A deal to support protected mobility vehicles being brought into the UK Army's equipment program includes the Mastiff. (UK Army)
LONDON — Three British defense companies have secured a deal to support and sustain nearly half of the 2,000 protected mobility vehicles purchased for the war in Afghanistan and now being brought permanently into the Army’s core equipment program.
A team led by Morgan Advanced Materials and including subcontractors Ricardo and Ultra Electronics has been selected by Britain’s Defence Ministry to undertake post-design services on about 685 Cougar-based mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles purchased from Force Protection, sources here said.
The deal covers the six-wheel and four-wheel-drive versions of Cougars, known respectively in Britain as the Mastiff and Ridgback, along with the Wolfhound protected truck variant.
Nearly 700 Cougar MRAPS, along with a small number of Buffalo mine-clearance vehicles, were purchased from what is now General Dynamics Land Systems-Force Protection as the British sought to better protect against improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan.
The three companies announced late last year they had formed a team to bid for the Cougar post-design services deal.
Morgan Advanced Materials, then known as NP Aerospace, developed and integrated UK-specific specialized armor protection and electronic systems into all three of the Cougar family members involved in the contract.
The deal runs initially for two years and could be extended for a further five years.
Announcing the deal, Defence Procurement Minister Philip Dunne said, “This investment which is set to be worth up to £20 million over the first two years of the contract, will not only ensure our vehicles are adapted to their new roles, but will sustain the livelihoods of highly skilled employees at three British-based defense companies.”
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 bid but lost out on the post-design services deal; 325 Navistar Defense-supplied Huskies; 100 ST Kinetics Warthogs; 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 formed a team to deliver collaborative future support to the MoD for their respective vehicle fleets.
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.