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The Operational Support Programme (OSP)


Some interesting Market Survey type news;

The Operational Support Programme (OSP) is to deliver four new vehicle projects on behalf of Capability Director Combat Service Support (CD CSS) and Capability Director Medical (CD Med):

Multi Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P) is a Cat A project intended to meet the requirement for a protected deployable platform employed by all Force Elements, at all scales of effort, in a wide range of environments, and on all parts of the battlefield except for the direct fire zone. The MRV-P should bring commonality to the fleet and reduce the logistic footprint for utility vehicles by 2020.

Non-Articulated Vehicle – Protected (NAV-P) is a Cat B project to meet the requirement for a protectable Palletised Load System (PLS). This would replace the ageing and unprotected DROPS fleet, enabling logistic support by a protected fleet to concurrent operations from 2020.

Light Weight (Air Portable) Recover (LW(AP)RC) is a Cat D project to meet the requirement for a recovery capability that is air portable and that can wade ashore with Commando Forces to provide intimate support to Very High Readiness (VHR) forces by 2016

Future Protected Battle Field Ambulance (FPBFA) is a Cat C project to meet the requirement for a Protected Mobility (PM) battlefield multi role ambulance. This will enable in-theatre protected movement of casualties, whilst delivering expected clinical care by 2020.

The OSP Programme Management Office (OSP PgMO) in the DE&S at Abbey Wood is conducting a Market Survey to inform Concept Phase activities related to these projects. OSP PgMO intend to release a Request For Information (RFI) to those parties who may have an interest in providing a solution to one or more of these requirements. The RFI will be sent out in early 2014 to those who express interest, together with supporting programme information.

Interesting, velly interesting

As they say!

The NAV-P and MRV-P have been kicking around for a while, think I last looked at them in 2011/12

Are things actually beginning to move or is this yet another round of window shopping?


H/T Defence Insider

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38 Responses

  1. OUVS successor programmes; RFI means window shopping- likely to inform SDSR15 planning. The idea may be to slot it into the post 2015 budget plan. Don’t hold your breath though.

  2. MRV-P has been talked about since 2011 and I assume, as others, it will look something very much like Foxhound or perhaps the Husky, which we have shed loads of. I can also see the ambulance one being a Husky

    NAV-P is the MAN SV EPLS I assume, if its replacing DROPS, we already have way to many MAN SV’s (although not the right variants) and NZ and a few others are going down this route as well. Goodbye Foden and Leyland DROPS!

    The lightweight and wading recovery one is interesting

    Some old posts on the subject


  3. I suspect they’re making a play for a chunk of the underspend….

    After all the andrew have had an early xmas present in the shape of 3 OPV’s.

    Wonder what MOD (Air) are going to try for?

  4. @ Dave Haine
    Not sure if Air would be happy as their wish list is being high jacked since they are the capability lead for CBRN, 80 million being spent right now on top of the 64 million for the 10 Key Projects. I would imagine it must piss them right off that FUCHS is coming back to the Army via the RTR and they have to oversee it.

  5. @ CBRN Guru

    Really? I thought 1RTR had finished with all that and 26 and 27sqn RAF regiment had got it all to play with?
    Still as the Fuchs is for the FEBA it makes sense for it to be in the armies domain… And fair’s fair, the RA have to supply AD Rapier for airfield defence, under joint control… Which must p**s the drop shorts off- as they’re like the andrew and think they should run everything (I was listening recently to an RA major pontificating on how as the RA were so successful(!) at managing the UAVs, that they should be running ‘reaper’ as well)

  6. @CBRN Guru
    “I would imagine it must piss them right off that FUCHS is coming back to the Army via the RTR and they have to oversee it.”

    I remember being in correspondence with you over this several months ago. It’s actually going to happen, is it? Can you confirm? Be a good thing if it did.

    @ TD

    “NAV-P is the MAN SV EPLS I assume, if it’s replacing DROPS”. Are you sure about that? I was reading not so long ago about experiments being carried out with the TRAKKER vehicle. At the moment the DROPS are scheduled to go out of service at the end of 2014. What in the meantime? Will they (DROPS) be “run on” until NAV-P comes into service?

  7. Mike – I’m sure I have seen an Iveco Trakker with armoured cab and EPLS hooklift but I don’t think it was aimed at UK sales; that being said the self-loading dump truck in UK service is a Trakker, so maybe its a reasonable option. I suspect Iveco support costs are a bit less than those for the equivalent MAN truck.

