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Military Vehicles

Volume 451: debated on Wednesday 1 November 2006

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) how many OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles were purchased for Army use; on what date they were purchased; what the total purchase price was; (a) by which formations, (b) for what purposes and (c) when the vehicles were used; and if he will make a statement; (80568)

(2) what modifications were made to the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles in order to enhance mine protection and the TMRP-6 threat; how many vehicles were modified; what the total cost was of those modifications while on the Army inventory; and if he will make a statement;

(3) what (a) maintenance and (b) other difficulties were experienced by Army formations in their use of the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles while on their charge; what steps were taken to resolve those difficulties; what outcomes resulted from those steps; and if he will make a statement;

(4) when and to whom the inventory of OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine-protected vehicles was disposed of; how much was received; what the end destination of the vehicles was; and if he will make a statement;

(5) if he will assess (a) ease of maintenance and (b) reliability of the (i) OMC/Alvis Mamba and (ii) current version of the RG-31M.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what the reasons are for replacing the Mamba vehicle with the mine-protected vehicle; and what the estimated cost is. (81608)

[Pursuant to the reply, 25 July 2006, Official Report, c. 1539-43W]: I stated that the 14 Mamba Mine Protected Vehicles were disposed of in 2004 for a total of £44,000, this was incorrect. The actual total was £448,000.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence how many Snatch One, Two and Three Land Rovers are in Iraq and Afghanistan; and how many of each are operational. (93927)

For UK holdings, I refer the hon. Lady to the answer I gave the hon. Member for Bournemouth, East (Mr. Ellwood) on 14 June 2006, Official Report, column 1230W. In respect of Iraq and Afghanistan I am withholding details of the military capability deployed on operations since its disclosure would reveal the strength and capability of UK forces operating in theatre, and could have a bearing on operational security.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence when the first batch of Panther vehicles is expected to be deployed; which type of vehicle they will replace; and if he will make a statement. (93929)

On current plans the in service date for Panther is November 2007; the deployment of this vehicle on operations will then depend on judgments by the permanent joint headquarters.

Panther will replace a variety of vehicles operating in the command and liaison role including CVR(T) Spartan, Landrover, Saxon, FV432 and FV436 vehicles. I refer the hon. Lady to the answers I gave on 3 November 2005, Official Report, column 1263W, and 14 December 2005, Official Report, columns 2041-42W.

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) when the development of the replacements for the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine protected vehicles became Project Tempest; and when and to whom the main development and construction contracts were awarded for the Truck, Mine Protected Vehicle; (80542)

(2) when the decision was made to purchase replacements for the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine protected vehicle; what the original performance specifications for the replacement vehicle were; and on what grounds these were decided;

(3) how many Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles were purchased by his Department; and what the total cost of the vehicles supplied was when they were taken on charge;

(4) what the total cost of Project Tempest was, excluding the acquisition costs of the Truck, Mine Protected Vehicle;

(5) where Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles have been deployed since they have been taken on charge; for what periods and with what formations; where they are now deployed; and how many are currently still on charge and in active service;

(6) whether any aspects of the technology and design of the Project Tempest Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles were classified;

(7) in whom the intellectual property of Project Tempest was vested; and what agreements were made by his Department to recover (a) fees and (b) other income from subsequent use of the design and technology employed in the project.

Reliability and safety problems with the previous Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV), Mamba, led the Department to consider refurbishment and modification of Mamba or its replacement. Replacement through a competitive Urgent Operational Requirement was chosen as the best option with bids assessed against the user’s requirements of survivability (predominantly against mines), mobility, fightability and supportability. In November 2001 the bid from Supacat of the Tempest vehicle, based on an early version of the Force Protection Inc Cougar, was selected. Tempest was the name of the vehicle not the programme, but it is no longer used and the vehicle is now known in UK service simply as the MPV.

A £2.7 million contract for eight MPVs was awarded to Supacat shortly afterwards with Technical Solutions Group Inc. (a subsidiary of Force Protection Inc.) supplying the base vehicle. The MPVs are supported under a contractor logistic support arrangement with Supacat Ltd. I am unable to provide the cost of the contract as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.

MPVs are used by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams for specialist tasks such as EOD reconnaissance, rescue and recovery and route proving. MPVs were deployed to Bosnia from January to May 2004; and Iraq from July 2003 to November 2004. There are still eight MPVs in service including a number currently in Afghanistan.

MPV was a commercial off the shelf equipment with some UK specific EOD modifications. Supacat Ltd. own the MPV intellectual property, although the MOD has free user rights for repair and maintenance. The majority of its specification is not classified but I am unable to comment on its detailed specifications and in particular its protection, as this would, or would be likely to prejudice the security of our armed forces.