By the end of the seventies, CVR(T) was well established in service, the FV430 likewise.
- A Trip Down South
- CVR(T) Status and Developments
- Vehicle Electronics Research Defence Initiative (VERDI)
- Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV)
- Protected Mobility in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe
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.
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.
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.
It is also worth comparing the value of CVR(T) with that of the Argentine Panhard wheeled armoured cars because of mobility issues.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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)
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.
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)
The hydraulic jib can lift 6.5 tonnes at 4.5m outreach and the vehicles carries two crew and three fitters.
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.
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.
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)
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.
As the FV414, designed specifically to look visually identical to the FV510 but it does not have the sophisticated electronics of the FV513
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.
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.
The rest of the series
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.