British to its Bootstraps

I know we have laboured this point somewhat but the press release from General Dynamics caught my eye today and I thought it worth further discussion.

To start this post it must be said that we haven’t seen the Requirements Document or submissions from either candidate so everything we, or anyone else for that matter, say is simply uninformed speculation.

What we can do though, is ask a few questions.

Commenting on the deal, Dr Sandy Sandy Wilson, President and Managing Director of General Dynamics UK said.

The ASCOD SV programme is British to its bootstraps

Is this so?

ASCOD SV is the latest generation of a proven European design

Proven, by being in service with Spain and Austria with a few of the Spanish ones being deployed in Kosovo for a while, proven can have many meanings. The ASCOD2 is sold via General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) that comprises 4 companies; Steyr-Daimler-Puch Spezialfahrzeug GmbH (Steyr-SSF) in Austria; MOWAG in Switzerland; Santa Bárbara Sistemas in Spain, and General Dynamics European Land Systems – Germany. The ASCOD2 is being manufactured in the Spanish facility. Although the Scout is said to be able to grow to a weight of 42 tonnes the specification sheet on the Steyr web site states a maximum combat weight of 31 tonnes although one must assume the other variants already in production are in excess of this.

thanks to a modern, proven drivetrain

That would be the Renk 256B then, manufactured in the very British town of Augsberg

without the need to upgrade its engine

The MTU 8V 199 TE20, MTU being the world famous British manufacturer of diesel engines located in Friedrichshafen, part of the Tognum group.

Its turret is designed by Lockheed Martin UK INSYS

Lockheed Martin, another famous British company headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland. The turret in question will use the 40mm CTA canon from CTA International, a joint venture between BAe and Nexter in France. The turret design itself may even be based on the LM Warrior Fightability and Lethality Improvement Programme that included such obviously British organisations as Curtis Wright, Rheinmetall and Moog as partners.

Securing or creating over 10,600 jobs for British workers.

Unless of course you work for BAe or its supply chain, these comments always seem to be over inflated and have tenuous links with reality, never detailing the NET increase or decrease when taking into account the impact on other organisations.


employs over 1,600 people at 10 UK and international facilities

will transfer full rate production of the entire ASCOD SV programme to DSG in Donnington, ensuring 80% of ASCOD SV production happens in the UK.

What does full rate production mean, is it assembly of components manufactured abroad, does this mean the first 20% will be manufactured elsewhere and if the figures are as a percentage, is this based on the Recce Block 1 or some future notional figure for the entire (yet to be ordered) programme.

Its Intellectual Property will be based in the UK

Is the word ‘based’ temporary or does it imply ownership by GD UK or the MoD, the Utility Variant competition came to a crashing halt when the MoD and GD could not come to an agreement on intellectual property so this is a vitally important issue.

By value, 80% of the vehicle manufacture will be completed in the UK, with 70% of the supply chain companies UK-based

What does completed actually mean. A company can be UK Based but that does not mean the supply chain will be creating components for the vehicle in the UK. GD UK is based in the UK but is still part of the global organisation that is General Dynamics.

General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD)

Does this mean that any profits accrued to GD will be taken in the US?

Established in the United Kingdom for over 40 years

Only through acquisition

General Dynamics, headquartered in Falls Church, Virginia, employs approximately 91,700 people worldwide.

This is a very finely crafted press statement, created no doubt, by marketing professionals, but does it raise more questions than it gives answers?

Is it the SV Scout British to it’s Bootstraps ???

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13th Spitfire
March 23, 2010 9:36 pm

Very good post but was it not also so that BAE were intending to build the cv90 in Sweden?

March 23, 2010 9:40 pm

The GD offering is at least as British as the CV90, which is probably what the GD spokesman is on about. It’s hyperbole, but no less than what has already been passed without comment from the other company.
Hull is foreign, but there’s not really any choice in that, given the already parlous state of the British AFV industry. Drivetrain and engine are foreign too.
Lockheed Martin UK INSYS. That would be the former INSYS Ltd, formerly the Defence arm of Hunting Engineering, located in Bedfordshire.
The CT40. The most British cannon out there, if that’s any recommendation. No other medium calibre cannon has any UK content.
“Securing or Creating” would cover the net contribution. It ranges from no new jobs created but the full quantity retained in existing companies.
Full rate production means production at the full rate of vehicles per month necessary to fulfil the contract. As to the percentage, it could mean either 100% of 80% of the vehicles are built in the UK or that 80% of each vehicle is built in the UK. Given other comments in the release, I would favour the latter.

IPR is a concern, and GD have a history of problems with it. The implication is that the IPR for the Scout is generated by the UK offices and therefore UK IPR.

Profits accrued by GDUK will go to GD, in the same way that profits accrued by any branch of GD will go to a central pool that can be distributed to wherever it is needed for growing the company or to wherever the shareholders are. BAE, the nominally “British” company has spent a large proportion of its profits buying companies in the US, thereby transferring that capital overseas.

While it is quite right to question press releases and political statements, you have to apply the same rigour to both sides.

March 23, 2010 10:11 pm

Ah, so the response to hyperbole is to apply hyperbole in the other direction.
I agree that the press release has a certain flavour of exasperation, which is somewhat understandable, given the general level of media understanding of defence matters. After all, a tank is any tracked vehicle with a turret (or not) and any company bought instantly takes on the nationality and identity of the buyer. I think I shall have a Kraft Dairy Milk for pudding. ;)

Thank you for the welcome. It’s nice to see a site that maintains a mostly objective and informed view on the subject and an author who takes the time to respond to critics. Even if they are being pedants.

phil Darley
March 24, 2010 8:58 am

Just to be picky… The running gear on the SV version of the ASCOD is NOT the same as fitted to the ASCOD 2 (see link)

open the ASCOD SV data sheet. If you can’t wait this is what it says, which is what I was quuoting on previous quotes.

