The Story of FRES – The Eighties

By the end of the seventies, CVR(T) was well established in service, the FV430 likewise.


A Trip Down South

CVR(T)’s exceptional mobility and ease of deployment meant they were to find a role in the Falklands Conflict in 1982.

3 and 4 Troop, B Squadron, the Blues and Royals equipped with Scorpion and provided infantry fire support and a solitary Sampson provided recovery capabilities. Crews traveled south on the SS Canberra and the vehicles on the M/V Elk. At Ascension, as with so many stores and personnel, the vehicles were re-organised and moved to HMS Fearless, in readiness for the amphibious landing at San Carlos.

They also took the opportunity to use the range facilities at Ascension for practice and preparation.

CVR(T) Scorpion B Squadron, the Blues and Royals fires a round during training on the range at Ascension Island

CVR(T) Scorpion B Squadron, the Blues and Royals fires a round during training on the range at Ascension Island

CVR(T) Scorpion at Ascension

CVR(T) Scorpion at Ascension


Once the landings had been completed the Scorpions and Scimitars provided perimeter security from dug in positions and the lodgement area was secured and sufficient logistics established for the advance to Port Stanley. They were also used as logistics carriers, shuttling stores from one place to another.

CVR(T) FV107 Scimitar Falkland Islands

CVR(T) FV107 Scimitar Falkland Islands

One Scimitar claimed that it downed an A4 Skyhawk at a 1,000m

Even at this stage everyone else thought the terrain would defeat the CVR(T) and they would play little role in continuing operations. Despite this, they were tasked to support 45 Commando in their move along the northern route and 3 Para in their move to Teal Inlet. 2 Para, with their objective of Goose Green, were unsupported.

Insert speculation here about the impact of armoured fire support during the battle at Goose Green.

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Jones (RTR) continues the story…

Battles fought across the high ground above Port Stanley were planned to take place at night and involved close direct and indirect fire support. The first phase-attack was opened by 3 Para with their assault on Mount Longdon. Initial  surprise was achieved in the darkness, but the enemy were soon alert and resisted fiercely with heavy accurate fire. 4 Troop provided valuable direct fire support with their 76mm, firing HESH. The battle for the eastern sector of Mount Longdon was to last 6 hours and, for the western half, 4 hours. The enemy positions were captured by a process of calling for very close fire support, at times within 50 meters of the leading British troops.

Two techniques used by the British employing the CVRs proved very successful. The first involved a diversionary attack on the night of 12 June. In the attack, the Scots Guards employed 4 Troop in a reconnaissance role and then a direct fire role insupport of the diversionary assault. The impact of the use of the CVRs was instrumental deceiving the enemy.

The Argentine commander later admitted that “…he had been entirely deceived by the diversionary attack into thinking it was the main attack on his position”

The other technique employed by the CVRs is known as “zapping”: …the CVR crew would engage the Argentine position with a brief burst of machine gun fire provoking a response, which was promptly silenced by the main gun. The 30mm RARDEN cannon, with its high velocity and great accuracy, was much favoured for this technique.

Few Argentines felt able to reply after being zapped.

Armour, played key roles during the Falklands War performing reconnaissance, security, and support of dismounted manoeuvre missions. The presence of the CVRs during the initial build up phase provided a degree of security otherwise not available had an attack been launched by the Argentineans, particularly if they had used their 90-mm gun equipped Panhards (wheeled armoured vehicles). Once again, armoured vehicles surprised their supporters and silenced the critics with their great mobility in terrain considered unacceptable. When employed in support of infantry, the CVRs provided critical direct fire, especially with their passive sights during the hours of darkness. Additional roles of air defence and aiding the logistics only enhanced the primary fire support role provided by the CVRs.

The two troops deployed provided fire support for the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment during the Battle of Wireless Ridge and for 2nd Battalion Scots Guards during the Battle of Mount Tumbledown

CVR(T) was well suited to the boggy terrain of the Falklands because of its very low ground pressure.

This, coupled with skilled driving, kinetic energy recovery ropes and the occasional assistance from a Samson meant that all fears of their utility were disproved.

CVR(T) Scimitar Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scimitar Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scimitar Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scimitar Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

CVR(T) Scorpion Falkland Islands

It is also worth comparing the value of CVR(T) with that of the Argentine Panhard wheeled armoured cars because of mobility issues.

Argentine Panhard armoured vehicle Falkland Islands

Argentine Panhard armoured vehicle Falkland Islands

A Scimitar was damaged by a mine but was recovered by the sole Chinook in theatre, repaired by the attached REME section and returned to service in short order. The Sampson recovery vehicle also tipped over the side of a small bridge but was also soon returned to service.



CVR(T) Status and Developments

A diesel engined Scorpion was shown by Alvis at the 1980 BAEE show and shortly after BL sold their stake in Alvis to United Scientific Holdings. In the same year, Alvis purchased the design rights from the MoD for the FV4333.

CVR(T) entered service with the RAF Regiment between 1981 and 1982.

In 1981 Alvis announced they would be developing Stormer. Stormer was more or less a larger CVR(T), an extra road wheel and a new engine/transmission. Soon after this announcement Malaysia  placed an order with Alvis for 25 Scorpion 90 vehicles equipped with the Cockerill 90mm low pressure gun and 25 Stormer APC’s. 12 of the Stormers were fitted with a 20mm cannon turret and the remainder with a twin 7.62mm GPMG turret.

CVR(T) with CMI 90mm

CVR(T) with CMI 90mm

Malaysian Army Alvis Stormer with 20mm Oerlikon

Malaysian Army Alvis Stormer with 20mm Oerlikon

In 1986 the FV120 Spartan Milan Compact Turret (MCT) variant was introduced, although Milan’s maximum range of 2,000m was a significant step down from Swingfire at 4,000m.

CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret

CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret

CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret

CVR(T) FV103 Spartan with Milan Compact Turret

By the end of 1986, the UK had taken delivery of 1,863 CVR(T), 313 Scorpions, 89 Strikers, 691 Spartans, 50 Samaritans, 291 Sultans, 95 Samsons and 334 Scimitars.

Following their work with the original Stormer and the export models for Malaysia a series of  improvements were made and these led to the selection in 1986 of Stormer as a base vehicle for the British Army Shorts Starstreak High Velocity Missile System, selected over the British Aerospace Thunderbolt.

British Aerospace Thunderbolt on a Stormer

British Aerospace Thunderbolt on a Stormer

Stormer High Velocity Missile Prototype

Stormer High Velocity Missile Prototype

The Stormer base vehicles were ordered at a cost of £40 million and the Starstreak Missile development and initial production, £225 million, an self funded evolution of Blowpipe and Javelin.

