Future Army Vehicles

327

A guest post from Salvador

As a follow-up to my post on the OUVS (Operational Utility Vehicle System) of September 2009 http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/09/ouvs-operational-utility-vehicle-system/

I think a round-up of what is happening in the arena of future army vehicles is now due.

I will start be apologising, for the rather unstructured and rambling nature of this post. I started it with good intentions. Intending to produce a very thorough and detailed article. However, I have been losing a battle with the available time and having spent 2 days or should I say nights I had only got half way through what I headed up as a “Brief History”. Panic then began to sink in and I began to spend less and less time on each new section!

I have had to cut it back more and more. If it seems that whilst I had set of at a leisurely stroll I ended up doing a mad dash for the line, then that is exactly what had occurred!

I hope if nothing else it will stimulate vigorous debate!

A Summary of where we are

The MoD has had a plethora or programmes to provide replacements for the Army’s ageing combat vehicle fleet. May a recommend a read of the following RUSI article by Peter Flach, a very informative, though somewhat depressing read. http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/FlachRDSSummer2010.pdf .

First there was FLAV then the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles programme (FFLAV1), this was followed by the “Multi Base Armoured Vehicle2 programme” (New one to me), which apparently studied the problem in more detail. This eventually led to the establishment of two major AFV programmes to meet identified capability gaps in the first decade of this century:

These were the Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV), which was designed to meet the utility vehicle requirement, and TRACER, which became the US/UK TRACER/Future Scout and Cavalry System, and was designed to meet the reconnaissance requirement.

For even more detail look at the UKs AFV history, take a look at TDs mammoth post of March 2010: http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2010/03/fres-scout-%E2%80%93-spot-the-difference/

and the follow ups at

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/07/the-future-of-the-british-army-08-%E2%80%93-istar-and-formation-reconnaissance-03-a-not-so-sensible-future/ ,

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/06/the-future-of-the-british-army-06-%e2%80%93-istar-and-formation-reconnaissance-02-a-sensible-future/

Plus others from Jed and Monty

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/06/the-need-to-rethink-fres-sv/

http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2011/06/medium-armour-%E2%80%93-what-is-it-and-what-does-it-mean-for-the-post-2020-force-structure/

FRES

As we now know, both the MRAV and US/UK TRACER were scrapped and replaced by Future Rapid Effect System (FRES). This in turn was sub-divided in to FRES Utility Variant (UV) and the FRES Specialist Vehicle (SV).

Utility Variant

This culminated in the now famous “Trials of Truth” a 3-way “Drive-Off” between the VCBI, Boxer and Piranha IV/V.

Nexter Systems – VBCI Armoured Fighting Vehicle 8×8 (AFV) [480p]

General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited was selected by the UK Ministry of Defence as the provisional preferred bidder for the utility vehicle design (UVD) for the future rapid effect system (FRES).  However, in December 2008, this preferred bidder status was withdrawn, apparently the UK MoD stating that the problem was due that a failure to achieve agreement on commercial conditions!! Peter Flach’s article adds more meat to why this programme failed, I encourage a thorough read.

Specialist Variant

The MoD then decided that the FRES UV was no longer the most critical vehicle programme and turned its attention to the FRES (SV).

This was in my view this was a very hasty process and the following two vehicles were, by MoD standards very quickly down-selected:

BAE LandSystems offering development of their CV90 series vehicle and General Dynamics with an ASCOD development

General Dynamics – Future Rapid Effects System Specialist Vehicles (FRES SV) [480p]

General Dynamics UK, won the competition. Well, when I say one, in the now, time honoured, MoD tradition, a preliminary contract was awarded. This was for the development of 7 prototypes (apparently a contract value of £500m). I don’t want to spend too much time on this as this is not the thrust of the argument. However, it is worth mentioning the following:

  1. Why was the German PUMA not down-selected?  This is without doubt, the most advanced AFV in the world today. It has been designed with all the lessons learned fromIraqandAfghanistan. It maintains or improves on the power to weight ratio of the previous (lighter AFV – Marder) by having an 1100HP MTU V10. I know it might have been expensive and would need to be made larger to accommodate a full section of 8 men. (If / when used as an APC that is), but should have been down selected in my view.
  1. The ASCOD SV is a paper design, so if bringing a vehicle in to service quickly was so important, why not go for a vehicle that was already in production or one that the bidders had even produced a working version of (at la BAEs)!
  1. BAE actual working version of the CV90 in the FRES SV specification was I understand well received, unlike GD, the failure, it seems, was to fail to state that enough of the vehicle would be made in the UK. An error that they rectified too late in the selection process…apparently?
  1. None of these vehicles are an obvious replacement for their intended use which is as a replacement for the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked (CVR(T) family of vehicles, which are physically very much smaller and 60% -75% lighter???

I believe that the government were teaching BAE a lesson for failures of Astute and Nimrod MRA4. Strange as more of the blame for the delays and cost increases in those programmes can be laid at the door of the MoD than the supplier!

OUVS

Whilst all this was going on, in the background was a programme called OUVS (Operational Utility Vehicle System) was ticking over.

First launched in 2003, the OUVS programme was the procurement programme which was intended to produce replacements for the RB44, Pinzgauer and Land-rover fleets.

It was stated by the MoD that these vehicles would “therefore, provide the “backbone” of the Army’s fighting vehicles, just as the current fleet have done so for decades”.   I am not going to go through this in detail, as that was the topic of my first (and only TD article). See here for details http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2009/09/ouvs-operational-utility-vehicle-system/

This, as is the norm with MoD projects was eventually cancelled. Again the Peter Flach article highlights the reasons for its demise.  In my view this is one programme that was better of dead. From the beginning, its focus was wrong. It was never going to field vehicles that were in any way protected. This requirement was simply omitted. It was to be a “like for like” replacement of the existing fleet and would not have produced the vehicles that the Army needed. This was born out by the subsequent ordering of the Tactical Support Vehicles, two of which at least were adequately protected (see below).

UORs

This is a whole topic in its own right and as I said I am rapidly running out of typing time (due to the impending shoulder op’) I will cut and paste bits from various articles I have been using for research. This section is from (The Impact of UORs on the UK Defence Industry by Chris Maughan Feb 2009)

Linky:http://www.rusi.org/downloads/assets/RDS_Maughan_Feb09.pdf

What is a UOR?

Obtaining a precise definition of what is, or isn’t, a UOR is not as straightforward as one might hope, as the MoD does not provide one on their website.

However, drawing upon work previously completed by the NAO,  the following definition can be presented:

UORs are used for the rapid procurement of capability in support of a current or imminent military operation to provide new capabilities or to enhance equipment the MoD has already invested in. UORs can be used to:

  • Procure operationally specific capabilities.
  • Procure equipment to fill previously unknown capability gaps.
  • Accelerate a programme already in train.
  • Patch a gap until an already-funded solution comes into service.
  • Fill a previously identified gap which has not been funded.

To qualify as a UOR, a capability must be able to be six months to enter service would be procured through the normal procurement process. For large-scale operations, such as Iraq and Afghanistan, most UORs are funded through allocation from the Treasury Reserve. In those instances where the MoD has accelerated the procurement of equipment already provisioned in the defence budget, the Treasury allows the MoD to access the Reserve if required, but then recovers the money in subsequent years. Post-operation, or within one year, whichever is shorter, UORs will either be disposed of (and the resultant revenues returned to the Treasury) or brought into the MoD’s core planning process if it is decided that they are still required.

