Multi Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P)

The Multi-Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P) is defined by the British Army as;

A Category A project intended to meet the requirement for a protected deployable platform employed by all Force Elements, at all scales of effort, in a wide range of environments, and on all parts of the battlefield except for the direct fire zone. The MRV-P should bring commonality to the fleet and reduce the logistics footprint for utility vehicles by 2020.

In common with the majority of British Army vehicle programmes, the Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected) has a long and complicated backstory that is worth understanding in order to frame the current options and choices.

History

MRV-P can trace its roots to the late eighties and the FFLAV study and through a number of similar vehicle programmes.

Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV)

Towards the end of the eighties, the British Army initiated a number of studies to examine requirements for its future non MBT vehicle fleet. The Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FLAV) study became the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) study. The 1991 Gulf War demonstrated a number of shortcomings in the legacy fleet, especially the reduced mobility, capability and survivability of the ageing FV432 and CVR(T) vehicle families. Although there was a recognition before the Gulf War that replacements were needed, operations in Kuwait and Iraq simply hammered the point home. FFLAV looked across the Army’s vehicle fleet and rightly concluded that there were too many types with overlapping roles, and the equipment in service should be consolidated by taking a more coherent approach. Within FFLAV there was also a desire to replace Warrior through the Multi-Base Armoured Vehicle study. As a result, FFLAV was thought to have the potential for over 7,000 vehicles. To say the market was excited would be rather an understatement and so, in the late eighties and early nineties, a series of partnerships and consortia emerged to offer the MoD a single prime contractor for the entire programme.

Alvis, in conjunction with the Swedish Hägglunds AB, French Panhard and Spanish ENASA proposed a range of wheeled and tracked vehicles ranging from 3.5 tonnes to 24 tonnes. Stormer and CVR(T) would be further developed, filling the 8-10 tonnes and 9-13 tonnes weight classifications. Hägglunds would provide the 20-24 tonnes CV90 for the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), Reconnaissance, Observation, Recovery, Repair, Self-Propelled Mortar, Infantry Fighting Vehicle and Engineer Tractor requirement.

Whilst most tend to see FFLAV in the context of the heavier vehicles with what would eventually evolve to become TRACER>>AJAX and MRAV>>BOXER, it is important to also note the roles envisaged at the lower end of the scale.

The Panhard Véhicule Blindé Léger (VBL) stems from a 1978 French Army requirement for a light armoured vehicle that could meet two roles; anti-tank (with Milan ATGW) and scout/reconnaissance. Entering service in 1988, there have been nearly two thousand built and it is in service with a number of users and in many variants. For FFLAV, the 3.5 and 4.5 tonnes VBL was proposed for the Observation, Command and Control, Rover, Liaison and Internal Security Roles.

For the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), Ambulance, Recovery, Repair, Command and Control, and Medium Calibre Weapon Carrier role, Alvis proposed the 14-19 tonne ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.) BMR-600. The BMR-600 (Blindado Medio Ruedas) came from a late seventies Spanish army requirement for an armoured vehicle in a number of variants including a 2+10 APC, ambulance, weapon carrier and repair/recovery vehicle.

Like the VBL, it has been produced in quantity and exported widely, upgraded in service and more variants developed and fielded. The US Special Operations Command also purchased a number of Pandur I (based on the BMR) vehicles under the Armoured Ground Mobility System and they have been recently deployed to Iraq and Syria in support of combat operations against ISIS.

FFLAV was only a study, not a formal programme, but it would inform TRACER and MRAV, FRES, and then eventually to SV Ajax and MIV Boxer.

Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) and Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV)

Although not directly related to MRV-P, the Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) programme produced vehicles that may be replaced by MRV-P, again, understanding its history might be informative. At the beginning of 1990, the British Army had approximately 500 Saxons in service in the UK (including Northern Ireland) and Germany. In 1991, an additional order was placed for 100 more vehicles.

The British Army had for many years used protected patrol vehicles in Northern Ireland and had again developed and fielded a number of different types in response to changing threats. Operations in the Balkans would also prove to be influential. The images below (from Cold War Warrior) show the aftermath of a TMA3 mine strike on a Saxon in the hills above Rama Lake, Bosnia, in 1994.

Mine strikes were a common occurrence and whilst all vehicles were as resistant as designed, the subject started to gain increasing attention. The UK defence industry then started to get involved with South African manufacturers of mine-protected vehicles. The Mamba 4×4 was a development of the earlier Mamba 4×2 that was created by Mechem. It used the South African Army’s old Unimog 416 trucks as parts donors. The production contract was awarded to Reumech with the basic design licensed from Mechem. Higher-strength steel and multiple design refinements had allowed the manufacturers to flatten the deep V that characterised the earlier vehicles and as a result, create a more practical layout. The first Mamba 4 x4 prototype was tested in 1993. In late 1993 two prototype vehicles were sent to Alvis in the UK, who had partnered with both Mechem and Reumech. The two prototype vehicles were the Iron Eagle scout car and the first 4×4 version of the Mamba 2.9m wheelbase mine-protected vehicle. 

Despite a number of problems with both vehicles, Alvis saw some potential and decided to develop them both further. The Iron Eagle became the Alvis Acorn which then evolved into the Scarab, Scarab 2 and Scarab 3.

One of the key emerging requirements for SFOR was ordnance disposal and, in particular, route proving/clearance. Mines were used liberally by all belligerents. After a successful trial of the Alvis 8 in 1994, the MoD requested a shorter wheelbase (2.4m) version and this was to become the Alvis 4. Because of time pressures, Alvis also loaned the MoD a number of Alvis 8’s, the longer wheelbase version with the old-fashioned running gear, so there were both versions in theatre. In 1996 three Alvis 4s were procured for operations in Macedonia for £1 million.

The images below show an Alvis 8 (left) and the Alvis 4 (right).

Both the Alvis 4 and Alvis 8 were commonly called Mambas. The Alvis 4 had a number of modifications including an armour plate to defeat the TMRP 6 mine, stretcher lashing points, and Clansman radio wiring and battery charging systems. The original requirement was for a vehicle that could extract casualties from vehicles that had detonated mines although they would, eventually, also used in the route proving role.

Six vehicles were deployed to the Balkans in 1996 for use by the Royal Engineers, costing £1.2 million in total. The Alvis 4s were a great success but the harsh climate and terrain of the Balkans, combined with the extra weight imposed by additional armour and old-fashioned mechanicals exposed a number of reliability and safety limitations, so they were eventually disposed of and a replacement sought. This was not for patrolling, but specific use in high threat areas by the Royal Engineers, but the requirements would eventually converge.

In parallel, one of the sales engineers from Alvis who was involved with the Alvis 4/8 programme had by this time left Alvis and set up a company in the USA called Seafire. Seafire worked with the Technical Solutions Group to market its products in the UK and Europe. Although still in service, the Alvis 4’s were proving increasingly difficult to support and so a replacement programme was launched. For the Alvis 4 replacement, Seafire proposed the Lion Mine-Protected vehicle and partnered with Supacat who acted as the technical prime and integrator for UK specific requirements and safety compliance.

The name Tempest was chosen to avoid confusion with a number of other MoD projects and eventually, 8 vehicles were obtained for a total contract price of £2.7 million. An older version of the Royal Engineers website claimed that the Tempest MPV was based on a Peterbilt 330 tractor unit with a Marmon Herrington 4 wheel drive running gear but other sources indicate that it was a custom-designed unit based on a US Mack truck running gear to South African based design.

The MP-V was claimed to be proven against detonation of a single TMRP-6 mine underneath the personnel capsule, single TM57 mine under the vehicle centreline and two stacked TM57 mines under a wheel. The official name was Tempest 4×4 12TON Mine Protected Vehicle.

After entering service in 1995, the Snatch Land Rover Mk1 had seen service in Northern Ireland and Kosovo. By 2002, it was approaching the end of its service life and a replacement programme started under Project DUCKBOARD. A draft statement of user requirement in January 2002 stated:

The current NI [Northern Ireland] patrol vehicles are essential for troop deployment, patrolling urban and rural areas and for administrative tasks. They were procured to counter the threat from low and high-velocity small arms, Improvised Explosive Devices (IED), anti‑armour weapons, petrol bombs and general hand‑held catapulted missiles. In order to afford the troops on the ground an acceptable level of protection, mobility and capacity to counter the threat two vehicles are currently in service, Tavern in the high-risk areas and Snatch in the lower-risk areas.