Alvis Stormer with High Velocity Missile (HVM)

Alvis Stormer with High Velocity Missile (HVM)

Alvis Stormer with High Velocity Missile (HVM)

Alvis Stormer with High Velocity Missile (HVM)

High Velocity Missile

High Velocity Missile

In 1988, an upgrade contract was placed at a cost of approximately £50 million that would see a new Cummins BTA diesel engine and other improvements fitted under the Life Extension Programme in the following few years.

Alvis also developed a number of variants of both CVR(T) and Stormer

CVR(T) Streaker with Bar mine layer

CVR(T) Streaker with Bar mine layer

CVRT Streaker refueller (Image Credit - Plain Military)

CVRT Streaker refueller (Image Credit – Plain Military)

Landrover Centaur

Landrover Centaur

Stormer Air Defence

Stormer Air Defence

Stormer APC

Stormer APC

Stormer High Mobility Load Carrier HMLC (Image Credit - Plain Military)

Stormer High Mobility Load Carrier HMLC (Image Credit – Plain Military)

Stormer IFV with Delco 25mm Turret BAEE 86

Stormer IFV with Delco 25mm Turret BAEE 86

The scatterable mine system and Stormer 30 would come in the next decade, and next post.


Despite dancing around the Bradley handbag for a few years, in 1980, the MoD awarded a development contract to Sankey for the main development phase to meet General Staff Requirement 3533 , the vehicle that would go on to become Warrior. By the point of contract award GKN had already completed one static and two mobile test rigs as part of earlier studies but all was not rosy in the camp.

Alec Daly joined GKN in 1978 to head up the Sankey division after 16 years at Ford. The new broom certainly swept clean and after the highs of the development contract award had subsided he made it clear that should it not meet time and cost objectives there would be little chance of the production contract going to GKN. Despite success with Saxon, the MCV-80 Warrior was in a different league and the lack of business and project management worried Alec Daly.

To this end, he formed a partnership with the chief designer, Ken Lofts and introduced a range of practices that were becoming more common in the automotive industry. Ford practices clearly had a large influence on the development of Warrior.

One of these, at the time, revolutionary concepts was to ask the user what they wanted and what they thought important.

We went to the soldiers and asked what they wanted most from the vehicle. They picked out two things; one, they didn’t want a mine to be able blow it up when the vehicle went over it; and two, they wanted it to start every time you pressed the button.

Alec Daly

The end of the development phase completed on time and to budget.

This vindicated GKN but more importantly, Michael Heseltine, who had insisted on splitting the development and manufacturing contract, allowing a single prime contractor to be wholly responsible for the design and development phase, making this subject to competition and culling the cost plus contract model.

Warrior certainly had a whiff of industrial revolution about it.

Warrior prototype

Warrior prototype

GKN produced 14 prototypes, most of which were destroyed (in mine tests for example) but some would be retained for trials and development purposes.

One of the Mobile Test Rigs was deployed to Germany for Exercise Lionheart in 1984.

Warrior Mobile Test Rig Exercise Lionheart 1984

Warrior Mobile Test Rig Exercise Lionheart 1984

Incidentally, Exercise Lionheart was also intended to prove the ability of British forces in the UK to make use of civilian transport to get to Germany, the image below shows a CVR(T) Spartan being loaded into a container ready for transport to Germany.

CVRT) Spartan being loaded into a container on Exercise Lionheart 1984

CVRT) Spartan being loaded into a container on Exercise Lionheart 1984

The manufacturing contract was the next business at hand and here, GKN were pitched against Vickers Defence Systems, Royal Ordnance and Alvis, headed by Sir Peter Levene, yes, that Peter Levene. Instead of caving in to pressure to reduce the cost per vehicle GKN stuck to their original bid price, emphasising quality. It would prove to be a winning strategy and in 1986 production started at GKN in Telford.

Warrior first production

Warrior first production

The original order was for 280 vehicles with the final number of 789 completed in 1995, down from the initial requirement of 1,053. The plan was for a Warrior to replace the FV432’s in the nine newly formed Armoured Infantry Battalions but costs meant the FV432 would have to solider on in these secondary roles.

A Armoured Infantry Battalion would therefore comprise 3 distinct families of armoured vehicles, CVR(T), Warrior and FV432, plus the various odds and sods of B Vehicles likes trucks and Land Rovers.

The first unit to receive Warrior was 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in Germany, followed by 1st Battalion the Staffordshire Regiment.

Warrior – A Family of Vehicles

Like CVR(T), Warrior is a family of vehicles built with a common hull and automotive components.

Warrior powerpack consisted of a 550hp Perkins CV8 Condor diesel engine and General Motors X-300-4B automatic transmission.

Warrior powerpack

Warrior powerpack

The very same, albeit in 12 cylinder format, was used for Challenger and the Scammel Commander tank transporter, a rather intelligent piece of commonality that seems to elude us these days.

Hull armour is welded aluminium designed to provide protection against 155mm shell splinters, 14.5mm armour piercing rounds and 9kg anti tank mines. Torsion bar suspension and aluminium roadwheels enable a cross country speed of 35kph. 

Other mobility characteristics include a ground clearance of 0.48m, 1.3m fording depth, 2.5m trench crossing distance, a maximum vertical obstacle height of 0.75m, maximum gradient of 60% and side slope of 40%.

The 82 link tracks are 0.48m wide and maintain a contact length of 3.82m for those interested in ground pressure per square metre.

Although the prototype had two fuel tanks in side mounted external panniers the production models use a transparent polyethylene fuel tank situated underneath the turret that delivers a range of approximately 600km. During the Gulf War it was reported that the movement of fuel in the tank induced sea sickness so it is often painted.

FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle

Housed in the Vickers Defence developed 2 man steel welded aluminium turret is a 30mm RARDEN cannon and McDonnell Douglas Ex34 chain gun, designated L94A1 and possibly the most despised weapon in the British Army! Traverse and elevation is manual, 360 degrees traverse and +45 degree -15 degree elevation, storing 200 rounds for the RARDEN and 2,000 for the chain gun. The turret also mounts a pair of smoke grenade launchers.

Warrior MCV 80

Warrior MCV 80

Distinguished from the other variants by its single powered door the infantry section vehicle carries 7 infantry soldiers in addition to the three crew (commander, gunner and driver)

FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle rear door

FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle rear door

FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle

FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle

Armoured Infantry Battalions have continually evolved established strength and vehicle distribution but the original establishment was for each platoon to have four, three sections and a platoon commander. An Armoured Infantry Company would comprise three platoons and a Battalion, 3 company’s (plus Fire Support and HQ).

