The Strike Brigade – what, why, how?

A GUEST POST FROM JED

It appears to this humble arm chair general, that the British Army has a fundamental problem, or three.

After over a decade of constant deployment and action in a counter-insurgency role, there appears to be a resurgent interest in “high intensity” operations against so called peer level adversaries, perhaps fueled by Mr Putin’s Russia making it’s forays into Georgia, and Crimea and the eastern part of Ukraine. I don’t want to argue geopolitics, but the world wide threat assessment is what drives our governmental security policy, which in turn shapes the missions of our armed forces, which of course drives their size and shape, and their equipment procurement.

I would also suggest that Government after Government, of whatever political stripe eschews any grand strategy in favour of short termism and that in causes great problems for the armed forces. This shows itself in strategy and concepts of operations which although dressed up in flowery political language often appear to be budget driven. Hence, review after review we have man power cuts and capability cuts (oh, sorry “capability holidays” !). Yet even the army senior leadership seems to think we retain a broad and well rounded army capable of as many missions as the politicians can dream up. While I am sure it is very, very difficult as a serving head of the Army to tell the PM of the day that they are insane, that does not at the same time absolve the senior generals from coming up with their own not well thought out concepts !

Which brings us to the matter in question – the Strike Brigade. This beast seems to be vexing many an arm chair general, so I thought I would give TD my thoughts on the subject and let you all way lyrical in the comments section.

Future Force 2020

The last great plan, which actually seemed quite sensible and workable to me, from the outside looking in basically split the forces available by role, “weight” and availability criteria:

  • Immediate Reaction forces – the very high readiness elements of the Royal Marines and the Para’s / 16 Air Assault Brigade.
  • The Reaction Force – 3 Armoured Infantry Brigades with 5 maneuver units (Armoured Recce, Armoured (MBT), 2 x Armoured Infantry (Warrior), 1 x Mechanised Infantry (Mastiff)
  • The Adaptable Force – Infantry and light recce units that could be pulled together to form not less than 2 deployable brigades of 4 maneuver units (1 recce, 3 infantry)
  • Force Troops – Artillery, Engineer, Signals and logistics units brought together / deployed as required to support the deployable brigades.

Basically instead of the previous plan for 5 identical deployable brigades, this plan cut the cloth to meet the budget and yet still produced 5 brigades for rotation through an enduring deployment. While maybe not perfect, personally I thought this was a “good enough” and in many ways quite sensible structure. With UOR procured vehicles taken into the core fleet, the final appearance of the Ajax family of vehicles, Warrior upgrade progamme etc. it actually seemed a balanced plan that could provide a force not just for long term peace keeping / peace enforcement / COIN tasking, but also a heavier force for NATO or coalition ops against a peer / near peer enemy.

Not that there were not problems, Challenger 2 upgrade needed funding, the cuts in the Royal Corps of Signals (my beloved Corps) seemed to be impacting on the number of HQ’s that could be supported in the field, and similarly the Royal Artillery seemed to be in a somewhat parlous state with cuts to the AS90 fleet and reliance on towed light guns etc.

Fast forward to the latest and greatest of the so called strategic reviews, and we get a new force structure before we are anywhere near achieving the last one. This time we aspire to provide a division for a high intensity fight, and as part of the force structure we are bringing back the idea of an 8 x 8 wheeled armoured vehicle last seen as FRES UV and now known as the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV). It would appear from comments made that we would aim to pull together a division based on:

  • An Armoured Infantry Brigade (one of two)
  • A Strike Brigade (one of two)
  • A (Protected Mobility) Infantry Brigade (one of two ?)

The Strike Brigade – what is it, what is it for ?

As part of the newly minted force structure it appears that the Armoured Infantry brigades would be cut to 2, while 2 new formations based on the MIV would be created. These would be known as Strike Brigades, a somewhat obvious homage to the U.S. Army’s “medium” Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) aka the Stryker Brigades, named after their ride the GD Stryker 8 x 8 evolution of the LAV .

The Chief of the General Staff, Sir Nick Carter did not provide a great deal of detail as to the size and shape of the Strike Brigade, nor the impact of it’s creation on other formations. Discussion ensued and details started to appear, for example although the number of tracked FRES Scout (Ajax family) would not be increased, they would now be spread across four brigades instead of three. Also the role of the MIV became somewhat more clear as the MOD / Army stated they would be looking at an off the shelf 8 x 8 APC.

So what do we think is the concept of operations behind a Strike Brigade?

Well in many respects we are just jumping on a band wagon that many (if not all ?) of our allies jumped on some years ago. After the Russians zoomed into Kosovo in a long and fast road march in wheeled BTR type vehicles, the theatre-strategic mobility of wheeled armour seemed to grab western army imaginations. The French and Italians did not need to be sold on the concept, they had been using wheeled light armoured vehicles alongside their tanks for decade. The French particularly have a long history of the use wheeled armoured cars and APC’s in 40 years of colonial and anti-terrorist operations, largely in Africa. Stryker brigades made some long range and high speed movements across Iraq’s road network that also impressed U.S. Army leadership.

There is absolutely nothing wrong with this concept of a wheeled armoured force, who’s main advantage is theatre-strategic mobility, the so called ability to self deploy. In the self defence of continental European NATO, the ability to use an extensive road network offering many different routes from A to B, mostly (?) under a secure air defence umbrella to enable speed of movement seems like a worthwhile objective. For our larger European allies, this may even mean rapid deployment within their own borders. For light to medium weight armoured vehicles, the advantage over heavy armour which needs to be deployed via wheeled heavy transport vehicles (tank transporters) or by rail, is one of getting into action at the point where it is needed more rapidly.

In a rather more British expeditionary scenario, theatre-strategic mobility could still be of great utility even if the purely strategic transport function for both heavy tracked or wheeled medium weight armoured vehicles as both would likely be deployed by sea; however the ability to move swiftly from the point of debarkation to the area of need, remains and advantage.

So if the concept of wheeled medium armoured formations is sound, why do so many of us seem to think the British Strike Brigades appear to be an unmitigated dollop of fudge dressed up with some out of date whipped cream ?

Where exactly is the Strike in the Strike Brigade ?

As far as we know it would appear that a Strike Brigade will consist of:

  • Medium Armoured Regiment – Ajax
  • 2 Mechanised Infantry Battalions – MIV 8 x 8 APC
  • 1 Protected Mobility Infantry Battalion – Mastiff

If we thin out the Ajax numbers on order, including the 245 Ajax Scout with the 40mm CTA to equip 4 regiments (one each for the 2 remaining armoured infantry brigades and the new Strike brigades) that could give us a “type 56” Ajax regiment, echoing the format of a Challenger 2 regiment, but this would appear to be sole fire power of a Strike Brigade. Let’s be clear, the army has said it might be looking for 300 to 350 MIV, and that they will be APC’s so expect an armament of at most a dual weapon RWS. There has been no mention of an Anti-Armour Ajax variant as yet, although we have seen one displayed with an un-armoured Javelin clipped on to the Protector RWS. So it would appear, that to provide some hitting power we would need to deploy AS90 155mm howitzers, which are “heavy” and tracked. For long range hitting power with GMLRS rockets, we would need the M270 launcher vehicles, which are heavy and tracked….. So we can see where the standard British fudgery is coming into play here, right ?

Basically it appears that after decades of throwing good money after bad on FRES, if we are going to buy a certain number, which really is not that large, and obviously is no where near as large as originally envisioned, we would look stupid if we cut them to buy something else. So lets eek out the ones we have got to include these weird Strike Brigades, just to give them something with a turret and a gun. Do we even have enough tank transport type vehicles to deploy the Ajax equipped regiment, a couple of batteries of AS90 and a battery of M270 plus some engineering vehicles and plant on a fast road march across Europe to rapidly reinforce a threatened ally ?

Do we think the rail links, offering less alternative routes, could be secured against action by saboteurs / terrorists?

Personally I find it hard to believe our current army senior leadership does not see the issues with the wheeled medium / tacked medium to heavy mix. There was talk recently at DVD 2016 reported by various military media outlets that the Royal Artillery would like to find money for various firepower projects, included wheeled 155mm guns, specifically to match the theatre-strategic mobility requirements of the Strike Brigade. However, money is going to be a problem, as ever. So the cynic in me wonders if the Strike Brigade is just PR smoke and mirrors to disguise cuts to the armoured force, and the budgets allocated to upgrades. If we have only 2 armoured infantry brigades we need less Challenger 2’s and less Warriors upgraded, in fact we might need to cut the money from these programs just afford the MIV APC’s !!

Doom and gloom

So the current prognosis seems to be a poor one:  Less tanks, less AIFV, and mixed tracked / wheeled brigade that negates the advantages of a wheeled only formation, and with very little combat power. There are alternatives though, many of which might not actually need additional investment.  So let us investigate some alternative options, what we could do with a little extra money, or even better perhaps with none at all ?

Option 1 – Full on wheeled

If we are going to reduce the number of Challenger 2 and Warrior to be upgraded, could we afford to make the Strike Brigade all wheeled? How might this work? Well if we keep all the 32 – 40 tonne Ajax family vehicles in the Armoured Infantry brigades, and spread them, say 16 each into the Armoured Infantry battalions (8 in a Recce Platoon, 8 in a direct fire support platoon) then go with an upgraded Warrior which is a turretless “heavy” APC with a 40mm GMG / 7.62mm MG only, we reduce the firepower of the heaviest formations, but we use the investment to upgrade the Striker Brigades.

How ?

Well at DVD 2016 Lockheed displayed the export version of their Warrior turret on a Patria AMV. The Export version even packs an armoured box launcher for a Javelin. So take the Warrior turrets contracted for, and apply them to a suitable 8 x 8. If we can find a MIV cheap enough, perhaps we can buy enough for 2 wheeled medium armour recce regiments (so upping the total requirement to 6 battalions worth).

patria-warrior-turret

It would appear that VBCI2, Piranha 5 etc can carry 6 dismounts with a turret basket protruding into the main compartment. So putting your guns into the recce regiment MIV’s, the infantry battalion recce and AT platoons, and running the “standard” MIV as an APC with the RWS, at least gives a fully wheeled formation with a fair number of medium calibre auto-cannon and if we could afford the export version of the turret, a Javelin “up and ready”.

 

An 81mm mortar carrier, firing through open roof hatches would be better than nothing, and for harder hitting artillery the French CEASAR 6 x 6 155mm gun on a MAN armoured cab chassis is probably the cheapest option, although the Donar 155mm turret on the Boxer chassis remains an interesting option.

Boxer with 155mm gun

A long term affordability plus that might help fund the extra MIV would be enough Warrior ABSV conversions to finally get rid of all the remaining FV432 variants, that must a considerable drain on maintenance budgets. Finally if money were no object then I would see if our preferred MIV could take a CMI turret and deploy a 120mm gun as the anti-tank over-watch vehicle, rather than a missile system. Call them anti-tank guns, put them in the AT platoon of infantry battalions and hope against hope that this means politicians wont deploy them as “tanks” !!

In the end, could we afford to go fully wheeled by shuffling the existing budgets around ?

Option 2  – Go French (or “low end of medium weight”)

After a decade of tests, experiments and deliberations (sounds familiar eh?) the French have finally ramped up their Scorpion project to revamp their entire Army. There structure is somewhat like that for which we are aiming – light rapid intervention brigades (Marines and Paras), heavy brigades based on Leclerc MBT and VBCI 8 x 8 AIFV, and medium “mechanised” brigades which will benefit most from the new vehicles. The scale of the French programme leads me to believe that if we jumped in now, there could be considerable advantage in price to getting involved as a joint program.

The French are to replace their venerable 4 x4 VAB with the 6 x 6 VBMR “Griffon” 20 tonne APC with a crew of 2 and carrying an 8 man squad. With over a 1,700 required, with all the variants the British Army could ever require already designed / developed including mortar carrier, Command vehicle, ambulance, engineer and recovery vehicle, could we work with this solution? A boxy 6 x 6 APC might not seem as sexy as an 8 x 8, but as we only intend to run the said 8 x 8 as a lightly armed APC, are the French on to something we have missed ? Don’t forget the French run their VBCI with a 25mm gun equipped turret as their main AIFV alongside their MBT’s.

The other requirement is for 600 plus 6 x 6 EBRC “Jaguar” armoured recce vehicle.

images-GRIFFON__JAGUAR

A 25 tonne specialist recce vehicle with the Anglo-French 40mm CTA cannon and the new MMP missile, it seems to me that equipping 2 x armoured recce regiments, and the recce and AT platoons of the Griffon equipped battalions would give a “French Style” Strike brigades some teeth. Of course the artillery would remain French too, with either the original manually loaded CEASAR 6 x 6 or perhaps the new CESAR 8 x 8 with it’s auto-loader and higher capacity magazine, on a MAN armoured cab chassis.

Option 3 – Go American (or “light weight”)

Ahhh I bet you thought I was going to say go with the new Stryker Double V-Hull as the MIV. Wrong.

Apparently we are very interested in the Oshkosh L-ATV (JLTV) as the light end of our Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected) requirement, again largely due to the price being driven by the massive scale at which the U.S. will purchase these vehicles. What does this have to do with the Strike Brigades ? Well perhaps they could “go light” in that the heavy end of MRV-P could also be a MIV ? The L-ATV as a 7 tonne, 4 to 5 crew vehicle, capable of carrying RWS or weapons stations with M230 30mm medium velocity cannon (used on our Apaches) or a Moog reconfigurable weapons platform that can take 2 Javelin in protected launchers for example could equip the recce regiment.

jltv-m230lf

It’s bigger brother the M-ATV which is available in long wheelbase 4 x 4 APC (up to 11 seats) at a 16 tonne curb weight,  or 6 x 6 APC (up to15 seats) with a 19 tonne curb weight; and in many existing available variants such as command and ambulance vehicles might provide a vehicle which maybe at the low end of a MIV specification sheet, but eminently affordable. If you take the TAK4i suspension and the improved engine of the L-ATV and add it to the M-ATV, the mobility might not be all that much less than an8 x 8, which would really seem to be the real concern. The M-ATV was churned out by Oshkosh at  1,000 vehicles a month at its peak !

In massive use with the U.S Army and Marines, this could turn out to be the cheapest option, even if it seems a bit “lower spec” than an 8 x 8 like a Patria AMV, Boxer or a GD Piranha 5, it can for example still be fitted with an active protection system, as well as providing basic protection from small arms / medium MG fire and artillery frag.

Option 4 – Just don’t do it !

Keep the existing 3 armoured infantry brigades as they are! If there is a need to politically save face, then rename them as strike brigades and replace the Mastiff ride for the Mechanised infantry battalion with a lower number of the cheapest 8 x 8 you can find. With this option we keep one third more Chally 2 in the front line inventory, and we make up a little for reducing the upgraded Warrior to 6 dismounts (or Panzer Grenadier’s as I like to call them) by providing an 8 x 8 APC which can carry 8.

We can still build a division around one of these brigades, plus an Adaptable Force “Protected Mobility” infantry brigade, and we can add an allied brigade, say Danish or Dutch or Norwegian to provide more AIFV. Sure it still might be better to replace at least some AS90 with 52 calibre 155mm guns with say a CEASAR 8 x 8, and even the remaining 105mm LG with the manually crew served CESAR 6 x 6 for support less than divisional level deployments based around the Adaptable Force Protected Mobility battalions.  Yes we would deny ourselves of the wheeled armoured high theatre-strategic mobility option for future operations, but plenty of our allies can provide this capability, while we can concentrate on backing them up with heavier tracked forces. Perhaps we would actually need to keep one of the Armoured Infantry brigades in Germany, or even Poland, to demonstrate our commitment and reducing the potential distance to deploy to continental European hot spots – ok lets face it, the Baltics……

Go big or go……..

Before I complete my rant thinly disguised as an essay; I would like to note there is a further variant of Option 1 – lets call it “1 Heavy”;

If we were to reduce Armoured Infantry brigades to 2, why not make them Armoured Brigades ? Get rid of the Mastiff based mechanised infantry battalion and convert an armoured recce regiment to Challenger 2. So the Armoured Brigades would be 2 Chally regiments, and 2 Warrior Regiments with the Ajax recce regiment. With 2 regiments of tanks, and lots of Ajax spread around the Warrior’s would definitely just be in the APC role with no turreted medium calibre cannon. We have enough Challengers to upgrade, and as the rest of our formations are very definitely infantry heavy, and not all 4 regiments would be online and at high readiness, does it not make sense to increase tank numbers, not reduce them ?

