UK defence issues and the odd container or two

Defence for 2015 and Beyond – Part 8 the British Army 2025

A series of guest posts from AndyC

Coping with reduced overall numbers while integrating a substantially expanded reserve force and maintaining capability was always going to be challenging.  However, in spite of some criticism the design of the Army 2020 force structure is logical and compelling.

Dividing the Army into a Reaction Force, Adaptable Force and Force Troop Command enables it to maintain both a high degree of readiness and support for multiple missions.

Integrating both regular and reserve units on a three year rotation ensures that enough of them are available for potential deployment while maximising both individual and collective training.

Whether it’s dealing with threats in southern, northern and eastern Europe or global intervention the previous scenario analysis shows that the Army has the structures and numbers to fulfil its missions.  In particular the ability to deploy a Brigade size unit in the Joint Rapid Reaction Force and then scale up to full Division strength is very effective.

Enduring stabilisation can also be provided at Brigade level strength over the longer term.  However, with a higher threat level in Europe and fewer numbers in the Army compared to the last ten years it needs to be recognised that providing anything more than a Brigade at any one time would stretch resources too thinly.

One of the most significant new pieces of equipment currently on order is the Scout SV family of armoured reconnaissance vehicles.  Budgets permitting the Scout SV could equip all of the Cavalry Regiments in both the Reaction and Adaptable Forces replacing their CVR(T) and Jackals, as well as the Royal Artillery’s Stormer anti-aircraft vehicle and the Samaritan armoured ambulance.

FRES SV Scout 640x640 Defence for 2015 and Beyond   Part 8 the British Army 2025
FRES SV Scout

Another significant new piece of equipment is the Watchkeeper UAV which will replace the Gazelle helicopter.

Watchkeeper Air Vehicle 03 640x408 Defence for 2015 and Beyond   Part 8 the British Army 2025
Watchkeeper RPAS Air Vehicle

The Warrior infantry fighting vehicle is being updated to ensure its effectiveness and could then be used to equip all nine of the Reaction Force’s Infantry Battalions.

In addition, the Apache attack helicopter is being upgraded to keep it fully modernised and an assessment should be made into whether it can be armed with the longer range Brimstone 2 anti-armour missile.  The Wildcat helicopter also needs to be equipped with either the LMM or the Brimstone 2 to increase its versatility and give it a secondary anti-armour role.

With smaller numbers, the key to the Army’s success has to be its flexibility to operate in different combat environments.  In particular the Adaptable Force needs to live up to its name and train, operate and have the appropriate equipment to be effective in many roles.

An essential part of this flexibility is the ability to deploy the Army’s full force of Challenger 2 main battle tanks.  In addition to the Armoured Regiments of the Reaction Force some units of the Adaptable Force need to be trained to use surplus tanks that are now in storage.  Specifically eight Sabre Squadrons in four of the Cavalry Regiments should be trained to operate eighteen Challenger 2s each.  This would convert them into Heavy Cavalry Regiments.  These 144 tanks should be kept in storage in Germany with their crews being flown to them in a period of high tension.

If the Adaptable Force’s Cavalry Regiments are re-equipped with Scout SV armoured reconnaissance vehicles they should also receive training on the Jackal as a light alternative.  In this scenario the Jackals would need to be maintained in storage.

German Boxer vehicle on operations in Afghanistan 640x426 Defence for 2015 and Beyond   Part 8 the British Army 2025
German Boxer vehicle on operations in Afghanistan
VBCI Mali 640x425 Defence for 2015 and Beyond   Part 8 the British Army 2025
VBCI Mali

The Army needs to decide quickly on a Utility Vehicle (UV) to replace the aged Bulldog APC in all its roles and the Vector mobility vehicle.  The UV could potentially go on to equip all of the Infantry Battalions in the Adaptable Force if budgets allow.  In this situation Mastiff, Ridgeback and Foxhound vehicles would be maintained in storage to allow several Infantry Battalions to train and use them when they would be more effective.

The Royal Artillery needs to evaluate the Fire Shadow loitering missile to establish whether it will add to the capabilities of its long-range GMLRS system and AS-90 self-propelled artillery.  The CAMM-L mobile surface-to-air missile will be introduced to replace the Rapier and will operate in partnership with the high velocity Starstreak.

 

The major threat to the Army 2020 plan comes from the lack of reserve troops to supplement the regular forces.  This would clearly reduce the effectiveness of any combat group if troop units were significantly lacking in numbers and must be addressed.

It is also important that the Army trains with allied forces to ensure co-ordination of planning and maximise fighting capacity.  The Army should be prioritising joint exercises in Poland with both the Polish Army and rapid reaction units of the German and French Armies and deployment to Norway in association with the Norwegian Army and amphibious units.

The SDSR of 2015 will need to examine a number of options based on the size of the defence budget.  Option 1 is an analysis of what limited additional forces could be acquired if the defence budget were to be increased while 5 and 6 reflect what would need to be done if there are more cuts.

Army Option 1 – the biggest deficiency in military force outlined in the scenario analysis is the lack of main battle tanks and armoured fighting vehicles in general.  However, it would be too expensive to build and operate a larger fleet of Challenger 2s but it would be sensible to increase our anti-tank capabilities.  This could be done in one of three main ways:

  • retain the use of 24 Lynx AH9 attack helicopters which are currently due to retire in 2015 or
  • order 20 Reaper UCAVs armed with Brimstone 2 anti-armour missiles or
  • order 18 new Apache attack helicopters.

In addition, the Army would purchase 600 Scout SVs to equip all of its Cavalry Regiments and replace the Stormer and Samaritan plus 1,700 Utility Vehicles to equip all of the Adaptable Force’s Infantry Battalions.  Maintain surplus Challenger 2, Jackal, Mastiff, Ridgeback and Foxhound vehicles in storage.

Army Option 2 – purchase 600 Scout SVs to equip all of the Cavalry Regiments and replace the Stormer and Samaritan plus 1,700 UVs to equip all of the Adaptable Force’s Infantry Battalions.  Maintain surplus Challenger 2, Jackal, Mastiff, Ridgeback and Foxhound vehicles in storage.

Army Option 3 – purchase 600 Scout SVs to equip all of the Cavalry Regiments and replace the Stormer and Samaritan.  Order just 1,000 UVs to equip the majority of the Adaptable Force’s Infantry Battalions while keeping existing Mastiff, Ridgeback and Foxhound vehicles in service.  Maintain surplus Challenger 2 and Jackal vehicles in storage.

Army Option 4 – purchase just 250 Scout SVs for the Reaction Force’s Cavalry Regiments and to replace the Samaritan, while the Adaptable Force’s Cavalry Regiments continue to use the Jackal.  Order 1,000 UVs.  Maintain surplus Challenger 2s in storage.

Army Option 5 – the Adaptable Force is made up of a total of 36 Infantry Battalions – 28 of which are available for the three year rotation cycle while the others are available for ceremonial duties or posted abroad.  Counting the 3 Infantry Battalions posted in Cyprus and Brunei as part of the three year rotation cycle could enable their total number in the Adaptable Force to be reduced to 33.  This would represent a reduction of approximately 2,000 personnel and 2% of the Army’s numbers.  New orders would drop to 250 Scout SVs and 850 UVs.  Maintain surplus Challenger 2s in storage.

Army Option 6 – including all of the Battalions on ceremonial duties in the three year rotation programme and sharing some of their duties with other units could enable the total number of Infantry Battalions to be reduced further to 30.  This would represent a second reduction of 3 Battalions, about 2,000 personnel and 2% of the Army’s headcount.  New orders would be cut further to 250 Scout SVs and just 700 UVs.  Maintain surplus Challenger 2s in storage.

 

The rest of the series

Part 1 – Introduction

Part 2 – Defence of the United Kingdom

Part 3 – Other Sovereign Territories

Part 4 – NATO

Part 5 – A Southern or Middle Eastern Threat

Part 6 – An Eastern and Northern Threat

Part 7 – Global Intervention

Part 8 – British Army 2025

Part 9 – Royal Navy 2025

Part 10 – Royal Air Force 2025

Part 11 – Conclusion

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!

