Dutch 007 equipment; Royal Ten Cate on innovative defence market

Special Forces are the troops most spared by Western governments when economizing on the military. They are an essential element of the new Remote Warfare policy of which drones are another element. New equipment appeals to boy's fantasy. With DARPA's newly-commissioned stealth dirt bikes, the enemy “will never hear how rad you are”. BRD Motorcycles developed a quiet, lightweigt and usefull motor for U.S. expeditionary special operations.

The Dutch Special Forces, the so-called Korps Commando Troepen (KCT), ordered unmanned parachutes of U.S. Airborne Systems. Navigated by GPS, these parachutes can land – night and day – on the right spot to deliver supply to forces in the field. Since autumn 2013, the Dutch green berets have access to the Microfly and the Firefly unmanned parachutes, suited to drop freight until 250 kg and 1000 kg respectively. It is the kind of equipment you expect 007 to use.

There is also plenty of budget for more modest products. In april, the Dutch company Royal Ten Cate has been selected by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems (OTS) to provide armor for the Ground Mobility Vehicle (GMV) for the US Army Special Operations Command’s (SOCOM) GMV 1.1. The command plans to purchase up to 1,300 GMVs over the next six years at about $245,000 per vehicle. Each truck will weigh less than 3.200 kg, hold up to seven personnel and be transportable by M/CH-47 Chinook helicopters.

Ten Cate will design, manufacture and deliver the armour for the vehicle and provide it to General Dynamics OTS as a complete kit ready for installation. The order has a value of about $30 million for the Ohio-based division of the company. Revenues will be generated in the next three to four years, with production beginning in the second half of 2014. This order of General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems forms part of a total order book of projects in excess of $100 million, which TenCate Advanced Armor is expecting to receive during 2014. Revenues out of this order book will be generated during the next four years.

Earlier in 2014, Ten Cate made headline with an other Special Forces product. In January, military labour unions VBM and ACOM protested on the plans by the Dutch ministry of Defence to buy Chinese uniformes for Dutch special forces deployed to Mali. Several parliamentarians asked questions about cheaper, but “inferior” Chinese uniforms bought by the Ministry. Ten Cate hoped that the MoD would choose the advanced Ten Cate textile 'Defender M “Better protecting our military”. A few months later the MoD seemed to have listened and ordered new uniforms made of Ten Cate's Defender M, sewed at clothing manufacturer NFM from Norway.

The textile manufacturer from Nijverdal has more military activities. Its composite material developed together with Fokker Aerostructures is e.g. used for wing parts of the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35). But the fifty percent military turnover by Ten Cate claimed by the Dutch lobby group for the military industries NIDV is an exaggeration, used as propaganda in an effort to tackle reductions on the military budget. In 2013, Ten Cate military turnover was 8 percent.

Ten Cate's newest military customer, SOCOM, is active in 130 countries worldwide. Questions have been raised in the media about the authority to conduct of SOCOM's special operations raids, particularly when innocent civilians were killed. Al Jazeera summarizes the tasks of the Command: assassinations, counterterrorist raids, long-range reconnaissance, intelligence analysis, foreign troop training etc. One of the key components is the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), a clandestine sub-command whose primary mission is tracking and killing suspected terrorists. It is only reporting to the president and acting under his sole authority, evading democratic scrutiny. John Nagl, a former high level counterinsurgency adviser, called JSOC "an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine". However, Ten Cate's deal with this killing machine of the our ally on the other side of the Atlantic will not be considered under the arms export policy.

Martin Broek 28/04/2014