40mm or 90mm, or maybe even 105mm


Both FRES Specialist vehicle Scout and the new and improved Warrior MICV will be fitted with the CTAI 40mm cannon. There are a number of debates about this, does the cased telescoping ammunition offer enough of an advantage to justify the cost, will we ever field advanced natures, is the calibre too high when everyone else uses 25mm to 30mm and will this unique system provide any export potential but instead of these an interesting question to pose is why an automatic cannon and why not a large calibre systems like 90mm or 105m?

With the Warrior, the weapon will primarily provide supporting fire for disembarked infantry and to destroy enemy MICV. In a typical armoured manoeuvre operation, it will be joined by automatic 7.62mm and 12.7mm machine guns, 40mm GMG, supported by dismounted Javelin anti-tank missiles (we no longer have an under armour ATGW, which is another issue entirely) and the 120mm of the Challenger 2. In addition, indirect fire will be provided by 81mm mortar, 155mm artillery, GMLRS and even close air support from fast jets, Apache and unmanned systems (almost makes one sympathise with the enemy)

In another scenario, like Afghanistan for example, the Warrior might not have 155mm available or 120mm direct fire (at least not from the UK) but have 60mm mortar and the 105mm light gun.

Infantry weapons like underslung grenade launchers, the various tube-launched anti-structure munitions and the new NLAW can also be used.

So from this, it can be seen that it operates in a complex matrix that is ever-changing depending on deployed forces and other variables.

FRES Scout in its traditional CVR(T) replacement role will, in many situations, be operating beyond the forward CR2 where the anti-armour performance will be of greater importance than its ability to suppress infantry, especially given the old Striker/Swingfire combination of anti-armour overwatch will no longer form part of the FRES family. The TRACER programme had this capability and most of the early incarnation of FRES likewise, but it has been quietly dropped.

Another factor worth considering is that both CVR(T), FRES and Warrior have and will be used outside of their neat doctrinal boxes, often acting in the role of the light tank or infantry fire support. I looked at these secondary roles in a number of recent posts and came to the conclusion that in many operations these seem to assume a primary role.

This also opens up the natural questioning of the need for a proper light/medium tank but enough of that for now!

A medium calibre main gun was last seen in UK service on the Scorpion and Saladin, the 76mm L23A1 in the Scorpion was a development of the earlier L5A1 in the Saladin. Ammunition natures included HESH-T, illuminating, smoke, HE, canister and various training rounds. The Scorpion was withdrawn many years ago but the same turret on Canadian Cougars saw service in the Balkans.

In export models, the CVR(T) has been sold with the Cockerill 90mm medium velocity cannon and there were even concepts for a vehicle called the Sagita that Alvis proposed for the US Army Mobile protected Gun System (MPGS) based on an evolved Stomer chassis. Three models were proposed, one with the 76mm L23A1 with twin TOW launchers, another with a two-man turret equipped with the 75mm ARES high-velocity automatic gun and a final variant fitted with a higher calibre weapon, either the Cockerill 90mm Mk III, the Rheinmetall Rh105-11 or a new design from Royal Ordnance.

With other systems and in the context described above the 25-40mm automatic cannon would seem to offer an excellent and relevant set of capabilities and therefore the withdrawal of the 76mm weapon entirely vindicated but in an operation like that in Afghanistan would something similar provide an additional set of capabilities that would make an investment worthwhile?

Javelin has proved invaluable, long-range, highly accurate, portable on small vehicles and powerful but the principal problem is that of cost. At approximately £70k each their use becomes problematical in an extended campaign. There is a view that it doesn’t matter what they cost, if a weapon system can be used to kill an IED emplacer then that is an effective operational and economic use. This is a persuasive argument and from one perspective entirely valid. But we have seen that there is no unlimited pot of gold and decisions in one area of defence have implications in other. Javelin also has a relatively long flight time at range when compared to a gun launched round.

Relying on close air support delivered from UAV, helicopters or fast jets is also hugely expensive and subject to delays caused by both availability and rules of engagement.

Indirect fire support from organic infantry mortars can be extremely fast into action and hugely effective but the lack of precision matures makes them not suited to many situations and adding precision guidance negates many of the advantages of mortars as well. Artillery and GMLRS are also not without their own problems.

When Challenger is not deployed, as in Afghanistan, or there is a need for a higher elevation angle, the largest calibre vehicle-mounted weapon will be the 40mm CTA cannon. Looking into the crystal ball and the future character of conflict, urban environments would seem to be highly likely.

The question therefore is, is there a gap in firepower, somewhere between the 25-40mm automatic cannon and 120mm high-velocity system on the Challenger 2 that is not filled by Javelin, infantry weapons and indirect fire in these secondary roles that seem to be utilised more often?

One of the commenters made an interesting and very valid point about first deciding what you want to do and then go shopping, not before.

The first thing to say is it would not be needed to act as a tank, defend against them perhaps but it would be used more often for fire support and anti-light/medium armour.

Other roles would be immediate fire support, wall breaching, destruction of obstacles and roadblocks, clearing large areas with canisters and numerous others where its large round and very low reaction times would be invaluable. Of course, low reaction times and rapid time between firing and effects appearing on the target would also be achievable by an automatic cannon so the key difference would be the effects on target delivered by a small number of large rounds versus a larger number of smaller rounds.

There might even be a psychological advantage in some situations, a big gun looks scary and the noise has its own impact as well.

Would the advantages offered by a larger calibre main gun on FRES and/or Warrior be compelling enough to negate the cost of introducing a new system?

It is interesting to see how our US cousins look at these things and worth noting that the Stryker Brigade Combat Teams do not utilise an automatic cannon-armed Stryker variant, there is none. Although their doctrine is completely different the Reconnaissance Vehicle is only armed with a 12.7mm machine gun but they do have the Mobile Gun System variant that uses an automatic loading 105mm M68A1E4 cannon.

After initial problems (new systems with problems seems acceptable) the MGS started to receive rave reviews in Iraq and was viewed as a battle-winning system.

The official description for the MGS is;

The Mobile Gun System (MGS) supports dismounted infantry and engages the enemy in close combat in order to clear opposition and permit rapid movement allowing the force to maintain the initiative, defeat strong points, and occupy and/or secure key objectives.

I suspect any criticism of the MGS had more to do with the implementation rather than concept. It only has 18 ready rounds and a relatively complex automatic loader for example and some of the ergonomic issues remain.  The initial stories about not being able to fire on the move or being knocked over by the recoil proved to be completely incorrect.

If we accept that there is a gap, and this is far from certain, there exists a few interesting off the shelf systems worth considering.

The first would of course be the same system as used on the US MGS, this has the advantage of being a mature system with the wrinkles ironed out and obvious commonality with a major ally.

The ASCOD was trialled with this system, the drawings must exist somewhere!

More realistically, the ASCOD Light Tank has been supplied to the Royal Thai Marine Corps. This is equipped with an integrated manned turret with a 105mm main weapon from LIW, now Denel Systems. The main weapon is the 52 calibre GT7 which is capable of firing the full range of 105mm natures available from a wide variety of manufacturers. 105mm is still a hugely popular calibre. An interesting feature of the GT7 is that it doesn’t have a muzzle brake and thus avoids some of the problems with injuring surrounding infantry that such equipped weapons can sometimes suffer from. The GT-7 is derived from the venerable Royal Ordnance L7 with a new recoil system.

The LMT-105 turret, a development of the 76mm Rooikat, is also equipped with a full suite of an advanced set of fire control and electro-optical sensors, is fully stabilised and has a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.

Other turrets/guns could also be used such as those from Oto Melara HITFACT  or CMI Defence CT-CV

If a smaller intermediate weapon was required the Cockerill 90mm MKIII is still available from CMI and would allow a greater number of rounds to be carried.

The CT-CV is interesting, not because of the Falarick gun launched missile because it also offers a high elevation of 42 degrees for use in urban environments although it only has 15 ready rounds, more would be carried on the vehicle and loaded into the automatic loading system under armour.

CT-CV has been fitted to the General Dynamics Pandur armoured fire support vehicle, General Dynamics of course being the manufacture of FRES Scout and the Polish Anders armoured vehicle has also been integrated with the turret.

When we look at these it does not have to be an either-or, would, for example, 1 in 3 FRES Scouts fitted with one of these turrets offer an increase in capability worthy of the extra capital and through-life cost or are we fine with what we have?

An interesting question.

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159 Responses

  1. US cousins also –
    USMC have the TOW ATGM capable LAV II in their armd recce battalions
    US Army also have TOW ATGM Bradleys and the newer M1 Abrams have a heavy machine gun coaxial

    No capability gap, just a reluctance to deploy MBTs and engineering vehicles. A lightly armoured big gun (diminishing returns below 105mm) will just be a burden waiting for an appropriate mission. Autocannons counterparts can be more widely used.

  2. Given that what we are looking for is a way to defend the vehicle against tanks, with a high rate of fire, it would seem that a turreted 90 or 105mm is both a very disruptive and expensive upgrade that couldn’t penetrate an upgraded T72, say. Given that LOSAT has been proven and CKEM has been demonstrated, why not equip FRES with say 8 HVM’s in armoured bins at the side of the turret? Minimal disruption to design with a solid ability to engage even a high end tank, with a high rate of fire.

  3. @ RW,

    Fire Shadow may (or may not) have its’ uses, but not in the role which this article is examining. What TD is proposing is for an organic, rapid reaction / reasonable clout weapon system that can be used almost instantly by the troop concerned. Personally, I think that anything over 40mm is complete overkill for recce, and would rather have a few Javelin for the very rare occasions on which they would be useful (and accept the tradeoffs such as time of flight for the even rarer occasions on which recce find it useful to engage at distance).

    The problem with concepts such as Fire Shadow are that they are mostly marketing wet dreams. The example MBDA choose of responding to an ambush is almost ludicrous. The ROE involved, the comms and bandwidth limitations, airspace management issues all make it unsuitable for rapid response to an ambush.

    Fire Shadow would be useful for deliberately planned operations with an unpredictable element such as the time an enemy does something (e.g. two commanders meeting), or as insurance on an open flank. As such, it would probably be held and used at Brigade or Divisional level. I suspect that Hereford could also find a use for it as a stealthy and somewhat deniable 100 mile range sniper rifle.

  4. TD and all.

    Forgive me if I start teaching Grandma to suck eggs, with a short history lesson:-

    The adoption of the tracked assault gun in WW2 by Germans and Russians was largely a production compromise, cause in the German case by having production lines for Pz111 which was to small to upgrade to a fighting tank.

    And by the Russians need to counter Panther and Tiger with bigger guns on T34 chassis.

    The USA had the ‘Tank destroyer command’; (Hampered somewhat by an almost resolute refusal to deploy in any numbers a vehicle capable of destroying tanks)!

    In each and every case these vehicles were not without utility. Indeed the Stug 111 has been described as the most useful armoured vehicle the Germans had.

    The SU152 (yes I know it was on tghe KV chassis)was the ‘Beast killer’ because it killed panthers and Tigers.

    Both because it was so much cheaper assault guns / tank destroyers than to build a turreted tank

    For the Americans Hellcat and M10’s were popular with their crews and the US and UK both tried out the super heavy assault gun idea on the test grounds.

    The problems with ‘Fire support vehicles is the old:-

    ‘If it looks like tank it gets used like a tank’

    Again and again these vehicles and the Recon vehicles, the armoured cars and the light tanks, in real battlefield situationss got used like Heavy Tanks (and suffered for it), because that’s all there was at that point at that time.

    It’s why bye and large the medium fire support vehicle was dropped by worlds armies after WW2, and light tanks became strictly recon vehicles, on the real battlefield.

    Light tanks hung on for third world use. The amx series for example were big sellers. (There was some very Prescient stuff by British writers in the 1930′ about the seductive nature of the light tank for politicians and serving soldiers, it was cheaper and easier to build and use; and did most of what a heavy tank could do in ‘Colonial’ wars. But would be F all use except for recon on a European battlefield.

