Time to Cancel FRES SV?



Can UOR equipment provide a viable alternative for Cavalry regiments ?


In this article I will attempt to bring together a number of threads that are based on current events, but also based on ongoing discussions in the comment threads of this site, as pertaining to various inter-related subjects. There are a number of distinct elements, but the overall theme is that of Armoured Reconnaissance in the British Armies FF2020 organizational structure.

Specific themes include:

  • Taking UOR kit into the core fleets
  • Getting the greatest value for money in a time of tight budgets
  • The role of the armoured cavalry regiments
  • The continued requirement for FRES Scout in a smaller army

Hopefully I will be able to bring these threads together to make a cohesive argument for what is I believe to be a fairly modest proposal, as given away by my suitable contentious and attention grabbing headline – that we can cancel FRES SV and spend the money elsewhere.

Armoured Reconnaissance, cavalry roles, and FF2020

There has been considerable discussion across the comment threads of various TD articles on the shape and form of armoured reconnaissance capabilities, and what kind of kit should replace the large number of venerable CVR(T) platforms that used to equip what were once calledFormation Reconnaissance Regiments”.

It might be said that the armour branch of the British Army has been in continual flux since the end of the Cold War; and due to the many and varied attempts to replace CVR(T) that pre-dated the existing FRES Scout programme, the armoured Recce role in particular has been in a somewhat confused state of doctrinal development, versus deployed reality in the middle east. We benefit on this site in having an Ex-Cavalry Officer, a serving member of the Singapore Armed Forces with a recce role, and other experts all of whom have varying opinions. Of course opinions are just that, they cannot be wrong nor are they universally “right” and as in any military endeavor there is rarely a single “one size fits all” solution to a particular problem set.

Personally I have been a supporter of the FRES Scout capability (if not the chosen vehicle) and 30 plus tonnes of what is essentially a Infantry Fighting Vehicle to replace the far lighter weight CVR(T) seemed like the right way to enhance protection on the modern battlefield for the Cavalry regiments. Herein lies the crux of the size, weight and capability arguments to me – Cavalry regiments have traditionally had roles above and beyond reconnaissance.

These have included:

  • Screening the main force
  • Rear guard for the main force
  • Flank guards
  • Rear area security
  • Response force (to assist in plugging gaps and preventing enemy breakthroughs)

On paper at least, all of these roles were ascribed to Cold War BAOR Armoured Reconnaissance Regiments equipped with lightweight CVR(T) series vehicles. Of course the fact that they are “armoured recce” regiments, also means advancing to contact with known / unknown enemy forces in order to “fight for information”.  This is where the arguments – sorry – discussions (!) normally begin in the comment threads, with the tension between fighting for information versus stealthy acquisition of such information.  The proponents of the stealth approach eschew protection for mobility, firepower for situational awareness and revel in the capabilities provided by modern optical / optronic and other sensors in assisting their desire to remained undetected by, and “not in contact” with the enemy.

However for the sake of simplifying concepts and categorizing capabilities with nice neat labels, we might say this is the difference between “armoured recce” where the mere fact of being armoured suggests fighting for information, and “surveillance”.

Either way, whichever style, concept of operations or tactical doctrine the reader prefers, the army that presided over the last few decades of failed programmes eventually chose a vehicle based on the General Dynamics Ascod 2 IFV to be the FRES Scout – the armoured recce platform of the future.  The Venn diagram below attempts to take the standard Iron Triangle and add in the “recce” element, showing the FRES Scout in the sweet spot in the centre of the overlapping capabilities.

I have also added some of the other vehicles available to the army to show extremes of protection and firepower (Challenger 2 MBT for both), the new Scimitar MK2 in the intersection of mobility, firepower (30mm cannon) and STA (new optics, thermal imager etc) and the Husky in the intersection of mobility, STA and protection – although I this case the point I am making is that the protection is relative to the Jackal 2. This is a point I shall return to later, at which point hopefully my intention will be more clear.

The Armoured Recce Iron Triangle
The Armoured Recce Iron Triangle

Do we still need FRES Scout ?

So, onto the contentious main thrust of my modest proposal, to first ask a question: with the smaller army and new force structure of FF2020 do we still need FRES Scout or indeed the tracked Common Base Platform of the FRES SV family at all ?

As I have noted, I don’t have a problem with the size, shape, weight or capability of the FRES Scout, I am not a massive fan of light weight tracked or wheeled alternatives.  No, I ask the question based on the force structure and value for money propositions.

When FRES Scout was originally envisioned, and indeed when it was chosen in it’s current Ascod 2 incarnation, we had 7 Formation Reconnaissance Regiments.  Unit’s that could be assigned as a Divisional asset, with lots of CVR)(T) series vehicles in a Regiment, and BAOR Armoured Regiments had even more CVR(T) vehicles, with each having their own Close Recce Troop of 8 x Scimitar.  So there were a lot of Cavalry / Armoured Recce units, and a lot of vehicles that needed replacing.

However that is not the reality of today’s army or that of the near future. Instead we have:

  • 3 x Heavy Cavalry / Armoured Recce units in the Reaction Force
  • 3 x Light Cavalry units in the Adaptive Force

So we now have only 3 regiments destined to receive a fairly small number of FRES Scout, while the 3 Light Cavalry regiments and their aligned Reserve force Yeomanry Regiments are to be equipped with wheeled vehicles, mostly Jackal 2 for the regulars, and LR Wolf WMIK for the Yeomanry (at least in the interim). Tellingly there is no “to be replaced by FRES Scout” note against these Light Cavalry Regiments in the FF2020 glossy brochures.

However there are factors other than the Scout variant requirements to take into account. FRES SV was to replace 100’s of remaining FV432 series vehicles, and CVR(T) series vehicles other than the Scimitar. Command vehicles, ambulances, signals vehicles, repair and recovery vehicles used by Armoured Regiments, Armoured Infantry, Armoured Combat Engineer units etc etc…..

Up to 125 Warrior variants maybe updated for some of these roles under the Armoured Battlefields Support Variant (ABSV) project as part of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme – but even for a smaller army, 125 such vehicles is not enough. Even if the FRES Utility programme was also meant to replace some FV432 series vehicles as well as the AT105 Saxon and some CVR(T) family members,  FRES UV will be a wheeled vehicle and there remain a large-ish number of pretty old tracked armoured support vehicles to replace with some urgency.  Let’s return to this subject after we examine the return of UOR kit, and it’s absorption into the core fleets.

UOR to Core

As we now know, a large amount, probably the majority, of vehicles procured under Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR) for operations in Afghanistan is to be returned to the UK and absorbed into the ‘core fleets’ of the army. The one vehicle type mentioned that appears to have been axed is the Warthog, but I will return to this momentarily.

The Venn diagram below shows 4 major factors in the decision to take UOR vehicles into the future as ‘core’ equipment.  Realistically we can’t always hit the sweet spot in the middle (red x marks the spot), but we maybe able to fit into one of the other intersections, providing a “good enough” capability with existing UOR kit, and within the budgetary constraints currently imposed.

Returning UOR Vehicles
Returning UOR Vehicles

According to Wikipedia, roughly we are talking about the following numbers of UOR vehicles:

  • Mastiff – 350 ish
  • Ridgeback – 168 (including Command, Ambulance and Weapons carrier)
  • Husky TSV – approx 350 (including Command, Ambulance and new Recovery variants)
  • Jackal 2 / 2A – 250
  • Coyote – 70
  • Warthog – 100
  • Scmitar Mk 2 – 60

Many of the numbers are “ ish “ because articles quoting procurement numbers are often contradictory, and I can’t find numbers for losses in country.

We know the Mastiff is going to be the mount for the 3 x Mechanised Infantry battalions of the Reaction Force, there being plenty of them for this role, including command vehicles, enough to carry the mortars, be out fitted as ambulances etc. No doubt others will remain with, or going into storage for RE EOD units.

However what I am interested in, is maximizing return on investment and value for money by use of various of these UOR vehicles in the Cavalry / Armoured Recce Roles.

A modest proposal – leverage the kit we already have instead of procuring FRES Scout

If we can bin the Nimrod MR4 at such a late stage in the project, surely we can bin the FRES Scout, and utilize existing equipment ? We may use the FRES SV programme budget to enhance these existing vehicles, and perhaps make ‘top up’ purchases to get numbers to where we need them to be.  The remainder of the FRES SV budget could then go to FRES UV ! As anyone who has read my pieces before will know, I believe Infantry should only be “light” for a very good reason (Marines, Airborne, Airmobile, Alpine) and that having Infantry battalions in the “General Purpose – Light” role simply because we can’t afford enough armoured (or “protected”) vehicles is just not good enough for such a small army on the non-linear and asymmetric battlefield. So diverting money to FRES UV seems like a good idea, but we digress………..

There are many forms of battlefield recce, from the Infantry Recce platoon crawling through undergrowth under cover of darkness to achieve a good over watch point, to Royal Corps of Signals units intercepting and direction finding enemy communications and other electronic emissions. Royal Artillery UAV’s, from Desert Hawk to Watchkeeper, Lynx and even Longbow radar equipped Apache’s of the Army Air Corps. In this context I believe that the role of the Cavalry Regiment, when tasked with Recce should be non-stealthy, survivable and capable of fighting for information during high tempo maneuver warfare.

That said, the role of the Formation Recce Regiment as the eyes and ears of the Division seem to have been replaced in current operational doctrine with the “Brigade Reconnaissance Force” (BRF)as the task oriented construct, which maybe based around the core provided by a Cavalry Regiment. Although many of our readers / commentor’s do not seem to understand the innate flexibility of a task oriented organizational structure, arguing for units that are dedicated to specific tasks; those of us who are ex-army will probably agree the ability to task organize and form battle groups and other composite units and sub-units as required to undertake the task at hand is at the core of the British Armies operational flexibility.

So for the new Brigades that form the Reaction Force, and the 3 planned brigades that can be pulled together from the pool of Adaptive Force units, I can see a BRF being created based around the Cavalry Regiment, but including Infantry Recce platoons, STA and air assets etc, as shown in the diagram below:

Brigade Recce Force
Brigade Recce Force

Therefore with this context set, let us move onto the details for the modest proposals.

Modest Proposal 1 – the Light Cavalry Regiments

At the moment it would appear that the 3 regular Light Cavalry Regiments of the Adaptive Force will be equipped with the Jackal 2 vehicle, as we have a large number of them returning from theatre. Personally I have big issues with the Jackal, mainly as any vehicle in this mine / IED centric universe that seats the crew over the front axle is simply not good enough.  Also despite the much vaunted situational awareness benefits,  I don’t like it at all for the “Cavalry” role. However, we do have a lot of them, so I would push the Jackal 2 into the Recce platoon role for the Mastiff mounted Mechanised Infantry. I would also push it into the Support Coy’s of these battalions, for use by the MG Platoon and even Anti-Tank platoon as it is undoubtedly a pretty good weapons platform. We probably have enough to also equip the Light Protected Mobility Infantry Battalions (those to be equipped with Foxhounds) in the same way.  We have them, we are going to keep them, lets use them, but just not for Cavalry roles.

For the 3 Light Cavalry Regiments I would pull together all the Husky TSV models. With approx 350 on the books, including the base variant with an open weapons station mounting a 7.62mm MG, command and ambulance variants, and even a new recovery variant, we could have 3 regiments that use variants of the same vehicle for the majority of their sub units.  For Regimental HQ, a bigger aid post, and general purpose usage, the Light Cav could utilize some of the approx. 168 Ridgeback vehicles in service. On the theme of UOR Kit,  I have not seen anything about what is going to happen to the Hirtenberger 60mm mortars that were purchased, but I would pass them all to these Light Cav Regiments, more for their utility in dropping smoke screens and provide IR / white light illumination than for HE.

The majority of the Husky’s might retain the current open topped, manned “weapons station” with .50 cal M2 or 40mm H&K GMG, however some might be equipped with the full Selex Roadmaster suite with both mast mounted sensors and RWS. Even better, an Anti-tank version would have its RWS equipped with a Javelin launcher – hey I did say we could use some of the FRES Scout money to enhance the UOR Kit as required !

Some additional Husky’s for the Reserve Yeomanry Recce regiments would be a good idea. With the Whole Fleet Management concept, and the role of these regiments in supporting their aligned Regular Adaptable Forces regiment, perhaps enough to provide a single squadron’s worth of vehicles per regiment would be enough, with UK based troop and squadron level training using the LR WMIK’s ?

On a slight side note, the un-armoured Navistar MXT upon which the Husky TSV is based was one of 9 originally selected contenders for the Operational Utility Vehicle order before it was cancelled, and morphed in to the dormant requirement for a Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected).  With the various versions of the Husky already in service, plus the new Navistar MXT-VA APC variant, perhaps we should just bite the bullet, indulge in some standardization and just take the Husky on as MRV-P ? It does not offer the protection levels of the much more expensive Foxhound, but it doesn’t need to meet this requirement.  I am sure the APC version is at least offering the same levels of protection as the old Saxon did ?

Heavy Cavalry – the Challenger 2 Recce Variant

Oh yes, I went there…….

In one comment thread, our illustrious leader TD himself suggested if we want a “heavy” Cavalry Armoured Recce vehicle, why not go the whole way and use a Challenger, just as U.S. Army Cavalry regiments are equipped with M1A1.

