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.
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.
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!
Yes, that is Bronn from the Game of Thrones, actor Jerome Flyn
- Operation GRANBY – The Gulf War
- Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles (FFLAV)
- VERDI – A Significant Development
- FFLAV Ends, TRACER and MRAV Begins
- The Balkans
- Warrior, Saxon and CVR(T) Developments
- ASCOD and CV90
- Protected Mobility
- At the End of the Decade
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.
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
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.By the end of February, after 100 hours of fighting, it was all over.
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 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.
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.
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.
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
Stormer and CVR(T) would be further developed, filling the 8-10 tonnes and 9-13 tonnes weight classifications
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.
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.
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-2 would also be equipped with the Shorts High Velocity Missile and Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD)
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.
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.
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 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.
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 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.
April 1998 saw the competition winner announced, Eurokonsortium.
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.
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
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.
Surely, time for a bridge picture
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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
The ASCOD 105 LTE would go on to be purchased by Thailand.
Incidentally, Warrior was also trialled with the same turret.
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.
The same turret as mounted on 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.
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
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
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.
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.
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)
From Band Aid to Westlife, some decade!
The rest of the series
As one might imagine, this series has taken an enormous amount of research, taking into account many sources but I must give special mention to our Chris and Challenger2 from Plain Military, without their expansive knowledge and most helpful insight and support, this would have been much the poorer.