“Despite its modernity, the Renk 256B
transmission is tested and proven,
currently helping to drive the new
generation of German Puma IFVs.
Capable of operating to 45 tonnes it
combines with MTU’s 600kW 8V
engine to provide unparalleled growth
potential for FRES SV” 600kw is 805BHP!!! not as powerful as the 1100 BHP V10 on the PUMA but still a very useful lump. Compare that with 550BHP for the Warrior. It is not clear what engine was to be fitted to the CV90 SV. looking at the Hagglunds website it is also a 600kw (may even be the same MTU engine in the CV90120T. I thought I read somewhere it was a 600/700bhp upgrade to the original Scania lump.

March 24, 2010 1:47 pm

Your right to call this out – it’s not British at all – BUT I DONT CARE !

As noted previously in many of my rants, the British armed forces have dropped below the critical mass required for the Government to use defence spending as an industrial policy making tool.

I do care because its a paper design and the CV90 FRES Scout offering is a physical piece of kit. As you note the ASCOD is ‘proven’ in Kosovo while the CV90 is being used by European NATO allies in AF right now. CV90 is not British either, but just in case you didn’t get first time, I don’t care where its built as along as its good, and there is timely delivery to the army !

phil Darley
March 24, 2010 9:17 pm

Jed/Admin, I concur the CV90 is not British. As I have stated before, despite the fact that Armoured vehicle production was considered a vital capability, we have failed to buy enough to support a UK production facility.

However, I personally would rather we buy a Sweidush design owned by a British company than a Austrian/Spanish design produced by a US company; especially as the US is protectionist in the extreme!!!!

I don;t really care what we buy as long as its the best, to that end we should have considered the PUMA as technically this is the state of the art for AFV designs. However, I gues it is evem more expensive than CV90 which is probably ranked number 2 in the AFV league table.

Now fit a unmanned turret with the MTU V10 (1100BHP) engine to a CV90, made in Newcastle then it ticks all the boxes in my view!!!

Then fit said engine to Warrior upgrade, Terrier and AS90 and then you have a decent engine for key vehicles that are at present looking a tad under-powered.

March 24, 2010 10:47 pm

Neither of the two are what you would really call combat proven, Have we noticed any signs of the Swiss or Dutch ones leaping across the Afghan plain? apart from the english speaking nations most of the rest have been ‘supporting us all the way’ well to the rear. A bit like the eyties guarding the seafront when we went into Yugo.
Its not down to their guys so much as to their country’s ethos. Which seems to be ‘leave you to it but wring our hands a lot@
Anyway Warrior 2000 had more power than 650, if I remember the trials report it could give another 100, and use less fuel because of its improved power train and better compression ratio.
So thanks to Nick Prest (who bought the Hagglunds factory for Alvis with the poisened chalice of having to maintain the factory and workforcewhether it worked or not)their was never going to be a Super Warrior. And the seat covers we stuck on Panther didnt add much UK content to it either.And wound up making next to no profit thanks to the usual Mission Creep when it went North. Luckily it couldnt go into combat without the usual raft of UOR’s to turn an Italian Running Away Truck into quite a reasonable machine. But given the choioce of a ride in a Panther, CV90 Ascod or Warrior? On Salisbury Plain the Panther, in action Warrior

Richard Stockley
March 24, 2010 11:09 pm

Phil, the MTU unit at 1100 bhp sounds like a bigger engine than the existing Perkins. Is the Warrior engine bay big enough to shoe-horn one in? Plus, would the existing transmission take the additional power without undue wear and tear?

Changes like this could significantly push up costs and delay the Warrior upgrade programme.

March 25, 2010 6:38 am


the Norwegians have been using their CV9030s in AFG, the Swedes their CV9040s, and the Danes are now sending their new CV9035s.

All this and the fact that the Germans have engaged in combat in AFG with their older Marders just tends to go unnoticed in the British and US media…

phil Darley
March 25, 2010 8:54 am

Phil, my comments about using the MTU V10 were to make a point that we need to standardise on things like this wherver possible. I have no idea id the V10 would fit in the Warrior or any of the other vehicles for that matter. I would hope that the Terrier and AS90 would have sufficient room, but they may not.

I think we are in danger of having far too many engines and gearboxes from a plethora of suppliers all doing the same job. To rationalise this makes sense, surely? When the current crop of AFV’s first came in to service they were all about 25t and had 550/600bhp engines, that’s roughly 22/23 BHP/Tonne. For tanks 25bhp/tonne is considered good. These vehicles have now grown to 35+ tonnes and are expected to reach 45t. Just to maintain the same power/weight ratio they need engines in the order or 1100/1200 bhp. The Germans are the only nation to have realised that and fitted an engine to match!!!

Now I know the Germans do have a bit of an obsession with fcuk-off big engines but I think they have got it bang on. We on the other hand tend to go the other way and fit engines that are way too small and under-powered. Chieftan and Leyland L60 springs to mind. We got it about right with the CR2 and the Rolls-Royce 1200BHP engine, even though the M1 and Leo2 had 1500 horses. The latest Leo2 now has a 1800bhp version of the MTU engine, whilst our RR lump is still stuck in a “time-warp”.

This is symptomatic of the war we do things, or should I say don’t do things. Other nations continually update and improve their kit, unil recently, very recently we did not.

Phil, with regard to CV90 and ASCOD not being combat proven, that is a bit of an irrelevance really!!! Most NEW kit by its nature of being new has not been used in combat. The Warrior and Chally2 were not combat proven when we bought them. Are you suggesting we go and buy M” Bradley’s or BMPs? (joke) but you get my point. Thorough field testing should determing if its fit for purpose and if not, you het your money back and go and buy something that is!!!

March 25, 2010 5:21 pm

Prior to the FRES scout decision I guess we would have been heading down the commonality route as Warrior, Terrier and CV90 all have variations of the same x300 transmission.