  8. Chris

    Thanks for the reply. I don’t know what the unit cost of the the Trakker is compared with that of the MAN SV but there are other Trakkers in service with the Royal Engineers apart from the SLDT. There is a Truck Mounted Loader, a Medium Dump Truck, a Well Drill, as well as a heavier protected Dump Truck, so that unit cost would not be prohibitively high, I think. Do you know what is happening to the DROPS? Surely if they all disappear at the end of next year, we shan’t have enough EPLS to cope, shall we? The DROPS trucks I saw on a Royal Marine exercise last year did not look in bad order at all, contrary to the received opinion.

  9. @Dave, did you remind that RA Major of their recent ‘issues’ with Hermes in Afghanistan and a certain very public shoeing they got !

    @Mike and others, on the EPLS/DROPS replacement their have been loads of snippets coming from Iveco and models at shows etc. Faun have been working on a hook lift carrier for their HGMS/LGMS trackway. Loads of images on their website

    We had over 2,000 DROPS in service but I cant see anywhere like that being replaced.

    What makes me think we might go SV instead on Iveco is because we have way to many SV now for Army 2020 as the contract is still delivering (I think) so I could very well imagine someone thinking, see all those shiny new trucks we have, lets bang a hooklift on them!

    Also, the Army doesn’t actually own any Trakkers apart from the UOR protected ones, they are all owned by ALC and delivered through the C Vehicle PFI so support costs for bringing Trakkers into core would potentially be higher as you would have to have two very similar trucks in the system, MAN = commonality with the in service fleet.

    You could be right though, who bloody knows where it will go

  10. TD

    Many thanks for your, as usual, knowledgeable reply. Yes, I had forgotten completely about the fact that the Army does not own most of the Trakkers. The MAN might very well be a better bet in the light of all that you have said.

    What I am waiting for is a reply from CBRN Guru on Fuchs. Anyone know anything about the Army getting them back?

  11. @ TD

    No- using the power of my iPad, I just showed the two vids that Phil put on this very site a while back and asked him to comment…. a pregnant pause and off he went quiet as a lamb….

    Much respect to phil…and your august blog…got me a free drink!

  12. @ Mike W
    I would suggest there are certain combat indicators
    Point one, social media can be a dangerous for releasing information that maybe personnel making certain remarks did not except to be disseminated i.e. Facebook.

    From the Colonel Commandant of the RTR in this year’s Cambrai message.
    Finally, I should take this opportunity to say something about the formation of the CBRN AS&R squadron. As I write this message, there is a strong possibility that the RTR will be invited to generate an additional squadron to meet this task, over and above our Type 56 Armoured Regiment role. But the Defence Board has not yet made a final decision, so the task may yet fail to materialise, or (less likely) could be given to some other unit to perform. I have been involved in a host of high levels discussions about this task, both as your Colonel Commandant and as a member of the Army Command Group. My position throughout has been that the Army and Defence need an AS&R capability, that the RTR has demonstrated the ability to provide it, and that we stand ready to do so again. My one proviso has been to say that it would not be sensible to double-hat this capability with that of an armoured sub-unit: it needs to be a squadron in its own right.

    Issue here being that it will go ahead, but even though this is a joint asset, who is going to control it, the CBRN Defence Wing which is all RAF Regiment controlled by the RAF or will it be pulled towards the Army, still an unknown and there is certain manoeuvring being carried out between services before the final outcome is revealed.

    Point Two, I know the Project Manager at DE&S who is working on it, and it has been a case of, in, out, in, out shake it all about. The Project is now on track and you would think that since the vehicles have only been out of service for a short amount of time that bringing them back in should be fairly straight forward. Ah, as always think again, Rheinmetall Defence are probably happy that they will be brought back into the proceedings for maintaining and upgrading the vehicles. FUCHs as a concept is looking dated with GD pushing forward with Stryker and MOWAG (a GD owned Company) pushing their 8×8 CBRN Vehicle. So unless UAE come true on their proposal to purchase another 10 FUCHs on top of the 32 they already have then the UK is the only other country looking at possibly doing some sort of FUCHs updating.

    Point Three, the Squadron of RTR, as I will call them now, are sitting at Honnington separate from the rest of the Regiment who are busy preparing for the amalgamation which will happen in Bulford (yes I know there are in Tidworth) on August 2nd 2014.
    The very big unknown is how long the FUCHs will stay in service, because Project A, as I will call it, is on the near horizon and is wide area recce and surveillance and Intel for CBRN. This will encompass the FUCHs within the AS&R Sqn plus LRT and SIBCRA Teams. This is one of the ten projects that are going forward from assessment phase to RFI soon.