    On to the modern battlefield, and on this site, one of the theory ‘flame wars’ (almost up there with Nellie and Dumbo); is the CVRT 10 ton replacement vs 40 ton fighting for recon vehicle.

    Where is all this rambling going? You ask yourself.

    Well to this end.

    If you build a 40 ton armoured vehicle and put a 105 mm+ gun on it:-

    It will be very useful.
    It will save lives
    It will be popular with it’s crews, and troops and commanders.
    IT will used for blowing holes in mud compounds, taking out bomb layers etc.. with great success.
    It will be fair bit cheaper than Chally 2 or replacement to buy or deploy.

    Congrats you have just reinvented the Medium Tank!

    Because that’s what it will be used as. And with that, the heavy tank will wither and die. Units will be told to get buy on the logistically similar to their MICV/APC (Please god)’Fire support vehicles, instead of those expensive chally 2’s.

    OH yes they will! We send F’in snatch landrovers out to war because it was all we had and were cheap,

  5. Sorry I should say I am not necessarily against the idea. of a medium tank. Just what follows IMHO is the (in practice), slow death by a thousand cuts of the heavy one.

  6. PS

    one of the ideas I keep propounding to another one of those thunderous silences with which my technical ideas get greeted. (perhaps that should tell me something); Is the 105 Light gun on an armoured chassis.

    Full range of ammo already deployed,
    Excellent direct fire support and longer range credentials…

    Now where did we put all those Abbots???

  7. @James

    We’ll see this year in Afghanistan, but I can’t see why, when fireshadow is already loitering, as intended, why it can’t do all that’s required, since its line of sight, I don’t get the bandwidth reference. Given fireshadow’s ISTAR element I think it’s actually more likely to be cleared for use, it’s not as if there are no ROE for other forms of artillery or direct fire. Courageous restraint etc..

    All the problems you describe are already overcome for artillery such as GMLRS but are an easier fix for fireshadow, I expect it will become as frequent a flyer as the desert hawk spotter UAV and will save people the effort of lugging javelin etc around, so it will also be used more frequently than those weapons have been.

    I also reckon as a general principle its better to have eyes in the sky than have to peer out of a ditch and that direct fire from the air can be forward controlled/tasked just as much as direct fire from the ground.

    Try a budget of 2000 fireshadow for 10 hours local ISTAR coverage at £60,000 each. Total delivered is 20,000 ISTAR hrs and 2000 potential precision strikes for £120,000,000, which I reckon is a not an unreasonable budget for a year’s activity, when you think that we recently sent 3000 javelin at say £70,000 each to Afghanistan for a cost of £210,000,000 while using them for anything other than taking out tanks.

    There’s also a show of force element to the weapon, just as fast air moves people away without having to deploy munitions, the idea that there is probably a fireshadow orbiting a patrol would make it less easy to set up an ambush unseen and more risky to do so. We may only cover 2000 patrols with the weapon but how do the Taliban know which ones?

  8. @ RW,

    a section or platoon commander, or a recce commander only has limited comms, and nothing that is going to get him a video feed of what the Fire Shadow is seeing. Plus, he’s fighting and commanding his soldiers, so he’s a bit too busy to be looking at TV.

    Unless it is flying directly over a patrol the strong likelihood is that it will be in the wrong place, and have to turn around and fly to the right place.

    Someone in a control station is going to have to acquire the target that is required (not so easy when the operator is looking at a vertical view, and the tasker looking from ground level. Even if told that target’s grid reference, the controller is going to have to conduct a local area search in case there are any civilians in the area.

    The airspace this thing will use has to be deconflicted from other users, so casevac operations are going to be slower while the incoming helicopters need to wait for positive confirmation that the Fire Shadows are all loitering somewhere safe.

    All of a sudden your rapid effect has got bogged down in retaking time and procedural clearances – I can’t see all of that taking less than 10-15 minutes on average. In those 10-15 minutes you’ve got about the response time of close air support or aviation on call. In comparison, artillery can be on target in around a minute, and mortars in less than 30 seconds. Granted, they are not as precise as a guided weapon. Javelin can be on target in about 15 seconds.

    Fire Shadow costs rather more than £60,000 and is not yet fully developed. After three years, MBDA have now downgraded the loiter time to 6 hours, and the range to 100 kms.

    I’m certainly not against the Fire Shadow concept, but using it as a surrogate for an organic weapon system for close contact strikes me as completely unsuitable. As part of a deliberate operation, I’m sure it would be great. I can also see it being a very attractive option for some of the Libya style missions. Four of them flying over a sector of Libya (launched from safely offshore from the deck of Ocean) would probably be far more cost-effective than putting up 8 Tornado or FGR4 for the same 6 hours of coverage over the target area, not to mention not needing all of those AAR assets.

  9. Wow, this topic really is the gift that keeps on giving eh !

    I see one of my previous articles to provoke discussion on the concept was included in the automatic links:


    Also we discussed armament of MICV’s / APC’s here:

    Anyone who has haunted these forums long enough knows I have been accused of being a salesman for 120mm breach loading mortar manufacturers – so you can guess what my answer is…. !!

    I have been researching mortars in general for an article, and it is interesting to look at the way the US Army uses them in the Stryker brigade, as the MGS was mentioned.

    A Stryker brigade has 10 MCV-B vehicles – that being the Mortar Carrying Vehicle – type B variant of the Stryker. It is fitted with a 120mm smooth bore, manually muzzle loaded mortar on the Israeli Soltam companies CARDOM platform, which automatically lays the mortar (but as noted, it is not an autoloader). These vehicles are split, 6 are with the 3 ‘Rifle” Companies (2 each) and 4 are kept at the Battalion level.

    The reason I mention that, is that I find that split interesting from a doctrinal viewpoint. If they had they gone with 120mm turreted mortar, for example BAe’s AMS II (which is used on equivalent Saudi wheeled armour), then you might expect the 2 with each Company group to be involved in direct fire support missions, while the ‘retained’ at Battalion level would be available to the Battalion commander for indirect fires.

    Now, having said that, there are also 9 MGS per battalion – so there are 19 “fire support” weapons systems in total compared to a “war time” establishment of 9 x 81mm mortars for a British Army battalion.

    So, as I have noted before, perhaps the 120mm turret mounted mortar, while being a very flexible weapon system, would actually prevent the carrier vehicle from being embarrassingly used as a “Medium Tank” (with potentially deadly results for our side).

    On the other hand…… continuing on the mortar theme, the Israeli’s use 60mm mortars, aimed and fired from under armour on everything from their re-built / upgraded M113 APC’s to their Merkeva tanks. As we we have 60mm mortars procured under UOR, perhaps fitting these to FRES protected mobility might be an idea ? At this smaller calibre the South African Denel (part of the BAe empire) have a new breach loading, long barreled, long range 60mm mortar for turreted applications, its called the M10 if you want to Google.

  10. Jed

    One of the statements in the articles you’ve ref’d say

    ‘We are not getting into tank on tank action’

    But it will.

  11. Ixion

    Not sure I understand your comment, but why would you send a 120mm turreted mortar, which is essentially the infantry’s own self propelled artillery, up against enemy MBT ?

    Sure they could be equipped with stand off AT weapons, as discussed, but as the turret armour is thin i.e. probably proof against 14.5mm AP at the most, I really don’t think the most insane Coy CO (Major) is going to send his “gun section” against “real” tanks !!

    If you mean there will be tank on tank battles in future wars, obsolutely, why not; that is why we need to retain all CH2, at a good upgraded state, even if some (or many) are in storage…….

  12. perhaps its just me showing my ignorance, but i dont ‘get’ company / battalion / brigade splits.
    Is a gun team going to refuse fire support because its for a different company? Or tell the lt col to bugger off because it isnt a battalion asset?

  13. There are three target audiences for a large caliber guns here:

    1. Mechanized scout units (FRES)
    2. Mechanized infantry units (Warrior)
    3. Light/medium infantry units.

    Scout units don’t typically need to breach walls, but do need a heavy anti-armor punch. However, mechanized scouts can just operate with MBTs.

    Mechanized infantry does need to breach walls and destroy field fortifications, but they too can operate with MBTs.

    Light/medium units would benefit from a direct-fire gun system. Whether they can use MBTs or not depends on the situation. Having a lighter armored gun system would appear to be valuable. But is basing it on FRES SV really the right way to go? At 32+ tonnes it’s still rather heavy.

  14. @IXION,

    Great post! And so right.

    My oh my, have we been round the houses on this one.

    As we begin to think about future armoured requirements, there is a school of thought that believes infantry combat vehicles should be as well protected as tanks. If a recce vehicle is required to fight for information then perp has it too should have equivalent protection? This being the case, a common chassis for both MBT and MICV with the engine mounted forward may well be the way ahead for Challenger and Warrior replacements. You would want a 120 mm gun on the MBT and Recce versions and a smaller cannon for the MICV version to ensure maximum troop carrying capacity.

    As far as FRES SV is concerned, I don’t think there is a valid case for medium tracked armour. You are 100% correct when you say: ‘if it looks like a tank, it will be used like one.’ That is fine until the shooting starts. (Which may explain why recce regiments in WW2 used heavy (as possible) tanks not light tanks. with Cromwell being better than Stuart due to its greater speed, protection and firepower).

    In the short term, and because we desperately need to replace our ageing CVR(T)s, I believe that the medium recce role could and should be performed by Warriors with 40 mm CTA. Long term, perhaps we need something better than the FRES SV ASCOD 2, and preferably something with a 120 mm gun.

    Do we need medium armour? Yes, I believe we do. The Italian Army has adopted the Freccia 8×8 APC and an 8×8 tank destroyer the Centauro (now being up-gunned from 105 mm to 120 mm). They are designed to complement each other using a common chassis. The concept works well. Both vehicles have a remarkable off-road ability. While ultimately less capable than tracked vehicles, they can go just about anywhere a tank can, are not immobilised by the loss of 2 or 3 wheels and, in particular, they offer superb long range strategic mobility. Their capabilities are complimentary to those of heavy armour, i.e. they sacrifice protection for mobility. Even so they provide IED and RPG protection that is close to that of a Mastiff (Cougar). In effect, the latest 8×8 designs are wheeled medium armoured vehicles not tracked.

    For these reasons, I think a 8×8 Centauro with a 120 mm gun would make a much better FRES SV than a tracked ASCOD 2 with a 40 mm CTA. (Both offer comparable protection.)

    MBT or 8×8 tank destroyer, you need a 120 mm gun to take out enemy tanks. The 40 mm CTA cannon will effectively neutralise other 8x8s and MICVS, but not tanks. This weapon is more capable than other cannons so is definitely worth acquiring for the infantry support and anti-APC role. Although it is a larger calibre from other NATO MICVs, its clever design means that the gun mechanism and breech take-up less turret space than those of an inferior 30 mm cannon.

  15. Jed

    What I mean is that if it has a gun in a turret, it looks like a tank, then it will start to be used as one, and work that should be done by Challenger 2 to be on the safe side; will be done by this fire support vehicle because it is available, and will be cheaper to use.

    The CO will send them because they will be all he has to hand when the enemy attacks. Indeed the political powers that be (both in and out of uniform) will tell him to get on with it.

    ‘Look Colonel Blimp we need the right kind of man too lead the Bwifflesneezeshire Rangers in this tight spot. Your just the chap too do it, of course we can’t spare Chally2 but you you’ll have some FSV’s’ so that will be ok won’t it. Of course if you don’t fancy the job Colonel Bogey is free…’

    I know one or two brave souls did resign but an awful lot of CO’s led their troops into ‘Battle’ in Snatch in Iraq, and earlier in Bosnia in Saxon, because it was all we had available.

  16. Not sure about all of this fascination with guns – unless the doctrine and subsequent TTPs have changed significantly for both recce and armoured / mechanised infantry (and I’m not aware that they have), the gun on the wagon is one of the least considerations, a very long way behind protection and mobility.

