Some More Thoughts on FRES Scout

The comments in the previous posts have been lively, and as usual, extremely well informed.

To keep the fires burning here are some recently released videos

A few points of interest, at least for me!

Bridge Layer: Although there was a bridging variant of the Stormer supplied to Indonesia that has a 15m Class 30 span the UK did not have such a variant in the CVR(T) lineup. The CVR(T) was of course lightweight, able to traverse soft ground, use poor low class bridges and at a push, swim, unlike the ASCOD2. Maybe it will need a bridging variant to provide enhanced mobility and allow the choice of routes.

British to Its Bootstraps: One of the earlier claims was that the SV was a British design, but going through the video one can see an MTU engine, Renk transmission, German turret and British/French main armament!

750 Horse Power: The engine will be an MTU 750HP model, compared to the 190HP engine in the CVR(T) one has to wonder about fuel consumption and its impact on usage. CVR(T) has a range of roughly 420 miles and the ASCOD2, 300 miles. Of course we don’t know if these figures are apples and apples or apples and aardvarks (the ASCOD carries more fuel of course) but it would be a concern for a vehicle that is designed to operate far forward and on the flanks.

Protection: Creating a tracked vehicle with the same degree of hull shaping found in vehicles like the Mastiff is impossible but the video states it will have a concave floor, fire suppression, spall liners, composite sub floor, suspended seats, obscurant dischargers, warning receiver and the usual passive armour. By shaping the hull and ‘managing’ heat signatures the thermal and radar footprint is ‘significantly reduced’

Reduced from what?

CIDS: Arguably one of the real innovations in the design is the Core Infrastructure  and Distribution System, this is an electronic ring main that sensors, monitoring equipment, displays, controls, power connectors and other systems can plug into. Another innovation is an open electronic architecture that surrounds CIDS. This combination is a real innovation that would be difficult to retrofit into an existing vehicle. One might be uncharitable and say this might have been driven by the torrid time GD UK had with upgrading the vehicle fleet for BOWMAN!

Direct Fire: The video specifically mentions a 120mm direct fire version and from comments it would seem that the need to fight for information, as opposed to sneaking around for it, would be supported by this. I have my reservations about the latest 120mm low recoil weapons in this sized base vehicle and this a 90mm or 105mm is more appropriate but will look at this some time in the future.

Marketing Bullshit: Finally, as a tongue in cheek comment, when describing the Common Base Platform the man in khaki says that the concept of using a common chassis for a number of variants is a

‘relatively new concept in armoured vehicle design’

Since the sixties that is, there are many examples of a common base design throughout the world of armoured vehicle design, the US M113 has literaly hundreds of variants on the common base platform.

The cheek of this is made even more amusing because it is replacing CVR(T) that has more variants that have seen service than planned for the Scout Variant!

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July 5, 2010 2:08 pm

The CV-90 would have been even less British………….

But check out the industrial work share.

Phil Darley
July 5, 2010 2:24 pm

Marketing bollocks!!!! Something the Septics do very well!!!

If this vehicle is sooooo important and urgent, why choose a paper design and then spend £500million on a handful of prototypes. I was hoping that this new bunch of politicos were going to make a difference, how Naive!!!

Fist this announcement, I really thought they would cancel this contract, then the kick in the balls for the Armed Foces over pay.

They are turning in to the same bunch of liars as the last lot.

paul g
July 5, 2010 3:11 pm

oh phil surely you were swayed when he changed from suit to “working dress”! i was totally convinced when the drawing started making engine noises, sounds great, i’m in!!

Phil Darley
July 5, 2010 11:07 pm

Paul g I half expected him to change into MTP!! Is he not the guy that advertised the RED Driving school?

I do not understand why we need this vehicle and the Warrior. Surely if there is a need for a vehicle of this size then it is not only a CVRT replacement but a replacment for the Warrior and the FV432/Warrior.

The FRES UV was supposed to have replaced the latter, is this an admision that wheeled AFVs are not really up to much?

I think we need LPPV and something like the Ranger for most conflicts. We then need a warrior type range of vehicles for high-end war fighting.

The gap left is the high mobility but light weight AFVs. For this we need something like a modern mine resistant Stormer type vehicle and an updated Viking (better armour and mine protection plus moe versions i.e. mortar/direct fire support/Air Defence etc.

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
July 5, 2010 11:58 pm

What a deeply unimpressive design. Nothing revolutionary at all. Let’s face it if the BA needed a vehicle like this it should have had a Recce version of Warrior twenty odd years ago . . .

As a scout vehicle it looks like it’s a design that has been far too compromised by it’s MICV heritage. The front mounted transmission and engine raises the overall height as does the torsion bar suspension. A rear engined hull suspended on external hydro-pneumatic units would lower the profile substanstially. A smaller frontal profile allows thicker frontal armour for the same weight PLUS it can be better shaped too. External suspension units increase protection from mines by making the suspension units sacrificial and by removing those big, heavy transverse torsion bars that are just waiting to be blown through the floor.

