The British Ministry of Defense has signed a contract with a Franco-American consortium to "program to provide the [British] army’s new generation of armored vehicles," the Financial Times of London reported Wednesday.[1]  --  Thales UK and Boeing will act as "system-of-systems integrator" (SOSI) coordinating a $16bn program called Future Rapid Effect System (FRES), which will build and support a fleet of 3,000 vehicles, Sylvia Pfeifer reported.  --  The decision came as no surprise, since the Thales-Boeing team was named as the "preferred bidder" for the SOSI role in October, as the Times of London reported at the time.[2]  --  Rhys Blakely reported at that time that the FRES fleet of armored fighting vehicles "will have high levels of protection and will be air-transportable, allowing troops to deploy rapidly across the globe at short notice.  They will be charged with carrying British troops to trouble-spots around the world.  --  Plans call for four vehicle types in 21 variants, for tasks ranging from reconnaissance to road clearing.  The first vehicles are expected to be deployed in 2012.  --  General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said:  'This is an important decision, soon to be followed by even more significant FRES announcements, including the selection of the Utility Vehicle Designer.'”  --  According to the Financial Times, "A recommendation on the winning contractor [for vehicle design] has already been made, with industry executives believing General Dynamics to be the victor."[1]  --  BACKGROUND:  The Thales Group is a major French defense contractor specializing in aerospace, defense, and information technologies known as Thomson-CSF until 2000.  --  Partially owned (27%) by the French state, it has about 70,000 employees, annual revenues of about 13bn euros ($19.5bn), and operates in fifty countries.  --  In the summer of 2007, Thales UK's CEO explained Boeing's role in the contract in these terms:  "Boeing will complement Thales' strengths by contributing world-class program management, system of systems integration, and supply chain management skills to our team.  In addition, Boeing will bring its expertise from the U.S. Army Future Combat Systems program to complement Thales UK capability in developing and delivering complex defense programs."[3]  --  General Dynamics is even bigger than the Thales Group, with 81,000 employees and annual revenues in the neighborhood of $24bn (2007).  --  But General Dynamics is only the sixth-largest defense contractor in the world; it is dwarfed by Boeing, with 159,000 employees and annual revenues in excess of $66bn (2007).  --  Among defense contractors, Boeing is second only to Lockheed Martin, but with its civilian aviation business added, Boeing exceeds Lockheed Martin in size.  --  FURTHER BACKGROUND:  According to the web site Open Secrets, Hillary Clinton surpasses by far all other candidates in contributions from defense industry sources.  --  The figures as of Super Tuesday:  Hillary Clinton $199,926, Chris Dodd $172,500, John McCain $158,321, Ron Paul $143,829, Mitt Romney $100,859, Barack Obama $99,085, Rudy Giuliani $87,200, Fred Thompson $48,854, Bill Richardson $41,625, John Edwards $28,150, Duncan Hunter $26,150, Mike Huckabee $23,376, Tom Tancredo $13,391, Joe Biden $7,150, Jim Gilmore $4,850, Sam Brownback $4,100, Dennis Kucinich $3,732, Mike Gravel $250, and Tommy Thompson $250 (these totals are calculated from PAC contributions and contributions from individuals giving more than $200, as reported to the FEC, with individual contributions are generally categorized based on the donor's occupation/employer)....

1.

World

U.K.

Politics & policy

FRANCO-U.S. GROUP SIGNS ARMORED VEHICLE DEAL
By Sylvia Pfeifer, Defense Industries Correspondent

Financial Times (London)
February 6, 2008

http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/76bc58f4-d440-11dc-a8c6-0000779fd2ac,s01=1.html

A Franco-American consortium has signed a contract to oversee management of a program to provide the army’s new generation of armored vehicles.

Thales UK and Boeing signed the contract at the end of last week, the first to be agreed for the £16bn equipment procurement program.

The initial stage of the contract will last for six months and is worth £4m.

The Ministry of Defense named the Thales-Boeing team as the preferred bidder last year, dealing a blow to British rivals BAE Systems, Qinetiq, and Ultra Electroncis. All three were in the running for the role as members of different consortiums.

The Thales-Boeing consortium will take on the role of the “system-of-systems integrator” (SOSI), responsible for co-ordination of the program, including system management.

The SOSI will be part of an alliance being put together for the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) program aimed at building and supporting a fleet of 3,000 vehicles. The alliance will include the MoD, the vehicle designer, and a vehicle integrator.

The contract signing comes amid speculation that delivery of the first set of vehicles could be delayed by up to two years from an original -- but informal -- date of 2012. This would be a huge blow to the army; General Sir Richard Dannatt, army chief, said last year that FRES was the priority after support for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Industry executives had expected the MoD to announce the winner for the next stage of the program, to provide the vehicle design, last month. Three consortiums -- General Dynamics of the U.S., Nexter of France, and ARTEC, a German-Dutch consortium -- have been competing for the role.

A recommendation on the winning contractor has already been made, with industry executives believing General Dynamics to be the victor.

However, the delay in confirming this has sparked speculation that the cash-strapped MoD may put back a decision to move ahead on final production, known as Main Gate.

The MoD said: “The Main Gate decision is not a point in time. It is a point in the maturity of the program. We are now in the assessment phase, which aims to reduce the risks in the program.”

Industry executives said last night that General Dynamics might be awarded a development contract instead, which would last for two years up to a Main Gate decision.