Therefore, the Armoured Infantry Battalion would field 36 FV510’s for the infantry and later, an additional 11 FV510’s used for Milan sections, 45 in total.

Total orders for the FV510 numbered 384 plus an additional 108 post the Gulf War that were for TRIGAT but used for Milan in the interim and 3 replacement vehicles that were destroyed, total numbers; 492.

FV511 Infantry Command Vehicle

Double rear doors, externally mounted antennae and a rear compartment full of map boards and various radios distinguish the FV411 Infantry Command Vehicle but they retain the turret. The radio fit will be different, depending on whether it is in the Company or Battalion.

FV511 Warrior Infantry Command Vehicle

FV511 Warrior Infantry Command Vehicle

The original Armoured Infantry Battalion would have 3 FV511’s, one for the Battalion commander and two in the Fire Support Company.

84 were delivered.

FV512 Mechanised Combat Repair Vehicle

Used for the REME Light Aid Detachment in the Armoured Infantry Battalion.

The FV512 can tow the T4 High Mobility Trailer which is used to carry a complete Warrior powerpack (and Challenger for that matter)

FV512 Warrior Repair Vehicle and T4 Trailer

FV512 Warrior Repair Vehicle and T4 Trailer

The hydraulic jib can lift 6.5 tonnes at 4.5m outreach and the vehicles carries two crew and three fitters.

107 delivered

FV513 Mechanised Recovery Vehicle (Repair)

The FV513 is almost identical to the FV512 but it has a large earth anchor and large winch, capable of a straight pull of 20 tonnes.

FV513 Mechanised Recovery Vehicle(Repair)

FV513 Mechanised Recovery Vehicle(Repair) 

39 delivered

FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle

One of the more complex variants, the MAOV was designed for Royal Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery forward observation teams. Specifically, they were designed to look the same as the much more numerous FV510 Infantry Fighting Vehicles but in the rear compartment was housed a collection of electronic and fire control communications equipment. Although it had a turret the main gun was a wooden mockup in order to free space for other equipment, the chain gun remained however.

FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle

FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle

In addition to improved thermal imaging and day/night optics they were also fitted with the J Band Pulse Doppler MSTAR radar, Battlefield Artillery Target Engagement System (BATES) and a  navigation and attitude reference system called Azimuth Positioning Elevation System (APES)

52 delivered

FV515 Battery Command Vehicle

The final Warrior variant was the FV515 Battery Command Vehicle that would provide battery commander with armoured mobility in support of armored or armoured infantry battle group.

FV515 Warrior Battery Command Vehicle

FV515 Warrior Battery Command Vehicle

As the FV414, designed specifically to look visually identical to the FV510 but it does not have the sophisticated electronics of the FV513

19 delivered

Vehicle Electronics Research Defence Initiative (VERDI)

In 1988 the MoD briefed 88 companies and the following year 15 British companies entered into a three year collaborative programme with Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment to develop an integrated fighting vehicle electronics system for demonstration purposes. Known as VERDI (Vehicle Electronics Research Defence Initiative), this resulted in the showing at BAEE (exhibition) of a Warrior tracked vehicle configured for the reconnaissance role equipped with two VERDI consoles (or big tellies as more commonly known).

Even at this stage we had recognised the potential of electronic systems and the Warrior in the reconnaissance role and more importantly, that electronic sub systems were only ever going to get more complicated and difficult to manage without an over arching architecture, perhaps the precursor to Generic Vehicle Architecture we are seeing today.

It might have been that the technology of the day was not sufficiently developed to realise the VERDI vision but there is no doubting the ambition of that vision.

More on VERDI later, in the next post, the nineties.

Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV)

Towards the end of the decade the MoD started a study that would look at options for replacing all the light armoured vehicles in service with a much reduced family, maximising commonality and reducing costs.

In 1989 the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) study identified a number of roles that would eventually inform the CVR(T), FV432 and other vehicle replacement and resolved down to 13 roles and 50 sub roles with a weight range of between 3.5 and 24 tonnes.

FFLAV marks the start point for CVR(T) replacement, remember the year, 1989, by which time CVR(T) had been in service about 18 years, although there was work going on before the study was officially revealed and VERDI happened on or around the same time.

FFLAV was a fully coherent and sensible look at the future and its requirements, of course, with something as sensible it was doomed to failure.

There were three phases to the FFLAV

  • Phase 1, carried out by the MoD Design Authority contractors, covered a study of the current fleet to ascertain how closely current vehicles meet, or can be upgraded to meet the FFLAV requirement
  • Phase 2 covered the proposals from industry
  • Phase 3 was the assessment and analysis of all vehicles and proposals from Phases 1 and 2

FFLAV eventually broadened and settled on three families of armoured vehicles, heavy, based on a tank chassis, medium weight vehicles and lightweight reconnaissance, in addition to something called the Multi Base Armoured Vehicle (MBAV).

FFLAV would therefore seek to replace FV432, CVR(T), CVR(W) and Ferret. In 1989, Janes reported the projected FFLAV project would amount to some 7,000 vehicles.

More on FFLAV in the next post, the nineties

Protected Mobility in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe

During the 1980 Commonwealth Ceasefire and Elections Monitoring Force operation (Op AGILA) in Zimbabwe/Rhodesia mine protected vehicles were deployed, commonly, Land Rovers and Bedford RL and 3 Tonne trucks.

Land Rover Mine Protected - Op AGILA Rhodesia - Zimbabwe 1980

Land Rover Mine Protected – Op AGILA Rhodesia – Zimbabwe 1980 (Image Credit – Flickr Cold War Warrior)

Land Rover Mine Protected - Op AGILA Rhodesia - Zimbabwe 1980 01

Land Rover Mine Protected – Op AGILA Rhodesia – Zimbabwe 1980

What is interesting about these images is the length of time between them, Aden in 1967 and Rhodesia/Zimbabwe in 1980 using what appears to be exactly the same design, possibly exactly the same vehicles.

Contrast that with the MoD’s accounting model now that sees equipment disposed of with undue haste.

At the End of the Decade

And so, pop fans, the 1989 Christmas Number 1, Do They Know its Christmas by Band Aid, the second one, with Kylie.

Band Aid II – Do They Know It's Christmas?




