Protected Transport Systems, Brisbane, Australia

RFP LAND 12 Phase 4 Selection Process

SUMMARY: JLTV and the RFP to acquire 1,300 blast protected light vehicles for the ADF

In the last days of the Howard Government [around November2007], Australia provided $ 40 million to be part of the USA Joint Light Tactical Vehicle [JLTV] program. DMO may have been responding to that decision when they continued to support the JLTV through its weight and stability problems; the loss of development partners [UK MoD and US Marine Corp] and by considering the injection of another $ 50 million.

The Australian Parliament forced the June 2009 opening of the Request for Proposals [RFP] to determine if competitive vehicles could be manufactured locally. The closing date for submissions was September 2009. There was some more parochial political lobbying by some proponents [Thales] and the Victorian and the South Australian Governments.

At that time the JLTV was in serious trouble with stability and was overweight. The decision on the RFP was delayed for seven months. Three days before the decision to award the three prototype contracts in Australia, Lockheed Marten announced a JLTV variant that weighed 15,000 lbs, which complied with the RFP requirements.

In April 2011, JLTV and RFP prototypes were undergoing trials. There has been an increase in light armoured personal carriers featuring blast protection available from the Ukraine; Turkey; South Africa; France and Germany.

PTS PROTECTOR 2: Response to RFP Land 12 Phase 4

In September 2009 PTS lodged a multi-product response to the Australian Defence Force [ADF] Request for Proposals: Land 121Ph4 01/09. The ADF's innovative Statement of Requirements proposed a vehicle light enough to be deployed off-road, on deserts and mountain tracks; transportable by helicopter, while providing high levels of soldier survivability through ballistic and blast protection.

In 2008 Koos de Wet identified a US product, the Protector 1 that could be redeveloped to more than meet the emerging needs of the ADF. Work commenced to redesign the armour and Australianise the vehicle in capability and compliance. PTS acquired the license for the Australian manufacture. The joint product development with Mobile Armoured Vehicles LLC [MAV] of South Carolina also continued with the needs of other potential global customers included in the design.

Because license negotiations with MAV were difficult and prolonged, PTS abandoned the product.

When the late break through in negotiations did occur, PTS had only 10 days to prepare the submission which was consequently flawed, in particular with some information not in the required format or the right page. However all the required information was in the submission and was complete, and accurate.

Manufacturing P2 in Queensland

During the joint development in the US; in Australia manufacturing processes were reviewed and local component supply capability was assessed for vehicle production. This established scheduling and cost estimates for the PTS response to the RFP. The proposal offered local [Australian] content significantly in excess of the level specified by the ADF.

Great Western Manufacturing [GWM] the contracted vehicle manufacturer would produce the blast resistant vehicle in Queensland involving the systematic acquisition of contractors, material, components and services to form an integrated supply chain. Sourcing would be Australia wide and would tap into Queensland's established defence and transport manufacturing capability, potentially generating purchases and contracts worth more than $1 billion and 250 Toowoomba manufacturing jobs over 5 years.

Operationally it was intended that there would be a Project Manager in the licensor, a Project Manager in PTS and a Project Manager embedded in GWM with a project team to control quality certification; the data flow to Defence; the supply line data and control to minimize working capital requirements. Within GWM the manufacturing would continue to operate effectively while the embedded project team would deal with Defence issues and provide the extra resources required by a defence contract.

The September 2010 review of manufacturing capacities established that the prototyping should be by PTS sub-contract in the US where there is the MAV design team; available factory capacity; specialist personnel; and established supply lines. This would enable the timely and cost effective completion of the short term, high-activity prototyping process under the control of PTS, fast tracked, avoiding start-up and supply delays.

The design data packs, supply chain, manufacturing processes and jigs had been developed, but were to be refined during prototyping.

For serial production, PTS would contract the hull fabrication and vehicle assembly to Great Western Manufacturing [GWM] using Australian sourced material and components and utilising the existing capability and infrastructure of GWM's facility, located in Toowoomba Queensland.

This provided for close control, flexibility of response and genuine Australian content exceeding 80%.