    Rapid in-theatre operational mobility, tactical mobility and protection from shrapnel are the main three that need to be balanced off for recce. Additional protection is always welcome, but not to the extent of compromising mobility. Firepower needs to be highly accurate for oddball tasks like taking out landing helicopters and faster moving targets of opportunity e.g. liaison and command vehicles. I understand why Scorpion was included in the formation recce mix, but frankly these days I’d rather have a troop of 120mm mortars in the indirect role, and a recce vehicle with something like the M3 CFV Bradley turret offering 20mm and TOW.

    Armoured infantry need to be able to keep up with tanks and be rather better protected. The main requirement for the gun on an IFV is to be able to provide rapid suppressive fire, often at steep depressions in order to park virtually on top of a trench or other position and hose it down with utmost violence from about 5 yards away.

  17. monty
    i’ve been thinking about a common chasis, with a 120mm turreted gun, a dual 40mm cta on a turret or an embarked fireteam/section whatever.

    To the outsider, 5 sections in unarmed heavy apcs, 2 autocannon carriers and a ‘tank’ sounds reasonable for a lot of uses.
    You could ‘flex’ any quantity for various roles, and you cant throw tankettes into armoured engagements and hope for the best.

    I still think theres a place for much smaller vehicles, like the current cvrt series, not so much for ‘recon’ on fulda, but as tanks where tanks cannot be, obvious example here, falklands.

  18. IXION
    My take on WW2, was that the medium tank/close support aircraft combo was unstoppable. The early Blitzkrieg with Panzer III/IV & Stukas. Then the UK/US with Shermans & Typhoons, not forgetting the Russians with the T34/Sturmovik.
    The Germans lost when they put their effort in a few heavy Tiger 2s.
    I like the idea of light,mobile armour(Vickers Valkyr or Stormer with a 40mm CTA unmanned turret)+ medium armour such as the Engesa Osorio 41 ton tank armed with 120mm gun, but they must be backed up by air support(Apache,Hawk, A-10,etc).
    Old Fossil that I am, I think it a shame we retired the 84mm Carl Gustaf RCL. Cheap,deployable fire support for dismounted troops.

  19. JH

    My take on WW2 was what happened afterwards. It is very interesting that in essence all sides (in the west) came to the conclusion MBT (in reality a heavy tank) was the answer.

    Leopard, Centurion, M series, Similar in terms of weight, (OK centurion was bit heavier generally)
    All with similar guns.

    The Germans lost WW2 in the factory.

    We could (and did) Loose 10 Shermans for one panther and still win, The T34 more so.

    We had fuel, the Germans did not, we had tungsten cored shells, the Germans did not.

    The Germans could never have hoped to compete.

    Churchill said something like:- the day US declared war on Germany he went to sleep knowing we had won the war the result was now inevitable.

    The point of this discussion is that all the ‘fire support vehicles’ were stopgaps (very useful ones) forced on parties that would rather have built tanks.

  20. @ John Hartley.

    Firing the Charlie G was an apocalyptic experience, particularly as the firing signature was significant, and it only had a range of about 500 metres against moving targets. It was fairly reliably going to be spotted as soon as it fired, and invite a firestorm of response. I’d rather have a Javelin and considerably more standoff distance. It also weighed a ton, and therefore became the staple of any number of dubious stories about Arab cadets at Sandhurst burying them and offering to buy another rather than carry it.

  21. Perhaps we should consider the Canadian experience. A few years ago they were quite content to see their older Leopards go out of service in favour of an LAV combination including TOW and MGS variants. That was of course before buying up over 60 second hand Dutch and German Leopard2.

    The Leopard’s 105mm gun can provide the same direct fire infantry support as the same gun mounted on the MGS, while the MGS lacks the armour to face up to a tank. Meanwhile, the LAV TOW is a limited platform if your enemy isn’t driving around in armoured vehicles.

  22. IXION
    In 1944 the US introduced the Chaffee light tank. Stayed in service with many armies til the 1980s. Then the M41 Walker Bulldog light tank. Again in service with many armies till the millenium. I grant you the Sheridan was unfortunate, but it could go places in Vietnam a heavy MBT could not.
    I am not saying we should scrap Javelin missiles in favour of the Carl Gustaf, but it would be handy in the back of whatever vehicle you are in, if you have to stop & fight, taking out mud brick walls the Taliban is hiding behind.

  23. JH

    The Chaffee and Bulldog were always recon platforms and even the US used M60’s in recon role.

    It certainly was not doctrine to use them as fire support or anti armour weapons, with infantry. Sheridan had it’s faults.

    BTW have those who support a lightweight tracked vehicle with a 120mm mort also firing missiles, ever considered how close to Sheridan that concept is?

  24. IXION
    Maybe for the US, but I bet the smaller armies used them for some sort of fire support.
    Footnote on Carl Gustaf. I agree its time has gone for fighting modern MBTs, but against Taliban style enemies, it provides a cheap counter RPG weapon. CG had a wide range of rounds. The illuminating round could be fired to 2km & provide half a million candle power for half a minute. Great for night counter ambush.

  25. @ John Hartley,

    CG is completely over-matched by any number of modern weapons in any number of situations. I certainly wouldn’t give it vehicle space now unless no other option was available. Apart from anything else, limited range and a huge firing signature mean it’s a bit of a bullet-magnet. Why not sit back 1,000 metres and let the 30mm do the work, sit back 2,000m and let mortars do the work, or 2,500 metres and let a Javelin do the work?

    If you are trying to breach a compound wall, it’s because you have some intent of putting troops through that breach. It’s a lot more guaranteed, and a lot more accurate with other options, none of which involve some intrepid CG team crawling to within 500 metres of a compound carrying a 20 kilo drainpipe.

  26. I think TD mentioned in the article about a comment someone made on another thread; we need to figure out the why and what first before we look at how.

    What do we realistically expect recce vehicles and AIFV to shoot at on a regular basis?
    Why do they need to shoot at this targets?

    Which should lead us to the “how then do we arm these vehicles?”

  27. @John Hartley

    “but it (the Carl Gustav) would be handy in the back of whatever vehicle you are in, if you have to stop & fight, taking out mud brick walls the Taliban is hiding behind.”

    But isn’t that the reason we have, over recent years, purchased weapons such as the 66mm Light Anti-Structures Missile or L72A9 (while waiting for the Anti-Sturctures Munition proper) and the ILAW (Interim Lightweight Anti-Tank Weapon or AT4 CS)? The AT-4, I believe, was a disposable, low-cost alternative to the Carl Gustav, which had a heavier and more expensive steel tube with rifling.

    Or would they have been inappropriate weapons to use against mud brick walls. Much, much cheaper than Javelin! By the way, is Milan still around somewhere or is it considered unsafe to use now? Might be an idea to use a few of those up?

  28. Ref ChrisB referring himself to TD’s question – what do we think the threats are I.e figure out who the enemy is, and then how we are going to fight him.

    During the Cold War this was easy – masses of Soviet armour. Now, for us its not so clear.

    As i mentioned on the CTA brochure thread, some countries that we look at show how they have devolved doctrine and kit to defend against very specific threats.

    Israel – more tank on tank experience than the rest of the world put together (at least until GW1) = Merkeva and Namer.

    South Africa – terrain and threat leading to wheeled armour with 90mm cannon and 60mm gun-mortars= Elandand then Rooikat.

    South Korea – 2500 tanks ranging from upgrade M48 Patton variants to the K2 Black Panther, the most expensive tank in the world.

    So what path do we want to tread? HMG appears addicted to meddling in others affairs (under the guise of R2P or whatever) – so do we make sure we always have enough CH2 available in a given force to make sure they are available as “direct fire support” OR do we need a lighter alternative; a more strategically mobile, modern “infantry support” tank, a Sherman for the new Millennium if you will !

  29. “a section or platoon commander, or a recce commander only has limited comms, and nothing that is going to get him a video feed of what the Fire Shadow is seeing. Plus, he’s fighting and commanding his soldiers, so he’s a bit too busy to be looking at TV.”

    But units going out in the field, and definitely the Brigade Recce Force, are supposed to have Fire Support Teams from the RA going with them and equipped with the Rover 4 handheld terminal and Firehawk video downlink, for which Fire Shadow is to be kitted.

    They will see from the Fire Shadow eye, and order it to strike.

    For Section-level work, of course, we’ll have to wait. But 2015 is supposed to bring forth the FIST C4I element, and that might expand the envelope of what can be done.

    Not doing it now does not mean not doing it tomorrow.

  30. @ Gabriele,

    you mostly make my point. Fire Shadow will be employed by specialist units (the RA certainly, possibly a few others), not available to any ordinary patrol as was suggested further up thread, and it would not be sensible to view the system as a replacement for an on-vehicle weapon system.

    The RA deploy teams down to squadron / company level as a matter of routine, not to section level. Of course, for a special task, that can be changed, but for everyday stuff at patrol level, it is highly unlikely that an RA team will be physically present. That’s the main reason that recce vehicle commanders and some others in the infantry (e.g. MFCs, recce platoons) are trained to call for fire over the radio.

    I’ll wait to see what FIST C4I delivers, but I doubt we are going to get FMV of targeting quality down to a section commander. The US cannot do it now for their regular forces (I don’t know about their SF – that may be different). The best quality available in 2010 even over a micro mesh network of data capable tactical radios was 10 frames a second at 640×480. Dedicated downlinks of course offer more, but impose other constraints like being static to operate, or requiring specialist antennae and control systems, none of which are going to find their way into a section vehicle. There are other issues: in order to be able to be received by one of no doubt dozens of patrols which may need Fire Shadow support, the broadcast footprint of the loitering munition is going to be huge, which has power implications for the air vehicle, and is hardly stealthy. As the air vehicle moves out of coverage of a particular patrol and another air vehicle comes into coverage, you are going to be having a lot of electronic and data protocols exchanged, which may compromise the patrol’s position.

    I just can’t see Fire Shadow being used as a general loitering munition. It will be put up and controlled in packs for dedicated operations.

  31. I was just looking up the Carl Gustav. There are references to the SAS using it in Afghanistan, but no particular details; the US Rangers and Special Forces also make use of it, so it must have some benefits over the other systems available.

    Interestingly, there is a flechette round finding some use out there. Good for location defence apparently. That is quite some shotgun, if I were a clay pigeon I wouldn’t fancy my chances in front of that.

  32. “Interestingly, there is a flechette round finding some use out there. Good for location defence apparently.”

    The US Army resurrected their long-put-to-rest recoilless gun, M67 if i remember the number correctly, for that reason. It seems that recoilles rifles are quite popular in Afghanistan (or feared, apparently, since Talibans also use/used them).

    I remember reading a report on that and thinking “bring back the Wombat!” XD

  33. James
    “The RA deploy teams down to squadron / company level as a matter of routine, not to section level.”
    Sorry to treat you as my own personal military google, but is there a reason for that?
    To me it just seem obvious to put a single gun in all of our various bases in Afghanistan.
    Track any patrols that are out and about, and then you can provide near instant return fire from any ambush.

    Be that a 105 gun, 120 mortar, or a 155 gun

    The CG looks very handy for defending a base, but carrying them around seems mental.

  34. There are so many gun and platform options in many weight catergorys. The list of options is infinate.
    The B1 Centauro with a 120mm tank gun is an interesting idea. The AMOS or Advanced Mortar System, the one with the twin barraled motars can be use in both direct and non direct fire so in a good option that can be used on verious platforms.

  35. Hi Guys,

    I think the infantry would love a close support in house option.
    As a former foot slogger, I feel the British infantry company lacks direct fire support.
    I would suggest a 105mm turret for direct fire support and anti tank turret similar to the Bradley.
    Mounted on a warrior, or the new recce vehicles.
    In my humble opinion a company commander would love a section of each!
    I would also agree with the following points made earlier;
    We shouldn’t be looking for a new tank.
    The infantry can always use more fire support, especially now there’s a reluctance to use MBTs.
    The Charlie G was a good weapon in its day.
    Plan for the next war, not the last!

