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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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690 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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

  4. Jed,

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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?

  7. 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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

  10. “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.

  11. 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.

  12. @Frenchie

    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.

  13. 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.

  14. @ Jeremy
    @ Observer

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

  15. @ 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

  16. @Frenchie

    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.

  17. 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:

    – USMC MPC
    – 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).

  18. 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?

  19. @Jed – 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?

  20. Hey Guys !

    Thanks for the comments so far, Due to the time difference I am in the office in the middle of the work day, so will keep this short.

    1. TD _ thanks for posting

    2. UOR Kit being shagged – Yes, I get it and I absolutely should have put his in bold capital letters at the beginning of the article – I have no open source material as to the physical state of any of the kit. Thus for comments on Ridgeback all being shagged – fair enough, just buy more Husky’s for my theoretical Light Cav Regiments :-)

    But it is a key point, I have no idea what is the real art of the possible so it is a major caveat on the article.

    3. TD – lopping the turret off the Chally 2 – OK, but actually from a cost perspective, I was thinking it may actually be cheaper to upgrade the existing turreted version than do so a mod. But as these are really all just thought experiments, designed to provoke conversation, then why not….. !

    4. Monty – I don’t have your issues with the CTA. Chris – good point ref it not fitting in Scimitar Mk 2 turret – but then in my orbat the Scimitar MK2 would have over watch (terrain and other circumstances permitting) from Chally 2, so I would be happy with it mounting a 40mm GMG and the 7.62 co ax.

    5. Frenchie – yep, no Soviet invasion across european plains, I get it, I do. However recent events have show MBT to have a very valuable role in all forms of combined arms ops, from Canadian and Danish use in COIN in Afghanistan to the US experience of heavy urban fighting in Iraq.

    6. x – 2 x square brigade – mmmm’ nope, how would that fit into a training and readiness cycle ?

    7. JMH – I have recently read extensively on US Armoured Cav, so I apologize if I used them as an example in the wrong context, but yes I am aware of their history and how they operate, and how its very different from us. However it was aligned to a comment TD himself made about “going large” with respect to “fighting for info”.

    et al – I don’t like 8 x 8 wheeled IFV as “primary” fighting vehicles.

    OK, thats it, out for now.

  21. @ 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.

  22. 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 :)

  23. @Frenchie

    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.

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

    @ Jeremy you are wright about the Gulf war.

  25. 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.

  26. 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!

  27. 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.

  28. 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! :-)

  29. 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…

  30. @ 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)

  31. 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.


  32. Just one additional comment, and I think if you read the article fully you will get this – I am playing devil’s advocate on the “we are completely skint” front.

    In other words, what I have suggested maybe the far from optimal future, but it could be an eminently affordable one. So is a mixture of Chally 2, Scimitar Mk2 and Husky TSV potentially the best Cavalry fighting vehicle / armoured recce mix in the world, ever……. absolutely not.

    If we binned FRES SV, accepted compromise and spent the money on FRES UV would the potential benefit to the Army as a whole be greater ?????

  33. 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.

  34. @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

  35. 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.

  36. 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 :)

  37. @Peter Elliott

    “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?

  38. Observer,

    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.

  39. 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 ;-)

  40. 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?

  41. @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 :-(

  42. 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!!! :)

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

  44. 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”.

  45. Observer,

    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.

  46. 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.

  47. 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 . . .

  48. 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.

  49. ’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.

  50. 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.

  51. 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…

  52. RT – ref a 5 ton (or Tonne) sleek, stealthy low slung sports recce wagon……

    It does not exist thought does it ? The point of my article was to consider what we could manage to do, with what we already have on hand. Even the Infantry Recce platoon on Jackal 2 is big, tall, and weights more than 5 tonnes. There is no way your getting any mine / IED protection at 5 tonnes, unless perhaps its the yet to be produced open top WMIK type variant of the Foxhound ? (As a normal one weights in about 7). We have used dirt bikes and quads before, and certainly could do again for “recce” but my point is that we also need to be able to “fight for information” and your not doing that on your (borrowed) push bike with your SLR :-)

  53. 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.

  54. 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.

  55. 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.

  56. 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.

  57. 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: (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: – 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.

  58. 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.

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

  60. @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 :-)

  61. 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.

  62. @ 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.

  63. 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.

  64. 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.

  65. 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.

  66. @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.

  67. 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?

  68. 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.

  69. 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!

  70. @ 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.

  71. @ 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.

  72. 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.

  73. Urgh,

    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.

  74. 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.

  75. x,

    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.

  76. @ 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.

  77. 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.

  78. @ 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. :)

  79. 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.

  80. 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

  81. @ 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.”

  82. Monty,

    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.

  83. 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.

  84. @ 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.

  85. @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

  86. 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.

  87. 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.

  88. wf,

    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.

  89. Monty,
    “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.

  90. @ 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:, the last post in the thread)

  91. @x

    “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.

  92. @ 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……..

  93. 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

  94. 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?

  95. Tubby,

    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.

  96. @X

    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.

  97. 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.

  98. @ Mike W

    At least “we” still make bin lorries……

    ……and they used to make this during WW2……….×768.jpg

    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.

  99. 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.

  100. 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.

  101. @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. (laying out the net) (hooking up the net) (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.

  102. Okey dokey lets fan the flames a bit…. :-)

    Observer – to paraphrase you, fighting for info is stupid, recce should be invisible – to which I reply, bollocks !

    OK, I actually don’t disagree with you entirely, but lets not be so black and white about everything. Recce should be invisible in your opinion based on your personal experience, with Singapore military doctrine, based on local geography and conditions. No problem with that, but you accused me of both harping back to the cold war, and fixating on Afghanistan. Actually I don’t think I did either, what I did was fixate on budget and suggest a set of capabilities based on equipment we already own, to undertake the tasks that might be given to Armoured Cavalry and Light Armoured Cavalry Regiments as depicted in FF2020 literature – a force design and orbat that someone else came up with, not me matey !

    Back to the point – there will be circumstances where your suggested stealthy approach might be the correct one to take, and there will be others where it absolutely does not fit the tactical scenario !

    Cammed up Troopers in Ghillie suits versus Chally 2 was not the point of my article, there is a role for both; plus satellite imagery, Tornado mounted recce pods, Apache and Wildcat, Watchkeeper and Desert Hawk, ELINT, SIGINT etc etc………

    Hence my diagrams showing how we can build a task oriented Recce capability for the specific tasking at hand, with the human “scout” being provided by Infantry Recce Platoons, Pathfinders, Special Recce Regiment, or 4 SAS bods dropped off by Lynx Mk9 – whoever is to hand !

    Similarly others have gone down the light, medium, heavy armour rat hole, and yet no one has mentioned airborne capabilities. Yes, I opened it up to going down that particular rat hole, by bringing in a 65 tonne MBT as a “recce” asset. However, on this front I would just say:

    1. Yes, light is really just “protected mobility”

    2. Medium – as noted by Monty and his conversation with a serving Army officer, FRES Scout and other vehicles are “medium” for a reason – survivability. If survivability compromises strategic mobility, then so be it ! Those are the trade off’s we make.

    3. 30 to 40 tonne armour is more “deployable” than 70 tonne – well no, probably not really. They are all going by ship, and the amount of FRES Scout you can cram into a Point Class Ro-Ro compared to the number of Chally 2 wont really be that different. Yes in theatre logistics is a different aspect of this, but fuel, spares and ammo are all going to be required, whatever the vehicle type is.

    4. Deploying by air – really, are we having this conversation again ?

    5. Tactical mobility – Bridges, and other terrain, and the effect they have on how you can deploy a given weight of wheeled or tracked vehicles are obviously very valid concerns. However, as noted these have always been issues and Army’s have doctrine, tactics, training and procedures to deal with them. I tried to provide a sop to this with my CVR(T) MK2 close recce Squadron attached the Challenger 2 heavy cavalry regiment: if you can push the baby tankette’s over a small bridge to snoop around on the other side, they can provide a peek while the armoured bridge comes up for the Chally’s. Plus the STA troop could deploy it’s Desert Hawk or similar hand launched UAV, or you can call on helo’s that are at your disposal, etc etc…….

    Final point:

    Surveillance as in the S in STA = surveillance is from the French for “watching over”, to observe. To me this means a mostly static position, either well cammed up OP, or even vehicle which stops for a short period to raise it’s mast.

    Reconnaissance is the act of gaining information about the enemy; Surveillance can be part of Recce, but to me Recce means movement, for ground forces, whether on foot or in MBT it means patrolling forward to find the bad guys. Doesn’t mean to say you let the bad guy see you at the same time, the level of stealth will be dictated by the scenario and the commanders mission intent.

    Why bring this up – well because:

    Recce does not equal Armoured Cav alone
    Armoured Cav (heavy or light) does not equal Recce
    Recce is ONE role of Cavalry regiments

    So, does anyone want to say for the money we have, the force structure as published, the envisaged missions and the size of UK Army – GD FRES SV Scout is abso-flippin-lutey the best thing since sliced bread ?

  103. Ok, you all got me thinking on the train on the way home, so just to be doubly contentious:

    1. Ditch FRES SV and put all money in FRES UV

    2. Form 3 “large” Armoured Regiments with ALL of the Armies tracked heavy combat capabilities (well apart from supporting CE Regts)
    3 x Sabre Squadrons of 18 Chally 2 each
    1 x Recce Squadron of 16 Warrior with new turret
    1 x “Panzer Grenadier” Company of 16 Warrior APC with RWS and 8 dismounts
    Warrior Command, Ambulance, Repair and Recover, 81mm mortar carriers etc as required

    3. Rest of Reaction Force Armoured Brigades to equipped with Boxer 8 x 8 wheeled IFV (pick your preferred vehicle, I dont want to argue about it) – a “Recce” variant with a manned turret, and an APC variant with RWS, all other variants as you might expect / require – yes this is FRES UV and it’s paid for from FRES SV budget.

    Any takers ?

  104. 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

  105. 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.

  106. @Pete 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.

  107. 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.

  108. 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.

  109. 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.)


  110. 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.

  111. How much is the Warrior upgrade programme costing again? And how many new ASCOD FRES SV UV WC KGB ITV and bar could we get for the same money?

    If we could get two battalions worth of new infantry carriers scrap the Warrior upgrade programme. The Italians have armor and cavalry brigades structed 2 x MBT & 1 x armoured inf or 2 x Centaur and 1 x armoured inf. We could go with 2 “triangle” brigade formations of 1 x Chally, 1 x FRES SV, 1 x FRES UV (or whatever it is called.) Perhaps we could cut back on the sensor fit out programme for SV to a third. Have the other two thirds as FRESV SV-P, p for personnel, or dismount and go with an American cavalry model. It is all about tanks and firepower in open space hitting an enemy that has already been pummelled by PGM. How much infantry we do need to keep up with tanks and cavalry?

  112. RE: PGMM. Read a report by RAND concerning effects of precision guided mortar munitions – effect was surprisingly disappointing – this was due to the small “footprint” of the mortars sensors allowing targets to evade and competition with other weapon systems.

    However, these included E-FOGM which didn’t reach service and the scenario was an airborne brigade trying to stop an armoured attack, so didn’t study their use against other targets or “dumb” rounds.

  113. wf – I think the same applies – as soon as a floating vehicle is attached to an immovable anchor point by a bit of string the dynamic interaction between the two becomes an unknown, potentially terminal effect. Great in reservoirs or still lakes, but if there’s any current or if the water surface is not flat calm? Not so great.

  114. @Jed & x – add an artillery battery, engineers and an attack/utility helicopter squadron and you have something akin to a small US Armoured Cavalry Regiment, which sounds like a good idea to me – but which they are currently phasing out…I assume with reason.

    That said, I would like to see all Cap Badges as formed Battle- Groups in a smaller Army – an infantry company in each tank regiment, some tanks with each infantry battalion, guns, helicopters and engineers with both…why not train, organise and build familiarity in the unit size most likely to be deployed? (Obviously after having been recruited and given technical training in your relevant Arm of Service).

    I seem to recall getting pretty badly beaten up last time I floated the idea..!


  115. @GNB

    Ah the old issue – specialisation vs mix them all up together. The Brit Army’s general experience is that specialisation seems to work best. The mash up leads to lower skill levels in all the specialities, although there are exceptions, particularly when they’ve been commanded by me.

    The number of specialties in an infantry bn is already excessive from a training point of view.

    And not forgetting the well established principle of field artillery ‘Command at the highest level, control at the lowest’ (caveated with ‘can do it effectively’). When I read suggestions about embedding arty btys in cbt arms units I infer the writer is a tad underinformed of the well proven basics.

    The stuff about ‘playing together’ is irrelevant in my experience, combined arms groups bind together very quickly. Not forgetting that task organisation means organsing for the task not for a general purpose.

  116. @x, 120mm mortars are very short ranged. Very mobile, true, but only 20% the range of a 155mm.

    @Gloomy, we call that a brigade structure :) The brigade lets you mix and match infantry and armour from a pool of units and adds specialists to the mix.

    Chris, the mistake they did for your example was having 2 anchors and creating a lever system. If they had only used one, the tipping lateral force would have been converted to a pendulum motion swinging the unit faster to the other bank. It was more a case of “too much medicine”.

    If anyone watched War Wagons, there was a segment that showed them doing an impromptu river crossing. Sure, it turned out bad for the Warthogs, but that was due to the added armour that caused them to sink and bog down. The baseline version is swim capable and should have floated across. Not going to say if the added armour was good or bad, it is a tradeoff decision. The added armour may have saved more lives than it caused with a blotched river crossing overall, we may never know, so I’m willing to chalk it up to subjective situational preference.

    Personally though, since I’m more conditioned to be maneuver centric, my opinion is that they may have gone a bit overboard in the armour.


    Why I said you were fighting Afganistan again was because of your insistence on IED/mine protection. Recce behind enemy lines should not hit this problem too often, it is the post-invasion occupation that has an IED problem.

  117. Are we not starting to dance on the head of a pin here? In all things I am an advocate of KISS (I assume we all know what that means). :)

    We will end up with armored formations of some 4 tracked hull types. 155mm gun C2 Fres Warror.(and that’s not counting all the sub types. I thoroughly applaud Jed’s attitude of, (if not exactly make do and mend), lets use what we have. However commonality must be an powerful objective.

    I bow to the people who have been shot at by people like they mean it, but everything I have seen of combat both archive footage and not so archive footage and in particular recollections of those who have been in big armored battles is that chaos reigns.

    Doctrine is all well and good and probably works well in peace time exercises, and against enemies which aren’t up to much who conveniently want to fight a conventional war. But when the going gets tough does it not all brake down a bit?

    Is not the reality of conventional armored war that the enemy gets a vote and gets to move when and where he wants as well as us? I am deeply suspicious of doctrine that assumes that our armored reccie (howsoever clothed) will always be in position to reccie. or that it will be like the skirmishers of the Napoleonic wars engage the reccie of the bad guys. Is not the heavy armored combat situation rather more chaotic? Does not reccie happen when the chally 2 on pint bumps into an enemy formation. Or when a unit commander wants to know what’s at that next crossing whoever is nearest goes and has a look? be it tank or guy with rifle? In short I am challenging the need for a specialist Reccie vehicle at all!

    Light (and above all small) means it can fit down by roads, cross bridges and fords that big stuff can’t and can if light enough be deployed by helicopter to otherwise inaccessible places, I do think the big is beautiful crowd should read TD’s comment which is I suspect on the wrong post about FRES Sv dimensions:- To all intents and purposes save bridge weights, it has the logistic footprint of a chally2. Worth noting that the only tracked armored vehicle in the nameless isles was the Scorpion coss bugger all else could move in all that bog. Lots of roads around me are only accessible to light goods vehicles and certainly nothing over 2.5 metres wide. A width by the way that really should be the norm for everything that moves on tracks or wheels in an army with only the most extreme exceptions.

    Heavy, means you can look after yourself you have a gun that can do some real damage, you are not armored with Klenex and spit. you can carry more clever sneaky stuff, and maybe some dismounts.

    There will clearly be times when scimitars are death traps, and, when Fres SV is as much use as an piano on hunting trip. There is no right answer.

    However I have more than a feeling that when the APFSD starts flying its more a case of shoot at anything the enemy has with anything, and everything you have doing everything else’s job. So am deeply suspicious of ‘ a vehicle for this… and a vehicle for that..’ ideology.

    However I repeat my point !

    If warrior is too shagged, and costs as much as a new vehicle to upgrade to do Fres’s role, then it is to shagged to serve as an MICV and as such we should ditch it and buy more Fres SV.

    If Fress sv is too expensive; (and I have yet to see a realistic unit price, leaving out we are being buttfu**ed over the ‘development’ costs; – when a new hole in the top of the hull and a coat of UK army camouflage cost half a billion, they saw us coming does not even begin to cover it ); for that to happen then drop it, and rebuild warrior and live with it.

    I really doubt the lives of our soldiers will hang on the slight reduction in capabilities in the real world.

    Bring back Saladin, Saracen, and Stalwart.

  118. Observer,

    Why I said you were fighting Afganistan again was because of your insistence on IED/mine protection. Recce behind enemy lines should not hit this problem too often, it is the post-invasion occupation that has an IED problem.

    I asked before, but what about grenades and RPGs? Are they piffle in comparrison with a mine? Do you need a V shaped hull to withstand the blast? Would Foxhound be sufficient?

  119. IXION, yes, wrong bloody post

    In response to Monty’s numbered comment

    Point 6 made me smile a bit, particularly the point about deployment being quick and easy

    At 32-34 tonnes and over 3.8m wide it is

    1. An abnormal load on any UK road
    2. Difficult to move into close terrain and narrow streets
    3. Not able to be flat racked for deployment on DROPS/EPLS
    4. Will need a warwell flat for moving by rail, not a standard flat bed
    5. Will not be deployable by Chinook
    6. Outside of the UK KUR for A400 weight carriage
    7. Only one likely by C17 for any appreciable distance
    8. Too heavy for the Class 30 trackway and difficult for Air Portable Ferry Bridge
    9. Will likely need bridging support for many African or South Asian bridges
    10. Will have a massive fuel consumption so be tethered to tankers
    11. Too heavy for the Type V airdop platform (should we ever actually buy it)

    Apart from that straight off the top of my head list, yes, we can shift it anywhere quickly and easily!

    In reality, FRES will have the same logistic footprint and restrictions of an MBT class of vehicle

    Am not saying it is a good or bad thing but clearly we have sacrificed strategic and tactical mobility (as compared to CVR(T) in order to gain protection and firepower

  120. On my local river/canal there are places where an amphib IFV could get trapped without a close way out. However there are other nearby spots where there a re beach bits within a few hundred metres of each other on both sides. Look before you leap, as the old saying goes. You do not rule out a MBT as being pointless, because some ground is too soft for it. You take it where you can go.
    I agree where the amphib bit was an afterthought, it has not gone well, but where its designed in from the start, it should be ok. The Iveco SuperAV is designed for sea state 2 & is propelled by 2 waterjets. Other vehicles limited to just tracks, do not fare well against currents.

  121. “I asked before, but what about grenades and RPGs? Are they piffle in comparrison with a mine? Do you need a V shaped hull to withstand the blast? Would Foxhound be sufficient?”

    Simon, how does a V-hull work? And what direction is your RPG going to come from?

    Foxhound’s defence against RPGs is slate armour. The armour short circuits the firing circuit of the RPG to cause a dud or failing that, crushes the sides of the EFP cone so that instead of forming a “needle” penetrator, it ends up frisbee shaped and bounces off the armour. So anything with slate armour is going to be RPG resistant regardless of hull. Personally, I’m an advocate a mix of Amsafe Talaran mesh and AMAP-ADS for medium vehicles.

    Bikes and ATVs are resistant to RPGs due to their unguided nature, the small size of the target and speed. This is my recommendation for the deep recce mission. For armoured scouts FRES or any of the generic selections will do ok. They are all broadly similar anyhow.


    As I have mentioned, armoured scouts are close range scouts for the MBT squadrons, so being tied to a tanker or MBT level necessities isn’t a big deal as they are supposed to be deployed IN TANDEM with MBTs. Logistically, it sucks of course, but operationally, it makes no difference as they only range 10-15 min away from the main combat teams.

  122. @ Swimming Trunks

    No not a panacea. But better than 155mm (or any nature) unguided rounds in a collateral damage conscious age, cheaper than 155mm guided rounds in a budget conscious age. Also 120mm unguided causes less damage too. Better a gun than is truly mobile and keep up than a big gun that is just self propelled. Movement traded for firepower. As long as they can outrange most ATGM and have enough weight of fire to deal with a wide attack too it would be OK.

    Observer said “20mm mortars are very short ranged. Very mobile, true, but only 20% the range of a 155mm.”

    I said “keep all the long tubes and rockets at divisional level which is sort of the new Army structure.”

    In GW1 the British fielded three manoeuvre groups;

    a) 2 x Chally1 and 1 x armoured inf
    b) 1 x Chally1 and 2 x armored inf
    c) an artillery group based on AS90

    And then at the divisional level there was more artillery. The army is half the size now. We have PGM coming down the line; but that should’t mean we should loose too many barrels just because we have a better chance of hitting the target there is stiill a need for mass . By pondering about 120mm mortars I am actually putting artillery back to sort of Cold Wars levels.

    @ GNB

    Yes an American cavalry structure. I have said here before surely a big heavy high quality camera (or sensor) is better or at least a better foundation for intel gathering than a tiny camera in a tiny plane. So I am glad the Army is finally entering the 1990s. But as the number of sensors growing in number I am not sure they need as many as they are proposing with FRES SV. Obviously UAVs got fight or talk to locals yet. All MRAPs don’t need cannon. And so on.

    Thinking about it we only need enough money to buy one additional battalion of ASCODs as we are already getting three. I have to look up how much the Warrior programme is costing. Buying ASCOD and refurbing Warrior to a lower standard (no new turret etc (perhaps just remove RARDEN and add some .50 and 40mm grenades) and putting them back into the general vehicle pool would be better. Would make a better cavalry vehicle than Jackal. Few vehicles in the field means less strain on the spares pool. (Plus we put Mastiff back into the general pool too; I chopped them from the reaction brigade weeks back! :) ). Heck we could even keep RARDEN I suppose in some.

    Now all we need to do is count up the lane meters for my “triangle” armoured cavalry brigade and get some lovely ships sorted to move it………. ;) :)

    There you go. New vehicles. Lots of firepower. More vehicles for the adaptable brigades (what a joke). And two possible three new ships to think about.


  123. Observer,

    Thanks. I mentioned the v-hull for hand-thrown grenades?

    Turns out that Foxhound is designed with both IED and mines in mind, so should deal with grenades and RPGs. Seems it would make a pretty good recce wagon. The modular rear section appears as though it could be adapted to some kind of gun and camera combo with 2-3 chaps tucked away inside.

    …and it’s Chinook liftable ;-)

  124. TD – you are at risk of countering many deeply held opinions with mere facts. Everyone knows facts are no substitute for solid opinions…

    Ixion – have you been looking over my shoulder? I spend my time designing just the sorts of vehicles some of us have discussed here – both tracked and wheeled, some turreted. I cut my teeth in Alvis’s Drawing Office when CVR(T) & Stormer were on the drawing boards so my mindset has been guided into the opinion that these sized vehicles offer advantages the bigger kit can’t match. No surprise then that my own designs are in this size/weight class. All have high degree of logistic commonality. Getting this far (CAD and design studies) has burnt a lot of personal savings, but I believe in what I’m doing and that they would be the right sort of kit to add to the ORBAT alongside bigger heavier armour. For your delight Ixion two of these do indeed resemble Saracen & Saladin, albeit a bit bigger and heavier. And the tracked ones are way better looking than Jedibeeftrix’s favourite CV21. But I would say that, wouldn’t I?

  125. Observer, at no point did I fixate on IED / mine threat !

    However you keep going off the topic of armoured recce role of Armoured Cav regiments and talking about “deep recce” and “behind enemy lines” !

    Neither fast moving armoured combat nor COIN have nice distinct “front lines” – insurgents can hand plant home made IED’s and sophisticated opponents can drop artillery scatterable mines in your path (or behind you) at a moments notice.