Summary

We have not heard much officially about the Strike Brigades, how they will be equipped or setup, or doctrinally how they might be used. In my opinion they are a typical massive fudge and pretty much good for nothing as the plans now stand. I will happily be proved to be an idiot arm chair general by the Army’s senior leadership, but I am fairly confident that won’t happen. My preferred option from those I outlined above is to stay with the last plan, retain the FF2020 orbat, and if someone feels they need to save face then buy 200 8 x 8 APC’s to replace the Mastiff and just rename the existing brigades as strike brigades, then the government could even say they have created 3 of them instead of the originally mentioned 2 !

So, what do you think ?

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197 Comments on "The Strike Brigade – what, why, how?"

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paul g

just as an aside you mention the CMI with 120mm as overwatch instead of ATGW. The CMI turret/gun system has the capability to fire the falerick ATGW missile in 105mm or 120mm flavour through the barrel ie under armour, thought this might add weight to your point

Don

Interesting article . Raises lots of valid points . Trying to plan for lots of different senarios is a headache!
And SODS law you end up with the wrong forces in place for the job that you need .
Flexibility is key .

El Bossman, muchas gracias for posting so quickly and for adding some pics ! Much appreciated.

PaulG – I dont see British Army ever deploying Falarick as its a Ukrainian design, maybe we could stretch the original Israeli LAHAT (as with Exactor we have a precedent). Actually my point was that with hard and soft kill active countermeasures being touted as increasing effective against ATGM live our Javelin, perhaps it would be better to go high velocity, kinetic and unguided – or at least have a decent mix of both.

Thomas

1 Heavy would be the best option. Todays Western TM Armies are to light, near useless in peer warfare and also in hybrid warfare. There are more than enough light/medium/stryker/wheeled APC Brigades in Europe / NATO Forces, so Britain should go a different way for his sake and the sake of us all.

paul g

@jed just mentioned it as the firing systems already in the turret a case of “fitted for” !!!

Pacman27

Given our bases in mainland Europe are fast receding we need to look at how we best serve our NATO allies and ourselves and I believe the best option is from a mixed force of 4 Divisions each having an elite, heavy and mechanised (x2) brigade structure supported by a much stronger air force providing key assets such as Apache’s, Typhoon and F35.

Our force by definition needs to become expeditionary in focus and should try to emulate the USMC/IDF in both size, budget and capability. I think the Russians have demonstrated the ongoing capability of artillery and lessons should be learned on this front, but again unless we can deploy quickly and effectively we should concentrate on other platforms.

Personally, I would prefer more Apache’s and less tanks mainly due to the amount of value we seem to extract from the former, but do accept Tanks are useful in the right circumstances.

Ultimately we need to look at how best we protect our shores and add value to NATO through reinforcement, it is unlikely that we will ever again have the manpower to add an immediate ground force punch to a European theatre so the question is how do we add a significant force that would stop the tide of assault and provide breathing space to our allies or ourselves in order to structure a more sophisticated response.

On a more pragmatic note, 4 divisons will allow an ordered rotation of 16 brigades through a 4 year cycle of 3 month brigade deployments and should in essence be self sufficient, each can have an elite Brigade (3 x RM, 1 Para), 1 Heavy Armour and 2 mechanised brigades.

A division would be at Immediate readiness with each of the other Divs cycling their brigades through high readiness across the four year cycle. This would provide a division always at immediate readiness and 3 Brigades high readiness at a minimum.

This can be achieved out of the current force structure with the addition of the Royal Marines into the equation, but realistically we need an army of 100k to really achieve sustainable operations.

Tenor

Just so you are aware, the French are acquiring only 248 Jaguars, not “600 plus”.

Tenor – yes only 248 Jaguar and 700 plus Griffon on order so far, but I was careful to say “requirement” :-) whether they manage to buy all the ones they want is a different matter eh ?

Paceman – I wast trying to take a pragmatic approach, arguing for 100k regulars and 4 divisions is not in my opinion realistic given HMG’s budgetary priorities. By the way I find it a bit odd that you talk about expeditionary and then mention the IDF – the Israeli’s are about the most un-expeditionary army you could meet, being set up to protect their homeland. The USMC on the other hand is really an infantry force with very few tanks left and AAV’s and LAV’s the same age as their crews fathers or grandfathers.

Cynical175

I loved the first part. The British are fighting peer level adversaries.

Have the Brits now elevated the Afghans. Libyan’s, Iraqis and some tribes in Africa now peer level adversaries?

airmechassault

I think you should bear in mind that stryker was only a back up plan for FICV, who’s initially planned to be able to deplaoyed to anywhere via C-130.

Pacman27

@JedPc

If you add the Royal Marines into land forces you are already upto to 90k personnel which leaves 10k to find. As for the references to the IDF and USMC the main point was that they are integrated forces with leaner command structures and both seem to have a lot more capability for far less money than UK forces seem able to generate.

Unfortunately I think the HMG budgetary situation is mostly self inflicted as we can spend money on plenty of other things, it is simply a choice. Surely these decisions should be made on national security first and find the budget to make it happen.

Recruitment and retention is a real problem across all the forces, part of this I believe is down to undermanning leading to over deployment.

The key question is actually what is the role of our military once we withdraw from our bases in mainland Europe, tanks in Canada are great but hardly useful if we need to protect ourselves. I therefore think about our expeditionary forces and re-inforcement.

A good read.

The strike brigades could be great if they are properly resources, but in increasingly looks like they will be a bodge that’s being dressed up.

If that’s the case its better to scrap the plan and invest in heavy Armour in Poland and double the Marines.

A well funded fully wheeled AMV brigade with;
3x Infantry Bns
1x Cavalry Regt. with 40 mm cannon
1x Artillery Regt. with 120 mm mortar
Would be a valuable force, but that wont happen, instead we will have a bodge job.

MikeKiloPapa

@Pacman27

RE: Apache’s vs tanks…….While the utility of the former in low intensity conflict against goat-herders is unquestionable …..their value against a competent well equipped enemy very much isn’t.

If you look at the overall combat record of attack helicopters in general it is a decidedly mixed bag…..the Russians in particular have suffered significant losses of helicopters from Afghanistan to the Ukraine , and even the mighty Apache got shredded in Iraq.

With the proliferation of advanced fire control systems and programmable air-burst munitions in modern AFVs in addition to the threat of MANPADS and SHORAD systems , i’m not at all convinced that manned attack helicopters have a place on the modern conventional battlefield.

@Cynical – not my fantasy, stated policy to move from a COIN focus to “high intensity contingency operations”.

@ArmChairMech – yes Stryker was supposed to be interim but medium weight wheeled armour was not, it was part of Gen. Shinsecki force design

@pacman I understand your point but relatively the USMC is rich and well off and the IDF will always be well funded as its a matter of national survival. So realistically it does not appear that HMG is going change its spending priorities any time soon !

@sharkbait yes that would be highly fit for purpose if we could afford it, but…..

@Thomas yes I think I agree !

zak

Why not go with a structure similar to the Australian Beersheba brigades?

Frenchie

This topic is very interesting, in fact the plans of the French army correspond to options 1, 2 and 3.

We have two armored brigades equipped with 200 tanks Leclerc, 600 VBCI as IFV, and in the near future 32 Caesar 8X8, there will be no regiment equipped with Griffons troop transport, the Griffons will just be used as ambulances, command posts, artillery observation and mortar carrier.

We have two median brigades, which will be equipped with Caesar 6X6, Griffons in all their variants, particularly troop transport, and Jaguar will be used as a light tank.
The British make a mistake when they think that the Jaguar is a reconnaissance vehicle, the reconnaissance vehicle in the French army is the VBL, in all brigades.

Then there are the two light brigades, which will be equipped with light Griffons weighing about 13 tonnes, without doubts the ACMAT Bastion HM, and Caesar 6X6. There is an uncertainty regarding the vehicle that will replace the ERC-90 Sagaie.

So I think that the Strike Brigade will be the equivalent of our median brigades, equipped with MIV, and the paratroopers will be no doubt equipped with the American Oshkosh.

Simon

If the CT40 actually works and gets fitted to Warrior then surely the VBCI2 is the low-risk, medium, wheeled solution?

…if we need “medium” at all ;-)

Simon

MKP,

Re: Apache.

Maybe. Although with Reaper/Protector doing target designation and simply using Hellfire on Apache as its own, it’s a different game. We just need to protect the UAV… Do we have SAMP-T? No? How unfortunate! Jet Another Capability Gap!

The best way through the Russian SAM and MLRS batteries is with lots of cheap accurate weapons. So whilst we dick around with Spear3 and ultimately realise it’s too expensive and just use SDB2, we may as well use up the Hellfire stocks from closer range.

Frenchie

@Simon,
I am more in favor of the Patria, it exist in all variants, is better. This is not to say that the VBCI2 is not a good vehicle, but it is not expected to make a mortar carrier or host a turret with a 120 mm gun.

Simon

Frenchie,

I thought you chaps were integrating CT40 onto it?

Pacman27

@JedPC The USMC is an audited force and the capability/value for money is simply incredible. I am not against a balanced force and see Tanks as part of that as they are pretty inexpensive overall, but we need to use these things when required and in OP Herrick my understanding is that although challengers were requested that those requests were not approved.. so put simply if we are not going to use an asset then whats the point in buying it.

Having said the above I think the Army should have a balanced force where everyone is deployable on rotation and has really good equipment. some of the smaller countries like Denmark are really putting us to shame I am afraid and it is difficult to see where we are actually spending £40bn p.a on defence.

Frenchie

Yes Simon, excuse me for not having answered immediately. Indeed the VBCI-2 is equipped with the T40 turret, which is equipped with the CTA International 40mm gun and two anti-tank missile launchers positioned on either side of the turret. These launchers will be armed by MMP. The gun of 40mm is sufficient to treat most of infantry fighting vehicles or armored personnel carriers and even old tanks and anti-tank missiles used to destroy heavy vehicles.

Mark

Fres and strike brigades are the symptoms of a two decades old issue since the end of the Cold War the army has been trying to decide what exactly it is for. Is it a force for armoured warfare, is it a force for peacekeeping, civil emergency or for fighting insurgents, I don’t think it really knows and as a result coupled with events we’ve seen a confused procurement strategy.

Large numbers are simply not realistic. To that end the pretence of heavy armour formations seems like a waste of time as critical mass is unachievable.

A high tech more specialist force seems appropriate for the uk.

Daniel Robertson

I’d suggest the following, just dump the Challenger II.

I’d question the uniqueness of the 120mm direct fire, in terms of armour piercing and unstoppability it could be replaced with a high velocity missile the size of a TOW using Starstreak guidance.

The launcher would be relatively cheap and widely distributed on vehicles and dismounts so far more likely to encounter an enemy tank.

HE via laser/GPS guided motor, ATGM, Anti structure munition, guided grenades.

I’d also suggest investment into APS, missile launch detection and ATGM soft kill would be a better investment than MBT. That and more Excator.

mr.fred

Jed,

It’s pretty clear that you don’t like the Warrior fitted with a cannon turret. Any reason why?

Frenchie – thank you for the detail on French force structure !

Frenchie snd Simon – I have no problem with turreted VBCI 2 if we could afford it, but….

Mr.Fred – I have no problem with 40mm CTA armed Warrior either, I am simply playing devils advocate as to where the investment should go. Although to be honest I do have a wee problem with the AIFV / MICV concept, If you have enough tanks why does your infantry carrier need a medium caliber cannon ? The PanzerGrenadiers are there to keep enemy infantry from mauling your tanks with RPG and ATGM, so why wouldn’t their ride carry GMG with air bursting grenades and a MG ? If you have to use them “detached” that is why I advocate Recife platoon and AT platoon carry the gun.

By the way if there is one weapon system we should dig out and finance its FN’s BRG 15.5 mm HMG from the mid 80’s – designed to outrage and over match the Soviet 14.5mm it is the ideal weapon for RWS to kill technicals with 14.5’s and could pierce most APA armour at 1km !!

Mark – what I exsctly is a highly tech specialist force as you envisage it ???

Zak – ?????????

Observer

jed, I won’t call a medium calibre on an IFV a bad idea, it has a lot of flexibility, being able to handle medium weight vehicles as well as taking out fortifications that are holding up an infantry advance.

As for “if we have enough tanks”, it’s never “enough”, the ratio of APC/IFV to MBT can be along the lines of 2-3:1 depending on the type of brigade you’re putting together. Think the Americans split it into something like Armoured Cav or Armoured Regiment depending on the difference in ratios. It helps a lot if the IFVs can contribute something to their own defence. Adding 30-60% more potential threats to the enemy’s threat assessment helps a lot.

As for the arguments that it would make APCs a target, that is in theory. In practice, I know tankers often simply shoot whatever comes into their sights first, APC or MBT, especially since an APC is also classified and assessed as a military target.

The biggest argument against it is actually Mr Fred’s point that it reduces the amount of personnel the vehicle can carry and since the orbat is not going to change for you, you end up with less men.

I’d actually split the difference, APCs are better in defence where they carry more men to the location under pressure while IFVs are better in the advance where there is more impetus to moving fast and shooting than using infantry as an attack force. It just depends on who’s the star of the show at that point in time.

Observer

Oh yes and Pacman’s point on the Apaches, a helicopter force is very, very draining in resources. Not as much as a FJ, but a lot more than a tank and their support structure is very fragile without protection. The last thing you want is an insurgent putting an RPG through a tanker full of AVGAS.

Not to say it’s useless, properly screened and used in hit and run “pop up” attacks as designed for, they can be brutally effective, but they, like all military units, cannot be used alone. For one, attrition is a big killer for aircraft, it’s a lot harder to replace an Apache than a Challenger 2 and for another, ground and air forces are supposed to cover each other’s weaknesses. Any part of the whole that is lacking opens up vulnerabilities to attack.

DavidNiven

I think this article just goes to show the poor state our armoured and maneuver formations are in, and the complete lack of money available as there is neither enough money to fully commit to upgrading our armoured brigades or to fully invest in an all wheeled capability if we had to choose.

I think Jed’s idea of Option 1 – leveraging the investment of the Warrior turret has some merit. Would we really be losing firepower if we did not add the turret to the infantry platoon vehicles? the protector RWS is in service with the army now and if we used the later model that can launch Javelin we would in fact be increasing our AT capability within our brigades by a considerable margin with the addition of section fire power increasing by allowing the carriage and the dismount of a full section. I would however look at arming some with a light 20mm cannon rather than a .50 so as to give overmatch against the emerging threats of 14.5mm proliferation, mix and match within the unit of 20mm and GMG. If we did this would there be enough money and hulls to replace the 432/Bulldog in the infantry and close support units?

As for the artillery would option 1 allow an investment of wheeled 155 for them?

As a point of interest does anyone know what we did with our FH 70’s we retired? it would be handy to have them now I bet.

Pacman27

Ajax looks a reasonable vehicle and could also be used as the IFV in my opinion. I do think that if we are going to have an armoured division then it should have enough tanks and I agree that this should be around 25% of the divisions strength. So 1 in 4 vehicle would be a tank. I would also like to see this division have enough attack helicopters to add more punch as well. Given the spend on military budgets overall, this shouldn’t be a major ask. We then need to deploy these units when we get involved in places in the future.

ArmChairCivvy

Made some notes as I was reading through. Must say that I have always enjoyed the “Jed pieces” on TD as they accentuate the “T” in TD and are not locked in the “official” thinking or announcements.

