The UOR Crutch

There is no doubt that the Urgent Operational Requirement system has provided a wide range of operationally essential equipment in the last decade or more of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. It is a system that although established well before those two operations has seen significantly greater use recently.

On one hand, the system works most of the time but on the other, it has masked a wider problem with both operational analysis driven requirements generation and logistics and support.

Politicians, the MoD and the senior grown ups in the three services, publicly at least, never voice any criticism of the UOR system.

The odd failure like those gucci ladders and the Springer for example, don’t detract from what has broadly been a success.

With every plus though, there is a minus, or in this case, several.

Recent Parliamentary Answers have indicated that the vast majority of equipment will be coming back from Afghanistan. This means space has to be found, equipment inspected and overhauled, training packages and logistic support arrangements formlalised, modifications made (for cold weather for example) and force structures inevitably built around equipment availability.

This is only a small problem, the bigger problem the UOR has created has two sides.

First, is the myth that the equipment that has been purchased was a result of unforeseen circumstances.

I find this claim completely laughable and it lets the MoD and Senior Officers completely off the hook. Whilst creating a UoR for a newly developed field dressing might be wholly justified the cause celeb of the UoR, the Protected Patrol Vehicle, is a capability that the British Armed Forces have repeatedly needed, repeatedly urgently fielded and repeatedly dumped soon after.
Although the Foxhound, some ten years late, is a great example of the Army finally taking the IED threat seriously, how many lives and how much money has it taken to deliver a vehicle into the core equipment programme that is fit for the vast majority of operations it has and will be engaged in?

It if frankly ludicrous to suggest the Army was unable to foresee the IED threat and equip for it, or foresee a need for a vehicle to move supplies to and from a helicopter landing site because it had, had obtained such equipment but then discarded it.

Operational analysis should be a simple affair, we have faced IED’s and mines in pretty much every campaign the Army has been involved with post war, whoever would have thought they would be found in Iraq and Afghanistan!!

Second, in accepting Number 1, it allows the MoD to have an equipment plan predicated upon having gaps and holes that can be filled with future UoR’s for some future operation.

It will result in a hollow force that is not equipped to fight likely operations but instead having to rely on the good graces of the defence industry having a range of suitable equipment sitting on their very expensive shelves ready for when Uncle Treasury Reserve pays a visit with his credit card.

The practical outcome of this is very simple.

If the MoD is allowed to rely too heavily on future UoR’s the likelihood of placing under equipped service personnel into harms way in some future operation becomes very high.

There will be a temptation to think of capability as a game of two halves, except it won’t be an equal division of funding. Instead, we will find the very expensive major capital projects taking an increasingly larger slice of the equipment budget as lucrative defence industry jobs for senior officers inevitably distort the prioritisation process.

Capabilities that can be fulfilled within months will be shuffled down the pecking order thus creating a training and support deficit in addition to the inevitable fielding gap, time delays that will cost personnel lives and limbs.

It is the role of the political leadership at the MoD and Treasury to stop this over reliance on future UoR funding.

The armed forces have to be ready to fight, not in a while.

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March 24, 2013 6:09 pm

There is another fundamental and pretty much unreported issue with UOR procurement. If the MOD decide they want to keep the equipment beyond the operation it was procured for something like 70% of the material value has to be paid to the treasury to keep it.

So for example the highly effective Shadow R1 will have to be sold or scrapped if the MOD can’d the money to pay the treasury off. In many cases we will see perfectly good equipment being given away or scrapped rather then retained to avoid paying the treasury effectively meaning the tax payer sees no return for the investment.

It is an absurd scenario!

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 24, 2013 6:50 pm


the basis of your post is completely correct. I ran the CBM / ISTAR Capability Development Desk at HQ LAND for the three years leading up to Gulf 2, which of course included the first 2 years of Afghanistan. Around me, colleagues covered the other Capability areas: Direct Battlefield Engagement, Indirect, helicopters, logistics, NBC, etc.

All of us were “maxed out” on staffing various UORs, and I would say (from knowledge of my own areas, and conversations with colleagues about theirs’) that about 80% of the UORs were for capabilities – or kit – that the Army had been begging for for years, but that never got funded. When a war comes around, you visit a CO training up his Battalion for deployment in the near future, he turns around and says “get me those sodding patrol radios / more EO/IR goggles / GPS down to section level, because we’ve been asking for it for years, and now we really are off to war”.

UORs work, in theory, and the MoD machine at desk level gets going and the kit is authorised, DE&S run a rapid procurement, and stuff is delivered. Of course, it is priority 903 as to how it is supported in ten years when the remnants come back to UK. The problem is that in a shocking number of cases, the procurement is not integrated with operational logistics.

A case in point. We busted our balls to get a coherent Combat ID capability together for Gulf 2, to try to minimise fratricide. So for example, the thermally reflective panels for A vehicles, the rotating blinky blanky lights operating in the thermal band to replace the rotating orange visual lights required by German law on armoured vehicles, a training manual, changes to ROE, additions to the pre-deployment training package in Sennelager and on the Plain, new procedures introduced for FACs and an amendment to the 9 line brief for pilots. The whole thing done in 4 weeks (can’t recall the exact cost – low £millions, but cost unimportant).

And the fucking kit got delivered to Bicester for sending out to the Gulf two days ahead of schedule, and was never important enough to get on the logistics plan for air freight, and so sat there completely unused. Still makes me angry, given that I knew several people in Gulf 1 who’d been the victim, or inadvertent perpetrators of blue on blue engagements. One of them to this day is in a wheelchair with no legs.

March 24, 2013 6:53 pm

Well, to be fair TD, if FRES had ponied up with their UVs, a chunk of the IED problem might not have occured at all, so I see it less of an analysis failure, because the vehicles suggested for FRES do have decent IED protection, but a failure of a project to deliver the vehicles needed for operations. It was supposed to have delivered by 2006, was it not, the FRES project?

Or even worse, the UK pull out of the Boxer development, which would have given you the vehicle in service by ~2003.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 24, 2013 7:24 pm


somewhat correct, but the CBM / ISTAR capabilities needed and put up as UORs were never in scope for FRES. They should have been delivered as part of normal procurement in the 90s.

FRES was another of the projects on my desk, but the ISDs were 2008 for UV and 2011 for SV.