    As for dodging bullets and RPG’s on your dirt bike, is you real name Bond ? James Bond ….?


  126. @x: no AS90’s in service during GW1. Divisional artillery was a mixture of M109, M110 and MLRS.

  127. @ wf

    Sorry I am just used to typing AS90.

    British 1st Armoured – HQ Artillery Group

    2nd Field Regiment M109
    28th Field Regiment M109
    40th Field Regiment M109

    32nd Heavy Regiment M110

    39th Heavy Regiment MLRS

    16th/15th Lancers (sound like a well dodgy bunch of desperados……..)
    12th Air Defence rapier
    1 Reg AAC

    All I am suggesting is moving a regiment forward to manoeuvre in direct support of the armour. And upping the firepower of the protected formations. We would probably only be deploying a brigade. We would still have AS90, MLRs etc. in support.

  128. @Simon

    How does a V-hull affect RPG resistance?


    It’s not that some of us don’t appreciate the advantages to a platform with tonnage in the teens, it’s just that the battlefield has gotten a bit too lethal. Hell, most of my army days were spent running around with AMX-13s at 15 tons. But with most IFVs now tossing 25-40mm, how do your teens weight vehicles fare in survivability and protection? (amphibious assault with AMX-13 in the background-2003) (new batch of soldiers, same ole shit, this time support was 3 M-113s -2011)

    So I really do sympathise, but against even a LAW, how will your light weights fare? Our AMX-10s, -13s and M-113s all gave good service, but in the end, they all had to bow out to increased protection demands.


    Yes you did fixate on the IED threat. When RT wanted a 5 ton recce vehicle, what was your response? And now you mention COIN? Still think Afganistan affected too much of your decision making.

    PS: Bond is crap as an intel agent. How he ever managed to pass when he always gets spotted and caught, I have no idea. I would have failed him right out.

  129. Observer,

    I was asking how a v-hull affects protection from hand-thrown grenades, not RPGs. Is it actually necessary? Is there enough blast from a grenade to warrant a v-hull? Would a flat, armoured bottom be enough to protect the occupants?

    I’m working on your premise that IEDs and mines are not likely to turn up on the enemies doorstep, but acknowledge that any foot-soldier can chuck a grenade. You’ve answered the RPG aspect wonderfully, thanks.

  130. Simon, I actually have no data on hand grenade effects on MRAP type vehicles, and even contradictory data on M-113 APCs with thin aluminium armour so sorry no help there.

    I do note however, that some grenades are marked HEDP or High Ex Dual Purpose and may indicate some ability to punch through armour if it hits directly.

  131. Obs – I have budgeted for 100kg/sq.m at healthy thickness, which by the published figures for ‘standard’ armour gives a sound protection level. Indeed, I have been told that newer materials for which I have no data achieve similar protection at 65kg/sq.m although this would no doubt be at an increase in cost for the more exotic materials. So protection level is officially “Pretty Good”.

    Worth pointing out here a simple fact – no armour is proof against every possible threat; its a trade-off of probabilities and likelihoods. An example – I believe shortly after the US fielded Cougar (US Mastiff) in Afghanistan one rolled over an IED assumed to be a buried 155 shell remotely triggered. The vehicle didn’t crumple and occupants survived. Three weeks later, same road, a Cougar rolled over an IED and didn’t survive. I don’t know what happened with the personnel. It was determined by the investigation team that the opposition had seen that one 155 shell was inadequate for their purposes so they buried several in a bunch instead. Moral of the tale – armour can’t protect against everything.

    Obs, Simon – talking of protection, it strikes me (pun!) that if RPG or AT mines need a few kilos of carefully aimed shaped charge to do their evil business, surely a hand-lobbed grenade with omnidirectional blast would be quite weak in comparison?

  132. Re this weight issue.

    Fres will not be invulnerable. a 125mm Russian apfsd round will ruin it’s whole day. so probably will a very near miss or hit with a155mm (leaving aside guided artillery munitions from that, and 120mm mortars.

    Likewise if the mighty Merkava 4 has to fear the Kornet, then Fres will too.

    Bearing in mind you should be able to get all round 50 call proof and rpg proof for about 15 tons wheeled or tracked without getting too exotic with armour, and by using lightweight textile ‘slat’ armour, is the rest worth it? When you rapidly start giving away the ability to use C class roads and class 15 bridges, etc. (BTW as much a size as weight issue. The lake district is full of signs for lorries and caravans saying:-
    PLEASE DO NOT FOLLOW YOUR SAT NAV UP THIS ROAD!) CVRT was designed to fit between Rubber plantation rows.

    Were not the spams boasting about the ability of, of all things Stryker and Humvees to fit down Iraqi back alleys where heavy armour could not go, and do it quietly. (although I bet that was a relative term).

  133. “Likewise if the mighty Merkava 4 has to fear the Kornet, then Fres will too.”

    Actually Israel lost little armour during the last Tour De Lebanon. We are talking what if memory serves less than 5%? And most of that was mechanical.

    EDIT: I remember the first time I sat in a Hummer. Knees up around my ear ‘oles. And the passenger seat two time zones away. Phenomenal engine. We had one fitted to a RR. Could pull off in 3rd at tickover, actually drive all day with it in third, and it would accelerate noticeably in 5th.

  134. Observer

    I am still rather puzzled by your statement that wadeability would probably be enough in most cases when confronted by a water obstacle. I tend to think that Peter Arundel is making a very pertinent point when he says:

    “and it (amphibious capability)is only of use if you are absolutely sure of your exit point. No commander would blithely 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 … Every amphibious crossing point would need to be meticulously recce’d before use.”

    That is followed by wf’s point:

    “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.”

    In connection with the last comment, I’m not sure that the point about bridge weight being heavier is necessarily true. In the 1990s, I think it was, Indonesia ordered a lot of Stormer variants, including some bridgelayers. I believe I saw one of the vehicles down at a BAEE exhibition around 1996. They were flatbed vehicles equipped with a Class 30 scissors-type bridge and I think it was 15 m long (open).

    The fifth block of the FRES SV programme was supposed to be Manoeuvre Support, which consisted of an Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge, and so there must have been a need for one. I really would like to know whether a lighter bridgelayer is going ahead. There were plans for one on Warrior failing the FRES SV version, I believe.

    And what about your comments about blowing bridges? Would that be simply a counter-mobility action? How would that help the advancing side? You’d still be looking for a crossing point, wouldn’t you?

  135. The subject is long and I don’t read everything, excuse me, but if I can afford a small comment.

    There is some sort of problem, you have a large the vehicle with a small gun, while the cavalry reconnaissance request a small vehicle with a big gun in Italy, Spain and France. You don’t have the advantage of mobility, and you will not have the firepower, you’re in a nonsense, I don’t understand the MoD.
    Before you had a vehicle with high mobility, protected by a vehicle with anti-tank missiles, it was coherent.
    Here there is no coherence. Jeremy M H is right, we don’t stop tanks with a gun of 40 mm.
    In this case Jed is right, why not a Challenger 2 recce. It’s strange but not more than the FRES SV.

  136. Just to pick up on Frenchie’s comment – a question:

    1. As noted French, Italian, Spanish, Polish (I think) and others have 8 x 8 Wheeled IFV with less protection than say an up-armoured Warrior, FRES Scout or Puma, but with 105mm / 120mm gun

    2. Yanks have M3 with a 25mm gun but also two x TOW read to fire, or M1A1

    3. Go down the medium weight tracked route, probably providing greater protection, survivability and tactical mobility over some types of ground, with a 40mm cannon that will mince most IFV but with not ATGW

    Who is potty ? UK Generals, or assembled Generals of France, Italy, Spain, Poland (?), South Africa and many other countries….???

    (p.s. I think we have discussed this before, would a low / medium pressure 105mm or even 120mm be able to penetrate a modern threat MBT anyway ?)

  137. On explosives, the first level of the STANAG is an Anti Personnel mine or hand grenade as they are about the same size.

    On RPGs, there are few if any RPG-proof vehicles. If we want to reduce it to RPG7s then it is still important to remember that it isn’t fool-proof, but it does offer a high degree of resistance for an almost trivial additional weight. Also RPGs are not blast or fragment effect weapons, so comparing them with mines, IEDs and hand grenades is not relevant.

    A vehicle in the 10-20tonne bracket is going to be vulnerable to light cannon and up but will be protected against small arms and artillery. In many cases this will be enough, so it would be sensible to have this as the base level. On top of that, applique could be used to increase the weight using designed in growth capability to provide protection tailored to the threat expected in a particular theatre. Strategic mobility is not affected as the smallest indivisible lump is within transport limits. To be fair, this also applies to the larger vehicles – just because FRES SV has a GVW of 40t doesn’t mean that it will be 40t all the time. Armour, ammunition, fuel and crew can all be removed to comply with transport limits.

    There are some limits that may make the objective vehicle impossible. Ideally it should fit within standard road gauge but the combined requirement of suitably sized tracks/wheels, armour and crew may not allow that to add up. Even the Stormer, which I sort of base this model on, is 2.76m wide, about 20cm wider than the UK width restrictions. The Spartan would fit (7cm under) but is really too small as anything than a special purpose vehicle.

  138. Re amphibiousity, weren’t the FV432 allegedly floaters? I don’t know anyone that ever went swimming in one though.

    I don’t agree that Scout SV is not right, and probably agree with much of what Monty said. What concerns me more is that the recent 2020 bumf shows no replacement for the vintage Bulldogs.
    Being able to deploy a couple of mechanized battalions would provide some heavier support for all those Foxhound mounted troops – tracks would give the manoeuvrability to work with the nimble Foxhounds and the mobility to work with the armoured division too.
    I’d be happy to see either the SV APC variant in that role, or as IFV replacing Warriors, allowing refurbished but un-turreted Warriors to fill various 430 slots.
    More FRES SV would obviously cost more, but I’d save a few billion by cutting the Sandcrawlers.

  139. How does the sensor fit of the Centauro compare to that of the FRES Scout? I was wondering if the Centauro was designed to fill the same role as the FRES Scout, as if it wasn’t then it wouldn’t really be fair to compare the FRES to the Centauro, would it? If FRES and Centauro are comparable, then are there good sources comparing the performance of a Centauro in the tactical reconnaissance role to that of he Bradley M3? I am presuming that the Bradley M3 represents the closest example of how we intend to operate the FRES Scout.

  140. I think the Centauro is the most consistently over rated bit of kit ever, read a Canadian military publication about their experience working with Italian Centauro’s in the Balkans, less than complimentary!

  141. I think it is very telling that the US want to replace the Bradley M3 with something similar to FRES scout pulled through the GCV IFV programme. I don’t normally pay much attention to American programme ‘s but what I have read just now suggests that the US is going to spend a fortune getting to pretty much the same place as us!

  142. I think it is very telling that the US want to replace the Bradley M3 with something similar to FRES scout pulled through the GCV IFV programme. I don’t normally pay much attention to American programme ‘s but what I have read just now suggests that the US is going to spend a fortune getting to pretty much the same place as us!

  143. Is there now a justification for equipping light cavalry with a CV21 type vehicle? Perhaps as mixed regiments with squadrons of Jackals and of tankettes.

    Increasing protection for troops has been one of the main drivers for using the bigger, heavier ASCOD for armoured reconnaissance. And the original idea for Jackal was a lighter vehicle that increased mobility and load carriage over Landrovers, rather than providing the level of protection that has since been added.

    The reality of using Jackal operationally has seen a couple of significant upgrades to protection, so I wonder whether we haven’t already exceeded our tolerance for casualties and crossed that mental threshold where we should be thinking about using tankette type vehicles rather than truck types.

    BAe’s CV21 idea gives better protection while retaining much of the tactical mobility of Jackal, and potentially carries a 40mm cannon too, adding a tad more firepower to that rather light Adaptive Force.

  144. Mike, blowing the bridges IS a countermobility action but in the scenario represented, it is not to cut off your own route of advance but to protect an open flank where light vehicles may flank you and come from behind at your main force or hit your rear areas (more likely LSVs than tankettes though). Remember that your main force is made of MBTs which cannot use the MLC 20 bridge that was given in the scenario so it is useless as an axis to advance unless you can wade across.

    As for river crossing, the simplest defence would be to point out the impromptu river crossing made by the Warthogs in the episode of War Wagons to show that not everything is as nice and clear cut as Pete makes it out to be during Ops.

    River crossing is the most fun when done with a group of jokers. Jetison Drill training: “Abandon vehicle!!” *splash* “Oh, wait, we’re not sinking anymore.” :P That was on a Bronco/Warthog, my basic almost 2 decades ago was on an M-113.

    But back to topic, FRES is acceptable as a vehicle, see no point in making a mountain out of a molehill. In fact I see the constant spec shifting and second guessing as part of the problem that made the FRES decision so expensive and time wasting in the first place. Face it, most IFVs are generic. Just pick any one.

    It is also telling that all these generic IFVs are in the 20-30 ton range bracket, not 15 tons +/-. With the option for more applique armour.

  145. Observer

    Thanks for that very full and clear reply. I understand a bit better now about such matters as flank protection etc.

    I agree, but only in part, with your penultimate paragraph i.e. I agree with the bit saying: “But back to topic, FRES is acceptable as a vehicle, see no point in making a mountain out of a molehill. In fact I see the constant spec shifting and second guessing as part of the problem that made the FRES decision so expensive and time wasting in the first place.” However, cannot concur wholly with the last sentence: “Face it, most IFVs are generic. Just pick any one.” Mmm. .. Some vehicles are better than others, methinks.

    Am rather interested in Brian Black’s ideas about both CV21 and about replacing the Bulldog/FV432. Might drop him a separate comment about that , when I have the time!

  146. Obs – a few observations (pun!). Firstly I fully understand the view that after so many years waiting for something to step into CVR(T)’s shoes, we should stop grumping about ASCOD and just buy the thing. If this was a cheap & cheerful off-the-shelf buy; something seen either as a stopgap or a platform to develop once in service, that would be fine. But the programme spans three decades, has cost billions, will cost billions and will install a vehicle that no-one will dare replace for at least another decade for fear of public outcry at the expense wasted. This really is the procurement for a generation. It ought to be right, and justifiable, and supported by those that understand how it will be used. From the limited set of opinions I have heard from current army officers, none has shown unqualified support for Scout.

    Through this thread I note you have been very focused on ‘recce’ as a formal bounded task (as has RT for ultra-light recce and others for recce by MBT) and through the posts you have bounded the vehicle role in terms of its own task and how that relates to the force it is working with. This is after all the Primary Task. From my outside-looking-in viewpoint it would seem that the UK tradition is to devote most effort to Secondary Tasks (defined) and Ad-Hoc Tasks (unforeseen do-the-best-you-can-with-the-kit-you-have), no doubt this is why the requirement writers have placed multi-role and growth requirements in the spec. This I see as an incongruous and misplaced action – it is the Armed Forces as a whole that need to be capable of many and various roles, and to do that they need the right selection of tools. Not every one of those tools needs to be wildly multi-role. Its a bit like saying the REME mech must be able to fix a wide variety of kit, so each of his tools must be multi-role; when he opens his toolbox all there is inside is a massive Swiss Army Knife and an adjustable spanner. That would rightly be seen as daft. What he needs is a selection of high quality tools each different from the next. From a platform point of view the same reads across, in my opinion. So for Secondary and Ad-Hoc tasks, I would hope the Army could look across a fleet of high quality platforms that might well span from RT’s tactical bicycle at the one end to MBT based vehicles at the other, from which the right size/weight/protection/mobility/armament platform can be selected and tasked. If Scout gets into service, for which tasks would it be suited that upgraded Warrior would not? But on the other hand, once CVR(T) is pensioned off, which vehicles would we be able to send into situations like the Falklands where the combination of remote deployment, very soft boggy terrain and the need to be fighty once engaged really suited small light tracked turreted armour? I have never said ASCOD in its FRES Scout guise would be a bad vehicle, indeed I have agreed there would be times it would be the ideal tool for the job in hand. But I don’t see tasks where Warrior with an ISTAR pack wouldn’t do just as well. And I do see situations where the lack of smaller high mobility fighty armour would be a big disadvantage.

    So I don’t doubt any of your statements that the formal recce task needs to be coherent with the heavier forces following on behind. I don’t doubt RTs view that forward recce is best when its agile and light and stealthy and armour is the last thing it needs. I don’t doubt there are situations where only an MBT based recce vehicle would survive enemy action. All perfectly rational and supportable facts. But we are never going to get a quadbike with 400mm thick Chobham armour wrapped round it so there can never be one solution that can meet every need. I suggest the Army is best served by avoiding capability duplication (Scout/Warrior) and that it would be to its advantage to replace small nimble fighty CVR(T) with something as similar as modern threats and generic requirements will allow, thus retaining all the deployment flexibility the UK Army has striven for since the 1920s.

    You are quite right that the generic raw IFV is in the 20-30t range bracket with capacity for appliqué, the frustration on my part is that somewhere along the line the assumption has been made that we need an IFV to replace CVR(T). That in my view is the problem.

    A secondary advantage of course is that lighter armour is cheaper armour, so for a fixed budget we get more platforms. Hooray! Or, more likely, for a given number of platforms the budget can be reduced. Grrr! This cost advantage persists throughout the service life of the platform.

  147. Chris, you’ve mentioned CVRT’s practicality on soft boggy ground, as in the Falklands. This is what GDUK says about SV’s mobility.

    ” Enabled by 7 pairs of road wheels on each side, wide track and a high power to weight ratio, Scout SV’s mobility equals CVR(T) 2 and greatly exceeds Warrior TES(H) and WCSP. This opens up a far greater area of battlefield geography for the conduct of essential ground-based ISTAR operations.”

    ” If Scout SV was in service today, it would have replaced CVR(T) on operations already.”

  148. @Mike

    True, some vehicles are better than others, but that is where “operational usage” differs from test conditions. For example, your car or truck. How often do you hit your vehicle’s maximum speed? Or need to use the vehicle’s maximum acceleration? Or use the tightest skid turn your car can manage?

    Where I live, we laugh at people driving Posche. All that speed and acceleration… and a traffic light every 100m :)

    Same thing with the “highest fastest, strongest” comparison for IFVs. How they are used seldom allows them to hit the top edge of their performance bracket, which in the end, makes stats comparing moot.

    Chris, what’s the ground pressure for your vehicles like? Since the larger stuff has a larger track area, there is a chance they can match the ground pressure of lighter vehicles.

    And the irony of FRES, how much of the billions of pounds spent was on hardware and how much of it was spent on paying for man hours on “studies”? If the studies were not done and money not spent on “10 pounds per hour per man”, how many vehicles could you have bought and have in service by now?

  149. @ x

    “In GW1 the British fielded three manoeuvre groups;

    a) 2 x Chally1 and 1 x armoured inf
    b) 1 x Chally1 and 2 x armored inf
    c) an artillery group based on AS90

    And then at the divisional level there was more artillery. ”

    The arty was commanded as usual by the CRA, part of div HQ. A fd regt was placed in direct support of each manouvre bde (CO at bde HQ), this meant it provided a tac group to each battle group (tac groups exclude guns). All perfectly normal. The CRA’s command included air defence as normal, and was reinforced with additional field artillery, as you listed in a general support role, also including locating elements (WLRs, sound ranging, drones). I think the 3rd fd regt’s tac groups were in effect distributed to the DS fd regts to make good the traditional UK deficiency in numbers in this area (fixed in Army 2020 after 100+ yrs!). HQRA was enlarged to include a targeting cell with a lt col added to run it.

    Of more relevance to this thread, the recce regt RAC was also placed under the CRA’s command. This is as it should be.

  150. CVR(T) as is today with upgrades is about 0.5kg/cm2. FRES looks like 0.7, CR2 like 1. Warrior TES(H) more like 0.85

  151. @ x

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

    Yes I’ve seen that assertion somewhere, but don’t believe it. Even if the ‘pure’ ASCOD is loosing a road wheel for FRES (which I think I read somewhere) there is still a lot of space, I’d guess 4 seats. Normally electronic boxes are mounted above the tracks inside the hull, unless they are quite large. Given FRES wide tracks, this provides a fair amount of space even with bigger fuel tanks taking up some of it. Then there’s under seats and perhaps in the turret bustle.

    @ Chris

    Recce is the most demanding task and that’s the one that matters. Of course screen is also recce. Covering force is no longer the primary msn of recce regts. The rest can be done by many things.

    Not sure about Quads, but doesn’t the M3 carry a m’bike? I think that was the original concept.

    The reality is that the army aspirational equipment program already stretches 25 yrs ahead, almost, its getting long in the toothe. Dreaming about some ideal UK recce vehicle, specially designed to meet UK concepts isn’t going to happen before 2050 or so. MoD went to the market, got offers made their choice. It won’t get any better in the forseable future and crud today with jam tomorrow is a pipedream.

  152. Obsvr said “Even if the ‘pure’ ASCOD is losing a road wheel for FRES (which I think I read somewhere) there is still a lot of space, I’d guess 4 seats.”

    If that is so I bet losing that wheel has cost us money too. How much extra mobility will it gain? Not much. Too much width is as a big hindrance to getting somewhere as length. And the space too.

    To be honest I bet a lot of the electronics will be FFBNW.

  153. @Chris

    In a way I do agree, if you can afford it, a range of vehicles does give the best flexibility.

    If you can afford it.

    The way things are going now, light armour is probably one of the easiest things for the BA to give up, considering that the strategic planning does not rely on air-mobile armour any more and in cases of conventional ground warfare, the light tank role can be taken over by medium weight tanks, so no surprise it went away.

    There is still potential for light tanks though, but not in armoured formations. I can see them being used as an evolution of the light infantry field guns against fortifications and as mobile bullet shields in built up areas.


    Pessimist :)

  154. x, true. Think the only time they will probably consider it is if somehow the UK got itself into a series of siege actions and got a lot of infantry killed, leading to complaints and a UOR for an infantry support vehicle.

    Which is about as likely as an expedition to colonise Pluto.

  155. Obs, BB, wf – Ref ground pressure. MMP quoted for following vehicles in Maj Larminie’s paper on mobility standards (1988):

    CVR(T) Scorpion at original nominal 9t GVW – 106kPa
    Stormer at 13t GVW – 138kPa
    Warrior at original GVW (24t?) – 198kPa
    FV432 (pre Bulldog) – 205kPa
    Challenger 1 – 282kPa

    The smallest tracked vehicle of mine (Bear in mind I have used the standard sums included in MOD/DERA/DSTL/Academia white papers, so these are all theoretical) – 118kPa. A bit more than Scorp and less than Stormer, 60% of 432 MMP and 40% of Chally MMP. I think that’s quite low. The small vehicle has 5 roadwheels per side; another slightly bigger one has an extra roadwheel per side and comes in at 116kPa. Theoretically.

    Sorry wf these don’t align to your figures but they do stack up with the authorised calculation. Anyway. Calculated MMP figures for my designs predict an 11% increase over 9t CVR(T) MMP.

    Obs – ref “if we can afford it” – surely that is precisely the issue here – the ASCOD Warrior lookalike is burning budget like its gone out of fashion. If we can afford ASCOD/FRES/Scout then in its place we can afford other stuff. The problem is all the Army share of the MOD budget is being poured into this one (possibly non-optimal) project.

    x – ref dismounts – I too heard the rear compartment formerly seating, dismounts, for the use of, has been taken over by equipment. The GD website recently boasted of the new silent generator set fitted to Scout – if this is anything like the Hatz acoustic-hooded gen sets I looked at many years back then it could easily account for half that volume – they were huge compared to the engine & alternator hidden inside the shroud.

  156. Not sure about this range of vehicles. Is that not a recipy for chaos.?

    Also how do we pay for them all.

    Or train for them all.

    It is also why these euroxbox APCs are all the size they are. Because they are designed to do a lot of different jobs on one hull. But we are not even getting the commonality benefits.

  157. Ixion – lots of commonality at component and HMI levels – its as far as I can get with commonality without ending up with the same size generic box on wheels (or tracks) as everyone else does. Support is as common as possible – obviously suspension is different between tracked & wheeled, and one has tyres the other has tracks, but engine, driver station, environmental control, seating etc etc are the same. That’s not to say the ruthless focus on commonality wouldn’t be diluted if they were taken forward, but it is at the core of the designs as they stand.