While I understand there is a considerable difference in mass between a 30 plus tonne FRES Scout Ascod 2 and 60 tonne plus Chally 2, with all the Recce, Surveillance and Target Acquisition assets we at our finger tips outside of the Armoured Recce regiment, why not lever the upcoming the Chally upgrade programme, the fact that we have existing and spare vehicles in storage and save our selves a lot of money !

TD covered the Challenger 2 LEP in this article.  With the more powerful but smaller engine leaving space for perhaps a diesel genny APU, for quiet fuel efficient power generation for running the sensors and comms kit,  new optical sensors, the additional RWS (and thus optical / thermal sensor channel) of the Theatre Entry Standard kit etc,  a Chally 2 for Recce use would potentially have an excellent multi-channel optical sensor capability.  This could perhaps be further enhanced with other elements of the full Selex Road Marshal suite as TD described in this article.

Perhaps we would just need an armoured box on the turret roof into which the mast mounted sight could be retracted ?

The Heavy Cavalry Regiment does not need to all heavy though.  Although I am on record as stating CV(T) is too light and not well enough protected to fight for information, again we have spent cash on upgrading a whole bunch of these vehicles for operations in Afghanistan, so why not lever that investment and add a squadron of these vehicles to our Heavy Cav regiment ?  With 60 ‘brand new” Scimitar 2 light armoured recce vehicles, and an unknown (to me via Google) number of remanufactured Spartan APC, Sultan command vehicle, Samaritan ambulances and Samson recovery vehicles, all with new hulls offering enhanced protection, more powerful diesel engines and upgraded suspension; we would appear to have enough to add a 16 vehicle Scimitar 2 “Close Recce Squadron” plus enough of the other variants for Squadron and Regiment HQ’s, and even an STA troop with battlefield radar etc (as per the old Formation Recce Regiment).

Again if we have an amount of the FRES SV budget to spend, why not upgrade the remaining Stormer based ex-StarStreak and Shielder vehicles that are still in storage – extra space is always appreciated in command vehicles and ambulances.

Heavy, medium and light capabilities integrated into a Reaction Forces “Brigade Reconnaissance Force”

So to answer the undoubted criticism that the Chally 2 is just too heavy for the way we have traditionally conducted armoured recce ops, lets look at how it can fit into a range of capabilities available to the Brigade commander of a deployed brigade of the Reaction Forces.

Obviously you can’t strip all of the constituent units recce capabilities, as they still need their own limited capabilities for use at their more local level, on  the more constrained operational frontage of a particular battle group. However please don’t get to caught up in the details, this is just an example.  Also don’t forget that other UOR kit that applies but is not specifically depicted might include a Desert Hawk unit, and Apache and Watchkeeper, plus RA Warrior FST vehicles etc.

The other capability not depicted is that which would sit at Brigade HQ in the form of the Intelligence cell and the C3 capabilities required to pull together the outputs and disseminate the consolidated intelligence picture to combat units.

Brigade Recce Force
Brigade Recce Force

Tracked Armoured Support Vehicles

We have 100 Warthog vehicles that apparently are not being integrated into the core vehicle fleet. As noted at the beginning of this article, part of the FRES SV programme is to deliver command vehicles, ambulances and larger ‘aid post’ vehicles, and other tracked armoured support vehicles to replace up to hundreds of old FV432 family vehicles. So again, keeping the Warthog, and potentially buying a few more seems to provide an alternative to various types in the FRES SV “Common Base Vehicle” family.

I understand that the Warthog would not be as well armoured or as well protected, but as previously noted, with a considerably smaller army, with a commitment to deploy a division at the most (based on best efforts) perhaps the Warrior upgrade programme will provide enough of the better protected support vehicles.

So the 100 Warthogs could certainly equip armoured ambulance units, and other CSS elements. If we wanted to make our Reaction Forces Armoured Brigades fully tracked, perhaps an additional buy of Warthog for the  3 Mechanised Battalions would allow the Mastiff to be passed down to the Adaptable Forces Protected Mobility Infantry battalions.

Summary and conclusions

In summary my modest proposal is to lever the UOR kit that we already own to enable the required Armoured Cavalry capabilities within the bigger set of ISTAR capabilities for the Army FF2020 order of battle.

I would suggest cancellation of FRES Scout and the FRES SV family, spending the budget elsewhere, including enhancements to the UOR equipment, including additional procurement. I really don’t see that the FF2020 orbat is big enough to warrant the FRES SV and it’s considerable expenditure anymore. The UOR kit, Chally 2 Recce Variant etc could keep us running well into the 2020’s and longer.

With funds diverted to the FRES UV requirement, with the tracked equipment in the Reaction Forces, perhaps we could dive into collaboration with the French who need to replace over 1000 VAB’s; or go with the RG35, but we don’t really need a heavy 8 x 8 IFV for this armoured utility role.

Looking further forward into the future, eventually we will need to replace Chally 2 just as our European NATO allies will need to replace a lot of Leopard 2’s – perhaps a common heavy chassis, suspension and drive train will provide for a front or rear mounted engine to provide an MBT, a heavy IFV and heavy APC (e.g. similar to the Namer), with Scout and other variants as required.

OK guys,  I will hand it over to the comment section now, so you can rip my modest proposals to bits.


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July 22, 2013 11:26 am

Well done Jed for some interesting options. It might take a few re-reads to fully assess, but I hope I have the gist of it.

A few thoughts then.

First you will find no argument from me that the Scout-SV programme should continue as currently planned, not because its a bad vehicle in itself, but because a) its the same size & weight to upgraded Warrior with the same weapon and similar internal volume – I can’t see the point of two almost identical platforms with completely different support chains; b) unlike Jed I do think there is value in smaller recce assets; and c) SV is such a deep money-pit.

Secondly, a note of caution on the use of the vehicle fleets used in Afghanistan – I noted a couple of months back that all mention of Ridgeback has gone from the MOD web pages. Mastiff & Wolfhound remain, Ridgeback gone. I had a meeting with some Army personnel who ought to know about such things so asked where they’d gone, and was told they had suffered much higher wear & tear than their bigger siblings and were pretty well shot. This may have been a convenient tale and they may pop up full of snurgly electronics kit, but I suspect the statement was honest and the heavy 4x4s are a spent force. As for the 6x6s Mastiff & Wolfhound, worth bearing in mind these are heavy wheeled vehicles on what seems to be rough & ready suspension, so their mobility may not stack up with the roles proposed by Jed. I have heard conflicting tales on the capability of Husky – some say its the best thing since sliced bread, others that its a dog’s breakfast. The original beam axle version of the armoured pick-up was a bit ho-hum for mobility, the airbag independent suspension improved that, but if I recall the MRAP Navistar used by US forces retained the older simpler suspension and it must, like the other mine resistant wheeled vehicles, have a heavy wheel loading which would further hamper mobility. Not sure I’d opt for MRAPs to be purchased unless they came cheap & cheerful. Jackals are neither fish nor foul – sort of armoured up to operator midriff and completely unprotected above? I can’t help thinking that opposition forces might use rooftops or hillsides? Or grenades or even petrol bombs? It is essentially a wheeled skip ready to catch anything lobbed in over the sides. The weight of the armour package has reduced the once excellent mobility of the base vehicle (which you can find on Supacat’s website as HMT400 I believe). I spoke to a young lad who had just returned from a tour in Afghanistan in Jackal, and he didn’t rate it at all. Previous tours had been in Scimitar 2 and he thought that was pretty good. Throughout all the returning fleets of vehicles I suspect their condition will be somewhere between ‘a bit ragged’ and ‘trashed’.

I have no problem if the situation demands it with the use of heavy armour to gather intelligence. So long as its recognized to those on the other side an MBT is a direct danger and because of that a high priority target.

I do still see advantage in smaller lighter recce-focused armour; Scimitar 2 as a stopgap has apparently gone down well with its users, but still has its unstabilized Rarden cannon. I have played around with CTA40 to see what it fits and I don’t think Scimitar’s turret has the space, Indeed if you compare existing Warrior turret with the Lockheed CTA version, you can see how much longer and wider it became. It would be possible to fit the Warrior CTA turret to a smaller (lower) hull but as far as I see there isn’t a suitable lower hull currently in the inventory. So if MOD have their hearts set on CTA40 as the new standard (and I have been told that is so) I can’t see an option but to either a) stick with the ASCOD moneypit, b) use upgraded Warrior for recce, or c) buy in new vehicle hulls. Many years ago when Alvis was still in Coventry we looked at putting original Warrior turret on a CVR(T)/Stormer platform – ultimately it turned into Stormer 30, but it shows putting Warrior turrets on lower profile hulls is often considered, at least in industry it has been. If I remember correctly GKN proposed a lowered shortened Warrior as a fire support/recce vehicle too.

As I noted in the previous FRES thread, if new vehicle fleets are considered then there ought to be a concerted effort to bring the various platform support requirements together. This is now possible even to the point that tracked and wheeled platforms may share much logistic commonality. Hagglunds CEP prototypes (now quite old technology) demonstrated this.

So from my perspective, I think the use of the returned Afghan fleet of vehicles might be short-lived due to their well-used condition, they are largely disparate fleets with little common support, and they might sort of do OK at Jed’s retasked roles but possibly with significant disadvantages over vehicles designed for task. If there is a strong need for wheeled high mobility armour (FRES-UV as was) then I suggest biting the bullet and buying both the wheeled UV and recce platforms (tracked or wheeled) sharing common support is a rational approach.

July 22, 2013 11:58 am

BZ Jed.

As most know I am not a fan of the new Army structure. We don’t need 3 armoured brigades. 2 square brigades based upon Warrior and Chally 2 would do us fine. 1 x Chally, 2 x Warrior mounted inf battalion, 1 x Warrior Scout Cavalry. No need for FRES. There have been recce versions of Warrior built as demo. If the balloon goes up and more infantry was needed as we are constantly and rightly told here a battalion from the other brigade. Simple.

As Red Trousers points out you don’t need a big waggon for recce. And I concur (for all I know!) that a light space frame vehicle (knowing what I do know from experience) would suffice. My preference is for a vehicle that will fit in at least Chinook and hopefully Merlin As Observer points out vehicle size is a bit of red herring; the human eye sees the mass of the vehicle not the difference in size. And finally we live in a age where the UAV may soon become ubiquitous. So human eyes on is a niche capability, but still very important, so we could probably afford a couple of battalions worth of space frame vehicles at say £150,000 each for the price of FRES SV and save money and use it to upgrade two battalions of Warriors to a scout version.

The next problem is the fighty stuff. Our politicians tell us that our young men and women won’t be going to a Third World hell hole to play policeman for a long time. Do we believe them? No. Does Mastiff or any MRAP need a cannon? No. Is there a need for a cannon mounted high mobility well protected vehicle for fire support and escort the MRAPs? Yes. Does it need to be on the highside of 25t when there is Third World infrastructure with which to cope? No. This isn’t light cavalry for recce this is light cavalry for fighting and something UAV can’t do. This is what we need,


Let’s not forget unlike most money we spend here there is an actual real budget to spend. :)

Rebuilding or restarting CVR(T) production is an option which I hope we will explore too.

July 22, 2013 12:19 pm

CAVALRY TASKS from Wikipedia

ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance)
CBRN Recce
Obstacle Recce
Route Recce
OP Screen
Control Measure Security & Marking
Location Recce

Advance and Rear Guard
Counter Recce
Flank Protection
Rear Area and Supply Route Security

Seize and Hold
Recce Strike
Delaying Action

Traffic Regulation

July 22, 2013 12:31 pm


An excellent article and one that I hope gets seen and considered by key Army, MoD and Government personnel responsible for AFV procurement. Overall, I agree that FRES SV should be cancelled immediately. As Chris points out, there is absolutely no point in replacing CVR(T) with a vehicle that is essentially the same as an upgraded Warrior.

After the failure of the US LSAT programme, which also utlises case-telescoped ammunition, I am not convinced by the 40 mm CTA cannon choice. LSAT has now been cancelled because it doesn’t work reliably. This study came after repeated prior studies that attempted to prove that case-telescoped ammunition was the future. It isn’t. My fear is that the proposed 40 mm CTA cannon will prove to be an expensive, and risky white elephant.

My view is that we need a three-tier armour solution:

1. Heavy armour – Challenger, Warrior IFV and Warrior SV – Both the Challenger and Warrior platforms will need to be replaced in due course and the big question is whether a single tracked chassis can be used for all three vehicle types . After all, why shouldn’t mobile infantry and recce units enjoy the same level of protection as tank crews? This question must surely be vexing those responsible for future AFV design? My major criticism of modern IFVs is the addition of highly complex turrets. These reduce troop carrying capacity and can result in larger than necessary vehicles being used as light tanks instead of APCs able to deliver troops where they are needed. What I would prefer to see is a light 20 mm cannon turret operated by a single gunner. This leads to a three vehicle solution as follows: MBT with 120 mm gun, Recce vehicle with 40 mm cannon and IFV with 20 mm cannon – all on a common chassis.

