def070221 - No. 27

Session 2006-07, 21 February 2007

Publication of Report

Publication of Report


“A sorry story of indecision, changing requirements and delay” is the description of the MoD’s attempts to meet the Army’s requirement for medium-weight armoured vehicles in today’s report by the House of Commons Defence Committee (Seventh Report of Session 2006-07, The Army’s requirement for armoured vehicles: the FRES programme, HC 159).

The need for the Army to have a family of medium-weight armoured vehicles capable of deploying quickly to trouble spots around the globe was identified in 1998. But nine years on, and six years after initial work began on the FRES (Future Rapid Effect System) programme, the Committee says the solution remains nothing more tangible than a concept.

The MoD wants a vehicle which has sufficient armour to protect soldiers against Improvised Explosive Devices and Rocket Propelled Grenades, but which is also light enough to be transportable by air.  The Committee says that seeking a perfect solution is unrealistic, and that it is high time the MoD decided where its priorities lay. 

Meanwhile, the MoD has had to make an off-the-shelf purchase of Mastiff and Vector vehicles to meet urgent operational need in Iraq and Afghanistan, at a cost of £120 million. The MPs are concerned that, if the in-service date for FRES slips again, further interim purchases will be necessary at considerable cost.

Commenting on the report, Committee Chairman Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP said “It has been agreed for almost ten years that the Army needs a new generation of armoured fighting vehicles, capable of being deployed overseas. But the MoD has still not decided what it wants, let alone placed contracts for delivery of the vehicles.  Meanwhile, our soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan are expected to make do with a mix of old vehicles and stop-gap purchases.

Enough time and money has been spent on this. We will be taking evidence on the progress of the programme later this year, and will expect to see some decisions taken.”


1. The FRES  programme is planned to deliver over 3,000 vehicles in up to 16 battlefield roles, and to comprise three families of vehicles:  Utility, Reconnaissance and Heavy.  The programme is currently in its Initial Assessment Phase.

2. Committee Membership is as follows: Rt Hon James Arbuthnot MP (Chairman), Mr David S Borrow MP, Mr David Crausby MP, Linda Gilroy MP, Mr David Hamilton MP, Mr Mike Hancock MP, Mr Dai Havard MP, Mr Adam Holloway MP, Mr Bernard Jenkin MP, Mr Brian Jenkins MP, Mr Kevan Jones MP, Robert Key MP, Willie Rennie MP, John Smith MP

3. News Release: No. 27


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