MWMIK ORDER SUSTAINS DML DRIVE TO DEVELOP MILITARY VEHICLE SEGMENT
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
The announcement that the MoD will buy 130 new weapons-mounted patrol vehicles under an Urgent Operational Requirement for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan from DML gives the company a huge boost to develop its fledgling military vehicles business. Delivery of the MWMIK will take place throughout 2008. The new MWMIK 4x4 vehicles were described by one serving officer as 'like a Land Rover on steroids.'
The MWMIK will deliver a new level of power to the WMIK fleet, with more firepower and a better range and mobility. It will be fast for a 4 tonne vehicle, with a potential top speed of 80mph.
The vehicle can be fitted with a range of firepower including a .50 calibre machine gun or an automatic grenade launcher and a general purpose machine gun, as well as carrying up to four troops with their own individual weapons.
Welcoming the decision to purchase MWMIK, Lord Drayson, Minister of State for Defence Equipment and Support, said: "These vehicles are well armed, swift, and agile and will boost our capability with some serious firepower. MoD and the Treasury have worked hard to get these powerful vehicles to our troops in quick time, and they will start going out to theatre early next year."
The initial history of the MWMIK was littered with cost overruns, delays and technology changes which resulted in the MoD taking IPR for the top hamper design of the vehicle. The vehicle was developed as a result of an MoD requirement for replacement of the ageing Pink Panther Land Rovers. The previous UOR, issued in 1982, caused the then Technical Director of SMC, Mike Stone, to say, ďThe only thing this vehicle canít do is fly!Ē SMC declined to bid!
Thus, when the UOR for this replacement vehicle was issued in 1999 it had, once again, a very onerous specification. Many companies bid the UOR including ATK, Ricardo and AutomotiveTechnik, but the contract was won by Supacat which ticked all the capability boxes. It rapidly became apparent that the vehicle offered by Supacat, the HMT, although superior in performance and speed, lacked the engineering and support required for the vehicle.
Thus, after many months of protracted negotiations, the MoD took some IPR over the vehicle which allowed it to purchase further batches, and a deal was hammered out with DML which allowed it to recoup some of the money in establishing the assembly for the initial batch. Supacat had obtained the sales and deign rights for the vehicle from HMT Vehicles Ltd a fledgling Scottish Company owned by the Duke Of Hamilton and the Trustees of the Hamilton Estates along with other investors.
The vehicle then came to the attention of Lockheed Martin through its INSYS subsidiary which was involved in the design of the Soothsayer EW system on the vehicle. Lockheed first bought a licence from HMT to build the vehicle and Supacat built two 6x6 prototypes as well as 47 4x4 vehicles for the U.S. Army. The Lockheed vehicle won selection for the JTTS and then the JLTV requirement, as shown at DVD, which spurred the company to make a major investment in the project to establish its Owego plant as a Centre of Excellence for vehicle manufacture and design, based on a family of vehicles with the common HMT-designed airbag suspension system, designed by Val dare-Bryan, a designer of amongst other vehicles Brabham racing cars and an aluminum bus; he now works for INSYUS. In 2004, Lockheed Martin then purchased HMT Vehicles Ltd in its entirety. Lockheed Martinís Ina Stopps told BATTLESPACE at DVD that the company now has 180 engineers working on the project.
For this project and others, Supacat will retain the Design Authority and DML will build the vehicles. Lockheed Martin had originally negotiated a royalty of £4000.00 per axle for the vehicle which was then reckoned to be in small batches. The arrival of this contract has resulted in a reduction by Lockheed in its Royalty. The contract is yet to be signed so a contract value is not available. But, it now puts this project on a sound footing and enables the MoD to build up an inventory of the vehicles to allow for Through Life Support for the vehicle in theatre. The LIMAWS R is another project which is based on a 6x4 variant of the HMT chassis which INSYS told BATTLESPACE is pushing for Main gate acceptance later this year.
One stumbling block is believed to be the requirement to armour the front cab, an addition which not only adds weight to the front axle but also overall weight which may affect the ability to heli-lift the system. Another area of concern would be mobility in rough terrain with a 6x4 system with weight added. The Carmichael 6x4 Fire Engines purchased by the MoD in the eighties suffered from problems in rough and wet terrain due to the 3rd trailing non-driven axle getting stuck in the mud.
On 27 June 2007 during DVD, the Project received a further boost when DML Group and Frazer-Nash Consultancy announced the successful completion of the Supacat MEP reliability demonstration trials. This is in stark contrast to last yearís DVD when the SUV was reported to be experiencing difficulties with the Approval.
The operational platform for transporting the Soothsayer communications system, the Supacat MEP medium mobility vehicle will enter production for 35 units, with an expected delivery date of summer 2008.
During the MEP programme, the HMT 6x6 from Supacat was significantly enhanced by modification and instrumental work by systems engineering consultancy Frazer-Nash was a key element in the development of what is the most capable vehicle of its type in the world.
A key aspect of the work conducted by Frazer-Nash was managing the acceptance process against the MoDís requirements, requiring an enormous breadth of engineering expertise.
Dr Mark Dorn, Business Manager, Frazer-Nash Consultancy said, ďThe requirements for this vehicle meant developing a wide-ranging and pragmatic acceptance strategy covering areas such as mobility performance in the field, through to EU legislation on vehicle safety, noise and emissions.
ďThis also meant significant modifications to the design in order to build in the rigour required of a vehicle which can travel across some of the most challenging landscapes with minimum impact on the communications equipment. This was critical to ensure Soothsayer could operate effectively in all types of terrain.Ē
The final Acceptance work is reported to be for the braking system which requires a minimum 5% retained air retention for the ABS system.
The acceptance work, has been a natural extension to the requirements and acceptance development work that we do for the Ministry of Defence on projects such as Truck Cargo Heavy Duty, Future Light Equipment Transporter and General Support Tanker.
Frazer-Nash has nearly 250 permanent employees across six offices - Dorking, Bristol, Burton-on-Trent, Plymouth, Glasgow and the North West, together with a satellite operation in Weymouth, and is focused on the provision of systems and engineering technology. Turnover for 2005 was around £17 million, with consistent growth levels since 1996 of between 20 and 25% per annum.
Frazer-Nash's key markets are defence, power, industrial & transport and civil aerospace, with customers including: Airbus, Alstom, Alvis-Vickers, BAE SYSTEMS, BNFL, British Energy, DML, EADS, the Ministry of Defence (DPA, DLO, Dstl), Mitsui Babcock, QinetiQ, Rolls-Royce, Siemens, Smiths, Thales, Ultra Electronics, United Technologies.
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