Britain’s Babcock beats off US rivals to service Army tanks


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The blue chip government contractor Babcock International has edged out two huge US rivals to snap up nearly 3,000 of the Ministry of Defence’s top engineers.

The defence minister Philip Dunne confirmed yesterday that the MoD had selected the 123-year-old engineering services company as preferred bidder for the Defence Support Group’s land business, which maintains the Army’s armoured vehicles and tanks. A sale was first mooted in 2010.

DSG’s 2,800 engineers work on servicing, repairs and storage. The MoD has been looking to outsource vast chunks of its work in order to save money, but unions and senior personnel in the military are concerned that this could compromise national security.

Babcock’s victory will at least come as some relief to those who have been concerned that US groups keep landing the biggest MoD work.

Denver’s CH2M Hill and California-based Bechtel recently won the most important roles in managing parts of Defence Equipment & Support, the £14bn-budget agency that buys everything from missiles to submarines.

Babcock was up against Texas-based KBR and Virginia’s General Dynamics.

The air force, electronics and components part of DSG, which carries out complicated technical support for equipment such as wings will be retained within the MoD, but as a distinct agency.

Mr Dunne said that further details on Babcock’s winning bid would be available in the new year.

He added: “This has been a competitive process which is on track to deliver improved vehicle availability for the British Army at better value to the taxpayer over years to come.”

The Babcock chief executive, Peter Rogers, said he was committed to “improved performance levels, enhanced operational agility and greater cost efficiencies” for the army.

DSG was tempting to the private sector as it made a £67m profit in its latest annual results, though staff recently took industrial action arguing that they should share in some of this success.