Isn’t this an understatement vs. what was the announced strength, as for the recce part?
“2 deployable brigades of 4 maneuver units (1 recce, 3 infantry)”

Is there a MAN version around (I thought it was a Tatra 8×8 with an axel solution proved in rally cars for x-country mobility)?
“new CESAR 8 x 8 with it’s auto-loader and higher capacity magazine, on a MAN armoured cab chassis.”
– the Israeli ATMOS is available on a MAN81 tank transporter chassis (with an armoured cab)

“1 Heavy” sounds like a good option to me, esp. if one of such Bdes is kept on the Continent; only the other one would need the capacity required for it to deploy (would be in a lower readiness so the same capacity (limited as it is!) would become applicable to both
… and best of all, this option “if someone feels they need to save face then buy 200 8 x 8 APC’s to replace the Mastiff ” could fit into that one, in a “Drive through the Chunnel” mode, and until then, be available in intervention mode for non-Europe theatres.

Well, onto reading the comments…

ArmChairCivvy

@Pacman, this “If you add the Royal Marines into land forces you are already upto to 90k personnel which leaves 10k to find.” is very true (though I would not be voting for your force structure) and as the 30k in Reserves is aspirational, should we not turn those contracts into a layered structure? To actually be able to draw on the top layer of 10k at a short notice (as formed units)?

@MKP, I share the thought about the usefulness of attack helos against a prepared (peer) enemy. The Apache experience in Iraq (though the full frontal attack against an armoured division was taken out of necessity, dictated by the wider situation) was mainly with heavy (AD optimised) MGs mounted on top of hundreds of armoured vehicles that each would need a hit to be taken out… today, as you describe, there would be other types of weapns (in abundance) to deal with.

ArmChairCivvy

@Frenchie, I fully agree “I am more in favor of the Patria, it exist in all variants, is better. This is not to say that the VBCI2 is not a good vehicle, but it is not expected to make a mortar carrier or host a turret with a 120 mm gun.”

Just shows what a “monster” Boxer is when DONAR can have a 155mm on it (and how much overkill it is for most of the stuff it is designed to do). Having said that, Boxer is meeting all the Ozzie protection rqrmnts for recce (likely to meet the OpFor head-on, if not by design but by chance) whereas BAE/ Patria are designing “patches” to meet that requirement… or may be the said difference has been inherited from the British Army requirements (which then made the solution, overall, unaffordable?).

ArmChairCivvy

@Pacman, sorry to say, but that is a bit of a ridiculous statement:
” The USMC is an audited force and the capability/value for money is simply incredible.” OK, it is audited, and also an independent arm of defence, but budget-wise it is part of the Dept of Navy and a lot of their enablers are paid from that “higher-up” budget.

ArmChairCivvy

@Observer, I think you are elaborating here the reason why Jed keeps using the German term, ie. Panzer Grenadiers, as they move up in close protection of tanks, have to face the same threats and have to be able to fight both mounted and dismounted… a very different job from an APC. And to achieve all that, you will have to accept fewer dismounts per IFV:
” Mr Fred’s point that it reduces the amount of personnel the vehicle can carry and since the orbat is not going to change for you, you end up with less men.

I’d actually split the difference, APCs are better in defence where they carry more men to the location under pressure while IFVs are better in the advance where there is more impetus to moving fast and shooting than using infantry as an attack force. ”

The take home from this? You should always have more APCs than IFVs (the latter in between 1 and 2 ratio to your MBTs) or… you will have squandered your budget, and by doing that, the fighting power that a you can deliver within a given budget.

Let’s see now:
-200+ MBTs but only half of them to be active
– 245 IFVs
– 200-350 MIVs
– loadsa sacred cows (but how do they fit into the force structure; what is the doctrine going forward? Doctrine = lending cohesion to military thinking so that lower levels, starting from tactics, can deliver and the inputs required have been thought of, ie. can be put to the disposal of commanders in the field)

Mike W

Jed

Always enjoy reading your pieces. They are well-informed and written from an independent point-of-view.

You present four or five options, all of which are interesting. You appear to have missed one, though, which is as follows:

Could there not be a way of retaining the three armoured infantry brigades and introducing just one Strike Brigade. You say that under SDSR 2015 “two rapid reaction “Strike Brigades” will be formed by 2025, comprising 5,000 personnel each, equipped with Ajax. The armoured infantry brigades will be reduced from three to two.” By my arithmetic that makes a total of four brigades.

People have been arguing for some time that (leaving 16 AA Bde and 3 Commando Bde out of the equation) we can only afford to keep three brigades in the Reaction Forces. And yet here we apparently with four! The usual argument runs that we only have enough Combat Support and Combat Service Support to be able to sustain three brigades. And yet here, as I say, the ambition is to have four!

Now I don’t know what size the intended Strike Brigades will end up being. You quote the SDSR 2015, which says that they will comprise 5,000 personnel each. So they are what might be called medium-sized brigades. However, the present Armoured Infantry Brigades are also 5,000, so that they should in theory not need more CS/CSS support. I know that we are short of personnel in Signals, Logistics, etc. but if four brigades are sustainable under the new structure, then they should be sustainable under my suggested one.

I feel that we do need something at least between our heavy brigades, which are slow to deploy and the fast reaction forces (Paras and Commandos), which are fast but lightly equipped. As you say, the main advantage of wheeled armour is” theatre-strategic mobility, the so called ability to self deploy” and “getting into action at the point where it is needed more rapidly.” With decent wheeled artillery and engineer support, such a brigade could act as a bridge between the deployment of light and heavy forces. By creating only one wheeled Strike Brigade, you would be saving on the procurement of 8 x8s, of Caesar-type wheeled artillery etc. etc. and possibly be able to spend something on beefing –up the heavy armoured formations.

I would certainly agree with you that trying to mix tracked and armoured vehicles in the Strike Brigades is defeating the whole purpose and to put Ajax vehicles into them is, to use your phrase, “standard British fudgery is coming into play”.

I do feel strongly that we should try to retain three Armoured Infantry type brigades and that they should be equipped with the best. In that respect, the upgraded Challenger, AJAX, the 40mm Warrior, ABSV, with Artillery/Air Defence support from an upgraded AS90, GMLRS,Exactor and Stormer HVM should do the trick.

Observer

ACC, I’d disagree. It would depend on your type of operations. If you bumped into an old soviet force of MBTs and BMPs in a moving/open engagement, the lack of IFVs will kill you since APCs do not significantly contribute to their own defence, usually only carrying a 0.5cal MG and/or a 40mm GMG.

Infantry in tank ops are used to clear choke points and constricted areas and the occasional ATGM team, an aggressive usage, infantry in mechanized ops are more commonly used to defend an area, a more passive usage. There is no “better” or “waste your budget”, it’s just what you want the unit to be better at.

Not to mention there isn’t really a hard dividing line between “light” infantry and mechanized infantry anymore, more and more often, the “light” infantry is being bussed to their objective by IFVs/APCs these days, so the “mechanized” infantry is starting to be whoever is on board at the moment.

Nick B

3 Armoured Infantry Brigades, as per current structure, 36 month rotation cycle, 1 complete brigade at readiness. 3 Cmdo (lightish), 7 Mech (proper heavish Mech), 16 AA (light with aviation), 1 BG from each at readiness. Stick a cavalry regiment from the AF into 3, 7, 16 and you’ve got balanced rounded formations – the CSS can come from the under-cooked AF units. 12 proper sized infantry Battalions for 1, 7, 12, 20 Brigades, 12 smaller light battalions for London, Cyprus, DE etc – 4 (2 Para / 2 Gurkha) for AA (one goes to Brunei) – you can lose 3 Battalions from the OOB and redeploy the manpower. If you need the 5th Brigade for an enduring deployment you either stick together something from the light battalions + AR support or build around 16AA. 2 Division HQ’s + Logistics Brigade – 1st Div looks after the light stuff, 3 Div looks after the heavy stuff. Aim should be for one divisional HQ, 1 Heavy Brigade, 1 composite light / med / helo brigade for anything non-european.

Jed,

A superb, well-thought-out, well-written article that is accurate and provocative. i see the four most critical issues that create a fudge factor for the Strike Brigades as follows:

1. The money to equip the strike brigades with an 8×8 APC has definitely been allocated in the equipment budget; the problem is that it won’t be made available before 2020.

2. As you suggest, Ajax simply won’t keep-up with a wheeled APC on 2,000 km road deployments, so would be reliant on brigade enablers like HETs to deliver it into theatre. In other words, Ajax, as good as it may be, is probably the wrong vehicle for Strike

3. If Ajax is used to equip only the heavy armoured brigades, and we now have just two of these instead of three, then we’re probably acquiring more Ajax vehicles than we need

4. If Ajax cannot keep pace with MIV, we’re going to need some kind of 8×8 wheeled fire support vehicle to support 8×8 wheeled infantry battalions in APCs

To address the above problems, and given the increased threat posed by Russia, I’d like to see the allocation of budget brought forward. If it was made available by 2018, this could enable us to have an earlier IOC for the Strike Brigades than 2025.

we need to find someway to put a 120 mm smoothbore gun on Challenger 2 or else buy Abrams M1A3 with a 1,500-1,800 bhp MTU diesel engine or buy Leopard 2A7. I thought your idea of having two MBT regiments and two IFV battalions in each of the armoured infantry brigades was a good idea.

i would prefer to have 2 x MBT regiments than 1 x MBT regiment and 1 x Ajax regiment. I would like to see us reduce the Ajax SV family buy, but, to compensate GD, I would purchase an IFV version of Ajax instead. This approach would reduce the number of tracked platform types in the brigades to just two, not including Terrier. It would allow Warrior CSP programme to be scrapped. The money saved from that programme could be used to buy two additional cavalry regiments equipped with an 8×8 fire support vehicle.

I believe that UK IFVs need to mount a cannon capable of neutralising other IFVs. So would mount the 40 mm CTAS turret developed by Lockheed Martin on all tracked recce and IFV vehicles and on 8×8 FSV vehicles. i might also consider a 120 mm low-recoil tank gun like the Italian Army’s new Centauro 2.

Your point about the lack of artillery is also well made. We definitely need an upgraded AS90 SPG and MLRS regiments to support each armoured brigade. We also need potent wheeled artillery to support strike. The Caesar 8×8 155 mm gun could be ideal in this regard. Fortunately, I believe this is also already in the plan and the Army is already looking at such a system.

Overall, I would keep the 2 strike brigades plus 2 armoured brigades structure because this is undoubtedly funded, although it is now called Army 2025 not Army 2020.

My second choice would be three armoured brigades, as present, plus a single strike brigade.

Ideally, as I’ve already written here on TD, I believe we should have two deployable divisions, each with three brigades. This is not pie-in-the-sky. We can undoubtedly afford this and wouldn’t need to increase manpower to field them. One division would be a wheeled rapid reaction force that self-deploys 2,000 kms very quickly. The other would be a tracked heavy armour division that takes longer to ship to theatre, but one that adds real punch when it gets there. I don’t think we’re credible without it because it is how our allies are equipped.

Mike W

@Monty

Your post is excellent as always. However, you say:

“The money to equip the strike brigades with an 8×8 APC has definitely been allocated in the equipment budget;” and

“We also need potent wheeled artillery to support strike. The Caesar 8×8 155 mm gun could be ideal in this regard. Fortunately, I believe this is also already in the plan and the Army is already looking at such a system.”

Yes, that is all very well, Monty but aren’t other capabilities already losing out because of this drive to have shiny new 8 x 8s and wheeled artillery? I read the other day that already the budget for MVR(P) was being eaten into because of the desire for new 8 x8s. Admittedly, it looks as if some JTLVs will be acquired to fill the Group 1 requirement but already Group 3 (recovery vehicles) has suffered with the cancellation of the Light Recovery Vehicle.

Surely such a new concept as Strike should be tried out in one brigade first of all to see how workable it is (see my earlier suggestion of having three Armoured Infantry Brigades and one Strike Brigade). Actually you do make this your second choice. I am not really querying the concept of a wheeled formation based on an 8x 8. You have argued for it very eloquently in this and other posts. It is just that we could save money by going for just one Strike Brigade’s worth of equipment rather than two, at least at first, and spend the money saved where it is really needed. We would have a force with fewer capability gaps as a result.

mr.fred

If I was going to make a complaint about the IFV concept it would probably be as much about cost and weight as it would be about the restricted numbers of dismounts.
That said, a suitable auto cannon does seem like a valuable asset in the armoured battlegroup as it can provide a direct fire, long range, sustained suppressive effect which a tank armed with a large calibre gun cannot. The time of flight is much less than a 40mm GMG and the range is greater, plus you have a limited anti-armour capability (lets not pretend any gun under 3″ is effective against any stripe of MBT other than flanking shots) Additionally, you can utilise the auto cannon much closer to your own dismounts, where using a tank gun would be hazardous.

Where you are using a vehicle to provide the protected mobility for the larger part of your infantry, putting a turret on everything will be too heavy and too expensive.

mickp

The strike brigades as envisaged seem counter to our needs and strategy – the army’s equivalent of corvettes for the navy – too heavy to be rapidly deployable by air say and too light to be up against heavy armour. They also align with a war we don’t want to fight – a prolonged sandbox affair or a speed bump to the advancing red army. There seems little ‘strike’ in the brigades other than 40mm cannon and an apparent track / wheel mix makes little sense to me .I would much rather we stick with the heavy / light structure. As someone says above, there are plenty of 8x8s in Europe to do the road drive to a front line. Let’s focus on maintaining, upgrading and recapitalising 3 armoured bridges as we have now with full troop / kit strength and off the shelf 8×8 MIVs to replaced the Mastiffs, focus on Ch2 upgrades, perhaps extra artillery in the form of Caeser, and Ajax spread through the brigades as originally intended, but all part of the existing armoured brigades (heavy). Set up one new brigade – can call it Strike but I perhaps prefer ‘airmobile’ which would be all wheeled, might have some MIVs but mainly around something like the griffin / jaguar combo. The idea would be to provide rapidly deployable up-armoured support to the Paras or RM or direct intervention itself. We then have 3 heavy armoured brigades, and 3 light brigades – airmobile / strike, para and RM. Following on from that a number of brigades on protected mobility (essential the adaptable brigades but with new protected vehicle stability). ‘eve spent enough on Ajax – MIV – 8×8 and 6×6 needs to be as off the shelf as humanly possible. On that basis following the French line wholesale makes some sense

Mike W

@mickp

There is a good deal of sense in what you say. Particularly like the line: “There seems little ‘strike’ in the brigades other than 40mm cannon and an apparent track / wheel mix makes little sense to me”. Me neither! Seems a right mish-mash (and mismatch) of vehicles. Has the whole idea of equipment for the Strike Brigades really been thought through rigorously?

Your idea of “maintaining, upgrading and recapitalising 3 armoured brigades as we have now with full troop / kit strength and off the shelf 8×8 MIVs to replace the Mastiffs” seems a sound one, while the idea of setting up one new brigade “to provide rapidly deployable up-armoured support to the Paras or RM or direct intervention itself” is one that merits close examination.

Pacman27

a question that I think needs to be asked, is there a place for polaris vehicles with with mortars/GPMG or similar in a mech/ armoured brigade.

Would it be worthwhile kitting out a load of infantry battalions with these cheap vehicles to operate inbetween a set of tanks and Ajax.

It could give the brigade a really good combination of armour and speed when necessary, as I am not always convinced it is best to have infantry inside an IFV but they do need cover and support.

This may be a cost effective option that would allow money to be spent on other assets, just because others have 8*8 doesn’t mean we have to, perhaps a combination of heavy and super light vehicles is the way to go and it is certainly worth thinking about.

Monty, ACC and MikeW – thanks for the accolades – much appreciated !

ACC- I did read somewhere (Janes IHS ?) that the CEASAR 8 x 8 is pretty agnostic to truck platform and the MAN was actually mentioned in the article as a potential platform.

On firepower – I would love either our fantasy MIV fleet or our upgraded Warrior fleet to have a turreted 120mm mortar, be it BAe AMS, Patria NEMO or the new Polish one, but I dont see it happening. I would be happy with keeping the AS90 we have with short barralled 155 as “close support” regiments, but I do think we need the newer longer barrelled 155’s with new course corrected / guided munitions for both the limited ROE “non-wars” and their potential use in “high intensity” fights. I also think we should have wheeled U.S. HIMARS style MLRS launchers, fairly cheap to acquire, small crew and lots of tactical utility with different rockets. I would also go so far as to address TD’s previous “anti-tank overwatch” questions with the new U.S. Army Multi-role launcher that can carry 15 x Brimstone 2 – all of this costs less than a squadron of F35’s can be provide the required support when our air power is NOT in its previous glorious “complete air dominance” mode.

