What Does a CVR(T) Replacement Look Like – Part 1

Scimitar_Light_Tank_MOD_45149231

As we have seen in previous posts there seems to be some uncertainty about FRES Scout, whilst there is no doubt it will be an improvement over CVR(T) in terms of protection, sensors and survivability, this comes at a significant cost.

It is significantly heavier and larger.

This means we can only deploy it by sea or C17, it cannot be lifted by Chinook or A400, will be restricted by bridge class, cannot use the Air Portable Ferry Bridge or Class 30 trackway, will not be as capable of traversing soft ground, it’s width will restrict movement and to move it into position, it will require the services a heavy equipment transporter, one of the 79 currently in service.

Hardly Rapid

Jackal, Coyote and WMIK have also been pressed into service in the recce roles. Viking and Warthog have also been used in the high mobility manoeuvre support roles.

If we are thinking about a CVR(T) replacement, Jackal, Coyote, Viking and Warthog have to be considered

The. Jackal family of vehicles are very well regarded by their users and voicing any criticism is tantamount to heresy!

They have very good mobility, long-range, high speed and are a stable platform for the HMG, GPMG and GMG but as you can see in this video are vulnerable to direct and indirect fire and are a little top-heavy.

The Supacat Extenda, in use with special forces, can also be carried internally by Chinook, extending the range of the Chinook considerably.

Viking is a protected mobility vehicle but because was it vulnerable to IED’s is now being replaced in Afghanistan by the 19 tonnes ST Kinetics Bronco, or Warthog in UK service.

So before we get into weights and measures, weapons and sensors, tracks and engines, we must first consider if, in the light of the Jackal and Warthog, we actually need a replacement.

CVR(T) and the Jackal or Warthog are apples and oranges and we should be cautious about using Afghanistan as a template for the future.

In making the case for a CVR(T) replacement that is broadly similar I thought a few quotes from others better qualified than I might do the job…

Moreover, there are some pieces of equipment that provide you with that flexibility, such as a medium mortar of the 81mm size, light artillery of good range and mobility, and light armour. It is significant I think that seventy-three of the seventy-four deployments have involved light armour at some stage in the campaign. Initially, light armor is used in the reconnaissance role for the protection and development of the lodgement area, beach head or air head, and also in subsequent operations, of course, not forgetting the pacification phase of an operation or stabilization or whatever you like to call it, when, again, (particularly) wheeled or light tracked armoured vehicles have been extremely useful. So there’s flexibility derived from both these characteristics of light forces, without which you know one could be really pushed about.

Colonel Neville Pughe, Parachute Regiment

I quite agree, and it is significant that the two most important areas of concern of the several areas that have been singled out for more work in terms of the characteristics of 3 Commando Brigade, as a result of our experiences in the Falklands (and we had the whole brigade down there) were the absence of any light armour in the 3 Commando Brigade and also the absence of air defence. There was light armour down there as you know, but it didn’t belong to us. We are now looking for both of those things to enhance the capabilities of 3 Commando Brigade, without making us into a heavy brigade which loses all of its light infantry advantages.

Colonel Andrew Whitehead of 3 Commando Brigade, Royal Marines

I am now retired from the Army and embarking on my second career, but I spent most of my 22 years serving in CVR(T) and most of what has been written here has been discussed by the men that did crew them and still do!

It is a fantastic piece of equipment, years ahead of its time when designed and that very fact that there is literally nothing that can do what it does, on the market today, marks it as still being a unique and valued capability, that as was written in the article, we loose at our peril.

In the Falklands, it was 10 years old, relegated to secondary roles for fear it would not be able to traverse the terrain, well it did and in the post op reports, they wanted a Sqn, if not a Regt down there.

In Granby it was written off again because “it wouldn’t keep up” with Challenger/Warrior. Well not only did it, but it was proved that both in the Close and Formation Recce role, the need for the manned platform to FIND the enemy, FIX him and if it went pear shaped could stand up for itself till the big boys arrived, was as valuable as ever and the platform of choice?