I’m depressed now. . .

July 6, 2010 1:27 am

Phil ref: “I do not understand why we need this vehicle and the Warrior.” Because Warrior is a infantry section carrying AIFV – I presumed that ASCOD 2 SV is actually a shortened version of ASCOD, just like the CV90 FRES SV variant was a shorter (1 less road wheel) version of CV90 – but I could be wrong ref ASCOD 2 SV – can anyone else confirm ?

Ref: “The gap left is the high mobility but light weight AFVs. For this we need something like a modern mine resistant Stormer type vehicle and an updated Viking (better armour and mine protection plus moe versions i.e. mortar/direct fire support/Air Defence etc.” – that would be Warthog then.

By the way, the whole mobility versus weight issue is a big deal here, you simply could not make a “mine resistant Stormer” its not shaped, its Aluminium armour etc etc. A modern Stormer, versus BVS10 versus Warthog, they are all lighter and thus with lower levels of IED / blast protection than an MRAP, but also considerably more mobile.

Phil Darley
July 6, 2010 9:02 am

Jed, when I referred top the Stormer I was simply stating a vehicle of that size and weight, not the physical vehicle. I was suggesting we implement all the technologies we now have for better protection (including mines/ieds) and build that in to a smaller/lighter AFV that is Stormer like. We need something like the viking but that too needs to learn from the deficiencies of the previous version. Neither of these will be as well protected as a full blown MRAP, but the technology now exists to make them a whole lot better (Just look at the technology of the LPPV contenders). You can have light weight AND protection IF…IF you design it in from the outset.

Jed said “an updated Viking (better armour and mine protection plus moe versions i.e. mortar/direct fire support/Air Defence etc.” – that would be Warthog then.” No the Warthog is just a slightly bigger Viking and thus able to have more armour bolted on. I am talking about a redesign incorporating the new technologies in to the structure of the vehicle (not bolt on).

Peter, I am with you on the ASCOD SV, which is what I was eluding to with my reference to Warrior. The ASCOD SV is nothing but a newer version of the Warrior. It is not radical in anyway. So why the £500m to build prototypes for a design that already exists. The implication is (as you have detailed) not very different to the vehicles already in production. The marketing bollox still shows 7 sets of road wheels. As this is nothing more than CGI you would have thought they would have got this in-line with what they were proposing, which makews me think it is going to be a full sized MICV for all versions, which makes sense from a commonality perspective.

July 6, 2010 12:43 pm

I think the main technologies are still extra armour and V shaped hull.
LPPV will have a V shaped hull but in order for it to fulfil it’s niche requirement it won’t have the heavy armour of a Mastiff so it’s not really possible for it to offer that level of protection. Similarly a smaller tracked vehicle, whilst improving on previous generations, will not offer the same level of protection as ASCOD or CV90.

Personally, I am skeptical about LPPV. It’s size is very limiting. If we are in an IED environment we might be better off just buying more Ridgebacks for now.

I think we are agreed ASCOD 2 is no step change. But the jury is out on what that might look like.

Off topic slightly. What about upgrading Warrior to APC “Armadillo stylee” sans turret?

July 6, 2010 12:56 pm

I think you’d be amazed at what sacrificail componants, hull shaping and fresh air do for a vehicle.
See the “Pookie”.

Personly, I dont think APC’s make a whole lot of sense.
Perhaps you dont need a full turret, but it seems daft not not bolt on an auto cannon or a couple of 81mm mortars on a remote weapons station.

Sven Ortmann
Sven Ortmann
July 6, 2010 1:23 pm

“Personly, I dont think APC’s make a whole lot of sense.
Perhaps you dont need a full turret, but it seems daft not not bolt on an auto cannon or a couple of 81mm mortars on a remote weapons station.”

A RWS costs a lot in comparison to a cheap APC design.

An APC is a carrier vehicle, many people have difficulties understanding carriers. Many people misunderstand the Wiesel2 for a small tank, for example.

An APC offers protected mobility to and from the battlefield (not so much ON the battlefield) to infantry. It’s the more agile, bulletproof and fragment-proof equivalent of a 2ton truck.

A ring mount for a 12.7 mm can be replaced with a ring mount for a 20 mm (French M621 for example) or 30 mm (ASP-30 for example) autocannon. The APC is a transport, not combat vehicle and as such should not need its armament often – thus no requirement for anything better than a shielded ring mount (except in stupid small wars).

Think it through; you add a RWS and other luxury to an APC. Then you add decent armour. You end up at a vehicle cost of about € 2 million.
Voilà, a squad carrier for € 250,000 per infantryman.

