#Army2020 – A Few Thoughts

The dust has settled, Twitter has calmed down and even Con Coughlin has stopped writing disreputable drivel so what do people think about Army 2020?

My thoughts, in no particular order

The Fat Lady Hasn’t Finished Warbling

The announcements covered the major units but sub unit changes have yet to be fully briefed so expect more information to come out in dribs and drabs over the coming months and perhaps even years.

Army 2020 is a process with a future end state, how it gets there is still very much work in progress and will be for some time.

When we discuss these matters I also prefer to keep things at a high level because ultimately we are talking about service personnel, their careers and families. If it is not in the public domain I will not be making assumptions or speculating on sub unit changes unless it is in the broadest sense.

Did We Need to Go This Far?

I don’t think anyone would question the need to put the MoD back on a proper fiscal footing or that national security ultimately comes from financial security so deficit reduction is very much the only grand strategy the nation should be pursuing but spending is all about priorities.

Legitimate questions about these priorities can and should be asked even though in the light of the subject of this post the answer is irrelevant.

A Lack of Moral Fibre

The Government has shown a complete and utter lack of backbone.

It started with the diktat that no one preparing for, on or recovering from operations would be selected for redundancy. It might seem somewhat cruel to give someone their P45 whilst in Afghanistan but in order to avoid negative headlines in the media the Government has actually created a more serious problem. Not only has it tied the hands of those planning the force reductions by focusing on a subset of personnel who had the somewhat random fortune to be on operations at the appropriate time it has also reportedly created the unintended consequence of a rush to volunteer for Afghanistan and thus stave off the brown envelope.

The second is the apparent unwillingness to address the tough issues of Gurkhas (who are widely believed to now cost double that of a British soldier), the Household Division and Scottish regiments.

None of these are terminal to the reorganisation but they do add unwanted complexity and restraint, inevitably compromising the final outcome.

A Two Tier Force

Organising into the reactive and adaptive force is a neat way to retain combined arms manoeuvre combat power at the same time as resourcing enduring operations ‘on the cheap’ it represents a risk of a two tier Army emerging.

Soldiering or peacekeeping might be a simplistic way of viewing the split but if the best and brightest gravitate towards the reactive force there will emerge a two tier force with a clear poor relation in the adaptive force.

Some think the reactive force will attract all the high flyers, funding and kudos, leaving the adaptable force as the poor relation.

An alternative may see the adaptive force deploying all over the world on a regular basis in the upstream engagement mission whilst the reactive force stays at home, filling sandbags for Local Authorities and training on a wet Salisbury Plain with a handful of kit they have prised out of the whole fleet management pool and surrogate main battle tanks, or that would be Land Rovers to you and me.

Avoiding this split will be difficult; those at Kentigern House are going to have to work ever harder to avoid this fear becoming a reality, as I am sure they now understand only too well.

The Whole Force Concept

The ‘Army Reserve’ is to be built up to a trained strength of 30,000 personnel, integrated more closely with regular forces and contractors with about a third of the adaptive force comprising of reserve personnel and a tenth in the reactive element.

Greater use of civilian ‘contractors’ is nothing new; we have the RAF’s Voyager tankers, numerous training PFI’s, the Army’s C Vehicle and Heavy Equipment Tractor arrangements and of course one might view the Royal Fleet Auxiliary as being a distant relation. For expeditionary and sustained operations using contractors for everything from water provision to transport to catering is a simple fact of life and this is just a recognition that it will continue.

Recruitment for an enlarged reserve will be difficult based on recent historical experience although with the broader range of deployments on offer with the adaptive force it might be less of a problem than thought. Leveraging the civilian skills of reservists is tempting and in many regards a perfectly reasonable expectation but not all truck drivers, welders, IT specialists and medics join the reserves to do the same stuff they do in the week, except with a little more varied scenery.

The MoD made a great deal about increased funding for reserve forces, £1.8 billion over the next ten years. Doing a quick spot of mental maths that equals a paltry £180 million per year. We have just spent just under half a billion pounds for a Typhoon software upgrade, £50 million for an A400 simulator and we even spend £10 million a year on the Red Arrows.

An additional £180 million across 30,000 personnel really isn’t a great deal of money, £6,000 a year.

On equipment, there already exists a significant disparity between equipment (training v deployment) used for regular units, let alone the TA.  If we look at the cost of communications equipment, weapons and personal equipment it is difficult to see how the additional investment will make a large impact. This is before we look at additional needs for training provision, estate, welfare, medical and other operating costs.

Most TA centres have been backloading their stores and vehicles for some time.  With greater reliance on the White Fleet and centralised equipment and with a reduced regular force there will inevitably be equipment freed up but even accepting this, providing the same equipment provision is going to be a challenge.

We also assume that this big pot of cash is for the Army exclusively, it is not. The increased RAF and RN/RM reserve (4,900 in total) will also share this money.

Is £1.8 billion over ten years anywhere near enough?

There is a planned consultation with employer’s representatives but whilst the MoD may be hoping for legislative change I just cannot see this happening, at least not in a significant manner. If the new model foresees reservists spending a maximum of 6 months plus pre-deployment training (which is likely to be another 6 months) out of 5 years that is a big potential commitment for both the reservist and their employer. Whilst the civil service or NHS might be able to cope the vast majority of people in the UK are employed by small to medium sized organisations. No matter how they are compensated for legislated against this would be a big problem. Expecting a business to employ someone and then for that person to only be available for 1 year in 5 plus normal recurring training might be a difficult proposition to sell, especially given it is an elective activity, not in response to an immediate or obvious threat like in the Cold War era.

Given the desire to have a reserve with more specialist skills might exacerbate this problem as those in possession of these skills and employed by a small business become much more difficult to replace with contractors or temporary staff. If recruitment discrimination against reservists does occur it will be almost impossible to prove and if proven, any sanction against employers will only increase that discrimination, albeit with more subtlety.

If the reserve has a tour cycle of 1 in 5 and so does the Regular army but without many of the benefits and the added bonus of career disruption and likely recruitment discrimination it is tricky to envisage an avalanche of recruits and more importantly, a high retention rate. Without a higher retention rate the Reserve will be limited to lower ranks and lesser experience personnel.

Decisions on terms and conditions of service, employer engagement and legislation changes will be made early next year but this remains a significant risk to fulfilling the Army 2020 vision.

A large increase in trained strength, changes in commitment and terms and conditions of service, not a great deal of extra money and a poor prospect for additional strong employment protection legislation, now that is definitely a big ask.

Do we have a Plan B for if the Army Reserve fails to achieve the significant increase planned for it?

A New Found Love of Civil Resilience

For many years the MoD has been working to wean Category 1 responders off reliance on the Army, the Civil Contingency Act, subsequent guidance and activity and JDP 02 makes it abundantly clear that civil resilience support is pretty much the domain of civilian organisations with the armed forces providing only specialist and very much last resort support.

Expect this to be rewritten any time soon but JDP 02 (Defence Contribution to Resilience) makes interesting reading, all 317 pages of it.

The new found interest in all this ‘homeland’ stuff might be viewed by some as clutching at the relevance straw and likely to be ditched as soon as interesting operations abroad come back into fashion (they inevitable will)

A cynic might wonder of the Army’s new found love of the previously ginger stepkid style civil resilience mission (sorry, I refuse to use the term homeland any more in this post) is an opportunistic grab at relevance, ground based air defence for the upcoming sports day being arguably a good example.

The responder community has for years been told by the MoD to basically jog on so I would not expect the MoD to be welcomed back like the prodigal son as it tries to muscle back in on resource budgets, missions and influence in the resilience space.

If Cat 1 responders do take the opportunity to reduce resilience budgets and have the Army on speed dial instead is the Army setting itself up for a rude awakening?

Comparisons to Haldane and Childers and an Opportunity Lost

As good as Army 2020 as a piece of work is, and it is, it starts with the premise of preserving cap badges and avoiding tough political decisions, hardly a recipe for decisive and innovative thinking.

I usually like the writing of Allan Mallinson but in comparing Phil Hammond to Richard Haldane and Edward Cardwell I think he is reaching.

Both the Haldane and Cardwell reforms resulted from near disasters abroad and had a massive impact on the Army, transforming its capabilities, morale and professionalism. The Hammond reforms are simply a means of doing less with less. General Nick Carter and his team have no doubt pulled a rabbit out of the bag and Army2020 represents I think, am extremely well thought through process with much to commend it.

Some have hailed it as genuinely revolutionary but again, I think that might be a stretch because much of it is simply a continuation of things that are already the norm or already in place.

One of the things that has completely overshadowed the review is the Regimental system, is a curate egg if ever there was one; so much is just right but it does create a barrier to innovation and change and we just might be at the point where it is time to do a Haldane or Childers and undertake a serious reform that frees the Army of much of its historical drag, including the Regimental system.

The fundamental building blocks of the Army, the Corps, Regiment, Squadron and Battalion have not changed in any significant way for several decades, if not more.

One of the desired outcomes that the review was predicated on was a minimal or zero reduction in cap badges which has concentrated all focus on this rather than the actual effectiveness of the process.