Therefore, the acquisition of equipment under UOR will result in a significant accumulation of future costs that must be drawn down from the total MoD equipment programme budget, thus reducing the amount available for the ‘normal’ acquisition of future planned programmes in later years.

Examples of Recent UK UOR Procurements

Two examples of recent UOR procurements will now be examined: protected patrol vehicles and tactical support vehicles.

Protected Patrol Vehicles

The MoD has had to invest in the procurement of additional protection for the existing vehicle fleet as well as the provision of new protected patrol vehicles (PPV). The need for this incremental change of armour protection levels is recognised and well understood, as the Armed Forces have had to move swiftly from fighting a conventional opposition to a more asymmetric threat, where the challenges have moved from frontal ballistic protection and anti-mine, to the need to counter an all-round threat from improvised explosive devices, rocket-propelled grenades, shaped charges and very large mines. This emergent threat has required the provision of vehicles with greater all-round armour and a much better level of under-floor mine protection, together with the incorporation of a variety of electronic counter-measures. The initial MoD approach was to order a number of armoured variants of the Pinzgauer vehicle, the Vector Light PPV together with up-armouring improvements to other in-service armoured vehicles. However, when the threat level experienced in theatre continued to escalate, more heavily armoured patrol vehicles were sought. This has resulted in a series of orders being placed with Force Protection Inc., via a Foreign Military Sales contract with the United States Marine Corps, for 4×4 and 6×6 variants of their Cougar MRAP vehicle. These have been designated as Ridgback and Mastiff respectively by the MoD.  However, before issue to the Armed Forces each vehicle is subject to a significant additional work package in the UK that generally includes improved axles and suspensions, thermal imaging, improved armour, explosive attenuating seats, Bowman radios and electronic countermeasures.

The Force Protection Inc. vehicles purchased via UOR as PPV can be summarised as:

• Mastiff – 274 of this 6×6 24-tonne armoured vehicle, at an acquisition price of some $623k each.

• Ridgback – 157 of this 4×4 18-tonne armoured vehicle at an acquisition price of some $600k each.

Additional to the basic vehicle acquisition prices above, is the cost of the UK conversion. This work has been awarded to NP Aerospace, with an indicative value of £350k to £500k per vehicle.

The paucity of data actually released by the MoD makes it very difficult to ascertain if the NP Aerospace contract includes all material costs or if items such as Bowman radios and electronic countermeasures have been provided as GFM.  In any event, the minimum price for these UOR armoured vehicles is at least £700k each, and probably significantly more.

Tactical Support Vehicles

The MoD announced in October 2008 that the Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV) programme will buy over 400 new armoured support trucks (categorised as light, medium and heavy) to accompany existing patrols carrying the essential supplies such as water and ammunition. On 19 November 2008 the Defence Secretary, John Hutton, revealed that the three preferred bidders for each category of the £350M TSV programme were:

Wolfhound TSV (Heavy)

Based on Cougar 6×6 flatbed made by Force Protection Inc., they will support and resupply Mastiffs in the highest threat areas. These vehicles will have the highest levels of mine blast protection and will be uparmoured and integrated with UK specific equipment such as communications systems and protection measures in a similar way to Mastiff.

Husky TSV (Medium)

Based on the International MXT-MVA made by Navistar Defence, they will carry out the support roles in areas where heavy vehicles, like Mastiff, cannot be  used. Husky will come as three variants: utility, ambulance and command post.

Coyote TSV (Light)

Based on a 6×6 derivative of the Jackal designed by Supacat Ltd, Devon, they will support existing in-service high-mobility Jackals.

The numbers in each category, although subject to refinement as contracts are actually negotiated and placed, were indicated to be 95 Heavy, 260 Medium and 80 Light. As with the PPV,  the acquisition of equipment under UOR will result in a significant accumulation of future costs that must be drawn down from the total MoD equipment programme budget.

In addition to these vehicles over 200 Supacat “M-WMIK” vehicles (known as Jackal) were procured, “delivering awesome firepower coupled with exceptional agility, making it ideally suited to operations in Afghanistan”. According to the MoD website!

That was followed by further orders for 120 Jackal 2s and a further order of 140 for the Jackal 2A, taking the total order for the Jackal to over 450

LPPV(Light Protected Patrol Vehicle)

The last UOR was for the vehicle to replace the much maligned  “SNATCH” Land-Rover. The Snatch Land-Rover together with the Pinzgauer Vector (mentioned above), for me, illustrates more than anything else, that the Military covenant was well and truly broken.  These vehicles are death traps and have been christened “Coffins on Wheels”. You can include the Jackal in there too, as far as I am concerned, especially when they are used in the wrong, as is often the case in the British Army.

It appears that there are not accurate figures for all the deaths in these vehicles and certainly not for serious injuries, as the MoD has only just started collecting those metrics! Suffice, to say the figures for the Snatch alone are in excess of 39, we can only guess at the total for all of these appalling vehicles.

Which leads nicely, on to the LPPV, as I said I am running out of time with this post, so I won’t teach you all the “suck eggs” as we all know by now that the winner of the LPPV was the Force Protection Europe “Ocelot”. Which with the Army’s obsession with naming the vast majority of its new vehicles after our canine cousins, will be known as the “Foxhound”

This vehicle, goes some way to restoring my faith in the MoD. This always seemed to be the best vehicle, well certainly the best of the two selected

I suspect this may have proved to be slightly too big for the LPPV although on paper it’s very similar.

The Ocelot / Foxhound, on the other hand, has four-wheel steering, the rear wheels being able to steer in the opposite direction to the front wheels, thus allowing the vehicle to make very tight turns. It has the additional benefit, in that it includes an automotive armoured spine system or ‘skateboard’, onto which various special-role pods are mounted. These pods are detachable and can be interchanged based on the needs of different missions such as patrol, fire support or protected logistics.  I understand that a 6×6 version is being considered.

Support Vehicle (SV)

I was intending to add an in depth section on the SV (Support Vehicle) fleet, but I am now at fast jogging pace and this will get a quick summary.

In my humble opinion, in basic terms, we bought the wrong version of the MAN trucks, neither of which is really man enough (see what I did there) for the job. Both the HX/SX vehicles are developments of civilian vehicles. The HX is the lower of the two specs, it is less sturdy and has a semi-automatic gearbox and simpler suspension, The SX is more sophisticated range with fully automatic gearbox and independent suspension.

The UK bought mainly HX versions.

There is an upgrade available (only to the SX I believe) called the IAC (Integrated Armoured Cab). This has been ordered for the German Army, but even this does not offer the level of protection that is really required when operating in situations like Iraq and Afghanistan

I have always thought that logistic vehicles should be protected as well as, if not better than combat vehicles, as they will always be a target and without adequate protection they are a soft target and will result in unnecessary death and serious injury. The Germans, (as with most things military) have realised this, and along with the vast majority of their military vehicles are being replaced with new and improved version, that are better suited to modern asymmetrical type warfare. In the case of the logistics fleet, MAN and joined forces with Rheinmetall Landsystems to form a new company called RMMV, to take the design of armoured logistics vehicles to the next level. The first vehicle from this merged company is the Wisent.

Doesn’t that seem to tick all the boxes. Looks the dogs to me?

More detail here

Well, that’s the “Brief History” over with… As I keep saying I had big plans for this post but time has beaten me.

