As I have commented many times, the UOR system itself has, with a small number of exceptions, been a great success, providing all manner of vehicles and equipment across all three services for use in Iraq and Afghanistan. Equally, we all know that the UOR system creates problems for the long term, generally they are not integrated into the fully complete logistics and maintenance system and because they are obtained for a very narrow range of application they might find themselves completely unsuitable for an operation elsewhere.
Post Afghanistan, depending on what that might end up becoming, as the Army transitions to Future Force 2020 or what comes out of the 2015 SDSR, many of these UOR vehicles and items of equipment are going to find themselves subject of a decision.
That decision is quite simply to retain or dispose.
Take CVR(T) 2.0 as an example.
CVR(T) is due to be replaced with FRES SV but with the in service date for FRES SV slipping ever more distant into the future and obviously, not available in Afghanistan, a UOR created the Mark 2 version.
A total of 50 vehicles were ordered for £30m, final deliveries this year, compare this with the development costs of £500m for the development contract alone for FRES SV Scout and a couple of other variants. CVR(T) 2 involved re hulling and adding in a range of additional system and improvements whilst taking many major sub systems from older vehicles. CVR(T) 2.0 is now available in the Scimitar reconnaissance vehicle, Spartan troop carrier, Samson repair and recovery, Sultan command post and Samaritan ambulance variants, all of which have been delivered as part of the UOR.
All models are based on the Spartan design which allows blast attenuating seats to be fitted for all crew members and an alternative escape route. The new hulls are fabricated from modern aluminium alloy which will reduce maintenance costs. Other improvements include redesigned and repositioned driver foot controls to reduce lower limb mine blast injuries, improved appliqué armour to improve blast and ballistic protection, upgraded torsion bar suspension to improve vehicle mobility, revamped fuel system and tanks, a heavier-duty winch on the Samson variant and a new power distribution system.
Since the introduction of the CVR(T) Mk2 to Afghanistan, two Scimitars have been hit by IEDs. In the first incident the crew all survived. In the second, tragically, the commander and gunner were killed following a rollover. The driver survived.
We have discussed the viability of the CVR(T) platform for modern operations many times and whether it is wholly suitable for the future, despite sunk costs being sunk costs and UOR sunk costs even ‘sunker’ the commercial attraction of 50 vehicles for £30m is hard to ignore.
Spend some more and commonality with the new Warrior turret might be possible, upgrade the engine and transmission, switch to band tracks and all of a sudden you have a much improved vehicle.
I am not actually suggesting that this is a good idea and this is probably not the thread to repeat those old arguments but this is just to illustrate how a make do and mend approach might seem attractive in light of increased pressure of the budget.