    Phil Z29

  36. @ DominicJ,

    Manning levels. The Army can only put with with so many Gunners, and there are only so many Norland Nannies to marry ex-Cavalry officers’ conquests.

    Artillery should be massed for firepower and shock effect. Not pea-shooting on a “one gun per section” basis.

  37. Carl Gustaf.
    I have never suggested some poor soldier should be expected to lug one on his back while hiking mile after mile. I do think they are a cheap way of fire support for ambushed convoys or forward bases.
    Yes you can use one shot disposables, but my earlier post mentioned the choice of rounds available to a CG. Load what you need at that moment.
    If we bought new, doubtless modern lighter materials(aluminium, carbon fibre) could be used to reduce weight. A modern airburst round might be handy. Modern laser ranging & night sights also handy.

  38. re Charlie G vs 40 mm AGL vs organic mortars.

    One biggish round every 10 seconds, a huge firing signature, and attracting lots of bullets in return. 500 metres effective range.

    Lots of smaller rounds every 10 seconds, which you can fire in an arc to cover a wider area. Over three times the distance. With a firing signature considerably reduced.

    About 6-8 81mm or 120 mm rounds in the air and impacting the target anywhere within 5,000 metres within 30 seconds, followed by several iterations of 6-8 rounds every ten seconds.

    As this is a “vehicle mounted” thread, I’m allowing for the weight of all systems to be vehicle borne.

    You pays your money, you take your chances.

  39. James
    Chances are, you would only use Carl Gustaf when you are already being shot at, so I think the enemy knows where you are.
    500m was against moving tanks. 2000m effective range against fixed positions.

  40. Definately in Afghan Dom. Nothing like a good stonking from a few organically and closely controlled 81mm barrels to mess up Terry’s day.

  41. Dom. One thing I learned out there about artillery, and it wasn’t much, is that the bigger and more longer ranged the artillery system the more of a pain in the arse it is to get it fired quickly. Deconfliction becomes a bigger and bigger problem. Organically controlled mortars embedded in a company group are incredibly responsive and have a far smaller pain in the arse factor. Skilfully controlled they are über responsive. We’re talking seconds. And you dont have to worry about some cowboy arsehole fucking A10 pilot refusing to get out of the flight path of a GMLRs barrage meaning it couldn’t be fired. Id have shot that fucker right out of the sky but then that’s why I’m not an Officer.

  42. Recoilless weapons make a certain amount of sense for the conflicts we are currently involved in. Modern fire control and limited targets mean that the larger ammunition is less of a problem – chances are that such a platform would not use more than a few rounds before resupply.

    Then you have a large calibre weapon that you can mount on a lighter vehicle. A lighter vehicle means you have less impact on the local infrastructure or put a greater share of the GVW towards protection or mobility, depending on what suits your role.

    It would be interesting if a large recoilless weapon could be fitted with a countermass system like on the AT4-CS to reduce the backblast danger area.

    Maybe a Foxhound variant with a large recoilless rifle, some kind of fire control and a machine gun would make a good light-infantry fire support platform for dealing with hard targets

  43. Just looked up M3 CG on net. It is lighter than the old M2. Range varies with round. 2300m illuminating. Most exploding choices have ranges of 700 to 1300m. Airburst, HE, bunker busting, etc available. Modern sights have been fitted. As the Canadians,Yanks, Swedes & all , have used them in combat lately, why not the UK?

  44. Mr.fred, a fire support platform for light infantry; the reasoning behind using Foxhound (and Snatch) is that they can reach the parts that other vehicles can’t – CVRT would seem an ideal fire support platform for Foxhound units. Scimitar2 seems to have gone down well, much new or re-engineered parts, and the new hulls are well protected for it’s class. Why not pop a 90mm onto the Scimitar2 and make a Scorpion2? Or opt for a HMG/GMG combo.

    Enough of the light tank, says the article.

  45. Aussies, Canucks and US Army Rangers are using them because they already have them, what would be the point exactly of us adding them to our mix ?

    Do we need to take out a bunker, punch a hole in a wall (building or compound) at over 700m ? Use a Javelin – comparatively expensive I know, but I am not sure how often this use case occurs. We have UOR’d 60mm mortars, and lots of different standard and UOR’d “rockets” for making holes in things, do we really, really feel the need to add another ?

    Did you read the link, the KitUp peice ? still heavy and awkward to lug about, 2 man team carries 5 rounds.

    If we want re-usable rocket launchers, the German Panzerfaust 3 has the advantage (like the RPG) of having a warhead that can be bigger than the rocket that propels it (i.e. a larger calibre) – CG is stuck with what you can fit in the tube.

    But seeing as how we started discussing vehicle weapons, should not the infantry be able to call on a support vehicle to blow holes in walls at ranges of 700m or more……..

  46. Jed
    Some of these CG M3 have been bought by those you mention quite recently. They must have thought they were useful.
    Re 90mm. Just got distracted on the web by the ad for the Cockerill Mk8 90mm gun. Claims to be the most powerful for 10-20 ton armoured vehicles.

  47. @ Jed,

    I’m very largely with you. There’s only two reasons you want to blow a hole in the wall. Either there’s someone behind it you want to kill, in which case there’s several dozen better alternatives than CG, or you want to force the wall as a point of entry for troops to assault through, in which case there several dozen better alternatives than CG.

    For the CG fans, I’d invite you to consider volunteering for the endless miles of slog carrying it around, or the approach crawl to within a few hundred metres of the wall carrying a CG and the rounds of ammunition.

  48. We are veering into the primacy of HE on the battlefield and a debate that moves the onus away from individual weapons and onto crew served weapons, so infantry sections are built around two support weapons

    1. some form of HE projector
    2. GPMG

    Everyone else basically acts as ammunition carriers and are armed with only a personal defence weapon. GPMG to supress and then HE to destroy

    The US do seem to like the M3 Carl Gustav having ordered quite a few recently but even though the new and improved version is lighter, it is still pretty heavy. Because of the recoiless configuration the size and weight of the ammunition is also on the large side

    They are also fielding the XM25 which is supposedly getting rave reviews as well so maybe thats where the future is.

    Pauls suggestion of the Dynamit Nobel Panzerfaust is interesting, going down the RPG7 route with launcher and rounds separate, unlike most western designs where they use a disposable tube. This approach allows some sophistication in the sighting mechanism so you dont have to keep carrying and throwing away expensive optiocs.

    Don’t forget we now have the anti structure munition, or Rafael Matador. Plus the new M72 from Nammo Tally and of course, NLAW and Javelin

    If we accept that a vehicle mounted solution is necessary then there are some even more interesting ideas, I like mine, a manually loaded CTA 40mm!

    A modern WOMBAT would be interesting or any of the 90/105mm weapons in the main article, sitting on CVR(T) or FRES SV

    As an outside the box (sorry for that) solution, how about a guided rocket, Kongsberg have demonstrated a SAL seeker head on the wickedly fast CRV-7 that we use on Apache, launched from a quad style ATV

    Check out the picture at this link


    How about a 30mm chain gun on a ring mount, the same(ish) version of what Apache uses


    The ultimate is of course

    I get wood watching that!!!

  49. phil

    i get that, but kind of assumed forward positioning the gun clears that problem somewhat.
    Could be wrong of course.

    Even if we limited it to 81’s, are they that widly distributed?

    I dunno, to the outsider, it just seems like a quick win.

    Just out of curiosity, have any jets ever been knocked out by friendly artilery?

  50. 81mm mortars are hugely under rated in this world of laser guidance, murderously effective and rapid. We also have the 60mm now as well

    Dont think any aircraft has been knocked out of the sky by a falling artillery shell but we don;t want to start now

  51. Hi TD,

    The SAL rocketry catches my imagination:
    -cheap, light, effective

    Infantry/ recce having a few on quadbikes (targets lased by members of the same unit). Helos spotting and lasing a few more targets (and carrying a good number of the munition themselves).If there are plenty of targets in the area, just load up the back of a Viking and they can be in all kinds of places, without needing a direct line of sight with the target (as those buggers tend to shoot back).

    Talking about helos, and the comment by James: “There was a study done by the RAC Gunnery School with some DERA bods in the mid 90s about whether any software improvements could allow Challenger fire control computers to engage flying helicopters, which are rather bigger than UAVs, mostly fly slower and closer to the ground. The conclusion was that it was all but impossible”
    – surely is still true 98% but the Korean K2’s fire control claims both tracking and automatic firing (the big gun that is, a .50 cal to support if not out of range for it)on helos in normal flight
    – no wonder it is more expensive than any other tank in production

  52. @ TD.

    Heresy! HE is for suppression, GPMG for destruction, and the Queen’s bayonet for the ultimate personally delivered message four inches above the belt buckle.

    Now repeat after me several hundred times (without cutting and pasting)….

  53. Dom, there’s a famous picture of a Para at Arnhem with his mortar barrel almost vertical. And therein lies one of the main advantages of the mortar, it’s much smaller minimum range. So it has a relatively small footprint, it is organic to the company group, it is extremely responsive, can fire as fast as you can get rounds down, requires far less faff to fire, can fire a variety of HE and HE Proxy rounds not to mention Illume, Smoke and Black Illume, has a pretty short minimum range and they are simple bits of kit.

    They are the perfect infantry fire support weapon IMHO when tied in with a good MFC or FST chap and good pre-registration.

    Contact Right!
    Fire the mortars!!

    *30 seconds later, mostly flight time*



  54. James
    I repeat,again & again, I do not want any grunt to have to lug a CG M3 miles on foot. You carry them on a vehicle or deployed at a forward base.

  55. James, is that actually the case now though

    GPMG to supress, reduce cover and fix in place to allow a break contact shimmy, whereupon mortars, CAS, artillery and Apache do the rest

  56. @ TD,

    you may very well accuse me of being dyed in the wool, but there was certainly a truism that it didn’t matter how much HE crap you rained out of the sky at an enemy position, in the end you had to fix your bayonet and go and investigate if the Queen’s enemy was indeed dead, and to hold the ground you had to go and occupy it, which also meant fixing your bayonet and going over to the still smoking ruins.

    So, HE gives you a reasonable certainty that the enemy is preoccupied with survival while you go about the manoeuvring business, but no certainty that he is not sitting it out in some cunning bunker. GPMG gives you suppression in close proximity, and you can see for yourself that some of the mad mullahs succumb. In the end, you clear every bunker and position one by one with rifle and bayonet, and when you watch the light go out of your enemy’s eyes when he’s stuck on the end of the Queen’s bayonet, then you know that the position is yours.

    I’ve bayoneted dead people, just to be sure.

    Hence the hierarchy.

  57. I dont disagree James but wonder how much Afghanistan is changing things like that, especially with the advent of IED’s, precision bombs and Apache.

    For example, if there is a contact, is it a come on to a pre prepared IED, maybe Phil can answer, of all of us old crusties I suspect he is more current

    Interesting stuff

  58. Ah, TD, big new topic, possibly enough for a whole new blog…

    Holding ground or holding minds? Discuss, with the aid of several Venn diagrams showing mutually coherent logic and uninvolved co-parallel possibilities.

  59. @ John Hartley,

    I think we’re almost in agreement. CG is better than nothing at all, I’d certainly want one if I was in a base under threat of attack (along with several tons of other weapons and ammo), and I’ve almost got the muscle memory to remember how to work it. Nothing that 5 minutes would not put right. But in any normal military environment, there’s about 2 dozen alternative weapon systems I’d want in advance of the CG.

  60. Once again TD has become a night at the Legion with my Dad……..

    “They don’t like it up ’em, Mr Mainwaring!”

  61. @ X,

    the bayonet didn’t go away after the Boer War. It is certainly probably a decreasing proportion of kills, but it doesn’t require batteries and is more reliable than a modern Prime Minister. It gives you useful reach in a trench, can help with subduing half a dozen Iraqis who you have not yet quite captured in a command post but who may need a mental nudge to put their hands up, for the cost of one with a serious stomach wound and a lifelong distrust of confused situations. It can also open beer bottles, 200 round containers of 7.62mm, and ration packs. What’s not to like?

