Current Programme

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.

Part 1 – History (previous page)

Part 2 – The Current Programme (this page)

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.

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), so a clear high-level requirement is needed.

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:

And the details on quantities and timelines:

The initial MRV-P requirement was 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;

The Operational Support Programme (OSP) is to deliver four new vehicle projects on behalf of Capability Director Combat Service Support (CD CSS) and Capability Director Medical (CD Med):

Multi-Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P) is a Cat 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 logistic footprint for utility vehicles by 2020.

Non-Articulated Vehicle – Protected (NAV-P) is a Cat B project to meet the requirement for a protectable Palletised Load System (PLS). This would replace the ageing and unprotected DROPS fleet, enabling logistic support by a protected fleet to concurrent operations from 2020.

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.

The OSP Programme Management Office (OSP PgMO) in the DE&S at Abbey Wood is conducting a Market Survey to inform Concept Phase activities related to these projects. OSP PgMO intend to release a Request For Information (RFI) to those parties who may have an interest in providing a solution to one or more of these requirements. The RFI will be sent out in early 2014 to those who express interest, together with supporting programme information.

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.

Supply and Support of a Multi Role Vehicle Protected (MRV-P) Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA)

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;

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 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)

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. Supacat also showed a gun limber based on the same basic, and mature, HMT600 design.

In September, 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

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;

On March 13-15 Vice Minister of National Defence Giedrimas Jeglinskas observed tests of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) in Bedford while on visit in the United Kingdom. Vice Minister also met with representatives of the UK Ministry of Defence and the Belgian Defense Directorate General for Material Resources and discussed challenges of adapting the JLTV for national needs and EU standards.

During the testing event Vice Minister G. Jeglinskas met with representatives of the JLTV program Working Group of the US Department of Defence and addressed challenges of integrating weaponry systems into the JLTV and possible solutions. Vice Minister G. Jeglinskas proceeded to meet with his colleague Guto Bebb, Minister for Defence Procurement and Member of the Parliament of the United Kingdom and discussed aspects of the JLTV procurement carried out the by the UK, the progress on the IFV Vilkas (Boxer) project, and technological potential of enterprises of Lithuania’s defence industry and opportunities in the United Kingdom. The meeting officials also talked about the potential of bilateral cooperation of both countries’ navies in procurement.

The meeting was also attended by Deputy Head of the Diplomatic Representation Jonas Grinevičius at the Embassy of the Republic of Lithuania to the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.

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, 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. 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.

Package A

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), 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 final RFP was issued in 2014 with the winning entry from Oshkosh, the L-ATV, announced in 2015.

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.

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

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

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 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.

Additional S600/BAE Foxhound videos here and here

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 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 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.

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.

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.

Mercedes Benz

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.

It should be noted that there has been no press regarding what a Mercedes Benz FGA 14.5 based MRV-P body would look like, so the Dingo 2 and Dingo 2 HD images are shown for information only.

Table of Contents

Part 1 – History (previous page)

Part 2 – The Current Programme (this page)

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ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Funnily enough, I was just today wondering whatever happened to the ambulance (not the light recovery) version/ procurement. Then TD’s newest dropped into… the inbox, and I had to skip straight into the Current Program (Part 2) to find out.

Soon (that makes it in 10 years, then?) there will be no tracked & armoured battlefield ambulance in service. Long live the CVR(T) family! So, the thinking goes like: There is no high-roof version of Warrior… even though it is starting to look like lots of hulls becoming available for a welding job.

What is the point of getting an ambulance based on a “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**”?

Would it not be better, despite the higher per unit cost – just bite the bullet and have Boxer ambulances in or for every unit that is expected to be in the “F” zone?
– at least for those that are not designated “light”, ie. the heavier AI bdes and the Strike (medium) bdes

MikeW
MikeW

Hi ArmChairCivvy

Remember you of old! The issue of the battlefield ambulance is an interesting one.

What I would very much like to know is what exactly has happened to the ABSV (supposed to be based on the Warrior, wasn’t it?). It has all gone quiet on that front recently and none of the reporters/pundits who were at DVD 2018 even mentioned it! An ambulance version of that would be perfectly feasible. In fact, I think a few Warrior ambulances were produced a few years back (I can’t remember whether it was for the Iraq campaign or for Afghanistan. They were few in number, though, and I don’t know whether they were welding jobs or not.

Mixing wheeled Boxer ambulances in predominantly tracked AI brigades might not be a good idea.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi MikeW! Just spotted your comments to the Drummond article (a year old) around Ajax/ Warrior /Boxer.