Now tell me how you want to get to the needed infantry strength of a mobilised army without breaking the purse.
Or shall we create a new class of infantry squad carriers (let’s call it “ISC”) because we gold-plated the old, cheap APCs?
So the old APCs become IFVs, and we need to replace them for their actual role with an “ISC” that’s in fact just an APC of the old philosophy?

That’s indeed what happens again and again in reality in many areas and it’s just plain stupid. It happens when missions are misunderstood or not enough self-restraint was exercised.

Besides; the most used weapon of a main battle tank or infantry fighting vehicle is a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Every APC has at least such a wepaon.

July 6, 2010 1:43 pm

With a large army, then I agree with you, with a small army, I dont really see £250,000 per trooper as a lot.
Although thinking about it I dont know how much an APC costs compared with a warrior.

My fantasy army did have 1x MBT, 5x IFV, 10xAPC, so maybe I should just be quiet.

Still, if we strip warrior of its turret, I dont see the advantage.

July 6, 2010 3:27 pm

The US Army uses the Bradley in the Recce role in much the same way as we envisage using the FRES Scout SV (ASCOD 2). Will the FRES SV be less effective than the CVR (T) due to its size, increased thirst and battlefield signature? I doubt it. Will it be more effective in terms of protection, mobility and firepower? I think we can all agree that FRES will offer increased protection versus the Scimitar and this is vital in a post-Cold War IED rich environment. Will it offer increased firepower versus the 30 mm RARDEN gun? Yes, but will its 40 mm CTA cannon be as reliable and effective as the new generation of cannons being used on vehicles such as the Puma? only time will tell. The most controversial aspect of FRES SV is whether its job can be done by the Warrior. Given the likely massive reduction in Cold War legacy armoured formations, the answer is quite possibly yes. Is Warrior coming to the end of its effective in-service life? i don’t know, but if it is, then I’d rather buy Puma than ASCOD 2. Whatever, given the current financial austerity we’re faced with, i would delay FRES SV for five years.

July 6, 2010 6:55 pm

Delay for another five years? I rather doubt that you would get any British content in a new programme (and it would have to be a new programme) five years down the line. That assumes that anyone would want to bid. Putting a design together and submitting it in the manner the customer wants is expensive. I doubt GD or BAE would want to go through it all again as they would have every right to expect it to be fobbed off for another period of time.

Sven Ortmann
Sven Ortmann
July 6, 2010 8:13 pm

“Will the FRES SV be less effective than the CVR (T) due to its size, increased thirst and battlefield signature? I doubt it.”

Thirst is not relevant for effectiveness, but it’s important for efficiency. Ceteris paribus the fuel consumption is roughly proportional to weight. A tripled fuel supply burden in comparison to a modern CVR(T) counterpart is an important price.
Modern formations consume most fuel in the engines of their many soft trucks, though.

The increased size is quite problematic as well:

It’s much easier to hide a CVR(T) than an ASCOD. A whole company of CVR(T)s could easily hide in the garages of a village while they rest.

A CVR(T) has an extremely low ground pressure – less than an infantryman. This enables swamp operations beyond the reach of an ASCOD.

Anecdote: CVR(T)’s width was by requirement limited by the distance between rubber trees in Malaysia.
Think about that. Tanks tend to be either small enough to drive between trees or strong enough to drive through the trees. The ASCOD might have a problematic width+power combination that would fail in forests where a CR2 or CVR(T) could drive. It would be interesting to learn about this important characteristic from practice, but environmental protection regulation makes it rather difficult to find someone who has first-hand experience on this. Maybe some of the few CV90 drivers who were in Liberia could help (similar weight & power, very specific type of forest).

The very small width of a CVR(T) could also enable operation on mountain trails where no ASCOD team would ever be sent to.

So yes, there’s a hefty price for the weight and volume needed for better armour, better gun and better sensors.

I’m – despite knowing those issues – no advocate for such tankettes except for few mechanised air assault battalion battle groups, though.

July 7, 2010 4:12 am

Just a scattering of thoughts that I hope won’t derail much:

The CV90 would indeed have been less British, but that thanks to sheer corporate foolishness. It needn’t have been — just look at the number of mostly-Fokker F-16s still in the air across the Channel — but became so, from the start, by gross failure of vision. So instead of a Warrior replacement family that would have given commonality with five countries significant to the northern flank of NATO and thereby Britain itself (yes, I’ve just dragged Sweden in kicking and screaming) there’s instead a Warrior replacement being snuck through the back door with inflationary boutique “scout” systems in tow. It will do good things for subcontractors’ stock values but not perhaps for Britain’s armoured cavalry capabilities.