Work continued on a Protected Patrol Vehicle to replace Snatch and Tavern. Tavern was a heavier protected patrol vehicle based on a GMC cash collection truck with additional protection installed by Penman Engineering.

In February 2003, TSG announced the delivery of the final Tempest MPV. Soon after the final delivery of the Tempest MPV they were deployed to Iraq in support of initial operations around Basra, specifically against the mine (not IED) threat, but were withdrawn soon after. By mid-2003, the Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) requirement (to replace Snatch and Tavern) was progressing within the MoD. A July stakeholder workshop considered PPV would now cover three requirements:

  • Northern Ireland
  • Light forces when deployed on peacekeeping operations
  • Protected mobility for RE/RLC EOD teams

Options considered included extending the lives of existing Snatch Land Rovers, military/commercial off the shelf vehicles and up-armouring existing vehicles such as the Pinzgauer. By August, the threat from IED’s in Iraq, especially remote control IED’s, was increasing. A forces and resources review carried out in September 2003 articulated a need for light protected mobility vehicles:

The threat posed to CF [Coalition Forces] within Basra City from IED, RPG and small arms attacks is currently being countered by the use of stripped‑down Land Rovers with top cover sentries. This necessarily carries a risk to the top cover vehicles from attack, particularly from IEDs. Force protection will be improved by the provision of up‑armoured 4×4 vehicles that meet the broad definitions below. Replacing the full complement of this in the UK Bde [brigade] would require of the order of 420 vehicles. The minimum quantity to provide essential protected movement in Basra and Maysan is 228. Any lower number will be put to good use in accordance with priorities. The requirement is for: an agile wheeled vehicle capable of swift acceleration and speed in excess of 60 mph, a high degree of protection against small arms fire and blast devices, a cupola to allow top cover protection to deter attackers, particularly those deploying anti‑armour weapons and small arms, grills to give windows protection against thrown objects, both to enhance routine protection and to enable its use in public order situations where a Warrior  [AFV] may be too threatening or unable to manoeuvre in small streets.

The PPV Working Group met again in September to discuss the requirement. A footnote to the minutes stated

Due to the limited Tavern fleet and the expected high cost of procuring similar vehicles, the PPV protection requirement must be realistic in order to permit a timely and cost-effective solution to the UOR

Options considered included Snatch/Tavern, Land Rover Wolf/Pinzgauer with applique armour, refurbish existing vehicles awaiting disposal and purchase new. Because of the demanding timelines, Snatch was considered the best option although it was recognised a new vehicle purchase would be relatively low risk for the medium to long-term.

208 Snatch Mk1 Protected Vehicles were deployed to Iraq from Belfast in November 2003.

Saxon vehicles were also deployed to Iraq.

By the end of 2003, after their earlier withdrawal from service, the Alvis 4′s were sent for disposal. 9 went to the Estonian armed forces, 4 to a US Security company (Blackwater) and 1 to Singapore. Total sale value for all 14, £448,000. Meanwhile, the business case to modify the existing Snatch 1 vehicles already in theatre with more suitable environmental capabilities was approved at a cost of £2.2m, these were referred to as ‘Snatch 1.5’. Project DUCKBOARD also progressed in parallel to the UOR Snatch modifications, although expected quantities were reduced. The Rest of World PPV being defined would eventually go on to become Vector. Main Gate Approval for Snatch 2 was sought. 312 Snatch 2 were planned to be obtained, 208 to replace the Snatch 1.5 in Iraq. The value of this was £13m with funding drawn directly from the DUCKBOARD budget line. Option D, considered but not taken due to cost and timescale to delivery issues, was for a COTS vehicle.

It should also be noted that Snatch 2 protection was ‘Standard equivalent to current SNATCH’ The In-Service Date was planned to be December 2004, with 80 delivered to Iraq. May saw the first recorded use of an explosively formed projectile (EFP) IED against UK forces, used against a Warrior in the Maysan province. In 2005, a reworking of the Protected Patrol Vehicle (PPV) statement of requirement resulted in a recommendation to convert the existing Snatch vehicles to Snatch Mk2 and order 100 Vector vehicles.

An update from GOC (MND(SE)) in August 2005 raised concerns about the use of IED’s and the inability of current vehicles and ECM to cope.

The threat from IEDs is worrying, with our electronic counter-measures unable to defend against the [redaction] and the use of [redaction] and (in the most recent attack) shaped charges able to penetrate armoured vehicles up to and including [redaction].. This technology has now been used across MND(SE) and indeed further north having first been seen in Maysan

Clearly, in theatre commanders were concerned about equipment issues in response to IED’s.

In 2006, a MoD paper described how Vector had been reduced from 153 to around 80 for reasons of affordability. For Project VECTOR, the Rest of World PPV, a commercial off the shelf solution was recommended and that some of these were already in service with other nations. The decision on VECTOR was one of speed. With plans advanced for HQ ARRC to deploy to Afghanistan and a likely shift of focus from Iraq to Afghanistan, obtained suitable vehicles was a high priority.

In the House of Lords, on the 12th of June 2006, Lord Astor of Hever asked the government about protected vehicles and the response from the The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Defence (Lord Drayson) was;

My Lords, I am sure the House will wish to join me in expressing our sincere condolences to the families and friends of the soldiers killed and injured in Afghanistan yesterday. We do not comment on the level of protection of specific vehicles, for obvious reasons. Protected patrol vehicles are only one of a range of vehicles available to commanders to allow them to balance mobility, protection and profile based on the threat, the terrain and the task. PPVs offer a level of protection commensurate with their weight, size and role, together with good mobility and a low profile.

My Lords, I do not accept that Snatch Land Rovers are not appropriate for the role. We must recognise the difference between protection and survivability. It is important that we have the trade-offs that we need for mobility. The Snatch Land Rover provides us with the mobility and level of protection that we need. We had 14 RG-31s in Bosnia, which we took out of service some time ago due to difficulties with maintenance. We have looked at the RG-31 alongside a number of alternatives for our current fleet and concluded that the size and profile did not meet our needs. Size is important in the urban environment. The RG-31 cannot access areas that Snatch Land Rovers can get to

On the 26th of June 2006, Des Brown announced a review of armoured vehicles in Iraq:

As I have already said to the House, it is open for commanders to deploy vehicles that have heavier protection than the Snatch Land Rover … Other vehicles are available to them; there is a choice. However, commanders must be free to make decisions in relation to the operations for which they deploy soldiers. I have already said to the House that I am aware of the issue: I could not but be aware of it following my visit last week and, indeed, my earlier visit. I have asked for a review of what we can do in the long term and immediately. I shall see what we can do immediately to respond to the changing situation, although significant measures other than those in relation to the vehicle’s armour must be taken. We are at the leading edge of some of them, and electronic counter‑measures, in particular[/su_note]

Following a visit to South Africa in June, Brigadier Moore wrote that if a better protected PPV was required, RG-31 had the potential to meet the requirement.

It is now apparent that RG31 … has sufficient stretch potential to take the additional weight associated with protection against […]. In addition, LSSA [Land Systems South Africa] has a rigorous testing regime … and this is fully compliant with DSTL thinking. LSSA is innovative, front running and is at the leading edge of their trade. Should the Army want a heavier and better protected PPV, RG31 would be a strong contender.

This was quite an extraordinary view, especially given the MoD and governments public rejection of the RG-31, both in response to questions from MP’s and Lords, media scrutiny and its rejection for the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle.

In a 7th July memo, Lt Gen Houghton was unequivocal on the requirement for a medium PPV;

Later in the same month, Lord Drayson held a meeting and Major General Applegate during which suitable vehicles to meet the requirement were discussed. Although 25-30 Bushmasters were available as a loan from Australia, the two other most suitable contenders were the Protector (a variant of the RG-31) and the Iraq Light Armoured Vehicle (ILAV), a somewhat misleading title for what was a version of the Force Protection Cougar. Additional work to determine the best option was then carried out. By the end of July, the MoD had selected the Force Protection Cougar to meet the Medium PPV requirements. The business case concluded that the RG-31 Mk2 Protector was immature and that the Bushmaster needed further investigation.

On the 24th of July 2006, the UK announced it had ordered 100 Cougar vehicles from Force Protection. The same announcement also detailed the Vector order from BAE.

From Des Brown in the House of Commons:

I have made clear my determination to ensure the armed forces on operations have the resources they need to do the job. I said I would update the House on developments in two particular areas of operational capability: additional options for armoured vehicles and helicopter support for Afghanistan.

