Thursday, September 9, 2010

British Army Takes Deliveries of Warthog Vehicles

The British Army has begun taking delivery of Warthog armored all-terrain vehicles ahead of their deployment to Afghanistan. Deliveries had been delayed several months due to the need to improve the machines' armored protection.

A spokeswoman for Warthog builder Singapore Technologies Kinetics (STK) said the machine had been "delivered and accepted by the British Ministry of Defence." She declined to comment on whether deliveries to Afghanistan had actually begun.

"After carrying out a thorough assessment of the Warthog armored vehicle, the U.K. Ministry of Defence can confirm it is fit for use on operations. In a series of rigorous trials, the vehicle successfully demonstrated its ability to protect against the threats encountered in Afghanistan as well as operate effectively in demanding terrain. U.K. troops have been training with Warthog since March 2010 and the first vehicles are planned to deploy in the next few months for operational use in Afghanistan," the spokeswoman said

Two industry sources said some vehicles were currently at the British base in Cyprus ahead of Warthogs being dispatched to Helmand province in Afghanistan. It is not clear whether the Warthogs are being staged through Cyprus or are undergoing last minute work-up or tests.

The MoD spokesman declined to comment on whether vehicles were in Cyprus at present.

The Ministry of Defence signed a 150 million pound ($230.3 million) contract with Warthog supplier STK in 2008 to deliver about 110 vehicles. The first Warthogs were meant to have been in theater in April to coincide with the deployment of the initial operators, the Royal Dragoon Guards.

But questions about the level of armored protection on the vehicles meant deployment was delayed.

The first Warthogs were delivered to Britain on time last year but the machines failed to pass British acceptance tests. The Asian company has improved protection levels and made other changes related to an increase in vehicle weight.

The sale of Warthog to the British was ground-breaking for the Singaporean company. The British military buy ammunition from the STK but had never acquired an Asian-built armored vehicle.

STK beat BAE Systems Viking II vehicle to the urgent operational requirement, although the MoD subsequently also acquired 24 machines from the British company for the Royal Marines. The Marines were the first users of the articulated all-terrain vehicle.

The Warthog is a much modified variant of the Bronco vehicle already in service with the Singaporean military. The British-bound vehicles are built in Singapore and delivered to STK partner Thales UK for final integration work.

Thales has already delivered a number of training vehicles for use by the British military.

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