  62. Not sure I agree James. There’s quite a lot of empirical and anecdotal evidence for the effectiveness of a good HE stonking. It suppresses, and it might not work so well on fortifications or well prepared dug outs but it is murderously effective otherwise. A quick stonk on a likely FUP can and has broken many an assault before it crossed the start line.

    Anyway, Afghan. Things are so different out there in the sense that often the fighting is secondary to the whole CIMIC, wonder around have a chat, win hearts and minds thing. In those scenarios we’d often use the mortars to break a contact so we could continue the patrol, hold the shura etc. A quick 5 rounds proxy HE would make them think twice. Other times we’d screen with smoke or drop the smoke on them which pissed them off as its phosphorous.

    Very often the contacts are initiated to try and draw you into an IED belt or IED seeded compound. The only time we assaulted them was in deliberate ops or when we knew they had occupied hasty firing positions and we were on a smash. Then we used mortars in the old fashioned way either directly striking known FPs or suppressing and screening.

    I never knew much about mortars but became good friends with our mortar line who, fired more bombs than any other mortar line. Way more. We were getting underslungs of bombs quite often. We hit 3,600 in a six month tour.

    Such versatile simple things. And with pre registered x rays, lightning fast. We used to use HE ambushes, we’d go tickle them, watch where they shot from, put down some x rays behind those FPs and the next day do the same and drop a mix of HE and HE proxy behind them catching them as they ran for it. We got loads like that.

  63. Think I’ve said before about my mate US Forces delivering supplies to UK unit in G1..

    He watched a battalion of troops all sat about sharpening bayonets,

    His comment of

    ‘Jeez don’ they issue you guys with bullets’

    still makes me chuckle…

  64. I know two things about bayonets. One. The best part of the original factory fresh SA80 was its bayonet. A wonderful thing. Two. A bayonet hitting the deck during drill training is the loudest thing in the universe and everybody looks at you….

    TBH I am big fan of sharp instruments. Like most children I covert those things with which I am not allowed to play.

  65. I’m a medic and even I got one. Bayonet. Not a mortar. Sadly.

    Fixed it a few times. Never got to get anyone with it which I’m glad about in retrospect. Although did try to stab a massive bloody dog at zero dark thirty on one op but the lack of depth perception resulted in a comedy swipe. If anyone subscribes to The Times website search for Takiban Flag Planting, it was during that piece of psychological warfare and recce!

  66. We had some 60mm yes. But 81mm was our mainstay.

    We had proxy. I might have dreamt it but I think someone said it was dead new. We preferred them. Less collateral damage to farmers land and compounds and air burst upset them. Obviously.

  67. @ Phil,

    I’m such a fan of bayonets that I bought one post Army, and should the sh*t really hit the fan, it will travel around with me. It’s about all that I’m legally allowed to own as a citizen, and of course, it stays in the attic with my old crash out kit, so fully legal and responsible on that score.

    I’m also a fan of mortars, or at least, far more than any fandangled C4I dependent wonder strike weapon. I started being a fan when I saw an infantry Pl Sgt use a 51mm handheld off the glacis plate of his Warrior in BATUS in about 88, popping smoke very effectively a couple of hundred yards in from of the wagon. Cool as cucumber, no need to bother the Gunners.

  68. In my ideal world, a Light Role Company of infantry would have Foxhound Fire Support vehicles or Jackals, a share of which with a Wombat-like 120 mm recoilless rifle, modernized. A share would have the old 12.7, and the rest the GMG.

    An Armoured Infantry Company would have a small section of 120 mm Direct Fire vehicles on FRES SV Common Base Platform, say 3 per company, like the Mobile Gun System in a US Stryker company.

    A mechanized infantry formation would have the same gun and turret, but mounted on the 8×8 wheeled platform of choice.

    Although i see that no one ever mentions the Draco. I find the system incredibly interesting. 76 mm, incredibly high rate of fire, C-RAM capable, can shoot drones and helicopters out of the sky, direct fire against vehicles and fixed positions many kilometers away and even fire up to 22 km away in ballistic trajectory like an howizer.

    You’ve given your unit, in one stroke:

    -A starstreak replacement for SHORAD; anti-drone weapon
    -C-RAM on the move and stationary, whatever you want, with guided rounds
    -Direct fire support for anti-tank and anti-bunker
    -organic medium artillery to hit targets 22 km away without calling on the single artillery regiment of the brigade, which might already be busy. Shell with Laser targeting in development.

    Might be even a bit overkill, admittedly. But it covers lots of roles, and 76 mm is a serious hitter already. If i have to introduce a new caliber, i’d rather go for a truly multimission system instead of a 90 mm gun.

  69. @TD “Dont think any aircraft has been knocked out of the sky by a falling artillery shell …”
    In June 1963 a Belgian C119 on finals for a para-drop was hit by mortar shells over Sennelager training area in Germany and crashed. 9 para-commando’s managed to jump out in time. 32 others and 6 crew died in the crash.
    Deconflicting (or whatever it was called those days) didn’t work and a lot of bad luck.

  70. I know its not a WOMBAT by the way!!

    Didnt 1 Para have 106mm RR on their jeeps at Suez Phil?

    Am sure I have seen pictures of WOMBAT’s on Snowtracs and 110’s

    A modern WOMBAT would be fair enough but its all about trades, a whacking great big HESH warhead and lightweight gun and mount is a ‘good thing’ but you rapidly come up against the downsides of RR which are two fold

    The signature is massive, extenuated in dry and dusty conditions

    Resupply, instead of the weight being in the gun it is in the ammunition, which is massive and costly

    This is a MOBAT, father of WOMBAT, check out the size of the round

  71. I don’t see the need for a 120mm MGS with our armoured infantry, Gabriele. You then have duplication with tanks for the direct fire role; then, as IXION pointed to, you risk your ASCOD MGS increasingly being used as a tank. The MGS will look like a tank to politicians and accountants and could end up slowly replacing the costly MBTs – fine until you find yourself facing an enemy under armour rather than on motorbikes. A Challenger can do the direct fire job of MGS, an MGS can’t do the job of a Challenger; and we won’t afford both.

    The US Stryker brigade concept included the theories of independent air deployment, way beyond anything the British would ever consider, and in-theatre brigade manoeuvre – both of which could potentially leave the relatively light Stryker brigades without support from tanks and therefore justified an organic gun system.

    While I do think that the lighter battalions within the MRBrigades should in some ways become to resemble Stryker units -the light and nimble Foxhound being used with a larger wheeled utility vehicle/APC with RWS- I don’t think we should adopt a MGS on the same wheeled hull.

    We don’t have the same ambitions for air deployment; and with a single brigade for future regular operations, such lighter batallions will more likely maintain continuous support from the armour units.

    In situations where Foxhounds are used because roads or routes don’t allow Warriors or 8×8 APCs to be used, then a 120mm MGS on an ASCOD or 8×8 hull will presumably not be appropriate either. A 76mm or 90mm gun* on a new CVR(T) hull would probably provide a more appropriate Foxhound escort (*or HMG paired with 40mm GMG or 60mm breech loading mortar if you don’t fancy the unique calibre for such a small number of vehicles).

  72. There’s barely any room in the Jackal for a HMG or GMG with associated ammo and gunner. Physically you might be able to get one on but its going to be a horrendous Heath Robinson contraption with very very little room for the gunner to load and fire with his kit on. Getting a box of 40mm up is a task in itself without knocking yourself out and without being a contortionist!

  73. I think I read somewhere that 80% of the propellant energy goes out the back in a RR

    Probably against health and safety noise regulations now as well :)

    Its a fun idea but probably a bit daft

    Now, how about my manually loaded CTAI 40mm?

  74. “I think I read somewhere that 80% of the propellant energy goes out the back in a RR”

    Surely its 50%?
    Otherwise the gun would, erm, unrecoil? Damnit, go forwards?

    Unless its a conservation of momentum thingie?
    hmm, bugger, cant remember my mechanics.

  75. Yes I imagine firing one on a Jackal is going to rock the driver and commanders world!

    “WHAT DID YOU SAY?!!!!”

  76. Gabriele,

    In the anti-tank role, Draco is only effective against older tanks.

    It needs an expensive and probably fragile radar to make full use of the DART C-RAM/anti-air munition.

    The 76mm HE-POM round has less HE filler than an 81mm mortar round. Yes, fire multiple shots can partially make up for this, but it only has twelve rounds in the main magazine.

    So IMHO, you’re better off keeping the roles split. Starstreak is a more cost-effective VSHORADS. Traditional mortars provide more cost-effective fire support. ATGMs are better tank killers (and depending on the frequency, perhaps better bunker busters too).

  77. Hi x,

    Two of the three outside of the vehicle when firing; must have been a tight fit on the move
    – have they borrowed their caps from another army?

  78. It’s not about size it’s about how the space is used! Jackal is very tight. And the turret ring a constant headache if you’re sat in the back or need to get ammo.

    It’s also a lot higher than that thing.

    I’m sure physically it would fit. But would be a horrendously cheap and nasty bit of kit. I say cheaply metaphorically before someone quotes me five different Jackal prices and how many F35s or F18s that would buy ;)

  79. RR were something of a ‘Flash in the pan’ (geddit)!

    About 80% of the propellent does go out the back, (it is counter balanced by the projectile going out the front. (Propelent Gas has less mass but more velocity). Good old 1/2Mass X v2)balances out the kinetic energy.

    The Fins (I think, went to work on counter mass weapons in which the projectile was counterbalanced by a mass of sand/ water/ iron filings blown out the back: considerably reduced signature/Back Blast, and High velocities allowing for APFSD ammo at 1500mm ps form 105/120mm were Reportedly achieved. But it never seems to have entered service (available details scetchy. BUT I would not fancy standing near the back of one of them!

    The whole thrust. (Geddit)

    Of recent development in hand held anti tank/ fire support, has been about reducing back blast from rocket, or combined gun-rocket launchers.

    So 2 cheers for wombats, and girls who bang like belt fed ones, but its time has come and and gone…

    Now how about the cockerall light 90 mm mounted on Jackal in an open long travel mount no back blast low signature lighter ammo….

  80. Why not reintroduce a cheaper, long-ranged ATGM like TOW? Sure the per munition cost is higher than, say, a 90mm round, but the platform cost can be much lower (pretty much anything can carry a TOW launcher). TOW also retains viability against even modern tanks.

  81. Hi IXION,

    You are quite right about the Finnish one, down to the m/s figure. Just to give you an idea of the effect, in trials it not only penetrated T-34, but went through the other side as well.

    Germans (a modern design) had their silent ARMBRUST that you could fire from the inside of a normal car, by opening also the the opposing side window. The Swedes make today a special model that can be fired from inside enclosed buildings (e.g. defending against tanks from within a room).

    But the same design has been applied to guns as well: Handley-Page bombers had them in the front, firing down. Unknown fighter planes (source does not quote, that is) during WW1 had upwards firing models to defeat Zeppelins. The Germans, for their paratroopers, cut the 75mm gun down from 1500 kg to 145 kg, using it from a machine gun tripod, or similar. I don’t know if that was similar to the one used for the Maxim, but the two bits put together after parachuting were used on Crete to good effect.

  82. Years ago at Farnborough there was a prototype of one of these one shot disposable RCL type things that go bang, that you could fire from inside a room. He would not tell me exactly how it worked, but the clue was to think confetti. Pointy,bangy thing went out the front, while confetti shot out the back.

  83. @TD

    In reply to Phil’s comment: “You’d never fit a WOMBAT on a Jackal.” you wrote: “Didn’t 1 Para have 106mm RR on their jeeps at Suez, Phil?”

    You are quite right. I’ve just found a reference book which states that it was included in the equipment landed at Suez and would no doubt have been in action during the early days ashore. The entry in the book (published 1968) states that the M40 106 mm was still in service then but was soon to be replaced by Wombat. It says that while the M40 could be fired in a dismounted static role, it was also available for firing from its self-propelled chassis (Jeep? Land Rover?), a convenient blast-shield being fitted to the vehicle serving to deflect the high-powered blast should an emergency discharge be made whilst the vehicle was travelling!

