Make Do and Mend

The first guest post from Paul G

This is my first attempt at a post (could be my last depending how much red pen TD uses). Grammar and punctuation were never my strongpoint, volts, amps and ranges with bangsticks were which is probably why I never made the artificer board!

We know we’re skint and although we moan about where some of the money goes and we also play fantasy fleets/aircraft/armour, I thought I’d go the other way. For no reason I’ve had a look at the Royal Artillery, apart from equipment inspections I don’t have that much experience with the “long range snipers” it was a link to a photo and the SDSR looking to hammer AS90 that had me dothing my thinking cap.

So, as discussed on here the tracked world of the RA looks like it’s going to hit, many have said it should be passed to the TA. Now my experience of TA centres is that many are located in urban areas, not the best place for tearing out of the gates in either an AS90 or a MLRS!! This begs the question   what to do with now defunct vehicles.

One option would be to reduce the amount of guns but utilise the vehicle,AmericaandKoreause the SPG chassis for an autoloader. The Korean K10 can carry 104, 155mm rounds and can resupply from under armour. Although a drops can carry more it’s not protected and fully loaded up I doubt it could go all the places the tracks can go. I liken this theory to others put forward for air transit, strategic and tactical i.e.  A330 to the hub, and C130 for the spoke. Drops and then AS90 (loader).


resupply 3

155 resupply


Now onto the MLRS, again changing to a wheeled version would help with transference to the TA but also most tracked versions only have 1 pod whereas the tracked has 2, so in theory 1 tracked vehicle = 2 wheeled, (obviously another operating system is required!). A wheeled version would also be able to be airlifted and therefore fit in with light/airborne/amphib brigades. Lockheed martin have a smaller chassis than the standard HIMLRS system used by theUSand supacat demonstrated a bespoke vehicle as well. It would probably be cheaper to license build the LM version, I’m not sure.


Link to LM webpage with photos and videos here;


The photo that inspired this post was of a command version of the MLRS, I have never seen it before and it set me off, again I’ve been inspired by the common chassis theme of the website (I’ve been stuck behind a RLC packet in a convoy, anything that reduces the amount of trucks they have gets my vote!!). photo of command vehicle here, note that a) it looks bigger than a 432 plus it’s a Bradley chassis so spares with our allies should be available.

mrls cmmd

Before anyone starts screaming expense, time etc etc it should be noted that an inhouse repair and recovery version of the M993 chassis was made and submitted by a civilian worker at a base workshop, built at the workshop and I believe netted him some beer tokens via the GEMS system.




Maybe a flatbed similar to the stormer version with a drops hook could be used for resupply of ammo or fuel. (best refueller I ever saw was the stally retrofit could follow the challys anywhere).

My last suggestion for the gunners would be to utilise the wolfhound 6×6 as a tractor unit for towed guns (M777 155mm would be nice, but that is fantasy stuff). It is V hulled and after it’s sandpit adventures could be made lighter as being a gun tractor no need for all the cage armour or the heavy MG  mount up top. It has enough space for the gun crew and the flatbed for shells. I would assume that an armoured cab would also be slightly more protective than a L/R canvas from incoming or anything nasty happening to the shells in the back!! Also mastiff 3 could be used for command, again common vehicle

Wolfhound Armoured Vehicle

just for interest, when I was googling wolfhound vehicle it turned up a picture of this Lockheed martin beasty;


Not sure if that is the chassis the HIMARS is based on.

As a last moot point maybe with the title of the post in mind BAe  should be approached with a view to converting some of the soon to be redundant warriors into armoured ambulances and bridgelayers from 2013. The main reason being it could keep the Newcastle factory open if only for for a couple of years more, maybe something will turn up (possibly an order for the CV21 their lightweight tracked vehicle) with the number of armoured brigades been slashed it wouldn’t be a massive number of conversions, but at least we could get GD to concentrate on the scout and not the other versions. I can’t see the point as no-one outsideUKwill order them and anyway they would built inspain( just my own opinion, no facts to back that up).

To summarise, I believe we can do the equivalent of sewing a button on those pants and still have useable, decent equipment  mainly as it grips my poo pipe when I see kit on the MOD surplus websites or down lulworth ranges being whacked by james’s chums!

