The Story of FRES – The Nineties

At the beginning of the nineties the British Army had in service three distinct families of armoured vehicles, not counting the main battle tank, derivatives and one or two specialist vehicles like the Combat Engineer Tractor.


CVR(T), FV432 and Warrior

I suppose we should not forget Saxon either.

CVR(T) was getting on in years and thoughts had turned to its replacement, FV432 was even older.

Forming a neat backdrop to these replacement concepts was the sheer pace of change in vehicle electronics, communications, sensors and computing equipment. The first SMS text message would not be sent until 1992 but the background work was well under way, first generation analogue mobile networks were in limited service with the iconic Motorola DynaTAC cellphone, the much more advanced 2G digital mobile telephone networks were in development and desktop computing had gone from the ZX81 in the early eighties to widespread adoption of IBM PC Clones, the World Wide Web had been invented, the first web search for porn had taken place and even Photoshop was at Version 1. 

DynaTAC 'Cellphone'
DynaTAC ‘Cellphone’

The next ten years would see even this rapid change eclipsed as the communications, internet and computing revolution accelerated. Military equipment would not go untouched by this revolution happening elsewhere.

This accelerating pace of change in vehicle and sensor electronics had resulted in a number of studies that looked at how these could be harnessed for military need and the Army had started to study concepts for vehicle replacement, at least for FV432 and CVR(T)

As these studies were in the early stages world events would force them onto the back burner, at least for a short time.

The fall of the Berlin Wall and the dawning of the end of the Cold War resulted in Options for Change, the 1990 Defence Review, the first since the 1981 Nott Review.

Berlin Wall
Berlin Wall 1989

In the House of Commons on 25th July 1990, Tom King, the then Secretary of State for Defence, Tom King MP said;

In the options for change studies, we have sought to devise a structure for our regular forces appropriate to the new security situation and meeting our essential peacetime operational needs. Our proposals will bring savings and a reduction in the share of GDP taken by defence

The peace dividend was about to be harvested.

Options for Change precipitated a reduction in armed forces personnel by just under 20%, the forming of British Forces Germany and a whole host of amalgamations and other changes. The Army suffered the highest reduction in manpower, going from 160,000 to 120,000 personnel.

Options for Change also bought us Soldier Soldier!

Soldier Soldier : Series 1 – Episode 1 – All the King's Men – Part 1

Yes, that is Bronn from the Game of Thrones, actor Jerome Flyn


Operation GRANBY – The Gulf War

In response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990 a coalition was formed that would see 35,000 British personnel deployed as part of Operation GRANBY. 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Brigade and HQ 1st (UK) Armoured Division and their 5,000 vehicles were all shipped to Saudi Arabia in time for the 1991 kick off.

John Major and Kate Aidie Saudi Arabia 1991
John Major and Kate Adie Saudi Arabia 1991

7th Armoured Brigade consisted two Armoured Brigades, Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in Challenger I, with 1 Stafford’s in Warrior, i.e armour heavy.

4th Armoured Brigade was infantry heavy, 1st Battalion Royal Scots and 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Warrior, with 14th/20th Kings Hussars in their Challengers.

These would be reinforced by personnel from the Grenadier Guards and a number of equipment changes made.

Over 250 Warriors were deployed to the Middle East, all variants. Changes to the peacetime establishment were also made for GRANBY, instead of using FV432’s for mortar fire controllers and FV432’s for Milan teams, additional Warriors were provided.

For operations in the Gulf War, an appliqué armour package to provide greater protection was fitted to the Warrior vehicles in theatre. The utility of this additional protection was proven when a Warrior Infantry Command Vehicle was hit by a 120mm HESH round fired by a Challenger I of the Scots Dragoon Guards with much less damage than one might reasonably expect and no deaths, although there were some very serious injuries.

A number of Warriors were modified with a turret mounted Milan firing post and although it could not be used on the move it did provide much greater mobility than the FV432’s

FV510 Warrrior Iraq with Milan firing post
FV510 Warrior 1991 with Milan firing post

Replacing some FV432 and CVR(T) with Warriors enables other organisation changes, instead of mixing armour and armoured infantry they were organised solely into either, combined on a mission specific basis.

By the end of January 1991 1 (UK) Armoured Division was declared operational after much preparation, training and re-organisation.

FV 432-series armored personnel carrier left foreground 2 warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles right foreground, Company C, 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment (1st [UK] Armoured Division) live fire training exercise, 6 January 1991
FV 432-series armoured personnel carrier left foreground 2 warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles right foreground, C Company, 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment (1st [UK] Armoured Division) live fire training exercise, 6 January 1991
Warrior-family armored command vehicle with other assorted AFVs., Company C, 1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment (1st [UK] Armoured Division) live fire training exercise, 6 January 1991
Warrior-family armoured command vehicle with other assorted AFVs., C Company,  1st Battalion, The Staffordshire Regiment (1st [UK] Armoured Division) live fire training exercise, 6 January 1991
By the end of February, after 100 hours of fighting, it was all over.

Destroyed T55 Desert Storm
Destroyed T55 Desert Storm

The FV432, Warrior and CVR(T) all saw action, as did the Ferret and a few oddballs like the Wessek Saker and Longline Light strike/Fast Attack Vehicles.

Longline FAV
Longline FAV

Longline were subsequently acquired by Ricardo who continued to develop the weapons mounting system into the various flavours of WMIK Land Rover, via the Land Rover based Multi Role Combat Vehicle demonstrator.

GKN and the MoD’s specifying reliability as a key criteria during the development of Warrior would be vindicated, the Warrior fleet achieved a 95% availability during the Gulf War or Operation GRANBY.

In response to an Urgent Operational Requirement the VLSMS (Vehicle Launched Scatterable Mine System) was deployed with Royal Engineers in the Gulf in 1991.

VLSMS (Vehicle Launched Scatterable Mine System)
VLSMS (Vehicle Launched Scatterable Mine System)

The majority of parts were from Stormer, but the hull, electrical harnesses, and of course GIAT Minotaur system interface were all new.  The requirement arrived without warning; there was no Stormer Flatbed design, so the project started with a clean plain empty sheet of paper.  The first vehicle was in Kuwait 14 weeks later.

In that time the design was created, the hull designed, the plates drawn, the MVEE Spec 1318 armour stock bought and delivered, the plates plasma cut and edges profiled, the hull jigs & fixtures made, new components ordered & manufactured, the hulls welded/machined/painted, the wiring harnesses designed and hull measured for cable lengths, the harnesses manufactured, the Stormer parts sourced, the vehicle assembled, interface electronics designed and manufactured.

At this point the GIAT system arrived in UK and was mounted on the flatbed, the vehicle tested, the mine system tested and the complete design signed off (interim clearance I suspect) and the vehicle shipped.  The six ordered were delivered at one week intervals thereafter.

It was never used in anger and withdrawn soon after and ultimately, the GIAT system was replaced with Shielder that used a Honeywell Volcano system.

Stormer with Shielder Vertically Launched Mine System 01
Stormer with Shielder Vertically Launched Mine System

The conventional tactics for close reconnaissance were less suited to the wide open desert and as is entirely normal, units were re-organised into task specific groups, a Recce Group in this case consisted 8 Scimitars , 4 Spartan Milan Compact Turret vehicles, a Sampson and Forward Observation Officer Warrior.

CVR(T) FV101 Scorpion Iraq 1991 01
CVR(T) FV101 Scorpion Iraq 1991
A Scorpion reconnaissance vehicle of the 7th Brigade Royal Scots, 1st United Kingdom Armored Division, advances east into Kuwait from southern Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
A Scorpion reconnaissance vehicle of the 7th Brigade Royal Scots, 1st United Kingdom Armoured Division, advances east into Kuwait from southern Iraq during Operation Desert Storm.
CVR(T) FV102 Striker Iraq 1991
CVR(T) FV102 Striker Iraq 1991

At this point, CVR(T) was over 20 years old and although there had been some incremental improvements the basic design was beginning to show its age, especially  in comparison with newer vehicles.

The optronics were noted as being particularly poor for the conditions.

Improvements were needed, badly.

An interesting footnote to the Gulf War happened in the USA.

When General Sullivan took on the position of US Army Chief of Staff (ACS) in summer 1991 recognised significant change was imminent and change at a pace that was unprecedented. In a letter to the Army titled Maintaining Continuity While Accommodating Change he recognised three significant changes that would need to be recognised.

  • Changes in the political  environment
  • Changes in the nature of war, increasing technology for example
  • A reduction in defence spending

His book about the period between 1991 and 1995, Hope is Not a Method, is well worth a read.

Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV)

Started in 1988, after the Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FLAV), the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) programme picked up a pace. Operations in the Gulf had reinforced the age related mobility, capability and survivability issues with FV432 and CVR(T), if there was a recognition before the Gulf War that replacements were needed there was certainly much more of a recognition now.

FFLAV looked across the Army’s vehicle fleet and rightly concluded that there were too many types with overlapping roles and the equipment in service could be consolidated with a more coherent approach. It probably marked the high point of joined up thinking for the Army’s vehicle fleet, one might argue it has bee significantly poorer both in planning and execution since.

At the top end, there was also a desire to replace Warrior with the Multi Base Armoured Vehicle study.

FFLAV was thought to have the potential for 7,000 vehicles

To say the market was excited would be rather an understatement and so in the late eighties and early nineties a series of partnerships and consortia emerged to offer the MoD a single prime contractor for the entire programme.

Alvis, in conjunction with the Swedish Hagglunds AB, French Panhard and Spanish ENASA proposed both wheeled and tracked vehicles from 3.5 tonnes to 24 tonnes.

The Panhard VBL, weighing between 3.5 and 4.5 tonnes would satisfy the Observation, Command and Control, Rover, Liaison and Internal Security Roles

Panhard VBL with 20mm Cannon
Panhard VBL with 20mm Cannon

Stormer and CVR(T) would be further developed, filling the 8-10 tonnes and 9-13 tonnes weight classifications

Stormer High Velocity Missile Prototype
Stormer High Velocity Missile Prototype

From ENASA (Empresa Nacional de Autocamiones S.A.), the 14 to 19 tonnes BMR-600 would be used for Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), Ambulance, Recovery, Repair, Command and Control and Medium Calibre Weapon Carrier. Incidentally, the Austrian BMR is called Pandur I and the Pandur II is a development, with an extra road wheel. The BMR-600 was first developed in 1972.

Spanish Army BMR-600
Spanish Army BMR-600

Finally, Hagglunds would provide the 20-24 tonnes CV90 for the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC), reconnaissance, observation, recovery, repair, Self Propelled Mortar, Infantry Fighting Vehicle and Engineer Tractor


GKN partnered with Mowag of Switzerland to create the GKN Piranha and the Warrior 2000 would be used for the heavier variants.

GKN even managed to sell the Piranha to non UK customers,, Saudi Arabia and Oman for example

FFLAV also marks the point at which the MoD and Army publicly recognised that the observation, surveillance and reconnaissance requirements could not be met with a single light weight vehicle family like CVR(T).

FFLAV specified three weight classes for these tasks, broadly in line with the VBL, CVR(T)/Stormer and CV90 vehicles.

It should be noted that FFLAV was not a formal programme with specific requirements but more of a study.

VERDI – A Significant Development

1992 saw the VERDI-2 Warrior unveiled, an evolution of earlier work.

VERDI Warrior
VERDI Warrior
VERDI Warrior
VERDI Warrior
VERDI Warrior
VERDI Warrior
VERDI Crew Station
VERDI Crew Station

We might be somewhat blasé today about this kind of systems integration and sensor/display technology but it really was cutting edge in the early nineties.  The demonstrator had a telescopic mast equipped with thermal imager and image intensifier.

VERDI had the driver in the normal position but VERDI-2 pushed the drivers station into the main crew capsule. Each of the two crew stations had two CRT displays that could show mapping information, GPS data, symbology and sensor information.

The crew stations were fully interchangeable and when used in conjunction with a short/medium range wireless network, shared between vehicles. One of the concepts trialled was to use two Warriors as section vehicles with a section commander mounted in an adapted Stormer APC

The mast mounted thermal imager and image intensifier was retained from VERDI but the turret was modified with advanced defensive aids systems.

As can be clearly seen from the image below, the turret was pushed back so that it sat above the infantry section compartment and the space normally occupied by the turret used for the two side by side crew positions. This was not an ideal layout and would have unlikely found its way into any production vehicle but the work done on VERDI-2 would have clear impact on TRACER, with its side by side crew pods and unmanned turret. The sensor incorporated a wide area thermal imaging sensor coupled with signature recognition libraries that would cue the displays based on threat.

VERDI Warrior
VERDI-2 Warrior
VERDI 2 Warrior with Stormer Command Vehicle
VERDI 2 Warrior with Stormer Command Vehicle
VERDI 2 Warrior
VERDI 2 Warrior

VERDI-2 would also be equipped with the Shorts High Velocity Missile and Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD)

VERDI 2 Warrior Crew Station
VERDI 2 Warrior Crew Station

It is in this period that the UK started to take vehicle electronics integration seriously, work done with CANBus Platform Integrated Command and Controls System (PICCS) and Common Infrastructure for Battlefield Information Systems (CIBIS) were all attempts to standardise crew workstations, sensor and other electronic systems integration and could be seen as the building blocks for the later Generic Vehicle Architecture.

