I think we all know that this is not very likely but if we were to replace CVR(T) with something new what would it be?
Before anyone chimes up and says FRES Scout and Jackal, I have decided to not follow the conventional wisdom and plough on regardless, this would not be a proper military themed blog if it agreed with the sensible all the time!
What role would this replacement fulfil?
Pretty much the same as the existing version, a versatile light armoured vehicle that can fulfil a variety of recce and fire support tasks (for light forces) in a deployable and strategically mobile package.
One of the first issues that came up in our previous discussions was whether it should be Scimitar replacement or CVR(T) family replacement. In addition to Scimitar, CVR(T) variants include Samaritan (Ambulance), Sultan (Command), Sampson (Recovery) and Spartan (Protected Mobility)
Apart from Scimitar, Warthog and Viking are available in all the CVR(T) variants so if we are freed from the need for a common chassis for all roles then some interesting design options are revealed, we can, for example, put the engine and transmission to the rear. Taking this option means that we still retain a compact and high mobility vehicle that is able to be split and carried by Chinook or even Merlin in the case of the Viking (if we accept the inconvenience of splitting them)
No commonality I hear you say, OK OK, but in this instance I think the TD rule can be broken.
Thinking out aloud then…
Weights and Measures
In its basic form, 10 tonnes but with transmission and engine scaled for 15tonnes. 10 tonnes means it can be carried by Chinook, 2 in a Hercules, 3 in an A400 and 6 in a C17. It also means that poor bridges can be used and also, the air portable ferry bridge.
Extreme low ground pressure, achieved by low basic weight and wide tracks
Width, the original was sized to fit between rubber trees on plantation in Malaysia but I am not sure this is still relevant today, so taking into account a 463L pallet (2.235m wide), Type V airdrop platform, the internal dimensions of an ISO container (2.44m) and flatrack pallet the width should be in the order of 2.2m. A 463L cannot take the weight of this but other things are dimentioned off it. This also means it could be carried by an A400, C27 should we ever obtain them, Hercules and importantly, side by side in a C17. This narrow width gives it mobility in built up areas as well.
Scimitar is about 2.1m wide
Height, again lets take into account aircraft and container sizes, so about 2.2m, Scimitar is 2.1m
Length, not as critical but to fit three into an A400 it would need to be less than 5.5m. A 20ft ISO container or flatrack is 6m and the existing Scimitar is just under 5m so something around the 5m mark would be ideal. However, if 3 in an A400 is not critical then this length may be extended.
Mechanicals and Layout
The state of the art in transmission, engines, track and suspension has moved on considerably since the 1960’s when CVR(T) was designed although in its day the transmission system that used continuously variable track speed to steer was at the absolute cutting edge, there was a rumour that the designer of the transmission went insane trying to work out how he came up with the idea!
The UK is endowed with a gluttony of riches in automotive design that has been delivering great benefits of late into the defence sphere and there is also the work on TRACER and SEP to dip into. Whether we use band tracks, hydragas suspension, hybrid drive, in hub motors or regenerative breaking would be down to weight and complexity. We should remember that ease of maintenance must be a key design driver, the vehicle must be able to operate independently of external support as much as possible. There are many advantages of using these latest technologies but there are other important factors to consider.
A small auxiliary powerpack can be effectively silenced and provide power to electronic devices when not mobile.
Because I have taken the decision not to use the platform as a base for protected mobility, command, ambulance etc it would allow the engine and transmission to be located towards the rear, traditional tank style. There are two benefits, simplified maintenance as the engine can be slid out on runners and the drivers position can sit centrally. The layout where the engine is at the front means the driver position must be to the side, near the tracks and of course near a possible point of mine detonation. Not all mines or IED’s explode at the point of initiation of course so this is not a panacea but a protected cell, sitting centrally, would offer some degree of improved protection.
Another aspect worthy of serious consideration is range, FRES Scout has shorter range for a much greater fuel load. Again, logistics are impacted as the need for greater fuel transportation to support operations becomes evident.
Again, armour and protection technologies have moved on considerably and a combination of techniques could be used to provide small arms and splinter protection, we should aim for protection against heavy machine gun rounds as a base level. There are some very promising composite materials and new materials like Tarian and Super Bainite that might provide protection at reduced weights.
In the opening paragraph I mentioned 2 weight levels. The German Puma armoured vehicle takes this approach with multiple levels of armour being fitted as required or carried separately. This means the base vehicle retains its air portability but if this is not required, likely for the majority of circumstances, then protection can be increased.
If we can accept a weight limit that means only one can be carried by A400 or two by C17 then weight can creep up, and with it protection. If we could produce a basic design whose protection can be dialled up or down as the competing needs of protection and mobility are considered, the flexibility inherent in this approach would be invaluable.
Full NBC protection and air conditioning of course.
One of the least talked about but most innovative aspects of the FRES Scout is the Core Infrastructure and Distribution System, an electronic ring main that sensors, monitoring equipment, displays, controls, power connectors and other systems can plug into. Surrounding CIDS is an open source electronic architecture and both these should be directly ported into this vehicle.
All the usual comms, detectors, ECM and vetronics.
Optics and fire control, again, likely lifted directly from FRES Scout and if the weight allows a mast mounted setup then this would make obvious sense, allowing it to be used from behind cover.
In the light fire support role the Army is currently relying on Javelin, indirect fire and CAS, with the CT40 not likely to be mounted on anything lighter than Warrior or FRES Scout. As effective as Javelin is, it is hugely expensive and the HMG, GPMG and GMG mounted on platforms like WMIK and Jackal lack serious hitting power. This is not to say they are not effective because that is far from the truth but we do lack an organic, high velocity direct fire weapon. We cannot always rely on indirect fire and again, Afghanistan, with its permissive air environment, might not be repeated in the next operation. Western forces have grown used to massive indirect fire and airborne close air support and this has created, I think, a small gap.
Cannister, HESH and other natures from the old 76mm Scorpion are still missed, as is the blank/boiled sweet combo!
CVR(T) was fitted with a Cockerill (now CMI) 90mm main gun and saw service with export customers. CMI still make a couple of 90mm weapons and the French Panhard ERC 90 F4 uses a long barrel 90mm weapon that can defeat some main battle tanks.
It would be ideal if we could have both a 40mm CTA version and one fitted with a CMI 90mm
the 40mm CTA is an obvious choice and certainly light and compact enough, Panhard have recently introduced the Sphinx vehicle as a proposed replacement for the ERC90, equipped with a 2 man turret mounting the 40mm CTA, CMI doing the turret integration work, incidentally.
Back to the future then, 40mm auto cannon and a 90mm main gun variants.
The replacement CVR(T), if we are going to investigate one, should be the bastard offspring of an Alvis Saladin, Panhard ERC90, Sphinx, Puma, BAe Sep and a Scimitar!
No, I haven’t been drinking, not much anyway.