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.