The Story of FRES – 2011

For this final few posts in the ‘history’ part of this series, before I get into a summary and analysis, I am going to mix the previously separated topic areas and go for a simple timeline.


With the ink still dry on the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) from October 2010 and most people arguing about carrier strike the Army was coming to terms with the implications of Future Force 2020, especially the graduated response force structures; Deployed Force, High Readiness Force and Lower Readiness Force.

Future Force 2020
Future Force 2020

It confirmed;

Five multi-role brigades (see box) each comprising reconnaissance forces, tanks, and armoured, mechanised and light infantry, plus  supporting units, keeping one brigade at high readiness available for an intervention operation, and four in support to ensure the ability to  sustain an enduring stabilisation operation;


a new range of medium weight armoured vehicles, including Terrier engineer vehicles and the Scout reconnaissance vehicles and in due  course the Future Rapid Effects System Utility Vehicle (FRES UV) which will be the core of the Army’s armoured manoeuvre fleet

In many regards, for the Army, it was business as proposed by FAS(Next Steps), in discussion and development since 2007.

Except of course, a reduction of 7,000 personnel and much greater use of the Reserve.

This structure confirmed the view that enduring deployment at a medium scale, or Brigade strength, would be the norm.

The five Multi Role Brigade, plus 1 high readiness Brigade  and a smaller number of deployable HQ’s pretty much killed off the medium weight intervention force model of which FRES was the poster child.

It is difficult to see how as a programme, it could continue, given the underpinning doctrinal sands had completely shifted.

The various upgrades fitted to Warrior to enable service in Afghanistan increased to just under 40 tonnes and impact in mobility and reliability was significant. An upgrade programme for 70 vehicles was initiated that was designed to restore mobility, improve reliability and implement a number of improvements in multiple areas, 38 upgrades per vehicle. This £30m contract was awarded to BAE to bring a modest number of vehicles up to ‘Theatre Entry Standard (Herrick)’ or TES(H)

C17 at Brize Norton is loaded with Warrior TES(H)_1. BEEFED UP WARRIOR SAVES LIVES UPON AFGHAN ARRIVAL Newly upgraded warrior vehicles have saved the lives of British soldiers within weeks of arriving in Afghanistan. Warrior is the only tracked infantry vehicle in theatre and so can get to places that wheeled vehicles cannot, enabling the infantry to engage the enemy more effectively in difficult terrain. Just a short time after receiving their modified Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles, troops from the Mercian regiment on patrol in the Durai East region of Afghanistan’s Helmand Province survived a serious IED blast thanks to the vehicle’s improved protection.
C17 at Brize Norton is loaded with Warrior TES(H) Newly upgraded warrior vehicles have saved the lives of British soldiers within weeks of arriving in Afghanistan. Warrior is the only tracked infantry vehicle in theatre and so can get to places that wheeled vehicles cannot, enabling the infantry to engage the enemy more effectively in difficult terrain

The resultant vehicle was still just under 40 tonnes but new suspension, brakes, air conditioning and other improvements restored mobility and reliability. Additional protection included improved seating for crew and passengers, transparent armour for turret and a newly designed armour package.

Vehicles upgraded to TESH(H) totalled 70 across the major variants; FV511 Infantry Section Vehicle, FV512 Infantry Command Vehicle, FV513 Mechanised Recovery (Repair) Vehicle, FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle and FV515 Battery Command Vehicle, later converted to armoured ambulance.

In many ways, Warriors in Afghanistan are deployed as ‘medium armour’ to dominate ground, provide route security and in the infantry support role, acting as main battle tanks without the weight.

IT is also interesting to note the weight increase. Warrior came into service as a 24 tonne vehicle and was now serving in Afghanistan, having been continually upgraded over its lifetime, at 40 tonnes, over 60% heavier.

Warrior was not selected on the basis of future weight increase potential but here we were, operating in a very hostile environment at a significant weight increase.

BAE were deselected from the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) in February which left Lockheed Martin as the only horse in a one horse race but despite this they had not been awarded preferred bidder status,

BAE also displayed a Warrior Multi Role Platform that it claimed could make use of the approximately 300 Warrior hulls not earmarked for upgrading as part of WCSP.

May started with a video from the British Army covering the new Mastiff 3

Guided tour of the Mastiff 3 Armoured Vehicle

In May 2011 the National Audit Office published a special report on the ‘Cost Effective Delivery of an Armoured Vehicle Capability‘, yet more woe for FRES.

It is worth reproducing the summary in full

1 Armoured vehicles comprise a range of military platforms including tanks, reconnaissance, engineer and personnel carrying vehicles. They permit military forces  to manoeuvre while offering protection from a wide range of threats, and additionally provide platforms for mounting weapons and other military systems. Armoured vehicles are therefore a critical asset when undertaking a wide range of military tasks, from  delivering humanitarian aid through to high intensity war-fighting operations.

2 To acquire armoured vehicles, the Ministry of Defence (the Department) has utilised two acquisition processes to procure all military equipment: For its ‘core’ equipment, intended to generate the defence capabilities required to carry out the military tasks set out by high level Defence Policy, the Department uses its standard acquisition process. This is a comprehensive approach which includes all elements that combine to create military capability, including  personnel, training and logistics support. The process also addresses equipment interoperability, which ensures that the various sub-components, such as radios  and sensors, operate as expected when integrated into the same equipment. It also covers how the equipment itself operates alongside other vehicles, aircraft,  and systems to ensure it can work effectively as part of a wider military force.

For additional equipment – or to modify existing equipment – required in response  to conditions on specific operations, not catered for by the standard acquisition

process, the Department can use the Urgent Operational Requirements  process. This process can deliver equipment rapidly for specific operations, such  as Afghanistan. However, the speed at which Urgent Operational Requirements  are delivered means this equipment is often introduced before full support in terms

of trained personnel and logistics can be put into place and with limited time to  consider full interoperability. Such equipment is often specific to a particular need  and may not necessarily be as suitable across the whole range of military tasks as  equipment purchased through the standard acquisition process.

3 In the period since the 1998 Strategic Defence Review, a number of significant armoured vehicle projects procured through the Department’s standard acquisition process have not been brought to fruition. Figure 1 provides details of a number of  these projects where no vehicles have been delivered despite spending £321 million on projects that have been cancelled or suspended. The Department has spent a further  £397 million funding on-going, but delayed, projects that are not currently planning to deliver any vehicles before 2013. Since 2003, the Department has also spent  approximately £2.8 billion buying and upgrading vehicles, using the Urgent Operational Requirements process, for operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

It made the point that the UOR process had delivered vehicles that were condition and theatre specific and that might not find utility in other kinds of operations but as per the previous post, the Army had formally recognised that Afghanistan was exactly the kind of mission it was most likely to be engaged in and adjusted its whole structure to suit, FAS(Next Generation) and Transformational Army Structure (TAS) specifically.

Figure 1 provided a tabular view of the recent programmes and costs confirming that FRES UV now had a predicted ISD of 2022

NAO - Figure 1
NAO – Figure 1

The total spent to date on FRES UV, FRES SV, TRACER, MRAV, Terrier and Warrior CSP was £718 million, with not a single in service vehicle to show for it.

FRES SV, Warrior CSP and Terrier were predicted to require another £9.1 Billion to complete.

FRES UV would be on top of that figure.

Terrier would have a unit cost of £5.3 million and the actual unit cost of Viking was less than £600 thousand and Titan/Trojan, £5.25 million each

Ever the masters of restraint, the NAO concluded;

given the expenditure of over £1.1 billion since 1998 without the delivery of its principal armoured vehicles – the Department’s standard acquisition  process for armoured vehicles has not been working

It issued a number of key findings across the three themes of Defence Policy and the role of Armoured Vehicles, Acquisition strategy and requirements setting and finally, resource management.

Defence Policy and the Role of Armoured Vehicles

The delays which have arisen from cancelled or suspended armoured vehicle projects will result in the Armed Forces not being fully equipped with the vehicles identified as top priorities in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, until at least 2024-25

Acquisition Strategy and Requirements Setting

The Department’s reluctance to compromise in setting technologically demanding requirements under its standard acquisition process has put the timely and cost-effective delivery of equipment at risk

Faced with rapid changes to equipment requirements driven by operational experience, these unwieldy processes have contributed to a number of armoured  vehicle projects being delayed or abandoned. This has led the Department to place greater reliance on the Urgent Operational Requirements process to provide equipment  for recent operations in Iraq and Afghanistan

The Department has shown that it can make effective compromises to rapidly buy equipment specifically for operations. Urgent Operational Requirements are based on the principle that equipment only has to satisfy the current operational need – and be better than what is currently in service – to deliver equipment to the front  line quickly; this generates realistic and deliverable requirements.

The Urgent Operational Requirements process is not a substitute for the standard acquisition process, but lessons can be applied from the former to accelerate delivery of equipment through the latter process.

Resource Management

The Department’s poor resource management has destabilised the standard acquisition process.

The Department’s requirement to identify significant savings in order to live within its means has led to equipment gaps appearing in some areas, such as armoured vehicles

Urgent Operational Requirements have been used to address shortfalls in equipment for current operations

As tough as the report was I think the Army got off very lightly

  1. It stuck to the basic theme that much of the threat in Afghanistan was not possible to predict, clearly, utterly and completely nonsensical
  1. It completely ignored the doctrinal confusion and changing military ‘fashion’ that resulted in MRAV and TRACER cancellation
  1. It offered no insight into how the confused and confusing medium weight capability could be met within the likely resource envelope

Picking up one the story the Daily Mail resorted to the usual ‘blame the civil servants’ theme;

A well-placed defence source said: ‘These findings and should shame the suits in the MoD who have failed our soldiers, sailors and airmen. ‘In the business world they would have been fired for wasting the money. In this case it appears they have cost lives. It is disgraceful.’

And thus spectacularly failing to hit the real target, it was not the men in suits but the men in uniforms that were to blame.

Wolfhound entered service in Afghanistan in 2011

General Dynamics purchased Force Protection in June 2011

In July, General Dynamics released a press statement that described how SV was taking shape.

Little over a year since signing the Specialist Vehicle (SV) contract between the UK Ministry of Defence and General Dynamics UK, the first test version of the reconnaissance variant, Scout, has begun to take shape with the successful joining of the Experimental Demonstration Unit (EDU) turret to a “mule” base platform at the first attempt. The first successful combining of turret and base unit last week further proves the vehicle design, the systems integration between the two sections and the team work between prime contractor General Dynamics UK and turret design authority Lockheed Martin UK. It also highlights the excellent progress achieved by the Scout SV Industry team at an early stage.

“Mating the turret and base unit at such an early stage of the demonstration phase once again demonstrates our dedication to working towards delivering the Scout SV capability to the British Army as soon as is possible,” commented Dr. Sandy Wilson, president and managing director of General Dynamics UK on witnessing the event. “The fact that it happened at the first attempt only goes to show that the MoD chose the right team to deliver Scout SV.”

The mule base unit, known as PT3, is based on a mature ASCOD vehicle already in service with the Austrian Army. The 1.7 metre race ring, specifically designed by General Dynamics UK for Scout, was integrated onto the vehicle by General Dynamics European Land Systems at its Simmering facility in Austria. The vehicle was then transported to General Dynamics UK’s Pershore facility in Worcestershire, UK, to undergo a series of tests and prepare it to accept the EDU turret. It was then transferred to Lockheed Martin UK’s facility in Ampthill, Bedfordshire last week for the integration of the turret.

