The Dutch defense ministry has canceled a contract with Mercedes-Benz for the delivery of 515 12kN Air Assault vehicles (AASLT) after the company was unable to honor the agreement.
The original contract from October 2018 called for the carmaker to develop and deliver 515 vehicles based on its G-class model, mainly for the 11th Airmobile Brigade.
The off-road vehicles were to be built in three main variants (an infantry vehicle, an ambulance version and a version intended for logistical purposes). Various sub-variants for different units of the Airmobile Brigade had also been planned.
However, Mercedes-Benz could not deliver the project due to a combination of complicating factors, according to the Dutch defense ministry. The project was also already experiencing delays.
Back in 2018, the two sides agreed that Mercedes-Benz would develop vehicles that could both fit in a Chinook and hung under it. In addition, the vehicles had to be able to carry sufficient load and also be sufficiently protected against, for example, an artillery threat. Mercedes found out in the mean time, that the project had turned out to be unfeasible under the agreed financial terms.
The defense ministry said it had offered Mercedes-Benz one last chance to confirm that it would still deliver the vehicles in accordance with the requirements and the agreed price. The company did not respond to the inquiry, which led to the cancellation of the contract.
Dutch MoD begins search for new air-transportable off road vehicle
Deliveries of the 12kN AASLT had initially been expected to start from this year. The soldiers will now have to wait a little longer until the defense ministry identifies a new solution that would meet operational needs.
The ministry said it was already in talks with Germany about a possible collaboration, in which the Netherlands would join an existing German program.
Interestingly, Germany is acquiring a similar capability, but from Dutch defense vehicle manufacturer Defenture. While the Dutch MoD did not specify, this is likely the program the two countries could collaborate on.
The Dutch defense ministry noted it does not expect the new vehicles to arrive before 2027, which is why it is currently also on the lookout for an interim solution.