On the Fast Track? Discussions are underway to speed approval for the manufacturing phase of the protected mobility recce support, above, and scout reconnaissance elements of the Scout SV program. (General Dynamics UK)
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PARIS — Negotiations are underway to bring forward the approval date for the manufacturing phase of Britain’s Scout SV program to avoid next year’s general election and a subsequent defense review, executives at the Eurosatory exhibition show said last week.
Several sources said the discussions between the British Ministry of Defence and industry cover manufacturing approval for the protected mobility recce support (PMRS) and scout reconnaissance elements of the program being developed by General Dynamics.
Approval was scheduled for 2015, but with the front end of the year impacted by a general election in early May and a strategic defense review to follow, the window for approving the program is being pushed forward to escape delays or possible cancellation.
Haste to advance the scout is being replicated across the MoD procurement effort as officials try to nail down showpiece programs before the election.
Along with the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle update being undertaken by Lockheed Martin, the Scout SV is probably the Army’s most important program.
The executives said Gen. Sir Peter Wall, the outgoing chief of the General Staff, who steps down in August, approved the initiative to speed up approval.
An MoD spokeswoman declined to comment on the effort, saying only the “program is progressing well within its current demonstration phase.”
General Dynamics secured the Scout SV program in 2010 with a £500 million (US $850.5 million) demonstration contract that included building a number of prototypes based on its ASCOD vehicle.
The US-based company reported April 28 that the PMRS had cleared its base platform critical design review. Delivery of the first preproduction PMRS is expected this year.
General Dynamics European Land Systems executives told reporters at Eurosatory that the PMRS had been demonstrated June 12 to a senior MoD delegation at their Santa Barbara Sistemas facility in Spain.
PMRS will be the first of the vehicle types to be produced for the British followed by the scout version, sporting a turret provided by Lockheed Martin UK. Later phases of the program involve several other variants.
General Dynamics paid Lockheed Martin millions of pounds in compensation last year when it failed to provide a complete set of requirements for the turret and as a result delayed the scout vehicle element.
A spokesman for Lockheed Martin UK said delivery of the first turret to General Dynamics is on track to take place by the end of this year.
One executive said the lack of maturity of the scout turret work could jeopardize an early approval, but others said top MoD officials are behind the plan. ■