In parallel, the first EDU turret was being built at Rheinmetall Landsysteme in Gersthofen, Germany. Rheinmetall Landsysteme designs, develops and manufactures the Scout SV Turret Structure for turret design authority Lockheed Martin UK. Following a successful first build of the turret, the mandated CT40 Cased Telescoped Cannon System was integrated into it and fired for the first time in May, five months ahead of schedule. It was also subsequently transported to Ampthill where it has been undergoing extensive testing and preparation for integration with the PT3 mule base unit.

British troops using the Scout SV will have the best protection available in this vehicle class, both as it is delivered and as it grows to meet future threats. The vehicle will be immediately capable of delivering load-carrying growth potential of up to 42 tonnes thanks to a modern, proven drivetrain. This means that SV is capable of being equipped to meet future threats likely to appear over its entire 30 year life, without the need to upgrade its engine or transmission during that time

It also released an image of the PT3 Mule with EDA turret


The 30 year comment is interesting, given Warrior will be in service past 2040, over 50 years service, a vehicle that did not have massive levels of upgradeability ‘baked in’

Also in July, the previously commissioned study in the Future Reserves published its first report.

This was followed by the announcement most people had foreseen, a further reduction in Army personnel numbers. Army 2020 would consist of 82,000 regular personnel and 30,000 Army Reserve.

The previous terms of reference for Army 2020 were

To develop and recommend options, starting from first principles, for the design, structure, capabilities and capacities of an integrated Army of 2020 – that importantly – would be designed to cost and deliver the 20 per cent saving required.

In charge of the study to decide how to get from A to B was Lt General Nick Carter, Director General Land Warfare.

Its relevance to FRES was  mainly related to final numbers, a smaller force overall would simply need fewer vehicles, a smaller production number would mean those development costs being spread thicker than over a large number, i.e. the unit cost would rise.

At the September 2011 DSEi show, FRES SV was shown for the first time, at least a representative prototype, or model in plain English.

The seven prototypes in the demonstration phase were confirmed as 3 Scout, 1 Protected Mobility Recce Support, 1 Repair and 1 Recovery, plus a Common Base Platform. At the show Major J. Cripps told reporters

Where we are today is that there is a real awareness that we need ground mounted armed reconnaissance. Scout gives us a significant growth potential with the ability to fit modern sensors systems and modern weapons systems. It is not just an armoured vehicle, it is an ISTAR platform and meets the requirement that we may need to fight for information.

Also reported was that Main Gate 2 would provision for between 400 and 589 vehicles with an option for 200 Common Base Platforms. A number of component announcements were made, Barco for the displays and Thales for the optronics, for example.

Army set to get first new family of armoured vehicles for decades 14.09.11

A Parliamentary Answer to a written question tabled by Ben Wallace, the MP for Wyre and Preston, ex Scots Guards Officer and former director of QinetiQ , in October 2011 seemed to indicate a reverse gear on the famous British to its Bootstraps comment made about FRES SV by Dr Sandy Wilson (President and Managing Director of General Dynamics UK)

Ben Wallace (Wyre and Preston North, Conservative)

To ask the Secretary of State for Defence what obligations his Department has placed on General Dynamics to manufacture and assemble the Scout Specialist Vehicle in the UK

Peter Luff (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Defence Equipment, Support and Technology), Defence; Mid Worcestershire, Conservative)

The Ministry of Defence has placed no contractual obligations on General Dynamics UK (GDUK) to manufacture the Scout Specialist Vehicles (Scout SV) platforms in the UK. GDUK has, however, indicated that a significant proportion of the activity may be conducted in the UK.

In addition, the contract allows for the transfer of the assembly integration and test work on the platforms from off-shore facilities, to the Defence Support Group in the UK. A value for money decision on whether to transfer this work will be taken later in the programme, closer to production. An enabling arrangement for industrial participation has also been put in place with General Dynamics, that will see work being carried out in the UK, or assistance being provided to UK exporters to Spain (assembly of ASCOD, the base vehicle for Scout SV is currently conducted in Spain)

This was evidently different from some of the claims made at the time of contract commencement which were emphatic about UK manufacturing.

This from Bob Ainsworth in March 2010;

General Dynamics UK’s proposed solution contains 73 per cent UK content within the supply chain and the assembly, integration and test facilities at the Defence Support Group Donnington. This ensures the sustainnent of UK jobs, UK skills and UK capabilities within the armoured vehicle sector

With the supply chain announcements it was very difficult to see how the claims of industrial benefits to the UK were in any way likely, remember the claim was that it would sustain or create 10,000 jobs.

Time for a video, released after DSEi

General Dynamics UK – Scout Specialist Vehicle (SV) Overview [480p]

Lockheed Martin were awarded the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) contract in October.

Demonstration was expected to cost £200 million and manufacture £642 million

WCSP was designed to extend the service life of Warrior to beyond 2040 by which time it would have been in service over 50 years which kind of proves legacy platforms can be upgraded.

The upgrade includes a new turret and 40mm CTA weapon, Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture and Warrior Modular Protection System. The demonstration phase, at a cost of £200m, would upgrade eight section vehicles and three other variants ready for trials between 2013 and 2014.

The production phase would follow that would upgrade 380 infantry fighting vehicles and other variants.

Each Multi Role Brigade would have 1 Battalion equipped with Warrior.

Also in 2011 the 200 vehicle Foxhound order was increased to 300.

In 2011, in preparation for deployment to Afghanistan the German armed forces did two things, first they upgraded existing vehicles to the ‘Afghanistan A1’ configuration and second, announced that all new vehicles would no come off the production line in this same configuration, starting from vehicle number 41. Most modifications were relatively minor, more storage space, an improved crew harness with integral airbag, fitting smoke dischargers and increasing the height of the remote weapon station to improve depression angles. A more significant upgrade was integration of an ECM system and improved belly armour.

Afghanistan. (July 28, 2011) The first German Army Boxer Armored Transport Vehicles deployed to Northern Afghanistan arrive at Camp Marmal, International Security Assistance Force, Regional Command North. The Boxer is equipped with modern optics and remote-controlled weapons stations and provides improved protection to its crews.
Afghanistan. (July 28, 2011) The first German Army Boxer Armored Transport Vehicles deployed to Northern  Afghanistan arrive at Camp Marmal, International Security Assistance Force, Regional Command North. The Boxer is equipped with modern optics and remote-controlled weapons stations and provides improved protection to its crews.

VBCI was already in Afghanistan by this point, both vehicles rejected by the MoD in the FRES UV Trials of Truth

VCBI Afghanistan
VCBI Afghanistan

Throughout the year, the Army had been struggling with squaring the circle of trying to fit 5 Multi Role Brigades into the personnel reductions described by SDSR and the additional reduction announced in July.

In charge of these initial studies was Lt. General Nick Carter and it was becoming apparent that the Multi Role Brigade construct was likely to be changed.

What will the British Army look like in 2020? 31.10.11







The rest of the series

The Story of FRES – Introduction

The Story of FRES – The Sixties

The Story of FRES – The Seventies

The Story of FRES – The Eighties

The Story of FRES – The Nineties

The Story of FRES – US Experience in the Balkans

The Story of FRES – 2000 to 2003

The Story of FRES – 2004

The Story of FRES – 2005

The Story of FRES – 2006

The Story of FRES – 2007 and the Trials of Truth

The Story of FRES – 2008

The Story of FRES – 2009 and a Return to FRES

The Story of FRES – 2010 Scout Contract Award

The Story of FRES – 2011

The Story of FRES – 2012 to 2014

The Story of FRES – A Summary


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




About The Author

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

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July 26, 2014 5:06 am

Another great post TD, keep them coming.

Am I the only one who thinks FRES SV looks kind of awesome.

I know its a cluster f**k of a program and FRES. SV is pretty much just warrior but the capabilities it presents look great. I know its certainly going to give us problems with weight, size and deployability but its protection, sensors and firepower look fantastic.

lets just hope the MOD can now progress to the point of actually buying some.

Nice pictures of Boxer and VBCI.

VBCI still looks but ugly and boxer has my vote for FRES UV.

July 26, 2014 6:35 am


re awesomeness

Pretty much yep you are the only one.

Because of its status as ‘the special one’ British army has failed to select or deploy 2 classes of vehicle it has needed for a decade and a half. Whilst all around it ha selected built and put into service multiple types and configurations of comparable vehicles.

Looks awesome unfortunately means jack in weapons. Plenty of my favourites from the panco jackhammer to the 30 mm ASP cannon. Look awesome. .. but no one wanted them..

July 26, 2014 7:34 am

Martin – awesome? Hmmmm. MOD decided to mandate the gun so that was a given. I’m sure the EO sensors will be on a par with latest class leaders, but I have no knowledge (obviously) of the tactical systems inside the vehicle that make best use of sensor & shooter other than they will use the mandated Generic Vehicle Architecture. The basis of the turret is Rheinmetall’s Lance which is a solid choice; the turret drives are Curtiss-Wright (ex-SIG) which means electric which means good (I’m not a fan of hydraulics if electrics can do the job – messy & dangerous when things go wrong); the design team is LMUK at Ampthill (ex-Insys ex-Huntings) and they have some pretty smart engineers. So the result I expect to be competent and effective, a sound performer.

The hull will be a competent performer too, but its size/weight and similarity to Warrior leave me a bit cold.

July 26, 2014 9:41 am

Why is the Lance turret so good? From what I’ve seen of it, I can’t say I’m impressed by the layout.
Pretty much every turret is electro-mechanical these days, so I wouldn’t expect anything else.
Does LMUK have any kind of track record designing land vehicles?

July 26, 2014 11:00 am

Dr Sandy Wilson ‘seems’ to be in charge at GD UK, he stated “the fact the turret mated at first attempt shows…” WTF! is it normal in this CAD dominated world for components manufactured in the defence industry world not to fit at first attempt? I thought the days of craftsman carefully fitting and adjusting each component with time honoured skill where long gone in this age of CNC manufactured components. At least it is where I work.

Dr Sandy Wilson on the video also stated if you fitted a 120 mm MBT gun to the chassis you would have the same fire power as an MBT . Really? You don’t say ! The same? Well I would never of thought that! Endless sacarcasm could follow.

It could be if that this guy really is in charge over at GD UK it could explain a lot. I know TD is leaning the blame for the endless delay and waste of UK Taxpayers money towards the Army but if they have to work with people like this I think they needs Gods forgiveness for their patience.

Basicly what we will have is an up-to-date Warrior replacement which they have as good a job on that then it will be great. In 30 years we will have added 60% to the Scout SV and have our own Namer.

July 26, 2014 1:46 pm

MrFred – Lance was I believe designed for the Rosomak competition (was then the E9 turret) but as I recall from the press at the time it arrived late due to something technical – the winning design was Oto’s Hitfist 30P, a similarly low profile design. From this I deduce there was a height limit in the requirement. I’m not complaining; turrets that are low weigh less and if used correctly expose less to opposition forces than tall ones* although there might be tighter limits on elevation if there isn’t height for the breech to swing. I haven’t seen the inside layout; the coax being outside armour is a novelty that might have downsides…

Electro-mechanical traverse & elevation? Luxury! The last turret I sat in was Scimitar and I know it was hand-cranked because the traverse gearbox hammered my right knee while head out playing on the Plain.

