British Military Procurement Lies, Incompetence, Corruption and Corporate Manslaughter

Friday 22nd December 2017
Report author and photographer: Anthony C Heaford
(c.2100 words and a dozen pictures -.25-minutes reading)

Part 1

Lies

On 11th September 2012 British government minister Philip Hammond MP visited Camp Bastion to review mission progress – we lied to him. The entire British contingent in Afghanistan was party to the deception of a government minister on an official visit to what was (and still is) an active war zone. The principle aim of his visit was ’signing off’  £££-billions of armaments procurement deals and authorising more, specifically related to the Foxhound vehicle delivered to theatre a few months earlier.

philip hammond camp bastion Photograph by Paul Morrison and Handout


Photo:
 Camp Bastion, Helmand Province, Afghanistan 11th September 2012:

Then Defence Secretary Philip Hammond stood besides a £923,000 Foxhound vehicle – being lied to, told the non-operational vehicle was operational: 

https://www.gov.uk/government/news/defence-secretary-visits-afghanistan-as-changeover-of-british-brigades-begins


The reality was the Foxhound vehicle had failed its hot weather trials on Bastion’s airfield three & a half months earlier, as shown in the photo below, taken on 25th May 2012:

P1000141 foxhound


This close up shows how unreliable this supposedly state of the art vehicle really was – it had to be escorted on these hot climate trials inside camp Bastion by a vehicle based on a 1948 design - a basic utility land rover:

P1000141 foxhound 3


There were two civilian vehicle-commissioning technicians (both ex-army) attached to the Light Vehicles Platoon workshop that summer, sent by the Foxhound’s manufacturer Force Protection Europe Limited (now owned by the US General Dynamics armaments corporation). These two technicians had already identified an inherent design fault within the vehicle that could not be rectified; the vehicle engine over heats and cuts out when driving off road in hot weather. The primary cause of this overheating is too much demand on too small an engine – a 3.2-litre speedboat engine powers this 7.5-tonne vehicle and all its ancillaries. As seen in the photos above photo, the Foxhound engine-compartment size is comparable to that of the unarmoured utility land rover.

Light Vehicles Platoon 1

The Light Vehicles Platoon; myself circled at the back and the 
two 
Force Protection Europe technicians circled on the front row:

This unfixable fault was common knowledge to all within the Light Vehicles Platoon. Even I was told about the details of this fault – and I was the lowest, least experienced vehicle mechanic in the Platoon, a 42-year old private soldier. And yet a Corporal had even told me about the engine size issue - the Force Protection Europe technicians had told him this. The Corporal had joked that switching off the air conditioning inside the vehicle helped a little bit, indicating how hopeless the situation was – i.e. only a redesign & rebuild of the entire vehicle could fix this problem. The Force Protection technicians were out of ideas of how to fix it too; gagged by corporate and command politics the two technicians spent most of that summer hiding sheepishly in their little port-a-cabin (with air-conditioning).


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Fake News

2nd June 2012 - date of the image below, as published by the Ministry of Defence, claiming to show the first Foxhound vehicles arriving in Camp Bastion for hot weather trails. My photo of a Foxhound driving around Bastion’s airfield, dated the 25th May 2012, is incontrovertible proof of this machiavellian deception.  

Foxhound was delivered to Camp Bastion, Afghanistan for the first time on 2nd of June 2012

 https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Foxhound_Patrol_Vehicle_Arrives_in_Afghanistan_MOD_45154010.jpg

17th June 2012 - the MoD releases a press announcement:

“The first of the British Army's new Foxhound vehicles have arrived in Afghanistan.

…. these patrol vehicles are currently undergoing final testing in the dusty and hot conditions of the Helmand desert before being deployed on operations later in the year.