Current British Army combat Vehicles

For the official line take a look at this link:

In simple terms (according to Wiki) we have the following(some of the numbers do not see right to me, for example, CR2 as far as I am aware was 387max, not 420, Jackal 1,2 and 2A total in excess of 450 etc.), but you get the overall view if what we have available today.

Name Origin Type Number Weight Class
Challenger UK MBT 387-420 H
FV107 Scimitar UK Recce

325

L
Warrior UK IFV

786

H
FV432/Bulldog UK APC

1487

L
CVR(T) the rest UK Recce

1200

L
Mastiff US/SA IFV/MRAP

256

H
Ridgeback US/SA IFV/MRAP

139

M
Wolfhound US/SA TSV

8

H
Fuchs Germany NBC

11

M
Viking Swe ATV(P)

126

M
Land Rover Wolf UK Patrol

12000

L
Land-rover Snatch (included in 12k total) UK PPV

577

L
Pinzgauers UK Utility lots L
Vector UK PPV

184

L
Jackal UK Tactical Support

460

L
Saxon UK APC

147

M
Panther Italy CLV/PPV

355

L
Husky USA TSV

86

M
Coyote UK TSV

70

M
Foxhound UK PPV

200

L

Excluding the SV fleet and the Pinzgauer (non Vector) the above table shows some 18,804 vehicles the very rough and ready split according to my classification of Heavy(H), Medium(M) and Light (L)., gives the following very very rough breakdown:

1,4758 or 80% Light

2,283 or 12% Medium

1,437 or 8% Heavy

Future Army Equipment

I will try and illustrate that I have put some thought in to this, by showing that I took the details from the SDRS (Strategic Defence and Security Review) in terms of the planning assumptions and the size and nature of the Army the MoD expects to deploy in those circumstances.

What I did then was pick the vehicles that we know have already been ear-marked for the future fleet, then add my personal favourites, which have been selected by considering the following factors:

Best of breed, Designed or made in the UK or Europe, include elements of standardisation across the fleet (i.e. same engine and/or gearbox in several vehicle types). Standardisation is one of my beefs and the UOR process has just made a bad situation even worse.

SDSR

The SDSR stated that:

The new Defence Planning Assumptions envisage that the Armed Forces in the future will be sized and shaped to conduct:

  • an enduring stabilisation operation at around brigade level (up to 6,500 personnel) with maritime and air support as required, while also conducting:
  • one non-enduring complex intervention (up to 2,000 personnel), and
  • one non-enduring simple intervention (up to 1,000 personnel);

or alternatively:

  • three non-enduring operations if we were not already engaged in an enduring operation;

or:

  • for a limited time, and with sufficient warning, committing all our effort to a one-off intervention of up to three brigades, with maritime and air support (around 30,000, two-thirds of the force deployed toIraqin 2003).

The Army structure was to be reduced and re-structured:

“The Army is to be reduced to five multi-role brigades consisting of approximately 6,500 personnel. This is a reduction of one brigade on the current total of 6 deployable brigade formations.

The multi-role brigades will include the equipment necessary to undertake a wide range of capabilities across a variety of conflicts that could arise over the coming decades. Multi-role brigades will include reconnaissance forces to provide in depth information of enemy dispositions, heavy armour providing a combination of protection, mobility and firepower and infantry operating from a ‘range’ of protected vehicles. These brigades will be self supporting in that they will have their own artillery, engineer, communications, intelligence, logistics and medical assets.

In addition to these brigades 16 Air Assault Brigade, with supporting units, will provide a high readiness, light, short duration intervention formation that is organized and trained for parachute and air assault operations.

Using a ‘building block’ structure to allow greater choice in the size and composition of a deployed force it is anticipated that small groups from within the new multi-role brigades, such as an infantry battalion with a small number of vehicles and supporting arms, could be deployed quickly to evacuate British nationals such as was required in the Lebanon in 2006. At the other end of the scale – and with suitable warning – the brigade could be deployed as part of a larger formation suitable for full scale war”.

What it doesn’t say is if these multi-role brigades will be equipped to the same levels, as it talks about deploying 3 brigades in an Iraq 2003 scenario, then, in my view this must mean at least 3 of the five brigades must be heavy/armoured, that leaves 2 brigades that could be configured as “medium forces” equipped with whatever FRES UV ends up being, plus 16 Air Assault in the light role.

This gives a force structure as follows

50% Heavy

30% Medium

20% Light

Compare this to my rough and ready analysis of the current force mix:

8% Heavy

12% Medium

80% Light

Now before you all start screaming at me, stating that I have skewed the figures by including all the utility vehicles. That was deliberate, as I firmly believe the place for unarmoured utility vehicles should be restricted to camp, training and essentially white fleet type uses. There is no place for such vehicles on the modern battlefield.

Rant over….

Just for a minute, whilst we ponder what the future British Army vehicles should look like, let’s have a look at what the Germans are already fielding.

As I said, I have run completely out of time so the fantasy fleet is simply a list and the legacy vehicles or roles that they replace. Roughly in order of size they are:

Foxhound, to be produced in both 4×4 and 6×6 versions and role models produced to replace Land-rover, Wolf, WMIK, Snatch, Ambulance, Jackal, Coyote, Panther and Husky. It could possibly replace Ridgeback but will  quickly mention my views on MRAPs later

A new vehicle, combining the Supacat HMT and Foxhound technology, produced in large 6×6 and 8×8 configuration, to take the place of the 5t MAN SV trucks and provide enhanced load carrying capability for a new TSV type role and to provide protected high mobility transport for light artillery weapons (LIMAWS(G) and LIMAWS(R) and to provide a platform for any weapons or sensor, that does need the larger utility vehicles or a full blown tracked AFV. An mine resistant and ballistic version of the vehicle below:

This would replace the various Pinzgauer 6x6s and the current HMT ranges along with the ubiquitous 4 tonne! As well have providing new capability

Now this is where it gets tricky, the Germans have potentially two or more vehicles in this role (the Grizzly and the new RMMV Wisent). It also falls in to the capability that is currently provided by the likes of the Mastiff, Wolfhound and of course various MAN, Leyland and Foden trucks. It is also an area where the Ranger might have found a role. It is very similar to the Grizzly, though more of an MRAP.  However, I think the Ranger has missed the boat and my gut feel is something along the lines of the Wisent or indeed the Wisent (assuming it can be produced in a different version i.e.) is more the sort of vehicle we need. If money were no object then I would follow the German role and have the two vehicles performing this role, dependent on the operational circumstances.

FRES UV or the main vehicle for the Medium forces requirement. Not long ago I would have put the Swedish SEP as my preferred vehicle for this role. My views have changed and although I am still a fan of the SEP concept I think it is more suited to the lighter role (10-15tonnes). For this role, I think any of the 3 contenders that took part in “Trials of Truth” fiasco, err! Sorry evaluation should be selected. My favourite is the BOXER, with the Piranha V a close second, but either would be fine. This of course would replace the FV432/Bulldog, the Saxon and all the other totally unsuitable vehicles that end up being used as make do fighting vehicles.