It is an easy claim to make that the Army has too much fat in it and needed to be cut in comparison with the heavy reductions already made in the RAF and RN, especially given it has remained untouched whilst the defence main effort in Afghanistan and Iraq were/are in full force. Critics point to its inability to resource Afghanistan without resorting to OP ENTIRETY, dragging in significant numbers of the other services and generally complaining of overstretch but whilst many don’t understand what the ‘rest of the Army’ do whilst they are not in Afghanistan and therefore many of the comments are fatuous and rather unpleasant the way the Army is organised does create difficulties.

There are an increasing number of joint arrangements but having a review that has hard boundaries between services is an opportunity lost.

The UK has many sets of light infantry, 3 fixed wing aviation operators, 3 rotary wing aviation operators, 3 sets of military police, 3 sets of military intelligence, 4 sets of ordnance disposal, 3 operators of small boats, 3 organisations that look after communications, logistics, engineering and medical capabilities. Even within the Army there many anomolies, the split between the RLC and RE for EOD tasks and fuel handling to name but two.

It is also curious that the Royal Marines and RAF Regiment were excluded from the Army 2020 review.

It is across the whole of defence that we should be looking for efficiency savings, not just in three neat service centred blocks.

A radical review would have started with a clean sheet of paper, worked back from there and frankly, not given a flying you know what for whether regiment A forged its reputation amongst the entrails of johny foreigner. This might not mean a single defence force whatever the comparative experiences of Canada or Israel might tell us, it might not mean the abolition of the RAF or FAA, the merger of the RLC, REME and RE or any other predisposed ideas that might be conjured up by thinking radically.

But it should mean we question mini empires that are getting smaller, based on dubious justifications and arcane reasoning.

This is why SDSR and Army 2020 is a lost opportunity and why comparisons with Haldane et al are false, in the wider context it was ,and is, hobbled by corporate timidity, small mindedness, service and cap badge politics.

The After Show

More amusing was the depressingly inevitable squabble between the noble Lords Dannatt and West. Maybe one day we will have a set of grown ups (and former grown ups) that realise squabbling over an increasingly sparse set of crumbs is not a strategy that serves UK’s defence forces well. As much as one can have huge respect and admiration for these kinds of people sometimes you find yourself wishing they would just be silent.

So, on to SDSR 2015 reductions and more talk of homeland warfighting.

Plenty of time for that but can’t help thinking the announcement about the MoD’s Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transsexual conference at more or less the same time as that describing how because we are so stretched, resource poor and basically skint we are making thousands redundant was rather poor timing.

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percontator
percontator
July 12, 2012 7:49 pm

I thought it might be useful in evaluating Army 2020 to examine the objectives and claims made in the document and see how successfully they have been achieved.

Army 2020 lays out its objective as follows:

It will provide a range of highly adaptable capabilities that can respond to meet the nation’s security needs at home and overseas.

In order to achieve this objective it proposes it makes claim to the following:

It seeks to integrate fully Regulars and Reserves within a single force structure.

Army 2020 creates a 2 tier army with the Reactive Force containing only 10% reserves.
In many ways it harks back to the days of BAOR, albeit on a smaller scale and without the variety provided by the Arms Plot.

It places adaptability and responsiveness at the core of its design.

Army 2020 abandons the structure developed under Future Army Structures which was initiated under Jackson and later developed under Dannatt and latterly under Richards. The rationale behind this was laid out by Dannatt.
“The past few years have taught us that the days of specialising the ground manoeuvre brigades as either armoured or mechanised, may be at an end. The emerging concept of homogeneous, or identical, brigades means that we can develop dedicated organic capabilities at Brigade level. This gives us the advantage of being able to train as we fight – we must start to equip our brigades routinely with the capabilities that they use on current operations. Now this does mean that we will have to spread some of our heavier elements more thinly across the brigades, but this (will also) reduce our logistic drag.”

No such rationale is advanced for the Army 2020 structure which is heavily dependent upon Armoured Infantry Brigades which are neither adaptable nor responsive, consisting as they do of heavy tracked armour with its inherent demands on transport, maintenance and logistics.

It incorporates lessons learnt from recent operations

Perhaps someone can point out what these incorporated lessons were as they appear to be noticeable by their absence.

Operations in Afghanistan have identified the need for a new formation, the Brigade Reconnaissance Force (BRF). Each new brigade going into theatre has constructed its own BRF on an ad hoc basis. Force 2020 was an ideal stage for formalising such units in the ORBAT, but one sadly missed.

Over the past few years all of our key allies, France, Germany, Holland,Italy, USA (Army and Marines), Australia and Canada have already or are making substantial investments in wheeled AFVs. The UK is alone in pursuing a heavy, tracked armoured vehicle for reconnaissance. This, despite the improvements in mobility of modern 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles and the inherent vulnerability of tracked vehicles to mines and IEDs.

Fewest number of cap-badges to be lost from across the army to sustain the regimental system.

As well as MRBs, another cornerstone of FAS, Future Infantry Structure (FIS) with its fostering of large regiments has also been abandoned by Army 2020. Despite the lessons of Op. Telic and the success of the newly formed Rifles (and the pleas of 2 RRF), modernisation has been sacrificed on the altar of political expediency.

Long term planning based on recruiting demographics

The North West of England is, according to the BBC, the most productive area for recruitment in the UK. So obviously 2 RRF predominantly recruited from Lancashire, should have been safe from disbandment using this criteria. On the other hand, perhaps not.

The pairing of reserve and regular units will allow closer links to be built with the local communities to aid recruiting and engagement with UK society

One wonders how closer links with UK society can have been fostered by disbanding one battalion from the North West, one from Yorkshire and one from the West Midlands whilst retaining two battalions from Nepal.

There will need to be a step change in the relationship between the Army, its Reservists and their employers…………….. establishing a framework of strategic partnerships with private and public sector employers

This is the elephant in the room. The whole plan relies on this but there is no indication of how it is to be achieved. Perhaps General Carter is relying on the tried and tested way the intrepid hero extricated himself from an impossible situation – With one mighty bound he was free!

x
x
July 12, 2012 8:22 pm

“One wonders how closer links with UK society can have been fostered by disbanding one battalion from the North West, one from Yorkshire and one from the West Midlands whilst retaining two battalions from Nepal.”

Three battalions that had good recruiting records too.

Phil
July 12, 2012 8:46 pm

“No such rationale is advanced for the Army 2020 structure which is heavily dependent upon Armoured Infantry Brigades which are neither adaptable nor responsive, consisting as they do of heavy tracked armour with its inherent demands on transport, maintenance and logistics.”

The context is crucial here. Dannat was looking at the Afghan model, the model of enduring stabilisation campaigns. Army 2020 notes that the Army must be capable of an enduring operation but the context is that of defence and deterrence with contingent strike forces essentially. The two models are rooted in different paradigms.

I doubt very much that an MRB would have had a much smaller logistical footprint if any considering the range of vehicles it would have employed. And I doubt very much it would have been any faster to deploy. This model gives us the best of both worlds, a fighting core and a pool of forces able to bespoke the RF and provide bespoke follow on enduring formations.

Let us also not forget that the RF infantry are not surgically attached to their Warriors and will be able to remount or dismount as they do now with some warning. For example as part of Op ENTIRETY all mechanised battalions were dismounted from Bulldog and one armoured infantry battalion was dismounted to light infantry.

“Perhaps someone can point out what these incorporated lessons were as they appear to be noticeable by their absence.”

Hmmm, that statement doesn’t work now does it. How can you know lessons are absent if you don’t know the lessons?!

“This is the elephant in the room. The whole plan relies on this but there is no indication of how it is to be achieved.”

This is the second main point – this is not a completed project! The career model is not finalised, the basing model is not finalised, the reserve structure work is still on-going, consultation on terms and conditions is about to begin – these announcements are being made as work progresses since it was impossible to keep it all under wraps for another year or two once all the work is completed.

So

Army 2020 exists as part of a different paradigm to the older MRB assumptions and Army 2020 is still a work very much in progress. The details are being ironed out, this is why detail simply is not available.

Yes the big question is the use of reserves but let’s not be damning of the work done thus far as it is not finished.

Observer
Observer
July 12, 2012 9:13 pm

I was under the impression that armoured infantry is flexible and responsive, much more so than pure infantry or pure armour (or even light armour, as it enables the engagement of heavy vehicles). Improved mobility over infantry combined with the ability to infiltrate terrain that tanks cannot or conduct MOUT without corresponding urban renewal.

This statement here: “[Armoured Infantry Brigades which are neither adaptable nor responsive] [with its inherent demands on transport, maintenance and logistics.]” meshes two ideas which are independent of each other. Demands on transport and maintenance are not indicative of adaptiveness or responsiveness, but are indications of logistical support requirements.

percontator
percontator
July 12, 2012 10:44 pm

Phil

Context

Dannatt set out his views in the mists of antiquity (aka 2008) and MRBs were a feature of SDSR 2010. So your argument for different contexts seems difficult to sustain.

Logistic Footprint

I think that doubling the numbers of AI battalions in a brigade will significantly increase the logistic footprint. Why do you not agree?

Lessons Learnt

I (helpfully, I thought) provided two examples of what ought to have been lessons learnt.

Incomplete Project

There is a big difference between proposing a model where some of the details are still to be finalised and proposing one which relies entirely on external factors for which no solutions have been proffered.

No doubt serving in the TA can be made more attractive to volunteers but what’s in it for employers, especially SMEs?

