More Mastiffs for the UK
UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on Oct 8/07 that Britain will buy another 140 (170?) blast-resistant Mastiff vehicles for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. The MoD intends to finalize the deal for this additional set vehicles “in the next few weeks,” and has set aside GBP 100 million (about $200 million) for this purpose. This order would bring the total number of Mastiffs ordered to 248, with additional buys of blast-resistant vehicles scheduled via Britain’s MPPV program.
Mastiffs are derived from Force Protection’s popular “Cougar” blast-resistant vehicles, which serve with the US military. Variants of the Cougar also serve with or have been ordered for the militaries of Iraq (ILAV ‘Badger’), Canada (reportedly similar to the ‘Mastiff’ design), and Yemen (ILAV). For British Mastiff orders, NP Aerospace in Coventry integrates and up-armors delivered Cougars to create the finished Mastiff vehicle.
Richard North links to the Parliamentary debate that followed, and offers an interesting observation that tracks with parallel experiences in the USA:
“Returning to the issue of funding, followers of this blog will know that the original order for Mastiffs was imposed over the heads of the Army brass. They were totally opposed to buying in equipment for what they saw was a short-term need, in case it prejudiced funding for their “future army” plans, and in particular, FRES. Then, it was only on the understanding that the purchase was funded through an Urgent Operational Requirement – and thus paid-for by the Treasury – that they were prepared to accept the vehicles.
That the Army is now prepared to fund the new batch itself thus reflects a new realism that current operations must be properly equipped – with dedicated rather than general-purpose kit – and that the funding must come from the mainstream equipment budget.
This in turn represents a hard battle fought and won within the defence establishment about the relative importance of the “future army” and a reigning-in of the “futuritis” which afflicts defence planning… But the strange thing is that, for all the fluff, indignation and politicking that we saw in yesterday’s debate, barely a single MP in the House even realised that the battle had been fought, much less won. The MPs are not so much “above the debate” as unaware even that it is happening.”
Dec 17/07: The US DSCA announces [PDF] a UK request for up to 170 Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) Category II vehicles, tools and test equipment, maintenance support, contractor technical and logistics personnel services, support equipment, spare and repair parts, and other related elements of logistics support. The estimated cost is $147 million.
“The principal contractor will be: Force Protection Industries, Inc., of Ladson, South Carolina. There are no known offset agreements proposed in connection with this potential sale. The proposed sale requires the continued support of seven Field Service Representatives (FSR), currently providing in theater maintenance support for the existing Mastiff vehicles, for the additional vehicles for a period of one year.”
Additional Readings & sources