LMUK (Huntings site) has recruited a bit over the past few years; the corporation still has a land armour contingent (ex-Vought Systems I believe, those that made M270 MLRS) in Dallas so there is a degree of knoweledge. But remember the Warrior LEP hull work involves DSG (ex-ABRO – why do all these names keep changing?) who I am sure will be offering advice.

*The height of concern being from mantlet pivot to highest part of the turret, as a good Vehicle Commander will try to keep the vehicle obscured behind the horizon or cover, only showing the top of the turret down to gun bore so that what can be seen can be shot.

Monkey – Sandy Wilson apparently retired from GD last year; replaced by Steven Rowbotham, originally a Marconi Radar engineer who rose to the rank of MD of BAE Systems Land Systems Munitions and then moved to GD for FRES UV. But all that is by the by – you would hope the MOD has proper technical interfaces to those that know what they are talking about and doesn’t get all its detailed information from a BD background CEO?

That said, there’s been a lot of hype about ASCOD upgrade that feels like marketing fluff, the sort of stuff corporations flood the press with to hide that the new product isn’t really any different from the old one. (For instance, look up the ‘all new’ Morris Ital and compare it with the Morris Marina – a new plastic grille, different shaped rear lights and a new facia moulding. Oh and a newer engine. All new? Hardly.) Its better armoured – ASCOD not Ital – and it has upgraded engine & transmission, but not much else substantial has changed. If I understand the stuff put out by GD the biggest revision is the electric system, now GVA shaped.

I have seen some pretty unhelpful attitudes in all directions in dealings between MOD & Industry. Patronising behaviour in both directions, arrogance in both directions, dismissiveness, misguidance, obstructiveness – the list is long and not pretty. Personally I find it all a bit pathetic; powerplays and ego-drives seem to abound much like between politicians. I have tried on many many occasions to get MOD to engage in a cooperative rather than authoritative manner but they will not. I don’t know why – cooperation always yields better solutions faster.

James Bolivar DiGriz
James Bolivar DiGriz
July 26, 2014 2:47 pm

@monkey The “”mated at first attempt” comment struck me very odd as well. As you say, the two items were designed to fit together, so the fact that they fit together should not be any sort of surprise.

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 26, 2014 3:05 pm

“The fact that it happened at the first attempt only goes to show that the MoD chose the right team to deliver Scout SV.”

The ‘it fitted first time’ nonsense leapt out at me too. Component A fits component B… phew! The idea that it vindicates any choice is laughable.

But anyway, if SV is the best in class, could we not begin at one end of 3Div replacing all Warrior variants in the battalions. De-turret, rather than fitting the new 40mm, and transfer those Warrior to the Adaptable Force to fill much of the UV requirement.

At the other end of 3Div, begin upgrading the Warriors as planned, with the intent that they will also eventually be shifted over to the Adaptable Force.

A couple of brigades worth of Warrior would satisfy the fightier requirements of UV. And the sooper-dooper SV infantry fighting vehicle would presumably be a better choice for the lead armoured combat role over the coming decades.

The Other Chris
July 26, 2014 3:19 pm


From a pure aesthetics point of view I like the ASCOD 2, particular this shot of the trial vehicle without turret and with modular armour:;_item=201206112152046991;_size=medium;_name=Image

July 26, 2014 4:45 pm


Nope, you are not the only one. FRES-SV in its current form is awesome, assuming it makes it into service it will be the best equipped AFV in service in the world alongside the Puma. Excellent drivetrain, excellent weapon, excellent optronics. The UK has successfully cherry picked all the best bits currently available on the market.

I won’t work as a Warrior replacement without some serious compromise or a very major redesign, just not enough space in the back for the space and protection levels that would be demanded from a Warrior replacement.

July 26, 2014 5:23 pm

About your additional Warriors, maybe I will tell something stupid, but I looked on wikipedia the mass in combat of Warrior, well, at the base, it has a mass of 25 tonnes in combat, you take away the turret, the weight must be around 20 tonnes, it’s a good APC for your Adaptable Force, for fighting of low intensity, easily deployable. And perhaps other roles, I don’t know. This would save vehicles like FRES UV, but perhaps that this is already planned ?

July 26, 2014 5:49 pm

It’s that sort of maths that makes me favour the separation of roles at the light end of the scale.

The trouble with using the Warrior hull is that there aren’t enough. The WCSP upgrade will take something like 450 out of the 780-odd that were ever built, the remainder will be engineering vehicles or converted into ABSVs for the armoured battalions to replace the FV430 series vehicles currently in that role.
As the ABSV, the turret less warriors will doubtless be fitted with the full protection fit seen on the theatre entry standard vehicles, so they will be in the high twenty tonne range.

July 26, 2014 6:01 pm

Thank you for your explanation Mr.Fred :)

The Other Chris
July 26, 2014 6:15 pm


If you were selecting the British UV (Wheeled) vehicle, which of the 8×8’s would you choose?

e.g. Export VBCI, Boxer, AMV/Havoc?

Do you mind if it is not VBCI?

July 26, 2014 9:36 pm

@The Other Chris,

That does not bother me, although it would be beneficial for the French economy, but it is not the subject, this would make me happy would be that the British army had the best equipment, I would take the SuperAV or Patria, because they are amphibious vehicles, which are available in 8×8 or 6×6, they are quite lightweight and offer a good resistance to mines and IEDs. It is sometimes important to have light wheeled amphibious vehicles, they can go farther and faster than tracked vehicles, and they consume less fuel. French reconnaissance vehicles were amphibious before being equipped with an add-on armor.
The important thing is not to be at the shelter in a large vehicle, but being able to fulfill its mission. I think that the Ascod SV is a mistake from the standpoint of its mission, the FRES UV is a good idea but I believe that the MoD made ​​a mistake casting, still too heavy vehicle. Difficult to deploy. This is the opinion of a French, we don’t have the same way of thinking, but I remember that for a long time the United Kingdom uses small vehicles to make the recce.

July 27, 2014 10:28 am

@ Hohum and Martin

I agree that the ASCOD 2 platform was a good choice for FRES SV. As you suggest, proven mechanicals in a design that corrects many deficiencies of Warrior with an excellent weapon, excellent mobility, cutting-edge optics, BMS and good protection add up to a great capability. My concern about FRES SV is it may too heavy. I don’t know how easy it is to remove the extra armour and what doing so does to the general level of protection. More fundamentally, I wonder whether the armoured role for which it is being acquired has become redundant in all but a few very select situations. 

If FRES SV is a medium tank by any other name, I would have preferred to have seen a 120 mm smoothbore gun on it. Better still, buy more MBTs would have been my suggestion. I’d like to see the UK with 6 tank regiments rather than 3 tank and 3 Recce with 40 mm cannons. 

At DVD, I asked the Army if FRES SV could be easily adapted to be a Warrior substitute if we needed more IFVs. The answer was that ASCOD 2 was an IFV platform, so absolutely. You’d simply mount the turret further forward as was originally intended, and you’d have room for 6 dismounts. It would not be difficult, expensive or time consuming.

July 27, 2014 10:35 am

@ Monty

They do mention a 120 mm weapon in FRES SV in the video in the article so I am guessing its possible.

July 27, 2014 10:54 am

Monty – ref “It would not be difficult, expensive or time consuming” – considering the modification costs to get from Pizarro/Ulan to FRES-SV (in various places quoted between £600m and £1.3bn, production costs extra, over a five year period) perhaps moving the turret, adding some seats and rearranging the furniture would not be difficult, expensive or time consuming compared with FRES-SV development cost & schedule? GD has rarely been anything other than expensive.

July 27, 2014 11:03 am


Many deficiencies on Warrior? Which ones and which ones aren’t being addressed in the warrior upgrade?

July 27, 2014 12:02 pm

I’m sorry but I think that the MoD has been obsessed by the protection, therefore the weight, and not enough on the role of the vehicle. In the past your scout vehicles were small and sometimes at wheels, I don’t understand this change.

July 27, 2014 12:32 pm

Frenchie – agreed. There is a bias in all military procurement towards equipment that would have suited the last war fought. The UK’s last two conflicts have been in wide open hard-packed desert terrain against an insurgent opposition that used IEDs as their large impact weapon. So the current procurements are for heavily protected vehicles – the resulting large size is not an issue in wide open hard-packed desert environments.

FRES-SV as currently being designed would not have worked well in the Balkans, due to size and weight limitations over much of the territory. It is interesting to note that after the interventions in Bosnia and Kosovo, when TRACER gave way to FRES, the new FRES requirement was for a small light vehicle with a high degree of smart IT on board capable of being networked in real time to other units/HQ and with protection systems other than slabs of cold steel. In other words, FRES at the outset was geared towards Balkan-like operations. As those in the decision-making roles morphed from ex-Balkans to ex-Iraq to ex-Afghan conflict soldiers & officers, the FRES requirement morphed from ‘best suited to Bosnia/Kosovo’ to ‘best suited to Iraq/Afghanistan’. As clear an example of Generals preparing for the last war as you would ever need.

I have never said ASCOD/FRES-SV would be a bad armoured vehicle – it will be as good as any other vehicle of its class. Nor have I said it will be useless – there will be times when its the ideal machine for the job. But with Warrior FLIP being the same size & weight, having the same firepower and presumably similar protection, you have to ask whether there are tasks ASCOD/FRES-SV would suit that Warrior could not perform as well? More importantly though there are tasks the outgoing light armour could do (and which the original light FRES would have suited) that neither ASCOD/FRES-SV nor Warrior will suit.

By all means then keep some ASCOD/FRES vehicles. They will have their uses. But it would be wise to stop calling them CVR(T) replacement because they cannot do the same tasks in the same conditions as CVR(T). Equally wise to put ‘CVR(T) Replacement’ back into the future projects list.

July 27, 2014 1:05 pm

‘FRES-SV as currently being designed would not have worked well in the Balkans, due to size and weight limitations over much of the territory.’

The Warriors, Challenger 2, DROPS and even tank transporters managed well enough. I can’t recall being restricted massively by the terrain in the Balkans. Mastiff would have no problems operating there.

Is ASCOD a true CVRT replacement? No, but then the role of formation recce has changed since then, the BRF is expected to fight for information and in some cases engage the enemy during deliberate ops. ASCOD is not really going to struggle being the close recce vehicle of the Infantry, Engineer and Armoured units. Maybe we should be looking to replace the Jackal and stop looking for a CVRT replacement?

July 27, 2014 1:25 pm
July 27, 2014 1:46 pm

Frenchie – ref Guarani – it looks a bit like this vehicle is a scaled up version of this vehicle:… The vehicle layout is similar, the independent hydropneumatic strut suspension configuration is similar; the larger gap between axles 2 & 3 in both cases is to allow room for a turret basket (which wouldn’t fit between wheelarches). Clearly there is a big difference in size and few components will be common, but the thinking behind the Puma has it would seem been applied to the larger vehicle.

July 27, 2014 2:08 pm

Chris – I have a picture of Patria 6×6 which resembles it a lot.

July 27, 2014 2:19 pm


I was there as well, doubling the journey time is not the same as not being able to reach the location.

July 27, 2014 2:31 pm


I was there as well, doubling the journey time is not the same as not being able to reach the location. And it wasn’t that bad from my memory. Maybe I have a different perspective because we used everything from CVRT to 432 up to DROPS size, so we were used to having some restrictions. Don’t forget we never had any AVLB or breaching equipment during the UN involvement, once it turned over to IFOR all the armoured engineer assets were deployed.