Criticism

I criticise Army 2020 because it is an ill thought out attempt to preserve old certainties and ignore modern realities.

If opinions on ARRSE are to be believed, The Rifles have proven the efficacy of the large regiment model. Why was this pattern not adopted?

All of our key allies have shifted emphasis from heavy, tracked AFVs to 8×8 and 6×6 vehicles. Why is Army 2020 the only one in step?

How does creating a 2 tier army with the TA kept at arms length from all the shiny toys in the RF provide for integration?

How will the army persuade employers to provide the support so vital to the success of the Army 2020 model?

jed
jed
July 13, 2012 12:54 am

Perconator – Perhaps our allies might put their money where their political rhetoric is and deploy a few more of their super duper wheeled AFV ‘s in the future ? If France and Italy are mostly wheeled, then are we not doing a good thing by providing NATO and ad hoc coalitions with a different set of core competencies / capabilities ?

FF2020 docs released note that Mastiff will be replaced by FRES UV, which may be 6 x 6 or even 8 x 8 family of armoured vehicles, won’t that be good enough for you in the context of financial constraints and the fact that we already own all the Challengers and Warriors ?

Plus let’s face it, Afghanistan convinced the Canadian military to NOT go all wheeled !

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 1:24 am

@ Perconator

“I think that doubling the numbers of AI battalions in a brigade will significantly increase the logistic footprint.”
— Compared to having a brigade that mixes multiple vehicle types, a brigade that contains just AI (at least from the infantry’s point of view) should have a lower logistic footprint on account of not needing spares etc from multiple types.

“All of our key allies have shifted emphasis from heavy, tracked AFVs to 8×8 and 6×6 vehicles”
— Not really. The Americans are planning a replacement for the Bradley and the original Stryker optimisim seems to be gradually fading with every passing year. The Canadians have been (in some corners apparently) positively livid with the performance of LAV’s in the wetter, more rough areas of Afghanistan. Countries like Holland, Norway, Denmark etc are all moving towards the CV90, a tracked vehicle. It would appear the wheeled revolution maybe dying before it really gets off the ground.

And on a brief note, tracks are not really that bad on roads in a COIN environment versus wheels. The problem comes when you start driving over curbs which it would appear have a tendency to fall apart. So stay on the roads and you’re all gravy.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 13, 2012 6:10 am

RE “Canadian military to NOT go all wheeled !”
– yeah, they followed the US transformation blindly and got disappointed (in the US, there was no transformation of the heavy bdes; does that ring a bell?)

The Canadian selection for the companion for Leopards will be interesting, to compare with our SV
– Puma did not even get entered (was it the indicated price envelope or the demands for local participation; the manufacturers don’t say)
– we might see the next-gen CV90 (emphasis on 90; like CB90, it came out of the Swedish review for FF1990) fielded, if they win the competition

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 7:12 am

Love the Cv90. Thing that annoys me about FRES and CV90 not getting it is that the ’90 already has a 40mm gun. Alright, it doesn’t have telescoping ammo, but you can bodge a solution to that later.

Phil
July 13, 2012 7:13 am

Yes 2008 was indeed in the mists of antiquity. A time of an over committed Army that was being dismantled and then re built into fire fighting units effectively. But, Dannat clearly had a different paradigm to Carter where the Army is assumed to not be in an enduring stabilisation operation hence the contingent strike force rather than the 5 infantry brigade concept.

It is hardly ill though out, there is plenty to show that broadly it has been an evidenced based approach incorporating lessons learned and indeed the lesson that Afghan has not set the model for the future.

As for the regiments, get over it. Anyone who thinks what regiment got what cut was a military decision is fooling themselves. The regimental reorganisation was and always will be driven by the politicians. Theres no doubt in my mind that the Army was told which lines they couldn’t cross. Yes a shame but the Army are the servants at the end of the day.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 13, 2012 8:39 am

TD, yes, but let’s look at it this way:

10 bn minus the one and half; what is the eight and a half going to be used for over the next ten years?

x
x
July 13, 2012 9:23 am

Percontator said “So obviously 2 RRF predominantly recruited from Lancashire, should have been safe from disbandment using this criteria.”

That is interesting. You see 2RRF recruits from an area just to the north of the Cheshires and our county regiment also with a good recruiting track record to the east of the Cheshires. So putting the units in Germany to be disbanded theory (fact) to one side. I wonder what the Cheshires’ recruiting track record looks like?

Obsvr
Obsvr
July 13, 2012 9:56 am

Of course in the 20th century the biggest logistic burden on armies has been artillery ammunition. It has pretty much dwarfed everything else. It’s worth remembering that early last decade UK abandoned its pursuit of M777 for light forces (the subsequent attempt was a differnt role) when they let in an adult with a pocket calculator to run the numbers and what it meant for helicopter requirements! Definite case of game over.

The MoD 2020 brochure notes some change of emphasis from suppression to precision. This will reduce logistic footprint.

wf
wf
July 13, 2012 10:11 am

: indeed. However, you would think the requirement for precision would rekindle interest in a 155mm option :-)

Jim
Jim
July 13, 2012 10:13 am

The RRF recruits from Northumberland, Tyne and Wear, Lancashire, Warwickshire and London all the old fusilier county regiment locations. Seems to me there were some Geordies in the army last time I looked.

Mike W
July 13, 2012 4:50 pm

@ChrisB, Percontator et al

“All of our key allies have shifted emphasis from heavy, tracked AFVs to 8×8 and 6×6 vehicles” (Percontator)
– Not really. The Americans are planning a replacement for the Bradley and the original Stryker optimisim seems to be gradually fading with every passing year. The Canadians have been (in some corners apparently) positively livid with the performance of LAV’s in the wetter, more rough areas of Afghanistan. Countries like Holland, Norway, Denmark etc are all moving towards the CV90, a tracked vehicle. It would appear the wheeled revolution maybe dying before it really gets off the ground.” (ChrisB)

Perhaps someone could explain to me. I was talking to a British Army Colonel a few years ago and the conversation got onto half-track vehicles. I asked him why such vehicles were no longer considered for miitary use and he answered that advances in tyre technology were so great that wheeled vehicles had traction almost as good, if not as good, as tracked.

That being the case, why is there this turning away from wheeled vehicles (such as Stryker) mentioned above? (If there really is a turning away.) You can’t really bring other factors such as firepower or armour strength into this. It is purely a matter of tracks versus wheels, isn’t it? Sorry if this sounds naive.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 5:16 pm

@ Mike,

There’s lots of demonstrations of wheeled vehicles tackling tough terrain. The problem is that it often takes them a few minutes to traverse the kind of things that tracked vehicles will just breeze over.

And this is 8×8 wheeled vehicles without turrets or additional armour. Usually they’re only proof up to about 14.5mm, whereas most tracked IFV can take anywhere between 20-30mm hits, at least over the frontal arc. You can put add on armour on a wheeled vehicle, but the mobility goes with it.

Then you start putting turrets on them with 25-40mm guns, along with the required armour. All of a sudden the wheeled vehicles are struggling even more and start having serious issues with vertical stability. Or in other words, you have to be very gentle handling them lest you roll them over.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 13, 2012 5:30 pm

Hi Chris B,

You call that a gun “Then you start putting turrets on them with 25-40mm guns”??

I am with you, and don’t think we should go all wheeled. But for anyone thinking of doing so, there are only two families that make up a serious proposition
– AMV, with the Polish-inspired addition of the Belgian Cockerel (BMP turrets don’t count, even though nominally they are 100mm as in the UAE)
– Freccia/ Centauro II family ( a fair bit of commonality between them)

x
x
July 13, 2012 6:03 pm

Though I am happy with the idea of wheels for infantry vehicles I think the idea that the cavalry get anywhere it is needed at any time means tracks for me.

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 13, 2012 6:05 pm

Hi, Mike W.
I don’t think there is a turning away from wheeled vehicles as far as the Americans are concerned. The US Army has nine Stryker brigades (eight regular and one guard), the Marine Personnel Carrier will be wheeled too.
They have reduced their orders for new Stryker vehicles, but that is set against the army reaching its requirement for the number of Stryker brigades, and increasing spending on upgrading existing vehicles. Incidently, there were 100 Strykers in the US army’s 2012 budget, and 58 for 2013 – all NBC reconnaissance vehicles, all 158, which does put some perspective on our two NBC squadrons’ capability.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 6:07 pm

I think wheeled vehicles have a place, but that place is behind a leading formation of tanks and tracked IFV’s. So once an area has been cleared or at least over run, then wheeled vehicles mainly using roads can follow on, where lighter protection and the fact that they’re on roads is not such a huge issue. They can use hard ground as well obviously.

But they’ll never replace the mobility, firepower and protection offered by tracked IFV’s.

Simon
July 13, 2012 6:13 pm

If tracked vehicles form the “front line” then how do logistics (especially fuel) get to this front line?

I thought most of this is transported on wheeled vehicles?

If so, the “front line” is limited to pushing forward only to places that the supply vehicles can get to.

Do we have any tracked fuel tankers?

How quickly can the Army lay a road behind the “front line” of tanks and tracked IFVs?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 13, 2012 6:18 pm

Hi Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 at 18:07
– have a look at the UAE orbat (OK, their landscape is not typical, but very likely, regardless)
– I think it reads exactly the opposite to yours?

