Delayed military earth-mover passes two key milestones

The Terrier engineering vehicle under development for the British Army has entered production.

Machining work has started on the first production Terrier hull, and the first production vehicle will be assembled and tested later this year, according to its developer BAE Systems. Testing on it will include mine blast trials to demonstrate improved protection levels resulting from experience gained on other vehicles during operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the company said.

The Terrier is a 30t armoured earth-moving and route-clearance vehicle, and the army has ordered 60 of them at around £5 million each. Originally planned in 2002 to enter service with the Royal Engineers in 2008, they are not now expected until 2013.

The project is behind schedule thanks to a range of hitches, including design changes ordered by the MoD, such as better communications and mine resistance, delays in constructing the two demonstrator vehicles, and problems bringing the prototypes’ reliability up to spec.

However, BAE Systems said it has learnt from the problems. It said it has invested £2 million to support Terrier production, and has completely overhauled both its process and machinery in order to improve build efficiency and maximise build quality.

It added that the mid-point reliability trials recently completed by its two prototype Terriers - which included 3300km of road, track and cross-country travel, digging pits, moving spoil, and operating the vehicle remotely via a radio link - successfully demonstrated reliability growth.

“Our goal with these trials is to provide the Ministry of Defence with confidence that Terrier is on track to meet the exacting reliability levels prescribed for the vehicle,” said BAE’s Terrier team leader Paul Dale. “In successfully completing the performance trial, Terrier has demonstrated a step improvement in reliability beyond that seen during the early phases of the programme.”

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