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Stephen C
Stephen C
June 20, 2012 1:27 pm

Shiny! I want them!

Wstr
Wstr
June 20, 2012 1:47 pm

The CRAB has a touch of the old Alvis Scarab to it (esp. the export demonstrator that had a 20mm cannon OWS at one time). With an enduring involvement in Africa the French ‘get’ small wars & the need for light, highly mobile vehicles.

frenchie
frenchie
June 20, 2012 3:33 pm

The CRAB weighs 8 to 10 tons can travel at speeds up to 110 km / h. Very handy as its front and rear wheels are steered, it is small with 4.50m in length 2.50m in width. Expected to have a crew of three men, the CRAB is mobile, stealthy and discreet. The protection is a STANAG level 3. Side arms, it is planned to be equipped with missiles, 12.7 mm machine gun, or guns of 30mm or 40mm. These systems will be remotely operated from the cabin of the vehicle, the onboard electronics is provided by Thales. CRAB should not cost more than a million euros each. The CRAB is the ideal candidate for light scout. It must replace our VBL.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 20, 2012 3:54 pm

At firat glance, to a civvy like me, the two vehicles appear quite close in capabilities/intended roles (with the obvious exemption of the Sphinx’s extra wheels). The video suggested the Crab was a cavalry vehicle and the Sphinx was a recon vehicle. Is there much difference nowadays?

B.Smitty
B.Smitty
June 20, 2012 4:20 pm

Isn’t it a bad idea to put a remotely-controlled turret on a recon vehicle (where situational awareness critical)?

x
x
June 20, 2012 4:24 pm

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-CAZIqtn2lQM/T9HzZc6WHpI/AAAAAAAAA58/wvfbnqJdxOw/s1600/PR_Sphinx-2.jpg

I would say there is no difference. What I would say is that these days it easier to differentiate between heavy (tanks) and light (turreted auto-cannon wheeled or tracks with light armour that don’t carry troops) cavalries. In Italy armoured formations have tanks, while cavalry formations have 8x8s.

frenchie
frenchie
June 20, 2012 4:25 pm

The Sphinx weighs 17 tons, I don’t know the utility for you, however the CRAB can replace your Scimitar, in a role of “éclaireur”, sorry there isn’t equivalent in english, scout means nothing when your FRES SV weighs 34 tons.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 20, 2012 4:36 pm

D’OH! Forgot to consider weight differences. If you could squeeze in a sensor mast and better situational awareness then it looks good…

frenchie
frenchie
June 20, 2012 5:04 pm

I don’t know if your Foxhound can’t to be modified for intelligence task, after all the CRAB is the improved version of the VBL.

Tubby
Tubby
June 20, 2012 5:43 pm

Is there a fundamental difference in the French and the British approach to recce given that the Sphinx is half the weight of the SV and based on a 6 x 6 wheeled vehicle? Presumably the SV will be able scout ahead of Warrior and Challenger 2 as it is a heavy tracked vehicle, while this might not be the case with the Sphinx and Leclerc combo (presumably it would be swings and roundabouts, some terrain would be inaccessible to the Sphinx, but it could use bridges that are simply not up to taking the Leclerc, so it could not scout the exact path the Leclerc would take)?

Given that VBCI is 8 x 8 wheeled, and will be teamed with the Sphinx, are the French considering a tank destroyer to round out their wheeled IVF and wheeled scout?

Tubby
Tubby
June 20, 2012 5:43 pm

Is there a fundamental difference in the French and the British approach to recce given that the Sphinx is half the weight of the SV and based on a 6 x 6 wheeled vehicle? Presumably the SV will be able scout ahead of Warrior and Challenger 2 as it is a heavy tracked vehicle, while this might not be the case with the Sphinx and Leclerc combo (presumably it would be swings and roundabouts, some terrain would be inaccessible to the Sphinx, but it could use bridges that are simply not up to taking the Leclerc, so it could not scout the exact path the Leclerc would take)?

Given that VBCI is 8 x 8 wheeled, and will be teamed with the Sphinx, are the French considering a tank destroyer to round out their wheeled IVF and wheeled scout?

Ed
Ed
June 20, 2012 7:10 pm

It occurred to me that it might make sense to have something along the general lines of the CRAB attached in all the light infantry battalions, for close recon. They would give a useful boost to firepower – even with the 20mm cannon, but ideally, I would love to see the Rheinmetall RMK-30 cannon used. It has slightly better firepower than the 30mm Rarden or 30×173 cannon, yet has pretty much no recoil, hence can be fitted like any light remote weapon system.