118 Comments

  1. Tenor

    I would put it to suggestion that if we wish to enhance our anti-armour abilities, the replacement of the Challenger 2′s main gun is not simply wishful but essential and already well past the date it was needed. At the moment, it cannot kill anything bigger than a low end T-72 or T-80, certainly not the more advanced ones with Kontakt-5 ERA and would be useless against modern heavy composite. The Challenger’s ammunition is 3 generations out of date now and leaves it incapable of killing modern armour. With Russia’s T-90′s and upcoming new MBT, we would be left with a situation not too uncommon to WW2 where we’re firing pop guns that can’t hurt them.

  2. S O

    Doctrine should drive equipment choices, with a healthy dosage of versatility just in case the doctrine didn’t hit the nail.
    And land campaign doctrine is what’s in need of refurbishment.
    There were a great many technical, political, infrastructure and geographical changes during the last 60 years which changed doctrine only on the margins so far.

    @Tenor: ‘incapable of penetration of frontal protection except in select ballistic windows’ isn’t the same as “incapable of killing modern armour” at all.
    Ever heard about shoot-on-the-move? It doesn’t help to make the aiming problem of the enemy more troublesome if the move is straight. Any movement in s-lines will (just as opposition from more than one or from an unexpected direction) allow hits on the side armour.

  3. Observer

    Tenor, there are weak spots in frontal protection too. The weak part of tanks are from the front, the driver’s compartment and the turret ring. From the sides, the rear 50% or so. The gun will punch through, if it hits. And of course you can mobility kill or firepower kill. There is no such thing as the invincible tank.

    SO, I thought armour tactics involve a straight advance to avoid showing the sides? Easier to hit, but more armour than the sides.

  4. mr.fred

    A few questions/observations, if I may;
    * is Brimstone 2 rated for rotary wing platforms? No reason why it should be, but I haven’t seen anything about it being suited to rotary wing. If it is, what does it offer over Hellfire? Is it worth losing commonality with the larger user base of Apache?
    * Maybe a bit of picky nomenclature, but FRES SV (Specialist Vehicle) is the family, Scout is a specific vehicle (turreted, 40mm gun). At the moment the only other one is PMRS (Protected Mobility Recce Support), which needs a good “S” name. Supporter, Scrambler, Sidetrack, or something like that. I take it that Option 2 and 3 are 600 SVs rather than just Scout.
    * Tanks are not just anti-tank assets, so tank-destroyer helicopters can’t replace heavy armour. If you do want to add anti-tank capabilities, smart submunition artillery projectiles might be a low-cost way of doing it. I know we were looking at the Smart 155 from Rheinmetall at one point, but I don’t know if that purchase happened.
    * Anyone know what is happening with Fire Shadow? I’ve never been convinced that it’s a sensible idea for a long-range weapon. I suspect that it’s a cheat way of getting around a requirement for getting an effect on target within a certain amount of time.
    * Didn’t the Wildcat get a contract to add LMMs recently? Ah, here we go:
    http://www.janes.com/article/40025/eurosatory-2014-thales-uk-awarded-lmm-contract-for-lynx-wildcat
    FASGW/L.

  5. oldreem

    A budgetary (beancounting) problem with a lot of ‘just in case’ stored equipment, which would need to be overcome, is that in addition to the real costs of storage there is (or at least was) an artificial cost of a percentage of the item’s capital value under Resource Accounting – another commercial import of questionable relevance to Defence. This is why a lot of UOR equipment has in the past been sold off for peanuts, to be needed – surprise, surprise – again a few years later. If the accounting system can’t be changed, maybe some imaginative write-downs to resale value would help?

  6. Tenor

    @SO – Yes, of course I know about shoot on the move, but the Challenger is outdated in this too. Because its thermals are mounted on its gun, it can’t fire above a certain distance through it. (If it elevates too high, the sights lose track by pointing up) So that advantage disappears instantly.

    When every other country in the world can penetrate things frontally in vastly more places (or anywhere) and we’re left getting into spitting distance to hopefully send one through its driver’s area we are at a massive disadvantage. In tactical terms it is a useless gun. Where is this belief that no-one else has shoot on move anyway? All tanks these days do.

    CHARM 3 is hopelessly obselete and has been for some time.

    @Observer – Thats just dancing around the issue. CHARM 3 is less than half as powerful as even last gen APFSDS rounds and is outclassed on every level. Other tanks these days are firing the equivilent of .50BMG while we’re rocking 9mm in ours. Just because there are weakspots doesn’t mean it’s good. An Abrams or Leopard would frontal kill anything from kilometres away while we’re (slowly in a 1200hp engine) moving toward them to try and plink one into a weakspot.

    It desperately needs a replacement. We had the oppurtunity to do it long ago and gave up on it.

  7. Observer

    Tenor, do you have the energy comparison data for the CHARM 3 and the M829?

    And an Abrams or Leopard will NOT frontal kill everything, even they have to close in a bit before there is a chance of penetration. Remember the case where they had to destroy a mobility killed M1 in the GW? Another M1 point blanked a sabot shot and it still did not penetrate initially. Admittedly that was the older versions of the M829, version 2 I believe it was, but the “one shot/one kill” on a fully kitted out MBT requires a huge amount of luck or skill.

  8. S O

    “Where is this belief that no-one else has shoot on move anyway? All tanks these days do.”
    You’ve just made it up, for I didn’t write it.

    What I criticized was your hyperbole about penetration or not. Very little MBT area is well-protected, and even a 90 mm APFSDS could penetrate most MBT surfaces. It’s not hard to hit the sides or rear if you’re not in a flat desert scenario.

    An outdated 120 mm gun is for this reason little less useful than a L/55 one – especially as the latter’s ability to penetrate a strong composite armour behind the latest heavy ERA is still in question.

  9. ArmChairCivvy

    Now that ERA came out to play, if you read carefully the lists that ative protection systems claim to be able to stop, hi-speed long penetrators don’t seem to figure
    - as the lists are written by mktng men, you will never see a statement”can’t stop”?

  10. Frenchie

    Maybe I fail to understand but, if you have heavy vehicles like the FRES Scout SV and UV-based Boxer in your adaptable force, it is no longer adaptable, it is almost as heavy as your heavy force. You need other vehicles. More protected than your Jackals and troop transport vehicles heavier than the Foxhound, but not as heavy as Boxer and Scout SV. It is my humble opinion.

  11. Observer

    Frenchie, I think they mean “adaptable” as in … I’m not sure how to put it kindly, but “occupation forces” comes close, so essentially what they mean as “adaptable” is the jobs they do rather than the weight. They want “tank-like” vehicles that can go in with the first wave, then later be left behind to guard the place against COIN.

  12. Frenchie

    Observer,
    For me, adaptable force means forces that are able to act anywhere, on any battlefield, where the use of heavy forces are not relevant.

  13. mr.fred

    Tenor,
    While some of those criticisms of CR2 are valid, I don’t think any of them are half so bad as you make them out to be.
    9mm against a .50BMG is going a bit far – the CHARM 3 lacks in armour piercing against the German smoothbore but a) not that much and b) is capable in other roles.
    The above barrel thermal imager is limited (being twenty years old doesn’t help) but at what range do you lose the target off the bottom? With APFSDS I would think that range exceeds the effective range of the round. HESH might be more problematic, but nothing a sight upgrade wouldn’t fix. That thermal sight mount above the gun could then be used for something else.
    It would be nice to update to the 1500hp MTU pack, but it’s hardly like the CR2 is particularly sluggish compared to the others – it’s got pretty good suspension which means you can go faster over rough ground

  14. Observer

    Well, it’s up to them how they want to use their armoured vehicles. First wave + stay behind covers quite a lot of jobs already, unlike the French, I don’t think they are planning for the degree of air mobility your people are used to. Not perfect, but not too bad either. It could end up a lot worse. :)

  15. Frenchie

    This is a very French vision, but a vehicle that can not be transported in an aircraft is useless. Because there are rarely fights using heavy tanks. We think airtransportable when we design a vehicle. You think heavier, transport by sea, we have different doctrines.

  16. DavidNiven

    @Frenchie

    ‘This is a very French vision, but a vehicle that can not be transported in an aircraft is useless’

    And yet the only aircraft in your inventory to be of any use in this role was the C130 which you did not acquire untill the early 90′s and then only 14 of them. How many VAB’s and AMX 10′s can a C160 or CN235 carry? considering the VAB entered service after the C160 I would suggest that airmobile vehicles have not been a French vision for decades.