2. Medium armour – 8×8 MGS, IFV and Recce vehicle – This would be another common chassis system with a range of variants including a mobile gun platform. Such vehicles would have neither the same level of armour nor tracked mobility as the MBTs, IFVs and SVs of heavy armoured units, but would have excellent strategic mobility and tactical flexibility. They are essentially more mobile versions of the Mastiff and are much a better option than carting infantry around in Land-Rovers and 4-tonne trucks. The key benefit of such vehicles is that can perform a variety of roles and can easily be deployed. They weigh 30 tonnes instead of 60-70 tonnes. This option provides three basic vehicle types: a tank destroyer with 120 mm gun, a recce vehicle with a 40 mm cannon and an IFV with 20 mm cannon / 40 mm GMG.

(I don’t like 6×6 vehicles. They may be smaller, but 8x8s have much better cross-country mobility.)

3. Light armour – 4×4 MRAP – The Foxhound chassis developed by Force Protection Europe and Riccardo engineering offers the greatest possible protection in the lightest possible chassis. No other vehicle in this weight class offers better protection. I would like to see a version with a turret mounted cannon developed for use it instead of the Jackal, which is a deathtrap in a world of IEDs because it has no overhead protection. Jackal may have an ongoing role to play, but it is no CVR(T) substitute. It is simply a more agile Land-Rover. Therefore, I’d like to see Foxhound evolve into a complete family of lightweight protected patrol vehicles.

Finally, I share Chris’s view that many UOR vehicles are close to being worn out. Scope to bring them into core may be limited or require us to spend extra money to fix them, which seems a waste when they aren’t optimised for general war roles.

The biggest problem the UK has is that the FV432 fleet is way past its replacement date. We need a new protected mobility vehicle. I see that as an 8×8 vehicle not a new tracked APC. ASCOD 2 is not an ideal FV432 replacement. I would prefer to see 8x8s used in this role along the lines of US Stryker brigades. Generally, 2 x 8×8 = 1 x tracked APC in terms of cost. If dumping FRES SV provides extra cash to acquire an 8×8 fleet, then that’s good news.

July 22, 2013 12:31 pm

As or the title of this piece YES.

I Lke the principles you argue but have also heard that Ridgeback is shagged and that its 6 wheeled brother is overloaded, crap on anything more challanging that a hard surfaced track, underpowered and has a turning circle like Mars.

Like wise Jackel may have its uses but not in close country, built up areas, etc. Similar patrol vehicles in Bosnia proved to be deathtraps, as they did in Iraq. I like Jackel for its speed manouvreability, relativly low wheight and compact design. Hower not sure about using it long term.

As for husky think you have hit on something there. Terrific fleet commonality for gge lighter forces. Upgrade warrior and c2 for other roles.

But please lets stop Fres SV before we piss any more money up the wall. No commercial organisation would tollerate 2 simmilar but completly mechanically different vehicles on fleet.

Think Defence
July 22, 2013 12:42 pm
Reply to  Chris

On my CR2 version of FRES SV Scout idea

Just as an idle conversation starter, if you take a 60 tonne CR2 and lop off the turret what would the weight reduced to?

Then add on an armoured roof plate and RWS, armed with a medium calibre weapon like the 30mm chain gun off the Apache.

How close are we approaching to FRES SV Scout in terms of weight, mobility, effects etc?

July 22, 2013 12:57 pm

Yep fres is the army trying to outdo f35 and astute! armoured vehicles is an area that Bernard gray gives special praise to army requirement setters and procurement people for making a complete and utter shambles of.

Foxhound I like that vehicle should make most of it.

TD that sounds like the armadillo cv90

July 22, 2013 1:13 pm

TD – “How close are we approaching to FRES SV Scout in terms of weight, mobility, effects etc?” I don’t have facts – sorry – but looking at the track area on the ground of ASCOD/Scout and Challenger I wouldn’t be at all surprised if their ground pressure figures were similar, which is one of the key mobility factors. That’s before pulling the turret off. If you remove the turret obviously the aperture in the hull roofplate now needs to be filled with armour to the same protection level as the rest of the vehicle, and the operators would want roof hatches/cupolas in this modified roofplate. On top of that you request a bigger than average RWS – Rafael did a 30mm gun-on-stick RWS which I believe by Mk2 prototype had morphed into a remote turret, offering the weapon & sensors some protection. All in all, assuming the manned turret weight is something like 18t (guesswork) the new roofplate and armoured remote gun mount might reduce this by 6 or 8t? but now the beastie only has a 30mm punch not 120mm. The Rafael system uses Mk44 or Bushmaster, not the ATK M230 in Apache.

For the saving of 10% weight, why a) reduce the firepower of a proven heavyweight, and b) pay for all the development to do it? After conversion the Chally-SV is still a heavyweight with a thirst and support appetite of its bigger gunned sibling. I think I’d just use standard Challenger if that much protection was necessary.

July 22, 2013 1:22 pm

I think the battles don’t take place on major European plains by aligning each side of the tanks. I think no longer need heavy tanks but agile vehicles.

I don’t know if we are right or wrong, but our most heavy infantry vehicle for the next thirty or forty years, weigh less than thirty tons. Our recce vehicle will weigh about twenty tons, as well as replacing our VAB, it will be 6×6 wheeled vehicles.
They will be air transportable with A400M.
Why buy A400M if you can not put inside vehicles.
Why buy Warrior and Ascod SV, they have the same weight, the same size.
I understand if we used Ascod SV to destroy tanks and armored combat vehicles enemies, and then transport the soldiers on the battlefield with more lightweight vehicles.
As the Warrior IFV are used to transport troops in armor and to provide fire support necessary for their mission, there is no need to Warrior because the Ascod SV destroyed enemy lines.
Which then keeps the Warrior and light vehicles are used to make the recce as usual.
I’m not a soldier, just an observer, I may say nonsense, don’t be angry with me.

July 22, 2013 1:36 pm

“As Observer points out vehicle size is a bit of red herring; the human eye sees the mass of the vehicle not the difference in size.”

Halleluyah!!! From the hard time he has been giving me, I thought he didn’t get it! Brings a tear to my eye, this does… *boohooo* …

As for the original topic, well, yes and no.

FRES as a vehicle, you would probably need it in 5-10 years as your older frames wear out, so it does make sense to go windowshopping now.

FRES as a program… ug… convince the program manager to immigrate please, maybe to China. Too much drama, vacillating and a lack of firm commitment and understanding of what is needed. Most of what was tested are all generically very similar, you would have cut a lot of money and time wastage by simply deciding on the basis of “What is the lowest price you can give me?”, even without performance testing. Face it, most vehicles have stats that are broadly very similar and operationally similar as well. This “top speed, top range, top XYZ” comparison is nonsensical as operationally you don’t move around the place with your foot floored on the accelerator unless for some reason you want to be a fire magnet, nor do you run the vehicle till it is bone dry.

Think the FRES program can be summarised in “Just pick one and stick with it already!!”

Putting all the names of the contenders into a hat and drawing one would have saved a lot of time and money and is my 2nd prefered option after a bidding war.

Jeremy M H
July 22, 2013 1:42 pm

The problem for FRES SV is that it has to make its argument for existence by providing a vastly increased capability over just using the revamped Warriors or a couple of guys in a 4×4 vehicle with a radio to. And it really can’t do that. I don’t see much of a role for a specialized recon vehicle that falls in between an IFV and a moderately specialized light wheeled vehicle. Buy some 8×8’s if you want better mobility and put a mast on it and call it done.

I think there is a bit of misunderstanding of what a US Armored Cavalry Regiment really is. Traditionally they were corps level assets. Effectively they were heavy armored brigades to shape the battlefield behind which a corps would move/defend. I don’t believe the Cavalry formations integrated with the Brigade Combat Teams have tanks organically assigned to them. There were (and may still be) a few Armored Cavalry Squadrons that were part of the old Cold War brigades but really those were just tank battalions under a different name.

The Armored Cavalry Regiments were a different deal that was much more along the lines of an independent tank brigade in the Soviet Army than anything else. They had combined arms but basically were a very heavy armored brigade without a real infantry presence. Instead of 2 tank and 1 mech infantry battalion it was basically 3 tank battalions.

Jeremy M H
July 22, 2013 1:48 pm

How exactly is the FRES SV going to destroy tanks? Are they going to drop a round on the floor as they die laughing at someone engaging them with a 40MM round and then blow up?

Like it or not, unless you totally dominate the air and have basically 24/7 ability to provide on demand air support, a platoon of tanks most times will really ruin lighter vehicles day. You might get them with dismounts and their ATGM’s but god help you if they are backed up by artillery. The real point here is that someday one might encounter a well handled armored force of some size (company, battalion, brigade) and you best have your own tanks around to deal with it.

July 22, 2013 1:55 pm

Jeremy peace, peace :)

Frenchie, what Jeremy says is right, MBTs have insane levels of armour, even the new 105mm ASCOD will have a low chance of a first round kill, those things were designed to resist even 120mm fire with APFSDS. ASCOD on the other hand, will blow up if hit. This makes it very difficult for the ASCOD tankers, they cannot fight head on and even if they get a shot off, there is a high chance of it being deflected, it ruins their morale and makes it much more likely that they would be forced to run away to survive.

July 22, 2013 2:42 pm

@ Jeremy
@ Observer

As scimitar I always thought it could be protected by a vehicle with anti-tank missiles like Striker is.

July 22, 2013 3:03 pm

@ Observer

Your point only compliments my point often made in these threads that there is only so far and so many places you can take a vehicle good of a modest outbuilding. :o

Jeremy M H
July 22, 2013 3:07 pm

I don’t think the US would ever consider sending Stryker up against proper armored forces. The ATGM variants, along with the 105MM equipped versions, ensure that a Stryker brigade is not helpless but don’t give it the punch to deal with a true armored threat. ATGM’s are pretty useful on the defensive (though active defense on AFV’s are getting better) but on the attack against armor it is a bad bet in my view.

The Stryker brigades are about having something with mobility and firepower that cost a lot less to deploy and maintain in a relatively low intensity situation than a heavy brigade. I don’t think they would feature much in a conflict with any near peer.

The Other Chris
July 22, 2013 3:33 pm

Might be worth inviting Solomon for comment on this one to get his perspective – I know he has expressed strong opinions lately regarding Stryker and 8×8’s in particular.

Specifically in relation to:

– Remote weapon stations
– The dangers of over-gunning
– Protection
– Theatre entry equipment
– Wheeled vs Tracked mobility

There’s a lot of common patterns that you can see developing in conversations when discussing FRES SV capabilities and it’s role(s).

July 22, 2013 3:43 pm

Stryker in a way is about mopping up the enemy once they have been PGM-ed to (near) death with super-duper IT so they can operate within the crushed enemy’s OODA loop. Though surely that is overkill because the enemy would have lost all cohesion?

July 22, 2013 3:47 pm

– Very informative article; I certainly learnt quite abit reading it. Granted my baseline was rather low; I can usually tell a MBT from an IFV when I see one!

I am dubious about the idea of using a common platform for heavy/medium/light roles, mainly because no one has thus far succeeded in doing so, despite the obvious benefits. As for continuing the FRES development – why do we insist on trying to reinvent the wheel? Lots of OTS options out there – what’s so unique about our requirements?

On a general note, why do we persist in calling the cavalry the cavalry when plainly they are not – surely we should be calling them charioteers?

July 22, 2013 5:21 pm

@ Jed

Mainly because soldiers don’t forget how to do their job, fewer troops to train means better training (more track time, more live rounds), and last but by no means least there is always a long buildup to these armoured charges. I would keep 3 Chally regiments just to keep numbers up; after all this is tank warfare (aka overwhelming firepower) we are on about Fewer armored vehicles to fit out could also mean better platforms; for example Chally with the export version engine or networked communications or better night vision or whatever. These aren’t rapid reaction formations; for example they aren’t RAF QRA or SF. They are aren’t going away from home on a regular basis; for example a ship’s crew or garrison duties. The armoured formations are the big stick; a hi. How long does an armoured brigade last in the line? The difference between having three brigades and two isn’t worth arguing about. If it was the war would be already lost before the first shot. So yes 2 brigades would work.

July 22, 2013 5:26 pm

A reaction force equipped with Challenger 2 as recce vehicle, if I understand the proposal Jed, it would be very long to carry out of Europe, the French army thinking above all a deployable forces, especially Africa, all our future vehicles are thought to be rapidly deployable in A400M.
It seems that your MoD wants to replicate the U.S. military schematic, with heavy vehicles for tank battles. I don’t think that we will face the Red Army in the future, the armies of the Middle East are not very modern, it can easily destroy tanks with helicopters.
As Jed said, there would be for us a large cooperation project for common vehicles, FRES SV put in the trash, and do a “FRES UV” common :)

Jeremy M H
July 22, 2013 5:42 pm

I would think that the battles of 2002-03 against a much depleted Iraqi Army would give pause to the idea that heavy armored forces are not needed. Indeed it was heavy US battle groups that were able to basically smash the Iraqi forces wherever they tried to concentrate. They work in coordination with and no as an either/or component with air support and helicopters.

In short in a proper army the heavy forces demand that you attempt to concentrate your forces to stop them. And airpower punishes you badly whenever you try to concentrate and move around. A light armored force does not demand nearly the defensive concentrations to stop it from moving. Simply put if your company of light forces stumbles onto a platoon of well handled tanks in defensive positions you are sending a lot of guys home in body bags. If you are using proper mixed armored forces then it is just an obstacle for your own tanks to deal with.

