The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has announced the provisional selection of General Dynamic's Piranha V as the preferred design for the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) utility vehicle.
FRES is an incremental programme to replace parts of the army's Saxon, FV 430 and CVR(T) vehicle fleets and deliver a new medium weight capability, which will be delivered in stages.
Utility Vehicles will be introduced first followed by the more complex Specialist Vehicles.
The MoD intends to deliver five families of vehicles: Utility, Reconnaissance, Medium Armour, Manoeuvre Support and the Basic Capability Utility.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support Baroness Ann Taylor says the FRES vehicle programme will be a major investment in the future of the armed forces.
"FRES is a long-term programme to be delivered in stages to meet the army's needs over the next thirty years," she says.
Chief of the General Staff General Sir Richard Dannatt says the selection of the first vehicle maintains the momentum of the project, which is at the heart of the army's equipment programme.
"Whilst our Protected Personnel Vehicles such as MASTIFF are a very successful addition to meet specific operational requirements in both Iraq and Afghanistan, it is the FRES medium weight capability which will allow the army to conduct a considerably wider range of operations in an uncertain and changing world," he says.
By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh