FRES Scout Recovery Variant

It is the Mobility Test Rig undergoing its Accelerated Life Testing, designed to demonstrate reliability and provide test data the MTR in the video above covered 300km and towed the 92 tonne vehicle train.

More recently, the MTR has undergone low temperature testing the INSTITUTO TECNOLÓGICO ‘LA MARAÑOSA’

The tests included a 72 hour period at -32 degreec C followed by a series of starts using a pre heater and no pre hetear.

By conducting the tests in Spain, General Dynamics is obviously keeping to their stated strategy of keeping FRES ‘British to its Bootstraps’

I mean its not like we have this kind of facility in the UK or anything.

 

113 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Bob
Bob
June 23, 2013 4:52 pm

The fact it is being done in Spain is product of the fact that the UK trashed its armoured vehicles industry in the 90s and now has to procure from a US based multinational. BAE would have been doing this in Sweden before anyone suggests otherwise.

Chris
Chris
June 23, 2013 6:20 pm

I’m afraid I agree. I worked in and with various UK defence companies but most have been either bought by non-UK organisations or simply closed down.

It seems there has been a common thread over several recent posts; in each the demise of the domestic UK defence capability has featured. Can’t design our own light armour? Because UK military vehicle capability has been terminally weakened or lost. Can’t design UCAVs on our own? Can’t design fast jets on our own? Because UK military aircraft capability has been terminally weakened or lost. The same sort of view could apply to many of our once capable industrial bases. So we buy armour from Spain through a US corporation, we buy RFAs from Korea, fast jets from the US, UAVs from Israel, personal weapons from Belgium, land comms kit that has US radios in a Canadian harness and so on. With the exception of UAVs (only because they are a new invention) the UK used to make all of the above for itself and had thriving exports of the same.

Remind me again why open international competition has been good for the UK?

Pulls on tin hat ready for incoming barrage.

But before the arguments about poor equipment at high prices start, let’s look back briefly at the UK defence industry up to the early 80s – at that time UK kit was as good as anyone else could make and competitively priced. It was precisely because the traditional procurement policy was to keep a solid UK supply base of defence materiel that the industry remained competitive. It was only when the procurement policy was downgraded to buy foreign if it was good enough and a bit cheaper (simplistic windscreen sticker price comparisons only) that UK defence industry efficiency and willingness to invest in R&D faltered. Thereafter the slippery slope took over. If the UK had continued to support its own defence industry, there is no reason to doubt that it would have remained in the top rank of suppliers worldwide.

Chris
Chris
June 23, 2013 6:23 pm

Oh and on the subject of the FRESy video, am I the only one that thinks its tracks clatter worse than CET? Cripes what a noise!

mr.fred
mr.fred
June 23, 2013 7:36 pm

I would put the damage date a little later – The failure of the Stormer series and the Warrior 2000 to take off commercially led to Alvis getting gobbled up by BAESystems. The lack of export sales for the CR2 led to Vickers land division getting gobbled up by Alvis, who were subsequently gobbled up by BAE.

The lack of home sales meant that the only current, in-production vehicle available to the BAE consortium was the CV90, which had secured home and then export sales across the EU. This was a Swedish vehicle hence swedish engineering, which was, possibly, badly managed by BAE’s PR department.

I often wonder what the landscape would look like if the MoD had bought Stormer to replace/upgrade CVR(T) in totality rather than chase the FRES boondoggle, and replaced the Warriors in AI battalions with Warrior 2000, moving the Rarden-equipped Warriors to support roles to replace the FV430 series, perhaps de-turreting them in the process.

Interestingly there are quite a number of sub-contractors in the UK who can and do support armoured vehicle development and production, so the capability is not entirely lost.

Opinion3
Opinion3
June 23, 2013 11:01 pm

The merging of so many military suppliers into one massive Bae didn’t help either. Competition is good and America usually recognises that and benefits.

Blame it on George ‘f in Simpson

Jeremy M H
June 24, 2013 3:43 am

I don’t think that is just a UK thing. In the 1960’s and 70’s the US had many companies that were building aircraft for them. Now there are really three (Lockheed, Northrop-Grumman and Boeing). I don’t think it is realistic to expect UK defense spending to support a broad based defense manufacturing sector. There is simply not enough money in the system to do everything. If the UK focused on a few things they could likely support that. But doing everything is too much.

Bob
Bob
June 24, 2013 8:01 am

Thanks for the update, sounds like a waste but at least we are starting to get some clarity on the post stan vehicle fleet.

As for the UK AFV industry; if the UK had balanced procurement it should have been able to sustain the industry- between the FRES requirements, Challenger CR2 and various support vehicles there were enough numbers to sustain a constant tempo.

Radish283
Radish283
June 24, 2013 8:14 am

Its not just the UK defence industry that’s all but gone. It’s the same in the Motor Industry. Although we have a number of manufacturing plants almost all are owner by forgien firms. We may be good at specialist engineering and manufacturing. But atsa friend once said a country that carnt build cars can’t arm itself.

oldreem
June 24, 2013 10:28 am

What’s the test in the video trying to prove? Towing about 3 times its own weight on a level concrete track when rolling resistance is only a few percent of weight: not real world even for a real recovery variant. Laws of physics say couldn’t control it on a steep descent unless at least some of the ‘train’ had operative braking. (Remember towing a Conqueror with a Centurion…) Looks more like a PR stunt.

Martin
Editor
June 24, 2013 11:27 am

looks like that £500 million spent on the gear box was worth it. maybe we can sell these to the AA or RAC. Could be very useful on the M25 towing all those broken down trucks.

I still get really annoyed by the entire FRES debacle. it makes MRA4 look like a well worked program.

Chris
Chris
June 24, 2013 12:00 pm

Excellent! A soapbox to climb onto!

I spent a while looking into the declared MOD costs of the various CVR(T) replacement studies going back to the 80s – these were FLAV (Family of Light Armoured Vehicles), FFLAV (Future Family etc), FFLAV2, TRACER/FSCS (joint with the US Future Scout Cavalry System), TRACER, FRES. Adding together the costs with a very modest factor for inflation over the 25 year span of studies, I reached a figure in excess of £1.5Bn. In a meeting with MOD, an RTR Major explained he had looked at the costs of existing kit upgrades & life extensions and the costs of UOR vehicle programs all put in place because there still was no CVR(T) replacement, and he’d reached a figure over £1.8Bn. As it stands, the SCOUT SV D&M is testing seven warmed-over ex-Austrian Army Ulan vehicles (Ulan being the Austrian ASCOD variant).

So in these times of stretched budgets and deep cuts the MOD has tipped around £3.4Bn into the CVR(T) replacement project, and has seven second-hand 20 year old vehicles to show for it.

Bargain!

Oh let’s not forget it also has a lot of filing cabinets full of studies and reports that never see the light of day. Come on – who wouldn’t get really annoyed by this program?

Bob
Bob
June 24, 2013 1:10 pm

Wow, check out the hyperbolic ill-informed brigade.

As the video states, this IS NOT a recovery variant, this is a test platform undergoing accelerated life testing; TD was making a joke, apparently some are so full of ignorance inspired prejudice they failed to notice.

£500 million for a gearbox? Hardly, for the gearbox, engine and complete drivetrain package, turret gun and sensor combination, internal configuration, UK specific electronics integration and the design of multiple variants. All of which has been pointed out before.

As for Nimrod MRA4- when I see piles of Scout hulls that never entered service being chopped up because the project has used the entirety of its already massively increased budget despite being reduced to under half the original number requirement you might have a point. In the meantime you are talking nonsense.

And £3.4billion? That is hardly GD’s fault; it has a £500 million contract to design and prototype a family of vehicles that though derived from an existing platform are essentially a new design.

Topman
Topman
June 24, 2013 1:44 pm

@ Bob

And £3.4billion? That is hardly GD’s fault;

I don’t think anyone is blaming them singularly, more the project in it’s entireity.

oldreem
June 24, 2013 1:48 pm
Reply to  Bob

Whooaa! Who thinks it is a recovery variant, despite the intro? I suggested it’s a pointless test “even for [meaning if it were for] a real recovery variant”. I’m sure there’s something in your other points, but let’s keep it polite, eh?

Chris
Chris
June 24, 2013 1:55 pm

Bob – I didn’t hang the blame for the vast cost of CVR(T) replacement on GD, now did I? The money has been pouring away over decades and long before GD was a manufacturer with a European presence. The one constant party in this sorry affair has been MOD, and it is the constantly moving requirement with adjunct assessments of designs created for one requirement being assessed against a different new rewritten requirement (oh that will never do because we now know the vehicle has to do XYZ, not ABC) combined with apparent indecision and inability to nail the procurement program down that has allowed the cash to fritter away. Maybe the MOD teams were having just too much fun, playing in the “what-if” sandpit.

That being said, GD has come up with a very expensive solution. If it is an ASCOD lightly reworked then the expense is close to impossible to justify; if in reality a whole new vehicle is being created then why the a) pretence and b) constraint of trying to make it look exactly like the 20 year old ASCOD?

As for the vehicle – sorry, weapon system – itself, I am firmly of the mind that its big, heavy & expensive and not at all a good fit for the role. I suspect as ever its design has been skewed by the latest two operations, Tellic & Herrick, and as such it would best suit open area asymmetric ops against a largely IED threat. Turning the clock back just a few years, I doubt such a hefty machine would have suited Kosovo anywhere near as well, that environment apparently requiring small agile recce capable of negotiating narrow tracks on steep hillsides.

Anyway. I am sure there are many highly paid and knowledgeable people who believe an ASCOD-lookalike SCOUT-SV is exactly the right thing for UK forces. For the sakes of the taxpayer and the front-line soldiers I hope that’s proved right. But I can’t help thinking our forces would be better served using upgraded Warrior (same size, weight & armament and similar mobility & protection and I understand greater capacity for dismounts) in situations the SCOUT-SV would best suit, and bringing in a family of smaller cheaper agile well protected vehicles to fill the CVR(T) shaped hole in the ORBAT.

Just my opinion, you understand.

Oh and apologies everyone for starting the “FRES is just all wrong” discussion yet again. I will give myself a stiff talking-to for being so irresponsible.

IXION
June 24, 2013 2:02 pm

Bob

GD are just the latest suckers on the Teat of MOD AND army fuckwittery, with regard the: – Fictional Ridiculously Expensive Sideshow, program in all its forms.

I can’t confirm Chris’s figures but from what has escaped the smoke, mirrors and fountains of bullshit, obscurring the 20 year
clusterfuck; they seem about right. And rember folks thats 3
plus billion without a section of track or wheel to show for it.

So there’s lots more to be spent yet, on warmed over tracked Ford escort vintage: – Forign desinged. Rebuilt. Existing. Serving in other buggers armies, vehicles.

IXION
June 24, 2013 2:16 pm

Sorry tried to edit prev post but on mobile and it wont save corrections.

