(2) what assessment his Department has made of the operational viability of BAE RG31 vehicles, or similar vehicles, built to withstand improvised explosive device detonations;
(3) what assessment his Department has made of the viability of replacing Land Rover and Vector vehicles in Iraq and Afghanistan with armoured vehicles built to withstand improvised explosive device detonations.
Commanders need a range of vehicles of varying protection, mobility and profile to achieve their missions and tasks and counter the threat.
In 2006 the BAE RG-31 was considered in detail, along with the ADI Bushmaster and FPI Cougar 6x6, to fulfil the need for a large protected patrol vehicle that could meet our demanding protection requirements in the fastest possible time. The Cougar was selected and is now known as Mastiff; it has undergone rigorous assessment throughout the procurement process and continues to be assessed, in order to counter emerging threats.
Additional deliveries of Mastiff and a new medium protected patrol vehicle to be called Ridgeback, may allow a reduction in the number of Snatch Land Rovers; however, commanders hold that a role for lighter vehicles on operations is likely to remain, as part of the suite of protected patrol vehicles and high mobility patrol vehicles available to them.
[holding answer 7 May 2008]: The 4-tonne vehicle referred to in this question is defined as a Dual Purpose Vehicle (DPV). When used to carry passengers, the DPV can be used on public roads for single journeys of not more than 40 miles and not exceeding one hour. This distance and time may only be exceeded when personnel are carrying out operations, training for operations and conducting formal field training exercises.
DPVs fitted with troop-carrying vehicle enhanced seating are exempt from these time and distance restrictions, when travelling on metalled roads. Where they are used to carry passengers in off road scenarios, journey times should not exceed one hour at 20 to 25 mph over an eight hour period. Enhanced seating is being progressively phased in throughout the DPV fleet.