A guest post from Jed, currently enjoying Florida I think!
In his article “A need to rethink FRES” our friend Monty provided a number of alternative designs for a lightweight tracked armoured vehicle to supplement the ‘heavy’ FRES SV in the shape of the GC ASCOD II Scout.
The idea was that these designs were options for a CVR(T) Mk II – that is a highly mobile armoured recce vehicle.
In TD’s original article and in the comments to Monty’s article we discussed the difference between vehicles that can “fight for information” and those that can “sneak around”.
Smaller, low profile and quieter are the kinds of attributes for a sneaky vehicle, but with protection and offensive armaments sized for what is basically a self-protection requirement.
Other commenters seem somewhat hung up on the operational utility of having a vehicle that can be slung under a Chinook for air-mobile ops. I had suggested that both the planned (?) WMIK version of the new Foxhound, and perhaps a dedicated recce variant my fill these needs, however, there were many answers that tracks might be better than wheels, in order to traverse really adverse terrain, and thus use it to our advantage.
So, our requirements then as I understood them were these:
- Tracks – for good tactical mobility
- Small size – a small volumetric footprint aids strategic (ship and air) and tactical mobility, and to some extent visual ‘stealth’ – so if possible a similar footprint to the original CVR(T)
- Protection – armour and active defences if available, but only at a level commensurate with keeping the weight down and the mobility up!
- Commonality – if possible be based on a vehicle already in use, for logistical simplicity
- Recce smarts – sensors and comms kit essential to the role.
Taking these suggested requirements into account, I present to you my modest proposal for a non-developmental, off the shelf replacement for the CVR(T)
The Front Module of a Warthog!
Yes, that’s right, let’s just chop the articulated armoured personnel carrier in half, and use the front bit!
OK, now bear with me for a while, it’s not as daft as it sounds……..
As we all know the Warthog is an up-armoured / better-protected variant of the ST Kinetics (of Singapore) Bronco All Terrain Tracked Carrier (ATTC). It has been introduced into British Army use for in Afghanistan as a better-protected replacement for the BAe BVS10 (originally purchased as an amphibious APC for the Royal Marines).
The STK Eng PDF brochure for the Bronco family is available here
The Army guide page for the Bronco is here
Basically, I am suggesting simply ditching the rear module because we don’t need it in this application. As such the same 350bhp engine is going to be well capable of driving the vehicle overall terrains, even loaded up with a mission role kit. The engine is mounted at the rear of the front module, and the fuel tanks are in the front module too, which is how we can do without the rear module.
The front module is rated for 1200Kg load
The open-source info says the Bronco is armoured against point blank 7.62mm ball, and artillery/mortar shrapnel. However we know the Warthog has enhanced ballistic and IED protection, but we don’t know to exactly what levels, as this is an operational secret. However I would suggest if it’s good enough for the APC variant for Afghanistan, it is good enough for my scout vehicle.
IBD of Germany is said to provide a “passive” (armour ?) upgrade, and they have also marketed their active RPG / ATGW defence system for the Bronco family:
Adding this is a must for me, more expensive than slat armour, but keeps the dimensions down, and does not interfere with amphibious capabilities.
The front module of the Bronco can hold 6 crew, and I don’t know if that holds true for the Warthog, but I would drop it down to 4 which should give weight and space margin for Bowman comms kit, EW electronics, (and even a boiling vessel for brewing up).
The British Army doesn’t appear to like/trust transparent armour and the passenger door vision blocks/windows of the Bronco are removed in the Warthog – well I would re-instate them, as I think the additional situational awareness provided to the crew is a good idea in a Scout / Recce vehicle.
With a crew of 4, consisting of driver, vehicle commander/gunner and two “Cavalry Scout’ dismounts, the latter two can jump out and belly crawl up to the ridgeline for really stealthy recon!
The ST Kinetics RWS brochure is available here
The RWS with (1?) weapon and ammo only weighs in at 350Kg.
I would fit a 40mm GMG with a 7.62mm coax. The GMG with HEAT rounds should be able to contend with enemy light armoured vehicles, and the 7.62mm can take on dismounts. Of course, if we give STK some more cash, maybe they could add 1 or 2 Javelins to the mount
I think there would be space on the rear portion of the roof (above the engine compartment ?) for a Redback 40mm Grenade Launcher, which provides a second set of optronics, and 4 barrels each with 4 stacked 40mm grenades.
So, that is my modest proposal for a CVR(T) MK II, based on (half) of an in-service vehicle, with excellent, tracked driven tactical mobility and a small weight and volume footprint (compared to an ASCOD II SV) – I am not sure, but it may have enough buoyancy to be amphibious without the rear module attached.
Even the STK brochure does not split the dimensions and weights into the two modules, but as the whole vehicle is 8.6m long, I would guess the front module is no more than 4.3m long by 2.3 m wide with a gross laden weight of 8 tonnes. This compares well to the CVR(T) which is 5.8m by 2.1m and 8 tonnes (basic) according to Wikipedia.
Is a 40mm GMG as good as 30mm Rarden – well it depends what you want to do. I don’t really want to be advancing to contact and fighting for information in this class of vehicle, but would it more tactically mobile and better protected than a Panther CLV, or as yet non-existent Recce variant of the Foxhound?
I think it would.
Add to this the logistics commonalities, and the modest survivability enhancements, I think this is a good example of an off the shelf option to fulfil a specific requirement – but what do you think?