FRES SV, yes I know this has been won by ASCOD SV, but this is my fantasy fleet and I would have probably gone for the German PUMA, you have probably noticed that I am rather fond of the German military vehicles. It is true and if we simply copied the entire German fleet we could do much worse.  You are probably aware that the KMW and Rheinmetall have joined forces with SAIC and Boeing in bid for the US Army’s ground combat vehicle programme (GCV). I understand the plan is to enlarge the hull to take 3+9, compared with the 3+6 inthe standard version. My thoughts were, maybe we could tag on to the US programme and have ours with a CTA40 and configured for 3+8, same vehicle just more room for storage. Failing that I would have selected the CV90 vehicle. This would replace the Warrior and a large chunk of the CVR(T) range, although I believe that there is still a requirement for a genuine LIGHT AFV for use by 16 Air Assault and the Royal Marines.

MBT and SP Artillery still have a vital role and any thoughts of removing them from the inventory would be a big mistake. At this stage I don’t think we need new vehicles, although I prefer the PzH2000 to our AS90. The Challenger needs to have the upgrades that have been talked about for years, namely a new gun. I would like to see the Engine and gearbox replaced new versions from the likes of MTU and Renk. I believe that additional armour and RCWS have already been added following experience gained inIraq.

There is a need for a vehicle or vehicles to replace the CVR(T) and Viking vehicles. William F Owen in his RUSI article stated:

“ Indications are that it is possible to design a 2+8 tracked APC that falls within the 20ft ISO footprint and weighs less than 15,000kg, with a capable armour fit, and possibly level 4a and 3b mine protection for the crew. Small AFVs such as this have a number of advantages that should be obvious to all concerned.  COTS wheeled APCs with this capability already exist.”

I would like see the UK adopt a true replacement of the CVR(T) for the light forces. Maybe the SEP could be resurrected or maybe a Viking type vehicle that offers Foxhound levels of protection. The Wiesel is worth considering, I know it has looked at and dismissed but maybe worth another look.

Finally, I would like to quickly suggest that rather than being scrapped or sold off the current vehicles particularly the Warrior and Bulldog should be passed over to the TA, in order that can provide a viable addition to the regulars and not just make up the numbers, that the regulars are short of. Again, the Germans do this their TA have had M113 and Fuchs for years. I would also like to stress that I am in favour of the idea of multi-role brigades and hope this means we follow the French example, where each brigade is equipped with its own artillery and even MBTs. If we are only going to have 6 brigades, then they must be fully equipped and “Utrinque Paratus” – “Ready For Anything”

Phew…. Finished!!!

 

 

[Hope the recuperation is going well Phil, TD]

 

 

 

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Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

An excellent post Phil! Very interesting (as was your previous article). Do you have a link for the Owen RUSI article? I looked throught the article but couldn’t see it: could well be me, I’m having one of those days.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

“Indications are that it is possible to design a 2+8 tracked APC that falls within the 20ft ISO footprint and weighs less than 15,000kg, with a capable armour fit, and possibly level 4a and 3b mine protection for the crew.”

I agree that such a vehicle, including a direct CVR(t) replacement would be ideal for use in 3Cdo and 16AAB.

Is there also a place for a squadron on such tankettes in the FR regiments to be found in the MRB’s?

I also agree that Foxhound is damned brilliant and should be taken into regular service.

Thank you, great read.

p.s. do you have a link to the W.F.Owen article quoted?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

cheers admin, very much obliged.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Cheers from me too!

IXION
IXION

Great post!

I for one am with you on the vulberability of soft skin vehicles in modern warfare.

However as often The south africans got the idea about armoured support vehicles first with the CASSPIR based Druker etc.

IXION
IXION

Whilst its a good idea, can we fit 8 fully equiped troops in a vehicle 2.5 metres wide?

Jed

Phil

Excellent read, thank you.

I am not sure if your deliberately conflating a couple of programs / issues, or if your doing it deliberately (based on your fantasy fleet comments at the end). You ask why the German PUMA was not down selected for FRES SCOUT (not FRES Support Vehicle). It was not down selected because it was never offered. It is a very large (heavy) armoured infantry fighting vehcile (or MICV if you prefer the older terminology), with no recce variant on the books. It is bigger and heavier than either the paper ASCOD II or the CV90 prototype, and thus I doubt very much whether it would have met the MoD’s requirements, that and of course, I think it is rather expensive !

You go onto to state that non of the FRES SCOUT contenders are an ‘obvious’ replacement for CVR(T). I disagree, we have discussed this on other threads, the world have moved on since 1970, the threats have moved on, and the heavier FRES SCOUT is simply a reflection of this.

Later on you state you discuss PUMA again in the context of the U.S. Bradley replacement requirement: “This would replace the Warrior and a large chunk of the CVR(T) range,” – the problem is we do not have a stated requirement to replace the Warrior, that would be too expensive (especially as it seems we might even cut back on the Warrior upgrade program), although I think it would be very sensible to spend some capital to achieve greater standardisation with a payback in running costs throughout the life of the vehicle fleet.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim

A very good post which follows a number of my preferred options for recapitalising the Army’s vehicle fleet. I stongly belief the Army is going to have to bite the bullet when iot comes to this and buy the vast majority of new vehicles off the shelf with minimum modification, probably limited to Bowman and if possible standarised armament such as the CTA 40. It simply cannot afford its old practise of wnating top of the line bespoke vehicles even if based on existing platforms. This is why I believe the ASCOD2 (FRES SV) will be given up rather quickly in the current round of money saving measures. With the danger of repeating myself from previous posts the Army’s priority programme should be the FRES UV for with I support the idea of the Boxer being selected due to its being in service, modular approach and minimum work to incorporate UK equipment as this was in the vanilla design before we left.

Turning tio the Support Vehicle fleet I agree we have bought the wroung versions of a good platform. The current programme should be halted and the requirements redrawn to facilitate the purchase of vehicles that are more suited to in theater use and can have some level of protection above the bar armour fitted to vehicles in Afghanistan.

The vast majority of vehicles purchased under UORs for Afghanistan and Iraq will not see ervice beyond our involvement in the former. The funding will simply not be there to refurbish then and support them then. The Jackal and Foxhound are probably the exceptions as the former is well suited to support 16AB and 3Cmdo, whist the latter could form the basis of a number of variants to replace existing platforms, also able to operate in support of 16AB and 3Cmdo. Together with the Boxer the Foxhound could form the Core of the Army’s AFV fleet for decades to come.

Whether we need a direct replacement for teh CVR(T) to support 16AB and 3 Cmdo is a subject I am unsure on. Yes it is certainly on the wish list but is it essential. This especially so of any requirement for the platform to be transportable by helicopter. A possible solution would be to keep the exisitng vehicles going with a reduced fleet size as I doubt funding is really available for a replacement for quite a while.

I have made my views on the future of the Warrior fleet known in various posts and I stand by my belief that it could be used instead of teh ASCOD2 in the FRES SV role. I still strongly believe that the Armoured Infantry and curretn Mechanised Infantry Battalions should be converted into Medium Battalions and equipped with versions of the Boxer. I know people disagree with me on this and in my opinion that it does not need to be armed with anything more than a HMG and AGL but anything else will result in the urge to use it as a light tank. That is what the FRES SV is there for. The aforementioned armament is sufficient to support its dismounts, supressing enemy infantry and AT teams and deal with light AFVs if really neccessary epecailly with the new ammunition available to the AGL.