    Rather different comments are made about the Wombat, its successor. The book states that in normal battle conditions, the Wombat would rarely be fired from the “on truck” position, except in emergency use. Loading and off-loading were easily accomplished by means of a lightweight metal ramp, enabling the gun to be rapidly off-loaded, and usually dug-in to a suitable fire position.

    As an extra note to all of this, I was able to attend the “Para 90” display at Aldershot in 1990 and during the display Paras were still driving Land Rovers mounting Wombats (although I believe contemporary reference works stated that it had gone out of service). I know that at the time the Paras claimed that they were short of anti-tank capability, so maybe that’s why it stayed in service.

    I rather agree with Ixion that “its (the Wombat’s) time has come and gone” but a more modern version of a similar weapon, with a similar clout to Wombat’s 120mm projectile, would be welcome. I have read in several places that the Javelin has been used for building/bunker demolition and those things come at £60,000 a shot!

    Incidentally, the Wombat was a considerably lighter version of the Mobat, from which the designers reduced the total weight by some 60%.

  84. Hi JH,

    Yes, exactly, confetti. The Finns found that the ideal countermass was water (freezes in winter, no good). The German paratroopers found that the if they had 13mm plywood placed 12 m behind the firing position (or the 12 and 13 reversed, can’t remember which way), the plywood would still get penetrated. So the gun was only given to units expert enough (and in dire need, like the Para90 mention by Mike W).

    Going to the confetti, that is exactly what the modern (German ARMBRUST ) answer is, with a clever internal design for captive pistons. The confetti still comes out at the same speed from the opposite end as the projectile, so (I hope MIx, y or z won’t pull me in for these details!!), if you need to fire from inside a car
    1. open the opposing side window (most of it blows out)
    2. wear motorcycling gear, a fully enclosed helmet incl
    3. you would still end up with confetti close to waist level… does not stop you from driving the car

  85. Recoilless weapons are interesting gizmos and the basic principles can give an insight into how things are done. The reduction in recoil is achieved by matching momentum in each direction. The standard systems that vent gas through a Venturi to achieve very high speeds, thus enabling an equal momentum with less mass (momentum being mass times velocity) so the whole round weighs less.

    Unfortunately, this means that you are dumping a very large amount of energy out of the back (KE=1/2 mass times velocity SQUARED) which may explain the dangerous back-blast area.

    If you can increase the mass of what is going the other direction from the shell, then the amount of velocity needed to match the momentum imparted by the shell going down range is less. This increases the overall mass of the round, but reduces the energy in the backblast area. However, gas at high velocity has a lousy ballistic coefficient and will expand and as such slows down and disperses very quickly. If you are using a counter mass rather than exhaust gas, you have to find a way of breaking up and dispersing whatever you are ejecting. The early recoilless guns were countermass guns, but used pretty dangerous counter masses, like lead shot or an equivalent cannon ball.

    Modern countermass guns use stuff that disperses and has low mass and high surface area for each particle to ensure that it has a poor ballistic coefficent (slows down quickly) and doesn’t damage what it hits, so confetti would be good, water, if you can get it to mist, otherwise it’s a fairly dangerous lump, powders would be good if you can avoid it becoming a fuel-air explosive mixture

  86. For the things of the past (except for special uses, still valid),just a closing note (I am not attempting the physics of this)
    – the recoilless “thingy” loses out to the closed-end gun always, normally by a factor of 8-10% vs (say) 33% in the energy conversion for the projectile
    – you can still put on target, either a very big projectile at slow speed or another type of projectile at high speed, depending on what you want to achieve
    – normally you want to achieve “the same thing as for the effect” but the trade-off is really between the weight (and recoil) of the launch mechanism (multiplies a lot for the platform required, if not used as a transport) vs. the weight and volume of projectiles (multiplies if you need them in artillery type of quantities; which has never been the idea; at least not in the last half century)

    It was quite a big bang in Hiroshima, even though the energy conversion from U235 was less about 1 % before the rest evaporated…

  87. Arrgh
    “0nly” missing in: if not used as a transport
    “Than” missing in: was less about 1 %

  88. Might have been mentioned before me but BAE/Hägglunds did make a CV90105 that mounted a 105mm gun. There’s also the 120mm AMOS mortar system that has been integrated to that platform that not only provides a great armoured mortar but can also be used for direct-fire missions. All in all the CV90 has quite a lot of variants available and ready COTS.

    PS, Sweden uses a 40mm Bofors L/70 for their CV90 IFVs.

  89. AT4 CS (Confined Space);

    Alright, it’s a Future Weapons episode so there is a degree of hype, but it explains the counter to the back blast issue pretty well; Salt Water.

  90. While we are on recoilless.
    Shame the Mauser RMK 30mm cannon was a victim of the credit crunch. Let you stick a 30mm cannon on something that would otherwise only take a smaller normal calibre.

  91. All this talk of the Charlie G and mention of the XM25 has reminded me of the the MBDA Enforcer/Thumper and Sniper concepts presented a year or so ago.

    They were briefly covered on here last year.


    Sniper is interesting as the concept shows it both with a stand-alone launcher or attached to a soldier’s individual weapon. Whilst Enforcer is less than half the weight and length(ish) of the Charlie G.

    There seems to be a determined effort to lighten the load on the part of manufacturers

  92. Out of interest if we bring the 60 mm Mortar into are core equipment and decided to bring more into service as a vehicle mounted option, what would be the best platform for them? Would it be best to mount them on the back of something like Mastiff/Warthog, or the flatbed version of the Fox hound or build new Scimitar 2 base hulls and then add a 60 mm Mortar?

    I would also want to pick up something mentioned earlier (by IXION I think) how feasible would it be to mount 105mm Light Gun on a vehicle? I think the original proposal was for a 105mm Light Gun in a turret to share ammo between the towed Light Gun’s and turreted 105mm Light Gun’s – but I was envisaging it more like a light weight self-propelled gun, maybe mounted on a back of MAN truck or something similar, in effect a light weight version of CAESAR.

  93. Might the Foxhound be a little small for stability with a 60mm mortar, Tubby, particularly if you want shielding? Looking at Panhard / Eland turrets, the fully enclosed turret of CVR(T) would be ideal.

  94. Tubby – I am in the process of writing an article on Mortars for TD – while I can get away with writing the text at work, or on the train, adding all the links, pics, YuoTube video etc is going to have to be done of an evening at home, plus TD has to transform it and post it up, so probably over a week away.

  95. Guys,

    Just a word from an old foot slogger.

    I have had the unhappy task of carrying a Charlie G for many a mile.
    I wouldn’t wish that on anyone, and these days the guys have so much more kit to carry anyway.
    We had are wombats mounted on the back of land rovers, not belt fed however!

    I thought we were looking for a vehicle mounted direct fire support option?

    Someone mentioned the Sheridan? Was that a short 105mm with a TOW box on the turret?
    Wouldn’t that be the answer? Either mounted on a warrior, bulldog or FRES?

    Of course it would never be ready for Afghan, and I don’t know how much such a system would cost to develop and produce, as I guess the number of turrets needed wouldn’t be that many?

    Phil Z29

  96. @ Phil Z29: the CG was rather heavy :-)

    The Sheridan (and M60A2) mounted a 152mm gun/missile combo that could fire normal shells or Shillelagh missiles. The latter was considered rather unreliable :-(

  97. “In the anti-tank role, Draco is only effective against older tanks.

    It needs an expensive and probably fragile radar to make full use of the DART C-RAM/anti-air munition.

    The 76mm HE-POM round has less HE filler than an 81mm mortar round. Yes, fire multiple shots can partially make up for this, but it only has twelve rounds in the main magazine.”

    The radar folds downwards until it is not needed, so whatever fragility it might have is covered by a STANAG Level 2 ballistic protection for most of the time.

    The gun has a revolver drum with 12 ready rounds, but a further 24 are carried in the back of the turret and pushed into the drum by an automatic system.

    Range of engagement is 8 km for helicopters and airplanes, and around 6 for C-RAM and small UAVs. A Vulcano variant for the 76 mm is in development, which would expand range to over 40 km. More than AS90 can reach.

    Lethality as anti-tank gun won’t be lower than a short 90 mm gun in comparison. It is not an anti-MBT weapon in any case.
    For that work there’s Javelin. If you want to kill a MBT, then the 120/45 gun is the smallest you can do to get the performance you want. But going 120 mm means that your Direct Fire vehicle looks too much like a tank and enters a “war” of budget with Challenger II.

    On the amount of HE, i’ve got my doubts. A 76 mm shell weights nearly 13 kg. I don’t think it can be less lethal than a 4 kg mortar round, awesome as mortars are.

  98. Carl Gustaf M3 is 30%? lighter than old M2 version. For the umpteenth time, I do not want a poor grunt to trudge miles with one. However, having one or two in a vehicle convoy or a small forward base house, gives you extra affordable clout in an ambush firefight.

  99. The DRACO is an interesting concept and its multirole nature is superficially attractive but I think it is a jack of all trades and master of none

    The problem with multi role systems is that they will tend to be in the wrong place, so if your DRACO equipped vehicle is out providing direct fire support for dismounted infantry what is it going to be doing with its very expensive C-RAM capabilities?

    If it is acting in the indirect fire mode the payload in a 76mm shell is tiny in comparison with a 90mm or 105mm, especially for things like illumination or smoke. Yes you can use multiple rounds but then that’s where things get very expensive and causes all manner of resupply problems. Also, whilst it is acting in an indirect role, who is going to man it and would the same team man it as an infantry direct fire support vehicle?

    Replacing mortars with it, mmm, mortars offer almost instantaneous reaction, high angles of attack, high filling to casing weight ratio, low cost, simplicity and a range of natures and fuses. If you want to offer the same reaction times your DRACO vehicle would need to be stationary and therefore not available for direct fire support. I also wonder what the minimum range would be for it in the indirect role and comparing its range to an AS90 155mm shell seems a bit bewildering.

    Its performance in the direct fire role would be questionable as well in comparison with 90mm or 105mm, the payload fraction is much lower and the range of ammunition available in the common calibres cannot be matched by 76mm.

    The system is going to be very expensive and because it’s a remote turret you lose that all important situational awareness although the actual impact seems subject to some debate.

  100. Thanks Brian Black for your response, I have very little feel for the recoil of a mortar system, I know that 82mm mortar’s tend to be mounted on larger platforms.

    I am looking forward to your post Jed, I realise now that I asked the wrong question, I should have asked if we take 60mm into core equipment budget how best to use it, that would have then lead to the base platform to mount it on. For example I guess you want a different platform if you intended to have the 60mm mortar as organic fire support at company level in a mechanised battalion compared to having 60mm mortar as part of the fire support called in brigade level?

  101. I wasn’t thinking so much of recoil, Tubby, rather that the Foxhound’s traditional truck layout -with high seating position for driver and commander- raises any weapon system quite high. There’s a lot of weight in the weapon itself for quite a small and narrow vehicle – plus mount, ammo and shield/turret.

  102. @Tubby,

    Check out this,

    (82mm Vasilek auto-mortar on a HMMWV)


    Got the 76mm HE filler weight here,


    I largely agree with TD on the DRACO. It’s not good enough at the roles it covers to be worth the expense. It’s overkill for the light anti-armor role, but not good enough to kill tanks (short of ancient T-55s).

    A multi-role gun system that I did find interesting was the US Army 105mm MRAAS concept,


    Advanced 105mm guns are good enough anti-tank weapons vs anything but the latest generation of tanks, plus they have a useful-sized HE round for direct support of infantry. MRAAS added a couple more wrinkles with a 50km indirect fire round and an NLOS anti-armor round.

    Of course MRAAS died even before FCS.

  103. Thanks B. Smitty, for “US Army 105mm MRAAS concept”
    -matches 120mm in direct fire anti-armour (another CTA application)
    -exceeds the std 155mm in reach, for indirect fire
    -and all those other things you mentioned, all from one gun!