On the Chally 2 upgrade – I would go cap in hand to President Obama before he leaves, strike an FMS deal like Greece did last year, and get 300 M1A1 out of desert storage. The Greeks basically got them for free, but are paying for the upgrades. Seems we could strike the same deal ? Get 120mm smoothbore, put the MTU in (this has been done as a test / prototype in the U.S.) and pay for the SEP3 (M1A3) upgrades, maybe with same optics as Ajax for commonality ?

I am glad to see support for the “mixed Ajax and MIV does not seem to work” premise. Also some very interesting alternative ORBATS being suggested.

TD – nothing from you yet, any thoughts sir ?

TehFinn

It seems that what the Strike brigade needs to have is capable organic fires and big guns for peer to peer brawls. To me this sounds like 120mm high pressure gun, mounted 120mm rifled or turreted smoothbore mortar and one of the many wheeled 155/52cal artillery pieces. Considering the most likely scenario in which they would be used would involve long march across the Europe followed by short maintenance stop in Poland. After that they would either attack as a main force of some NATO country led division or act as forward force. All vehicles have to be wheeled for sufficient speed and maintaining smaller tail to head ratio due to simpler maintenance.

Maybe three combined arms battalions with three infantry companies on RCWS armed APCs, one antitank company with 120mm high pressure guns on 8x8s and dismounting ATGM teams, and one mounted mortar company. This mix would have the some better infantry to tank ratio than Russian mechanized battalions that have being reinforced with tank company. Brigade would support maneuver battalions with artillery regiment with 24 or 36 artillery pieces, antitank company similar to battalions one and all the other combat support there usually is.

ArmChairCivvy

@Mike, RE ” It is just that we could save money by going for just one Strike Brigade’s worth of equipment rather than two, at least at first, and spend the money saved where it is really needed. We would have a force with fewer capability gaps as a result.”

Have to be careful with what one wishes for; namely, I read somewhere that though we would train two Strike bdes, there would only be enough kit for one, at a time, to deploy
– I hope it was a joke!

Observer

Mr fred, the way things are going these days, I’m betting even a “modern” APC will end up in the 30-40 ton range with a price tag only marginally cheaper. Long gone are the days when the M-113/FV-432 was seen as acceptable protection.

All this fantasy fleet is nice but to really get a working orbat, you really need to frame the requirements for the force first. Without a concept of operations and a defined goal and area of ops, you can end up all over the place.

So before building nice orbats:
1) Where is your force going to be used?
2) How is your force going to be used? (Aggressive attack? Defensive? Amphibious? Air Mobile?)
3) How much support is it going to have? Air cover? Resupply? Coalition? UK only op?
4) How to integrate it into other organizations like fellow units or coalitions?
5) Expected lifespan of equipment?
6) Expected attrition and replacements integration?

We’ll even skip things like training and maintenance and parts manufacture and replacement to simplify the subject.

Things like these are a huge topic and undertaking, it’s not as casual as it sounds on paper.

Frenchie

For explain a bit more the role of light and median brigades in France.

The priority vocation of the 11th Parachute Brigade (light brigade of course), which will be equipped with light Griffon and Caesar 6X6, is the projection of the emergency units in order to provide an initial response to a crisis situation. As such, the 11th Parachute Brigade provides permanent specific alert: the rapid intervention force of airborne troops of the national emergency level, which offers the ability to engage a volume of nearly 700 men articulated in two levels: a first alert level of 12 hour and a second alert level of 48 hours. Among its missions is essentially entering an airport area, the recovery operation and delivery to another force later deployed.

The role of median brigades that will be able to be engaged in duration, in crisis management operations on two or three separate areas. The total of the forces involved will consist of the equivalent of a brigade median representing 7 500 troops.

For example, the 9th Marine Infantry Brigade will be equipped with Jaguar, Caesar 6X6 and Griffon and will have firepower, flexibility and mobility, and thus meet the requirements for emergency missions that may be assigned.
The main types of missions, for which it is particularly suited are amphibious actions, projection with short notice of a staff and a reinforced battalion (1,400 men) by military maritime assets such as BPC. The security tasks, or urban combat. Decentralized actions of intelligence research in depth. Rapid and deep incursions (armoured raid 100 km) for seizing a key center or destroy important goals.

I think this will be the style of operation that will be most frequent in the future.

I don’t know if you are interested by this but i post it nevertheless.

ArmChairCivvy

Jed, yes, correct:
“It is based on the Tatra T815 (8×8) cross-country chassis with the power-operated 155mm/52 calibre ordnance mounted at the rear of the chassis, which is the same as that fitted to the current production Caesar system. The Tatra is just one of the 8×8 chassis available; the others being from Renault Trucks Defense, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles and Sisu.”

I had read a different article which emphasised that several engine options are available, instead of Tatra’s own (which would exotic to just about every potential customer). That had credibility issues as Sisu (Sizu!) was listed and I don’t think they make engines.

The one still in the Danish artillery competition is on a MAN chassis.

Daniele Mandelli

The British Army is suffering from a never ending series of reorganisations where a new plan emerges before the previous one is fully implemented.
Damn these Strike Brigades. Why can we not keep the 3 decent 1st 12th and 20th Brigades as is and used the Foxhound / Mastiff / Huskey / Jackal for wheeled Brigades. We already have them, yet the army has scattered the Light Protected Mobility Battalions with Foxhound around the 7 brigades of the Adaptable Force, rather than concentrating them in the 2 brigades that are deployable, at a guess 7 and 51st Infantry.
For me these Strike Brigades are indeed just a PR exercise while the armoured force of Challenger II, Warrior, and AS90 is cut yet again.

JohnHartley

I sort of agree with the summary. Forget buying 300-350 8×8, & go for 200 8×8, then spend the change on more heavy armour.
The obvious off the shelf, is the double hull stryker. Say 100 with the 30mm turret & the other 100 with the Javelin missile.
Of course, Carney (or his replacement) will have to put interest rates UP by 0.25%-0.5%, so the Pound is strong enough for US Dollar purchases.

Two French vehicles (1 previously used by the Royal Marines and the Royal Navy) have extensively tested but unfortunately have been eliminated inspite of one receiving three on target RPG’s ,but a fourth was successful destroying the vehicle.
http://m.liveleak.com/view?i=80c_1408524070&comments=1

mr.fred

Observer,
A modern, stabilised turret is going to cost nearly as much as the rest of the vehicle, and the heavier you make the vehicle the more costly you make the rest of it. It’s interesting that the proposed Bradley upgrade looks at replacing the hull as it isn’t really that costly vs. the rest of the kit. There’s a piece on it on the “Below the turret ring” blog.
As for the impossibility of a cheap APC, it’s worth considering that the desire to gold plate everything to do everything on a “what if…?” means that you end up with a sizeable portion of your army still riding around in the cheap APCs of forty years ago, or soft skins where they should have a protected vehicle.
I would propose the MIV to be protected against Heavy Machine Gun at most, possibly that only as an occasionally fitted applique, but mainly seeking to minimise the damage from overmatching threats. The saved payload then gets used for supplies or improved mobility and the saved cost gets used for more vehicles.

You’re right that there are a lot of aspects to consider – the way I see it there is a need for an armoured force (Tanks and IFVs), a mechanised force (APCs with a bit of fire support) and light force (infantry delivered by air, sea or land, soft skins and the like). You shouldn’t expect or intend for the mechanised force to be conducting offensive operations against peer level opponents, so you shouldn’t be equipping them as such.

JohnHartley
When you say the obvious off the shelf, I would say the obvious wrong choice. You’re taking a two decade old vehicle re-hashed to be something never originally intended when you could go for something new designed to be what it is from the ground up.

Jed,
How much would re-building 300-odd M1A1 to the latest standard (which isn’t ready yet) cost? And then training the trainers, maintainers and crew on the entirely new vehicle. And fuelling it. And dealing with the engineering vehicles which are now on a different chassis. And then do we get the US DU round that would make the L44 gun worthwhile, or do we spend more to retrofit the German L55 gun to make use of the more available tungsten KE ammunition, fixing the alleged gun control problems with the longer gun in the process, or do we use the tungsten in the L44 and take the performance hit? And then when is the out of service date?

Mr Fred – I just answered your questions but list the comment and it’s oo:47 here and I want my pit, so will respond later !

DavidNiven

@Jedpc
‘The Greeks basically got them for free, but are paying for the upgrades’
Hasn’t there been rumours that this is not true now?

@Monty

‘1. The money to equip the strike brigades with an 8×8 APC has definitely been allocated in the equipment budget; the problem is that it won’t be made available before 2020.’

The numbers are 300 to 350, do you know the makeup of the numbers by role? It would be pointless providing just the Infantry with MIV and have the CS units trying to keep up with Mastiff’s, you either invest properly or don’t bother.

‘3. If Ajax is used to equip only the heavy armoured brigades, and we now have just two of these instead of three, then we’re probably acquiring more Ajax vehicles than we need’

Would this not allow a reduced buy of Ajax and an increase buy in the non turreted version for use in the current 432 roles within the Infantry btn’s, and possibly CS units.

‘4. If Ajax cannot keep pace with MIV, we’re going to need some kind of 8×8 wheeled fire support vehicle to support 8×8 wheeled infantry battalions in APCs’

Would this be solved in part with Jeds idea of using the Warrior turret to mount on the MIV, if we reduced the numbers in the armoured bde’s.

‘I would purchase an IFV version of Ajax instead. This approach would reduce the number of tracked platform types in the brigades to just two, not including Terrier.’

What would we use to replace the 432 in these formations and what would this cost?

Mike W

@ACC

“Have to be careful with what one wishes for; namely, I read somewhere that though we would train two Strike bdes, there would only be enough kit for one, at a time, to deploy
– I hope it was a joke!”

Perhaps they could share rifles too, even boots? That would save a little bit of money.

ArmChairCivvy

The Times has an interesting take on the MIV travails:

“the collapse of the pound after Brexit will force the government to delay or cancel projects that are not already on the books.

As a result, the Ministry of Defence wants to fast-track the purchase of a fleet of up to 800 eight-wheeled infantry vehicles from Germany,”

Frenchie

I read that there were only 245 Warrior equipped with a new turret. Is it true ?

Think Defence

Jed, good stuff, been out and about so not had much chance for writing.

The strike brigade concept is to cover a larger area, distribute and mass at speed, make use of indirect precision fires and is therefore very clever. Our perennial problem though is champagne tastes and brown ale budgets. This will result in a strike brigade that might look Gucci on paper but where it counts, CS/CSS, will be woefully inadequate. So with a jaded and cynical eye, I would prefer to improve the capability of the heavy units, give the light units improved mobility and firepower and only then look at a medium weight concept

ArmChairCivvy

yep, the so caled Carter Review had hints in that direction, even though not in same words:

“cover a larger area, distribute and mass at speed, make use of indirect precision fires”

Frenchie

Sorry about the double post.

TD if the concept is to make use of precision indirect fires then surely one or other of Ajax or MIV should come in a missile carrier variant, replacing Stormer and Swingfire, with a flexible box launcher able to put missiles like Javelin and Exactor onto enemy armour from within a Mechanised Battlegroup.

If we’re buying Boxer, great. Let’s get on with it and not fanny around any longer.

Should we have bought it in 2001? Maybe, maybe not. I’m sure the 2018 version will be a very different beast from the model we backed out of all those years ago.

MikeKiloPapa

So £3 billion for 800 vehicles…..that is £3,75 million per vehicle …or 4,2 million euro. That kind of money would buy you a tad more than 1600 Piranha 5’s for comparison…….just saying ;-)

MikeKiloPapa

Going by these numbers :
http://www.janes.com/article/56747/denmark-orders-309-piranha-5-8x8s

You could in fact get a whopping 1750 P5’s at the same cost of 800 Boxers !

I sincerely hope the Times article is wrong….otherwise you are seriously getting robbed !

Frenchie

If the Boxer is used for Protected Mobility Infantry Battalion, there is no problem, it will follow the armoured regiments without problems, even though I think that is an useless battalion, it’s the infantry fighting vehicle which is designed to transport infantry on the battlefield and to provide operational support to combat.
If it is used by Strike Brigades it is too heavy, so I understand these brigades are expected to deploy over long distances and rapidly to sustain themselves in the field, implying a low logistical footprint.
With a vehicle of this weight and size, I think you can not go anywhere, even if it has a range of 1,000 km.

Not sure we can evaluate the deal that simply on a rumoured cost / units basis. There may be issues of:

Support costs;
Industrial offsets;
Capability of variants;

that offset the headline figure. Isn’t it the case that Boxer already has all variants available and in production whereas we might incur development time/cost if we specified a wide range of variants from some of the other manufacturers…?

Steve

In my opinion the British army is trying to do too much at once. Realistically we will not enter a high end war situation without allies and so we should try and work with our allies to balance the books. Have someone on the mainland (France/Germany) focus on the heavy side and we focus on amphibious capabilities.

If done properly (difficult considering politics) each country could reserve the ability to fight low tech wars (counter insurgency) whilst have the ability to fight higher end wars should we need.

Ok its a dream, Europe is a mess politically and brexit makes it even less likely.

Frenchie

France is mostly occupied by asymmetric warfare, fighting in countries with low technology, which is why our priority is the Griffons vehicles, which will replace the VAB, and Jaguar, which will replace AMX10RC, which will be vehicles with a weight between 20 and 25 tonnes.
German develop heavy vehicles for a possible war against Russia.
The UK seems to hesitate between two options, neither of which is satisfactory.
An armoured division with only two armoured brigades, two middle brigades equipped with Boxer if I understood, and two light brigades that are your strong point with 3 Commando Brigade and 16AAB.

mickp

@Frenchie “The UK seems to hesitate between two options, neither of which is satisfactory.”

Absolutely, great British indecision! As I said above, I’d retain an effective heavy armour based deterrent force, 3 brigades with Boxer replacing Mastiff, one lighter strike brigade to support RM / Para Brigades for rapid intervention – may have some Boxers in it but fundamentally air / amphib deployable and then 3 fully equipped protected mobility brigades with decent kit. The rest for home and resilience duties. Three armoured brigades, 3 light intervention (or ‘strike’) brigades including RM and Para and 3 supporting brigades (protected mobility, using legacy vehicles and new buy filtering through, all geared for deployment and combat roles appropriate to their form. The driving across Europe’ wheeled brigades should not be our forte

MikeKiloPapa

@PE

The quoted cost of the Boxer is not based on a rumor….its pretty much bang on if you compare it to previous deals :
http://www.deagel.com/Wheeled-Armored-Fighting-Vehicles/Boxer-APC_a000567001.aspx

http://www.army-guide.com/eng/product240.html

As to the specialist variants, i cant say wrt VBCI, but in the case of P5 the development will all be payed for by Denmark and Spain respectively. The price mentioned in the Danish Piranha deal actually includes about 60 specialist vehicles like , command, engineer, mortar, ambulance, FAC, EW etc . ….so hardly something to worry about in a UK context.

Wrt support costs….well i have extensive experience in dealing with both KMW/ Rheinmetall on one hand and MOWAG on the other , and when it comes to the cost of spare parts, training and technical assistance etc , the former are simply in a league of their own….meaning they are usually more expensive by an order of magnitude in fact . Neither Nexter, GD or even BAE for that matter comes close when it comes to support costs.

MikeKiloPapa

On another note…..and relating to previous comments on the value of attack helicopters :

http://navy-matters.blogspot.dk/2016/10/the-high-cost-of-ground-attack.html

Observer

Mr Fred, when it comes to the budget, it’s all about how long and how much. Given enough time, I believe you *can* totally phase out things like the M-113 or the FV-432. For what it’s worth, I was attached last year to the last brigade in our country that is using the M-113, the rest have all been given to the air force for conversion into SHORAD vehicles and RC minefield breachers. And I suspect that due to the age, is going to be the first to be in line for the replacement of the new IFV we’ve been planning. So after 2018, there will not be any M-113s left in the Army. On the other hand, I know your stocks of lighter vehicles are a huge lot more than ours, so in a way it is a lot harder for you guys to do a complete replacement.

