In 2016 Briggs Defence won the contract to carry out a midlife refurbishment programme for the Royal Air Force (RAF), which involved updating its fleet of 22 Dantruck forklifts. We have handed over the final truck – now in operation at RAF Brize Norton – and the contract will officially complete in September.
A bespoke, air-transportable 8-tonne forklift, the Dantruck features a three-stage hydraulic mast and a very low closed height for rapid loading of specialist roller pallets for military cargo. As such, it is a vital piece of equipment within the UK’s military logistics operations and the RAF’s forklift of choice for Out of Area deployment by No.1 Air Movements Wing.
Used primarily at the Air Head at RAF Brize Norton, Dantrucks are also in use at RAF bases around the UK and in the Falkland Islands, Cyprus and Ascension Island.
Better than new
The RAF’s machines were manufactured in 2004 and were therefore in need of full restoration. It was a challenging programme given the substantial age of the machines and fact that the manufacturer of Dantruck is no longer in business. But our engineers proved to be more than equal to the task, replacing the Detroit power unit and rebuilding transmissions, drive axles and hydraulic systems. As a result, the Dantruck 2 fleet is as good as new. Better, in fact, as we were able to make improvements to the original design by upgrading the alternator and cooling system.
Since the Dantrucks require access to fuel and munition dumps, the RAF stipulated that the machines should be certified to Cat C for storage and marshalling. Following a lengthy investigation, we were able to source a vendor to carry out an EMC test by model type. Due to the extensive work carried out by our engineers in Maidenhead, the Dantruck 2 passed with flying colours.
Extra and ongoing support
As well as the refurbishment of the Dantruck fleet, renamed Dantruck 2, we were tasked with rewriting the RAF AESP (Army Equipment Support Publication) – a detailed maintenance manual containing all technical data and a parts listing. To simplify matters, our parts department converted civilian part numbers to NSN (NATO Stock Numbers) so that parts can be ordered direct through the NATO parts ordering system from anywhere in the world.
To provide a complete service for the RAF, we created a safety case, which did not feature on the original Dantruck 1 and, in conjunction with Contact Attachments, we re-designed one-off roller tines and supplied 22 pairs.
Upon contract completion, our role is expected to switch to engineering support, as we have put forward a ten-year maintenance programme for the Dantruck 2 fleet, including parts supply. Yet, to keep the trucks serviceable at all times, it was clear that the RAF’s own engineers would require specialist training. Our experts therefore conducted training at various RAF bases around the UK, ensuring that the RAF can undertake repairs and servicing as required. We also developed a bespoke e-learning programme, which is live and accessible across the globe by military personnel who need technical information.
The Dantruck 2 refurbishment programme called for a real team effort and, as always, our dedicated staff pulled out all the stops to make the project as success. Huge thanks to contract project manager Jerry Merrifield, service managers Neil Gray and Ben Stuart, engineers Nigel Brown, Alex Woods and Mark Taylor and Dantruck parts specialist Mark Hamilton-Farey.
The Briggs Defence team would also like to thank specialist suppliers Arrow Radiators, ETS transmissions, GB Hydraulics and TVH, the new owner of Dantruck. Special thanks go to TVH’s Graham Hughes, who worked tirelessly to overcome complicated parts issues.
With their capacity for rapid loading and offloading, the Dantrucks are used in conjunction with the RAF’s fleet of military transport aircraft, including the Airbus A400 Atlas, C17 Globemaster and C130 Hercules. They support a wide range of military and humanitarian missions, as well as day-to-day logistics.
These before and after photographs help to illustrate how the Briggs Defence team, with the support of its specialist supplier partners, has given the RAF’s Dantruck 2 fleet a new lease of life.