  104. @Brian Black and B.Smitty – the Vaselik is pretty much what I envisaged for a foxhound, but based on 60 mm mortar rather than the 82 mm.

    @ whoever wanted to mounted AA guns on FRES type hull to provide anti-UAV capabilities.

    Just been reading (in either Air Forces Monthly or Combat Aircraft Monthly) about the use of Apaches from Ocean. They specifically mention coming under attack from current generation MANPADS (and I think VSHORADS and SHORADS). To me this suggests that if they cannot bring down a helicopter operating in the weeds then they would have more difficulty with a smaller UAV operating at higher altitudes. Of course a helicopter can use terrain to mask its approach and I suspect that the quality of the soldiers manning the air defences was not great.

    @James – you mentioned a low cost UCAV hunting UAV, does this mean we have come full circle back to something like SABA? A small agile aircraft operating where you have gained air superiority armed with just a gun and WVR A2A missiles?

  105. @ Rupert Fiennes, thanks for the info.

    Reading one of your earlier posts on the subject, I agree with you about mounting a bin on the side of a turret for an anti tank missile, I guess javelin. Similar system to the Bradley. That must be a fairly cheap option to give an anti tank capability?

    @ Gabriele

    Would a 76mm gun give enough HE punch?

    I like the 105mm idea. It sounds good. Could it be mounted on FRES vehicles?

    Phil Z29

  106. Yes. It is very likely that in future conflicts we will need to go UAV hunting. Even if such a capability was unnecessary, we still need a local air defence capability for armoured brigades. We have mistakenly assumed that in any potential combat scenario we would have air superiority. Looking at how the F-35 is panning out, I am not sure this is wise. Even if it becomes a superb combat aircraft, we still need to protect ground units from air attack. Gulf War One showed us how vulnerable all types of armour are to air attack.

    I thought Gabriele’s mention of the DRACO was interesting but I disagree with TD’s assertion that it is likely to be a Jack-of-all-trades and master-o’-none. Its effectiveness against armoured ground targets should be better than the 40 mm CTA while advanced ammunition types and radar systems should make it effective against air targets. It is still a prototype and we’ll see how it does.

    The German 88 mm of WW2 well proved the validity of dual role guns. If we want a contemporary duel capability air defence system, then perhaps a land version of the Navy’s Shipborne CIWS Phalanx system (based an the GAU-30 multi-barrel cannon) with appropriate target acquisition and tracking systems mounted on an 8×8 platform would be a good idea?

    If you don’t mind, I’d like to bring the discussion back to the choice of FRES SV armament. Summarising the many discussion points that have been provided, the following assertions seems to ring true:

    1. As soon as you put a larger gun mounted in a turret on any armoured vehicle, it tends to be regarded as a tank substitute. This is fine so long as tank hunting is an essential part of their role and they have a large enough gun to do the job. The issue behind this view is that as soon as the crew become focused on engaging enemy tanks, this detracts from their other tasks such as the carriage of infantry.

    2. The CTA 40 mm looks as though it will be a superb weapon well capable of engaging and destroying all current MICVs as well as older tanks (T-54, T-62 and possibly T-72). It takes up less turret space than a 30 mm cannon and fires a variety of ammunition types. All in all it is a good choice for recce and infantry combat vehicles. However, I believe that cannon-based vehicles alone would not be enough to defend against an enemy armoured thrust, even if they were supported by ATGWs. They must therefore be supported by dedicated anti-armour assets.

    3. The concept of what medium armour is appears to have changed. We used to think of it in terms of being smaller more agile CVR(T) type vehicles. Good in their day, these vehicles have now been proven to provide inadequate protection in a IED world. As soon as you add extra armour to CVR(T) vehicles, however, they cease to be fast and agile. They simply become smaller, less protected tanks and cannot easily mount large guns.

    4. I would say that the new concept of medium armour is the 8×8 vehicle. Conceived as a strategically mobile platform able to utilise Europe’s extensive road and track network, such vehicles also provide exceptional off-road ability. Without wishing to get drawn into a tracks versus wheels debate, I think we can agree that tracked vehicles ultimately provide better cross-country ability… at least for the moment.

    5. The Italian Army appears to be ahead of the game in terms of medium armour brigade structure, equipment and usage. It has two vehicles built on a common platform. The Centauro B1 is essentially a wheeled tank and is used as a tank destroyer / fire support vehicle to support other wheeled formations. It is fitted with a 105 mm gun (which they plan to upgrade with OTO Melera’s new 120 mm gun). The Centuaro is complemented by the VBM Freccia infantry combat vehicle which is built on the same 8×8 platform but with an Oerlikon KBA 25mm automatic cannon. The DRACO self-propelled gun is built on the same platform.

    6. The 25 mm cannon is only mounted on infantry versions of the vehicle. Tank destroyer regiments and recce regiments only use the Centauro with the 105 mm gun. This is well capable of engaging most tank types.

    7. While wheeled 8×8 vehicles do not have the same level of armoured protection as MBTs, modular appliqué armour can provide significantly upgraded protection without adding too much weight. The rule of thumb for protection seems to be: heavy armour protection requires vehicles of around 60 tonnes, medium armour protection requires vehicles of around 30 tonnes and light armour protection (i.e. smaller 4×4 and 6×6 protected vehicles) requires vehicles of around 8-15 tonnes.

    Now that the British Army is withdrawing from Germany, we need the kind of strategic mobility provided by 8x8s. As good as the Foxhound (Ocelot) is I don’t think that its off-road ability is in the same class as the latest 8×8 chassis with independent hydraulic suspensions. Whether we buy Piranha V, Boxer, the VCBI, RG41, Iveco VBM or Patria 8x8s, we need to get with the programme. We’re the only Army in Europe without this kind of strategic mobility.

    With a common platform, we could develop our own 8×8 tank destroyer with a proper gun on it. I’d like us to have 4-6 tank destroyer / recce regiments and 8 infantry regiments equipped with this vehicle. This would give us a six brigade force structure as follows:

    2 x heavy armoured brigades in Challenger 2 MBTs and Warrior MICVs (tracked)

    2 x medium armour brigades in 8×8 tank destroyers and infantry combat vehicles (wheeled)

    1 x airborne brigade (helicopter)

    1 x commando brigade (helicopter)

    Each heavy armoured brigade would have three tank regiments, a recce regiment, and four infantry battalions four in warriors with a further two non-armoured battalions.

    Each medium armoured brigade would have four tank destroyer regiments and four APC regiments with a further two non-armoured battalions.

    Each airborne and commando brigade would have six infantry battalions, plus two regiments of tank destroyers each.

    With this structure, I wouldn’t acquire the ASCOD 2 FRES SV. instead the medium recce role would be performed either by Challenger 2 tank regiments or with upgraded Warriors.

  107. I see what you mean with the Vasilek, Tubby.

    Good system. A larger ready-to-fire magazine might be handy, particularly with a smaller calibre.

    Personally, I’d rather see CVRT re-gunned and kept on to provide light fire support – but if they do get binned after Afghanistan, I think Foxhound would certainly need something like that.

  108. Monty
    It still amazes me how, focussed, everyone who’s served in the Army seems to be.

    “3. The concept of what medium armour is appears to have changed. We used to think of it in terms of being smaller more agile CVR(T) type vehicles. Good in their day, these vehicles have now been proven to provide inadequate protection in a IED world.”

    “Medium” armour is as valid as it ever was.
    We dont live in an IED world.

    If Russia went hot and charged at Fulda, we wouldnt be encountering IEDs.
    IEDs are only a factor if you are fighing on enemy territory, and even then, only really for prolonged periods.

  109. @Tubby,

    Is a vehicle-mounted 60mm mortar really worth the effort? I could see a case for adding one as a secondary armament along the lines of the 60mm on Merkava tanks, but the primary benefit of the 60mm is its man-portability.


    Sadly MRAAS died on the vine. They switched to a more conventional 120mm gun for the FCS-MCS before canning the whole program.


    Individual 76mm rounds may be more effective against armor than 40mm CTA rounds, but a vehicle equipped with a 40mm CTA can carry more “stowed kills” in the same volume/wegiht because 40mm ammo and the 40mm gun are much smaller.

    40mm airburst could also be useful against UAVs, however the big problem is target acquisition, fire control and ranging against potentially very small air targets.

    I think it’s incorrect to assume any big-gunned armored vehicle will be used as a tank. Yes, they were in WWII, but we seem to have learned that lesson. The US Stryker MGS is not organized to be used as a tank. We just have to ensure the doctrine writers don’t push us down that path. Definitely don’t call any big gunned 8×8 a “tank destroyer”. That leads you down the path to the dark side. ;)

    Speaking of the Italian army, they also use the lighter, 7-8t, 4×4 and 6×6 Puma AFV in addition to the Centaro. So they do see the value in light armor.

    Unfortunately I’m not very familiar with British Army organization. What is the major differences between a commando brigade and an airborne one? Is it just one is trained and equipped to paradrop? Do they a sufficient number of vehicles in their TO&E to have full vehicular mobility? Or do they require augmentation?

  110. B.Smitty
    “I think it’s incorrect to assume any big-gunned armored vehicle will be used as a tank.”

    Theres always hope I suppose, but we (the UK) used “riot protected” land rovers to patrol Basra, and then went on to BUY riot protected Pinzergaurs to use in the counter IED role in Afghanistan.

    “Unfortunately I’m not very familiar with British Army organization. What is the major differences between a commando brigade and an airborne one?”

    Effectivly ones an amphibious force, the other a parachute force, both are seen as the “elite” units, and are almost certain to be the first wave of any UK military ground action.
    I believe both are well practiced helicopter mobile as well.

  111. DominicJ,

    ““Medium” armour is as valid as it ever was.
    We dont live in an IED world.”

    I agree. I’d go even further and say light armor and even no armor is also still valid, especially in rapid deployment or light infantry units.

  112. “I agree. I’d go even further and say light armor and even no armor is also still valid, especially in rapid deployment or light infantry units.”

    Indeed, despite my libelous comments as to the incompetance of senior officers using certain vehicles in Afghanistan, they are not in themselves “bad vehicles”.
    Imagine sticking the 40MM CTA on a Jackal (or Viking, or Bronco) and landing a dozen of them as part of the “first wave” of a falklands type adventure, they speed off inland and cause havoc on anything thats not a tank.
    Or in a less suicidal use, they provide serious fire power to what is otherwise a light infantry force.

  113. Hi, Smitty. Would big gun armoured vehicles be used as tanks? As Dom mentioned, we used Snatch Landrovers because Snatch is what we had. If we introduce an MGS at a time when Challenger is not being used in an anti-armour role, then the expensive tanks and frugal MGS will both be providing a similar direct fire, infantry support capability. My fear then is that the expensive tanks get increasingly sidelined by the budget. If by the time we next face an armoured enemy force all we have is an MGS, then that’s what’ll be used. I don’t believe that both systems would survive our budget.

  114. @Brian Black

    There are two questions here with regards to MGSes:

    1. Doctrinal use (i.e. tank substitute vs fire support vehicle)
    2. Budget (i.e. can you afford both?)

    I was addressing 1, not 2.

    Both are valid concerns.

  115. Ref: Dom’s response to Monty

    ““3. The concept of what medium armour is appears to have changed. We used to think of it in terms of being smaller more agile CVR(T) type vehicles. Good in their day, these vehicles have now been proven to provide inadequate protection in a IED world.”

    “Medium” armour is as valid as it ever was.
    We dont live in an IED world.

    If Russia went hot and charged at Fulda, we wouldnt be encountering IEDs”

    I interpret Monty’s comments as “medium armour” used to be CVR(T) which is now considered LIGHT. When it has bar armour, ECM etc added, it is possibly pushing that definition.

    Medium means better protection, its simple Iron Triangle stuff we have discussed here countless times – “medium” does not mean IED protected per se.