As I told the House on 26 June, I ordered an urgent review of our armoured vehicle fleet, particularly focused on the evolving threat in Iraq, but covering the whole operational picture including Afghanistan, to ensure we were providing commanders with the best options.
That review has now concluded. It has confirmed that there is a growing requirement for a protected vehicle with capabilities between our heavy armour, such as Warrior, and lighter patrol vehicles, such as SNATCH. The review has also identified feasible options to address the gap in the short term. We have now completed a very rapid assessment of those options and have identified three complementary ways forward. Two of these build on, and accelerate, work already ongoing in the Department. The third is new. The necessary funding will come in part from acceleration of existing funding within the defence budget, and in part from substantial new funding from the Treasury.

The first element is an additional buy of around 100 VECTOR, our new Pinzgauer based protected patrol vehicle, for Afghanistan, on top of the 62 already on contract. VECTOR provides good protection and, importantly, increased mobility and capacity compared to SNATCH which makes it very suitable for the rugged terrain and long patrol distances in Afghanistan.

The second element is to provide around 70 additional up-armoured and upgraded FV430 to equip a mechanised infantry battlegroup for Iraq by the spring of 2007, again on top of the 54 we have already ordered. The FV430 will be delivered incrementally with the first vehicles currently expected to be delivered this autumn.

Significantly smaller and lighter than Warrior, the up-armoured FV430 will provide a similar level of protection while being less intimidating and having less impact on local infrastructure—thereby providing commanders with an important additional option. Since it is able to carry out many of the same tasks as Warrior, it will also relieve pressure on heavily committed Warrior vehicles and armoured infantry battlegroups.
The third, new element is the Cougar manufactured by Force Protection Incorporated of Charleston, South Carolina. We judge that this vehicle meets our requirement for a well protected, wheeled patrol vehicle with a less intimidating profile than tracked vehicles like Warrior or FV430. We are arranging to rapidly procure around 100 vehicles through US military sources. We have received excellent co-operation from the US Government, military and industry—an example of the special relationship bringing real benefits for our soldiers on the ground. Once we take possession of the vehicles, we must then customise them with Bowman radios and electronic counter-measures—and then fit additional armour beyond the standard level, to ensure they have the best possible protection. This procurement and enhancement process takes time. But we expect to be able to deliver the vehicles, in batches, with an effective capability in place before the end of the year and continuing through the next six month rotations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

These three vehicles will complement existing Warrior and SNATCH. Warrior will continue to provide the capability to deal with the most demanding threats, but its profile and weight makes it unsuitable for some operations and situations, such as Afghanistan. SNATCH, with a much less intimidating profile, enables troops to interact with locals and promotes a sense of normality and will remain a key tool for building and maintaining consent. The up-armoured FV430, the Cougar medium PPV, and VECTOR fill the requirements for varying degrees of protection, mobility and profile between these two extremes. But I am confident that together these vehicles provide commanders with the right range of options to deal with the situations and threats they face.[

After a company-funded prototype was completed early in 2006, the MoD ordered 62 Vector Protected Patrol Vehicles, announced above, these being based on the Pinzgauer 6×6 chassis.

These were destined for Afghanistan, cost, £35 million.

The Defence Select Committee published their 13th Report in August, Operations in Iraq.

At its Basra Palace base, we met the UK’s 20 Armoured Brigade. We were shown the equipment used on patrol, particularly the Snatch Land Rover. We heard that Snatch were very good vehicles, but they were old and could often break down. Many had previously been used in Northern Ireland. They were fast and manoeuvrable but not well armoured and were particularly vulnerable to Improvised Explosive Device (IED) attack. Similar concerns were voiced by UK troops at the Shaibah Logistics Base

This period was intensely political, the Government was being accused of neglect and plain old lies by a number of MP’s and commentators, parts of the media were simply repeating MoD media ‘lines to take’, all whilst personnel in Iraq were struggling with an evolving threat.

The MoD announced the introduction of the Tellar munitions disposal vehicle, based on the Mowag Duro chassis already in service with the Army, to almost total bewilderment by those that have been reading about two things, the vulnerability of the vehicles in use in the British Army and the capabilities of the US forces in the same theatre, by now using the Husky, Cougar and Buffalo combination.

The vehicle carries all equipment required by the end-user to undertake conventional munitions disposal. It has also been fitted as an emergency response vehicle (blue light enabled), and is fitted with a mobile phone, force protection suite, a personal address system, and two Global Positioning Systems (GPS): a Bowman radio GPS, and a commercial GPS. It also comes fitted with a level of riot protection.[/su_note]

Each Tellar weighed 9.5 tonnes and costs around £415,000. 18 vehicles were purchased, with 14 to be deployed on operations, and four held in the UK for training and reserves. Tellar deployed with the Joint Explosives Ordnance Disposal force on both Operations HERRICK and eventually, TELIC. Many questioned the logic of replacing the Tempest mine-protected vehicle with Tellar, a vehicle, arguably, with the equivalent protection of a crisp packet. It would also seem this was the culmination of the Project DUCKBOARD Type C (FORMAT) Requirement, a vehicle specifically for Royal Engineers Explosive Ordnance Disposal teams.

After deliveries started in 2006 the first 62 Pinzgauer Vector Protected Patrol Vehicles entered service in 2007. An order for an additional 118 vehicles, 12 of which were ambulance variants, was placed with BAE. The Mastiff and Vector purchases were expected to cost approximately £120 million, Mastiff using UOR Treasury funding and Vector coming from Army budgets. In response to the explosively formed penetrator threat, the UK Mastiff’s would be fitted with additional side armour to counter the EFP threat.

The MoD announced in October an additional order for 140 Mastiff vehicles in 2007, most of them destined for Afghanistan, and in early 2008, an additional quantity.

Meanwhile, Vector was not having a good deployment to Afghanistan. It continued to struggle with the heat and weight of its armour, the legendary Pinzgauer mobility had been compromised to such a degree that it was restricted to good roads and tracks. Robbed of its mobility it had to rely on its upgraded protection, which on many occasions proved completely and utterly inadequate against IED’s. Introduced with much fanfare it was proving to be a total, embarrassing and dangerous failure, acquiring the ‘coffin on wheels’ nickname.

A small number of ADI Bushmasters were purchased, reportedly for SF use, a vehicle with excellent mine/IED protection, much in contrast to Vector.

The first batch of 151 Ridgebacks was delivered to the UK in August following a contract award to Force Protection that also included the Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle and development of the Mastiff 2 which although focused on improving Mastiff’s poor mobility. It also included better seating and driver’s vision equipment.

The additional protected mobility contracts were formally announced on the 29th of October 2008.

Defence Secretary John Hutton has announced a package worth £700 million today, which will pay for some 700 new armoured vehicles to further improve the safety and protection of troops on operations in Afghanistan. The Protected Mobility Package announced by Mr Hutton today, Wednesday 29 October 2008, includes provision of £350 million for 400 brand new armoured support trucks which will be used to accompany patrols and carry essential supplies such as water and ammunition. The three distinct categories of Tactical Support Vehicles (TSV) are:

Wolfhound: TSV (Heavy). Heavy armoured support trucks – supporting and re-supplying Mastiffs in the highest threat areas. These vehicles will have the highest levels of mine blast protection;

Husky: TSV (Medium). Medium armoured support trucks – carrying out the support roles in lower threat areas and where heavy vehicles, like Mastiff, cannot be used;

Coyote: TSV (Light). Light armoured support vehicles – supporting Jackals across the harsh terrain of Afghanistan.

Other vehicles which will be paid for out of the £700 million include:

Over 100 brand new cross-country vehicles called Warthog which, with greater protection levels, will replace Vikings in Afghanistan, and over 100 more Jackals, the extremely agile all-terrain vehicles which include high-levels of off-road mobility and firepower.

£96 million from the package will also be used to develop a specialist route clearance system known as Talisman, which will provide a new high-tech way of dealing with the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) threat. Among the Talisman vehicles to be developed will be the Buffalo mine-protected vehicle and the Engineer Excavator.

In addition, new vehicles, and upgrades and modifications were also announced today. 30 base Cougar vehicles will be purchased, a mixture of 4x4s and 6x6s, which will be modified to boost our training fleets for Mastiff and Ridgeback.

