In September 2020, Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) was awarded a £16m contract to upgrade and sustain the British Army’s fleet of Fuchs (Fox) CBRN reconnaissance vehicles and training simulator.
Ten Fuchs vehicles, originally produced by the Rheinmetall group, were gifted to the British Government during Gulf War 1 (August ’90 – Feb ’91). RBSL secured the contract to replace the Chemical Radiological Nuclear (CRN) mission equipment, address obsolescence issues and provide in-service support.
The work is being led by RBSL’s facility in Telford, West Midlands, UK, with the support of the local supply chain. So far, six vehicles have successfully been converted and delivered to Falcon Squadron, part of 28 Engr Regt who operate the FUCHS vehicle, with the remaining four vehicles on track to be converted by the end of the year.
But the programme hasn’t been without its obstacles and over the last two years, RBSL has had to work closely with Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), and Falcon Squadron to ensure the UK high-readiness capability has been maintained whilst the programme is being executed. There have also been the usual challenges associated with technology insertion into a legacy platform.
Kevin Davis is the Through Life Manager at RBSL and the Programme Manager for Fuchs. He said that whilst there had been some significant challenges, RBSL together with DE&S and Falcon Squadron had “worked together in a collaborative and pragmatic manner to overcome the issues.”
He added: “There are inevitable difficulties that come with this type of programme and there have been some tough discussions, but all parties have worked to ensure we achieve the common goal.”
“At RBSL, we have been able to engage directly with the end user, working routinely with Falcon Squadron to keep the programme moving. It’s a really great example of how RBSL can work effectively with the end user to solve problems and provide the support required. Falcon Squadron have been really good, engaged and ensured that they have played their part fully.
“We’re in a much better place now than when we first took on the contract and whilst the programme remains challenging, and will do until we have converted all 10 vehicles, we’re on track to complete the conversion of all 10 vehicles by the end of 2022.”
As part of the work being carried out, RBSL has also implemented a new support contract which includes technical support, provision of spares and repairs, maintenance, training, and design services. The team are also providing engineering authority to support their management of platform safety.
The programme is in line with the UK government’s agenda to provide opportunity to SMEs and level up regional economies, as well as to protect skilled jobs in engineering and manufacturing.
As a result of RBSL’s industrialisation programme and Telford site transformation, in January 2021, Supacat, a SME based in Dunkeswell, Devon, was awarded a contract by RBSL to carry out the physical integration of the chemical and radiological sensing equipment on the vehicles. In addition to this Supacat is also providing technical and logistic support. The contract helps sustain valuable jobs and skills for the UK and the company.
Kevin Davis added:
“This contract protects key engineering skills in the UK and offers the opportunity to not only work collaboratively with Rheinmetall – our majority shareholder and Fuchs Design Authority – but also a range of UK SMEs.”