No appologies whatsoever for cursing FRES and all its works.

Not qualified to say if warmed over ASCOD is any good or not. But we are being royaly screwed on the price of this latest Fres.

Peter Arundel
Peter Arundel
June 25, 2013 11:32 am

If there is one thing I’ve learned about the whole FRES-SV project it’s this; If you criticise it you will incur the Wrath of Bob.

It may not be a bad vehicle but it’s certainly a deeply unimpressive one.

Chris
Chris
June 25, 2013 12:09 pm

You mean like an Austin Allegro, TD?

If you take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKfRigR29p4 at about 4:20 it shows the suspension as transverse torsion bars with what look to be Messier dampers on the first two and last ‘axles’. Just like Stormer then, and no hydrogas. Not if GD’s own marketing blah is to be believed.

Not as advanced as an Austin Allegro then.

mr.fred
mr.fred
June 25, 2013 6:38 pm

In all fairness, there are few vehicles as sophisticated as the Allegro in that regard.

oldreem
June 25, 2013 9:47 pm
Reply to  mr.fred

Didn’t rate the Allegro’s cross-country performance much, though.
The blurb says FRES-SV has dual rate suspension, so perhaps double width torsion bars/tubes. Having 7 prs of smallish looking roadwheels per side should enhance ride, I’d have thought, and allow for more deflection.
Rather like 750hp of MTU/Renk – sounds good for reliability.

Chris
Chris
June 25, 2013 10:29 pm

I have no doubt ASCOD2/SCOUT-SV will be a perfectly competent vehicle, if somewhat conservative in its design. For countries in need of 30-40t IFVs it will be ideal.

The American forces apparently use their Bradley IFVs as recce wagons. The methods used are quite different from UK style vehicle based recce; the Bradley itself stands of using fancy sensors and if a closer look is required the dismounts get the job. So I was told; this may not be entirely accurate. But the point is the US Cav does not try to snurgle its recce wagon close to the opposition and the dismounts are an integral part of the intel gathering team.

So we can I suppose assume SCOUT will be tasked along the US Cavalry lines, and the official UK method of recce will be updated. Thus far, it sort of makes sense. But we also have Warrior in the UK ORBAT which is getting protection enhancements and the same weapon as SCOUT and it will be the same sort of weight and the same sort of mobility and carries dismounts and – with the exception of fancy sensors and computing kit, its hard to see what the big difference is between upgraded Warrior and SCOUT. If Warrior is no good at recce tasks, then how come SCOUT is perfect? If SCOUT is just right for recce then why don’t we use the Warriors? Having two such similar vehicles in the Army at the same time but with almost no common support seems expensive – an extravagance we really can’t afford.

But then there is the considerable expense of development of ASCOD2 which will, once MOD has bought its fairly unimpressive quota, go on GD’s books for export and profit. It is a very expensive development that is being funded in parallel to the far less expensive Warrior upgrade. Surely we only need one or other of these, and with the hefty budget constraints wouldn’t you focus on the cheaper development, given that the two vehicles would end up so similar in capability?

I am no fan of SCOUT-SV. Not because I think the vehicle is incapable – GD/Santa Barbera/Steyr are fully skilled at making tough armour – but because SCOUT is so similar to upgraded Warrior, and not at all a CVR(T) replacement, and just so astonishingly expensive. That so large a proportion of the Land budget is being sunk in this one project when the Treasury is clawing for every penny it can scrape out of the defence budget just seems irresponsible. Especially when so many outside GD and the DE&S project team can’t see the point of it.

IXION
June 26, 2013 7:28 am

Chris
I have to agree. We will have 2 25- 40 ton armoured carrier vehicles. So 2 completely separate logistical footprints.

That alone makes me wonder after all the cuts if we have enough warriors for a sensor upgrade on some, and a general rebuild on all:- news engines transmissions, upgrade suspension etc.

Coz that would have been a damn sight cheaper and easier to live with.

wf
wf
June 26, 2013 9:24 am

: cheaper according to what? The Warrior chassis are 20 years old, minimum. Replacing the engine, turret, all the sensors…we know WLIP is going to cost 3 million per chassis, not all of which are fighting vehicles with a turret. Just buy more FRES, which will have much the same systems, better armour and a chassis and powertrain that can accept upgrades without running out of puff.

Chris
Chris
June 26, 2013 9:59 am

wf – Like ixion I would guess a make-do-and-mend Warrior upgrade would be cheaper than the ASCOD development, although such an upgrade might not provide as long a service life as the new vehicles would. I have heard a few concerns about Warrior FLIP (not going to explain further), which in conjunction with the likely earlier OSD might make Warrior upgrade look like less value for money than SCOUT. If that is the case then your statement is entirely sensible – stop the spend on Warrior (nice old thing that it is) and buy more ASCOD derivatives.

My point was that we really shouldn’t be running parallel development programmes that will end up with almost indistinguishable platforms; MOD should take the one delivering best value for the same capability and make the one hull into both IFV and Recce (if they really want a huge heavy noisy recce wagon).

Or – get best value for money IFVs and spend the cash from whichever contract ceases on smaller agile armour to cover CVR(T)/FV430 roles as the replacement programme originally intended 25 years ago. This seems to me to offer more flexibility to commanders in the field, as well as possibly offering lower whole-life costs which would either help the Chancellor’s cash-grab needs, or for the same budget might offer a numerically larger fleet.

If SCOUT is determined to be cheaper in the long run than Warrior upgrade then the UK really has lost the plot when it comes to defence design & manufacturing. Maybe those writing the requirements need to go to the School of Pragmatism rather than the University of Gold-Plate?

Tubby
Tubby
June 26, 2013 12:12 pm

Isn’t the reason why we are keeping Warrior as IFV and then planning on buying penny packets of FRES SV hulls a sure sign that we cannot afford to invest realistic amounts of money into FRES SV? Surely if there was a unlimited pot of cash, the sensible thing to do would be, in a later tranche of SV’s (I am guessing we will buy them in multiple tranches in smallish batches rather than committing to 600 new vehicles in a single contract) , to buy a FRES IFV and retire Warrior?

BTW does anyone know much about the FRES PMRS – would it have the potential to be a tracked APC with a section in the back?

Chris
Chris
June 26, 2013 3:40 pm

Tubby – Like most folk I only have access to public domain information, but looking at the images for PMRS (have you noticed the current fashion is for Four-Letter-Acronyms and not TLAs?) it appears to be precisely that; a tracked APC with a fancy name. If you are lucky someone with more insight (Bob?) will answer the question with more authority than I can muster.

mr.fred
mr.fred
June 26, 2013 6:58 pm

Chris,

The current trend is for ETLAs (Extended Three Letter Abbreviations)

IXION
June 29, 2013 7:01 am

Wf

A lot of countries almost endlessly rebuild old armour.
Including the isrealies.

New suspension tracks, engine and gearbox, add on armour and then the fancy turret electronics of choice. After all thats all fres is going to be with tbe difference they are building new 20 year old design hulls. – eventually that is, they are currently milking mod budget by doing development work on old hulls, for this new ‘ british built’ vehicle.

But if it works out cheaper or even roughly same Price then we should ditch warrior and go with fres. Rather like our myriad of light armoured or partially armoured vehicles we do like our little fleets of specialist vehicles rather than one which will do several jobs With modifications.

Mike W
June 29, 2013 11:24 am

Yes, of course “a lot of countries almost endlessly rebuild old armour”. The UK has been doing that with the FV432 series (latest manifestation “Bulldog”) for nearly half a century. However, now that particular vehicle is not merely obsolescent; it is obsolete. Warrior will reach that stage decades before the new-build FRES SV. We need new blood in our armoured fleet, desperately. I saw one Warrior at last year’s Armed Forces Day at Plymouth. Talk about rag order! It looked as if it had been towed through a hedge backwards at least half a dozen times!

However, that is not the point I wanted to make to you and others of the “Why aren’t we re-furbishing the Centurion? (“good tank!”)” brigade. The main point concerns numbers. The point has been made again and again on this site that there simply ain’t enough Warriors to cover all our needs. In fact, the point has been done to death.

Look, we shall need well over 400 Warriors for the six Armoured Infantry Battalions in the “Army 2020” set-up. Approx. 6x 60 “fighting” vehicles (with cannon) equals 360. In addition to those we shall require approx. 80 to 100 support vehicles (recovery, repair, etc.). Total 440 plus! Only 445 Warriors are scheduled for upgrading under the CSP programme out of an “affordable” fleet of 560 approx.

So how on earth are we going to conjure up the extra vehicles needed for the 3 Armoured Cavalry Regiments scheduled for the Armoured Infantry Brigade Structure? Each of those Cavalry regiments will require approx 50 vehicles for its 3 Sabre squadrons (3 x 16 per squadron = 48). Then each regiment will have its own RHQ and its own Command and Support Squadron. That means even more vehicles. That is a total, I would imagine, of well over 200 for the 3 Cavalry Regiments. Overall total for the 6 Armoured Infantry Battalions and the 3 Armoured Cavalry Regiments is already probably over 650. And I haven’t even included the number of vehicles needed to replace the CVR(T)s in the Armoured (Challenger) regiments!

Mind you, I think you make a good point when you say: “But if it works out cheaper or even roughly same price then we should ditch Warrior and go with Fres.” I would go along with that but at the moment , unless the accountants at the MOD and the procurement people have got it horribly wrong, then it must be the case that the re-furbishment of Warrior will work out more cheaply. Otherwise, why do it?

We can’t produce any more “new” Warriors. The production line closed ages ago.

Chris
Chris
June 30, 2013 7:06 am

Bovington snippet No. 3 – Brief chat with ATDU; unlikely SCOUT-SV will have room for dismounts. Too much kit (comms, sensor processing, ECM, and as recently reported a silent APU which only goes to show the power consumption of all these ‘smarts’ far exceeds the capacity for simple batteries to cover silent watch) all installed in the ASCOD dismount compartment. So concept of use reverts to existing recce from the vehicle, which means big heavy SCOUT has to get close enough to see.

Talking with various serving soldiers, the common theme is that they are at the moment not at all comfortable taking a vehicle with a head-on profile the size of Challenger forward for recce, most pointing at Scimitar 2 as the right sort of size. Worth bearing in mind that SCOUT is the same 2.5m (ish) height and 3.5m (ish) width and just 1.5m shorter than Challenger2 (excluding barrel overhang) but 2/3 the weight – read into that what you will about protection comparisons.

Mike W – I am aware of the numbers game, and the issues and costs around restarting production years/decades after a line has been closed. But consider that this was done to create Scimitar 2 – I suspect the Spartan and Scimitar lines closed when Alvis left Coventry and weren’t re-started at the Castle Works at Telford. Providing key machine tools & jigs are retained the task is possible. As for the costs involved, I believe the Scimitar 2 run was around 100 hulls & turrets, which suggests re-equipping the production line for this size run is economically viable. It would after all be just another factor to add in to the cost comparison between the two parallel programs. In any case, I am still of the mind that the recce requirement has been skewed along the way and what the army would prefer would be a smaller recce wagon, in which case the discussion then becomes ‘do we buy ASCOD IFVs to replace Warrior, or upgrade the Warrior fleet – either or’.