Time to wrap myself in tinfoil and await the incoming! Additions to this theme are welcome.

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Think Defence
June 10, 2012 9:37 pm

Great stuff Paul

Think the Wolfhound ha already been used in the gun limber role, we cancelled a UK version version of HIMARS a few year ago, it was called the LIMAWS(R) and based on the same kit as the HIMARS but on a Supacat HMT and finally, the LM AVA vehicle was I think again, based on the Supacat HMT

I like the general vibe of using what you have, but would like to see the GMLRS kit migrated to the MAN SV (which we have loads more of than needed now)and then lose a complete vehicle type

June 11, 2012 12:22 am

I’m not sure if an AS90 could be auto-loaded. I do know that the PZH-2000 can, to a point, but it’s actually faster when hand-loaded. That sounds weird, but it has to do with the auto-loader/robot contraption. Or so I’m told.

Regarding the MLRS/command variant, that one has been around for some time in various other shelter variants, best known is this one of course –

Actually, I’m kinda surprised TD hasn’t done a paper on it already, considering it’s the perfect shelter-carrier/APC (full tracked, and all that), been in UK service and is an off-the-shelf (Bradley) variant.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 11, 2012 12:39 am

A very interesting post Paul; I like the idea of making the best of what we have.

I remember reading sometime ago an idea for turning spare tracked SPG chassis in to HAPC’s. The turret is a lot of weight, which removed allows more armour to be carried without straining the chassis and it would allow more room for troops as well as a convenient way for them to exist the vehicle.

June 11, 2012 1:37 am

Nice post Paul.

I’d be interested to know how many vehicles are a) coming back from Afghanistan and b) what shape they’re in. Could be some make do and mending to be done there.

June 11, 2012 8:26 am

Good post. The TA 101 Regiment RA based in Newcastle already have the MLRS. I always thought it was a good system for the TA with a three man crew.

June 11, 2012 11:10 am

Hi GJ,

I remember this one differently (I’m sure both strands of thought may have been there) : “I remember reading sometime ago an idea for turning spare tracked SPG chassis in to HAPC’s. ”
– the armour is of only infantry caliber/ splinter protection
– on the other hand, AS90 is known for (?) its good mobility (to keep up with the fast moving fronting units), its relatively good internal supply of rounds, and of course for its (in today’s terms) very limited range of the gun
– based on that, and the fact that the 120 mm mortar is somehow missing from the ORBAT, they would make much better mortar carriers than modified APCs (those… that are soon celebrating their 60th and 70th birth days), and also command posts for coordinating the 155 and the 120 mortar, a la French (also the Polish, who took the Braveheart turret, but not the gun, Nexter providing that instead, and the Command Post system software being their own development)

June 11, 2012 11:20 am

Hi paul g,

I thought about that “The RA have requested more warriors for the command role using converted 90 chassis’s would give more room for all the equipment be it command radios or a stack of 155mm shells” even before getting to the point where you highlighted it.

I think some issue of the Gunner (in 2010?) reported on the experiments where the Warrior was given all the systems (antennae for sat included) the modern battle field requires and it became too cramped to work in (and looking Christmas tree -like), so that consequentally the RA penned out a two-Warrior fire control team on to their wish list… which then immediately received the red pen budgetary treatment
– here we have the perfect solution (except that those units are embedded in the armoured infantry bn’s on Warriors, not in the units they are calling the fires from (that may have, or not, the AS90s as a chassis in use). But you can solve these maintenance and spare parts problems!

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 11, 2012 12:43 pm

AH HA! Found it – from the CASR website:

“Starting with a lighter hull allows composite add-on armour panels to be placed where they are most needed. In the case of the PzH 2000, the base hull is protected against small arms fire (up to 14.5mm ) as well as artillery splinters. Out of the PzH 2000 transport weight of 49 tons, the turret and gun makes up about 12.5 tons. So, once that turret is removed, more than 10 tons of extra armour can be added before affecting hull performance at all. With surplus PzH 2000s on offer, it seems like a simple route to HIAVs but there are drawbacks. The PzH 2000 is closely related to the Leopard 2 but drivetrain commonality is minimal. [4] Ground clearance is roughly the same as a Leopard [5] which is to say poor when facing buried landmines or IEDs. That said, adapting PzH 2000 hulls would be simple compared to converting tanks.”