The situation has been complicated in recent days with a last-minute intervention from the French consortium, which has written to the MoD restating its offer.

2.

Engineering

MoD NAMES THALES AND BOEING AS 'INTEGRATED BATTLESPACE' TEAM
By Rhys Blakely

Times (London)
October 6, 2007

http://business.timesonline.co.uk/tol/business/industry_sectors/engineering/article2599677.ece

The Army’s most important equipment procurement plan, expected to be worth at least £16 billion, is to be overseen by the Franco-American combination of Thales and Boeing, the Ministry of Defense (MoD) revealed yesterday.

The Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) will supply the MoD with a new fleet of more than 3,000 highly mobile, medium-weight armored vehicles. The project will include maintenance deals spanning up to 40 years that could increase the value of the deal to £60 billion.

The MoD’s decision to name the Thales-Boeing team as the preferred bidder for the key role of System of Systems Integrator (SOSI) is a blow to British rivals BAE, QinetiQ and Ultra Electronics. All three were in the running for the overarching role as members of different consortiums.

The SOSI is responsible for managing the purchase of vehicles and ensuring that they operate and communicate with other military equipment, ranging from satellite systems to fighter jets and warships.

In what is called the “integrated battlespace,” the Thales-Boeing team’s tasks will include overseeing the development of complex technology systems, such as those designed to safeguard against “friendly fire” incidents. Both companies will coordinate their operations from U.K. bases.

BAE had made its bid as part of a consortium that includes Finmeccanica, of Italy, and General Dynamics, of the U.S. Ultra Electronics had teamed up with Lockheed Martin.

BAE, which supplied most of Britain’s fleet of armored vehicles, had already been knocked out of the running to supply the design for the FRES utility variant, the basic troop carrier that is expected to be made in the highest numbers under the scheme.

In June the MoD announced that it had shortlisted General Dynamics’ Piranha V, Nexter’s VBCI (Véhicule Blindé de Combat) and the ARETC consortium’s Boxer vehicles to take part in a series of utility vehicle mobility trials, previously known as the “trials of truth.”

Those trials finished last month and the winner will be announced in November.

Lord Drayson, the Defense Minister, said: “The FRES project is the British Army’s highest equipment priority.” He said that the appointment of Thales and Boeing, almost two months ahead of schedule, “demonstrates the excellent progress now being made on FRES.”

The fleet of armored fighting vehicles will have high levels of protection and will be air-transportable, allowing troops to deploy rapidly across the globe at short notice. They will be charged with carrying British troops to trouble-spots around the world.

Plans call for four vehicle types in 21 variants, for tasks ranging from reconnaissance to road clearing. The first vehicles are expected to be deployed in 2012.

General Sir Richard Dannatt, Chief of the General Staff, said: “This is an important decision, soon to be followed by even more significant FRES announcements, including the selection of the Utility Vehicle Designer.”

3.

THALES AND BOEING ANNOUNCE FRES TEAM

Boeing
June 5, 2007

http://www.boeing.com/ids/news/2007/q2/070605a_nr.html

ST. LOUIS -- Thales UK and Boeing have agreed to form an exclusive team, led by Thales UK, to jointly bid to deliver the System of Systems Integrator (SOSI) role for the planned Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) program. FRES is the U.K. Ministry of Defense (MoD) program to provide the British Army with a network-enabled and highly deployable medium-weight armored vehicle force, which will complement the U.K.'s existing heavy and light forces and enable the U.K. to rapidly project warfighting capability world-wide.

The MoD recently announced its intention to form a Ministry of Defense / Industry Alliance for FRES. A key role in this Alliance is that of the SOSI.

If selected, Thales and Boeing will partner with the MoD to deliver a timely and coherent through-life capability to the British Army while generating a stronger U.K. industrial base and retaining key intellectual property rights for the MoD. A key factor in the development of a fully integrated solution will be an optimization of the through-life costs to maximize value for money throughout the life of the program.

"Thales has an excellent understanding of the Armored Fighting Vehicle domain and fully recognizes the importance of the SOSI role to the success of the FRES program, said Alex Dorrian, Thales UK Chief Executive Officer. "Our expertise in capability-based acquisition and strong track record in commercial innovation are underpinned by world-class systems integration skills and in-depth understanding of U.K. doctrine and concepts. We also have a strong partnering culture, which we consider essential to creating the industrial environment required to deliver FRES. With these qualities, combined with independence from FRES vehicle contenders, we believe we can offer an excellent technical and commercial solution to the MoD as the FRES SOSI contractor.

"We are delighted that Boeing has agreed to work with us on FRES," Dorrian continued. "Boeing will complement Thales' strengths by contributing world-class program management, system of systems integration and supply chain management skills to our team. In addition, Boeing will bring its expertise from the U.S. Army Future Combat Systems program to complement Thales UK capability in developing and delivering complex defense programs."

Dennis Muilenburg, Boeing vice president and general manager for Combat Systems, said, "We are very excited to team with Thales for the FRES program, which is vital to the U.K.'s Armed Forces. We believe our proven experience and expertise in successfully executing system-of-systems integration programs will add significant value to the FRES program throughout its life cycle. Our recent establishment of facilities in Bristol and Farnborough reinforces our commitment to grow our in-country engineering capability through the company's wholly owned subsidiary, Boeing Defence UK, in support of the Defense Industrial Strategy."