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.
What did this mean, 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, therefore, 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, both of these being the future of the British Army.
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).
In April 2012, the MoD published a contract note for a pre-concept contract.
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. Turning circle was specified at less than 18m, compared to 14m for a Land Rover. The 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 3
- Blast 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:
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.
As the project progressed within the MoD, the 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.
Further details define the specific requirement for each for the notice was very clear
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
A common base platform, NOT two, and that the base vehicle could be used for future roles including EOD, RMP, Engineer Support, and Gun Limber.
Despite the earlier statements that MRV-P would not be used for early entry forces, this new statement of requirements changed that;
Despite this, it 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 Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) would also provide the base platform for a number of other role specific variants
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 acquitting MRV-P in a number of packages;
- Package 1: Small troop carrying, command and control, and logistics
- Package 2: Lager troop carrying and ambulance
- Package 3: Recovery
Further briefings cleared up some of the earlier confusion and provided greater clarity on roles.(image credit @shephard media) 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)
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. Supacat also showed a gun limber based on the same basic, and mature, HMT600 design.
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
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.
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;
Confirming the link between MRV-P and the lightweight mobile recovery project.
Thales launched their MR6 variant of the Bushmaster in early 2018.
In addition to UK interest, it has also been reported that Lithuania will purchase JLTV. The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence reported;
A Parliamentary Question asked on the 13th April 2018 confirmed current status
On Tuesday the 9th of October, 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;
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. This is subject to the Dunne Review.
At the time of writing, Package 1 is still JLTV, Package 2 and 3 are still awaiting confirmation, with press reports on the down selected manufacturers subject to some confirmation. The Investment Approval case for JLTV is also reportedly due in October 2018 although whether this remains ensnared in MDP remains to be seen.
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
For each of the designs described above, a short history and technical details.
MRV-P, like OUVS and FFLAV, originally started out with a desire to rationalise vehicle types and subsequently minimise support costs.
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.
- Two seat Combat Support Vehicle (CSV), payload of 2.3 tonnes (Utility)
- Four-seat Combat Tactical Vehicle (CTV), 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 number of smaller orders have followed and at the time of writing, seven have now been placed totalling just under three thousand vehicles. 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.
Although these may little relevance for MRV-P, ave included them for completeness.
Remote Weapon Systems (RWS) provide additional capabilities and in some cases, the ability to mount heavier automatic weapons like the Orbital M230LF, from the same family as that mounted on the Apache attack helicopter. The M230LF is also available in a manual mount from Nobles. The UK wants to increase defence trade opportunities with Australia, EOS has a very good RWS, the R-400S Mk2, that mounts the M230LF. The 30mm M230LF does not have the range of more conventional 30mm cannons but it is still a big improvement over the HMG.
An even more interesting option is the Moog/Leonardo Reconfigurable Integrated-weapons Platform (RIwP) that allows a broad range of weapon systems to be fitted, including the HMG, GMG, Javelin and M230LF. Leonardo/DRS have recently been awarded a US Army contract to develop the RIwP into a Counter-UAS system. Click here for the image gallery.
No doubt others will emerge in due course.
At the Association of United States exhibition and conference in October 2018, various JLTV’s were on show, including one with a Kongsberg PROTECTOR II Remote Weapon System (RWS) with a XM914 Lightweight 30mm cannon, a Kongsberg Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) with the Javelin Integration Kit (JIK) and .50 caliber machine gun, and another fitted with the Iron Fist Active Protection System (APS)
Package B and C
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.
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 their 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:
A 2004 Sydney Morning Herald story in 2004 summed up the situation:
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 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.
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 were 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.
Penman has most recently shown a recovery variant of the 6×6 Metras.
Interestingly, the Metras could on face value, satisfy all three MRV-P requirements with a single vehicle family, as originally envisaged.
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.
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.
General Dynamics have created an MRV-P specific information pack, click here to view.
Suapacat 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.
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 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. There is also a 3 axle version and an increased payload version called the HD
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 latest version of the Dingo family.
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.
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