    The point of this effort was to create the right set of building blocks that could be quickly and at low risk recombined to create a different role vehicle – all the stuff inside is the same but in different places, just the box around them is different. If, for example, you wanted to buy a fleet of swimming assault vehicles, all the heavy stuff might be relocated at the back, leaving a dismount compartment towards the front with a forward ramp. Because the heavy mechanic bits sit at the back, there would be more capacity for better protection around the frontal arc. Also, if it was a bit tail heavy it ought to ride the surf better. But if all the stuff inside was the same as other shape vehicles, the overall support burden would not be as great as if an off the shelf unit of different manufacture were bought. Does this sort of make sense?

  158. Think Defence, Obsvr,
    I’ve had opportunity to have a look at both FRES SV contenders and Neither offering had the number of road wheels modified. The closest was that the CV90 based offering had its rear bins removed, so it looked shorter.

    Both had large quantities of equipment in the rear compartment and consequently have one or two seats in the rear, tops.

  159. Sorry to bring this up so far into the discussion but much earlier several contributors mentioned the idea of using motorbikes for long-range (?) recce. I’m just wondering how such a suggestion could be applied to the British Army today. I think they’ve only got a few left, haven’t they ?

    I know that a few years ago the Army withdrew both the Harley MT350Es and the Honda R250s. Not sure of the reason why. It was when they went over to quads in a big way, I think. Perhaps they couldn’t afford both. There was also the fact that the role of dispatch rider went (replaced by facilities using Bowman).

    They have, I believe, bought small numbers of a new motorcycle, the Yamaha WR450, which has been procured in small numbers only. Not sure of its role. Anyone know anything about the situation?

  160. @ Mike W re motorcycles and quads

    I don’t see a motorcycle as anything but a short range vehicle. Observer already spoke about weight problems. That short range I can’t see how it is better than optics on a mast and UAVs to deal with dead ground and ridge lines. And if things are that close you don’t want to be buzzing around on an open vehicle; movement attracts the eye.

    Beyond the short range it just doesn’t “do” enough, it can’t carry “enough”. If a Uk soldier goes into the field on a foot patrol with what is it over 100lb the scout would have to carry the same. The weight would have to be distributed around the bike. For a 500c that is like carrying half a person. What if the bike breaks down? Observer helpfully suggests a grenade in the fuel tank. Good. But what about the soldier who was on that bike? What about spare tyres and fan belts and fuel.Now you are two up. And that will slow the whole troop up. What about fatigue? What about water? What about a decent sized med kit? Riding off road means watching where you are going not looking around you. Accidents happen off road. Believe me a roll cage is nice to have. Wouldn’t it be simpler to have a bigger that can the weight, carry two to four people, carry spares, is easier to drive? And having a 4 wheel ATV hardly makes a difference over a 2 wheel bike.

    Then there is the questions of specialist equipment. Again it is all weight. But if the mission is vital enough for you to be sent behind lines wouldn’t you be better equipped with military grade equipment, perhaps 2 sets of, plus batteries etc? Or is a Garmin GPS, a pair 7×50, a water proof notebook from Millets, and a small radio enough? What about night vision equipment? Then there is weaponry to consider. The British Army may not fight for intel but surely you want something bigger than an SA80 just in case? And wouldn’t you want that something to have a good supply of ammunition.


    even in fours isn’t better than 2 of these,

    If you look on YouTube there are lots of ATV blooper videos. Admittedly most of it is due to stupid behaviour. But they do illustrate the point that an ATV off road has to be ridden hard for progress to be made.

  161. @x

    You talk of “what if”. We talk of “can do”.

    You don’t bring spare tyres, fan belts and spare engines on a recce mission, not even LSVs do that. Even MBTs don’t carry their own fan belts or spare engines, usually only spare track pieces.

    We use a 3 bike team for 4 men, 2 single riders, one pillion. If a bike breaks down, we switch to 2/2. If 2 out of 3 bikes break down, have a long talk with your mechanic, that is a 66% breakdown rate.

    “What about a decent sized med kit?”

    That is under personal equipment for the team medic, not vehicle stores. If an itty bitty foot soldier can hoof the pack, a bike is 100% sure to be able to carry it.

    ” 2 sets of, plus batteries etc? Or is a Garmin GPS, a pair 7×50, a water proof notebook from Millets, and a small radio enough? What about night vision equipment?”

    Blah blah blah, it’s all packed up and ready to move. On foot too. And one set. Radios are too big to carry 2 for redundancy, if it goes down, use your walkies, link through another team with a working set and rebro (rebroadcast) through them.

    “And that will slow the whole troop up.”

    No it won’t. Went to 2/2 before. No big deal, one rider or 2, you still travel at 60 km/h. It’s like boiling an egg. One egg or 10, it still takes the same amount of time, you just need a big enough pot. Even if by some cosmic mischance you get 2-3 bikes down (the mechanic is so dead..), that is only a single team. Pull them back and let the rest of the guys do their jobs, with a bit of reshuffling to cover the hole in the surveillance net, why slow down the whole company for a single OP?

    Sorry x, but you are just inventing problems.

    That is the polite phrase. The rude one is “pulling problems out of your arse.”

  162. The m’bike problem is fuel. There isn’t a big choice of dieso fueled bikes.

    I can’t see fantasy options B, C, D etc being any cheaper than FRES SV unless they are 100% off the shelf. There is nothing on the shelf that is anywhere near meeting the requirement, therefore development is involved, therefore the cost ballpark is going to be the same. Wheeled won’t meet the xcountry mobility requirements, the fact that some countries are willing to accept this is irrelevant. Wheeled AFVs are excellent for national day parades down the capital’s main drag.

    And I agree, 7 road wheels is the original, but the rear ‘bins’ are external fuel tanks on at least some vehs. The basic ASCOD seems to be 7 or 8 in the back, presumably the large SV turret ring will take a couple of this. The 2 ft greater width than Warrior is a lot of space above the tracks.

    Of course the whole thing could still go pear shaped, it is only the demo & eval stage and there could still be performance or integration issues.

    As far as I can work out SV cbt wt is 32 tonnes, the growth requirement to 42 is for other potential FRES variants. Obviously doing this growth work is adding to the d&e cost, but with the intention of reducing future development cost. The implication is obvious, cancel SV means cancelling the FRES program and starting again, sometime. The real decision is whether to cancel the growth development work and just stick to a basic FRES SV. I suspect the savings would be relative peanuts, and invites the question ‘then what?’

  163. Obsvr – ref “cancel SV means cancelling the FRES program and starting again, sometime” – it fills us all with a sense of dread, doesn’t it? The thought of another fifteen years of competition bids, assessments, audits, requirement migration, extended development and trials and insane costs. The current process just can’t move faster for fear of leaving holes that future litigation might exploit. What a sad indictment of the modern defence procurement ideology that its more important to protect civil servants’ backsides from lawsuits than to protect soldiers’ backsides from hostile potentially lethal military action.

    I see no merit in the competitive process; not unless its a straight buy off the shelf of unmodified and adequate kit. For big and complex stuff (vehicles ships aircraft etc) the competitive process adds months if not years to a programme, only to end up with the MOD redesigning the winning bid because it wasn’t exactly how they wanted it. Why bother wasting time and money on all the competitions – just pick a capable supplier and do what they’d end up doing anyway, a re-design in real time.

    So. I have suggested to people in Army, MOD, Whitehall and Westminster that the real defence reform they need is to remove the mandate to compete everything no matter what, and in cases where the requirement is for stuff that is either off the shelf sole source, or is a requirement not met by any off the shelf equipment, competition is dropped. There is already a process for sole source equipment (tick!) which leaves the genuine requirement for custom build. In my simple perhaps naive world, the MOD ought to be able to pick a team of one or more businesses to work cooperatively on designs all agree are right for the need with a view to get through design development and trials in the shortest timeframe possible. It sounds a bit Cost-Plus, but in my world the MOD would not be a remote sniffy-nosed auditing authority, but would be embedded in the team making decisions and doing productive work alongside their commercial cousins. No need for audit processes because they are immersed in the programme. No chance for – um – ‘imaginative’ cost claims from industry because MOD is immersed with as much visibility as anyone else. No major delays when some bright spark wants to add a programme-breaking new requirement – all the decision makers are on the spot and can work out the optimum revision, whether revision of the design or revision of the requirement, based on knowledge of all the impacts.

    I have been party to a process just like this – when Gulf 2 was brewing up, the Engineers determined the environment needed a scatterable anti-armour mine system. MOD went to three different manufacturers who could make a launcher of appropriate munitions and selected the one that promised to meet the timescale. Alvis had done a bit of CAD-sketching and determined Stormer could be re-engineered into a vehicle with a flat-bed of adequate size to carry the weapon rack. The day MOD signed the order (UOR I believe) the sheet armour was ordered and detailed design started. Fourteen weeks later the first vehicle was in theatre in RE hands, and additional vehicles arrived in theatre at the rate of one a week. Throughout the design & build & trials (limited) the Royal Engineers, the weapon system engineers and the Alvis team worked as a coherent unit and the result was it was quick and successful and the Army knew exactly what it was getting. It looked pretty cool too:

  164. @ Observer

    The vehicle is there to support the patrol not to hinder it. I am may not be ex-forces but I have considerable knowledge of off-road vehicles. I am not inventing problems. I think you are overlaying personnel experience as a universal model which it isn’t. I had a gentle dig further up the page when you were saying that motorbikes and ATVs were wonderful and then moaned about the weight you had to carry on the bike. Did you also contradict yourself about protection levels too? In one post didn’t you say bikes were too open and now they are OK? Who is talking about static OPs? I think you will find the preferred British method is too approach such on foot. The problem we are talking here is recce on the move in a fluid battle not using a vehicle purely as transport. The simple fact that the motorbike scouts are a rarity while the use of four wheels for scouting isn’t sorts of points that their may be problems with the former. As for picking over specific items of kit it was late I was thinking allowed. Singapore may not do this, that, or the other but other nations do. Perhaps a Motorola walkie-talkie may do when watching terrorists or tribesmen wandering across the border or through a rubber plantation. But I think you will find the bigger Bowman sets are a tad more heavy and need a tad more power. Perhaps we should look how Jackal (not the best vehicle) did in Afghanistan compared with how the Singaporean Army mounted on smallish motorbikes did in Afghanistan?

  165. x, I did not moan about the weight of the load on the bike, my specific point if you were talking about the AR 80 was that it had a pathetic engine that is near the bottom of motorcycle capability. You would need about 150-350cc, almost twice to 3x the horsepower to move a patrol’s load.

    Translation: I was complaining about the pathetic engine, not the fact that it is a bike. Context.

    And the specific point I was making if you followed was that deep/long range recon on bikes was ok as they are meant to be stealthy and not engage the enemy at all, while armoured recce has a function of deliberately shooting at the enemy and getting shot back at in return. 2 totally different types of recce.

    Bowman? The radio unit the same size as our -940 sets. They even look the same.

    Afganistan is COIN, not war. Getting stuck in COIN is stupid. It isn’t even recon, it’s patrol, patrol, patrol to get shot at or bombed. Don’t get caught in COIN if you can help it.

    Still think you are inventing problems to argue about though. Especially since you keep forgetting that equipment is not brought into armies on a lone ranger solo stats comparison basis but to support an interlocking system and structure of fighting. Your equipment MUST fit how you fight, not just look pretty on paper. Otherwise, it is just decoration.

  166. @ Observer

    Bowman is a range of devices not just the man portable versions. There is all manner of other ISTAR and comms kit to consider too.

    As for weight you said “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.” Hence my comment that a proper sized vehicle would probably be better.

    As for your point about equipment I think I am actually making exactly the opposite point in that a larger vehicle can cope with a wider range of equipment over a longer service life.

    The discussion here is about vehicles for the British Army, not whether Singaporean army has the right bike to carry stuff to an OP.

    Afghanistan wasn’t/isn’t a war? Yet sitting in an OP is real war.

  167. The weight part was not the bike, it was the part where we hoof it to the objective or ORV, though you could be forgiven for thinking it was the bike. You want to lug 50kg for 2-5km?

    I’m well aware of the range of UHF and VHF transmitter/receiver sizes ranging from the PRC-77 (old stuff which I believe the BA used as well) to the manpacked radios to even the vehicle sets. They don’t differ too widely. Antenna length and height over terrain/LOS is probably the key factor to transmission range, situation depending. Not very often that your problem is not enough power.

    And the vehicle discussion IS relevant to the BA in the sense that there are only so many vehicle types that are suitable for the long range reconnisance role, which are bikes, ATVs and LSV which you reject out of hand because of prejudice and fantasy notions of how any armed forces really work. (Really, abolish the army and airforce for a pure naval armed forces?). Unless RT has immigrated, he was BA and also expressed the preference for the bike/ATV/LSV style of infiltration and reconnisance, so that is hardly country-centric. My point was more of a practical example to show that all your objections have been encountered in the field and solved and is in reality non-issues. Or more precisely non-existent issues.

    I’m starting to think Chris was right. Not really interested in arguing with someone so convinced that he knows how everything works without even taking a step into the field before and keeps inventing anti-scenarios to suit his bias.

  168. Given that historically there seems to be two phases to recce in relation to armoured forces (phase one; sneak up to the enemy quietly and have a look about, phase two; providing the eyes and ears (and to an extent, the tripewire) around the armoured force), might FRES actually turn out to be the best of both worlds.

    Because on the one hand you have an armoured box with a fairly hefty gun that can handle itself in a fast moving fight against many enemy units, excluding MBT’s and dug infantry, while at the same time having space in the back to carry dismounts/bikes which can do the sneaky bit, with the main vehicle providing a slightly more punchy overwatch/response if needed?

  169. Chris

    “when Gulf 2 was brewing up, the Engineers determined the environment needed a scatterable anti-armour mine system . . . Alvis had done a bit of CAD-sketching and determined Stormer could be re-engineered into a vehicle with a flat-bed of adequate size to carry the weapon rack. The day MOD signed the order (UOR I believe) the sheet armour was ordered and detailed design started. Fourteen weeks later the first vehicle was in theatre in RE hands, and additional vehicles arrived in theatre at the rate of one a week.”

    Are we talking about the creation of Shielder here? I thought that came much earlier, and entered service in circa 1999. I also thought that that was not a UOR. So if it was another vehicle, is it still in service and if not, what happened to it? As Shielder has been withdrawn, we could do with at least a basic minelayer. Our capacity in that area has almost disappeared. Even shoving the Volcano systems onto a few trucks (and perhaps giving them to the Reserves) would do as a stopgap.

    Like your idea for a new form of procurement, by the way.

  170. @ Observer

    Yes I know it wasn’t the the bike you were talking about.

    If you look elsewhere on the page I have said,

    “If a Uk soldier goes into the field on a foot patrol with what is it over 100lb the scout would have to carry the same. The weight would have to be distributed around the bike. For a 500c that is like carrying half a person.”

    I can’t believe I am having to say this but that picture of an AR-80 I posted in response was a joke. One which I regret now.

    I can also quote RT saying he wanted a space frame 4 wheeled vehicle.

    As for Bowman you would be looking at HF PRC 325 not the PRC 355 section/platoon device. Now I admit it isn’t a huge device. But it becomes a lot smaller carried by something with 4 wheels than 2. Better if the patrol had 2 of them not 1. And spares batteries and night vision kit and laptops etc. . “We get by with a potato!” might be the motto of the Singaporean signals regiments but the Brits like batteries for their radios and other equipment. Making a virtue of having too much weight too carry and then making a martyr of yourself just because you drive a motorcycle to OPs doesn’t make a sound argument for why the British Army should adopt the ATV/motorcycle beyond ni niche roles in the CAVALRY role (see below). At this rate you will be telling me you don’t ride the blessed things but carry them.

    The other thing you are not considering is this is a discussion about a cavalry vehicle not a pure recce vehicle. Now RT has also said he can’t see why a suitably armed space frame four wheeler can’t do most of the cavalry work. I have said here several times when discussing armour that violence of action can makes up for a lack of amour and a large weapon. And I have argued that the fighting tasks probably need considering before the wholesale adoption of a space frame vehicle. But our Adaptable Brigades will indeed have such a vehicle because of the budget spend on ASCOD. Now a URAL motorcycle may be able to carry a machine gun on its sidecar, however I don’t think the 500cc trail bike can be fitted with that size of weapon. And that sort of means it can’t do the majority of cavalry work. And as we are discussing cavalry vehicles though we do like to have thread wonder here it means motorcycles though interesting aren’t relevant. Jackal doing something other than recce……

    I am not going to discuss it further.

  171. Mike W – Shielder is the one that was to follow, in some respects more conservative than the vehicle I wrote about. It was Gulf 1 not Gulf 2 (apologies) and was 1990 or thereabouts. The programme was named Vehicle Launched Scatterable Mine System or VLSMS (or B. Hell, Wot A Mess! in jest). The vehicle was unnamed until the last week or so, when the company and the RE discussed what was suitable. Eventually it earned the name Stallion as all Alvis names by tradition started with an S. There were just 6 delivered, all with their mine system aboard, the first one appearing on the news scurrying around in the sand just a couple of days after initial deployment. I looked on U-tube but the news report is either not there or my search terms were inadequate.

    Of the 6 made, I know three at least were brought back as I saw them in an MOD shed upon their return. I have seen one for sale by Witham in poor if complete state, and there is the fully restored one on the AFV Society website – the other four could be anywhere.

    For VLSMS we had a stab at shaping to avoid radar detection – the basic shape was pretty good, but the hinges/catches/handles etc somewhat defeated the effort. It did end up looking quite sharp though.

    The Shielder that followed used more of the structure of Stormer’s front end, and if I remember right the Stormer HVM louvre sets over the engine & transmission compartments. it also lost the sexy headlights in favour of boggo 7 inch units.

    Oh and thanks for the vote for rational procurement. One of my US bosses declared once that “the definition of insanity is doing exactly the same thing over and over, each time expecting the outcome to be different” – I noted the Defence Reform Unit declared all procurement problems would be fixed by applying exactly the same complicated competitive procurement system (that was deemed a failure on MRA4), but with more vigour. Go figure.

    Obs! “I’m starting to think Chris was right” – what a quote! I will save it and use it mercilessly. But hey I’m always right; sometimes it just doesn’t look that way…

  172. @ Obsvr re GW1 artillery

    I only go off what Andrew Gillespie CO of O Battery, 2nd Field Reg RA in his work on the war.

    If you read it he clearly describes how the M109 batteries were fought more in a manoeuvre role than statically. The only assets left pinned at division were the M110 and Rapier. Indeed if you read other accounts of GW1 and look at references to the artillery you will see what he says is backed up by events. If the coming generations of indirect fire weapons are as accurate as direct fire weapons then any future enemy will be caught in horrendous fires. It makes sense then to reduce cycles that the best weapon for this work is a mortar operating well forward. And just to clarify again I never said mortars alone could replace rockets or long tubes.

    Lastly Gillespie is a verifiable source.

  173. chris

    Many thanks for you detailed reply, which has clarified matters.

    I hope we do get a replacement for Shielder before long. There was supposed to be some kind of replacement vehicle based on FRES SV, a counter-mobility vehicle which would carry non-lethal obstacles as well as mines but I suppose that has been cancelled by now. Anyway, TD thinks that the British Army might already have laid its last minefield! Apologies for diverting the thread somewhat, although I have managed to mention FRES SV!

  174. I understand that they wanted to lay a scatterable minefield in 2003 in climes sunny, the theatre commanders bottled it and bumped it up to PJHQ who also bottled it and bumped it up to No 10 who bottled it and said no!

    Hence. no scatterable mines likely to ever see service and I think they have all been disposed of.

    At the rate we have been using Barmines for Explosive Means of Entry in Afghanistan I would be surprised if we have many of them left either :)

  175. Mr Fred – I happen to think that Chertsey as an Establishment produced some pretty good designs. And they did so in coordination with the Army, which helped to get the desired vehicles designed first time round. In my opinion the Chertsey model is certainly one to try to emulate. However I am absolutely certain neither MOD nor HMG will fund such Establishments – not for the foreseeable future at least.

    So. What I see as a viable structure is a full open partnership between industry and MOD/DSTL/Army. I have now ten or more concept designs, any of which might suit the Army. If the new procurement structure was in place, MOD might choose to approach me with a view to fast-track the development of the selected platforms. If agreed, together we would canvas, assess and assemble a team of expert companies willing to take on work that is firmly within their domain – within their comfort zone and thus low risk to them and to the project – providing they fall in with the fully open team structure. They might for example find some of their posts on the project are manned by MOD personnel – not auditors but productive workers. In return, MOD would cover costs (plus a small profit) in a timely manner, easing cashflow all round. No need for monster reviews or accounts audits because the MOD is within the team seeing what work is done and where the costs are. Indeed, within the confines of the project, there might be an argument that each contributor’s project finance dept is run or manned by MOD personnel so that the books are beyond MOD doubt.

    There are areas of concern, such as the ownership of IPR generated by a joint development team, the use of prior IPR in the jointly developed product, the issues around team member organisations that might be forced to depart (gone out of business, been taken over by a less willing new owner, etc) and how their part of the project might be migrated to another organisation. But I suggest the one thing that needs to rest with MOD is risk. For the simple facts that a) many risks are introduced by requirement changes – in such a joint team approach the impacts can be discussed immediately and MOD can decide whether to push the envelope or to stay conservative, and b) if risk is thrown on the shoulders of industry (as is the MOD mandate currently) then MOD will pay for potential redesigns (whether needed or not) under the cost entry ‘programme risk’. It seems to me a much cheaper option for MOD to keep its own risk contingency and pay out only for the things that need fixing. This is of course predicated on getting the right experienced and capable companies on board for each aspect of the development.

    is it a model similar to the MOD Establishments? I think it is. Except these teams are joint multi-company and MOD staffed, the teams exist within projects only and would disperse (save for PDS tasks and the like) once development was done and the documentation complete. To be truthful, if MOD chose to compete for manufacture at that point I think that would be OK (providing all those niggling IPR issues are formally covered).

    I can hear the shudders running through the boardrooms of the big multi-nationals that have developed strategies to turn the current vastly complicated competition based procurement system into a gravy-train for their shareholders. That’s fine, they don’t have to play if they don’t want to. And I dare say MOD would want to perpetuate major competitions in cases where there might be suitable competing products that could equally meet the requirement.

    Its clear the competitive process is slow and has significant reporting and auditing overheads, and that the hands-off stance of MOD means the product might veer away from the desired configuration by some margin before a technical check-point is reached. Slow and expensive and unresponsive. It seems blindingly obvious if competitions are not the quickest, cheapest route to the right solution for the Army, some other approach is needed. I don’t think GOCO is going to do anything but add to the complexity and introduce some major opportunities for state sanctioned industrial espionage. I hope GOCO dies at childbirth. So all I have outlined here is an alternative approach, with its own issues and problems, but one aimed at getting the right stuff to those that need it while its still needed and with minimum wasted budget.

  176. Think Defence

    Well, thanks for all that information, TD. Bit depressing that you think they have all been disposed of. Time and again in recent decades we have encountered the unexpected and yet we seem to dispose so readily of capabilities on the grounds that they have not been used in recent conflicts, instead of storing them against a contingency.

    Who knows, the next campaign might be high intensity and might see us needing to protect flanks or something. Who knows?

  177. @ x UK never used PRC 77 (or 25). However all the Bowman radios are basically US, (before anyone puts their hand up yes PRR is a UK set but wasn’t in the Bowman contract). The main Bowman VHF set is a modified SINCCARS.

    @ Chris Competition generally works, not least because it does force the tenderers to think about a solution at a price, off course tenders are at tenderer expence and all that matters is a working solution and a price, once they get the work and start being paid they can start serious engineering to find an optimum solution. Of course UK industry’s historic problem has been utter cluelessness about system engineering, something that only started being rectified about 15 yrs ago, US had been doing it since the early 50s, even the FR , GE, Aust and many others were doing it long before UK.

