The UK Defence Ministry displays a new Ridgeback troop carrier in 2008. (Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)
LONDON — A trio of British defense companies is in line for a deal to provide support and sustainment services for nearly half of the 2,000 protected mobility vehicles being brought permanently into the Army’s core equipment program, which had been purchased for the war in Afghanistan.
A team involving Morgan Advanced Materials, Ricardo, and Ultra Electronics has been selected by Britain’s Defence Ministry to undertake post-design services on around 685 Cougar-based mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) vehicles purchased from Force Protection, sources here said.
A Defence Ministry spokeswoman declined to name the winning bidder, but confirmed a preferred contractor had been selected and a deal was close.
“Contract award is expected later this month, following completion of the mandatory standstill period,” she said.
The three companies selected by the MoD announced late last year they had formed a team to bid for the post-design services deal.
Morgan Advanced Materials declined to comment on selection of the partnership in which it is the prime contractor. Ultra and Ricardo will serve as subcontractors.
Announcing the tie-up last year, the companies said the all-British line-up “offered the possibility of optimizing electronic and power systems synergies between vehicle, future soldier and base systems.”
The precise contract value is unknown. The deal is what is known as a Category C program, putting the value somewhere between £20 million (US $33 million) and £100 million.
Post-design services cover configuration management, technical support, various technical evaluations and other work.
The deal runs for two years with options for a five-year extension, the MoD spokeswoman said.
The British Army announced in December it is bringing virtually all of the 2,000 or so protected mobility vehicles purchased for urgent operational requirements (UOR) in Afghanistan into its core long-term equipment program.
Other UOR vehicles becoming a permanent feature in the British military include nearly 400 Foxhound light patrol vehicles built by General Dynamics-Force Protection Europe (which had also bid on the post-design services deal), 325 Navistar Defense supplied Huskies, 100 ST Kinetics Warthogs and 400 Jackal patrol vehicles, and 70 Coyote tactical support machines built by Supacat.
Post-design service contracts are already in place with the original equipment manufacturers for other vehicle fleets outside of the Cougar family.
Navistar and Supacat have already formed a team to deliver collaborative future support to the MoD for their respective vehicle fleets.
Nearly 700 Cougar MRAPS, along with a small number of Buffalo mine clearance vehicles, were purchased from General Dynamics Land Systems-Force Protection as the British sought to better protect against improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
The British purchased 6x6 and 4x4 versions of Cougar, along with the Wolfhound protected truck variant of the MRAP and the Buffaloes.
Modified versions of the Cougar featured theater-entry standard equipment and other changes implemented by Coventry, England-based Morgan Advanced Materials Composites and Defence Systems business — formally known as NP Aerospace.
In British service, the 6x6 vehicle is known as the Mastiff and the 4x4 as the Ridgeback.
The MoD is running a number of competitions to upgrade protected mobility vehicles returning from Afghanistan, including the Cougar family, with contracts likely to start being let in the next few weeks. ■