CVR(T)

In the Balkans, during the winter of ’93-’94, the only vehicle that could move over roads with inches of black ice, offer protection against IDF and traverse the steep, snowy terrain to get the job done was CVR(T).

During Telic 1 it was engaging and holding its own in fights with T55 while it’s human crew made the decisions to use Arty, Air or other ground units to out manoeuvre the enemy.

On Herrick with Mine blast Protection, ballistic protection and bar armour, not only does it mean the crew walk away from mine strikes and RPG strikes, I’ve seen it first hand, but in some cases the vehicle not only survives, but continues to fight! (But the extra protection does push it to 11 tonnes!)

Why is CVR(T) so good at what it does?

It has the perfect balance of Armour/Protection/Firepower but it is its size and weight that means it can go anywhere and do anything.

I for one, along with many other will shed a tear when it finally backs into the hanger for the last time.

Dean, a Think Defence commenter

Some more background on CVR(T) in the Falklands can be read here including…

The Blues and Royals went ashore at San Carlos without incident and were quickly incorporated into the defence, protecting the build up phase of the operation. During this phase, the CVRs were used for hauling supplies and for air defence using their coaxially mounted 7.62-mm machine guns. One Scimitar claimed credit for downing an A4 Skyhawk at a 1,000m with its 30-mm gun. After the build up phase, the CVRs moved south to assist with the landings at Fitzroy and Bluff Cove. The CVRs accompanied 3 Para and 45 Commando (both are light infantry regiments) on their 50 mile march, ending up the only vehicles capable of making the cross country journey.

The sensation of driving across the water logged surface was described as similar to driving on a water bed. At Bluff Cove the CVRs were again pressed into air defence service. Civilians observing the air attacks on the Sir Galahad and Sir Tristan at Bluffs Cove claim to have seen one of the CVRs hit its target. In spite of losses, the British forces continued their move toward Port Stanley.

Battles fought across the high ground above Port Stanley were planned to take place at night and involved close direct and indirect fire support. The first phase-attack was opened by 3 Para with their assault on Mount Longdon. Initial  surprise was achieved in the darkness, but the enemy were soon alert and resisted fiercely with heavy accurate fire. 4 Troop provided valuable direct fire support with their 76mm, firing HESH. The battle for the eastern sector of Mount Longdon was to last 6 hours and, for the western half, 4 hours. The enemy positions were captured by a process of calling for very close fire support, at times within 50 meters of the leading British troops.

Two techniques used by the British employing the CVRs proved very successful. The first involved a diversionary attack on the night of 12 June. In the attack, the Scots Guards employed 4 Troop in a reconnaissance role and then a direct fire role insupport of the diversionary assault. The impact of the use of the CVRs was instrumental deceiving the enemy.

The Argentine commander later admitted that “…he had been entirely deceived by the diversionary attack into thinking it was the main attack on his position”

The other technique employed by the CVRs is known as “zapping”: …the CVR crew would engage the Argentine position with a brief burst of machine gun fire provoking a response, which was promptly silenced by the main gun. The 30mm RARDEN cannon, with its high velocity and great accuracy, was much favoured for this technique.

Few Argentines felt able to reply after being zapped.

Armour, played key roles during the Falklands War performing reconnaissance, security, and support of dismounted manoeuvre missions. The presence of the CVRs during the initial build up phase provided a degree of security otherwise not available had an attack been launched by the Argentineans, particularly if they had used their 90-mm gun equipped Panhards (wheeled armoured vehicles). Once again, armoured vehicles surprised their supporters and silenced the critics with their great mobility in terrain considered unacceptable. When employed in support of infantry, the CVRs provided critical direct fire, especially with their passive sights during the hours of darkness. Additional roles of air defence and aiding the logistics only enhanced the primary fire support role provided by the CVRs.

Before I move on to discussing the characteristics of a replacement, a few videos of CVR(T) in action

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