HMT 400 MWMIK “Jackal”
An Urgent Operation Requirement (UOR) is an equipment capability which is required urgently for military operations, and which the MOD endeavours to deliver as quickly as possible. Where the requirement is new and unforeseen, and specific to a particular operational theatre, it meets the criteria to draw on funding from the Government Reserve.
The Land Rover Wolf Truck Utility Medium (TUM) vehicle has been in service since 1990 and fulfilled a variety of utility roles, including general movements of troops and supplies and as a command vehicle. The specialist requirement for airborne and littoral operations of 16 Air Assault Brigade and 3 Commando Brigade involves moving heavy machine guns around the battlefield and this led to the idea of using the Land Rover TUM not only to move guns, but also as a firing platform. This would provide increased self-protection for troops and flexibility for different operations.
Thus the Weapon Mount Installation Kit (WMIK) was created. The initial variant, known as the Original or O-WMIK, was a basic kit to mount the weapon on the vehicle and was used for a number of years in Sierra Leone and Iraq. Prior to the deployment to Afghanistan, further modifications were made to the vehicle, including Modular Armour Protection Installation Kit (MAPIK) at the sides of the vehicle, to protect the vehicle from fragments and small arms fire, as well as an under-belly plate and electronic counter-measures, to protect the crew from small anti-tank mines and improvised explosive devices. This version was known as the Enhanced or E-WMIK.
In 2006-07, when UK troops were first deployed in the South of Afghanistan, a new requirement emerged. This arose partly from the E-WMIK’s limitations resulting from the original design margin of the platform. The Land Rover TUM had been designed as a utility vehicle, not a weapons platform, and with all the E-WMIK additions was reaching the limit of its weight and stability capability. While the vehicle had performed satisfactorily in Iraq, with a flatter terrain and limited weapons fire, the limitations became more obvious when combined with the difficult terrain and operational necessities of Afghanistan.
An Urgent Statement of User Requirement (USUR) was therefore raised, to deliver an Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR). UORs begin life as an Urgent Statement of User Requirement (USUR). This is a simple statement of an operational capability gap, normally from Commanders in an operational theatre. The USUR, once raised, is submitted to the Permanent Joint Headquarters, Northwood, for endorsement. If confirmed as an Urgent Operational Requirement, it is allocated a number and formally becomes a UOR.
The Urgent Statement of User Requirement [USUR] clearly stated the requirement for a capability that provided improved mobility, increased capacity, and greater reach in the duration of patrols, all to achieve the higher level of manoeuvrability required in Afghanistan. It also sought a specifically designed weapons platform and comparable protection to E-WMIK. Greater manoeuvrability, flexibility and increased range allows troops to be more unpredictable, which aids protection from enemy forces. The USUR, referred to as the Mobility or M-WMIK, was raised in June 2006 and endorsed by the Permanent Joint Headquarters in August 2006.
A number of options were identified as potential solutions to meet the new requirement and set out in the Business Case. Considerable work was undertaken to identify the most suitable option, during which it emerged that only one met the full requirement. This was the Supacat HMT 400 which had been designed specifically for the types of terrain and environmental prevalent in Afghanistan and provided greater mobility and capacity than similar vehicles. The HMT 400 was chosen and approved by the Investments Appraisals Board in June 2007. In August 2007 the MWMIK was renamed “JACKAL”.
In this case once approved the requirement did not go to open competition because there was only one feasible option for delivery. Competition is conducted for UORs but can be properly exempted where it can be demonstrated that it is not consistent with the speed required for an “urgent” operational requirement. The project team delivering JACKAL used a number of methods to ensure value for money, including employing costing assurance services, comparison with other similar equipments, and assessment of the chosen contractor’s overheads and labour costs.
On award of the contract the contractor set up a new production line from scratch to produce the large number of vehicles required in a very urgent timeframe – approximately 100 vehicles in a year, compared with previous arrangement that produced about 20 vehicles per year. This initiative won an award from the Minister for Defence Equipment and Support in acknowledgement of the impressive effort to deliver urgent capability to troops on the front line.
The first vehicles were delivered to the Army just four months after the contract was signed. Whereas some equipment is sent to Afghanistan by sea and land, it was calculated that JACKAL should be fielded by air and tranches were delivered to theatre over about six months. The first users were 16 Air Assault Brigade, who received JACKAL from April 2008. Their successors in theatre, 3 Commando Brigade, had JACKAL throughout the duration of their tour, with more vehicles arriving during the tour.
During JACKAL’s first year deployed on operations in Afghanistan, a continual lessons learned exercise was undertaken which highlighted a number of opportunities for further improvements. These included the potential for greater capacity, improved stowage, greater vehicle power for Bowman radios, and improved positioning of the weapons system. A further procurement was announced by the Secretary of State for Defence as part of the Protected Mobility package on 29 October 2008.
While the JACKAL provides a capability as a reconnaissance vehicle and fire support platform for infantry battle groups, other vehicles in the Protected Mobility package, such as the Tactical Support Vehicles (Wolfhound, Husky and Coyote) will provide a complementary capability to move combat supplies from operational bases to fighting vehicles. The ability of operational Commanders to choose from a selection of vehicles with different capabilities and approaches allows troops in Afghanistan to remain flexible and unpredictable, retaining the upper hand.
Overall the very quick delivery of a complex capability system like JACKAL demonstrates the speed and flexibility that can be achieved by the UOR process, when a requirement will deliver crucial effect in an operational theatre.
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