GDUK Maintains Timetable for Specialist Vehicle Program
The company’s military liaison director, Peter Flach, told reporters at the Eurosatory show June 11 that General Dynamics was “marching to the existing contract we were given” until the two sides sit down and negotiate any changes.
Flach said no negotiations on the issue of timing had taken place between the two sides.
Flach said the program hit another milestone in the last few days with the roll out June 6 of a mobile test rig at the Steyr facility of General Dynamics European Land Systems operation in Vienna, Austria.
Defence Procurement Minister Peter Luff said recently that the British army’s program to produce a family of medium-weight specialist vehicles was facing a timetable reset as part of plans to spend 5.5 billion pounds on armored vehicles during the next decade.
Other significant programs include a 1-billion-pound upgrade of the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle being undertaken by Lockheed Martin UK and an upgrade of the Challenger II main battle tank.
General Dynamics has been working on a 500-million-pound demonstration-phase program since 2010 to develop and test scouting, protected mobility, repair, recovery and common-base platform versions of its ASCOD SV vehicle in what is known as the SV Recce Block 1 requirement.
Further vehicle variants are expected to be developed at a later date in Recce Block 2.
The company has already undertaken trials for the MoD to better inform a decision over whether a high-sided or low-sided ASCOD SV should be used for the ambulance variant envisaged as part of Recce Block 2.
No dates have officially been released for the original timescale for completion of the Recce Block 1 demonstration phase or an introduction into service date.
The end of 2013 was believed to be the completion date for the demonstration work. Late 2015 or early 2016 would be the date for entry into service. That now appears likely to change given Luff’s recent statement.
Luff didn’t give any hints at a new time frame for SV, but MoD sources said the favored option is to delay entry into service of the key scout variant to about 2020.
Although possible date changes remain open for negotiation, General Dynamics is pushing rapidly ahead with the development of the ASCOD SV vehicle family.
Flach said the mobile test rig, which is based on the Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support (PMRS) variant, is scheduled to carry out a 10,000-kilometer derisking effort on the automotives and other systems.
The vehicle will be tested at weights from around 34 tons up to its maximum current approved weight of 42 tons.
The General Dynamics executive said there had been some subtle design changes to the PMRS since building of the test rig got under way.
Production vehicles would be a little wider to give the driver a little more space, and the hull plates will slope in slightly.
The trials are set to take place in Austria and Spain and will run into 2013. “We are going to do everything we can to break it,” Flach said.
The original ASCOD design has been purchased by Austrian and Spanish armies, both countries where General Dynamics has significant armored vehicle capabilities.
General Dynamics hopes to field a production standard protected mobility vehicle by mid-2013, followed by a Scout machine equipped with a 40mm CTA International cannon by September — possibly in time for next year’s DSEi defense exhibition in London.