Blast protection drives £30m BAE vehicle upgrade

Posted on 15 Sep 2011 by The Manufacturer

BAE Systems today announced the upgrading of its Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance-Tracked (CVR-T) family of vehicles, the first cohort of which have been deployed to Afghanistan.

Vehicles are being upgraded to the Mk2 standard as part of the Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) programme for conversion to theatre in Afghanistan.

The DSEi Daily, published by Jane’s, reported this morning that the first batch of vehicles have been flown to Afghanistan for deployment.

Of 1,200 CVR-T vehicles in service, the upgrade programme – the main driver for which is to improve mine blast protection in response to the threat of improvised explosive devices, or IED – involves 58 vehicles across the family being upgraded and enhanced at a cost of less than £30 million. The budget includes R&D and extensive blast testing.

The vehicles undergoing conversion in Telford and at Defence Support Group in Doncaster include the Scimitar MK 2 reconnaissance vehicle, the Spartan troop carrier, Samson repair and recovery, Sultan command post and Samaritan ambulance. All vehicles are being re-hulled for enhanced IED protection, and the new vehicles incorporate blast attenuating seating.

Other capability improvements include a new lighter aluminium alloy body, better modular construction – some ammunition tunnel and gun variants on variants sold to foreign markets will soon become obsolete – improved ceramic Appliance Appliqué armour and additional ECM.

One major safety feature is better operating space for the driver.
“The changes made, based on the Spartan variant, gives extra headroom within the driver’s are to fit a blast attenuation seat, while providing an additional escape route through the rear door,” said project manager Pete Hallows.

Simon George, export account manager, Global Combat Systems – Vehicles, says through the CVR-T Mk2 programme BAE Systems has improved communications with its supply chain. Unlike for example the MASS contract that the UK MoD has with BAE Systems Munitions where long term supply visibility for suppliers is provided beyond 10-years, CVR(T) Mk2 contract is for just 58 vehicles. But because of the legacy of CVR – the platform originated in 1972 – BAE says that the upgrade programme was developed in consultation with several key suppliers to provide a clear and reliable schedule of work.

“We don’t have a long term contract, that is always the aspiration,” said Mr George. “But the improvements are essential to protect lives and with 1,200 vehicles in service, we hope to secure another phase of upgrade.”

The project is a good exemplar of BAE Systems tendency to outsource an increasing number of non-core competencies, in an effort to save money and deliver UOR programmes on time.

Engineering firm Tinsley Bridge of Sheffield worked with BAE Systems Telford on key components like the torsion bar in the suspension, built with a high tensile material. By using this specialist – who has also worked on the Warrior and TES(H) tank programmes – BAE claims that it achieved in six months what would have previously taken three to four years to deliver internally.

Read the October issue of TM to find out how Tinsley Bridge helped reduce delivery times on the CVR(T).

Will Stirling