To be blunt about it the French Army was a flawed and broken instrument by the end of the Cold War. This was evidenced by the role they were able to play in the Gulf War, which was basically flank guard against nothing. The French Army was too light in its pants to be effective on a battlefield even with the equipment the Iraqi’s were trotting out which was hardly Eastern state of the art.

All those light units are great if you want to go chasing the local warlord around West Africa. Beyond that they really don’t have much of a place on the battlefield. I think it is useful to remember that military combat won’t be about RPG’s and IED’s forever.

July 22, 2013 5:43 pm

Sorry Jed I write slowly. I have not seen your message.

@ Jeremy you are wright about the Gulf war.

July 22, 2013 5:53 pm

Jeremy M H
I think that Frenchie was referring to the CVR(T) Striker (note spelling) which was armed with Swingfire and was the ATGW overwatch vehicle for formation recce units. Not the US 8-wheeler.

You may not share Monty’s opinion of the CTA, but if LSAT has gone down the tubes due to technical issues, then perhaps you should.
A further concept is that you probably could refit Scimitar turrets to be stabilised and retain RARDEN, possibly re-bored to fire the more common and developed 30x173mm ammunition, or even the Super 40 if the recoil mechanism could withstand it. That would be an interesting engineering project.

July 22, 2013 5:55 pm

Only seen the contents break-down, but it will be good. Jed must be the Woody Allen of these pages: all you ever wanted to know, but somehow did not come to ask… well done for asking!

Mike W
July 22, 2013 6:17 pm

Good post, Jed

I am surprised that no one so far has mentioned BAE’s CV21. Maybe it’s because it’s been quietly put on the back burner. I haven’t heard anything new about it for twelve months or more. Now that would seem to me a real possibility for a new recce vehicle for the British Army. So far BAE have studiously avoided mentioning the UK in their publicity blurb and have stated that it is aimed at export markets. However, it does seem to possess the optimum weight and size. I believe that it is around twice the weight of the CVR(T), so probably about 18-20 tonnes. BAE also has all the knowledge it acquired from Alvis when that excellent firm was taken over and therefore the vehicle would probably have a good pedigree.

If it could be developed and trialled reasonably quickly, then it might be the answer. However, my guess is that such a process would take at least another three, four, even five years and I don’t think we can wait that long. One of the reasons I am for continuing with FRES SV is expressed admirably by wf in another thread:

“no one can understand why we are buying ASCOD while upgrading Warrior for the IFV role. The latter is 25+ years old, is knackered, and upgrading is both expensive and difficult due to the limited power, old systems and armour and small turret ring.” (Mind you, he wants to buy FRES SV for the MICV role too! – my words.)


“Why an earth we want to revisit decisions because they are not “perfect”? It’s given us a patchwork fleet and endless cost overruns. Just *******stop it!”

I think, though, if BAE did show the courage of its convictions and went ahead with the CV21, it could have a world beater on its hands. Think of the success of the Scorpion (CVR(T) family.

July 22, 2013 6:46 pm

I took this as an opportunity to finally write about something I long planned to write about. My reply is at

I originally planned to use the example of combat aircraft, but scout vehicles have the benefit of allowing to combine it with another aspect I wanted to write about.

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
July 22, 2013 6:54 pm

Foxhound is a Lightweight Protected Patrol Vehicle and as far as I can tell that is all it can ever be – at least in it’s current configuration. It’s too tall to accept a turret and it’s suspension (as far as can be seen from the videos on youtube . . .) is too stiff and limited in travel to allow travel across anything more challenging than a cricket pitch at speed. Leave it for what it’s good at i.e. protecting troops on patrol in whatever dirt-bowl our elected government has decided to invade next. The IED is not likely to be encountered until the target country has been attacked, invaded and occupied. Hamstringing your front line units with a recce vehicle somewhat less mobile than a 1942 Daimler AC may not be a good idea.

To be honest, I can’t see any viable option to plugging on with FRES-SV. It’s a deeply unimpressive vehicle if not a bad one. The MOD daren’t leave itself open to claims of buying a vehicle which is vulnerable to IEDs for fear of the media, and by extension, public outrage so they’ll feel compelled to by a heavy vehicle. I can’t help thinking that it might be time to get rid of Warrior if FRES-SV is definitely going to be bought. They’re just too similar to be worth keeping both vehicles on the books.
The destruction of the UK afv industry and the privatisation of the Defence Research Establishments means that any alternative will be a warmed over version of an afv designed for someone else. What can the MOD honestly do?
And the CV90 would be no better, by the way! :-)

July 22, 2013 7:06 pm

Great article Jed, and yes I agree that FRES at the very least should be canned and a new review held. One thing to throw in the mix but for a FRES Scout, how close are we to using unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) – might be worth waiting for…

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 22, 2013 7:12 pm

@ Jed,

well done Matey for what looks like a refreshing look at the problem. I’ve only had a chance to skim-flick through, plus the comments, but I’ll no doubts have some batshit thoughts to offer. Possibly tomorrow, as a long day in the office today and tomorrow.

Next up, everyone will want to recall that I’m ten years out of date, so I can only offer anything informed on Formation Recce as it was then, and the FRES SV programme as it was then (I co-wrote many of the original requirements), and up to about 5 years ago when I’d jumped over the fence and my defence company employers needed me to head up a bid for the first go-around. We won that one (Concept phase), but the then IPTL had some really batshit ideas about sovereign IP (mostly on the parallel if ahead FRES UV programme) and reasons were quickly found to get rid of him and reset everything back to 2000 when GD said “sod off”.

I don’t follow the ins and outs of the FF2020 debate, so won’t have anything other than opinion on that.

Of course, what no-one ever thought in 2000-2003 (and I got sick of banging my head repeatedly against brick walls) was the almost complete mismatch in between what a proper recce wagon should do, and all of the other no doubt important roles for bridgelayers, C3 wagons, direct fire support wagons, ambulances, etc that FRES SV also swept up. Part of the problem is that recce AS PER THE THEN DOCTRINE and FRES SV had pretty much nothing to do with each other, so it always looked a bit dodgy as a programme.

Don”t also forget the complete spastics in the doctrine world who kept on loading on ridiculous requirements (get 2 into the back of C130, have the combat power and survivability of Challenger 2…). Unresolvable. You can have any two of those 3 requirements (with the caveat that if you choose 2 in C130 plus survivability, the Herky bird’s not going to be able to take off)

July 22, 2013 7:25 pm

I am quite surprised by the Husky total… But ofcourse I’ll believe it.

The 60 though for Scimitar2 is across all variants, which ever number of variants that may be.


Peter Elliott
July 22, 2013 7:36 pm

Quite like the idea of a CV21 based alternative. Instinct suggests that it strikes a better balance between the needs of recce and the more generic ‘light cavalry’ role. And by not treading on the toes of Warrior you leave the way open for a future heavy chassis capable to replace both Warrior and C2.

But instinct can be wrong and I’d like to understand the reasoning a bit more clearly.

From what I understand being smaller and lighter than FRES SV it would be more mobile across country, less detectable, while still being fighty and protected enough to survive and withdraw from contacts with heavier formations.

On the dreaded subject of Air Mobility would the imagined CV21 with a slightly larger turret than CVRT and modern OTS 40mm cannon be light enough for air transport in either Atlas or C17? Would such a wagon actually be any fightier than say an upgunned Viking 2? If not is air mobility actually a relevant requirement? if not relevant then perhaps the 30T lobby have a point and the extra protection is really worth it.

July 22, 2013 7:43 pm

@Mike W: I’ll bet if we worked on life cycle cost, once you strip out the costs of WLIP, engine upgrades, armour upgrades etc a FRES MICV will end up being much the same as keeping Warrior in service. Lets face it, it’s going to be more reliable as well

July 22, 2013 8:10 pm

Saladin, Saracen, etc great idea.

Probably GET 40MM CTA on it.

My problem is not with FRES SV as a vehicle……..

It is with the stupid sums of money spent seeking slight advantages in fuel and protection etc which in battlefield reality mean little. The pick your battle taxi from the few very similar designs available and just buy it, does seem unanswerable. WE have pissed a billion up the wall (and continue to piss), sweating the small stuff.

I am not qualified to comment on the light v heavy recon as a concept, but suggest there is no ‘right answer’ terrain and enemy will have a lot to do with it.

I am qualified to say 2 vehicles in the 25 to 40 ton Armoured- Armed tracked class, is just dumb. IF Warrior is too shagged to be rebuilt except at great cost for the SV role, then its too shagged to be rebuilt for the MICV role. Isn’t it?

If it is, then replace warrior with longer production of the ASCOD……

BTW TOP POST real consideration of issues and suggested answers outside the fantasy fleet scenarios beloved of everyone- me included.

July 22, 2013 8:40 pm

One of the possible reasons for the Warrior upgrade might be production time. Hard to find a factory that can give you 600 IFVs in a month, which means that until decent amounts of your new stuff can be produced, your old stuff just has to soldier on and take up the slack until they do. Even after that, they can and should act as a reserve stock for the TA in case they have to back up the Army proper.

An estimation of the production output of a single factory (ST Kinetic’s Terrex line, I go past there often, and the train line gives a nice over the fence peek into the assembly area) is about 20-30 units per month simultanously. That would take about 20 months at 30 units monthly to fill a 600 unit order, call it 2 years to complete acceptance trials. It is your upgraded Warriors that need to hold the line in these 2 years.

BTW, I found another possible reason why tank drivers seat offset to one side, in reference to our discussions on why the driver can’t sit in the middle where he is safer from mines/IEDs. Other than the large powerpack reason, any direct fire at a vehicle tends to aim center of mass. Putting a driver in the middle means putting him directly in the crosshairs of anyone shooting at the tank from the front. So in the choice between IED safer and getting shot at safer, I may have to recant my stance on the middle of tank seating. Tanks/IFVs are meant to get into firefights, IEDs come in only post-invasion.

Now the only thing left bugging me is why are tanks left hand drive when all our other vehicles are right hand drive? :)

As for the CTA, well, if it works, it works. Higher wear out rates etc sound bad, but that really is secondary to the main role of making rounds fly when you need it. If it can fire reliably in the field, even if you have to change it out every month, it would still be worth it. Pain in the arse to maintain, but still worth it. Tankers should be used to mainteinance :)

Mike W
July 22, 2013 8:54 pm


“From what I understand being smaller and lighter than FRES SV it would be more mobile across country, less detectable, while still being fighty and protected enough to survive and withdraw from contacts with heavier formations.”

Certainly those were the lines I was thinking along. There seems to have been a preponderance among contributors recently saying that FRES Scout is too heavy. Chris mentioned that Army personnel to whom he had spoken eventually seemed to lose some of their loyalty to the idea. So, if a lighter vehicle is needed, then in terms of weight, size, etc, CV21 would seem to have something going for it. I would imagine it would certainly be “fightier” than an upgunned Viking (in terms of armour, if nothing else). I’m afraid I don’t know the answers to the questions about air mobility. There have been relatively few press reports about the vehicle.

My main argument is that we need to get some new blood into the armoured fleet as soon as possible. If FRES SV is to be cancelled (and I’m not sure it would be a good idea to do so – the programme is well advanced, and as wf has pointed out, we can’t keep on changing decisions just because everything is not perfect. We have ended up with “a patchwork fleet and endless cost overruns”), if it were to be suddenly cancelled, then keeping upgraded Warrior as the MICV and going for a vehicle like the CV21 for recce might be one way of getting a new family of vehicles in service. If we do not inject some new blood soon, we are going to end up with a fleet of 40 year-old vehicles, all reaching block obsolescence together!

“I’ll bet if we worked on life cycle cost, once you strip out the costs of WLIP, engine upgrades, armour upgrades etc a FRES MICV will end up being much the same as keeping Warrior in service. Lets face it, it’s going to be more reliable as well”

You could be right. There probably won’t be much in it but there must have been a price differential between the two, at least a few years ago when the decision was made, otherwise why would the MOD/ Army have gone for a split buy?

July 22, 2013 9:04 pm


I doubt that Warrior will be produced that much faster than the SV, should it go into production.

Looking at the CTA, the higher wear rate means higher costs and higher logistics strain, which may well mean that you may not be able to make the rounds fly when you need to. The more you have to maintain one system, the less time you have to maintain another.

Peter Elliot,
There was a platform much in the vein of CV21 and developed on the company’s own coin, but it was swept aside in favour of an over-hyped nonsense that flaunted the laws of physics. The Stormer CVR(T) series would have done most of what was asked to replace the CVR(T) of the 1970s, but lack of support doomed it. I’m not sure that a company of the same lineage would care to repeat that one.

Rocket Banana
July 22, 2013 9:09 pm

If FRES-SV (ASCOD) is going to replace Warrior then all well and good. If not, I really don’t understand what the point in it is. Surely Warrior makes a perfect 30 tonne chassis? Just upgrade the gun so that it is stabilised.

We then have 8, 16, 32, and 64 (ish) tonne tracked chassis: Viking, Warthog, Warrior/ASCOD and Challenger respectively. I’ve used powers of two so that I can shoehorn in couple of non-tracked vehicles later ;-)

July 22, 2013 9:14 pm

mr fred, thought the Warrior was being upgraded, not produced?

