Australian Army SOV capability back on track after delays


One of the largest re-equipment programs for Australia’s special operations forces is moving ahead following delays which halted its progress.

Joint Project 2097 Phase 1B, which is supplying the Army’s 2nd Commando Regiment with the new Special Operations Vehicle – Commando (SOV-Cdo) under a AUD$130 million contract with Supacat, is recovering after delivery of the vehicles slipped against the original contracted schedule due to two critical sub-contractors in the UK becoming insolvent.

A Defence spokesperson told DTR that the Commonwealth has now accepted delivery of all 89 SOV-Cdo vehicles.

“Defence has subjected the vehicle to extensive testing as part of its acceptance, which has resulted in a number of design changes and modifications to improve the vehicles’ performance.”

The design changes being made to the SOV-Cdo vehicles are relatively straightforward and aim to orientate the vehicles capabilities in line with this particular user’s operational approach.

The first batch of modified vehicles is scheduled to be delivered to Army by mid-2019, with final operational capability (FOC) reached before the end of 2020. This, Defence said, will allow for operational test and evaluation by the Army and integration of the other capabilities being delivered under the project.

The original delivery schedule had the first 32 vehicles handed over to Defence in the first quarter of 2016 and final deliveries by the end of that year. FOC was planned June 2018.

“Defence has worked closely with Supacat throughout this period to mitigate delays and ensure the best possible capability is delivered. Army’s extant vehicle capability will remain in service until the new capability is fully realised.”

The SOV-Cdo is based on Supacat’s Mk 2 High Mobility Transporter Extenda vehicle, which can be converted to either 4×4 or 6×6 configuration to meet different operational requirements by inserting or removing a self-contained third axle unit.

The rolling chassis of the SOV-Cdo was manufactured in the UK with the remainder of the vehicle built in Australia. Australian industry content exceeded 50 per cent with vehicle assembly being conducted in western Sydney. Australian firms were key in recovering the program following the fall into receivership of key suppliers.

The local “Supacat Team Australia” that built the vehicles is now engaged in implementing the final design changes and is expected to move into a new facility near Holsworthy Barracks, Sydney. The new facility will better provide ongoing support to the SOV-Cdo fleet over its 20-year life-of-type.

Supacat also won and exported a smaller fleet of SOVs to the New Zealand Defence Force, with deliveries completed in early 2018.


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