The new Panther vehicle has been modified and upgraded to prepare for its arrival in Afghanistan and a new variant of the Snatch has been developed, known as the Snatch-Vixen, which, specially designed for Afghanistan, has been given extra power and payload which enhances the mobility and protection of the vehicle.

Today’s announcement builds on previous measures that are already making a difference in Iraq and Afghanistan including the introduction of the hugely successful Mastiff with its superior levels of protection and the Jackal with its impressive firepower and speed, allowing troops to get off the tracks and roads and strike hard at the enemy from all directions. Mastiff’s smaller brother Ridgeback, due to arrive on operations early in the new year, will also add to these measures, delivering protection levels close to that of the Mastiff in a package that gives better access to urban areas. £500 million of the funding for the Protected Mobility Package has been allocated from the Treasury Reserve while Defence will fund a part of the package in acknowledgement of the long-term benefit to core defence capability these vehicles offer beyond our current commitments

This was a recognition that vehicle protection was high on the priority list and the previous blind defence of Snatch, Vector and WMIK Land Rovers was simply no longer in any way tenable. Meanwhile, Mastiff had transformed mobility, despite its size and weight and in 2008, the Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle was also unveiled to complement Jackal. The MoD announced a further £74 million order of 110 Jackal 2’s and 70 Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle (Light). An order for 200 International MXT vehicles was confirmed in a £200 million contract, going on to be called Husky.

Light Protected Vehicle (LPV)

With these now in the pipeline, the MoD returned to the long-overdue requirement to replace the Snatch, specifically the Snatch Vixen, the Light Protected Vehicle Competition was launched with a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire issued in June 2009. Bids had to be in by the end of July, the MoD was not messing about although the scoping studies had been in progress for some time.

The requirement was described as:

Mastiff levels of protection in a 7-tonne vehicle, with a footprint roughly the same as a Land Rover

Prospective competitors included;

  • Supacat with a new design
  • Force Protection with a new design
  • Creation/Babcock with Zephyr
  • Renault/Land Rover with Sherpa

  • Iveco with a development of the LMV
  • BAE with RG32
  • Oshkosh with Sandcat
  • General Dynamics with Eagle.

Supacat recognised that the HMT400 (Jackal) platform would not offer the required levels of IED protection and created a completely new vehicle, the SPV400. The Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) contenders continued with their media displays, by 2010, the competition had been whittled down to the Supacat SPV400 and Force Protection Ocelot. The bid submission deadline for the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle was the end of June.

Navistar announced an additional £33 million order from the MoD in September 2010 for 89 Husky Tactical Support Vehicle (Medium).

Force Protection eventually won the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) competition. The MoD announcement confirmed their status as the preferred bidder and in November 2010 and a £180 million order was placed for 200 Ocelots, to be called Foxhounds.

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 was claimed to be, weight for weight, the best protected and most agile vehicle of its kind. Its turning circle is very small, a vital characteristic for the type of urban terrain these were to be used in. Foxhound was a genuinely innovative ‘clean sheet’ design, its armoured ‘skateboard’ spine held the transmission components and the interchangeable body ‘pods’ are fitted to it. The vehicle could be re-roled or easily repaired by simply swapping these modules and components. Ocelot was also compliant with the MoD’s emerging Generic Vehicle Architecture standard to simplify future systems integration and maintenance. The initial uses were simply as a Snatch 2A/Snatch Vixen replacement, 200 as a UOR and an additional 200 to follow. The first Foxhound vehicles were deployed to Afghanistan in 2012.

The UOR into Core programme for protected mobility continued with the announcement of an RFP for fleet conversion;

To provide Fleet Conversion services for the Army’s Protected Mobility (PM) fleet of vehicles to achieve the correct variant mix to meet the requirements of the Army 2020 (A2020) Force Development Strategy, against the following vehicle types, hereafter known as ‘The Platforms’. Mastiff Troop Carrying Variant (MAS TCV) to Mastiff Enhanced Communications Variant (MAS ECV) Conversion, Ridgeback Troop Carrying Variant (RBK TCV) to Ridgeback Command Variant (RBK CV) Conversion, Wolfhound Explosive Ordinance Disposal (WHD EOD) variant to Wolfhound Military Working Dog (WHD MWD) variant Conversion, Mastiff 1 to Mastiff 2 Conversion. Cost Range: between 40 000 000 and 60 000 000 GBP

By the end of 2013, Foxhound had entered service and the MoD announced further orders, bringing the investment to £371 million and 400 vehicles. Also by the end of 2013, the MoD had announced that the vast majority of the protected mobility vehicles would be brought into the core fleet.

Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV)

The requirement for a Ferret replacement was articulated in the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) study and after that evolved to MRAV and TRACER, the leftover command and liaison requirement was left unfilled. It would emerge in 2001 as the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV), nominally fulfilling the role that the Alvis proposed the VBL for, and that was previously carried out with the Ferret which by this point was out of service.

The MoD awarded a £1.5m risk reduction contract to Hunting Engineering, Alvis and Vickers in 2001 in order to mature and derisk proposals. The original vehicles considered were the RG32M from Vickers, Hunting Engineering with the ACMAT VRBL Ranger, Alvis Scarab, Iveco with their Puma and NP Aerospace with an armoured Land Rover. It was later announced the shortlist included the LMV, RG32 and ACMAT VLRB Ranger, despite the LMV having been inserted into the bid process relatively late.

November 2003 saw the contract award to Alvis Vickers for 401 UK specific Iveco Lince LMV vehicles at a cost of £166 million.

We are pleased to announce that the Ministry of Defence has today signed a contract worth £166 million (including VAT) with Alvis Vickers Ltd, for the manufacture of the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV). The FCLV will perform the command and liaison role and replace the ageing and disparate vehicle fleet within the manoeuvre support brigades comprising elements of the 430 Series, Saxon, Land Rover and Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) fleets. From its planned in-service date of 2006, the FCLV will provide levels of crew protection and mobility commensurate with their roles in an increasingly extended ground manoeuvre area. It will offer protection against small arms, blast and anti-personnel mines.

The contract was for 401 vehicles in two versions, 326 Group 2 with a self-defence weapon and target acquisition and surveillance system and 75 fitted for but not with. The remote weapon system was to be an AEI Ordnance Enforcer. The planned in-service date was 2007 although it would not enter service until 2008, delays resulting from issues discovered during trials.

The Panther/Lince was a controversial decision, with many accusations in the press of ‘revolving door’s and inflated claims about the UK manufactured content, jobs and supply chain etc. In 2005 the controversy surrounding the Panther Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV) deepened as it became clear that the Iveco vehicle had been pushed by the MoD at a late stage, despite not being initially entered by any of the bidders and continued confusion about the amount of locally manufactured content. Although the £166 million contracts did include some logistic support elements it was by then being unfavourably compared to a Swedish purchase of the RG-32M vehicle from Land Systems OMC. Using published costs from the Swedish Ministry of Defence, the equivalent contract value would have been less than £75 million for a vehicle that many argued had much better protection against mines and IED’s. RG-31 was a proven vehicle, the RG-32 simply an evolution of it.

After an extensive TES package costing £20 million for 67 vehicles, Panther was deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. This package included an additional roof hatch, ECM equipment, rear-view camera a new engine intake and additional armour. The rest of the 401 strong Panther fleet were not deployed because of concerns regarding their vulnerability to IED’s. BAe was awarded a £28 million contract in 2007 for support services on the Panther vehicle, to provide better availability and lower costs.

Panther and Jackal

In April 2018, a press report claimed the MoD placed the entire fleet up for sale.

Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS)

The Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) programme was launched in early 2003 and announced at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) show by Lord Bach in the same year. It was to replace 12,000 Land Rovers (TUL/TUM), 1,000 Pinzgauers (TUM(HD)) and 850 Reynold Boughton RB44’s, all non-protected vehicles with a payload of up to 4 tonnes. Because OUVS was principally for non-protected vehicles and started during the same year as operations in Iraq, it was clear that it would be a difficult programme to progress. As the MoD was soon consumed with these operational demands, OUVS changed. By 2008, quantities had increased to 16,000 and protection requirements increased.

OUVS was designed to replace both the two-axle Land Rover Truck Utility Light (TUL) and two-axle and three-axle Pinzgauer Truck Utility Medium (TUM), and was defined by two payload classes, positioned to come just under the 6 tonne SV fleet; OUVS (Small) at 2-3 tonnes and OUVS (Large) at 4-5 tonnes.