Anyway, horses for courses, not that I want to dive into the cavalry discussion

Phil
July 13, 2012 6:23 pm

“If so, the “front line” is limited to pushing forward only to places that the supply vehicles can get to.”

That is exactly what happens. Which is why roads, bridges and junctions will always be key strategic objectives. Until we have hover tanks the notion of an Army being able to float across the battlespace essentially, is a myth. Any large formation will be completely reliant on roads and wheeled road transport. Tracks come into their own at the tactical level where you need to drive over that wall or skim across that muddy field to get into cover etc

Phil
July 13, 2012 6:24 pm

“Anyway, horses for courses, not that I want to dive into the cavalry discussion”

Back to cavalry is it? Well…

Simon
July 13, 2012 6:44 pm

Wot? No hover tanks – What’s an Apache gunship then ;-)

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 13, 2012 6:44 pm

“Any large formation will be completely reliant on roads and wheeled road transport”

In the broader sense, yes. But the spearhead needs the flexibility of tracks, to envelope or bypass enemy strongholds (which I suspect is where Phil was headed with the comment about tactical mobility). Modern tanks and IFV’s can travel a surprising distance on their own fuel. I wouldn’t want my spear head driving around in 8×8’s.

And now off for a few beers.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 13, 2012 7:19 pm

Wot? No hover tanks
– talking about supply, the Soviets had an over-reliance on tanks in Afghanistan, but their Mi series lifts a lot, and kept the fuel supplies
– Americans are not short of helos, either
– even the experimental Chengdu air-assault/ air-mech bde in China has been sized (vehicles, mainly) in such a way that it can keep going air-supplied (with organic helos) for 2 weeks

percontator
percontator
July 13, 2012 7:54 pm

I believe that USA, France, Germany, Holland, Australia and Canada are putting their money where their potential rhetoric is in Afghanistan.

I agree with you about already owning the Warriors. It would be much cheaper to use upgraded WRs rather than to develop FRES Scout for a heavy tracked recce vehicle. Although I would still argue that only one squadren per Cav regiment should be equipped with a heavy tracked AFV.

B

Logistic Footprint
Spares are only one element. What about maintenance, transport and fuel?

Tracks v Wheels
USA is investing in double V hulled Strykers, the Dutch and Germans are buying Boxer, the French VBCI, the Italians variants of the Centauro family and the Australians and Canadians have LAV.

So, yes really.

I said our key allies had shifted emphasis towards wheeled. I did not claim nor do I advocate going all wheeled.

Dannatt did not propose a 5 infantry brigade concept but rather 6 homogeneous brigades which became 5 MRBs in SDSR 2010. What is the rationale for this change from less than 2 years ago?

You claim that Army 2020 is evidence based and incorporates lessons learnt. Any chance you might provide some examples to substantiate either or both of these claims.

I don’t accept your view on regiments but as neither of us is privy to the discussions, we’ll have to let it lie.

Are you going to tell us how Carter will get employers to support his new paradigm because if he doesn’t it will be a failed paradigm.

X and Jim

2RRF incorporates the Lancashire Fusiliers and apparently circa 30% of recruits still come from Lancashire. So, I should have said substantially rather than predominantly.

According to a poster on ARRSE the Cheshires were over subscribed but as 1 Mercians have been bolstered in Afghan by a Gurkha support company.

Phil
July 13, 2012 8:10 pm

“You claim that Army 2020 is evidence based and incorporates lessons learnt. Any chance you might provide some examples to substantiate either or both of these claims.”

TD has posted a link, Agile Warrior. That is evidence of an evidenced based approach.

“What is the rationale for this change from less than 2 years ago?”

I have said, it is no longer assumed that the Army will be committed to a long term enduring operation. The ability to conduct one is retained but takes a back burner to contingent defence and deterrent.

“Are you going to tell us how Carter will get employers to support his new paradigm because if he doesn’t it will be a failed paradigm.”

I rang him but was told to piss off.

Phil
July 13, 2012 8:14 pm

“I believe that USA, France, Germany, Holland, Australia and Canada are putting their money where their potential rhetoric is in Afghanistan.”

What does this mean?

“What about maintenance, transport and fuel?”

Well exactly, you make his point for him. Infantry Brigade Groups would probably have had broadly the same logistical requirements, especially in food, water, fuel and artillery ammunition and other expendables.

“USA is investing in double V hulled Strykers, the Dutch and Germans are buying Boxer, the French VBCI, the Italians variants of the Centauro family and the Australians and Canadians have LAV”

And we will have Maistiff, Jackal and Foxhound. The only Army there to bin all its tracked vehicles I believe is the Netherlands but I might be mixing them up with Belgium. Anyway, the Dutch MBTs were officially binned for budgetary reasons, not doctrinal reasons.

Mike W
July 13, 2012 8:33 pm

@ChrisB

Thanks for your reply and comments on some of the shortcomings of wheeled vehicles – quite enlightening.

@Brian Black

“I don’t think there is a turning away from wheeled vehicles as far as the Americans are concerned.” Agreed.

“there were 100 Strykers in the US army’s 2012 budget, and 58 for 2013 – all NBC reconnaissance vehicles, all 158, which does put some perspective on our two NBC squadrons’ capability.”

Precisely. And we’ve even gone and retired the Fuchs! Bring it back or at least give it to the TA. They’ve handled it before.

Simon
July 13, 2012 8:49 pm

ACC,

Re: Wot? No hover tanks.

Trouble is we don’t seem to value copters as much as our American cousins. The lack of spots on our amphib fleet demonstrates this as does the recent media reports of “we need more copters” – and that was just for front line troops, not front line armour!

I know very little about our land forces but I must say they don’t look particularly well balanced… unless you strip out all the armour, then things looks a bit more sustainable.

Phil
July 13, 2012 8:57 pm

“unless you strip out all the armour, then things looks a bit more sustainable.”

Just like if you stripped out the radars from warships or combat aircraft.

The Army is there to fight. The new documents released over the last few weeks show this. It is also there to adapt to whatever is around the corner, which nobody knows. I believe it is balanced, we have a fighting division and a pool of adaptable and versatile forces.

As for helicopters. They are not a panacea. Against a peer enemy, using them anywhere near the FLET would be tremendously dangerous.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 13, 2012 9:51 pm

@ Simon,

“I know very little about our land forces but I must say they don’t look particularly well balanced… unless you strip out all the armour, then things looks a bit more sustainable.”

Where do you think the cost of land forces lies? In armour? Oh good grief. Here’s two little factoids: Bowman cost double the Challenger 2 buy, and WAH-64D cost nearly three times, and both cost nearly triple the annual sustainment cost of Challenger 2.

If you do some research, you’ll find that nearly all of your preconceptions are wrong. The cost of land forces is predominately in manpower, but that’s the price we pay because in end, it is individual men who do the dirty work. You’ll also find that the vast majority of campaigns are only carried to conclusion by putting men on the ground. That is not to denigrate the Andrew or the Kevins – they have vital roles to play, but very rarely do they close campaigns in our national favour by themselves.

After doing all of the usual cost saving measures to do with efficiency, if you still want to strip further cost out, start by designing ships so that the crews are smaller. Ditto for aircraft. Equip both with better smarter munitions that have the same effect as 2 of the previous generation. Cut any fat you find in the Army (there’s still lots). Retrain anyone competent as a fighting soldier, and post the sick lame and lazy to civvy street. But do not cut down the numbers of fighting men, because there is no substitute for them. That’s not an emotional view, it is a simple fact.

Phil
July 13, 2012 9:56 pm

“but very rarely do they close campaigns in our national favour by themselves.”

Oh dear here we go!

percontator
percontator
July 13, 2012 9:59 pm

Your resort to puerile sarcasm suggests that you are unable to muster any cogent arguments to substantiate your viewpoint.

Logistic Footprint

Are you really claiming that a tracked AFV will not require more maintenance, more fuel and additional transport than an equivalent wheeled AFV across a range of typical operations?

Wheeled AFVs

Please keep up. I have already said that I am not advocating going all wheeled,

Phil
July 13, 2012 10:03 pm

Ah here we go.

Point out my puerile sarcasm? If its the bit about what does this mean, it is because I genuinely haven’t a scoobies what you are talking about in that sentence.

“Are you really claiming that a tracked AFV will not require more maintenance, more fuel and additional transport than an equivalent wheeled AFV across a range of typical operations?”

Erm, I am saying that an MRB would use broadly the same amount of fuel, ammo and consumables as an armoured infantry brigade in a combat operation.

“Please keep up. I have already said that I am not advocating going all wheeled,”

Bless me.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 13, 2012 10:04 pm

Phil,

please find me enough examples of the Andrew or the Kevins closing campaigns in our national favour by themselves to prove my contention of “very rarely” wrong.

Point proven.

Phil
July 13, 2012 10:05 pm

RT,

I’m not arguing against you, we agree on this, I am just pointing out that that sentence dangles some bait and expect some bites!

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 13, 2012 10:16 pm

Phil, aaah, OK. you are on the correct team. Sorry for misinterpreting.

As for wheels against tracks, I’m agnostic. Whatever does the better job in the majority of likely circumstances. There’s a bit of a limit to wheels though in the MBT class – too much deadweight concentrated into only a few contact patches, and too much firing wobble unless you are firing from dead ahead.

percontator
percontator
July 13, 2012 10:39 pm

So sorry Phil.

