24 July 2002

MILITARY KIT WITH FARMING POTENTIAL?

Not exactly farming, but a recent military event still turned

up some items of interest – well, they are if you stand

back a long way and squint. Andrew Pearce was there

WHEN it comes to big boys toys, nobody does it better than the armed forces. So when the army decides to host an event youre guaranteed some serious kit. Which is exactly what went churning and blattering over (and if necessary, clean through) the soft Surrey countryside at Defence Vehicle Dynamics, a recent one-day showcase for existing and potential military transport.

Aldershot was the venue, cloudy was the weather. Plenty of camouflaged uniforms and clipped accents kept the focus steady on the equipments primarily chilling purpose, but several items still showed clear farming potential. All youll need to exploit it are the right buying connections, singularly deep pockets and a can or two of spray paint. Heres a flavour of what was on offer.

Spreading contractors might like an ejector-body Multidrive M8. Made by the Yorkshire company that produces the tractor of the same name and used for airfield damage repair and road building, this high-speed hauler drives all its eight wheels, does 56-60mph on the highway and off it, hits 34mph in low range. A 450hp Caterpillar C15 and 12-speed transmission handles a 36t payload, which is spread on-the-move by a rubber bed winding on to a roller at the back of the trailer. A fifth-wheel turntable and a slew ring between trailer/bogie lets the outfit articulate, while a cunning link system steers the back bogie automatically. Off-road ride is surprisingly good and theres not much that can stop it. Snag is, at 56t all-up the M8 cant be driven laden on the road. Multidrive (01845-521500)

Hutchinson tyre inserts give complete driving capability even if the tyre has been shredded, opening the possibility of ambush escape. Other designs handle mine blasts, so silage and harvest shouldnt be too much trouble. The bad news? Cost is around £500 a throw, fitment is for flat-base rims only. Hutchinson SNC (033-140 895442)

Whats this? The underside of a Transit seen in a mirror, with the propshaft running right to left. Converters Drum Airdrive tee a transfer box into the shaft which, when switched from the cab, diverts all engine power to a pto stub, compressor, generator or hydraulic pump. In this case a screw compressor (bottom right) supplies air at 35cfm through a drier (top left) on a tyre service van. Alternative setups include electricity generation for mobile repairs (up to 6kVA in a 3.5t truck) and water jetting (36-68lpm at 200-400bar). Drum Airdrive (01274-683131)

Left: Istecs universal platform bolts to an ATVs rear rack, supplying a 180deg quadrant for a lockable base to swing on. A quick-release stem takes a whole raft of stuff, including smoke generators as here (good for confusing ramblers) or for those troubled by rabbits, a pair of 7.62mm machine guns.

Estates needing to transport guns between drives and having a keen eye for their duty of care may fancy Safety Devices fold-top seats, seen here in prototype Defender form. Price will be around £200 each, with another £700-£800 for the roll cage needed for mounting. Beaters, of course, can rattle around in the back as usual. Safety Devices (01353-724200)

If the farm pickup wont take the family where it wants to go, try Penmans Trekker Extended Range Patrol Vehicle. Defender-based with the wheelbase stretched to 150in, it drives all six wheels off-road through diff locks if necessary. Its air portable too, making visits to the mother-in-law a snip; on that front, it helpfully carries light, medium or heavy weapons on a mid-mounted platform. Unladen weight is 2300kg, so the 122hp TD5 engine should cope quite well. A £10,000 cheque on top of the base vehicle buys one, and the firm will also do you a standard-looking but completely armoured Defender or Range Rover to complete the set. Penman Specialist Vehicles (01387-252784)

Let pigeon problems be a thing of the past with this Browning 0.5cal machine gun on its specialist mount. Rate of fire is 450-600 rounds/min, with the £2500 mount taking out 80% of recoil. Hide and gun are extra. Cobra Defence Systems (01273-235911)

Wet autumn? No worries with a Hägglunds Viking. This armoured battlefield taxi is extraordinary transport, whacking over all terrains at up to 50mph and making a glorious noise from its 5.9 litre, 250hp Cummins turbodiesel. Its in two articulated halves, each sitting on a pair of tracks – all driven – which dish up an amazingly comfortable high-speed ride. Seating capacity is four up front, eight in the back; severe offence is given by a general-purpose machine gun.

Looks like a weapon… But thats a roll of MIG wire in the middle. Sigma Security Devices import this American Broco GoWeld portable MIG, which draws power from battery packs in its transport case and uses flux-cored, self-shielding wire for outdoor repairs. Well investigate what it can do asap. Sigma Security Devices (01304-205050)