FRES – British to its Bootstraps Part 2

General Dynamics Scout SV

Does anyone remember last year, following the announcement that General Dynamics had been selected for the FRES Specialist Variant, the phrase British to its bootstraps?

At the time I did question this, given the vehicle was to be based on the ASCOD and have most of the main components provided by non-UK organisations, creating a post on just that subject. Click here for a refresh.

In the General Dynamics press release, archived here, a number of claims were made by Dr Sandy Wilson (President and Managing Director of General Dynamics UK), for example;

the best value for money for the British taxpayer and the best deal for the UK Industrial base.

and

The ASCOD SV programme is British to its bootstraps, delivering a Military off the Shelf vehicle with British design by British engineers to the British Army while safeguarding or creating 10,600 jobs for British workers

Lord Peter Levene weighed in with;

a decision we believe will sustain the British tank industry for future generations

With me so far, ASCOD is the saviour of the British tank industry, will secure thousands of jobs and is absolutely British to its bootstraps.

Now all this sounds excellent but a Parliamentary Answer to a written question tabled by Ben Wallace, the MP for Wyre and Preston, ex Scots Guards Officer and former director of QinetiQ would seem to be backtracking.

Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what obligations his Department has placed on General Dynamics to manufacture and assemble the Scout Specialist Vehicle in the UK.

Given the bold statements above, the answer is a bit of a shocker.

Peter Luff (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence Equipment, Support and Technology), Defence; Mid Worcestershire, Conservative)

The Ministry of Defence has placed no contractual obligations on General Dynamics UK (GDUK) to manufacture the Scout Specialist Vehicles (Scout SV) platforms in the UK. GDUK has, however, indicated that a significant proportion of the activity may be conducted in the UK.

In addition, the contract allows for the transfer of the assembly integration and test work on the platforms from off-shore facilities, to the Defence Support Group in the UK. A value for money decision on whether to transfer this work will be taken later in the programme, closer to production. An enabling arrangement for industrial participation has also been put in place with General Dynamics, that will see work being carried out in the UK, or assistance being provided to UK exporters to Spain (assembly of ASCOD, the base vehicle for Scout SV is currently conducted in Spain)

Have I missed anything?

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