The flow of the fleet
25 January 2010
Mark Dovey, Heavy Logistic Vehicles Programme Manager for the MoD's General Support Vehicles Team, talks to DMJ about the complexity involved in keeping the armed forces on the move
Providing procurement services and through life management for over 31,000 heavy, utility and specialist logistics and support vehicles is the task of the General Support Vehicles (GSV) Team, a key part of the General Support Group. DMJ had the opportunity to learn about the progress of the team's work from Heavy Logistic Vehicles Programme Manager Mark Dovey.
With increasing acquisition focus on satisfying the needs of operations, discussion began surrounding the practical implications involved with the growing complexity of the UOR process, particularly where multiple teams are involved.
"The process for staffing Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs) is now a well trodden path," Dovey explains, "without the greater assurance burdens and more reviews of conventional procurement. Over the last year we have gained valuable experience in the management of complex pan project team UORs, and the benefits are being felt by the frontline commands – though this doesn't ease the burden or impact on our routine business."
Learning from previous projects, Dovey continues, has been important in the broader acquisition process. In particular, the lessons learned from the Support Vehicle (SV) contract have been communicated to other teams. "Members of the SV team have given LFE briefings to teams such as the OUVS (Operational Utility Vehicle System) as have our Wheeled Tanker team. The lessons learned are shared within the team, cluster and with our user and sponsor communities. We continuously press project teams for updates, trends and other analysis in order to remain proactive in development and modification."
A vehicle's future is also influenced by assessments of its operational capabilities, Dovey explains, which may extend the original requirements of the vehicle agreed with the user during the procurement phase, a process that can take place up to 5 to 10 years in advance. The successful deployment of the SV, he says, has not stopped an ongoing process of development as specific theatre requirements are identified. "The operational situation is fluid and the threat emerging, and so the team needs to work with the contractor to meet these developing requirements under the banner of post design services. In terms of armour, the vehicles are supplied with an appliqué armour pack. As the threat changes, we continue to develop our armour solutions to defeat it."
The influence of the UOR process can also extend a vehicle's capabilities, says Dovey. He takes as an example the SV Enhanced Palletised Load System (EPLS) variant. "Should there be further needs from theatre that could be met by variation of the Support Vehicle fleet, then these will be considered in the round, alongside other alternatives, to ensure the provision of best value for money and delivery within an appropriate timeframe."
He explains there are also other programmes in the pipeline, but nothing has yet been agreed regarding the procurement strategies.
Operations, as a matter of course, also take their toll on the capability of vehicles, and Dovey insists that the GSV Team's range of logistic vehicles is coping well in Afghanistan, despite their intense work rate, challenging environmental aspects and increased payloads. "The range of vehicles in our fleet enables us to carry payloads from one tonne to over 80 tonnes. If individual vehicles are not overloaded, there should be no impact on vehicle life." He goes on, "We work closely with HQ Land Forces to ensure users are aware of the loading limitations for vehicles during familiarisation training. We then seek to provide best advice to minimise the impact on reliability and vehicle life of utilising the vehicles beyond their stated payload limits on operations."
Weight is also a determining factor in recovery operations. With the range of vehicles and trailers now in use, the recovery of a fully loaded Heavy Vehicle Transporter (HET) – at 120 tonnes – is entirely practical; future acquisitions will have to take larger gross vehicle weights into consideration. "The GSV Team", Dovey says, "informs the Capability Director of Expeditionary Logistic Support (Cap ELS) and the User of the limitations of current capabilities. It is then for the sponsor and user to identify perceived gaps in future deployed scenarios and produce new requirements for the team to procure against."