Boxer was very nearly criminal. It was a programme run actually quite efficiently at Shabby Wood (you cannot often say that) Start, stop, on the bus, off the bus – all decisions made in London, NOT listening to the IPT Leader who was a very sane man, but grossly over-influenced by the Doctrine muppets in DGD&D in Upavon. Every time they changed their underwear, they changed their minds about what they wanted MRAV to do.

Drove the IPT Leader to distraction. One of the “stars” of his generation of the infantry, he’d be a 2 star by now at least had he stayed. He got so pissed off with the MoD that he’s teaching mathematics in a girls’ school in Somerset now, and a loss to the system.

I recall at one stage he was fed up with the doctrine idiots trying to dream up new and exciting ways of deploying Boxer (including underslung on Chinook), so he had a life-size silhouette painted on the wall in the IPT offices. Big as a bloody bus, it was. That kept them quiet.

March 24, 2013 7:48 pm

Certainly agree with the thrust of the article TD. The speed at which snatch was replaced, despite the reasons wheeled out, was shameful. Should have have beem replaced years before it actually was.
Although as pointed out it’s often a way to get funds for equipment that has been required, using this system means (on smaller projects) that it arrives quicker.
Btw anyone know the largest, cash wise, uor ?

March 24, 2013 8:01 pm


FRES would not have to produced a vehicle in 2003.

Suspicion abounds that apart from the sudden changes in doctrine, the moment a vehicle requirement is fixed we have a vehicle we could/ should order.

Therefore the design requirements of the vehicles involved will constantly change, to avoid that.

FRES exists:-

1) To shine bums on desk chairs, of hundreds of middle ranking officers
2) As a back door subsidy of hundreds of millions to the Defence industry
3) To shield senior officers from any criticism as they can always argue when questioned, ‘Of course that problem will be sorted when FRES arrives’….
4) To give hundreds of officers things to present powerpoint wise at conferences.
5) To give the entire army admin an excuse to do bugger all about existing requirements (except UOR)

So the day the program produces a vehicle spec. It fails on all those fronts- which is why for well over a decade it hasn’t.

March 24, 2013 8:07 pm

If we’d bought say Stryker for FRES UV (as @Red Trousers admitted he’d preferred at the time) or Boxer to a lesser extent, various people would have been in lots of trouble. They were not MRAP’s, disastrously so in the case of Stryker, which is presently having it’s hull completely replaced to make it better.

Even more to the point, the whole idea of hardened rear area vehicles just wasn’t considered, although “obviously” it should have been. I think the issue lies more with the fact that our procurement cycles are so long no one dares to change anything for fear everything will be cancelled by the politicians. Shorten the cycle, you remove the issues.

The UOR has one more disadvantage; it promotes the idea that we only need to equip the part of the forces that is currently deployed. How much of the Army outside Afghanistan is actually issued with Osprey, for example?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 24, 2013 8:09 pm


re largest cash UORs.

Can’t answer your question directly, but I’d bet it is either something around protected mobility (eg Mastiffs, or Jackals or similar), or UAVs (eg Reaper).

The point of both examples is that both had normal procurement mega-programmes associated (FRES UV and Watchkeeper), but both normal programmes were running years late. (OK, Watchkeeper did not have a weaponised requirement, but that’s only because me and colleagues were too junior to force that requirement into the Watchkeeper budget. We certainly argued for it).

Pop prize for anyone able to add the UOR costs onto the original procurement estimates for FRES UV and Watchkeeper, and decide if ultimately good VFM was delivered.

(To make it clear from my earlier post above, I only had responsibility from HQ LAND for FRES SV, not UV. That was a different lead DEC)

March 24, 2013 8:14 pm

agreed with TD’s line. to the degree that doesn’t the way things are done partly negate the benefits of an all-pro standing army, ready to go?

And the first comment, by Fedaykin, is what I have been saying on various threads before… madness and irresponsible waste of money

P.S. When did the font in comments get smaller again? Checked both in Chrome and IE

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 24, 2013 8:17 pm


probably guilty as charged, but you should also remember what were the pressing drivers at the time, when people are dying daily. You get into Pareto discussions with an added third dimension of time.

Basically, Snatch 1972 vs Wonder Wagon 2030 (delivered in 2053) vs Stryker (available next year).

March 24, 2013 9:03 pm

Interesting piece TD has anything changed? Looking at the services requirements and purchases as we come out of afghan I’d say no.

As TD starting doing a spot of house demolition I posted a video of Bernard gray talking about uk procurement he got rather angry when two program’s in particular got brought up challenger 2 and its gun and fres uv he pointed finger/arm and a small tirade at the requirement setters who he recons have gone out of there way to balls it up.

RT watchkeeper air vehicle is/was barely capable of meeting the initial spec requirement adding weapons would have ensured you were looking predator size.

March 24, 2013 10:11 pm

@RT: yeah, there’s always the “off the shelf” way. I just see such vehicles as neither fish nor fowl nor good red meat. They are too big and lightly armoured to work in a full on battlefield, but not well enough MRAP optimized to work as a COIN vehicle. Better to buy more MICV and have 3 battalions of MRAP in storage, as it were

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 25, 2013 12:32 am


you’ve got it the wrong way around,

the requirements are whatever those who set the requirements say they should be. The choice of platform to meet the requirements is up to the contractor when submitting their bid. The checking of whatever platform is put forward is due diligence for the IPT when assessing the various bids.

So if we’d been successful in getting the requirements to include some form of weaponisation, Thales and the other bidders would probably have bid a different platform.

The requirements were completely platform agnostic, in fact agnostic as to even numbers of platforms or size of platforms. We specified that we wanted coverage in various parts of the spectrum of X% of a geographically defined area for Y hours per 24, at Z minutes of latency. We left it up to the bidders as to how to satisfy those criteria. It could have been a single high flying multi-sensor platform, it could have been hundreds of micro-UAVs, or somewhere in between. Thales came up with the most sensible mix at the right price.

wf: you try getting an argument for 3 Battalions of MRAP to be placed into storage “just in case” past the MoD scrutineers, far less past the Treasury attack dogs. Not going to happen.

March 25, 2013 1:49 am

RE ” try getting an argument for 3 Battalions of MRAP to be placed into storage “just in case” past xyz”

How’s this:
– we won’t do COIN again, but will have to be prepared anyway
– for that we will keep 3 bns worth of MRAPs so that we can keep a sufficient number of troops trained on them, through rotation
-! oh, you say that we just refurbed 500+ Bulldogs? Sir, we will keep them is storage for a hot war”

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 25, 2013 4:43 am


that argument isn’t getting past the doorman at Main Building, far less any more demanding scrutiny. More’s the pity, but a reality check.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 25, 2013 4:52 am


OTS is always probably a sub-par solution, but faced wtih press and political pressure to “do something, quickly” when Snatch 1972 is clearly inadequate, are you brave and run up a requirement for Wonder Wagon 2030, or go for something OTS that is several times better than Snatch 1972, if not perfect?

March 25, 2013 7:50 am

wf, Stryker is in reality quite light, not really surprised that it can take less damage than other stuff, Boxer IIRC is almost twice the weight and more heavily armoured.

Looking at the timeline, if the Boxer had made it into service, there would have been no pressing need for the Warthog as it could have done a similar job, with a bit less cross country mobility perhaps but can be worked around. That is ~100 million saved on a UOR at least, not to mention that if there were sufficient numbers of them, they could have replaced some MRAPs right out, saving on those UORs as well.

Looking at the procurement mess, I’m starting to think IXION may be right, people do seem to prefer perpetual motion projects than actual hardware on the table.

As it stands, you now have a cargo hauler rigged up as an all terrain assault vehicle and soft-skin B-vehicles with retro-fit armour hanging off their sides and belly as an APC instead of a vehicle designed from the ground up for that requirement.

I’m glad the Warthog is working out for you guys, but please do not throw it into the frontlines in a peer to peer war, it is really only a lightly armoured cargo hauler, not an IFV. Against anything 20mm and above, it’ll be shredded. IIRC even 7.62 NATO can punch holes in it.


RSTA/ISTAR gap since the 90s? Ouch. That was a prime window to get into the game. I have this sneaking suspicion that people keep putting off spending decisions thinking it will get better/easier later without suspecting that it might get worse. Spending for ISTAR in the 90s may be painful, but much less painful than trying to pay for it post-2008.

March 25, 2013 8:37 am

@Red Trousers: yup, unfortunately all true. Of course, if you accept the argument that specialised vehicles are all just fine (we already had Mamba aka RG31 in service for Bosnia!), there were plenty of OTS alternatives, available for very reasonable prices.

Jeremy M H
March 25, 2013 2:16 pm

All major land vehicle improvement plans in my view are currently just a bunch of wanking off by the land force components of various nations. I don’t think that any of them have much chance of producing a whole lot. The US is doing just as poorly as the UK in this regard.

In reality I would guess the US Army will be lucky if they get a new IFV and a limited refresh on the M-1 (my guess is the new longer gun, armor upgrades and an active defense system and that is about it).

I think the problem right now is that there is just not a lot of tech advances on a fundamental level that can justify wholesale making over of vehicle fleets right now. In the M-1 & Bradley, Challenger & Warrior, Leopard II ect generations there were major advances in material protection, power plants and fire control for tanks. There were major changes in doctrine and firepower for IFV’s as well. You pretty much had to build a new generation of vehicles.

Today I just don’t see the leaps forward. Active defense systems for tanks will be basically bolt on type additions. IFV’s seem to be mostly about fixing some flaws in first generation types and while nice is also a bit of a luxury as well. For the US I think they can get 95% of what they would get in a new tank by simply adding active kill to the M-1 and putting the new L55 gun on the thing. And it will save billions of dollars.

March 25, 2013 2:36 pm

@Jeremy MH: actually, I think there’s a lot of scope for improvements and changes to AFV’s.

– design for mine/IED resistance has greatly changed in priority over the last decade

– hybrid electric drive has massive potential to reduce the volume of the drivetrain needed to be kept under armour and to allow for a large reshuffling of the arrangements internally to the benefit of all

– externally mounted weapons have been proved in combat, raising the prospect of remotely controlled turrets

– armour types have leapt forward again with regard to shaped charge and EFP resistance

All of these could revolutionize AFV’s, with a large reduction in weight possible for the first time in more than 50 years…but they probably require new hulls, although not new weapons.

That being said, I fear all we’ll actually get will be as you say, a minimal retrofit of existing vehicles

March 25, 2013 2:57 pm

The thing is that Warrior/Chally and Bradley/Abrams have worked in all of the operations that they have been involved in since their introduction. Doesn’t mean that they don’t need upgrading, but the basic designs are still fine – they aren’t obsolete.

Short a major new conventional threat, Our current fleets of AFVs are only going to be replaced when the current fleet is too shagged to be refitted.

March 25, 2013 3:06 pm

My take on this is that we only need to have contingency assets in place on day one.

As long as we have earmarked things that can be procured at a moments notice (well, sort of) we should be fine. So it’s possible the MoD knew of the IED threat, decided Viking was sufficient contingency and identified that the Bronco from Singapore was the thing to get if things got worse.

I’m not sure what the lead time is on these kinds of assets, but they’re going to be much less that a jet fighter or a warship. Also, I’m not sure what the “notice” would be for the Army to mobilise for a future Iraq or Afghanistan, but I would imagine it’s measured in weeks/months rather than hours/days.

So, as silly examples, as long as we have something earmarked to keep troops warm in Siberia that can be purchased from Millets we’re okay, have something earmarked to cross the paddyfields of China and treat huge incidents of trenchfoot from Boots we’re okay, or have something to cut through the forests of North Korea from B&Q we should be okay. They can all kill (cold, wet, exhaustion), but should we also include chainsaws and logging equipment in the Army’s inventory just-in-case or simply be ready to buy them from a trusted supplier should they be needed?

Jeremy M H
March 25, 2013 3:12 pm

I agree there are improvements there. I just don’t think given the current combat environment anyone wants to pay for all of it. The armor thing will happen, at least in the US, as part of the normal rework of M-1’s that is always ongoing. They will pull out the current armor scheme and put new armor packs into the tanks and it ought to work well enough. I doubt they change the drive train on the M-1 as it would just be too much work for too little gain.