Mike W
June 30, 2013 9:22 am

Chris

That’s very interesting news from Bovington. I had no idea that the dimensions of SCOUT were so close to those of Challenger. That might put rather a different complexion on matters.

By the way, I did send send in a comment the other day to the effect that I thought that Scimitar 2 was a better bet than Jackal for recce purposes.

See what you’re getting at when you say: ‘do we buy ASCOD IFVs to replace Warrior, or upgrade the Warrior fleet – either or’. However, that would then still leave us with the problem of finding the extra money to fund the “smaller recce waggon”.

I think the Scimitar 2 run was closer to 60-70 but you might know more. Anyway, the smaller number would strengthen your case about production runs.

Observer
Observer
June 30, 2013 9:41 am

Honestly, I think recce IFV dimensions are a red herring, most armoured vehicle dimensions are fairly similar and detection of an armoured or semi-armoured vehicle is rather binary, yes it is there, no it is not there. Most of the time, you would go “Is that a car or a van?” instead of “Is there something there?”

And once again, that brings us back into what type of recce are you talking about. Cav screen or Div recce?

mickp
mickp
June 30, 2013 1:04 pm

I think FRES SV should be a non starter – too big, too costly for a niche role. It should go the way of Nimrod. We should have, and perhaps still can enhance the CVR(t) 2 family to provide upgraded scout capability and some light armour firepower to attach to RM / Airborne units. Then its a cost / benefit / timing issue over the warrior upgrade program and ultimately a warrior replacement, of which ASCOD could become. Save for the heavy armour brigades with Challenger / Warrior or replacement I feel the emphasis has to be lighter to give our first and second wave forces a bit more punch and protection without compromising the ability to use C17s /A440s and LCUs to move things about quickly in reasonable quantities.

x
x
June 30, 2013 1:55 pm

I would only have one armoured brigade! But as a comprise better fit with Army 2020 RF I would go to 2 square armoured brigades; 1 x T56, 2 x armoured infantry, 1 x cavalry FRR in Warrior. Then “mount” (no need really to mount them in anything really as it were) the 3 x Warrior mounted battalions stood down from high readiness in Mastiff; leaving the third T56 alone. Let’s face it if the balloon and the RF was deployed did go up one of the infantry battalions in the working-up brigade could go so there would be no shortage of infantry. It will take weeks for the armour to get anywhere anyway. FRES SV is a waste, we could have waited a decade and then gone for a Warrior replacement.

How many Scimitar 2 have we got?

Mike W
June 30, 2013 3:18 pm

x

It would be more accurate to talk about CVR(T) 2s. I think we have approximately 60 of those (all versions: the equivalents to Scimitar, Spartan, Sultan etc.) but how many of those are Scimitar equivalents, I’ve no idea. Chris thinks the overall figure is closer to 100 and he might know much more than I do.

x
x
June 30, 2013 3:39 pm

@ Mike W

Ta. So like a regiment’s worth. We should just build more of them. :(

A gun version and a sensor version in ratio of say 3 to 1.

Or just build gun versions and have sensors mounted in Viking/Bronco. (Dismounts? mini-UAV? )

Why do they make such heavy work of all this? Why? WHY? :) ;)

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
June 30, 2013 5:34 pm

If they’re doing the testing in Spain it seems a bit odd that they’re towing an Austrian tank destroyer around.

x
x
June 30, 2013 5:40 pm

The Spanish army has the ASCOD-FRES-wotsit in its orbat.

The Mintcake Maker
The Mintcake Maker
June 30, 2013 5:56 pm

It’s a shame that BAE didn’t get their collective arses into gear before the SV competition was over and offer the CV21 concept as a contender. As far as I can tell it’s a modern version of the Stormer 30, it’s got the same top speed, same width and same ability to swim. Is this necessarily a bad thing?

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20120509/DEFREG01/305090001/BAE-Scouts-Reactions-New-Lightweight-Tracked-Tank

http://www.army-technology.com/projects/stormer30/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alvis_Stormer

I think not. It’s been privately developed by BAE as a replacement for CVR(T) and at an estimated cost of just over £1m for the amount of money we’ve pissed up the wall so far on a replacement we could by somewhere between 800-1000 vehicles. We could also replace the Stormer currently used for the Shielder and HVM system as well further increasing the use of one vehicle to fill many different roles.

It’s also easily air transportable, we could pack a troop of CV21’s armed with CTA 40mm gun, enough foxhounds for a couple of platoons and some supplies in about 10 A-400m’s. Alternatively since it is supposedly amphibious we could use it with 3 Commando brigade as well. The 100 BVs10 go to support both stand-off companies (currently one is apparently based on multiple wheeled platforms) and the command company in each commando. Then use the CV21 in an APC role (carrying 8 troops like Stormer) to carry one of the close combat companies + a few armed with CTA 40mm for scouting/overwatch. Therefore leaving the other close combat company to either be lifted by helo or move on foot, whilst removing the multiple different wheeled vehicles used by 3 Commando brigade and reducing the number of BV-206s used as well.

Simples, all we need to do now is cancel FRES SV and build a completely design and built in the UK model instead with a good chance of export orders (if BAE is to be believed).

TMM

Mike W
June 30, 2013 6:05 pm

x

“Ta. So like a regiment’s worth. We should just build more of them.”

Precisely. Just about the number you need for one regiment.

“A gun version and a sensor version in ratio of say 3 to 1.”

Wouldn’t really know, I’m afraid, x, as I’m not a real expert on ratios in recce formations.

“Why do they make such heavy work of all this? Why? WHY?”

Ah, now you’re getting to the real meat of the matter. Some of these FRES vehicles should have been in service six to ten years years go. Consistently over the years matters have been made more complicated, resulting in inexcusable delays. People on this site have blamed the Army for not knowing their their own mind in terms of choice of vehicle but to me it has been the politicians who have disrupted plans again and again and again by abruptly withdrawing cash after assuring the military it was available. Can anyone really tell me that after a winner was declared in the “Trials of Death”, that it was the Army’s fault that yet another postponement was announced? The last administration was particularly to blame in this respect and now that we are in a situation where there are real (and frightening) economic problems, we haven’t got any money to buy anything.

My own view will possibly confuse you. I am for a “mix” of vehicles for recce purposes: Scimitar 2 for “Cav Screen” and FRES SCOUT for “Div Recce”. They are not my terms but Observer’s (who, I believe, is a Cavalry man) and I think I have probably confused him too! Have I got them the right way round, Observer?

IXION
June 30, 2013 6:11 pm

Why do they make such heavy work of all this? Why? WHY? :) ;)

X

I suspect irony in that comment, but if not it’s a good question!

After all its easy to cry fools and naves; but not all of the people in all of the positions of power can be fuckwits can they ???!!!

I would like to know where this fleets within fleets of myriad types of vehicle with penny packets of new vehicle purchased to do seemingly similar jobs.

One example I use is that we have, several vehicles in the sub 10 ton armoured 4×4 ‘protected vehicle’ class. Puma, jackal (Plus coyote) , Husky, (leaving aside such ‘temporary lashups as vector, wimik , snatch etc}….

Why ? all have been purchased in the last 10 years or so.

Observer
Observer
June 30, 2013 6:22 pm

Actually recce not cav :)

And Div recce (according to RT, we use the term Brigade Recce, though there is some trickle down especially UK Brigade recce in Afganistan) doesn’t actually use armoured vehicles much, too hard to sneak a tank, even a pup tank, through enemy lines, heli-drop with bikes or land rover equivalents is more the proceedure.

As for Cav screen, it really doesn’t matter in the end if you use either Scimitar or FRES, both can get the job done. It’s a bit like asking Ford or Toyota.

But I really really agree that the economy is king of this particular battlefield, so guess it is either refurbishment or *cough*.. second hand…

Maybe a look at what people are trying to get rid of might be worthwhile? After all, Indonesia almost got 100 Leopard MBTs for 1M USD apiece, maybe we might be able to find some bargains.

x
x
June 30, 2013 6:48 pm

@ Mike W

I was joking, I know why. :)

It is a mess. I would sacrifice two armoured infantry battalion’s worth of Warrior for the FRR instead of buying FRES. Seeing as we are only likely to deploy one armoured brigade in the future given the Army’s projected as I outline above. I am not sure in these days of drones and UAV and EODs etc. we need as much human based eyes balls on intel, but we do still need some. And I am not sure all vehicles need those expensive sensors that is why I suggested 1 in 3 and something boxy to carry them (though a single hull may be better, who knows?) It would be better if the vehicle was lighter than FRES-SV so it could be shoved into ships and planes, and cross Third World bridges. That leads us back to Scimitar/Stormer CVR(T). Not as heavily armoured as FRES SV or Warrior, but better than Jackal for some of the more confrontational work. I know Red Trousers thinks the space-frame buggy is the way to go for recce, but it falls down for other stuff where a nice cannon, co-axial MG, armoured plate, perhaps turret mounted ATGM, etc. etc. would be nice to have. Perhaps we need a couple of regiments in buggies and some more in something bigger and a bit more aggressive? Wot a mess.

Mike W
June 30, 2013 6:51 pm

Observer

Thanks for the reply. So I did muddle things up as usual!

“But I really really agree that the economy is king of this particular battlefield, so guess it is either refurbishment or *cough*.. second hand…

Maybe a look at what people are trying to get rid of might be worthwhile?”

Good idea. Certainly sounds as if it needs to be looked into!

Observer
Observer
June 30, 2013 7:00 pm

x, maybe some perspective? :)

While admittedly a limited sample, both the people that are in recce here both agree cannons, co-ax, ATGMs etc (aka armoured units) are totally the wrong way to go about long range recce. Cav screen and battalion/regiment level recce, definately, but long range, no. It’s like an infantryman going “I need an MG, ATGM, MANPAD, body armour and a mortar.” You end up killing yourself with overcapability and the price you pay for it. In the case of long range recce, you sacrifice stealth, which is the main thing keeping you alive that deep in enemy territory. Think LURPS.

x
x
June 30, 2013 7:57 pm

@ Observer

Perspective? Maybe you should look what a British FRR actually does? It performs not only ISTAR but all the other cavalry tasks too. Red Trousers will often speak of light high speed vehicles that cover the recce, but these aren’t really the vehicle for the more combative tasks where you want to over match the opposition in firepower and do so from a more secure vehicle than one that is completely open. FRES SV is too heavy, complicated, and for a vehicle of its size a but under gunned. We need a cavalry vehicle that can fight, is easier deploy than an MBT, and does a little more move cavalrymen across the countryside (especially in these days of UAV and drones). Further if the Army wants all these expensive sensors networked they are going to have something bigger than a buggy anyway. Hence the discussion about mix of platforms Scimitar/Stormer and Viking/Bronco that are at the lighter end of the tracked spectrum. In summary the discussion is concerned with more than ISTAR. We need a vehicle that can actually attrite the enemy as well as perform recce. And seeing as we have had a vehicle with a cannon and co-axial MG doing all that work for the best part of 40 years perhaps we should continue in the same vein? Even if it is a compromise.

oldreem
oldreem
June 30, 2013 8:33 pm
Reply to  Observer

Having seen all the CVR(T) and 430 replacement projects come and go (and having voluntarily funded CVR(T) dieselisation from the maintenance budget in early 90s when others couldn’t or wouldn’t pick it up), I do wonder whether some contributors are risking what has rightly been criticised in earlier posts – second guessing or changing mind on requirements, allowing the beancounters to divide and rule. Yet more emptus interruptus?