This would allow a vehicle like the CRAB to have almost as much firepower as the Sphinx, especially if we paid Rheinmetall to fully develop the projected 35mm RMK-35! Tony Williams had a table on one of his pages (think it was a Eurosatory review from a few years back), showing the abilities of the various projected recoilless rounds that Rheinmetall had thought of…

BTW, Tubby: take a look at the Vextra 105, which is a 105mm armed 8×8, which pretty much fits that description. In many ways, though, it is just a more up to date version of the AMX-10RC, which is a 6×6 105mm armed recon vehicle…

I would argue that in many ways the French have got a more sensible mixed armoured reconnaissance force, with a range of vehicles and vehicle weight classes. They have light vehicles like the VBL; medium weight ones for service in places like Africa in the form of the ERC 90 Sagaie; and the heavier AMX-10RC for higher threat areas. With this, they have a pretty flexible force, and in contrast, the UK has, for some time, pretty much settled on using the CVR(T) design.

Looking back, I think the UK should have gone for a two-track force, with the CVR(W) being a proper Saladin replacement, i.e. a 6×6 armed with 30mm or 76mm guns, and APC variants too. It would have given us a tracked family in the (T) variant, and an equal family of variants based on the (W) variant. This would have replaced the Saracen as well, hopefully giving us an equivalent to the French VAB family.

B.Smitty
B.Smitty
June 20, 2012 7:41 pm

Ed,

Interesting. I look at all of the various French AFVs and wonder how they manage to keep spares and support flowing to them. And how much money they spend developing each unique base vehicle plus variants.

Tubby
Tubby
June 20, 2012 7:59 pm

Hi Ed,

Thanks for the info, the Vextra 105 looks interesting, but if I was in charge of procurement I think I would want a 120mm 52 calibre cannon on my Vextra hull – the idea behind my thinking (which given I know bugger about how army’s work, is likely deeply flawed) is that you do not want to mix wheeled and tracked vehicles and that a mixed group of Sphinx, VBCI and a 8 x 8 wheeled tank destroyer with a 120mm 52 calibre cannon would be the way to go.

Tubby
Tubby
June 20, 2012 7:59 pm

Hi Ed,

Thanks for the info, the Vextra 105 looks interesting, but if I was in charge of procurement I think I would want a 120mm 52 calibre cannon on my Vextra hull – the idea behind my thinking (which given I know bugger about how army’s work, is likely deeply flawed) is that you do not want to mix wheeled and tracked vehicles and that a mixed group of Sphinx, VBCI and a 8 x 8 wheeled tank destroyer with a 120mm 52 calibre cannon would be the way to go.

frenchie
frenchie
June 20, 2012 8:26 pm

Ed is right.
It’s a little bit complex.
We have an intelligence brigade that has VBL, UAVs and electronic warfare equipment.
The light brigades or mechanised brigades are equipped with AMX-10RC. The Sphinx will replace the old AMX-10RC, which are tanks on wheels with a 105mm gun.
In armored brigades there are reconnaissance squadron with VBL.
The Sphinx which has the same turret that your FRES SV weighs 17 tons and has a V hull that gives it a level of protection STANAG 5.
In fact our VBCI are your WARRIOR, and scout vehicles are a mix of VBL and AMX-10RC.
For us there is a true difference between the notion of intelligence and reconnaissance.

James
James
June 20, 2012 9:10 pm

That CRAB is basically a Fox with a remotely operated turret, and a windscreen. How the hell is the commander meant to have 360 vision? From the look of it, he’ll have 120 vision over the forward arc, and not much up and down. That could be solved I suppose if they’ve cut him a hatch so he can stand up and get his head outside, but I can’t see that from the video. I hope they’ve thought of that.

The windscreen is rated to protect against 7.62, which is also a bit worrying. Either don’t have any protection at all, or have proper armour up to STANAG 4569 Level 5 would be my thought. The semi-hardened windscreen seems like the worst of both worlds. Because the glass panels are flat, it’s also going to have a massive tendency to glint in the sunlight, unless you cover it in mud. The thermal distinction of glass over metal is also incredibly noticeable, so it will have a very distinctive thermal recognition feature.

