Fleet News

Specialist vehicles: DVD Show highlights tough side of fleet

THE Defence Vehicle Dynamics Show, better known as the DVD Show, made its third annual visit to Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire to showcase the latest in military vehicles and technology.

Organised by the Defence Procurement Agency’s Specialist and Utility Vehicles Integrated Project Team (SUV IPT), this year’s event attracted more than 3,000 people through the gates over two days. They had the chance to view exhibits from more than 180 firms.

For the first time, the show was also attended by the Engineering Support Systems IPT, reflecting the Ministry of Defence’s intention to provide better co-ordination between the vehicles team and the engineering support team.

As a result, this year’s DVD show saw plenty of camouflage, tenting and storage solutions as well as assorted vehicles.

SUV IPT team leader Nigel Gilhead said: ‘The aim of DVD is unchanged – bringing together representatives from across the MoD and Government with the defence and specialist sectors of the industry, so that we can improve our mutual understanding of each other’s needs, requirements, technologies and opportunities.’

But here at Fleet NewsNet it’s the vehicles we’re interested in – and there were plenty to grab our attention.

Prodrive: Impreza draws crowds

AFTER success in motorsport, automotive technology firm Prodrive is making a play for business in the military sector.

The Prodrive stand was dominated by a Subaru Impreza, driven by the late World Rally Championship winner Richard Burns in the 2001 Rally Kenya. Prodrive believes the technology developed for this car, and others like it, will attract considerable interest, thanks to its Active Torque Dynamics. This transfers torque around the vehicle to keep it balanced when being driven hard on challenging terrain.

Paul Higgs, head of business development for Prodrive, said: ‘What if we were to apply this to a six or eight-wheel-drive truck? It works in exactly the same way. The message for this event is that Prodrive brings the ability to develop vehicles that are suited to very difficult terrain. We can help manufacturers develop their vehicles further.’

JATEU: Set for a soft landing

NEED to get a vehicle to a driver in a hurry? You could do worse than try the team at the Joint Air Transport Evaluation Unit (JATEU).

The Aerial Delivery Unit was showing off the latest developments in what amounts to throwing vehicles out of the back of a moving transport plane.

The currently-used platform can hold two Land Rovers and is brought gently to earth by a parachute 66 feet in diameter.

Airbags underneath cushion the landing, as do the integrated shock absorbers. Soldiers on the ground can get the vehicles off the platform and running within 10 minutes.

However, the latest platform is much simpler. Gone are the airbags and shock absorbers, replaced instead by – paper.

An energy-absorbing system made of paper takes the bump out of a landing. An inherently simpler system does away with the plethora of chains used to keep the vehicle in place, making it easier to access once on the ground.

Only one drawback – the simpler design does away with side protection, so if the vehicle lands on its side, repair bills could be high.

J&S Franklin: Replicas inflate numbers

FLEET envy is a terrible thing. So why not make it look as if you have more vehicles than you actually do by slipping in a few replicas? J&S Franklin produces a range of inflatable tanks, trucks, Scud missile launchers and even fighter jets for training and decoy purposes.

Armed forces often use the blow-up arsenal to help pilots with identification of enemy targets and sales manager Jeremy Milton said some countries also used them to confuse the enemy into redeploying troops.

NP Armouring: Police get armoured protection

ARMOURED vehicles made up a considerable percentage of the machines on show at the DVD Show.

The mean-looking Land Rover Defender showcases the latest developments from NP Armouring.

The firm has provided composite glass-fibre armour for armed forces vehicles for some time, but this latest version – designed for the police – adds ceramic panels capable of withstanding a barrage of armour-piercing bullets.

Bob Turner, research and development director of NP Armouring, said the firm was getting more and more interest from the police, who want vehicles equipped to deal with the rising threat of terrorism.

Only the chassis, engine and transmission of this Land Rover is original. Everything else is custom-moulded by NP. The beauty of glass-fibre composite armour is its weight – some 25% less than traditional steel armour – which makes for a better-handling, faster vehicle.

Land Rover: Range Rover combines luxury with strength

OF course, not everyone that needs a bit of extra protection wants to cruise around in what amounts to a tank. For the more discerning customer, how about an armoured Range Rover Sport?

From the outside it’s hard to tell the difference from a normal vehicle. But look closely and the roof is a little bulkier than one would expect and it has an added hint of beefiness around the doors and windows.

Inside, everything is as plush as you would expect from this luxury SUV. But beneath the leather upholstery and touch screen is a wealth of protective material. Kevlar lines the floor and the standard windows have been replaced with glass capable of withstanding rounds from an M60 assault rifle.

All the bodywork behind the bulkhead is armoured with composite steel and Kevlar and the brakes and air suspension have been beefed up to cope with the extra weight.

The car has its own oxygen supply, in case of gas attacks, a tamper-proof exhaust and an intercom system for talking to those outside without breaching the cabin.

The armouring is provided by French firm Centigon.

Other armoured Range Rovers are available, but this is the only version with Land Rover’s full support and a three year/60,000 mile warranty.

So, if you have to ferry around some very, very important people, you can pick up a Sport like this one for £190,000.

Land Rover is also preparing to unveil its latest armoured vehicle, a Discovery 3, to a wider audience. This will be more affordable – a snip at around £130,000.

JANKEL: King of Jordan helps out with Jankel design

FOR a more rugged, tough armoured vehicle, specialist vehicle manufacturer Jankel was demonstrating its mean-looking Al-Thalab Long Range Patrol Vehicle.

Based on the chassis of a Toyota Land Cruiser, the vehicle is designed for extreme climates and very rough terrain.

It was designed in collaboration with King Abdullah II of Jordan and is aimed at markets in Africa and the Middle East.

Lorne Stoddart, Jankel’s sales and marketing manager, said the Al-Thalab’s strength lay in its simplicity.

‘There are no electronics or anything like that – it’s pure mechanics,’ he said.

‘If a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen goes down you have to get a guy out with a diagnostics machine. ‘This doesn’t rely on electronics management systems, it’s easily maintained in field conditions by basic soldiers who do not have specialised mechanical training.’

As well as being tough mechanically, the Al-Thalab also features two heavy machine guns and plenty of space for three passengers and extra ammunition.

It also has the advantage of being considerably cheaper than its competitors, at around £50,000.

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