Chris
Chris
June 30, 2013 11:02 pm

Oldreem – I don’t quite see it from that perspective; while defining a fixed requirement based on definite operational need is the start point for the MOD procurement process, I have misgivings that the Main Building Crystal Ball foresees the future need but rather reflects the immediately previous operational need as if it is the only future. But WW2 was different to Korea was different to the Cold War was different to The Troubles in Ulster was different to the Falklands Campaign was different to Kosovo was different to the Gulf War was different to Astan. I strongly doubt any OR Branch desk officers accurately predicted the User Need for the next conflict in advance, so when I look at the vehicle resulting from the FRES OR, all I see is an ideal vehicle to fight in Afghan against IED armed insurgents. Turning the clock back, had SCOUT-SV been the recce wagon in service when the Falklands or Kosovo brewed up, I doubt it would have been suitable. CVR(T) was just fine for those ops.

So in my mind I perceive advantage in giving Commanders and Planners a range of tools and equipment from which a fighting force can be constructed and optimized. As such, building 32t+ half-pint MBT SCOUT-SV and upgrading 35t Warrior to the same weapon and (ish) protection is duplication, thus reducing Planning flexibility. Like most who post here, I see much greater benefit in a smaller more agile recce wagon family of say 14t combat weight that would have performed pretty well in the Falklands or Kosovo. If the environment is more open and IED prone then maybe the optimum platform for recce is upgraded Warrior. Or Challenger – whatever the Planners determine. But deleting the lighter agile combat armour is applying a constraint on the Planners that may hurt us in the next hoohar to brew up, which if history is a good teacher will most likely be completely different to Op Herrick.

Observer
Observer
July 1, 2013 5:17 am

x, once again, I have to ask you specifically, battalion recce or division recce? Both units are called “recce” but their MO are totally different due to how deep they need to penetrate and gether info. And stay alive.

FRR is short range recce or cav screen as you also pointed out, here, an IFV can work, and even opens some tactics like recce by fire or as us long range guys call it, recce by suicide. Shoot at the enemy and watch what comes back. On the other hand, if you are long ranged recce and you are talking about things like overmatch and attrition rates, you are already a dead man, you can never overmatch or attrite an entire enemy army when you are stuck so deep behind the enemy defence lines, within their resource marshalling areas and support, they can bring up honking lots more troops than you can possibly kill.

So once again, you have to understand that “recce” is a phrase that is very broad brush, and usuallly but not exclusively covers 2 different types of recce that have different requirements and at different ranges and even different jobs and usages. Close recce by IFV works because the estimated distance they wander is approx 8 km from a battlegroup, MBT/artillery support is very close by and can be counted to back them up. Long range is approx 60km behind enemy lines, no MBTs no tube artillery and GMRLS is too valuable to expose to counterfire just to save 4-6 men.

All in all, for the long range role, I have to side with RT on this one. Small, fast, sneaky. Armoured like a tank only comes if you can deliver without compromising sneakiness or deliverability.

Chris
Chris
July 1, 2013 7:43 am

Obs – ref “Small, fast, sneaky. Armoured like a tank only comes if you can deliver without compromising sneakiness or deliverability.” I think I sort of agree, except there is a spectrum spanning many levels of sneaky snurgliness from RT’s combat bicycles at one end to mahoosive Scout at the other. For the purposes of equipping the Army with a recce wagon that could seamlessly pick up CVR(T) roles, I favour vehicles in the Stormer bracket – I suspect trying to offer tactically mobile armour at CVR(T) size & weight is no longer viable due to 1) more potent threats, 2) the mandate to accommodate 97th percentile personnel, and 3) the massive increase in computer, comms and ECM electrickery that must be fitted to everything. But I do expect the Stormer-sized vehicles to be well armed for their role, very agile, quick & mobile, very quiet, very protective of the most valuable part of the system (the personnel within), and cheap* so many can be bought and fielded and supported without breaking the budget.

*Cheap as in much, much cheaper than the current choice, in terms of purchase, maintenance, training, fuel economy, logistic tail.

Observer
Observer
July 1, 2013 9:01 am

Ouch Chris.

You want:
Lots of space for electronics
Well armed
Agile
Quick
Mobile
Quiet
Well Armoured
Cheap
Fuel Efficient

Think we need a magic wand for this one, or a genie.

Mobility, armour, well gunned, cheap. Pick 2.

x
x
July 1, 2013 10:16 am

@ Observer

Once again I ask you do you know what a British cavalry regiment, ie one not mounted in the Challenger 2 main battle tank actually does? The cavalry regiments may be designated as Force Reconnaissance Regiment but they do a lot more than reconnaissance. FRES SV is too big and too complicated. Jackal is too open and under gunned. We live in an era of UAV and other ISTAR assets. We also live in an era where MRAPs need to be escorted and screened. Where areas need to be denied to snipers and mortar teams so the Army sticks a troop in Scimitar on high ground so RARDEN can interdict the enemy. We live in an era where the MBT seems to be coming to the end of its evolution, where conflicts can happen anywhere not just Germany, and yet we still need a vehicle that is mobile with good firepower that can move without the need to consider the infantry section in the back. Nowhere I have said RT as an expert is wrong about the light fast vehicle for recce; it has been me who has been banging on about making sure such vehicles fit into helicopters so patrols can be moved a great speed to cover large areas. But such vehicles can’t do the rest of the light cavalry’s work. And though FRES is better armoured it is too large. We are going to field two vehicles in the cavalry role that sit at extremes after 40 years of fielding a family of vehicles that were an acceptable compromise. Instead of building on the former and improving on it by learning from mistakes HMG has gone an entirely different route.

I know about reconnaissance, it is you appears to know little about what British cavalry regiments

Chris
Chris
July 1, 2013 10:16 am

Obs – There’s nothing like a challenge to get the engineer engaged*.

I did caveat ‘cheap’ as cheaper than Scout – not difficult you might think… The basic armoured vehicle, I learnt from a very experienced fellow, may be costed by weight. It transpires that once all the costs are carefully built up from component prices, build costs and installation costs, there is a correlation between calculated cost and weight across the industry. At first it seemed a bit odd, but if you think about it, a bigger heavier vehicle needs a bigger heavier more expensive engine and a bigger heavier more expensive transmission and so on. Until fairly recently (2008ish) armoured vehicles seemed to be available at about £35/kg. The kilo unit price might be a bit higher now. So. My suggested 14t vehicle vs. the basic 32t ASCOD AFV would be somewhere around half the price – just for the basic armoured vehicle. Fancy appliqué armour would cost by its area for the same stuff – smaller vehicle wins again. Weapons, comms, ECM and all the over-rated unreliable bug-ridden processors (no bias here then) would be just as expensive no matter what size vehicle they are glued into. Smaller lighter vehicles are cheaper than big heavy ones. That’s just a fact of life.

Armour next. There are a raft of MRAP vehicles offering sound blast protection at modest weight. Even monstrous Mastiff is only 22t compared to Scout’s 32 – 45t. I am pretty convinced it is possible to achieve good all-round protection for the personnel without approaching MBT proportions. besides which, to a degree having smaller size presents a more difficult target, lighter weight permits use of routes that could not support the mass of heavier vehicles enabling avoidance of choke-points, high speed also makes targeting more difficult for the enemy. Protection isn’t always about the weight of ironmongery you wrap round the truck.

Weaponry – 40CTA fits just lovely on small vehicles even if 1) the long barrel is a nuisance and 2) the necessary long overhang and RHS hamster-cheek at the front of the turret required to make room for the unusual ammo feed configuration makes hull roofplate real-estate management awkward. But possible. Currently attempting to offer any other comparable gun is met with total rejection by MOD – apparently they want CTA. End of.

Mobility – Not difficult to get to Jackal levels of mobility for wheeled hulls if the engineer is good (modesty forbids!) and with a bit of lateral thinking exceptional tracked mobility is possible. In a smaller lighter hull this can be achieved without recourse to Scout’s really quite expensive Renk transmission.

In your list of four the two I pick are all four thanks.

I think the point I’m making here is if the MOD chose to buy conservatively, then the basis of their future vehicle will be something tried and tested and in the case of ASCOD fielded for the past 20 years. The thinking and the configuration and to a degree the technology will be tramlined by the starting point. If instead the design is constructed around today’s technology rather than the state of the 1990s art, there are advantages available.

There are further advantages to MOD if they approach business differently. One of my constant frustrations is seeing just how long and drawn out the current process has become. I have offered suggestions to people many and various in suitably authoritative positions on how the procurement could be faster and cheaper, but apparently the Process currently in place is more important than getting necessary stuff to the front line while its still needed. I don’t think GOCO is going to help, sadly. Indeed, I for one would be very nervous about handing commercially sensitive information to MOD if it was to be passed to a consortium of international heavyweights potentially including corporations competing in the same field. Talk about giving away the family silver!?!

*For ‘engaged’ you may read ‘obsessed’…

Frenchie
Frenchie
July 1, 2013 11:11 am

http://defense-update.com/features/du-3-05/feature-HED-afv.htm

If I remember correctly, this is swedish vehicle that the British army would have to buy about the FRES project, this before the war in Afghanistan, then they noticed that light vehicles could not support the explosion of mines of high power, then they have worked on larger vehicles, and they end up with this monster will survive to strong explosions but is everything but not a recce vehicle. While the technology is not required to make heavy vehicles to survive explosions.

x
x
July 1, 2013 11:24 am

@ Frenchie

It isn’t much of a cavalry vehicle in any sense.

Chris
Chris
July 1, 2013 11:42 am

x – to be fair to BAE (I’ll wash my mouth out with soap & water later) the SEP programme produced two technology demonstrators for electric drive. I am sure the Hagglunds engineers were not shooting for a recce vehicle pre-production model.

