Armored vehicles in Afghanistan will be kept on track after the MOD extended a contract of a County Durham firm which provides the metal tracks the vehicles run on, Minister for Defence Equipment & Support, Quentin Davies, has announced.
Astrum (UK) Ltd, based in County Durham, has secured a £30m, two-year extension to their contract with the MOD to supply tracks to all heavy, medium and light Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV), including the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked), Warrior and Trojan are currently on operations in Afghanistan.
Other track systems supplied by Astrum under this agreement include tracks for the Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank, the armoured engineer vehicle Titan and the armoured personnel carrier FV430 including the up-armoured and upgraded ‘Bulldog’ variant.
The deal will secure 100 jobs in the company’s defence design and manufacturing side of the business.
During a visit to Astrum, Minister for Defence, Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said: “I learned a lot in visiting Astrum this morning and I could see that they are at the very forefront internationally in the technology of manufacturing tracks for tracked vehicles, both military and civilian. Maintaining the ability of our armoured fighting vehicles to perform at the highest level is essential. Armoured vehicles are currently at the centre of operations in Afghanistan and are constantly used over challenging environments and terrain so they need to be furnished with the best equipment.
“This contract will continue to ensure vehicles currently engaged on operations and those being used to train personnel have top quality tracks supported by robust and dependable supply chains.”
Tracked vehicles are in contact with a larger surface area than would generally be the case with wheeled vehicles. As a result, the tracks exert a lower pressure on the ground, enabling tracked vehicles to be used on soft and uneven ground as they are less likely to get stuck.
Astrum Managing Director, Phil Kite, said: “Winning this contract is a major boost for the business and is a well deserved reward for the hard work of all our employees. Over the last few years we have continually demonstrated that we can deliver quality products, on time, at competitive prices.
“The award of this major contract was built on this success and the determination of the business to be the best at what we do.”
Andy McGrellis, Combat Track Group, Systems Team Leader, at MOD Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) in Bristol, said: “The award of this contract to Astrum (UK) Ltd will enable DE&S to secure the supply of AFV track and associated items for the next two years in support of both current operations and in support of Land Forces pre-deployment training and exercises.”
- The first two years of the contract will be worth around £30M with the option to extend for an additional year and at the end of that, an option to extend for a final year at around £15M a year. All values are exclusive non-recoverable VAT.
- The existing contract was originally signed in March 2005, has run for a period of five years, and was due to expire on 31 March 2010 prior to agreement of this extension.
- Astrum has over 250 employees working across both defence and commercial sectors.