March 25, 2010 8:27 pm

Sorry guys, was not suggesting that the pwertrain of even Warrior 2000 was the best, just correcting the horse power she had. Even Vickers abandoned its Perkins love affair for the C2E, dropping a much better German lump that took up LESS space than the British Army donkey did. The only thing I would say on the comment from ‘the other Phil’ is that by the time you get to field testing its too late to get your money back. Its relatively easy to get one or two vehicles to perform to spec. And if they dont you can snow the customer with ‘ that will be changed on production’ to a certain extent. Warrior even had an air filtration system known to be prone to bypassing of the filters fron hull 27, nothing happened till Granby scattered engines across the sands of Saudi. I truly hope that it goes right, for whoever makes it. Because my grandson will be sat in it eventually, and lots of other kids too. So whether its Swedish American, or Spanish American dont matter a fcuk. As long as its well made, well designed, and well supplied; so they come home as safe as possible

March 27, 2010 8:31 pm

A bit late, perhaps, but:
“British to it’s bootstraps” the ASCOD isn’t. However, the full quote is:
“The ASCOD SV programme is British to its bootstraps”
The design work for the FRES SV is predominantly, if not exclusively, British. It’s a minor nitpick but an important one, IMHO.

As to the location of the profits, BAE may be a British company, but they’ve been spending quite a large some of their money setting up their presence in the US. So that’s money (profit) from British projects going abroad. In the mean time, other international companies have been establishing presence in the UK, bringing profits accrued elsewhere into the UK.

As to later posts suggesting the Puma, there are a number of problems that count against it:
It’s small. With a semi-unmanned 30mm turret there is room for only 6 dismounts.
It has a semi-unmanned 30mm turret. The idea of bringing this into British army service would result in a catastrophic shortage of monocles due to their falling out in surprise/indignation.
It has a semi-unmanned 30mm turret. The MoD has already made it clear that they only want a 40mm turret. For some reason.

April 1, 2010 5:32 pm

and a German turret now as well

“Lockheed Martin UK will use a German design on the turret it is supplying to General Dynamics UK as part of the ASCOD SV machine selected last week by the Ministry of Defence for a new British Army armored scout vehicle requirement.”

January 22, 2011 2:18 pm

There still seems to be very little coming from General Dynamics about the final specs. Apart from a new 40mm gun what else has changed ? Is the crew compartment smaller as a reconnaissance version will not need to accommodate eight in the back.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
January 22, 2011 3:50 pm

It now seems that the FRES SV purchase will be cut to 70-100 units, which must surely change the cost factors considerably.

The Warrior upgrade programme has also been postponed, with the IOC now given as 2022! No doubt far fewer vehicles will be upgraded, too.

It does make me wonder about the future of the 40mm cased telescoped weapon system selected for both projects.

January 23, 2011 11:04 am

Hi TW,

Very interesting information.

Incidentally the 70-100 equates to the number of Chally2’s to be kept in service.

Further, take the Canadian model, when they reintroduced tracked armour:
– 40 Leo2’s in the field
– 40 with formations ready to deploy
– 20 older models,to be worn out in training fields

So without knowing much about formation recce organisation as it stands (wasn’t reading the site when their uses and role were being debated), I would hazard a guess
– they will be the only armoured formations (ref re-Bridaded 5 multi-role units)
– there will be equal numbers of heavy (Chally2), medium (Scout) and light (Ocelot, Jackal or similar) formations constituting the regiment (if that name survives)

You are bang-on about the new gun: with the variety of ammo needed for different uses, how can you stock, and in the field supply, enough for just, say, 70 units?
– mind you, the French will also be using it but surely only the production will be shared

January 23, 2011 3:26 pm

Just a note, the comment from Jed above is a new Jed, not me the one that comments here all the time and writes articles for the site.

I make this distinction only because the “other Jed” says he doesn’t care where FRES SV is made, as long as its good. I however, for various reasons, do not think the ASCOD 2 based SV will be very good, compared to the CV90 variant.

Even worse, looking at Tony W’s posting above, why bother ? Should we just not confirm the conversation of the Army into the Gendarmarie after the pull out from Afghanistan, and at least be honest about things……

January 23, 2011 4:14 pm

Errr, there is only an ASCOD 2 SV. CV90 is a different vehicle and not SV.

Warrior IOC 2022 is ridiculous – why bother? 70 SVs (presumably Scout version is daft, unless you are also going to bring in RRVs, APCs, Command vehicles and the like in on the same chassis. Let’s face it, we need something to replace the FV432.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
January 23, 2011 7:58 pm

I am starting to think I should stop following defense issues especially those related to the UK as they are getting more and more depressing. All sense to strategy or hint of common sense seems to have firmly gone out the window. Time for a MUNTINY to save our Armed Forces

January 23, 2011 11:30 pm


Nope what we have is the inevitable reduction of the army at least to a gendarmeree with some expedition/ peace keeping enforcing role.

Of course if we planned it and equiped for it, we could have a very good force at it, efficient well trained equiped mobile etc.

If we hang by our fingertips to ‘capabilities’ waiting for the second comming, by deploying hugely expensive penny packets of equipment, (of course with lots of HQ’s, joint commands, Royal corps of… etc) then we will still end up with the Gendarmeree etc, just one with no/knackered equipment, little real force etc.

My money is on the last scenario.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
January 24, 2011 3:54 am

I just wish the Government was straight with us, which would be first I know. Just state that we cannot afford to do what we used to, give a clear idea about future roles and what is going to be obtained to carry these out.

I have no problem with this but do with Politicians saying we are still intending to be a global power for good then leaving squadies with only one swiss army knife per platoon!

January 24, 2011 7:48 am

A reduction of 40% in tanks will leave the five armoured regiments with 31 each. Three squadrons of 10 and one at RHQ. Very much the NATO ideal model which always thought our 14 tank squadrons were too big.

I don’t think the formation reconnaissance regiments will amalgamate with the tank regiments and the status quo will remain at five regiments each. Remember they want to retain the expertise for any future increase in strength.

The infantry will take the hit after Afghanistan. A quick look at the numbers five multi brigades each with four infantry battalions = 20. There will be another four battalions in 16 AA Brigade and one in 3 Cmdo Brigade. The Public duties (3), Cyprus (2) and Brunei (1). For a Grand total of 31 down from 36 at present. Another may be added to the public duties requirement for Scotland. This is also the number of battalions attached to 52nd Brigade so that also would seem to be the ideal brigade to delete from the orbat.

January 24, 2011 9:02 am

Hi, I love speculation. so RE ” Remember they want to retain the expertise for any future increase in strength.” I got to your numbers exactly, but reached a different conclusion.