    Yes, light armour and no armour are valid, depending on the task. Jackal is “light armour” these days, and it is not a well designed vehicle from a mine / IED protection viewpoint.

    Dom, if the cold war had kicked off in the Fulda, we would have had to content with Spetsnaz / 5th Column planted IED’s plus air and artillery scatterable mines; so stating we only have to worry about IED’s when we have invaded someone else’s territory is a gross oversimplification !

  116. BB
    And of course, dim witted politicians, who want to avoid “escalation” or “extreme force” or “high profile” might force the use of the lesser platform.

    I cant find a goog reference, except from the film(….) but I’m reasonably convinced that the General in command of Gothic Serpent (The first battle of Mogadishu) requested AC-130 gunships to provide Close Air Support. That request was turned down.

  117. Gareth
    Wen playing “Close Combat”, I use Stugs fairly interchangably with tanks. The Germans did too.

    I generaly think 20/40/60 light/medium/heavy

    ““medium” does not mean IED protected per se.”
    Thats exactly my point though…..
    I think IED protection should be considered a 4th point on the iron “triangle”, rather than a part of being “armoured”, because its completely different to being armoured against enemy fire.

    “Yes, light armour and no armour are valid, depending on the task. Jackal is “light armour” these days, and it is not a well designed vehicle from a mine / IED protection viewpoint.”
    Which is why its a horrific convoy escort in Afghanistan, but would make a terrific “first wave” vessel

    “Dom, if the cold war had kicked off in the Fulda, we would have had to content with Spetsnaz / 5th Column planted IED’s plus air and artillery scatterable mines; so stating we only have to worry about IED’s when we have invaded someone else’s territory is a gross oversimplification!”

    Kind of.
    If the spetznatz are laying IEDs to blow up our supply lines, its because they own the terrain they are planting them on. Sweep the area, kill/capture them, job done.
    Front Lines and airpower are going to limit the number getting through to replace them.

  118. Dom

    As per usual, we must agree to disagree. Protection / armour is one side of the iron triangle, IED’s are just a specific kind of threat, they do not turn the triagle into a square.

    If spetsnaz (or any other enemy SF, or sophisticated terrorists or insurgents) are operating sneekily and stealthily in YOUR territory the whole point is they do NOT own it, you own it, but they operate there regardless of your efforts to find and kill them – that is why they are “Special” !

    Also I was speaking from a historical perspective, front lines and airpower were not going to stop Spetsnaz / KGB who were sleepers / truck drivers, etc nor stop Russian merchant shipping dropping mines in the approaches to our ports etc, but your the one who brought up the cold war with a Fulda reference.

    Jackal is horrific mainly, IMHO, because crew sit over axle, which is a mine protection no-no !! Light / medium wheeled armour should ideally be at least 6 x 6 with the capability of remaining in operation after loosing a wheel to a mine strike (again, just my humble opinion).

  119. Hi, Gareth. For a 120mm gun-mortar, can it be any more expensive or difficult to just mount a turret on an existing vehicle than to design a unique vehicle, or even to design a new hull for an existing vehicle?

    After this thread, and several others, I do still think that 120mm breech loading mortars do have their place in the future force. I would like to see the light battalions have protected mobility including an 8×8 personnel carrier; and a 120 gun-mortar version would tie together a couple of fire support requirements for those units and be a practical solution to the problem.

    Also, I assume the 430 mortar carriers cannot go on forever and ever (maybe they can) – they are reaching pension age. A common mortar system mounted on the ASCOD SV would do the heavier battalions nicely. And a few towed 120 tubes for the specialist brigades.

  120. @ Phil Z29: yes, ATGM’s are an easy way of adding self defence capabilities at low cost. I suggested CKEM (kinetic energy hypervelocity missiles) because of their higher rate of fire and ability to negate “special” armour

  121. jed
    my view is ied protection and direct fire ‘protection’ have as much in common as self deploying 800 miles mobility and ditch crossing mobility.

    I think i’m correct in saying most deaths and injuries in the recent wars were mine strikes on vehicles.
    That was never going to be the case in fulda.

    If the other guy has lots of tanks, best be prepared to be hit by tank fire.
    If he has no tanks, that extra armour serves little purpose.

  122. “That was never going to be the case in fulda.”

    Why? Both sides invested heavily in rapidly deploying anti-tank minefields as obstacles. The Soviets would have hit enormous numbers of mines. Some, bless, nuclear.

  123. Dom – 1. What Phil said…

    2. “If the other guy has lots of tanks, best be prepared to be hit by tank fire.
    If he has no tanks, that extra armour serves little purpose.”

    Not true, it may also protect you from infantry fired anti-armour missiles, aircraft or artillery launched sub-munitions, side attack EFF type IED’s, etc etc etc, depends what form that “extra armour” takes.

    IED protection does have things in common with other elements of protection, yes there are specalisms and therefore nuances, but the basics are the same; structural design, armour type and thickness etc etc.

    Curb your enthusiam a little, and take a second to critically assess your statements.

    Brian – mortar article submitted to TD – I think we are in agreement !

  124. Hi, B.Smitty. Is a vehicle mounted 60mm mortar worth the effort? It depends whether you’re comparing it up or down the weapons scale. On some smaller vehicles a 60mm mortar system could compare favourably against a 40mm GMG for accuracy and effect, particularly if a GMG were the only other practical explosive option.
    I do think there is a niche for a small, under armour, light fire support vehicle to work with Foxhound and the like, and that a gun/mortar might offer a better solution than a conventional gun or cannon.

  125. Phil/Jed
    Yes, the Soviets would have hit lots of mines, we would have lain them in West Germany as we ran for it!
    The Soviets could then driven over them, and onto the guns of our tanks, or sit there and politely wait for the USAF to get round to bombing them.

    I find aggressive mining a very impressive tactic, but it is a bit reliant on the other bloke going somewhere you’ve been.

  126. “but it is a bit reliant on the other bloke going somewhere you’ve been.”

    No, its about anticipating where the enemy might go or simply denying him access to a certain approach to an objective. You use minefields as an obstacle barrier to channel the enemy into other types of killing areas, pre-registered and surveyed.

    Mines would have been an enormous factor in a Cold War hot scenario, and they have been an enormous factor since the Maginot Line was built but in that context the difficulties and casualties these cause are part of the cost of doing business and they are not the only or even the main threat like they are in Afghan.

  127. @Brian Black,

    There is capability overlap between 60mm mortars and 40mm GMG but they have different purposes. 40mm GMG is largely a direct-fire system. Mortars are mainly indirect-fire. Mortars also take longer to bring in and out of action than the GMG.

    60mm mortars in direct-fire are really not worth the effort, IMHO. It’s too small to destroy or breach typical battlefield targets.

    For a vehicle-based primary armament, unless we’re talking ATV or dune buggy, I’d rather have something more substantial. Just MHO.

  128. Hi B.Smitty,

    I was envisaging a vehicle mounted 60 mm mortar on a light vehicle, possible combined with a .50 cal, to provide rapid company level fire support (I know jack all about how the Army really works which is why I normally keep out of land based topics) – the options appear to be foxhound if suitable or turreted on new build CVR(T). I also question if we are going really going to get a FRES UV/FRES SV mortar carrier variant with 81mm mortar (as best I can see some sort of recycling of mastiff/wolfhound as mortar carriers) and was making a big assumption that the 60mm mortar system on a smaller vehicle would be cheaper to bring into service.


    After all the thoughtful postings and intense debate on this subject, from multiple posters, we should review the potential conclusions.

    (Sorry TD could not resist the joke)

    However in all seriousness pros and cons listed below:

    Pros: –

    Uses existing capable chassis
    Uses soon to be deployed weapon
    so 2 Commonality pluses

    Should be very accurate, to maxim likely direct fire ranges.

    Economical with ammo, should be able to fit a lot on the vehicle and small enough to be relatively easily supplied.


    Rather as with the reinvention of the medium tank, which a lot of fire support vehicles boil down to;
    congratulations you have just re invented the 2pdr portee!

    with similar problems most light and medium armour will not react well to a 40 mm APFSD round.

    However as a support round 40 mm is way behind 76.2 mm which TD has criticised for lacking bang.
    Persoanly I would rather be shooting 76.2 at the enemy than single shot 40 mm…

    Anyway is it not possible to mount the ‘full fat’ CTA on the Jackal chassis ‘Technical style’?

    I think we should

  130. TD

    Trouble is it’s still only a 2pdr for the modern age . For modern warfare you could have low recoil 90 mm and 105’s for not much more weight. Some of which can fire apfsd as effective as 40mm CTA and that Israeli 105 mm anti tank missile thing.

    I was always a fan of the 30mm ASP cannon which died the death in the 90’s, but 30mm ADEN at 300+ RPM would do a lot of damage.

  131. Panhard Sphinx. Light armoured car with modern IED protection + 40mm CTA gun.
    I have Polish relatives. My Grandfathers brother was killed by Stalins thugs at Katyn. So I am wary of Russia. Best way not to fight them, is to invite them to join NATO. NATO is great for diplomatic jollies. Russia is dangerous when it feels excluded. So bring them in, wine & dine them.

  132. Depends on what you mean by “light”. Sphinx is around 17-18 tonnes IIRC. That’s a lot heavier than the ERC 90 (~8 tonnes) that it’s meant to replace.

  133. so if the US is downsizing,ie throwing stuff away, 40mm CTA unmanned turret on AAV-7’s support for the RM, crewed by soon to be looking for a job tankies?
    looking around the web it seems the unmanned version only needs a 1m turret ring.

  134. I have said that I wouldn’t want to see an ASCOD 120mm MGS, lest it become a weak tank substitute. However, with the decision to re-role some 155mm artillery batteries to 105mm perhaps the light gun is not the ideal option.
    The likelihood of future operations in theatres without frontlines is high; a gun able to fire and move under protection might be a better option, ie 105mm MGS on a wheeled armoured UV hull rather than more L118. In the MRB context, the gun component of the RA being perhaps two batteries of AS90 and one of 105 MGS – with 7 and 29 regt retaining the light gun for its helicopter mobility.

  135. Almost everyone’s suggestion makes sense for the sort of situation which they feel is most likely to happen, or most important if it does happen.

    But no-one really knows who this country will be fighting, or where, by the time any new kit is in service.

    The MGS concept is pretty good, but might be better with a smaller gun using more modern ammunition. An 87.6mm gun (our most successful medium bore diameter ever) with fully-telescoped ammunition, might make the MGS concept work a lot better. One would have a fixed propellent charge, of course, but with a compact automatic loader, adjustable charges are probably one complication too many. In any case, modern aiming computers -and especially programmable fuses- may achieve hits on masked targets without the complicated witchcraft of reducing the charge to get a steep angle of drop. (There is a programmable fuse round for the CG which may be what the Americans are using.)

    Programmable fuses are the reason why 40mm and not 25mm: many targets can be done with one shot rather than a dozen. See TV footage of Royal Navy using half a box of 30mm to sink a wooden or fibreglass pirate skiff: a naval 40mm CTA would do it in one shot, and it would fit on the same size mounting. Likewise any non-armoured land vehicle, such as the landcruisers the pirates parade in onshore. (I fantasize about shooting at people who are actually strangling our vital trade, which the Taliban aren’t, really.)

    It occurs to me that the MGS is getting close to the BAe/Bofors Archer system in concept, but not size. If the MoD buy Archer (155mm) they won’t buy MGS. But they might buy something like a smaller Archer which could carry and fire a lot more shells than the MGS.

    Archer apparently draws on highly automated Swedish log-cutting machines for a lot of its technology. Those, however, only need one bloke. Could we have a fighting vehicle as automated as the logging ones?

    (The Archer does adjust propellant charges, but there’s much more space to achieve this. It also happens at the other end of the (long) vehicle from the human crew, who could be hurt by a propellant fire.)

    The 40mm CTA sabot round apparently penetrates 160mm armour @ 500 metres. This is better than other 40mm guns. I’m not sure the design would need to be scaled up as far as 120mm, to tackle tanks.

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