    @ x my source of GW1 is the article written by the artillery commander in RA Journal shortly after the event. I suggest that in arty C&C matters you may be a bit confused and not entirely understanding what was written. Normal control arrangements mean that field arty fire is available to anyone in range ‘firepower mobility’. The only arty under bde comd were the Javelin AD btys. The rest are under div comd and allocated in direct or general support. In 2020 HQ 1 Arty Bde is actually the HQRA for 3 Div with added peacetime responsibilities because the ‘shadow’ div does not have an HQRA.

    @ TD scatterable atk mines capability is provided by MLRS with AT2. What really seems to be missing are off-route mines. Remember there was a late cold war project cancelled by the idiot minister Clarke who thought his action was terribly clever. Iraq should have taught and off-route EFPs are great weapons, just the thing for recce to have available, all that is required is some cunning remote control arrangements to activate/deactivate them in various ways.

  178. Obsvr – “of course tenders are at tenderer expense” – well I think not; bidding for some of the major projects can end up costing millions, and generally the bidders number four or five in the first round. Numerically thats a 20-25% win probability, which over the longer term means you might win one in five contracts. Given the cost of preparing the typical monster bid documentation in line with MOD expectations, I don’t think the companies burn their capital on these nor run round the shareholders with cap in hand. I would wager the cost of the four failed bids gets covered by the contract that’s won. In the case of UK competitions, that means the taxpayer ultimately shoulders the cost of competitive bidding.

    And the bid & assessment process adds years to the programme.

    And its not really a competition because the MOD will modify whatever the winning bid offered to get closer to what it knew it wanted in the first place.

    And some competitions end up with MOD cherry-picking off multiple bids forcing one-time competitors into the same team. For examples – three bidders entered RMPA – BAE with upgraded Nimrod MR2, LM with refurbed P3 Orion airframes and a US tactical suite, Boeing with new P8 aircraft and US electronics. MOD selected Boeing’s solution but told them to use Nimrod airframes. That ended well… Second example – two teams competed for CVF, BAE & Thales. The winner was BAE who were told to build what Thales proposed. Under no circumstances could these be seen as competitions. When you add in MOD’s habit to take the best bits from all bidders’ commercially confidential proposals from the earlier stages of the bid and turn them into requirements that all other competitors see, you start to realise there really isn’t a fair, open, legitimate competition process.

    So the MOD competitive bid process is just perfect. Except for the costs to the taxpayer, the decade-long process, the corrupted cherry-picking of all the good bits of all proposals, and the redesign of the winner’s solution after the competition is complete.

  179. Well I confess to having been part of only one MoD eval team, it was a fairly large and complex multi-national project. The evaluation did not take long and was pretty slick, the delay was the Bundestag and GE procurement law, based on this experience I’d say it’s a miracle GE ever manages to acquire anything. I’ve never been in a tendering team to MoDUK but have been elsewhere. There was no refund of tendering costs. I’d be fairly confident that this is the case in UK. And yes, you aim to win 1 in 3 to 5 (depending on the nature of the business), and its part of your bid/no bid decision, if you think there are going to be lots of tenderers offering much the same as you then that’s a reason not to bid.

    As I said tendering is about putting together an offer that meets the requirements at a competive price you can make a profit on, if you win you refine your solution (and I got this message loud and clear from a UK coy we once partnered with). Before competition there was cost plus. This seems to have worked more or less OK in US (i always loved th 7% allowance for ‘marketing and administration’), it did not in UK which is why Mrs T and Peter Levine made competitive fixed price the rule. They were right and I can’t see anything that leads to this changing. That said once you get into spiral development then you may be back to a significant cost+ element.

    Of course the customer has to define their requirements properly, but this doesn’t mean excessive detail. One of the most successful competitive fixed price jobs in UK was AS90, with a one page cardinal point specification. The problems come when tenderers offer brochureware (artwork is not the same as system engeering excellance) and promises, having some existing relevant metal makes a great difference (as it did in AS90). Software is the real challenge (as many public sector agencies keep discovering) until you have detailed, finalised, functional requirements, estimating the price is very high risk. Of course once you get into spiral development then you are back to cost+

  180. Obsvr – You are technically quite correct – There is no direct recompense from MOD to cover Bid & Proposal costs. But no commercial company operates as a charity either; what I meant before (but may have said badly) is that the companies will find ways to recover the costs sunk in lost bids, and if their only income stream is from the Government that means the Taxpayer ultimately foots the bill for all the effort put into the glorified beauty-contests of the MOD competitive procurement process. That means the bid costs of the winner and the losers alike, assuming the losers stay in business long enough to get a programme win themselves. That’s not including the funded studies that are not directly connected to the final programme they help to shape. Or not, in the case of FRES.

    Ref “Of course the customer has to define their requirements properly, but this doesn’t mean excessive detail” – please please please tell UK MOD this! Back in the 80s I recall the Cardinal Points Spec (simple) followed by the Staff Target Requirement and the Target Requirement Spec, ultimately the Procurement Spec. None of these particularly thick or difficult to understand. Oh but now? I believe the last System Requirement Document I worked through had 1400-1600 highly detailed often incompatible requirements* against which technical compliance would be measured. A similar sized Statement of Work and other detailed finance/business/contractual requirement documents were also to be answered. The response was not measured by pages but by thickness, ultimately each printed copy came in at just under 1m thick. Multiply that out by the number of bidders, hand the lot to MOD and expect them to assimilate all the data into a sound impression of the intended solution? I think not. Especially if one assessment team covers more than one bid – the volume of data must end up with the assessors forgetting which bid promised what. Far far too much information to be useful. Oh and as taxpayers we do directly fund the colossal MOD assessment effort.

    So when you say Mrs T and Peter Levine were right to mandate competition for everything, I find I disagree. Cost-Plus is not inherently bad, but it needs focused and resolute management to prevent the industry team from splurging out into pointless activities (mostly it must be said because the requirements were as stable as a jelly on a rabid dog’s back). The whole point is that processes like Cost-Plus, or indeed the joint procurement I talked of above, require universal rigour from all parties aimed at delivering the right kit as fast and with as little wasted budget as possible.

    *We were once told that the reason for incompatible requirements was simply to weed out the bullsh^t bids that stated they’d meet every requirement. it was never entirely clear if these were genuinely desired attributes that happened to be impossible to meet in one product, or if they were spoof requirements added just to trip up those that were making empty promises. Either way round, including requirements that cannot be met seems a stupid way to define what you need. In my opinion.

  181. @Chris: as a summer alumnus of RARDE(CH) a recognize a lot of this. I also remember how getting even the simplest thing done by the in house technicians was like pulling teeth, so I’m not in favour of similar govt owned organisations today.

    But I would like to see a hard core of government employed “grey beards” who are not military equipment design engineers per se, but ex maintainers, design people and operators , etc who spend their working time benchmarking both current UK equipment and that from abroad. These people would spend their time continuously updating “requirement books”, which would form the core of all RFP’s. Such books should be mostly public to allow future RFP submitters to start from an equal standpoint and to allow other countries to use them as well. By ensuring their continuous improvement, the inherited knowledge would be retained, and their public nature would allow them to be challenged by a contractor with a bright idea.

  182. @ Obsvr

    I think I understood what was written. You read an article. I read a book on it. And then went off cross referenced the actions with other books. It was clear that the way the artillery was used in that very short war was a lot more dynamic than would have come about because using BAOR playbook didn’t fit the situation.

    As for Bowman the point was about the size and capability of equipment carried by a patrol vehicle (and indeed the resources to support the piece of equipment) and other electronics) not the actual piece of equipment per se.

    This isn’t large,

    but it becomes large when you put this,

    on something like this,

    instead of something like this,


    because weight and volume become a bit of an issue. Or were my EL/ML instructors fibbing? No I am pretty sure weight and volume of crap impact ability to move. Perhaps I am also wrong that a bigger vehicle would have better communications systems, especially one destined to be working independently at depth? I thought PRC 325 was used in vehicles. Considering the Army bought 11,000 units they must be used somewhere as there are only 100,000 soldiers.

  183. wf – strange isn’t it? Whenever something really good is established and recognised (NHS railways* GPO* unions** and now you tell me RARDE Chertsey) the British disease sets in, and the organisation all but grinds to a halt due to a combination of impossibly complex in-house procedures, inappropriate or ineffective management, uninterested/unhelpful/misdirected/overcontrolled staff, and a general all pervasive view of the organisation being too important and valued to be criticized/disbanded/allowed to fail. I am saddened to hear RARDE was that way, as I really do believe they produced some cracking designs.

    As for the greybeards compiling detailed dossiers (eek!) detailing the best aspects of equipment both owned by MOD and other nations? Law-suit territory. And rightly so. There is equipment for which the MOD fully paid the development costs – in the vehicle domain these were assigned Fighting Vehicle (FV) numbers – and MOD owns the IPR and can do what it will with the designs. There is other equipment that was developed by industry as a baseline offering and then tweeked by MOD requirement – in this case the IPR is not owned by MOD, and they have no rights to distribute design details to third parties. Modern procurement is all a bit like buying software – next time you put an application on the PC, read the licence guff – you may have paid, but you only pay for the right to use one instance of the software, You do not buy any rights to replicate or distribute or indeed to dig out the best bits and use the ideas elsewhere, because the organisation that created the software burnt a mountain of cash doing so and they didn’t do it so some greybeard could give away their good ideas to all their competitors.

    Had Chertsey persisted and continued to create designs for industry to manufacture, then the greybeards could have legitimately built their database of cool ideas for distribution. But MOD chose to ditch their own design team so now the design detail belongs to the commercial organisation that funded its creation – any greybearding will have corporate lawyers descending like vultures.

    *Victorian railways were the envy of the world, but by the latter days of British Rail it was viewed as a comedic standard for poor quality and run-down jobs-worth inefficiency and inadequacy***. The Penny Post was a stunning invention copied the world over, and yet by the 1970s the GPO was a wildly over-manned strike-ridden paragon of inefficiency.

    **I am not generally a fan of Unions, having seen how ridiculous they became by the 1970s when the likes of Red Robbo would call strikes (and I am sure I remember this was genuinely on the news) when the bosses sacked stores labourers that had built comfy bedrooms at the back of stores so they could sleep through their night shift. Apparently they had other taxman-didn’t-know day jobs and thought it was their right (Brothers) to be paid to sleep by BL. But even I will agree in the early days of the 20th century there was a need for the Unions to prevent mass exploitation of labour for commercial gain. Oh and before anyone launches a counter argument, I also recognise by the 1970s many businesses were appallingly badly managed as well – neither side acted their part well.

    ***One of the engineers I worked for many years back told be of his experience with British Rail. He had come to England from British Guyana but this being the 60s the colour of his skin meant the most engineering shaped job he could get was on the railways in the maintenance dept. He arrived promptly on his first morning, all eager to get on, and was told by the supervisor that he’d been detailed the task of changing the relay pins in a diesel-electric loco. He was given a bag of brass pins and pointed at the loco across the siding. “Go wait there, someone will be over to show you what to do.” He went and sat in the door of the loco, feet swinging over the side, waiting. Wait. Wait. After a couple of hours he decided to see where the relays were and how obvious the job of changing the pins would be. He found the relay bank, saw removal & replacement of the pins could only be done one way, so had a go. It was a bit fiddly but he got the knack. At half past eleven another maintenance technician approached the loco where he was back in the doorway waiting. “We’ll have a cuppa first,” said the technician “and by then it’ll be lunchtime so we’ll go over to the canteen for some grub – we can start this job after lunch.” At this point the technician was presented with the bag of blackened sooty pins “It was easy – I saw how the pins fit so I’ve already done this loco – you should check but I think its all OK.” “You stupid b****rd! This is defined by the Union to be a two week task! Do you want to put us all out of work?? Don’t you dare tell anyone what you’ve just done!! We’ll do them all again and this time we’ll take the proper two weeks!” Yup – definitely a standard for inefficiency.

  184. @Chris: you misunderstand me. I’m not looking for a database of designs per se, more a database of requirements. Eg, if it takes 2 hours to change a Warrior engine and 3 hours to change a Bradley’s, we might be foolish to specify 4 hours for FRES: the state of the art is better. An operator might mention that a Bradley seems to require a far smaller toolkit, so perhaps a future RFP could reasonably specify a toolkit of a similar size. No intellectual property infringement, unless a manufacturer feels terribly embarrassed by just how hard it is to change an engine :-)

  185. wf – my apologies I misunderstood. I can see some value in such a collection of requirements, but I fear those who do not understand engineering would seize upon them as a way to seem more clued up than they are, resulting in inappropriately harsh requirements all declared mandatory. For example, there might be very good reasons why engine access becomes difficult – like for example Stalwart where the need to seal the structure for buoyancy means engine access is through the cargo deck via a sealed section of decking – a real problem if the thing breaks down with a full cargo on top (obviously worse still if it breaks down offshore).

    Personally I am a fan of Cardinal Points Specs. Generally when we each go to buy stuff we do so with a shortlist of must-haves, and then we determine which of the items that answer the core requirement we like best. Just because something is not bounded by provable requirement doesn’t mean the designer hasn’t done the best job possible in that regard. The CPS approach allows the buyer to define exactly what is vital to the equipment’s future role without blurring the issue with a raft of it-would-probably-have-been-OK-anyway requirements that might by their rigid compliance make the core functionality worse. Worse still, as said earlier, the current fashion is to deliberately specify incompatible requirements almost as a sport to see how ragged industry becomes trying to meet them all.

    Indeed on my own designs – for which at the moment I am requirement generator, designer and approval authority (oh the power!) – I have a short set of targets for each concept, resting on a foundation of the generic Def Stan good practice requirements. I doubt all DS requirements are met, but the cardinal targets are. Which makes for good all-round successful usable results, in my opinion.

  186. @ Chris

    The problem with Cardinal Pt Specs is controlling the desire by all and sundry to add their really good idea.

    @ x

    bit of a duh that. In NORTHAG there was a UK corps arty HQ that commanded non-divisional artillery and allocated it to divisions or whatever. Furthermore the expected battle was mobile defence. In GW1 div was the highest level HQ and it was an offensive operation. UK arty doctrine was and is command at the highest level, control at the lowest. When there is a divisional HQ, which always has an HQRA, and sufficient field arty then field regts are placed in direct support of bdes and its up to the CO to deploy his regt to provide optimum fire support. In accordance with both UK and US longstanding and now NATO doctrine an arty unit in DS provides observers, etc, to manouvre units, these observers are ‘plugged in’ to the arty control system. In UK (US is different) they have the authority to order fire to their own unit and request the fire of others (sometimes they are given authority to order fire to lots of fire units). Arty not in DS is in GS, contol of this fire could move around to meet the needs of the situation I can’t actually remember whether GW1 was just before or just after UK’s adoption of NATO arty tactical mission terminology and definitions, but in practical terms it didn’t make much difference (what UK had called ‘spt’ changed to one of GS, Reinforcing, GSR).

    AD is a bit different but the close AD units (ie Javelin/S15 are normally assigned to bdes with sects/troops assigned to battlegroups. Rapier normally provides area coverage. However it can also be given VP or even route protection tasks as can the close AD.

    Lots of people get very confused by arty C&C and misunderstand it, often because they think in direct fire terms, get bogged down in ‘command’ and don’t understand the implications of firepower mobility. Its not helped when authors try to ‘simplify’ matters for the general reader. What counts in arty is the arrangements for the control of and ability to deliver mobile firepower, this is not a command matter. There is also another arty principle, an all arms commander (eg pl comd through to corps commander) only deals with one RA officer. Hence if a bde comd wants to discuss AD he turns to the field regt commander in the first instance, even through this officer doesn’t ‘command’ any AD.

    Of course the notable thing is that for most of the Cold War, facing the Sovs who are noted for their use of arty en-masse (RAGs, DAGs, AAGs in profusion) UK had bugger all GS arty, less than 1 regt per division. Faced by a micky mouse ME army they suddenly decided a division needed 3 GS regts!

  187. TD – can’t answer that question, but if it was it shows what a decent job can be done without thousands of ridiculously detailed micro-requirements, doesn’t it?

  188. I just can’t see why that £500m ASCOD budget could have been spent upgrading 194 Warrior not getting the 40mm turret to a Scout version. That is the with new gun plus super duper recce electronics whatever they are supposed to be. And then buying a proper light cavalry vehicle plus some more Foxhound with the rest of the money. (£500m plus whatever the cost of buying the rest of ASCOD). I just don’t get this 3 armoured brigade structure, especially seeing one battalion is mounted in Mastiff.

  189. @ Chris,

    Wandering off topic, can’t agree about the Victorian railways. They may have been wonders to those that didn’t have them, but they were notoriously poor even in that era and the subject of just as much derision as they are today, and rightly so.

    Back on topic, there’s probably a middle ground between yourself and Obsvr, that being that some procurement strategy’s work best for different projects.

  190. Chris.B – I reserve the right to look back using rose coloured glasses. Victorian railways were wonderful, and remained wonderful until Corporal Hitler messed up Europe. In my opinion.

    As for the middle ground of ‘horses for courses’ procurement options? Yes please. You would hope over time one methodology or other would surface as the most effective lower risk less expensive faster way to get adequate kit to the User, then maybe that would become the new standard method. So yes I would like MOD to try a different way of running procurement.

    Oh look! Here come the pigs again flying in formation….

  191. Jed’s fine post has had a well-deserved, very full response so far. I really don’t want to take the thread in whole new direction and maybe this comment is rather late in the day anyway. However, here goes:

    The topic of this thread is FRES SV and the discussion has been to a considerable extent about the most suitable vehicle for recce purposes. No one, to the best of my knowledge, has yet mentioned the Stormer HVM vehicles and the role they could play.

    They are being kept in service. Certainly 12 Regt. RA is still very much an intended part of Army 2020. It used to have, to the best of my recollection, three batteries, each with 12 missile launchers (total 36). That may very well have diminished to two batteries with a total of 24. (I just don’t know). Then there is the news that 106 (Yeomanry) Regt. is to re-role, changing from a mixed Rapier/HVM LML regiment to an HVM SP/LML unit. That would perhaps mean another 24 SP launchers (or more?).

    Now there are rumours flying around, not substantiated (tautology here – that’s why they are rumours, I suppose!) which say things such as: if the Army introduces the Lightweight Multi-mission Missile (LMM) then the Self-Propelled role will change from one of Air Defence only, to those of Air Defence together with Anti-Armour and Anti-Structure. Another rumour is that the new TI sight may bring in a further possible role change which would include Recce and FST. All supposition at the moment, I suppose, but could such a change help with some of the problems concerning reconnaissance, etc.? I just wonder why the Army is intending to keep so many Stormer vehicles in service simply for AD (not many compared with what used to be the case, of course, but by today’s standards, quite a few.)

  192. Mike – Stormer in my opinion is about the right weight class. It also has its GW launcher. But its armour is on a par with CVR(T) which I suspect is now considered too light for modern threats.

    If we are in make-do-and-mend territory then FRES is too expensive and Scimitar 2 with Stormer sized GW overwatch might be all that’s possible. If we are in the what’s-the-right-vehicle-for-the-Army mode, then for all the reasons covered in earlier posts I think the money would best be spent on developing a 13-15t vehicle family of better protected, more mobile armour along the lines of the CVR(T) family it is to replace. No scenario in my mind ends up with ASCOD FRES or CV90 FRES being the answer.

  193. I remember the Stormer, when my unit was training in the 90s, our army was doing drive trials on an experimental IFV which they drove around under a tarpaulin, so we kept reporting it as a Stormer contact by body shape and size.

    I have my doubts on the rumors as the LMM isn’t as good in the air to air role as the Starstreaks, having only 1/2? the speed of the old missile, not to mention the LMM is more of a direct fire weapon you need to use right on the front lines while Air Defence works a bit further back.

    The problems with the old teens weight armoured vehicles is that they are no longer armoured enough to slug it out with 30mm armed IFVs, hence the armour weight creep upwards. This isn’t a problem in air defence as they are not expected to meet armoured vehicles while in the rear lines, their only worry is aircraft which they are well suited to counter, even if it is by pure attrition.

    If you are talking about a scout screen vehicle, you have to be able to match or overmatch your enemy armoured scouts if they get used in a counter-screen role or endure a hit from an enemy ambush. Conversely, you should also plan to be able to kill your enemy scouts if your own are used in a counter scouting role.

    Personally, I love the Stormer, especially with a Starstreak quad pack mount, but practically, the race between defence and offence has left it behind in terms of protection, which is why the best place for these vehicles are as secondary defence units.

  194. @Chris and Observer

    Thanks for the replies. You seem agreed that Stormer’s armour is probably now too light for modern threats.

    Observer, I think the idea would be that the Starstreak HVMs would be kept for the AD role but that the vehicles could be dual-purpose and used for the anti-armour/anti structures role (employing LMMs) as well. How much conversion time would be needed (if any), I’m not sure.

    Thanks anyway.

  195. @ Chris,
    “I reserve the right to look back using rose coloured glasses. Victorian railways were wonderful, and remained wonderful until Corporal Hitler messed up Europe. In my opinion.” – Fair play!

    “So yes I would like MOD to try a different way of running procurement.” – Depends really. On a very complex project, something like CVF or the Astutes, you might want to use something more in line with what you’ve been talking about, a partnership. But for something like FRES, a competitive process is probably going to get you a better result.

  196. What is most worrying about FRES is that it is literally a do or die project now due to procrastination.

    Even with upgrading and life extensions, there is only so much you can do to extend the life of the frames of Warriors and Bulldogs. Ideally, there should be a vehicle renewal every 10-20 years, e.g [Centurion-1945, Conqueror – 1955, Chieftain- 1965, Challenger- 1983] or [CVRT- 1972, Warrior – 1985] etc

    With the end of the Cold War, there has been a gap in renewal, and the gap is now about 30 years, 50% more than the expected service lifetime of the designs. So the problem now is that whatever the FRES program throws up, you have no choice but to accept or face another long wait. Which means that the suppliers are in a position to squeeze you.

  197. Chris.B – “for something like FRES, a competitive process is probably going to get you a better result” – I couldn’t disagree more! But all the arguments are already posted above so no need to repeat them.

    Although its interesting to list how many companies make a competition? MOD for example will not buy foreign subs, so that’s a ‘competition’ of one. For warships after BAE consumed all other contenders, that’s a competition of one also. MOD is prepared to buy British or American planes, so there is a field of perhaps four US corporations to add to BAE here – five. For wheeled vehicles the MOD is quite open, certainly to American and European bids, occasionally from further afield, but for tracked vehicles its UK & USA again. And there’s only two corporations in that business.

    Competition looks really sharp and purposeful, but when the maximum number of competitors gets down into low single figures you have to wonder how much competitive pressure there really is. Not of course that I am suggesting a cartel-like arrangement, just that the same contenders compete time after time and get to know how the other tends to operate.

    Anyway. Let’s agree to disagree.

  198. Obs – I can’t argue that 432 and CVR(T) – good as they are – have survived beyond a sensible term of service, and until Scimitar 2 popped up, the basic Scimitar was so overloaded with add-ons it had really been upgraded to inadequacy. Neither can I argue that we have reached the do-or-die point. But its a fair assumption whatever is brought in will be on the books for at least 20 and possibly 30 years, so getting the right strategic balance across the fleet is important. As with my previous post, I suggest all my arguments are in the thread above so no point revisiting.

    As for “whatever the FRES program throws up, you have no choice but to accept or face another long wait. Which means that the suppliers are in a position to squeeze you” – that was exactly the situation my alternate procurement method was intended to prevent; by having organic MOD presence within the team at many levels, the opportunities for the suppliers to string along, misdirect, obfuscate and otherwise misrepresent the real situation would be lost. Honesty is after all the best policy.