Steering mechanism sounds quite good, going sideways, hope it is well engineered and reliable.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 20, 2012 9:40 pm

“For us there is a true difference between the notion of intelligence and reconnaissance.” A interesting comment from Frenchie, and comes back to my question on whether recon and cavalry are the same thing. It also reminded of these articles from SO which I came across recently; should there be a more combat focused role for “cavalry”?

http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.co.uk/2009/08/about-armored-reconnaissance-and.html

http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.co.uk/2009/09/square-trick.html

x
x
June 20, 2012 9:49 pm

Well you do “reconnaissance” to collect “intelligence”.

And “reconnaissance” is one of the tasks cavalry along with say screening that cavalry performs.

Ed
Ed
June 20, 2012 9:50 pm

For the French Army, I would probably have looked to rationalise the fleet a bit, but they are moving towards that end already. Equally, look at the diverse fleet that the UK has had to introduce as a result of UORs! I would look to go for the VBL (and 4-door VBR ideally), VAB replacement, Sphinx, and the VBCI and Vextra 105… Ideally I would up-gun the Vextra with something like the Oto Hitfact 120mm, for commonality with the Leclerc fleet.

The basic pairings would be:

– VBL/VBR/CRAB in the Intel Brigade
– VAB replacement and Sphinx in the Light and Mechanised Brigades
– VBCI and Vextra for Armoured Infantry units
– Leclerc and CRAB/Sphinx for Armoured and Scout/Recon roles

Basically, each Brigade type would have a balance of transport and firepower, and it would bring the number of weapons calibres down to just 20mm (CRAB), 40mm (Sphinx) and 120mm (Vextra upgraded and Leclerc).

One slight issue would be the problem of what to deploy to Africa – the ERC 90 Sagaie is a lot lighter than the Sphinx! One of the reasons France went with the surprise choice of the Sagaie instead of the AMX-10RC was the weight issue. Obviously the CRAB is light enough, but without the firepower or armour of the Sagaie. It might be necessary to have a special type in the sub-10 ton class, yet armed with a decent size gun, at least in the 40mm class…

x
x
June 20, 2012 10:03 pm

I have always thought the Puma 4×4 and 6×6 are good vehicles. The 4×4 can be shoved into Chinook. And the 6×6 looks like it could take a turret and would be lighter than Sphinx; probably end up the same weight as Stormer.

Ed
Ed
June 20, 2012 10:29 pm

X: My concern with that is the Puma doesn’t have great armour, and have you seen the pictures of them shoving a Puma into a Chinook? It looks like trying to shove an ostrich in the oven for Christmas dinner… It doesn’t look like something you would want to be trying in a combat situation. I would look more for something like a Mowag Eagle IV equipped with the RMK-30 30mm cannon!

x
x
June 20, 2012 10:35 pm

@ Ed

It isn’t tight just full. :)

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 20, 2012 10:57 pm

Hi, B.Smitty, James.
That is CMI’s Cockerill Protected Weapons Station (with 25mm cannon) on the CRAB. It has a stabilized sight giving 360 degree views without turning the weapon station; it also has a hatch for when the commander wants to feel the wind in his hair. So you have a RWS, but one that gives protected access to the weapon, and one that keeps the option of engaging your own eyeballs if you so choose.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 20, 2012 11:01 pm

So we need a relatively quiet mode of transport for the cavalry, with reasonable speed cross country, that allows the crew good all around observation with the ability to listen for unusual sounds, preferably with the ability to observe from a raised position, and with a reduced fuel footprint while also being easily transported on either aircraft or boats, and even better if it’s already in service to reduce training time and increase commonality?

I propose the Horse, mk.1. ;)

IXION
June 20, 2012 11:20 pm

Chris B

It has been put about that US special forces have been messing with mules in Af pak border, an Selous Scouts and south africa used them in the 70’s/ 80’s

paul g
June 20, 2012 11:24 pm

@brian b, so that’s ticking a lot of boxes then. The 2 doors also would make it a better vehicle to foxtrot oscar from in a tight situation, rather than having to pop up through commanders hatch like the ferret. (and yes i know there was a drivers hatch, but you had to be a slim jim for that!!) upgrade the glass to specs laid down by mr j, bit of hessian for the glare and you’re away.

trouble is if you had a horse and you had no rations, y’know maybe just some oranges for the next 107 hours, you could be tempted to eat the horse!!!

James
James
June 20, 2012 11:39 pm

B**ger. I’ll try to sort the hyperlinks out. Don’t know why that didn’t work.