Formation recce is going to be done with a mix of ASCOD and Jackal is it not? you want to lighten the Scout take of the appliqué armour. It is not going to be a massively restricted vehicle like people are saying.

July 27, 2014 2:51 pm


‘here’s a view of someone who was there’

So now you’ve got two views from people who were there. There was a number of reasons routes were out of bounds in Bosnia and not all was due to vehicle restrictions.

July 27, 2014 3:09 pm

As AMV can be had in both 6×6 and 8×8, is there any inherent mobility difference, or is it just how much weight (e.g. turret) or volume (number of dismounts) is dictated by the mission?

Had a look in the back of a Saracen today: definitely a patrol vehicle, despite being so long. Not much space in the back, but the driver and commander would have had excellent situational awareness without today’s 360 camera views and other add-ons that will still need to prove their durability in tough going.

July 27, 2014 3:25 pm

ACC – Saracen really isn’t a long vehicle – to put it in context its overall length is 63% that of Boxer. Its also lower to the roofplate (the narrower crew compartment makes it look lower still) and a little narrower if you count the mudguards. In terms of space its something like the room inside Ridgeback.

In its day it was an APC for eight dismounts. These days it would probably be seen as too cramped for four.

Personally I think it was one of the best attempts at wheeled armour – it had its bad points (notably the use of the petrol tank as the crew compartment floor – and that’s definitely 5-star petrol not diesel), but the vehicle was for the most part well thought through.

James Bolivar DiGriz
James Bolivar DiGriz
July 27, 2014 3:31 pm

Monty said “FRES SV … a design that corrects many deficiencies of Warrior” and mr. fred asked “Which ones and which ones aren’t being addressed in the warrior upgrade?”

As a far from expert in this area, I may be asking stupid questions but I am really rather puzzled. AFAIUI:
– Warrior production ran from the late 80s to the mid 90s.
– By the end of the 90s various projects (VERDI, FFLAV, TRACER, etc) had come and gone.
– We now have FRES SV a bit wider and longer than Warrior but about the same weight and to be armed with the same cannon.

In, say, 2000 the jigs etc for Warrior would surely still have been in store. So it seems that numerous programmes having failed to deliver anything (and the CVR(T), FV430 fleets not getting any younger) a sensible plan would have been to order a modified Warrior.

Obvious changes would include:
– A more powerful engine (almost always likely to be a useful in the future).
– Replacing analogue electronics with digital ones.
– Bringing in new ideas from VERDI, TRACER, etc.
– Addressing, as far as possible, any deficiencies that use had found out.

A modified Warrior might not have been perfect but, if ordered in 2000, it would have been in service something like 10 years ago.

There may be something wrong with this idea. However I think that it would have to be something very fundamental, given that Warrior is still in service.

Can anyone enlighten me?

July 27, 2014 4:00 pm

JBDG – hindsight is so much clearer than peering into the future; in 2000 the FRES requirement was not shaped around a heavily armoured IFV but was instead a super-high-tech reincarnation of CVR(T); a C-130 transportable highly agile light actively-protected network enabled sensor laden vehicle with remote weapon and masted surveillance system and organic UAVs. An upgraded Warrior wouldn’t have entered anyone’s head as a useful stand-in. This was the time when the flights of fancy were so far removed from off-the-shelf vehicles that there was no alternative but to start from scratch. But had someone at the time said “Hey let’s buy something about the right size weight and firepower as an interim capability while we work on the concept” then the most likely buy would have been Stormer 30. Or something much like it.

Mike W
July 27, 2014 4:42 pm


“By all means then keep some ASCOD/FRES vehicles. They will have their uses. But it would be wise to stop calling them CVR(T) replacement because they cannot do the same tasks in the same conditions as CVR(T). Equally wise to put ‘CVR(T) Replacement’ back into the future projects list.”

Hear, hear, Chris. You no doubt will have your own agenda for replacing CVR(T) but do you (or anyone else come to that) know what has happened to BAE’s CV21 project? Does it still exist or has it been quietly dropped? I think that would come pretty close to what we need.

July 27, 2014 4:58 pm

Wasn’t it just poking the (export) market for interest, after the remanufacture of Spartan/ Scimitar2 combos had been announced?
– was there ever anything more than a CGI image circulated?

Mike W
July 27, 2014 5:05 pm


“Wasn’t it just poking the (export) market for interest …?

Yes, that is the kind of question I was really wanting the answer to. Thanks.

July 27, 2014 5:06 pm

@Mr Fred,

Warrior issues.
– Drivetrain underpowered for weight growth – loss of mobility
– Engine and gearbox reliability – never really top notch
– Engine bulkhead design – engine fires rapidly spread to crew compartment igniting cannon ammunition and then diesel fuel
– Fire extinguishing system
– Location of fuel tank (beneath commander and gunner next to cannon ammunition) – burns readily if ammo ignites although diesel is relatively inert unlike petrol
– Location of many key systems – ease of accessibility
– Vehicle electronic architecture – a bit of an afterthought back in 1984
– hatch design – ease of escape when evacuating in an emergency

Most of these concerns will i believe be addressed by Warrior CSP.

James Bolivar DiGriz
James Bolivar DiGriz
July 27, 2014 5:18 pm


I was trying (as far as it is possible) to avoid hindsight. I though that the cancelled (exited?) projects (TRACER, MRAV, etc ) were for 20 ton (or more) vehicles. Hence I mention the weight os FRES SV vs. that of Warrior.

If the idea was for a super-high-tech reincarnation of the eight or so ton CVR(T), how does it work as a replacement for the 15+ ton FV430? Or is part of the ‘flights of fancy’, that questions like this were not being asked?

I don’t think it is just hindsight that after loads of time and money resulting in nothing that someone should have suggested that they buy something as an interim solution. Starting from scratch must mean an in service date at least five years away and bulk availability close to a decade away.

I had forgotten about the Stormer 30. That (at c. 15 tons) seems like a decent base vehicle to use as an interim and to try out those high-tech ideas.

July 27, 2014 5:53 pm

I thought you were going to trot out the fire risk one (actually three of your points). Do you think you can do better than “It stands to reason” or “some bloke down the pub”? Because I have NEVER heard of a vehicle lost this way, unless you mean the one that was practically turned inside out by a huge IED.
What’s wrong with the hatches? How would you make them better?
I thought that drivetrain had been upgraded as part of the UORs.
I’ve never heard of the engine and drivetrain been described as unreliable though, save when togged up with heaps of additional weight.

James Bolivar DiGriz,
You might want to look up “Warrior 2000”

July 27, 2014 6:00 pm

JBDG – the FRES start point was sub-19t (as in C-130 limit) – apologies but as an ex-Alvis bod I see Stormer at 13t as one of CVR(T)’s extended family so would have thought Stormers of various guises would have been the logical start point for an early FRES stand-in, not just the 9t CVR(T) range itself.

Mike W – continuing with the Stormer 30 theme, as I commented before the CV-21 looks much like the Stormer 30 hull lightly modified, fitted with a version of the CV-90 Recce turret that was on demo just before ASCOD won the FRES deal. Whether the two components were ever bolted together, or existed only in virtual form, only those in the company would know. I imagine at the back of a shed somewhere you’d find the Stormer 30 hull and the CV-90 Recce vehicle, even if they’ve not been out in public for a while.

Stormer 30 would have been a good interim capability back in the 90s, but 20 years on the armour system would be a bit light and the running gear would be passed its prime (essentially Scorpion running gear but a bit more robust in places). I’m not so sure it would make sense to think of Stormer 30 as a possible solution to enter service now.

James Bolivar DiGriz
James Bolivar DiGriz
July 27, 2014 7:17 pm


Thanks for all of that. I had forgotten that the C-130 limit was 19 tons.

I’m sorry that I was not clear. When I said that Stormer at c. 15 tons (according to Wikipedia) seems like a decent base vehicle, I meant that at it stood it could be used for an interim high-tech recce vehicle and maybe with more armour (and uprated engine & drive-train?) it could have been a replacement for the FV430 series.

One other possibly numpty question. Chris has said that in the Saracen putting the fuel tank under the crew compartment floor was not a good idea. Monty has said that putting it beneath the commander & gunner and next to the cannon ammunition was also not a good idea.

It seems to me that anywhere in an AFV has disadvantages as a location for the fuel tank. Underneath exposes it to mines/IEDs, the other five sides (of our cuboid vehicle!) expose it to direct fire, inside the vehicle protects it but makes it closer to explosives & the occupants, so less likely to go up but worse if it does.

Isn’t the location always a compromise?

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 27, 2014 7:35 pm

I have been looking at the numbers of core AFVs the Army will need to equip the three Armoured Infantry Brigades in FF2020 as it currently stands, taking into account current and planned programmes. For six Armoured Infantry Battalions we will need 330 Warrior CSP, 130 Warrior ABSVs and 48 FRES (SV-Scout).
In addition the three Armoured Regiments will need an additional 60 Warrior ABSVs and 48 FRES (SV – Scout) in addition to the 170 Challenger 2s. Then we have the 3 Armoured Cavalry Regiments which will need a total of 180 FRES (SV) in numerous variants. Finally there are the three Heavy Protected Mobility Battalions currently being equipped with the Mastiff but eventually the FRES (UV) platform. Of the latter we will need roughly 200 to equip these Battalions in at least 4 variants. To this we will need to add the various Armoured Engineering platforms and the Artillery Brigade that will support not only the reaction force but also the adaptive. So the numbers of core platforms we will need for FF2020, all of which require funds for new build or major overhauls and upgrades are roughly;

170 Challenger 2 CSPs
330 Warrior CSPs
190 Warrior ABSVs
220 FRES (SV) variants
230 FRES (UV) variants

Of course there will also be spare platforms to cover maintenance and losses but in far less numbers than we would have planned for in the past. What is obvious though is the disparity between the number of FRES (SV) we need to fill out the 3 Armoured Infantry Brigades in the Reaction Force and the numbers that are often mentioned! The conversion of the spare Warrior hulls to the ABSV has had an impact on the numbers required. A number of the roles planned for the FRES (SV) in the Armoured Cavalry Regiments could also be done by the FRES (UV) but with cheaper acquisition and running costs, bringing the required number of FRES (SV) required to less than 200. So what are all the remaining FRES(SV) platforms going to be used for? Is an active fleet or around 200 sufficient to justify the expense of the programme when there are cheaper alternatives, especially if you re-evaluate the force structure of the Army’s planned FF2020.

Repeating my views as I often do, I would cancel the FRES (SV) programme, purchase a platform like the Fennek to provide the integral recce in the Armoured and Armoured Infantry units and replace the Armoured Cavalry Regiments with an additional Protected/Mechanised Battalion. One of the main issues with this is the need to increase the manpower available, but the current infantry strength is insufficient in my opinion to start with. One solution would be to transfer three regular battalions for the adaptive force.

However I have misgivings regarding the adaptive force as I cannot see many uses for it. It seems to be based on the needs of operations form the past that will probably not be repeated. It needs better protection and greater firepower, as in its current form it could not have conducted the persistent operations in the Balkans, Iraq or Afghanistan and could just have carried out the operation in Sierra Leone. This fact show the Adaptive force and the FF2020 for what it really is, a financial driven reorganisation that can be used by spin doctors for PR exercises but is not fit for purpose!