Ch2’s 385, of which already 70 stored. 30/ bde would leave enough for training also in the manoeuvre sense of it, somewhere where space permits. Putting one of the current squadrons into formation recce (each of them) would give a fielding ratio of roughly 1:2. Do you remember the-then Commander in Germany complaining that once he had sent 120 Challies to the Gulf, he was left with no tanks (out of 385, not all in Germany of course) at all!?

Where the reasoning falls apart is that MBTs are not very survivable without IFVs “in the tow”. Warrior modernisation programme for roughly 200 would have fitted the need, but if it is true that the programme will be stringed out to 2022, then ASCOD is not a replacement for that; so what is? Keeping the Chally2’s back, behind the recce screen in overwatch role sounds like a flawed concept in isolation?

January 24, 2011 10:33 am

A thought: if they want to reduce the front line CR2 numbers, why not do like the US Army National Guard and give some of them to the TA to keep the skills base and retain at least some of the TA?

January 24, 2011 3:28 pm

Mr Fred: “Errr, there is only an ASCOD 2 SV. CV90 is a different vehicle and not SV.”

A CV90 based “FRES Scout Vehicle” was actually the competitor against the winning ASCOD 2 based bid. Unlike the winner, the CV90 based FRES SV vehicle had actually been built and exists as a working prototype.

January 24, 2011 9:50 pm

I’m being pedantic, perhaps. I’d like to know why CV90 is so much the superior solution when it, with an extant demonstrator/prototype, was not selected.

However, the position of the two Jeds is not contradictory as stated. One requires the end product to be good, regardless of country of manufacture. The other believes that only the CV90 could have been good. Only if one were to prescribe the country of manufacture might the two positions contradict.

January 24, 2011 10:19 pm

@ Mr fred

Perhaps the fact that CV90 wasn’t selected indicates it probably best in type?

CV90 has very good mobility. It is adaptable; for example you can buy a version with 120mm gun (the was ASCOD trialled with 105mm.) The only criticism I have seen of it is that its armour is (may be?) thin; but that sounds woolly.

January 24, 2011 10:33 pm

RE “CV90 has very good mobility. It is adaptable; for example you can buy a version with 120mm gun”
– true, and works like a real tank (minus some protection)
– you can also put a 120mm on a Boxer, but it has been stated that it can only be fired to the side, so makes it a fire support vehicle, not a tank
– why exactly the difference (weight in the same class); are we talking about high velocity vs not so h-v?

As x mentioned, mobility is the strong point for CV; there are armies (at least one) that has CV in the recce role, but uses cheaper (older) IFVs to work with the tanks.

Peter Arundel
Peter Arundel
January 24, 2011 10:44 pm

I can’t really understand why people get so excited by the CV90. There’s nothing wrong with it – I’m sure it’s a fine vehicle – but the british army already have it in service. It’s called “Warrior”

The whole ASCOD / CV90 debate is a bit like buying a new VHS to replace your Betamax – meanwhile the world moves onto DVD while you argue . ..

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
January 25, 2011 2:38 am

@ ACC:

“you can also put a 120mm on a Boxer, but it has been stated that it can only be fired to the side, so makes it a fire support vehicle, not a tank”

I would have thought that should be the other way round: firing a powerful gun to the side could roll the vehicle over, but it would be much safer to fire it dead ahead.

Another factor in the wheels vs tracks issue could be that the CV90 looks quite low, even for a tracked MICV, and much lower than a big 8×8. So the thrust of the gun’s recoil has less leverage to roll the vehicle over.

Tony Williams
Tony Williams
January 25, 2011 2:40 am

A related issue:

Two of the three contenders for the US Army’s GCV contract (for a new general-purpose MICV) have released details: BAE and SAIC (GD have yet to announce theirs). See:

The requirements have deliberately been specified very loosely, leaving most of the options open to the bidders – including wheels or tracks. Both BAE and SAIC are offering tracked vehicles.

The intriguing difference is that they have chosen contrasting approaches, in that SAIC has teamed up with Rheinmetall to offer a version of the existing, conventional Puma, whereas BAE is going for a new vehicle with hybrid electric drive.

This should be interesting…

January 25, 2011 7:40 am

Hi Peter @ 10:44,

RE “the british army already have it in service. It’s called “Warrior””
– it does really not make a family that could cover most of the needs of the medium weight formations
– I am not “red hot” for CV, but it does adhere to that concept (and excels in recce roles); the Poles are coming up with a similar family with commonality (and even modules; but in a tank you can’t call them containers – sorry TD)
– what derailed FRES so that the commonality between Scout and General version was lost? … (an academic question, as it is likely no general version will be put in production?)

@TW: Thanks, I knew about the two, but did not know there was a third contender in the wings. The announcements by the two were identical in the sense that both emphasised how much experience from the US heavy formations they had managed to get on their teams (ref. we are supposedly “re-brigading” so that we end up with medium formations).

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 25, 2011 6:33 pm

@ ACC -Do you have any details/links for the Polish design? The only thing that excites me more than Retro-tech is modularity:)

RE: The new multi-role brigades; are they meant to be “medium”? Will this be based on a new medium family of vehicles or mixing heavy and light? Just going to play devils advocate; light armour can be transported by air in limited numbers, medium armour not so much. That leaves road or sea transport. Road might be possible, particularly in developed regions with good roads but even so I would have thought the range would be limited. That leaves sea transport, where I believe size is more of a concern than weight. I’m not dismissing medium armour, it has historically been the most successful type of armour (e.g. Allied armies of World War 2),but with limited space in our sealift why not have heavier, more survivable armour?

January 25, 2011 7:08 pm

Hi GJ,

A good place to start

Somewhere I saw a whole page lay-out of the “swappable” modules, ie, the vehicles can be rebuilt quickly for another mission emphasis (not all, of course, just changing the mix in the fleet).

The name is from General Anders, just in case you wondered…

TD must know of an announcement (coming) and is keeping us in a “holding pattern”, until we get to descend on the army topic?