  199. While researching something else I came across this passage which might be of interest…

    “The Motor Regiment had a unique use for Carriers. Each Motor Company had a Scout Platoon of two officers and forty-one men mounted in Universal Carriers. The Westminster Regiment’s (5CAD) history explains the deployment of its Scout Platoons for the breakout at the Hitler Line:

    The move to the Melfa [River], a distance of about six miles, was screened by the carriers of the Westminsters – three platoons of them – which moved ahead of the tanks. The theory of the attack was that the carriers might spot opposition and obstacles and wireless information to the tank men….
    Credit must be given here to the carrier crews of the scout platoons whose job it was to nose out ahead of the main body of their respective companies, searching the ground and pinpointing enemy resistance. Their job was not an enviable one, for the carrier, unlike the tank, depended upon speed and mobility, rather than weight of armour, for its protection. In this country (Hitler Line, Italy), steep banks on the road-sides more often than not made manoeuvre virtually impossible, and the carrier crews rode uncomfortably in their open-top vehicles between overhanging, densely-wooded walls from which at any time a grenade might be lobbed or a machine gun might open up. These conditions applied to all other platoons also, of course, but they were most worrisome to the carrier crews, who got there first. Nor was the danger all from above, for there was an equally bad chance that the road below might be mined, and carriers with their broad track surface were notoriously susceptible to mines. Most of the crews packed the floor of their machines with bags of sand as some protection against the mine menace, but experience had left them with no illusions of complete protection.”

  200. I thought the Warrior SLEP was to take them up to 2040?

    It a bugger’s muddle. The MoD should have stuck with Warrior or thrown everything behind ASCOD. The problem is now we have two programmes with overlap and Jackal.

  201. @ Chris,

    There’s a fair number of suppliers in the ground vehicle game. If you started FRES again today (and opened it to wheeled and tracked solutions), with a fairly broad scope, you’d be looking at a fair old collection of potential candidates to compete against one another.

    What annoys me about procurement is why everything seems to take so long. Granted some programs you’d like to take a bit of time early on to get things right, but when compared to many private sector procurements MoD procurement looks positively glacial.

  202. x – a coax MG is visible in each of the Warrior upgrade & FRES turrets. Can’t say if its the Hughes/McD/Boeing chain-gun, but its got to be a likely contender.

  203. “Chain gun” is a rather nebulous term. It can range all the way from the M-134 Minigun to 40mm cannons.

    I much prefer the term autocannon for medium calibre weapons to avoid confusion with miniguns.

    As for the ASCOD vs the CV90, I can sort of see why they chose the ASCOD, the CV90 has the best capabilities now, but the ASCOD is the closest to modular “plug and play”, which makes it much easier to upgrade. From the looks of it, the BA seems to be settling for the 30 year procurement cycle, which means that they need something they can upgrade often to keep current.

    Of course, the price of the modularity involved an increase in space, turning the FRES into an IFV a bit on the plump side. That is the cost of getting the capability.

    Can’t really fault their reasoning in the light of their experiences. Who in their right mind wants “The return of FRES” in 10 years time when you can delay it to 30 years?

  204. Observer,
    A chain gun is the description of a very specific operating system, not a generic weapon type. A minigun is a Gatling gun not a chaingun, no matter what computer games might say. Chainguns are the series of weapons made by ATK.

  205. Obs – in this case x is asking about the coax MG, known as L94A1 in the UK but originally Hughes EX34, that fires 7.62×51 ammunition.

    Ref upgrade plug & play factors, we are back to the REME toolbox containing a Swiss Army Knife and an adjustable spanner – cheaper than a full set of specific tools and completely future-proofed. But next to useless. It would be interesting to know (we will never find out for real) the relative cost of re-working an existing platform to a new role vs. a new build. I suspect the costs are not so different.

    Which is why I favour specific focused role vehicles designed using standard subsystems. Rapid development of a new platform using proven in-service parts and systems should be no more effort than trying to move all the furniture round inside an existing hull to fit something else in. And the support burden of the new shape platform remains minimal as the majority of subsystems would already be supported. And the new platform would be optimized for its role, not a travelling multi-purpose shed. In the REME toolbox analogy, better to buy a new spanner when the need arises rather than struggling on with a beaten up old adjustable spanner.

    There is also a view that if something looks like its the same platform it is a money-saving drive for commonality. Not always the case – on another thread one of our contributors who knew the REME world pointed out there were over 100 different ‘standard’ Land Rover types in service, all looking the same but with different support aspects. Sometimes the different types of a multi-purpose multi-role platform are really different under the skin, despite their basic appearance. In my world the commonality comes from within – I don’t see an issue if one type is a wheeled APC and another a tracked turreted light tank or a third a 4×4 liaison wagon, providing the component subsystems within each require the same support measures. Perhaps you’d consider it ‘Meccano’ commonality – everything made out of the same basic parts.

  206. mr fred, I know it is a description of an operating system. Anything with an electrically driven charging/extraction system, which is rather broad as a weapon identifier, which is why I prefer a specification related to calibre and role to prevent confusion. (SAW/GPMG/HMG/Autocannon etc).

    For example, the Warrior co-ax mentioned is a chaingun based GPMG (7.62 calibre) while the 30mm autocannons are also electrically driven “chainguns”, but you are not going to use the 7.62 against IFVs now are you? Which is why “chaingun” is a bit limited in classifying role at a glance. It is something similar to how useful Direct Inpingement and Gas Piston is as a weapon classification.

    Isn’t the M-134 electrically cycled instead of gas cycled? Or is it just the barrels? If it’s just the barrels then you are right.

  207. All – on the subject of multi-purpose APC based Scouts, here: is a fine illustration of the impacts of trying to get every possible capability into a single hull. The film its from (Pentagon Wars) is a bitter sweet comedy for anyone in the AFV engineering community – it would be funny if it wasn’t so damn accurate…

  208. @Chris: yup, hulls are famous for not requiring much maintenance. Common systems far more important :-)

    Video was very funny, but somewhat exaggerated. It would be hard to underestimate the impact the introduction of the BMP had on NATO’s ideas of what was then an APC should look like.

  209. @ Chris re chain gun

    To me it is just as important as the 40mm, but you could see how those who know even less than I do would see it as something that could be dropped say on the promise of the 40mm being able to fire some fancy proxi-fused nature.

    @ Simon

    Yes it is. I will concede now that the UK having 2 armoured brigades is preferable to just one. But how long can an armoured brigade fight before it needs to be pulled back? How long does it need out of the line before it can return? Something that gets leveled at naval assets, is where is threat? And the same can be levelled against armour (a la BAOR styley). Let say we fight another war after the fashion of GW2. The enemy is PGM to an inch of his life before some king general unleashes world class armoured assault. We won’t be there alone. If we are there alone whoever we will be facing won’t be a peer. Once the the armour has torn through his front lines and played havoc with his immediate rear area there will be no need for the follow on formationed to be armoured-armoured just protect or in 8s8, but definitely not a heavy armoured box on tracks. That is the infantry. What we will need then is a light cavalry track or wheels for fire support and other cavalry tasks. I don’t think Jackal is up to the job. As I keep saying we should concentrated on Warrior in two armoured brigades. Bought a fresh lighter vehicle than Warrior for cavalry and anything left over bought more Foxhound. We could then field one well trained and very well equipped armoured sledgehammer of a brigade. And two mechanised/protected brigades from the Adaptable pool with good firepower. We need to be spending money on plugging gaps and consolidation; better to field 2 vehicles with everything than 3 FFBNW with a promise that the kit will be available. (As I keep saying about T26 better 12 T26 all with TAS when at sea, than 13 T26 some with and some without TAS.)
    Heck out of that £500m being spent on ASCOD prototypes I bet money could have been found to give Chally 2 a bit of love. Just don’t get the plan at all. One final point it is about regeneration either. Modern warfare is that complex is that it would take us a decade or more to get back 120,000 Army, I think any war calling for that much of increase would be over before we reached 90,000. I am not including the AR TA TAVR WC AA BT and bar in that.

  210. @ TD

    yes, AS90 was a one pg CPS, things like 155mm and Euro rail gauge envelope. IIRC it didn’t state lots of other essentials like dieso (NATO fuel policy), Clansman radio, etc, etc.

  211. Chris, you also have to remember that the story was essentially written by an Air Force officer with an axe to grind, which means he will put everything in as bad a light as possible to play hero. Lots of bad feeling in that guy.

    wf is right, the Russians came up with a paradigm breaker in the BMP which left the West feeling wrongfooted and scrambling to adapt.

    As for the Bradley, it is a fairly good platform, remember, it took out Iraqi MBTs on a very frequent basis when scouting, even without using TOWs.

    The other influence on IFVs is the Yom Kippur war where pure armour found it very hard to handle Sagger ATGMs and needed infantry to supress the operators, which is why there was a push to intergrate infantry into armour.

  212. Obs, wf – ref BMP – an interesting study. Almost certainly designed as a boat first, by which I mean the shape of the hull, the major component locations and the thickness of armour were all primarily chosen to make for a successful amphibian. Thin armour, small one man turret set low, Commander positioned as Driver’s pillion, long prow to add buoyancy at the front and very narrow hence light tracks. I’m not saying it was a bad vehicle in itself, just that all other factors were probably compromised to preserve its swimming capability. (That means there was a clear requirement and the designers were left to complete their design without continual changes of direction.)

    Obs – ref Bradley vs. MBTs – as I noted somewhere much further back, I believe a Scimitar managed to disable a distant Challenger (oops!) thinking it was an Iraqi MBT. Rarden might be treated with disdain but its not all that bad. Neither was Scorp’s 76mm, just a shame it suffocated the vehicle crew with smoke whenever it was fired.

    I have no problem with the desire or need to bring infantry forward with other armour. but I don’t see why they need to be wedged into the back of fighty vehicles – they’d be more comfortable and have more flexibility in location of deployment in a separate APC. In my opinion.

    As for the film being biased and full of agendas? Heck why let truth and a balanced view ruin a good film…

  213. @ Chris

    What I like about BMD/BMP is their adjustable suspension. Useful in getting a tall vehicle into the back of a Chinook……

    Foxhound meets Mattracks meets TMD 6×6 chassis meets BMD/BMP kneeling suspension………

  214. x – can you fit a BMP into the back of a CH-47? Well, yes you can, with a long enough run up…

    There are specific and I would suggest non mainstream elements of the armed forces that need internal carriage of vehicles in such a small aircraft as Chinook. For these forces specialist vehicles may be appropriate. The base unarmoured cousin of Jackal can squeeze in, helped by its air suspension, but I don’t know if armoured Jackal either fits or has light enough wheel loading. the skid-steered 6×6 ATMP, another vehicle connected with Supacat, fitted easily. Whatever happened to these fine vehicles?

    I still try to meet C-130 gauge on my designs, even though MOD believes it will have A400M & C-17 only in the near future. Not only does it mean the vehicles remain of interest to those that continue to use C-130, but also because the 9ft square gauge is about right for rail transport, low loader transport, and road usage generally (give or take a few inches). Not for me vehicles over 3m wide and almost as high – others can make them if they really want.

  215. Chris

    ” the skid-steered 6×6 ATMP, another vehicle connected with Supacat, fitted easily. Whatever happened to these fine vehicles?”

    I don’t know, Chris. They are certainly not being used by 16 AA Bde at the moment. There was something about their being withdrawn as a result of difficulties over maintenance in Afghanistan ((spares not being easily available or something). They are still being advertised on the Supacat website. I know that soldiers thought pretty highly of them. There should be some way of restoring the vehicle to service.

  216. @ Chris

    I believe with CVR(T) one of the design drivers was that its weight shouldn’t exceed Chinook max underslung carry capacity. (The Americans really missed a trick not having a similar class of vehicle.) And underslung carry doesn’t harm a helicopter’s performance as no doubt Observer will be along to tell us at some point once he has read this post. But there is a reason why aircraft designers build aerodynamic bodies for helicopters. And there reasons why at times it is preferable to move things internally. Lots of vehicles fit inside Chinook, Humvee, the Italian Puma, Bv206, Wiesel, etc. Even the humble Ferret fits inside Chinook. CVR(T) Scimitar only just doesn’t fit. Though underslung doesn’t impede helicopter performance centralising mass around the helicopter’s CoG doesn’t impede it either. If it did then it wouldn’t be much use as a cargo vehicle. If we could build a recce vehicle or light armoured tracked vehicle that has better protection CVR(T), of a similar size to CVR(T), and can be carried internally in Chinook then why not if it comes as a byproduct of suspension mechanics? I am more interested in how things can be moved easily from ship to shore. Anything that minimizes volume should be explored.

  217. TD – Obviously I read that post (Ah-hem!) – it must have slipped my mind…

    Swimming Trunks – Will someone please post the RUSI document to MOD? Specifically the section stating the following:

    “It has been suggested that increasing the [FRES] envelope to the A400M dimensions may allow a more capable vehicle design. This suggestion seems ill thought-out. The A400M, if built, will be able to transport vehicles of Warrior MICV weights and dimensions. But we know that the size, weight and logistic burden of these vehicles are not the best-suited to the type of operations for which we appear to be procuring the FRES vehicle”

    Oh well. My fine (C-130 compatible, well protected, agile, just right) vehicle designs are here just waiting should anyone in MOD see the light. Oh look! There go those pigs in Diamond Nine formation again…

  218. Thought a chook’s underslung weight capacity was 10 tons. CVR(T) would be a bit overweight.

  219. Obs – CVR(T) real GVW was 9t – only later on was it relaxed beyond 10, and only because it had been running way over 9t for years despite the GVW limit.

    x – sadly my smallest vehicles are a little wider than CVR(T). Underslung load possible, although I did some sums on CH-47 MAUM with heavy loads and determined it might manage a 20km round trip before the kerosene was gone. Ship to shore maybe, but deep insertion possibly not.

  220. Observer,

    An externally-powered machine gun would cover what you describe. A chaingun is specifically limited to the operating system used in the ATK (formally Boeing Armaments, formally McDonnell Douglas, formally Hughes) because it involves a chain. A minigun is an externally powered gatling gun.
    The CT40 is not a chaingun, despite being externally powered, the Rarden and Mauser 30mm cannon are not chaingun either, being recoil and gas operated respectively. Only the ATK weapons are chain guns.

    Granted that chaingun is a fairly generic description, but it is more specific than the way you are using it and most people understand what is meant. Also, the 7.62 chaingun is not a GPMG as it would prove more than tricky to use it in the light role.

  221. Been reading Swimming Trunks’s link to the RUSI paper. Its just so depressing to see how right (in my opinion) the goals were in 2004 and how far off the mark they’ve been dragged since. For example, Lord Bach (MinDP) stated very clearly that “our experience on recent overseas operations, have shown the need for lighter armoured vehicles that can be quickly sent by air to a trouble spot when a crisis breaks. MRAV cannot meet this emerging requirement.” And the reason MRAV (now Boxer) was brushed aside? Too big and too expensive, certainly, but mainly because it was too heavy at 33t.

    The paper talks of commonality (as have I in posts above) and recommends the UK makes all effort to “replace a substantial portion of the current AFV fleet with a single, modular design, this would bring nothing but benefit to UK forces from a logistic and cost point of view. The real benefit to brigade and divisional planning staffs will be common fuel and lubricant requirements and the need to hold only one universal set of automotive components. Experience of FV-430, FV-600, and CVR-T has shown this to be simple and achievable. Procurement cost and training benefits are obvious.” So lets upgrade Warrior and buy almost identical ASCOD for Scout then.

    But I’ve been following the FRES boondoggle for years – decades – and the continually changing statements of fact that have been issued by the authorities. For example, in a Westminster Hall debate in 2005 Ann Winterton posed the question “I understand that the FRES concept is about the use of technology to achieve total battlespace awareness, replacing heavy armour with air-transportable light armoured vehicles, designed for rapid reaction?” Don Touhig on behalf of MOD responded “It might be helpful if I clarify what FRES is. In a nutshell, FRES will be a family of medium-weight armoured vehicles of around 20 tonnes, enabled by communications, information and surveillance systems, with the growth potential to develop over time. FRES will be significantly lighter than our current heavy armoured forces based on the Challenger 2 and the Warrior armoured infantry fighting vehicle.” Note in one year FRES had put on about 5t around its middle. Fatty. But was a long way off 32t.

    Then in 2007 in the Defence Committee Report “The Army’s requirement for armoured vehicles: the FRES programme”, the committee noted that they asked the MoD what credible options had been considered when deciding whether or not to procure an off-the-shelf vehicle. The Chief of Defence Procurement responded “You could not go and buy something off-the-shelf today which would meet the FRES requirement. We have tested it. We did the research, we held a fleet review with the Army, with representatives of all parts of the Army who had an expert view on this, and presented to them what the products available today are.” So we bought an off-the-shelf 20 year old design (ASCOD) just three years later.

    I think x’s statement earlier sums the whole thing up – It’s a bugger’s muddle. In the mean time, FV430 and CVR(T) struggle on. They have been in service for a considerable time as we all know, but to reinforce this fact with a comparison, if the 1916 Mk1 Rhomboids had stayed in service essentially unreplaced for the same length of time they would have been in continuous use through to the end of the Korean conflict.

    In a just world heads would have rolled over this 25 year plus string of requirement changes wrapped in brightly coloured indecision that has been the CVR(T) replacement programme. In reality of course those responsible will by now have their peerages and fat pensions. There is no justice.

    Just for TD, in case it was missed, the 2004 RUSI paper also stated “It could also be highly desirable, for a whole raft of reasons, to be able to fit FRES into a standard 20-foot ISO container.” Oh dear…

  222. The more I think of it FRES is without a doubt, the single largest defence procurement cockup in recent history and the Army and MoD have no one to blame but themselves.

    The reason it doesn’t get the headlines like say Astute or A400 is because it isn’t as glamorous or confined to a single identifiable bit of kit

    The numbers might not be as big as those but the span of buffonery is long, deep and very wide

  223. @ Chris

    Should always have been a three vehicle solution; physics, logistics, need, and KISS should have dictated that approach.

    1) Direct CVR(T) replacement.
    2) Direct FV432/Warrior replacement
    3) A mine resistant wheeled vehicle with good mobility. APC and a basis for a cavalry vehicle/fire support vehicle. For peacekeeping and exploitation once the heavy tracked boys have broke the enemy line/point of resistance. The Balkans should have put this option on the table never mind what was to come in the Sandbox.

    Anyway we have done it to death now. :)

  224. The Balkans did put Option 3 on the table, the whole 8 wheel thing really started from there after the Russians beat us to Pristina airport in their BTR’s

  225. x – Agreed. After 260 comments I think on balance the answer to the original question is “Yes, it is time.”

    TD – those of us near FFLAV, FFLAV2, TRACER/FSCS, TRACER, FRES and finally Scout-SV have been bewildered to the verge of insanity by the swirling vortex of requirements and counter-requirements that have filled the past quarter century – now I note you are beginning to see the enormity of the ineptitude. Welcome to the Asylum TD, please take a straight-jacket and wait in the nice padded room down the corridor…

  226. @ TD

    I meant the mine business. It should have been obvious after what 30 years of Op Banner what was coming down the pipe. Other states and service already operated 8×8 (and 6×6) there was nothing special about the dash to Pristina in terms of mobility. BAOR had been sitting opposite them for a long time they should know what BTR could do. The Pristina Dash showed that NATO had become a bit jaded or complacent or arrogant and just expected everybody to play nicely. I always thought military men were always taught never to underestimate the enemy?

  227. I hope there will be missiles on the turret, and then a support vehicle, if you use the “Ascod SV” as the U.S. M3 Bradley, it will need missiles. I read somewhere that Bradley had destroyed most of the Iraqi tanks that Abrams tanks.

  228. @Simon: as I understand it, they assume that 5 Vikings and one CR2 can fit in re space and weight. That says 5 CVR(T) and 2 Warrior to me

  229. @ Simon

    I read on wikipedia 1 main battle tank, 4 large vehicles, or 120 troops.

  230. Does anyone think there is still a role for a light tank, say sub 15t, small and agile, low profile, engine to the rear etc, all those non recce roles that recce vehicles tend to find themselves doing more of than recce?

  231. @ TD

    I think you need to recce vehicles that go into a Chinook for the airborne cavalry. A Jackal is a little big and has no real resistance to mines. An average size vehicle between FRES Scout and the Jackal is a luxury.

  232. TD asked “Does anyone think there is still a role for a light tank, say sub 15t, small and agile, low profile, engine to the rear etc, all those non recce roles that recce vehicles tend to find themselves doing more of than recce?”

    If you go up the page you will find somebody (hint, hint) has mentioned this more than once. Excepting low profile. Or is that code for not as tall as Mastiff?

    Search for,

    x July 22, 2013 at 11:58 am


    light cavalry

  233. TD – I did read those and they were fine posts and covered the ground admirably.

    I’m not sure yet another go round ‘FRES isn’t what it ought to be’ would add a great deal; the combined opinion in the comments against this and the other FRES posts I suspect has settled into fairly firm streams that are: RT’s tactical bicycle, my Stormer-like option, Observer’s Scout is OK just build the thing, an occasional MBTs can do it option as Monty suggested, and various shades of size/weight in the gaps in between. As a bunch of interested onlookers we are all agreed on the right solution then.

    But FRES or whatever might fill CVR(T)’s tracks is one part of a bigger issue. Perhaps more telling would be (deep breath) a look at what should or will happen when Challenger and Warrior and AS90 and Jackal and Mastiff reach end of life? I’m guessing all these will come up at about the same time; I hope MOD is flush with spare cash by then…

    So many new posts while I was busy typing!

    TD – 15t rear engine & capable turret? Got it in the set already. Your choice – wheels or tracks, sir.

  234. A Sphinx is good but in french army we are a bit worry about gun, we think that a CT40 is a bit too small, a 105 or 120mm will be more appropriate, the habit :) , but our EBRC will be equipped of missiles.
    But don’t hesitate buy French :)

  235. What happened to the rest of the FRES project with the Piranha has that been cancelled or is it just delayed?

  236. @TD: no role for rear engine. Front engine, yes, so it can double as APC/mortar/flatbed etc

  237. wf – 15t front engine & capable turret, wheeled or tracked – got those in the set too… and APCs…

  238. @ TD

    The Sphinx is 100% french. The only sphinx that belgian manufacture are cats.

  239. TD you are a bit right, it’s the CRAB which has a belgian turret, Sphinx has a lockheed martin turret.

    But this is money thrown out the window. You can not have Ascod scout, Sphinx, which probably will not be our EBRC, and CRAB or any such devices.
    In France we have, Leclerc, VBCI, EBRC, VBMR, replacing our VBL and the Viking for the Alpine Brigade, that’s it.
    The ideal is that you throw your Warriors and Ascods, and all the equipment that weigh tons, and do in the lightweight and transportable by air, but this is on track, you don’t stop, even if this is madness from a logistical point of view for the British Army.
    It’s just my opinion.

  240. “The more I think of it FRES is without a doubt, the single largest defence procurement cockup in recent history and the Army and MoD have no one to blame but themselves”

    Wash your mouth out TD. Every Perce KNOWS that it’s all the fault of the Navy and CVF. There can be no contest to this orthodoxy……..

  241. Like I said, Astute, Spearfish, Typhoon, BOWMAN, A400, LPD(A), Nimrod MRA4, Nimrod AEW, Type 45 and CVF might actually be much larger in terms of cash you have to go some way to beat FRES for the sheer breadth of fuckwittery, over three decades and a billion quid with nothing to show but half a dozen prototypes and a shit load of PowerPoints is breathtaking

    In terms of money wasted though, next to the RAF and RN, the Army are mere amateurs

  242. @NAB

    I only partly blame the Army. The biggest problem with vehicle procurement is the political side of things.

    Politicians enter into campaigns that are conducted on very short notice at a great distance from supply sources. They want to be able to move things by air to do that. They then demand that there be zero casualties in such operations.

    The reality of the situation is that the proper answer for what happens to your scout vehicle when it rolls over an anti-tank mine may well be that everyone get barbecued and the next vehicle takes up the fight. There are balances to be struck between mobility (both strategic and tactical), cost, firepower and protection. The problem is that the political masters seem to insist on suffering almost no casualties in most conflicts. That leads to unrealistic demands on all vehicles.

  243. @ TD

    I said that over a week ago.

