This a response to the Think Defence article offering an alternative view of how the Formation Recce Regiment might be organized in my ‘fantasy world’ or a reorganized British Army.
I would essentially keep the Regiments structure as it is today:
Recce (Sabre) Squadrons
The biggest change of course would be the replacement of the Scimitar CVR(T) with the shortened FRES Scout variant of the CV90. While I would prefer the Upgraded Warrior to have the unmanned turret from Nexter as developed for the French VCBI, I can see the point of a ‘recce’ vehicle retaining a manned turret with good direct view optics, and giving the vehicle commander the chance to stand up high in his hatch with a pair of bino’s (if the tactical situation allows it).. So, we will go with the CTA40mm turret as suggested for the CV90 FRES Scout bid. With 12 vehicles per squadron, full regiment strength is 36 CV90 Scouts.
The Spartan APC would be replaced by the ‘protected mobility’ APC version of the full length CV90, with an RWS equipped with a 7.62mm / 12.7mm MG or 40mm GMG as required.
Sampson recovery vehicles, Sultan command vehicles and Samaritan ambulances would be replaced by the similar existing variants of the CV90 that are already in production for various user nations, and these are distributed across the Regimental HQ Squadron, the Squadron HQ Troops and the ‘Fitter’ section as required.
Command and Support Squadron
I would add some capabilities to the Command and Support Squadron. Based on Command Vehicle and protected mobility APC variants, this is where I would put my tactical-mini UAV capability. I think we need a small, tactical system, able to be stowed in an APC, with the command and downlink workstation in a Command vehicle. Preferably something ‘hand launched’ – for the role of the Recce regiment, I don’t think we need longer range or endurance. I would suggest, just as a starting point the IAI Skylark 1 system.
Even smaller is the Lockheed Martin Desert Hawk, being used in Afghanistan by the Royal Artilary for patrol over watch and other roles. You can see how small it is when compared to its laptop ‘control station’
I think we can go with maybe 4 air vehicles and 2 Command Vehicle workstations. The Regiment should also have Rover ground stations and obviously the capability to receive imagery from larger tactical UAV’s and from helicopters etc.
The other capability I would add here is a mast mounted EO and radar surveillance capability, such as that deployed on the Canadian GD built LAV-RECCE (or Coyote as it’s known over here):
Note that we already use the MSTAR radar, and I believe it is normally deployed on a Spartan APC, also that I am not suggesting fitting this kit to a standard turreted FRES Scout, but to a variant of the CV90 APC, with perhaps 4 vehicles in the Squadron (1 for each Sabre Squadron and 1 spare).
Recce Squadron ATGW and Support Troops
Currently the ATGW squadron is on paper comprised of 4 x Striker ATGW carriers, however their heavy Swingfire wire guided weapons were withdrawn sometime ago. The discussion of what ATGW to deploy into the Squadrons, and how provoked considerable discussion of missile types etc in the comments on the original FDR FRR posting.
I am only going to be slightly radically by suggesting providing anti-tank firepower in the guise of a Troop of 4 x CV90120T medium tanks with the RUAG light weight / low recoil 120mm gun, firing standard NATO APDS-FS rounds. These are also capable recce vehicles in their own right, and provide many rounds than an ATGW system. Of course, in my re-ogranised army, these are also the mounts of our regular Armoured Corps Regiments !
The Support Troop provides 4 x Spartan APC’s for dismounted recce ‘scouts’ for sneaky forward and doing recce on foot. As Spartan can only carry 4 x dismounts, and a CV90 APC could carry 8, we will drop the vehicles down to 2. However I would replace the other 2 Spartans with 2 x CV90 with AMOS 120mm breach loading, automatic smooth bore mortars. This is a truly multi-purpose weapon system with a direct fire capability, and the ability to drop rounds ranging from IR screening smoke (very useful to a recce unit) to the Strix IR guided top-attack anti-armour weapon. Also if we really wanted to add another ATGW to our mix, then the barrels of the AMOS can fire IAI LAHAT tube-launched laser guided missiles. A good idea might be to add a fifth APC to carry additional mortar rounds.
