FRES UV – a modest proposal for a family of “Protected Utility Vehicles”

RG35 1

A guest post from Jed

A major part of the FRES program is to procure a fleet of “utility vehicles” to replace a very broad range of vehicles from the existing armoured fleet, from tacked FV432 derivatives, and CVR(T) family variants, to the Saxon wheeled APC and many other specialist engineers, recovery vehicles and ambulances etc.

In the comments to a recent article, I suggested that the BAe RG 35 family of vehicles seemed to provide the ideal opportunity to provide a wide range of variants based on a common chassis and components, indeed a chance to indulge TD Admin in his desire for “massive commonality”.

First of all some RG35 links for you:

One reason the vehicle has the potential to be so versatile is its size; at 7.4 m (24ft) long by 2.5 m (8ft 2 in) wide and 2.7 m (8ft 10in) high, it has a curb weight of 18.13 tonnes and the max gross weight is 33 tonnes with a payload of 15 tonnes. The 550hp Cummins diesel can drive it at over 70mph on good roads, to a range of 1000 Km (620 miles) – and a statistic that shows how big this really is, it can carry a driver plus 15 pax in APC mode!

The RG35 is described as a “cross over” i.e. a mix of MRAP and ‘conventional’ wheeled armoured fighting vehicle. It has the MRAP ‘V-shaped’ hull and of course the modern capability of additional modular armour kits. This of course is how it can replace both vehicles such as the Saxon on one hand, and the much more modern Mastiff 2 on the other.

The latest variant is the smaller 4 x 4 variant RG35 “Protected Recce, Patrol, Utility”;

L  5.2 m x  W 2.69 m x H 2.5 m, curb weight 12 tonnes, max gross 21 tonnes, for the driver plus 9 pax. So even this smaller version can carry a driver, gunner and full 8 man infantry squad (so is this the true Saxon replacement ?).

Of course in the current fiscal environment when discussing revamping the tactical/armoured vehicle fleet we must turn the iron triad (protection, mobility, firepower) into the Aluminium Square by adding the dreaded factor of cost!

So is the RG35 as survivable as the Boxer MRAV – probably not I suspect? Does it have the Boxer’s modularity – nope?

But is it cheaper – oh yes, I think we can agree it would be considerably cheaper!

As I noted the RG35 does not have the modularity of the Boxer or the Ocelot / Foxhound design, but if we freeze the BAe marketing video, we can get a nice screengrab of a shot showing multiple variants – I have labelled them and provided a key below:

It’s difficult to see exactly what some of the versions are, even if you zoom in on the image (sorry about that) but this is my take on what is shown here:

  1. 6 x 6 APC
  2. 6 x 6 Engineer? Looks like a canvas cover on the rear and a jib?
  3. 6 x 6 MANPADS based AA
  4. 6 x 6 with manned AAA mount?
  5. 6 x 6 AA with larger SAM?
  6. 6 x 6 APC with RWS
  7. 6 x 6 APC with pintle mount MG
  8. 6 x 6 with a manned turret
  9. 6 x 6 with ATGW turret
  10. 6 x 6 155mm gun
  11. 4 x 4 APC with RWS
  12. 4 x 4 APC with pintle mount MG
  13. 4 x 4 MANPADS AA
  14. 6 x 6 with additional armour (no windows / vision blocks)
  15.  6 x 6 Recce – additional armour and manned turret
  16. 6 x 6 Command vehicle (or Comms or EW vehicles)
  17. 6 x 6 Engineer vehicle
  18.  6 x 6 Recovery vehicle

18A. Recovery vehicle shown towing

  1.  6 x 6 with VLS cells? (CAMM carrier ?)
  2. 6 x6 “Prime Mover” (apologies for accidentally labelling it 19 too!)

Note shown above, but mentioned in the links is a 120mm mortar version. It would appear that even the 4 x4 version is big enough to carry the STK ‘s Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System.

One would presume the smaller vehicle would be cheaper than the larger, and as I already suggested it would appear to be the right size to replace the Saxon as a wheeled APC “battle taxi”.

Conversely, if you increase the size of a “Motorised Infantry” section back to the old 1970’s FV432 size of 10 men, or even the USMC size of 12/13 you can still carry them all in the 6 x 6 APC version, and still have room for ammo and kit under armour!

The ambulance and Command vehicles obviously benefit from the size of the vehicle, and it would appear that the 6 x 6 might provide a return to the LIMAWS(G) platform for a cheaper and more strategically mobile 155mm artillery capability.

Interestingly the 6 x 6 “Prime Mover” variant suggests that even if the main chassis is not long enough to fit an MLRS module behind the side-mounted engine, one could be towed on a trailer providing an articulated wheeled rocket launcher for the old LIMAWS(M) requirement. This arrangement might also need to be used to provide the protected cargo replacement for Wolfhound. However, the standard version has considerable under armour volume for cargo carriage if the seats are removed.

This vehicle would seem to cover the middle ground of a set of wheeled armoured vehicle families:

  • Heavy – MAN SV trucks with protected cab kits
  • Medium – RG35 in 6 x 6 and 4 x 4 variants
  • Light – Foxhound family in 4 x 4 and perhaps later a 6 x 6 variant.

So to summarize, it might not be as sexy as a Boxer, but it should be “good enough” and hopefully it might be cheap enough for us to buy in volume (with them being built in the UK, not South Africa, of course……) because I don’t believe in labelling units as “light infantry” simply because we don’t have enough armour, and in a world of asymmetric threats, as many troops as possible should be under armour as standard, including Combat Service Support units.

Over to you guys for the comments!

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