As for the wear rate, that is a budget and logistics question, not field capability. If it is so mechanically unreliable that it breaks down frequently, then it should be replaced, but that is not the problem is it? If it gives good service until the time it wears out, then it is doing the job. Barrel replacement was never a big problem issue in tank maintenance, think the replacement protocol was somewhat similar to smaller arms, unlock barrel, pull out, slide in new barrel, lock it in place, do boresighting? It is the large calibre guns that you need to send home for replacement, the 40mm may not be in that catagory. Does anyone know if the CTA’s barrel replacement protocol is similar to the Bushmaster II’s?

July 22, 2013 9:19 pm

@Mike W: I suspect that WFLIP is a bone tossed to Lockheed Martin for political reasons rather than something actually driven by cost profiles. A bit silly really :-(

July 22, 2013 9:22 pm

Simon, see Mike’s answer on platform obsolence.

And it’s multiples of 2 :P

Power of 2 would be 8, 64, OMG Land Destroyer!!! :)

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
July 22, 2013 9:34 pm

By the way, gentlemen, is there any solid info on CV21? Engine? Transmission? Suspension? Anything, in fact, more substantial than a CG image?

July 22, 2013 9:50 pm

Unlike some here, I disagree with the idea of a 17 ton scout vehicle. All the talk on “Too heavy!!” and “Too big!!” is simply stats looking and pre-conceived notion on the “perfect” scout vehicle. I already pointed out beforehand that human eyes track on movement and shape recognition, not size nor some mythical “weighing scale” that can tell tonnage at a glance. A 17 ton scout vehicle is as noticable as a 40 ton one and the shape is a dead giveaway no matter if the dimensions are 2.5m or 3m. The 2 primary things you need to break for concealment is 1) movement and 2) shape. Unless you do that, 17 tons or 70 tons, you still will get spotted.

In a case like that, a 40 ton vehicle does not give up much stealth in comparsion to a 17 ton vehicle. inversely, a 17 ton vehicle does not have the protection of a 40 ton one. So unfortunately, 17 tons sacrifices something for nothing, while 40 tons gets something for nothing. The only gain I can see is airmobility.

Scouting by MBT? (I know someone is going to bring it up sooner or later) It works if you can afford the logistics and can spare the tanks. Unfortunately most people tend to horde MBTs for the “main push”.

July 22, 2013 9:57 pm


Taken out of service, refurbished and upgraded, put back into service is going to be more than a 24 hour job at the local garage. It will take time to produce an upgraded vehicle.

On wear, I don’t know if it is true of the CTA (but I don’t know why it shouldn’t be) but the barrel life of the CT weapons developed by the USA were as much as two orders of magnitude less than equivalent conventional weapons. Replacing barrels is easy enough, if well designed, but only if you have a spare barrel. While a machine gun barrel is a small thing and carried as a matter of course, a 40mm cannon barrel is not.
Budget and logistics have an unpleasant tendency to affect field capability.

July 22, 2013 10:07 pm

Or perhaps the to big to heavy argument is because that 17 tn tank supports both the paras and marines and is now being replaced with a 40tn one which is about as deployable with those units as a challenger tank and when you consider that 17tn tank was all they could take to those islands down south due to the terrain and ground conditions you do wonder what happens in the future. However as we will never deploy anything more than a brigade of heavy armour I’m sure it will be perfect for being the right flank guard of the American heavy armoured formations even thought they’d prefer us to be somewhere else.

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
July 22, 2013 10:12 pm

Observer – I don’t think it’s the ‘smaller is less easy to spot’ point which is being argued but more the ’15 tons can go where 40 tons can’t’ and ’15 tons is easier to conceal than 40 tons’

For example, where I live in North Staffordshire you couldn’t get a 40 ton scout from the M6 to the top of Mow Cop (the highest point for miles) because there isn’t a bridge within 10km that crosses the canal and could take it’s weight. Of course you could pair every recon section with a bridgelayer . . .

July 22, 2013 10:29 pm

This has the potential for confusion. Do we mean tonnes, tons or tons? And to which does tn refer? (SI notation is t)
Plus which tank is 17 tons/tonnes? CVR(T) was 8-12 tonne depending on what you put on it.

The 10-15 tonne (maybe up to 20t) range strikes me as a very useful one. Light enough to be practically air-transported in small numbers, protected against fragments and small arms, enough weight to mount reasonable weaponry on dedicated chassis while not too heavy for civilian transport infrastructure. Maybe even container compatible.

July 22, 2013 10:44 pm

’15 tons is easier to conceal than 40 tons’

This was the part I said was wrong.

If you compared long range recon, whose job is almost 100% data collection, the scout screen around the MBT units have a much, much more war-like role. In fact, you could say that their job in reality involves route proving, supression of enemy movement by fire before the main attack force arrives, and after that, interdiction/delay of reinforcements to the point under attack. They don’t really “scout” that much. More like move around attempting to trip any ambushes the enemy has before the main body arrives.

The real info collectors are the long ranged guys on foot or motorised, not in tanks.

mr fred, I agree, but not in the scout role. As mobile support guns, some of them assigned to infantry can help a lot.

Think Defence
July 22, 2013 11:40 pm
Reply to  mr.fred

Mr Fred, can you remember my vehicle mobility series that looked at weight divisions

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
July 23, 2013 1:23 am

In my opinion, a proper recce wagon is less than 8 tonnes, ideally about 5 or under, so that you are not restricted on routes. Extremely good cross-country performance, and with enough lethality to kill IFVs or equivalent, which you can get with Javelin or similar without having the weight of a turret or associated big gun. Of the firepower / mobility / survivability triangle, it should optimise for mobility, then firepower, than least of all survivability.

It should have adequate power to host a top end comms and STA package on board. And it must be extremely quiet, so that tends to rule out anything tracked. Ideally, very low profile, certainly not something as big as a Warrior.

What everyone seems to be arguing about is some form of rapidly into-theatre deployable mini tank. I’m not saying there isn’t a need for that, nor even that FRES SV might not come up with something. But it’s not recce.

Shit, I did formation recce in Gulf 1 in a CVR(T) on a billiard table flat desert where everything stood out like the proverbial, and the only possible trade off was speed to counter being noticed at several miles away. I wanted something very small and fast and low profile with a sodding great Zeiss telescope and a Milan launcher (this was 91, remember), not a hulking great CVR(T), but that was what we had. The sort of foolishness now asking for Warrior sized useless lumps is going in entirely the wrong direction, for the recce element of FRES SV. As I say, only in my opinion.

Chenowth Desert Strike Vehicle ideally, or at the very biggest, for longer endurance and more capacity, something like a Jackal. Mix in some dirt bikes or quads into a Troop, and you’ve got the makings of a very flexible force.

As for the survivability, who cares? At the risk of sounding callous, recce isn’t expected to live for very long. I think you’d live for much longer the smaller and less obtrusive and quicker and quieter the wagon, not the more armoured or fancy pants mine protection. Don’t drive over the sodding things.

July 23, 2013 1:43 am

RT, totally agree, a dirt bike or a ATV with camo over it to mess up the shape would be a nice option. The vehicles most seem to be pushing for seems to be more for close in scouting duties like route proving, supression of enemy, detection of ambushes and interdiction than the fight for information.

Took me a while to remember the term, but for scouts, what they do is called “recce in force” or “recce by fire”, and they would need the armour to survive. For us more rational sorts, we rather keep low and not get detected at all. :P So there is actually a gap in needs between the types of recce. Armour and firepower for scouts, stealth and speed for recce. The “middle of road” solution is a “one size fits none” situation.

RT, trade you the Milan for a huge stock of smoke grenades.

Which reminds me. Infantry smoke grenades have way too long a trigger time…

July 23, 2013 7:11 am

Jed, you are fighting Afganistan again.

Recce does not need IED protection or mine protection because of where they operate, within the enemy support area. You only get IEDs and unmarked minefields if you are doing COIN, and in COIN, recce can’t help you unless the insurgents decide to mass up in an army. The BRF in Afganistan is being used more as an assault force than recce.

In a conventional war, minefields are marked, especially since they are planted on your side of the defences, so a random unmarked minefield is more likely to kill your own people than the enemy. The other use of a minefield is as a close static defence of an objective. Here, they might not mark it, but Mr Sneaky shouldn’t get that close to an objective anyway, especially in a vehicle. You are given optics for a reason.

“Fight for information” is a catchy slogan, but an utterly stupid way to get info. “Recce in force” in reality is more for enemy supression so that your MBT hammer can catch him, detection of obstacles, delay of enemy reinforcements and to avoid getting ambushed, not data collection. Real recce is invisible.

John Hartley
John Hartley
July 23, 2013 7:47 am

Well I thought the British Army should get an updated Stormer with the unmanned 40mm CTA turret. Obs, a 16-17 ton recce vehicle can go over old weak bridges, tight urban alleyways, forest dirt tracks that a 40 ton vehicle cannot.

Rocket Banana
July 23, 2013 8:01 am

I have no idea of the relative effectiveness of armour but would suggest that there are various levels of protection required/expected. Firstly from small arms, and lastly from another tank. Surely there is loads in the middle that an enemy has traded penetrative power for sheer numbers? Does this not define the level of armour needed to “go up” against these weapons?

If you are going to do “recce by fire” and find a tank squadron you’ll need to be an MBT, however this should be unlikely. You’re much more likely to find an infantry platoon or some other middle ground vehicles armed with 30mm guns. Others will know better what types of firepower the enemy has in large numbers, but isn’t it this that determines the armour/protection needed for a “scout” vehicle.

July 23, 2013 9:06 am

JH, dimensions are a red herring. No TC in his right mind would push into wall scraping alleyways even if he could fit in. Too high a chance of getting stuck. Same with jungle closed terrain. Psychologically, even the impression of “too close” will cause a commander to back off. Not to mention the question on why do you expect the dimensions of a 13 ton tank to be drastically different from a 30 ton IFV? (ASCOD is registered at 30 tons IIRC)

As for the tonnage argument, the main role of IFV scouts are as route provers for the main force, which means that the bridge is useless to them anyway as the MBTs or medium armour can’t use them too. More likely, someone will be left to create an overwatch on the bridge and to create a choke point for flank security (another main job) while the rest of the armoured recce push further up to find a way to the objective. The general impression of armoured recce may be that they go off independently to do their own thing, but the reality is that they are tied to the Combat Team and act in a limited area around it.

Simon, exactly, and the additional tonnage for more protection is probably more useful in a unit expected to be the first under fire than to keep tonnage low for the rare occurance of finding a bridge that is “just right” to take the IFV’s weight.

July 23, 2013 9:20 am

JH – I share your view. Small/light enough to get places MBTs could not, small enough to make use of civilian structures/objects for cover (not everywhere is as bleak and open as the Iraqi desert, but generally if there is some civilian life about there will be buildings of nominal 8ft height and ubiquitous white vans – be small enough to be screened by these from view), agile enough to use farm tracks etc. If I recall correctly there were many routes through Kosovo that could only be accessed by CVR(T) or LandRover – tales of Saxon being too wide and tumbling off the tracks as a result. Scout-SV wouldn’t have stood a chance.

RT, Obs – I bow to your first hand knowledge here. If you want to use your Kwakka 4×4: http://www.kawasaki.com/Products/product-specifications.aspx?scid=1&id=768 (better find one that can run on Avtur) then they ought to be cheap enough to buy off the shelf. But as has been mentioned a few times here UK uses its assets in many different ways as suits the threat of the moment; for example: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/2749659.stm – for this show of resolve (albeit more show than anything else) MBTs would have been too threatening but van-sized armour fitted just right. If the only vehicle sub-MBT was RT’s ATV then in the Heathrow situation the Army would have looked like a team of paintballers who’d taken a wrong turn.

I contend, just as Simon noted above, that as we have limited funds and a none too large Army, there should be a set of assets each covering a different weight & size range (hence either ASCOD or Warrior but not both; I suspect Warrior is better value for money in the near/intermediate term) so that there would be a platform available in the inventory for any eventuality. If that means ATVs at one end of the spectrum and MBTs at the other, thats fine. If it means the recce task may be allocated to any platform across the range depending on environment and threat, that’s fine too. Although this may be heresy to those in uniform. Sorry. These days, with the ‘standard’ requirements applied to all platform procurement (human factors, higher protection levels, comms systems, other electronic standard fits etc etc) I doubt it would be possible to match CVR(T) for size & weight. But it is possible to get very close to it. So from my perspective, to maintain maximum flexibility within the ORBAT, the once excellent CVR(T) should be replaced by the smallest capable armour possible that meets these new non-negotiable standard requirements. If Scout-SV proceeds and 432/CVR(T) is withdrawn to be replaced by them, there will be a hole at the small light end of the armour spectrum that will have to be filled with a rag-tag mismatch of Jackals, Foxhounds, Panthers, Warthogs. That would hardly be optimum, in my opinion.

When all is said & done, there is nothing really special about a vehicle platform. It has a size & weight, a level of protection & mobility, a turret or not. The basic vehicle can be used in many different ways providing cap-badge turf wars permit. Perhaps then we have all been asking exactly the wrong question? Instead of asking if recce vehicles should be ATVs or MBTs or IFVs, we should be asking what platform size/weight should be procured to keep the maximum flexibility of assets. In that way we ought to avoid the situation of one 40t type of turreted AFV being given to the cavalry and another completely different 40t type of turreted AFV being given to the infantry.

