Well, let's face it, it had to come to this. I do not seek to minimize what Richard reports if I think it's another 'What if?' story...yes, a national tragedy but surely we're used to these now.
Another 'What if?':
What if those several generations now taking to the streets...or intending to...had thought a tad more before voting for the most destructive governments in our history. Once on the teat they coud never wean themselves from it...failing to understand that lactation is limited, even in the inhuman animal.
As for MAN...I am no expert but know that they build a decent truck...and have done for many, many years. We don't do trucks...the industry was killed by the fathers of those now protesting our sorry state...and can anybody tell me the last decent British truck built here?
Whether cobbling together a bunch of companies with limited expertise in military vehicles to take on a company which has specialized in them for years...to save/provide the British jobs, the bases of which were literally thrown away years ago...is a moot point.
The bottom line is: Could we build a better & more suitable vehicle for what remains of our armed forces...at any price?...and would they ever be delivered before cancellation or the inevitable changes to specification?
No prizes for a correct answer.
British jobs: We live in a small but very complicated world & it's easy to be tempted to simplify.
However, 'What if' at least three generations of complaining Britons had used their common sense instead of their credit cards?
The lead company was to have been Stewart & Stevenson, one of the major suppliers to the US Army and Marines, with a combat proven truck, one extensively modified as a result of experience in Iraq. It was backed by a pioneering British design team which is currently working for the US DoD on developing its next generation truck. The result would have been streets ahead of the MAN truck, a custom-made, ground up vehicle designed and built for military use.
I researched this pretty heavily at the time and there is one hell of a difference between a civilian truck, which works on nice smooth roads and is regularly maintained, with a sophisticated support system on tap. A military truck is altogether a different animal, having to take constant abuse, poor conditions, indifferent or no maintenance and, not infrequently, an amount of damage - yet keep going.
The MAN trucks are nice trucks - but they are modified civvy trucks with big wheels, painted green. As supplied - and as confirmed by the NAO - they did not meet British military spec. After delivery - and outside the contract advertised, and at additional cost - they have had to be very heavily and expensively modified to make them suitable for operational use. Had S&S trucks been specified, they would have been combat ready as they drove out of the factory. This, like so many MoD procurement contracts, was as bent as a nine-bob note ... awarded wholly on political grounds, the objective being to purchase a euro-truck which would have commonality with other EU member state armies.
The problem with the British military truck industry is the MoD. It buys large numbers of trucks in one batch, wants them all of a sudden and then doesn't buy any more for years, and then wants everything, all singing and dancing, with all its special mods. No commercial company can work this way. By tapping into the US system, we would have got the best of all possible worlds ... a well-proven truck, built in Britain by British workers. And since S&S is now British owned, the profits would have come back to us as well.