I just don’t see weight going down. Anywhere they save weight they will find somewhere else to use it. Hell I think one of the submissions for the US IFV program from BAE checks in around 70 tons (which is patently absurd in my view). So I think any view of decreasing weight is just not happening. In fact I would expect vehicles to get ever heavier, at least the frontline IFV’s and MBTs. Particularly in the West where there is an assumption that we will have control of the air in any major operation and the other side does not yet appear to have really robust airborne anti-tank capability (Brimstone, CBU-97, SDB-II) and the main threats are guys on the ground with ATGM and other tanks. The equation might be different for other powers that can’t control their airspace.

The military right now is overly sensitive in my view to the mine/IED and RPG threat. Yes, you need to build in reasonable resistance to vehicles. But there has to be a balance between survivability, mobility and cost. We are too casualty adverse at this point. More than that even at 70 tons a big armored box is still lunch meat for a proper anti-tank weapon or another tank. At some point you build in reasonable protection and you take your chances because you need to field numbers of the system.

March 25, 2013 3:55 pm

@Simon; I would aver that Warrior has been obsolete since before entering service. I reached that opinion when a cadet L/Cpl in 1984 I got the chance to play inside one in Warminster, when I wasn’t exactly impressed with a supposed modern vehicle which had power traverse only (manual elevation) and a manually loaded Rarden. Thirty years after entering service it should get a stabilised turret with a decent gun…with still no ability to destroy MBT’s. And some bright spark shoved the radiator on the glacis plate. Colour me unimpressed :-(

That being said, I’m not in favour of having everything in store. It’s just that some specialities are not available within a couple of years of order, and provision has to be made.

@Jeremy MH: you should bear in mind that the US is already thinking of changing the drive train on the M1, since the current turbines are obsolete.

Things like GCV might actually have a positive effect, as it becomes clear that the ridiculous spec really cannot be met. Having a 9 man dismount section plus crew is flat out silly, and refusing to countenance an unmanned turret is unwise. After all, there are thousands of CROWS in service.

Change the equation to a fire team + per vehicle, move to serial hybrid drive to allow the use of hub motors, design the armour around crew protection only for mine resistance, use a remote turret….we can get down to below 50 tonnes.

March 25, 2013 4:11 pm

Jeremy, don’t think MBTs have the scope to get much heavier. They may have the engine and drivetrain for it, but going up to 70 tons+ is going to break roads and collapse bridges, and if you think changing MBTs is expensive, that is nothing compared to having to change all your roads and bridges to be able to tolerate MLC 70. Not to mention having to get new recovery vehicles and AVLBs and I’ll die laughing if one got bogged down.

As for MBT funding, ironically, it all depends on how close you are to hostile neighbours and how paranoid you are. America, UK and Germany don’t have much to worry about, but I’m betting that South Korea and Japan will somehow get funding for it. Which has already happened, Japan getting a new homegrown MBT and Korea getting a newish “Clouded Leopard” IFV.

I like the new Remote Weapon Systems, know of too many commanders getting killed in accidents with their head out of the turret, the most facepalm one in Australia when deadfall dropped on top of an IFV and broke the commander’s skull through his helmet, but I really wonder how they are going to clear a jam in combat. Maybe withdrawing to a safer area before doing corrective action?

My other peeve on RWS is the fact that ST Kinetics is definately aiming for an export market, which means that our RWS have to suffer a reduction in capabilities as other countries do not have the degree of miniturization our weapons have. What I mean is that the old “standard” for our APCs was a “40/50” weapon system (40mm AGL paired with sabot loaded 0.5 cal), but due to the need to cater for export, our new Terrex ended up with a 7.62/40mm RWS instead.

Do suppose they are a business and need to cater for largest market share possible and all, and a custom order will probably cost a lot more, but it does weaken our planned tactical overmatch advantage.

Jeremy M H
March 25, 2013 4:13 pm

The key portion of that is “With the demise of the Crusader program, however, this particular aspect of the program appears to have been shelved.” What I do know they are looking at is putting a diesel engine in there but it will have to fit in the same space as the turbine as I don’t think they want to rework the basic arrangement.

I agree with you that the GCV thing will simply result in them going back to the drawing board. But my main point is that no one seems to have a solid grasp on the subject at the moment so it is not likely a program is going anywhere anytime soon. I just don’t think there is broad scope for refurbishing whole fleets of fighting vehicles right now. No one has a firm grasp of the balance between force protection, firepower and mobility (both tactical and strategic). Until that gets sorted out any ground vehicle program will just be a mess.

March 25, 2013 6:32 pm

Actually Jeremy I think they already do have a grasp of the protection/firepower/mobility pyramid.

Problem is, as pointed out by several commentators already, including yourself, the current batch of MBTs (Abrams, Challenger, Leopard etc) all already meet the requirements fairly well, which makes getting a new family of MBTs or even mass refit of old ones rather redundant. Why pay for more when you already have something that can do the job?

wf, radiator on glacis plate is an armour concept. It means you are using the engine block as additional armour under the theory that it is easier to replace an engine for the tank than to replace little Timmy for his mommy. It also frees up the rear cabin for an infantry compartment. Come to think of it, having an infantry compartment almost garuntees the engine being in front as there is nowhere else to put it. Unless you want to put the infantry in front as additional armour instead? :)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 25, 2013 7:33 pm


“Unless you want to put the infantry in front as additional armour instead?”

Best use for them. ;)

(Some of my closest friends are / were infantry officers, so I don’t mind teasing them. You should hear some of the shocking things they say about the Cavalry. And we all look down on the Gunners, and everybody in both green and dark blue and even most MoD civil servants look down on the Kevins, and so all is right in God’s world)

“The only good Kevin is somewhere far away from your piece of the battlespace, with orders not to interfere.”

I like that, it has a touch of truth to it.

Jeremy M H
March 25, 2013 7:52 pm


I think they do with tanks. Missed your comment on MBT’s and I generally agree there. They won’t get bigger. I do think IFV’s will though. And I don’t think MBT’s will get smaller. They will save weight in one area and dump it back into armor for the most part.