In my opinion.

July 23, 2013 9:58 am

ATV’s are too small. You need a vehicle that can carry enough equipment for self support (tyres, fan belts, additional water, additional fuel) and recovery (winch, rope, hi-lift) and dare I say to provide some comfort too. ATVs are a maul. You would spend more time picking a path through terrain than looking for what you are looking. They tip. And any off-road advantage they have could be bested by simply dismounting. They can’t “self deploy”. Really you need the extra all round performance which a proper vehicle gives.

An ATV suitably silenced towing a small trailer as an addition to a foot patrol an entirely different matter.

July 23, 2013 10:04 am

Um. ATVs actually offer nothing over mules.

Peter Elliott
July 23, 2013 10:14 am

Maybe for the Cavalry Regiments we should be really radical and equip them with the Mk1 Horse?

July 23, 2013 10:16 am

@x: US SF use ATV’s for long range patrols, including covert ones. See Not a Good Day to Die :-)

Also: less sound and the lack of shit :-)

July 23, 2013 10:24 am

And you abandon the ATV when it breaks down, you don’t repair it. Preferably with a grenade in the gas tank.

In a case of irony, my issued vehicle IS a Kawasaki. Bike though, not ATV.

Think people are confusing the protected mobility role for patrolling light infantry with the recce role. They keep recommending vehicles stacked with IED protection.

July 23, 2013 11:01 am

@ wf

Yes. I know what the US do. They have lots of resources and overlapping capabilities. And occasionally more money than sense. You can push a vehicle to do all sorts of things. Especially if there is no real need to do it. And you have lots of backup and redundant capability if the mission fails. Lots of countries use mountain bikes even cheaper than ATVs. And quieter. And in rough terrain actually not much slower, if at all slower.


@ Observer

I don’t think anybody is confused. We are discussing options and setting upper and lower limits for weights. Discussing form factors. And discussing equipment levels.

I can see you now mounted on your Kawasaki leading the charge against the naughty Malays………


Get BAE to mod the petrol tank cap so a grenade can fit. They will probably only charge you £100k per unit.

July 23, 2013 11:05 am

On the whole a daft idea, substituting a collection of clapped out armoured trucks with little or no armament for a mostly modern and new build vehicle with a useful armament. Option B being a complete strip and rebuild of Warrior, with a new engine and turret plus all the other bits. Whether this would be cheaper and better is definitely moot. Given the need to replace lots of 432 (and Sultan etc) in all arms then there probably aren’t enough Warriors to equip recce regts. Reducing the variety of vehicles is an obvious overall cost reduction measure.

Lets go back 60 yrs. The lesson of WW2 led to Saladin with a 76mm, Ferret with .30, and Saracen with .30. These equipped the RAC recce regts, troops being 2 Sal & 2 F with asslt tprs in the Sars. Move into the 70s, Cav tps equipped with Scorpion 76mm, Scimitar 30mm, asslt tps in the APC, plus Striker with Swingfire as a regt asset, and CV and ambos to complete the set. Unfortunately ‘elth&safety issues led to 76mm being dropped. By the 1980s the 3 cav regts in 1 Corps were operating as a de facto cav bde under Comd RAC to provide the covering force. And the armd regts and clanky inf bns had their close recce tps/pls with Scimitar.

The obvious lesson from all this is medium/fmn/whatever you want to call it recce needs reasonable armament. Furthermore the op concept seems to be recce led manouver, ie going forwards, not withdrawing. 40mm seems reasonable, a modern 76 might be better, 12.7 and grenade lnchrs totally inadequate, anything smaller a bad joke.

MBTs as recce also a joke, it’s called bridge weight restrictions, also a bit of a risk with FRES SV but nowhere near as much, but outside deserts rushing around in MBTs you need a heap of bridging equipment (recce with a AVLB?), MBTs can also get bogged in softground. Wheels also have mobility challenges once you get onto softish ground. It’s a lesson most 2Lts with heavy wheeled vehicles learn fairly soon in their careers. Probably why the FV 600 series was replaced by tracks. Tracks are also better in forests and on hills.

As I pointed out on another thread, FRES SV is actually the combination of Scorpion, Scimitar & Spartan, not sure about Sultan, but basically one size fits all. The advantage here is that extra troops, eg asslt tprs, can be carried in any vehicle. Apart from their normal dismounted recce, sniping, etc role, they can also be equipped with ATGM, UAVs, UGSs, a bit of sneaky minelaying, etc.

The tricky bit is what to do about the close recce tps/pls, assuming they will continue, which seems to be the case if the full inf bn strength figure I saw somewhere recently is correct. Perhaps they’ll get somewhat upgraded Warriors.

July 23, 2013 11:15 am

RT said “What everyone seems to be arguing about is some form of rapidly into-theatre deployable mini tank. I’m not saying there isn’t a need for that, nor even that FRES SV might not come up with something. But it’s not recce.”

What about all the other cavalry tasks that aren’t anything to do with recce? If FRES SV is being bought purely for recce then it really is a waste. My trouble with it is that it isn’t much good at the rest of the cavalry work. That’s where the value is being lost. Jackal doesn’t cover it either.

July 23, 2013 11:36 am

Obsvr said “The advantage here is that extra troops, eg asslt tprs, can be carried in any vehicle. ”

I thought the back of ASCOD FRES SV WC and bar was full to the brim with electronic wizardry that meant no dismounts?

Are we missing the point here that really we need two different sort of cavalry regiments? One to cover recce and one for the fighty stuff? The thing is I think we need more of the latter than the former.

July 23, 2013 12:12 pm

@x, ssshhh… Redland please, we got to be politically correct about things like these. :)

And I won’t be surprised about the 100,000 pound bill from BAe, even though the cap is already big enough to fit a grenade in.

BTW, the AR 80 only has a pathetic 80cc engine, we use a 250cc 4 stroke or it would never be able to carry the weight of our equipment. Approx 50kg per person, the guy with a pillion is carrying 100kg in cargo. We made a lot of complaints about the weight, but have not come up with a good solution other than “add one more guy” yet.

Why I think most people are making a mountain out of a molehill is because if you had asked me to design a general purpose IFV, I would have come up with something close to the ASCOD design. Or the dozens of other designs out in the market that are so similar that they can be called generic. It really is a non-issue. It will get the job done, or can be tweaked to get the job done.

July 23, 2013 12:30 pm

I have been following with interest, but as usual with FRES Scout all the comments make me doubt I really understand the subject matter.

Am I right in thinking, that the proposed use of the FRES Scout by the British Army will be to operate as an outer screen to an armoured and/or mechanised brigade, where it’s job will be to operate 2 – 3 miles ahead of/to the flanks of the formation in order to find, locate and fix the enemy armoured or mechanised brigade, to allow for main force to decisively engage the enemy formation, and prevent the enemy formation from dictating the place and time of the engagement? If so, presumably in this role the FRES Scout should be a) able to keep up with Warrior and CR2, and b) be able to survive engagement with say a BTR-80A or a BMP-2?

July 23, 2013 12:36 pm

I stand by my position to remove the “FRES SV” and develop a fleet of smaller multirole vehicles “FRES UV” with Foxhound recce, and wheeled vehicles equipped with anti-tank missiles, mortars, ambulances, etc …, it would be a great economy for a larger number of vehicles air transportable.
And of course upgrade Challenger 2.

July 23, 2013 12:50 pm

@ Observer

Or get a proper sized vehicle perhaps?

Rocket Banana
July 23, 2013 12:52 pm

Would Stryker/Piranha be faster over rough ground than ASCOD-SV or Warrior?

If significantly so, I’d favour an 8×8 over tracks for “skirmish” type recce and consider using, yes I know, an upgraded Challenger 2 (faster and biger engine) for “full on” type engagements. It’s a good reason to take the 200+ we already have out of storage.

The only problems I see with an MBT for this job are the logistics tail and the lack of compatibility with our amphibious capabilities. You could run four 16t vehicles on the fuel that Chally2 uses!

July 23, 2013 1:08 pm

@ Observer re AR-80

Yes I know’s its capacity. I wanted a picture of an AR-50 but I thought the red AR-80 looked nicer.

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
July 23, 2013 1:12 pm

Simon, I think I can answer that one for you.

Watch this; http://s156.photobucket.com/user/pureteenlard/media/centauro.mp4.html A modern, 8×8 AFV

Now watch this; http://www.myvideo.ch/watch/815649 The same course but a tracked vehicle.

I think it answers the question quite neatly!

July 23, 2013 1:17 pm

@ Simon

Tracks aren’t slow. The difference is inconsequential and you have to look at over all mobility. My point of view is if you want to get almost everywhere almost all the time go tracks. But most of the time you can get away with wheels. Further not all tracked vehicles are equal. On the YouTube there is footage of Norwegian trials in the snow where CV40 was compared to Bradley. The latter didn’t do so well.

July 23, 2013 1:17 pm

x, no thanks :) I like my heli-mobility and sneakiness. Even going to ATV means 4 ATVs for a team, how are you going to fit that into a Chinook?

Frenchie, once you use any of the “protected mobility” crap in a serious war as a Combat Team screen, they will die. D-I-E. None of that crap can take a high explosive round hit even from medium calibre guns (20-40mm). I suspect even 12.7mm SLAP would punch through one of those, which means that the instant your combat screen comes into contact with anything other than infantry, they will simply die. Depending on what kind of LAW the infantry uses, they might even be able to kill your MRAP. COIN is totally different from a peer or near peer war.

Rocket Banana
July 23, 2013 1:20 pm


Yup, that’s all I need :-)

So basically, you don’t get a huge benefit from 8×8 unless you’re operating on dirt tracks.

July 23, 2013 1:32 pm

Sorry Tubby, just saw your post. Yes, that is the main job of an armoured scout screen. Those units not engaged with the enemy will sweep past and block the routes leading to the area under attack. They are there to harass anyone coming to help or to report back if a strong relief force is spotted.

Simon, not a total loss. Some 8x8s are intrinsically amphibious, so they can use rivers and water bodies to evade the enemy or attack from an unexpected direction. 8x8s are also harder to get a mobility kill on. Tracks vs Wheeled is an old old debate and sometimes really does boil down to personal preference.

Think Defence
July 23, 2013 1:32 pm
Reply to  Rocket Banana
Rocket Banana
July 23, 2013 1:37 pm


56 kph (although I bet it can go quicker) on a road is slow in my book for Challenger 2 but I get your point.

There is a compromise between mobility and speed. I was just pursuing the “skirmish” idea with something that can wander around relatively quietly and get away quickly if it comes up against something that can seriously outgun it.

I can see a dirt bike being quite a sensible vehicle for eyeball recce. I was just hoping that something exists that is very fast on the road, pretty quick on a dirt/uneven track (100kph), but also capable of outrunning an MBT over rought terrain. Turns out it looks like its Warrior and/or ASCOD.

July 23, 2013 1:49 pm

@ Observer

The next war will not necessarily be in a location near, you are basing on the experience of the Gulf War, I based on the war in Afghanistan, there is no need to tank around, with a friendly country beside to carry your equipment. How you carry your heavy tank , your Warrior of 40 tons, your FRES SV of 34 tons, how they cross the river. Your future A400M will do nothing, I don’t think all that is reasonable.
But I’m not a soldier, just a friend of the United Kingdom, I’m just giving my opinion.

Think Defence
July 23, 2013 2:10 pm
Reply to  Frenchie

A native of France and Singapore discussing UK defence issues

Love it :)

July 23, 2013 2:25 pm

Info is anywhere you find it TD :)

I was only here to find casualty rates for Warthog thrown from turret injury rates to check if RWS was the way to go. Pity there was too little info. And I doubt the MoD would be happy releasing that kind of info for pro-Taliban propaganda.

July 23, 2013 3:14 pm

@ Simon

As RT pointed out (sort of) in less you are playing armoured warfare on a billiard table high top speed is irrelevant. Even then it isn’t your vehicle’s speed or your opponent’s vehicle’s speed I would worry about, I would worry about the speed of their targeting computer. Your tank will never outrun a shell or an ATGM. There will always be an obstacle to slow your vehicle down be it a building, a tench, or vegetation. Whether on tracks or wheels these vehicles aren’t fast handling in the same way as a car is fast handling. Power to weight is more important than top speed.

@ Observer

Most of the heli-portable vehicles fit two up in a Chinook. I like how you cheap stealthy approach relies on an expensive noisy helicopter to do most of the lifting. I will respond later…….. :)

BTW are these Kawasaki’s of yours underslung, if so from what?

@ Swimming Trunks

Never said motorcycles aren’t useful. FWIW my favourite motorcycle………..


@ TD

Thanks. :)

July 23, 2013 3:17 pm

There are a lot of informed people who post here. A great many of those are also ex-Military and some possess firsthand knowledge of the vehicles being discussed. Unusual for a TD article, the amount of universal agreement that Scout SV should be cancelled is surprising. So I wonder what the MoD knows that we don’t?

I have been able to speak to a senior Army officer on this very topic. Obviously, he was limited in what he could tell me. But this is what he said:

1. CVR(T) is so past its sell-by date and so vulnerable to IED and RPGs that the Army had no option but to replace it as soon as the Government was prepared to make funds available. While Scimitar 2 was a useful stop-gap vehicle – a UOR – it is top heavy and still doesn’t offer sufficient IED protection to be a viable long-term replacement. To get the right mix of protection (Including IED protection) and mobility we want for the Recce role, you end-up with a vehicle in 30 tonne class. There’s no other way to skin the cat on this.