A Support Troop conundrum – anti-air capability?
I am sure most readers would admit that the British Army is not well endowed with air-defence capabilities. Sure we have the Starstreak HVM as our ‘manpads’ and mounted on a variant of the Stormer APC (a stretched CVR(T)). However as the Recce Regiment can be expected to be operating at the ‘forward edge of battle area’ or indeed fluidly operating across an asymmetric battle space, should it have some more AA capability embedded ? There is an AA version of the CV90 with a different turret mounting a Bofors 40mm with the requisite sensors and fire control:
The ‘dust bin’ on the turret is radar – perhaps we would just use the standard IR Air Defence Alerting Device (IR-ADAD) and replace the Bofors with the standard CTA 40mm – lower rate of fire, but adequate for anti-helicopter ? Of course we could fit the same turret with 8 x Starstreak launchers as used on the current vehicles, and Starstreak is useful against targets other than ‘fast movers’.
For now let’s just say 2 CV90 AA with IR-ADAD and CTA 40mm turrets with high angle capability.
Soft skinned vehicles and ‘close recce’
The Regimental HQ, HQ Squadron and Recce Squadron HQ’s have the ‘Truck Utility Medium – Fitted For Radio’ (TUM-FFR) – or to you and I, the Landover Wolf with Bowman. There has been much support on in comments on previous posts for the use of the Fennek wheeled armoured recce vehicle to provide a ‘close recce’ element. This could be provided by replacing the soft skinned Landover’s in this role. However although my father was Household Cavalry (the Blues) and I have a good friend from the TA who was regular Army Blues and Royals, I have to admit I am not sure how the Landover’s are used. If they are not being used by close recce teams, but are just general purpose runabouts for the HQ staff, then a Fennek procurement is not appropriate. Perhaps Panther CLV would suffice in this role (it has room in back to throw bergens) with its roof mounted RWS conferring additional sensor capability. Otherwise even the Husky would provide 4 under armour seats, radios and some load carrying space in the back.
Note that unlike the original FRR article, I am not suggesting the use of Jackal / Jackal 2 – I would equip the recce platoons of Mechanised Infantry Brigades with these vehicles, or keep them available for FRR use ‘as required’.
Should Combat Engineers be added as standard element ?
Combat Engineers have their own recce troops, we might expect some to be attached to the ‘dismounts’, however in a highly asymmetric battle space, with fluid manoeuvre warfare do we need a little more embedded capability ?
How about a single CV90 APC, fitted with a dozer blade and perhaps a roof mounted “Mini-Python” minefield breaching system, attached to each Recce Squadron HQ ?
The alternative Formation Recce Regiment, vehicles summary:
- 36 x CV90 FRES Scout in 3 x Recce Squadrons
- 12 x CV90120T Medium Tanks in 3 x Anti-tank Troops (1 Troop per Recce Sqdn)
- 6 x CV90 AMOS in 3 x Support Troops (1 Troop per Recce Sqdn)(plus 3 x CV90 APC for ammo)
- 6 x CV90 AA in 3 x Support Troops (1 Troop per Recce Sqdn)
- 48 Recce Scouts (“dismounts”) in 6 x CV90 APC in 3 x Support Troops (1 Troop per Recce Sqdn). This equates to 6 x 8 man full sections or 12 x 4 man ‘brick’ Recce teams for close recce.
- 4 x CV90 APC with mast mounted EO / Radar (in Command and Support Squadron)
- 4 x CV90 APC ‘Combat Engineer’
- 14 – 18 x CV90 Command Vehicles (to replace Sultan in HQ elements)
- 6 – 8 x CV90 APC (to replace Spartan in HQ elements.)
- 4 x CV90 Ambulance (to replace Samaritan in HQ elements)
- 4 x CV90 Armoured Recovery Vehicle (to replace Samson in Fitter Sections)
- 8 x Fennek / Panther CLV / Husky as required (to replace TUM-FFR)
Approx. 111 CV90 variants, plus 8 wheeled vehicles !
A powerful and flexible formation, whadya think ?