Alvis had a Scorpion fitted with a CANBus controller and remote power switching that was used to investigate system robustness and general suitability.

The Alvis Vetronics Integration Demonstrator (AVID) programme was Stormer fitted with an elevated sensor mast. It was similar to VERDI in some ways, investigating integration issues, advanced sensors, navigation and communications.

Cutting edge stuff at the time.

By using Warrior as the base vehicle for the VERDI demonstrator I think there was an explicit recognition that CVR(T) did not have the space or electrical generation capacity for modern sensors and computing equipment.

GKN would explore the general Stealth Warrior’ theme with a demonstrator that removed a road wheel, added smooth wheel ‘hub caps’, track covers, revised exhaust design to cool and redirect, the 25mm Delco turret, inward sloping side skirts, radar absorbent coatings and a telescopic sensor mast.

Stealth Recce Warrior 1998
Stealth Recce Warrior 1998

Although it was less ambitious than VERDI and AVID there are shades of FRES SV Scout there, perhaps?

VERDI was a significant development but in itself, went nowhere, it would however, inform future studies but whilst the technology of the day was arguably not advanced enough, the direction of travel was clear, CVR(T) was too small and a larger vehicle for reconnaissance in support of armoured battle groups was needed.

FFLAV Ends, TRACER and MRAV Begins

Work ceased on FFLAV and the studies informed the creation of two programmes, TRACER and MRAV, with the underpinning work on VERDI providing useful insight for both and the Command and Liaison requirement being pushed into the future. After the Ferret was withdrawn in 1992, the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle (FCLV) would resurface in the early 2000’s as Panther.

I digress.

Back to TRACER and MRAV


1992, Staff Target (Land) 4061, more commonly known as TRACER, Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement was to be the new CVR(T) replacement.

Is it just me, or does TRACER sound a million times better than FRES, anyway, onwards…

TRACER envisaged an in service date of 2004, by then, CVR(T) would have been in service thirty years and the design, over 40 years old (give or take)

When I say a CVR(T) replacement that is not strictly true, more like CVR(T) would leave service and TRACER would enter. The two vehicles being quite different.

Going back to the origins of CVR(T) it had two design drivers, reconnaissance in support of armoured battle groups in Germany and as a light air deployable armoured vehicle for all those troublesome post Empire flare ups. Air deployability ruled the design roost, evidenced by the width, being narrow enough to fit between rubber trees in the plantations of Malaya.

TRACER eventually took a different view, the reconnaissance mission had primacy over deployability, although this was also a consideration.

It is important to note that TRACER resided in the ISTAR pillar inside the MoD and looking over our shoulders at the UAV landscape the Phoenix UAV system was approaching troop trials, in 1995.

Click here to read more about Phoenix and Watchkeeper.

The studies were seeking to balance the investment between land and air based systems for information, surveillance, target acquisition and reconnaissance.

Three UK industrial consortia participated in a joint MoD/Industry study that was initially due to report in 1994.

In the same period, the US Army started looking at a replacement for its Bradley M3 in Cavalry squadrons and the M1114 HMWWV in scout platoons in a programme called the Future Scout Cavalry System (FSCS)

We are very close on signing the MOU [Memorandum of Understanding] with the Brits

Jerry Chapin, director of the Army’s Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Command (TARDEC), 1997

The TRACER and FSCS programmes were subsequently harmonised and a joint project created, national requirements would be met by a single vehicle; the Armoured Scout and Reconnaissance Vehicle (ASRV) which was specified in a Memorandum of Understanding, signed by both governments in July 1998, the original Operational Requirements Document having being agreed in December 1997.

Although a common vehicle was envisaged, the British Army had an additional requirement for variant to be equipped with a long range anti tank missile to provide overwatch for vehicles deployed forward without protection from main battle tanks.

France and Germany both requested observer status on TRACER although neither had a comparable requirement.

Contracts were signed for an initial study phase with two consortia in January 1999. At this early stage the UK and US had slightly different requirements but the project was still initiated amid hopes of a rapid introduction and reduction in costs.

TRACER Schedule
TRACER Schedule

TRACER was intended to not only to provide intelligence, but also to act as a deterrent, monitor opposing forces, help maintain freedom of movement and provide a credible offensive capability by directing direct and indirect fire onto enemy forces.

The two competing consortia for the Project Definition Phase were SIKA International (British Aerospace, Lockheed Martin, Vickers Defence and General Dynamics) and LANCER (Marconi, Alvis, United Defence and Raytheon). Each would be required to produce detailed specifications, training requirements, production plans/costs and in an integrated demonstrator vehicle.

The estimated UK requirement would be for 400 vehicles with the US taking 1,200.

The studies progressed well and planned to go through affordability review in early 2001, after which a number of subsequent options would be open for discussion, including completion and report in 2002.

Estimated cost at this point was £118million at 1999 prices.

By the end of 1998 the MoD has spent £7.3million on TRACER.

TRACER would run on through to 2002, more on this in the next post.


After the cancellation of the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV) programme and in response, GKN proposed a merger with Vickers Defence but this was rebuffed and eventually GKN and Alvis merged.

In 1992, both Germany and France had wheeled armoured vehicle programmes in early stages.

France had Véhicule Blindé Modulaire (VBM) and Germany, Gepaanzerten Transport Kraft-fahrzeug (GTK).

It was agreed that a jointly designed vehicle would be able to satisfy both requirements and the vehicle would replace the French AMX-10RC, VAB and ERC-90 Sagaie and the German Spahpanzer Luchs, TPz1 Fuchs and M113. France and Germany had also set on the idea that the vehicle would equip the future Euro Corps With an eye to the Gulf War experience the new vehicle would be wheeled, probably in an 8×8 configuration, weight approximately 25 tonnes and have a centralised tyre pressure system

At a meeting held in Bonn in December 1993 between the French Defence Minister, Francois Leotard, and his German counterpart, Volker Ruhe, the establishment of a joint armaments agency was announced. This was not a European agency but a joint French/German organisation to manage a specific number of programmes but from this would eventually spring forth OJAC, the French translation, Organisation conjointe de coopération en matière d’armement or OCCAR, which as we all know is now its name. One of these projects was the VBM/GTK.

At Eurosatory 94 two vehicles from France and Germany were displayed that were said to meet the harmonised VBM/GTK requirement, the GIAT Vextra and older Daimler Benz EXF. Two vehicles, two national manufacturers and one requirement, it was only ever bound to end in tears.

Daimler Benz 8x8 demonstrator
Daimler Benz 8×8 demonstrator
GIAT Vextra
GIAT Vextra

The initial Vextra models were fitted with a one man 25mm DRAGAR turret. The Vextra would go on to be fitted with a 105mm gun but it did not find any customers. The Daimler Benz demonstrator, with concrete turret, was an investigation into wheeled main battle tanks, could an 8×8 chassis support MBT weights.

The UK was offered membership of this agency in 1995 following a request from the MoD to join the VBM/GTK project, now formally known as Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV).

MRAV would be the first project managed by OCCAR our entry ticket to OCCAR because one cannot simply take part without bringing cash!

Eurosatory 96 was an interesting show

MOTORWAGENFABRIK AG (MOWAG) revealed their all new Piranha III, including a 10×10 variant.

Renault Vehicles Industriels (RVI) unveiled their X8A demonstrator, an 8×8 vehicle in the familiar Piranha format.

Renault VI X8A Demonstrator
Renault VI X8A Demonstrator

Renault positioned the X8A as an alternative to the GIAT Vextra that could be a contender for the by now tri-national MRAP requirement.

Although they would not be selected for the development phase, GKN, GEC Marconi, United Defense and Raytheon showed a proposal for a vehicle to meet the TRACER requirement, a shortened Warrior equipped with an American Delco turret armed with a Hughes 25mm Chain Gun and twin TOW missiles, similar to the US Bradley M3.

The industrial landscape was quite diverse but understanding the implications of losing, all the European manufacturers formed consortia and these would eventually coalesce into two team for MRAV.

Team International; Vickers, Alvis, Henschell, Kuka and Panhard

Eurokonsortium; GKN, Krauss Maffei, MaK/Rheinmetall, Wegman and GIAT.

France did want GIAT to be part of both consortia but the UK and Germany were having none of that nonsense.

MRAV 6x6
MRAV 6×6

April 1998 saw the competition winner announced, Eurokonsortium.

Boxer Module
Boxer Module

The Netherlands also showed some interest in joining the programme shortly after the winner was announced.

Team International threatened legal action because the original requirement called for a 6×6 design and Eurokonsortium submitted their winning 8×8 at a late stage. Team International eventually submitted their 8×8 proposal but 5 months after the official closing date and their protest went nowhere.

Team International MRAV Contender
Team International MRAV Contender

The plan called for deliveries to commence in 2004 with a total quantity expected of just under 3,000.

A year after the winner was announced a lead nation had yet to be appointed and there is no doubt the devil made work for idle hands. Differences emerged with Germany and the UK aligning and France increasingly moving away from MRAV to more of a wheeled Infantry Fighting Vehicle that would work closely with the LeClerc Main Battle Tank, the role fulfilled by Warrior and the new Puma vehicle in German service.

France was also smarting from the UK/German decision to insist that GIAT could only be part of one of the competing consortia.

France left the programme in 1999 to create the VBCI

The Balkans

Operations in the Balkans in the nineties would prove to be significant for the armoured vehicles of the British Army, and indeed other nations.

Despite many wishing them away, the combination of main battle tanks and infantry fighting vehicles, like a few years earlier in the Gulf, would prove their continued relevance.

For most of the nineties the British Army would be deployed in the Balkans in one form or another.

Warrior, CVR(T) and Saxon would all see extensive use.

The first deployment was in 1992 as a result of UN Resolution 743, the so called Vance Owen Plan. This called for the creation of buffer zones between Serb and Croat forces in Bosnia and Croatia under the auspices of UNPROFOR.

Foden DROPS and CVR(T) in the Balkans 01
Foden DROPS and CVR(T) in the Balkans 01
CVR(T) Scimitar in the Balkans
CVR(T) Scimitar in the Balkans

Surely, time for a bridge picture

"Juliet", the Warrior IFV used by Colonel Bob Stewart, Commander of 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, makes its way cautiously over an unsafe bridge at Malankovici. The Warrior is painted in the high visibility white colour scheme used to identify UNPROFOR vehicles in Bosnia.
“Juliet”, the Warrior IFV used by Colonel Bob Stewart, Commander of 1st Battalion, Cheshire Regiment, makes its way cautiously over an unsafe bridge at Malankovici. The Warrior is painted in the high visibility white colour scheme used to identify UNPROFOR vehicles in Bosnia.

Warrior Bosnia 1994 (Image Credit - Cold War Warrior)Warrior Bosnia 1994 (Image Credit – Cold War Warrior)

Both CVR(T) and Warrior would prove to be reliable and capable vehicles with the protection and imposing presence of Warrior and small size of CVR(T) each playing their part.

After Serbian forces taking UN personnel hostage in 1995 a joint UK-French reaction force was formed, without the white paint. After sustained air and ground operations peace talks led to the Dayton Accords and some semblance of peace.

After the accords were signed UNPROFOR became the NATO led IFOR

Warrior IFOR
Warrior IFOR

One of the key emerging requirements was for ordnance disposal and in particular, route proving/clearance. Mines were used liberally by all belligerents and the two mine awareness post cards from SFOR demonstrate the variety used.

Anti Tank Mines Postcard SFOR (Image Credit - Flickr Cold War Warrior)
Anti Tank Mines Postcard SFOR (Image Credit – Flickr Cold War Warrior)

All forces in the conflict suffered from mines, the images below (again from Cold War Warrior) show the aftermath of a TMA3 mine strike on a Saxon in the hills above Rama Lake, Bosnia, in 1994.

Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit - Flickr Cold War Warrior)
Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit – Flickr Cold War Warrior)
Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit - Flickr Cold War Warrior)
Saxon mine damage SFOR (Image Credit – Flickr Cold War Warrior)

Other vehicles were not so lucky and personnel were killed by mine strikes whilst in a Spartan CVR(T)

Anti sniper turrets were fitted to a number of AT105 Saxons deployed to the Balkans, these turrets were from surplus FV432’s.

IFOR later changed to SFOR

SFOR Warrior
SFOR Warrior

In 1996 three Alvis 4’s were procured for operations in Macedonia for £1 million

In 1998 British Forces deployed to Kosovo as part of KFOR.

In the same period British Forces were also involved in Macedonia for Operation AGRICOLA.

CVR(T) and Chinook - Operation Agricola
CVR(T) and Chinook – Operation Agricola

All these operations showed the continued relevance of ‘heavy metal’ yet one incident was to have far reaching consequences for British Army vehicles, the Russian dash to Pristina.

The 1998 SDR would reinforce the overseas intervention ‘force for good’ theme.

At the cessation of hostilities in Kosovo on June 11 1999 a joint NATO/Russian peace keeping force was due to be established shortly after and NATO forces began to move into position. As a show of strength and to gain a greater involvement 250 Russian personnel in 30 wheeled armoured vehicles moved overnight and took up positions in Pristina Airport, blocking access and presenting KFOR with a very delicate situation.

KFOR at Pristina Airport
KFOR at Pristina Airport

Despite some rather aggressive and misplaced orders from General Wes Clarke the situation was resolved without shots being fired or personnel injured.