GWM is ISO 9001 accredited and would warrant the vehicle in accordance with the MAV design. MAV would provide the blast certified design and warrant the design's efficacy.

Economic Impact

Australian purchases for material, components, labour, and services will exceed $1 billion. Direct employment, primarily in Toowoomba, is assessed at 250 people for 5 years.

Steel from Australian steelworks, armoured glass, seats and vehicle components actually manufactured in Australia are preferred. This provides for a high Australian economic value add for the Protector 2 as well as a high level of Local Content.

Government Decision Delayed

Protected Transport Systems Pty Ltd [PTS], submitted their response to the RFP Land 121 PH4 01/09 in 29 September 2009 to supply 1,300 light armoured vehicles to the Australian Defence Force [ADF]. In February 2010 all participants were advised that the already delayed decision wether or not to proceed with an Australian manufacturer would be announced in June 2010. But Government may instead choose to be supplied via the American JVLT program (See: Top Marine asks: Is JLTV worth buying? (Reuters story Dec 15, 2009. 50KB PDF)). Or not proceed at all.

P2 Development continued

Since submitting the Response, PTS continued the development and testing of the Protector 2 [P2] and the development of product acquisition and whole of life support systems with the intention to provide the ADF with the best vehicle and the best acquisition and support systems. The offered specification was been confirmed. Development and testing was complete with the right hand drive [but US market fit out] prototype 6-man command variant hull built in September 2010 and blast tested by MAV at the Aberdeen [US] testing grounds to the same level as the Bushmaster which was also designed by PTS Technical Director, Jacobus [Koos] de Wet.

DMO Decision

Lockheed Martin [LM] coincidently announced a JLTV variant that achieved a 15,000 lbs weight three days before the three successful Australian prototyping awards [$ 9 million to each to make two prototypes] on a timeline that had been extended by six months; enough time for LM to achieve the 15000 lb solution. The DMO's main priority may have been to protect the decision to buy JLTV after taking three years and $ 40 million [with another $ 50 million reportedly on ask] to get prototypes to Australia that are not as good as the six prototypes that P2 offered for $8.2 million. The development cost [including blasting] for P2 should have been less than $ 5 million and the unit serial production price is around $ 500,000 compared to LM's production price of $600,000 or more recently $800,000 as reported in media.

PTS requests reconsideration.

After the DMO's RFP contracts announcement, PTS requested a debrief, subsequently debunked that in detail in writing and requested reconsideration of the decision. DMO investigated and replied that while there may have been issues with the debrief, the proper procedure was followed. See Request for reconsideration to K Butler (2.4MB PDF) and Request for second impartial investigation (410KB PDF).

The detailed DMO errors and inconsistencies documented by PTS were never acknowledged or refuted by DMO. In the 600 page DMO procurement procedure the word appeal does not appear. PTS exercised its right to an Independent Internal Investigation which came to the same conclusion, with DMO also stating that their decision could not be reconsidered. PTS later received separate contradictory DMO advice that incorrect decisions can indeed be overturned by these processes. On 29 September 2010 PTS wrote to the Minister for Defence with copies to the head of the ADF requesting reconsideration and an independent expert opinion of the P2 capability [including supply chain]. PTS followed up on 30 November requesting a reply.

The February 2011 DMO reply stated again that the correct process was followed and that the Minister could not overturn the decision. See the correspondence.

Analysis of DMO position

Did the DMO hold up the RFP process to allow the JLTV to catch up? Did DMO select the three “local” contractors [owned by international defence companies] based partly on political appeasement, but also the inability of the selected candidates to compete with the JLTV [but which still P2 beats easily]? If this is so then will it be too difficult for DMO to ever accept the P2?

DSTO press announcement
[which sparked discussion between Koos de Wet and Derek Andrews]

Jacobus [Koos] de Wet is Technical Director PTS and Derek Andrews is Executive Chairman PTS.

Innovation saving our soldiers' lives

Gregor Ferguson
From: The Australian
October 23, 2010 12:00AM


ONE of the undoubted success stories of the defence force deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan has been the performance of the Army's Bushmaster protected-mobility vehicles.