January 25, 2011 8:17 pm

Well the Anders is certainly provoking some discussion in that forum ! It is an interesting concept for sure. Live a mixture of CV90 plus the Jordanian Falcon turret. Not a “unmanned” turret, but the crew are down in the bustle, protected by the mass of the vehicle body, while the majority of the turret is the gun and the auto loader. Most interesting for me is that the photos and videos show a rear troop compartment with 4 seats = heavily armed Cavalry fighting vehicle = transformation of Formation Recce Regts to Medium Armoured Regiments.

January 25, 2011 8:53 pm

A Merkava light.

January 25, 2011 9:24 pm

Given the space available in an IFV chassis, a couple of dismounts makes a huge amount of sense. An infantryman can snurgle places where no vehicle could get close to. Modern electro-optics mean that these operators will have sensors better than most MBTs. Use a link (short range or wire) back to the vehicle and they have all the benefits of vehicle mounted comms without having to sit on a ridge shouting “Shoot Me!”

The IFV/heavy gun vehicle has some interesting advantages, especially if they can fight a defensive battle. Hull down with just the turret showing would be a very small target and you could even go for a Leopard 1 approach – heavy armour on the turret with a relatively weak hull.
The semi-unmanned turret also has the advantage that the crew can get to the gun if needed since it is just above them, potentially in the same space (or separated by a blast door).
In addition, the deep basket could also be used to give the gun much greater elevation than most MBTs.

January 25, 2011 9:46 pm

X and Mr. Fred – indeed. I wonder if with the size of the future army we might not be able to do much in the way of specialisation. If we had the cash I would turn Chally 2 into Chally 3 by building a Chobham (or later) armoured variant of that Jordanian Falcon turret, reducing crew by 1 and sticking the commander and gunner down into the hull, improving survivability for what may well be a part time TA crew !

On the other hand, keep some Chally 2 and replace current gun with 120mm smooth bore mortar, and M1A TUSK type enhancements, and we have a “heavy infantry support tank” capable of working in urban environments.

As for the Anders, well maybe steal it’s turret and stick it on a CV90 chassis….. :-)

Lots to discuss when TD gets the post-SDSR army threads going !

January 25, 2011 9:51 pm

RE ” a couple of dismounts makes a huge amount of sense. An infantryman can snurgle places where no vehicle could get close to. Modern electro-optics mean that these operators will have sensors better than most MBTs.”
– there we go, recce formations are the armour of tomorrow[?]
– for medium weight this kind of thing (ASCOD-like)+ AT- missiles
– assign a 10/14 strong squadron of Chally2’s [to each] for a good old shooting match over wide-open spaces, just in case

Every year the ” heavies” from each brigade can meet in Canada, with some prepositioned kit, and keep training the tank-on-tank manoeuvre skills
– I would quote (for this, as a rationale) that
1. not one M1 was lost, rather than immobilised, in the Gulf campaigns (is this true; RPGs aimed at the air vents from behind and all that… not so likely in a more conventional campaign)
2. not a single Merkava crew lost in the several Israeli campaigns (again, immobilised tanks are not lost tanks, and the crews are even more important)

January 25, 2011 9:59 pm

Hi Jed,

RE”As for the Anders, well maybe steal it’s turret and stick it on a CV90 chassis….. :-)”
– that’s why my link was to the top of p.6 of the discussion, starting with “the best bits from CV90 stolen, and then…”

Yes, when we get to the thread, I will have more on the mortars, too.

January 25, 2011 10:37 pm

@ Jed

It is the export version of the Chally’s engine I covert.

January 26, 2011 6:38 am

Hi TD,

RE “finishing the flying stuff”
– we have not talked much about combat-oriented UAVs;specifically:
– will Taranis survive in any form, or is the future for the Anglo-French co-operation pertly (not mainly?) in this space… (that would make the Dassault-led effort to encompass a good half dozen nations then)
– what will fly off the half-empty carrier flight deck: the USN unmanned, stealthy and persistent penetrating bomber will be in service at about the same time as the JSF (at this rate)

January 26, 2011 6:57 pm

Recce formations as the armour of tomorrow – no. A silly idea. A unit as lightly armoured and manned as a recce unit is too fragile to use as a main force. Part of Recce is snurgling around and an infantryman is much better at this than any vehicle. The advances in electro-optics means that you don’t have to have a vehicle to mount them on, but you still need a main force to take and hold ground.

I really dislike the idea of an infantry support tank, especially one based on an MBT chassis. It already has a 120mm gun that, with the right munition, can do almost everything that the mortar can do. What the gun cannot do, you are no worse off having a lighter rear-echelon vehicle with a mortar on for that capability

The Falcon/Anders turret is an interesting idea but the area you would need to protect to keep it in the fight isn’t actually much less than the manned turret. If you are prepared to suffer an F-kill at a lower level than a manned turret then you can save some weight. Otherwise the protecting area is about the same. Hull down you get some advantages because you can keep at least some of the bustle autoloader out of sight

Not sure why Anders turret on CV90 would be worth doing. CV90 already has a qualified 120mm turret

What I’d like is a family of AFVs at each level. 10-20t lights, 30-40t Mediums and 50-60t+ heavies. ARRVs, AVREs, APC/IFVs, tanks etc.

January 26, 2011 7:14 pm

Is there any value in re-using our Stormers now that they have been mothballed with the retirement of the Starstreak HVM on them? This is one of my favourite pipe dreams, putting NEMO on a Stormer and using them as fire support platforms in Afghanistan.

January 26, 2011 7:29 pm

Hi Tubby,

RE ” This is one of my favourite pipe dreams, putting NEMO on a Stormer and using them as fire support platforms in Afghanistan”
– I am sure that would work

Go for Amos, though, for proper effect. The Poles have adopted the same gun as in AS90. I have not seen any pictures of their SP platform (may or may not be the same as in AS90). The factory where they did the installations has done an experimental AMOS installation as well. I wonder how much lighter the SP platform would be if you replace the 155mm with AMOS on some of them? Amos + turret is 3.5t. What I am thinking of is air-portability of at least some effective & organic fire support (other than the 105mm).

January 26, 2011 7:36 pm

In response to Mr. Fred:

“Recce formations as the armour of tomorrow – no.”