But these are now best part of 15 years old and the technology has moved on. Where most of the hull was filled with generator batteries control electronics and in the case of the tracked version electric traction motors, the volume of a modern driveline of comparable power would be reduced. So where SEP had little volume for the fighty stuff, AFVs using modern electric traction technology could package as well as mechanically driven vehicles.

Although I did smile at your comment, wondering if SEP failed as a cavalry vehicle ‘in any sense’ was because it lacked a leg in each corner and had no ears over which to hang a nosebag? (Puts on tin hat – INCOMING!)

oldreem
July 1, 2013 12:17 pm

I take your points, Chris. The FRES SV figure that horrified me in an earlier post was 3.5m wide; but guess that must be with the stand-off mesh, not the bare hull? Bridge class in some countries an obvious worry too. But plenty of Warriors operated in Bosnia (don’t know abut Kosovo). Falklands was perhaps unique – I wonder whether even a ~15t vehicle with modern bells & whistles could achieve the very low ground pressure of a Scimitar without them? I agree that 2 vehicle families of similar size/weight (and in the same units) looks daft: by the time WR actually is upgraded the hulls will be 25+ years old. Taking CR1 > CR2 as an example, it would doubtless have been possible to re-turret CR1 and add a few minor hull mods, but a clean sweep was a much better bet (altho’ the export version automotives would have been better still); a similar approach for WR, even if spread over a longer period, would as others have suggested be far better. And they’ll all be in the 3 ‘heavy’ brigades. (Incidentally, as I recall the WR section veh started off @ 24t; is it really up to 35t?)
I wonder too whether the recent human rights court case (which has been widely misreported) might now influence MoD to play safe with protection levels? That could add to the case for something beefier than Jackal in the Adaptable Force; but dumping FRES SV, after all the other changes of mind over the last 2 decades+ seems too risky a way to achieve that – yet another ‘end of the rainbow’. And you’re dead right about the Process – rigorous, unctuous compliance with EU rules, unlike many other nations.
As ever, the Army seems to be on the hind teat on equipment compared with the other 2 services, which seem to think in at least one more nought than us.

Frenchie
Frenchie
July 1, 2013 12:24 pm

In 2020 we will all wheeled vehicles and the heaviest will weigh 30 tons, they will all be transportable by A400M, except Leclerc, of course. I don’t know who is right or wrong, small rapidly deployable vehicles or heavy vehicles, only the future will tell.

Rocket Banana
July 1, 2013 12:46 pm

“…small rapidly deployable vehicles or heavy vehicles…”

I’d very much like both, although I’d trade all our Challenger II and AS-90 for something based on a common chassis and weighing in at no more than 35t a piece.

Frenchie
Frenchie
July 1, 2013 1:03 pm

@Simon

http://www.military-today.com/artillery/donar.htm

On the other hand, I don’t know how would weigh Ascod SV 120mm gun ?

x
x
July 1, 2013 1:16 pm

@ Chris

Whoops! I meant ASCOD-FRES-SV. :)

No I like the BAE demonstrator vehicle. I find electric drive and band tracks and such very interesting, To be honest I would be a little less anti-tracked-vehicle-other-than-Warrior if the MoD had purchased CV90. But only a little. Perhaps more if we had just bought Bofors 40mm instead of buying 40CTA however good it is supposedly or not. But I would have been less anti.

For me Stormer/Scimitar 2 is the ideal compromise. Not much different in size to Jackal. Tracked which I favour for cavalry vehicles mostly. I say favour not prefer there is a difference. I suppose we could even have Sultan-esque vehicles for sensors; though Viking Bronco would give us more room even though twin hull is probably not the best. Or how about “female” Sultan fire support version? Back to the 70’s……..

As always everything is a compromise. I could see a “world” where the heavy formations have Warrior as the cavalry wagon, the light brigades with Stormer/Scimitar 2, the rest of Army ( both Regular and TA, infantry mounted in MRAP) with say Sphinx, and there even being room for space frame vehicle in 1 or 2 specialist independent recce only regiments. You can play mix and match fantasy fleet all day.

What is replacing Scimitar in the armoured infantry battalions recce platoons?

Jackal has always looked wrong to me. Sorry. Said it. And I say that as Land Rover person who spent a lot of time reading about SAS patrols in Pinkies.

EDIT: What is the 6×6 space frame vehicle somebody in the UK was flogging? Can’t remember.

Rocket Banana
July 1, 2013 1:52 pm

Frenchie,

You get the impression from the General Dynamics site that ASCOD-SV with the 120mm gun is going to tip in at the 42 tonne mark. A touch too heavy for me.

Rocket Banana
July 1, 2013 2:00 pm

“What is replacing Scimitar in the armoured infantry battalions recce platoons?”

I though the whole of CVR(T) was being replaced with ASCOD?

So for Scimitar it’s just ASCOD with a 30mm RARDEN (or the 40mm CTA-Int that replaces it)???

Rocket Banana
July 1, 2013 2:08 pm

Just out of curiosity, is the way the CT40 works (a rotating breech, if you’d call it that) unique?

Frenchie
Frenchie
July 1, 2013 2:12 pm

@ Simon

I think you need a smaller vehicle to make intelligence, a six-ton ​​vehicle, I have no ideas for the moment, but a vehicle better than Jackal.

Chris
Chris
July 1, 2013 2:27 pm

TD, x – hmmm. I’m not too convinced yet about TMV, having stood next to one at DSEi and found out just how big it really is. And its not that heavy, and the motor has modest power, and the iron diesel engine is in a pocket right under the gunners feet. Not what I’d want as a footrest in IED country. I think the diagram on this page: http://www.armyrecognition.com/united_kingdom_british_army_wheeled_vehicle_uk/tmv_6x6_m_sf_military_special_forces_reconnaissance_vehicle_data_sheet_description_specifications_uk.html shows the size of the thing quite well.

Oldreem – Wiki says ASCOD is 3.5m wide, this page: http://www.army-technology.com/projects/ascod/ says 3.15m. Wiki may have a typo. But its still a very big profile to offer the enemy – faced with something of that bulk I’m guessing the threat assessment will be ‘tank’ and it will be high on the opposition’s hit list. As for ground pressure of Stormer-sized vehicles vs. Scimitar, I did sums. According to a report titled “STANDARDS FOR THE MOBILITY REQUIREMENTS OF MILITARY VEHICLES” by Maj. JC Larminie for the Journal of Terramechanics in 1988, the MMP of Scorpion was 106kPa (at 9t combat weight). I have a 13t design which I have calculated the ground pressure for, taking roadwheel and track construction into account and using the authorized calculation, and its MMP comes to 116kPa. By comparison Stormer was 135kPa and FV432 205kPa. So while your specific statement is true, careful design can yield ground pressures within spitting distance of that for Scimitar. Also, when you take into account the ever so slight overloading the Army chooses to employ (a Sultan in the Lancers I once met waddled along at 12t – a 30% overload) then ground pressure might be lower than current CVR(T). As for the ASCOD/FRES/Scout program continuing, I expect nothing can stop it now, after all there are so many depending on its introduction. Not soldiers, you understand, but the decision makers of MOD, civil service and government whose promotions and pensions depend upon the ultimate press release proclaiming Scout is in service and perfect for the job. Or is that just too cynical?

Simon – so far the CTA breech mechanism is unique. Originally there were two designs, one GIAT and the other ATK if I remember right, but they pooled resources for a while and ATK might have backed out by the time BAE joined the fun. I think its quite clever, but I can’t say if it brings problems fixed breech guns don’t have. It does make for easy installation, although the RHS front of turret needs a lot of space for the autoload mechanism.

Frenchie
Frenchie
July 1, 2013 2:40 pm

I have not yet understood what is the use of your Panther vehicle, can you explain, please?

oldreem
July 1, 2013 2:44 pm

P.S. to my last – surely the IED is the big asymmetric game-changer of the last decade? (Yes, in NI in the ’70s but) now its effectiveness is common knowledge worldwide plus internet know-how, wherever we go in future the local Tom, Dick and Terry (insert local equivalents) are likely to try their hand.

Chris
Chris
July 1, 2013 2:57 pm

Frenchie – if you ever find out what use Panther is, please let the rest of us know…

Rocket Banana
July 1, 2013 3:43 pm

Chris,

Yes, I’m quite impressed with the design too.

x
x
July 1, 2013 6:14 pm

@ TD

Yes, thank you.

@ Chris

Yes it is big. It is more the chassis that interest me. I view the space frame recce vehicle more as demonstration vehicle; easier to bend tube and use flat sheet than build a proper body for demo work. Never sure about weight to counter IED and other mine threats. Science tells me, yes heavy but my intuition says light. The chassis is scalable so some of the height could be lost. If it isn’t hunting or being hunted by a peer perhaps height might not be as much as a problem? There is always scope to change engines to improve power to weight. As for the driver position well,

http://www.militarymodelling.com/sites/1/images/article_images_month/2009-05/jk19.jpg

isn’t as safe as,

http://www.peztco.com/fileup/Immagini/6x6m_sf__6871.jpg

surely? If similar material are used that is. After all there is only so far a body can be from the road in any vehicle.

Body on frame (chassis) construction (using hydraulics and electrical controls) would mitigate transmission of shock. etc. and so on

I am fan of odd technologies like QuadTrac and Mattracks to reduce ground pressure.

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/4/4d/171724_191455860884334_118189018211019_601717_5636797_o.tif/lossy-page1-1024px-171724_191455860884334_118189018211019_601717_5636797_o.tif.jpg

mr.fred
mr.fred
July 1, 2013 6:19 pm

Simon,

The USA spent about forty years and over $200m on cased telescoped ammunition. In that time they assessed many different operational concepts, including push-through breech mechanisms.
The Government Audit Office report* notes, most damningly:
“Cased Telescoped Ammunition is ballistically inefficient with inherent performance, weight, volume and cost problems”
Fundamentally, I don’t see how these problems can have been resolved, so I remain somewhat concerned with the dedication to the CTA concept.

* http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a370886.pdf

Chris
Chris
July 1, 2013 7:15 pm

Mr Fred – I see the concerns you have. I am in no position to argue either way, although I do recall finding a presentation in Googlespace recording the success of a 10,000 round durability trial (or something like that). As for round efficiency, presumably the round and the barrel are comfortably matched to deliver their best; they may not produce a muzzle velocity to match similar mass ‘normal’ rounds, but quite effective all the same. Again, I heard somewhere that the blunt rounded shell was deliberately chosen to increase warhead volume, where a pointy shell would possibly have gone further faster but with a smaller bang. It all sounds quite rational. Cost of rounds I suspect has more to do with economies of scale than mechanics of construction.

x – ref heavy vs. light – its all to do with pressure. If the vehicle (in this case) has an underside area big enough, and the blast event a pressure front large enough, then the force on the vehicle underside may exceed vehicle weight and suddenly its an aircraft. In cases where vehicles have been launched by blast, the occupants have generally fared badly. While careful shaping can deflect some of the blast front, and vertical ground clearance can allow the pressure front to dissipate a bit before impact, there still needs to be enough mass to counter the elevating force. But this is less a question of absolute mass, more like a required density – the minimum weight needs to go up as the underside area increases. Aside from flipping though, if a large structure doesn’t weigh as much as might be expected, it suggests the robustness of the structure – its blast or ballistic protection – might be less than expected too. Like I said, with respect to TMV I’m just not sure about this one yet.

x
x
July 1, 2013 7:40 pm

@ Chris

Yes I appreciate what happens when thrust overcomes an object’s weight. :)

Looking at the design there appears to be enough scope for “adding” weight.