I genuinely thought that when you claimed that you had phoned General Carter but was told to piss off that you were being sarcastic.

Once again my apologies,

Phil
July 13, 2012 10:54 pm

Oh that bit. Yes that was sarcasm. I’m not sure how you expect me to know the answer to your question when there is nothing in the public domain about it. Namely because no decisions seem to have been made.

Observer
Observer
July 14, 2012 12:35 am

Hmm… with all the wheels and tracks discussion, have anyone considered the experiences and utility of a very old wheeled system called the BRDM? OR the BTR? How did the Russians do with their wheeled vehicles in frontline combat, considering that these are frontline equipment (and even a bit ahead of front line in the case of the BRDM).

At this point in time, I think the UK has a very good opportunity to restructure their armed forces, not just prune the structure down to a leaner version of the old shape. It is a good time to take stock and see if new tech can be better used in different force structures and to adjust accordingly.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 14, 2012 3:29 am

@ percontator,

“Spares are only one element. What about maintenance, transport and fuel?”
— 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicles are not exactly Fiesta’s in terms of their fuel needs. They can be transported by road under their own power, but that’s still not ideal. And part of the reason for that is because of the maintenance issues. You’re talking about an 8×8 vehicle with multiple transmissions, diffs etc. The part count versus tracked vehicles is much higher. If you mix a formation up with mutliple types and sub-types of vehicles you’ll likely have more issues than just an all tracked brigade. Wheeled vehicles are not the panacea of low logistics that I think you think they are.

“USA is investing in double V hulled Strykers, the Dutch and Germans are buying Boxer, the French VBCI, the Italians variants of the Centauro family and the Australians and Canadians have LAV”
— The US is filling out its previous orders of Strykers, and giving them to previously pure infantry regiments or Hummer mounted scouts. They still plan on purchasing large numbers of armoured, tracked vehicles to replace the Bradley in time. The Dutch are buying CV90 and I forget what the German tracked vehicle is now. The French are indeed buying VBCI, but not as a replacement for tracked vehicles. The Italians are buying Centauro as a kind of scout, but their needs are slightly different from ours (they don’t seem to do much day one line crossing cavalry actions, lets put it that way).

The Australians I’m not sure about, but the Canadians are the worst example you could possibly have brought up. At one point they were considering divesting themselves of all tanks and replacing them with the MGS version of Stryker, along with all Stryker vehicles for their protected mobility needs.

Then they took their LAV III’s to Afghanistan.

And now they seem quite content again with Leopards and plans to purchase tracked vehicles in the future. Why? Because the LAV III proved to be a bloody nightmare in Afghanistan. Mobility and maintenance not quite being what they were cracked up to be, with almost one third of the fleet ending up in an unusable condition.

Note that the Canadians plan to spend about $1billion on upgrades to their LAV III’s, while planning on spending $4 billion on something like CV90 or Puma (The German option!).

I’m not saying wheeled vehicles are trash, but much of the early high optimisim about how they were going to be super efficient, super reliable and replace all tracks is starting to melt away. Generally speaking armies are only purchasing 8×8 wheeled vehicles to replace things like HMMWV, Saxon, Bushmaster and other previous light wheeled vehicles, to give them a little more protection and a little more firepower.

Tracked, properly armoured IFV’s are here to stay fella and increasingly everyone is investing in new designs. The emphasis for the future is that the tracked IFV still has pride of place.

@ Mike W,
— Not a problem

Obsvr
Obsvr
July 14, 2012 5:46 am

@ wf @ td

I seem to remember that Excalibur was cleared for AS90 firing about a year ago. Whether or not it is worth the bother, given GMLRS, is a matter of opinion, and I’ve no idea what lead time is like if you wanted some in a hurry. But there’s also things like Smart155 and BONUS which are potentially very bad news for all AFVs if they become widespread (although stationary ones may be able to use concealment in buildings).

UK seems(?) to have cancelled the order for Smart155 and again production lead time is a good question. It’s an interesting point, UK adopting armd inf bdes as the primary fmn type, implying a role for armour, but apparantly dropping the order for one of the most effective anti-armour wpns (because it can start attrition of armour 20km out, long before they hove into view).

Greater use of precision munitions should mean less need for area fire and hence less ammo carried.

That said precision munitions like Excalibur need precise targets and mensuration. There will be a need for area fire for the foreseeable future because not all target areas can be reduced to a set of precise point targets. Then there’s suppressive fire, which by definition has to be delivered continuously for a period of time and doesn’t need to be precise. Add to this things like smoke (a form of suppression) and black light illum which can go on for while (I once fired 360 rds of white illum in one mission of about an hour, that got the gun end rushing around to find enough ammo! – but it made the cav customer feel safer). And we musn’t forget the possible emergence of bomblet shells carrying a small number of largish well fuzed sub-munitions (ie treaty compliant).

percontator
percontator
July 14, 2012 9:59 pm

There would seem to be no meeting of minds between us on this issue so perhaps it’s better to let it lie.

@TD

I am not so much concerned with the buzzwords as in the tools provided for implementation.

The model of the homogeneous brigades with heavy, medium and light elements and with CS and CSS units as brigade assets rather than divisional assets was developed over a number of years. Indeed it was General Richards before his promotion to CDS who said that the army would be moving to an mainly medium force whilst of course retaining some heavy and light elements.

This approach has been abandoned in the year and a half or so since SDSR 2010 and despite Phil’s best efforts the reasons for the change, at least to my mind, have not been made clear.

You refer to external influences, politics, budgets and the Afghan operations. These would however apply equally to any model. The army will have withdrawn from Afghan before Army 2020 is established anyway and as for budgetary restrictions, they would only determine the outcome if the new approach was somehow cheaper or more cost effective than that proposed in SDSR 2010.

It may indeed be competent, intelligent and well thought through, but to what end. It is clearly an attempt to preserve the status quo and to park the reserves on one side so that the “real army” (RF) does not have to concern itself with them.

An additional issue with the reserve is that Army 2020 envisages them deploying as whole units up to company or even battalion level. This is a step change with serious implications for the level and amount of training required.

Wheels v Tracks

I claim no expertise in this matter. I merely point out that the British army is out of step with all of its key allies.

On the subject of logistic footprint, I hesitate to cross swords with you regarding your own blog, but it is my recollection that when you suggested in an earlier post (sometime last year?) that modern 8x8s imposed a greater maintenance burden than tracked vehicles (complete with a diagram of an H type transmission) you were swiftly corrected by a poster who did possess the relevant expertise.

I am not proposing that wheels completely replace tracks rather a reversal of the ratios espoused by Army 2020. So, for the sake of the argument, an AI/Mech brigade would have 1x WR battalion plus 2x wheeled battalions rather than the reverse. In addition the recce regiment would be equipped with a mix of tracks and wheels. This would be funded through the abandonment of the FRES Scout programme. So far as funds will allow, the work done on development of Scout (e.g. power pack and band tracks) could be incorporated into a more comprehensive WR upgrade.

B

Please see my reply to TD above.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 14, 2012 10:20 pm

@ Percontator,

As with all things in life, much depends on the details. Certain vehicles have greater maintenance loads than others, often for reasons that are not immediately obvious to look at.

Generally wheeled aromoured vehicles have lower maintenance requirements than tracks in their basic format. But the difference is currently very over stated by some. The difference between an 8×8 and a tracked IFV will not be much, due to the greater complexity of the 8×8 drive train. Even if there is nothing ostensibly wrong with it, merely inspecting it takes considerably longer.

Now these vehicles are often designed for a basic weight, usually in their APC capacity, that is without a turret and additional armour. As soon as you start packing that on to bring them up to the needed spec for modern operations, all of a sudden they’re making the tracked vehicles look positively light maintenance by comparison.

As I said, look at the Canadians struggles.

As for “I merely point out that the British army is out of step with all of its key allies” I don’t understand how you come to this conclusion?

All of Britains key allies, the US and Canada prime among then, are all thinking the same way as us. They’re all investing in the future of their tracked fleets. They, like us, seem to be looking at wheeled vehicles as ancillary units, designed to support the main spearhead with “protected mobility”.

We’re not out of step with anyone. We all appear to be singing from the same hymn sheet.

percontator
percontator
July 16, 2012 8:07 pm

B

Tracks v wheels was comprehensively debated in The Future of The British Army 08 which was posted 12 months ago. A thread in which your posts featured prominently. I’m not going to indulge you with a rerun.

As far as I am aware the UK is the only major NATO country not to field a 6×6 or 8×8 AFV – the British Army is out of step.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 16, 2012 8:47 pm

“Tracks v wheels was comprehensively debated in The Future of The British Army 08 which was posted 12 months ago. A thread in which your posts featured prominently. I’m not going to indulge you with a rerun”
— Erm, I only posted once in that thread. Wrong thread?

“As far as I am aware the UK is the only major NATO country not to field a 6×6 or 8×8 AFV – the British Army is out of step”
— What’s Mastiff then?

I notice you took the rather sly route of specifying 6×6 or 8×8, and not 4×4. Otherwise that would have captured Saxon and Foxhound and we’d have been back in step. Not that being in step with everyone else is especially important. What matters is that we have what we need, not keeping up with the Jones’s.