It is a fascinating incident to study, click here for a good rundown, but what really sent shockwaves was the fact that the Russians had completed a long road march right under the noses of NATO and everyone looked upon their rather old 8×8 wheeled vehicles with much envy.

This one incident would be used as an example many times in later medium weight force arguments.

1999, another five Alvis 4′s were obtained for operations in Kosovo at a combined cost of £2.3 million.

The total of fourteen Alvis 4/8′s obtained to this point cost £4.5 million.

Warrior, Saxon and CVR(T) Developments

The MoD awarded a £35m 5 year upgrade contract to British Aerospace to upgrade the Swingfire missile system in 1990, called the Swingfire Improved Guidance (SWIG) programme. This would replace all the analogue electronics with the latest generation digital systems and notably, change the guidance from command to automatic command i.e. the operator now needed only to keep the crosshairs on the target and not manually fly the missile

At the beginning of 1990 the British Army had approximately 500 Saxons in service in the UK (including Northern Ireland) and Germany. In 1991, an additional order was placed for 100 more vehicles.

AT105 Saxon Internal Security 01 (Image Credit - Cold War Warrior)
AT105 Saxon Internal Security 01 (Image Credit – Cold War Warrior)

Scorpion was taken out of service in 1992 due to toxicity concerns about the 76mm gun filling the turret with toxic smoke.

1992, With TRACER in flight, the Army embarked on a vehicle rationalisation exercise that would see Saladin, Ferret, Fox and Scorpion withdrawn from service. Because some of the Fox and Scorpions were in good condition it was decided to do a spot of Frankenstein conversions and mate Scorpion hulls with Fox turrets, and Sabre was the result. By the end of 1994, Sabre conversions started at Base Ordnance Depot Donnington and by 1995 with 104 vehicles released to service, the programme closed.

CVR(T) Sabre
CVR(T) Sabre

In order to enable CVR(T) to soldier on until TRACER came into service a Life Extension Programme was initiated in 1995. The LEP had three main elements, replacement of the Jaguar petrol engine with a diesel engine and upgraded TN15E transmission, installation of additional secure radio equipment and a thermal imaging sight that, unlike the installed OTIS, would allow use on the move.  Other minor improvements were to include fitting a GPS, a new 30mm APDS round and replacement of some of the electrical systems.

After competition between Perkins, Cummins and Steyr-Daimler-Puch, the Cummins 6BTA was selected and a £32m contract awarded to BAE for the work.

Deliveries of the LEP CVR(T) commenced in 1998.

In 1997, the MoD announced that 170 CVR(T) Scimitars would receive an upgraded thermal imaging system for both observation and gun sighting. The candidate chosen was the Thales Sight Periscopic Infrared Equipment (SPIRE) although the full 170 vehicle aspiration was reduced to just over a hundred and the later batches were to be called Enhanced or E-SPIRE. A number of Scimitars were also fitted with the same system under an Urgent Operational Requirement for service in Bosnia as part of SFOR.

As part of this programme 40 Scimitar were also fitted with a TacNav digital compass and navigation system from KVH

As the decade closed, the remaining CVR(T) vehicles were provided with a new single pin track design called the TR10 from William Cook Defence.

It is also worth noting that by this point CVR(T) was an export monster, over 1,800 vehicles sold to 20 nations on top of the 1,863 bought into service with the British Army.

The Royal Ordnance and GIAT 45mm Cased Telescoped Weapon System (CTWS) demonstrator was completed in 1991 with the prototype the following year.

Warrior concept with 45mm CTWS
Warrior concept with 45mm CTWS

The CTWS was intended for TRACER, a mid life Warrior upgrade and the French VAD.

In 1997 the decision was made to move the calibre to 40mm and rename it the CT2000 (rather optimistically it would turn out to be)

Time for a sneaky Mexeflote picture, cunningly disguised to show a Saxon!

AT105 Saxon and Mexeflote
AT105 Saxon and Mexeflote
AT105 Saxon and Mexeflote
AT105 Saxon and Mexeflote

ASCOD and CV90

Although not in UK service in this period we all know that CV90 and ASCOD would go on to be involved with the current FRES SV Scout so worth looking back to see their origins.


Austrian Spanish Co Operative Development (ASCOD) is a jointly developed vehicle, Spain and Austria being the principle partners. ASCOD is much like Warrior, a 25-35 tonne engine forward infantry fighting vehicle with 30mm automatic cannon and seating for 8 dismounted infantry.

The Spanish and Austrian companies involved were General Dynamics Santa Bárbara Sistemas and Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH reppectively. In Spanish service it is the Pizarro and the Austrians call it Ulan.

ASCOD Pizarro Ulan
ASCOD Pizarro Ulan
ASCOD Pizarro Prototype
ASCOD Pizarro Prototype 1992

After the first prototype was completed in 1992 production commenced 4 years later in 1996.

A number of variants of Pizarro were proposed or developed after the Infantry Fighting Vehicle including a command vehicle, advanced reconnaissance, recovery, HOT missile carrier and others.

ASCOD Family
ASCOD Family

The VCOAV (Vehículo de Observación Avanzada) Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle would be developed in the next decade but in 1996 ASCOD developed the 105mm Light Tank variant. This was fitted with the same turret and 105mm main gun as the South African 8×8 Reumech OMC Rooikat

Reumech Rooikat 105
Reumech Rooikat 105

The ASCOD 105 LTE would go on to be purchased by Thailand.

Incidentally, Warrior was also trialled with the same turret.

Warrior LT105
Warrior LT105

A few years later, in 1998, General Dynamics, who by then owned ASCOD, trialled it with the same Low Profile Turret as would be used in the Stryker Advanced Gun System (AGS).

This used the M68A1E4 105mm main gun, a slightly modified variant of the M68 as used on the M60 Patton and M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, itself a licence built variant of the Royal Ordnance L7 as used in the British Centurion main battle tank.


Trials were apparently successful and data used to develop the AGS Low Profile Turret further.


The first CV90 prototype was actually completed in 1988. Testing continued and deliveries commenced for the Swedish Army in 1994.

Like ASCOD, it is available in a number of variants in additional to the Infantry Fighting Vehicle; Forward Observation, Forward Command, Recovery and Air Defence.

The CV90-40 Air Defence Variant entered service in 1998

A trial version with the GIAT 105mm TML turret was completed in 1994.

CV90 GIAT 105mm
CV90 GIAT 105mm

The same turret as mounted on GIAT Vextra

GIAT Vextra
GIAT Vextra

In total, just over 500 vehicles were delivered to the Swedish Army across a number of variants and tranches to a total value of just under £980 million, including development of the main variants.

Norway and Switzerland ordered CV90 in the late nineties.

Protected Mobility

In response to the mine threat in Bosnia a requirement for a mine protected vehicle was created.

This is where it gets very complicated; making sense of the commercial arrangements in this niche market area is extremely difficult as there are several competing viewpoints of the same series of events so this might not be 100% accurate but it is as close as I think it can be.

The Mamba 4×4 was a development of the earlier Mamba 4×2 developed by Mechem and used the South African Army’s old Unimog 416 trucks as parts donors, the production contract was awarded to Reumec with  the basic design licenced from Mechem. Higher strength steel and multiple design refinements had allowed the manufacturers to flatten the deep V that characterised the earlier vehicles and therefore create a more practical layout.

The first Mamba 4 x4 prototype was tested in 1993.

In late 1993 two prototype vehicles were sent to Alvis in the UK who had partnered with both Mechem and Reumech in South Africa

The two prototype vehicles were the Iron Eagle scout car and the first 4×4 version of the Mamba 2.9m wheelbase mine protected vehicle.

The Iron Eagle became the Alvis Acorn

Alvis Acorn
Alvis Acorn

The Mamba 4×4 was called the Alvis 8 as it carried eight people.

Both vehicles were trialled in Bosnia in 1994, according to Janes

Alvis 8 SFOR
Alvis 8 SFOR

After a successful trial of the Alvis 8 the MoD requested a shorter wheelbase (2.4m) version and this was to become the Alvis 4. Because of time pressures Alvis also loaned the MoD a number of Alvis 8’s, the longer wheelbase version with the old fashioned running gear, so there were both versions in theatre.

Alvis 4 SFOR
Alvis 4 SFOR

Both the Alvis 4 and Alvis 8 were commonly called Mamba’s and the Alvis 4 had a number of modifications including an armour plate to defeat the TMRP 6, mine, stretcher lashing points and Clansman radio wiring and battery charging systems. The original requirement was for a vehicle that could extract casualties from vehicles that had detonated mines although they would, eventually, also used in the route proving role.

Alvis 4 SFOR
Alvis 4 SFOR
TMRP6 Mine
TMRP6 Mine

6 were deployed to the Balkans in 1996 for use by the Royal Engineers, costing £1.2 million

The Alvis 4’s were a great success but the harsh climate and terrain of the Balkans combined with the extra weight imposed by additional armour and old fashioned mechanicals exposed a number of reliability and safety limitations so they were eventually disposed of and a replacement sought (more later)

In 1996 three Alvis 4’s were procured for operations in Macedonia for £1 million

In a 1997 presentation from Col James Anderson on the military aspects of mine detection and clearance the priority to which the Royal Engineers and MoD placed on this was stated thus;

The biggest threat to the Army’s mobility – in war and operations other than war – is landmines. Hence the most important programmes are now counter-mines programmes. This represents a considerable challenge. Of particular concern is trying to shift the balance of the overall programme without upsetting existing capabilities or distorting them too far.

The Army’s mindset was clearly focused on the issue, at least within the confines of the Royal Engineers.

And this is where the problems would lie, concentrating mine protection with the specialist arm of the British Army, the Royal Engineers.

It was still perceived as a specialist area.

In 1993 Another five Alvis 4′s were obtained for operations in Kosovo at a combined cost of £2.3 million

The total of fourteen Alvis 4/8′s had been obtained to this point at a cost of £4.5 million.

At the End of the Decade

The end of the nineties would see the concept of the European Rapid Response Force (ERRF) emerge with the government committing significant resources to it. The notion of rapid response expeditionary missions was gaining traction.

A busy period for armoured vehicles and to complete the decade, the 1999 Christmas Number 1, a double A side from Westlife (sorry)

Westlife – I Have a Dream


From Band Aid to Westlife, some decade!




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!

Sort by:   newest | oldest | most voted
June 9, 2014 2:37 pm

Makes me want to sing Mary Hopkin’s.

All Politicians are the Same
June 9, 2014 2:52 pm

Fascinating and educating.

June 9, 2014 3:29 pm

Fascinating description for the alphabet soup of the 1990’s.

Through all you post On the 60’s 70’s and 80’s I get the distinct impression that we have not moved on one jolt in 30 years and the MOD is still looking at the same reset of requirements that it was looking at in 1969.

June 9, 2014 3:31 pm

It’s also worth noting that those same envious eyes looking at Russian 8×8’s in 1999 are the same as the ones looking at French 8×8’s in Mali in 2013.

Nothing really changes :-)

June 9, 2014 5:37 pm

While toxic smoke may have been a contributing factor, I would suggest that the demise of the Scorpion had something to do with the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, which deemed it a heavy armament combat vehicle*. Getting rid of it would have solved any toxicity issues with the gun and also scored political points.

* The term “heavy armament combat vehicle” means an armoured combat vehicle with an integral or organic direct fire gun of at least 75 millimeters calibre, weighing at least 6.0 metric tonnes unladen weight, which does not fall within the definitions of an armoured personnel carrier, or an armoured infantry fighting vehicle or a battle tank.

June 9, 2014 5:48 pm

Mr fred, first time I’ve ever heard of that. Who was the nutcase who even made that proposal?

June 9, 2014 6:24 pm

Fascinating, truly fascinating, and the lengths some people will go to, in order to post a GoT picture…..

June 9, 2014 6:44 pm

It’s nothing I know for certain, but the timings and details add up. The Treaty was ratified in 1991, the Scorpion left service in 1992
“After the treaty entered into force (1991), a 4-month baseline inspection period began. Twenty-five percent of the destruction had to be completed by the end of 1 year, 60% by the end of 2 years, and all destruction required by the treaty completed by the end of 3 years.”
Given that as a heavy armament combat vehicle, the Scorpion takes slots in the Western allies’ order of battle that could be filled by IFVs and APCs. Oddly, the Scimitar, by dint of it’s smaller gun, doesn’t seem to count as anything. Consequently I would presume that you can therefore have as many as you like.

Red Trousers
June 9, 2014 8:31 pm

Mr Fred,

You are correct about Scorpion and CFE, but there was a bit of a loophole. The vehicle dimensions were also specified, and Scorpion was about 5 Cms narrower than the minimum width of door that CFE Inspectors were entitled to demand access to: from memory, 2 metres but I might be wrong on that. Anyway, Scorpion was a tiny bit narrower. Hence the (I kid you not) plan for any excess Scorpions to be parked up in garages in the officers’ married quarters once the 24 hour advance notice of an inspection had been given.

TD, fascinating stuff, it brings back many memories, and I look forward to the Noughties article in which I had a minor part to play for FRES SV. Couple of minor points:

VERDI 2 incorporated WASAD (Wide Area Surveillance errr errr), a mega wide Field of View automated TI sensor with then advanced for algorithms to cue and slew the sensor, some form of assisted recognition, library reference images in visible and thermal bands, etc etc. I remember being really impressed during a demo in Chertsey.