Overpressure is a bigger concern to me than physical injuries caused by bodies coming into contact with vehicle innards. Blast seats etc. can mitigate the latter. Overpressure different problem.

I know Jackal’s spec’s. And I still don’t like it. ;)

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a7/LeopardVehicleIWMN.jpg/800px-LeopardVehicleIWMN.jpg

mr.fred
mr.fred
July 1, 2013 8:10 pm

Chris,

It may yet surprise us. We can but hope, being as we will be reliant on it for some years. However, the experience from the US is that CTA guns do not obturate as well as conventional guns and therefore use more propellant, producing higher recoil, more barrel heating, more wear. Referring to page 8 of the technical section of the above report, the CTA concepts use far more propellant to throw a lighter projectile at a lower velocity in most instances.

While guns can fire large quantities of ammunition without a failure, these tests often do not mention allowance for scheduled maintenance. If, for the sake of example, you had to replace a barrel every 2,000 rounds in a CTA gun vs 5000 rounds in a conventional gun, that would happen and both would have a reliability of 10,000 rounds without unexpected failure despite the CTA gun going through five barrels vs. the conventional guns two. Referring to page 3 of the technical section, the barrel life difference is anything up to two orders of magnitude.

mr.fred
mr.fred
July 1, 2013 8:39 pm

x,
Do you have any figures on the lethality of overpressure and how that translates to the size of the explosion? I’ve never been able to find an authoritative source, but what I have found implies that overpressure on its own isn’t really that lethal.

Observer
Observer
July 1, 2013 8:43 pm

Actually, regarding blast, a very fair chunk of the IED injuries involved “thrown from turret” type of injuries where the people inside the protective shell are fine, but turret occupant is catapulted from the turret and is injured not from the blast, but when he lands badly. Which is a bit funny if you remember the old joke of not being scared of heights, just the sudden stop at the end. Or think of the trouble trying to reconstruct a shin with multiple fractures involves or broken hip.

Really need to find a way to stop these human cannonball launches.

Ant
Ant
July 1, 2013 9:53 pm

Re: Stopping human canonball launches
I heard somewhere (can’t remember where sorry) that a “blast chimney” built through the centre of the vehicle helped reduce force enormously. Presumably not a common design feature because of the adverse trade off against space and use…. Any one know more?

Chris
Chris
July 1, 2013 9:55 pm

Mr Fred – the cutaway rounds I’ve seen of CT ammo apparently have the propellant granules packed around the projectile directly. It strikes me that once ignited, as the projectile moves forward the propellant is unsupported and can collapse in any random fashion, with consequent uncertain flame front propagation. Thus the driving pressure behind the projectile may be low or lop-sided when the sealing ring hits the rifling. Maybe this is a factor in the difference between normal rounds and CTA. To my simplistic engineer mind the answer is blindingly simple, and that is to sleeve the cartridge around the projectile so that the propellant is in a separate annular chamber shielded from the sides of said projectile, the pressure forcing around the back of the sleeve only so that 1) all the pressure is behind the projectile not squeezing in from all sides, and 2) the propellant granules remain supported by the inner sleeve even when the projectile is trundling up the barrel and thus burn in as controlled a manner as in a cylindrical cartridge case. CTA if you are reading this my fee is very reasonable.

Obs – ref ejection injuries. Suggest we tie all head-out personnel to the vehicle with strong Acme bungee cord. Then if there’s a sudden smoke & deafness event, the ejected crew member would, just before meeting the ground, be snatched back inside the hatch in fine Wile E. Coyote fashion, thus saving him/her from injuries upon hitting the nasty hard rocky terrain. Job done. Beep beep!

Ever so slightly more sensible though, its a hard choice whether to restrain personnel in harnesses or not. I’m guessing not is the preferred option. A quick relevant aside: I was at Donington race track back in the 80s watching vintage car racing. One of the types of car that was always competitive was a Fraser Nash, which had a transmission that was a set of chained cogs of varying ratios selected by on/off dog-clutches that directly drove a solid rear axle. No differential. To make the system work the rear track had to be narrow to minimise bad effects of the lack of the differential. So far so good. At the bottom of the Craner Curves I watched quite horrified as one of the Fraser Nash competitors overcooked the bend and the car just tumbled. The driver sat high and unprotected by what little bodywork there was, but had no seat belts or harness. The car rolled something like four times over, but on the first flip the driver was thrown clear, doing several high speed rolls of his own. The car settled on its wheels, engine still running, the driver picked himself up, sprinted back to the car and rejoined the race like nothing had happened. Good man! The point of the tale is obvious; had he been strapped into the car he would have been beyond medical help. Sometimes leaving the vehicle is not a bad thing.

Rocket Banana
July 1, 2013 10:06 pm

Okay, I’d like to revoke my statement about the great idea.

The rotating breech (sorry if that’s not what it’s called) is a great idea.

The telescoped round is plain daft.

You’re naturally creating an annular pressure wave which will put huge stress on the barrel. Yes, the pressure should eventually move round to the rear of the projectile but not without consequences.

I can understand the drive for a compact round but think that it would be simpler to have a “dial a projectile” and then a “dial a charge” concept, each pushed into the breech and then rotated into position, fired, rotated and ejected.

mr.fred
mr.fred
July 2, 2013 6:23 am

Chris,

Every time the issue of restraints is raised, someone always comes up with an anecdote about how a lack of restraint is beneficial. It remains that in the vast, vast majority of cases that leaving the vehicle is an extremely bad thing to happen. Most modern vehicles have roll cages, armoured vehicle seats have a facility to drop the seats into the vehicle. If it’s an energy attenuating seat then this will happen, to a degree, automatically in the even of a mine blast.
In the mean time, unrestrained bodies will be flung into vehicle walls, roofs and hatch surrounds with shocking violence. Even if all these projections are missed, the hapless squaddie may well end up underneath the vehicle as it comes down. Squish.
Faith in being thrown clear is a problem that the army is having to deal with, because it is a pervasive myth.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 8:09 am

Mr fred – fully understand the position; in the case of personnel inside vehicles I cannot argue for lack of seatbelts or restraint harnesses. I think the case weakens once someone is half in, half out of a vehicle. Its a risky place to be for all sorts of reasons including rolling over and tripwires and rooftop snipers and Molotov cocktails and – you get the point – the issue of mine launched human cannonball is but another of the risks of not staying under armour. A restraint system that made sure the man/woman stayed firmly half in, half out would surely be the worst possible solution almost guaranteeing major injury or very unpleasant fatality, so your restraint system would need to yank the unfortunate into the vehicle while at the same time not permitting latitude to crash around inside the vehicle like a tethered ping-pong ball. Leaving aside the impact injuries of bits of body arguing with hatch sides, the acceleration and hard stop required to get someone inside before nasties happen would in themselves be very risky. This is a bit different from a fast jet ejector seat, where there is only one option to take to survive and in which the seat acceleration related injuries are accepted as an improvement over stoofing into unforgiving terrain.

I sense you expect head-out ops to then require the soldier to be strapped to a seat which is elevated thus projecting said soldier’s head above armour. Doesn’t work that way with ring mounts, unless these are now all to be fitted with robust baskets and become open-top turrets by a different name. Doesn’t work with pintle mounts because of the body swing required of the gunner. I suspect many other head-out tasks require free unseated movement too.

I suggest the only way to keep vehicle personnel safe from head-out related injuries is to prevent head-out operation. With all the modern fancy sensor systems and remote weapons fits and mandated situational awareness camera systems this becomes a viable option; as I stated much earlier possibly in this thread when I offered a vehicle concept to current Army personnel that denied head-out capability in favour of electronic vision it was rejected outright and has since been given a hefty revision to allow the personnel to perch half in half out just like they want.

Our soldiers use their equipment to the best operational advantage they can wring from it. For good operational reasons they need to operate head out; yes its risky but being a soldier is for the most part a pretty risky job involving commitment and risk taking and even self sacrifice for the good of their oppos and the military need. Those of us who engage in design of their equipment surely must take all measures to prevent unnecessary and avoidable hazards, but at some point we have to respect the soldier’s need to do things to get the job done that would not be sanctioned in civi street.

As for rolling out anecdotes? The example I used in the earlier post was not something I heard about over a pint – I was there; it happened no more than 30m in front of me and I imagine I still have photos somewhere of the guy running back to the car to carry on. No anecdote, an example. I was also at the Goodwood Revival (most excellent event; wouldn’t miss it) on the occasion where at the start of a 50’s F1 race Nigel Corner’s Ferrari was launched over the wheels of another competitor and he was flung out of the cockpit (no belts in these old cars) and thrown like a rag-doll 100ft into the air and landed on that hard unforgiving terrain. Over a dozen broken bones and punctured lungs, but the man survived to race again after a very lengthy recovery (only one race though – I guess the accident reshaped his risk-reward assessment). He would possibly have been better staying with the car as I believe it landed right way up and despite its full tank of highly volatile racing fuel I don’t recall it suffering a fire. But of course if it landed shiny side down, or caught fire/exploded, then the mass of injuries the man suffered as an independent projectile were the better option. Again, no anecdote, just an example.

wf
wf
July 2, 2013 8:46 am

, @mr.fred: if head out is considered essential, perhaps armoured vehicles could go Merkva style and get an armoured parasol on a robust rollbar stricture? Wouldn’t work for an MBT given the size of the rollbar, but would for Foxhound/ CVR(T) and the like

Observer
Observer
July 2, 2013 8:55 am

Chris, that happens in vehicles, thrown or rolling clear happens very often especially when you get people who have not even rode a bicycle before to jump straight to motorcycles, so yes, I saw a lot of that in basic training and beyond.

However, mines and IEDs are a totally different story. The forces involved are huge, much, much greater than a rollover or a collision. You are talking about force levels that have been known to trash MBTs and crush “mine protected vehicles”. To put it in perspective, what would you think would happen if one of your racing cars rolled over a mine?

Unfortunate part is, you are also very very right in saying this is a problem without a good solution. At minimum, I would recommend arm and shin guards, but once again, that is very little defence. RWS, maybe, but the question mark lies in how much situational awareness is lost and how badly will that affect ops.

