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.
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)
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
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
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.
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
- It stuck to the basic theme that much of the threat in Afghanistan was not possible to predict, clearly, utterly and completely nonsensical
- It completely ignored the doctrinal confusion and changing military ‘fashion’ that resulted in MRAV and TRACER cancellation
- 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.
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
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.
VBCI was already in Afghanistan by this point, both vehicles rejected by the MoD in the FRES UV Trials of Truth
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.
The rest of the series
As one might imagine, this series has taken an enormous amount of research, taking into account many sources but I must give special mention to our Chris and Challenger2 from Plain Military, without their expansive knowledge and most helpful insight and support, this would have been much the poorer.