The rest of the series

The Story of FRES – Introduction

The Story of FRES – The Sixties

The Story of FRES – The Seventies

The Story of FRES – The Eighties

The Story of FRES – The Nineties

The Story of FRES – US Experience in the Balkans

The Story of FRES – 2000 to 2003

The Story of FRES – 2004

The Story of FRES – 2005

The Story of FRES – 2006

The Story of FRES – 2007 and the Trials of Truth

The Story of FRES – 2008

The Story of FRES – 2009 and a Return to FRES

The Story of FRES – 2010 Scout Contract Award

The Story of FRES – 2011

The Story of FRES – 2012 to 2014

The Story of FRES – A Summary


As one might imagine, this series has taken an enormous amount of research, taking into account many sources but I must give special mention to our Chris and Challenger2 from Plain Military, without their expansive knowledge and most helpful insight and support, this would have been much the poorer.


About The Author

Think Defence hopes to start sensible conversations about UK defence issues, no agenda or no campaign but there might be one or two posts on containers, bridges and mexeflotes!


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Your last link on Ethiopia should be a reminder why we need forces to react and respond if necessary with measures in place to defend those in need.



Even though more mentions of Stormer have been promised, maybe it belongs to this installment that a handful of bridging Stormers were sold to both Malaysia and Indonesia. Came across this when I was trying to understand how the bridging Warrior suddenly appeared, without any (announced) project.


A few errors on the RA side, some perpetuating popular myths and other points.

FV436 – there is an awful lot of nonsense written about this. The facts are:

Originally conceived as an SP version of Rdr FA No 8 (AKA Green Archer). It had a very distinctive shape because about half the rear hull was cut away. Did not enter UK service but the design was applied to M113 for the SP Green Archers used by Denmark and Germany.

Rdr FA No 15 Mk 2 (AKA Cymbeline) was fitted straight on top of 432, it merely replaced the roof hatches, and added a bit of internal furniture. The vehicle remained FV432, and that’s what the UHB states.

When Gen Nigel Bagnall commanded 1(BR) Corps in 1980-82 one of his initiatives was ’hardening & reducing ‘ bde and div HQs (up until this time bde HQs were hard but divs were soft), he’d done the detailed work when commanding a division. 432s required modification (ie welding and holes) this work was undertaken locally by German contractors, this meant the vehicles were no longer standard so needed a new designator, hence picking up the old but never issued 436.

The 432 IKs for CVs, Mortars, etc were an important feature, the key point was that removing the IKs reverted the vehicle to standard, no vehicle modifications were required. However, there were exceptions, 432 carrying FACE (from c.1970) may have had new internal mounting points (there would have been about 90 of vehicles), then in the early ’80s Rdr GS No 14 (AKA ZB298) was fitted to OP 432s and these had a cable hole and cover added to a roof hatch and internal mounting furniture.

It’s also useful to note the issue with FV 433, since the hull was much lower the engine compartment was much smaller so the standard 432 engine pack did not fit, 433 had its own shape of engine pack. For the under-informed a 43n power pack could be lifted out, put beside the vehicle but still connected to it by the engine umbilical and static run. Of course the Leopard was better because its pack was on runners and could be slid out by dropping the rear of the hull.

Turning to FV 514 - while the 30mm was dummy the MG remained real (famously used by a 514 crew to shoot the locals off their sqn ldr’s tank in Basra). However, the key items were a pair used together, APES (which gave orientation and fixation) and a LRF. This enabled use of polar coordinates. The BATES fit was minimal access not processing, just the DED (Data Entry Device) and a Net Interface Equipment connecting to a radio, these were in the hull because there was no room in the turret. The mounting of Rdr GS No 22 (AKA MSTAR) on a fitted telescopic mast is a relatively recent modification, previously it was carried but was mounted on a ground tripod. IIRC it originally had more powerful night vision equipment than 510.

FV515 - fundamental ignorance and confusion displayed on this one (and the quantity is a clue, particularly when compared to the number of 514)! It is actually the Battery Commander’s Vehicle, not the Battery Command (Post) Vehicle. The latter (two of) are on the gun position, but FV 515 is with the BC who was and is at the HQ of the battlegroup (infantry battalion or armoured regiment) that the battery Directly Supports, ie it goes with 511 in an armoured infantry battlegroup.


An interesting historical look at the cluster f**k that is FRES.

Perhaps the biggest problem has been lack of doctrine from the Army's top brass. It seems they want to much from one or two vehicles, Wheels and Tracks, light enough to fly in a C130 but heavy enough to withstand an IED.

One wonders if the army would not have more luck in simply having more vehicles. I know its against the thread of commonality but some times commonality can cost more than it saves. The Armies requirements seem to fly in the face of the laws of Physics because no matter how strong the armour if a vehicle is not heavy enough then an sufficiently large IED will send it into the air killing and maming those onboard.

This issue seems to have perplexed western military minds for some time and there will never be a solution to it.

It's easy for us to point at the current budget crisis and say that's why we don't have FRES but as TD points out this has been going on for a long time in a period when the budget was substantially larger and still no answer was found.


@ Martin - perhaps you aren't entirely clear what 'doctrine' is? I suggest starting at

then moving to

these should get you on the road to understanding.



Obsvr is correct, although I have great sympathy for your view. There was always a fundamental problem with FRES SV: each of the proposed specialist variants (eg ambulance, engineer recce, guided weapons, command, logistics, etc) needed too much customisation to really be properly modular, but probably could have been at a push. But they were not going to be produced in enough numbers per type to make them cost-effective. To make them so they had to be added onto the much larger buy of specialist recce vehicles, but those had completely separate requirements. I wrote the End user requirements and various white paper documents for the recce wagon, which started with a premise of wheels and being able to get 2 into the back of a Hercules. Those papers were supported by ACGS and CinCLAND.

The solution was to spin off a separate programme FRES Recce, but while that would have been successful (I think), it would have undermined the business case for the other specialist types.

The whole counter-IED thinking also started going in late 2001 (even though Afghanistan was then non-hostile and Iraq still 18 months off). Basically, that just added weight and volume and pretty soon ruled out Hercules. The answer was apparently A400M.

We were always told that we were not allowed to solutionise (that was for industry), but what recce wanted was something like the Panhard Crab that someone linked to a week ago. Although without the windows, and in both 2 and 3 man versions fitted with either AGL or a 20 mm cannon with elevated sensors, and another version with TOW on a short mast.


Martin - I share some common sentiment; there is great value both in vehicles efficient at their role (sometimes meaning different types of vehicle) and in having enough vehicles (basic force numbers).