As for the peer to peer engagement, it’s all about who is the “striking arm” of the unit. In Armour, it’s supposed to be the armoured vehicles, so a “fighting APC” aka IFV, makes sense as it is one of the key “effectors” of the unit. Mechanized on the other hand, the “effector” is the infantry itself, so it makes a lot more sense to “enable” the infantry instead of the APC.

From what I can see though, even Armour formations split the difference with a mix of IFVs and APCs usually on the ratio of 1 IFV: 2 APCs with the IFV being the senior non-com’s vehicle and the platoon commander running with the men in the APCs. Think the US also has something similar?

One thing about the new 8×8 concept I can see is that it can allow for a longer sustained “fighting withdrawal” or “retrograde” to trade space for time and casualties, which used to be part of the NATO doctrine against the Soviets in the past, fighting from prepared position to prepared position, so in a way the mobility of the “new” 8x8s is an asset in a long running battle, especially if it allows infantry to redeploy quickly.

Honestly though, if your ops concept is to plug up the Soviets coming through the Fulda Gap again, I’d recommend lots of MBTs followed by lots of mobile artillery. Failing that, enough infantry to populate a country and enough ATGMs to make a porcupine blush AND enough area effect artillery to make the siege of Berlin look like a picnic.

Trying to do things on the cheap is something forced by the budget, but the caveat is also being cheap also reduces the chances of success if something does goes wrong.

Observer

MKP, as previously mentioned, I disagree with the overemphasis of rotary wing assets as a substitute for a force that can hold ground, but reading that article, I have to say that the bias against rotary wing is very severe in that article, especially since it compares only technical details in a form of techno-top trumps without considering that the concept and usage of fixed air and rotary is totally different. A helicopter will NOT be overflying the enemy objective or convoy on a strafing run, will be laying down fire constantly instead of only on the approach then showing their tail on the way out and in some operational doctrines, hiding behind MBTs to act as spotters and additional indirect fire rocket launchers. Their radome is also designed to look over hills, something jets cannot do.

Apples/Oranges. The bias is severe there. My comparison was on the basis of the support needed to maintain a force of tanks in the field vs a fleet of helicopters, not some techno-comparison.

S O

Observer, you smear the article and its author with your misrepresentation.
He merely mentions perfectly well-known and accurate knowledge about attack helicopters.

Battle effectiveness of combat helicopters against a great power’s main ground forces is a mere hypothesis, and not a well-supported one. I’d argue that SOME attack helicopters in the theatre make sense as a threat that restricts OPFOR’s behaviour, but their greatest combat value would likely be in mopping up ops and in hunting down/suppressing infiltrated OPFOR (especially armoured recce on the move).

The idea that attack helicopters could actually be weighed up against for example Russian tank battalions is ludicrous in face of Russian battlefield air defences. The more woodland and buildings are in the region, the less ground a helicopter crew will see anyway. Furthermore, most ATGMs used by helicopters are very susceptible to quick self protection multispectral smoke deployments. Radar-guided Hellfires don’t share this susceptibility, but their tiny radars would be easily jammed, and be challenged by simple chaff. They also make missile detection even easier with their emissions.

For air support I say a bird’s view makes much sense, including muzzle flash detection down to PKM fires and missile detection, but the munitions should be applied in indirect ground/ground fires. That’s much more persistent and much more affordable than big thirst and high maintenance helicopters or air force strike packages will ever be.
Moving targets can be hit that way as well – by ALAS/LORANA, for example.

Frenchie

@Mickp

I submit a division of three armoured brigades with a regiment of 56 Challenger 2 each and three regiments of 56 infantry fighting vehicles each, I find a sufficient number of vehicles for equip them by transforming Ajax with turret in infantry fighting vehicle in addition of modernised Warrior.
I delete the regiment of Heavy Protective Mobility that is useless.
I buy on the shelf the Patria AMV equipped with anti-tank missile launchers as reconnaissance vehicle (Long Range Surveillance & Attack Vehicle).
For artillery, 39 MLRS , Patria AMV 120 mm mortar carrier and 96 Caesar 8X8.

I suppress the adaptable force and Strike Brigades, I use men to form a real division of three brigades, each with a reconnaissance regiment of 28 Patria AMV vehicle anti-tank recce, an armoured regiment of 56 Patria AMV with 40 mm gun, and three troop transport regiment equipped with 56 vehicles Patria AMV turreted with 12.7mm gun. For artillery I have no ideas.

I changes nothing to the Royal Marines and 16AAB.

I don’t think it makes more expensive than 800 Boxer.

I’m not an expert, I say perhaps nonsense.

800 Boxers ? I am not a subscriber to the Times so can’t read the full story but you have to think the reporter has his wires crossed somewhere ? Really, if we can get $3BN for 800 heavy wheeled APC for what else could it be spent on across broader army needs ?

On helo’s – I am of the opinion they are highly vulnerable but highly flexible. So we get into the “trade space” of cost versus both survivability and capability. Lots of cheap UAV providing targeting for Auto-mortars, conventional tube and rocket artillery might be the way to go against peer / near peer adversaries with good air defences.

The Other Chris

Frenchie’s comment:

“France is mostly occupied by asymmetric warfare, fighting in countries with low technology… German develop heavy vehicles for a possible war against Russia… The UK seems to hesitate between two options, neither of which is satisfactory.”

Combined with MKP’s link:

“..and relating to previous comments on the value of attack helicopters…”

Both sum up the UK’s position well:

We hesitate between these models because historically we have supported both. Historically we have had direct interests threatened by Russian Armour and covering vast swathes of territory requiring mechanisation. We do not have this any more. We have lost our way.

We do not have a firm identity of an armed forces geared toward UK needs because we’re not looking at what the UK needs now: The ability to defend and retake sovereign territory globally. Lending support to Allies.

Does this require Heavy Brigades, Main Battle Tanks, Apache Attack Helicopters?

Are we sacrificing too much in armed scouts (land, aerial), air- and sea-lift, amphibious mechanised infantry, artillery, logistics, stores?

Are these assets in supported, sustainable, volumes more effective for what the UK needs than maintaining shipping MBT’s to a Leopard-equipped Germany or a VBCI/Scorpion equipped France?

Can Germany/France benefit significantly from us deploying squadrons of armed aerial scouts capable of CSAR or platoon insertion, Several well defended mobile pierheads or a flight of Atlas/Hercules instead? Because those assets would really help us.

Mickp

TOC “The ability to defend and retake sovereign territory globally. Lending support to Allies.”. Absolutely agree but everyone, including me, is looking at variants on the status quo because we believe that no one in the Gov, MOD or the Army has the courage to face up to the challenge of thinking different. Hence rinse and repeat. Logically after deciding we no longer would base heavy armour in Germany, then the concept of having heavy armour to face off Russia fails as by the time it’s on the low loader, the red army could be through lines. Perhaps we are underestimating the powers that be and they are sort of getting that by reducing armoured brigades and coming up with the strike brigade idea. However if the strike brigades are too heavy and lack true ‘strike’ capability that is air and sea mobile, it doesn’t work in my view. ‘Strike’ with Ajax and Boxer and 40mm canon is just plain wrong. You are also right that a focus on enablers and niche capabilities is where we can add real value in Europe, especially if the US disengages

ArmChairCivvy

I now realised the bad value delivered by the “likes” and “dislikes” shown as a net balance. One of the best contributions by SO and it has a minus against it! Did not neutralise that with a plus (what would a neutral zero say ?), but repeating the main argument here:

“Battle effectiveness of combat helicopters against a great power’s main ground forces is a mere hypothesis, and not a well-supported one. I’d argue that SOME attack helicopters in the theatre make sense as a threat that restricts OPFOR’s behaviour, but their greatest combat value would likely be in mopping up ops and in hunting down/suppressing infiltrated OPFOR (especially armoured recce on the move).

The idea that attack helicopters could actually be weighed up against for example Russian tank battalions is ludicrous in face of Russian battlefield air defences. The more woodland and buildings are in the region, the less ground a helicopter crew will see anyway. Furthermore, most ATGMs used by helicopters are very susceptible to quick self protection multispectral smoke deployments. Radar-guided Hellfires don’t share this susceptibility, but their tiny radars would be easily jammed, and be challenged by simple chaff. They also make missile detection even easier with their emissions.

For air support I say a bird’s view makes much sense, including muzzle flash detection down to PKM fires and missile detection, but the munitions should be applied in indirect ground/ground fires. That’s much more persistent and much more affordable than big thirst and high maintenance helicopters or air force strike packages will ever be.”

ArmChairCivvy

After Frenchie’s barn-storming success in force restructuring, I add these cost figures for comparison (in the format they were submitted to the French Senate):

Échéancier de paiement des principaux programmes d’armement

(en millions d’euros)

Intitulé du programme d’armement

Paiements antérieurs à 2014, first figure given is *the cumulative total to 2014*

Paiements 2014

Paiements prévus 2015

Paiements prévus 2016

Paiements prévus 2017

Paiements prévus 2018

Paiements prévus après 2018, the last figure is *what is still to come after 2018*

TIGRE (their home-grown Apache)

3752,5

162,8

377,0

221,7

325,5

217,0

578,5

VBCI (see the entry “Scorpion” for complementary vehicles/ upgrades)

2280,0

147,7

154,6

77,7

49,6

31,4

81,5… basically, done and dusted by the time we get to start (with Boxer, or something else); followed on and thus complemented in the later years by Scorpion:

SCORPION (IFV program)

59,9

3,7

98,3

157,1

181,8

227,8

461,0

Could have taken the calculator out, to compress the figures, but there was too much dust on it!

Frenchie

@ACC,
In total, the Scorpion program is composed of four major projects.

– Acquisition 1722 multi-role armored vehicles (VBMR), the first copies should be delivered in 2018. Six different versions of this vehicle are programmed.

– 248 armored reconnaissance and combat (EBRC), that the army should take delivery from 2020.

– The acquisition of 358 light multirole armored vehicles (light VBMR), the first units are expected for 2021.

– The renovation of 200 Leclerc tanks to keep them operating until 2040. The first tanks should be ready in 2020.

The VBCIs are all delivered, they do not cost extra charge.

The total cost of the Scorpion program from 2018 to 2033, is estimated at 8 billion euros.

paul g

Are we buying boxer because it’s the only one that’s right hand drive? Always thinking us REME types!!!

The Other Chris

Boxer should also still have that space designed in for the BV too…

ArmChairCivvy

I thought it worthwhile to put a “call” through to our French correspondent, because the low Scorpion figure did not make sense to me (thought may be only the MBT updates were within it).

Now I did have to wipe the dust off the calculator, and it says (there may be some support/ upgrades included here) the following
(and this is in euros – heh, heh… parity beckons):

Tigre 5.635 bn
VBCI 2.823 bn
… and 8 bn for (what’s below), making a grand total of a mere 16.5 bn
Acquisition 1722 multi-role armored vehicles (VBMR), the first copies should be delivered in 2018. Six different versions of this vehicle are programmed.

– 248 armored reconnaissance and combat (EBRC), that the army should take delivery from 2020.

– The acquisition of 358 light multirole armored vehicles (light VBMR), the first units are expected for 2021.

– The renovation of 200 Leclerc tanks to keep them operating until 2040. The first tanks should be ready in 2020.

Make that (roughly) into the three fighting arms, as defined in the BA
-AAC 5.6 bn
-Infantry (sure, by no means the only investment) 2.8 bn
-Cavalry (Armoured) 8 bn

As we seem to be going backwards to a golden era before 1971 are you all sure that the Strike Brigades aren’t there to drive the fire engines, deliver the coal, work the docks, and operate the power stations like in the bad old days.

LTCRJM

Gave my ‘merican perspective in another post but here goes again;

Keep 3 Armour BDES and have one Strike BDE and build your order of battle as follows:

3 Divisions compromising the same number of BDES as follows:
1 Armour BDE (1 Reece REG, 1 Tank REG, 3 Armour Infantry BNs & 1 Artillery REG) (1, 12, 20 BDEs)
2 Infantry BDEs (AKA the “adaptable” force BDEs consisting of 1 Active Infantry BN, 2 Reserve Infantry BNs, 1 Reserve light REECE REG & 1 Reserve Artillery REG)
(4, 7, 11, 38, 42 & 160 BDEs. Since these would be primarily deployable Reserve BDEs instead of ready/deploying once in a single 3 period cycle, they would deploy once every second 3 period cycle.)
1 “Special” BDE (Each Division would have one of these brigades assigned or attached in the case of 3 CDO BDE). The 3 Brigades would be:
– 16 AA BDE with 4 Para or Air Assault BNs, a light Reece REG & Artillery REG;
– 51 STRIKE BDE with 4 light Mech Infantry BNs, a light Reece REG & Artillery REG;
– 3 CDO BDE with current 3 CDOs (BNs), give them back a Rifles BN, add a light REECE
REG and keep the current 29th Artillery REG.)

Each deployment cycle would consist of 1 Division with an Armour BDE, 1 Infantry BDE (deploying once over 6 cycles) and 1 “Special” BDE. The “Special” BDE can task organize from maneuver elements of all 3 BDEs. Each BDE can task organize by keeping 2 of their own subordinate Infantry, Para, AA or CDO and receiving one BN/CDO from the other BDEs (i.e. 16 BDE would have 2 Para/AA BNs, 1 attached light MECH INF BN and a CDO). They would each retain their own Reece and Artillery Regiments.

With these figures you would now have 30 active Infantry BNs: 9 in Armour BDEs, 6 in the reserve Infantry BDEs, 4 in 16 BDE, 4 in 51 BDE, 1 attached to 3 CDO BDE, 1 in SF GP, 2 doing ceremonial duties, 2 in Cyprus and 1 in Brunei. Yes, you would lose an Infantry BN (I hear the regimental knashing of teeth) but you could use that manpower towards the proposed 3rd divisional HQ. You would have 12 Reserve Infantry BNs but you could convert some of the existing BNs that are lost into light REECE or ARTY regiments thus lessening some pain of disbandment.

The Times article is wrong about the MIV decision already being made. The MoD has since responded by pointing out that MIV procurement approach hasn’t been decided yet. However, the Times is more or less right about Boxer price versus Piranha 5, based on reported recent contract values by IHS Jane’s for Denmark and Lithuania. As good as Boxer may be, £4.5 million each versus £2.5 million each for Piranha, AMV and Terrex represents a massive and unjustifiable premium. I believe VBCI falls some way in between Piranha and Boxer at around £3.5 million. Given whole FFLAV, MRAV and FRES UV saga and our failure to select an 8×8 family, I think MIV has to be chosen via a new competition. If Boxer is the best vehicle for the job, at least a competitive tender will allow us to get it for a lowest possible price. We lose nothing by having a competition.

Single-source / G2G was probably the right decision for MPA and UAV as P8 and Predator were really the only games in town. Similarly, with Apache block E and JLTV, tacking on a UK order on the back of 500 Apaches or 17,000 JLTVs makes economic sense. If you follow this line of reasoning, GD LAV 3 (Stryker) or ARTEC Boxer should be obvious choices for MIV – except that both designs are now 20 years old and much newer vehicles have since been developed, notably Piranha 5, VBCI 2, AMV Xp, SuperAV and Terrex 3.

Quite a few people have expressed concerns about what Strike is and whether it will be any good. I think it is important to state that just about every NATO army now has a medium weight capability – everyone except the UK. All of those who have wheeled formations recognise that wheels and tracks don’t go together. For this reason the USA has the Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, Stryker Mobile Gun System, and soon the Stryker IFV; France will have the wheeled Griffon Infantry Carrier and Jaguar FSV vehicle; Italy has Centauro 2 and Freccia IFV; Poland has the Rosomak, Will and a full complement of supporting wheeled AFVs; et. etc.

The other thing that’s really important to emphasise is that MIV isn’t a single vehicle, but an entire family of vehicles. If the UK wants to build credible Strike Brigade capability it will need the following variants:
Infantry Carrier
ATGW
Command & Control
Repair & Recovery
Ambulance
Mortar
Recce
Fire Support / Tank Destroyer
Bridge Layer
Artillery (could also be provided by Caesar, Archer or FH777 on suitable MAN platform)

Whatever platform is chosen for MIV, it is important that the manufacturer has given thought to developing different variants. GD and Patria developed quite a few Piranha and AMV variants. But Nexter and Rheinmetall have developed only a few variants for VBCI and Boxer. The need to engineer specialist vehicles is bound to push-up the price tag.