Despite the growing threat from Taliban improvised bombs, the Bushmaster, designed and built in Bendigo by Thales Australia, has protected Australian, Dutch and British soldiers from death and serious injury.

Now Australian defence planners are looking to the ADF's next generation of armoured vehicles.

Local research scientists and industry engineers are looking at the challenges of improving protection without adding to the weight and cost of vehicles.

There's no way of achieving the protection Diggers need without building a heavy vehicle.

Designers take a conservative approach and struggle as a result to balance protection against performance and payload.

Improved grades of armour steel are being developed, and while designers welcome this, they are still learning about their properties and behaviour.

The trial-and-error process of blast-testing prototypes is time-consuming and expensive, so designers still need to be conservative in design.

A new generation of computer models and virtual design tools would make the engineers' lives easier, according to Mark Hodge, chief executive of the Defence Materials Technology Centre, in Melbourne.

The centre, along with steel manufacturers Bisalloy Steels and BlueScope Steel, is working on this problem with the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation and the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, university researchers and Thales Australia.

Between them they're developing better steel for armoured vehicles, virtual design tools to help engineers make best use of these materials, and automated welding and fabrication processes to cut weight and cost.

The defence materials centre, funded by the DMO and some 27 industry, state government and research partners, was set up in 2008 by Defence and the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research to help the defence forces and local industry benefit from ground-breaking research into high-technology materials that is carried out in Australia.

Just as aircraft designers can call on computer models to improve the aerodynamics or strength of an aircraft, one of the centre's most important research goals is to develop virtual models of steel armour's behaviour when hit by a projectile or blast.

No such models exist for armoured steel manufactured in Australia, so over-engineering is the only safe design approach.

Over the next 10-15 years the army plans to acquire 1300 light protected-mobility vehicles, worth more than $1 billion, in Project Land 121 Ph.4, and then to replace more than 1300 M113s, ASLAV light armoured vehicles and Bushmasters in Project Land 400. These projects will benefit from the centre's research because computer models and virtual design tools will help engineers optimise designs before building prototypes and testing them, Dr Hodge says.

The models will also incorporate new welding and fabrication processes being developed by Thales Australia and Bisalloy together with the University of Wollongong.

They're working on robotic welding techniques for high-hardness armour steel to provide more consistent quality and a quicker (and therefore cheaper) fabrication process, research leader Professor Huijun Li said.

His colleague, Dr Steve Pan, is working on lean automation techniques, integrating welding robots with computer-aided design systems used for armoured vehicles.

This could pay off, he said, by enabling the most efficient assembly and welding processes and making it possible to prepare a production line or introduce design changes with minimal disruption and factory downtime.

This was unglamorous work, but its potential benefits were massive, Dr Hodge said.

At a conservative estimate, Projects Land 121 Ph.4 and Land 400 will be worth more than $2 billion.

Reducing hull fabrication time (and therefore cost) while improving protection will strengthen local industry's argument for building the hulls of these vehicles in Australia.

That in turn will help meet Defence's industry policy goals by sustaining local skills and industry capacity.

Gregor Ferguson is a former DMTC research fellow

Koos de Wet responded [in part]

Jacobus [Koos] de Wet is Technical Director PTS.

Saturday, October 23, 2010 8:25 AM

PTS has already done much MORE on P2 and we did not even make the start line!

Also with steel now being part of the “magic formula” how did Hawkei and Ocelot make it into the competition? You well know I have championed steel over composite all along for reasons they are now “discovering”.

Most, if not all, they are now researching to do what we already have done in P2!!

Does this mean Millions of $ wasted going to research institutions to re-invent the known and then to announce this in the future sometime with great fanfare and awarding of medals for research and “discoveries” and innovations!

The whole Defence /DMO /DSTO thing is very disappointing.

Derek's response to Koos [with edits and additions]

Derek Andrews is Executive Chairman PTS.

