Britain picks supplier of Afghan-ready patrol cars
LONDON, Sept 22 |
LONDON, Sept 22 (Reuters) - Britain's defence ministry said on Wednesday it had chosen Force Protection Europe, a subsidiary of U.S. defence contractor Force Protection Industries FRPT.O, as preferred bidder to supply light protected patrol vehicles.
The vehicle, named Ocelot by its makers, is meant to replace Britain's Snatch and Weapons Mounted Installation Kit (WMIK) vehicles, which are both based on the Land Rover chassis and are being used in Afghanistan.
Snatch Land Rovers have been criticised by relatives and former soldiers who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan who say they give too little protection from roadside bombs.
Force Protection Industries' shares were up 12.6 percent at $4.73 by 1348 GMT.
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) declined to outline how many vehicles it may order, their cost or a timeline to finalise a contract. An initial tranche to be used for training is due to be delivered next year. The MoD aims to buy the vehicles through a fast-track urgent operational requirement process.
An MoD spokeswoman said details of the order would be subject to negotiations, and would be informed by the Strategic Defence and Security Review, a sweeping review due by November that will outline Britain's future military role and structure.
Force Protection Europe declined to give any further details.
The new vehicles are designed to be better able to handle conditions in Afghanistan, where NATO-led forces fighting an al Qaeda-allied Taliban insurgency frequently come under attack from bombs. (Reporting by Mohammed Abbas: Editing by Stefano Ambrogi and Elaine Hardcastle)
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