The first point - clearly tactical mobility does not equate to strategic mobility - the requirements are different. Also at the more fundamental level some roles are best served with front engined hulls, some rear engined, some mid engined and even some with engine compartment remote from crew armour. One basic hull is unlikely to fulfil all role fit requirements efficiently.

Second point - sorry to repeat an earlier opinion posted a few months back, but there is a fundamental advantage with numbers. The same applies to personnel, ships, aircraft and land vehicles armoured or otherwise. Numbers provide resilience, density of cover and thus of effect, and ultimately if full-on shooting war sparks off, the ability to remain effective despite attrition. The earlier comment I posted observed that Kursk was a victory for the Red Army because it had three times the number of tanks than their German enemy; while each German tank had far more effective guns that could take out the Soviet tanks at twice the distance the Soviets needed to engage from, and could fire on the move, and arguably had the more professional soldiers with more training, they could not deal with enough of the T-34 swarm. By strength of numbers alone the German tanks were picked off at close range. To be fair to the Soviets, their tank crews were fearless freddies; the T-34 had sloped armour which dramatically improved their protection for the weight, and the tank designers had made a basic uncomplicated agricultural and hence more reliable machine. The complexities of the Panzers meant they had a lot more stuff to go wrong - reliability not as great as might be expected - and once broken the skills and facilities and most of all the time needed to repair them were significant. Second repeated observation was the North Africa campaign where Monty held back his forces until he had significant numerical advantage, knowing that sending forward a force smaller than Rommel's opposition was unlikely to succeed and thus was not just pointless but would increase the time required to (re-)build an adequately massive force.

With the relatively recent experience of the Army when FFLAV was instigated (30 years post WW2) the need for adequate numbers was still understood. Hence as TD writes above the FFLAV programme aimed to deliver 7000 light armoured vehicles. In the years that passed since then, the military have been seduced by the concept of Force Multipliers - buzzword bingo fodder - and have successively cut platform numbers in favour of affording Gucci sensors, DAS, network-enabling, smart munitions etc etc. Paper tiger? Probably. One vehicle despite all the Force Multipliers it might carry would still require one dumb shell to destroy it. So now we are likely to have far too few platforms than a proper fighting force should have, with far too few personnel to fight with them.

The same goes for the RN & RAF - in the case of the RN it scares the hell out of me how few dumb torpedoes would be needed to render the Navy impotent.

So. The answer, in my opinion? A revision of need - lots of cheaper basic vehicles, not fewer massive technofests. Many configurations of vehicle - wheeled or tracked, engine front or back or middle or remote, turreted or not, bigger or smaller - but all made from the same component parts as far as possible, and made as simple as possible so they can be fixed quickly by anyone with basic technical ability. Cheaper means smaller, smaller means (generally) more agile more stealthy and more economic on fuel. And for the budget lots more of them.


Obsvr, post updated, cheers

These are just the introductory setup to the main posts, it kind of gets interesting in the nineties with FLAV, FFLAV, TRACER, MRAV and then FRES


With all the alphabet programs, I'm starting to get the feeling that government servants, military or civilian, should be kept far, far away from Scrabble sets...


Obs - at least the UK tries to keep each bit of kit uniquely numbered (give or take FV436 described by Obsvr). I get very confused by the US system - is M8 a scabbard or a 6x6? Is M4 a carbine or a Sherman tank? Is M3 a machine gun or a Stuart? Commands like 'issue every man with an M4 and go clear the area' could be obeyed to the letter but be completely wrong...


In regards to Warrior. Who in a 7 man, Warrior mounted Infantry Section is missing. A Rifleman or a Gunner?



Neither. The Section Commander both commands the Warrior and then dismounts with them (I think there is a hatch in the internal turret cage for this). At least in theory he does, I suspect that it is not ideal and other workarounds have been invented.

The Warrior gunner commands the wagon once the dismounts are out.



Your comment "The Armies requirements seem to fly in the face of the laws of Physics because no matter how strong the armour if a vehicle is not heavy enough then an sufficiently large IED will send it into the air killing and maming those onboard.

This issue seems to have perplexed western military minds for some time and there will never be a solution to it."

This is accurate in the context of current vehicle designs, but will shortly become incorrect, in the sense that you can use the laws of physics to make a vehicle much heavier for just the 20 to 30 milliseconds required to counteract the mine/IED lifting forces. My company Advanced Blast & Ballistic Systems Ltd. has developed systems to do just that, and later this year will demonstrate the complete automatic, adjustable response system to a number of interested parties.

The systems are based upon using a combination of recoil and rocket power to provide the instantaneous, very powerful response needed, and I'm pleased to say that this is a British invention (mine) fully patented, and about to be launched to a wider audience at the end of this year. In effect all you have to do is push down on the vehicle, to prevent the global acceleration, or on the belly plate/floor to minimise floor deformation, and I continue to be amazed that no-one seems to have thought of it before my first patent priority date of 12th Dec. 2008.

It seems that no-one thought to calculate the amount of energy transferred to the vehicle to lift it into the air ................. it is surprisingly small, generally only about 1% of the energy in the explosive content of the/mine/IED.

So there is a solution to the problem, which will be available for test on people's vehicles by the end of 2014, and this will ultimately change armoured vehicle design parameters ............... we can now fully mine protect a 3 ton SUV.

If any of you readers has any influence on the UK MOD please contact me through the ABBS website ........................ the current official position is that there is no specified requirement for such a system on any British Army vehicle, which I think really translates as 'we haven't got the funds to develop/qualify/buy it!'

Roger Sloman.


@ RT

Thank you. I've always wondered about that.

Forgive my naivety, but he surely cannot be wearing his Webbing whilst commanding the Vehicle?

And wouldn't his absence, leave the vehicle vulnerable?


I'm sure we can temporarily do without the backseat driv... er *cough* tank commander. :P


@Roger Sloman

Hi Roger , caught some info on your systems some time ago on the web , fantastic news you have reached this advanced stage , I believe you were blowing up snatch land Rovers (the original culprit that caused all that mad spending on anything IED proof )

The very best of British luck to you and your company.



Indeed we are using Snatch Land Rovers for the vehicle testing Aug/Sept. Do you have any specific interest, or are you just an interested observer?




Just an interested observer , a some time ago I did work through the company I then worked for Vickers(as was) at Barrow, BAE ,Vosper Thornycroft (now VT group),RR Power and others.


@ Chris, re M numbers, you forget the wonderful world of Land Service L numbers, these get applied to at least some FVs.


@Chris @breakfast time

No...surely the M3 is the CARL GUSTAV

NOT "Is M3 a machine gun or a Stuart?"