  17. ArmChairCivvy

    In Op Serval a lot of regular, as in not airborne/ other foreign legion/ marines units were used.

    With the move away from conscripted forces (who could not be used in interventions, an inheritance from the Algeria conflict), I wonder if the French Marines will get to keep their own cavalry squadrons? Previously, the logic for having them was clear.

  18. Observer

    DN, think they had 75 C-160s and the capacity is about 1 each.

    Air transportability IS a major part of the French thinking, which is why a lot of their stuff is actually <20 tons, usually around 13-15.

    We experimented with their AMX-10s (1 battalion) for amphibious assaults but the water propulsion proved a bit problematic, and their AMX-13s were our standard tanks for decades.

  19. DavidNiven

    Observer,

    I know the C160 can take the weight, I was asking more about the cabin dimensions. The ERC 90 fits but is tight and the AMX 10 RC is wider, does the VAB get moved by the C160 regularly?

    Mali was a success because the vehicles were wheeled and could cover large areas quickly not because they were light, they used their top of the range MICV for the mission backing up mechanised units. French vehicles have been light and wheeled for decades because they have predominatly been used for colonial style ops against moderate oppisition, not as part of some far sighted doctrine.

  20. Observer

    DN, if you were talking about a long time back, think their airborne armour was the AMX-13 scout tank. That one can definitely fit.

    And I never said anything about “farsighted” crap, please don’t add words that I didn’t say. I said that they had a different doctrine with some advantages.

  21. Frenchie

    The Transall can carry Sagaie, AMX10RC, and VAB, all our current equipment and it was commissioned in 1967. Our new BPCs allow us to transport vehicles by sea, but we think primarily for emergency situations.
    And yes, the French Marines have always their AMX10RC.

  22. DavidNiven

    Observer,

    I don’t recall putting quotation marks either side of farsighted, they are my words alone.

  23. Frenchie

    DavidNiven,

    You are right about Mali. The main reason to have light vehicles is to go wherever heavy vehicles can not go, that’s where I started the discussion and it is an element that is important.

  24. DavidNiven

    Frenchie

    We already have light vehicles that can go to the more remote areas. The thing with modern light vehicles such as Foxhound and Husky is that the protection they are starting to offer is nearly identical to the lower weight medium vehicles such as Stryker and VAB. I do not think it possible any longer to provide a vehicle that can carry a section of dismounts and be protected enough to take into account the type of enemies we are going to be fighting (both state and non state). So if we cannot get the protection for 20t or less we might as well have a vehicle that is near to the max that we can. I do not think that access to areas is a problem to be honest, we managed to reach nearly everywhere with DROPS in the Balkans and overloaded jingly wagons seem to be able to traverse swathes of the Middle East and Africa, plus most people do not settle in large numbers in areas that are inaccessible to larger vehicles.

  25. John Hartley

    I would have kept the Army at 100,000, but I think the current plan of cutting to 82,000 is starting to unravel. Perhaps a compromise? Increase the Army by 6000 to 88000, so you need to find 6000 fewer new reservists. Probably more doable.
    More thoughts later.

  26. John Hartley

    Kettle boiled, so back now.
    Yes there will need to be a Challenger replacement eventually. Probably a minor upgrade for now, but we will need Challenger 3/ Leopard A2A7+ or something else in the mid to late 2020s. Something lighter & more deployable, based on the Vickers Mark 3 (M) perhaps?
    Still think an updated Stormer would be good for getting into places where larger/heavier armour cannot.
    Also still worried about the drop in AAC helicopter numbers. Would quite like an extra 30 Wildcat, but with the longer cabin of the Lynx 3 prototype (an extra 29.5/30 cm).
    A new rifle & calibre (as long as the rest of NATO adopts the calibre too)?

  27. Tenor

    @Observer – The M829A2 was designed to beat the Kontakt-5 ERA as M829A1 could not. M829A1 was designed around the same time as CHARM 3 and is a much larger round then it still. M829A3 was developed to beat future ERA.

    CHARM 3 was found to be inferior to even DM53, the LAST gen German round that M829A2 was superior than. End result is we’re 3 generations out of date.

    CHARM 3 is 300mm long and weighs 4.5kg.
    M829 is 800mm long and weighs 10kg.
    DM53 is 745mm long and weighs 8.35kg.

    Doing the calculations using the formulas of weight/velocity/density that can be found on the more tank-heavy sites it sets the M829 up to around 800mm penetration.

    CHARM 3 languishes around 500mm, at most 550mm if we’re being generous which is utterly pathetic. Cold War-esque. Some people try to claim 720mm but thats utterly baseless and even THEN would still be weaker than required against modern composite or Relikt ERA.

    CHARM 3 isn’t even in the same league. Not even close. DM53 was proven superior by the CLIP tests, and it’s already been replaced by DM63. It’s a fact that the CHARM 3 is obselete at this point. It’s a tiny round and no laws of physics allow it to magically become better than rounds twice its size. End result, CHARM 3 is a pop gun in modern tank wars, unable to penetrate most areas and relying on lucky shots at closer ranges to specific weakspots against an aggressive moving enemy firing vastly more powerful ammunition back at you that can penetrate in much more areas.

    Add in the Challenger’s sluggish nature, it’s archaic sights design out to 2km with the TOGS, the fact that it’s a powder keg waiting to explode with no ammo separation from the crew (something more akin to WW2 than the modern day) and that it has no ability to enhance its ammunition for the forseeable future at all makes it a worryingly obselete design. Much as we love her, screaming DORCHESTER isn’t going to make her work, no matter how good that may be.

    It’ll be out-maneuevered, out-ranged, out-gunned and out-classed completely by the modern tanks out there. It’s a national humiliation that it’s been allowed to go on this long.

  28. Tenor

    @mr.fred – “the CHARM 3 lacks in armour piercing against the German smoothbore but a) not that much”

    Unfortunately, it is by a lot. Couple that with a lower rate of fire due to two piece ammunition and it doesn’t speak much for the Chally…

  29. All Politicians are the Same

    @tenor

    The beauty of this site is it has a wide range of very well informed people as well as lots of serving personnel, now i am a not a tank expert but you have just portrayed a view I have never heard before including from army friends. TBH you sound a little hysterical, more like a junior Officer reading Janes than an adult assessment.
    I am however way outside my area of expertise so will leave it to others.

  30. Observer

    Tenor, actually I doubt the 2A can “beat” Kontakt as well. Or at least not the first round. ERA destroys the penetrator by applying lateral force to it, breaking the rod, so how well the round penetrates is not a factor, more important is how resistant is the penetrator to lateral stress.

  31. mr.fred

    Tenor,
    Are you getting your data from computer games? It reads like that.
    I don’t doubt that recent German and US ammunition will be more effective than CHARM 3. Enough of a difference that the L30 is a “pop-gun”? Not really. It could do with an upgrade if we are going tank-on-tank with someone with modern armour. The rest of the time it will be a perfectly serviceable tank gun. Obsolescent at worst, certainly not obsolete.
    It could do with more power, but it’s not slow in real life across real terrain.
    The gunnery system could do with an upgrade, but it hasn’t been found wanting in real combat. In fact the previous, even worse gunnery system scored the longest tank-on-tank kill.
    The separate-loading ammunition does create limitations on projectile design (there might be a work-around) but it is no slower. In real life the rate of fire for a separate loading gun isn’t so slow, as each piece is lighter.
    As for powder keg, the propellant is separate, the one catastrophic loss that has happened was attributed to improper ammunition stowage.

  32. as

    Barrel life is a major problem with the L55.
    The original L44 with its original rounds would last between 4-500 rounds.
    The newer rounds eat the barrels that drops to 250 and only 50 with the most powerful round.
    The L30 from Chally will last 400 with all round it is issued with.

  33. Observer

    as pointed out the biggest push factor to changing the gun. Not ammo, penetration etc but barrel life.

  34. as

    The barrel life if we changed to the L55 will be an expensive repeating problem. The Americans and Germans might be able to afford to replace the barrel every 50 round (or 250 for that matter) but we can not.

