In the late Nineties, the British Army concluded it needed to develop and field a Medium Weight Capability that would enable it to arrive quicker than a heavy force, but have greater resilience and combat power than a light force.
The concept of what constituted this Medium Weight Capability has evolved through many iterations since then, chewing through a collection of programme acronyms, occupying many civil servants, industry and service personnel’s time, wasted hundreds of millions of scarce defence Pounds, set the conditions for the decline of the British defence vehicle industry and yet, in 2017, is still some distance from delivery in any tangible form.
This series will examine the history of the British Army’s Medium Weight Capability concept by describing a timeline of relevant conflicts, vehicle programmes like CVR(T), TRACER, MRAV and Ajax, and military thinking from the post-war period to today.
Some are more relevant to the story than others but provide background to aid in understanding the broader history.
At the end, a number of observations on that timeline.
In 115,268 words…
British Army Medium Weight Capability – Table of Contents
What this document is, sources and acknowledgements, and what this document is not
Saladin and Saracen enter service, early work on their replacement commences and completes. The FV432 enters service, and the BMP-1 does likewise, work on Warrior gains pace.
CVR(T) and CVR(W) enter service, and the rapid deployment concept cuts its teeth with the C-130
CVR(T) continues to be developed and sees action in in the Falkland Islands and Warrior enters service. Oh, and Saxon.
A decade of major change; the end of the Cold War, operations in the Gulf and the Balkans. The microprocessor and communications revolution. VERDI, FFLAV, WASAD and the rise of the acronym in defence. ASCOD, CV90 and others developed. Protected mobility becomes a requirement, again, and finally, interesting materials development make an appearance in the defence vehicle world.
Three vehicle development projects that would have importance to the ongoing story of developing a medium weight capability.
Important milestones in the development of medium weight capabilities, a trip across the Sava and WWIII averted at an airport.
The Future Combat System, the UK follows suit, FRES and being a force for good.
TRACER and MRAV soldier on but the new kid on the block called FRES is starting to take over, but the shadow of Iraq falls on the project.
Between 2000 and 2004 the Army experienced significant change. FRES picked up speed but operations in Iraq were about to loom even larger.
It becomes increasingly difficult to balance the needs of operations with the desire to transform and bring FRES to fruition at the same time.
Putting the embarrassment of FRES UV behind it, the Army switches to FRES SV, a replacement for CVR(T)
As an end to the Afghanistan deployment drew near, Scout continued and attention on Warrior focused.
A new medium weight capability vision emerges, and this requires a new vehicle, the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV), but before that, Multi Role Vehicle (MRV).
A few thoughts and opinions.
Weights, measures, variants and roles
A revolution in medium calibre weapons, but can we afford it?
The essential glue that binds the increasing quantity of vehicle electronics