(Second attempt to post)

Chris B,

so what we’re after is this:

http://images.sofrep.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/HorseSoldier01_opt.jpg

The initial and traditional horse-trading between Abbey Wood, London and the end user on User Requirements will give us this:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kO6xh1ixt_0/Tx7uCTX7hRI/AAAAAAAAAu4/eNOybzRuTwo/s1600/soldier-on-donkey.jpg

After a second round of horse-trading, and several additional requirements imposed by DSTL and the doctrine communities for increased armour protection and lethality, together with a request for increased utility in tourism operations, the final requirements set seems likely to result in the following agreed solution:

http://www.spendtimeinlondon.com/images/horseguard_mounted.jpg

BAE Systems first design attempts needed some weight paring off the final design to meet the helicopter and boat transportable weight and size limits:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/PostImages/200902/HORSE_3E069E80-D387-C254-5C30C46C23D58603.JPG

The problem is, it’s all been done before. Here are the 2 finest Regiments*** in the British Army demonstrating how it should be done:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-cztzspFyeNE/TXDChxmAsBI/AAAAAAAABO0/HWumtwTJytU/s1600/Scotland+Forever+lady+Butler.jpg
http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/thumbnail/224975/1/Charge-Of-The-16th-Queens-Own-Lancers-At-The-Battle-Of-Aliwal-1846.jpg
…and all along, the real requirement was for something like this:

http://www.tropasdeelite.xpg.com.br/seals-M1040-CHENOWTH-DESERT-PATROL-VEHICLE-SealTeam4-Afeg-2002.jpg

;)

*** Both slightly degraded by my membership of them over 21 years, but they are recovering well.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 20, 2012 11:44 pm

@ Chris B – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grey%27s_Scouts
Just saying…;p

James
James
June 20, 2012 11:44 pm

Chris B,

so what we’re after is this:

http://images.sofrep.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/HorseSoldier01_opt.jpg

The initial and traditional horse-trading between Abbey Wood, London and the end user on User Requirements will give us this:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-kO6xh1ixt_0/Tx7uCTX7hRI/AAAAAAAAAu4/eNOybzRuTwo/s1600/soldier-on-donkey.jpg

After a second round of horse-trading, and several additional requirements imposed by DSTL and the doctrine communities for increased armour protection and lethality, together with a request for increased utility in tourism operations, the final requirements set seems likely to result in the following agreed solution:

http://www.spendtimeinlondon.com/images/horseguard_mounted.jpg

BAE Systems first design attempts needed some weight paring off the final design to meet the helicopter and boat transportable weight and size limits:

http://cr4.globalspec.com/PostImages/200902/HORSE_3E069E80-D387-C254-5C30C46C23D58603.JPG

The problem is, it’s all been done before. Here are the 2 finest Regiments*** in the British Army demonstrating how it should be done:

http://2.bp.blogspot.com/-cztzspFyeNE/TXDChxmAsBI/AAAAAAAABO0/HWumtwTJytU/s1600/Scotland+Forever+lady+Butler.jpg
http://www.1st-art-gallery.com/thumbnail/224975/1/Charge-Of-The-16th-Queens-Own-Lancers-At-The-Battle-Of-Aliwal-1846.jpg
…and all along, the real requirement was for something like this:

http://www.tropasdeelite.xpg.com.br/seals-M1040-CHENOWTH-DESERT-PATROL-VEHICLE-SealTeam4-Afeg-2002.jpg

;)

*** Both slightly degraded by my membership of them over 21 years, but they are recovering well.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
June 20, 2012 11:51 pm

I must confess I haven’t had the chance to read this yet but the title is essentially what I’m asking: Can Surveillance Technology Replace
Traditional Aggressive Reconnaissance?

http://www.ausa.org/SiteCollectionDocuments/ILW%20Web-ExclusivePubs/Land%20Warfare%20Papers/LWP_53.pdf

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 20, 2012 11:55 pm

By the sounds of it they didn’t do too bad!

But even if it was decided that horses were the optimal solution for mounted scouting, can you imagine trying to get that one past the press? Never mind the horses getting eaten, everyone involved in the decision chain would get slaughtered.