The other high-level user requirement included the following;

  • Cab areas to accommodate the 95th percentile soldier
  • A reduction in the vehicle variants
  • Safety and emission specifications to include extra crashworthiness and fewer emissions
  • Vehicles to be ‘fitted for’ not ‘with’ physical protection such as armour
  • Crew compartment protection is the minimum requirement
  • NVG capable with 24/7 capability with an NVG compatible dashboard
  • Ability to carry a NATO Standard pallet or ULC weighing a maximum of 1.8 tonnes
  • Air portability by C130/A400M
  • Given a large amount of sophisticated electronic equipment including BOWMAN radios and IED detectors, the vehicle would be ESM optimised to prevent reduce interference. ECM fits would be GFE by the MoD, but the ability to fit ECM was mandated.
  • Good cross-country capability but this must not compromise road performance
  • Bidders could look at powered trailers or the addition of an extra axle to provide extra space and payload without reducing mobility.
  • The vehicle should be capable of a Battlefield Mission of up to 96 hours.

The ITT was to be issued in 2009 with Main Gate set for 2012, but manufacturers were briefed that OUVS would be an incremental programme over many years. It was also emphasised that OUVS vehicles would not be used as Protected Patrol Vehicles. Indeed, this clear distinction between patrol and utility vehicles was reinforced by a Parliamentary Answer that described an earlier joint UK/USA working group.

Mr. Quentin Davies: Defence Ministers have not had any discussions with the US Administration about the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programme. Since the establishment of the USA/UK Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)/Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) Working Group in July 2008, a number of discussions on participation have taken place by officials. The JLTV capability is a replacement for HUMVEE and performs both a utility vehicle and patrol vehicle role. It, therefore, goes beyond the requirement for OUVS and the two parties have agreed that there is not enough synergy to warrant collaboration on the acquisition of vehicles at this time. The Working Group does, however; continue to share research and development between the two programmes

The US Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) and German Armoured Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) were of interest to OUVS but were ultimately not considered because of this clear distinction between utility and protected mobility.

Mercedes proposed a Unimog and G-Waggon combination. Land Rover entered a 6×6 Defender (a version of that in service with the Australian Army) whilst simultaneously introducing their Extra Heavy Duty Defender that could accommodate a gross vehicle weight of 4.5 tonnes with a 300amp power system. Thales proposed the Copperhead variant of the Bushmaster and Iveco, a new version of the LMV/Panther. 30 manufacturers that expressed an interest were narrowed to a shortlist in 2008/9, including Babcock, General Dynamics, IVECO, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Lockheed Martin, Mercedes and Navistar Defense. Lockheed Martin proposed their unusual looking but reportedly very capable Adaptive Vehicle Architecture (AVA) vehicle. These were targeted at both the medium (4×4) and large (6×6) requirement. Both vehicles were based on a new chassis with upgraded mechanical components  The configuration was clearly based on the Supacat HMT but was larger and stronger. Plasan provided the cab design, Marshall the load bed, Babcock was involved in some aspects and so were Creation UK, in support of Lockheed Martin. Renault and Land Rover announced they would partner, the down-selected Renault Sherpa to be assembled at the Land Rover plant in Solihull. With Land Rover not making the cut, this was an obvious win for both parties, if only to lessen the political impact of selecting a French vehicle over the iconic British Land Rover, tough sell that one. General Dynamics went with an Eagle IV and Duro IIIP combination and Navistar, their MXT for both variants.

The RB44 was withdrawn from service in 2010, leaving the Land Rover and Pinzgauer vehicles remaining, joined by a small number of Mowag Duro for specialised roles. Various upgrade programmes have supported these vehicle fleets in the interim.

OUVS was then effectively cancelled with a deferral, there was simply too much going on in the Middle East and assumptions about minimal protection in OUVS, now simply untenable. A 2010 Parliamentary Question addressed the deferral of OUVS.

Nick Harvey: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what assessment he has made of the effect of deferring the Operational Utility Vehicle System programme for two years; and what assessment he has made of the likely trends in (a) production and (b) deployment of small and medium support vehicles during that period.

Mr. Quentin Davies: The deferral of the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) competition will give the MOD the opportunity to consider the latest products from industry, including those from the companies that withdrew from the original OUVS competition. This will allow the MOD to determine the best method of delivering an operational utility vehicle capability for the future. During the period of the two year deferral, the Tactical Support Vehicles purchased as Urgent Operational Requirements will fulfil the OUVS role in Afghanistan. The Department will conduct a thorough review of the commercial and acquisition strategy for OUVS during 2010

And that was the end of OUVS.

Summary

The programmes described above demonstrate the sheer breadth of vehicles that bisect the MRV-P programme, some directly, some less so. As operations in Iraq created their own pressures and requirements they cut across a number of programmes that were in progress, OUVS, FRES and FCLV for example. A department can only manage so many programmes at once, and rightly, the MoD favoured the protected mobility fleet. Political pressure was immense and despite some initial resistance to change and keep going with FRES, it is obvious there was a genuine desire to devote as much resource as possible to protected mobility.

It could be argued that the outcome was twofold, first, after a slow start, many hundreds of lives and thousands of limbs were saved, and second, we ended up with an impossible to sensibly manage fleet of vehicles so specific to counterinsurgency operations they have limited value in other environments. MRV-P offers an opportunity to consolidate and wrestle the vehicle fleet back into some form of coherence, drive down support and training costs, and shape a complementary set of vehicles to the Boxer and Ajax fleet.

Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected)

As soon as OUVS was cancelled work started on the initial concepts for a successor programme. Transitions between programmes like this are often not as stark as might be imagined with workstreams merging rather than stopping and restarting. In any case, the new programme was to be called the Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected). OUVS was largely a simple replacement for Land Rovers and Pinzgauers but as with FRES, Afghanistan and Iraq had demonstrated that such vehicles would be largely un-deployable into the kinds of theatres the British Army then envisaged itself fighting in.

History

Early in 2012, BAE Systems launched the latest 6×6 variant of their RG35 family of vehicles, perhaps thinking it might be a good fit for MRV-P

In April 2012, the MoD published a contract note for a pre-concept contract.

Specialist and Logistic Vehicle Project Team (SLV PT) in conjunction with a yet to be selected vehicle trials and demonstration authority will be running a multi-role vehicle – protected (MRV-P) pre-concept study; It is planned to hold the study the week after the defence vehicle demonstration which is being held on 20th & 21.6.2012. Designed to determine the quantity of platforms that conform to the high-level requirement and fall within the desirable Unit Price Cost (UPC) of 250 000 GBP, the study will look at a number of vehicles in the 5 to 15-tonne range that are modular to may be considered as being able to form the base vehicle for and other programmes such as future protected battlefield multi-role ambulance.

The MRV (P) programme is currently at the pre-concept phase and has evolved from the operational utility vehicle system (OUVS), with significant changes in the total numbers and protection level. The vision is for one variant to fulfil all roles, using plug-and-play communications and flexible seating layouts. MRV(P) is not seen as appropriate for providing utility vehicle support to rapidly deployable forces (i.e. first-in, airborne or amphibious), where a lighter, more agile, capability is required. There are currently no KURs or URD for MRV (P)

The study contract was designed to inform the project team and de-risk the subsequent concept phase.

Roles were to include;

  • Command and communications post vehicle
  • Command and liaison vehicle
  • General-purpose vehicle – cargo
  • General-purpose vehicle – passenger
  • Light gun towing vehicle

Even at this stage, the requirement for MRV(P) was specified as a  Military/Commercial Off the Shelf (MOTS/COTS) vehicle platform(s), no development. Payload was defined as greater than 2.5 tonnes, a maximum unloaded weight of 14 tonnes or 10 tonnes if transported by C-130. C-130 transportability was still a defining characteristic despite at that stage, A400M being set to replace C-130. The turning circle was specified at less than 18m, compared to 14m for a Land Rover. Maximum width was 2.5m and mobility defined as ‘Medium’, not ‘Improved Medium’. Mobility was further defined by a ground clearance of greater than 240mm and ground pressure of less than 450Kpa. Generic Vehicle Architecture 2 compliance and the ability to be fitted with ECM, BOWMAN and an RWS.

In a sharp departure from OUVS, protection was defined as; Ballistic threshold protection (STANAG 4569)  level 2 Objective level 3Blast threshold protection (STANAG 4569)  level 2a/2b Objective level 3a/3b. Finally, in total lockstep with OUVS several years earlier, the cost was to be no more than £250k. It also noted that despite the variants described above, other requirements such as a future battlefield ambulance could be based on the MRV-P vehicle. OUVS envisaged two weight classes of vehicle, this initial incarnation of the MRV-P requirement changed this to one.

In a presentation to industry in 2014, further details on MRV-P were released:

And the details on quantities and timelines:

The initial MRV-P requirement was for the order of 800 vehicles with a potential of up to an additional 4,000. Initial Operating Capability was to be by 2019 and Full Operating Capability by 2022. What is interesting from the diagram above is the indication of what vehicle families would be replaced by MRV-P, i.e., none. It describes how MRV-P may potentially replace Foxhound, Wolfhound, Huskey, Panther, Jackal, Coyote and R-WMIK, but these would be subject to subsequent programming. The 2037 OSD of Panther was also notable, as was the OSD for Foxhound of 2024.

Unlike with OUVS, the non protected Land Rover and Pinzgauer fleet would not be troubled by MRV-P, but instead be subject to a separate programme in the 2030 timeframe. MRV-P is therefore not intended for early entry forces like 16AAB or 3CDO. The operational laydown was also described for armoured infantry and mechanised battlegroups.

In May 2014, the MoD released details of a number of projects including MRV-P and two related vehicle requirements as part of the Operational Support Programme (OSP);

  • Light Weight (Air Portable) Recover (LW(AP)RC) is a Cat D project to meet the requirement for a recovery capability that is air portable and that can wade ashore with Commando Forces to provide intimate support to Very High Readiness (VHR) forces by 2016
  • Future Protected Battle Field Ambulance (FPBFA) is a Cat C project to meet the requirement for a Protected Mobility (PM) battlefield multi-role ambulance. This will enable in-theatre protected movement of casualties, whilst delivering expected clinical care by 2020.

As the project progressed within the MoD, industry started to position their solutions. General Dynamics, for example, proposed two vehicle families, either of which could fulfil the requirement, the Eagle or Foxhound/Ocelot, although the latter would require some further development.

In February 2016, it the MoD formally kicked off the Multi Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P) competition and issued a revised requirement.

Supply and Support of a Multi-Role Vehicle Protected (MRV-P) Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA). Multi-Role Vehicle — Protected (MRV-P) Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA) are intended to be based on a common base platform with sufficient flexibility to satisfy a number of roles. The TCV and FPBFA variants will support the rapidly deployable forces (i.e. first-in, airborne or amphibious capability) as well as the regular armed forces. TCV and FPBFA must, therefore, provide protected mobility against real-world scenarios encountered by military forces conducting Global Operations.

Despite the earlier statements that MRV-P would not be used for early entry forces, this new release changed that. It also indicated the common base vehicle could be used for future roles including EOD, RMP, Engineer Support, and Gun Limber. Despite this, the MoD also stated there was no requirement for helicopter underslung carriage for either vehicle.

Principle characteristics of each variant were;

  • Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV). Driver, commander and seating for 6 personnel
  • Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA). Combination of permanent seating for 2 x Medical Attendants seated at the head of the stretcher and ability to transport 2 stretchered casualties or 1 stretchered casualty and 3 Seated Casualties and combinations thereof.

Common requirements included;

An in-service life of at least 25 years. Expected to be based on Military off the Shelf (MOTS) mature platforms of modern design. Max width 2,500 mm, Max Height 2,650 mm (transit mode). Greater than or equal to Medium Mobility classification. Ballistic threat at protection to Stanag Level 2 and blast threat protection at Stanag Level 2

The expected entry into service was 2019, an estimated value of between £170m and £200m, with initially expected quantities being 150 TCV and 80 FPBFA, potentially rising to 300 each.

The MoD also issued a separate requirement for 27 Light Protected Mobility Recovery (LPMR) vehicle, required to tow 10 tonnes and lift 4. Despite being a separate requirement and not explicitly connected to MRV-P, the headline mobility and protection specifications were the same.

In mid-2016, the MoD revealed that it would be acquiring MRV-P in a number of packages;

  • Package 1: Command and Liaison (CLV), Command and Control (C2V) and General Purpose Logistics (GPV-L)
  • Package 2: General Purpose Passenger (GPV) and Ambulance
  • Package 3: Recovery

Further briefings cleared up some of the earlier confusion and provided greater clarity on roles.

Defense News reported in June 2016 that the UK was in negotiation with the US Department of Defense for the supply of a number of Joint Light Tactical vehicles (JLTV) to meet the MRV-P requirement (Package 1)

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle could be in line to win its first export order even before the US Department of Defense makes a decision to order full-rate production of the platform. The UK’s Ministry of Defence has revealed it is in talks with the Pentagon, which might lead to a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal. The British Army is interested in acquiring the Oshkosh Defense vehicle, set to replace the Army and Marine Corps Humvees, to meet part of a requirement known as the Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected (MRV-P).

Package 3 was reported to be on hold and Package 1 and 2 would potentially be different vehicles, the Rheinmetall Survivor-R, Thales Hawkei, General Dynamics Eagle and others were mentioned as a potential contender for Package 2. To meet MRV-P Package 3 (despite it being on hold), Supacat showed an HMT-600 based recovery vehicle.

In September 2016, Janes reported on the progress of MRV-P.

Group 1 (Package 1) would be met with an off the shelf purchase of the Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) via a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) arrangement. This surprised many given that JLTV had been rejected by the pre-cursor to MRV-P, the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) The larger vehicle, Group 2 (Package 2) would be decided by competition in October/November. Group 2 could be met with either a 4×4 or 6×6 vehicle with the two variants as described above, the Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) and the Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA)
Manufacturers in the down-select were BAE Systems Land (UK) with a design from Penman, General Dynamics with the MOWAG Eagle 6×6, Rheinmetall with the Survivor-R, and Thales with the Bushmaster.

A media interview with Major General Robert Talbot Rice, Director of Land Equipment at the Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) organisation highlighted the reason for the change in procurement strategy for Group 1

We are working through the Foreign Military Sales process. A letter of request has been sent to our American colleagues, and we expect a response in the next few months. By tagging onto the US JLTV order the UK could obtain a price point for the UK requirement that was never going to be matched by any other contender

JLTV was compliant, JLTV was cheap, simple as that

The same media report also speculated that the three remaining contenders for Group 2 were;

  • Thales Bushmaster
  • General Dynamics Eagle V
  • Mercedes Benz with an MRV-P compliant body on their FGA 14.5 chassis (Unimog)

This report was different from previous indications of the Group 2 down select, gone were Penman and Rheinmetall, and seemingly in from left field, Mercedes with their FGA chassis.

In July 2017, the DCSA published details of the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of the Oshkosh JLTV to the UK.

WASHINGTON, Jul. 10, 2017 – The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) and accessories.  The estimated cost is $1.035 billion.  The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today. The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has requested a possible sale of up to two thousand seven hundred forty-seven (2,747) Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV).  This possible sale also includes baseline integration kits, basic issue item kits, B-kit armor, engine arctic kits, fording kits, run-flat kits, spare tire kits, silent watch kits, power expansion kits cargo cover kits, maintainer and operator training, U.S. government technical assistance and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. Total estimated cost is $1.035 billion

This was for MRV-P Group 1 although the total quantities were much higher than previously indicated. Although I always urge caution when trying to determine unit costs from FMS notifications, because it is never that simple, everyone will do the maths anyway; £285k each

Supacat launched a new version of their HMT600 based recovery vehicle to meet the requirements of the  Light Weight (Air Portable) Recovery Capability (LW(AP)RC) programme. High levels of commonality with the in-service Jackal and Coyote would be obvious advantages. Also at the show, a British Army green version of the Oshkosh JLTV.

In the 2016-19 DE&S Corporate Plan MRV-P was described as;

A general-purpose vehicle in command & control, liaison, logistics and personnel carrier variants, with improved protection over current fleets. Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance and Lightweight Protected Mobile Recovery projects have been linked to MRV-P to drive efficiencies

This confirmed the link between MRV-P and the lightweight mobile recovery project.

Thales launched their MR6 variant of the Bushmaster in early 2018.

A Parliamentary Question asked on the 13th April 2018 confirmed current status;

Nia Griffith: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what recent progress had been made on the Multi Role Vehicle (Protected) Group (a) 1 and (b) 2 contracts.