  35. Lord Jim

    The problem with the CA2 is not its anti-tank capabilities but the availability of alternative ammunition types. Both the HESH and Smoke rounds are no longer produced and what existing stock we have are both out of shelf life and due not meet the current insensitive munitions regulations. If we have any left they will have to be given wavers to be used.

    As for performance, well given who’s tanks we are likely to be shooting at the really isn’t a problem. Remember the CA1 easily dealt with “Low end”, T-72s in GW1 and its main gun is inferior to that of the CA2. I would love to see the CA2 with a 120mm smooth bore, but the Army has far higher funding priorities.

  36. Monty

    I started to think that the tank as we know it is obsolete, until I received a guided tour of the new Leopard 2A7 at Eurosatory. It is smaller, lower, lighter and more compact than CR2. According to the German sales team we spoke to, the 120mm smoothbore gun firing the newer DM63 APFSDS round has about 20-30% better penetration than CR2′s CHARM3. The smoothbore gun also has a new programmable HE round with air burst capability. So I heartily agree that CR2 needs its main armament upgraded. It also needs a more powerful engine and gearbox to cope with weight growth. It will get new sights, new FCS and a BMS system as part of the LEP. But, as good as CR2 is, by the time you’ve put a new drivetrain and turret on it, the cost will be an additional £3-£4 million per MBT over the £1-2 million per vehicle cost of the LEP. That’s a price of around £4-£6 million, which is about the same as a new Leopard 2A7. The reason the price is so low is because there are about 5,000 Leopard 2s in service. I believe the time has come to join forces with the Germans and to buy the Leopard 2A7 as a replacement for CR2.

    From what I’ve seen of FRES SV the ASCOD 2 is an excellent platform which we’ve used to make highly capable Recce vehicle. Yes, I know that it isn’t much more than a redesigned Warrior, but it puts right many deficiencies in what is a 40 year-old design. FRES SV offers excellent mobility, protection and firepower in a sub-40 tonne package. (By the way, the appliqué armour side pods can be easily removed for transportation. Vehicle weight is reduced sufficiently for it to be air transportable in an A400M.)

    Having said that, I also spent time in the production version of the new Puma IFV. This is another impressive German vehicle. The turret is not manned. Rather the gun sits below and in front, next to the commander. The advantage of mounting the turret remotely is that no ammunition is carried in the turret. Also all fuel is also mounted externally. Puma, like the Leopard 2A7 is lower, smaller and lighter. But it only carries 6 dismounts.

    The UK has a total of six infantry battalions mounted in Warrior, whereas each armoured brigade has three infantry battalions in it. This suggests the need for three further IFV equipped battalions. That being the case, an IFV version of ASCOD 2 is highly desirable.

    I agree that UVW is an urgent priority. But this is not a single vehicle type, but a whole family of vehicles including an APC, IFV / Recce vehicle with a 40mm CTA cannon, a command vehicle, an ambulance, a mortar vehicle, an ATGW vehicle, an anti-aircraft vehicle, an artillery platform vehicle plus repair air and recovery variants. I do not see wheeled formations replacing tracked ones, but complementing them. If we were to have nine infantry battalions in the Adaptable Force equipped with a suitable 8×8 vehicle, plus three cavalry regiments in either tanks or wheeled tank destroyers this would add real teeth to our proposed force structure.

    The remaining 12 battalions simply cannot deploy in Land-Rovers and trucks, so Foxhound, Jackal and Mastiff still have an important role to play. Indeed, I think the idea of Foxhound equipped light battalions represents the ideal low intensity / COIN capability. I am fortunate enough to have spent a reasonable amount of time familiarising myself with the Foxhound. The only criticism I can level at it is that it only carries 4 dismounts. If a 6-wheeled version were available and able to carry 2+6 that would be perfect. As for Jackal, it is a great desert patrol vehicle. As such it is a glorified Land-Rover. I would like to see it replaced in the cavalry role with some kind of vehicle mounting a cannon.

    The platforms described above create three very clear capabilities:

    Heavy armour: CR2, Warrior, FRES SV
    Medium armour: UVW
    Light protected mobility: Foxhound / Jackal

    If the current structure was divided into three divisions, each with three deployable brigades, we would have a total of 12 cavalry regiments and 27 infantry battalions. Add an air mobile brigade, and we would have 10 deployable brigades, That might be a tad unrealistic, but even six proper brigades based on this structure would be better than what we have now. It would give us a true ‘go anywhere, do anything’ full spectrum capability.

  37. Hohum

    Meh, Leopard is old hat these days. The three best MBTs available as new are the Japanese Type 10, South Korean K2 and the Turkish Altay- they are all very German at the design and component level but a generation ahead of the Leopard 2.

    Puma has had a troubled gestation, it took a long time to get right and is anything but cheap (its the perfect riposte to people who think FRES-SV is expensive), the fully unmanned turret has yet to convince most people.

    But Challenger 2 and Warrior are not going anywhere for another 20 years anyway so its largely irrelevant.

    Other than that, the structure you outlined is basically what is now being built anyway but the dogs (MRAPS) are being life extended to fulfil the UVW role until some money can be found for it.

  38. Frenchie

    I agree with Monty for 6×6 transport vehicles and a light vehicle with a gun to replace the Jackal.

  39. Observer

    Hohum, that sounds so much like marketing BS. There has NOT been a leap forward in protection technologies for a while, only incremental improvements which the older tanks have also benefited from, so practically, the new build tanks have no outstanding advantage over the old ones. You only think they are better because they are new.

    And it only works on the weak minded. You do not want to sell me deathsticks. You want to go back and rethink your life.

    Seriously. Marketing.

  40. Hohum

    Observer,

    This is pretty basic stuff, even the “weak-minded” should get it. The new generation of MBTs from SK, Japan and Turkey may use the same basic protection technologies but they have one very substantial design advantage over the Leopard 2 and its generation. They use MTU 883 engines or clones rather than the 873 of the Leopard 2 as well as new generation transmission. This saves considerable weight and space, not just from the powerpack and drive-train itself but also from the amount of fuel required. This frees up weight (remember you have more weight to play with from both a lighter engine and fuel load and less tank to protect due to the smaller engine/transmission/fuel spaces) to either add back in as extra protection, take off the total tank weight (thus increasing power to weight ratio), extend the vehicles range or some combination of those attributes.

  41. Hohum

    Monty,

    Also, there a whole host of interesting relatively lightweight vehicles out there that can carry multiple dismounts on wheels. There is a Dingo variant that comes to mind, GD has shown a CGI of an extended wheel base Foxhound, there is the Eagle 6×6 and Iveco MPV. All very interesting one way or another.

  42. ArmChairCivvy

    Interesting, is there a link to
    “GD has shown a CGI of an extended wheel base Foxhound”?

  43. Observer

    Hohum, if they are so superior, then why are the quoted speed and ranges and tonnages of all the vehicles so similar, even for the older tanks? All of the stats I see do not show your claimed advantages.

  44. Hohum

    Observer,

    Really? I suggest you check again then. The K2 is considerably lighter than a Leopard 2 (well over 10% less) for example- even compared to the basic Leopard variants let alone the much fatter A7 and the Japanese Type 10 does even better. The Turks seem to have decided on more protection rather than a lighter vehicle, such are the joys of much smaller and more fuel efficient engines and transmissions they got the choice.

  45. Chris

    Hohum – the K1-88 has been around a while as far as I recall; when it first appeared it was described as a scaled down M1 Abrams, as in much the same design but made to accommodate smaller personnel. That may not have been entirely accurate but Wiki seems to document much the same: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/K1_88-Tank. How much of the design of K2 was influenced by K1 we can’t say, but it is possible it still has smaller personnel volumes than the very PC West would consider adequate. It was of course famously the case that the Red Army selected small soldiers for the tank regiments to allow more compact vehicles to be designed and used – big advantages in vehicle design if the personnel are assumed smaller than average.

    So K2 for all its capability may be undersized compared to the mandated 97th Percentile Male Soldier criteria applied by UK MOD. Turkey’s Altay which uses much technology from the K2 may be built with larger crew accommodation – it has been noted the hull will not be carried over from K2 as a component of Altay.

  46. Observer

    Hohum, I have my doubts on the validity of your information, you seem to have a very big bias.