The incident with the Challenger shooting a Warrior during Gulf One was rather more serious. A good mucker of mine was briefing his platoon using chalk and talk on the side of the Warrior at the time, and the explosion of the HESH round punched hundreds of bits of shrapnel into his legs. They chopped bits off for months, hoping not to perform a full amputation, but he’s legless now.

Red Trousers
June 9, 2014 8:37 pm

…. Re MRAV/Boxer,

An old boss / friend of mine was the IPT Leader for that. No one could comprehend the size of it, so he had a life size silhouette of it painted on a very large blank wall in the IPT office in Abbey Wood. He said it was amazing how many senior people stopped to ask in amazement if it was really that big, and it also became a stop on the tour for visiting senior people from Main Building.

Red Trousers
June 9, 2014 8:45 pm

Wide Area Surveillance Automated Detection, I think.

June 9, 2014 9:17 pm

I have never been able to find dimensions / weight / cost info the 6 x 6 version of MRAV (Boxer) – I wonder if it would have been that much cheaper than its bigger brother.and what the payload / pax might be ?

June 9, 2014 9:41 pm

On the subject of WASAD, it would be a relatively simple task to provide a larger picture of an area by scanning the sensor head/mirror/however it is managed in a set pattern. After a fashion, it is how the early thermal imaging sensors worked (sensor descriptions of 480×4 are not typos) Given that modern sensors are getting into the megapixel range, scanning that would give you a very wide field of view. However, unless you have better than a megapixel display or some fancy detection algorithms, it isn’t going to help much.

June 9, 2014 9:44 pm

Muck fe, it’s huge.

June 10, 2014 7:37 am

x – the size of these things is driven (oops – pun!) by the requirement. For example for official high mobility classification, AFV Def Stan (which replicates Logs Vehicle Def Stan mobility tables) defines 400mm ground clearance, 200mm suspension bump from static, low ground pressure, tight turning circle, a sharp 25 degree up, 25 degree down break over angle, fording depth of 1.5m with another 500mm of bow wave/splash etc etc, and then Human Factors Def Stan ‘advises’ accommodation should be designed to fit all sizes of personnel up to 97th percentile male (plus body armour & all other attached bulk). There hasn’t yet been an edict to make all armoured vehicles wheelchair friendly but in these Politically Correct days its only a matter of time. The result of all these is that wheeled vehicles need big tyres (ground pressure) on axles close to each other (break over angle) with high wheel-arches (suspension bump) with a lot of depth to clear wheels at full lock (turning circle) and high hull keel (ground clearance) which means a high crew compartment floor on which generously sized personnel accommodation (97th percentile operators) is fitted, the vehicle as a whole needing to be able to operate pushing through water bow-waving to 2m. Add to all this the protection requirements that make for thick structures, volume for electronic boxes (vast), cooling for the electronics boxes (vaster?) and cooling for occupants, air filtration, stowage. Now for all that size & weight give the vehicle a powerful enough engine/driveline, a fuel tank to provide a realistic range, and a cooling system that can cope with the hottest climatic regions.

This is never going to make a small vehicle.

June 10, 2014 10:11 am

@ TD Your opening situation ignores over 200 AFVs, to whit c.98 M109, c.42 M107/M110 + the trusty M578s, c.80 M113 variants (tracked Rapier and Lance launchers and support vehicles). Apart from the Lance they all deployed on GRANBY and were joined by half a dozen M270 (MLRS SPLL) and a rapid acquisition of another M113 variant, M548 to replace Stalwart HMLC. Each with different engine packs, different tracks, etc.

June 10, 2014 12:29 pm

Any news on ULCV , supposed to have been delivered to Fort Bragg by 5/5/14 and drivers instruction completed by 6th June with tests starting this week. A bit like the Longline FAV pictured above but on steroids and still unarmoured . Some one mentioned it on the Tanks for the memories thread I think.
Specs are:-
•Carrying an infantry squad (9 Soldiers) and equipment (3200 lbs. total)
•A platform curb weight not exceeding 4500 lbs. – less squad and equipment – (fuelled, oiled, and ready to run 250 miles)
•Ability to be driven into and out of a CH-47 helicopter with the squad and their equipment on board
•Ability to operate in a wide range of terrain profiles
•Ability to survive rollover at gross vehicle weight (demonstrate via calculations or validation certificate)
•Capability of being rigged and/or de-rigged by no more than two soldiers for sling-load operations within two minutes using only on-board tools and a 10K sling.
I cannot find anything relating to what companies have submitted or even whos bidding. The ULCV request was put out in January for an off the shelf design.

June 10, 2014 1:03 pm


Interesting point about 6×6 versus 8×8. When you view both types of vehicle up close, it is the height you notice more than the length. With most 6×6 versions of 8×8 designs, you lose space for 3-4 dismounted troops. The whole point of an 8×8 is the ability to deploy an entire section / squad of 8 soldiers. Seems a shame to lose it.

One of the learnings of the Stryker brigades in iraq and Afghanistan is the needed for greater organic firepower. The US Army now wants to mount a Mk 44 Bushmaster ii 30mm cannon on its Strykers. The turret and ammunition stowage inside the crew compartment are likely to reduce internal capacity to 6 dismounts, i.e. the same as an M2 Bradley, KMW Puma or Warrior. So, if we were to adopt a 6×6 and also wanted to mount a cannon on it, we might only have room for 3 or 4 dismounts. That being the case, why not go for the smaller 4×4 Foxhound and use this in conjunction with cannon equipped 4×4 version of the same vehicle?

The other reason to prefer an 8×8 to a 6×6 is that eight contact points spreads out vehicle weight much more evenly. This gives better cross-country performance as well as a more comfortable ride. Also, when it comes to mines or IEDs, you can lose 2-3 wheels with an 8×8 and still keep going, but with a 6×6 vehicle losing just one may incapacitate it.

When i served in an Infantry recce platoon in BAOR, I remember comparing our Scimitars to the German Army’s Luchs 8×8 Spahpanzer. I asked why they had gone for a wheeled vehicle instead of a tracked one. The answer was that on-road it was infinitely faster and quieter. Off-road, it had 80-90% of the mobility of a tracked vehicle. The general view seems to be that an 8×8 configuration is a much better match for a tracked vehicle than 6×6. I believe this is why MOWAG’s Piranhah III was chosen by the USMC for the LAV-25.

June 10, 2014 1:29 pm

TD, how is a light tank related to a water tank? Does it carry light? :P

Personally, I’m 50/50 with the APC idea, I really like the idea of organic support too, so split the baby? Fill the space with 8 dismounts (1 section) and see what you can fit in the leftover that gives the biggest bang?

June 10, 2014 1:50 pm

By light tank you mean STANAG Level 5 protection only , active defences for any thing bigger , a gun system and air transportable. Lets just buy the plans and prototypes from our cousins for the HSTV-L Kent was talking about on the seventies thread. I all ways thought it looked the part. They did a three man version and at 20t could be C130 transported

June 10, 2014 2:28 pm

Monkey – no no! Buy mine! ITAR-free….

June 10, 2014 2:42 pm

As long its on the same lines no problems , at some point we will need to send out armour by air and there won’t be enough aircraft in the 20t + lift category available to beg , borrow or steal. The C130 level of 20t and a bit max lift should still be the bench mark.

June 10, 2014 3:01 pm

I am a bit ambivalent about light tanks.

The king of modern ones has been CVRT, in all its forms.

Why:- because it was ‘THERE’ man. It has been to war with the UK armed forces pretty much everywhere the UK armed forces have been to war. The reason is simple. They are (relative to other tracked armoured vehicles), a piece of piss to shift strategically and tactically frugal on fuel and resources when deployed.

They still managed to do a useful job when the got there.

Why am I ambivalent, because they are ‘light’ and frankly a vehicle which can have its sides opened up by a 50 cal at medium range or worse 14.5 KPV* can’t really be called ‘ armoured’.

Also everyone in the know about such things thinks that recon vehicles need to have the capacity of a pantechnicon to carry all the clever keeny meenie equipment.

However can’t he;p think that British army logistics (or indeed any other army’s logisitics would be improved if we went with something about 10 – 12 tons. no wider that 2.3 metres armoured v heavy machine gun fire, armed with 30mm plus proper gun and either 50 cal or good 7.62 machine gun.

With variants carrying mortars / antitank/anti air missiles and an APC version.

All fitting in the mythical container. so we can ship hundreds with ease.

The will fit inside tactical airlifters C130, 3 inside A400, etc for those rare occasions, they need to fly. and can be shipped and transported with ease…. where did I put that photo, of a Scorpion on a flat rack?? Use diesel electric drive and you could frankly fit one of the larger car engines ‘off the rack’ to power it reducing costs and spares bills.

But It will still be ‘light’ when the bullets start flying and WW2 Taught that light vehicles good for colonial wars were no good in knock down drag out fights. So hence the ambivalence.

But an 8X8 the size of house, and 44 ton 3 metre wide recon vehicle are both still a joke.

*My candidate for weapon most likely to be restored to the battlefield in numbers causing a nasty shock for those on the receiving end when it is

June 10, 2014 3:06 pm

Would love to see some pictures of your designs.. Go on show us!

June 10, 2014 3:39 pm

Sorry Radish – no sneaky peeks until either someone has decided to engage and the things are under development, or I’ve given up all hope and they are nothing more than what-might-have-beens. Or I’ve won Euromillions and built a set for myself. I wonder if DVLA object to Private Light Tanks?

June 10, 2014 4:02 pm

If you can get them to do less than 99g/km of co2 there will be no road tax to pay. What’s not to like

June 10, 2014 4:19 pm

On the same lines, I have a mischievous urge to find an electric motor driven armoured vehicle to take into London and not be subjected to Congestion Charge. Herr Dr Porsche’s Maus springs to mind.

June 10, 2014 4:22 pm

If you’re looking for BIG, here ya go:

As for the HSTV-L, at one point we were looking at a cradle that mounted above the 75mm ARES cannon. The cradle would hold a 25mm Bushmaster and a 7.62mm COAX MG. When the main gun stopped elevating, the cradle would continue up to about 80º elevation for AAA use. It was deemed too complex, too heavy, and unnecessary. The ammo for the ARES gun was “telescoped” and came in two varieties, IIRC. There was a APDS/APFSDS (I can’t remember which) round and an HE round with an interesting fusing option. It was proposed for it to self-destruct two meters past the range of the target if it missed with an option for a proximity fusing to shoot at helicopters/CAS aircraft. We never got to shoot the multi-fusing options HE. The AP round from the ARES penetrated the frontal aspect of a T-62 turret about six inches to the right of the main gun and eight inches above the turret ring (from the T-62 crew perspective. This resulted in a catastrophic kill of the uncrewed but combat loaded T-62. I can’t help but wonder what the effect of three rounds in 2 seconds (3 shot burst mode) would have done to today’s most advanced non-NATO tanks’ frontal armor.

While the proposal was for a 650hp gas turbine engine, our test bed vehicle used a Detroit Diesel 6V53T turbo-charged engine developing well over 300hp. If designing the vehicle today, I’d opt for a more modern diesel rather than the gas turbine.

Interestingly at the time I was on the project, both M1 prototypes (GM and Chrysler) were being tested. Just from talking to the test crews, they liked the Chrysler turret and the GM hull and running gear (a 1500hp variable compression diesel). If we could have managed to combine the two, no one would be talking about refitting M1s with diesel engines to improve their range.

June 10, 2014 4:35 pm

Kent – I’ll see your AAV and raise you a Maus:

And if your still not convinced then there’s Ratte: ,

June 10, 2014 4:44 pm

@ Chris

I am familiar with the size of the Army’s vehicle and what drives size But that is a big motor.

To me this turret looks flat-ish (low aspect), but IRL it must be just as high as Warrior’s turret.

Again for scale look at it next to the G-wagen,

I have speculated about 3 Div’s brigades going back to the structure they had when Saxon was in service during the latter stages of/ immediately post Cold War; 1 x MBT, 1 x Warrior, 2 x mech. And I think Boxer would be ideal for such a formation; even though it must be bigger than Warrior. But for running about in Africa and being shoved into ships etc. far too big. Um. I am going to look to see what is like compared to ASCOD SV FRES.

June 10, 2014 5:55 pm

@Chris – The Maus? Really? 13kmph? A call for fire with a FFE from a 155 battery. We’re done. The Ratte? Whatchoo smokin’, dude?

Corin vestey
June 10, 2014 6:03 pm

I wondered if any of you knowledgable types had seen and have thoughts about the article on Fres Scout and doctrine or lack thereof at the Journal of Military Operations?

June 10, 2014 6:17 pm

x – no, honestly, I have tried to make my vehicles as small as I can but I struggle to get a lower roofline than Boxer has. As I said its because everything these days has to be done to The Standard. If you took vehicles that were once considered good sized high mobility wheeled armour (take Saracen & Saladin as examples) they fail to meet the majority of The Standard criteria. And yet they were thoroughly usable vehicles just 50 years back and I don’t think human physiology has changed radically over that time?