Some intelligent use of the British numbering scheme might not go amiss:

1st digit= generic design

2nd digit= function intended

3rd= version or modification, 0-9 should cover that??

As they did not think of it at the time, you can use it for mapping yours to the "worthy" predecessors?


ACC - my fine designs are all PV - no gov't funds used whatsoever. FV numbers are assigned by MOD and apply only to government (read MOD) funded design & development, hence CVR(T) variants carried FV numbers, but the export versions with non-MOD configurations (Scorpion 90 for example, as in Scorpion with the Cockerill 90mm Low Pressure gun) carried AS numbers instead. This means I cannot assign FV numbers to my fleet - not only might it give MOD false impression of ownership, it also wouldn't be honest or honourable on my part. Worth pointing out that FV-numbered vehicle production contracts can be competed between defence contractors by MOD as the IPR belongs to them not industry.

Spent a splendid afternoon at one of my local open air museums watching demonstrations of military horsepower. Lancers, GS transport, ambulances, and of particular interest a QF 18pdr, limber and team of six - this was horsepower in its literal sense. The particular interest being that both my Grandfathers in their teens were RFA Drivers with 18pdr Batteries on the Western Front (initially, then one was attached to 2 Army in Flanders while the other was posted to the Balkans), and would have spent their war on one of the left hand horses. One of the museum staff watching the assembly of gun to limber to shafts to harnesses of the six horses muttered that it took a lot of time to get the vehicle assembled - I suggested there was almost certainly a lot more "Hurry up & wait!" in WW1 than the modern documentaries would have us believe.

Point of interest here - the most experienced horses were put at the rear of the six, the most intelligent ones at the front, and the 'new recruits' in the middle to learn the trade. Why the most experienced at the back? Because the pair at the back were the main brakes - no mechanical brakes on limber or gun carriage; all speed control was by horses' hooves. The full horse limber and gun vehicle, fully loaded with ammunition, was about 9t.

Second point of interest - statisticians have looked at the 99,397,670 shells fired from QF 18pdr during the Great War and have calculated that was 48 shells fired every single minute of the conflict. I made the sum 44 and a bit each minute but maybe the stats man took ramping up of effort in 1914 into account.


I guess there have been some big Bust-Ups on this lately, asking the industry to PV, and then on contract negotiation while proceeding to the next stage, saying: Dear Old Boy, you do realise all this IP we are going to sign on, for X units, belongs to us? Also for the next Y AND z UNITS... AND ALL THE EXPORTS, TOO


@Roger Sloman

Have you been in touch with the Centre for Defence Enterprise? They have open calls for submissions for innovative ideas, and generally fund to prove concept and then try to transfer into the DE&S equipment programme.



I sincerely hope he's not wearing webbing. Webbing is only for women, hopefully in some delicate shade of blue lace.

Proper commanders have a grab bag that they keep on the wagon's upper deck, probably a 20 litre backpack, with water, tinned fish, compo biscuits and an extra 100 rounds of ammo. Your combat knife is already on your belt, along with a spare silva compass. You don't rely on issue kit in war.



It should really be a Suunto (and already on your wrist, on the one free). But I give you that the Silva arrow is showing up better in pitch dark night light conditions... did they ever test that in the nuclear safety lab?


What lunatic would ever countenance going into action without some tins of fish.

All Politicians are the Same

@ Phil

Me, I hate tinned fish but love beef jerky :)


I use beef jerky in peace time (and love it), but it shoud be noted that an 80g tin of tuna gives you just enough proteines to optimally burn what ever carbohydrites you can lay your hands on (per day).

Now, I could post the constrained optimising formula for that, but as long as you have a set the balance between liquids, spare ammo and the number of tins you can carry without a hindrance, then I think that would be extra to the requirement.

All Politicians are the Same

That is not much good when you are allergic to the stuff, jerky was good enough for the Boers who lived off the land far longer than we ever have to without the benefits of pills, vitamins, powders, water purifying etc etc. :)


RT, some things really don't change the world over. I still have my Silva compass in my grab bag. :)

Tinned fish? Ug. No thanks, did the "sardines in tomato sauce" thingy in those little "adventure camps" in the 80s that gave us a taste of army life before we got tossed into the deep end. Thank god those things were phased out by the time I went in. Biological weapons, those.



not much good advising you which of the 500 species of Arctic lichen are any good for survival food, but do ask your Geiger-man take his instrument to your Silva compass.

Not digressing at all, I hope...


Nope, all in fun. :)

And some things, I really don't want to know, so the geiger counter is going to have to stay away from my compass. It's like asking if your water is recycled or sniffing nitrogen packed food before eating.


Why no love for tinned fish? You lot are like my children, fussy as hell. Tinned fish is wet, chewy, easy to carry and does you good. And cheap, only about 5 quid for a week of sustenance, lasts forever. Also good for marking minefields after being boiled in the BV: one can for a left turn, two for a right turn, and if it all goes tits up with a navigational error, at least there's grub to be had as you crawl back to the FEBA on your stumps.

Re Suuntos, I have one, but it doesn't seem very accurate.


ACC - ownership of IP is something MOD never had to worry about in the days of the establishments, because they were their own designers; industry developed and productionized but all on MOD funding. Once competitive procurement got fully engaged (and the last of the Establishment designed kit production had completed) we were in the grips of funding difficulties so big projects were mostly shelved. From Land perspective I wouldn't be surprised if FRES UV was the first big procurement where IP ownership reared its head. To be truthful whoever in the MOD thought Mowag/GD were going to hand over full IP to a single customer after the vehicle family had been in production for 20 years with customers the world over was completely deluded.

The way it goes is, the entity that pays for the design work owns it. End.

Hannay - ref CDE - I tried to engage with CDE twice. They are only interested in technology, not design. Thus I was given a flea in the ear (twice) because my efforts involve some pretty exciting design but the technology is all high TRL stuff. Apparently if you have whizzy technology you can use ho-hum design and achieve good things? Yeah, right...


RE "ref CDE – I tried to engage with CDE twice"

it is all about what in some other industry would be called talent scouting.

The invites are themed, if you have some talent (technology innovation) it is not going to be your company getting to bid... that is for sure. How the story goes about getting compensated, I am not sure. I get the invites , but have never attended.


Hannay and Arm Chair Civvy,

We have had about £220K via CDE for the Proof of Concept work, but there has been no money for further development due to there being 'no specified UK requirement!' However we have now got another big chunk from the Technology Strategy Board, and I have raised some substantial equity funding as well, which is allowing us to complete the whole system development, but it's a pity the UK can't properly fund such a world-beating, badly needed development.