Guto Bebb: The Multi-Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P) programme is being delivered in two packages. For package 1, the Command, Liaison and Logistics vehicles, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle manufactured in the United States by Oshkosh has been identified as the preferred option, with the US Department of Defense Foreign Military Sales acceptance letters expected to be signed shortly. Package 2 will provide the Troop Carrying Vehicles and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance, and is currently the subject of an ongoing competition, with a decision expected in early 2019.

On Tuesday the 9th of October 2018, the Defence Select Committee held an evidence session to discuss the MoD’s annual report and accounts during which MRV-P was raised. You can, of course, listen to the whole session but relevant points are extracted below;

Chair: Okay. I am going to follow on from that with a question about the fleet solid support ships that are going to be built. I just want to preface that by saying that we spent quite a bit of time talking about the noncompetition for the Sentry replacement. Previously, we have had a similar conversation about the non-competition for Boxer, which was chosen as the military vehicle without competitors having a chance to present something. I have also recently been alerted to a vehicle called MRV-Protected. We are apparently minded to go for a replacement from the United States called the JLTV on the grounds that it would cost £330,000 a copy. Since we went towards that non-competitive approach, it appears that the final price per copy of this vehicle could be as much as £800,000. There seems to be a tendency to go for these choices without going down the route of competitiveness.

Cat Little: MRV-P quite simply has not yet gone through an investment approval decision. It is caught up in the modernising defence proposition. You are quite right to say that there are two packages that we are currently looking at, but at this stage we have not made any decisions about single source or—

Chair: Are you aware that the proposed price might end up more than twice as much as originally specified?
Cat Little: I greatly look forward to seeing the team when they come to present that to me when I chair the committee to look at it, but I have not yet—

Chair: You are aware of it now, anyway.

Cat Little: I am now aware of it, and I am now going to go away and have a further look at it. Certainly at this stage we have not yet gone through the formal decision-making process.

Lieutenant General Sir Mark Poffley: I would be very interested in where that figure came from, because it is not a figure that I recognise whatsoever—in fact, far closer to your first figure than the second figure.

Although not specific to MRV-P, it was also revealed that UK economic benefit to obtaining from UK manufacturers was considered, but not specifically in the investment approval calculations.

Another Parliamentary Question confirmed that JLTV was still the preferred options for Package 1 but Package 2 would be contracted in early 2020, a year later than planned.

30 September 2019; The Multi-Role Vehicle – Protected programme is being delivered in two packages. The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) has been identified as the preferred option for Package 1, Command, Liaison and Logistic Vehicles, procured through a Foreign Military Sales case. A decision on the procurement of JLTV is due in 2020. For Package 2, Troop Carrying Vehicles and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulances, the competition is ongoing. Subject to the conclusion of current negotiations and internal approvals, the competition winner is planned to be on contract early in 2020.

As of early September 2020, no orders have been placed for MRV-P

To summarise, MRV-P has a long and complicated back-story, has changed considerably, has been subject to speculation and criticism about the non-competitive nature of Package 1 and the delays to the others, and remains to be fully settled one way or the other.

plus ça change

Runners and Riders – Package 1

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is a US Army-led programme that will replace the current HMMWV with a family of more survivable vehicles with greater payload, although it seems unlikely JLTV will replace all HMMWV, i.e. the unarmoured utility versions. Because the HMMWV was not designed to have high levels of protection, adding that protection has caused a wide variety of problems. JLTV will seek to address that by ensuring high levels of protection are built-in from the start. Like the HMMWV, it will support a wide variety of roles and likely, multiple variants. Initially, it comprises two variants based upon a common automotive platform; Two-seat Combat Support Vehicle (CSV), a payload of 2.3 tonnes (Utility)Four-seat Combat Tactical Vehicle (CTV), a payload of 1.6 tonnes, (General Purpose, Close Combat Weapon Carrier and Heavy gun Carrier)

The competition for JLTV goes back to 2006 with 7 organisations answering the initial request for information. In 2008, the DoD down selected to three manufacturers; Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems/Navistar and General Tactical Vehicles (General Dynamics and AM General). Oshkosh, Plasan and Northrop Grumman were not part of this down select.

Following this, the DoD changed the requirements, dropped the heavier variants and upped the protection requirement following experience in Iraq. This second phase was then re-advertised with a wider responder field narrowed to three manufacturers; Lockheed Martin, Oshkosh and AM General.

A final RFP was issued in 2014 with the winning entry from Oshkosh, the L-ATV, announced in 2015. Since then, there have been various orders from the different US services, the US Army requirement is for approximately fifty thousand vehicles, with additional vehicles for SOCOM, USAF and the USMC.

Read the full specification at Oshkosh, here

Various tests in the UK have been carried out on the Oshkosh L-ATV/JLTV.

The system’s market has also started to use JLTV as the basis for all manner of weapons, sensors and equipment.

Runners and Riders – Package 2

Thales Bushmaster

The Australian Defence White Paper of 1987 stated a requirement for improved infantry mobility. Following on from this, the 1991 Force Structure Review defined a requirement for an Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IMV). The 6th Royal Australian Regiment had investigated the use of Project Perentie 4×4 and 6×6 Land Rovers. The Perentie is based on a Land Rover 110 but has an Isuzu engine and many other changes, a uniquely Australian vehicle, especially the 6×6 version. Additional Project Perentie vehicles were designed and built by BAe Australia, between 1994 and 1998.

Land Project 116 – Project Bushranger, Phase 1, was a modified Perentie, designated the Interim Infantry Mobility Vehicle (IIMV). The 1994 Australian Defence White Paper further emphasised the vehicle requirement;

5.57 New land force vehicles will be acquired to give greater mobility and better personnel protection. The fleet of Ml 13 tracked armoured vehicles will also undergo a limited modification program to overcome existing deficiencies and extend their life well into the next century. New light reconnaissance vehicles based on commercial standards will be acquired this decade, and a lightly armoured transport vehicle will be acquired to provide mobility to infantry brigades. The present fleet of trucks will be replaced early in the next decade. These projects will be managed to provide opportunities for Australian industry and reduce subsequent through-life costs, including adopting civil standards to the maximum extent practicable.

The Phase I Perentie was purchased in both 4×4 and 6×6 variants totalling 276 vehicles, produced by Australian Defence Industries (ADI).  Towards the end of the manufacturing phase, BAE Australia sold its interests to Tenix. 1994 also marked the start of Phase 2A, the search for a purpose-built IIMV replacement, thirteen companies expressed an interest and five shortlisted. ANI teamed with Reumech Austral to form a joint venture called Australian Specialised Vehicle Systems (ASVS) with a modified version of the Mamba known as Taipan. Transfield Defence System teamed with Thyssen Henschel to offer the TM-170. Perry Engineering teamed with Timony to offer a version of their MP44 APC. Westrac teamed with TFM to offer the RG-12 Nyala. BAE Australia offered the Shorts Brothers developed Foxhound (no, not that one). By the end of 1996, Transfield and Westrac withdrew, leaving BAE Australia, ANI and Perry Engineering. The BAE Foxhound was based on the Shorts Brothers S600 Shorland vehicle, a departure from their normal Land Rover derived designs, instead, using the Unimog U2150L. With a maximum weight of 12.50 tonnes, the Foxhound could carry nine passengers. The ANI/Reumech (ASVS) Taipan was a derivative of the Mamba vehicle, also based on a Unimog U2150L chassis.

The original Perry Engineering concept was based on the Timony Technology MP44 vehicle that made extensive use of the automotive components from the Stewart and Stevenson Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle (FMTV). Of the three, it had the highest weight, at 14 tonnes, but the monocoque chassis, not a conventional truck chassis like the others, provided a number of protection benefits. There was also a growth path to a 6×6 variant, the MP66 (shown below in a later prototype)

Phase 2B was the Request for Tender process, Phase 3, manufacture and introduction to service. BAE then withdrew, leaving just Perry Engineering and ASVS. During the trials, Australian Defence Industries (ADI) purchased the rights to the Perry Engineering vehicle as proposed for Project Bushmaster and redesigned much of it (especially the hull) to ensure compliance with the ADI requirements. ADI claimed their vehicle could withstand a 19kg explosive charge under any wheel.