Kent – Michael Moorcock. My word; years since I saw that name. If I remember right part time singer with Hawkwind when not writing tales of gruesome fantasy. As for Ratte it speaks volumes that Hitler thought this was a wonder-weapon, whereas in reality as noted in the link above it would have been so huge there was no hiding the thing, the roads and bridges would be impassable in it, and it would have guzzled fuel at the rate of tons per mile.

June 10, 2014 6:36 pm

Chris, but as an area denial weapon, it could be fearsome if supported right. Not that it was a good idea anyway. Think you’ll need a heavy bomber to kill it, though crippling it would be far simpler.

June 10, 2014 7:25 pm

@Observer @Chris – You could dam up the valley with landslides and let the rising water take care of it. Or, blow a dam like in Force 10 from Navarone.

BTW, what’s wrong with the Stryker or LAV series of vehicles if you need an 8X8? They have both been used in combat and Strykers have been upgraded with V-hulls/Double V-hulls

June 10, 2014 7:34 pm

Kent – ref “what’s wrong with the Stryker or LAV” – what’s wrong?? I didn’t design them they are not as Gucci as mine they would steal my market, that’s what! To be a bit less flippant, they are now quite an elderly design, although as you say GD has put some cash into upgrading. All you can surmise is that GD didn’t think they were as good as the modern opposition or the Piranha III/IV would have been put forward against Boxer & VBCI for the FRES-UV competition, instead of the not quite finished yet Piranha V…

June 10, 2014 7:38 pm

Actually, it’s also partly due to the fact that the Stryker is about 30% (depending on variant) lighter than the new 8x8s. Those run into 25-30 tons, IIRC, Stryker was only about 18, though I think the newer LAVs do hit that range.

June 10, 2014 7:51 pm

Obs – light is good though…

June 10, 2014 8:01 pm

@ Chris

I see what you are saying. I don’t think a high roof line is a bad thing. And volume doesn’t always equate to weight. I suppose it like comparing to how a BTR is configured (triangular prism) and how a BAE SuperAV is configured (tall and wobbly).

Actually I am warming to the Boxer. Seeing as Africa has few major rivers, we have bridging equipment, and opfor won’t be Third Shock Army they may work. Given most Army formations are slightly under manned these days used in a Flying Columns the extra space within could be used for supplies etc. etc.

June 10, 2014 9:15 pm

@TD – Ancient, you say! Strykers maintain a 96% readiness rate in Afghanistan(!!!); the Cat 3126 engine has just been replaced with a more modern Cat C7; the 570 amp alternator has been replaced with a 910 amp alternator; the .50 cal. M2HB is going to be replaced by a 30mm cannon that uses the same ammo as the AH-64 Apache’s gun; etc. The Marines are also updating their LAVs. The vehicles are boxes. The stuff that they have inside and outside can be replaced easily and relatively inexpensively, depending, of course, on what you want to stuff inside.

One think I will mention – the LAV with the 25mm turret only holds 4-6 guys in the back, but it is not meant to be an infantry carrier for the Marines. They call the LAV-equipped units “light-armored reconnaissance battalions.” For you indirect fire types, the LAV-M 81mm mortar carrier is likely to be replaced by the LAV-EFSS (LAV-Expeditionary Fire Support System) mounting the 120mm “Dragon Fire II*” mortar system in a 360º mounting.


“Old,” indeed!

June 10, 2014 9:37 pm

Kent, I’ll believe the Dragon Fire when it gets into service. Last I heard, the project was canned and the prototypes warehoused. The current replacement EFSS is a manual 120mm mortar that won’t look out of place in the Vietnam War.

Chris, depends on what you do with the weight and how you want to play with your 8×8. You want strategic maneuverability, yes, light is good. You want to play tag with APCs and IFVs, heavy is good, especially if it is in extra armour. And it allows some potentially funny options.

“Enemy Stryker ahead! RAMMING SPEED!!!” :P

June 10, 2014 9:40 pm

x – no no no! Don’t go to the Dark Side! My wheeled APC is almost a third the weight of Boxer and still fits 8 dismounts (although I can’t promise as much internal stowage space) and is just better in every way…

June 10, 2014 9:44 pm

Obs – I am distraught – I neglected to fit a 2ft diameter pointed oak ram with iron-clad tip to the front of my designs

June 10, 2014 9:52 pm

Oh and x – volume under armour DOES equate to weight. Always. We had a similar discussion on one of the Grey Funnel Line frigate threads about making hulls longer without penalty because air is free and not heavy, and steel cheap, and those that understood naval ship design were quite forthright that adding length and compartments and services and general stuff adds a good deal of weight and cost. Same with vehicles. The normal phrase used is “Space under armour is expensive.” The way to keep size weight and cost down is to build as small as the role permits; the role including meeting required protection levels, obviously.

June 10, 2014 9:55 pm

@ Chris

Sorry. :( There is a point where quantity takes on a quality all of its own. ;)

No it is far too big as you say. If it had propellers or jets and a trim vane then it would be a different matter. Don’t think it can swim can it?

Aren’t you aiming for Chinook under slung weight? As much as I favour internal carriage of vehicles it is probably the best option for logistical reasons.

Have a nice pic of proper vehicle fighting in a real war…………….

PS: Can your vehicles swim?

June 10, 2014 10:04 pm

@ Chris

Volume doesn’t equal weight…………..

As for ship design yes more steel does equal more weight. And steel does cost. What many don’t consider is that ship’s buoyancy isn’t a constant through out the structure. A ship with too much weight in the middle will sag. A ship that is too heavy at either end will hog. Of course modern (naval) ship design should result in a nice rigid-ish structure; merchantmen do flex. Then again so do aircraft wings, towers, car bodies, bike frames, gun barrells etc. etc. and so on

June 10, 2014 10:10 pm

I wonder how big the mine was that took out that Saxon? Were any lost to mines in Iraq? Truly awful vehicles but surely they must have been a better option than Snatch?

EDIT: Note the RLC soldier in 4s in the Mexe’ photo’s.

June 10, 2014 10:14 pm

“I neglected to fit a 2ft diameter pointed oak ram with iron-clad tip to the front of my designs”

And the drums. Can’t encourage your men without a good set of skin drums and drumsticks.

I’m feeling Orkish today. :)

And ironically, that pointed oak might actually still work against some vehicles. But I jest. If anything gets fitted to the front, it would be a mine plow or roller.

Ace Rimmer
June 10, 2014 10:16 pm

X, I was thinking the same, I thought the Saxon took some flak for being somewhat ‘unstable’, but it appears to have taken the mine blast rather well….unless someone can say differently.

Plus back in the day it was one of the few vehicles in British service designed from the outset with a ‘V’ shaped hull, an under-rated platform?

June 10, 2014 10:20 pm

@X – Warming to the Boxer? I guess if you want to go to war in a Peterbilt instead of a sports sedan…

It’s more than twice as heavy, half a meter wider, almost as tall without a turret (!!), and almost seven feet longer that the LAV-25A2! It’s bigger and heavier than the Stryker MGS, although not as tall!

June 10, 2014 10:30 pm

x – to misquote Douglas Adams, I am quite sure Boxer floats in exactly the way that bricks don’t. Which for the moment also describes my set of vehicles. Its a case of simple displacement – I have small well protected vehicles therefore average density is greater than that of water. Floaty vehicles are rarely well armoured as they need to be light for the size – hence the BRDMs and BTR60/70/80 and BMP1/2 are maybe 8mm thick steel only – similar to Ferret protection. (Please note those with authorized anoraks that I have not physically measured each and every plate so may well be wrong to a degree, but I have felt the width of the outer armour I could reach on the Bovington exhibits.) The only properly protected floating armour (not including battleships) were the likes of the DD Shermans, using floatation screens to create adequate displacement.

I have considered turning my hand to a floating vehicle but it really goes against the grain – it would be bigger and less protected and, to my eyes, compromised as armour. But if there is a requirement there is no fundamental reason why the core engineering concept couldn’t stretch to an amphibian.

June 10, 2014 10:33 pm

@ Ace RImmer

I think my timeline is right. I am sure some were taken to Iraq with their battalions. A few mods perhaps? Roll over hoops. Seats hung from the ceiling. Dare I suggest an aircon unit on the roof? Not for moving sections about but clutches of bods for liaison. Uncomplicated mechanicals. Who knows? There must be a reason why they weren’t used. They couldn’t have been any worse than a Land Rover.

@ Kent re boxer

Well it is has given me something else to think about in between and during the day’s tasks. LAV is OK. I prefer tracks to be honest. I like vehicles that can be moved by helicopter; but they must be able to cope with surf. And I like vehicles that can swim. My main interest being things amphibious. What armies do and don’t do I don’t have any fixed opinions. My main concern is that the British Army is far too heavy. And IMHO they don’t appear to be going about continuing to be heavy in a sensible way. ASCO is crap. etc. etc. and so on.

June 10, 2014 10:38 pm

Ace, x – Saxon was I believe a Bedford truck in an armoured party-frock. Beam axles and narrow set leaf springs (as suited the truck’s original ladder chassis) made the armoured box on top high and supported on a narrow base, hence it rolled and swayed. I imagine it was a sound design as regards blast protection (give or take how the drive from internal engine/transmission got to external axles) but sometimes its got to be useful to be able to scarper PDQ without fear of falling over on the first bend.

June 10, 2014 10:39 pm

@X – “Have a nice pic of proper vehicle fighting in a real war…………….”

Have a nice pic of proper vehicles going to a fight in a real war! Look carefully for RT….

June 10, 2014 10:39 pm

@ Chris

Armour is nice But the definition of a vehicle is something that moves goods or persons. :)

You could get a flotation kit for these………..

June 10, 2014 10:45 pm

@ Chris

It was an ML with a box on top. I didn’t mean for extended time use but as a stop gap. Note I had already mentioned roll over bars as a mod. The most ungainly thing I have ever had the misfortune to move about in on land is the Shortland armoured LR. Makes me feel sick just thinking about it.

@ Kent

He would probably see them as an upgrade over CVR(T)….

June 10, 2014 10:50 pm

x – Patria’s AMV is a fine vehicle and its gaining friends around the world. I tried to get a sneaky look-see in the one at DSEi last year but the stand staff were good at security. Centurion was spectacular and there are still modified versions of it in service, deservedly so. Blowed if I’d want to swim one though. The Soviet approach when it came to water and heavy armour was to drive through, even if that meant 10ft of water over the turret top. Apparently the hatches and turret ring leaked a bit so it was showers all round while the thing was submerged, and a good idea not to stop underwater for long. Talking of amphibious ops and water over the top, its worth remembering that AFVs tend not to have engine bays open underneath, so any water that gets into the engine compartment will stay until the bilge pump can shift it – a full engine bay might contain 3t or more of water to drag up the shore…

Red Trousers
June 10, 2014 10:54 pm

Jesus H Christ, Kent (as I think is the US address, or at least not too rude).

Any Squadron of mine that did that would have been bayoneted, even in peacetime. Regular spacing, straight over the crest, and flying all sorts of nonsense fluff from the turrets.

You want to get individual wagons coming up the re-entrants from both sides at irregular intervals. What’s the point of a Recce Regiment if you can’t give the most junior wagon Commander an order to be somewhere far away in precisely 7 hours 30 minutes, and not be seen by any fucker in getting there? And stay the fuck away from any other wagon while doing so.

I am slightly hyper-ventilating at the thought of a convoy for anything at all armoured. Convoys are for others.

Gloomy Northern Boy
June 11, 2014 12:44 am

@RT – I suspect my Father learnt to drive a tank in one of those, or possibly a slightly earlier model…he would certainly agree with the sentiment. His view was that his troop only became visible to the enemy shortly after the muzzle flash, just about the time where the shell hit them…if it was completely unavoidable… :-)


Brian Black
June 11, 2014 9:59 am

RT, looking at the rocky ground I suspect that those little tankettes would not have any track left after a few yards off the route.

Even if the tracks and wheels didn’t get torn off, the speed of advance would be appalling. The tank is a Vickers mkVI with a road speed of 30mph; over that sort of ground, they’d probably still be able to wave at the rest of the regiment after an hour or two on the move.

Other features of the mkVI are heavy pitching on rough ground caused by the combination of height and short length of the vehicle, and standing room only for the commander and gunner.

June 11, 2014 10:56 am

BB – everything is relative – some friends on their way back from Winchester found themselves in a long queue behind a close order convoy of what they think were WW2 transport trucks, ambulances and jeeps. 30mph if they were lucky, slowing to 5-10mph uphill. Its possible these were being cosseted or maybe one or two were poorly, but its equally likely this was their full capability.

I’m not sure we recognize just how fast transport has become compared to that of 50 years back (let alone 80 or 100 years). HGV were apparently limited to 20mph until 1960 (as basic tractors still are now), buses could reach maybe 30-35mph. Not unusual in the 50s to find family saloons that couldn’t reach 70mph. High performance sportscars nudged 100mph, with the supercars of the day getting to 140-150mph. So maybe 30mph tankettes aren’t slow by the standard of the day.

Compare with the modern expectation that all lorries will be able to run at 50mph even uphill, vans & trucks 70mph+ and tiny engined family hatchback buzzboxes 120mph. Armour is specified to be capable of 50mph/80kph on the flat. Consider for a moment that a fully laden 40t artic rolling at walking pace has the same momentum as a family saloon at motorway speeds. Remember that when you cut back in front of one on the motorway having just overtaken it.