Anyway, to carry on about ambulances, assuming that we might want to go with something that shares REME support, rather than being unique among the fleet of each unit, when they deploy. I know that a Boxer solution would be pricey, but
– they can operate also within the direct fire zone (some of TD’s diagrams had labelled that zone “F”)
– they can keep up with the tracked, too, not just with the Strike Bde fleets. In the former the ‘shared’ support may not be realised (in the filed) though.
– working height for medics to be fully effective can be essential. I, too, remember the Warrior conversions, and I guess those few were made exactly with the points listed above in mind, but sacrificing the working height, in order to get a quickly fielded ‘fix’
– x-country mobility to get to the casualties, and then out, and once out of the “F” zone, picking up speed – which can be of essence. Into that consideration also the ability to avoid casualty transfer from a tracked, strongly protected unit to a faster, wheeled but only lightly protected ambulance should play quite strongly? As a detour, the back “room” on Israeli Merkavas is not only for getting more rounds into a tank in the direct fire zone, but also to pick up crews of destroyed or immobilised tanks, be they casualties or still walking “under own power”… rather strong protection level there

MikeW
MikeW

Hi ArmChair Civvy

Thanks for the reply, which makes several discerning points. I like the one about Boxer being able to operate in the direct fire zone and also the one about how it would have “the ability to avoid casualty transfer from a tracked, strongly protected unit to a faster, wheeled but only lightly protected ambulance” That should be an advantage.

I just wish I knew a lot more about how wheeled vehicles have progressed over the years in terms of mobility. Are they now almost as good over what I would term rough terrain? Having pointed out the dangers of mixing slower tracked vehicles with fast-moving 8 x8 wheeled ones in the Strike Brigades, I still have somehow an uneasy feeling about the converse: i.e putting wheeled vehicles in alongside tracked in the Armoured Brigades. Probably quite irrational! Technology has moved on!

Andrew BRANDISH
Andrew BRANDISH

The Oshkosh JLTV appears to be a foregone conclusion for package 1. But after all this time still no firm confirmation on progress. Not sure where the £800k each comes from. Although I do agree the economy of scale in jumping on the back of the US would seem sensible. I wonder if our closer alignment with Australia if the Hawkai might be worthy of consideration and how it compares. It’s also interesting to see that Panther, which had the longest in service date is now up for sale. Always thought it’s purchase was a strange decision.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Hi Andrew, I think it all as inPanther, which had the longest in service date is now up for sale. Always thought it’s purchase was a strange decision” goes back to the former Yugoslavia as the Ops, under many banners, were a long affair. And the participants were a real hotch potch as for kit, NATO or not.

I am sure TD has written about it (just like about”everything” else) but I seem to remember that there was a desire for a command/ liaison/ observer vehicle that could have a single back up/ maintenance/ spares line across many nations
– so we got Panther (Russia ordered 700, too, but never accepted the delivery)
– there were also other “stds” emerging. Like the Scandies, often forming a Bn together, got RG32 (perhaps putting a bit more emphasis on patrolling)
– or the Sisu Pasi for troop transport, when direct fire and/or mines were to be expected

Grubbie
Grubbie

Can anyone briefly explain the cost of the JLTV?
I’m picking up that the Foxhound is actually crap,is that right?

Bb85
Bb85

Thanks for taking the time to detail this article it was extremely ensightful. A lot of painful and expensive lessons to be learned but hopefully we are on the right track. Its just a pity good government planning could not have resulted in better UK designs entering this competition. The French seem to have things well planned out with their Jaguar and Griffon variants. The Jaguar seems to be a well placed scout vehicle which Ajax I don’t think is well suited too. And Griffon looks like it would fulfil package 2 and 3 of the UK requirement albeit unproven which the UK requires with an off the shelf purchase.

Paul
Paul

The Supacat recovery vehicle is part of a programme entirely separate to MRV-P.

Simon m
Simon m

I don’t suppose that the mod have looked to compare the cost of jltv plus different 6×6 versus purchasing something like the eagle where both 4×4 and 6×6 are available seems like the eagle would have also filled the recovery element as well. Then conversely as supacat won the recovery package how come they don’t seem to be under consideration for package 1 and 2. Comparing foxhound’s cost also seems unfair as when purchased it was a brand new concept I would be surprised if force protection couldn’t bring the unit price down for an order of 2000 + vehicles especially with the s version. With both supacat and foxhound there are obvious financial benefits of building in the uk

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