And again, you’re getting tied down to the idea of having certain types of APC. All that matters is that you have tracked IFV’s, which are supposed to work with the tanks, and then you have wheeled APC’s, which are the mobile/motorised infantry. Whether they travel in Boxer, LAV III, VBCI, Saxon, Mastiff, Foxhound or whatever is of little consequence.

The role matters more than the specific nature of the vehicle. We, like everyone else, have/will have armoured infantry and motorised infantry.

Sean G
Sean G
July 18, 2012 8:35 pm

Having looked at Army 2020 I wonder where it leaves Catterick Garrison. It is home to 9 Regiments/Battalions and 3 battalions at the Infantry Training Centre. Yet Army 2020 recommends that only one ‘Adaptive Force’ Brigade be based in the north east, an area from the Scottish border to Sheffield. In the past 10 years the MOD has spent hundreds of millions of pounds building and updating the garrison and its facilities and later this year work begins on a town centre of twenty retail and leisure units.
So after all this investment is the garrison in danger of become an Army backwater. With the MOD’s track record this is highly likely.

Obsvr
Obsvr
July 28, 2012 8:17 am

More information is coming to hand. It won’t be until the end of the year that the basing plan in finished, and the TA unit roles can’t be finalised until the regular army basing is worked out because ‘pairing’ can’t work unless the TA unit is in reasonable proximity to its regular pair. From what’s been announced about regular basing I reckon that some TA are going to be changing cap badges. The training organisation also has yet to be reviewed, again late 2012 is the timescale.

The high readiness divisional HQ is being structured to deploy with any combination of HRF/RF bdes. The low readiness div HQ is mainly concerned with force generation, particularly the 2 AF bdes that are slotted for the 4th and 5th roulements of an enduring operation (the 3 armd inf bdes being responsible for the first 3 roulements).

The army’s support to 3 Cde Bde is reducing, 29 Cdo Regt RA is reducing to 2 gun btys (from 3) and disbanding their AO bty, and unlike other HRF/HR bdes isn’t getting a Tac Pty Bty. While RM have have had their own RM Close AD tp for years, unlike army HR bdes they aren’t being assigned any STA or UAS btys, obviously they’re going to have to make their own arrangements.

16 AA Bde is also being reduced to 2 gun btys, but they get a Tac Pty Bty and assigned CAD, MUAS and STA btys. The Armd Inf Bdes keep 3 AS90 btys (but only 6 guns), have a MLRS bty added which has a full tac group unlike at present, and have a Tac Pty Bty. This means there are 5 tac pty groups for the bde (ie one for each manouvre unit, most significantly each group will be the BC pty and 4 full FST (each including a TACP, FAC, and JFC as well as RA observers & comms). It appears that while the gun groups will be 12% reservists/TA, the tac groups will be all regular. Having 4 FSTs per manouvre unit is at least 60 years overdue. Each of these bdes also has an assigned CAD (HVM) bty, STA bty and UAS bty (with both MUAS and TUAS and tactical parties).

UAS btys are provided for 2 AF bdes, but with a greater res/TA component. The 2 reg AF RA regts will probably be light gun but this isn’t yet certain.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 28, 2012 8:43 am

Hi Obsvr,

Interesting information, thanks.

I thought all the tracked units RE ” Each of these bdes also has an assigned CAD (HVM) bty” are stored? Are going to be dusted off, or is the wheeled alternative going to be more widely used? Surely not the man-portable alternative…

Mike W
July 28, 2012 12:34 pm

“16 AA Bde is also being reduced to 2 gun btys …” Does that mean that they will be enlarged batteries then? I thought that the arrangement on full mobilisation was four batteries, each of two troops, with three fire units (launchers) per troop. That would have meant 24 fire units in the whole Regiment. Is there stilll a TA Rapier unit?

I would also, if you have time, an answer to ACC’s question as to whether the the HVM battery assigned to each of the Armoured Infantry Brigades will be equipped with the Stormer SP version.

percontator
percontator
July 30, 2012 9:41 pm

B

Mastiff is an MRAP not an AFV and I’m quite sure you know the difference.

As for being sly (have I upset you in some way?) – Saxon (which is out of service) or Foxhound are adequate alternatives to Boxer or VBCI? Really???

Just to reinforce my comment about the British Army being out of step –

2 recent postings from buglerbilly on The Fifthcolumn:

Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) III Upgrade Project

(Source: Canadian Department of National Defence; issued July 17, 2012)

The recent experiences of the Canadian Forces and our allies in Afghanistan and other operational theatres continue to demonstrate the ongoing requirement for a highly protected, yet highly mobile Light-Armoured Vehicle. The use of mines, improvised explosive devices (IEDs) and anti-armour weapons has become more prevalent, posing a greater risk to personnel.

The LAV III Upgrade project will capitalize on existing and evolving technology to improve the protection, mobility and lethality of the LAV III fleet. The project will modernize a portion of the existing LAV III fleet to ensure it remains a highly protected, operationally mobile and tactically agile combat vehicle that will remain the backbone of domestic and expeditionary task forces, extending the life span of the LAV III to 2035.

The following upgrades will be performed on the LAV III:

• Upgrade of mobility systems such as powertrain, suspension, running gear and brakes;

• Upgrade of the weapon system; and

• Installation of additional armour, heightening its protection against increased threats.

The LAV III Upgrade project will upgrade 550 vehicles with an option for an additional 80. Initial operational capability is scheduled for 2013.

In October 2011, the Government of Canada announced a $1.064 billion contract, awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada (GDLS–C) of London, Ontario, for the implementation phase of the LAV III UP project. This phase consists of upgrades to the mobility systems, the weapon system, and installing additional armour and improved seating, strengthening its protection against increased threats.

Russian Army to Switch to Wheeled Armoured Vehicles

(Source: RIA Novosti; published July 16, 2012)

MOSCOW — The Russian Defense Ministry has decided to equip the Ground Forces mostly with wheeled rather than tracked armoured vehicles, GF commander Col. Gen. Vladimir Chirkin said on Monday.

“The Defense Ministry has decided to replace the majority of tracked armoured vehicles with wheeled vehicles,” Chirkin said. “We will soon start R&D work on the development of wheeled vehicles.”

The general said the replacement will involve self-propelled guns, air defense systems and light tanks.

One of the main reasons for the replacement is the longer service life of the wheeled vehicles, he said.

“The service life of the tracked vehicles until a major overhaul is up to 30,000 kilometers while that of the wheeled vehicles is up to 1 million kilometers,” Chirkin said.

Wheeled vehicles will also allow the military to minimize railroad transport during redeployment.

Russia signed a deal with Italy’s Iveco company last December on the semi-knocked down assembly of Lynx light multirole armored vehicles for the Russian Ground Forces in the central Russia city of Voronezh.

In addition, Russia is currently working with France on the development of armoured vehicles with a French wheeled base but equipped with Russian weapons and Russian turrets.

Informative post – thanks

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 30, 2012 10:21 pm

@ Percontator,

“Mastiff is an MRAP not an AFV and I’m quite sure you know the difference.”
— Well technically speaking Mastiff is armoured and you can fight from it, so under a broad definition it would count as an AFV.

“As for being sly (have I upset you in some way?) – Saxon (which is out of service) or Foxhound are adequate alternatives to Boxer or VBCI? Really???”
— I didn’t say they were. You’re putting words into my mouth that I didn’t say. You were complaining about a lack of wheeled vehicles, I merely made the point that you excluded (slyly) 4×4 vehicles because if you had it would have captured Foxhound and Saxon. Saxon is out of servie, but surely that means we’re forward thinking, what with us having been employing wheeled vehicles for so long?

The Canadian LAV upgrade program is little more than a cost saving measure. They have them, so they’re going to upgrade them. Reports from the frontline are that soldiers are not overly keen on them. Besides, Canada is planning to purchase a tracked vehicle as its main IFV, so your point doesn’t make a lot of sense.

As for the Russian example, read what you quoted again. A self propelled howitzer, an AD version and a light tank. Nowhere does it say IFV which is supposedly where the UK is out of step.

Besides, I still don’t understand your obsession with the UK being “out of step”? Presuming we were, and to be honest nobody is really doing anything revolutionary that we’re not, why do you even care? The Dutch have ditched all their MBT’s, should we do the same so we can stay “in step”? A lot of countries have bought the US AEGIS system for their warships, so should we do the same so we can stay “in step”?

It’s not about what everyone else is doing. We don’t put firing ports on our IFV’s because doctrinally we look at them differently to other people. You should be less concerned with keeping up with the Jones’s and more concerned with what is best for UK plc.

I suspect you just have a fetish for wheeled IFV’s. If so, fine, but “we should but xyz because I think it looks cool” is not a sound basis for procurement strategy.

We don’t have a need for a 20 ton wheeled IFV. We have Warrior which is a better IFV for armoured infantry, and then we have things like Foxhound which is a better vehicle for peace roles and for mechanised/mobile/whatever-you-want-to-call-them infantry that don’t need a full on IFV.

Vehicles like the VBCI and Boxer are compromises in all the wrong places.

Phil
July 30, 2012 10:43 pm

Chaaaange. Step!

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 30, 2012 11:25 pm

TD,

re basing around Salisbury Plain,

topic of a (pretty uninformed) debate a week or so ago around a dinner table.