The MOD is also able to confirm today that a £90m contract for an additional 100 Foxhounds has been signed.”

 https://www.gov.uk/government/news/foxhound-arrives-in-afghanistan


19th June 2012
- the MoD released a video showing ‘the first Foxhounds arriving in theatre for hot weather trials’:
 


25th August 2012 - Daily Mail sings the praises of the Foxhound vehicle:

foxhound daily mail


Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall, has welcomed the vehicle’s arrival, saying, ‘The Foxhound gives the Army the highest level of protection on operations and will play a key role in equipping the Army of tomorrow.’ 

The Foxhound’s advanced features were developed with the help of engineers from the McLaren F1 team, as well as Ricardo, a leading British automotive-technology firm, and BMW.

But all this technology comes at a price – at £923,000 apiece, the Foxhound is three times the price of a Rolls-Royce Phantom. 

  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/home/moslive/article-2192507/MoDs-Foxhound-Britains-new-F1-star-The-Armys-carrier-built-battle.html#ixzz51w8zRx4U  


23rd November 2012 - The announcement of a further purchase of £46-million worth of Foxhound vehicles hints at the political corruption that influenced this corrupt procurement:

whitehall

Ministry of Defence Main Building, Horse Guards Avenue.

"Defence Minister Philip Dunne MP made the announcement during a visit to General Dynamics: Force Protection’s spares facility in Telford which provides spares for the Foxhound vehicle. The contract announced today is part of an overall investment of £340 million that the MoD has made in Foxhound since 2010. This is helping to sustain jobs at the Telford facility, the General Dynamics: Force Protection (GDLS:FPE) HQ in Leamington Spa and across the UK in the Foxhound supply chain."



ALL of this government sanctioned propaganda and misinformation was fed to a compliant media and on to a trusting public for only one reason – to hide the incomprehensible incompetence involved in the procurement of this vehicle. To hide the inbred incompetence and corruption that is endemic within the military, Whitehall, government and the Military Industrial Complex. They are lying to you, the British public, to hide their own merciless profiteering at the expense of British soldiers lives and limbs.

 But back in the light vehicles workshop of May 2012 it was still three months till Hammond’s September visit – surely plenty of time to come clean and opt for a contingency plan? No. Instead one Foxhound stood virtually untouched in the corner of our workshop all summer. No work was done on it because no work could be done - the fault was inherant to it’s design: it could not and can not be fixed.

Light vehicles workshop

The Light Vehicles workshop, Camp Bastion. Summer 2012

The Force Protection Europe technicians stayed in their port-a-cabin and the Foxhound became the elephant in the room that no one dared mention. At least, that was until twenty minutes before Hammond’s visit when the same Corporal who’d told me of the inherent design fault came directly to me from the platoon office (port-a-cabin) and said:

“When Hammond gets here, don’t say anything about the Foxhound problems” 

So I confirmed with him: 

“What? You want me to lie to the Secretary of State for Defence?”

The Corporal replied:

“Yep.” 
 

In the end I did not see Hammond during his visit, but I soon discovered I was not the only one party to this deliberate deception of a senior government minister.

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Fake Patrol

The highlight of my tour was providing top cover for the vehicle recovery mechanics on five separate patrols across the length and breadth of our area of operations in central Helmand. 

Top cover duties, Helmand summer 2012

The day after Hammond’s visit to Bastion the recovery mechanic vehicle commander and the driver told me they’d had been on a ‘clandestine’ mission - part of our concerted deception of the government minister the day before. The most senior officers had staged a fake patrol of Foxhounds in the valley running parallel to Bastion’s airfield. The visiting Defence Secretary was taken to an airfield guard tower to watch these new vehicles on ‘operations’. 

Both the driver and vehicle commander told me it was all a farce. They had been parked in this same valley for hours before Hammond arrived at the observation point to watch the passing patrol. The recovery vehicles (there were two) were strategically placed to be out of Hammond’s sight but still within easy reach of the Foxhounds should one breakdown, as they were liable to do when driven off-road. This was a meticulously planned charade directed by a corrupt and incompetent military command.