Talks about a PzH 2000 but similar enough to apply to a AS90? The key is the tracked mobility and the relatively large space in the rear; if not a IFV then a command vehicle as suggested, or an ambulance? Radar carrier? Elevating platform? It all depends on what we require and how imaginative people are (and of course finding the cash…)

Think Defence
June 11, 2012 12:51 pm
Reply to  Gareth Jones

How many AS90’s did we buy then, how many left, how many likely to be culled?

June 11, 2012 1:12 pm

Leading on from TD…
– if not enough Warriors to grant the RA their wish for the teams (co-located with AI bn’s?)with two Warriors each
– give them AS90 chasses (is that the plural?) and house the whole team in one protected vehicle

If there are still some left, make them into heavy mortar carriers (with a good supply of rounds, and high mobility)

June 11, 2012 5:13 pm

Good read Paulg and some interesting thoughts did start humming the a-team half way thru mind.

June 11, 2012 6:37 pm

Very good post and also very sensible. It does only make sense to try and recycle the spare Warriors; than just toss them on the tip.

The Wolfhound idea I really like; but should we not be cutting the types of vehicles we have to the bare minimum?

Going off on one; could we not convert some spare AS90’s into a SPAAG? – We need something cheaper than Starstreak/Rapier for taking down UAV’s.

June 11, 2012 7:03 pm

RE “How many AS90′s did we buy then, how many left, how many likely to be culled?”
– 179 total [Wiki says]
– 2002 Braveheart bid request was funnily enough for +/-1 the same number that were retained in the SDSR much later, around 95
– compare that with: 52 FV514 Mechanized Artillery Observation Vehicles plus 19 FV515 Battery Command Vehicles for the RA
– the latter more in focus; requirement from the Gunner 2010 Sept issue “HQ DRA Capability Branch is currently seeking an upgrade
programme for WR514 Observation Post Vehicles to enable fire
support teams to deliver joint and precision fires. Without this,
the platform will remain optimised for area effect fires.”

It is a really good article, shows how the Warrior ( a single one) would become a Christmas tree in looks, shows the cramped space … all in photos, and says this, at the end:

“An armoured fire support team is able to operate
from a single vehicle
• In two vehicle configuration actual radio usage
increased by 25 per cent while perceived usage
increased by 106 per cent
• Operating from a single vehicle, independent
sighting systems are required for the artillery and
air controllers
• The advantages of two vehicles can not be
maximised operating at battle group level
• The fire support team require a mounted ability
to generate non line of sight target grids using
targeting software
• Ground to air radio must be integrated into the
BOWMAN vehicle communications harness
• A pan sight with GPS separated antennas and
inertial navigation system is able to generate
target grids to the accuracy required for precision
• The ability to receive full motion video plays a
fundamental role in the provision of joint fires and
should be enabled by WR514 platforms
• Stowage capacity and hull-turret interface issues
to be addressed following the addition of the FAC”
– please note the last point… make it one AS90, not two WR514s (to replace the ancient FVs)

June 11, 2012 7:09 pm

Sorry, when I reread the Sept 2010 article in The Gunner, the embedding is in BRR (not AI bns)
– BRRs will have quite a variety of vehicle platforms anyway, even more so from 2015 (or if SV delay rumours are true, from a bit later, like 2018)

June 11, 2012 7:23 pm

Good article – thought provoking as to what we could / should do with the chassis as we reduce numbers.

I guess the forward deployed “fire direction” vehicle should be Warrior based as that is what it will be in company with. However armoured ammo re-supply and battery command vehicles on AS90 chassis make sense to me.

Also, how many could be / should be modded into “simulators” for TA RA units if it goes in that direction ? I have seen the Challenger and Warrior simulators crammed into the big hanger like halls at Rheindahlen (I think) – so why not a vehicle that can be setup in the car park of a TA unit, with some sort of cut short barrel with an hydraulic apparatus to simulate breach / barrel recoil, with internal speakers to simulate the noise, running on the power of it’s own engine and hooked into a LAN to simulate communications and targeting ? Probably would not need to make that many into this version, but it would give TA gunners a certain level of synthetic training for 2 hours on a weekday drill night !