Nearly 2,000 vehicles purchased for the Afghanistan campaign with Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) funding are to be brought into the UK Ministry of Defence's (MoD's) core equipment programme under a GBP300 million (USD488 million) overhaul and conversion project.
Confirmation of the numbers of vehicles and supporting equipment was made by the UK Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S) organisation in the December issue of its in-house Desider magazine.
Under the plans, almost every surviving protected mobility vehicle purchased with UOR funding is to be absorbed into the peacetime British Army order of battle.
According to the DE&S announcement, the range of vehicles coming into core includes 400 Mastiff 6x6 mine-resistant, ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles, 125 Wolfhound 6x6 heavy tactical support vehicles, 160 Ridgeback 4x4 MRAPs (all variants of the General Dynamics Force Protection Cougar MRAP); 400 Supacat Jackal 4x4 and 70 Supacat Coyote 6x6 reconnaissance vehicles; 325 Husky 4x4 (Navistar MXT-MVA); and 100 Warthog (ST Kinetics Bronco) articulated tracked vehicles.
Also included in the project is a range of ancillary equipment procured at short notice to provide additional safety features to the deployed fleets, including mine-rollers, emergency lighting and egress equipment, and rollover protection.
The vehicles will now form the backbone of protected mobility capabilities under the British Army 2020 concept, as part of units assigned to both the soon to be formed reactive and adaptive force units.
"This has been a huge and very demanding piece of work for the team," DE&S Protected Mobility Programme deputy leader David Russell said. "We've successfully generated and put through the new approvals processes seven business cases, all of which received the necessary levels of approval. The vehicles that most people now recognise from operations in Afghanistan, such as Mastiff, Jackal, and Husky, will all now have a great future with the Army and form part of its new order of battle as it reconfigures itself for the future."
Russell said the vehicles would be used by the army for many years to come. "We are now entering the process of competing some of the individual upgrade programmes and we look forward in due course to awarding the necessary contracts and then seeing the vehicles handed to the Army formations that will own them, train on them, and use them in the future," he said.
"These vehicles gave us battle-winning capability, saved lives and prevented a great deal of injury to our soldiers," commented Colonel Harry Fullerton, assistant head of the DE&S Mounted Capability Directorate Combat. "Bringing them into the core equipment programme will allow us to continue to use these highly capable and modern vehicles in the new structures of the Army."
The United Kingdom (UK) is in the process of returning the vehicles from Afghanistan, by a combination of air and sea transport. Once they arrive in the UK, they are processed through the Operation Herrick Exchange Point facility at Warminster, where Defence Support Group mechanics are starting to bring them up to their final unit entry standard, ready to issue around the UK.
According to DE&S, deliveries will begin next year to allow UK-based units to start training. Husky, Mastiff, and Ridgeback will be issued to protected mobility infantry battalions, combat support, and combat service support units. Jackal and Coyote will be used by some of the newly-formed light cavalry units. The Warthogs are destined for use by Royal Artillery unmanned aerial vehicle units.
Features of the regeneration include bringing the vehicles in line with standards required for UK roads, repairing blast damage, or conversion into different roles to meet the future needs of the Army. The estimated cost for the minor work, conversions, and support is thought to be in the region of GBP300 million over four years, said DE&S. Much of this work will be carried out in the UK.