I think they struggle with everything else (below MBT level) though on finding the right balance. Hell, it seems obvious to me when they come back with a 70 ton IFV design that you likely can’t do mine-resistant, APC and IFV all in one platform. And you are going to get 1,000 different opinions on what you need to give up. Take the soldiers down and some will bitch that it is an awful APC. Take the firepower down and you are going backwards from the Bradley. Take the mine-resistant stuff off and you are ignoring recent history.

It gets worse the further down the list you go. A humvee gets blown up and people seem to wonder why it is not mine resistant. The reality is that everyone can’t move around behind MBT level protection all the time. That means some people are going to die. The media is just not real understanding of that concept though.

March 25, 2013 7:58 pm

@Observer: most other IFV’s manage to to place the radiator behind the glacis plate, just forward of the turret ring, facing upwards. You might note that until last year when the first TES(H) Warrior deployed, the radiator was never covered by add on armour either, so an HMG mission kill was entirely possible.

I’m perfectly happy to sacrifice the engine block as additional protection for the crew. I’m less happy to sacrifice the crew because the power pack croaks midway through a tactical bound after a burst of 14.5 hits the radiator.

March 25, 2013 8:26 pm

wf, if a burst from a KPV hits the power pack, you have not sacrificed the crew YET. They can just sit tight and wait for rescue.

RT, Kevins console themselves with the thought that when flying, they look down on you all. :)

Jeremy, think you’re on the spot with weight shuffling. And it is going to get worse. Previously, they cut weight by reducing top armour and reallocating it to the front, sides and bottom, but with the invention of top attack missiles, they are going to have to either reallocate some protection to the top at the expense of the other areas, or add more top armour and weight. Not even including the question on how do you armour the top hatch sufficiently and still keep it light enough for people to use?

Maybe reactive armour for the top? You don’t need much to disrupt a shaped penetrator.. but tandem warheads… ugh…. Or do without the top hatch and stick a periscopic/telescopic mast on top? Dunno, too many problems and too many solutions with pros and cons. I’ll let some other egghead do the thinking for this one.

March 25, 2013 9:38 pm

Well as I said in my first post you can’t just keep a UOR past the operation it was purchased for! The treasury will expect partial payment of the material value, some equipment will be scrapped ie push into a hole in Afghanistan or gifted the the ANA to avoid paying the treasury attack dogs!

The treasury stipulates UOR funding must work like that to make sure the MOD doesn’t use it as a sneaky way to extend their budget by shifting procurement onto UOR’s!

As for what Red Trousers said about the FRES IPT leader, reminds me of this US film:

March 25, 2013 9:46 pm

@Observer: if they are stuck out of cover, a Warrior is not an MBT. A tank gun or ATGM will brew it up just fine :-(

March 25, 2013 10:10 pm

Knickers are not essential ;-)

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 25, 2013 10:30 pm


quite brilliant! And pretty true..

(Small point, it was the MRAV IPTL, not FRES IPTL. I knew the FRES IPTL (or one of them – they kept swapping), and distinctly from the other end of the spectrum of capability)


quite right. It’s good when your wife does that for a giggle at some snooty and dull party, but you don’t want to run your country’s defence policy along similar lines.

March 25, 2013 10:46 pm

Yeah noticed the little mistake after I posted Red Trousers! Anyhow you get the gist!

The US film is called The Pentagon wars and that scene about the Bradley is a wonderful microcosm of how an idea can get changed over the years and scope creep!

Then there is Sheep specs:

Brian Black
Brian Black
March 25, 2013 11:06 pm

“It is the role of the political leadership at the MoD and Treasury to stop this over reliance on future UoR funding.”

The economy is flat-lining – the 2013 forecast has been cut from crappy to shite. A new round of cuts for departments and a savage hammering of spending likely once the next election is through. And no solutions for external anchors on our economy, like the Eurozone shambles.

When the next major test for our forces turns up early 2020s, we will almost certainly be heavily reliant on UORs for even basic equipment. Apart from spikes in spending for WMD it’ll be a long hard squeeze for defence; so best look for the positives and learn to love the UOR system, ’cause we’ll definitely see its widespread use in future.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 25, 2013 11:48 pm


thanks for the link. I’ll go through it in detail in the next couple of days, possibly give you some thoughts.


1. The normal TD standard of rigour and in depth research for posts probably means there’ll be little factual I can add. Possibly some small indiscretions as to the Whitehall bun-fighting behind some of the decisions which are all probably now public domain, but what they’re worth at this distance, probably little.

2. My exposure to FRES is deep (99-04), but narrow (SV only really. Gossip mainly on the UV side). However, those were the glory days – more than a concept, but a proper funded programme (£16.2 billion, if you can believe it. I thought only carriers and useless fancy hover jets cost that much), but before everyone realised it had been turned into a crock of shit by too many Doctrine witches spoiling the broth.

Late night bonus. Worth investigating the Raytheon concept of “rockets in a box”, from the US FCS programme which we looked at as part of FRES. Palletised vertical launch rockets, which could be pre-dropped at various places, or operate from flatbed trucks or anything bigger (can’t recall precisely, each box of rockets about 200 kg, so needed a forklift). Each rocket had its’ own IP address, and could be remotely programmed if the user had authorisation (AES 256 bit encrypted). Programming yielded a simple multi-OS interface from a PDA to much more complex systems. Could hit a 8 figure grid at 4 metres CEP, out to a range of about 11 miles, configured for airburst, proximity, or kinetic attack (4 of 16 rockets in the box). Little MicroLight radio on the side of the box (another Raytheon product) formed a self-forming, self-healing mesh network with other local boxes and allowed you to programme single fire or ripple fire, and programme each rocket with desired target effect, and could be ordered into action from any SINCGARS radio in range. Mad as a box of frogs, but simple and brilliant in a way.

They did quite a few trials on the concept, and discounting the normal engineering wrinkles, it all seemed to work pretty well.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 25, 2013 11:59 pm

…. actually the flat-beds had some form of small swinging crane arm and engine powered winch that could handle 200 kgs to pick up / load onboard or to drop off. No need to take the forklift forward to the drop off point. But certainly, forklifts would have been required in the ammo dumps to move lots of rocket boxes around.