    Look for,

    x July 22, 2013 at 7:40 pm

    @ NaB

    We all know what really killed FRES wasn’t the vehicle but the Stargate and fusion reactors so the didn’t have to rely upon the RN to move them or their logistics about……. :) ;)

  244. TD said “In terms of money wasted though, next to the RAF and RN, the Army are mere amateurs”

    Perhaps they should do what they always do when things get tricky or a bit rough, send for some Fijians and Ghurkas to do the job?

    I am struggling to think of any project where the RN wasted money to the tune of a billion and still had nothing to show for it. T23 combat system? CVF is all down to politicians. Even the great CTOL-STOVL switcheroo can be blamed elsewhere. No as always the RN are whiter than a freshly laundered whitefront. Bless ’em.

  245. @Jeremy MH

    “I only partly blame the Army. The biggest problem with vehicle procurement is the political side of things.”

    Couldn’t agree more and not only for the reason you suggest (that our political masters seem to insist on suffering almost no casualties in most conflicts). There is also the fact that on numerous occasions the Army/MOD has thought that the money was there for a particular procurement and then, because of a spot of financial cramp, the Government haswithdrawn it/changed the rules or whatever. Possibly one of the best examples of this was the so-called “Trials of Truth”. The Army chose the winner (Piranha), so presumably they were satisfied, the MOD also, but then suddenly the programme is not to be proceeded with. Then it was a case of “All change! We’re going for FRES SV instead!” and so the whole wretched business started all over again.

    It’s all very well for TD to assert “and the Army and MoD have no one to blame but themselves.” That may be true in part but there is a third element (a mighty big one) responsible for the fiasco and it lies somewhere near Westminster.

  246. Was there not a rumour that the FRES bid was related to a dodgy property deal & that’s why the pols went for the Ascod bid?

  247. This thread has gone hopelessly off-topic.

    Just to remind:

    1. The Army bought 489 Warrior section vehicles that came into service from 1988 onwards. The actual design dates back to the late 1970s. Since the platform is more than 30 years old and has seen fairly extensive use over that time, only a limited number of Warrior chassis are available to be upgraded: about 350. The total number is just sufficient to equip the required number of mobile armoured infantry battalions (6) allowing for limited number of spare vehicles that would be used to replace lost / damaged vehicles in the event of a conflict. While the Warrior platform might be suitable to fulfil the FRES Scout SV role, we just don’t have enough vehicles.

    2. If GKN who made the Warrior still existed and still had a viable production line, then we might ask them to make more Warriors that could be used for the Recce role. This isn’t possible, so our only choice is to buy a new vehicle. What is much more pertinent and a frightening truth behind this discussion is that the British Army needs new vehicles, not merely because the 30 mm RARDEN cannon should now only be mounted on museum vehicles, but because our fleet is well and truly knackered. The armies of France, Germany, and Italy, who have used their IFV fleets far less than we’ve used ours are already replacing their fleets. All are buying a division’s worth (6 battalions) of new vehicles. We don’t have the money to do the same. So upgrading our Warriors is the cheapest option to ensure a viable ongoing armoured infantry capability. While the upgrade program will include a new drive train as well as a new turret mounting the 40 mm CTA cannon, we will still need to acquire a second platform in order to equip our Armoured Recce regiments. This is madness.

    3. I share the view that operating dual platforms for vehicles that are fundamentally the same is absurd. I think we should go one step further and cancel both the Warrior upgrade programme and FRES SV. We should soldier on with Warrior for another 5-10 years and then replace both Warrior and CVR((T) with a common family of vehicles for armoured infantry and armoured recce roles.

    4. Many people lament the loss of CVR(T). I served in them. In their day, they were great vehicles. Today, they simply don’t have sufficient protection to be a viable armoured recce platform. The Army believes that achieving the requisite levels of armour, mobility and firepower unavoidably puts you in the 30-35 tonne bracket. (A wheeled vehicle offering the same levels of protection and firepower tends to weigh around 25-30 tonnes). CV21 and revised CVR(T) options have definitely been looked at, but simply aren’t considered to have enough armour. it’s worth remembering that the Bren gun carrier of WW2 was also a great vehicle in its day, but it suffered the same fate. It could be too easily taken out by anti-tank weapons, so was reduced to the role of tracked jeep. Maybe, today, we need a lightweight tracked vehicle, but CVR(T) can no longer be a credible armoured reconnaissance vehicle.

    5. Given the evolution of the threat, including the ubiquity of handheld ATGMs, we need tanks and IFVs with increased levels of protection. The question is how big can tanks get? Is a 70 tonne battle tank realistic? Similarly, is a 70 tonne infantry combat vehicle desirable let alone possible? When tanks first appeared on the battlefield they could attack with impunity. That may have also been true when the Tiger 1 arrived or when the Challenger MBT with Chobbham Armour was developed. However, anti-tank weapon technology has consistently outpaced armoured protection technology, so most advantages in armour protection on the battlefield have been pretty short lived. The only thing that is clear at this time is that tanks cannot go on growing in size. Other threads have explored whether a new breed of medium tanks with reduced weight and increased mobility would be a better option, especially if they were cheaper.

    6. Meanwhile, I agree that the FRES UV debate has not been a particularly edifying example of best-in-class procurement either. The MoD specified a MRAV vehicle of a certain weight and level of protection back in 2001. Unfortunately, it wasn’t possible to create a vehicle with the desired amount of armour that weighed less than 30 tonnes at the time. A decade later and nothing has changed, but while the Bundeswehr has the highly mobile 8×8 Boxer, the UK has the Mastiff, which has very limited cross-country performance in comparison. The FRES UV requirement was always for a vehicle that would replace the Saxon AT105 4×4. Before any politician says that such a requirement is irrelevant, they should be reminded that it isn’t good for a party’s re-election chances to have soldiers being unnecessarily killed and maimed by travelling around the battlefield in four tonne trucks. As the MRAV category has evolved, 8x8s have become much more able – to the point where they can also be a legitimate replacement for our ageing fleet of FV432 APCs. 8x8s are much cheaper than tracked equivalents, are equally mobile across country and have the added benefit of strategic mobility – long-range autonomous deployments. If there is a need to replace our Warriors, it should be remembered that our FV432 fleet is an entire generation older. We need 12 battalions worth of 8×8 vehicles to transport infantry battalions around.

    Since the end of World War 2, the UK Army has never dropped in size below 3 divisions until now. Given that the Cold war threat has receded and we’re moving out of Germany, we can probably survive with a peacetime army of just two divisions, plus a rapidly deployable air mobile brigade.

    To be credible, those two divisions (or six brigades) need to be properly equipped. So, you would expect each armoured brigade to have 2 x tank regiment, 2 x armoured infantry battalion. In reality, we’re getting only a single division with three brigades. Each one will be equipped with 1 x tank regiment, 1 x Scout SV regiment, 2 x Warrior battalions, a Mastiff battalion. plus tracked artillery.

    I agree with everyone who has questioned exact nature of the role that Scout SV will perform. From everything I’ve read, it is a kind of light tank. If we really had to buy ASCOD 2, I might have stuck a 120 mm gun on it not a 40 mm pea shooter.

    I strongly believe that the UK needs two credible multi-role divisions. To achieve that we need 6 brigades. Each needs to be comprised of two tank regiments (i.e. a total of 12 Challenger regiments) and two MICV battalions (i.e. a total of 12 Warrior / MICV battalions). To cut costs, we could have a single division with traditional tanks and MICVs. The other division could have 8×8 APCs and MGSs.

    As Army 2020 shows, we can barely afford a single properly equipped division at this time. The Reaction Force may be a viable formation. But the Adaptable Force is not – It has only two tank regiments, no armoured recce, limited protected mobility, and state-of-the-ark artillery support.

    In effect, we have created a three tier Army. The Reaction Force is a barely viable division. The Adaptable Force is a bunch of second class citizens reduced to map reading, fitness training and class-room instruction until there is sufficient budget available to give them the equipment they need. Then there is the Reserve, a bunch of part-time soldiers with no kit, and no budget. I cannot understand who will join it.

    When the Government changes, I expect a return to an Army of 100,000 men. It’s the only way we will meet our commitments. Unless the army is properly resourced, people will leave it. Can you imagine an air force without aircraft or a navy without ships? An army without decent armoured vehicles is equally useless.

  248. @John Hartley

    Never heard that one, John, although I’ve heard a few in my time!

  249. Monty – a fine argument well put. A few thoughts in no particular order:

    In your view is there a trade between heavyweight protection and increased mobility agility & numbers? In other words would you value 400 40t 8x8s more than 1000 more agile 20t 6x6s? Further up-thread a comment was made that the pressure from media & politicians has led to the absolute drive towards no casualties even if that stance reduces combat effectiveness.

    I read the US Army is restructuring itself, moving towards lighter forces not heavier because that suits (according to the policy documents released to the public domain) their future character of conflict assessment. We on the other hand are busy getting heavier formations. Surely we can’t both be right?

    Warrior production line could be rebuilt if the will and funds existed – when Alvis ‘bought’ GKN the Alvis factory in Coventry closed and the company installed itself in the Castle Works in Telford – they are there still. If the Spartan/Scimitar lines could be restarted to make Scimitar 2, there ought to be no fundamental reason why the Warrior line couldn’t be reactivated. No doubt some component parts would by now be obsolete but the re-engineering task to replace duff parts with ones that are still available is typical PDS work. The only factor that might make a restart of the Warrior line prohibitive would be if the production tooling had been scrapped.

    I might argue that multi-axle vehicles do not match tracked mobility, but its late and the arguments are by no means black & white. What I would say therefore is that wheeled and tracked vehicles are differently mobile – over really poor terrain or unsupportive soft terrain or in tight confines tracks have the edge by some margin. When there is a need to relocate rapidly between areas of operations wheeled vehicles win hands down. Track life on Scorpion was I believe no more than 1000 miles so rattling from port to front line would take too much of their mechanical life – bring in the wheeled tank transporters with all the extra manpower and equipment that involves. Wheeled armour ought to be able to make its own way there without arriving clapped out.

    As for your assessment that Scout is “a kind of light tank”, all I can say is its design target is 32-42t, at its heaviest the same weight as Leopard 1 and T-80. MBTs might currently lumber in at 60t+, but this Scout is no lightweight. And although its a bit shorter, in width and height it is MBT sized. As the film clip from Pentagon Wars (link above at July 29, 2013 8:28 am) pointed out, if you turn up looking like a tank you will attract significant hostile attention; putting up a big flashing illuminated sign stating “This is not a tank” isn’t really an option.

  250. @Chris: I don’t understand why we have an obsession with restarting Warrior production. It’s just a hull since the power train, suspension, weapons etc would have to be new. Furthermore, it’s placement of the radiator on the front glacis plate is frankly stupid. Building a CR2 off CR1 made sense, because the underpinning was good. The same could not be said about Warrior :-(

  251. wf – I wasn’t advocating Warrior line reinstatement – I was rather countering Monty’s view that it wasn’t possible to restart the Warrior line. I see no fundamental reason why its impossible; whether its advisable or rational is another matter entirely.

    My position though is less anti than yours – one 30t+ tracked APC is much like another by the time they are all brought up to date – I’d advocate whichever gave the best long term cost benefit for the same spec. Indeed I believe this was Monty’s point as well – a Warrior Recce would make more sense on the inventory if Warrior IFV is retained just because it enables common support, where having two vehicles of almost the same size/weight,mobility/firepower/dismount capability but completely different support needs both in the inventory concurrently is bonkers. The argument works either way up – selling off Warrior in favour of a raft of ASCOD based IFVs is just as rational. The reason I suspect few support the latter position is the absolutely vast development price GD has nailed to Scout – I think most believe there’s a hint of rampant overcharging involved, and it doesn’t endear GD to the UK taxpayer one bit. If there isn’t overcharging, and £500m for 7 reworked Austrian IFVs is the right price, then all you can say is MOD has created one stupidly overambitious set of requirements and we all look forward to the first formation flypast of Scout-SV.

    Oh and while I think of it ASCOD’s radiator isn’t in such a different position to Warrior’s – that’s just what happens when all the mechanics are in the front. Louvres might be heavy, but they don’t need to be a ballistic weakness. If I understand the images of ASCOD correctly one set of louvres are on the roofplate but with a scoop built round them. The other louvres through the side of the hull are risky but I expect a barrier of stand-off appliqué will be nailed in front of them in all the different variants.

  252. @Monty

    “What is much more pertinent and a frightening truth behind this discussion is that the British Army needs new vehicles, . . . but because our fleet is well and truly knackered.”

    I agree but then you say:

    “We should soldier on with Warrior for another 5-10 years and then replace both Warrior and CVR((T) with a common family of vehicles for armoured infantry and armoured recce roles.”

    Is there a lack of consistency here? Wait for possibly another ten years with the fleet in the state it is in? Kind of lacking in urgency, isn’t it?

    I agree wholeheartedly, though, with your statement: “An army without decent armoured vehicles is equally useless.”

  253. RE Army without armour is useless point

    Do you mean an army without heavy armour???

    I am quite happy (whatever my emotional attachment to Saladins may be); to accept the battle field is a more dangerous place, (lots of autocannon, quite capable of punching holes in 3- 4 inches of steel at 1000 meters).

    But logic of trying to protect against them leads to 40+ ton vehicles 10 ft wide, (and I am obsessed with width more than weight). For a pure reccie vehicle that has to be a joke.

    I live in the Fracking North, and invite you all to get on google earth and se how far you can get a 10ft wide vehicle around central Cumbria, or the Dales, or North wales. Without flattening buildings,- bringing your engineers up to build / reinforce bridges, dynamite cuttings or constructing fords etc. All hugely time consuming and attention grabbing behavior, and that (despite the views of some tory peers), is in a developed western nation. In the third world many roads etc were built to take jeeps and not much bigger. Although that situation has improved with development, many roads will only take trucks (2.5 meter wide.. again).

    I don’t doubt its fighting capabilities but I do doubt its ability to get where it is needed. AS TD has stated it is de facto as logistically demanding as a challenger 2. So why not just blow the dust of some of them? a vehicle with the protection and hitting capabilities fres sv can only dream of, but will be able to get down the same roads at the same speed.- IN REAL TERMS.

    The Germans gave up their super heavy tanks after the war, it is worth noting, so did the Russians later. no vehicle can be protected v a heavy antitank missile at the moment hence everyone getting excited about trophy etc, active protection systems.

    Blow the dust of the chally2’s (if you want ‘heavy reccie’ and spend the money on warrior upgrades.

  254. @ Monty

    I think, I know, that Continental powers take a different attitude to spending on their armies. They are more interested in spending money now to keep jobs which they hope will translate into votes. It isn’t that are more enlightened when it comes to having their armed forces freshly equipped ready for the next emergency. HMG prefer to kick it down the road whether it is prudence or being miserly or interdepartmental politics or ego or whatever. We choose not to equip the Army just as we choose to borrow billions for overseas aid whose value is questionable in so many ways. **£600million per year would buy us a brigades worth of vehicles. (I am not sure how many vehicles a specialist builder produces per week or per year when completing a contract of this type.) £1.2billion two brigades. In 5 years the Army is replete with new vehicles. HMG chooses not to equip the Army.

    ** Or invest heavily in companies like REL Ltd. A paltry £60 million for a technology that could earn the UK billions.

  255. @ IXION

    Saladin was built to counter mines. It was a very clever design. A modern version built out of modern materials (like those used in Foxhound) would answer a lot of our questions. See SPHINX. Also this is about building cavalry vehicles, and there is more cavalry than recce.

    You are right about the size, but only for one class of vehicle. As said I yesterday was it where the MoD went wrong was trying to replace 2 classes (I added an extra class) of vehicles with one. Instead of going with what works they try to be clever to save money.

    It is a good thing they make cock-ups or we would have nothing to moan about. :)

  256. x – ref buying more British defence equipment – Yes I understand the argument in its purest form, but there are two facets to the argument that make it far from pure.

    Firstly the same sort of argument might be valid for shipbuilding/car factories/tourism/infrastructure/tacky estates of pseudo-executive housing development – a very long list. Indeed most nights on the news another talking head pops up demanding the government pays more to their specific cause. Its really hard to release payments into one sector without all others crying foul. (I for one hate the continuous eruption of new god-awful housing estates that sit empty for months while the greedy developer hangs on for buyers at his vastly inflated prices, all enabled by gizzits from the Treasury in response to the crocodile tears of those uber-rich developers. If there’s a housing shortage then the last thing we all need is more middle-management upwardly-mobile-yeah-right execu-hovels. Prefab estates were the answer when there was last a genuine housing shortage – cheap cheerful well built quick & basic. Also – if accommodation is so limited why are those who own second & third homes not being ‘encouraged’ to release them by suitable taxation measures? Anyway. That’s all a bit off-topic.) So I can see the decision to hold back on cash to re-equip the armed forces is just part of a measured approach to total spending that prevents the floodgates opening. As a country we can’t afford to spend out on everything without turning into another Spain or Greece.

    Secondly, since the procurement system reshaping in the 80s (the Thatcher/Levine Compete Everything system) the MOD has been mandated to select the cheapest adequate bid no matter where in the world it comes from. Other EU states, notably Germany and France, manage to buy almost exclusively from within their own borders while insisting they comply with the Euro-rules on competition, but the UK does not. So turning on the tap of funding into MOD may well get new kit to the armed forces, but on balance only a small proportion of the orders would result in solid UK investment in jobs & companies. Since we are on a FRES page, the obvious example is “British to its Bootstraps” Scout, which it now turns out will most likely have the hulls manufactured and subsystems bought (and installed?) in Spain, with just a bit of finishing off being done in the UK. The turret is the product of an American corporation in consort with a German turret manufacturer, the gun is a French product, the turret drives are Swiss – in the end I reckon the build of Scout will be as British as was the build of the MAN support trucks. Scout’s development is being funded by UK, but I doubt there are provisions for recovering any of this investment if Scout achieves further international sales.

    So all in all, I suspect the chancellor dare not up defence spending in isolation because of the knock-on demands from other sectors, and even if he did MOD would probably send the cash to overseas corporations.

    I have argued (unsuccessfully) that there should be a mechanism to restrict, or at least apply bias against, buying from non-UK suppliers as a measure to help rebuild the UK export potential. Most of the developed countries manage this; we continue to force the disadvantage upon ourselves in the never-ending quest to prove ourselves ‘fair’. If the government persists in this approach we’ll be the fairest bankrupts of the western world. I have no doubt this self-harming fairness provides huge amusement to other nations, and I for one don’t like being the laughing stock of the UN.

  257. x – ref Saladin – I too see great design factors within the FV600 armoured vehicles, and have applied some of these design ideas to the wheeled armour I have been busy designing.

    Some of the Saladin/Saracen design was – um – not optimum, notably as an example the personnel compartment floor in Saracen is the top of a 200 litre tank of best quality 5-star petrol…

  258. @ Chris

    I pick on the DfID budget because it is an example. The UK has been in debt one way another for a long time. Borrowing and managing debt are a facet of modern statecraft. At the most fundamental level the state exists to provide security. I find it a bit simplistic when some here say we can’t afford. Governments waste billions over and over. Simply saying we can’t afford doesn’t cut it.

    As for vehicle production in the UK. Yes we would struggle with a completely British build. My county is home to Alsthom., but it is also home to JCB. We still build things if we choose. We have that capacity to assemble vehicles. Good design isn’t about building everything domestically, it is about selecting the best components, sub-assemblies, and blending them into a whole that fits the purpose. Good design isn’t always about being brave and striking out aiming for originality for originality’s sake it is about pragmatism. And pragmatism is a form of resource management. For example we spend money a new autocannon when an off the shelf model would have probably done just as well. The former takes resources from other areas (new turret and systems to support it ) too while the latter being a known known. The new gun’s development money would have offset the cost of building a new turret for the known known gun. I don’t care whether the driver’s yoke comes from Milton Keynes or Tokyo, as long as it represents good value, is fit for purpose, and adds to the whole. But there is no reason why all those parts and subassemblies can’t be screwed together in the UK. Or the vehicle designed here. The Canadian Tribal class is one of the best escort designs of the post-WW2 period . The Canadian’s pulled parts of the shelf and blended them. At the same time (give or take) we were building Leanders from stem to stern, hull to engines to electronics to weapons. We have the industrial base to do a Tribal AFV if we don’t have the base to do a Leander; possibly our true position sits somewhere between the two. Something must be wrong with vehicle procurement if a dozen or so diverse personalities on the internet can so easily demolish one of the Army’s major procurement programmes.

  259. x – ref manufacture vs. assemble – I am entirely confident the UK could, if there was evident long term commitment, rebuild its once formidable industrial sector and be competitive. We only need to look across to Germany – a vibrant manufacturing economy producing high quality goods for home & export, while at the same time being one of the most expensive places to perform such work. The pure Keynesian would be unable to understand why all that German manufacturing wasn’t being done in Asia for much less money; the more enlightened would look at the broader landscape and understand making stuff cheap in Asia benefits the West in the short term and Asia in the long term, where maintaining a manufacturing base in-country benefits the home state in the long term.

    I worked for a company that was led by an MD who was by trade an accountant. Each year, to make the accounts look a bit better, the company would sell off assets for extra cash and lose a few staff to reduce costs. On paper, taking an instantaneous view, the company looked profitable. But each year it was smaller and less robust and could achieve less. When he left a businessman took the helm, sought out investment (extra debt on the books – oh no!) and built a thriving business. It grew like topsy. That is the difference between the pure accountant view and the entrepreneurial investment view – some times doing the less cheap thing leads to much greater wealth downstream.

    So I would, if I were in a position so to do, work to get UK manufacture of standard parts under way once more. Unlike you, I would be concerned if the only option for a driver yoke was Japanese – there is no sound reason why the same, similar or better device couldn’t be locally made. But if a company has to set up production for a run of 50 piece-parts but then has no follow-on business it is uneconomic and unsustainable – that is why there needs to be strategic commitment. Note that paying for the training of a hundred or two apprentices when there is no industry for them to slot into does not equal strategic commitment.

  260. Just to come back on the cavalry thing.

    The main function of Calvary is to exceed in mobility the other units of the army.

    Flank protection/ support for infantry and Reccie all require cavalry units to be able to ‘get around quickly and often quietly (well with as little signature as possible). None of this is really possible in a 40 ton tracked tank.

    OK I get that when it gets to where it has got to go, it can take it and dish it out… But it does have to get there…

    if I may paraphrase and old saying about birds and bushes..

    A scorpion covering the cross roads is worth 2 Fres Sv stuck at a bridge 3 miles away…..

    No matter what kind of operation is planned.

    But going with the whole 40 ton thing…

    AMX TANK actually the same size carried in its later incarnations a 120mm gun.. 40 tons for 40mm when its whole reason for being so big is it’s ‘fighting abilities’ is a joke. it should at least be carrying a ‘light gun 105’

  261. What happens when a FRES Scout meeting a T-90 ? I would like a reply from MoD.

  262. TD

    (Places tongue firmly in cheek)..

    Surely its 44 ton -ness protects it from such beasts…

  263. @ Chris

    My point was we already build things. As I said our true position in industrial terms lies between complete manufacture in toto and assembling kits of parts. And I don’t think I said anything about cheapness, I used the word value. If the yoke from Milton Keynes costs £1000 and is riddle with faults and is poor ergonomically and the yoke from Tokyo is robust and better ergonomically yet it costs £1250 it is better value. Always buy British but don’t be a slave to the ideal. We aren’t Germany unfortunately. If we had bought say Bofors 40mm to fit in a British built and designed turret (even if the drives are Swiss!) would it have been better value overall? Not just immediate costs, or through life, but in terms of intangibles? The key to it is all is good design. JCB don’t move product on the back of made in Britain. Of course for there to be good design there has to be a realistic and a well defined user requirement. ASCOD is neither a British design, it doesn’t represent value in terms of British manufacturing, and I am not sure the use knows what it wants. We could do better. And we could afford it as well.

  264. Frenchie – I suspect you know this already… There is always some threat that is an overmatch – something that will defeat the level of protection. If every single threat is countered by a vehicle’s armour then the thing becomes a mobile fort, and probably none too mobile at that. Here’s something like that we made earlier: (Apologies to John Noakes & our Val..)

