Arms firms in £1bn tussle

Vickers has mounted a last minute bid to fight off rival GKN in the battle for the British Army’s £1bn multi-role armoured vehicle. The new bid, offering an eight-wheeled vehicle, was submitted last Friday in response to the preference of the German BWB defence procurement agency which is managing the ‘battlefield taxi’ project for Britain, […]

Vickers has mounted a last minute bid to fight off rival GKN in the battle for the British Army’s £1bn multi-role armoured vehicle.

The new bid, offering an eight-wheeled vehicle, was submitted last Friday in response to the preference of the German BWB defence procurement agency which is managing the ‘battlefield taxi’ project for Britain, France and Germany. Eight- and six-wheeled versions of a common vehicle have been proposed by a rival British-German consortium which includes GKN.

Vickers’ previous bid had only offered a six wheeler, which it said was specified in the original invitation to tender.

Moreover Vickers claimed a six wheeled vehicle is preferred by the German army, which it said is unhappy with the BWB’s emerging preference.

Vickers admits the invitation to tender allowed bidders to offer other ideas, but said it never mentioned an eight wheeled vehicle.

GKN said British and German defence ministry talks in 1996 and 1997 with both consortia chasing MRAV included discussion of six and eight wheeled vehicles. ‘Records of those meetings exist,’ GKN said.

The BWB is said to want a decision to be taken by 11 12 March so the contract is not delayed by Germany’s September elections.

The Ministry of Defence said a decision will be made ‘by the end of the month’.

Vickers also claims France wants a six wheeled vehicle and will not accept an eight wheeler.

GKN said that France is no longer an active partner in the MRAV project.