Military chiefs want hundreds of the eight-wheeled vehicles to spearhead a new rapid deployment force. Sources say the Ministry of Defence has ruled out a competitive bidding process, meaning British firms will miss out on the chance of landing the lucrative contract.
The new Mechanised Infantry Vehicles will replace Britain’s ageing Scimitar armoured cars – in service since the 1960s.
The Army wants up to 800 but the process of getting them into service has been dogged by delays.
Defence sources say generals are so desperate to see the new unit up and running they are willing to bypass the traditional tendering process because it would be quicker, despite costing more.
It is thought the MoD is poised to place an order with German consortium Rheinmetall for a vehicle known as the Boxer.
Several types of armoured vehicle are available from manufacturers around the world but buying overseas would mean jobs at Britishbased defence companies such as BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, and their UK supply chains, would be put at risk.
A military source told the Daily Express: “It has been heavily rumoured that the Government will buy Boxer from Germany and British industry is concerned it won’t get a chance to compete.
“Defence ministers have had repeated opportunities to say in the House of Commons that this will be openly competed but they seem reluctant to do so. When the defence budget is under such pressure, why would you not want to compete the programme and let British industry save the Government hundreds of millions of pounds?”