It would be far better to return to the lesser of two evil, namely the original FF2020 organisation with six Armoured Infantry Brigades, organised along revised lines Each Battalion would have a quarter of its manpower form the reserves, and this ratio would increase for the supporting formations. By not purchasing the FRES (SV) and utilising additional FRES (UV), even in some of the roles in the Armoured Regiments, instead of converting some Warriors to ABSVs, there would be obvious savings in procurement and especially running costs.

The Mod has got it so wrong with the FRES(SV) programme and has lost sight of the more important and urgent FRES (UV) programme. Using Warriors and CVR(T)s in Afghanistan for fire support has unduly influenced the MoD@s planners on the need to replace the CVR(T). I am fairly sure if the Challenger 2 had been deployed to Afghanistan, its CSP would be receiving a much higher priority. How the MoD missed the lessons learned by the majority of other nations in Afghanistan who were using wheeled AFVs, usually 8x8s shows how much the wrong lessons were taken on board.

The only use I can see for the FRES (SV) is to actually replace the Warrior, by changing its core platform into a IFV rather than a scout. I am sure the FRES (SV) is or will be an effective platform, but it fulfils a role as currently planned that the British Army does not need. The MoD and Government need to accept this, place the Army’s transformation on hold and start with a clean sheet of paper in the 2015 SDSR, doing a proper analysis this time of this country’s defence needs and aspirations. If we do not and simply carry out another salami slicing exercise there will be major damage to the morale and capabilities of our Armed Forces

Mike W
July 27, 2014 8:37 pm


Many thanks for your reply.

“as I commented before the CV-21 looks much like the Stormer 30 hull lightly modified, fitted with a version of the CV-90 Recce turret that was on demo just before ASCOD won the FRES deal.”

I had not realized that the CV21 hull was so close to that of the Stormer 30. I thought it was a completely new design. Saw the Stormer 30 getting off its delivery vehicle at BAEE (or whatever it was called then) back in 1997. Looked a real snarling, fighty beast of a vehicle. It just looked right. Don’t know why we ever let Alvis go! Mind you, RT might disagree!

Anyway, won’t interrupt the replies to Lord Jim’s most interesting post any longer. He should get a lot of responses to that one.

July 27, 2014 8:56 pm

Bloody hell, triple post!

I thought the spam monster had eaten a couple of them, my apologies. :-)

July 27, 2014 9:11 pm

Is one of the problems with FRES SV, the fact they called it ‘Scout’ rather than ‘Cavalry’.?
It does not help that the doctrine for formation recce has changed slightly and it is now recognised that you need to fight for information.

The Other Chris
July 27, 2014 9:23 pm

Is FRES(SV) a harder problem space to resolve than FRES(UV).

Is the replacement of FRES(UV) with UV (Wheeled) an indication of that?

July 27, 2014 9:41 pm

David Niven,
One of the SV family is called Scout, the rest will be called something different, doubtless an abbreviation of some sort, unless someone has a good flick through the ‘S’ section of the dictionary.
You’re not wrong that the name for the turreted vehicle is slightly at odds with the intended role though. The use of an ‘S’ name does imply a continuation of the CVR(T) role.
I do wonder how much improved electro-optics and ISTAR systems have changed the forward edge of the battlefield. Much harder to sneak around, perhaps? If nothing else, a 2m by 3m vehicle at 2km is no more or less visible than a 1m by 1.5m vehicle at 1km.

July 27, 2014 9:47 pm

JBDG – ref fuel tanks – they have been a necessary embarrassment to military vehicle designers from the outset. Some designs put the fuel outside armour (Soviet/Russian MBT designs have generally done so), some protect the fuel inside armour but as a consequence end up sitting the personnel on the tank. The Soviet BMP tried to split the difference and filled the main rear doors with fuel; I have no idea whether the armour was behind or in front of the fuel. Diesel is much less risky than high octane petrol but its still flammable and explosively so in specific conditions. I have found places to stick the fuel tanks in most of my vehicles which I think minimise the risk, but that would need to be tested and verified should the designs progress.

Mike W – quite a lot of thought went into Stormer 30 – it quite sensibly at the time made maximum use of Stormer components (HVM being recently bought by MOD) which should have given MOD a decent uplift in Scimitar-like recce capability with minimum extra support burden. But MOD were not in a buying mood, probably because an interim buy would have taken the wind out of the TRACER/FRES studies, with consequent loss of funds? As for the similarity between CV-21 and the Stormer hull/CV-90 turret, there has only been one distorted image made public (that I could find), a non-detailed computer image. It looks horribly tall & narrow – unreasonably so – but by stretching the image width the hull & turret show their ancestry very clearly. Its possible BAE started from scratch, but if they did they ended up with a design just like their on-the-shelf products…

DN – I don’t doubt or dispute your personal experiences; I was just pointing out that others who were also there held a view that a good deal of the infrastructure couldn’t cope with big heavy vehicles. As for dropping the side slabs off ASCOD, I doubt anyone will be brave enough to do that for fear of trial by tabloid if someone gets hurt in the reduced protection vehicle. As far as I am aware Warrior is not allowed anywhere hostile without the appliqué slabs on the hull for the same reason. Its like speed limits – the road out of my village has a temporary 40mph speed limit (was 60mph before) which has been in place for something like 20 years now. No-one in the council dares remove the temporary limitation just in case someone is hurt; they fear being held responsible. So speed limits only ever go down.

July 27, 2014 11:53 pm


Why on earth would you suggest a light weight wheeled vehicle like Fennec as an “integral” part of armoured formations based on MBT and IFV (tracked) types. The Fennec is used by the Germans and Dutch for specialist long range Recce units “behind enemy lines”.. One could question our allies doctrine if they believe there is till a concept of. Well defined front line, but regardless the Fennec is protected against. 7.62mm ballistically, and anti-personnel mines – yes anti-personnel ! So, other than being lower and having a roof how is this better than a Jackal 2 fitted with a sensor mast ? It does not meet our current doctrine, which on this thread has been summarized as ” a Brigade Recce Force fighting for information and even undertaking deliberate engagements of the enemy” ?

I think it was Chris who characterized our AO’s in Iraq and Afghanistan as wide open hard packed desert – no frikkin way, that is a gross over simplification. In Iraq the terrain of the Al Faw peninsula which saw the initial assault by the RM, was different than the marshes and water ways of southern Iraq and the sprawling urban conurbation of Basra.

There simply is no single perfect solution people !!!!

On another point, why is the MoD so hidebound with respect to being blind to simple incremental solutions to army requirements ? Or is it the Army brass ??

1. Need to replace CVR(T) / FV43x with something a bit bigger and more modern – go with Stormer
2. Need to replace Stormer with something a bit bigger and more modern – go with Warrior 2000, including turretless command, ambulance etc variants……
3. Need to improve a Warrior 2000 based medium Recce vehicle, add TRACER technologies, replace turret etc…..

Or does this approach really not provide any obvious advantages to a top brass obsessed with gold plating their requirements and making the next quantum leap ?????

July 28, 2014 1:26 pm


“”Reconnaissance troops are an essential element in the gathering of battlefield intelligence. They are trained in the art of information gathering by stealth, both from vehicles and on foot, providing information 24-hours a day to commanders in all weather conditions.

The Scimitar armoured fighting vehicle’s exceptionally low ground pressure and small size make it useful where the terrain is hostile and movement is difficult.

Scimitar carries a 30mm Rarden cannon for self-defence. It is used by reconnaissance regiments of the Royal Armoured Corps and ‘recce’ elements of the armoured infantry.””

I took it of the official website of the British army, it did not talking about undertaking deliberate engagements of the enemy, but self-defence. I don’t know if the doctrine has changed or if I misunderstand ?

July 28, 2014 2:54 pm


You dont missunderstand, but the public web site is not the same as an official, classified doctrine publication, nor the “Army Field Manauls” or aide memoires that come below the Doctrine AP. Yes they are trained to gather information by stealth, from the old CVR(T) Scimitar and not so old Scimitar MK2 and also using the Jackal. RT has spoken on this topic many times.

So, as I said you dont misunderstand anything.

On the other hand, there is a recognition that stealth is not applicable to every situation. In Afghanistan the armoured recce squadron of a Brigade Recce Force, plus other attached elements, have undertaken what might normally be considered as “recce by fire” missions. This is what Monty (i think) alluded to above.

There is no contradiction here. A 36 tonne FRES SV Protected Mobility Recce Support vehicle (or vehicles) can get put dismounts into place to be sneaky and stealthy; this has been the job of dismounted recce teams moved around in Spartan APC’s for a long time. For all those who talk about size of the vehicle, while I acknowledge the point, if a modern FRES SV has the same or lower acoustic and infra-red (and maybe even MMW Radar) signatures as a Spartan, then its slightly “bigger” visual signature is something that will be managed by CONOPS, training, tactics and procedures.

July 28, 2014 3:15 pm

Thank you Jed about your explanation, because the size of the vehicle worried me.

July 28, 2014 3:53 pm

Mr Fred,
The thing about Warrior is that it was designed long before CAD / CAM software became commonly available. This means that inevitable compromises were made in its design. The AVP team tell me that the bulkhead designs in particular are a major concern. Add significant extra weight to any AFV without upgrading the gearbox and you will run into problems. Yes, TES Warriors were upgraded but only 80 vehicles out of 480. Yes, the WCS programme should fix the issues I mentioned. These were identified following an MoD risk assessment of its vulnerabilities following the IED incident you referred to. 

ASCOD 2 is a good design but old technology. An IFV version would be newer than a fully upgraded Warrior, but not fundamentally or significantly better. It would be very easy to develop an improved Warrior if the production equipment still existed. Irrespective of the merits of ASCOD 2 versus Warrior, My beefs with both vehicles are: (1) how deployable they will be? And (2) how relevant will they be?

We certainly need heavy armour: MBTs and tracked IFVs for the rare occasions when set-piece combined arms tactics are required, but we also need a highly flexible medium armour go anywhere, do anything capability. The USA, France and Italy all have highly sophisticated medium armour assets, which they’ve used successfully in combat and with which they’re very pleased. 

It is a complete mystery why we’ve taken so long to get our act together. For these reasons, I would have prioritised UV over SV. 

July 28, 2014 4:57 pm

Hi Monty

Because I am feeling picky ; Stryker MGS weighs in at a mahooosive 18 tonnes accoding to the wiki, how is that “medium” – is that not “light” ? Centauro B1 is a bit more medium at 24 tonnes…..

Isn’t a Warrior with all add on armour removed at least as well protected as a Stryker, and back in “medium” weight bracket ?

July 28, 2014 5:17 pm

Why should lack of CAD/CAM make it inevitable that a design be compromised? Or, to put it another way, why should CAD/CAM guarantee that a design is not compromised?

The fire risk seems to me less of an everyday problem and more of a flaming cherry on top of already catastrophic damage.

As for the US, French and Italian “highly sophisticated” “medium armour”, what would those be?
A Piranha 3 with a set of false glasses and a stuck-on moustache?
An 8×8 that weighs as much as a tracked IFV and fulfils the same role in concert with MBTs?
Another 8×8 wheeled IFV that at least has a gun-armed tank destroyer that can accompany it?

July 28, 2014 6:11 pm

The French army ensures its reconnaissance missions with this.

The Other Chris
July 28, 2014 6:27 pm
July 28, 2014 6:38 pm


Think of our FRES SV family as your equivalent to the AMX10RC/Sagaie and VAB, and the Jackal as the equivalent to your VBL within the recce regiments.