But thinking of speeds of advance in tactical situations, I understand the nominal speed of advance is something like 22mph to keep pace with armour and support units? Obviously much slower still if operating with infantry on foot. No doubt there are uses for high off-road speed (scouts maybe? SF probably) but a modest top speed might not be a serious handicap for run-of-the-mill armour.

June 11, 2014 12:13 pm


Not near my ref books at the moment, but I think the very fastest advances of WW2 – the Germans in Barbarrossa and Case blue, and US in Post Normandy ‘break out’ were approx 50 miles in a day for brief periods.

Gulf 1 and 2 may have been faster but that was over just about ideal terrain for armoured warfare.

June 11, 2014 12:14 pm

Also real problems with tracked vehicle exceeding about 50- 55 mph, start to loose/ brake tracks for various reasons.

June 11, 2014 12:21 pm

Ixion – seems right to me. Of course the vehicles don’t crawl forward at constant speed for the duration, but sprint fight sprint hide sprint etc in whatever direction the situation demands, so a reasonable turn of speed is necessary, but looking at MBT max speeds, Centurion was 22mph, Chieftain 30mph and Challenger 37mph – these being road speeds not off-road. Maybe the smaller vehicles run around a lot more than big armour though.

June 11, 2014 4:06 pm

Tracked vehicle road speed is one thing and 50 mph is a genuine limit. When we ran Scimitars past this speed, the heat build up and vibrations loosened everything. It became very easy to throw a track. I’m sure RT will concur.

Wheeled 8x8s can reach speeds of 70 mph without too much of a problem. More than that, they run hundreds of miles a day for weeks and still keep going. The first US Stryker Brigade in Iraq did something like 20,000 miles per vehicle in 12 months. Compared with tracked vehicles, this is astonishing.

Chris, at last we agree on something… :-)

The Patria AMV is indeed a fine vehicle and I think it would be ideal for the FRES UV requirement. I did manage to get in the back of the vehicle at DSEI – there’s a lot of space in there, even with a turret. Only worry is that there was no v-hull.

Iveco is launching the new Centauro B2 at Eurosatory. This mounts a 120 mm gun. Should be amazing. No w that’s what I call a light tank.

Having started out with just a 12.7mm HMG, I note that the US intends to mount 30 mm cannons on its Strykers. I just hope that the UK learns from this and mounts a cannon on FRES UV from the start.

June 11, 2014 4:40 pm

I think the Americans had it done with the FCR programme.

The weight limit of 20t seems to be the top though as yet. Pity they cancelled it .

June 11, 2014 4:45 pm

TD, not bad . Some stats here

There are also official stats by the Nordics for CV90, did not search for them as I can’t remember which language they are published in.

June 11, 2014 5:05 pm

ACC link has a CV90 @ 28t on their updated models with banded tracks as used in Afghanistan

June 11, 2014 5:05 pm

Monty – ref agreements – let me restore the status quo…

Scorpion was once lined up for a Guinness World Record attempt for fastest tracked vehicle. Alvis borrowed one of Jaguar’s spare LeMans D-type engines to replace the somewhat detuned J60 of the standard Scorpion. The triple Webers didn’t fit behind the driver/engine compartment bulkhead so the bulkhead had to go. The standard Scorpion exhaust was too restrictive so that wasn’t used either, being replaced by six stub-stack pipes pointing upward. Engine and inlet louvres were removed to help with air movement (and save a bit of weight.) The most fearless of the works drivers got the job of piloting the one off. He explained the Webers were a bit awkward, not only because they stuck out over his lap, just above his RH arm when gripping the tiller, and just in front of his nose, but also because when running they spat fierce blue flames out of the inlet trumpets whenever he slowed down. When he accelerated the flames were tinged with orange and were spat from the stack exhausts not the carburettors. In addition to flames the exhausts also emitted a deafening bellow on acceleration and spattered explosions when slowing down. The vehicle was tested and did well, but when taken to the selected RAF airfield for the official timed runs after much argument behind closed doors the RAF were forced to refuse permission for the record attempt on H&S grounds. Nanny said no. Oh well. I believe one of the track manufacturers has a modified Scorpion hull with a 7 litre V8 mounted where the turret basket should be – its rumoured to go quite well.

As for the Patria vehicle, fine as it is, its 1.5m longer than Chris’s 8×8 APC and only a little heavier (at low end weight) which suggests a thinner basic hide. I have designed my wheeled offerings around deep V-hulls so they should be good against blast from the outset. Better than AMV? I’m biased but I think they offer a better balance of compromises. But I have to admit from images on the web the AMV does seem spacious within.

As for medium cannon mounts on FRES-UV, I think its a case of some not all – not every role would benefit from a hefty turret on the roofplate; even Rafael’s Samson 30 is big – this is Samson 30 on AMV: – the only advantage is the lack of basket under the turret. From many angles the Oto Melara Hitfist 30P as used on the AMV based Rosomak is a more compact solution. But I prefer keeping turrets and dismounts separate and therefore have a separate APC and turreted armoured car with the same running gear.

June 11, 2014 5:13 pm

I read on ARRSE where somebody said the French campaign in central Africa was like landing at Gib’, driving to a start line in Calais, and then fighting all the way to the Scottish border And all not on the best roads.

That is why I am mulling over Boxer over something more reasonable in size.

A strategy/tactic of 20th century African warfare has been the Flying Column. If we are expecting troops to live out of their wagon for weeks on end let’s give them some space. Perhaps put a small dent in the last few miles of the logistics chain too? IF VBCI offers good protection, Boxer offers even better. Look how many dismounts Warrior was designed to carry and look how many it often carried. By the time Army 2020 is implemented I bet a platoon will be downs 2 rifle sections and a small HQ say 24 soldiers. A well trained soldier can live well off what he carries in a Bergen. Let us use technology to give him “2” Bergens and a ready made shelter. And if there is a need to carry more infantry for a GWx style operations we will have the vehicle capacity to soak it up.

June 11, 2014 6:16 pm

@RT – You used the interjection appropriately. My brother thought his name was “Jesus H Christ” because that’s what my father would shout when brother was found out after some mischief or the other. :D I feared that my father thought my name was Kidding Me because he kept asking, “Are you Kidding Me?”

When I saw the Vickers tankettes with the pennants flying, toodling down a desert track (probably in pre-Afrika Korps days), I couldn’t help sharing it. From our point of view, they are akin to seeing Trabants on the autobahn after the DDR crumbled.

June 11, 2014 6:26 pm

x – you can go off people you know… (smiley)

We have big(ish) tracked Warrior. We will have big tracked ASCOD/FRES APC if current plans continue. We have big wheeled Mastiff. We have bigish wheeled Ridgeback. Both of these very well protected against blast. On the other hand, when it comes to people-moving, we have small(ish) Foxhound with room for four dismounts. And – er – nope all the others are supposed to be pensioned off.

For running over vast tracts of hard-packed dirt the MRAP-like trucks work. Although they wouldn’t be so good in soft desert. On soft sand tracks might be better than 32t 8×8.

Its clear that every vehicle (just like every other product of engineering) is a compromise. its equally clear there are a hundred different scenarios in a hundred different environments each of which might need a different balance of compromises in the ‘perfect’ vehicle for the job. I will guarantee you could find tasks for which ASCOD/FRES-SV is absolutely ideal, similarly for Boxer.

But my contention throughout the past few years is that the real smart move for equipping the armed forces, especially the army, is to have a spectrum of vehicles from large to small, such that for any variety of scenario there would be something appropriate, if not bang-on ideal, to deploy. That’s my main gripe against ASCOD/FRES – put it in a room with Warrior and turn the light off and you wouldn’t be able to find a difference between them. Same size/weight/gun. ASCOD/FRES might well be a fine vehicle but its daft having two on the inventory that are so similar. Meanwhile at the same time the very different small CVR(T) and not quite so small 430 series are being sold/scrapped leaving a gaping hole at the small vehicle end of the spectrum. Foxhound might be good but its not a shoe-in for Scimitar tasks (nor is Panther, nor Jackal) and ASCOD certainly isn’t.

So if we already have big heavy wheeled armour and big heavy tracked APC/IFVs, adding another big heavy wheeled armoured vehicle seems extravagant? Fine if all the Mastiffs were sold and Boxer was the new big protected mobility – but Mastiff is here, it has limited resale value, and Boxer is unlikely to be a bargain.

The capability gap, to use a term which no doubt the military think they have a monopoly over, will be at the smaller lighter rapid intervention air-portable end of the spectrum. Its that gap I set out to fill.

June 11, 2014 6:34 pm

‘The capability gap, to use a term which no doubt the military think they have a monopoly over, will be at the smaller lighter rapid intervention air-portable end of the spectrum’

I don’t agree, we have plenty of Husky, Foxhound, Jackals and Panthers it’s the modern medium weight fighty bit that we are missing.

June 11, 2014 6:57 pm

@ Chris

I am just thinking things through. There is no danger of the MoD listening to me, honest. If they were I would be solving the Army’s equipment problems in a much more creative way. if there is no customer there is no customer need to be satisfied………….. ;)

June 11, 2014 7:12 pm

Chris, yes, the more specialist models “not quite so small 430 series are being sold/scrapped ” might be.

After Iraq 500+ Bulldogs were modernised. Surely the selling/ scrapping does not extend to them?
– btw, how many bns would that cover? Thinking about the reserves (eventually) having proper kit, rather than all being light infantry (+CS/ CSS).

John Hartley
June 11, 2014 7:23 pm

I am looking at a photo of an Israeli M113 “fitted with an experimental two-man turret armed with a 60mm hyper-velocity medium support weapon”. I wonder what happened to that 60 mm gun? Would it be suitable for TDs light tank?
Also, playing fantasy fleets, I think the UK should buy off the shelf a few (40-50) M1117 for the RMP, RAF Regiment & Paras. A little bit of mobile armoured firepower, that won’t win any prizes, but will be able to get where its needed.

June 11, 2014 7:26 pm

Red Trousers,
“I am slightly hyper-ventilating at the thought of a convoy for anything at all armoured. Convoys are for others.”
What if you need, for whatever reason, to get to somewhere 60 miles away in two hours, and the terrain off road doesn’t allow you the speed or even passibility? I’m thinking wadis, cliffs etc.

June 11, 2014 7:30 pm

ACC – I thought it was precisely the time to sell equipment off – right after the things emerge from refit. Certainly the RN is a black-belt at selling off upgraded ships – the one I remember was HMS Sirius that emerged from its £1m+ refit to be parked in Fareham Lake unused for about a year while RN sought a buyer, then when no buyer materialized it was towed away to be sunk for target practice.

Somewhere in MOD there is a disconnect between those that know what is due for disposal in the near future and those that organize upgrades.

So I really wouldn’t be surprised if Bulldogs were sold or scrapped.

June 11, 2014 7:33 pm

@ mr.fred re wadis

Or fesh fesh even.

(I have never ever been able to use fesh fesh in a sentence before. Made me day so it has.)

@ Chris

All I want is something like this, but not made by BAE.

June 11, 2014 7:39 pm

DN – your view and mine don’t align, but hey, you might be right. It just doesn’t look that way to me…

June 11, 2014 7:41 pm

x – ref SuperAV – you do know that’s a Fiat, don’t you?

June 11, 2014 7:49 pm


I just think at the moment the light stuff is covered by the Herrick kit with a few Panthers plus Viking, and if we had to beef up a lightweight force we have plenty of Bulldogs to use, which to be honest are pretty much a light weight vehicle now in modern terms. We could always throw a roller on the front and they’ve been fitted with armour and ECM for current ops. What would be the cost of improved seating and band tracks for the Bulldogs?

June 11, 2014 7:54 pm

@ Chris

I know. But there is such a thing as guilt by association.

The Brazilians are buying the 6×6 version in shed loads.

Ace Rimmer
June 11, 2014 8:31 pm

JH, “I think the UK should buy off the shelf a few (40-50) M1117”

I’d prefer something homegrown like the Alvis Simba, the advantage being the engine’s at the front, so its got a lot more volume in the rear for troops and kit. For approximately the same size and weight you could squeeze a section in as well.

June 11, 2014 9:12 pm

@John Hartley – Apparently the 60mm gun was fitted to some Chilean M24 light tanks by the Israelis. The ammo was 76mm/62cal cases necked down to 60mm/60cal. Can’t find any up to date info on it.

Property Value
Main weapon caliber (mm) 60
Barrel length (calibres) 70
Weight (kg) 1000
Recoil stroke (mm) 270
Recoil force (kg) 9000
Rate of fire (rds/min) 30
Muzzle velocity (m/s) 1680

Maybe it could retrofit the FV101 Scorpion or Warrior?

June 11, 2014 9:28 pm

@JH – The M1117 is four-wheeled which won’t necessarily get it where it needs to be. Just buy a battalion set of Strykers (30mm) or LAV-A2s. The LAV’s even have twin propellers for non-surf floaty ops. If you deleted them, you could save weight and complexity.

June 11, 2014 9:50 pm

Kent – if I remember right Alvis looked at the Oto 60mm as a suitable fit for Low Profile Stormer (the concept that became Stormer 30, fitted with the Oto 30mm Hitfist turret). As far as I can make out from web references the same gun was offered by both IMI and Oto suggesting it was a JV development.