    Yes, the Black Panther is lighter, but you have no evidence at all on where the weight savings came from. The Atlay and Type 10 are the same weight and HP/ton as the older tanks, despite your claimed space and weight savings, and with shorter operational range to boot.

    I know where the added space and weight went. Can you claim the same? Do you have the skills to see what was added? :)

  47. Hohum

    Observer,

    You can doubt all you like but the weight figures for all those vehicles are available freely and easily prove you wrong. If you are seriously suggesting that designing an MBT around a much physically smaller and more fuel efficient powerpack, but with the same power output, does not allow for either a lighter or better protected tank then you really are detached from reality.

  48. Hohum

    Observer,

    I will presume from that remark that you accept the fact I am right but just don’t want to admit it.

  49. Chris

    Monty – ref “Foxhound. The only criticism I can level at it is that it only carries 4 dismounts. If a 6-wheeled version were available and able to carry 2+6 that would be perfect.” As noted on the FRES thread http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/07/story-fres-2008/comment-page-1/#comment-298759 I can offer an 8×8 to carry 2+8 with better-than-Jackal mobility.

    Ref “As for Jackal, it is a great desert patrol vehicle. As such it is a glorified Land-Rover. I would like to see it replaced in the cavalry role with some kind of vehicle mounting a cannon.” And using a very similar hull but lower profile I have an 8×8 turreted vehicle with medium calibre gun.

    If you don’t want wheels then tracked vehicles of similar capability are also in the set.

  50. Observer

    No Hohum, I still think you take your info off the internet and don’t know tank ops and methodology at all and are still thinking like it is a card game.

    BTW, I’m with an armoured brigade and have been since the 90s.

  51. monkey

    @Hohum & Observer
    Engine model MB 873 Ka-501 as in Leopard 2 Engine MT 883 Ka-500 as in K2
    Rated power max. kW 1325 Rated power max. kW 1100
    Length (L) mm 1800 Length (L) mm 1488
    Width (W) mm 1975 Width (W) mm 972
    Height (H) mm 1060 Height (H) mm 742
    Mass (dry) kg 2200 Mass (dry) kg 1800

    As you can see the MTU unit in the K2 is considerable smaller dimensionally than the unit in the L2 and needs less power for the same Power/Weight ratio so a smaller/lighter transmission / drive sprocket / track size / idler wheels / suspension as it is moving a 55t MBT over a 63t L2.
    (K2 v L2) Hull length 7.5m v 7.75m ,Hull width 3.6m v 4.0m , Height 2.4m v 3.0m
    Same main weapon but K2 capable of taking Rheinmetall 140mm Variant
    Range 450km v 550km . As Chris said have they designed for a smaller ‘Tanker’ , I doubt it myself , with the life expectancy of a modern MBT at 40+yrs and now diets are similar in nutrient content throughout the developed world humans are much the same the world over in terms of size and continue to grow larger each generation.

  52. Hohum

    Observer,

    That’s all lovely even if it is intended to be deliberately diversionary. Now lets try again, are you seriously suggesting that designing an MBT around a much physically smaller and more fuel efficient engine, but with the same power output, does not allow for a vehicle that is either lighter weight, better protected or a combination of the two?

  53. Hohum

    monkey,

    Good post, I would add just one thing, when the 883 was put in a Leopard 2 in place of the 873 it left a space a metre long and the full width of the original engine bay between the crew compartment and then engine (note that the 883 is almost exactly a metre narrower than the 873). The 883 really is a quantum leap over the 873 and gives significant advantages in new tank designs.

  54. oldreem

    Monkey et al,
    This is all getting a bit excitable, and I’m not taking sides. However, quoting comparative engine dimensions alone isn’t the whole answer, although it’s a good initial indicator. A more relevant comparison would be the dimensions and weight of the respective power packs, including transmission and cooling & lubrication systems, which all come out in one lump, and thus the internal envelope in the hull to accommodate them (plus allowing space for the airflow and for the mechanics to remove and refit them). Then look at the difference. (And ideally, confirm that hot weather capabilities and power ratings are like-with-like.)

  55. Observer

    No Hohum. The Leopard and the Atlay have similar weights, the Black Panther’s lower weight comes at the expense of side armour. They used the extra to put in either an APU or a muti-fuel engine. Much of the gain was redirected into more fuel to compensate for the less efficient engines, but even that did not compensate too well hence if you checked, you would find that the new tanks have a lower operating range than the older ones. Don’t take my word for it, go check it up.

    And practical experience helps, which is why it sounds to me like you are playing paper general.

  56. Hohum

    Observer,

    The Turks decided they wanted more protection and a couple of other features, they could choose that because they used a much more compact engine and transmission combination. Thank you for pointing that out. Also, the 883 has 15% better fuel consumption than the 873, not worse fuel consumption.

    So, again, Europowerpack compared with the original Leo 2 powerpack is a metre shorter and has 15% better specific fuel consumption. That’s what you get with 20 years of development between the two units. That allows you to have either a lighter vehicle a one the same weight with more protection, or both.

  57. ArmChairCivvy

    Without going into the specifics being discussed, Altay and Leo A7 could be (in my eyes) the fork in the road, and MBT development going into two different weight classes
    - the Russians have always kept to a different weight class (but not a single image of T-99 is available? so what might it be… the previous “better than the evolution” models never made it!).

  58. Observer

    ACC, I doubt it, MBTs are in a bit of a class of their own, especially with applique. The weight ranges may look divergent, but the reality is that they are both the same as you adapt to the threat level you face by adding or subtracting armour. Russia is a different story, their MBTs are more in the weight range of Western “medium” tanks. That is due to their inferior automotive systems. You think they kept it down just for the roads? They also tried to go super heavy, just that they could not pull it off. :)

  59. monkey

    @Oldreem
    Good point re all the ancillaries do not necessarily shrink by the same proportion (technology does not advance on all fronts equally).
    My self on this argument I am neither here nor there , just throwing fuel on the fire(diesel in this case).
    The designers will have made their compromises on, as normal ,weight/firepower(equal in this case)/protection/mobility.
    My self I lean towards Hybrid drives using very compact single speed constant output diesels (in pairs) driving a electrical transmission with a battery providing the variable output requirements of a AFV drive system. With this the main diesels are tuned purely for maximum efficiency at as constant power output coming on and off as the power drain requires ,with variable torque/power requirements being picked up by the electrical system. The diesels (GT in Abrams) have to provide low down grunt when moving off or in difficult/hilly terrain to high power when moving fast over smoother less demanding surfaces, this compromises their efficiency as they are variable speed. Marine diesels which run at the same revolutions for 99.9% of their time are very efficient as they are tuned to a specific output and RPM.
    A small constant output APU being provided for when the MBT is static , providing as an off shoot heating/cooling for the MBT using the APU waste heat reducing its heat signature when in laager(Same tech as used on Canadian/US Truck Rigs).

  60. Hohum

    Observer,

    Range being a function of fuel carried and the amount of fuel required to propel the tank over a given distance tells us they have probably opted for a lower fuel capacity. Alternatively their methodology for calculating range is different.

  61. Observer

    Hohum, so if they had such a degree of weight savings and space savings as you claimed, shouldn’t there have been enough to maintain the range as well as add more armour?

    monkey, I’m also a bit neutral on this, most of the vehicles I see don’t show a quantitative leap in performance, only incremental and selective advances. It’s just that I hate seeing nonsense information that all the new tanks are “supertanks” that cannot be destroyed even with a nuke while all the older ones blow up if you sneeze. Reality is that there isn’t much difference between them, tech advances have stagnated in the last few decades with a lot of dead ends.

  62. Hohum

    Observer,

    Why? If the requirements development process stated that they only need a range of X then that’s what they will be designed with, its all choices after-all, but choices that are much easier when you are using a powerpack that saves a metre in length and 15% in specific fuel consumption over the previous generation.

    Also, lol, the only appearance of the phrase “supertank” in this entire thread is in your post. Stating that new tanks are better than old ones because technology has improved is hardly attributing super powers to them.

  63. Observer

    Well, you are acting like they are some kind of invincible tank. It urks me, who do work with tanks. Garbage info disgusts me.

  64. Hohum

    Observer,

    Now you are just lying, I never suggested any form of “invincibility”, I simply pointed out that new generation vehicles are better than last generation vehicles- especially when one of their key components has improved so dramatically. You then decided to humiliate yourself and are now trying to hide the fact by making dishonest claims about what I actually said.

