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Utility Vehicle - Future Rapid Effect System (FRES)

The vehicles that would participate in trials to find designs that offer greater protection for the Armed Forces, as part of the Army's Future Rapid Effect System (FRES), were announced 07 June 2007. The selected designs were BOXER (ARTEC), Piranha (GD UK) and VBCI (Nexter). The outcome of the trials was to be announced by the end of November 2007 when one or more utility vehicle designs will go forward for detailed assessment. In addition to the utility vehicle design competition, the Ministry of Defence is also running competitions to select a company which will work with the designer to integrate key systems onto the vehicles, and a company that will have strategic oversight of the entire FRES programme and its links to the existing fleet. General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics, announced 30 November 2007 that it had assembled a team to bid to integrate the next generation of Armoured Fighting Vehicles for the British Army. The General Dynamics UK-led team, which submitted the Pre-Qualification Questionnaire to the Ministry of Defence on 30 November, brought together expertise from across the defence, information technology (IT) and automotive industries in a best-of-class alliance for British jobs, knowledge and capability.

The team harnessed the significant experience of one of the worlds leading Armored Fighting Vehicle (AFV) providers and the successful deliverer of the British Armys flagship Bowman system. In addition, the cutting-edge expertise of automotive industry and motorsport leader Ricardo, and IT giant CSC Computer Sciences Limited, will complement the UK defence capabilities of ABRO, AgustaWestland, Thales UK, Millbrook Proving Ground Ltd and Marshall Specialist Vehicles Ltd. Over 500 UK companies have already engaged with General Dynamics in developing the UK FRES Supply Chain through participation in supplier days and active dialogue.

With a proven track record of successfully transferring major AFV designs across national boundaries, General Dynamics enjoyed significant experience in managing supply chains and capability through-life, and meeting aggressive timescales with minimal risk. Its programme successes include the US Armys Stryker and Canadas LAV III vehicles. The core expertise of General Dynamics UK is AFV systems integration, demonstrated by its success in integrating 12,000 British Army vehicles from analogue to digital in the complex Bowman programme. In addition, General Dynamics UK has harnessed unique AFV and automotive skills from Telford and the Midlands, building up the countrys most up-to-date AFV integration capability, a core element of the Defence Industrial Strategy, at its specialist facilities.

The teams collective expertise, including the transfer of vital technology to the UK, can be brought to bear on FRES by integrating any of the three 8x8 vehicle designs now being considered by the UK MoD. At the same time the General Dynamics PIRANHA vehicle is a leading contender for the Utility Vehicle Design (UVD).

Dr Sandy Wilson, President and Managing Director of General Dynamics UK, said: Our team offers a unique blend of world-class expertise and experience. We can deliver the FRES UV rapidly, with minimal risk and in the best interests of British jobs and industry. Our bid is based on our proven, open partnering approach, harnessing together British and international industry leaders while keeping the UKs FRES supply chain open and inclusive for every company and facility. This enables us to bring all strengths together, providing excellent value and world-class performance in the interests of delivering the best possible FRES vehicles to the British Army.

On 08 May 2008 General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited was selected by the UK Ministry of Defence as the provisionally preferred bidder for the Utility Vehicle Design (UVD) for the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES). Subject to satisfactory completion of the package of work on risk reduction and confirmation of preferred bidder status the team, led by General Dynamics UK Limited, will develop the PIRANHA V as the FRES Utility Vehicle for the British Army. The company will now enter negotiations with the MoD to determine the scope of development work required.

Dr Sandy Wilson, President and Managing Director, said: "We are delighted that PIRANHA V is the British Army's choice for the FRES Utility Vehicle. With over 9,000 PIRANHAs already in service, the family's pedigree speaks for itself. We have continued development work at our own initiative, and we will work closely with the Ministry of Defence to de-risk the programme. At the same time, we will be continuing our strong bids for the Utility Vehicle Integrator (UVI) role and for the follow on FRES Specialist Vehicles (SV)."

PIRANHA V will deliver an extremely reliable platform with protection and mobility to meet the Army's FRES requirement, together with the necessary growth potential to meet future challenges. General Dynamics' comprehensive experience of delivering wheeled AFV programmes to tight timelines reduces potential risk considerably and will be invaluable in delivering PIRANHA V to the MoD. The vehicle offers a cost-effective and robust solution that complies fully with the Defence Industrial Strategy.

Outline plans for the procurement of the Future Rapid Effects System were announced by the Secretary of State for Defence (Mr. John Hutton) on 11 December 2008, Official Report, column 65WS. "Since May 2008 the Ministry of Defence has been examining its equipment programme. The aims of the examination were to adapt to the rising cost of high-end defence equipment and to provide more support for current operations. ... In May 2008 we announced the provisional selection of Piranha V, offered by General Dynamics (UK) Ltd, as the preferred design for the FRES utility vehicle. Following a period of intensive negotiations with General Dynamics to address a number of commercial issues, it became clear to both parties that it would not be possible to reach agreement on the commercial conditions required to enable further progress on the basis of the current procurement strategy. I have therefore decided that we should withdraw General Dynamics (UK)s provisional preferred bidder status.

"Our examination of the equipment programme has, separately, considered the balance of investment and priority in the armys armoured vehicle programme. We have concluded that, in the context of current operations, and bearing in mind the considerable recent investment in protected mobility, the highest priority should now be accorded to delivering the warrior capability sustainment programme and the FRES scout vehicle as quickly as possible. Against that background, we have decided to restructure the FRES programme, giving priority to FRES scout over the FRES utility vehicle. Whilst this will mean a delay to the programme, we recognise the importance of the utility vehicle and are now looking at the best way to take this procurement forward. General Dynamics (UK) will have an opportunity to compete in any future utility vehicle competition."

The MOD is currently considering how to take forward the procurement of the Utility Vehicle element of the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) programme in order to provide Defence with the best possible capability at the best value for money. The House of Commons Defence Committee concluded that "the FRES (Future Rapid Effects System) programme had been a fiasco and that the FRES Utility Vehicle no longer appeared to be a priority. The Army would certainly not be getting the vehicle "in the early part of the next decade" as the MoD informed us in December 2006. The programme was both poorly conceived and managed from the outset. The MoD had wasted both its own and industry's time and money."

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Page last modified: 04-08-2012 19:05:36 ZULU