I agree, but the Army has been toying with the “medium armour” experiment for a while (CVR(T) squadrons in Challenger 2 regiments etc.

“A unit as lightly armoured and manned as a recce unit is too fragile to use as a main force.”

In an earlier thread / discussion some noted that is only due to our doctrinal approach to armoured Recce. Others do it differently i.e. US Cavalry regiments approach of M1 MBT and M3 CFV – much heavier force than UK.

“Part of Recce is snurgling around and an infantryman is much better at this than any vehicle. The advances in electro-optics means that you don’t have to have a vehicle to mount them on”.

Not necessarily, these are different things – different tools for different jobs. Sneaky squaddies and armoured recce each have advantages and disadvantages.

“I really dislike the idea of an infantry support tank, especially one based on an MBT chassis.”

Fair enough !

“It (MBT) already has a 120mm gun that, with the right munition, can do almost everything that the mortar can do.”

Yes, probably, but only within line of site, as that is what high velocity tank cannons are designed for. Not good for lobbing HE rounds over the hill, but like I say, its not designed to be mobile artillery.

“What the gun cannot do, you are no worse off having a lighter rear-echelon vehicle with a mortar on for that capability”

Yes, a lighter vehicle is fine for indirect fire support, but modern 120mm smooth bore can have ranges of 1 – 2km in a direct fire support role – in which case heavier protection would be good. So whether its as heavy as CH2 can of course be debated.

“The Falcon/Anders turret is an interesting idea but the area you would need to protect to keep it in the fight isn’t actually much less than the manned turret.”

Fair point, but I was not really considering weight benefit, as much as potential crew survivability benefit.

“Not sure why Anders turret on CV90 would be worth doing. CV90 already has a qualified 120mm turret”

I know, but its a “conventional” manned turret, so I was just postulating on the increased crew survivability benefits I guess.

“What I’d like is a family of AFVs at each level. 10-20t lights, 30-40t Mediums and 50-60t+ heavies. ARRVs, AVREs, APC/IFVs, tanks etc.”

I wonder if the 10 to 20tonne range is pointless these days? Are only medium and above going to provide the necessary protection ? Although I suppose BVS10 and Warthog just about fit at the bottom end as “protected mobility” ???

January 26, 2011 7:37 pm

Hi ArmChairCivvy,

NEMO would be better but I worry that it would not be as air portable and may be too heavy for the Stormer platform.

Alternatively they could revert them to Stormer 30, which I would imagine could then be used as our light RECCE element in Mr.Fred’s grand scheme. I only have a slight understanding of how the army works so I may be barking up the wrong tree!

January 26, 2011 10:05 pm

CR2 is good out to what was it? 4-5km tank-on-tank? I’d be surprised if smoothbores couldn’t reach nearly as far with modern munitions. If you are in the direct fire arena you need heavy armour. If you are using indirect fire then light armour will do.

The value of light armour is questionabl, but perhaps all it needs to provide is a heavy weapon or protected mobility and armour proof against small arms, possibly heavy machine guns over the frontal arc. Possibly the >10t range is too heavy to be really light. I see light armour as truly airportable. You accept that it can’t withstand heavy weapons as a trade for the basic truth that if you have the only tank in theatre then it’s the best tank in theatre. Being a family of vehicles you simplify your already constrained logistics to support weapons carriers, APCs, medevac etc. Maybe this light role could be covered by Foxhound variants.

Stormer was always an obvious choice, for me, to replace CVR(T) but I wonder if it isn’t too much bigger than Scimitar et al to be portable enough. CVR(T) could be transported in standard shipping containers (tip of hat to TD) on commercial transport.

January 26, 2011 10:34 pm

I’ve just been trying to read the tea leaves… Absolutely nothing was communicated from the Defence Council, except that March meeting might produce decisions (there is a February date reserved, if it going to be used).

The numbers read something like
– CR2s 50-100
– FRES Scouts 70?
– AS90 85-ish
– G/MLRS still 67?
– Warrior+ 200 (but when?)

Divide everything by 5 (the intervention brigades won’t have any of this stuff? Perhaps one dedicated artillery rgmnt is kept to deploy or not with them , depending on the nature of the mission).

What do we know about the medium multi-role brigades (except that the strength is supposed to be c. 6500)? Nothing much…

January 27, 2011 1:31 am

ACC said: “What do we know about the medium multi-role brigades (except that the strength is supposed to be c. 6500)? Nothing much…”

Yep, because its emperors new clothes, we are now starting to see the truth, the bulk of the army will be “Infantry, General Service, Light Role” because we cant (wont) pay for anything else…. “Doomed, were doomed I tel’ye”

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
January 27, 2011 5:24 am

This is what I think could be the organisation of the 5 Brigades under FF2020:

HQ with;
1 Royal Engineer Squadron
1 Signals Company

1 Multirole Armoured Regiment with;
1 Squadron of Challenger 2
1 Squadron with ASCOD SV
2 Companies with Warrior

3 Infantry Regiments, each with;
3 Infantry Comapnies
1 Fire Support Company
1 Maneover Company with MRAVs sufficient to move 1 Inf Coy.

1 Artillery Regiment with;
3 Batteries of 105mm Light gun
1 Battery with Starstreak HVM
1 Battery with UAV

2 Transport/Logistic Regiments form teh Royal Logistics Corps

Held at Divisional level would be 2 Heavy Artillery Regiments each with;
2 Batteries of AS90
2 Batteries of G/MLRS

There would also be an AD Regiment with Rapier FSC and the usual units assigned to a Divisional HQ, such as RAMC Medical facilities, additional Logistic support and ISTAR as examples. For Brigade only operations, units would be taken from Divisional level and attached to the Brigade HQ as required.

From this is it obvious that very little new equipment would be purchased, in fact more would be lost compared to now. We loose most of our heavy armoured capability though at a pust an Armoured Brigade could be formed from the Multirole Armoured Regiments but hsi would be a rare exception. The latter does give the Brigade some hitting power, especially if the planned upgrades do finally materialise and additional capabilities like a APAM round for the CR2 would be welcome.