Neither of the vehicles actually met requirements, especially on reliability. Trials were completed at the end of 1998 and in March 1999, the Australian Minister for Defence announced that the ADI Bushmaster was the winner. Initial quantities were to be 352 (352 for the Army and 18 for the RAAF) to be in service by 2002, although additional variants were planned. A pair of early models were modified and sent to East Timor in 1999, serving as VIP transport vehicles. ADI was privatised in November 1999 with 50% each owned by Transfield (one of the original losing bidders) and Thomson CSF. It would be unfair to characterise the Bushranger project as a total success, the winning vehicle took much longer to bring into service than planned and was certainly more expensive, this from an Australian tabloid:

The Australian Defence Force’s much-anticipated Project Bushranger appears set, like Ned Kelly himself, for a gruesome ending. The project, to build more than 300 landmine-protected infantry vehicles, is massively over budget and ridiculously behind schedule. Our defence forces have run out of patience, giving the manufacturers until the end of the year to sort the mess out.

A 2004 Sydney Morning Herald story in 2004 summed up the situation

The army’s new Bushmaster troop carrier sums up what can go wrong with defence purchases. The prototype vehicles were 10 times less reliable than the army wanted. But the army bought them anyway because the only alternative was 20 times less reliable. The original cost was supposed to be $170 million for 370 vehicles. In the end, taxpayers will get 299 vehicles for $329 million. And though taxpayers’ money has been used to develop the vehicles, the army has no patent over any part of the project and no royalty agreement with ADI if the company sells the vehicles overseas. Now that the wrinkles have been ironed out using taxpayer money, that looks likely.

However, by 2004/2005, the Australian Army had a workable and effective medium protected mobility vehicle and one that has gone on to be exported well and obtained in larger numbers, including some to the British Army for SF use (although I have read that the Pandur 2 6×6 was the preferred option, which is amusing given that the BMR (a version of Pandur 1) was in the running for FFLAV. Transfield was purchased by Thales in 2006 and ADI renamed to Thales Australia.

Bushmaster has a kerb weight of approximately 12 tonnes depending upon the variant, is 7.2m long, 2.48m wide and 2.65m high (without RWS), within the overall limitations of MRV-P. It is in service with Australia, Indonesia, Jamaica, Fiji, Japan, the Netherlands, the UK and New Zealand, with over one thousand delivered. Interestingly, it was entered into the Canadian TAPV competition but withdrawn when Canada indicated a smaller vehicle was required. France also considered Bushmaster but selected the VBMR Griffon instead. Bushmaster has proven to be a robust, reliable and very well-protected vehicle, with operational experience gained from deployments to Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor. The Troop variant has seats for 2+10 and other variants include Command, Mortar Carrier, Ambulance and Repair Fitter. Other variants have been proposed, such as single and double cab cargo, and electronic warfare, but not yet entered service.

Read more at Thales

In early 2018, Thales unveiled the Bushmaster MR6 variant, an upgraded vehicle with a host of improvements including a new Euro 3 compliant engine, protection and electronics. To demonstrate the MR6, those chose the ambulance variant, with perhaps an eye on MRV-P.

Penman Metras

The Penman Engineering 4×4 Metras vehicle was publically shown in 2012, designed and built in conjunction with ERAF Industries and Creation UK. Creation UK was subsequently purchased by Penman. It was also entered into the LPPV programme competition. The 6 passengers, 6.5-tonne Metras 4×4 has been supplied to Saudi Arabia in conjunction with ERAF Industries. At 2.05m wide, it is narrower than the other contenders for MRV-P. Penman subsequently developed a 6×6 version of the Zephyr/Metras in 2012.

Rheinmetall Survivor – R

The Survivor R 4×4 is a joint development between Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) and Achleitner. It is based on a MAN TGA 330hp (242kW) 4 x 4 truck chassis with a protected body. Although RMMV withdrew from MRV-P in 2017, I have included it here for reference.

General Dynamics Eagle 6×6

The General Dynamics Eagle, like the Metras, is a family of vehicles available in both 4×4 and 6×6 variants. The Mowag Eagle is a mature vehicle family and has been widely adopted by nations in a number of variants. The 4×4 and 6×6 variants are both available in long and short wheelbase versions.

Mercedes Benz FGA and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Dingo 2

The final entry is perhaps the most intriguing because there seems to be so little available information. The Mercedes Benz FGA 14.5 is a chassis designed for specialist applications, for others to exploit and mount their own bodies. It has an Allison 3500 automatic transmission powered by a Mercedes-Benz OM 926 military diesel engine developing 225kW (400hp). The alternator is a high capacity, 335A, to enable a range of electrical and electronic equipment to be used.

The chassis is designed to accommodate a body/payload of 8.5 tonnes.

A 6×6 FGA 12.5 chassis has also been used for the Nexter Systems CAESAR 155mm/52 calibre self-propelled artillery system and both the 4×4 and 6×6 as a basis for the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Dingo 2 vehicle. It is also used by the latest U5000 series Unimog trucks. The Dingo 2 available in a multitude of variants including EOD, Command, Repair, PsyOps, Cargo, Patrol, NBC Recce, Recce/Surveillance, Ambulance and Recovery. Perhaps of more relevance for MRV-P, the ambulance and recovery models are shown below. The FGA 14.5 chassis forms the basis for the Dingo 2 HD,

The FGA 20 chassis is the 6×6 version, this allows a maximum vehicle weight of 20 tonnes. Qatar is the launch customer for this and the vehicle has been called the Dingo 3, which confusingly, also has a 4×4 variant.

Runners and Riders – Package 3

Package 3 is the recovery vehicle for light forces, although its future is unclear, and also the degree by which the requirements harmonise with the other 2, a number of options are shown below.

Supacat HMT 600 Recovery

The Supacat HMT 400 and 600 platform are well known and already in service with the British Army as the Jackal and Coyote. It seems that only the Recovery vehicle is in contention for MRV-P although, again, this is subject to confirmation.

Naturally, this has a high degree of mobility with the new protected cab.

Penman Metras 6×6 Recovery

Dingo Recovery

Eagle Recovery

Summary

It is hard not to see MRV-P as one of those British Army vehicle programmes that seem to have been going for a very long time but delivered very little, look back at the reasons why, and they will always be fair, OUVS was overtaken by Iraq for example. Certainly, MRV-P are much larger vehicles than their predecessors, will consume much more fuel and combat service support resources, and require more space on strategic air and sealift, but if this is the way vehicle designs are being pushed due to increased demand for protection, we just have to accept that Land Rover style utility vehicles are now as large as a Bedford 4 tonner.

What is certain is that MRV-P is a solid attempt at driving down support costs and aligning the vehicle fleet with a vision for the British Army that is more than patrolling in a counter-insurgency context. All those vehicles in the downselect would appear to be solid, although of course, us outside can never know the full story as we are not a party to detailed protection or reliability data.

Hopefully, the Army will allow Foxhound to stay in its niche role of protected mobility in urban areas where JLTV might struggle because of its size. Representing a nearly half a billion Pound investment, Foxhound needs to be preserved well into the future and not treated as just another general-purpose vehicle. The US DoD will continue to invest in JLTV and I think we would struggle to find anything as cheap or good, although as with many US products, the through-life costs can tend to be high.

A dilemma is that one of the objectives of MRV-P is to drive down costs of maintaining the legacy protected mobility fleet by rationalising designs and manufacturers. If we end up with three very different designs from three different manufacturers, it is difficult to see how this aspect of the programme can be achieved. Perhaps in an ideal world, we could work with Oshkosh to create a longer variant of JLTV, but the Eagle in both 4×4 and 6×6 would offer this commonality today, as would Dingo, and even Metras if Penman were supported by a larger prime. The Supacat HMT 400 and 600 platform would also offer the potential of one vehicle family for all three roles, their new recovery variant certainly seems impressive. Selecting Supacat would also provide commonality with the large existing fleet of Jackals, Extenda and Coyote fleet.

Ultimately, MRV-P will need to be shaped by whatever the British Army looks like after the 2020 ISDR, and we will be unlikely to see contracts placed before then. My own view is a simple one, think the whole concept has to go back to the drawing board and be clearly driven by what the Army will look like post-2020, but certainly be more informed by a much greater role for UK industry as we enter a post COVID world.

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Mark
Mark
September 29, 2020 9:36 pm

There appears almost to be too many choices. I look across the Channel and wonder how the French appear to have got it right answering and configuring themselves more or less in the same direction as ourselves and wonder how we have ended up here.

BB85
BB85
October 11, 2020 9:19 am

The French know what they want and design and build it, same with the Germans. The UK dont seem to have a clue and constantly change requirements and priorities completely screwing UK armoured vehicle manufacturers. The Foxhound was designed to be moduler and with a little effort could have been refined and improved to meet all 3 of these categories.

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