June 11, 2014 9:55 pm

Ace Rimmer said “I’d prefer something home grown like the Alvis Simba”

No you wouldn’t. It is Saxon-eque. And was, is, crapity crap crap.

If you want something that is more truck like go for the newly breathed over RG’s which come in 4×4 and 6×6. Bushmaster works too.

Simba? No.

John Hartley
June 11, 2014 10:00 pm

Kent, the M1117 is lighter, shorter & narrower than the Stryker, hence its ability to go into tighter urban areas. I do not think we need thousands(or even hundreds) of them, but thinking of that incident where redcaps were trapped & killed in an Iraqi police station, I do feel they might have got out in M1117s rather than the Land Rovers they were stuck with.

June 11, 2014 10:26 pm

If we’re looking back at useful offerings from the past, I’ll put a good word in for Vickers Valkyr: – it was displayed at Farnborough and it very quietly and without any drama coped with all the off-road terrain there was in the arena. I believe it was related to a Timoney predecessor so presumably some of the same DNA made it into Bushmaster too.

June 11, 2014 10:28 pm

Well, different job. Strykers are wheeled APCs being used for patrols, the combat cars (believe it or not, we still got V200s in service for airfield defence, poor guys seem to get all the leftovers) are pure patrol vehicles. Some overlap in role, but they are really meant for 2 different jobs.

June 11, 2014 11:15 pm

@ Chris

And no it doesn’t swim. Sue me.

June 11, 2014 11:23 pm

@Chris – The 60mm HVGS was initially a JV between OTO and IMI. After some disagreements, they parted ways.

@X – “And was, is, crapity crap crap.” Don’t hold back! Tell us what you really think!

@JH – Anything would have been better than Land Rovers! Saracens would have been better! I just don’t like the limitations provided by a 4×4 vehicle. One mine, and you’re stuck. An 8×8 gives better “after mine” mobility, or at least a better chance. A battalion’s worth would be around 50-100 vehicles, depending on what variants you need. (Command/APC/RECCE/AT/MGS/Mortar/Recovery/Logistics?)

@Observer – Strykers/LAV-A2s are better armored than the M1117s or V200s and have better tactical mobility. They both have more room than the “combat cars” for evacuation purposes, and, as I noted above, are more mine resistant. With a 30mm/25mm gun they are effective for covering/supporting patrols or moving troops long distances (400 mile range).

June 11, 2014 11:41 pm

I have dated (2003) Jane’s infos on both the IMI and Oto versions of the 60 mm gun.

Thye did cooperate a bit early on (70’s), but then developed different cartridges and guns. The Israeli one is credited with a much higher RoF and is lighter than the Italian one. The Italians were probably too much accustomed to naval gun developments, where weight isn’t as critical (OTOMATIC and DARDO are too unwieldy for this reason).

4200 mm barrel length
1,000 kg weight
270 mm max. length of recoil
1680 m/s APFSDS-T
30 rpm auto

4200 mm barrel
700 kg weight (500 kg recoiling)
270 mm max. length of recoil
1620 m/s APFSDS-T
100 rpm auto, 5-6 rpm manual

Both are well below the 75 mm calibre which was once considered the minimum for field artillery indirect fire (albeit in part for splash spotting concerns) and also well below the same 75 mm calibre once believed to be the minimum suitable QF direct fire support.
This and the poor maximum elevation of the existing 60 mm turrets restricts the guns’ versatility to that of oversized autocannons.

June 11, 2014 11:42 pm

@X – I really like the Saracen. I’m looking to buy a surplus upgraded version for personal use. I have a line on a diesel conversion just out of overhaul with spares. (And without the turret up, it will fit in my garage!)

Our local Police Department has one for SWAT (body mounted on a commercial truck chassis).

June 11, 2014 11:53 pm

@SO – Thanks. I consider turret or OWS mounted autocannon for wheeled vehicles such as Stryker/LAV-A2 to be direct fire infantry support weapons to, among other things, eliminate snipers, machinegun nests, or other vehicles. Indirect fire is better provided by arty or, my favorite, mortars. I particularly like the 120mm USMC Dragonfire II that is going into the LAV-EFSS vehicle (It will fit the Stryker mortar carrier, too.) and will fire 360º without repositioning the vehicle. This gives the advantage of vehicle commonality/mobility commonality and rapid response.

June 11, 2014 11:57 pm

Kent, I’m not saying use Commandos, or V200s for armoured advances, my point was that they are fundamentally different vehicles for different jobs. One is a patrol vehicle, the other is a wheeled APC that is normally used for attacks into enemy territory, so comparing them is a bit like apples vs oranges.

Stryker can arguably be overkill for airfield defence, you drain more manpower than needed to use a fully manned APC with dismounts as a patrol vehicle and is pretty much a waste doing a job a “lesser” vehicle can handle. Inversely, combat cars will not be a good APC, but might be sufficient for a spin around a small town or airfield. Defensive vs offensive vehicle types as it were.

Unless you have an excess of 8x8s, then you can afford to spin them off however you like, though it would be a bit wasteful.

BTW, when was your last info on the Dragon Fire? My last info was 2009 when they were scrapping the project. Maybe they revived it? The current “EFSS” is…. unimpressive…

June 12, 2014 8:22 am

x, Kent – ref Saracen – it has a few flaws but its a great vehicle. The few Users I have met who served in them thought they were brilliant too. No surprise I drew a lot of design input from these to form my own wheeled APC design. I did however choose not to use the top of the fuel tank (44 gallons of finest 5-star in Saracen) as the crew compartment floor – that was one of the not-so-bright bits of Saracen design.

June 12, 2014 8:55 am

re DD tanks, 432s, etc started off with flotation screens for Weser swimming fun.

re Saxon IIRC the GSR crossed my desk, the primary role was to provide a protected vehicle for UK based infantry to get to the Corps Reinforcement Group in Sennelager then onwards to battle positions and whatever happened next. Ie cruising up the autobahn was a key requirement.

Ace Rimmer
June 12, 2014 12:47 pm

@X, re: “No you wouldn’t. It is Saxon-eque. And was, is, crapity crap crap.”

I’ll take your word for it! Shame really, from the outside it looks like a really well thought out design. Compared to the V2000/Commando, it makes better usage of internal volume, putting the engine at the front etc. I’m guessing it’s the drive train and suspension that let it down? Any idea what the actual finish and build quality was like, thought the Perkins diesel would’ve been a good choice of engine?

June 12, 2014 1:04 pm

@ Ace Rimmer

I have actually touched one, peered inside, peered underneath, and kicked it’s tyres. I know crap vehicles, I am Land Rover man.

June 12, 2014 1:10 pm

@ Ace Rimmer

Um. I like Perkins engines.

Ace Rimmer
June 12, 2014 2:24 pm

@X, a case of ‘nice engine, shame about the heap of sh*t around it!’

June 12, 2014 2:55 pm

@Chris – You’ll note that I’m wanting the diesel conversion of the Saracen for my “bear-proof” SUV/RV. I’d much rather have 44 gallons of diesel/JP-8 under my feet than 44 gallons of 92 Octane.

The M551A1 Sheridan was supposed to be a swimmer with a screen, too. It was never used that way in Vietnam. I personally never served on one, being an M48/M60-series guy back when the Sheridans were in active service. The biggest problem with the Sheridan was the gun/missile launcher. Once you fired the gun, you weren’t firing any missiles because the electronics would shut down. The chamber developed cracks because there was a key-slot for the missile. (This was later corrected.) One bad thing about the 152mm gun round was its short range. One good thing about the 152mm HEAT-T round was that it was a 152mm HEAT-T round.

Back in those days an armored cavalry platoon had an M113A1 ACAV for the platoon leader, two scout sections of two M113A1 ACAVs each, a tank section with three M48A3 tanks or, later three M551/M551A1 Sheridans, one commanded by the platoon sergeant, an infantry section (squad) in an M113A1, and a mortar section (squad) with an M106A1 carrying a 4.2 inch mortar. (Often the mortar sections (squads) would be consolidated at troop level for a mortar platoon (-).) Regimental cav squadrons had three troops of three armored cavalry platoons, a tank troop of three platoons of 5 tanks each, and a 155mm howitzer battery of M109A1s. Divisional cav squadrons had three armored cavalry troops of three platoons, two air recon troops (OH-58s/AH-1s), and and air support troop. Later the infantry sections (squads) were dropped from the platoons which up to that time had been the smallest combined arms elements in the US Army. When the Sheridans were withdrawn from the armored cav platoons, they were replaced by M60A1/M60A3 tanks. When the M3 Bradley made it’s appearance, the organization changed to all Bradley troops, and for regimental squadrons a tank troop, and a howitzer battery.

Bet that’s more than you wanted to know!

June 12, 2014 3:37 pm

Kent – M551 Sheridan was pretty good (and a decent proper weight); M8 Bruford was potentially better but the gun was just toooooooo long for the vehicle. A slightly smaller bore gun with a shorter barrel overhang would have made it a much better balanced design.

M48 & M60 were undoubtedly good solid tanks of their time, but as a youngster watching films even I could see *everybody* had them ) which in the end made them seem quite dull just by overexposure. As far as I can see from an engineering point of view M48 is a direct development of M24 Chaffee which was a vehicle ahead of its time; by the time M60 was up for replacement it was behind the design curve. As someone posted on the Cameron Pledge thread, you’re either going forward with new stuff, or you’re going backwards as everyone else moves ahead.

Saracen is brilliant, but…. I strongly recommend if you haven’t sat in the driver seat of one before, try before you buy. There is a big transmission hump in the floor at the front, the gearchange pedal is on one side of it and the accelerator & brake on the other – no problem I guess if you’ve been used to riding Harleys or heavy draft horses – and the steering wheel is the wrong side of the steering column. Its all a bit unusual.

June 12, 2014 4:55 pm

@Observer – Dragonfire II scrapped? Well, hell. Last time I saw it, one Marine drove up in a Humvee, unhooked the thing, set it up, put two 120mm rounds on the thing, punched in the target coordinates, and we watched two rounds go downrange and hit the target area 5,000 meters (this last bit on CCTV). Then the Marine closed it up, hooked it up to the Humvee, and drove away. Elapsed time less than 5 minutes. I was impressed. The current LAV-M and Stryker M1129 Mortar Carrier can still fire their mounted 120mm mortars 360º without repositioning the vehicles.

@Observer – You don’t have to put a whole squad of dismounts in your 8×8 for airfield patrol or rescue purposes. The larger capacity gives you more flexibility. The superior mobility allows you to go more places. The fact that you’re using the same vehicle means one less vehicle type to support.

June 12, 2014 5:36 pm

@Chris – The M48 was a direct development of the M47 which was a development of the M26/M46. The M24 Chaffee with its twin Cadillac 110hp engines, while a move in the right direction for light tanks, really was a dead end. It was replaced with the M41 Walker Bulldog which provided the running gear for SP field artillery and AAA (think Duster of Vietnam fame). Back to the M46, it was the first tank to have the Continental AV-1790-5A (29.3 liter) air-cooled V12 gasoline engine which developed into the AVDS-1790-2 aircooled V12 turbocharged diesel engine which powered the M60A3/TTS. The AVDS-1790 engines are still in production at hp ratings between 750 and 1500 hp by General Dynamics Land Systems. (Turbochargers and engine/transmission air-coolers get bigger as hp increases.)

When I was 10 years old (a half-century ago!) I was driving my dad’s International Harvester tractor at job sites. When I was 16 I worked as a wrangler on a cattle ranch in west Texas and rode horses pretty much continually. Later I had a 1956 Harley HydraGlide. I can handle a Saracen.

June 12, 2014 6:00 pm


I agree about a RWS on any FRES UV contender. Your image is not Samson on an AMV but on a Pandur 2 of the Czech Republic Army. For the sake of commonality, i think the UK would almost certainly mount the CTA 40mm cannon and probably use the same turret as FRES SV. I would rather see a Bushmaster 30mm or 35mm cannon.

I’d love to see your proposal for an 8×8 design. Do publish…

June 12, 2014 6:00 pm

@Chris – BTW it was the M8 Buford. Brigadier General (Later Major General) John Buford’s Cavalry Division dismounted and delayed General Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia as it moved toward Gettysburg on July 1, 1863. Holding off at least four brigades of Confederate infantry until General Reynolds could bring up the infantry divisions, Buford kept the terrain that formed the main defensive positions of the Union forces behind his lines. Less than six months later, he was dead of typhoid fever at the age of 37.

June 12, 2014 6:21 pm

Let say we had selected a design and had some money, what would be a realistic production rate? Let say we were buying 1200 vehicles.

June 12, 2014 6:48 pm

Monty – select lucky individuals only at the moment. Its too hard to get the readers of TD around the globe to all sign up to an NDA.

x – oo! oo! oo! Yes please buy mine (kerchinnnng!) Production rate depends on rafts of things – if new (sort of untried) tech is involved there is always the possibility of a late breaking showstopper. As noted above the Stormer based flatbed produced for VLSMS for Gulf 1 took 14 weeks to design build and demonstrate (can’t say ‘qualify’ as the testing was limited) and thereafter they left the line one a week. That was with a small workforce. If the producer gets a bulk order that can make more than a 12-month of sustained production then you’d see the workforce and production facilities increase to get faster throughput. But its never going to be at commercial rates of production, for that level of commitment the producer needs orders in hundreds of thousands, not hundreds.

