Some interesting stuff coming soon to Think Defence, Monty has refreshed his armoured vehicles post and there is some more fantastic guest posts in addition to the one MartinR has just posted.
The main effort on my side is a detailed look at the history of FRES, going back to the precursor to CVR(T), the Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) and the FV430 Armoured Personnel Carrier.
Am about a quarter of the way through but what has struck me is how the conflict between protection, mobility and capability have played out over the decades and how we now seem to be refreshing concepts that we tried previously, but then let whither on the vine.
Generic Vehicle Architecture clearly has its roots in studies done by Alvis, Cranfield University and many more organisations in the eighties.
The concept of using medium weight vehicles packed full of electronics is not something that the latest FRES SV Scout has pioneered, VERDI Warrior was doing that and getting the T Shirt in the early nineties.It even had an elevating mast for the sensors, something that was carried over to TRACER but seems somewhat absent from the latest FRES concepts.
Opinions may be mixed on CVR(T) but there is no doubt strategic and tactical mobility was the single most important driver and it was followed through with singular focus.
It was doing the whole go there quick, go home thing decades before the revolution in military affairs, FCS and FRESathon made rapid deployment trendy.
And, it must be said, strategic and tactical mobility proved decisive on a number of occasions, Cyprus in 1974 and the Falkland Islands in 1982 being two notable examples.
CVR(T) also had a couple of strokes of genius, the Striker variant for example could blend in, hide behind cover, fire its Swingfire missile from a concealed position and even have the operator up to 30m away connected to the vehicle by a wire; a capability that we no longer have.
FRES now looks like it has firmly traded in any notion of rapidity in favour of protection, there is nothing wrong with moving up several weight belts but without a lighter weight, rapidly deployed capability we are making the Army much less responsive and mobile on the battlefield when it eventually gets there.
Something else that struck me when I started the background reading is just how far the RAF and RN have progressed in terms of major equipment since CVR(T), FV432 and Warrior were introduced.
FRES was/is a wide ranging programme that will deliver to the Army a range of vehicles to replace sixties era legacy vehicles like the FV430 and CVR(T), a pair of vehicle families that have been in service or development since the sixties.
In the same time period, the Royal Air Force has gone from this
The Royal Navy went from HMS Walrus
to HMS Astute
The decades have rolled by, vehicle replacement programmes have come and gone, wars have been fought, vast sums of money spent and still CVR(T) and FV432 remain very firmly in service.
By 2020 the British Army may well see replacement for the FV432, a vehicle that hit the drawing board in 1958, and CVR(T), a vehicle family that started its service life in 1973.
Between 60 and 70 years service, just let that sink in for a moment.