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MacNeillies Steps into the Mainstream at DSEi

MacNeillie : 11 September, 2007  (New Product)
DSEi: ExCel, London • 11-14 September 2007 • Stand 902
MacNeillies, the ascendant UK, West Midlands-based defence and homeland security vehicle specialist, bodybuilder and integrator, makes its debut appearance at DSEi (Stand 902). During 2007, the company has entered the mainstream military vehicle market with its own design MACS (Military Armoured Carrier System) contender for the UK MoD MPPV (Medium Protected Patrol Vehicle) competition. It has also now teamed exclusively with QinetiQ to bid jointly for the potential requirement for around 180 of the new MPPV units for the British Army, through the Specialist and Utility Vehicles Integrated Project Team (SUV IPT). In addition, the company is involved with discussions about the new vehicle's potential suitability for other applications in a number of world markets.

The MACS concept has been developed to be adaptable for a number of specifications, configurations, protection levels, payloads - and gross weights from 9.5 – 14 tonnes. The company plans to manufacture and assemble the new unit at its Walsall plant, although the company has disclosed that it has received a number of expressions of interest to build the vehicle under licence in other countries. Initial trials of the vehicle have exceeded original expectations, particularly for mobility and performance.

Starting from a clean sheet – and in only a few months – MacNeillie engineers designed, built and fully integrated a versatile monocoque armoured body shell, with a standard COTS (Commercial Off The Shelf) high mobility 4x4 powertrain, running gear and componentry. The base level vehicle can be deployed as a protected personnel carrier – or progressively up-armoured and up-rated to provide higher levels of protection and payload capacity if required. The design is also capable of accommodating a wide range of equipment, both internally and externally – and other variants of the basic platform will follow.

MacNeillie Engineering Director, Chris Taylor says, 'We have a wealth of experience in the design and build of armoured and protected bodies for a range of vehicle applications. The MACS concept draws on all that specialist knowledge – and then integrates standard COTS components. We believe that this approach offers military users a better solution than starting with a complete proprietary production vehicle – and then trying to upgrade its protection to meet operational requirements.

'Moreover, gross weight, overall size and appearance have emerged as being vital factors when defining both design and operational requirements. Careful consideration needs to be given to role flexibility in service. A vehicle which needs to be well protected in an operational theatre environment may be required subsequently to perform a much lower profile and less aggressive peacekeeping role, once a conflict has come to an end. The MACS system is designed to provide those options.

'We have quite deliberately taken a staged and modular approach to the programme. At one level, military users and procurement organisations want a COTS solution, which is fully supportable from the integrated logistics standpoint. But they also need to achieve the right balance for the role between protection levels, payload capability, performance and mobility. We believe that the new MACS vehicle system offers a practical and cost-effective way to cover a variety of operational requirements – with one vehicle concept, upgradeable as required', says Chris Taylor.

The basic monocoque body shell is built of high grade steel, armoured with up to 6.5 nominal steel and spall liner, giving ballistics and blast protection to acknowledged international standards. The specification can be significantly upgraded, with the addition of appliqué Armour – and special V-shaped belly plates and wheel-arch protection, to mitigate IED threats. In addition, body width of the basic vehicle has been contained within the track, to allow stand-off protection to be carried without excessive overhang. Wheel and tyre equipment incorporates standard, in-service run-flat systems.

Despite its internal volume and capacity, the overall dimensions of the MACS PPV are compact for class - 5770mm long, 2360mm wide and 2445mm high - not least to meet air portability and C130 compatibility requirements. The 3270mm wheelbase provides optimum weight distribution and balance, whilst giving steep approach and departure angles front and rear of over 40º - and a break-over angle of almost 30º. Subject to operational configuration and equipment inventory, gross weight can be constrained to enable heli-lift by CH47 rotorcraft.

Internal accommodation is generous, allowing seated accommodation for driver and commander – plus up to seven troops. Dimensions are based on minimum 100 percentile plus personnel, with full battle kit and weaponry. A range of seat options, configurations and mounting arrangements will be available. Importantly, the centre of gravity – and thus the double-skinned floor and step height – has been kept low enough to allow troops to deploy forwards facing on departure from the wide, twin rear doors. Fully armoured glass window apertures also allow the crew to maintain full situational awareness – a potential problem with totally enclosed carriers.

Payloads vary according to specification – between 2500 kg and 3000 kg for the base vehicle at 10 tonnes gvw - and between 5000 kg and 6000 kg for the 14 tonnes gvw variant. In addition, the chassis is able to accommodate towing equipment and a power take-off capability is also available. The centre aisle of the rear compartment is wide enough to accommodate a range of EOD equipment in transit, a further role for which the unit can be configured.

Given anticipated operational environments, MACS is specified with a high capacity, high efficiency air conditioning system. Moreover, the vehicle cooling system is hydraulically driven, allowing the fan to run at full power, whether stationary or on the move. Additional stowage and racking can be installed rearward of the driver for radio communications, additional ancillary equipment and ECM, as required. The vehicle supports a 24-volt high capacity, NATO compliant electrical system. The MACS roof panel is designed to accommodate a range of hatch configurations, including the increasingly favoured protected ringmount or remote weapons station.

The new MACS PPV vehicle uses Mercedes-Benz Unimog running gear and powertrain, built around a rugged, purpose-built MacNeillie channel section chassis. Importantly, the design allows for the major vehicle service and control lines to be routed within the protected envelope. The base level specification, 10 tonne gross weight vehicle uses the Mercedes-Benz OM 904 LA 4.2 litre 4-cylinder diesel engine. The 14 tonne MPPV configuration uses the more powerful Euro 4, 4.8 litre 4-cylinder in-line turbocharged and intercooled unit from the U5000, developing 218 bhp (160 Kw) and 810 Nm of torque.

Standard transmission on both is an 8-forward, 6-reverse electro-pneumatic (EPS) gearbox and integrated transfer box, driving through portal axles, with differential locks front and rear. A 16-forward and 12-reverse option is also available. This, coupled with coil sprung fully independent suspension, delivers exceptional driveability and mobility in rough terrain, whilst preserving adequate road speed for convoy and highway movement. The MACS design concept also provides a level of flexibility in the chassis layout, which could enable alternative powertrains to be accommodated if required.

Armour, Protection and Special Applications

MacNeillies also presents an information display of its wide range of body conversions and special applications engineering - within standard, proprietary OE host vehicles. For example, the company offers an armoured variant of the Toyota Land Cruiser, for overseas agency and diplomatic use. The base vehicle is comprehensively rebuilt from the bodyshell upwards, to incorporate required levels of Armour and protection. The finished product retains the appearance of the standard vehicle.

UOR, Prime Partner and Export Capability

MacNeillies has recently demonstrated its ability to respond quickly to Urgent Operational Requirements (UORs). The flexibility and versatility of its Walsall plant allows the company to accommodate short lead-time production or new order intake with minimal disruption. It recently supplied complete appliqué Armour kits for in-service soft-skin vehicles, including Pinzgauer - designed, manufactured and crated for airlift into theatre in just a matter of weeks.

Also, in line with current and anticipated future defence procurement practice, MacNeillies is increasingly developing alliances and partnerships with key prime contractors and suppliers - whilst retaining and developing its own in-house capabilities to prime specific programmes when necessary.

Macneillie's mature police and emergency services, security vehicle and covert armouring business has grown exponentially over the last two years. The company builds a wide range of armoured, protected and soft-skin vehicles for defence, homeland security and emergency services applications. Currently, around 25% of the company's output is for export around the world and about a quarter of its production is for military applications.
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