2. It would obviously be sensible to use the Warrior chassis if we could. But we don’t have enough and it is no longer in production. We had no choice but to go for ASCOD 2 or CV90. They were the only games in town when the requirement was issued. Since that time, the KMW Puma has been fielded by the Bundeswehr and offers a similar drivetrain set-up. Ideally, and since the Warriors are also starting to show their age, we should very much like to replace everything with a single new chassis type. Alas there is insufficient money to do this. No one wants to operate a dual fleet of similar vehicles. Alas, we have no option.

3. Scout SV is not simply an ASCOD 2 chassis with a 40 mm CTA turret stuck on. There have been detailed revisions to the chassis. There has been plenty os scope to customise it around our needs. (There is now a rear-facing crew position with a cupola behind the turret.) Most important of all, it has been carefully reworked to provide the desired level of protection and although the actual type and thickness of armour across the frontal arc is classified, it offers truly impressive levels of protection.

4. FRES SV is not just the Scout version but a whole family of vehicles, including an APC, Command, Ambulance, Repair and Recovery and so on. We hope to buy additional vehicles as the budget dictates. Should the need arise, we could easily purchase a large number of ASCOD APCs, IFVs and other vehicles at a competitive price.

5. The 40 mm CTA has been thoroughly tested and delivers excellent lethality against all existing IFVs, 8x8s and against older MBT designs. it is the right choice for the UK.

6. Is FRES Scout SV a compromise? Yes. Every piece of kit we buy is a compromise. But Scout SV will perform its intended role very well and much better than any upgraded CVR(T) could. It reflects a doctrinal shift in strategy away from heavy MBTs to faster, lighter, more agile medium weight AFVs. Its primary role is not a tank killer; that function is adequately fulfilled by Challenger 2. Scout SV will provide an extremely rapid and flexible vehicle capable of being deployed easily and quickly to wherever it is needed.

I thought that these responses were fair. Would I still cancel FRES SV? Yes.

There can be no doubt that FRES SV will be expected to remain in service for many years to come. The trouble is, I think we’re seeing a fundamental shift in how armour is used and how vehicle design will evolve to enable future vehicles to perform new roles.

As I mentioned in a post above, we’re seeing armoured capabilities divide into three areas: heavy, medium and light. Heavy armour will consolidate around a single chassis with Challenger 2 MBT levels of protection. Essentially, the next UK MBT / IFV will have a front-mounted engine like the Israeli Merkava and a rear compartment. The rear compartment will be used either to mount a large tank gun or to house mobile infantry. There will probably be a Recce version mounting some kind of cannon.

With medium armour the same kind of solution will be adopted. It will also be comprised of a common chassis solution, either an 8×8 platform or similar type of wheeled vehicle . Again you’ll have an Infantry carrier / APC and what I like to describe as a ‘tank destroyer / MGS platform’ not a wheeled tank, but a vehicle with a gun capable of defeating tanks. Typically, medium armour formations will provide a rapid response deployment capability and should be able to counter a variety of threats. They are not simply light AFVs; they would be used in a fundamentally different way.

Lightweight armour would be centred on protected mobility and mine protection afforded by vehicles like the Foxhound. (I don’t think Foxhound is a credible alternative to Scout SV. It doesn’t have the same level of protection. I like the idea of using the Chenworth Strike Vehicle, but it is simply another flavour of Jackal. )

This three-tier approach to armoured vehicles seems to be a common direction for most world armies. While the USA, China, Russia, Germany, Poland, France, Italy, and Scandinavia are all developing highly flexible tracked and wheeled armoured formations, the UK’s AFV strategy seems completely misguided and uninspired.

That isn’t the fault of the Army or our doctrine. It is because we are flat broke. I can understand how a lack of funds would impinge on ideal procurement, but why is it that so many countries that are so much poorer than we are have got the basics right? look at Germany, France and Italy, for example. Their armies seem to get a much bigger bang for their bucks.

July 23, 2013 4:10 pm

Hi TD, happy to be here for discuss about an exciting subject :)

July 23, 2013 4:28 pm

That scouting vs recce, a good distinction.

the German motorcycle bns were used a lot for route scouting, and took v heavy casualties. They were merged with armoured recce bns in 1942… sven can tell us if Aufklarung and recce translate 1:1

Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
July 23, 2013 4:59 pm

@ X – Like it!

OK – I was going to save this as part of an article but… Crazy idea time (its been awhile): Mount the Light role Infantry battalions on diesel motorbikes, with heavy/crew served weapons such as MG, mortar, Javelin, etc on sidecar combos or ATV’s? Gives infantry tactical mobility while preserving their ability to operate in close terrain while not significantly burdening them down with maintenance tail?

“Other organizations include mechanizing an entire squad or platoon, complete with rifleman, support gunners, and anti-air/tank soldiers. It’s also not uncommon to see a “swarm” of motor-bikes with 10-20 RPG’s and supporting rifleman. Sniper teams are also a common sight on motorbikes.”

“This brings up questions of their effectiveness in combat. To get a good idea, we have only look to Iran’s neighbor Afghanistan. In Afghanistan, the Taliban have a long history of using Honda motorcycles as transportation and to mount ambushes against ISAF/NATO and GOA forces. Even the US has taken to deploying motorcycles. The advantage to this is the maneuverability; geography in many parts of Iran, such as the Alborz and Zagros mountains, is similar to that in Afghanistan, and the small mobile motorbikes can go places a tank, APC or even a truck can’t, the same holds true on the opposite type of terrain, within Iranian cities with their twisting alleyways and congested buildings. Another advantage to these systems is that they’re smaller, and by this virtue they attract less attention and are easier to hide then any other vehicle.”

Of course they will obey the rules of motorised infantry:

Rule 1) Always dismount to fight


They would be an speed/mobility enhancer, not a combat vehicle.

“Ultimately, as with so many other weapons, their effectiveness depends on their use. If used to set up ambushes and carry hunter-killer teams across cities or mountains the Iranians might have a deadly system, but if used to launch a charge across flatlands they would likely be mowed down by tanks or gunships.”

Rocket Banana
July 23, 2013 5:43 pm


Ferry hinteresting (little finger in corner of mouth) ;-)

None of that comes as a surprise other than the admission that ASCOD is simply a small tank.

I too would scrap it. We need to make do and mend. We have 200+ Challenger 2 in storage which should be used or something at least! In addition, it should really be a UK produced/designed product. We seem hell bent on total reliance on other people to build/design our stuff. We need investment in engineering in this country, not finance… phew, nearly went off on one there.

What is wrong with Warrior? Just build more! It’s the same with the Sea King, we’re letting a perfectly proven vehicle go just because there’s something more shiny that has it’s own set of faults.

John Hartley
John Hartley
July 23, 2013 5:51 pm

Shame there is not a Western equivalent to the Chinese VN11 IFV. 21.5 tonnes, 2+7 crew, amphibious, armed with 100mm gun/missile launcher+ co-axial 30mm canon.

July 23, 2013 6:30 pm

@ Monty

Very interesting. I think we all know most of that even though it is good to see it in one lump from a senior army figure. We only don’t have enough Warriors because the Army has decided it quite likes tanks and MICV’s. If this was an admiral speaking there would be howls of derision about Cold War and Nelsonian behaviours. The Army is about to enter an age of irrelevance due to a lack of imagination at the top that makes the Admiralty look like Dali on an acid trip. Look at Mali. RAF fields strategic lifters for the French, who protects them? The RAF’s own troops and this will happen again. The Royal Marines are going back to sea; the RN is about to take delivery of two ships that can swallow a RM CC company and enough helicopters to move it. Next crisis and CVF is close what happens? In go the Green Death. Light and mobile is what is needed. But at least the Army will have enough heavy armour to keep a brigade in contact with the enemy for what about 6 days? Super stuff. Well done. I wonder if there will be a push for the RA to gain lots of PGM to stonk the targets FRES SV spots? And I bet lots of RA capability has been kept so these PGM will be everywhere, lets not fall into the silly argument that PGM means fewer barrels are needed when the Army is at the size it is now.

As for KMW Puma has been fielded by the Bundeswehr and offers a similar drivetrain setup you can bet it will be sufficiently different that the UK won’t gain any economies from it. Of course there will be lots of savings because the Bundeswehr is so big, not. If it had been a French vehicle it would be a bit more plausible. Why do we always pick the wrong team with which to partner?

As for CTA defeating all those targets you can bet Bofors and everybody else making such weapons would be aiming for similar levels of performance. As I have said elsewhere no point in the wondrous space saving ammunition if we can only afford to buy half of what we could have bought.

A complete rhubarb crumble.

@ Swimming Trunks

They are good aren’t they? Have a look around YouTube for more videos on them. I would have one but you have to be really diligent about keeping on top of bodywork maintenance or they soon become ratty.

July 23, 2013 6:54 pm

@Simon: I’m quite amazed by the tendency of commenters here to grandly declare we can “make do and mend”. It’s apparently lost on them that we’ve been doing that for so long we’re out of vehicle life. The only UK program which can be said to have succeeded over the last 20 years is CR2, where a decent vehicle was procured new in one batch as a complete replacement.

I agree with a lot of @Monty’s thoughts as to the likely long term types of armoured vehicles. But buggering about and not replacing CVR(T) in the armoured brigade role is insane: this is a program that was needed 30 years ago, and we really cannot wait

Mike W
July 23, 2013 7:09 pm

If the FRES SV Scout version is really to enter service as our next reconnaissance vehicle (at 35 tonnes no less), doesn’t it raise a problem that only Pete Arundel (I think) way back in the thread, has hit upon?

He says, “Observer – I don’t think it’s the ‘smaller is less easy to spot’ point which is being argued but more the ’15 tons can go where 40 tons can’t’ … etc.’

For example, where I live in North Staffordshire you couldn’t get a 40 ton scout from the M6 to the top of Mow Cop (the highest point for miles) because there isn’t a bridge within 10km that crosses the canal and could take its weight. Of course you could pair every recon section with a bridgelayer . . .”

Now, I might be imagining a problem where there is none but doesn’t the presence of rivers, canals, dry gaps, etc. pose a real problem for something that heavy? Wouldn’t we need a number of lighter bridgelayers to accompany recce units or would they have to wait for a thumping great TITAN to come up? Or isn’t that the way it works? Any explanations?

An innocent abroad in the field of recce.

July 23, 2013 7:25 pm

Mike W said “I live in North Staffordshire you couldn’t get a 40 ton scout from the M6 to the top of Mow Cop.”

Um. My God you are right. Um. Through Kidsgrove under the aqueduct and come up the other side? I shall have to give this further thought.

Rocket Banana
July 23, 2013 7:25 pm


We need to make do and mend – I get this distinct impression that it would be very hard to do so.

Besides, I’m advocating reopening British design/production plants using something we know that works as a template for further British development… so am investing in the long-term rather than short-term.

Other than that I have no grand declaration. I just see it (probably wrongly) as a capability that can be “stop gapped” by other assets. Heavy recce with the Challenger we have in storage and the remaining Warriors, light with, well, a dirt bike, Foxhound, or various RC drones.

July 23, 2013 7:52 pm

“Essentially, the next UK MBT / IFV will have a front-mounted engine like the Israeli Merkava and a rear compartment. The rear compartment will be used either to mount a large tank gun or to house mobile infantry. There will probably be a Recce version mounting some kind of cannon.”

No. Warrior and CR2 are scheduled to go out of service in 2035. If we can’t do better than a single, fuel-guzzling engine that is only using a small fraction of its capacity for the vast majority of the time, by then we really ought to just give up.
A hybrid drive system would allow distributed and redundant power generation, remote from the drive sprockets. It isn’t a case of front or back engines any more.

A medium vehicle, IMHO, is a dead end. It presents nearly all the same problems to operational and strategic mobility as a much heavier vehicle whilst having only slightly more protection than a much lighter vehicle. For the not-heavy-armour role a 20t base weight with potential for growth to 30t would make far more sense than a 30-40t vehicle in terms of mobility and support. I would suggest dedicated roles to keep the weight down, so a troop carrier, a gun carrier (not bigger than a 105mm, to keep weight down), an ATGW carrier and an autocannon carrier, plus support vehicles, based around the same running gear and ancillary equipment.

Heavy armour should start at 40t (standard road weight limit) but retain room for growth. A further benefit of hybrid drive systems is that you can add and remove power generation as needed to suit the GVW, so not only the protection systems are modular.

Below 10 tonnes, I would be inclined to call that protected vehicles rather than armour as they are generally intended to keep their crew alive rather than protect their fighting capability.

July 23, 2013 8:01 pm

@ Observer

Thanks for clarifying the role of the FRES Scout – I guess the problem is that people want the FRES Scout to carry out a role it is not designed for, which is why I keep seeing discussions of light vehicles, ATV’s and motorbikes.

