MOD dropped a bollock. Case closed.
Memorandum from Avon Protection
Avon Protection, Britain's Wiltshire-based leading manufacturer of NBC respirators, has an interest in the General Service Respirator procurement that the Committee proposes to discuss on 27 June with witnesses from MoD's Defence Procurement Agency.
In 2004, Avon Protection tendered for the MoD contract to develop and supply some 312,000 of the new GSR, and was disappointed, and somewhat surprised, to lose the order to US-owned contractor, Scott Health and Safety. Avon had already secured an order in 1999 to develop and supply 2,500,000 units of a similar new product—the M50 respirator—from the US government, won in open competition. Avon was given to understand, in the DPA's contract award debrief, that our bid had been rejected on price, and on the belief in MoD that we would not be able to meet the MoD's delivery requirements as well as those of the US government.
In rejecting the Avon offer, the opportunity for interoperability in combat with our major ally was also lost.
We are therefore curious that two years later, reports from a variety of sources within the test and trials community indicate that the Scott GSR programme has development problems and trials have not gone well.
It is public knowledge that GSR is running late, that the In-service date has been missed, that it is now unlikely to meet its target of introduction into service this summer and that the Initial Operating Capability has been reduced from 45,000 to 25,000
MoD/DPA has set a very high Protection Factor requirement which is significantly higher than the target set for NATO or US Forces, and we believe cannot be measured accurately yet on a wearer in a combat environment.
It is our understanding that problems with GSR include:
- — Poor functionality—twin filters are very large and difficult to operate.
- — Wearers find it very difficult to achieve a satisfactory fit on the face for testing to be carried out.
- — Difficulties with inner filter becoming blocked by moisture (sweat) build up.
- — Mask is unlikely to achieve the very high level of protection demanded due to the filter arrangement.
- — Integration with weapons and equipment has proved unacceptable to users.
- — Firing trials had to be abandoned as users were unable to obtain a sight picture.
- — Speech transmission is unacceptably poor.
We would like the Committee to know that the British developed M50, or variant, could be made available now to the UK. This option would provide significant savings to the UK taxpayer in both initial purchase and whole life cost, provide a more robust and exhaustively tested gas mask for the UK Armed Forces and prevent the move of another industrial capability to the US.
- — Potential users have very low confidence level in future mask.
22 June 2006
Avon are now making the GSR.