Finally the briefly mentioned heavy AFV fleets. The AS90 is more than adequate to mmet the army’s needs for the future, especially if advanced ammunition is purchased. In an ideal world a light 155mm platform would be purchased but again funding is an issue. I would like to see the Army trial the French Caesar system when developing the MRBs, as this is a readily deployable system that could be purchased off the shelf and would provide comminality with the French who we will be operating with more and more. AS for the CA2, if this is retained in service it will require a sustainment programme to fix some or all of the issues mentioned though I think we are going to see more quick fixes that any major modification, with new ammunition being purchased from overseas to keep the L30 CHARM 120mm viable rather than replacing it. This would probably be based on existing German designs, modified to allow the use of separate charges.

The urgent need to recapitalise the Army’s vehicle fleets but with a very limited money pot means that we are probably not going to get what people would say are ideal solutions. Hoever platforms like the Boxer and Foxhound have plenty of room for growth at a future date when funding does become available.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

Is there also a place for a squadron on such tankettes in the FR regiments to be found in the MRB’s?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

having read that rusi article by owen linked above i believe i am still in favour of a CVRt replacement……….. provided it has a broader place in the british military than just a few sabre squadrons kept on standby for 16AAB and 3Cdo.

an 11-13 tonne vehicle that can provide protection against 14.5mm AP, mine blasts and artillery fragments while sporting a CTA40 seems like a very useful capability.

particularly if that vehicle can fit in an iso container and and be sling-lifted by a chinook.

quick question, the stormer30 is nominally listed as a 13tonne vehicle, yet they say it can be sling lifted by a chinook if unladen, whereas owen states the chinook limit to be 11,300kg. is the 13t weight a combat weight?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

“Something along the lines of modernised Storner, maybe with hybrid drive and band tracks plus fitted with CTA40! And a telescopic sight!”

My thoughts exactly, but i still want to know whether such a vehicle has a place in the multirole brigade FR regiments as a squadron alongside other squadrons equipped with ASCOD/Warrior/35t behemoth?

Mike W

Why do people keep on talking about Stormer 30 as if it were a real possibility? Surely the Stormer production lines disappeared with the demise of Alvis some years ago now, just as the production lines for Warrior disappeared when GKN pulled out of armoured vehicle production. The latter is a pity as vehicles such as the Warrior 2000 and the special (shorter)reconnaissance verson of the Warrior would have solved quite a few of the British Army’s present-day problems.

I am not saying that I am against a Stormer30-based vehicle. I am very much in favour of it. It is simply highly unlikely that BAE will set up new production facilities simply to fill a niche (16AAB and 3CDO)requirement.

Tubby
Tubby

What about re-conditioning the Stormer’s currently used for carrying Starstreak HVM which started to be taken out of service in 2009 (I have no idea if they have been disposed of yet). I know they are not as big as Stormer 30, but presumably they could be fitted with a turret or a RWS?

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

@ MikeW – “I am not saying that I am against a Stormer30-based vehicle. It is simply highly unlikely that BAE will set up new production facilities simply to fill a niche (16AAB and 3CDO)requirement.”

That is why i keep on asking if such a vehicle has a place in the MRB base FR regiments, perhaps as a squadron alongside squadrons of the bigger Ascod vehicles…..?

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Hmmm… I wasn’t going to post this link as I thought it was possibly going too far but baring in mind Phil’s comment that we may need something eve lighter…

http://www.angelfire.com/art/enchanter/minitank.html

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

gotcha.

i wasn’t sure if a ‘modern’ FR regiment couldn’t find a place for a aquadron of Stormer40’s alongside the squadrons of ASCOD, but perhaps not. i bow to military wisdom on a military matter. :)

i agree on chinook now, and while i posed the question in a previous CVR(t) article predicated on a 16t weight margin, i am not convinced such a vehicle would be compact enough (to fit in a 20ft iso), or light enough to be truly battlefield portable (we ain’t getting CH53).

but can we really justify a new type for such a niche role as what is effectively an armoured sabre squadron each for 16AAB and 3CDo?

Lord Jim
Lord Jim

If we really want to turn 16AB and 3Cmdo into Mechanised Airmobile Brigades with a multitude of AFVs why don’t we purchase some BMD 2/3 and their variants from Russia.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

is that a serious question?

obviously i know why we aren’t going to buy russian, and at the moment we aren’t intending to use either as a brigade, but if that is an appropriate structure for brigades which are intended for limited/punitive intervention then why not buy something similar to the BMD?

steve taylor
steve taylor

Because they are death traps.

PS: I will add I think they are groovy. And the rockets they use to slow landings are super when dropping armour. But I wouldn’t want anybody I know going to war in one.

Think Defence

cracking post Phil, not much to disagree with I think

Lord Jim
Lord Jim

No it wasn’t a serious question, I just have doubts about all this talk of AFVs for 16AB. The US Army has been trying for years to solve to holy grail of airmobile AFVs with little real success. I mean what are their specs to be and what threats are they to stand up against?

Regarding the Russian vehicles being death traps, I have been in a BMP and that was small enough.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

“I just have doubts about all this talk of AFVs for 16AB.”

fair enough, i too have my doubts about tankettes just for 3Cdo and 16AAB, which is why i asked whether there was a place for them in the FR regiments alongside Ascod.

as to the specs, well i can’t help thinking Stormer30 was pretty damn close. :)

Jed

Phil

I heartily agree with the opportunity to replace Warrior with the same vehicle family as FRES Scout / FRES SV, although I think we all agree there is no cash for this – however in the spirit of fantasy fleets, and at least some “jam tomorrow” then I would go with:

All Warriors upgraded but no turret, just RWS passed to TA. One battalion worth of Warriors to two battalions of TA infantry, with every annual camp being combined arms training at BATUS !

FRES Scout / SV family – ASCOD II or preferably CV90/Armadilo as AIFV, APC, Scout, with all the special variants as required for:

4 x Formation Recce and 4 x Armoured Infantry, and at least 2 x Combat Engineer.

FRES UV (Tracked): Warthog variants for 4 x Mechanised Infantry Battalions, 2 x Combat Engineer Regiments, and all other supporting units as required.

FRES UV(Wheeled) RG35 in 6 x 6 and 4 x 4 in every variant you can dream of….. for at least 4 x Motorised Infantry Battalions (preferably 8, and maybe 8 more TA !!)

Foxhound variants to replace as many vehicles at the low end as possible e.g. Pinz, Jackal 1 and 2, Panther (?), Wolf, etc etc.

Yes I split FRES UV into tracked and wheeled, but overall you still have 4 main vehicle families providing the bulk of the inventory, with “specials” (Husky ?) as required. Hopefully there would be considerable through life cost savings from commonalities……. :-)

Mike W

Phil,

Rather belated congratulations on an excellent post – full of interest!

One thing only rather puzzled me. In your discussion of new trucks that would be needed you mention “a new vehicle, combining the Supacat HMT and Foxhound technology, produced in large 6×6 and 8×8 configuration, to take the place of the 5t MAN SV trucks and provide enhanced load carrying capability for a new TSV type role and to provide protected high mobility transport for ………” etc. etc.

Do you mean this new truck to be confined to the 5(6?)-tonne range? I ask because you mention two German vehicles (the Grizzly and the new RMMV Wisent). You go on to say that something along the lines of the Wisent is “more the sort of vehicle we need.” The Wisent (as far as I know) is a huge 25-tonne monster. Would that be too heavy for the roles you envisage? It looks one hell of a truck, though, (images available on many websites) and from its description, seems the kind of heavily armoured truck the British Army might do well to look carefully at.

