30 Nov 10
A £180m contract to build 200 Foxhounds, the Armed Forces' next generation of light protected patrol vehicle
, has now been signed with Force Protection Europe (FPE).
Foxhound, the British Armed Forces' name for the contract-winning FPE Ocelot vehicle, has been designed to provide unprecedented levels of blast protection for its size and weight.
Light and agile, the vehicle will allow troops to carry out a wide range of tasks in environments that may restrict larger, heavier vehicles - for example, moving with ease through narrow alleyways or crossing bridges.
Speaking at a Motorsport to Defence conference at the headquarters of the MOD's Defence Equipment and Support organisation at Abbey Wood in Bristol, Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology, Peter Luff, said today:
"I'm delighted that this important contract has been signed - it shows the real progress that's being made to ensure our front line troops are able to use these versatile and highly protected vehicles as soon as possible.
"Using state-of-the-art technology from a range of areas including the motorsport industry, this UK-designed vehicle demonstrates the Government's commitment to providing our troops with the world class equipment they need.
"The jobs created and sustained through the manufacture of the Foxhound will also provide a boost to local economies across the UK."
Foxhound incorporates Formula One racing technology and was devised by engineers from the World Rally Championship, McLaren F1 and BMW.
Its engine can be removed and replaced in just 30 minutes and it can drive away from an ambush on only three wheels. Crew and passengers also sit inside a protective pod, which can be quickly adapted to transform the patrol vehicle into an ambulance or supply truck.
The first vehicles are expected to be available to troops for training in 2011, and will add to the wide array of protected vehicles already being used on operations in Afghanistan, including Mastiff and Ridgback.
Chief of Defence Materiel, General Sir Kevin O'Donoghue, said:
"Procured as an Urgent Operational Requirement, this vehicle was designed specifically to protect against the threats faced by troops in Afghanistan - for example, its V-shaped hull will help it withstand the kinds of explosions caused by Taliban bombs.
"Able to operate in extreme temperatures and navigate difficult terrain whilst also providing high levels of protection, Foxhound is ideal for current operational needs, but is also a valuable addition to our range of vehicles and will serve our Armed Forces for many years to come.
"A lot of hard work has been put into making sure this vehicle is delivered to the front line as quickly as possible and the signing of this contract represents excellent progress."
FPE - with headquarters in Leamington Spa - was announced as the preferred bidder for the contract in September this year. All of the British-designed vehicles will be built and supported in the UK creating or sustaining an estimated 750 jobs.