As already mentioned, putting Ajax into the Strike Brigades is not an ideal solution. This makes a wheeled fire support vehicle essential. I think putting the Warrior turret on MIV would be an excellent idea. Each infantry battalion would have about 90-100 MIVs and a cavalry regiment in would have a similar number of FSVs / Tank destroyers / medium tank (wheeled).

I agree that we should stick with the three armoured infantry brigades proposed by the Reaction Force structure in the original Army 2020 plan. This allows us to field Ajax and Warrior 2 as planned.

If we stick with the 2 armoured plus 2 strike brigade structure, something has to give. It cannot be Challenger 2. That means we should probably reduce the number of Ajax vehicles. I just can’t see that happening.

Ultimately, I believe the dual armoured plus strike brigade plan is the right choice. Strike deploys quickly and holds out until the bigger punch of an armoured brigade arrives in theatres.

I just contracted myself. I said we should stick with 3 armoured infantry battalions proposed by Army 2020. If that stops us getting strike, then it isn’t a good choice. We need strike or we’ll never deploy quickly enough. Ideal solution is 3 x armoured infantry brigades in one division plus a second strike division.

By any standard definition, an army usually has three divisions. UK certainly has manpower for infantry and cavalry, but not supporting assets. If UK could filed a third division, that should be a light rapidly deployable air mobile one. But that’s really going into the realms of fantasy.

jedibeeftrix

@ Jed – Great article, from treading this and the comments I do lean towards: 3xarmour, 1xmech/strike, 1x16AAB, 1x3CDO

Also: – “800 Boxers ? I am not a subscriber to the Times so can’t read the full story but you have to think the reporter has his wires crossed somewhere ? Really, if we can get $3BN for 800 heavy wheeled APC for what else could it be spent on across broader army needs ?”

People are forgetting Brexit. £3Bn buys a lot of good will, perhaps a services passport?

Observer

Sven, can you outright tell me that the article isn’t heavily based on a numbers to numbers comparison? I believe that my critique is very well and truly justified, especially since it DOES NOT AT ALL make any comparison to the different usages and even attack profiles of the vehicles in question.

As for all the comparison and whining about Russian SHORAD, it assumes one very big thing. That the attacker HAS TO FLY AT the AAA. This is not true since the AH-64 can cant the missile pods past 90 degrees and fire it OVER the hill. That is why the Longbow radar is on top, so that just having the radome over the trees or hill is enough to guide the hellfires as indirect fire, not to mention just using the Hydra pods to plaster the area in the “indirect fire” you mentioned. Something most people who never checked would not know. So why is there a need to fly into the teeth of AAA?

Techo-top trumps is all well and good but it doesn’t even hold a matchstick to proper usage and doctrine. AHs don’t need to overfly AAA. Ground attack fighters do. Something that is very important in a fight. That article never took note of the difference at all, assuming even AHs have to overfly AAA.

An ex-Prime Minister of ours once said that to hold against armor with an air force, you need either A-10s or helicopters. Initially I was wondering why can’t FJ do the job until I realized that the bomb load capacity of FJ do not allow long term, many target interdiction (this was in the 90s PGMs were not all that famous yet). An F-16 would carry at best 6x250Ib bombs warload (not the “filled to the gills” displays in airshows), once those are gone, you won’t see that plane again for the next 2 hours. This is why the British Brimstone is noteworthy, it allows a lot of AT weapons to be carried by the plane and allows it to hunt for a longer time. The AH-64s already have this capability intrinsic to it.

The biggest problem with attack helicopters were never top trump numbers from armchair generals, their biggest REAL problem is that they suck up parts, fuel and support like it was free beer.

Something the armchair generals will never consider since it is not “numbers to numbers”. Who cares about logistics and support when you can compare “Oh it can carry X Ibs vs Y Ibs, Y wins!!!”.

Remember the saying about tactics and logistics.

Observer

ACC, Sven’s reasoning may “sound” right but operationally, it’s a load of hogwash, hence the vote down. Flying HIGH actually makes you more vulnerable to AA, this is why most aircraft, even jets, go into an AO low, not high. The reason is because radar and missiles have a lot more coverage against the open sky than low down ground clutter. Even things like strategic bombers go in low.

This is also why aircraft with “look down/shoot down” capabilities are so important. Ground based SAMs can’t handle low targets.

Look up “look down/shoot down” and “terrain masking”.

Mark

I am struck reading this thread there is a hankering for a return of the British army of the Rhine. We deployed 2 armoured brigades a generation ago in the 91 gulf war and in telic a single armoured brigade for a one shots your lot force. Not forgetting the 2 rapid reaction brigades deployed from a total of 2 rapid reaction brigades which always seems to happen.

I can’t see how a heavy land brigade is sustainable in the field as neither the airforce or the navy have assets to support a sustained near peer conflict beyond 6 months nor do we have the logistics backup needed. I can accept the need for 2 heavy brigades so as to have 1 always available. But ideas of divional heavy armoured forces seem pie in the sky.

Ajax and warrior upgrade has never made any sense to me, though I’m no expert they just look identical. I like the idea of the medium weight 8×8 forces they seem more suited to our more expeditionary global outlook. I would be inclined to go with 4 brigades of boxer (Germans always make gd tanks) in as many variants as needed and scrap the heavy brigades entirely. There more useful against the broader scope and asymmetric nature of modern conflict.

S O

@Observer
The helicopter crew isn’t necessarily aware of where the AAA is. It may even not be aware where friendlies are, since Blue Force Tracker et al are hardly going to be used/usable all the time when facing a great power’s military.
The Apache regiment that got shot up in Iraq certainly got into AAA range. SPAAGs usually have a no emissions mode. Gepard, for example, had a laser rangefinder for a “no radar” mode. Systems like Helispot detect an Apache at long ranges without line of sight, and warn about the direction. The defenders can ambush Apaches, or -knowing about the direction of the AH threat- stay in the shadows of treelines, buildings etc.

Your focus on terrain following flight is obsolete nowadays. NATO has preferred to stay above ManPADS altitude with jets since 1999 at the latest.

There are exceptions (mostly for strafing defenceless Afghans), one of them was a Tornado ECR over Yugoslavia in ’99; the German crew found itself well in the engagement envelope of a SA-6 battery that just became active and dove to terrain following mode for safety from this particular threat. They had preferred to fly high before. Cruise missiles flew low all the time, and reportedly some were downed by Yugo ManPADS.
A SEAD aircraft was surprised – I suppose one really shouldn’t imply that AHs can stay out of battlefield AD engagement envelopes.

“AHs don’t need to overfly AAA. Ground attack fighters do.”

Nonsense. Even with 1943 technology an aircraft could stay at several km horizontal and several km vertical distance to a target and still hit it.
The Americans tested whether an A-16 could detect a Shilka and engage it with Maverick before they enter its engagement envelope. It worked, back in the 1980’s already.

Yes, the author of that piece on the other blog used figures, that is, facts. He could have dispensed with them and just posted opinion as you do here, plus some smartass reference to a saying for some faux authority. I have a hunch your reaction would then have been the accusation that he’s not using hard facts, you know, like figures.

I get that, you’re a believer in attack helicopters. Psychological research showed how hard it is to change one’s mind.

It’s still a fact that attack helicopters succeeding in face of the Russian battlefield AD (the most powerful one on Earth, and likely the best quality-wise as well due to Western neglect) is a mere hypothesis.
MBTs on the other hand at least have the bonus of symmetry; all they need is enough quality for effectiveness against Russian T-xx to be plausible. Modern Western MBTs (save for maybe Ariete and Type 10) can be expected to survive frontal 60° hits by T-xx and to easily penetrate T-xx hull sides. That’s enough quality, especially with their known superiority in several other areas.
So trusting in our MBTs is much less risky than trusting in unproven AH-64s against Russian 1990’s and later tank tech. This applies to the Tiger/UHU mess as well.

S O

@ACC
“Likes” and “dislikes” are about popularity, not quality.

Go to a right wing website and post a right wing opinion – you will get many likes.
Go to a left wing website and post the same opinion – you will get a lot of dislikes.

Observer

Well, at least we do agree tanks are the safer bet, though the degree of overmatch that SPAAGs have against rotary air is not as drastic as you imagine it to be. AAA or ADA is more difficult than some people would have you believe. It’s an interesting new toy, the AH-64, but it is definitely a “rich man’s toy”.

TehFinn

Given the level of sophistication in fire control systems and advanced artillery munitions, maybe the “strike” in strike brigade should be thought to be the artillery battalion/regiment. Infantry should therefore have sufficient level of self protection to allow artillery to operate freely. Infantry is the main arm of land forces but toothless without artillery. Desing the infantry units capable of fixing the enemy to hit them with arty and mortars. Give strike brigade good LRPs and scouts and support them with divisional rocket artillery units.

So far the discussion has been about sexy vehicles and hot medium caliber guns and less about the capability to reach out and hurt the enemy. To battle russian mechanised infantry brigades with 36 2S19s and 18 BM-21 strike brigade should have atleast the same amount of tube artillery.

LTCRJM – what a fine well thought out idea ! Makes far too much sense and so would never see the light of day, but I love your suggested structure for many reasons. I would go so far as to buy an amphibious 8 x 8 for the Strike Brigade under your scheme.

TehFinn – your point is well made too. Wheeled 155’s, wheeled MLRS (HIMARS) and moving Exactor to a wheeled platform would all provide some actual bite !

Mark and those bemoaning a return to the BAOR and how a focus on heavy armour is wrong because we couldn’t deploy it quickly:

1. We are part of NATO and maybe obligated to participate in the defence of mainland European NATO allies / territory, but not having theatre manouverable wheeled armour does not change this, but nor does it invalidate slower to deploy heavier tracked forcces.
2. Forces can deployed during a period of tension. If Ethnic Russians start stirring up trouble in the Baltics and Putin starts babbling worrying polemic then deploy a brigade to Poland on “exercise” , you know…. Just in case
3. Reinforcement – the ability of a UK division to begin to deploy after rounds have started to fly is also valid, providing strategic depth to the alliance forces
4. Strategic mobility by sea, via Point class ro-ro or similar is just as good for Chally / Ajax / Warrior as it is for Boxer, of course how close the disembarkation point is to the action is a pertinent point.

And finally…..

5. Lots of tracked armoured vehicles is what we have ! There is no point in bemoaning our lack of focus on wheeled medium armour. We are in the middle of buying more, and upgrading existing fleets.

This situation is far from perfect BUT my point is that 500-ish Ajax are better used in a tracked armoured brigade, than provide very short and blunt teeth to a mixed wheeled / tracked strike brigade that’s seems to be the epitome of budget driven doctrinal fudge making.

Observer

Nah Teh, you don’t need equal numbers, you just need enough at the right place and time to kill them all. :)

In general:

One thing about artillery PGMs like the Spike/EXACTOR is that while accurate, to really make it work, one man/gunner can only fire one round at a time until impact since it is man in the loop EO guided. So while precise, the “mass of fire” is a lot lower. It’s far from useless, but “dumb” artillery is needed to back it up since it cannot “blow the whole gridsquare away”. If in infantry context, it would be a sniper or marksman’s rifle while the rest would be something like a 40mm LV grenade. One takes out specific targets, the other just cleans up the area.

As for infantry, to keep up a good advance through an area, if you want to roll with the artillery, you need mechanized infantry, even motorised LURPs. A human being’s walking speed is pathetic compared to the speed a jeep or motorcycle can turn out. If your scouts are not mechanized or motorised, they are not going anywhere fast. We can endure of course, 72km “Long Walks” are a common training regime, but it’ll take half a day to get there.

Rule of thumb:
Route March 4km/h
Fast/Forced March 6km/h
Motorised/Mechanized 40-60km/h

Other thing. One 4 round rapid from a 6 gun battery of 155mm eats up about 1 ton of shells (slightly more I think, not including incremental charges), so remember, if you want to go 155mm heavy, it’s 1 tons of shells per fire mission, more or less.

Logistics.

Observer

jed, agreed, LTCR’s orbat is one of the tighter ones I have seen proposed.

TehFinn

Observer, there’s certain quality in numbers. Russian units will be supported by army level artillery brigade totalling over 100 tubes/MLRSs. They’re not behind western powers in artillery and can achieve fast and accurate counter battery fires. Russian army of three brigades and supporting units will have about 250 tubes/MLRSs versus western divisions of less than 100 tubes/MLRSs.

Mark

Jedpc

This heavy armoured division keeps getting mentioned we’ve never deployed a full 3 brigade armoured division to fight since suez. We barely had the logistics capability to get a single heavy brigade from Kuwait to Basra. And in no way could we support such a force today. NATO strategic depth is US forces.

Medium weight armour has a role to play, and could easily be what we offer to NATO while still allowing better use in more likely uk operational areas. I am spectical the Russians would tempt to fight a new Cold War like the last. I’m sure they’ve noted how we’ve faired in our adventures in Asia and the Mideast, arguably they tried it out in Ukraine.

It would be an interesting study to see how we would of faired had we had boxer brigades to offer when we went o Iraq in 2003 and Helmand in 2006.

Challenger

I really don’t get how the army can continually mess up it’s restructuring to the extent we’re seeing, although a lack of clarity, constant tinkering and the persistence in retaining cap-badges seem to play a big part.

3 armoured infantry brigades may be a bit of a stretch for our limited resources when the need is examined, but at the same time the heavier or more complex a unit is the harder it’ll be to regenerate a larger force if it’s ever needed in the future.

2 armoured, 2 mechanized (or ‘strike’ if people insist) and 2 light (3 RM & 16 AA) seems a reasonable force to me.

Split them into a heavy and a light division with the ability to provide a battle-group of each type at constant readiness, a composite brigade with reasonable speed and a full brigade of each given enough warning.

Buy enough Ajax (although i’m still not 100% sure on the need/difference compared to Warrior?), make a dam decision between Boxer and VBCI, look into Caesar, strip out the adaptable force to make sure all of the reaction units are properly filled out with supporting arms and disband/amalgamate as many infantry battalions (and some cap-badges) as necessary.

Observer

Teh, I know. My point was that you may not need to match them tube for tube, what you really need is enough to “cause the effect you want”, which is the destruction of the enemy equivalent unit. Sometimes this may really mean matching tube for tube but sometimes not too.

Long story short, it’s the results you want to achieve that matters, regardless of the number. An extreme example would be strategic nuclear weapons. If the enemy has 100 warheads, you don’t also need 100 warheads. You just need enough to turn all his cities to glass to force a MAD situation.

Besides, the reason for the Russian artillery numbers is in part due to their lower range and accuracy, they need more to cover the same frontage. Not to say they are not a threat, but by their nature, they need a bit more to get the same effect from Western equivalent systems.

At least the Russians have lowered their squad size down to 7 from the old 10 man system.

One thing about any orbat is the need to expand it in an emergency, so there also has to be some “slack” in the equipment and units to take in any expansion in case of “National Service”. For us, we normally have an extra platoon in a company called the “NSmen’s platoon” which is usually used for training reservists but is empty the rest of the year. When activated, the “normal” platoons would spread out their regulars into the extra platoon and the reservists would fill in for the gaps in the “normal” platoon so they don’t end up with 3 trained platoons…and one that doesn’t know what it’s doing.

So in light of this, it might be good to have a “blank slot” 4th platoon (not including Company HQ) for the intake of any reservists in times of war.

Mark – “this heavy armoured division keeps getting mentioned” – by whom ?

The MOD/Army stated aspirational goal is to form a division for peer operations by pulling together 3 brigades from:2 Armoured Infantry, 2 Strike, 2 Infantry (adaptable force).No one really knows the exact composition of this division, but you can suggest 1 of each type of brigade, so it wont be very “heavy” at all.

My options as presented, those of others, and especially LTCRJM, suggest that instead of some weird dysfunctional and fudge heavy Strike Brigade with a mix of medium-heavy tracked Ajax and an as yet unknown 8 x 8 APC, we could structure the BRIGADES differently.

