Opportunities for collaborative armoured vehicle investment
Photo by Alf vanBeem/public domain
Europe is experiencing an increase in investment in land capabilities after more than a decade of limited spending in this area. A number of EU member states have indicated interest and planned investments in acquisition and modernisation of armoured vehicles.
Researchers identified five potential collaboration models and analysed the potential costs and benefits of each. This analysis will support the European Defence Agency’s (EDA) consideration of future collaborative armoured vehicle programmes.
The European Defence Agency is undertaking an effort to identify and promote collaboration opportunities across military domains, develop European defence capabilities and promote armaments cooperation. The Agency observed that existing fleets and current and planned procurement, upgrade, and maintenance programmes of their participating member states (pMS) and partner countries afforded opportunities for more efficient use of resources through collaboration, while fulfilling capability requirements.
The EDA commissioned RAND Europe to examine the scope for collaboration between European states in three types of armoured vehicles (tracked, wheeled and protected transport vehicles). The goal was to outline potential collaborative approaches to armoured vehicle capability development and support throughout their full life-cycle.
The study team used both quantitative and qualitative data collection and analysis, including:
- A literature review
- Cost model design, and
- Stakeholder survey and workshop.
The EDA member states and partner countries constitute a significant region of the global defence spending and current armoured vehicle fleets. Although there is a considerable degree of fragmentation in EDA pMS’ armoured vehicle holdings, there is also a considerable degree of overlap among countries that own the same vehicle families in all three vehicle categories considered in the study. Although one of the most significant challenges is the difficulty of aligning requirements and specifications among European countries, the current landscape of European armoured vehicle fleets, procurement and development programmes and plans offer several opportunities for cooperation throughout the vehicle life-cycle.
The study identified five potential collaboration models that could offer financial, operational, and strategic benefits compared to purely national efforts:
- Pooling and sharing of spare parts — jointly managed pool of spare parts, from which fleets of participating countries can be provisioned
- Joint level 4 maintenance repair and overhaul (MRO) — complete overhaul of the vehicle (level 4 MRO) performed at a fixed multinational facility
- Joint modular upgrade — joint development and procurement of a common system upgrade for the same vehicle or vehicle type
- Joint off-the-shelf procurement — joint purchase of a commercially-available armoured vehicle with little or no modification to meet national-level requirements from the same industry supplier in a single, collaborative order
- Joint platform development — joint design, prototyping, testing and production of a new armoured vehicle platform
Benefits of multinational collaboration may include cost savings for each participating country, due to increased economies of scale, shared investments and streamlined processes. It may also improve interoperability, trust, and standardisation and provide opportunities for knowledge sharing and learning.
There are also challenges associated with developing and implementing multinational collaboration in armoured vehicles. These include difficulties in agreeing on requirements and configurations of vehicles, and aligning MRO approaches and timelines, divergent legal frameworks and economic interests. Importantly, collaboration may require relatively close armoured vehicle capability integration and an acceptance of at least some level of strategic dependence by the participating countries.
Finally, several cross-cutting demand and supply-related factors may impact the effectiveness of multinational collaboration. These include the levels of
- shared threat perceptions,
- alignment in vehicle procurement plans and programmes,
- commonalities across national vehicle fleets,
- existing collaboration formats, and
- capacity and fragmentation in the European armoured vehicle manufacturing base.