Over 30 British companies gathered in Coventry yesterday to promote their bid for a £200m Ministry of Defence contract for a light armoured vehicle to replace the Snatch Land Rover.
The 7.5 tonne SPV400 has been specifically designed to counter the threat of Improvised Explosive Devices in the war in Afghanistan.
Devon-based Supacat designs the vehicle, while the first batch of 200 Supacat SPV400s would be assembled by NP Aerospace at its facility in Coventry. It is the first time so many companies in the motorsport industry have been involved in a defence contract.
Nick Ames, managing director of Supacat said: “The SPV400 is a truly British solution. Not only would it strengthen the UK’s innovation and engineering skills base and support manufacturing jobs, sustaining between 1000 and 1200 jobs throughout the UK, but it is a true British export.”
The contract is very important to members of the consortium. Garth Bryson, marketing manager for Cummins UK, which supplies the engine for the SPV400, said that failing to win this contract would “have a knock-on effect on a number of our key suppliers.”
Many components of the SPV400 will be manufactured by companies with little previous experience in the defence industry.
The two-speed transfer housing, which allows the vehicle to switch between high and low gears while moving, would be built by xTrac. xTrac currently supplies parts for cars in Formula 1, the Le Mans formula and the Indianapolis 500.
“The defence sector could account for 25% of our business over the next few years,” said Peter Digby, xTrac’s managing director. “That’s getting on for £10 million worth of business, so it’s very important to us. We employed 280 people a couple of years ago, but with the recession that has dwindled to about 240 people. We’d expect to build that back up to 300 for a programme like this.”
Supacat and NP Aerospace have stressed the export opportunities of the project. It is hoped that winning the Ministry of Defence contract would attract foreign buyers looking for a similar type of Light Protected Patrol Vehicle.
Revenues and jobs in the UK’s motorsports and defence industries have decreased through the recession. BAE Systems has announced its intention to close its plant in Leicester, which makes AVs, at the beginning of next year, with the loss of 270 jobs.
The Ministry of Defence announced the tender for a new armoured vehicle earlier this year.