You can get a Brigade and Div HQ and associated Signals into Tidworth fairly easily. There’s already a Sapper regiment at Perham Down. We thought that Bulford “might” take a Brigade without any CS or CSS, and Warminster a couple of BGs. That leaves you two half Brigades to squeeze in somewhere, plus the affiliated CS and CSS units. Larkhill could easily take a Brigade, but is full of Gunners. Wilton is being handed back, Boscombe Down is full of Kevins, Upavon pointy heads, and Porton Down full of bacteria. Upavon is probably fairly easy to clear – the pointy heads want to be in Shrivenham anyway. You’ve got some space at Netheravon, lots of runways and grass at Middle Wallop, and you can scrape the barrel with Rolleston and the other temporary camps, but it’s all looking a bit tight. We thought building is going to be needed, or lots of moving of training schools. You can imagine the wailing if you tell the Gunners in Larkhill to sod off to somewhere in the Midlands or west Wales because their camps are needed for proper soldiers the Field Army.

The real problem is not so much the military units – you could possibly find them all room somewhere, and tank parks are pretty cheap to build if you have some flat land. It’s the quarters and the schools and the rest of the civvy infrastructure that’s an issue. A formed Division is about 16,000 strong, 30,000 with families. Currently the Plain accommodates about 10,000, many of whom are young singlies in barrack blocks, with families accommodation for about another 7-10,000.

(Hmm – buy land on the edge of Bulford or Warminster, assuming a future purchase for more service quarters….)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 31, 2012 2:12 am

TD,

full of Kevins (and US Kevins). And flat, which is good for runways and for aerial access to Berlin. The Forces’ geographical spread in the country appears to have been set in stone on WW2. Army south-ish, being initially a stop/block to the Wehrmacht Operation Sealion posture, then later not too far from D-Day embarkation points. Kevins in the east, for Battle of Britain purposes and later access to ball-bearing factories, and in Cold War days not so far from marauding Bears that navigation and getting lost would become embarrassing. The Andrew on the edge, because they are bugger all use in Leicestershire (and even then, “the edge” is south west so they can get out into Atlantic gales quickly, or Scotland so that they can replay Jutland with ease). Royal does his own thing in Scotland, because it is like Norway. Even retirement follows the same pattern. Where I live in Cambridgeshire I’m very unusual, because it’s mostly all retired Kevins. It’s only in Wiltshire that I feel really comfortable.

Oddly, researching some family history at the moment, and a great uncle who was in 11 Sqn RFC, who it seems are now XI Sqn RAF and Typhoon equipped. They’ve moved from Norwich to Coningsby in 96 years, which is not that far. At least he was in a proper Flying Corps and did not have to call himself Kevin. The photograph we have of him leaning up against his FE2B biplane at the aerodrome in Savy-Berlette also does not show him in man-made fibres – he’s wearing a flying coat that appears to require several dead cows to produce, and a moustache that must have taken several years to grow. Two VCs in his Squadron in less than a year, so great credit to the boys. God rest Great Uncle Harry, shot down over the Somme. He’s also commemorated on no less than 3 war memorials in Sussex, London and Cambridge – not quite sure how that happens, but I’d hope it’s a reflection of his social life and several girlfriends at a memorial service all trying to pretend that he nearly married them.

(I do jest. Nothing finer than the officers and airmen of XI Squadron. Almost honorary soldiers)

Jim
Jim
July 31, 2012 7:18 am

Re the armoured brigade postings – is Catterick not already equipped to host an armoured brigade? I know its a long was from the plain but there are some training areas oop north.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 31, 2012 8:48 am

Great post, percontator

Russians have always been good at maths “One of the main reasons for the replacement is the longer service life of the wheeled vehicles, he said.

“The service life of the tracked vehicles until a major overhaul is up to 30,000 kilometers while that of the wheeled vehicles is up to 1 million kilometers,” Chirkin said.

Wheeled vehicles will also allow the military to minimize railroad transport during redeployment” and are relatively short of railways, especially on those borders where the next deployments are most likely.

Just to add to your snippets:
– Centauro2’s are going through field tests with 4 different guns, including the 120mm that the Italian are going to upgrade to and the 125 on current Russian MBTs
– have also sought political clearance for 500 wheeled AMOS units (the similar systems there are currently on tracks, and the BTR80/90 project for this type of use is rumoured to have proved unsatisfactory)

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 31, 2012 8:57 am

Chris, RE “As for the Russian example, read what you quoted again. A self propelled howitzer, an AD version and a light tank. Nowhere does it say IFV which is supposedly where the UK is out of step.”
– translations can play havoc on nuances: the quote says SP guns, you say SP howitzer, the Russians are keen on howitzer-guns, and indeed, they count mortars from 100 mm up as artillery
– light tank to us is something else than a Centauro 2 “tank-killer” [on wheels, but the header for the article clarifies this part of it] even though it can perfectly well be in a recce overwatch duty as we normally see light tanks being tasked. Remember, in Russia they used to count car production by weight, not by units coming off the line

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 31, 2012 9:01 am

And why is the IFV mention missing?
– have a look how many BTR-80/90s are there already
– perfectly good ( but, still, the extensive testing of four 90s gave birth to developing something better, namely the AMV)

percontator
percontator
July 31, 2012 12:27 pm

@TD

I think we may be in agreement on this. As I posted earlier:

I am not proposing that wheels completely replace tracks rather a reversal of the ratios espoused by Army 2020. So, for the sake of the argument, an AI/Mech brigade would have 1x WR battalion plus 2x wheeled battalions rather than the reverse. In addition the recce regiment would be equipped with a mix of tracks and wheels. This would be funded through the abandonment of the FRES Scout programme. So far as funds will allow, the work done on development of Scout (e.g. power pack and band tracks) could be incorporated into a more comprehensive WR upgrade.

Thanks.

B

Why do you feel the need to descend to insult and misrepresentation of my argument in order to try to make your point? (To help you out I have repeated my argument above).

The Canadian Department of National Defence says LAV 111 will remain the backbone of domestic and expeditionary task forces.You claim that Canada is planning to purchase a tracked vehicle as its main IFV. Can you provide some details? Will it be complimentary to LAV111 or a replacement?

I note that as well as some guff about my “obsession” and “fetish” you also advance the following views:
– Mastiff is an AFV
– the employment of Saxon represented forward thinking
– Vehicles like the VBCI and Boxer are compromises in all the wrong places.

I could ask you to expand and clarify those views but life’s too short.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 31, 2012 1:36 pm

@ Percontator,
“Why do you feel the need to descend to insult and misrepresentation of my argument in order to try to make your point?”
— But you feel it acceptable to misrepresent my arguments? Please show me, as I did for you, where you feel I have misrepresented you.

“.You claim that Canada is planning to purchase a tracked vehicle as its main IFV. Can you provide some details? Will it be complimentary to LAV111 or a replacement?”
— Here, have a fun read; http://www.defenseindustrydaily.com/Canada-Looks-to-Upgrade-Its-Armor-in-Afghanistan-05190/

The long and short of it is that the LAV III is shite, and largely inadequate for Canada’s needs, thus they’re looking to buy something more capable in terms of off road mobility to be their primary IFV.

I suspect the only reason they’re keeping the LAV III’s is because it’s cheaper to have them overhauled than it is to go out and buy a massive new fleet of APC’s.

“I note that as well as some guff about my “obsession” and “fetish” you also advance the following views: – Mastiff is an AFV, – the employment of Saxon represented forward thinking, – Vehicles like the VBCI and Boxer are compromises in all the wrong places. I could ask you to expand and clarify those views but life’s too short,”
— Well I have the time so why not.

As I said about Mastiff, “technically speaking” it is an AFV. It’s armoured and you can mount weapons to it to allow you to fight from it. It’s not what you would call an IFV, but then you should have used that acronym and not AFV. Maybe a little cheeky, but ultimately true.

As for Saxon, your contention is that the UK is out of step with the rest of the world for not employing wheeled vehicles as troop transports. I point you to Saxon. Given how long ago that entered service surely that makes us pioneering, forward thinkers of western mobility? Or were we still out of step because we went too early?

VBCI and Boxer (sorry TD) are compromises in all the wrong places because their basic level of protection is insufficient to stand up to autocannon fire from vehicles like the BMP. To achieve that level of protection you have to pile on additional armour, which will compromise there already shoddy mobility.

So, the argument then arises that you don’t use them in the armoured infantry role, but for follow on forces instead that are more likely to stick to roads. Well in that case you don’t need a turreted, 8×8 vehicle, you need something simpler like a 4×4 vehicle such as Foxhound, Saxon or something of that design, which is lighter, faster and easier to maintain.

The 8×8 is a medium vehicle that appears to be the perfect mix of all the negative qualities of tracked IFV’s combined with the negative qualities of wheeled 4×4’s.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 31, 2012 4:38 pm

Hi Chris,

When the UV gets reopened for offers around 2016 (ISD whenever), what do you think we should get?
– a budget RG?
– an all-round AMV, appr. $ 2m before the extras
– a Stryker, the latest (with extras)come at around $ 3.7m
– some short production run special, like the Freccia at $ 5m

let’s talk about the price point, rather than being dogmatic (what ever mix; any one of them could be perfect for specific circumstances)?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 31, 2012 4:57 pm

@ ACC,

Depends. Do we have a final(ish) list of what roles the UV is designed to cover? The RG-35 for example has many, many variants proposed, but how many of them do we actually need? Do they cover everything we want from the UV program?

percontator
percontator
July 31, 2012 5:37 pm

Apparently, as well as Canada, the US also believes it is worthwhile to continue to invest in 8×8 AFVs.

