Where once each of the UK’s land, air and sea services and their subsidiaries sourced, paid for, serviced and maintained every piece of equipment from a latrine shovel to battle tank, outsourcing is breaking into every level of military operation.
It is an evolution led by a diminishing defence budget and an increasing demand for lean-burn efficiency.
As the Defence Procurement Agency (DPA) deputy chief executive David Gould puts it, the endgame is to provide capability for UK Armed Forces to deliver military effect.
That means Land Rover hasn’t sold a single Defender direct to the Army in five years (although it is working hard on its next generation utility 4x4, shown for the first time next year, to see that it gets a good shot at re-supply in 2012), because of a policy to refit and upgrade existing vehicles.
It’s more cost-effective to do that than buy-in brand new, says the DPA.
This year, 310 comparatively elderly Defenders are to be upgraded with new chassis, engines and equipment under what the MoD calls the Snatch 2 programme. Another 300 or so will be similarly rebuilt in 2006, and some of these will be supplied under the equivalent of contract hire deals, brand new but fitted out to suit missions in theatres of operation including Iraq.
At the opening of this year’s Defence Vehicle Dynamics event at Millbrook, Gould said, in language that will be familiar to company car fleet managers: ‘Many suppliers give us excellent support, often at very short notice, in meeting new and urgent equipment requirements and in meeting the demand for higher levels of spares and support to our in-service fleets.
‘The protection of our Armed Forces on operations remains a high priority and the introduction of the armoured Land Rover or Snatch 2 programme has significantly reduced the cost of ownership and through-life costs while increasing capability.’