March 26, 2013 12:47 am

Bad news RT, what you described is probably the NLOS missile that Raython and some other company joint ventured under Netfire and got canned for being unable to meet specs. It’s probably more famous as the NLOS missile for the LCS. Which might have been a pity.

wf, if they had an ATGM or AT gun, the Warrior is dead anyhow. Ironically having the powerpack as additional armour has a very high chance of saving the crew even against ATGMs or RPGs as the Israeli Merkava has amply demonstrated. I have no idea why you would think that an engine mobility kill is a crew kill. It isn’t as if the Warrior is powered Flintstone style with someone paddling away in the engine block.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 26, 2013 12:49 am


there’s another 5 scenarios on top of the one you have got. Am trying to progress them against internal scepticism (and why not be sceptical of a RT concept, because no one expects a cavalryman who left school with a slack handful of Arts O levels and spent his youth shagging around Europe and serially invading Iraq, now employed as a BD wallah to actually have a Patent for a different approach to long range low cost communications and surveillance at sea for the commercial maritime trade, and slightly differently engineered, for SOLAS of short-handed yachts). But you have to believe in some things. If it all gets batted away by the forces of conservatism and “not invented here” syndrome, I’ll be a free agent. I’ll give TD the publishing rights if it all mounts up to a smallish hill of beans, but it probably won’t.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
March 26, 2013 1:02 am


it might have been a similar concept to NLOS. Raytheon got given a few million by DoD for some trials, but I think the FCS money was slightly different in purpose than NLOS. Cousin programmes, maybe, but separate. I was meant to attend some trials at White Sands, but had a small compassionate issue at home so sent my WO1. His report was fairly positive, but it was in the early days of the trials.

Jeremy M H
March 26, 2013 1:17 am


While that movie is a big amusing it is not really true to life. The Bradley certainly had room at times for improvement but it was overall a good vehicle for its time. Its height was not appreciably different than the Warrior or Marder. The BMP-1 carried 8 troops. The BMP-2 carries 7. Testing the Bradley against full up anti-tank weapons was kind of stupid. Neither it nor any other vehicle in that class could take such a hit and they were not designed to do so.

March 26, 2013 3:05 am

UORs got us the Ocelot / Foxhound. In many ways this is a cut price FRES. Good protection, average mobility and limited firepower, but at least it is air transportable by C-130, which Boxer is not. The problem is that Foxhound is no longer seen as simply a snatch replacement, but rather as a complete FRES alternative. The same is also true of Mastiff, which undeniably provides good protection but has very limited off-road ability. Mastiff is a very poor substitute for a proper 8×8 infantry vehicle. There is no justifying the monumental cock-up that FRES UV remains. Every other Army in Europe has a substantial fleet of modern 8x8s, why are we so late to the party? There really is no excuse. The Boxer has done very well in Afghanistan. We could have had it too. Maybe the Piranha V was better (a fact I find hard to believe given its top-heavy design), but we didn’t sort out IP rights at the negotiation stage. Waiting until we had chosen it was an act of sheer incompetence.

Lord Jim III
Lord Jim III
March 26, 2013 3:35 am

The MoD has for decades introduced new equipment that has remained at a vanilla standard for decades. This isn’t fit for operations but the required improvements were already identified for purchase through UORs when the balloon went up.

Looking at major projects, RT is correct when he says the powers that be constantly both both the requirement and funding goal posts almost on a yearly basis, especially in the case of the latter. One of the key ploys used by the MoD and Treasury has been to keep projects in limbo constantly delaying Main Gate approval but retaining the IPTs and industry teams responsible all at a cost to the MoD’s budget. If project come under scrutiny, often the IPT was simply renamed even keeping the same staff, but the spin put out stated the programme had been halted and a new aproach was to be started.

The Treasury does not like big public programmes as it reduces it room to ask for cuts, especially in the public eye. Delaying Main Gate gives them more flexibility to do so, either cancelling programmes or reducing procurement numbers. The F-35 is a good example of this as is the T-45. With the latter the PR machine went into overdrive to praise the increase in capability and down playing the fact we initially planned to have 12.

The blame also falls on the MoD for wanting to keep programmes alive at all costs even if he actual chance of platforms entering service becomes less and less and in reduced numbers.

Funding is a core issue or rather funding security. Imagine if the budget for the Olympics had been totally random in the preceeding 5 years, ranging from that initially agreed to zero to cover overspends in other departments. We wouldn’t have been ready until 2018 at the earliest. The MoD like all government departments has to run its budgets on a yearly basis, but this has an adverse effect on the MoDs procurement plan far more than most other departments yet it is the MoD that appears always to be the first stop for funding reductions.

I have a feeling that UORs are going to be the future. Smaller quantites of new equipmet will be purchased in future, to enable some units to be equipped and more to be trained in there use,but UORs will be used to increase numbers when needed. This system has huge holes in it but it will allow the Politicians and lap dog Senior Officers to proclaim that new equipment is entering service and the enhanced and/or new capabilities this will bring. Ever since Capability became the buzz word in the MoD in the 1990s capacity has become a non PC topic. We are going to end up with a two tier military with a small number of well equipped units available, with these having to hold the line so to speak until other units can be so equipped for persistent operations through UORs. There is going to be a huge increase in the numbers of staff allocated to risk/threat assessment and the use of expert consultant will probably begin to rise. With big ticket items the old calculation of the number actually needed divided by factor X (provided by the experts) equals the number we actually get will become the norm so the number of aircraft and ships will continue to fall for example.

UORs are alos going to result in many cases of fleets within fleets so any opportunity to gain saving through economies of scale are going to go out of the window and it will be easier for items of equipment to be withdrawn quietly as the number will be less.

Finally I am stronly against putting ATGWs on IFVs as it tempts the user to consider them for roles for which they are not intended. Better to use separate vehicles to support the IFVs in this role. Saying that the CTA40 will take care of a T-55 or even an export standard T-72 and against hight tier opposition the CA2 will be along for the ride in the same Battlegroup more than fulfilling this role. In addidtion in a IFV space is a premium and storing ATGW rounds takes up space that is needed for other pieces of kit of far more importance to the dismounts.

There rant ended

Peter Elliott
March 26, 2013 5:44 am

@TD has talked about the danger of institutionalising the UOR system. Others have talked about the certainty of it. How about the opportunity?

We all seem to agree that the main procurment processes are too slow, bureaucratic and vulnerable to the Treasury. So is a two tier approach to procurement such a bad thing?