    At some point the decision must be made that against a specific threat level the armour protection will be overcome. Its not a comfortable decision but a necessary one to ensure the vehicle remains useful against its tactical scenario – if RT needs the attributes of a pedal cycle to get his job done, he must accept every young oik with a catapult could potentially cause him damage. Its not wrong, its just the way it is.

    So there will be threats that could defeat Scout-SV. Those threats will be more powerful than the ones that would defeat CVR(T) but a full-on MBT would survive yet greater threats. Its all down to threat assessments and probabilities. But with greater protection comes greater weight and greater size and more difficulty in manoeuvring in tight confines or over weak structures. The bigger vehicle might also attract hostile action more appropriate to the similar sized MBT if only because there may be incorrect recognition on the part of the opposition forces. If this MBT sized but not MBT armoured vehicle is armed with a medium calibre weapon and not one akin to an MBT fit then it will be powerless to counter attack as well as inadequately armoured to survive.

    But hey MOD think Scout’s just perfect. So that’s all right then.

  265. x – ref “We aren’t Germany” – that’s a relief; those lederhosen look flipping uncomfortable. But there is no good reason why we shouldn’t work to match Germany for manufacturing quality – indeed it could be said that it was the application of British and American industrial technology through the rebuilding of Germany in the 40s and 50s that set them up for their current industrial might. The UK has a choice; it can slink off to the pub and sit in misery complaining over its pint that the world’s all horrid and its all unfair, or it can set itself the goal to work harder to get back into the top rank of the industrial nations. I know which future I prefer.

  266. @Chris: I must admit the addition of a few antitank missiles for self defence wouldn’t go amiss. LOSAT actually entered service, but CKEM was cancelled. Pity, as the latter would have been perfect as a simple but powerful antitank option.

  267. wf – I fitted Eurospike LR to my vehicles for that very reason. They really are very good you know…

  268. @ Chris

    I am very well aware the German Miracle didn’t manifest itself out of a vacuum. As I pointed out recently here in the latest Trident thread in the immediate post-WW2 era a lot of UK expertise went into the German automotive industry while our own domestic industry was left to free wheel. We do a lot of niche world class engineering in the UK, like motor racing, but as a trading nation we would be wrong not to leverage that to gain value so we can regain ground in terms of high end manufacturing. I think we are basically arguing for the same thing. I think what is missing is leadership both in terms of direction and in protecting British industry. As you say the Continentals manage to pull off this trick. There is something wrong when a country can build nuclear submarines yet cannot rehash what is basically a generic design for AFV to suit modern needs, materials, and processes. Or even worse can come up with vehicles like Foxhound and yet can’t translate that success across to meet a related requirement in the same sphere. Compare CVF with QM2 in terms of hull and propulsion.

  269. IXION, which AMX? There were a few types.

    As for everyone who wants a 120mm on a 20-30 ton vehicle, you got to be a bit careful there, think you are working right on the edge of practical usage, so there is a higher chance that the project might end up a lemon.

    We did try a US Thunderbolt gun system on our IFVs, but it came to naught, the stresses involved in the gun caused fatigue we were not comfortable with. Of course, this is not a catchall scenario, maybe with some design trickery, someone might be able to reduce the firing stress, or you could say “damn the turret ring, fire till the barrel glows!!” and accept the fatigue on the hulls as the price of business, but as I mentioned, it would be cutting very close to the corner.

  270. I can’t say I’m impressed by where we are today with FRES SV and the other armoured vehicles generally, but I don’t share the view of some people above that we’d be better off pulling the plug on SV.
    I think the reality is that we have come too far, and resetting the programme to zero with no vehicle in the frame would be insane.

    Do we need to spend all that money on the Warrior turrets though? As long as they’re kept running, can’t they soldier on with a 30mm pop gun. I accept the 40CTA as preferable if we’re buying a new vehicle, but we’re not.
    The three sabre squadrons in the tank regiments presupposes three mechanized battle groups per brigade, with eighteen 120mm guns each; so it’s not as if those Warriors would be completely unprotected when deployed.

  271. x – ref British industrial capability – we are in full agreement. Given the right nurturing environment we’d be off like a greyhound from the traps.

    Interesting you should cite Foxhound as an example though – it started (as Ocelot) just a few miles along the coast from here at Ricardo’s – they defined the mechanical configuration and basic layout. Then it became a JV with Force Protection who I guess wanted to bolster their presence here as the provider of Mastiff’s base vehicle, the Cougar. Then GD bought Force Protection. I doubt Foxhound is now a joint venture of equals; I’d bet Ricardo lost all rights to Ocelot when GD moved in. So while the genesis of Foxhound was as British as Roast Beef, it has ended up as American as Mom’s Apple Pie. Gosh. Like that’s ever happened before…

    Foxhound then was bought by GD. Jackal started as HMT unarmoured high mobility truck at Supacat, now HMT and all its patents belong to Lockheed. Chobham armour designed at RARDE Chertsey was gifted by UK government to US DoD in thanks for some favour or other. Not that that mattered because – well, because of this: GKN bought Glover Webb; Alvis bought GKN and Hagglunds; Alvis bought Vickers (who had bought Reumech OMC in South Africa and who were the owner in the UK of Chobham armour IPR). In the mean time Vickers Shipbuilding (VSEL) was soaked into GEC. Royal Ordnance was bought by British Aerospace. GEC took over BAe and renamed itself BAE Systems. BAE Systems swallowed Alvis-Vickers so now owned all UK armoured vehicle producers except Penmans and the uparmouring companies like Permali, NP Aerospace and Jankel. I recall the arguments that raged when Alvis-Vickers became the target of two competing take-over bids. A huge amount of don’t-let-the-Americans-steal-our-heritage scaremongering was issued from BAE and spat in GD’s direction (the other bidder); how GD would asset strip the fine British companies, how they would steal the designs back to the States and close everything down over here, how they would turn these proud British companies into satellites of the American corporation – even the publicised stuff was pretty fierce; you can imagine the arguments used behind closed doors were stronger by far. BAE played the Britishness card like they were the last remaining bastion of British engineering. Then BAE Systems bought United Defense which as the supplier of Bradley IFV was pretty big, and immediately put all the UK BAE armoured vehicle businesses under the management of the new BAE Systems Land Systems organisation (ex-United Defense) in Pennsylvania. So within months of the take-over they had blithely sent control of the ex-Alvis-Vickers company across the Atlantic. What was it they said about the GD bid?

    I hear things have got better inside the remnants of the Alvis-Vickers organisation (much smaller than it was when taken over, now centred at the old GKN site in Telford) and that there is a genuine feel of ‘Britishness’ there once again, despite the American reporting chain. For the sakes of all their heritage I hope so.

  272. BB – its a sad indictment of the situation if the only good reason for putting Scout into service is that its gone too far to do anything else.

    I will repeat what I said much earlier – I don’t doubt ASCOD Scout will be a competent vehicle; I am sure the Army will find roles it can perform, and that in some situations it will be the ideal tool for the job. But its cost a King’s ransom, its just like Warrior, and if nothing is brought in at the light armour end of the spectrum I think the Army loses a valuable capability.

    I expect some number of Scouts will be delivered if only to prevent the media spinning off into fits of righteous indignation at another procurement disaster. I just hope there’s a few pound notes left in the coffers to bring in some proper CVR(T)-like vehicles too…

  273. @Mike W

    Yes, you’re absolutely right to point out the inconsistency of my comments. If our Warriors and CVR(T)s are worn out, we should replace them. Or else, choose to delay replacing them until such time that we can do so properly. What we definitely shouldn’t do is adopt a half-assed solution that wastes a lot of money and achieves what we all seem to agree is a thoroughly compromised military capability.

    Since we don’t have the money to invest in new military vehicles, or rather that the Government has chosen to prioritise defence cuts over welfare / benefits cuts, we have no alternative but to take a ‘capability holiday’. We have to hope that no major threat evolves into a full-scale conflict. And we will have to pass on expeditionary police actions to places like Iraq, Afghanistan, Egypt and Syria.

    Perhaps we can accept that the current economic situation is an extreme situation that requires extreme measures, but once we get into the habit of adopting ‘capability holidays’ we can easily lull ourselves into a false sense of national security.

    Patching-up worn-out vehicles and supplementing them with a cheap off-the-shelf buy of a non-role specific vehicle and pretending this is a world-class solution is absurd. Indeed, an army without decent armoured vehicles is as useless as an air force without aircraft etc.


    No, I mean an army without a flexible mix of heavy, medium and light armoured vehicles appropriate to the range of roles / tasks that best match the mix of likely threat scenarios.


    I’m a great fan of 8×8 APCs. They have excellent protection and mobility. he ability to deploy fully-resourced infantry units of varying sizes independently across great distances is a massive increase in an army’s combat capability. Unfortunately, When you specify an 8×8 with the threshold level of mine protection the British Army now seems to think is mandatory, this puts them in the 30 tonne class. They’re big vehicles.

    I think smaller 6x6s could be a useful alternative. I don’t like the RG35, because I don’t think it is a good enough design. It cannot provide the same level of cross-country mobility as an RG41. A purpose-designed 6×6 that could carry 8-10 men would be ideal.

    In terms of preferring 8x8s to 6x6s, we simply don’t have enough vehicles of all types that meet the minimum protection standard. We have about 1,000 in total including MBTs, IFVs, MRAPs and so on. We need about 3,000. If adopting a 6×6 gets us more vehicles then go for it. BUT IT MUST BE UP TO THE JOB IN TERMS OF CAPACITY, PROTECTION AND MOBILITY. It annoys me beyond all description when the Government pretends the Army doesn’t need a decent level of protected mobility if it is deploy effectively to where it is needed.

    As Jed suggests in his article, the entire role that FRES Scout SV is intended to perform seems confused if not il-defined. At best, FRES SV appears to be an IFV without the Infantry in a vehicle that is indistinguishable from Warrior. As you say, it is too heavy. At worst, it is a light tank with no protection and no firepower that will be treated like an MBT and be more vulnerable.

    I think it has to be possible to design a small agile recce vehicle that provides sufficient protection that weighs between 10 and 20 tonnes.

  274. The recce vehicle you’re looking for, Monty, is the EBRC 40mm that’s been mentioned by a few people. No need to spend ten years and my hard earned taxes designing another new thing.

    The French start taking EBRC and VBRM around 2018 I think, which is even right for us. There’ll be no money allocated for new Army vehicles before 2015, and it would be nice to see a few before 2020.

  275. Monty – I can offer best of both worlds to you – how does a 15t 8×8 for 8 dismounts sound?

    BB – I looked into EBRC & VBRM expecting to find which vehicles were on trials. I did find this: – a nice picture. Now of course I like a good picture like the next man but its a way off deployable assets. The competition is far from settled – the Panhard EBRC contender Sphinx has been mentioned much in the comments above, but Nexter (ex-GIAT) and Renault are competing too. Similarly VBRM has many bids. Renault seem to have an 8×8 VAB derived vehicle on really big tyres; Nexter XP2 in shape looks remarkably like a full-armoured Stalwart with three axles close together under the centre of the hull and longer than looks stable angled overhangs each end. I imagine this one might pitch more than is comfortable. All the VBMR I can find share the same approach of cutting armoured wheelarches into a box body, which will make their blast protection more of a challenge and no doubt quite heavy. Anyway. All I can say at the moment is that the ultimate shape of these two vehicle programmes is by no means decided yet. In five years time maybe it will all be settled. On the other hand, in the five years from 2004 to 2009 our FRES moved from 15t to 32t+ and from Stormer size to Warrior size – very difficult predicting what the future holds.

    And ref don’t “spend ten years and my hard earned taxes designing another new thing” – I have spent 3 years and my hard earned savings doing it for you instead. I trust that makes you feel better?

  276. ST for Jutland, wasn’t the main problem not the ships, but bad ammo handling protocol and bad ammo? Most ammo handlers left the blast doors open to facilitate faster ammo transfer, which cost them when they took a hit, all the stored ammo went up at once. As for the bad ammo, it explains itself. Shoot the enemy with rounds that don’t hurt them while they shoot you with ammo that works, getting killed is only a matter of time.

    On the other hand, the comparison is not right. FRES should not be thought of as battleships or battlecruisers but the destroyers and torpedo boats that scouted and fought between the big guns. Remember, the Home Fleet could not finish off the Germans due to a screen of torpedos fired by the destroyers caused them to flinch to avoid damage. That is the FRES’s job, a skimish screen.

  277. Evil person that I am, I’m going to point out another point of worry on the FRES.

    If FRES is supposed to last 30 years, can it catch up to the armour/firepower race that is currently taking place?

    Most IFVs are reported and published to be able to resist 30mm fire. Then the 40mm CTA came in. Now, 40mm resistance is the goal of medium armour resistance. And ATK is coming up with the Bushmaster II 50mm. Want to bet that the next milestone is 50mm resistance and someone is going to come up with a 60mm?

    In 30 years time, can the FRES be able to cope with the additional armour and/or bigger guns that seem to be in a race to drive each other out of business?

    On the bright side, 10 more tons and you are into (soviet) MBT weight territory, which should give you the excuse of being able to design “mini-MBTs” for scouting. :)

  278. @ Chris

    Currently the VBMR is pushed to 2018, so the EBRC would arrive to 2022. You have the time.
    And you’re right, none of these vehicles exists, Sphinx is just a nice toy, for the moment.

  279. Obs – an argument I see that is perched firmly upon the very modern idea that protection must be absolute and unbeatable. I refer you to the image of the mobile concrete pill-box (link at July 31, 4:34). Somewhere along the line there has been a fundamental shift in priorities (and I suspect this was led by politicians and media, not sound military need).

    Equipment was at one time bought to satisfy a military objective. That was the priority. And the Army as a whole was shaped and scaled in harmony with the required capability of the day. As an example I draw your attention back to Scorpion and its CVR(T) siblings. These were light and agile and armoured – against small-arms fire and little more. At the time of their design and deployment there were tanks with big guns, there were shoulder launched AT missiles, there were AT mines. And yet, to retain manoeuvrability and agility and small size and stealth the armour was not 150mm thick. The right level of protection, according to the threat assessment of the time, was ‘light’ to enable the required military capability.

    Now we look at modern procurements and we find that nothing is permitted to outrank protection. Certainly not the military need. So we will have fleets of 40t, 50t, 60t armoured boxes that heave themselves across open terrain drinking fuel faster than a student can drink alcopops (that’s really really fast) and finding their access severely limited by normal bridges, narrow streets, width of mountainside trackways etc etc. What brought this fundamental change of priorities then? Could it possibly be that the armed forces and the government are running scared of the inevitable legal action if someone thinks more should have been done under the duty of care? And of the associated media outcry and loss of votes? It must be so. Because all of the threats we currently worry about existed to an extent 50 years ago – its not that the threat has suddenly become much greater, but that the military commanders no longer dare put the military objective ahead of the absolute protection of every soldier under their command.

    I’m not sure this is the right direction – don’t get me wrong I think our armed forces deserve the best protection we can give them, but not at the expense of their ability to act fast and decisively. You might argue by slowing the military effect with the deployment of heavyweight equipment, the opposition may get the upper hand and casualties may end up worse due to the deployment of heavy protection. That would be a bizarre result. You might then wonder if all the lawyers that snapped at the heels of the military forcing the change of emphasis would accept their culpability in the matter. No of course they wouldn’t – how stupid of me – lawyers are of course above the law.

    But we have gone full circle and are back with RT’s arguments that from a military perspective, to get his job done, the last thing he needed was an obvious MBT-sized APC in which to travel. Not being seen or heard was much preferable. As a man on a bicycle RT would probably not call in devastating enemy fire, where the tank sized wagon well might.

    Back then Obs to your point – yes weapons will exist that can overpower today’s armour – we can choose to go either way; either continue to thicken the hide of every vehicle (and armour all HQ, and all field hospitals, and all REME workshops and all helicopters etc etc etc) or change tack and determine what level of military punch and agility we need to force the tempo of operations with a view to suppressing opposition as fast and as thoroughly as possible. A simple choice to make then. In my opinion.

  280. Chris, good points on the evolution of vote scaring, while democracy has been a good form of government, sometimes you just have to wonder if it is that good a decision making process.

    There is also a change in the way NATO, which was the main weapons setting criteria in the 70s and 80s, was expected to operate. Then, NATO was seen as a defensive alliance against the Red Hordes, which meant that their equipment was sometimes designed to be “dug in”, for example the S-Tank which was basically designed to fight “hull down”. In cases like that, armour won’t matter too much in defilade as you got the whole hill to act as your armour. However, post 1990s, it seems like most of the allied equipment ended up in situations that require them to attack instead of defend, which meant they suddenly needed more armour as they were no longer defensive units.

    Light units, I can still see their usage as support weapons for an “infantry first” situation as armour is less vulnerable to damage in cases like that. In an “armour first” situation, it might be more advisable to let the FRES and MBTs take the lead. Come to think of it, these light tanks, were they not developed to support airmobile light infantry formations in the first place? Which meant they were designed for “infantry first” in the first place, not armoured mobile warfare.

  281. I’m definitely pleased you’re spending your savings on your developments, Chris. Spend a bit more please, it’s not yet trickled down to my tax bill. :)

  282. BB – worryingly “a bit more” is all that’s left (gulp!)

    Obs – I wasn’t there so this observation carries a ‘may be complete garbage’ warning, but I was under the impression that CVR(T) was bought and fielded specifically to trundle forward of all else, to make best use of available cover, to observe and report opposition movements and forces, and to skirmish only if necessary. I didn’t think it was intended to hang back with the Regiments of Foot? No doubt once in service new ways of utilizing the asset would have been determined. Like I said, I may be completely wrong…

  283. Is there much use in having a scout vehicle that can cross bridges that its supporting tanks can’t, can go down alleyways (!!) that its supporting tanks can’t, and can slip along mountain tracks that its supporting tanks can’t.

    Or in other words, would not the commander of the armoured brigade point out to his recce subordinates that the tanks are unlikely to be heading in direction x, because the tanks can’t go there anyway. If there is a river crossing planned, would not the scouts assess in advance the suitability of the bridges up ahead, and if necessary take a bridging unit with them?

    Seems like we’re making problems that the actual units are unlikely to encounter themselves.

  284. Chris, you have to ask RT, but my impression was that the CVR-Ts were mobile support for infantry in doctrinal usage.

    Chris B, that was the point I was making for some people who wanted a light recon screen to cross bridges. One of the main role for the close tank screen is route proving for follow on MBTs, which makes no sense if they wandered off where the MBTs can’t follow. When you are attached for exercises, you actually find out what the scouts are for when you have to inform the scout commander “Sorry, bridge blown.” when he finally turns up.

  285. Again, RT or Monty would be able to answer but from a logical position, extra mobility for your recce units is a plus because it improves your ability to locate, identify and prove routes (bridges etc) for the larger vehicles, less accessible routes can be used to provide access, get in advantageous positions and generally make better use of terrain. Just because a CR2 cannot cross bridge A does not mean there is no advantage to the recce vehicle using it, far from it I would imagine.

    Surely route proving is just one of their numerous tasks

    The thought of recce units needing bridging support just seems daft, as does limiting themselves to Class 70 routes

  286. Well, that is the problem. Armoured scouts are not recce in what people commonly think of the term. Before they even go into the field, the SAS/LURPs and Brigade Recce would have already deployed in depth and set up to monitor the areas, armoured recce or armoured scouts as I prefer to call them to differentiate the roles, are the final line of “recce”, where their role are really beaters to flush out game for the main force, not explorers.

    Think the maximum limit that a scout screen extends from the main MBT body is only 8km. Not really a long range exploration distance is that, 8km?

  287. Chris


    “Now we look at modern procurements and we find that nothing is permitted to outrank protection. Certainly not the military need. So we will have fleets of 40t, 50t, 60t armoured boxes that heave themselves across open terrain drinking fuel faster than a student can drink alcopops (that’s really really fast) and finding their access severely limited by normal bridges, narrow streets, width of mountainside trackways etc etc. What brought this fundamental change of priorities then? Could it possibly be that the armed forces and the government are running scared of the inevitable legal action if someone thinks more should have been done under the duty of care? And of the associated media outcry and loss of votes? It must be so. Because all of the threats we currently worry about existed to an extent 50 years ago – its not that the threat has suddenly become much greater, but that the military commanders no longer dare put the military objective ahead of the absolute protection of every soldier under their command.”

    Yes, Chris, there might be much in your argument but if cast your mind back a few years to the campaign in Afghanistan, you will remember the time when we were haemorrhaging soldiers to IEDs (and losing them from a small Army). I use the term “haemorrhaging” advisedly – and such losses were unacceptable. That was in the days of the Snatch Land Rover and obviously something had to be done. It was done, not merely as a result of the public outrage and media outcry but to cut down the carnage. So we ended up with the behemoths (Mastiffs etc.) and had to wait some time before something like the optimum patrol vehicle (I think we all hope that the Foxhound will be just such a vehicle) appeared on the scene.

    I cannot blame those in charge of vehicle procurement at that time. Vehicles such as Mastiff and Ridgback must have saved hundreds, if not thousands, of lives in their time and there are some very grateful soldiers around who will vouch for that. That is not to say that I do not also think there is a lot in your argument. However, those were (and are still) very exceptional conditions in Afghanistan.

  288. @ Observer,

    doctrinally, in the UK we have

    Long Range recconaissance (mostly SF, the Pathfinders etc)

    Formation Recconnaissance / used to be called medium recce. That’s what I did. We’d not normally expect to work with the Brigades (with some exceptions – UKMF and the AMF, for example) – we were a Divisional asset. We might be reasonably expected to go out to 100 kilometres, but more often a bit less. At one point in Gulf 1 were were so far ahead of the main forces we had to take our own MLRS launchers with us – I think that was about 100 kms.

    Battle Group Reconnaissance, which did work with the BGs, and about 5 kilometres was about their maximum range. Someone told me that figure was settled on because it was the range of 81mm mortars, which every BG had.

    Close Recconnaissance, where you sneak up to plant a listening device and hid in the hedge watching a terrorist. Dismounted infantry did that, but in very high risk areas it’s the job of SF (including the Special Recce Regiment).

    There also used to be aviation reconnaissance – helicopters within the medium recce regiments. Now a Gazelle 2020 could be a decent solution as part of the FRES SV mix….

    Chris, all that proves is that there are a lot of philistines about. I stopped wearing them in Spain after a friend of Mrs RT told me the reason I got odd looks is that they were the preferred legwear of the Falangists who become pretty unpopular for being fascists.

  289. Mike – I have no argument against any of your words. As you state, something had to be done as a matter of urgency. I hope you noted I have said I believe our forces deserve the best protection we can give (although I believe the military need ought to come first – Mastiff certainly protected, but its limited mobility probably hampered action in more than a few situations) But we are in familiar territory here – you note that Herrick was (we hope) an exceptional situation. And yet it has and is shaping the Army’s equipment plans as if this is the way it will be from now on. This is what’s so familiar – assuming all future conflict will be exactly the same as the last war we fought, even though history shows each conflict in the past has been quite different from its predecessor. I argue for a bit of forethought to maximize flexibility within the inventory precisely because we don’t know what the tactical needs will be next time around.

  290. Ref: “But we have gone full circle and are back with RT’s arguments that from a military perspective, to get his job done, the last thing he needed was an obvious MBT-sized APC in which to travel. Not being seen or heard was much preferable.”

    And yet we have moved on, and the bad guys might spot RT’s infra-red signature as he works up a sweat on his bike, it’s frame will show up on milli-meter wave radar, the sound of the frame creaking is just as detectable to directional mic’s as the clanking of a Chally 2 ‘s tracks (at shorter range though obviously) and if he transmits his finding’s over anything other than micro-burst satcom the bad guys have a chance of hearing him and DF’ing him (scarily quickly too !).

    RT himself above re-inforces the point I have constantly tried to make, we have many “recce” tools and as we are famous for our task organized flexibility we pick the right one for the right job – plus, once again, Armoured Cav does not simply equal Recce…….

    RT – ref Gazelle 2020 – it’s called the Wildcat :-)

  291. @ Jed / others.

    not quite sure how I am becoming the bicycle recce man, although if it does the job, don’t knock it. Didn’t the Japs use bicycle recce to sneak up on us in Singapore, in the Second War?