Incidentally, the SDSR mentioned the intention to introduce armoured trucks but I wasn’t quite sure whether that referred to purpose-built fully armoured trucks or ones with applique armoured cabs etc. We have already bought some of the latter, I think.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

hi Jed, in suggesting four of FR, Mech, Moto are you hoping for a different structure to the five uniform multirole brigades anticipated today?

Jed

Jedi

Yes. 4 multi role brigades including FRR’s, the fifth FFR supporting the Commando’s; of which a fourth RM Commando and a fourth Para Regiment to make an “Army Commando Brigade”, both able to take on that “SOF” role (hence no SFSG required). Absoluletly no 16 AAB but 4 Combat Aviation Battalions, all in a 4 stage roulement as opposed to the current 5 stage one, no Corps / theatre level HQ – mainly though I would want enough vehicles for the majority of the GP infantry, as I don’t believe in “light role” just because we don’t have the kit……..

So a smaller regular Army backed by investment in heavily expanded and reformed TA – because “citizen soldiers” are about defence of the realm not foreign adventurism and political wars of choice :-)

Jed

Jedi – and although its getting a little off topic, although you could reduce combat service and support in line with reductions in infantry etc the one thing I would not reduce at all would be the RE – because combat engineers are a niche area with massive peace time soft power potential as well as their more war-y activities :-)

1 full time rent each of Chally 2 and AS90, with 4 Sqdns / Bty’s on that 1 in 4 roulement, and 3 TA regiments of each.

Jed

Sorry I still did not actually answer your question Jedi!

4 MRB each of:
1 x Chally 2 Sqdn
1 x AS90 Btty
1 x FRR
1 x Armoured Infantry
1 x Mech Infantry
2 x Motorised (or Wheeled Mechanised) Infantry
1 x Combat Aviation Battalion
1 x RE Regiment
1 x artillary Regt ( wheeled 15mm- RG35 based? OR LIMAWS)
CSS as appropriate

General Purpose Infantry battalions reduced to 10 to cover ceremonials and garrison duty, and to enhance MRB’s as required / as available.

RM Commando increased to 4 and Army Commando Brigade composed of 4 battalions of Parachute Regiment in Para-Commando / Ranger role; with 4 of each they fit into the 4 stage (training, high readiness, deployed, reset) roulement.

Jedibeeftrix
Jedibeeftrix

@ Jed – Now we are talking!

“of which a fourth RM Commando and a fourth Para Regiment to make an “Army Commando Brigade”, both able to take on that “SOF” role (hence no SFSG required). Absoluletly no 16 AAB but 4 Combat Aviation Battalions, all in a 4 stage roulement as opposed to the current 5 stage one, no Corps / theatre level HQ – mainly though I would want enough vehicles for the majority of the GP infantry”

“RM Commando increased to 4 and Army Commando Brigade composed of 4 battalions of Parachute Regiment in Para-Commando / Ranger role; with 4 of each they fit into the 4 stage (training, high readiness, deployed, reset) roulement.”

Thank you Jed, it will take a while to digest, and i’d love to see it expanded into a full article to explore the “whys” and “wherefores”, I think we’d all benefit.

Mike W

Phil,

Thanks very much for the reply – all clearer now.

We have bought some “applique”-type armoured cabs for the MAN SVs, haven’t we? You needn’t answer that. I’m realy just thinking out aloud.

I don’t know what happened the the Supacat 6×6 dseigned to carry LIMAWS(R) and Soothsayer. I think that about 30 were manufactured by Babcock in Devonport but I don’t think they were heavily armoured or mine protected.

Mike W

I am sure that Jed is on the right lines with his support of a vehicle such as the RG35. With further cuts to both personnel and kit, we need to be looking at a new type of vehicle: the “crossover” or hybrid type.

RG35 (both in 4×4 and 6×6 configurations) fits that bill, in that it combines the best elements of conventional armoured combat vehicles with those of the less mobile MRAP kind.

We are going to have to fight both high-intensity and counter-insurgency wars in the future and so the choice of a vehicle such as the RG35 for mechanised and motorised infantry is highly appropiate.

Jed

Phil

Boxer = great, but I think just too expensive now, hence RG35.

RM and Para – not merged no ! Both built up to 4 Battalions to fit my 4 stage roulement and in the context of the Para’s the whole brigade forms a proper Army Special Operations brigade in the mold of the U.S. Army Rangers, but with constraints on RAF transport numbers, perhaps only one company from each battalion would be para-trained; I don’t see us EVER undertaking brigade sized para drops again.

Very interesting that your ex-TA para !! I hear you, I think that to ‘shrink’ the regular army means considerable investment and reform to the TA, so I do not suggest putting capabilities into the TA as a “cheap option” – although in the long run the personnel costs should be cheaper. Your final comment on this is a good example, as a senior manager at a major UK university, one of the final reasons I left TA (along with snapped Achilles) was pay and promotion. As I was Royal Corps of Signals, but working in Psyops, I could not even get Sgt (without transfering to Int Corps) never mind the fact that my civvy pay was equivalent to a Major (or above) :-(

Jed

Jedibeeftrix – I will indeed write it up as an article for TD, but first I am waiting for some of his own articles on subjects like what to do with ceremonial requirements, overseas garrisons, the role of the Gurhkas etc. I have my own ideas already, but sometimes change my viewpoint based on TD’s well argued points (such as using Chally 2 as armoured recce !)

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix

i shall look forward to it.

Phil
Phil

“how does TA soldier X an engineer or Project Manager on, say 60k support his family on a private or JNCO’s pay??? I know the MOD help to a degree but they cannot plug such a gap?? They haven’t thought thus through again have they?”

When a TA soldier mobilises they get paid at their substantive rank and then get a Reservists Award which will bring their mobilised pay to the same level as their normal civilian pay and normal TA pay combined. They also can claim for certain allowable expenses. The civilian employer gets costs toward advertising and recruiting a replacement if necessary and the difference in pay between the salary of the replacement and the salary of the mobilised soldier if it can be justified that they needed to pay a higher wage.

The Reservist Award goes up to I think 300,000 a year which is fine for almost everyone except the Duke of Westminster and some NHS Consultants but both don’t have to worry too much about money and the NHS Consultants that I know deploy because they bloody well love it.

Tubby
Tubby

Dumb question, but given the greater mobility of tracked over wheeled how about the ST Kinetics Bionix ICV as alternative to RG35 or a complement to it? The Bionix ICV lost to Stryker, and it maybe a bit under-weight but presumably it would be reasonably priced?

Phil
Phil

@other Phil

you’re missing a word! Not sure what you are asking.

Jed

Phil – is that (Reservist Award) new or did I just not have that explained properly to me ! (Been out of TA nearly 5 years now).

Phil
Phil

The legislation was made in 2005 but similar provisions go back much further.

Mike W

Phil,

You did not say much (to the best of my knowledge) about engineer vehicles and variants. However, you did examine (very capably) logistics vehicles and artillery (briefly). Now it might be that the proper place to examine RE vehicles will be in the responses to the specialist post on Engineering when it appears, in which case you must say so.

I won’t bother you too much (as you said you were short of time) but presumably there will be places for Titan, Trojan, Terrier, ABLE, M3 Amphib Bridge, Shielder, Buffalo, etc. etc. in your future Army inventory?

If you have time I would like to know whether you think Terrier could develop other variants: e.g. bridgelayer for medium forces (although I understand that a Warrior bridgelayer variant has been tested).

Do not bother replying if you feel that this is outside the area of your post.