Having never served in the armed forces, and my engineering knowledge being limited to materials you wouldn’t find in an armoured vehicle, I am not sure am qualified to judge the matter – but if I was going to define the specification for a vehicle to provide an armoured scout screen, I think that the FRES Scout would be very close to what I would have specified. I would have wanted to take a proven off the shelf design, incorporate a standard open system architecture, and modified the design to make sure it had the capacity to increase the installed processing power and the amount of armour, along with the all the necessary changes required (i.e. the ability to plug in a more powerful engine to compensate for increased armour).

I would have also made sure it included good IED protection as while the [FRES Scout] needs to be able to fight against a peer enemy, the reality is that its most common role will be part of NATO/UN peace keeping/military stabilisation role, where IMO the IED would be a factor. While I have read that the CTA 40 has better penetration than any of the current similar guns, such as the Bushmaster Super 40, I would have actually considered going with the M242 for the high level of commonality with the US and have accepted it shortcomings in penetration (Source: http://www.tank-net.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=25792, the last post in the thread)

Mike W
July 23, 2013 8:28 pm


“Mike W said, “I live in North Staffordshire you couldn’t get a 40 ton scout from the M6 to the top of Mow Cop.”

‘Twas not I who said it, x. It was Pete Arundel, although I admit my use of inverted commas might have made things difficult.

July 23, 2013 8:44 pm

@ Mike W


The conundrum still remains. Most of the roads up there are 7.5t and below only. The bin lorry gets around OK though…..

The thing is Mow Cop is an issue of national importance as Cheshire “owns” half of it. Really it should be all ours.

When I say national importance obviously I mean Mercian and not UK……..

July 23, 2013 8:54 pm

Hi JH, the first fifteen AMVs that the UAE bought with that same turret as your Chinese specimen can’t be far off in the spec as they retained their amphibiosity. There might be a deal for more, but in the intended use they will not need to be amphibious

July 23, 2013 9:04 pm

Hi Mike, I wonder if the deal for 36 or so Warrior -based ‘lighter’ bridge layers actually proceeded.

The number of heavy recce units is now more modest, would every rgmnt get/ need a dozen?

July 23, 2013 9:05 pm


The Bushmaster Mk44 shares about 70% commonality with the M242 and is probably the next autocannon the US army will be using.
For an armed screen I’d consider the Bushmaster III. The capacity to upgrade to a 50mm is promising.

Mike W
July 23, 2013 9:32 pm


You’ve hit it! There’s the solution for our next recce vehicle. Your bin lorry. Let’s get it into service as soon as possible!

“Hi Mike, I wonder if the deal for 36 or so Warrior -based ‘lighter’ bridge layers actually proceeded.!

Hi, ACC, nice to hear from you again. That’s what ‘d like to know too .

Apparently, there was a press conference given by some high-ranking British Army officer at DVD 2013, who said that some of the roles envisaged for FRES SV might have to be taken over by the ABSV version of Warrior. All very confusing. He didn’t mention specific roles. Still, I suppose it’s early days yet.

John Hartley
John Hartley
July 23, 2013 9:40 pm

ACC. If I play fantasy tank, I would want 3. First up, an updated Stormer with better IED protection & the unmanned 40mm CTA turret. Should still clip in under 16 tons, so could be lifted by a CH-53K in a rare emergency. Ideal for peacekeeping/recce/sf/colonial policing type roles.
Secondly , an amphibious Iveco SuperAV, again with the unmanned 40mm CTA turret. Ideal for Royal Marines & other go anywhere, spearhead forces.
Lastly a DEPLOYABLE MBT. Thinking of an updated Engesa EE-T1 P2. 43 tons armed with a 120mm gun. British firms, Vickers & Dunlop had some input on this Brazilian tank. It was on the brink of big orders, but the end of the cold war killed it. An updated version with autoloader gun, upgraded armour & IED protection should still come in under 50 tons.

July 23, 2013 9:59 pm

@ Mike W

At least “we” still make bin lorries……


……and they used to make this during WW2……….


The silly thing is the UK has quite a few vehicle engineering companies that are world class. Didn’t Porsche design the Wiesel? Couldn’t McClaren design a light cavalry vehicle? JCB sales are on the up so they must be doing something OK. And so on.

I suppose we need to know whether we are designing a recce vehicle or a fighty vehicle or a combination of both.

Um. I am sure somewhere between Foxhound, a shrunken version of the TMV 6×6 chassis, and Mattracks lies a CVR(T) replacement.

July 23, 2013 10:24 pm

Light, open vehicles might be fine for the sneaking around pre-kick off stuff. But once the armour is rolling, the recce will have to keep rolling too. Hence the need for armour.

July 24, 2013 12:12 am

Re: Low weight bridges, a fair chunk of the IFVs under discussion are amphibious or at least wade capable. Unless your obstacle is a ravine or fast flowing, you can just swim across. And if you are working as part of a combat team, your main force can’t cross the bridge either, so it is either fordable or an unpassable terrain obstacle. If unpassable, you either leave someone in overwatch or blow the bridge down. If for some reason you need eyes across the river, it is the job of the recce without the route proving duties, i.e the long range motorised/foot recce guys.

Blowing small bridges is a very common defence maneuver, especially to protect flanks.

I’m more worried about mine/IED protection and tracked vehicles. This may be supposition but a V-shaped hull exposes part of the axle of the road and drive wheels when you lop off the corner of the squarish hull to get a “V” shape. Makes them more vulnerable to damage.

My stand on the FRES program is not that the end result is bad, as I mentioned, ASCOD is fairly generic, the problem was the amount of red tape, time wasting and drama to get a generic vehicle. A straight out lowest price bid or even a “names in a hat” lottery would have saved years and millions of pounds for a similar result. FRES as a vehicle is ok. FRES as a program is an insane waste of time and paid manhours. Red tape and self-licking ice cream cone in a dire need of an Alexandrian/Gordian solution.

July 24, 2013 1:01 am

@x, underslung, you cargo sling 3-4 bikes per package then 1-2 packages are placed in the middle of a cargo net and the corners are pulled up to form a basket which you then clip to the undeside of the helo.

A pic is worth a thousand words.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyberpioneer/5618275480/in/set-72157614328978595 (laying out the net)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyberpioneer/5618277224/in/set-72157614328978595 (hooking up the net)

http://www.flickr.com/photos/cyberpioneer/5618277822/in/set-72157614328978595 (heli-mobile LSVs, they are cutting corners on the netting)

Helos are not really that noisy. Sure, loud and intense at ground zero, but the noise levels drop off sharply after beyond that. At about 1km, you can hardly hear them unless you are specifically listening for them.

July 24, 2013 2:35 am

Firstly the entire FRES project should have been cancelled after the last labour government couldn’t agree with GD over commercial rights.
We’ve been up this path so many times we’re in danger of wearing the path out, If the Warrior’s are becoming obsolete and are wearing out then we should go for its replacement while wearing out the Warriors by running them into the ground,
The ASCOD 2/FRES SV or what ever they choose should be ordered in one big batch with the funding coming from the Warrior upgrade and SCOUT SV with any additional funding coming from the equipment budget reserve there supposed to have. Why when we purchase equipment do we have to piss about adding all sorts of things surely BOWMAN isn’t that much of a problem to install into vehicles as clansman was a bolt onto the wall of any AFV or onto racks pre installed we are our own worst enemy we try for the gold plated only to have to buy so few due to pricing ourselves out of any meaning full number.
Using Heavy Armour as Recce Vehicles is like using a passenger ship to fish for tuna sure it can do the job but what a waste another do we really need so many recce regiments when we have UAV’s that can do the job they should be heavy armour with each regiment having 3 Sabre Sqn’s and a Recce/ ATGW Sqn. and an RHQ
In the Reaction Force we should have 6 CR 2 regiments 6 Armoured Infantry in IFV’s Warrior (if useable) ASCOD 2 PUMA or even Bradleys , 3 AS90 regiments 1 MLRS, Basically you have you’re deployable division made up of you’re 3 Brigades rotating on 1 on high,1 medium and 1 low readiness to deploy, You’re adaptable force will have you’re Infantry in 8×8 Piranha V APC with the remaining 4/5 Armoured Regiments in MGS Piranha V the RA would have Either FH777 Towed guns or Archer/LIMAWS G with LIMAWS R taking the GMLRS role these are all air transportable for rapid deployment that way the adaptable force could be rapidly deployed when needed.
The biggest Question how to pay for it all ? well were not going to buy it all in one go so a bulk buy paying s each formation is equipped which won’t be till 2025 and onwards after the recent 10 budget cycle this wouldn’t happen overnight but if you give manufacturers firm huge orders with construction in this country the benefits from tax returns , discounts written into the contract due to scale of the order (like the us Blackhawk and osprey orders cutting billion of the price)would off set part of the costs also putting jobs back into Britain even though I don’t agree with using Defence to inflate the Labour market if the costs are inflated to pay for them

Pete Arundel
Pete Arundel
July 24, 2013 6:55 am

I’ve said it before, amphibious capability is mostly pointless. It’s the first capability to go when the applique armour goes on and it’s only of use if you are absolutely sure of your exit point. No commander would blythely order his vehicle into a river in the hope that it could climb out on the opposite shore. Take a look at your local river bank and see if there is anywhere that a tracked vehicle could get out once it was in. I’m willing to bet 1 or even 2 english pounds that you can’t. Canals are even worse. Once in, you’d be stuck following the canal until you arrived at the next marina or boat yard with a slipway. Every amphibious crossing point would need to be meticulously recce’d before use.

July 24, 2013 7:17 am

i still like, and want, the CV21. :)

July 24, 2013 7:52 am

Arundel: true enough for most vehicles re amphibious capabilities, although I suspect a CET style projectable anchor and a winch would help no end. At the CVR(T) weight class, amphibious capability is probably worth having if only because the mobile bridges otherwise required would be significantly heavier than the vehicle itself.

July 24, 2013 8:37 am

Pete, you’re overly pessimistic, seen many places where armour could ford safely in quite a few countries. But maybe because that is your doctrine. For us, the only armoured vehicles not amphibious are the MBTs and the self-propelled howitzers. The soil conditions at the exit are most critical, it must not be mud. Anything else can be handled. The other criteria is bank angle must not exceed 60 degrees.

July 24, 2013 8:47 am

wf – tethered river crossing is not without problems – there was a marketing opportunity in a land far away where the amphibious capability of a vehicle with floatation screen was to be shown. The venue was a river, quite fast flowing. It was considered less than ideal to have the vehicle enter the water in front of the massed dignitaries only to be wafted off downstream and out of sight (let alone the problems mentioned by Pete Arundel about trying to find somewhere to climb out while constantly being dragged downstream) so a line was rigged across the river and the vehicle tethered to a pulley on the line. Screen raised, the vehicle drove down the bank, into the river and set off downstream until the tether slack was used up. So far so good. The tether was attached to towing eyes fore & aft, but the centre of drag from the river was around all the running gear, considerably lower. Leverage applied, the vehicle tipped as the water dragged at the tracks. As soon as the lip of the canvas floatation screen rolled to water level, it became a bucket. It filled up very fast; the driver made an exit which was considered impossibly fast and the vehicle disappeared under water. It was not recorded whether the assembled dignitaries were impressed by the amphibious capability.

The DD Shermans at Arromanche suffered a similar fate, but in their case it was trying to fight the current in choppy sea that did it, not a fixed tether.

The only successful amphibians (from a technical viewpoint) have been those designed from the outset to float – things like DUKW, the tracked landing craft I knew as Bufallo, the Soviet BMP1/2 and BTR40/60/80, USMC AAV and of course dear old Stalwart.

Jedibeeftrix – I have only ever seen one image of a tall slab-fronted vehicle showing the amount of detail that might be expected from a graphics package model. I doubt much serious design work lies behind it. I does bear a little resemblence to the Tracer concepts (Sika and Lancer) from the hull perspective, and the turret is a bit CV90-FRES prototype shaped. My guess is the reason there’s been just one image made public is because that’s all there is of CV21.

July 24, 2013 8:50 am

Jed said “Form 3 “large” Armoured Regiments ”

Yes. Really this is all about the tank isn’t it? In GW2 American units struggled to keep in Humvees because the FEB advanced so quickly. If the tanks and PGM have smashed the enemy we can afford to mount the follow on forces in APC or protected vehicles armed with HMG/grenades (either manned or RWS) and no need for a cannon; a capability which can remain with the cavalry.

For a bit now I have been wondering what to do about artillery. The new structure seems to be all about tanks and infantry. I think this is a mistake. If we just used protected vehicles and light cavalry vehicles for follow on forces we could supplement their firepower, no we could base their firepower upon PGM mortars in the 120mm family. Return to a formation of 1 x cavalry, 3 x inf, 1 x arty (3 batteries, perhaps 4 with one in reserve). More modern ATGM throughout. So we end up with a protected vehicle/MRAP/COIN formation for the bread and butter peacekeeping work, but with still depth of fire in a high end war situation (or enough to deal with most of the world’s armed forces anyhow.)


July 24, 2013 9:04 am

Saying that it isn’t much different from my suggestion of 2 square brigades (1 x mbt, 2 x armoured inf, 1 x cav) plus us keeping 3 Chally regiment. I just never spoke about artillery at brigade level. Again I would go with 120mm mortars. And keep all the long tubes and rockets at divisional level which is sort of the new Army structure.

July 24, 2013 9:09 am

: not referring to tethered crossing, but this.


Being able to winch yourself up those awkward river banks rather useful IMHO :-)