Since our discussions in Canberra [during the weeklong visit starting on 17 October2010] my concerns about the probity of DMO have increased significantly and I believe that DMO may have to maintain their obdurate opposition to our product.

For DMO to accept our offer now or later could expose DMO. It may also highlight the selection of three off-specification “Australian” contenders to lose out against the Lockheed Martin JLTV that magically announced achieving a 15,000 lb weight three days before the three successful prototype awards [$ 9 million each for making only two prototypes] on a timeline that had been extended by six months; enough time for LM to “cobble up” the 15000 lb solution. The DMO's main priority may be to protect the decision to buy JLTV after taking three years and $ 40 million [with another $ 50 million reportedly on ask] to get prototypes to Australia that are not as good as the six prototypes that P2 offered for $8.2 million. The development cost [including blasting] for a P2 vehicle type should have been less than $ 3 million and the unit serial production price is around $ 500,000 compared to LM's production price of $600,000 and rising.

Is it more important for DMO to protect themselves and a questionable JLTV decision than protecting our soldiers?

While the press release vindicates PTS technology and shows how far ahead of the research program PTS is; the purpose of the DSTO release may be to protect the long term research effort that has gone nowhere by 'discovering' [just now] that steel is the way to go [better than composite that was lauded by DMO at the PTS debrief] and that perhaps within two years they will be able to build a P2!

Were some DMO/DSTO evaluators able to transfer the P2 design features into the research? Remember that PTS has not been able to find out who was involved in the P2 armour evaluation that was so wrong and biased against your proven design ability when they told us that composite was the way to go. Also the Dept. of Innovation and Industry visited the Toowoomba factory and have been kept up to date with P2 development. They are also involved in the DSTO's research program.

While decrying your ability to design armour and falsely claiming to still have the “Bushmaster DNA” in Hawkie, Thales have offered the cut down Bushmaster you designed years ago [1997?] as today's light six man armoured vehicle to fill the Canadian requirement for 600 vehicles. This may be an admission that your 12 year old steel design is better than the Israeli composite Hawkie they are prototyping for the Land 121 Ph 4 RFP.

Is it possible that there are a lot of players in Government and Industry that are interested in stopping PTS?

PTS could handle rejection on reasonable basis. But is the ADF/DMO trying to get our troops the best protection? Which also has the highest genuine local content?

[Derek's response to Koos ends.]

How Forward For P2?

In November of 2010 PTS thought it may be pointless to update the Minister for Defence Materiel, though DMO have received copies of our letters asking for the DMO decision to be reconsidered. Contact with QLD Government Ministers can only produce a weak result [note in contrast the South Australian government's inducement to provide a factory to the successful contender and the Victorian Government's high level of activity]. Apparently there are no Queensland Federal MPs that are prepared to espouse a fair and open contest, as PTS requested of them in various letters.

The capacity of the opposition to act should not be inhibited by their initial involvement in the JLTV program and other continuing acquisition projects as they have been in the control of the current Labour Government for the last three years. Apart from the apparent universal fixation on buying US equipment of any age or condition, the problem is that politicians are unable to deal with the entrenched incompetence of DMO.

Our other Canberra contacts were willing to provide some guidance and also suggested that PTS take legal action.

Because of the high cost of preparing the response to the RFP, the avenues of legal action were too expensive to consider. The likely response from DMO would be to persist in protecting their position by testing the depths of our pockets.

PTS is considering action in media and appraising the Auditor General and the Senate Committee of its concerns regarding the degradation of the ADF's capability by a seriously flawed acquisition system.

In March 2011, PTS again wrote to the Minister for Defence, with copies to Chief of ADF; DMO and Jacyn Clare.

This correspondence is available here (1 MB PDF).

PTS's failure to be selected for prototyping was a serious blow to MAV. The US development continued, but to different specifications for other markets. In April 2011 considerable expenditure would be required to present a P2 variant suitable for the ADF.

A May 2011 update is available here (700KB PDF).


Protected Transport Systems   2 Giles Court, Mount Ommaney, QLD 4074, AUSTRALIA  Phone: 0417 006 653