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Arachnid

Foxhound

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They aren't as common since the fox hunting ban.:D

 

 

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Opinions on what, in particular?  

 

It is generally considered successful and a much better vehicle than any of its predecessors.  Remember that this is a Snatch replacement, and also replaces Vector and some of the roles that Husky and Ridgback ended up being used for after Snatch was withdrawn.

 

Is it overly expensive?  Yes.  It is in rough terms twice the price of the JLTV we've chosen to buy to meet the MRV-P requirement, but then we're buying about 8 times the number of JLTV and are getting a price based on production of over 100 times as many: economy of scale talks.  But as Foxhound launch customer we've picked up most if not all of the non-recurring development and production setup costs.  GD FPE can't guarantee that anyone else will ever buy it, and so need to cover their costs on this deal.  This is normal for any single launch customer in the defence equipment world.  To do otherwise as a supplier is a short route to bankruptcy.

 

Could it have better RPG protection?  Yes.  But that negates its relatively small size for urban areas.  It is revolutionary insofar as the crew pod is entirely composite construction: no metallic amour.  And the whole vehicle is optimised for crew protection.  

 

Could the gunners be better protected? Yes, but again that raises the vehicle profile and adds high weight, reducing stability.  The armament configuration was the subject of considerable debate.  Could it carry heavier weapons?  Not easily on pintles, leading back to the cupola/OWS debate.  

 

Could it have more engine power? Yes.  It's basically the same straight-6 diesel as you'd find in BMW road and X cars, adapted by Steyr.  Mercedes power is certainly more common in light military vehicles.  But at the current weight it doesn't struggle for power.  That may change if more weight is added.  A sketch configuration for a potential US version did propose a larger engine.  Their mechanical reliability is all over the media at the moment, but I don't know if that's engine or driveline related.  And users may not be maintaining or driving properly: remember the SA80 poor reputation caused very largely by incorrect maintenance.  The vehicles may also be being used and driven in ways not anticipated in the design brief, and are quite possibly being overloaded.

 

Could it turn into a family of vehicles? Yes.  GD FPE have already demonstrated various versions.  But the daft European rules on public procurement mean that everything new has to be subject to fully competitive, lengthy and costly competition even when the solution is obvious.  The MOD lawyers wouldn't even support buying more batches of Foxhound without subjecting the whole requirement to re-competition, although sanity did prevail here and no one ended up in court.

 

Should there be an affordable kit of it? Undoubtedly yes.

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21 hours ago, Arachnid said:

Opinions ?

I don't really have an opinion about these vehicles as I know sweet fa about them other than what I read on BBC's text a couple of days ago. Apparently, crews are complaining about them because they say that they are constantly breaking down. On the other hand, MOD is saying that there's nothing wrong with them. So, who do you believe? The people at the sharp end who are actually operating these vehicles, or the desk jockey's, pushing pens? 

 

John.

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If the vehicles are being operated and maintained in accordance with the training at DST and SEME and they're still breaking down, then there is a problem with the vehicle or the procedures.  Perhaps different driving and maintenance SOPs are required.  Perhaps some reliability growth work is needed.  Again, that depends on the nature of the failure: engine, gearbox, drivetrain components, vehicle electrics.  Perhaps someone needs to check that the users are using and maintaining them properly. Again I refer back to the SA80, where a comparative trial between 2 platoons with one doing what they thought was right and one doing what was actually right demonstrated that the weapon performed perfectly when cleaned and lubricated properly: and failed when it wasn't.

 

This reliability furore is recent, and Foxhound has been with us for about 5 years now.  Perhaps we are reaching the point of age-related failures beginning to appear, which will need to be reacted-to.  I imagine the operational vehicles are actually more heavily used than the design brief anticipated, thus accelerating the onset of age-related failures.  This is not unique to Foxhound or the UK.  The US has experienced significant problems with prematurely-aged air and land equipment because of higher-than expected use, and had significant problems with drive shaft breakages on FMTV when it was new. 

 

But there's a lot we don't know.  The users may expect no failures, but the specification would certainly have called for less than 100% reliability - which is unachievable anyway.  Has the unit got enough vehicles to allow for the inevitable maintenance downtime?  If it's the same population of vehicles, what is different about them and their operating environment?  If it's the same unit with the problems, are they doing something wrong?  Do the vehicles need to be rotated back to the UK to allow for deeper maintenance than that possible in theatre?  Are maintenance facilities in theatre adequate to support extended deployment?  Is the supply of spare parts adequate?  So many factors that underlie the sensational headlines.

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These were trialled head-to-head with the MOWAG Eagle (4 or 5, can’t recall) in Australia, as well as against the EMD (iirc?) JLTV prototypes in right-hand drive in 2011/12. They finished absolutely dead last in the trial. Least comfortable to ride and drive, least reliable, least payload, least protection, and highest cost. This was from the guy supervising the trial. Definitely an interesting design, but pretty average, sadly. 

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I always thought it was an integral part of British army vehicle procurement that any vehicle being considered for service had to be proven to be mechanically unsound & prone to incessant breakdown before it was selected.

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Sadly the time and cost of this make it virtually impossible.  To test years' worth of operational cycle use would take, well, years.  This is one reason why the US uses Low Rate Initial Production to get kit out to users and begin to discover necessary changes and improvements before committing to main production  UK doesn't do this. 

 

Foxhound was also an attempt to apply UOR procurement methods to core procurement.  Partly because the need really was urgent, partly because of uninformed press and other criticism of the time taken to procure defence equipment.  But cutting corners just gets you cut corners.  Incentivising time only pulls the aiming point away from cost and performance: you pay more and get something less good, or at least less developed. They must be in balance: equilibrium. 

 

It is interesting that the proposed US version of Foxhound had a much more powerful engine operating at less stress.  Foxhound's engine is an adaption by Steyr of a 6-cyl diesel engine you might find in a BMW road car - and not the biggest of them.  Why not use the 4.4 V8, you may well ask.

 

The UK used to undertake Reliability Qualification Trials and Reliability Growth Trials, but neither are now routine.  RQT was a way or proving the required reliability alongside production, on the contracted undertaking that reliability failures would be retrospectively fixed on vehicles built and addressed in future production.  RGT was an extended process whereby the manufacturer would conduct (under a paid contract, usually paid regardless of results) trials of reliability improvements to grow reliability beyond the originally-contracted specification.  That might include improved components or different maintenance regimes, for example.

Edited by Das Abteilung
bad spelling!

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