Licensing, or possibly even outright sale to one of the foreign global defence suppliers is a distinct possibility in order to get this exploited.




CDE is about funding science and technology and exploiting this as best possible. A recent example is a new sort of trouser to be worn by personnel with leg injuries and compatible with supporting frames.

Developing new systems e.g. a new vehicle for the Army is a much larger investment and not what CDE is about. For that sort of thing the best route would be to try and set up a Concept and Capability Demonstration (CCD) with MOD to show people what your product can do (even if its just a prototype).

Trying to get funding through CDE would be for if your vehicle had some kind of novel design or technologies, but would probably only cover trying to demonstrate those aspects. I think most CDE contracts tend to be <£1m


ACC - whatever CDE's purpose is, it was not willing even to meet just to see a) if there was anything I was doing that they would be interested in, or b) if no direct interest themselves, to see if there was stuff other branches of MOD might value. "We are not interested." That message was clear. On the other hand, I had bothered to pull down all the explanatory documents and process descriptions from CDE web portal; hugely bureaucratic audit-laden review board filled over-complicated and admin-intensive. The clear impression was that CDE were condescending to deal with menial industry because grubby little companies might have something MOD could use. Not that they were trying to engage with industry because the bright people in industry were MOD's best asset in engineering development (since they sacked all their own boffins when the Establishments were closed). Having seen their documented approach to their role, I had pretty well decided even if they had ability to provide funding, they would be more trouble than they're worth. Evidently though CDE reported to their civil service & political masters that they were easy for industry to engage and interested in industry projects etc, because on each occasion I struck up dialogue with MPs they would 'urge' me to engage with CDE because they were the right people. Wrong, from my experience. I have since found others in similar lines of business to myself who have concluded CDE are not of any material use.


Hannay - if there was anyone in MOD prepared to engage I might well try to get a prototype organized. But thus far the response has been 'There is no Requirement." This is neither a good starting point nor encouraging...


@ Roger Sloman

Glad that you've engaged with CDE previously. For further exploitation then DE&S will have to be part of it as they are responsible for the vehicles you're trying to exploit the technology onto, although there's probably a case for continued research funding under the MOD research programme (Jim Eckworth as the Dstl Land Account Manager would be a first point of contact if you don't already have one there)

The TRL valley of death problem between demonstration and in service isn't just a defence problem, but unfortunately its a bit worse in the UK since the death of the MOD research establishments e.g. RARDE, RAE, ASWE etc. However given pressures to always reduce MOD civil servant numbers its not as if these are going to re-appear.


From the other side, I've seen some of the research projects that CDE has pissed away money on. Its very much a scattergun approach and the successes very much seem to be simpler products that are generally adapting commercial products to be suitable for a military application.

I'm not sure I'd class CDE as being that bureaucratic - its pretty much just a minimum to try and get some sort of value back for the taxpayer rather than pushing money out of the door willy-nilly.



'No requirement' again, same as my situation. The reality is that there is only R&D funding available for identified requirements.



Roger - maybe all those of us getting the 'No Requirement' cold shoulder should band together as a defence counter-culture - maybe in full accord with the Levene directives for competition the group of not-required defence companies could compete against MOD and get it kicked out of business? Wishful thinking...

Anyway. I'd be happy to fit your bang-in-a-box anti-blast machine to my vehicle designs, providing bang-box, sensors, controller and harnesses are all small and compatible with vehicle role fit. Obviously.


I was going to ask what you interest was. A lot of work and several novel elements have been required to achieve the requirements you state, and I believe that we have the very best combination of elements possible to deal with the physics of the event at the lowest possible weight. Designs are specific to each vehicle and mine blast spec., and it's definitely best to look at the options at the design stage.

By all means let's talk,



Hannay - I have always put more faith in people engaging - that means talking as equals and discussing all aspects good and bad openly - than in heavy prescribed complicated process. Had CDE been prepared to talk maybe my opinion of their bureaucracy might have been different. But having downloaded the 35 page 'how to set up a CDE account' manual and the 44 page 'how to work through a CDE ITT' manual and the 61 page 'technology application reference manual' my eyes had glazed over and my willingness to play their games had evaporated. I dare say there were many other manuals I would have needed to read as well, but I doubt they would have made the organisation any more appealing.


Roger - always happy to find out more. I'll be in touch.



Re DSTL, my main contacts are Bryn James, Heather Elsley, Ian Elgy, and William Suttie, the latter being the link to DE&S. As far as I know it is these people who hold the R&D funding purse strings, but if Jim Eckworth has access to a larger pot or a longer term vision/remit then it would be worth my making contact.

Would you have a view on this?


CDE does look bureaucratic but it's not too bad once you get used to it ....................... but my last few applications have been rejected for what I think are very poor reasons, and I am tired of putting in the time to do it any more. It also seems like when you have had some of the pot you can't have any more, however good the ideas are. Again, it seems like the results are requirements driven, buto f course you can't find out what the requirements are!




There are two basic systems:-

1) Vehicle Global Acceleration Mitigation (VGAM) ....... obviously designed to completely eliminate the global acceleration of the vehicle, given that the mine /IED is within the system design spec. In this case the down-force can be applied to the upper surfaces of the vehicle (including front and rear bumpers if it's an SUV/VIP car) and the retrofit is relatively simple.

2) VAFS (Vehicle Armoured Floor Stabilisation) .............. designed to mitigate the floor deformation and help with VGAM as well. Less easy to retrofit to armoured vehicles, but still easy in an SUV/VIP vehicle, columns or structural partitions in the cabin are used to input the down-force to the floor or belly plate. Supporting the belly plate with an opposing force can result in a thinner belly plate being possible, as it is then acting as a membrane between opposing forces, so it may be possible to save a little weight this way. The motors for this application must react within 1 - 2 milliseconds to be effective, and hence ballistic recoil has to be used rather than the more efficient rocket motors used for the VGAM function, so the system is a bit heavier than a pure VGAM system.

Re penetration issues, contrary to general assumptions, 'holding the vehicle down' against the blast does not increase the likelihood of penetration, or increase the level of damage. The vehicle doesn't move globally for about 8 to 12 milliseconds, whilst the damage is done within about 2 or 3 milliseconds, so our active systems do not make any difference to the level of damage to the belly. This was a very common mis-conception indeed, and probably still is.

So the systems collectively can mitigate both the floor deformation and the global acceleration threats to the crew, and with a well designed belly plate can double or treble mine blast resistance without adding excessive weight, and for the first time enable the full mine protection of very light SF vehicles and SUV's.