July 28, 2014 7:14 pm

@ The Other Chris,

No, the EBRC will not be the CRAB nor the SPHINX, I think that will be Nexter who will get the design of the EBRC because RTD has already obtained the design of VBMR , all the French defense companies must to have contracts to maintain the expertise in military matters. But in the SCORPION project there are the subprogramme VBAE, light and fast vehicles for reconnaissance and fighter, it will be the substitute of VBL and probably of SAGAIE, and it will be probably the CRAB of PANHARD who gets the contract.

July 28, 2014 7:47 pm


The Stryker family was an attempt to produce what General Shinseki described at the time as an interim solution. In that sense, it was very much a first generation medium armour capability. Though it performed well in Iraq a number of improvements needed to be made and this is gradually pushing up the weight.

The most problematic variant was the M1128 MGS. Adding a double V hull to the MGS has proved problematic. I am not sure that the US Army will admit it, but I tend to think that MGS is a bit of a failure. They would have done much better to buy Centauro 1s. I expect a major redesign or a new vehicle to be acquired. Japan’s new MCV (mounting a 105 mm gun) and Italy’s new Centauro 2 (mounting a 120 mm gun) both have traditional turrets and are closer to 28-tonnes. I think this weight is the new medium armour sweet spot. The same is true for latest generation infantry carrier vehicles such as Boxer, VBCI and AMV.

Mr Fred,

i am not really sure what point you are trying to make, but do keep trying.

July 28, 2014 8:30 pm

I find your definition of medium armour to be inconsistent and badly applied. I think that none of the militaries described have a “highly sophisticated” set of vehicles that can be described as “medium armour” in any kind of stand alone capacity.
The US operates operationally mobile but overloaded light personnel carriers with organic support. The Stryker brigades are arguably the most sophisticated but are hardly medium armour
The French have chosen wheels over tracks for their IFV. That is all.
The Italians… I’m not sure what they have that recommends them other than a somewhat more sensible way of mounting a gun on a SP gun.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 28, 2014 8:33 pm


I was suggesting the use of the Fennec for the integral recce force in our future Armoured and Armoured infantry formations exactly because it is a small wheeled 4×4 with excellent sensors, the ability to get up close quietly and unseen and able to get out of dodge fast. I have never agreed with the US idea of fighting for information etc and their use of M3 Bradley as recce platforms. If we want to do that we might as well send in a force of Challenger 2s and Warriors to give a running comentary up the line. Again it seems we are adopting a doctrine to suit the equipment than the other way around.

Yes the MoD is hidebound to NOT adopting incremental solutions to changing times. That is one of the reasons FRES was such a mess. They tried to leap ahead rather than introduce new platforms that could be upgraded over time. Because to that they have decided on the ASCOD 2 based FRES(SV), but this is barely even an incremental step so thay have gone from one extreme to another.

Yes I agree there is an urgent need to replace a large number of legacy platoforms but my arguement is that between the Warrior ABSV and an 8×8 like the AMV or Boxer these could all be met at save a substantial amount of money both in the aquisition and through life support costs. Is every nation who has moved to a mainly 8×8 based fleet from tracked platforms wrong? They are replacing M113 platofrms with 8×8 for the reasons I have stated above and because they are more mobile in theatre. There is an arguemetn to retain tracked IFVs and we have the ability to convert Warrior to replaces the FV432 and CVR(T) variants in our Armoured Infantry formations, but the Mastiff is a poor choice for the formations. AS I said above I do not like this idea of ACRs, they are a formation invented as a home for FRES (SV) and an additional mechansed battalion in 8×8 would be more useful. If you want a light tank the Brigades have two battalions of Warrior CSPs which can do the same job.

July 28, 2014 8:51 pm


The AMX10RC is not really a reconnaissance vehicle, it is a projectable tank. As we are acting a lot in Africa, LECLERC is not very useful in this region, so we use the AMX10RC like a tank, it weighs 15 tons and 17 tons with its add-on armor. The Sagaie has the same role but for the Mountain Brigade and the Parachute Brigade, it is
lighter with 9 tonnes. The VAB is a APC who weighs 13 tonnes. The VBL weighs 5 tonnes I think.
All this to say that the FRES SV is much bigger than the majority of our vehicles except LECLERC, the FRES UV will be much bigger than our VAB, and the Jackal is very lightly protected compared to our VBL, which is not very big, but there were no serious incidents due to mines or IEDs, although we have many VBL, which are deployed wherever the French army fighting.
If ever there is a very serious conflict, VBL will be used to reconnaissance missions for LECLERCs, the IFV will be our VBCIs of 30 tonnes, and our artillery will be the MLRS. But for now we are confronted only to low intensity conflicts, so our AMX10RC enough.
I don’t want to compare, you have your doctrine.
You will be no doubt effective in a major conflict.
We are efficient in fighting to low intensity, I don’t know if we would be efficient in a major war. But it is possible that the choice of vehicles from the MoD would be maybe ineffective in Africa and similar regions.

July 28, 2014 8:53 pm

I honestly thought that ” personnel carriers with organic support. The Stryker brigades are arguably the most sophisticated but are hardly medium armour” was the meaning of medium armour (presuming that the medium tank is *dead* and that term does not equal medium armour)?

What is the right answer?

July 28, 2014 9:05 pm


You’re confusing size and weight with roles. the FRES SV family will fulfil the same role as both AMX 10 RC/Sagaie and VAB. The Jackal will fulfil the same role as VBL.

Size and weight are irrelevant, if you keep fixating on the dimensions you will not understand the concept, which is not really that much different to yours. After all why did you put 105/90mm guns on your recce vehicles?

July 28, 2014 9:12 pm

For me, where the Styker falls down is the lack of protection. It’s a light vehicle, fundamentally. It doesn’t have the protection to get into a stand-up fight with anything bigger than small arms, nor the firepower to take on anything better protected than soft skins. It can dig in and hold against armour, but then so can infantry, and that’s what it is. Mechanised infantry (UK definition). It’s an infantry battalion with a few self-propelled guns and some vehicle-based ATGW, which is hardly radical.
If you want to claim medium armour, then it had to be an armour formation, not an infantry one, and that, to me, means tanks. Which the MGS isn’t.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 28, 2014 9:13 pm


AMX10RC is not very projectable. It weighs 15 tonnes to start with. It is hardly the start of something useful.

July 28, 2014 9:48 pm

I certainly agree that MGS is not a tank ” that, to me, means tanks. Which the MGS isn’t.”

But we come back to the AFV, tank, IFV…

Let’s say the Stryker “APCs” are replaced by better protected AMVs. And one in 4 has a hefty autocannon. And then you have the same kind of TOW anti-tank thingy as with Strykers (it exists, probably no one’s bought it yet). Or even do what UAE has done, put BMP turrets on some… or if you insist on Western products, a 90 mm Cockerill (with the almost Western Falarick).

Integral AA (I think the only version that is in use is with Roland, but anyway, proves the point). And on the same platform indirect fire support (AMOS/ NEMO) out to 12 km.

… would that count as medium armour?

Mike W
July 28, 2014 9:53 pm

Apparently the UK will send a full battlegroup to Poland for a NATO exercise in October. The purpose of the deployment will be to reassure Eastern European allies in the context of Russia’s conflict with the Ukraine.

It seems that more than 350 vehicles will be sent (armoured and others). Now this is a thread about FRES. The reason I am posting this on here is that this thread is live at the moment and it will also be interesting to see which vehicles are chosen for this deployment. An across-the-range sort of selection, including MBTs, do you think? ( I don’t know how often we exercise in Poland and whether we still send MBTs).

July 29, 2014 12:05 am

Lord Jim – we will have to agree to disagree, which of course is fine ,)

This what UK land forces unclass keystone doctrinal publication ADP Operationd Dec. 2010 has to say about Recce forces;

“Reconnaissance Forces. Reconnaissance forces are combat elements whose primary purpose is to find, in order to gain information on and understanding of adversaries, other human dynamics and the ground. They could be considered in close, medium and long range categories to aid understanding of how and where they could operate. Their
‘find’ missions are usually supported by a range of other assets, for example unmanned aircraft. UK reconnaissance is preferably conducted using stealth, but sometimes fighting for information may be required, particularly when surrounded by potential threats. Given their physical position on the battlefield, these forces can be isolated and at points of decision, so need to be robust, flexible and capable of integrating into or co-ordinating the application of a range of capabilities, including fires and those which are organised as the intelligence support functions.2 Ground reconnaissance forces need to be capable of protected manoeuvre, either using armoured or light vehicles. They are often uniquely equipped and placed to make forensic, informed and timely judgements, communicated directly to the commander, and to exploit fleeting opportunities. These forces’ ‘man on the ground, in the loop’ information should be used with material provided from other sources, but creating technical groups that constrains ‘reconnaissance forces’ freedom of action should be avoided.”

So it does say that the main thrust of the doctrine is stealthy Recce but such formations may have to fight for information. So somewhere in the lower level restricted publications it must tell you how to conduct stealthy Recce in a 36 Tonnes IFV / medium tank ;)

July 29, 2014 3:58 am

@ Mike W

Apparently the battle group will include 20 MBT’s

While stationing a permanent armoured brigade in Eastern Europe is probably outside of our current means it might be interesting to keep a similar sized battle group in Either Poland or the Baltic’s for the time being.

It should be enough to irritate Putin without actually spurring Russian action and should give a decent ability for us to conduct combined arms training with NATO members close to the Russian boarder.

Would be even better if we could get NATO or the local members to pay for basing.

I see the US are pushing for a permanent staging post in Poland so it could possibly be based there to provide additional local defence.

July 29, 2014 6:07 am

Jed, if you look at the proprtion in which we will have the two kinds of cavalry (rgmnts, reserve ones included), yes, but it is only a slight majority vote. RE
” it does say that the main thrust of the doctrine is stealthy Recce but such formations may have to fight for information. So somewhere in the lower level restricted publications it must tell you how to conduct stealthy Recce in a 36 Tonnes IFV / medium tank ;)”

In the multi-bde concept the vote was clearer as each rgmt was to look the same, and were to have 1 heavy sqdrn to every 2 light ones.

July 29, 2014 9:09 am


I’m sorry to have answered beside your question.

If we only talk about the roles of the vehicles, the VBL correspond to the Scout SV, the AMX10RC / Sagaie correspond to the FRES SV with a 120mm gun, the VAB correspond to the FRES UV, and the Jackal correspond to the vehicles used by our Special Forces.

Mike W
July 29, 2014 9:50 am


Thanks for the reply.

“. . . it might be interesting to keep a similar sized battle group in Either Poland or the Baltic’s for the time being.”

I think that that, although a good idea, is less likely to come about than the later idea you mention:

“I see the US are pushing for a permanent staging post in Poland so it could possibly be based there to provide additional local defence.”

I see from the “Telegraph” this morning that Gen. Philip Breedlove, NATO’s top commander in Europe, has stated that he wanted to “transform a military base in Eastern Europe into a staging post stocked with weapons, ammunition and ration packs in case NATO troops had to rush to the area in the event of a crisis.”

As an aside on the decision to send Challengers, it rather gives the lie to the theory, somewhat airily bandied about by certain pundits, that the Main Battle Tank has had its day, doesn’t it? Imagine a similar deterrent effect being created if we announced that we were sending twenty Jackals, or even twenty Mastiffs or FRES UVs (if we ever get’em)!