If the basic premise of UOR is here to stay how can we modify the system to make it work better? Everyone seems to hate FFBNW but should it be something we learn to embrace?

Actually design into our big platfroms the ability to accept plug and play kit, then make sure we take out stand-by contracts with certain key supplier for delivering the rest ‘on demand’.

March 26, 2013 9:01 am

@Observer: Warrior and other vehicles like this will incinerated by any tank. That’s why they have to avoid being hit. Unlike the Merkva, they are not equipped with MBT levels of armour.

@Lord Jim III: IFV’s are not good tank killers. They will always lack one or all of the capacity, rate of fire and KE effectiveness of another tank. But lacking any sort of antitank capacity makes them a liability on a battlefield, forcing them to be “escorted” everywhere. In defilade, they can also be very effective, just as Striker was.

Infantry aren’t very effective at killing tanks either in comparison to tanks. Should we remove NLAW and Javelin from infantry bn’s to make sure they aren’t tempted?

March 26, 2013 11:57 am

wf, you are way off topic already, the point was the engine block acts as additional armour and protection from the crew, end of story. If you want to do “but it is not effective against XYZ weapon, you are just proving Jeremy’s point, that no vehicle is proof against anything. In the most extreme example, you could even say putting armour on a Challenger is useless because it can’t stop an ICBM. Which totally neglects the point that there are a lot of things it protects against other than nukes.

And if you don’t want to put the engine in front, that leaves the back infantry compartment. Are you willing to sacrifice infantry carrying capability for the Warrior? Turn the IFV into a pure light tank? Either/or. Infantry in the back or engine in the back. Not much other choice.

LJ, I would consider some marginal self-defence capability against armour at least. Just in case.

And while the Pentagon Wars was amusing, Jeremy is right, it is sensationalised to sell to an anti-establishment crowd. Remember, even Hollywood is a business, especially the business of the Big Lie. And the key to lying successfully? By telling people what they want to hear. I class Pentagon Wars as part of that. Though to be fair, American procurement does really seem messed up, but overruns and all are not the fault of the customer unless he keeps shifting goalposts, it is the fault of the vendor.

As for institutionalising the UOR, unless the “normal” procurement routes start delivering more usable equipment it seems to be the only way left. UK weapons procurement tend to be dead ending a lot these days, Boxer, Horizon, FRES. At least Watchkeeper came up with something and the T-45, QE carriers and Astutes are producing hardware.

Interesting idea PE, only flaw I can see is training. No equipment on site = no way to train on it.

March 27, 2013 11:26 am

Well the main reason I put that clip up from Pentagon wars is beyond the inaccuracies about the Bradley program and sensationalised nature of what was shown it is still a good sum up of role creep and multiple generations of different government and military high ups shifting the ground and sending the officer directing the program over the edge. Much like what Red Trousers was describing about the IPT lead.

It should also be noted that the film is based on a true story, there really was a protracted development program for Bradley ending up with an officer forcing tests proving that it was unsafe. There really were redesigns after it failed tests that the Pentagon were trying to avoid or stacking the test matrix to favour the design outside of normal battle conditions.

The film also explores the A-12 Avenger and the greatest spinning bow tie extravaganza of them all the M247 Sergeant York (it pains me that such a distinguished hero of a soldier has his name associated with that crock of $h1t!)

March 27, 2013 11:29 am

I wonder of TD will allow me to submit an article about the M247 as a warning from history!

March 27, 2013 12:11 pm

Fedaykin, I do remember the “tests” and the ridiculous over the top “requirements” of the officer who IIRC was not even army in the first place but an air force puke stuffing his own requirements onto the army. What APC do you know can withstand MBT fire? I only know of one possible fit, the Namer, and that is an MBT converted into an APC.

Think that guy’s name was Burton? He’s probably the prototype of the current day internet armchair warrior.

Can you imagine the Warrior armoured to withstand 120mm fire? Think we can call it the Challenger III after that.

March 27, 2013 3:33 pm

Hi name was Colonel John G.Burton and I don’t see him as an airforce puke imposing his will on the all mighty knowledge of the US Army. I see him as an officer in the US military selected as a neutral party to investigate and run the performance testing of the Bradley in particular its combat survivability. Going on about taking on tanks and calling him an armchair warrior is a rather cheap Strawman argument which I hoped wouldn’t usually grace this site by its contributors and commentators.

He ran into problems with the Army proving service at the Aberdeen proving ground due to him having the temerity of asking for “Combat realism”, that is not about taking tanks but the more prosaic aspects of what would of it was hit by 14.5mm KPV! So far so reasonable, by having someone from outside the Army chain of command you ensure an unbiased process. Now what has caused some stink is he also wanted to see what happened when the Bradley was hit by something that would entirely destroy it so they could map out crew survivability. The Army wanted to use a computerised model he want to do live tests with real metal.

Eventually he had to go before congress and the design was changed to enhance crew survivability, something I think we can all support.

Counting the man out purely because he wasn’t “One of Us” or an “Airforce puke”is rather unfair and shows a lack of understanding when it comes to neutrality in performance testing.

As I keep on saying I posted the clip as an amusing example of how scope creep can make the work of development offices a nightmare not an examination of the relative merits of the Bradley, it’s actual testing and how it fairs compared to contemporary vehicles.

March 27, 2013 4:09 pm

Fedaykin, remember one very important thing about that story. It is told from only one point of view. Guess whose? You think someone publishing his own story will make it so that he will look anything less than heroic?

I am not even American and I can see the point AGAINST his methods already, destructive testing DESTROYS the test bed in a SINGLE test, one use, and that is it. In current day terms, it is using an ~1 million dollar vehicle for a one shot destruction test.

Burton claimed he “enhanced crew survivability” but I doubt he actually made that much of a contribution, for one, aluminium armour was still used which was only improved with add on armour much much later after the in service date. I agree there was capabilities creep, but not to the extent that Hollywood playacts to be. The ONLY creep I can track were the results of observed fielding of Soviet ground equipment, something I noticed which probably escaped Burton as it was not his field. This is hardly a knee-jerk reaction as I did this back checking in ~2000, very very long time ago and my evalation then is the same now. US Air Force REMF puke out to score points at the expense of other services.