P1000136 2

View from a camp Bastion airfield guard tower, summer 2012

In the photo above a US patrol is passing the same guard towers that Hammond would have visited to observe the staged Foxhound patrol. For Hammond, this was evidence enough to order another £46-million of Foxhounds two months after this pantomime. And this is where the corporate, political and civil service corruption becomes so blindingly obvious as to warrant a another report – part III, Procurement Corruption.

Part II will detail Procurement Incompetence and part IV will prove corporate manslaughter of British soldiers.

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Whistleblowers and counter propaganda 

29th September 2017: A serving British Sergeant deployed in Iraq and responsible for servicing a fleet of Foxhounds said this of the vehicles:

"They break down all the time. They cannot handle the heat, they have a massive problem with it. 

"At 50 degrees the engine cooks out.

This Sergeant is reporting the same inherant design fault that everyone knew about in May 2012.

Daily Telegraph article, 29th September 2017:
British troops' £400m armoured vehicles brought in for Iraq and Afghanistan 'break down in hot weather
 


18th October 2017: The British army release a propogada video deliberately focusing on the operational use of Foxhounds in Kabul. What this highlights is that although the balistic resistance of their composite armour is very good, they are suitable for nothing more than hard surfaced roads in an urban environment. With no significant offence (or defensive) capabilities the Foxhounds provide little more than a local taxi service - a great vehicle to get blown up in, but not one i would want to got to war in.


7th November 2017: My response via RT UK television news, making the same claims and allegations that i have detailed in this report:


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Preview of Parts II, III & IV:

2004 Jan 28th - the urgent operation requirement of a light but well armoured patrol vehicle was identified after the needless death of a 23-year old British soldier as he patrolled the streets of Kabul in an unarmoured land rover. Private Jonathan Kitulagoda was the first British combat fatality in Afghanistan.

2010 Nov - An ‘Urgent Operational Requirement’ order was placed for 200-Foxhounds, at a cost of £180-million

2012  May - First Foxhounds in theatre fail hot weather trials on Camp Bastion’s airfield. An inherent and unrectifiable design fault is identified: the engine is too small and a bigger engine can’t be retrofitted without redesigning the entire vehicle.

2012  June 2nd - An official MoD photo claims to show the very first Foxhound arriving at Camp Bastion for hot weather trials.

2012 June 17th - The MoD announce the arrival of first vehicles in theatre to begin hot weather trials. A further 100-Foxhounds are ordered, costing £90-million.

2012 Sept 11th - EVERYBODY lies to Philip Hammond MP, saying the Foxhound passed the hot weather trials. A sophisticated operation was staged besides Camp Bastion airfield to complete the deception of a government minister

2012 Sept 14th - Two US Marines were killed in the attack on Camp Bastion, which succeeded because there were not enough night vision goggle to go round all the guard towers. NVGs cost about £2500 each. This airfield raid succeeded because the British command could stage a pantomime on the airfield perimeter to further a corrupt procurement, but did not provide the most basic kit for frontline soldiers.

2012 Sept 25th - Sir Andrew Cahn, a British civil servant who provided £££-millions in government subsides to the Foxhound vehicle manufacturer is made a non-executive director of General Dynamics UK - the armaments corporation that bought out the Foxhound vehicle’s manufacturer, Force Protection Europe in 2011.

2012 Nov - Philip Hammond MP repeats these lies about the Foxhound’s performance to government and parliament before a further £46-million worth of Foxhounds are ordered off the back of his endorsement.

2017 Sept - An unnamed serving British soldier of almost twenty-two years service and very close to retirement had the moral integrity to blow-the-whistle on the Foxhound vehicle debacle. He confirmed what I have been telling parliament and government for the last four years - the Foxhound vehicle specified for use in extreme climates breaks down in hot weather.

There are far more details I could add but those will follow in Parts II, III & IV.  

© Anthony C Heaford 2016