Page 40 - Australian Defence Magazine Oct 2018
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“To date, Defence has not encountered any unique challenges in sustaining G-Wagons on operations, such as Operation Fiji Assist.”
through the life of the vehicle. So that con- tract was negotiated at the same time.”
A Defence spokesperson did not com- ment on specific contractual differences; “The support services contracts for the G- Wagon and the Land Rover Fleet are not comparable given the different life cycle stages of the capabilities involved.”
Overseas deployments
So far, G-wagons have been deployed on hu- manitarian missions, including disaster re- lief efforts in Fiji and multinational military exercises. They have not yet been deployed on combat operations, meaning there is an argument to be made that the G-wagon fleet suffers from a degree of operational redun- dancy in a military that has also invested in armoured Hawkei and Bushmaster vehicles.
Whilst G-wagons could theoretically deploy on operations, Army has said their use will be limited to secure environments, with the Hawkei and Bushmaster reserved for hotter situations.
Light-skinned vehicles certainly aren’t suited for use against the ‘weapons of the weak’, particularly IEDs, something the British learned after over 30 soldiers were killed by roadside bombs whilst in Snatch
Army and Mercedes work together to keep the fleet ready to go.
Land Rovers during the wars in Iraq and Af- ghanistan. The vehicles were soon dubbed ‘mobile coffins’ by troops on the ground.
"You drive over a landmine in a very- lightly armoured Land-Rover Snatch - it's not much different from driving over it in a Ford Escort," Steve McLoughlin, a former member of the Royal Green Jackets who served in Iraq, once said.
According to Army, however, the G- wagons will be used in “in tactical train- ing, disaster relief and securing Australia’s coastline.”
Holland said the same sustainment ar- rangements are in place no matter where the vehicles are deployed, using Mercedes’ global dealer network.
“The G-wagon fleet is a training fleet. It’s designed for training needs in Australia,
peacekeeping and humanitarian opera- tions,” Holland said. “Slightly different to the other vehicles.
“The same arrangements are in place [for vehicles overseas], but we can tap into our network of dealers globally if required to support fleets that have been deployed.”
“G-Wagons deployed overseas are sup- ported through normal Defence supply chain arrangements,” a Defence spokes-
person said. “To date, De- fence has not encountered any unique challenges in sustaining G-Wagons on op- erations, such as Operation Fiji Assist.”
Australian conditions
Within Australia, the vehi- cles facing the harshest oper- ating conditions are those in service with Regional Force
Surveillance units, which use the Surveil- lance and Reconnaissance open-top vari- ant to conduct long-ranging patrols across the north. Those vehicles pose perhaps the greatest sustainment challenge for Defence and Mercedes.
“Those vehicles operate in a much harsher environment,” Holland said. “Whether its dry, dust, or particularly the wet. The ve- hicle is also different in that it’s an open ve- hicle, so that adds some challenges as far as climatic conditions and operating environ- ment are concerned.”
To service those vehicles, Mercedes use commercial sub-lets owned by dealerships in major population centres.
“We use dealers and sublets from those dealers across all of the locations where the RFS are located,” Holland said. “That’s
from squadron HQ level down to troop level. In the most remote locations – Weipa, Mt Isa, Headland, Newman, Katherine, Alice, Broome, Nhulunbuy – in fact, all of the locations where the G-wagons are based, we have support arrangements in place.
“The dealer is located in Darwin, but that dealer has sublets in those smaller towns to support those vehicles.”
A Defence spokesperson said that the RFS units have forward repair teams that can support sustainment of the vehicles.
“The units are also able to leverage Joint Logistics Command maintenance facili- ties and, through CASG, Mercedes dealer- ships and authorised repairer network,” the spokesperson added.
That integrated commercial network allows Mercedes to regularly meet the key performance indicators expected by Defence no matter where G-wagons are deployed.
“The G-Wagon Fleet has not experienced any major unexpected issues in regards to the ongoing support of the capability,” a Defence spokesperson said. “The capability consistently exceeds the Capability Man- ager’s availability targets.”
“We have KPIs for delivery of services like overhauls of accident damaged vehicles, response times to deliver and collect dam- aged vehicles – we do that on behalf of De- fence,” Holland explained to ADM.
“We have KPIs around the supply of parts. For example, we have a KPI of 10 days to replace a damaged vehicle. That’s delivered, fully functional, to the location. Most of that time frame is taken up by the movement of parts through the supply chain, as opposed to the time it takes to conduct the repair.
“We’ve been hitting that regularly.”
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