The UK MoD has confirmed in its Planning Round 2012 (PR12) announcement today that funding for its future Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) pipeline, which includes the Specialist Vehicle (SV) programme, is part of its core programme of committed funding, thus protecting the core component of Force 2020 for the British Army.
General Dynamics UK will deliver the most modern medium-weight AFV fleet in the world today for the British Army, featuring the most advanced ISTAR capabilities and providing the best possible protection for the soldiers using it. The SV programme is a Modified-off-the-Shelf (MOTS) solution that brings huge economic and industrial benefit to the UK, and is expected to attract valuable export orders from overseas markets.
“We welcome the announcement by the Secretary of State for Defence confirming that the SV programme is secure in the MoD’s future AFV pipeline and core programme of committed funding,” commented Dr. Sandy Wilson, president and managing director of General Dynamics UK, the prime contractor on the programme. “This is great news for the soldiers who will use SV; it is great news for the UK supply chain involved in designing and manufacturing SV; and it is great news for General Dynamics UK in South Wales and validates General Dynamics’ continued investment in the United Kingdom.”
Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall said, “I am delighted that £5.5bn is secured for the Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) pipeline over the next decade. SV is a key programme in this mix: It will provide the mobility, flexibility and protection to provide our commanders with critical battlefield information in the most demanding of environments.”
Benefits to the UK economy and industry
The SV programme is a tangible demonstration of how the modification in the UK of a European Off-the-Shelf platform – a process called Modified Off the Shelf or MOTS – can deliver increased value for money to the British taxpayer, support British jobs throughout the supply chain, and deliver a solution with great export potential; making SV a key capital programme for the UK economy over its 30 year lifespan.
A recent audit study by Ernst & Young concluded that the SV programme would generate total economic output of over £9.8 billion, with a corresponding Gross Value Added (GVA) of £4.7 billion over the life of the programme. To this end, General Dynamics UK recently invested £12 million in state of the art facilities in Wales, establishing a Centre of Excellence for Land Systems, where the programme’s intellectual property and the UK’s sovereign AFV capability will reside.
General Dynamics UK has signed a major sub-contract with Lockheed Martin UK, based in the East of England, for the turret of the Scout variant. Thales UK in Scotland is also contracted to provide a full optronics suite including the gunners and commander’s sights on Scout, using their latest Orion technology, which are used for reconnaissance and targeting, and short-range sensors to provide local situational awareness in the vicinity of the vehicle.
Contracts have also been signed with 12 other UK based suppliers, as well as a number of European suppliers. Further contracts will be signed as the programme progresses, bringing further economic benefits to regions around the UK.
A direct consequence of the SV programme’s robust UK content and supply chain is a stronger British supply chain, a continuing UK sovereign AFV capability and a British Army equipped with a fleet of modern, highly capable and easily deployable, armoured fighting vehicles.
Benefits to the British Army
The SV programme will deliver an initial family of four vehicle variants to the British Army – Scout for the manned reconnaissance role, a Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support (PMRS) vehicle, plus Recovery and Repair variants, with possible future variants such as a light-tank with a 120mm direct fire gun and turret solution, a bridge layer, command and control post, ambulance and Overwatch missile defence system to name a few.
Also, the combination of SV’s Common Base Platform (CBP) and General Dynamics UK’s proprietary electronic architecture (EA) means that the British Army will be able to develop and grow its core medium-weight AFV capability much more easily than in the past. The open nature of the electronic architecture designed by General Dynamics UK was a key reason why the MoD chose the General Dynamics solution in the first place.
The electronic open architecture will allow for the easy addition of new capabilities to the platform when needed, resulting in a more cost effective upgrade path, whilst the common base platform across all variants will ensure that it will be less expensive and easier to manage logistics, supply and training requirements.
General Dynamics UK’s solution reduces cost of repair and upkeep, reduces weight and increases available space inside AFVs while providing the required power and data architecture for the high power and high data demands of modern networked vehicles fighting in a digital age. Currently each different vehicle type used by the Army requires its own support lines, and by extension is less financially efficient.
Excellent progress on SV programme
Since signing the contract for SV in July 2010 the industry team has made excellent progress on the SV programme, meeting all milestones set by the MoD on budget and on schedule.
Amongst the key achievements are:
- 24 contracts signed with suppliers to the programme across the UK and Europe;
- Testing of key components completed;
- First development turret for the Scout variant of SV built and tested;
- CT40 cannon system integrated into turret and successfully fired;
- Representative PT3 Scout SV prototype unveiled;
- New armour system tested against latest IED threats;
- Powertrain physically integrated in the Mobile Test Rig (MTR).
Excellent export potential
The recent Ernst & Young audit study conservatively estimated the potential export value of the SV programme to be approximately £1.3 billion or more in its first 16 years, based on expressions of interest from a number of countries. Many of these countries are understood to be considering upgrading to SV for it levels of capability and survivability. The UK Government’s announcement that the SV programme is secure in the AFV pipeline and in its core programme of committed funding will encourage these countries to more closely consider SV for their AFV needs as it offers the future growth and protection they will need to protect their troops.