From defense-aerospace

(Source: US Army; issued July 30, 2012)
WASHINGTON — Army engineers are designing and implementing important Stryker vehicles upgrades. The efforts are focused on technologies that will provide the platform a stronger engine, improved suspension, more on-board electrical power and next-generation networking and computing technology.

The Army’s more than 4,187 Stryker fleet includes 10 variants of the flat-bottom platform and an additional seven variants of the double V-hull design. The Stryker fleet continues to maintain an overall readiness availability rate of more than 96 percent in Afghanistan and throughout that region, Army officials said.

“We’re taking a leap forward to bring this platform to where it will benefit the Army for years to come,” said Steven Campbell, Army systems coordinator, Stryker.

Phil
July 31, 2012 5:41 pm

Are we not intending to purchase rather a lot of FRES UV wheeled vehicles anyway?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
July 31, 2012 5:54 pm

@ Percontator,

And? What do you expect them to do, just ditch over 4,000 vehicles and start all over again? I’m sure that would go down well. Besides, The US is still going to invest a lot of money in a new tracked IFV to replace the Bradley.

Again, I don’t get your point? I don’t get why you’re so concerned with what everyone else is doing, especially as there’s a difference between things like Stryker and a VBCI.

You seem to have this idea that the UK should be buying hoardes of wheeled 8×8 vehicles, but you don’t seem to really know why or what role they will fill. You just want them. Predominantly, it would seem, because other people have bought some.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 31, 2012 6:00 pm

Phil, yes

Chris & percontator,

Don’t know about RG, nor the requirements (hopefully, this time around, they will be better articulated, or maybe they were well articulated before, but not well attached to reality).
– just to note about the Stryker evolution that the V-hull cannot incorporate the needs of the fire support variant… and without that one, an all-Stryker formation is a bit neutered

percontator
percontator
July 31, 2012 7:24 pm

Are you confident we’ll have any money left in the kitty after upgrade of Warrior, refurb of ex-Afghan kit and splurging on FRES SV?

Phil
July 31, 2012 7:38 pm

Do I look like an accountant?!

No idea. Maybe. Or maybe not. As I understand it, FRES UV is programmed into the next 10 year budget.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
July 31, 2012 7:51 pm

Was there a question mark at the end… for sarcasm, it is on a different page, so too much to go back and check, ANYWAY
“any money left in the kitty after upgrade of Warrior, refurb of ex-Afghan kit and splurging on FRES SV?”
-it was a bn for the Warriors, but
–not only for the turreted versions
— also the base upgrade for about the same number in other uses
– another bn for 250 x £4m SVs, most of the half bn to get to the build has been spent already, so not to be counted?

Out of the £10 bn armour budget for the next ten years, we have 7.5-8 left, I am sure the extra 100 Ocelots ordered count towards that, but 100 x .9m is only a piddly sum (and the price must -? – go down with longer production runs)

percontator
percontator
July 31, 2012 7:53 pm

I’ve no idea what you look like.

You’d have to post a photo if you want an answer to that.

x
x
July 31, 2012 8:08 pm

I like to think Phil posts from a sangar in his back garden. :)

John Hartley
John Hartley
July 31, 2012 8:26 pm

By 2015 the world will be bankrupt. War will break out. Thanks to global defence cuts, this will consist of throwing rocks at each other, plus rude remarks on the internet. Some of you are already in training.

Phil
July 31, 2012 9:03 pm

“You’d have to post a photo if you want an answer to that.”

Why would you do that to yourself?

percontator
percontator
July 31, 2012 9:18 pm

Just trying to be helpful!

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 31, 2012 9:50 pm

” Thanks to global defence cuts, this will consist of throwing rocks at each other, plus rude remarks on the internet. Some of you are already in training.”

Troll for Peace!

http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2012/07/counterterrorism-trolls/all/

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 31, 2012 9:53 pm

@ ACC / Phil / X / Percontator / Any other accountant-minded commenters of FRES SV.

Chenowth Desert Strike Vehicle. It’s only about $100,000 a copy (although Abbey Wood can easily make that triple the cost in UK-specific obblocks), and is the dog’s nuts. Sod the protection, just feel the stealth.

I drove one across Salisbury Plain from Imber to Tidworth with a caretaker USN Petty Officer in the passenger seat. 48 minutes, about half an hour quicker than a Scimitar from the Warminster BG managed, a quarter of the volume in decibels. And you get serious airtime and bouncy fun in the 2nd/3rd gear ratio on muddy tracks. You can mount whatever you want pretty much on the 270 degree ring – needs a WMIK mount to make it truly usable.

wf
wf
July 31, 2012 10:16 pm

@Red Trousers: does it have room for a filly in the back?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 31, 2012 10:36 pm

@ wf,

get with the programme. Under the modern multi-kulti army, I’m expecting a filly to be commanding the thing, to go balls out (not that she could, by definition) cross-country, and then give the driver a seriously hard time about route selection. A half tonne lump of horseflesh on a trailer whose only use is on a polo field or possibly trotting out with the paramilitary wing of the London Tourist Board is hardly going to be an advantage.

I’m seriously hoping that young Ms RT is going to drop the nonsense about wanting to be a vet, an actress, an “activist” (FFS where do young 13 year olds get these ideas from? I wanted to be a recce officer when I was 13, and that’s exactly what I did), and join the old mob as the first female combat officer. And then to win the trophy as the best Troop Leader (modesty forbids a recap on who else won that). And to beat the boys hands down at the recce game. And to then surpass the old man by being the first female CO of a combat unit in the Army.

Young Master RT has a different future in store. He’s going to be better than Jonny Wilkinson. He’s only 6, but playing mini-touch rugby with the 8 year olds. Sod the Army game for him.

(Truth is, both of the young sods will do precisely what they wish to, I’ll spend my declining years wondering what could have been, and my last few dependent years being grateful that they did what they wanted to and are happy, at least I hope.)

Tubby
Tubby
August 1, 2012 6:51 am

What are the chances that FRES UV will be basically a new generation/evolved Mastiff with upgraded chassis (as I have heard that the chassis is not strong enough to take the extra armour), available in a few different versions?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 1, 2012 7:28 am

Tubby, zilch, I would say.

In one of these Parliamentary committee hearings the army bloke was labouring the point why they cannot be considered to be suitable for a manoeuvre unit (i.e are not IFVs, even though they belong to the broad AFV family).

Swimming Trunks, from the link you provided:
“The CV90 is popular in the Nordic region with Sweden, Denmark and Finland all having a fleet of the vehicles. Switzerland and The Netherlands have also selected the CV90. ”
– it is really the only tracked vehicle in its weight/ protection class that is suitable for recce in the Nordic terrains
– e.g. BMP1s (when they were still in use) were all withdrawn for use only in the southern part of Finland, whereas the recce company of a brigade that is altogether on band-tracked vehicles (save for artillery)for x-country mobility still has CV90s as their kit

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 1, 2012 8:27 am

@ ACC – been a fan of the CV90 for awhile. Looks like a well balanced design to my civvy eyes.

Mike W
August 1, 2012 4:19 pm

@Red Trousers

“Chenowth Desert Strike Vehicle. It’s only about $100,000 a copy.”

I just wondered how robust such LSV vehices are, though, for things such as helicopter work. I think the old 24 Airmobile Brigade had some LSVs bought for them some years ago (I believe they were called Longline LSVs). They were withdrawn after a short time because they were not sturdy enough for the aforesaid heli work. Aren’t such vehicles more suited to the Special Forces domain rather than being “mainstream”?

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
August 1, 2012 5:50 pm

Hi Mike, is that (above) code, for
– ride it once
– torch it
-take the men back?

I would quite agree, btw, @ $100k a copy…was it 60 k for one Javelin?

Also, in the US the classification is “internal to helo”
– here on TD we have seen photos of the domestic product, doing the same (with a bit of kneeling, helped by special suspension)
– so maybe they went out, not because of defects, but for other reasons?

Mike W
August 1, 2012 6:34 pm

“Hi Mike, is that (above) code, for
– ride it once
– torch it
-take the men back?”

Yes, it probably is. In a good number of circumstances, anyway. Depends largely on the strength of the opposition, I suppose, but I would not really like to pronounce on Special Forces’ tactics.

In answer to your second question: “so maybe they went out, not because of defects, but for other reasons?”, I can only quote a Captain in 24 Airmobile Bde I was speaking to years ago, who told me that lack of robustness was the reason they were being withdrawn. I think they were looking at the German Kraka airmobile vehicle as a replacement but that was a long time ago and that vehicle seems to have disappeared from the scene.

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
August 1, 2012 7:50 pm
Mike W
August 1, 2012 8:18 pm

@Swimming Trunks

Yes, I supppose that, if ever the British Army were to go for an LSV, the Spider would be a very strong candidate. However, if memory serves me correctly, didn’t it have a very unfortunate accident at a main military show about a year ago? (being driven very fast, I think).