  13. @CBRN Guru

    Well, how about that for a comprehensive, well-balanced reply. It provides all the answers I wanted and more. On the subject of updating FRES, though, I thought it had undergone a fairly full upgrading a couple of years before being withdrawn.

  14. Mike – love the Freudian slip whereby you managed to retire FRES before it had even made ISD – good man!

  15. Chris

    Well, it was written at 1 a.m. ! Nothing against FRES. Think it will be a good thing, although some will hope that there will be some proleptic irony in my slip!

  16. Mike – if only it was prophecy! I have no doubt Scout-ASCOD-FRES-SV would be a competent vehicle. There would be times when it would be the ideal tool for the job. I wince at the scale of funding being funnelled into the project, but the main dislike of the thing is it just doesn’t seem to be the right size/weight for the capability gap it is meant to plug. As a potential replacement of UK medium armour (read Warrior) it would be a reasonable choice. As a replacement of UK light armour (read CVR(T)) it just shouldn’t be on the shopping list. So good vehicle, possibly, filling a gap in UK ORBAT, I don’t think so.

  17. @Mike W

    Yes FUCHs have been upgraded

    Certain CBRN equipment has been introduced with software enhancements. Plus the recovery capability and complying with the EU Movement regs for vehicles over a certain weight.

    But there is room for a bit more capability and since nothing I am stating so far is not available in the Public Domain, but unfortunately that extra bit is still sensitive and not releasable.

    As for FRES, that was tested in 2007 at DSTL Porton Down in a feasibility study to have generic sensor mounts on all vehicles, then depending on the operation, sensors could be fitted to a certain number. This gives better flexibility than just having specialist CBRN vehicles which are in limited supply.

  18. Chris

    “I have no doubt Scout-ASCOD-FRES-SV would be a competent vehicle. There would be times when it would be the ideal tool for the job. I wince at the scale of funding being funnelled into the project, but the main dislike of the thing is it just doesn’t seem to be the right size/weight for the capability gap it is meant to plug. As a potential replacement of UK medium armour (read Warrior) it would be a reasonable choice. As a replacement of UK light armour (read CVR(T)) it just shouldn’t be on the shopping list.”

    Immediately after I had written my last rather fatuous reply (still annoyed with myself for not checking the error), I started to think: “Why would I really want FRES SV in service and reached (believe it or not) more or less the same conclusions as you! I think it might be a more-than-useful temporary replacement vehicle for the CVR(T) family, which is seriously ageing and obsolescent but I think its long-term future will be as a replacement for Warrior as IFV, protected mobility vehicle and perhaps eventually as a light tank/fire support vehicle. Warrior would then move into the ABSV role as replacement for Bulldog/432. However, I think you are right in your basic assertion that it is not of the right size /weight to be a true successor to CVR(T). What eventually fills that gap eventually is anyone’s guess. I don’t know whether BAE are still developing CV21. However, I don’t want to set off the whole FRES SV debate again. I suspect TD might have something to say about that!

    CBRN Guru

    Many thanks for the additional information about FUCHS (not FRES!) upgrading. Very interesting, particularly what you say about sensors on FRES.

  19. Mike, always rooms for a rumble in the FRES jungle

    As I have said many times before, we have traded mobility (strategic and tactical) for protection with FRES and I don’t think this is necessarily a good idea, at least with the situation of having nothing at the lower end of the scale. FRES as is WITH something lighter would be good

  20. TD

    “FRES as is WITH something lighter would be good.”

    Yes, I would not quarrel very much with that idea. What I fear is that fast reaction forces such as 16 Air Assault Bde will suffer from not having light armour support (similar to the CVR(T)). I don’t know whether D Squadron, The Household Cavalry squadron has officially been removed from the 16 AA ORBAT planned for 2020 but I would imagine that in that role FRES SV would not be ideal.

  21. Question(s) for the knowledgeable and experienced:

    I understand that CVR was designed as (T) because it meant that ground pressure could be lower…. And at the time i noticed that small tracked vehicles were in preponderance. However, it seems an awful lot of armies are looking at or moving to wheeled vehicles again. I’m aware that technology moves on, and circumstances change, which begs the question, do we need Ascod? Have wheeled vehicles got to the point where you can achieve the same thing?

    Warrior has an MLU proposed, which means another 20+ years for that beast; FV430, has had an upgrade (I understand that the users are more than happy with the result) so that satisfies the need for certain specialist platforms there. Some of which Ascod was for.