I have a feeling that the Aormobile brigade is vulnerable. I can see the Parachute Regiment’s battalions all becoming “Ranger” Battalions with SF support duties and the aviation assets held at Divisional level and used to support the 5 FF2020 Brigades leaving the RM as our sole rapid Intervention Brigade, though this could take them out of medium long term rotations.

Well that my two pence worth.

January 27, 2011 9:06 am

Hi ArmChairCivvy,

One minor correction last post – when I said NEMO would be better I meant AMOS not NEMO.

RE Stormer – at work so cannot look at dimensions, but Stormer 30 (with a 30 mm bush master + 2 TOW’s) is ~ 12 tonnes.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 27, 2011 10:05 am

@ Lord Jim – interesting structure but as you point out the heavy armour is spread out piecemeal. Is it similar to a US army cavalry unit?

It’s my understanding that the conventional doctrine for the use of armour is en mass.

The Germans in WW2 were famous for their heavy armour but the mainstay of the Panzer Divisions was medium armour, the heavy armour was pooled in to independent battalions. Their job was to spearhead the breakthrough or stop the enemies.

Playing Devils advocate again – wouldn’t it make more sense to keep the heavy armour together and separate to be deployed when needed. Its place in the multi role brigades should be replaced with medium armour (based upon vehicles already in the inventory?).

January 27, 2011 11:12 am

Off topic, but a story to gladden TD’s heart. Biosafety Level 3 labs, in containers!

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
January 27, 2011 2:37 pm

I was tryin gto look at an organisation that would allow for the FF2020 Brigades to be able to operate as self contained formations using exisitng platforms. It is going to be unaffordable for the Army to buy fleets of new AFVs, medium or otherwise given other priorities. The Multirole Armoured Regiment does give each Brigade a reasonably powerful maneover formation, especially when combined with Artillery and Aviation support. In addition its three Infantry Battalions give a large “Boots on the Ground” footprint, and each will have a mobile company in MRAVs as a mobile reserve.

My modle is a bare bones approach and hopefully additional assetsleould be held at Divisional level such as an Armoured Regiment or Medium Reconnassance Formation.

As has been often stated warfre is changing. Yes historically Armour has best been used en mass but the days of large tank formations engaging each other are probably over for the British Army, with the Armour now acting in a supporting role to the infantry. We have to look at what realistic operations are we likely to chose to conduct and though possible another GW style operation is unlikely unless forced upon us. In that case as I pointed out it would be possible to combine the Multirole Armoured Regiments to form an ad hoc Armoured Brigade but in the scheme of things the UK’s future contribution to coalition operations is not going to be large formations of AFVs.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
January 27, 2011 2:39 pm

One question, besides Warrior which “Medium” platforms are already in the inventory. The FV432 cannot go on forever and no replacement is funded.

January 27, 2011 3:55 pm

Hi LJ,

Exactly my thoughts “be replaced with medium armour (based upon vehicles already in the inventory?)”
– so we will have , maybe, 200 IFVs plus a third of that number for scouting, with same firepower but w/o the dismounts (better protected, though)
– only 50 or so per new brigade?
– on the light (but still armoured) side of things, why are the Stormers in storage? There’s about 150 of them

January 27, 2011 4:30 pm

the days of large tank formations engaging each other are probably over for the British Army, with the Armour now acting in a supporting role to the infantry. We have to look at what realistic operations are we likely to chose to conduct and though possible another GW style operation is unlikely unless forced upon us.

If you listen to Rupert Smith, the days of large-scale armoured warfare have been over since 1973. Yes, there were Challengers in 1991, but don’t forget that the French went in with light armour and did just as well on the left flank as 1 Armd Div did in the middle. As Patrick Wright pointed out, there’s always going to be a need for “protected mobile space with armament” but what form that takes is very much an open question; Challengers, ASCOD, Warrior, Marder-type missile carriers, light Stryker-type wheeled IFV, MRAV, or something we haven’t even seen yet.

One benefit of the roulement system was that you could conceivably rerole battalions in a hurry – say you suddenly needed a lot of armoured infantry (and you had the Warriors to spare) you could be sure that a lot of your light-role or mech battalions had a fair amount of recent experience as armoured infantry based on their last roulement. If you’re reroling a light infantry battalion under the new system, you’re starting from scratch.
And we can’t afford to specialise; no one can. Even the USMC, the amphibious forced-entry specialists, are doing civil policing and urban patrols now.

January 27, 2011 4:42 pm

I have often wondered how the heavy armour crowd, (for whom of course G1 was christmas on a stick), explain that the french did as well with AMX 30’s and wheels did as well we did against the Iragis with chally and warrior.

If they did why? If so do we really need chally 2 etc

January 27, 2011 5:09 pm

Hi a,
RE “One benefit of the roulement system was that you could conceivably rerole battalions in a hurry” I read that (when the total number of bn’s was higher) for the GW1 force (when looking around to take the total count) 19 battalions were not available at all, because they were in the middle of their retraining/ re-equipping!

January 27, 2011 5:15 pm

ACC: well, yes, that would be one of the disadvantages of the system right there… Just to be clear, I don’t think roulement was a good idea overall; but we need to keep an eye on flexibility of role. Armoured infantry needs to be able to operate dismounted. Gunners need to be able to operate as vehicle patrols. Cavalry need to be able to switch to Jackals.

January 27, 2011 5:25 pm

“on the light (but still armoured) side of things, why are the Stormers in storage? There’s about 150 of them”

Best guess is money, but I am surpised that we have not sold them as surely a smaller army than ours could buy them and replaced the HVM system with a new turret, as there are plenty of good options.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 27, 2011 5:38 pm

@ a – I agree. Here is an old idea for changing the US army structure to be more flexible like the Britsh!

There’s a lot in the post but the basic idea is to have a standard Infantry battalion with organic firepower which can be “patched” with various transport units (Helicopter, IFV, etc). These would be supported by supporting battalions such as Heavy Armour.

By creating fixed Multi-role brigades are we actually limiting our flexibility?

