge engine needs to be a bit Beefier. The new land-rover / jaguar TDV8 would be worth considering

  18. Dave

    I think you are incorrect in your appraisal of the Ocelot as a system. If the will and investment is there the versatility of the modulity will shine thru (unlike the SPV400 which is a one trick pony). It has been mentioned in several posts before but it can replace the landrover,RB44 and pinzgauer in both combat and support roles esp if the mini-DROPS was fitted and 6×6 was developed

  19. I wonder if the US Marines might be interested in this since it appears the JTLV is being questioned for cost and size reasons?

  20. Haven’t they decided to stay with up armoured HUMVEES?

    I agree with you though, it would be an excellent solution instead of the all singing all dancing JLTV

  21. I think it would be marvellous if the USMC decided to buy some Ocelots for testing and maybe even put an order in as it would get it onto the US militaries radar putting us in a better position to export. However it just doesn’t seem fancy enough for the USMC who usually like getting cool stuff but i can see this hopefully changing as it dawns on them how skint they will be after the F-35 and EFV clusterfu**s.

  22. wouldn’t they just be built in the US as force protection is a US company therefore easier and probably cheaper (no import duties) and knowing how protectionist the US is it would be a stipulation anyway (i’m thinking air tanker here)

  23. The IPR resides in the UK, so even if they were built in the US, license money would still come back to the UK.

  24. I wish I had thought of that before I opened my mouth if we hold the Intellectual Property we could let them build it wherever they wanted and get some of the money back in Fee’s. However I think the creation of jobs in manufacturing is more important both here for us and over in the United States. I was thinking that since the US tend to order something in bulk we would get a decent manufacturing work share at the start while they get ready to manufacture them in the USA.

  25. I hate to say it, though I like the concept, but what if someone would come along and offer 20.000-50.000GBP upgrade packages for the LR snatch and other Defenders in service, available now and in any quantity?
    The Ocelot won´t be going to into service before 2012 and there´s a system available that can be fitted in 2-7 days, in the field and is defintily going to safe lives!

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