Guess we hit the limit with that line of progress, so we just have to wait and see.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 10:29 am

Obs – As I noted further back in this thread, there is more to protection than just the thickness of armourplate nailed over the vehicle’s outsides. Shape and ground clearance offer some blast mitigation, even the blast chimney Ant mentioned earlier (unsure of the science but difficult to engineer into a usable vehicle configuration; it might also open up – pun! – other ballistic weaknesses, like what happens if a device lobbed in explodes halfway down). Then there are blast attenuating seats and floating floor structures and restraint systems an even airbags although no-one has tried them yet. The one factor often overlooked is mobility. If you are in Mastiff then you stay on the roadway. Its big and heavy and has the off-road mobility of a bendy-bus. If you are in an agile vehicle with low ground pressure and better still tracks, then the routes in which the IEDs are generally dug are no longer the only option. The vehicle that was modified to become the oddly armoured Jackal originally had no armour precisely because it had clear SA and very high mobility and would not be constrained to roads and dirt tracks. In many ways the armouring of Jackal increased its probability of suffering a blast event. Of course, if the highly agile highly mobile vehicle is stuck with convoy escort duties, all that mobility advantage evaporates.

Observer
Observer
July 2, 2013 10:36 am

Chris, I was refering to people being thrown clear as a lifesaving technique for IEDs, my point was that the frorces involved may be different in magnitude. Even shaped mine protected vehicles weighing tons have been tossed into the air by IED blasts, so letting a guy go flying might not be the best solution. Or it might. We need more data.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 10:45 am

“We need more data.”

I greatly look forward to reading the trials plan! Particularly the bit detailing what the personnel in the trials vehicle are expected to do (apart from fly at great speed of course). “Right lads. I need three volunteers. You, you and you…”

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 11:05 am

TD, Obs – I entirely agree about seat harnesses when talking about those travelling inside vehicles, and about secure stowage (and robust fitment of internal equipment too). The thrown-out/strapped-on debate only applies to the fellow with head out the top, where I would expect there are recorded disasters and narrow escapes in Army archives that apply to both options. Its like Obs said, we don’t really have a one size fits all solution for head-out safety.

Observer
Observer
July 2, 2013 11:35 am

Chris! That is a misuse of manpower!

What you should be doing is printing a new recruitment form with a line “Prior experience in circus as a human cannonball? Y/N” We can even put it behind the line “Have you had a prior conviction? Y/N”

And you are worrying about the wrong thing, we got 82,000 volunteers and reserves, only 200+ vehicles. We’ll run out of vehicles before we run out of experimental subjects, especially if we manage to recruit “Fred the Fired, Human cannonball extraordinaire!!” (disclaimer: not related in any way to mr fred or any “volunteer” named Fred).

:P

As a tangent, maybe the idea of a centerline placed driver for IFVs+ might not be a bad idea since most mines/IEDs detonate at the wheels or tracks. From what I note, the only reason the driver is offset to one side is the fact that the powerpack sits next to him. Maybe a U shaped pack or L shaped one might move the driver to a safer position and still retain the sacrificial “armour” the pack provides?

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 12:12 pm

Obs – beat you there; already put the driver front & centre in the hefty redesign mentioned halfway down the 8:09 post. One of the issues is that (this is a quote oft used in the industry) space under armour is expensive. So while the driver might be positioned away from the outer hull, the gap between him/her and the hull will be filled with comms, air con, instruments & controls, vision systems, IT boxes, stowage, rations and – of course – the BV. Any of which might break their moorings in a bad blast event and become shrapnel. The armoured hull just won’t have big empty spaces around the occupants. If a design were to be produced that did have excess and unfilled internal volume, firstly it would be seen to be designed beyond the requirements of the specification and thus too expensive, and secondly the Army would seize upon the gift of extra space and fill it. All of it. As for a wrap-around powerpack, I advise you inspect a typical AFV engine bay to see just how densely packed it is while at the same time only just providing floor dimensions big enough to fit the biggest lump (engine in the engine bay, transmission in the transmission bay etc). As an example, this from the Ovik website: http://www.oviks.com/cvr_design.php#mid
Look at the last image on the page – the engine is hard up against the lower hull side plate on the RHS and the driver bulkhead on the left; the generator and air filter are sitting on the sponson plate above the RHS track. Short of cutting the engine in half and putting the driver between the two sections (trust me that doesn’t work) for most AFVs there just isn’t the option to make narrower mechanical spaces.

As for L-shaped powerpacks, you will note the CVR(T) configuration is exactly that – the driver’s feet are right behind the transverse transmission while the engine is along his right side. I many many respects CVR(T) is as good as it could possibly be, certainly from the packaging point of view its brilliant.

Anyway. The only way I could get the driver central was to squash the engine bay into the rear end of the hull. If you look at most western MBTs (from Centurion onwards) you will find driver front & centre, power pack in the boot. (Trunk, for our American readers.)

Observer
Observer
July 2, 2013 1:01 pm

Chris, I know how dense an IFV powerpack is, I spend a fair bit of time around IFVs on a yearly basis, my unit shares the MT line with armour. I’m not wondering if the UK should change, I’m wondering if we, on our side, needs to change or can change or even if it was worth it.

With the current recent aquisitions, I have severe doubts that any new suggestions would be entertained for the next 20+ years until the next upgrade/reaquisition cycle, but that doesn’t mean we can’t put KIV (keep in view) goals for design 2030 or 2035. In reverse, if it can’t work, don’t hesitate to junk it, not many can afford the US policy of throwing money at the problem till it is solved or until Congress gets heart palpitations.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 1:37 pm

Obs – apologies for not knowing you have regular contact (ouch!) with vehicles military. I won’t try to educate the educated again. Much. Obviously, as an engineer I have hopes that the Warrior look-alike Scout or the Scout look-alike Warrior programme (one or other) will be shelved so we don’t get two completely different but almost identical vehicles – bad grammar but you get the picture – and the cash saved is diverted to buying vehicles which are a better fit IMHO for the recce task. I’d prefer not to wait 20 years for that.

TD – I gave Terrier a good looking over and decided its made from Warrior components. I might be wrong, but the roadwheels sprocket and idler look like Warrior. The engine is in the boot unlike Warrior but the configuration would suit Warrior’s pack turned 180 degrees. This to my mind is good value engineering and good for in-service support. If its true. But this 5 roadwheel Warrior is listed as a 30t vehicle which is pretty heavy, and it is I believe of pretty much the same hull dimensions as warrior or Scout. Something like 2m to hull roof, 5.8m hull length, as compared to 1.9m & 6.1m for Warrior and 1.85m & 6.1m for Scout excluding rear box/drop tank. So all the arguments about Scout being too much like Warrior would still apply. Sorry.

x
x
July 2, 2013 2:03 pm

The problem appears to be the sensors. If we lose platforms to pay for sensors then it isn’t worth it. It seems odd in an age of UAV etc. that we are going to acquire a vehicle full of sensors that replaces a vehicle that used soldiers and their Mk1 eyes and ears. Recce is important but what about all the other tasks? Plus all those sensor equipped FRES at battalion level too. It seems to be a bit of a mess. I is confused.

Observer
Observer
July 2, 2013 2:18 pm

NP Chris, different cultures, different experiences, different ways to do things. And it is only a month a year and I hardly do engineering work on the things so you got me beat there. I know how dense it is, but you know WHY it is dense, very important point.

I do get your point on vehicle duplication though, you got your old legacy kit (Warrior etc), then you have your CVR (T) generation, and now FRES. Does seem a bit too much in one area and in too dense a timeframe. Wonder what was the original ground forces framework plan or was it all about maintaining industry?

Edit: My bad, CVR(T) before Warrior, so CVR (T) should have been the legacy kit.

oldreem
July 2, 2013 2:41 pm

“Old legacy kit” says it all, Obs. 430/Bulldog – mid 60s; CVR(T) – early 70s; Warrior – late 80s: Antiques Roadshow.
And yes, the Terrier running gear does look WR-like, Chris; but tracks in the one head-on photo I found look if anything skinnier (proportionally at least). With shortened L, MMP must be high-ish for muddy Sappery, and I imagine the thing pitches like crazy at any speed x-country with all the overhanging gear.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 3:21 pm

Oldreem – you forgot ASCOD – late 80s… I took a quick look at the back end of Terrier (in Googlespace, obviously) and I think the track is pretty much Warrior size; if you imagine the nose or Warrior with the two final drive bulges sticking forward of the hull chin plate then all appears to be much similar. That being said, there’s no reason why the overall width would need to be the same so its possible Terrier grew a bit fatter.

Obs – back in the day, when these programs were first run, our armed forces were much bigger. If I recall, something like 1800 CVR(T) were bought for Army recce and RAF Rgt patrol. (I expect the final buy of Scout if it continues to production will be less than 200 by some margin.) Then there were best part of 800 Warriors, bought to provide infantry some self defence capability while in or close to the vehicle, and originally some 2500 FV430 series although some were replaced by elements of the later vehicle families. Any way you add it up, we had an army of AFVs. But now AFVs are few in number – if they were animals they’d all be on the endangered species list – and running many different directly competing types doesn’t make sense any more. Where at one point each vehicle type might have been operated, maintained and repaired within an entirely separate part of the regimental structure, I would guess there are now central repair shops covering all types. Which is why I suggested there perhaps ought to be some rigour applied to vehicle types such that there are weight/size/mobility classes for tracked and wheeled vehicles, and if your new vehicle mounted kit needs to be high mobility 25t class you get the option of one standard vehicle from the army list. As many of my non-vehicle engineer colleagues told me (many times over), the vehicle isn’t as important as the stuff it carries, its just an armoured taxi…

x
x
July 2, 2013 3:30 pm

“rigour applied to vehicle types”

:) Yes like when we bought a Leopard based BARV instead of one based on Chally.

Observer
Observer
July 2, 2013 3:44 pm

Interesting to see the decline in numbers especially the magnitude and the background to it. Bit sad though.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 3:54 pm

x – “we bought a Leopard based BARV instead of one based on Chally” – yes but I bet each new BARV sat on the Leo hull was £2.50 cheaper than the Challenger version, so somewhere a diligent Civil Servant will have earned a promotion or even a knighthood on the basis of such a wise decision. Well deserved.