January 27, 2011 5:50 pm

In 1940 the German armour used to push us off the Continent was on the whole was lighter armed and armoured than British and French armour, especially the latter. Often it is how “armour” is employed more than the vehicle itself that wins the day. Later in WW2 there were similar instances in the Far East with Empire forces using Universal Carriers.

January 27, 2011 5:52 pm


I have mixed feeling about the ending of the Arms Plot too. At first I thought it was a mistake. But now I think specialisation is the way. But I think “we” have cocked it up.

Not going to say anymore until we talk about the Army.

January 27, 2011 5:55 pm

FF2020 is a load of cack. We are now starting to see the same thing as Treasury has done to RN / RAF – did we expect any different.

Heavy armour is dead, yawn. Since GW1, GW2 and Israeli experience have shown that it has a role in combined arms operations in urban terrain. Why did the French “do so good” in the desert with wheels – well they were right out on the flank, who did they come up against ? What engagements did they fight ?

From Wikipedia: “The French force Daguet Light Armoured Division) quickly overcame the Iraqi 45th Infantry Division, suffering light casualties and taking a large number of prisoners, and took up blocking positions to prevent an Iraqi counter-attack on the Coalition flank” – so a light armoured division defeated an Infantry division, mmmmm’ OK, that tells us what about wheeled AFV versus MBT ? Whereas we know 1st (UK) Armoured Div took on heavy Republican Guard armoured units – in other words I don’t think there is a direct comparison, nor any lessons to be particularly learned.

As I have said before, it is never an “either / or” proposition, it is about having a blended, depth of capability so that you can use the right tool for the right job. This does not mean you could not push some capabilities back into the reserves, so that they are not held at high or immediate readiness.

However back to FF2020. We could have a smaller, better equipped army able to do what the SDSR asks it to do (NATO treaty obligations, coalition and UK only expeditionary operations) but only if it is invested in. No investment, and in fact the en-mass removal of capabilities will leave us with “light role” infantry battalions which can stand guard around UK airports or ….., erm well I am not sure what else…..

I suppose in a coalition they could work with other countries armoured and combat support (artillery and air defence) units, ahhh the Euro army……. now I get it !

January 27, 2011 6:36 pm

@ Jed

I think the example you need to give is the US 3rd Inf Div’s “Thunder Run” through South Baghdad in GW2.

FYI just because I gave the example I did doesn’t mean I am not in favour of heavy tanks.

January 27, 2011 8:25 pm

Should the arms plot be brought back, but different ?

Somewhere, long ago, someone (maybe DomJ ? Or JBT ??) suggested a 4 stage roulement – 1) Training, 2) High Readiness 3) Deployed Operational 4) Post-Op “reset”

Would an arms plot based on a 4 year cycle be better than one based on a 2 year cycle? (of course that suggests a year in reach stage, which might not be practical). More stability in function and location, and yet more variety (the spice of life, apparently…) for career development etc. Operationally it would be superior to the idea of trickle drafting / posting of individuals as a way of spreading around the knowledge and experience.


Lord Jim
Lord Jim
January 27, 2011 9:15 pm

The key word and also the Elephant in the room is “Investment”! I am starting to think we are going to end up with an Army similar in size, capabilities and organisation to the Australia.

The only chance the Army has is if the Chiefs put their foot down when to comes to the 2015 SDSR and ensure that the FF2020 idea is properly funded so capacity and capability are retained. To do this they will have to stand up and shout both in private and in public. Mind you all three servioces will have to do this. Who ever is in power should be in for a rough ride then (Hopefully).

January 27, 2011 9:25 pm

@ Jed

Yes I thought of similar. Basically treating an infantry battalion as a ship; work-up, deploy, and rest. But I can be old fashioned. Um. E.g. I think the Rifles should have a purpose to match their heritage and become our light role strategic reserve to be stuffed into ships and aeroplanes as needed. Line infantry should have a home role of playing with heavy stuff. And a peace keeper/UN/function abroad. The UK could become a centre of excellence for that type of operation. Much as they used to do when “we” ran the world.

I am going to wait until TD does the Army stuff.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
January 27, 2011 9:39 pm

It’s time to play Devils advocate again (or as I like to think of it, lobbing a handgrenade and running away!). Researching expeditionay warfare I came across this idea.

Change British Army into “Marine” Brigades?
Scrap TA and replace with Heavy Armoured Division?
British controlled International peace-keeping “Foreign Legion”?

January 27, 2011 9:49 pm

I quite like that idea jed especially for the regular army 1 to 4 for the regulars and a 1 to 6 for the TA but a complete overhaul is necessary as current situation gives dire results for deployability. Lord Jim this country does not require a large regular army after 2015 so a slightly enlarged Australian model may suit. I would go for a model more closely following the new US army structure with the smaller heavy medium and light multi role brigades easier to deploy for the UK. The current model seems to large for most operations we will tend to go on and less easy to deploy. We should stick with heavy and air assault in the regulars as this require the most training and medium peace support in the TA.

January 27, 2011 9:50 pm


Yes I remember reading that article:

“Change British Army into “Marine” Brigades?”

Oh yeah, all for it personally, never gonna have enough airlift, so just admit they are gonna have to move by ship…

“Scrap TA and replace with Heavy Armoured Division?”

He says scrap the TA as it currently exists and base the new Reserves around a single Heavy Armoured Division. Based on my 6 years in the TA this is an overly simplistic view, but there is definitely mileage in it – I have also suggested that instead of binning Chally 2 regiments that the TA Yeomanry Rgt’s pick up the role etc.

“British controlled International peace-keeping “Foreign Legion”?” = That would be the Brigade of Ghurkas then ??

January 27, 2011 10:11 pm

@ Jed

Hands of the TA matey. I want them for my AA missile batteries and cruise missile batteries…… :)

I think we should wait for TD to start the Army series. Lets not waste what stuff that we will want to say in what I think will be the most interesting of the series.

@ GJ

I have thought about having 6 to 8 large RFA troopers (with docks and RLC manned landing craft) backed up by some cargo variants and rotating a brigade through the role as a UK Landing Force. This wouldn’t be for amphibious manoeuvre warfare; more as a ready to go follow up force / reinforcement. This is sort of thing I see the “light infantry” division I alluded to above.