The place where Sven is perhaps most spot-on is, doctrine first. What the hell is all this new kit there to do? And what kinds belong with what conditions of unit/operation? Back in the days of actual rather than defense-industrial horseshit, there were practical reasons (past military class-warfare and machismo) for different kinds of cavalry. In the context of refighting fall ’44/spring ’45 on paper in the Fulda Gap for decades with evolving kit, there were understandable reasons for Type 70/57 and Formation Recce. Now it seems a mix of marketing gobbledygook, half-digested lessons from a narrow branch of warfare (COIN), and wishful thinking (see “situational awareness, perfect.”)

Doctrine does matter, especially as a lot of our practical instincts sidle towards something like the old and undervalued Euro-American model of “armoured cav” from the Cold War. For what practical reasons do you value MRAP vehicles over the nimbleness (and Britishness) of son-of-Stormer with an economic but efficient sensor fit? It’s a cliche but there are arguments for both sides and they are embedded in the larger question of what is the Army supposed to do in the future? What sort of conflcits are worth contesting with British force, and what resources will the people trying to kill British soldiers and confound their objectives employ?

At a more basic level it seems to be a case about (pretenious phrase coming up :) the sociology of defense contracting. In the Fifties and Sixties there used to be comments about various bits of Europe lagging about five years behind the U.S in a variety of trends. Here it seems about the same kind of lag behind the Pentagon’s stonkingly collapsed Future Combat Systems program. The movie version at least had Tom Hanks and Diane from “Cheers” and was a good bit funnier. The Russian conductor helped too.

Phil Darley
July 7, 2010 11:31 am

Jackstaff, you are so right. Until the SDR has taken place and we know what the goverment wants our armed forces to do this decision should have been shelved.

Having said that, it is obvious to most people that the follwoing vehicles do need replacing or major refits/upgrades (to the point that new build may be cheaper):

CVRT and Stormer
and the whole range of small utility types viz:
Landrover/Pinz’s etc…

For now its obvious that we need and probably will always need MRAP type vehicles. I think the LPPV should be turned in to a family of vehicles (much as both the contenders seem to be offering but extended to cover the full range of utility and light strike capabilities. For this I would suggest there will need to be 4×4 and 6×6 versions. This could replace all the Landrovers/Pinz’s/RB44 and even the Jackal’s.

We then need something like the Ranger for COIN/Peace-keeping and low end stuff.

Everything else is up for grabs following the SDR. This could be a Warrior type vehicle or something Stormer like. Maybe we need both, its just how many if each!

With something like Ranger I don’t think the need for a Piranha / Boxer and tracks are more capable than wheels when the going gets rough.

November 7, 2010 10:29 pm

This still doesn’t meet requirements, it needs to be a smaller lighter tank that can have added armour once on the ground. It needs to be air-portable, needs to be small enough to fit more of its type in the holds of C-130 planes, C-17 Globemaster Mk3s. Instead of 2 62.5 ton tanks why not 3 lighter more adaptable platforms. This to me still has flat sides, sides to which are vulnerable to head-on projectiles. This still isn’t enough in terms of design. It will still pose a problem for the crew. We need slopped side skirts. we need to reduce crew in the tanks and replace it with a smaller turret, an autoloader and more munitions. A crew of 3 would would be sufficient for the “tank destroyer/hunter” role. Why not a dismountable rear gear plate which would have tow bars, tool kits, jerry cans, spade, pick, pry bar and the external fuel tanks. We know flat armour doesnt work, its been known since W2 with the Russians. The T-34 even had sloping side armour so why arent we doing that. Also the profile of the tank, if the turret only had a 2 man crew then it could be significantly reduced in height. Technology is wasted here and I bet the MoD will go for something more cost effective then something that will actually protect those that they’re supposed to serve. These designs in the videos above have been done before. They’re a 20th century design, its time we got out of it ans start thinking properly about the protection we give those troops. There should be no expense spared on the life of a soldier, he should be at the fore front of technology and better equipped then his enemy. This ASCOD SV is no way the answer to a problem, its an old answer to a new problem. Change the design. The only thing that they got right was then engine compartment, the Israeli Merkava has it situated at the front, making it the best tank in terms of survivability.

November 7, 2010 11:31 pm

This vehicle is totally wrong and if I had to bet will fail, the MoD has cancelled projects having spent much much more, so this one can go that way to. Over engineered, over weight piece of cold war garbage. We need wheels, we need a V shaped hull, we don’t specifically need a turret design and it needs to be 40% lighter.
Why not use a Warrior for what this brings to the party.

The MoD has spent 25 years talking through TRACER, MRAV and FRES resulting each time with a wheeled vehicle. Do we not have the guts to try a wheeled vehicle, like the French, German, Dutch, Russians and the US

Replace the CVR(T) with like for like, don’t try to squeeze an Anti-tank team in the back as if we weren’t looking. 3 man vehicle not 6.

It is SO wrong, it must be political.