Kent – sorry I slipped an extra R in the name, no doubt because of the drummer of Yes back in the 70s. Apologies to all proud Americans for the error. Mind you have to admit naming a combat vehicle with lots of firepower after drummers is probably appropriate. Is that why the Aussie submarine class is called ‘Collins’?

June 12, 2014 6:57 pm

x, a 2-4 year totally in service date from design confirmation is fairly standard, so 1200/48 or 24 = 25-50 per month.

Kent, I know. The specs of the Dragon Fire II was very nice. Unfortunately, this is now the “EFSS”

Disappointing isn’t it? Looks like something you would use in Vietnam instead of 2020. We tried to parallel the development with something similar and got the 120mm SRAM. Not as good, no stand alone mode, traverse is only about 30 degrees depending on platform but at least in service.

June 12, 2014 7:07 pm

@Chris – Ah, Genesis and the fabulous Phil! Initially I was wondering if the subs were shaped like the glasses. Tom Collins? Phil can beat the skins, and Tom can get you hammered. Toss up.

@Chris @X – As for production lines, it depends on the situation. During WW2, B-24 Liberators were coming off the Ford assembly line at Willow Run, Ypsilanti, Michigan, at the rate of one every 59.34 minutes, 540 a month. Total production of B-24s at the Willow Run plant was over 8,600. Also during WW2, British Ford workers build more than 30,000 Merlin engines for Mossies and Lancs. How much money you got?

June 12, 2014 7:22 pm

@Observer – You’d think with all the smart guys out there that someone could design a 120mm breechloading mortar with an autoloader that can fire 360º from under armor and on the move! But, no, we still have guys responding to , “Hang one!” and dropping the round when the command “Fire” is given. It shouldn’t be this hard!

June 12, 2014 7:29 pm

Kent, think there is. AMOS mortar. Medium armour though. These barrel loaded mortars seem to be catered to the “small and light” crowd, not much space for breech loading in a Hummer. So it seems to be a trade off. Breech and slightly heavy, bulky or small, light with a multi-purpose loader/aimer unit (aka crewman).

June 13, 2014 9:40 am


AMOS or NEMO both on the Patria AMV 8×8 platform would fulfil your mortar requirements. (AMOS twin-barrel 120mm mortar; NEMO single-barrel 120mm mortar)

June 13, 2014 9:45 am

Of course, this is the modern version of the question of how to horse the Army. Supposedly, poor armies always buy as much cavalry as they can afford and rich ones as much as they can find horses for. Mobility is important. It’s interesting that the French and Germans didn’t get anywhere and the Americans ended up with a completely different solution; as if the problem was difficult or something.

That said, one of the points that sticks out of this is that CVR(T) was a huge success. Much as RT moans about them, he won:-) The Army evidently found them really useful, they sold very well for export, and they were adaptable to all sorts of roles, equipment, tactics, and terrain. I mean, they were used successfully in theatres as different as the Falklands and Iraq, and in contexts ranging from peacekeeping to counterinsurgency to expeditionary light role to mass armoured warfare. There must have been something worth having.

Also, how many of them did we ever lose?

June 13, 2014 10:40 am

I note that the turret-free FRES-PMRS passed its platform critical design review in April.

June 13, 2014 11:21 am

The thing is with production rates is balancing getting the vehicles in service against keeping production line jobs. If you string it out too long I suppose their is a danger of the first in service needing refit before the last of the new ones leave the line. For logistics reasons better if whole formations are switched. I suppose this leads to all sorts of compromise and fudge.

As I said 1200 I think. Over fiver years that would be 240 pa, 20 per month, or 1 per day. Though of course they would be built in batches. I suppose that could be 3 batts (a brigad’s) worth of a standard infantry model and 60 of for specialist types (mortar carriers, FOO, command, engineering etc. you all know.)

1200 at £3 million per copy that is £3.6 billion I think. Per year £720 million ( a T26! :) ) per year for 5 years. That oddly is about as much as it takes to run Aldermastion per year. **

Five years of work these days is a lot I suppose.

How much budget is being flung up the wall for this AR recruitment business?

I know we civilians get accused of being obsessed with kit over deeper more intangible things. But would some of us be happier with the 80k army if we knew this problem was solved? I would.

** The V-boats cost £250 per year to run give or take.

June 13, 2014 11:58 am

Where are they planning on building?

June 13, 2014 12:06 pm

@ TD

Three regiments worth for the armoured cavalry and that is all there is in the new orbat.

Why did you take down that Army 2020 post? I noticed you tweeted the boy Sol about it.

June 13, 2014 12:07 pm

TD – I’d got the impression somewhere along the way that the number was supposed to be 400, but that may be further back when FRES/TRACER was smaller (& cheaper). Current unit cost something like £2.4m? That would be something like £1.4m for the basic vehicle and £1m for weapons comms & electronics systems I suppose. The unit cost goes up a vast amount if the D&M is amortized across the production numbers.

Good job I’m & engineer and don’t get excited/frustrated/angry about mere money.

June 13, 2014 12:48 pm

Monkey – where? Spain, that’s where*. With a bit of fitting out in Wales before delivery. At best the hulls would arrive from Spain as a complete structure and assembly of other major systems (engine – German, transmission – German, gun – French, etc etc) into the hull happens here, but I suspect the vehicles will arrive here largely assembled.

“British to its bootstraps” said the MD four years ago. How we all did laugh. Here is a report from last September: – in the report not only does it point out the programme is struggling to keep to its own schedule (hence the delay of requirements to LM UK), but it also has cost overruns. Perhaps most alarming for us here is that the contract that was with GD UK has been moved back to GD in the US. “British to its bootstraps”?

*Spain is a best guess. Original promises from GD at bid stage said “Build in Wales” but there have been rumours of more & more workshare going to the Santa Barbara Sistemas works in Spain ‘to keep costs down’. Note its hard to find any statements about the creation of a UK production line supposed to be delivering production quantities 12 months from now. The shed at Newport is no big industrial site and nowhere near the size of the GKN/BAE Telford site that made Warrior:
BAE site:,-2.4781412,1408m/data=!3m1!1e3!4m2!3m1!1s0x487a8197eb80f87f:0xeb4bad6b1913c679?hl=en
GD site:,+Newport/@51.6683031,-3.1395895,1441m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en
Indeed it is marginally smaller than the ex-Alvis works at Coventry which was just large enough to make CVR(T) & Stormer from scratch:,-1.4383584,1417m/data=!3m1!1e3?hl=en

I visited the GD site a decade or so back to talk Bowman radio – its not a new facility. If there is a proper production line in Wales its being well hidden.

June 13, 2014 1:27 pm

Thanks for that Chris , I guess it is the logical cost effective step to continue existing production lines rather than set it up all from scratch here.
In terms of us manufacturing our own from scratch in the event of a sudden ramp up in production being required are all the detail CAD/CAM/BOM etc files transferred along with the purchase or is that reserved ?

June 13, 2014 1:41 pm

Monkey – not a clue; I’m as much an outsider as are you. But considering the IP arguments that broke the FRES-UV negotiations I doubt HMG have the right to all production data. Its not GD’s way, it appears.

June 13, 2014 1:51 pm

TD… struggle with more than 180
x… three regiments worth
Chris ” Note its hard to find any statements about the creation of a UK production line supposed to be delivering production quantities 12 months from now.”

When the announcement was made (my comments seem to relate much to the past as I don’t have the time to read up on the stuff currently), the firm 320 or so SV quantity explicitly quoted tooling costs and the quantity giving the firm unit price. There was an option for more (there always is, but at the same unit price) to take it to 500-ish, but within agreed versions, i.e. no major R&D expenditure intervening.

We know to the nearest ten the number of turreted Warriors coming out from that programme, the overall number supposed to be on the better side of 600 when y count all versions.

Scouts: 50 per Rgmnt and some for training with, here and in BATUS, is a believable number, too. So that gives you about (min.) one and half hundred other SVs, some of which had been crowded out totally by the Scout, earlier on.
… now, what might the rest of the first batch consist of?

June 13, 2014 2:04 pm

I guess we could all ways reverse engineer spares when the Red hordes overwhelm a poorly prepared Europe but are brought up sharpish by the Channel and us having blown the Tunnel and with them having no amphibious ships …… wait a minute … aren’t the French selling them some.. .I see a problem developing here… wait I’ll get back to you on this. :-)

June 13, 2014 2:04 pm


Driver training. Do the REME get a hull or three to break, sorry train on? Spares? That is a bet some of that order aren’t complete vehicles.

@ Chirs re FRES SV

Sounds like an EU subsidy in disguise doesn’t it?

Slightly Agricultural
June 13, 2014 2:22 pm

The CTA 40mm cannon in the common Scout/Warrior turret would be rather heavy. I’d be worried about increasing the tonnage/armament to the point that you start overlapping with Warrior. Plus i’ve heard a lot of rumblings about CTA through-life costs being higher than…desired.

Seeing as the French are our new best buddies, they do a rather nice 25mm RWS which you can add a GPMG on top of. Footprint is so small they have it on those little VBRs they seem to love; gives you back all the space a turret ring takes up. Plenty of room then for stores/blokes/data terminals/whatever. Someone with a bigger brain than me can do the threat assessments and whatnot to decide if 25mm is fighty enough, and like so much else RWS are ten-a-penny these days, we just need to bloody pick one.

VBCI, TARIAN netting, a punchy RWS and a full complement of happy dismounts because they had room for their gear, a BV and somewhere to stash drinks that isn’t the toilet… Sounds promising, only downside is you’d probably still be stuck at 1 per A400.

June 13, 2014 8:46 pm

@Observer @Monty – re: AMOS/NEMO

Wow! While I didn’t see fire-on-the-move, I am impressed! According to the documentation either system will fit on a stretched M113, so popping one on a Stryker or LAV-A2 shouldn’t be an issue. I think the NEMO would be the answer since weight is always an issue.

June 13, 2014 8:50 pm

@Chris – How big does a building have to be to repaint them when they arrive? Sounds like that’s where this is going.

June 13, 2014 9:20 pm

Kent – there would be some local fitting out to be done, but even if the turret, electronics, comms and ancillaries are all fitted in the shed in Wales the starting point would still be a complete running tested ASCOD hull shipped over from the continent. I really can’t see the point from GD’s perspective of building a second assembly line like the one they already have in Spain just to satisfy UK MOD’s desire to be able to say ‘made in Britain’. I may be wrong, but I just don’t see it happening.

The point about the GD project office moving from UK to the US is I suggest pretty serious – having a local project office working the same hours, available to meet at short notice and make project decisions without recourse to the US project staff shows commitment and eagerness to engage. Shutting that office down (or at least removing its authority) says that to GD the project is not so important, the customer is not so important, and by extrapolation going the extra mile to please the customer has ceased to be a priority. This no doubt has something to do with the serious budget overspend, and that in turn might have something to do with the previous close pally relations between GD & MOD UK project offices (the term “Can you just…” should be banned from all engineering projects).

So maybe the MOD forced the decision on GD to stop the cash haemorrhage, although how any company landing a £500m development contract can get grumpy about a bit of overspend is mind-boggling.

June 13, 2014 9:22 pm

Kent – there would be some local fitting out to be done, but even if the turret, electronics, comms and ancillaries are all fitted in the shed in Wales the starting point would still be a complete running tested ASCOD hull shipped over from the continent. I really can’t see the point from GD’s perspective of building a second assembly line like the one they already have in Spain just to satisfy UK MOD’s desire to be able to say ‘made in Britain’. I may be wrong, but I just don’t see it happening.

The point about the GD project office moving from UK to the US is I suggest pretty serious – having a local project office working the same hours, available to meet at short notice and make project decisions without recourse to the US project staff shows commitment and eagerness to engage. Shutting that office down (or at least removing its authority) says that to GD the project is not so important, the customer is not so important, and by extrapolation going the extra mile to please the customer has ceased to be a priority. This no doubt has something to do with the serious budget overspend, and that in turn might have something to do with the previous close pally relations between GD & MOD UK project offices (the term “Can you just…” should be banned from all engineering projects).

So maybe the MOD forced the decision on GD to stop the cash haemorrhage, although how any company landing a £500m development contract can get grumpy about a bit of overspend is mind-boggling.

June 13, 2014 9:28 pm

@ Chris – Your knowledge of GD is indeed out of date. GD are now in a relatively new building not far from that old site. Google can tell you that.

It’s old fashioned to say SV isn’t British because the hull may be manufactured abroad. So much of SV isn’t about the heavy industry, the real value is in the electronics that vastly distance it from ASCOD.

June 13, 2014 9:45 pm

Excellent Phil. As you have the knowledge perhaps you could answer Kent’s and Monkey’s questions accurately for them?

June 13, 2014 9:49 pm

@Phil: speaking as someone who runs lots of EMEA projects for a US company, having the decision makers outside of the timezone will slow things down by half. Unless you fly over once a month or work US hours :-)

June 13, 2014 9:55 pm

I didn’t realise the electronics for SV were all British. And here is me slagging it off.

June 13, 2014 9:57 pm

And from the GD website,

“If Scout SV was in service today, it would have replaced CVR(T) on operations already.”

Um. Yes.

June 14, 2014 9:56 am

Re qtys, do not armd regts and armd inf bns still have recce tps/pls with CVR(T)? Are they used in some other types of bn?