    FYI, the 883 offering a powerpack a metre shorter with 15% better fuel efficiency is not “garbage info”, its fact.

  65. monkey

    The only ‘recent’ development in vehicle protection is probably ‘Hard/Soft-Kill’ defences (I say vehicle as they can be fitted to anything , a bunker for that matter)
    They are not new but in recent years seem to have advance considerably in their reliability and effectiveness. The upgrade for the Abrams to the A3 proposes the soft kill CREW3 and the hard kill QUICK KILL that came out of the FCS programme.
    The Israelis use similar on their vehicles already and have shown to be effective.
    One could argue these could be circumvented by say using multiple simultaneous RPG’s attacks but that means more RPG teams which is bigger more datable group than a single dude buried up to his nose in a manure pile to hide his heat signature out in the boonies . Or by hard wiring the Mine/IED but that leaves other detectable traces of there own.
    P.S. IED’s go way back , in the American Civil War Confederate soldiers would take unexploded Shells and rig ‘Land Torpedoes’ , from a booby trapped well handle to a ‘corduroy’ road log. There are probably examples as far back as explosives were invented.

  66. Hohum

    Observer,

    The only person to have used the word “invincible” is you. And pointing out that an MTU 883 engine gives a powerpack a metre shorter than the 873 of the Leo 2 with 15% better fuel consumption is not “garbage info”, it is fact.

  67. oldreem

    @Monkey,
    I wouldn’t disagree at all with your reasoning on hybrid drives for efficiency; but I wonder who would fund the necessary development to a cavalry-proof standard of real-world reliability and durability across the range of climatic requirements (and is there an EMC problem?). Diseconomy of scale is the Achilles’ Heel of so much military kit. (And we won’t use “efficiency” and “Abrams” in the same sentence.) And, yes, it’s incomprehensible to me that an MBT should not have an APU (as UK has at least since Centurion); that could be fuel cell or whatever in future. And are new diesel vehicles going to be subject to EU emissions bo**ocks necessitating DPF, SCR etc? If so, that would support your hybrid argument.
    The key ancillary I omitted to mention is the air filtration system, which besides being highly effective and reliable should require as little crew intervention as possible. (Big issue in GW1.) A smaller capacity engine, more highly rated, will still need as much air as a larger engine of similar power.

  68. Observer

    monkey, to be honest, I think we hit a plateau in development in the 90s, there really hasn’t been anything drastically new, most of our improvements are of the “bolt more armour on”, “use a bigger gun” type of advances, not a paradigm shift.

    Hohum, that does not equate to a better tank. Usually what happens when you swap out to a smaller engine is that the extra space is left empty. Why? Because that extra metre that you are so happy about is in a totally useless area. Cutting up the engine compartment just to fit a smaller power pack is extra, useless work, they usually just leave the larger area so that you have a more ergonomic workspace. Armour? The engine is in the back, you want more armour in front or on the sides. Ammo? Not accessible if it is next to the engine block separate from the crew. Most often, your gained space is left empty. The extra space helps when you have to swap a power pack by lowering it from a crane, but not much else.

    Comparison

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_2#mediaviewer/File:Leopard2_Triebwerk.jpg

    vs

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leopard_2#mediaviewer/File:Leopard_2A4_Austrian.jpg

    Big difference is there?

  69. Hohum

    Observer,

    we were talking about new generation tanks designed around the newer propulsion units, not inserting new powerpacks into old tanks so that reply serves no purpose.

  70. Frenchie

    I’m not a soldier, just a passionate of military matters, and I’m not as specialized as you about tanks, but it seems to me that this is not a priority issue to know whether a particular tank is the best. The United Kingdom has the Challenger 2, it is not something that will change soon, so I don’t see the interest of this discussion. The fact that you have the ASCOD SV is also a fact, although I think it is not an appropriate choice, but it is a fact. Now the question is what will be your choice for FRES UV, this is interesting. In France according to military planning law, we will have two heavy brigades equipped with Leclerc tanks, VBCI and MLRS. We will also have three adaptable brigades equipped with light tanks, multirole vehicles and artillery guns Caesar.
    When I read the suggestions in the topic in which we speak, I see that we are talking about Mastiff and Ridgeback which will be replaced by FRES UV. It would be useful to think FRES UV as a vehicles median weight or more different vehicles, which would be able to act on various battlefields, and not another vehicle of 30 tonnes. There is not the fact that they are airtransportable, but they spend on bridges, roads. I don’t know if a Scout SV can pass on any bridge for a reconnaissance vehicle.

  71. Observer

    Hohum, why don’t you go sign up, take a few courses, then come back and discuss this with a few more years and more understanding under your belt. Right now, I’m stuck trying to explain blue to a blind guy…

  72. Hohum

    Observer,

    So yet again, nothing to do with the topic then.

    Answer this question, are you seriously suggesting that a substantially smaller powerpack, with the same power output and better fuel efficiency, does not allow for either a lighter vehicle, a vehicle with more protection or a combination of the two?

  73. Simon

    Can’t help but notice the 883 is a CDI engine which means, like all common rail injection engines, it will block up.

    Hopefully they don’t go into “limp mode” on the battlefield :-)

  74. monkey

    @Oldreem
    Re Air Filters that is on area that stays the same a certain m3/min takes the same area of filter regardless of what its feeding.
    I think there have been many attempts to use hybrids in the military the FCS , AHED ,ULV amongst others all taken to pre-production stage but no further.
    My thoughts are along the lines of the FCS using common drive components on a family of vehicles be they tracked or wheeled adding drive (powered hubs) wheels and additional power packs as the size increases with two sizes of power packs say 150kw and 300kw , a 4×4 7.5t ‘foxhound’ 1x150kw top a 8×8 APC/AFV 20t 2 x 150kw , 20t TRACKED 2 x 150kw , 40t TRACKED 2 x 300kw etc.You can get away with a reduced installed rating as the battery provides a short term surge ability (the ULV power pack produces 131kw but combined with a peak battery output of 180kw can translate that into 311kw at the wheels and a torque maxing-out at 1655Nm under ‘peak’ load (a Foxhound at the same weight delivers 160kw/500Nm) . The multiple power packs are to provide mostly longer run times for the diesels as full power is required rarely accept in ‘full combat’ with some element of redundancy but mostly as diesels do not like stop start/low power , with sufficient battery size and good power/engine management software reasonably long run times could be achieved to stop ‘coking’ .
    Re ECM that’s literally the killer ,a big enough ECM bomb over a fleet would shut them down dead in terms of mobility but the same could be said of the rest of the electronics on board giving an effective mission-kill.
    Re EU Emission control regulations I do believe they are required to comply but no differently than a 38t HGV has to.

  75. MikeKiloPapa

    @as

    “The original L44 with its original rounds would last between 4-500 rounds.
    The newer rounds eat the barrels that drops to 250 and only 50 with the most powerful round.”

    Funny then, that my original Leopard 2 A5DK gunner’s manual says 1500 rounds for the Rheinmetall L/44 ;-)

    While the original DM53 did “consume” barrel life at approximately 4 times normal rate, that is NOT the case with the newer modified DM53A1 /DM63. Using a completely new type of propellant every one of those rounds will count as less than 2 “standard shots ”
    Firing a mix of DM53A1, DM33A2, DM33 PELE, DM12A2″ HEAT, M1028 Canister , and all the associating training ammo we are achieving an average barrel life of well in excess of 500 rounds from the L/44 .

    The L/55 will probably be a little less durable due to higher chamber pressures and velocities. On the other hand, the gun tube and breech is stronger(than L/44)so i would not expect it to be by much.

    PS: And really….wikipedia is NOT a reliable source of knowledge when it comes to armour.
    (i’m guessing thats where you got your info)

  76. MikeKiloPapa

    S O : “Very little MBT area is well-protected, and even a 90 mm APFSDS could penetrate most MBT surfaces. It’s not hard to hit the sides or rear if you’re not in a flat desert scenario”

    Sigh !!…..the more Svend writes about armour (and he’s written a lot…..mostly rubbish though ) the more certain i become that he has absolutely zero practical military experience…..and certainly not in anything resembling an armoured unit.