    Would it be more sensible to mount some sort of sensor package (thinking along the lines of jim on a stick-see thread on this site) on ‘Foxhound’. I gather from many of the more experienced members that really recce only need to defend themselves, one tactic of which would be ‘two fingers and f**k-off’.

    So my idea is dump Ascod, use some of the money to make an additional buy of Foxhound, or Ocelot with a COTS/MOTS sensor package (radar & thermal/optical sights), maybe an auto turret with 20mm chain gun or LMM. Couple of ‘Black Hornets’ and away you go.

    Or, really are we looking at a digital Ferret? i.e. A small, fast networked scout car, that carries the sensor package only, with two crew and the ability to be remotely controlled (similar to the Terrier) if necessary?

    Flameguard up!

  22. Dave, 8x8s have exceeded CVR(T) in a sense. The average weight of an 8×8 is creeping close to 2x the tonnage of the CVR(T), with all the added armour, equipment and toys that implies. In fact, the proper question isn’t if they can replace CVR(T), it is if they can replace Bulldog/Warrior! At approximately 25 tons for both, there is a chance of matching capabilities, and I’m one of those who think that there may be a case for wheeled tanks being able to match medium tracked.

    As for CVR(T), it might be best to think of it as a fire support tank if you want to put it in a modern context. It does not have the armour to withstand medium/heavy direct fire, so it’s best not used leading charges. As infantry fire support though, it could work, bypassing its’ greatest weakness (armour) and playing on its’ strength (firepower). That being said, your combat cars could also do the same thing with less maintenance actually, so the poor CVR(T) is actually in a bad spot, neither here nor there. Too light to be treated as a frontline armoured vehicle, too heavy to compete with more economical combat cars.

    I do think it’s a pity the ASCOD was tracked, would have loved to see a study on how an 8×8 could be integrated into armoured formation operations and the pros and cons of it.

  23. DH – tracks vs wheels – a topic I became aware of in my first week at Alvis back in the dim mists of time, and it was a well worn subject even then. In the intervening harumphty-humph years I have decided there is no direct answer as in this is better than that, they are just – different. So. My thoughts:

    Tracks are better than wheels because:
    – They have much lower ground pressure (MMP) allowing traverse of softer terrain without bogging
    – The tracks and higher density of roadwheels smooth out craggy ground that wheels struggle over
    – Tracks have a lot more area on the ground so traction is better
    – Tracks are constrained to operate in a fixed plane – no steering angles to clear – so the hull between tracks can occupy volume that on a wheeled vehicle would be needed as wheelarches
    – Tracked vehicles provide more usable volume under armour than wheeled vehicles for the same external dimensions
    – Tracked vehicles can be designed with much lower profile making them more stable and smaller targets
    – Tracked vehicle tactical mobility is better than wheeled

    Wheels are better than tracks because:
    – Wheeled vehicles are generally quieter than tracked ones
    – Wheeled vehicle suspension & driveline tends to have lower maintenance demands
    – Wheeled vehicle hulls are naturally higher from the ground and lend themselves better to deep V profile making blast resistance easier to achieve
    – Wheeled vehicles tend to inject less vibration into the hull than tracked (track pad ground impact), reducing crew fatigue
    – Wheeled vehicles tend to be more economical on fuel usage
    – Wheeled vehicles have better strategic mobility than tracked vehicles

    There are no simple answers then. Based on operational need either wheels or tracks will emerge as better in the round, but going either way will introduce penalties as well as benefits. Its a case of picking the best compromise for the defined role. As a result in my bunch of vehicle concepts I have pretty much a 50-50 split between tracked and wheeled designs.

    As for CVR(T) being a deliberate choice to go tracked, not so. In parallel there was the CVR(W) development that became Fox and the shorter lived Vixen. Fox and Scimitar turrets were very similar but of different design; at the withdrawal of Fox its turrets were transferred to Scorpion hulls (the 76mm Scorpion gun being withdrawn at the same time) and the vehicle became Sabre. Fox was a bit too tall for its length & width, and its suspension somewhat sub-optimal, and the turret a bit heavy – the result was a vehicle with leery handling, quite keen to try falling over. All to do with roll centres and height of CofG.

    I suspect the increase in presence of wheeled solutions is down to two current factors, the one being that blast protection has risen up the list of priorities courtesy of Iraq, Afghanistan and Mali, the other being that for the moment nations perceive their probable conflicts over the next few decades will be large area excursionary operations involving long transits between zones of limited contact, rather than the toe-to-toe pitched battles in relatively well bounded battlefields that tracked vehicles better suit. Should a ‘State invades State’ conflict brew up, I would expect the demand would revert to tracked combat vehicles.

