To ask the Secretary of State for Defence
(1) when the development of the replacements for the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine protected vehicles became Project Tempest; and when and to whom the main development and construction contracts were awarded for the Truck, Mine Protected Vehicle;
(2) when the decision was made to purchase replacements for the OMC/Alvis Mamba/RG-31 mine protected vehicle; what the original performance specifications for the replacement vehicle were; and on what grounds these were decided;
(3) how many Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles were purchased by his Department; and what the total cost of the vehicles supplied was when they were taken on charge;
(4) what the total cost of Project Tempest was, excluding the acquisition costs of the Truck, Mine Protected Vehicle;
(5) where Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles have been deployed since they have been taken on charge; for what periods and with what formations; where they are now deployed; and how many are currently still on charge and in active service;
(6) whether any aspects of the technology and design of the Project Tempest Truck, Mine Protected Vehicles were classified;
(7) in whom the intellectual property of Project Tempest was vested; and what agreements were made by his Department to recover (a) fees and (b) other income from subsequent use of the design and technology employed in the project.
Reliability and safety problems with the previous Mine Protected Vehicle (MPV), Mamba, led the Department to consider refurbishment and modification of Mamba or its replacement. Replacement through a competitive Urgent Operational Requirement was chosen as the best option with bids assessed against the user's requirements of survivability (predominantly against mines), mobility, fightability and supportability. In November 2001 the bid from Supacat of the Tempest vehicle, based on an early version of the Force Protection Inc Cougar, was selected. Tempest was the name of the vehicle not the programme, but it is no longer used and the vehicle is now known in UK service simply as the MPV.
A £2.7 million contract for eight MPVs was awarded to Supacat shortly afterwards with Technical Solutions Group Inc. (a subsidiary of Force Protection Inc.) supplying the base vehicle. The MPVs are supported under a contractor logistic support arrangement with Supacat Ltd. I am unable to provide the cost of the contract as this would, or would be likely to, prejudice commercial interests.
MPVs are used by Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams for specialist tasks such as EOD reconnaissance, rescue and recovery and route proving. MPVs were deployed to Bosnia from January to May 2004; and Iraq from July 2003 to November 2004. There are still eight MPVs in service including a number currently in Afghanistan.
MPV was a commercial off the shelf equipment with some UK specific EOD modifications. Supacat Ltd. own the MPV intellectual property, although the MOD has free user rights for repair and maintenance. The majority of its specification is not classified but I am unable to comment on its detailed specifications and in particular its protection, as this would, or would be likely to prejudice the security of our armed forces.