Given that the brigades would be in rotation, whether we have 2 as suggested for Joint Force 2025 or the 3 we have under Future Force 2020, NOBODY that I recall in these comments is saying all 3 would be available for deployment in an Armoured Infantry Division (not full armoured as too few tanks, and therefore not heavy either). I mean, the penny pinching way we do “whole fleet management” suggests you will never have 3 brigades of kit available whatever bloody happens !

So relax, no one is talking about deploying a heavy armoured division, we all know that is not going to happen !!

ArmChairCivvy

Just to add to what Jed said, the (Parliamentary Defence Committee ) discussions preceding the SDSR were harking back to having available a division capable of manoeuvre warfare (at that level), which the military sort of promised to try to deliver (by stating that it was their ambition, too).
– that kind of division is not necessarily heavy
– our heaviest, AI, would probably rank on par with a Russian “motorised” – albeit they use the term differently (as an opposite to “armoured” of which we don’t have any)

TehFinn commenting about the 4th platoon: we used to have the same sort of thing in RA, with a 4th battery manned from reserves. Reading about the RA these days gives the impression that calling up formed units has stepped into the place of that previous arrangement?
– attaching one such (although they are mainly LG equipped) into each bde might go some way in addressing the 3 to 1 disparity mentioned
– meaning that the Adaptable Force bdes would be bereft of artillery, altogether

TehFinn

One could try to ease the pain by adding a battery of six 105s to infantry battalion and brigade would focus on long range fires with 155/52cal wheeled battalion of 18 guns. The brits don’t have 120mm afaik so their infantry battalions are quite slim on indirect fires. Arrange the comms so that arty batt can command light batteries and concentrate brigades all guns on the same target area. The light batteries could possibly come from reserves and probably have their equipment pre positioned to make up for the time lost training them before deployment.

Mark

Half this thread has talked about heavy division or indeed division deployments personally sounds like a commentary from the film downfall.

I would suggest beyond a single brigade heavy or mechanised possibly supported by the rapid reaction brigade would be your lot. If people think we can support more than that for even 6 months then they can explain were the logical support, air and naval assets required to support such a force against even a near peer enemy will come from, because all have been heavily reduced since 2003 the last time we the army deployed such a force.

In essence we’re a single brigade force and 4 brigades configured to operate across the broadest possible spectrum of U.K. operations is the best use of resources and at least allows for roulement. So I would suggest ditch the heavy armour and go wheeled.

ArmChairCivvy

That would be a good idea (with go-anywhere Warthogs as gun tractors, to match the infantry’s mobility). A quick look into the RA reserve rgmnts, however, yields exactly 3 (for the deployable division , of three bdes): one with GMLRS, two with LG.
– the other three rgmnts are by no means less valuable: STA, UAV and AD (the last one being able to deploy on light vehicles or on armoured SP platforms… the last of the Stormers soldiering on in the AD role).

TehFinn

@ArmChairCivvy, it seems that the British army has to beef up their artillery a bit. In Finland indirect fire units (mortar companies with 12 120mm and gun battalions with 18 D-30 or 12 155 K83-97) number over 2 to 1 compared to infantry battalions. In 2020s this ratio will decline rapidly because of obsolete D-30s and various other Soviet made guns becoming too old. I know Finland is exception regards to artillery numbers but still.

Given that brits use 105mm, adopting Hawkeye for example would be good for their strike battalions.

mr.fred

On the subject of artillery, the way things were done back in WW2* was that an infantry brigade would be matched by a field regiment at division, so each battalion would be supported by a Battery (an 8-gun, 25pdr battery). So as long as you don’t start doing silly things like actually giving the guns to the infantry, it’s an approach that could be investigated.
Having the guns assigned from a higher level means that you can switch support around as the mission dictates. Having them organic at a lower level reduces their flexibility.

* the time frame I know the organisations for best, and the one time it really got put into practice

S O

I suppose short of invading brown people countries (which seems to be out of fashion finally) the only uses for mechanised UK armed forces in the short to medium term are
(1) deterring Russia
(2) defending Baltics against Russia
(3) maintaining and improving mechanised forces competence

For (1) you either need forward deployment (Poland or Lithuania, not Germany) or a rapid deployability of forces that would actually impress Russian planners. Light infantry with normal 105 mm arty wouldn’t. Rapid brigade deployment by air is a pipe dream. Rapid deployment by land suffers from in wartime unreliable rail networks regarding powerlines (diesel trains cannot really be used in the tunnel) and signal systems. So the answer would be to self-deploy by road from Germany on tires. This means tank transporters for every tracked vehicle (1 for each two light tracked vehicles). Also, keep that pontoon battalion in Germany as the last Bn to leave it!
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2016/09/bridging.html

For (2) a three brigade effort within 20 days would widely be considered to be the very minimum (considering the size of the UK and its ambitions/self-esteem), albeit likely with but one brigade within the first 10 days. I do think (and wrote so in my guest piece) that the UK should in the event of such a hot conflict help the Norwegians as well. About one light brigade worth of troops and even a Typhoon squadron might go there (obviously requiring some airlift capacity) and UK S-3 Sentry would have to cover Norway up to the north, which only gives depth to UK air defences.

For (3) I suppose a single brigade would suffice if it’s experimenting and taking in foreign ideas constantly. The best possible case for this would be to provide an OPFOR brigade as exercise partner to other European armies. I proposed a kind of NTC equivalent in SW Poland that would fit well to such an OPFOR brigade.
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2016/09/out-of-box-answers-and-alternative.html

ArmChairCivvy

RE ” Having them organic at a lower level reduces their flexibility.”

Mr. fred, that is total rubbish, please refer to the BA/RA site what APS is about. Things have moved on.

Sorry to say, the S O post just following yours is also rubbish, but I am fed up with fighting a commentator that, at times, makes totally valid points, and then taints the picture, at a time of his choice
– TD does not agree with me (he knows more about the background?), but I think this commentator is a composite… as in composite armour

Observer

Actually ACC, think what he means is that it becomes more difficult to allocate the battery to another unit since the battery has been “stuck” with the other unit at a lower level. How do I make it clearer….

Normally, in mr fred’s example, division HQ will allocate the artillery unit to the brigade for the job it needs to do. If the artillery unit becomes organic to the brigade, then DivHQ can’t take the artillery and transfer it to another brigade than needs fire support since it “belongs” to the brigade and not to the division. That’s the flexibility he means, the ability to transfer artillery from one unit to another.

Has it’s pros and cons like all things. For example if 2 brigades need fire support, what then? Inversely, if you have everything organic, then all the 3-4 brigades will all need their own artillery and you’ll need a lot more pieces to keep them equipped, even if most of the artillery end up sitting around doing nothing.

Bit of a Goldilocks thing. Too hot or too cold. Hard to find the “just right” mix.

As for Sven, think he was with an airfield protection regiment or air defence unit or something like that, at least what the description of “airforce soldier” implies.

If you really need an airborne quick deployment force, you need infantry. Properly equipped and supported infantry can be a real pain to clean out in the right terrain and with the right equipment, can make even a Soviet Guards Tank regiment pause.Their weakness is once deployed, they’re stuck until motorized or mechanized transport can catch up and if overrun, most of the force can be lost since they are not very mobile without vehicles.

This just gave me an idea of the electric scooters I’ve been seeing all over town these days. Small and low maintenance, they might be able to be packed into an aircraft in enough numbers to give an infantry unit some mobility? Something that might bear a bit of thinking into. Charged from a FOB’s diesel generators? Or a city’s power grid? Possible idea?

GAB

@Observer
I wrote the post on attack helicopters at Navy matters and you missed the essence of my point, which is the opportunity cost, that is comparing what capabilities would the same expenditure of resources (manpower and money) would get if you applied them to alternate solutions, of attack helicopters is very high compared to some mix of artillery, massed PGM launchers, or lower end fixed-wing TACAIR.

I also note that the original use of attack helicopters to support vertical envelopment is rapidly becoming impossible as the USMC, and soon the USA (FVL), transition to tilt wing aircraft, as these airframes are two to three times as fast as attack helicopters, and out-range them by a considerable factor as well.

For combat performance, I first cited attack helicopter performance in Vietnam: approximately 22% total write off rate flying in South Vietnam against a well disciplined force, that lacked significant air defenses. I also cited a Rand study that looked at the specific lethality threats to helicopters, admittedly transport helicopters, but attack helicopters face the same threats.

Finally, I consider the statement of a former Secretary of the Army, comments made by the commanding officer of the 160th SOAR, the USA and USMC decision to buy into tilt rotor platforms, and most indicting, the failure of attack helicopters in performing their doctrinal role in 2003 against an enemy with no air force and no air defenses to be sufficient evidence of problems for attack helicopters.

GAB

LLucky

Could go all wheel Italian with Centauro 120, Freccia IFV and the Centauro 155/39 LW version all based on same vehicle.

GAB

How much EW, anti-tank, air defense, and artillery support (tube and rocket) do you envision for the various force options in the articles?

Would there be any changes in the equipment of the Force Troops, again EW, and artillery?

Would it be worth adding something like the U.S. Army Multi-Mission Launcher or Israeli SPIKE LR to either the Force Troops, or directly to the brigades?

ALF ALFA

As someone who is relatively un-informed on military matters to this depth, can i pose a question to my learned friends?

If i understand correctly the topic is largely looking at the number and types of brigades (and consequently number and type of armoured vehicles) to deter or engage in combat with, amongst others, Russia. A large part of the discussion appears to centre on deploying swiftly from the UK into Europe once everything looks like/ has kicked off.

However, will the Russians ability to strike from afar at our infrastructure be more of a problem than how many brigades we can summon compared to their divisions? That is to say, will the Russians be able to deploy cruise missiles etc to destroy rail heads, bridges, power stations, and other infrastructure and thus how many brigades we have is academic as we will not be able to get the to the right place in the right time? Even if in times of tension we forward deploy in Germany or Poland can the Russians cripple our ability to reinforce and also our ability to re-supply via the logistics train?

In a similar vain, will the Russians have the ability to hack into power grids, the rail network etc and disrupt/ cripple us that way also?

I appreciate we have similar capabilities, but one suspects it would be the Russians who would make the first agressive move.

My question therefore is how relevant are the number/ type of brigades and vehicles, against the ability to fend off long range attacks/ strikes of this type? Or am i just over thinking this all a bit too much?

mr.fred

ArmChairCivvy,
Ease up on the TLAs, huh? I think you mean the British Army/Royal Artillery website and the Automatic Pointing System fitted to the guns, but can’t be sure?
If so, could you explain why you think that a technical system has a bearing on a command and control issue?
Issuing two guns to an infantry company is definitely going to cause problems in their efficient operation and siting. Likewise a Battery directly to a Battalion.
The WW2 model has the artillery regiment pooling maintenance and training then attaching the Battery officer to the infantry unit as a FOO. In that way he has direct authority over his Battery but can also easily call in fires from other Batteries and, with little more effort, from other Regiments.
By contrast, putting a battery under direct command of the infantry unit means that training and maintenance loses economy of scale, plus any other unit wanting to ‘borrow’ the asset has to go through the Infantry unit commander who probably has other things to worry about and isn’t going to be so keen to give up his direct support.

In the WW2 model, the Division held all the assets that weren’t teeth arms, so an Infantry Brigade consisted of three Infantry Battalions and nothing else. Units and sub units from Division were attached and detached as required. For example, an Infantry Battalion resting at the rear doesn’t need artillery support and artillery units can be used in support far longer than an infantry unit can sustain being on the front line. So that artillery unit that was supporting them can go and support a different unit that is in contact.

These days it’s more likely that the Brigades will be operating far more independently than they would in the WW2 Divisional structure, so it is probable that the supporting units will be assigned on a more permanent basis to the Brigade HQ without altering the ability to adjust who is supporting what.

ALF ALFA,
Just as a different point of view, how important is it to fend off long range/unconventional attacks if you’ve got no means of making use of that defensive capacity? It’s all important, but we tend to deal with it a piece at a time.

Simon

ALF ALFA,

My stance on your question is that we’re not the only ones in NATO. If Russia is going to attack Eastern Europe then it’s more than just the UK that stands in their way. So that’s a lot of long-range cruise missile infrastructure strikes to undertake ahead of an invasion.

…and if we weren’t part of NATO then why would the Russians bring us into the war in the first place?

Sort of shows why there is safety in numbers.

I presume (perhaps wrongly) that much of this discussion is based on the perceived need to respond quickly to such a threat. My view is that we’re almost last in line anyway, so should be bringing up the rear with the heavy armoured reinforcements. The idea of rapidly deployable forces with 8x8s makes a lot of sense for our European mainland cousins, but less for us [although I admit they might be useful for expeditionary skirmishing].

GAB – On the attack helo – I think they have to be used carefully, our limited numbers of AH64E will be very expensive and thus not easily thrown away ! However their radar and other sensors do make them a useful asset, its all about how doctrine and the tactics of their use, armed recce / scout being the sweet spot perhaps. On vertical envelopment, a V22 is no more immune to a MANPADs or an integrated air defence system no matter if it flies higher and faster. In fact apparently it is a worse assault machine due to its flight dynamics, not being quick in or out of the LZ, extending its vulnerability to many weapons from MG’s and RPG’s upwards ! A V280 Valour or SB-1 Defiant might be better, but still flying over the battlefield of moder SAM’s at WWII speeds and altitudes.

On your other question – I do like the new U.S. Multi-mission launcher, especially as a 15 round ground to ground dispenser of Brimstone II goodness…. :-) The Royal Artillery is certainly not what it used to be, and the British Army does seem to be lacking fire power. Whether tubed, multiple rocket, or land launched cruise or ballastic missiles, NATO armies need to think about their use to suppress the other guys IADS in order to make use of our tactical air power.

Mr Fred and ACC – many dimensions to finding the right mix for the deployment of specific artillery units, including the disposition of consumables (ammo) the enemies ability to jam the C2 / fire support data and voice networks, ability to manouvre to avoid counterfire, availability of your own counter-battery / fire-finder radars etc.

Alf Alfa – very good questions. My article was not really that broad, but questioning a particular stated goal of the current British Army – to create the so called “Strike Brigades”. Your questions are of course absolutely valid, but I think we might need a specific article and comment thread for the cyber implications etc.

Observer

@GAB

I totally agree on the opportunity costs and the startup and support costs for rotary wing aircraft, if you asked anyone here, I have already said even before the article was linked that support costs for rotary wing was much heavier than that of an armor unit and even mentioned that AHs were “rich man’s toys”. What detracted from the point in your article was the overemphasis on technical numbers and trying to do an apples to oranges comparision for fixed wing ground attack aircraft and rotary wing when their concept of operations and equipment are different. People end up focusing on how wrong that kind of comparison is rather than look for points buried in the jargon.

Historically, for the US Army, the AHs are technically a piece of equipment that has lost it’s original purpose. The AH-1 was actually supposed to be the fire support and escorts for the old UH-1s in their “airborne cavalry” concept during the Vietnam war. They later grew beyond their role to act as flying weapons platforms and hunter/killers in their own right. Then after the death of the “airborne cavalry” concept, their secondary role became their main role instead.

There are still vestiges of the old escort helicopter concept, especially in the USMC where they still use AH-1s to escort V-22s and sometimes Ch-47s do have AH-64 escorts as well (one of the reasons for the AH-64’s relatively high speed), but most of the time, they are simply used as flying rapid response artillery and persistent flying gun platforms and mop up air support (after the FJs have bombed the place, AHs come in and do a more persistent mop up).

They can and do have a lot of capabilities and flexibility, but like all things, it comes with a pricetag. A pricetag that may not justify the capabilities in return. Or maybe it does. Just depends on how desperate you are for that capability.

I’ve seen video from our annual Exercise Wallaby in Australia where the AHs act as supplemental weapons platforms to a deliberate advance by an ABG, it was after my time so I never got to see it in person but from what I saw, they use the MBT as semi cover and pop up to take shots at the targets while using their radar to mark. Not sure if the BMS (battle management system) on the MBTs can link with the aircraft link systems but the AH does bring a radar into the battle which most MBTs don’t have. Think it’s also easier for them to handle hull down targets than the guns of the MBT since the Hellfires and Hydras arc in from the top instead of straight in direct fire where you can only see the enemy turret.