    (Actually, I have done bicycle recce, although only on an exercise. Back in the Cold War, the Boxheads had a rule that no tracked vehicle movement was permitted at weekends, and I did borrow a bike to have a bit of a bimble past OPFOR’s positions on Sunday, pretending to be any normal mountain biker, and then we hit them about a minute after midnight on Monday morning).

    I am also unsure how to take your comment about me being one among many recce “tools”. I think we need a duel for that grossly defamatory comment. :)

    If I ever win the lottery (unlikely as I never do it, it seeming to me to be merely a tax on mathematically challenged people), I am very definitely going to buy myself a Chenowth Desert Strike Vehicle, as well as a house in Arizona or Texas where I can legally buy some outrageous weapon and drive at high speed across vast swathes of empty country.

  292. @ RT

    I quite agree with you, a Recce Regiment is not used to do I don’t know what role like Bradley, it is used to make observation, it is the eyes and ears of the armoured regiment, in France it’s the VBL of 3,5 tons doing this work, in the USMC it’s a LAV of 15 tons. We must take the risk of losing men, the risk zero does not exist, the MoD does not understand this.

  293. Jed/all – ref “we have many “recce” tools and as we are famous for our task organized flexibility we pick the right one for the right job” – I fear we are at risk of having a heated agreement! Oh no!

    All along there has been a broad push from us commenters to get all sorts of assets available for recce (and other tasks). This is where I think we have been having an impassioned agreement – for example my issue is that smaller CVR(T) will go from the ORBAT (a hole) and Scout will arrive, not filling the hole but sitting on Warrior’s shoulders instead. Two very similar scale tools and a hole. Not a bright idea, in my opinion. Many other posts question the logic of spending on Warrior upgrade and similar Scout at the same time – one or the other, please. And, oh Ministry, please don’t leave a CVR(T)/432 shaped hole in the Army. Thank you.

    RT – ref snurgly cyclo-recce on the Sunday – not exactly cricket, old boy?! Reminds me of the quote from Admiral Sir Arthur Wilson on the sneaky newfangled submersibles of 1900: “underhand, unfair, and damned un-English!” But it did make me chuckle – did you ever own up to the extra-mural scouting?

  294. @RT – I believe the association between Red Trousering and the right-wing views in Spain goes back beyond Franco and the Falange, all the way to the Carlist Wars, the first of which started in the 1830s, the second in the 1840s and the third (an obvious precursor to the Spanish Civil War) in the 1870s…you would need to check with Mrs R. Trousers or one of the in-laws about the details.

    They also saw the first extensive use of the (Basque) beret in military uniform…often in red as well…and in the large floppy style now favoured by the Chasseur-Alpin; I have a cheering vision of you on bicycle reconnaissance thus attired…

    I’d be happy to second you if you feel the need to take the Field of Honour against Jed…I wonder if he is familiar with your approach to these matters


  295. @RT

    Looks like we are in a similar line of work, though my range was about 60km. That limit was set by a “safe estimate” distance for our comms.

    Knew that the scout screen worked very close to the battlegroup, hope the point that they don’t go beyond 5-8km from the MBTs lets others understand that the recce/cav vehicles are not really an independent raiding force but are nailed to a specific object (the battlegroup), so they don’t really wander into inaccessible places too often.

    Would love to go desert racing on a light strike too. Pity all they gave me was a dinky little bike. Still lots of fun, Shoalwater Bay, Australia. Heading there again soon.

    Jed, doesn’t it take 20 sec to DF a radio source? A SF guy I know (SEAL) told me that if they needed pickup but was lost, they got on the radio and counted from one to ten, then ten to one and that was enough to get a fix on their location.

  296. @Chris

    “But we are in familiar territory here – you note that Herrick was (we hope) an exceptional situation. And yet it has and is shaping the Army’s equipment plans as if this is the way it will be from now on. This is what’s so familiar – assuming all future conflict will be exactly the same as the last war we fought, even though history shows each conflict in the past has been quite different from its predecessor. I argue for a bit of forethought to maximize flexibility within the inventory precisely because we don’t know what the tactical needs will be next time around.”

    Wouldn’t argue with a word of that either. We can’t simply fight the last war. The reason why Herrick is shaping the Army’s equipment plans now is, it seems to me, purely financial. We simply have no money left to purchase new equipment of the kind that would provide your “flexibility”. You can thank the last lot of clowns in office for that. Thankfully, under more sensible policies, the economy seems to be improving. (There was a report in the press yesterday that three of the country’s top economists believe that the country has turned the corner and claim that the economy has reached, or is about to reach, “escape velocity” – the level at which a recovery is self-sustaining. Here’s hoping but such words as “chickens” and “hatched” keep recurring to me).

    The ideal solution would be of course to buy your more “flexible” new vehicles and to keep an adequate reserve of a few hundred Mastiffs, Ridgbacks, Warthogs, etc. against another Herrick-type COIN contingency arising. There simply ain’t the dosh to do this – yet!

  297. RT – a real duel with a Cavalry type – Superb, if only we lived in the same country. Rapier or Side Sword Sir ? Only to first blood obviously !

    Look up “The Duellists” on YouTube if you have never seen the movie …….


  298. RT said “(Actually, I have done bicycle recce, although only on an exercise. Back in the Cold War, the Boxheads had a rule that no tracked vehicle movement was permitted at weekends, and I did borrow a bike to have a bit of a bimble past OPFOR’s positions on Sunday, pretending to be any normal mountain biker, and then we hit them about a minute after midnight on Monday morning).”

    It was for telling that story why you became BR Man………….

  299. X,

    well, possibly. I’m a “means fit the ends” type of fellow. Couldn’t give two hoots about the kit, only what you can do with it.

    I think Combat Recce Bike (Wheeled) should however be made of carbon fibre, and have the world’s sexiest Italian groupset on it, and a hand-tooled leather saddle. I have bought a bike from the lower end of a small Italian manufacturer’s catalogue (not being able to justify more than £1,000 on pushing my now middle aged frame around on Cambridgeshire’s roads****. However, you “could” spend about £8,000 on their top of the range model, which seemed to be more attractive than most non-Mrs RT women. Even the photography was quite sexy.

    But then the MoD would cock it all up, and demand that CRB(W) also have to have mountain bike tyres and suspension, and the stupid little electric battery assist motor, and be able to cross fords of 5 metres deep, and deflect 12.7mm rounds, etc, etc. And the lovely little carbon fibre supermodel would turn into Rosa Klebb.

    **** And on a weekend away in the Quantocks, I managed to scare myself stupid coming down the hill from Raleigh’s Cross back towards Taunton. Average gradient 10%, but at one point 17% and it just goes pretty much straight down. Jesus fucking Christ. The brakes were smoking, and I was still doing over 40 on skinny little 23mm tyres.

  300. @Jed – I feel I should advise you that @RT’s ideas about duelling include a sniper team at 500 metres…I had the same discussion with him a few days ago..!


  301. When it comes to dueling I am with Sir Rodney Efffing, when it comes to choice of weapons

    ‘Lets not quible, you can have the sword I’ll have the pistols”

  302. ST: Storr’s argument is weird. The three British battlecruisers sunk at Jutland were all sunk in actions with Hipper’s battlecruisers, not with the battle line.

  303. Mike W – ref there isn’t the dosh – By my reckoning the base ASCOD derived Scout vehicle less weapons & electronic wizardry add-ins ought to be priced at £1.2m each (generic 35t APC average). Weapons comms and add-ins rumoured to double that. But let’s say the decision has been made to really stack the vehicle with control node autonomous image analysis APU satellite link kitchen sink uncle tom cobbly and all just because there are too few to be sure they will operate cooperatively, then we can suggest a lighter equipment fit would be rational for vehicles fielded in greater density – reasonable? I’m going to suggest the weapon simpler comms and simpler electronics fit might come down to £700k – pure guesswork as I have no inside knowledge (nor could I broadcast it even if I had, obviously). Looking to lighter platform cost, a 15t generic vehicle ought to be priced around the £550k mark (funny old thing but there is a very solid correlation between weight and cost when it comes to armour, no matter how carefully the costs are built up). So you might reasonably assume you could buy two fully equipped 15t vehicles for the cost of one Scout. So if you reduce the Scout order quantity you have an opportunity to purchase many other vehicles to work with them. You might, for example, determine the correct troop to be one big heavy Scout, three smaller agile turreted vehicles and one agile armoured support vehicle with dismounts/relief personnel spare ammunition possibly even extra fuel. That’s a decision for the army not me, but its just an indication of how flexibility might be built into the force structure.

    I am, I must admit, a fan of numerical advantage. I know I mentioned this on another thread recently but I’ll stick it here too – you could justifiably argue that PzKw VI Tiger was a much better armoured and armed tank than T-34/76, although the T-34 had the better mobility. In terms of a toe-to-toe fight, the Tiger would be a clear winner every time, if only because it could engage accurately and be sure of knocking out the T-34 at three times the range at which T-34 had a chance of disabling Tiger. And yet at Kursk the Red Army T-34s beat von Manstein’s Tigers into a pulp. All down to numerical advantage. Similarly Montgomery held back his attack on Rommel’s forces in North Africa until he was sure he had a crushing numerical advantage in armour. Again the British cruiser tanks and Matildas, and the US built M3s that the Eighth Army were supplied with, were probably less capable one-on-one with the Panzer III and Panzer IV that filled Rommel’s lines. Obviously there were many other factors involved but numerical advantage was one of the ‘must-haves’ in Monty’s plans. When it comes to a bit of fisticuffs between opposing armour, having more platforms than the opposition is a good thing. I assume the reason is just that fighting vehicles must necessarily concentrate on targets one by one, so while they are busy trying to defeat one scurrying enemy, another may be manoeuvring into a winning position unchallenged. No doubt those skilled in the art can shoot my theory down in flames, but the fact remains that the numbers game seems to work.

    As an illustration…

  304. @ Chris

    I don’t think that the problem is to buy two vehicles with the price of a FRES Scout, but mostly what is the mission of a scout vehicle.

  305. Frenchie – I don’t see the two aspects as separate – the number of assets available will influence the docrine and roles, and the desired roles and nominal mission capabilities will influence the numbers of assets required. At the moment, I suspect due to the pretty severe budget constraints UK forces are more guided by the ever smaller numbers of assets (equipment and personnel alike) than they are by fine theoretical doctrine. Hence we find video clips of soldiers putting on a brave face and trying to be enthusiastic that their Scimitars had just been replaced with LandRover WMIK, which they were “really excited to have” they said. So that was at least one corner of the Army being forced to change their methods doctrine and mission because vehicle numbers were reduced. See as evidence.

    The opposite of course would happen if numbers of good fighty vehicles increased – the concepts of operation, employment & use would change to make best advantage from the new assets.

  306. Chris, cost numbers are a very low, 1.2M is vehicle only, these things tend to come with a maintenance contract too, need to approximately double the price. More vehicles is nice to have, but the Army just downsized, where are you going to get the manpower to man the things, or support them?

    And they may be smaller, but 2x the vehicles is 2x the logstics, you have to do repairs on every one of the vehicles every time you use them, armour is notorious for being cranky like that, and your stock of spares need to double, even if they are smaller, they still use one engine a piece, and 30-40 rounds of ammo, 10 road wheels, 2 drive wheels, one co-ax etc.

    The UK currently simply don’t have the cash to play the numbers game.

  307. Obs – Aw! Stop using real facts to counter theory and opinion! That’s not fair!

    (I do have a few counter-arguments but its MOD that needs to hear & assess them; not to my advantage posting them here – hope you understand)

  308. Chris – The soldiers have no choice but to be happy with their equipment, it’s like soldiers said their jackals had the firepower of a challenger. A FRES SV will not cross a bridge in Africa, it looks like it was necessary to give a vehicle to the army and the MoD has chosen the safety of the crew, not doctrine.
    It is paradoxical with the choice of the jackal, and it is very strange with your example of the land rover, your MoD is crazy.

  309. Chris

    Sorry, have only just seen this.

    “So you might reasonably assume you could buy two fully equipped 15t vehicles for the cost of one Scout.” and “So if you reduce the Scout order quantity you have an opportunity to purchase many other vehicles to work with them.”

    I’m no expert in the matter of figures but one thing I would imagine to be true is that you could gain many more smaller vehicles in the inventory if you reduced the number of Scouts. Instead, however, of altering the composition of the troop, could not the alterations be made to the make-up of the squadron, or even to the regiment? e.g. You could have two troops of heavier Scout, then two troops each of lighter vehicles in each squadron or, alternatively, two squadrons of Scout plus one of lighter vehicles in your recce regiment. I think at one point recently, the British Army was thinking along these lines recently when talking about mixing the heavier FRES with the lighter Jackal in some combinations, the details of which I can’t remember exactly.

    Like you, I am a fan of numerical advantage:

    “And yet at Kursk the Red Army T-34s beat von Manstein’s Tigers into a pulp. All down to numerical advantage.”

    Yes, I think I saw a TV documentary on that very subject recently. Might even be the subject of your “youtube” video, which I have not had a chance to watch yet.!

  310. Mike W – I thought about segregated vehicle type squadrons, but it struck me that 1) with segregated vehicle units in a limited deployment only one type or the other might make it to theatre, reducing that warm fuzzy flexibility, 2) that between the different segregated type units there might (would!) be a culture of isolationism – ‘don’t want to talk to that lot over there; they’re different!’ and ‘we are the proper recce sqn, not like that lot over there’ etc, 3) if each deployable element used all the different platforms as a cohesive unit then that unit would be more likely to exploit each platform’s advantages to the full, and 4) in a mixed platform unit, training would always involve the full set of platforms ensuring everyone knows what the other platforms’ strengths roles and duties are.

    There are disadvantages too, for example more platforms on deployment means more platforms to support. I conveniently made an assumption this wouldn’t be a problem (!!!)

  311. Chris

    Thanks very much for your reply. Your thinking makes sense to me. I just wish I could remember the arrangement the British Army was thinking about approximately a year ago. Still, maybe it will come back to me.

  312. Interesting to note at the end of Monty’s comment of August 2, 2013 at 8:59 pm on the Colt Canada upgrade thread, the last thought is that by keeping different calibre machine guns the Army is provided the choice to use whichever weapon is best to achieve a sound result in the given scenario. Which is pretty well the same argument on this thread – best to keep a range of size/weight/mobility/firepower options in the vehicle fleet so the Army always has the right size vehicle for the job at hand.

    Over the years I heard a lot of talk about capability gap analysis – it seems we here on TD’s invitation have all been doing that on behalf of HMG over the past days/months/years – I wonder if HMG has been listening…

  313. Chris

    “Which is pretty well the same argument on this thread – best to keep a range of size/weight/mobility/firepower options in the vehicle fleet so the Army always has the right size vehicle for the job at hand.”

    Now that might very well come into conflict with TD’s celebrated “ruthless commonality” philosophy! But yes, I agree with you on the whole.

    Yes, it would be nice to know how many of the top/influential/decision-making Civil Service mandarins and Government officials/politicians read this site and whether it influences them. I think it must affect the thinking of some of them some of the time. Hope so!

  314. Mike W – ref coming into conflict with TD’s ruthless commonality drive – I can’t force other organisations into commonality of components, but I have been draconian in applying commonality to all my own designs. Whereas others (mentioning no names but think big corporations) approach commonality from the position of a single design of platform fitted with many payloads, I define commonality in terms of sub-systems and components and logistic support and maintenance and training. So despite the collection of designs covering a broad range of wheeled vehicles from 4×4 to 10×10 and tracked vehicles of differing size, the bits inside and the logistic tail and the training etc etc are common as far as the core structure of the vehicle permits.

    Blatant pitch warning – the way to increase commonality is to fill the ORBAT with all the different shape platforms I have in the set. Loads of different capabilities without a logistics nightmare. Pitch over.

    On a more serious point though, I have for a long time now thought the procurement model is flawed. In the specific case of logistic commonality, by including through life support in each and every equipment procurement the system absolutely guarantees stove-piped logistics. You begin to wonder if you get to the point where (for example) a system included a straightforward MOD standard MAN truck as part of the supply, that truck would not be permitted to use the Support Vehicle spares or maintenance staff, but would have to use its own segregated spares and mechanics funded through a different contractual line. Would that be sensible? Only to the gnomes of Abbey Wood who would delight in the clarity of the programme accounts. To everyone else it would be as stupid as taking on a tanker aircraft with a rigid stovepiped maintenance and support contract and penalties if other air-air refuelling systems need to be used. Oh, hang on a minute…

  315. Chris

    Sorry it’s such brief reply. Time rather limited at the moment.

    “Whereas others (mentioning no names but think big corporations) approach commonality from the position of a single design of platform fitted with many payloads, I define commonality in terms of sub-systems and components and logistic support and maintenance and training. So despite the collection of designs covering a broad range of wheeled vehicles from 4×4 to 10×10 and tracked vehicles of differing size, the bits inside and the logistic tail and the training etc etc are common as far as the core structure of the vehicle permits.”

    Well, that would seem to be the logical point of view A bit like the SEP vehicle concept some years ago perhaps, only with even more types of vehicle platform?

    I really am a big supporter of having as many options in terms of vehicle size, weight etc. as possible.

  316. In France we talk a lot of CRAB for alpine, marine and parachute regiments. For the urban fight too. I don’t know if It enters in a Chinook, but it goes three in an A400M.

  317. Frenchie – Panhard CRAB is too wide to fit inside CH-47 or CH-53, but is light enough to be carried as an underslung load. Ballistic protection as quoted is a bit light, but at least it is quite a small target…

  318. Talking about French armoured cars, what do people think about equipping the Light Cav at least with the Panhard VBL?

    Armoured against small arms, amphibious, Milan version could carry Javelin instead and if we will be doing more joint operations with the French we could sort out joint supply and maintenance. Obviously cost of a new vehicle goes against Monty’s spirit of make do and mend but it appears to be ideal for the roles suggested for the Light cavalry; Panhard have even improved its mine/IED protection recently.

  319. Swimming Trunks – Interesting timing – the CRAB that Frenchie just mentioned is a contender for VBL’s replacement. VBL has been around for about 25 years now and no doubt is showing a few problemettes when measured against the modern threat environment (and current spares availability) in just the same way everyone else’s vehicles of that age are. Its a dinky little wagon – uses Peugeot 504 or slightly newer 405 diesel power I believe. Its quite cosy inside. So if MOD can take a five seat Iveco LMV and turn it into a three-seat-if-everyone-breathes-in Panther, what do you think they could do with the two seat VBL?

  320. @ Swimming Trunks

    That turrets needs a machine gun……..

    I like VBL. But to me this UK “light cavalry” vehicle needs a cannon.

    CRAB for me is out because it won’t fit in CH47. Even if it will be moved underslung to me it still needs to fit inside. Even though underslinging doesn’t upset helicopters too much as you, Observer, and I once discussed.

  321. as – Fennek is OK in principle, but I was surprised to find the armour (according to Wiki so it must be true) defends against 7.62mm. And the blast protection again by Wiki statements is not perhaps what would be desired, but then with three guys sat huddled up close to the front wheel-arches I suppose that’s to be expected. On the plus side its low profile and looks well made – I wonder if MOD considered it in their FCLV contest?

    x – Oh no! Must fit inside Chinook? That’s all my vehicles dismissed then – the only way they’d fit is with a long fast run-up, after which I think the RAF might complain at the bulging ripped-open sides of their flying taxi – maybe they should have bought a bigger one…

  322. @ Chris

    Yes the CVR(T) replacement must fit in, or fold into, Chinook.

    I am unanimous on this…… :)

  323. x – suggest you make a bid to buy up all the Jackals then. They fit CH-47 (ish, give or take a bit of preparation – at least the original HMT truck was supposed to). So you can have all the open-top armour 4x4s and carry them one by one in big noisy helicopters. I’m sure there’s a good reason for it. I’m afraid I’ll stick to C-130 sized vehicles though. That means they fit C-130, all UK rail gauges, all UIC gauges, and most roads give or take. And of course A400M & C-17 and STUFT. The lighter ones should fit inside C-27 and hang under CH-47 & CH-53. Surely that’s enough options?

  324. @as

    I’d buy six regiments worth of Centauro 120s tomorrow instead of FRS SV plus six battalions worth of Freccia with a Bushmaster Mk 242 30 mm cannon. A 120 mm gun in a 23 tonne vehicle makes a lot more sense than a 40 mm cannon in a 35 tonne vehicle.

    Fennek is a little under-protected in my opinion, but still a very good vehicle. No reason why we couldn’t use something similar for the close recce role.

  325. Monty – I’m reasonably sure there is good sense in AFVs having the right balance between punch and protection. While a 40mm weapon on a 35t platform might be fairly described as under-gunned, a 120mm on a 23t vehicle must equally fairly be declared over-gunned. The theory goes that opposition forces will return fire in proportion to the threat from a given platform – if you demonstrate MBT levels of firepower you will attract return fire proportionate to an MBT threat – suddenly 23t of tinplate seems woefully inadequate. Being under-gunned is an embarrassment too, not being able to engage opposition vehicles of your own class is a fairly damning situation. Balance in all things, that’s the answer.

    A brief aside on the subject of enemy reaction to a threat. CVR(T) Striker – I believe all now retired – carried five Swingfire ATGW. There was a reason for that particular number. The defence scientists who at that time could only work once properly dressed in clean white coats did many sums and deduced Swingfire had a 40% chance of knocking out the then current opposition MBT. The scientists’ military analysts expected that Striker would become a high priority target once it had engaged two separate MBTs (one engagement might be from a man in a ditch with a portable ATGW, two engagements meant a vehicle platform). Being scientists they believed in the truth of numbers: With a 40% success rate, obviously it would take two and a half missiles to destroy an opposition MBT; therefore to engage two MBTs successfully required precisely five missiles, two and a half for each tank target. (An engineer would have fitted seven of course, three per target – who ever shot half a missile at anything? – and one spare to cover for any missile failure.) Furthermore the scientists were uninterested in reloads because their sums showed the Striker would be a smoking wreck immediately after destroying its second target. I’m not sure the scientists explained their theories to the vehicle crews. However it does reinforce the general truth that serious threats attract serious retaliation.

    Yes I know there were reloads carried – no doubt those scientists in their bright white coats thought these were only carried to make the crews feel a bit more optimistic…

  326. The Striker example does prove that the Scimitar was not intended to fight tanks, but fight other light armoured recce vehicles with the Striker providing overwatch if it encountered something with more teeth.

    RE: Balance and firepower. I think that was the point Storr was trying the make in his article, the battle cruiser allegory distracting rather than enlightening. The 76mm gun on the Rooikat is interesting; I read somewhere its Sabot round has similar performance to a 105mm up to 1.5km. 76mm has been used for fire support before although low pressure guns.

    If you wanted a hi-tech FRES cavalry vehicle which could have a family of other variants (where have seen that before?) then I would go for something like the AHED:

    with a HP 76mm gun; able to deal with most armoured vehicles up to MBT/HAPC, which can be delt with by the ATGM carrier variant, or your own MBTS. One idea is to have a gun system similar to the ARES 75mm gun:

    Of course that would add addittional capabilities to the army at additional cost…

  327. @ Chris

    Jackal offers protection from mines and is maneuverable, yes. But I believe the key reason why ARMOURed vehicles are bought is in their name. An armed force’s purpose is to inflict violence on the enemy not to protect itself. Armour’s role is to allow you to inflict violence for longer. IMHO Jackal is far too open for most of the cavalry task portfolio and undergunned too. Would you rather screen a convoy in the open with a 7.62mm or 50mm knowing the enemy can match your firepower and them choosing when to strike or would you rather be in some armour with a gun that over matches their firepower? I know I say violence of action counts for a lot. In 1940 German tanks were lighter with smaller guns than their French opponents. And in the Far East there were instances of UC being used as cavalry. But the Germans didn’t field small tanks out of choice, it was only because it was what they had at the time. No reason why as I have said a couple of times now that CVR(T) replacement couldn’t be constructed using the same technologies as Foxhound, no reason why it can’t have a cannon, and no reason why it can’t be tracked.