A guest post from Monty
After reading your excellent article on FRES, I think we have every reason to question the suitability of the ASCOD 2 vehicle that has been selected to replace CVR(T). It is as large as a Warrior IFV but doesn’t do anything that a Warrior couldn’t do if it were to be upgraded. I accept that ASCOD 2 is a more modern vehicle, but it seems no more than a Warrior replacement through the back door. What your article convinces me of is the need to find a proper and more appropriate CVR(T) replacement.
Thinking about the requirements of such a vehicle, we need to make a number of important trade-offs:
- Mobility versus protection versis firepower
- Wheels versus tracks
- Protection against IEDs versus low weight
- Cross country mobility versus strategic mobility
- Ease of transportation versus additional weight of adequate protection
- Future upgradeability versus the need for something now
- Size and height versus crew capacity
- Cost versus quality
Rather than discuss all of these in detail, I thought it might be more interesting if not helpful to provide a variety of vehicle concepts that illustrate how different trade-offs would affect the type of vehicle we choose. The following drawings show different ways of achieving user requirements and hopefully each one is self explanatory.
In essence, we need something that is as close as possible to the dimensions and weight of the CVR(T) but that offers increased protection, particularly against IEDs, as low a weight as possible for rapid deployment, increased firepower, better engine and transmission for increased mobility and reliability and as a small a signature as possible for reasons of stealth.
We are rapidly reaching a point where wheeled vehicles can provide equivalent cross-country mobility to that of tracked vehicles. This is not my view, but the collective wisdom of military commentators suggests so. If you strongly believe that the day when wheeled vehicles offer better off-road performance than tracked vehicles has not yet come, have no doubt that it will come, because ultimately the significantly greater strategic mobility offered by wheeled vehicles means that we will invest in them more than we will in tracked vehicles. So perhaps the wheels versus tracks debate has already been won. Maybe.
The most relevant observation in your FRES article is that IEDs have been a real game changer. This is undoubtedly true and any would-be terrorist organisation who has observed events in Afghanistan would make the use of IEDs a core pillar of any future strategy. Behind this point about IEDs is the reality that insurgent uprisings do not respect traditional battle lines and rear echelon troops are now as vulnerable as front line units – if indeed there is a front line any more.
The new reality of IEDs requires a paradigm shift in the types of vehicles we use to deploy troops. It also requires massive expenditure.
The US Stryker Brigades used in Iraq suffered heavy IED casualties – these vehicles were conceived before the IED threat was fully understood. The German / Dutch Boxer is different and includes many enhancements that contribute to better protection. The Boxer may well define what future APCs look like. We’ll know once they deploy in Afghanistan later this year.
In the meantime, here are a number of future CVR options that offer different sets of advantages. While they are relevant to the conflict in Afghanistan (and possibly to potential conflicts arising from the Arab Spring), they were also envisaged to be relevant to a more traditional medium recce role.
With kind regards to all,