The technology really is game-changing, and will become a standard part of new armoured vehicle design in due course because it is simply the optimum way of dealing with under-belly blast mines ................. it's simply using physics to make what can be a very light vehicle very heavy for the 20 - 30ms required.



Roger, I actually asked TD to remove my questions because I totally forgot that your link answered the questions. I blame it on old age.

How low or high maintenance is the system? Can you leave it alone for months? Or since you mentioned motors, I'd assume some daily basic maintenance is needed.

You are right, it is an interesting system. How many and how big would your motors need to be for VAFS to work on something like the Warthog/Viking, an 8x8 and a MBT like the Challenger? Not so much VGAM, those vehicles seldom go flying. Those are going to be your most obvious case studies. Come to think of it, after the black eye the Vikings got over Afghanistan, BAE might be really interested in it as a future preventative measure. If not, then maybe a recommendation to the MOD for a possible future upgrade to the BvS 10s. Unfortunately, your MOD is right in a sense that since Afghanistan is winding down, there is no longer going to be an IED worry for the near future.

We'll see how the cards fall for now.


@ TD, you might also want to note that 515 was designed as a BATES Processing Cell (514 was merely Access). This meant 515 carried a VDU, computer, storage and several Net Interface boxes for different radios.


@Roger Sloman

Can it be spoofed to fire with a small underbelly charge, thus a) wasting itself and b) breaking the suspension?



That fairly obvious countermeasure is taken account of by the adjustable response we have. Getting a bit too detailed for a full answer here, but we have taken that into account.



Great work, TD.

I can see where you're going with this. Given that General Sir Peter Wall is quoted in today's Telegraph saying that there is no scope for further defence cuts after the next election, you are setting-up a very important discussion.

Many people within the Army believe that 82,000 is not a sustainable peacetime establishment. We need to increase defence spending, not cut it further. The Army urgently needs a new medium armour capability. This requirement was identified as long ago as 1998. FRES SV and UV are the Army's equivalent of the Navy's CVF & Type 26 or the RAF's F-35 and Tornado replacement. Since the need to rapidly deploy a Brigade to any part of the world was a stated intention of the 2010 SDSR, I cannot see why FRES UV hasn't given a higher priority.

I tend to think that Warrior should be replaced not upgraded. The overall architecture is extremely dated with the design of the primary bulkheads, subsequent positioning of the engine, fuel tank and hatches all being sub-optimal. By the time you've fixed all these things - and I hope they do - you might as well buy an ASCOD 2 platform. This has the benefit of being designed using CAD/ CAM software. The packaging is said to be very good.

The Upgraded Warrior will lose one dismounted soldier, i.e it will carry a crew of three plus six dismounts, which is the same as the US Army's Bradley M2 and German Army's Puma. (6 dismounts seems to be the new standard). As it is, within the Reaction Force, we only have enough Warriors to equip 6 battalions. The remaining 3 have to make do with Mastiff. While this certainly has good mine protection, there is no way it could follow a Challenger 2 across country.

A lot of criticism has been levelled at FRES SV, but on balance it seems to be maturing into a fine vehicle. At DVD last year, the Army was suggesting that it offers LEVEL 4 STANAG protection, which is excellent for a vehicle in its weight class. If the FRES SV (revised-ASCOD 2) platform is as good as the Army suggests it will be, why not defer Warrior replacement until all FRES SVs have been delivered, then continue production with with a UK version of the ASCOD2 IFV with the same 40mm CTA? The only valid criticism of FRES SV is weight growth. It is said to weigh around the 40-tonne mark. It is certainly more than 30 tonnes, so cannot be carried by an A400 Atlas.

I believe that FRES UV should have been developed before SV. Having an 8x8 vehicle capable of carrying a full section or mounting cannons and tank guns while weighing less than 30 tonnes would give the UK a genuine medium armour rapid deployment capability.


Monty, I want to establish a relatively authoritative historical backdrop to FRES, then I will top it off with your revised post (Power of 8) and possibly something from Chris and I, plus Mr Fred, RT and anyone else if they fancy it

I haven't seen anything that goes further back than FRES itself, there is remarkably little published on MRAV, TRACER, VERDI and FFLAV for example, but they are directly relevant


@Red Trousers and Observer

I believe Neil Armstrong choose tinned fish for their first meal on the way to the moon, if its good enough for the first man on Moon the its good enough for anyone!


Shouldn't you try to convince us using someone more down to Earth, with his feet firmly planted on the ground? :P


Roger S - as promised I sent an e-mail this morning.



The systems are virtually maintenance-free, and check themselves electronically on switch-on, so there would be warning lights/messages coming up if anything wasn't working. The motors are sealed, very stable solid propellant systems which can be left for a substantial period without any checks.

The VAFS floor deformation system is difficult to fit in normal military armoured vehicles due to the load transferring

columns/frames or partitions and the limited internal volume ................ this system really needs to have the vehicle designed around it, and it can be done, with a different seating/exit route configuration. But it's not a problem in an SUV.

So the easy option is the VGAM element dealing only with the global acceleration, which takes up no internal volume apart from the central control box, and the motors mounted on any convenient upper surfaces.




As someone who in past roles has had a lot to do with the CDE I’m sorry to hear your disheartened by it but I can tell you that overt bureaucracy is not a phrase I think applies to the organisation. You also have to bear in mind if what you have to offer is what CDE are after, they exist to target funding at very low TRL concepts and if you are trying to sell a prototype of available product you are asking the wrong people because they exist to foster R&D, not procure. I would defend the process to some extent also as you have to remember who you are dealing with and I think setting up an online account and completing a formatted application form for your idea is a comparatively small step to complete to receive would could be a research contract for hundreds of thousands of pounds of public money. The CDE itself can't talk to you about anything technical (they can certainly advise you on the application process) because they have no military technical expertise themselves, they assemble subject matter experts and end users as and when they need them to review proposals so its at that step that you would be prompted to engage (if there is a need for what you offer) And the fact is anybody can ,and does, submit applications and it is the only national approach I am aware of (also skilfully employed by the TSB for more civilian applications) where a literal man in a shed can submit a good idea and have it funded to at least a proof of concept level and get to retain ownership over that idea rather than go up against the defence primes and have to fight there corner to avoid being screwed over.

Swimming Trunks

Have come across some info on the Thunderbolt system TD mentions in the above article (via and H/T SO):

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The Story of FRES – The Eighties

by Think Defence time to read: 15 min