July 29, 2014 12:30 pm

@ mike w

I’m not sure if many agree the mbt has had its day. Outside of Europe its hard to deploy in numbers but it’s fairly easy in a NATO Europe context to send them in decent numbers.

I would not want to fight the Russians without them in large numbers.

I agree permanent deployment of a battle group won’t happen but only because our PM is a pussy. Thatcher or Blair would have had one their months ago.

July 29, 2014 4:13 pm


I think we still might not be understanding each other, look at the roles the carry out in a recce/cavalry regiment.

Light wheeled recce, France – VBL UK – Jackal

Medium recce, France – AMX10RC/Sagaie UK – FRES SV
(these cover the roles of recce, fire support and flanking protection)

Protected mobility, France – VAB UK – FRES protected mobility reconnaissance support troop carrier

Your vehicles are lighter and wheeled, ours our heavier and tracked.

July 29, 2014 6:50 pm


Yes, you are right, we can not make comparisons because our two armies operate differently, as the German army which use the Fennek as armored reconnaissance vehicle.
I don’t know what to say.

paul g
July 29, 2014 7:17 pm

@ lord jim,
hopefully this link works, if it does you should be looking at image 4 of 10 (I do like image 1 as well). I have no idea what the vehicle is (over to you frenchie) ut it looks low profile, bigger than the fennec, yet smaller than a 8×8 enough space for sensors and crew. and obviously another set of axles for x-country

July 29, 2014 8:03 pm

paul g,
Nope, that link doesn’t work for me – I just get the defence sector front page.

paul g
July 29, 2014 8:10 pm

Aye, if you click the photos on the front page you get 10 photos showing their range of turrets on various vehicles. I’ve done some research and the vehicle I was looking at was the latest version of the French VAB, probably a bit too big for recce the weight has gone up to 20t to get level 4 protection. Add some on for the turret as well, 30mm is same as apache Still looks neat though!!

July 30, 2014 4:41 pm

Paul g,

This is a vehicle for export, it is supposed to do transport troops, infantry fighting, ambulance, reconnaissance (ISTAR), carrying 120 mm mortar, command post, etc….., but it is not in service in the French army and I doubt that would interest the MoD.

paul g
July 30, 2014 6:14 pm

I was fooled by the photograph it looks quite compact in that shot!!! Still a fan of the CMI turret systems though

July 30, 2014 6:37 pm

Here is a short video about the vehicle.

July 31, 2014 9:38 am

Just to bring various threads within this post together, I wanted to provide some kind of definition of medium armour. At the moment, doctrine in this area is evolving and continues to do so every time a new vehicle appears. 

At the moment there is no universally agreed definition of Medium Armour within NATO. It is a concept rather than an absolute set of design parameters. What we can say is that heavy armour tends to be anything that’s too large to be carried by an Airbus A400M. Thus any vehicle weighing more than 30 tonnes, including MBTs and tracked IFVs, will fall into this class. At the other end of the spectrum, light armour tends to be vehicles that can be underslung beneath a Chinook, so includes Light Protected Patrol Vehicles (LPPVs) weighing less than 10 tonnes, such as Foxhound and Jackal. Medium armour will therefore be a vehicle that weighs more than 10 tonnes but less than 30 tonnes. Most 8×8 wheeled APCs / MGSs fit this definition. (MRV-P may well define the minimum acceptable level of protection for light vehicles, but there is no such thing at the moment.)

In terms of role, medium armour vehicles have the mobility of a LPPV, but much better protection. The minimum level now seems to be STANAG Level IV, although the latest composite armour packages can withstand 30mm APDS cannon rounds. This being the case, many 25-tonne 8x8s can provide the same level of protection as Warrior / Scout SV vehicles weigh in excess of 40 tonnes. What slightly muddies the waters is that we’re seeing the increasing use of detachable appliqué armour modules. So a base vehicle that weighs in at 15-16 tonnes unloaded can have a total combat weight in excess of 30 tonnes depending on mission. This is true of tracked vehicles as well as wheeled ones.

Like their tracked equivalents, 8×8 vehicles can also mount cannons, mortars, and larger tank guns. What this means is that an 8×8 unit can fully support or be used in conjunction with traditional tracked armoured formations. The Russians have long since attached BTR-70/80 APCs to tank regiments. Everyone fully accepts that wheeled vehicles lack the ultimate off-road ability of tanks and other tracked vehicles, but even so they still posses impressive cross country credentials. 

This gives us three basic levels of protected vehicle:
– Light armour (Foxhound, Jackal)
– Medium armour (UVW, FRES SV)
– Heavy armour (CR2, Warrior)

The key criteria for evaluating the advantages of each type are as follows:
1. Strategic mobility
2. Tactical flexibility
3. Firepower
4. Logistical footprint
5. Acquisition / maintenance costs
6. Ease of use / training 

The complementary abilities of light wheeled vehicles versus heavy tracked vehicles can be summarised as reliability, speed of response, light protection, and a lack of firepower versus limited mobility, logistical complexity, considerable firepower and excellent protection. Medium armour maximises protection and firepower in a package that still provides speed, mobility and reliability.

Where you have formations of wheeled vehicles mounting cannons and larger guns (typically in a ratio of 3 x APCs to 1 x MGS) in units that are fully networked via BMS and communications systems, there is force multiplier effect that allows an 8×8 regiment to deploy and redeploy over considerable distances that would be be impossible for a tracked unit to cover in the same time. (This was the Stryker Brigade experience in Iraq and the French VBCI experience in Mali – both armies covered vast distances with the average Stryker vehicle travelling something like 20,000 miles over a 12-month period.)

So what we’re seeing, is a new level of both strategic and in-theatre mobility with wheeled vehicles. This is what is changing the nature of warfare. Vehicle configuration is fundamentally about delivering troops to where they are needed and protecting 8x8s APCs from other 8×8 MGSs. 

My concern about FRES SV is that it will be left sitting hundreds of miles away from where it is needed as it simply won’t be able to deploy where it is most needed quickly enough.

July 31, 2014 11:38 am

Monty, I would put the light cap at 20 tons, the CVR(T), AMX-13 and AMX-10s are commonly classed as light tanks, especially the AMX-13 which is classed as a “scout tank”.

Medium I would class as 20-40 tons, which would make many Russian tanks medium tanks (T-54, T-64), while 40 tons+ would run into heavy tank territory (T-72, T-80 etc).

July 31, 2014 12:14 pm


Once again I must call you on strategic mobility versus operational theatre level mobility. Thee is also another element to mobility that overlaps with the protection side of the iron triangle: that is the ability to manouvre In the face of enemy fires.

In some cases speed and cross country performance may mean you don’t get hit. This is a valid measure of mobility, in some circumstances.

On a narrow, rubble strewn street in Fallujah, Barra etc them the ability of an heavy MBT to take some hits, roll over wreckage and rubble etc means that it’s tactical mobility in this scenario is actually greater than light or medium armour.

July 31, 2014 12:59 pm

Monty, great summary, agree with it (jed’s refinement is valid, but we need to agree a language that is operable in our discussions, and what the Russians did before and what they are doing today are quite different… So, if we can first agree the terms for comparing amongst the aliies, get the pro’s and con’s from the – as such – limited experience).

Then we can talk about the world-wide inventories of MBTs in the light of”what else” and also”so what”.

July 31, 2014 3:58 pm


Thanks for that. The weight cap for light armour is interesting. The 20 tonnes you suggest was meant to be the original maximum of the M1126 Stryker 8×8, but that’s very much considered medium armour. Of course, CVR(T) was always light weighing less than 10 tonnes. I wonder if the traditional concept of light tank has now given way to a medium tank? Which explains FRES SV’s 40 tonne lard-arse dimensions.


I think we’re actually on the same page. There seem to be three levels of mobility. Strategic mobility = ability to deploy 700 miles to locality where forces are needed; tactical mobility = ability to redeploy units in theatre to respond to evolving situation, e.g reinforcing a flank; and combat mobility = agility to absorb fire, to wade through rubble, negotiate difficult ground etc. Whatever the definitions, i certainly agree that in some situations tanks or other tracked vehicles will be better than wheels. But to be contribute to the battle, first tracked units have to get there. They are no use at all, if they’re stuck 1,000 miles away.

July 31, 2014 4:43 pm

I think your first one is intra-theatre, as opposed to inter = strategic, in case there are more than one. The only one might still be distant, so getting there (in time) is strategic… Watching from the aisles is not!

July 31, 2014 4:50 pm

There is also the point of “what type of rubble” to consider. If the obstacle is con wire, don’t ever run tracks through it, getting con wire wound up in your drive sprocket is not a good idea while wheels may be fine with it.

Monty, I’m not really sure if the Stryker can be considered “armour” in the sense that the original concept was probably something like motorizing light infantry instead of replacing a mechanized infantry platform (Bradley), which means that it would go to infantry units as the modern “battlefield taxi” instead of being attached to armour units as an IFV. Kent might be able to shed more light on the issue but that is my guess, motorized infantry instead of mechanized.

July 31, 2014 6:17 pm

I wonder who considers the Stryker ‘medium’ armour? The Piranha III, from which the Stryker derives, is also referred to as a LAV III. Light Armoured Vehicle. It’s not really any better protected than what is classically considered light armour.
Going back, into history, the M24 Chaffee was considered a light tank, at 40,500lb (18.4 Tonnes) I think that 20t is a good break point between light and medium, especially in the modern spectrum. The Sherman, at 66,000lbs (30t) was a medium, although the Panther was also classed as a medium at 45t.
Interestingly, using Monty’s original breakpoints, Medium is 10t to 30t, which means that Warrior (base configuration) is a medium while FRES SV is a heavy, so those are subsequently both in the wrong group.

As for protection levels at given weights, I fear that you may be comparing apples with cerulean.

Looking at the mobility bands, I’ve always split it into:
Strategic, for movement between theatres, which usually requires ship, aircraft or rail transportation. High hundreds to thousands of miles
Operational, for movement within theatre, which will be under the vehicles own power. anything from 50-odd miles to several hundred
Tactical, for movement in the face of the enemy, any given move generally under 50 miles

July 31, 2014 6:40 pm

mr fred, agreed, no way would I consider it “medium”, much less “armour”. Armoured perhaps, but not armour. Which was my point that it may have been considered in the wrong light as an armour unit rather than a motorised infantry unit.

July 31, 2014 7:09 pm

mr.fred – unlike many I find it unhelpful to partition armour purely by weight into desirable and undesirable categories. Weight is one aspect of the design that brings a set of consequences but there are many other aspects that might equally be considered. For example take two mythical 18t vehicles, one the size of Stormer, the other the size of ASCOD/FRES. This means the smaller vehicle has hefty armour where the bigger target might stop 7.62 rounds. Does it make sense to classify them the same? A wheeled 25t turreted APC/IFV (e.g. GD’s Piranha at DVD) has very different dynamics and protection characteristics from a 25t tracked IFV (e.g. Warrior) – should they be considered interchangeable because they weigh the same? Surely this is all too simplistic.

I have designed small vehicles that would be classed ‘light armour’ (probably with a sneer of contempt). But their protection is pretty much the same as the much larger ‘medium armour’. Their off-road mobility (by calculation) is much better than the bigger vehicles. Some have better firepower than the bigger vehicles. And yet because they are classed as ‘light armour’ they are dismissed as incapable? To me this makes no sense; it should be the fighting capability that is rated, not how lardy they might be.