  77. Fedaykin

    @Simon

    I got through three EGR valves when I had a 2.2ltr Mondeo TDCI. Lovely and quick but when limp home mode kicked in it was awful. There was pretty much nothing I could do about it but replace it when the ruddy thing clogged up again, a known and expensive issue.

    Rather happy to be driving a petrol again

  78. Phil

    If we win or lose a war or battle it won’t be because our tanks are marginally better or worse than the opposition. Bigger picture.

  79. MikeKiloPapa

    @Simon

    ” Can’t help but notice the 883 is a CDI engine”…….Luckily its also available with old a fashioned injection system ;-)

    In any case ….Exhaust Gas Recirculation is added to an engine because of environmental concerns….ie to keep the hippies happy :D …. Something perhaps not so relevant on a tank engine….long story short, i dont think the 883 has EGR( or AGR as the germans call it).

  80. Observer

    MKP, think he’s referring to the rear 33%, though “a lot” is a bit of an exaggeration. Then there are the tracks. And the driver’s compartment. Or the odds and sods mounted externally that can break. Or a hit on the gun barrel itself etc that can cause non-catastrophic kills. I’d say there are weaker spots, but no real “Death Star exhaust port”. Fluke shots, no guarantees. IIRC one CR2 was killed by friendly fire when the HESH round hit an open hatch and vented explosive force into the crew compartment itself.

    Hohum, right out? No. The engine is only a very small fraction of the design considerations. More important are the track width/length calculations, armour design distribution, weapons, ammunition, fuel, electronics, traverse gears/motors, crew ergonomics, ground pressure distribution etc.

    Now that we have another armour spec on site, why don’t we ask him? MKP, how much difference does a 15% lighter and smaller engine makes in a tank? I say not much, there are huge amounts of other factors that have an even higher weightage than engine weight and size, one of which is armour distribution and shaping.

  81. MikeKiloPapa

    @Observer

    Yes a modern MBT has plenty of weak spots ……..ones you are likely to hit on a non-cooperative target.?…NO ….Something Sven would know if he had ever “played” with tanks. In built up or heavily wooded areas they are very vulnerable …….everywhere else they are lightning fast and eagle eyed…..far from an easy targe
    And the 90 mm he mentions has not been a viable as a anti-tank weapon for at least 40 years. Modern ammo for it does not change that significantly.

    As to the smaller engine issue….its really only an advantage when you are redesigning the entire tank more or less. …you could use the extra rear space to for instance store ammo or extra fuel , but it would be a pretty major rebuild and you would also have to redesign the engine deck/lid because the new engine is transversely mounted (the 873 longitudinally ) ,hence why the europowerpack hasnt been fitted to any Leo 2′s yet , other than a few demo/show vehicles.

    Another oft forgotten issue with adding or removing weight , is that it can dramatically change the balance and weight distribution of a vehicle , even if its as little as a 15% in or decrease. A case in point : The Leo 2A4 had a center of gravity just behind the center of the hull…this gave it superb balance and the ability to very smoothly “sail” over rough and uneven ground even going full speed.
    The extra frontal armour of the A5(especially the DK version) shifted the COG forwards , resulting in a tendency to “dive” into holes and other obstacles(even with up rated suspension )…you can still drive fast (though not AS fast ) but you have to be careful with both entry speed and how you enter/exit depressions. So the post A4 leo’s does have a little less mobility and require more of their drivers. And thats with a 10-15% weight increase.

    So if you move a 1000 pounds of powerpack from the rear, you need to put similar or greater weight back in its place.

  82. Observer

    MKP, just read your “Exhaust Gas Recirculation” and made me immediately think of the old suicide method of carbon monoxide in a sealed car. :) I know, that’s not what they mean, but I’m mean. lol

    Personally, I don’t think that even with a total redesign, you’ll get a massive improvement, 600kg and a meter squared of space isn’t much. Sure you can carry a bit more ammo or a bit more fuel, but that does not give it any significant edge over older tanks unlike what Hohum has been implying. In fact, the possible gains are so minute that tactically and strategically I doubt there is going to be any difference in usage between the older and newer tanks.

  83. Simon

    …I got through three EGR valves

    Hey, I have a BMW with the non-awesome N47 engine, so I’ve got loads of terrible times ahead of me :-(

    £8000 to rebuild the engine because they fit a non-replaceable timing chain that… as you can guess, like all other mechanical parts that nearly every other manufacturer replaces at 60-80k miles… breaks, and rather damages the engine and BMW’s reputation (well, at least in my book).

    I think BMW are like Lockheed Martin – promise the Earth and then give you a handful of gravel ;-)

  84. as

    Why have the Germens insisted on sticking to torsion bar suspension.
    Is it like Porsche with the rear engine thing.
    Hydropneumatic suspension rides far better.

  85. MikeKiloPapa

    Obs…i agree…..it simply isn’t worth the hassle. Better to use the time and money designing the next generation direct fire vehicle. Preferably something around 50 tons and fitted with a MTU 890 series engine……thats the real revolutionary engine: almost half the displacement, size and weight of the 883 , its a very advanced unit with an incredible power/weight ratio and available in V6 to V16 configuration with up to 2000 horsepower.

    As regards the specific subject of the Challenger 2, IMO sorting the main gun issue is much more important than replacing the , admittedly slightly under-powered, but otherwise perfectly well functioning CV12/DB power pack.

    The biggest problem with the L30 gun as i see it, is not so much its mediocre APFSDS-T rounds, but that the UK is missing out on all the secondary ammunition natures available to the 120 mm smoothbore guns, such as HEAT,HE and Canister and especially smart programmable Multi-Purpose rounds like DM11, AMP and APAM.
    Since the main gun is ,sort of, the bread and butter of a tank i really think it was a mistake ditching the rheinmetall gun conversion , even despite all the problems associated with the turret redesign.

  86. John Hartley

    Venturing away from tank topics, I saw on tactical-life.com that the US Army wants a sniper rifle with a greater reach than the 7.62×51, & instead of going to .338 Lapua like many allies, the yanks have gone for the .300 Winchester Magnum round instead.

  87. Kent

    The M2010 Enhanced Sniper Rifle uses the Remington same Remington 700 long-action that the M24 Sniper Weapon System used and is, as John Hartley said, chambered for the .300 Winchester Magnum. The M2010 ESR is in service, replacing ALL 2,558 M24 SNS, increasing the effective range from 800 meters to 1,200 meters using a VLD 220 grain hollowpoint* Sierra MatchKing bullet.

    *(This bullet is not illegal under the Geneva conventions because it isn’t designed to expand.)

  88. Hohum

    Observer,

    The 883 has 15% better specific fuel consumption than the 873, it is in fact much, much more than 15% smaller, the space saving is substantial and it makes a significant difference.

  89. Chris

    as – ref sticking with tried & tested – you are I expect aware that ASCOD/FRES-SV also has torsion bar suspension? And steel track? And a lumpen V8 turbo-diesel and Renk gearbox? Just like ASCOD has had since the early 1990s. Its not the latest technology; it doesn’t necessarily perform as well as latest technology but its tried and tested and trusted by the procurement organisations. Its also the most cost effective development path for the manufacturer; testing and qualifying a different version of the same engine always used involves much less cost & risk than trying something fundamentally different, so if there’s an extant product as the start point the likelihood is that the final delivered product would be very similar. Mind you didn’t TD state he’d heard the development contract for ASCOD/FRES had risen to £1.3bn? I have no idea how that relates to the contract agreed £600m (itself £100m more than the original agreed price). For that money you’d expect a bit of serious development, not just a slightly upgraded set of mechanicals and some internal furniture rearrangement. I’m sure the MOD team is getting value for money.

    So old technology is low risk and providing it offers adequate performance I suppose its fine. But its never going to create new paradigms or set the new standard against which all else must be measured; the resulting product is another animal from the same stable.