Phil
Phil

There’s a lot more to it than that. Regular Army personnel cost a lot in wages, accommodation, food, expenses, allowances, resettlement, pensions, career development, leave, healthcare, dental, welfare services, education and so on.

In the TA you tip up, get paid pro rata and only have access to most of those things if and when you are injured or sick whilst training or mobilised.

So there are huge costs sunk into a regular soldier and rightly so. These are much more than TA soldiers even if you take into account mobilised service since not every reservist qualifies for a Reservist Award and very often their Army pay massively outstrips their civilian pay.

The TA costs peanuts to run compared to the regulars, even with the extra funding to improve training.

To be fair to the report, other countries do use their reserves more efficiently, especially the United States and it’s a model that is worth emulating. But, obviously that requires investment and thankfully this investment will be realised.

I think it offers a balanced force, and yes, TA can plug select gaps in enduring operations and short notice contingencies if trained and resourced properly.

As for the highest ceilings of the RAward, Consultants etc often take a pay cut when they get mobilised if they have lucrative private practise.

Think Defence

The TA is cheaper to run but is it cost effective if you look at those costs v the numbers generated for deployments.

Regulars then start looking like value for money in comparison.

In general, I think there is much merit in greater use of reserve forces but we have to tread very lightly and back up changes with legislation and funding. The USNG is an interesting model but again, lets be very wary of making direct comparisons, different culture (especially amongst employers) and a very different legislative framework

Phil
Phil

At the moment the TA are not value for money because the Man Training Day (MTD) budget has been cut back and in 2009 was binned altogether for some time!

You cannot get an effective force with just 28 days training a year.

The TA needs to be equipped according to regular scales and have greater access and opportunity to exercise with regulars and have its MTD budget raised and not raided as a sly way of saving money.

The TA has really had a shit time of it, if you were not going on Ops you had barely any training days and barely any budget to do anything with. There needs to be equal training and social opportunities and better recruitment.

There is the infrastructure and the legislation and the talent and will to make the TA a very effective and tight force but the people that run it need to make better use of those things, it needs more talented and more driven people and it needs the budget to train enough.

Also, a force cycle like that of the regulars would need to be properly implemented so TA units could receive extra resources, permanent staff, full training scales and standby operational scales when placed onto high readiness.

So much of all this stuff has been done before but often only on paper because there isn’t the money for it. Coupled with the ruthless trawling for individuals for operations and ruthlessly cutting every other sods training budget has hammered the TA.

The ingredients are all there, they just need the money and the human drive to make them work. Along with a pinch of rebalancing of course!

Mike W

Phil Darley,

Thanks very much for the reply.

“Basically, my assumption was that the existing fleet, as you described would continue, supplemented by what’s coming along with FRES SV (if we ever get it).”

It looks as if we might get FRES SV and that the the Warrior upgrade is going to go ahead. According to an article in the “Telegraph” today, which discusses the future of the FRES vehicles (which the writer infuriatingly refers to as “armoured cars”), the following will be the case. I quote:

“There were meant to be different forms of the vehicles from utility to support. It now appears that only the tracked version to replace the ageing Scimitar light tank is sure to go ahead. Instead, the rest of Britain’s armoured vehicles will be cobbled together and the Warriors will be upgraded.” So no FRES Utility, it would seem, at least not in the present scheme of things.

Yes, the Paras have never done well for protected vehicles, have they?

Phil
Phil

The Telegraph – never the most reliable defence source. Like. Ever…

Mike W

@Phil Darley

The “Telegraph” online article by Thomas Harding, entitled “MOD sacrifices manpower to pay for equipment” contains the sentence: “Ministers offer no guarantees that the Army’s future armoured vehicle project, known as FRES (Future Rapid Effect System) will go ahead.” That might very well have been what made you think that FRES was being binned.

However, alongside it in the newspaper version was a shorter article which contained the quotes I included in my previous comments.

As I understand it, it is the wheeled Utility version of FRES (Piranha?) that will not proceed. The tracked version FRES SV will apparently go ahead.

As to your comments about the prototypes. Those seven prototypes, as I understand it, are of variants of the FRES SV tracked version, designed to replace Scimitar and family (so Command, Recovery, etc.)

So some good news, would you agree? (Warrior upgrade too). Of course it all depends on whether the “Telegraph” has got it right and in that respect yhou have to remember Phil’s commment ……..!

Gabriele
Gabriele

The apparent (yet to be confirmed, anyway) demise of a FRES UV requirement might fit into the reported desire of the Army and MOD to “bring into the core programme the vehicles bought as UORs for Afghanistan”.

This might mean that instead of a FRES UV, at least for now, we will have mechanized battalions formed on Ridgback and Mastiff, with Warthog hopefully finding its own place in the plan, ideally in a “PARA Armoured Support Group” on the model of the Commandos’s own Armoured Support Group with its Vikings.

Highly mobile, amphibious, and it is the most air mobile armor piece available (along with Viking itself) with 4 fitting into a C17.

This way it would not be SO bad.
Compared with shiny battalions on 8×8 Piranha a battalion mounted on Mastiff 3 might not look as cool… but Mastiff has performed well, and if you think that the Army used to use Saxon until not so long ago…

You know. From Saxon to Mastiff, it is still a leap into hyper-space in terms of improvement.

Because otherwise i struggle to see where the Mastiffs could fit: i mean, the Army could use it, but the budget won’t be able to cover FRES UV AND even just mothballed Mastiffs in Controlled Humidity Storage, let alone an active fleet of them.

If Mastiff 3 becomes FRES UV, however…

This might be the idea of the moment.
Considering wear and tear of Afghanistan use and everything, anyway, it is likely that a number of new vehicles would have to be acquired for equipping the planned 5 battalions. Still a massive, easy saving compared to going FRES UV, plus earlier (immediate indeed, only constraint being budgetary) delivery would be possible, the vehicle would be battle-proven and well liked, and with a number already there.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred

I just can’t resist the opportunity to add my tuppence-worth to the concepts of future jam and scones.

The obvious start is the heavy end of the scale. The Armoured Battlegroup is mobile, hard-hitting and well protected. As such they are the offensive forces anywhere that there is halfway competent opposition in place.
+ At the moment, we have a MBT that is fitted with a gun that is becoming obsolescent, second-rate optics and an underpowered engine.
+ A supporting IFV that is too small for a full section, has an already obsolescent gun, no fire-on-the-move, substantially weaker armour than the MBTs and a much more limited sensor suite.
+ The recce vehicles are even weaker than the IFVs, in terms of protection, firepower and capacity.
+ The supporting vehicles are even older and weaker (FV432s, Sultan)

In the near term:
+ We have the recce vehicles replaced by a much better protected vehicle with substantially greater capacity, better firepower and much better sensors and fire control.
+ The FRES SV may also replace the supporting vehicles in the Battlegroup, so Command vehicles and supporting APCs will be better able to keep up.
+ The IFV gets some more armour but no more engine power, so that becomes the most underpowered vehicle in the battlegroup, they also get uprated firepower and firecontrol.
+ The upshot of this is, come WCSP and FRES SV, the Armoured Battlegroup is a heterogeneous mix of vehicles, none equal in protection to the others and the majority ageing to the point that they may, at worst, lose the ability to sustain offensive operations against any sort of determined opposition. More likely they will win through but at a higher cost in lives or at the cost of being unable to mount follow-up operations, requiring more forces on the ground to achieve victory

