A Mastiff protected patrol vehicle operates in Helmand, Afghanistan. A protest has delayed a deal to upgrade the vehicles. (SAC Dek Traylor/Crown Copyright)
LONDON — The signing of a contract between the Ministry of Defence and a General Dynamics company to update British Army Mastiff armored vehicles has been held up after a losing bidder lodged a protest over the selection criteria, according to industry sources.
General Dynamics Land Systems-Force Protection Europe (GDLS-FPE) recently secured the position of preferred contractor to upgrade a number of Mastiff patrol vehicles but the deal remains unsigned following a protest from Morgan Advanced Materials — Composites & Defence Systems, said the sources.
The exact nature of the protest is unknown but industry executives said price may have been one of the factors.
The deal is reckoned to be worth about £50 million (US $83.7 million) to the winning contractor.
A Ministry of Defence spokeswoman confirmed a protest had been lodged but declined to name the contractor involved or the cause of the challenge.
“Following the selection of the preferred bidder, a formal challenge was received from a competitor and until the objection is reviewed, the MoD is not able to enter into a contract,” she said.
GDLS-FPE and Morgan Advanced Materials declined to comment.
The British Army requirement involves the winning contractor undertaking a mix of conversions on the Mastiff and Ridgback vehicle fleets.
The deal involves a number of Mastiffs and Ridgback’s receiving enhanced communications and command fits. Some early purchase Mastiff 1s are being upgraded to Mastiff 2 standard and a small number of battlefield ambulance variants are also being improved to Mastiff 2 capabilities.
Mastiff is the name of the British version of the six-wheeled Cougar vehicle produced by Force Protection in the US and Ridgback is the four-wheeled variant of the highly protected patrol vehicle made in large numbers to counter IEDS in Iraq and then Afghanistan.
The British acquired large numbers of Mastiffs, Ridgbacks and other blast protected vehicles over several years to meet urgent operation requirements.
The vehicles were built in the US by Force Protection but underwent significant modifications to UK standards locally. Force Protection was acquired by General Dynamics in 2011.
Morgan Advanced Materials — Composites & Defence Systems, then known as NP Aerospace, carried out the integration work at its Coventry, England factory.
Most of those vehicles now are returning from Afghanistan and being overhauled and upgraded as they are taken into the Army’s core vehicle fleet.
In April, Morgan Advanced Materials, along with British companies Ricardo and Ultra Electronics, won an MoD contract to undertake postdesign services on the Cougar fleets, including the Wolfhound variant acquired by the British as a protected logistics vehicle.
The deal runs for two years but could be extended for as long as seven year. Initial value is put at £20 million.
Last December, the MoD announced that 400 Mastiffs and 160 Ridgbacks would be among nearly 2,000 vehicles acquired for the Afghan campaign that would be incorporated in the Army’s core equipment program.
The Defence Equipment & Support arm of the MoD said at the time the likely cost of the conversions and other work across the entire fleet of armored vehicles was expected to be in the region of £300 million.