    New technology is risky; it has no comfort factor; it might throw up major disadvantages in areas never considered to be a problem. But it also has the possibility to bring step-changes in performance which could very well change the future. Consider Frank Whittle trying to sell the idea of his jet engine to a conservative risk-averse Air Ministry; (Ministry Expert): “But where, my dear chap, does the propeller bolt on? Everybody knows aeroplanes need propellers – its simple fact. Come back when you have fitted one and then we will consider it.” (Whittle): “You don’t understand – the engine has internal fans that draw the air through and blast it out of the back – it doesn’t need a propeller” (Ministry Expert): “If all that air is whooshing through the middle, where do you fit all the pistons and cylinders and crankshafts – all the stuff that make up an engine?” (Whittle): “Ah! That’s the really clever bit! There are none – all I need to do is spray fuel into the air going through the engine and burn it and the engine produces power!” (Ministry Expert): “Well that’s never going to work, is it. Stop wasting my time…”

  90. Monty

    @Observer / MikeKiloPapa

    Very good point about Leopard centre of gravity shift with A5 version. Despite that, the German’s seem to grasp the fundamentals of how an MBT should work so well that I honestly doubt whether new Japanese or Turkish tanks are any better. Absolutely right also that using 120mm L55 smoothbore would enable us to take advantage of other ammo types.

    Given the considerable weight saving and reduced size advantages of MTU 883 series engine, I am surprised that the Krauss Maffei didn’t relocate the front ammunition stowage area to a new rear area, between the engine and the crew compartment. i realise the rear armour is less thick than the front glacis plate, but adding an armoured bulkhead between the engine and ammo storage would solve this. This position would also make reloading the ammo storage container in the turret bustle easier as well as improving weight distribution.

    I can understand a decision about having only three regular tank regiments being based on the difficulty of deploying 70-tonne tanks rapidly. But I certainly think we need the same gun mounted on a 30 tonne wheeled or tracked vehicle that’s air transportable – i just don’t know it its technically feasible.

    I suspect that we already recognise the need to buy `leopard 2A7 or Abrams M1A3* longterm; perhaps that is why CR@ LEP is such a lukewarm effort?

    *(Abrams M1A3 is Abrams M1A2 with MTU engine instead of gas turbine)

  91. oldreem

    1. Does the 883 engine have component commonality with the ASCOD V8 engine?

    2. Re. hydrogas suspension, other things being equal it allows lower hull profile, and is entirely outside the hull armour. Also must be more reliable now than originally (Chall 1, 30 years ago). Sure it’s more expensive than torsion bars, but as a percentage of total vehicle/system cost I guess not a lot. And A-B speed across country, plus more stable firing platform on the move, in its favour. No-one builds a car in which the suspension can’t match the performance (except Americans). Even HGVs now have air suspension.

  92. Hohum

    Monty,

    CR2 upgrade is a lukewarm effort because there is no money, there’s no conspiracy to buy some other tank.

  93. Obsvr

    The notion that the answer to a tank is another tank is delightfully quant and old fashioned. It might have been valid in 1946/7 when the alternative were anti-tank guns and rocket firing aircraft.

    Killing tanks is now easy, top attack is the solution, first from anti-tank missiles, preferably AFV mounted for mobility and a bit of protection, but more importantly being able to fire from behind cover with a remoted operator as per Swingfire. This can handle tanks in moderate strength but most importantly can pick of the key ones, eg C&C, barrier breaching and FLAK. The rest can be helped on their way by SADARM type arty munitions and AAC with a decent missile. Should the enemy be very cooperative and give a days notice of their intentions then the assorted air forces may be able to help. Of course tks firing HESH are ideal for sorting out the lighter AFVs, making useful holes in buildings, being shocking, and perhaps a bit of tk ambushing from enfiladed positions.

  94. Observer

    Obsvr, then what is the answer to infantrymen, infantry hardpoints and artillery under SAM cover?
    Did you happen to miss the invention of active missile defences?

    I think the calls that the tank is going to die out are more quaint and old fashioned. Attack and defence are mutually competitive races and swings back and forth.

  95. AndyC

    @ mr.fred

    I take your point about nomenclature. Wherever the article says Scout SV its referring to the whole family of FRES SVs not just the turreted version.

    I’m not saying that the Apace and Wildcat should switch to using Brimstone 2 but I’m saying it needs looking into for two reasons: 1. Brimstone 2 has at least three times the range of Hellfire or LMM and 2. Brimstone has the dual-mode option that could be useful in areas where there are large numbers of civilians.

  96. AndyC

    Can’t help but feel that getting a decent number of workable FRES SVs and UVs into service before the next century arrives is more important than buying a new MBT or spending too much on upgrading Challenger 2.

  97. oldreem

    @ as: “over 3000″ – hydrogas units? With 420 CR1 and 381 CR2, plus CRARRV, TITAN and TROJAN at 12 units per vehicle, plus spare units, that’s more like 13-14,000 – before looking at AS90 and TERRIER shown on their webpage (which I don’t know about first hand). Still, it reinforces your point – thanks.

  98. as

    I did say over 3000. Just not by how much over.
    There are also the Korean vehicles it is fitted to as well.
    It is nice to hear about a British company managing to export technology to the far east rather then the other way around.

  99. Monty

    @Hohum,

    Re: Hidden agenda. ” We are broke.” Can’t argue with that. But the Army definitely wants the Rheinmetall L55 120mm Smoothbore gun. It looked at mounting one on CR2 a while back…

    http://www.fprado.com/armorsite/Challenger2_Pics/Chally2_120L55-svg-01.jpg

    The tests didn’t go well – there wasn’t enough room inside the turret to load the full length ammunition easily. So it was determined that a new turret would be necessary. Jordan, the only other operator of Challenger 2, developed the Falcon turret to accept a 120mm smoothbore gun. This has an autoloader. The profile is much lower than existing CR2. Situational awareness doesn’t look great.

    http://www.militaryimages.net/photopost/data/501/Falcon_2.jpg
    http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-1CZOWaVqQLM/UO9vC_JCXiI/AAAAAAAAqgA/3yt2xvxCLpU/s1600/falcon14zm4.jpg
    http://www.military-today.com/tanks/falcon_turret_l3.jpg

    The problem with giving CR2 a new gun with a new turret, new FCS, new sights, new BMS, and updated engine and gearbox is that it would cost more than buying new Leopard 2A6s or Abrams M1A3s.

    CR2 is not so old that it has become useless – it still packs quite a punch. Given that we have so little money, it is hard to justify replacing CR2 now. If we invested in a new turret, that would mandate a service life of at least another 20 years. So basically, we’ll spend as little as possible to keep CR2 roadworthy.

    Come 2020-2025, we will need to replace it. I would partner with the Germans to develop Leopard 3.

    @Observer

    No. Leopard 2A7, which I went inside of at Eurosatory, still has ammo storage in rear turret bustle and in front compartment adjacent to driver.

  100. oldreem

    @ Monty: Don’t think Jordan bought CR2 – only Oman with CR2E. Jordan bought Khalid in about 82-83 (CR1 hull & automotives less hydrogas, CH -like turret with No. 84 Comd’s sight), then was given most of the ex-BA CR1s. Photos look like a CR1 hull (single-pin track?), and the last one has a CR1 alongside (still with BA reg no.)

  101. mr.fred

    Monty,
    Not sure I’d partner with the Germans. Equally, were I a German, I’m not sure I’d partner with us.
    I can’t work out where the advantage would lie. Any advantage in numbers would be lost due to complications between the partner nations (a la Eurofighter, Boxer, FREMM, MBT80, SPH70 etc.).

  102. Monty

    @Oldreem,

    Thanks for that.

    Mr Fred,

    i think you’re right. The Germans were furious with us about MRAV / Boxer. A certain German person told me that at the time we abandoned MRAV – because we wanted a vehicle with the level protection that Boxer offers but that weighed less than 20 tonnes – it wasn’t technically possible to achieve what we wanted. They thought the MoD people were mad / stupid . 12 years later it still isn’t possible. So i can understand any German reservations.

    I think we’ll just end-up buying whatever Leopard version exists in 2025 and add additional armour to it.

  103. Chris

    Monty – would be interesting to discuss desired/perceived best possible protection for sub-20t wagons. But not on a public forum…

  104. Chris

    I am sure he could. Although the ensuing conversation might be a candidate for the Golden Anorak Awards…

  105. Monty

    Chris,

    Delighted to chat. TD has my email address and I’m more than happy for him to pass that on to you.

  106. Chris

    Monty – excellent! I look forward to finding out why none of my designs could ever possibly work…

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