In a way, an army is a cooperative venture, not a solo lone ranger project. You cover for each other’s weaknesses, which is one of the reasons why a numbers comparison is never going to show the real capability of an army.

S O

You don’t need an attack helicopter for mmW radar + ‘pop up fire and hide again’
Something like a bigger Hovermast + Spike NLOS would do the same trick, much cheaper in procurement, much less vulnerable to enemy air power and air defences (enclosed rotor not visible to most doppler radars) and VERY MUCH cheaper in training.

Observer

SO, you do know that you can only fire one Spike at a time? And I rather not wait for wondertoys that may not come about, seen too many disappear off the drawing board never to reappear. Like the US version of the NLOS, the Netfire.

GAB

@Observer
Thank you for the candid comments on my writing.

On the V-22, I invite you to read Rand briefing DB472, “Assessment of Navy Heavy-Lift Aircraft Options,” http://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/documented_briefings/2005/RAND_DB472.pdf.

I am not a fan of the V-22, but their ability to fly high altitude profiles like a fixed wing aircraft, and at much higher speeds than transport helicopters, greatly reduces their vulnerability to ground fire; at least until they attempt to to land.

Also, there is no way an AH-1 can “escort” a V-22, and I am not sure that escorting troop helicopters in vertical envelopments is actually any more effective than fighters “escorting” bombers.

Over-looked in such discussions is the fact that before AH-1s were widely available, the USMC used fixed wing A-4 Skyhawks to support helicopter vertical envelopments in Vietnam with great effectiveness: the A-4 Skyhawk was perfectly capable of operating at low altitudes and speeds and with great maneuverability. The reverse does not hold: no conventional helicopter is going to operate effectively above 200 kts, and even compound designs are not going to get near the tilt rotor or tilt wing design performance, particularly high-hot altitude performance.

I hope that this reality helps allied nations with their force structure debates.

GAB

Observer

GAB, it may not be ideal but the AH-1s are what the USMC has and they got to work with it, like it or not. Think they also had some recent V-22 gunship variants.

As for heli-insertions, current protocol is to go in high because the opfor most often faced *currently* is MANPADs by “insurgents” or even the plain old RPG-7 which have limited range, against a peer adversary with an intact IAD system, the reverse is actually true since a modern air defence system has a very, very serious reach. Things like the old S-300 in my time and the new S-400s have incredible range and you can’t outrun them so protocol then was to go nape of the earth and even go below tree top level by following rivers (and every f-king helo pilot thinks they’re AH pilots, complete with 60 degree bank turns). It just depends on the threat you face. MANPADs > IAD, go high, IAD>MANPADs go low.

Think even before the A-4, they were using the old Skyriders as air support.

Love the old A-4s we even upgraded them with F-5 engines, but one key weakness then that I mentioned previously was that they had a limited capacity for bombs, they could only carry 6 and once used they have to RTB, not to mention the heavier the bomb load, the more it affects flight and range performance. There was an attempt to make a “twin gun” variant but it caused so much vibration when firing that electronics were damaged so they went back to only 1 gun though I think they increased the calibre to 30mm from 20.

Observer

I stand corrected, we chucked in the F-18’s engines not F-5’s.

http://www.oocities.org/sg/sotong_onion/skyhawk.html

Some reminiscence from some old farts. :)

Apparently the A-4’s engines didn’t age too well.

mr.fred

S O,
While you are correct that you can replicate the attack helicopter’s pop-up trick with a mast and suitable missiles, you miss the other part of the helicopters repertoire, which is the ability to rapidly relocate, moving to and from firing positions.
The ground based system will be much cheaper, but you’ll need many more of them to attain the same coverage, assuming that you can match what a helicopter can do at all.

Mark

If you want to see how effective attack helicopters are in convoy escort, Landing zone top covert and air assaults in a real shooting war I recommend apache dawn as a gd read.

S400 and the like are day 1 of war targets not something you deploy ground forces into range of.

From the falklands to Bosnia thru Kosovo Serria leone, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan or Africa. The ability to deploy attack helicopters to provide close air support capable of destroying any known ground vehicles in any threatre of operation we deploy to is why you pay for them as heavy armour or artillery is simply not as deployable or as flexible.

S O

Mr Fred, and you won’t burn hundreds of litres per hour, making log easier and the persistence will have many additional benefits.
The ability to quickly be somewhere else also means to not be of use where you were just a few minutes ago any more.

GAB

@Mr Freed

Operating and Support (O&S) represents from 50% to 80% of the total cost of ownership for a weapon system: literally there are cases where you may be able to buy it, but cannot afford to own it!

SO identified fuel, but manpower can be even more expensive, whereas a missile in a container can sit in a magazine for decades, with infrequent checks and maintenance costs.

There is also the matter of mission ready/mission capable rates: AH-64s in the 1991 Gulf War had a mission capable rate of ~0.3, even with six-months to prepare for battle.

GAB

DavidNiven

@Mark
In essence we’re a single brigade force and 4 brigades configured to operate across the broadest possible spectrum of U.K. operations is the best use of resources and at least allows for roulement. So I would suggest ditch the heavy armour and go wheeled.

We don’t expect to deploy a division for any length of time it’s a one shot deal for us that would need to be scaled down after the main objective has been achieved ie defend NATO’s borders. Ditching the heavy armour would not allow us to operate in the broadest spectrum of operations however as a medium weight wheeled force could not slug it out with an opfor armoured unit for any length of time, it can however help to channel and slow an armoured formation so has merit when used in conjuction of a heavier armoured force.

I agree with your sentiments that a medium wheeled capability can be used in a broder scope of operations ranging from peacekeeping to peer conflict. I think a medium weight capability should be the priority for the Army and aim for 3 brigades of medium wheeled backed up by 2 bde’s of heavy with 1 bde of mech light infantry used as an airmobile force in the vain of 24 airmobile (the paras would make up a small independant brigade to stand up an atf that can be bolted on to any formation as and when).

The medium wheeled would be the go to unit’s for most operations and should be the spine that sub units from the heavy and light brigades connect onto as and when needed. For the occasion that the sh1t has hit the fan and we need to deploy an armoued div a medium brigade would be usefull in support and in the odd occasion when amostly light unit is required a medium capability can be added to provide more firepower such as the French did in Mali with the VBCI.

This however would require leadership from the senior levels as the only way I believe we can acomplish a fully funded family of wheeled vehicles ( and it needs to be a family equiping all the units of the brigades including CS and some CSS units) is by cutting cap badges form the infantry and maybe accepting a regular army of less than 80 odd thousand.

@jedpc

I don’t think using Ajax in the ‘Strike’ (if that name does not suggest we are all fur coat and no knickers then I don’t know what name would) brigades would be as bad for it’s deployment as you suggest. For one it does not require a HET to move but a semi low loader which can pulled by any civilian tractor unit, we have enough trailers for it and the engineering plant and once deployed an 8×8 should be able to cover at least 80% of the ground that the Ajax can cover. We do need to ensure that we supply enough 8×8 to everyone within the brigades, as TD has pointed out if we focus on just the infantry (which the British army has a tendency to do) then the concept falls flat on it’s face.

mr.fred

GAB and S O,
Yes, attack helicopters probably cost more to procure, run and maintain than your hypothetical fire from defilade ATGW system.
But the helicopters are mobile in a way that land-based systems cannot be. Unless you plan to have forces everywhere, there are going to be gaps. Even if there aren’t gaps, you have a problem with concentration of force. You spread out everywhere; the enemy concentrates at one point and punches through before you can reinforce.
Attack helicopters can be moved, in large numbers, to where the enemy concentration is.

Oddly enough, it’s one advantage of strategically and operationally mobile forces, that you stand more of a chance of reacting in time to opposition actions. The light stuff is reactive, if needs be, while the heavier stuff is there for improving the chance of deliberate action succeeding.

S O

Mr fred, helicopters cannot throw their power into one area of the theatre and then move that focus onto some 100 km distant area all that quickly. In theory they can do so in 20-30 minutes, but realistic times are much higher because of the need to get in contact with local commanders etc, get the right frequencies etc, understand what’s going on, where are we, where are they, what are we doing, what are they doing…unless you have scout helicopters there and follow them blindly or consider attach helicopters as mere recipients of target info by forward observers like a B-1B.

And then there’s the topic of VULCANO 155 mm (~80 km range) and various guided missiles for MLRS pods (up to 100 km range) that can react to a 100 km focus shift against high value targets within maybe ten minutes including the time of flight.

Observer

Yeah but all these 100km+ weapons are rare as F and not meant for day to day war usage, more like strategic targets. You don’t get to see an ATACMS every day. It’s not standard issue and in times of war, you’re going to be tossing out the stuff you are using day to day, not special issue.

mickp

@DavidNiven – a lot of sense in those suggestions, as in many comments on here on ‘structure’. I still think this whole thing has an element of cart before horse, i.e. re-designing and equipping existing units before absolute clarity on the army’s strategic role including consideration about things such as what is heavy armour for, do we really have a desire to be involved on the ground in the ME / Mali type ops and are our light forces too light. In all this my biggest concern is lack of all round firepower, and this afflicts the RN too – everything seems undergunned. Whatever the structure of the army, everything needs more punch or strike in my view particularly artillery and anti tank. If we buy 8x8s for strike bridge there needs to be mortar, direct fire and AT variants. I feel strike needs to be all wheeled. It is a decent concept but needs thinking through. Heavy armour should remain but it’s not really a reaction force – whether we have two or three brigades is not key to me, and if we can better equip two brigades and support that with reserve units then fine. The paras, and the RM, need supplementing in my view with a light hard hitting army brigade, air and sea mobile. Ultimately therefore fewer units but more bang for the buck is the way forward; its bit of a procurement mess in terms of equipment but for the army at least, unlike the navy, there are plenty of off the shelf kit solutions readily available. Get the strategy right first and bulk buy JLTV / 8×8 fleets as appropriate

mr.fred

mickp,

At the same time you can’t generate a strategy without knowing the capability of the kit you intend to base it on. There has been much damage wrought by clever, network-enabled, powerpoint, strategy solutions that don’t exist, or can’t exist.
You are right that if people intend strike brigades to operate over large distances they need everything a battlegroup needs – artillery is the area that is lacking in the current vehicle acquisition plan, as far as I can see it. Then there is the question of are the strike brigades going to advance and hold ground, or are we considering them for offensive operations against capable adversaries, in which case they need much, much more firepower at all levels.

S O,
However slow you think helicopters are, they are still very much faster than ground-based assets. If you need time to task the asset, that same time also applies to ground based systems. It’s less significant there because it isn’t so much of a proportion of the travel time. Attack helicopters can also do their own reconnaissance, unlike artillery systems. The helicopters only need to be cued to an area, which needs not be well defined. Furthermore, once there, they can also direct other assets if needs be.
The compound systems like those developed by Sikorsky are much faster even than regular helicopters, while maintaining just as much, if not more,hover control (which is one reason I like them better than tilt-rotors).

TehFinn

The way I see it the Strike brigade it has one of two options for arming and using them. 1) Wheel off to some strategic position and defend it, so that vehicles are just for getting around and self protection. 2) Attack and seize a strategic position, so that vehicles need to provide most of the direct firepower. Option 1 calls for bigger dismounting strenght and option 2 for more capable vehicles. The golden road or option 1.5 could be 3 platoons of infantry and one platoon of fire support vehicles in a company much like the original plans for Stryker companies with three MGS variants.

Observer

Sounds about right Teh.
Also have to consider set up time for any mobile artillery. Tracked howitzers do have a bit of an advantage in set up time IIRC, all the wheeled solutions seem to need some sort of base plate to be deployed before firing.

DavidNiven

@mickp

The most frustrating thing about the ‘Strike’ brigades is that it is just a continuation of the use of medium weight formations that the army had started to envision during the MRAV project. The requirement and utility of such a formation has been known and wanted since the mid 90’s starting with op Grapple in Bosnia and the subsequent ops since. We were so close to acquiring the capability with the Boxer until we decided to pull out of the programme to chase FRES, which was just another fancy term for a medium weight capability, and now we are back to square one with the ‘Strike’ brigades.

If we had not decided to pull out of the MRAV project and drive the unit cost of Boxer up by doing so (as the MRAV was to replace the 432, Saxon and some CVRT’s in service) we would have a wheeled capability now. Who ever made the decision to pull out and go for FRES needs to give their head a shake, did they really believe we would posses the transport fleet to fly armoured vehicles around the world in any meaningful quantity?

We are now in the position of needing the capability, but not having the money to acquire it. While the one vehicle that could fulfill the most roles easily with the least metal bashing (and one we helped to design to suite our needs) is more expensive due to the very decision we made in pulling out of the project. Couple this with the inability to grow a pair and reduce infantry cap badges properly and create more units like the Rifles so as to allow investment in the CS and CSS units to enable us to deploy the very infantry that are protected from cuts and we are where we are.

The senior leadership in the last decade 15 years (at least) have been pretty sh1t TBH.

GAB

@Mr Fred,
No attack helicopter is going to match the response/range/speed/area coverage of fixed wing TACAIR (SU-25, A-4, etc., or their successors).

GAB

mr.fred

GAB,
That is true, but at the same time I wouldn’t expect a fixed wing aircraft to be able to hover behind a tree line or manoeuvre along a firebreak.

Observer

And to put a more practical face to the argument, we (Singapore) actually got the Apaches in response to Malaysia getting the PT-91 and the inability of the A-4SUs to do long term interdiction. (And in the longer term Leopard 2 for…insurance).

As mentioned previously, the practical bomb load of an A-4 is 6 rounds and SOP is one or 2 passes then getting the hell out before AA wakes up. This means that the ability of fixed wing aircraft to hang around in a chokepoint and pound the hell out of anything that comes through is limited since speed, surprise and fast strike are the ground attack aircraft’s main defences.

Not to mention our old A-4s are reaching the end of their hull life and upgrade potential. Out of everyone else, I think we were the ones who squeezed the most out of the old Skyhawk (literally) but it’s too small and cramped for any more further upgrades, even the cockpit is very cramped by modern standards. I heard from a pilot friend of an incident in pilot selection where a large sized guy was out because when he turned around, his arm would trip switches on the side panels. There is simply no more space for new equipment.

If you’re interested, look up the Super Skyhawk to see what we did with it, but even with the upgrades, the ability of it to interdict is low.

Long story short, yes, we tried A-4s but found the Apaches to be more capable in the role despite the added expense. It really is a support hog.

Observer

To clarify, it’s the AH-64 that’s the support hog, not the A-4.

GAB

@Observer,

Attack helicopters are generally unsuited for interdiction missions and are generally dependent upon fixed-wing TACAIR for SEAD, which begs the logical question: why not use fixed-wing aircraft to do the whole job?

I am very familiar with the A-4, You conveniently ignored the SU-25 and other aircraft options.

Also left out of consideration is the reality that attack helicopters start with paucity of weapons, the inability to carry/share the wide variety of aviation weapons, sensors, and jammers – in high or hot environments, helicopters lose even more capability.

For example, AH-64s were not employed in combat during the TF Hawk operations in Kosovo (they were too vulnerable to ground fire), but if they had, they would have had to trade two hard points (50% of its missile capacity) to carry fuel. $35 million is a lot to pay for the ability to carry eight Hellfire missiles.

GAB

mr.fred

Certainly the main reason for AH up to ten years or so ago was that they were much better platforms for precision weapons and much more likely to detect, recognise and identify hostile ground forces.
Now, with stabilised electro-optics and multiple smart weapons per aircraft, that balance may have swung to fixed wing assets, but I wouldn’t rule out helicopters if they are used sensibly,

An all wheeled balanced strike force using vehicle’s of a 25t upper limit to not to overburden existing roads etc in the easternmost countries of NATO. It need not incorporate large amounts of APC as at a guess pretty much the entire eligible local male population of the NATO theater we go to assist touting a fully automatic battle rifle of some description and an brace of grenades and every third man shouldering an RPG/LAW.
This aspect of deployment needs to rehearsed to use local boots on the ground as the bulk of the fighting force holding/taking ground with HMAF providing the very modren specialist , very expensive, support and firepower our eastern allies at present can afford even less than us.

wpDiscuz
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