I have noted before that the procurement system is idiotic, haven’t I? I’m sure I have. The idea that the program must supply kit and maintenance and disposal provisions independent from any other extant provisions just invites an uncoordinated menagerie of types. If I recall correctly the reason for picking the Leo based BARV was that the hulls were 2nd hand Swedish vehicles and so Hagglunds got them cheap. And no point building shiny new Challenger hulls for the job just to sit them in seawater, might as well use old stuff because corrosion will be rife either way. If however REME had the responsibility to support the vehicles from a central budget rather than the program buying in a support package with the kit, I suspect they would have quite sensibly demanded commonality with the other heavy tracked vehicle fleets (Challenger, CRARRV, Titan, Trojan). I really don’t think stovepiped procurement is valid when the programs buy so few vehicles each. A proper Logs nightmare.

oldreem
July 2, 2013 4:01 pm

It’s largely down to blinkered individual competitions run by civilians (and EU rules, as I said before). It’s not just “central repair shops” covering all or many types – think brigade REME battalion (workshop) and battalion/regiment Light Aid Detachments supporting several. Given that these are mobile, they can only carry a limited range of spare parts – so the more veh types the fewer for each; and with smaller fleets overall, diseconomy of scale squared. That’s before the problem of training fitters and technicians on so many types, and the special tools/test equipment needed to be provided and carried. Problem is that it’s hard if not impossible to put a cost figure on this proliferation – common sense doesn’t count. But there’s an inevitable availability penalty if the right spares aren’t right there in the bin when needed – and a logistic cost of getting them into theatre PDQ and out to the MOB or FOB. High real world reliability will help (so “proven technology”?) – something we’ve not been good at in the past (“Chieftain is the best tank in the world, as long as it breaks down in a good fire position”). We need an overall platform strategy, agreed – but looks as though it’s a case of “If you want to go there don’t start from here”. And precious little has sold abroad in more than penny packets – ROF having sold the Jordanians Khalid in early 80s we gave them the 2nd hand Chall 1s.
Just seen your last, Chris – will follow up separately.

oldreem
July 2, 2013 4:42 pm

Chris – I entirely agree with you about stovepiped procurement. However, buying the support package “with the kit”, ie as part of the main contract, is in my view the least bad option within the procurement rules – and I have first-hand bitter experience of the alternative with CR1. By doing this the prime contractor has to deliver a capability, not just the shiny new kit. And he doesn’t get paid for each regt/bn/bty slice of the shiny new kit unless sufficient of all the support & training materials (for the user and REME) have been delivered too (and passes a production reliability trial – remember CR2 and SCOTS DG as a Type 0 armoured regt while it was being sorted?). Without this approach, every minor failure was a drama, every bit of new kit got a bad name and the soldiers who had looked forward to it got pissed off. (And once word got around no-one else bought it). There might perhaps have been some justification in Cold War “shop window” (and pre-internet/ARRSE) days. Under the previous non-system, separate contracts for spares etc were on the hind tit with the manufacturer and there was no sanction available. Also, after the initial package, the spares/overhaul/mods funding was/is in a central REME/ES budget, but being able to “demand” commonality – dream on! Now, after a few rounds of expensive consultants, they’re all rolled into DE&S Integrated Project Teams, more civilianised, further away from the Field Army. (I’m glad I retired when I did…) I don’t even understand much of their language and buzzwords, and I wonder how many of them do. It perhaps comes down to getting the right lead from, and influence with, OR/Systems/Capability or whatever they’re called now, but even then most of the senior committee decision-makers know not a lot about the technology let alone the reality of logistics. And the contractors are understandably only interesting in gaming the system to their commercial advantage (or survival). For all the faults of the old R&D establishments, at least they did think pan-project, and we owned the IPR – just a pity they just couldn’t design or integrate anything really reliable and maintainable.
PS. Doubtless some CR1 hulls could have been found for the handful of BARVs; but given that they’re deployed singly, nowhere near other CR support, the LEO automotives being much more reliable could be a clincher. So not the best example of absurd proliferation, maybe.

mr.fred
mr.fred
July 2, 2013 7:04 pm

Chris,
Yes, I expect ring mount crew to be seated. It need only be a sling seat rather than a full basket but it needs some mechanism to drop the user into the hull. But that isn’t difficult. A webbing sling with some kind of backwards inertia reel would seem to be appropriate. That way in the event of a mine blast it drops the user into the vehicle, protecting him from roll-over and limiting the acceleration he experiences. The trick would be to find some way of keeping him put once he has dropped.

Regarding anecdotes, I am not disputing that the event took place. An anecdote is a short, story of an event and in no way implies falsehood, in my understanding at least. I am simply pointing out that it isn’t statistically significant, there is no way that we can take your account, in isolation, and make a conclusion. How many racing drivers are saved by their restraints or killed for want of them? How many are safely ejected and what proportion of crashes are these?

Regarding trials, I imagine that the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have led to a large number of involuntary tests, from which much data may be gleaned.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 7:20 pm

oldreem – I am of course a youngster (not) and wasn’t around when support was an afterthought to procurement (was!). I think I saw the last of the Chertsey design authority projects just as I started at Alvis. But looking back at the stable of machinery they designed it seems quite well joined up – things like putting the Rolls B40 in the Champ, Rolls B60 in Ferret and B80 in the FV600 series, with interchangeable components across types, which meant a limited stock of spares covered a large number of vehicles. (I know Champ wasn’t really a success but the others were. Champ deserves a post all of its own…) It just seems that Chertsey understood how the army worked and tried to deliver kit that both did the job and didn’t break the support structures. Stovepiped procurement takes that common support element right out, because there is no mechanism to achieve cross-project commonality. So now as you pointed out the maintainers at all levels now must keep 5 different light switches and 7 different spare wheel clamps and 6 different tailgate latches and so on and so on just to cover the zoo of vehicles in service. For a fighting force being pared down at every review this sort of equipment anarchy must really drag tempo right down.

I recall a discussion about the right size of LRU for armour, specifically whether a dense easy to swap out power pack was better for the front line than repair-in-situ engines and transmissions. I assumed a quick swap would be the clear winner, but apparently not. In vehicles where power packs were fitted, if there was any failure or fault that affected reliable mobility, the pack was removed and replaced. In moderately short order the vehicle was back in the line. But there was a huge logistic tail of broken or unreliable packs going from front line to 2nd/3rd/4th line workshops, a bottleneck in the workshops and a logistic nightmare trying to get the right sort of packs back to the right units. I heard once that there were 3 times as many power packs in the repair loop as were functional in deployable vehicles. That may not be true. Several of the big heavy complex power packs might have had fairly minor easy to fix issues had the diagnostic capability, the access and the spare parts been available to the 1st line maintainers. Worse still, I suspect there were more than a few tagged NFF – No Fault Found – by the workshops, only to be refitted in vehicles and when tested branded as NFF – Not F***ing Fixed. Those vehicles with repairable engines & transmissions may have taken a bit longer to fault-find and repair, but there would be reasonable confidence the fix was good, and the logistic tail limited to spare parts. Now of course each contract for new vehicles can define its own separate and unique repair policy and sparing regime, which must make field repairs a complete nightmare. Progress.

oldreem
July 2, 2013 9:46 pm
Reply to  Chris

And the several different sorts of each widget could apply to just Landrovers, Chris. They might have looked the same, but followed commercial and legislative evolution , eg. Euro1 > 2 > 3 engines. Clean sweep, we thought – 8000+ Wolf all the same – not a bit of it! But I digress…
Big pack or separate assemblies, there aren’t enough to penny packet out to 1st line across the board – a fraction of the deployed fleet, not a multiple (except for the US, maybe). [The only time when there were lots was during GRANBY, when half the CR1 fleet was cannibalised of assemblies and turret LRUs to support the rest, since BAOR planning rules of thumb went out of the window and we planned from first principles for greater mileage, hot dusty conditions and longer repair loops. Getting them all back and together took umpteen times longer than ripping them out, testing and boxing up. And fitting part worn assemblies as replacements distorted MDBF data.] But the system is flexible – 2nd line FRTs/ISTs can be positioned where most likely to be needed. Depends which way own tps are moving, too, and how long repairs/exchanges are likely to take in relation to NTM or predicted move. Many of the problems you describe were as you suggest down to poor diagnostic capability, either observation/deduction by the fitter/tech (helped or not by driver’s comments) or poor built-in diagnostics, or by test eqpt the size of a suitcase, only one per regt, which took an hour to connect up and disconnect for a 5-minute test. So play safe and change it, keep the sqn ldr happy. Separate assemblies bring their own problems – maybe more chance for dust to get into the oily bits during the exchange. CVR(T) had its own problems – J60 overheating all too common. When engine changed, radiator normally stayed in situ. Radiator matrix clogged with pine needles etc – new engine didn’t last long either. So, establish a local repair pool of radiators, change radiator with engine and clean out back at the ranch (as standard practice with CR and WR rads), improvement. (Sorry – swinging the lamp again.) NFF was in my experience a bigger problem with electronic LRUs – again diagnostic/test limitations, particularly where cable and connector faults weren’t covered by the diagnostics (and perhaps not by the reliability requirements in the contract) and guesswork/experience > changing the black box was quick and easy – up to 40% NFF rings a bell in 80s.
Now of course the game becomes yet more complicated by many and varied contractor support arrangements within repair policies. While the equivalent of cost per flying hour should incentivise contractors to make things reliable & maintainable in the first place, it’s less well suited to the pointy end than to light blue sanitised concrete jungles with hair dryers in the changing rooms. I suspect that some arrangements will be more like PFIs – a 3-year competition to award a 30-year monopoly. And who can afford to do serious development and statistically sufficient testing for such small production runs? The upside, perhaps, is that so much more can be simulated in design/dev stages, and also diagnostics are becoming cleverer; but as industrial technology reduces lead times with rapid prototyping etc (look at F1 for extreme examples) the bureaucratic process seems to become slower.
It’s great being a Grumpy Old Man in re-retirement.

Chris
Chris
July 2, 2013 10:50 pm

oldreem – ever thought of writing a support policy white paper?? So long as you don’t conclude PFI is a really good deal…

I hate PFI with a passion. Its a politician’s dream – shiny goodies today (ooh look what a clever politician I am), the next government will pay – vastly over the odds – tomorrow. Even better in that the next government will probably be the other lot so the PFI deal will really make them sweat. Who cares the taxpayer is being ripped off? The only important thing is the politics. Yeuch!

I really think as the numbers reduce the only workable solution is for MOD Procurement to simplify the fleet structures so there is no parallel capability. If for example 90% of the general cargo carriers are MAN then go MAN across the board for all logs vehicles. Better still, inform Rheinmetall MAN Military that the fleet will be replaced – all of it – in (pick a date) 2026, and if MAN abuse their monopoly in any way in the period up to 2026 they will not be considered for the next generation. The same for each and every class of vehicles – pick sound common support candidates and work a harsh brutally fair deal with the company for through-life support. The streamlined fleet might then be supported efficiently at 1st through 4th line.

Ah. It appears the full squadron of pigs are refuelled and are on the runway ready for take off…

oldreem
July 3, 2013 6:04 am
Reply to  Chris

Cicero is reputed to have said that politicians aren’t born, they are excreted.
On which note I’ll retire gracefully from this thread.

x
x
July 3, 2013 7:07 pm

Red Trousers out and about in the Sandbox…….

http://phiffer.org/wp-content/media/2010/02/dutch-soldiers-in-afghanistan.jpg

Note this is the up-armoured version.