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Overseas LHD Development Programme For Zephyr Vehicle

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Creation UK Limited
: 06 April, 2010  (New Product)
The Zephyr armoured military vehicle is undergoing further overseas trials as Creation works on development efforts on LHD versions and 3-axle variants
Overseas LHD Development Programme For Zephyr Vehicle
Creation, the UK vehicle design and engineering firm behind a series of successful, imaginative military vehicle platforms, radical new concept ancillary equipment and innovative technology, has revealed that future development work across its Zephyr protected vehicle programme will be focused primarily on overseas markets. It has recently completed its planned pre-production batch of the Zephyr 7.5 tonne GVW 4x4 protected platform and the vehicle is now being used as a demonstrator and for additional trials. The first three-axle variant – an 11 tonne 6x4 cargo or shelter carrier – is on schedule for completion mid-2010 - but no decision has been made on whether the company may attend or show at UK events such as DVD in June.

Creation founder and Managing Director, Bill Davis says, ”The latest Zephyr SRV is performing extremely well and is as close to production intent as we can get it. We are now putting on test miles on highway, on different terrains and surfaces – and trialing equipment installations and packaging. The vehicle also now provides us another fully developed demonstrator with which to highlight some very deliberate design features – and dispel a few myths”.

Creation’s Zephyr programme started originally in 2008 as a ground-up light platform concept, designed to offer Legacy Fleet Upgrade (LFU) or asset management options. It is not ‘derived’ or developed from any other in-service platform. It does however, incorporate a number of recognised world market proprietary components – for instance in the powertrain – which are compatible with common inventory and ILS support in some major military fleets. The Zephyr LFU concept prototype featured a completely new chassis – with entry-level underbelly blast protection. It deliberately used the body pick-up points common with specific in-service bodies and top structures, in order to demonstrate a potential range of upgrade, inter-changeability, life extension and protection solutions for existing or legacy fleets.

The later development Zephyr SRV (Specific Requirements Vehicle) 4x4 protected platform was launched in mid-2009, initially at DVD and later internationally, at DSEi – and has since been the centre of confirmed and specific interest in a number of overseas markets. The vehicle development programme is running on schedule – but Creation will shortly drop the SRV acronym as part of a wider review of future plans. Importantly, all design rights and IPR for the Zephyr programme are owned by Creation – a factor which has already attracted serious interest from countries which would favour local assembly or in-country manufacture under licence.

The Zephyr design features independently suspended wheel stations at the corners (rather than beam axles), the sacrifice of which is part of the designed-in blast mitigation system. The advanced composites crew survival cell – which now also carries Creation’s radical new blast seat design – has already successfully undergone a range of tests including an underbelly blast. The company is now engaged in further analysis, engineering research, modelling and simulation work to take the survivability of the occupant capsule to the next level.

The new 6x4 and 6x6 Zephyr SRV variants are designed to carry a payload of around 6 tonnes, depending on base vehicle configuration and protection level – and will significantly widen the range of operational roles, body types and specialist applications for which the vehicle envelope can be configured. These include pick-up utility vehicle, troop carrier, command and control, weapons mounted installation kit (WMIK), reconnaissance and battlefield ambulance. Zephyr is also designed to carry a range of roof-mounted options, including protected or remote weapons stations (RWS).

Crew and seating layouts can be varied from two to eight occupants, to suit operational requirements. Space is also allocated for weapons fit, communications suites, situational awareness (SA) systems and other electronic devices. Additional features include fully integrated health and usage monitoring systems (HUMS) and the capability to support exportable power requirements.

The company has also achieved success with its other programmes – including its design support for Universal Engineering’s acclaimed Ranger mine resistant ambush protected (MRAP) armoured vehicle, a new spine injury mitigating blast seat and a retro-fit UOR engine filtration solution. These have positioned the North Hampshire-based firm increasingly in demand as a ‘capability partner of choice’ with a number of Defence industry organisations around the world.

In September last year, Creation announced a new structure to its business, to align the organisation for further developments. Since then, it has moved into its new purpose-built facilities in Hook, Hampshire. The company’s activities have now been formalised into six clearly defined lines of business, allowing its significant defence sector activities to run in parallel with its other automotive, handling, electronics and general engineering business.

“We recognise that the future for the sector lies in international markets – and through close partnerships and alliances between specialist contractors and suppliers. The imperatives and uncertainties which currently characterise our domestic market have only served to reinforce the business case for now focusing our plans at a more international level”, says Bill Davis.
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