All vehicle design is a compromise; there are no perfect vehicles, just better compromises for the task in hand. It can’t be right to dismiss all the carefully considered capabilities by just comparing tonnage.

In my opinion.

July 31, 2014 7:43 pm

Chris, you are right, defining an armoured vehicle is much more complicated than simple weight bands.
If you want to define a capability, you have to look at mobility(all types), payload, firepower, protection and probably a few things I haven’t thought of.

Still and all, if someone says ‘medium weight’ platform then it helps to have a common vocabulary so that everyone knows to what is referred.
Weight is pertinent to mobility as it relates to bridging, roads and strategic transport and there is usually a correlation to armour and payload even if it is imperfect.

July 31, 2014 7:45 pm

Re your comments above re weight v external surface area/volume(interalated) , is the STANG ratings more applicable? After all it is the protection rating that is all important I.e. what it will survive .

July 31, 2014 8:00 pm

The thing to remember about the STANAG 4569 levels is that they were originally drawn up for logistics vehicles, not fighting vehicles. As a result, two vehicles can have the same protection level but one could be far more resilient than the other, one meeting the minimums of the standard while the other uses it as shorthand to describe the threat.

July 31, 2014 8:10 pm

@Mr Fred & Chris
Then don’t the STANG specifications need revisiting to cover the modern variety of threats?
Could it be that the standards and their associated tests are so loose that we buying kit that is not fit for purpose(whatever that is) . By firming up the standards and tests, a buyer needs to rely less on the salesman’s patter and more on it has been sprayed with 30mm APDS (to what standard?) for instance. Or hit with 50kg of focused fertiliser IED.

July 31, 2014 8:15 pm

To me, medium armour has always been a designator for formations, so that when they are ‘counted’ together as a capability, on the lines Monty put forward above , you also get a rough idea of capacity… Throwing in everything else that is relevant, sort of. Like Apaches for flying artillery… Sure you can get them into the theatre, but suppoorting them on-going?

But none of the early foolishness of downgrading turrets from 120 to 105, just to squeeze armour support for”medium armour” to within the weight limit.

July 31, 2014 8:41 pm

As long a STANAG levels are recognised as what they are they can be a useful shorthand that doesn’t unduly identify actual protection levels. Any moderately competent customer will know this and find the real protection level.
A more prescriptive standard may be counter-productive. You do not want potential or actual enemies finding out detailed descriptions of your armour scheme because they will determine counters for it either in strategy or technology.
Salesman patter runs well for the internet pundits. Real customers know better.

July 31, 2014 8:57 pm

@Mr Fred
The ‘real customers’ spend Hundreds of millions talking and buying nothing. The standards are what it will survive similar to NCAP tests ,they don’t give away the detail of the design just set a bench mark ,vehicle X was driven at a 10t concrete block at x m/s and the crash test dummies less than z forces. , Vehicle ‘Wolverine’ survived STANGplus7 for instance. I work in a highly regulated industry ,Very High Voltage electrical engineering which over time has adopted various standards depending on what it is applied to but the detail of the actual design varies greatly from supplier to supplier but ALL passes the same testing regime.

July 31, 2014 9:49 pm

The comparison to NCAP is only valid if roadside barriers adapt to make themselves more lethal on the basis of the published NCAP results.
Likewise if the high voltage standards result in the power companies increasing the voltage to jump a gap previously safe, or otherwise mess around with the supply to bypass the safety precautions. Then the comparison would be valid.
If we all know that vehicle ‘Wolverine’ survived STANAGplus7 then all the opposition, whoever they might be, need do is make sure that they are using a STANAGplus8 threat. As it currently stands, the jump from level to level is quite large.
It is quite easy for a customer to decide that they want a given level of protection and contract for that rather than a STANAG level. Provided that they know the limitations. Real customers may spend large amounts spinning wheels, but that won’t be solely based on protection levels. Even if it is, it’s likely to be the conflict between protection and other requirements that causes the problem.

July 31, 2014 10:33 pm

@Observer, @Monty – From what I understand, being from a higher weight class myself, the Stryker units were envisioned to provide strategic mobility for armor-protected infantry. They were never intended to take on front-line armor units equipped with state of the art tanks and IFVs, rather they were to have enough firepower (in their TOW versions and MGSs) to protect themselves from other light armor and older tanks. (Much like the French forces that rolled into Mali.) With the addition of bar armor for RPG protection they’ve done yeoman service in Iraq with the MGS proving valuable in the direct infantry support role. With the proposed replacement of .50 Cal HMGs and 40mm GMGs with 25-30mm cannon on regular Strykers, the role of the MGS will probably be reduced.

It should be telling that the Stryker brigades have been formed around infantry and cavalry formations. Under the “modular brigade” system now in effect, heavy brigade combined arms battalions are equipped with M1A1/2 Abrams tanks (2 companies) and M2A2/3 Bradley IFVs (2 companies). The brigade reconnaissance squadrons (UK regiments) for the heavy brigades are equipped with 3 troops (UK squadrons) of M3 Bradley CFVs.

August 1, 2014 9:54 am

A little off topic, but as we have been mulling over weights of armour and the compromises that are forced, here is a blast from the past:!album-3-2 What a noise… It helps to illustrate the stealth issues of going large; big (more importantly, heavy) vehicles require a lot of power to shift them, and that power tends to be from a big engine that makes a lot of noise and a lot of smoke. A bit like ships at sea, often its the engine smoke plume that is detected before the vehicle. And in the case of armour, also the noise of the engine.

While the amount of visible smoke puffed out of Chieftain is extreme, through TI the modern crop of heavy armour exhibit equal if not greater plumes of hot carbon particulates. They look like they are on fire. Strangely all that white smoke from Chieftain is almost invisible to TI.

Some wags would probably cite Chieftain as the most stealthy MBT we have ever had, on the grounds that the engine was broken most of the time – silent and smokeless…

August 1, 2014 12:03 pm

One thing you do find with the heavier and better protected vehicles is that while it makes them more difficult to move around, it also means it’s more difficult to move the weapons systems required to take them out around.
That said, if you make your vehicle the size of a tour bus with the protection only against light weapons, you are aiming for the worst of both worlds.

Many make a great deal of “agility” for avoiding attacks, but rarely is this ever well defined. To hear some talk you would almost think that the vehicle can dodge bullets.
The human brain can only take in information at a given rate, the fast your vehicle is going, the less information about any given location along the route you are going to take in. Racing full speed into enemy-held territory is more likely to get you deeper into the ambush before you spot it (if you do at all). Speed is nice to have, but it’s no substitute for armour, particularly in close terrain.

August 1, 2014 12:32 pm

Mr.fred – I sort of agree, although getting to a position to confound the opposition’s plans quickly has a lot of value, and speed in getting away from an ambush might have utility… But equally stealth in approach and a tough hide count. But then the vehicle’s ability to punch hard is important. Hmm. I think what this means is the fighting vehicle needs balanced capabilities; or to be more accurate the deployed vehicle group needs balance – I see no issue in deploying APCs with combat vehicle support rather than a fleet of IFVs; in many respects the former is a better option. In my opinion.

August 1, 2014 12:59 pm

Heh-heh, a good design before its time

“They look like they are on fire. Strangely all that white smoke from Chieftain is almost invisible to TI”
– WP and smoke rounds now leave light carbon fib re flakes behind, which stay up a bit longer… Just for that effect. Someone made an informed comment about red phosphorus being the thing of today, but that was another thread (and I didn’t understand it anyway))

RE. “”
Many make a great deal of “agility” for avoiding attacks”
Again ,I don’t think that is it the vehicles properties alone. Israeli “lessons learnt” from Lebanon: keep moving, use smoke… Don’t think of yourself as an SPG”
– avoiding attack is difficult,avoiding being hit is more realistic…and more important, too

August 1, 2014 9:11 pm

I wonder how long it will be before someone discovers a chronic respiratory condition associated with that carbon fibre, and it becomes a political football like Depleted Uranium.

On the subject of smoke, at the moment only the Israelis have a smoke mortar fitted to any vehicle. It seems like a useful device, doesn’t take up much in the way of room, can be used to put HE down, or illum up as well as smoke.- something to think about for future vehicles? Instead of or as well as the batteries of single-shot smoke launch.

August 1, 2014 9:54 pm

@mr.fred – Instead of smoke grenades, try HE/FRAG grenades for the launchers. Need some way to keep the accompanying infantry from getting “smoked,” but it might make urban warfare more interesting.

August 1, 2014 11:29 pm

Kent, we actually had a concept discussion here on TD a while back about the utility of replacing one of the co-ax MGs for an AGL/GMG for tanks.

August 2, 2014 12:04 am

Certainly HE/FRAG grenades in the smoke launchers exist. I think that there might even be less-lethal ones as well. What it won’t do is screen your tank from distant targeting systems.
One problem of single-shot fixed smoke launchers is that it kind of draws attention and signals where your AFV is (for a brief while anyway). With a smoke mortar you can start playing around with where you put smoke, screening future moves or plotting distraction moves away from where you are really going. Shouldn’t be too difficult to sync it into the fire control systems so you can put the rounds wherever you like. Plus the single shot launchers are kind of… single shot – you don’t get a second volley without getting out to reload them, or having multiple banks of them.
That might be something that the future may hold – smokes and anti-munition munitions in multiple banks and at least partially automated.

August 2, 2014 6:43 am

Mr.fred – ref “the single shot [smoke] launchers are kind of… single shot – you don’t get a second volley without getting out to reload them, or having multiple banks of them” – aha! That explains the fitting of two 4-pot launchers each side of ASCOD/FRES-SV turret then. There’s me thinking it was just because of the size of the vehicle that it needed 8 smokes to conceal it…

August 2, 2014 7:46 pm

I suppose that it depends how much arc you want covered, but in theory you should be able to fire one tube at a time, though looking at the angles on the tubes it’s more likely to be in groups of four as an absolute minimum, and most turrets orient the launchers left and right of arc.

August 5, 2014 2:22 pm

Sloped over to the Tank Museum yesterday to see what they would do with WW1 commemorations. One or two interesting bits but you have to lay blame where its due – why did Mr Asquith declare war in the school holidays? Packed roads and traffic jams all the way there, museum heaving with holiday makers many of whom didn’t seem happy to be there (tanks are not very girlie it seems), and packed roads and traffic jams all the way home. The poppy-loaded mortar was impressive though.

But. Back on thread. One of the vehicles they chose to parade was Saladin; the more I look at wheeled turreted armour the more this design impresses. Its compact, it has fine mobility, its very quiet, it has what was a large bore gun at the time, and was a good armour solution in its day. It was followed in their display by early 25t Warrior which boomed and clattered around their arena. Quite the contrast.

In terms of new wheeled armour with turrets, apart from my designs (obviously) the one that seems to best live up to the Saladin example is Panhard’s Sphinx. All the others look far too tall to me; high CofG and tall tyres and narrow wheel-centre track will make for a lot of roll on corners. Best MOD keeps the name ‘Lurcher’ ready if it wants to buy one of the tall wheeled turreted 8x8s.

August 8, 2014 7:01 pm

Looking at the Australian armoured competition, I do like the Iveco Super AV with the 30mm Hitfist turret. Would be great for the Royal Marines & what General Patton called “open field running”.