James
James
June 21, 2012 12:07 am

Chris B,

the true mark of a proper recce man is that he will make do and adapt to local conditions. Hence the US SOF boys using horses in the early stages of Afghanistan (late 2001), because the locals did. The French strapping on monkey bikes onto the back of their wagons, the development of DPV which Chenowth based on the old LRDG Pinkies (Chenowth normally make sand dune racing buggies), ignoring 50 years of Cold War dogma about armour protection. One of my colleagues was a hobby glider pilot, and arranged with a German civvy gliding club to rent a glider on a Sunday before STARTEX on an exercise against the Belgiques, and came back with the most tremendously high quality recce report of what he’d seen of their dispositions.

There’s a story that a farmer near San Carlos gave the Recce Platoon of 2 Para a lift on a tractor and flatbed trailer to save them tabbing towards Goose Green, getting them there 12 hours before and giving them time to scuttle about and have a good shufty.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 21, 2012 1:02 am

James,

I’d heard about the US SOF boys. Apparently they went to great lengths to teach the Northern Alliance proper tactics to try and turn them into some kind of Dragoons, the plan being to dismount before contact and do the fighting on foot.

Which promptly went down hill when they charged the very first time they went into battle, like a 21st Century version of Balaclava. Except in this one the enemy ran away and it took two days to round up the majority of the unit.

James
James
June 21, 2012 1:35 am

Chris B,

next you’ll be mentioning the Camel Corps, the ultimate late 19th Century Dragoons. Now a camel’s a pretty good desert recce wagon, with a very low logistic demand especially for water, and if you can get the bugger to lie down, you’ve got a perfectly decent rifle rest between the humps (Abbey Wood wanted only one hump as a cost saving measure, but the end user knows that for a rifle rest you need two humps), and all of that camel bulk between you and the screaming AbDabs.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
June 21, 2012 2:58 am

James,

Now there’s an idea. See, we’ve got this whole recce wagon thing wrapped up. Low cost, practical, took us about 5 hours all told.

Observer
Observer
June 21, 2012 5:50 am

And you can sell the resultant fertilizer to defray costs too. A bit of a problem with maintainance though. If done wrongly, the rear cost defrayer unit might get a little messy. :)

John Hartley
John Hartley
June 21, 2012 8:18 pm

If I had a Crab, I would finally feel safe driving in London.
Doubtless everyone will disagree, but I think the FN BRG 15.5mm heavy machine gun would be right for the Crab.
Oh & doesnt a Yank firm make armoured glass that can stop .50 cal rounds, yet is less than 2 inches thick?

James
James
June 21, 2012 8:36 pm

John Hartley,

you may well be right on the .50 stopping glass (I don’t know the technology), but the wider point is Why??? Recce needs to hide away, not go all glinty in the sun. .50 stopping glass is probably necessary for a Mexican drug runner’s spare car, but for God’s sake, it has no place on a recce wagon. We used to scrim up our episcopes in order to remain discreet, and they were only beer can size.

This CRAB thing has got 2 square metres of flat glass that’s going to be winking at the enemy like some Aldershot tart. It’s going to be a bastard to see through when it’s dusty, or when it’s muddy, it will insulate the crew from sound, and it’ll show up with a big “shoot me” sign on a thermal viewer.

John Hartley
John Hartley
June 21, 2012 9:08 pm

James
I am not an expert on glass coatings, but there ought to be something to stop that glinty problem.
Thermal stealth wise, what about those gold coatings on F-16 canopies a few years ago?

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 21, 2012 10:51 pm

Flat glass panels may give a larger reflection than curved glass, but it tends to be one-directional while the reflection from curved glass can better be seen across a wide angle. Vertical windshields in the Humvee style may at least be less obvious from an aircraft or other high vantage point.
http://camouflage.com/vars.php
I’m not convinced by the Crab as a reconnaissance vehicle myself – partly the conspicuous shiny windows, but also the lack of load space. Appears to have less room for kit than the VBL. A decent local patrol vehicle, or convoy escort perhaps, but not recon.

Observer
Observer
June 22, 2012 1:19 am

@James

Light blue tint the windows. Helps cut reflection and glare. Honestly though, never encountered much of a problem with glass windowed recce vehicles. After all, we’re the ones using a 3 sided windowed “Warthog” for recce. OTOH, SOP and expected terrain of ops is a bit different too.

About the same sit awareness as a normal car, save for the rear quarter.

John Hartley
John Hartley
June 23, 2012 4:20 pm

Looking on Wiki, there is a new glass coating that mimics a moth eye, lots of tiny bumps, that stops glints. So 50 cal proof glass with a moth eye coating should do it.