§ Sir Ian Gilmour
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence (1) on what criteria roughly 470 miles of cross country use on each of two medium mobility DROPS validation vehicles is considered adequate troop trialling;
(2) what mileage onroad, offroad, and cross country he will expect future medium mobility vehicles to complete in trials; and what similar mileages have been demanded of other medium mobility vehicles in the past;
(3) why he has not so far submitted the performance and reliability of the latest design of MMLC DROPS to protracted cross-country trialling; and if he will make a statement on the implications for the confidence of soldiers and the general public in such equipment of the absence of such trials.
§ Mr. Sainsbury
[holding answer 8 March 1989]: Trials requirements for medium mobility vehicles vary according to their roles and battlefield missions. In the case of the DROPS medium mobility load carrier they are particularly demanding, but the programme is nevertheless ahead of schedule. In addition to troop trials, in the evaluation and validation phases the DROPS vehicle has so far covered some 146,000 km including some 10 per cent. cross-country and 20 per cent. off-road. The design of vehicle recently trialled by BAOR is essentially the same as that originally evaluated and has been accepted by the Army as meeting the operational requirement.