Now this assumes that we will end up wanting to conduct large armoured operations against a capable foe. Remember that comment about jam and scones? Well the opposition and the need to conduct the operation is the scone. The jam is the funding necessary to spread a decent armoured formation on it. (Slightly off, as you would spread real jam on a scone directly, but it could be worse)

Ultimately, both Warrior and Challenger will have to be replaced, so it would make sense to me to replace them with a common platform. An MBT is large, powerful and well protected. It mounts a very heavy and protected turret, a large, powerful gun and correspondingly large and heavy ammunition. It has a crew of four. By removing this turret system, which counts for nearly half the weight of the vehicle, you end up with lots of space and spare carrying capacity. By replacing these turrets with extended superstructure and smaller, possibly remote, turrets, you would end up with space enough inside for a number of dismounts and there you have your front-line IFV. Using a relatively small automatic cannon (30-40mm) you can use these IFVs with large ammunition stocks to provide suppressive fire against ATGW, softskin and LAVs, support fire for the dismounts as well as counter-air fire against small UAV. With an upgraded sensor fit (1 in 4?) you could also engage in C-RAM activities. Since this will be a decade in the future at least we can start looking at really interesting designs. Perhaps we wouldn’t have to choose between front or rear engines. Using hybrid electrical drives, we can distribute the generators around the vehicle to create small, multiply redundant power sources that can be selectively switched to match the power demand and availability. That way there could be doors at the back without having air vents and vulnerable radiators over the frontal arc.
This would not be the death-knell for the FRES SV vehicles in the battlegroup. The second-line vehicle should be sufficiently protected against attack but will not need the heavy protection systems of the front-line direct-fire battle. Keeping these vehicles at the lighter weight means that logistics are reduced for the complete unit.
Keeping recce vehicles that are lighter than their charges means that they can go places that the main units cannot, and as such can determine that a route is unsuitable and not get stuck themselves.

Gabriele
Gabriele

“An MBT is large, powerful and well protected. It mounts a very heavy and protected turret, a large, powerful gun and correspondingly large and heavy ammunition. It has a crew of four. By removing this turret system, which counts for nearly half the weight of the vehicle, you end up with lots of space and spare carrying capacity. By replacing these turrets with extended superstructure and smaller, possibly remote, turrets, you would end up with space enough inside for a number of dismounts and there you have your front-line IFV. Using a relatively small automatic cannon (30-40mm) you can use these IFVs with large ammunition stocks to provide suppressive fire against ATGW, softskin and LAVs, support fire for the dismounts as well as counter-air fire against small UAV.”

Welcome to the Namer IFV. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Namer

But really, you are a bit harsh to the Chally II and Warrior. They both have plenty of life back in them, and they are the two vehicles i’d want to have in “my” army.
Of course, i’m talking about a post-upgrade Warrior, with the new turret.

Also, protection is a great thing and the soldier’s security is important, but when you reach the scale of a MBT and start moving into the 60 or even 70 tons, as touted for the US GCV, you are reaching the end of the road: the Force Protection requirement has gone up too much, and it is going to beat you even before the battle starts, by asking for vehicles always bigger, heavier, bulkier, more expensive and inexorably less mobile, strategically if not tactically on the field.
The Namer in Israel and for Israel can move to its targets on land, on its own tracks.
The UK, once it develops a MBT-sized APC or IFV, needs to develop a way to move it around and bring it where it is needed!

It is a trend that can’t continue.
If it does, it will eventually reach a point in which armored vehicles aren’t viable anymore because too vulnerable.
And this is why Active Protection Systems are gonna be more and more relevant in the coming years.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred

The Namer was one of the inspirations for the family of heavy vehicles, although at present it is an APC, not an IFV, as it lacks substantial offensive armament.

This is very much the heavy unit that intends to move into the direct fire arena and win, so the vehicles need to be protected. If that’s by passive, reactive or active armour systems isn’t important – a heavy vehicle will always be able to carry more defensive systems than a light or medium one and will therefore be more survivable.

For deployability, if we can deploy 50-70t MBTs (and we have been for the past sixty years) then we can also deploy 50-70t AIFVs. A modern infantryman is not the relatively cheap resource that he was two or three decades ago, when APCs and IFVs were much cheaper than the MBTs as their cargo was less valuable. Each man represents tens of thousands of pounds of training, carries thousands of pounds of equipment and weapons, or tens of thousands of pounds of Atk weapons. The vehicle itself carries radios, sights and complex systems similar to those mounted on an MBT, so why not protect the investment?

If 70t is too much for deployability, perhaps the aim should be for a 50 or 60t vehicle, but certainly the IFV should be of the same weight and protection as the gun vehicles rather than a medium-weight tag-along.

Challenger and Warrior are alright for the short term, but Warrior is being stuffed with more and more things that it was never designed for and Challenger is stuck with a gun that has no forseeable upgrade path.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones

Found this while researching something else; its a bit dated (before GW2?)but an interesting read nonetheless.

http://www.comw.org/pda/0007wheels.html

Gabriele
Gabriele

“The Namer was one of the inspirations for the family of heavy vehicles, although at present it is an APC, not an IFV, as it lacks substantial offensive armament.”

There is at least a prototype (dunno if they already started producing and putting it in service) of the NAMER fitted with a large RWS with a 30 mm gun and SPIKE missiles.
For what i understand, the aim of the IDF is to have formations of NAMER APCs with some NAMERs heavily armed as support fire platforms organic to the formation.

In practice, the main use i envisage for a FRES SV Direct Fire vehicle.

“Challenger is stuck with a gun that has no forseeable upgrade path.”

Not such a big issue. Instead of changing the gun, it is enough to develop a new round and produce it. The L30 is more than adequate for all tasks it is required to cover.
I’d like more to have the MTU 1500 hp powerpack replacing the current 1200 one, as done in the prototype Challenger IIE (at the Greek tank trials it proved an incredibly cost-effective solution, as it had the lowest consumes of fuel of all the tanks trialed, so there’s even potential for long-term savings) and have all tanks fitted with an RWS like those used in Iraq, with the latest TES add-on armor being made into a “ready-to-install” kit to add to the tanks whenever and wherever they are deployed.

For the rest, just keep the electronics current, and the Chally has maaaany long years of excellent service still ahead before becoming obsolete in any way.

Mr.fred
Mr.fred

Gabriele,

A heavily armed Namer exists and is called the Merkava. The RWS-armed Namer, AFAIK, is a prototype only, but an easy enough upgrade.

My view is that a heavy armoured formation is an organic unit with MBTs and IFV complementing each other and advancing in concert, with mounted infantry for security and clearing complex terrain. Making one vehicle less well protected (i.e. lighter) than the other restricts the formations ability to move as a whole, since the weaker vehicle can be stripped away by relatively lighter weapons.

There is room in all of this for FRES SV – these can be used to form the basis of a similarly balanced medium-weight formation – lighter on logistics and more operationally and strategically mobile but unable to go toe-to-toe with heavy forces.

In the near term, the Challenger 2 is a good vehicle, but it’s going to be sadly outgunned unless we invest money in gun ammunition that we are the only customer for. Our armoured formations are handicapped by the infantry being mounted in a substantially less well protected vehicle, and if we upgrade the CR2 engine and not the WR engine then it will be somewhat less mobile as well. We will be able to get by for the near future, but we really need to look at a new family of vehicles before we retire Challenger, preferably by trying out developing technologies on the existing fleet.

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