    As for your shiny idea to save cash from FRES to spend on other things, I suspect the Scout contract has been negotiated to gain as much of the total design development manufacture & support cost as possible on the early milestones – frontloading I believe financy people call it – as a direct consequence of the programme being at risk of curtailing. In any case the vast heaps of cash invested in dusty FFLAV, TRACER and FRES reports now resting in even dustier filing cabinets has gone, never to be seen again. Cost recovery would not be anything like the amount already sunk in Scout. A bit like the Irish farmer upon being asked directions who said “If you’ll be wanting to get to Dublin I wouldn’t be startin’ from here”, if we wanted a different platform than Scout then now is a stupid time to decide to change. Its overpriced and wrong for its intended slot in the ORBAT, but so much cash has already been shovelled into the project the only economical option is to buy some. Then wonder what to do with them. Personally I favour moving them into some of the current medium armour roles, displacing Warrior, and by all means have a few Heavy Recce squadrons, but buy smaller lighter more agile armour to put into the rapid reaction role. That’s just an opinion – others with military experience need to decide what’s right.

  24. Phew, I was worried about getting a huge rambling wall of words from M&S, only some of which was actually relevant to the subject, and even less to my question.

    @ Observer
    Really you’re arguing for something like the Freccia/Centauro vehicle, or the Boxer system…both of which look useful. I find it interesting Russians have bought some ‘Centauro’ for evaluation- I have a lot of respect for the russian armed forces- in my opinion they’ve got a lot of things right, and they’ve always had wheeled APC’s.

    @ Chris
    Yes, good point, as you say we may be too far along to ‘dump’ it, I suspect we’ll be seeing another panther situation.

    So with that in mind, here’s a thought:

    Recce units with a couple of ASCOD, and a few more Panther as sneaky kit.
    Much as I dislike having role-specific platforms, as opposed to common platforms, role-optimised, It would be better to keep such platforms together rather than penny packet fashion throughout the army.

  25. DH – While I don’t think Scout/FRES/ASCOD is the right option for the target role, I think it will be a good vehicle in its own right. Panther though? Not really a fan. It has an unusual approach to protection which if overmatched suffers worse than conventional design, and that’s not at all desirable. Its also overloaded with heavy hot power hungry kit – no room indoors. Its mobility might be OK for a Landie type vehicle but its not in Jackal/HMT400 league. About the only good aspect for recce purposes is that at a quick glance it looks civilian.

    So heavy recce – ASCOD/Scout/FRES, light(er) recce – my fine vehicles, very light recce – RT’s bicycle:

  26. Back on topic, I note the MOD put out a contract for pre-concept trials for MRV-P last year – requirements looked OK except for a ridiculously optimistic (verging on naive) purchase price. About half what the industry off-the-shelf vehicles that would meet their performance spec have been sold for. Maybe they are looking to the likes of India, Russia and Turkey etc for second-hand vehicles?

  27. Chris, be fair, everyone’s on a budget these few days. :)

    Well… most.

    BTW for 8x8s rough ground handling has been improved a bit too by independent suspension of the individual wheels and the 4 wheels per side has also improved traction ability, so in reality I’m starting to doubt if the wheeled vehicle is really giving up much to the tracked, it’s starting to look like any terrain closed to the wheeled is also going to be very close to the “no-go” terrain for the tracked too. Either way, it’s something to think about.

    Never thought I’d see the day when I admit wheels MIGHT be equal to tracks. In certain weight classes only of course.

  28. Obs – there have been developments in multi-axle all wheel drive systems, that’s true. I’m not convinced the advantages of tracks can all be matched by sophisticated wheeled vehicle drive systems though. Just doesn’t seem right.

  29. Chris, you telling me? :) I spent most of my military life around tracked, and wheeled replacing tracked doesn’t seem right to me too, but that doesn’t mean I can be blind to the possibility that it is now a neck to neck race, at least in the 10-30 ton category. It just means that my worldview needs to eat a bit of crow. And it’s a tough and stringy bird.

    I console myself that the 40-60 ton range is still the territory of the big boys.

  30. @Chris: I suspect the biggest advantage of the wheeled lot is the strategic mobility. Move to in hub drives, then you can motor along the roads on wheels until you need to deploy: that’s what the French did in Gulf 1 with their AMX30’s

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