Well, no skin off my back, the USAF can wreck their whole Armed Forces for all I care, I just dislike creeps like him as a matter of morals.

Trust no one. Especially no ones who write books about themselves. I refer you to McNab and Bravo 2-0.

March 27, 2013 4:40 pm

@Observer: I think he did a valuable thing. Half of the RN’s losses in the FI are probably due to fact that no one really stressed the SAM subsystems past limited scenarios (crossing targets, magazine doors covered in salt etc). If a Bradley is going to instantly brew up when hit by 120mm HEAT rather than suffer severe damage, that is a problem. People like me who think IFV’s and MBT’s should be built from the same chassis like Merkva may find it grist to our mill, but I think his attitude is reasonable and the money is well spent. If the US Army wanted to make a point, repeating the same tests against a M113 might have been instructive

March 27, 2013 6:40 pm

So now he is a creep and a member of a service out to destroy the US military as well Observer, adding slander to your gripes with the man. Considering you state that you are not American you have a rather big gripe with the USAF. I agree significant destructive testing is a waste but the US army wanted to use a computer model only to verify vehicle safety in a number of conditions. A normal test series would involve non destructive and partially destructive up to totally writing off the vehicle. Lets say the man was in the USN but assigned to the project to manage the test series would you have the same issue in respect of him.

I was talking about scope creep and cited an amusing, not entirely accurate dark comedy to show that.

You are dead set on the idea that this officer and his parent service were out to attack the US Army, I don’t see any particular evidence of that in this case. Somebody was assigned who was outside the US army command loop ensuring neutrality. I have no doubt the man has a degree of service bias but what does that have to do with the task he was asked to perform. His job was to run the test series get expert opinion in doing that and play devils advocate. For that he is an armchair warrior REMF creep out to score points against the other services?

I think you need chill out a bit

March 27, 2013 7:12 pm

Didn’t they modify the position of the Bradleys fuel tanks after that test?

March 27, 2013 7:22 pm

Fedaykin, if you want a serious discussion, then might I suggest not bringing Hollywood into it?

And if you think the US doesn’t have factionalism you obviously do not know of the incident called Revolt of the Admirals.

The way you are so dead set to defend this guy and hold him up as a hero, you would think you two were related.

And as I said, I’ve known about this since ~2000. That is ~12 years that I’ve had a low opinion of him. Hardly “now” a creep.

IIRC, the addition of the Bushmaster and ammunition stocks were in response to Israeli experience against Sagger teams where suppressing the operator caused the missile to miss often, which meant 1) Enough ammuntion for suppression in the first place and 2) The reduction of the infantry section to fit the 25mm in, which were some of his complaints. This shows clearly that he did not cross-check changing operational requirements from field conditions into his opinions, one of the reasons for NOT having an outsider set your requirements.

BTW, never said anything about him representing his “parent service” in wrecking things, only him specifically. Think he was part of a “new broom” political movement to bring “new thinking” into the Armed Forces. So his actions which we may or may not disagree with, still involves bringing politics into the problem.

Have you even considered that he, if taken as a batch with the requirements panel, is simply a continuation of the conflicting requirements argument that has been plaguing the M2 for >10 years by that time? It is only because he wrote a book that was made into a movie that he stood out, without it, he would have been batch bulked with the entire “2 different factions” that were at loggerheads?

So, no, I do not subscribe to your religion of the Holy Burton.

March 27, 2013 7:31 pm

Chris, not much difference, what really saved a lot of Bradleys in GW was the development of add on armour. They stacked 3 tons of additional armour on it in ERA and laminate form, so much to the point that firing ports are no longer usable on that thing. And it can no longer swim, though that is a minor loss.

March 27, 2013 7:36 pm

Wo-there now hang on Observer! I am just about on the edge of complaining to the TD site operator now about your behaviour! At what time did I say he was a hero or somehow worship the man?!

I was talking about scope creep and posted an amusing clip, YOU have come in FISTS SWINGING with more then one rant and straw-man about a man that I wasn’t even referring to at first. I pointed out that I don’t agree with your entirely negative outlook of him, that is my opinion.

You have every right to your opinion but coming here spoiling for a fight and posting rude comments about myself or my motives because YOU have a grudge with someone is bang out of order!

I am baffled at the amount of venom you have directed at somebody I barely know and wasn’t even directly referencing followed by fairly snarky comments at myself! Other contributers here have taken it all as it was meant and were having a perfectly interesting debate that I was enjoying participating in!

Why don’t you wind your neck in!

March 27, 2013 7:47 pm

Amusing indeed but tell that to Observer, he is the one acting like an Ass.

Jeremy M H
March 27, 2013 7:49 pm

The problem is that the M-2 is really not so much an example of scope creep. It is actually a good example of something that was being talked about (either in this article or elsewhere) about it being very hard to settle on armored vehicle specifications. The creep was really just a response to a rapidly evolving armored warfare environment.

As originally seen it was just a better and faster M-113. But then things like the BMP-1 and other such vehicles started showing up and people changed what they wanted those vehicles to do.

The fact of the matter is the Bradley is a pretty solid vehicle and the criticism of it was pretty much proven to be well over the top. It has about the same balance as most other IFV’s at the time as far as firepower, mobility and protection but generally did a better job of it than most other vehicles of the same type and era.

The York deserves all the criticism that can be heaped upon it. But the Bradley (along with the Abrams, Apache, F-15 ect) were all painted with the same brush by the “reformers” in the Pentagon until they did what they did in GWI. For the most part the reformers ended up being mostly full of crap.

March 27, 2013 8:50 pm

Fedaykin, I’m reacting to your “it’s based on a true story!” comment. It is most definately very very heavily made up, contains heaps of factual errors and as Jeremy pointed out, those heaping criticism on the equipment ended up being proven to be “mostly full of crap”.

It’s just politics brought into Hollywood for an anti-establishment crowd and simply a continuation of the Big Lie of telling people of a specific political bent what they want to hear.

I would have thought the UK would have learnt to be wary of people making book deals by now after the incident with Iran.

March 27, 2013 10:06 pm

But it is based on a true story, that the film produced took liberties doesn’t change that fact and doesn’t account for the sheer venom you have expressed on the matter.