CVR(T) 2 Roll Over Protection System

Whilst we seem to be on a vehicular theme and I am otherwise engaged sweeping up the mess on the archive posts I thought this might be of interest.

Initial Deployment

CVR(T) Scimitar 2 in Afghanistan
CVR(T) Scimitar 2 in Afghanistan

The latest modification, a rollover protection system.

CVR(T) 2.0 is of course rather top heavy so it is a case of balancing protection against IED’s with the risk of roll overs.

BAE Systems Safety Devices Scimitar2 CVRT ROPS
Safety Devices Scimitar 2 CVR(T) ROPS
BAE Systems Safety Devices Scimitar2 CVRT ROPS
Safety Devices Scimitar 2 CVR(T) ROPS
BAE Systems Safety Devices Scimitar2 CVRT ROPS
Scimitar 2 CVR(T) ROPS

I say latest, it was completed at the end of 2012, read more, click the image to read more.

[browser-shot width=”600″ url=”http://www.safetydevices.com/military/military-products/scimitar-2-cvr-t/”]

Not seen this widely trailed in the media so it is always good to highlight the work of smaller UK defence organisation and evidence of the ongoing and mutually beneficial partnership between the MoD and automotive engineering industry.

 

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mike
mike
May 8, 2014 7:00 pm

Although good for the small industry etc, a *roll bar* on a tank?

Never thought I would see those words together!

Chris
Chris
May 8, 2014 7:33 pm

From many quarters both in industry and the army, the clear message I got was that the design of armed combat vehicles should be such that the minimum possible structure should be visible over the horizon when the gun had line of fire to target. Hence the gun & mantlet mounted as hight as possible in the turret, as low a turret roofplate as possible with the sights the minimum height above the roofplate to get clear lines of sight. On a visit to an exercise on Salisbury Plain the Sgt assigned to be my minder and guide picked out every Scorpion Ferret and Striker on the skyline when just their periscopic sights were visible; when one of the vehicle commanders let more than the minimum height of turret appear above cover – worse when the vehicle traversed still in sight – his disgust and embarrassment on behalf of the Army were very clearly stated. Now though it seems perfectly acceptable to mount 3ft of chunky scaffolding on the turret roof? Clearly the rules of fieldcraft have changed.

x
x
May 8, 2014 7:53 pm

I like it, it’s sensible. It is very chunky compared with,

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/00/Rhodesia-Leopard_Security_Vehicle-001.jpg

but is saves lives why not?

Needs some KC Daylighters…….

x
x
May 8, 2014 7:56 pm

It wouldn’t weigh more than the engine, transmission, and the driver. Nevermind the road wheels, hull, and tracks.

In an odd way the extra actually helps to plant the vehicle more balance somewhat against the effects of more weight above the CoG. A bit like leaning forward when walking downhill.

That was a crap explanation

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 8, 2014 8:11 pm

x,
Yes, I can safely say that I don’t follow what you are trying to explain. What I know is that any mass added above the existing centre of mass moves the resulting centre of mass upwards

S O
S O
May 8, 2014 8:18 pm

A classic example of people “rolling over in their grave”,
In this case the original developers.

Peter Elliott
May 8, 2014 8:27 pm

The point being in Afghan conventional fieldcraft is not a priority so a chunky system like this is acceptable. Especially if the vehicle is known to be prone to rollovers.

(I was once present at Castlemartin when a Worcestershire and Sherwood Forresters CVRT rolled over. The driver was reversing unsighted into what looked like some bushes and tumbled into an unseen ravine. He got battery acid all over his chest. Earlier that day the same troop had been giving us UOTC students rides and drives in the same vehicles)

The danger will come if we wanted to deploy the same vehicles to a ‘hot’ conventional conflict and the MoD risk assessors insisted they go with roll cages or not at all. Or if now the concept has been ‘proven’ we ended up fitting them to all our armoured vehicles. The insidious thing about H&S law is that once ‘best practice’ is established it becomes a criminal offence not to follow it.

Peter Elliott
May 8, 2014 8:32 pm

I should add that at Castlemartin there was no-one in the turret. This was lucky for them as they would likely have been killed. Although you would like to think someone in the turret looking out behind would have seen the ravine and yelled STOP before the vehicle went into it.

Approx 1998 I think – before the diesel engine conversion.

x
x
May 8, 2014 8:41 pm

@ mr fred

I think I have too many time been subjected to that other realm of physics that is found while dangling on the edge of an abyss in a Land Rover that should have gone over but didn’t or when driving tractors on severe banks.

Don’t forget that I don’t believe in aerodynamics, I believe aeroplanes only stay up because all those inside want them to stay up………. :) ;)

AKM
AKM
May 8, 2014 8:58 pm

” …I believe aeroplanes only stay up because all those inside want them to stay up…”

Ah, but then how do UAVs work?! :) :P

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 8, 2014 9:06 pm

I tend to go with the idea that most people are really bad at judging side slope. On a constant grade, most vehicles will be stable up to at least 30 degrees. 20 degrees feels like a really, really, long way over.
That said, there have been a large number of soldiers killed by rolling armoured vehicles. More than have been killed by IEDs and, outside of high intensity conflict, probably more than have been killed by direct fire. Banks, watercourses, ditches and the like, especially with loose sides, can catch drivers unawares, and I’ve seen pictures of vehicles that have been rolled on flat ground.
So if we are to address this problem, how to go about it? A roll cage increases the profile. You could perhaps do away with the need to operate head out (and so being vulnerable) if you can implement sufficient sensors. Perhaps you could have seats that retract into the safety of the vehicle if it rolls, or warning systems (which do exist) that alert the crew to potential rollover (not much help if the ground beneath gives way). Maybe you could integrate the roll bars into existing turret-top furniture, like sight cowls, hatches, riot shields and the like, or use the roll bar to mount sights high up on the vehicle.

One thing that seem unequivocal is that it is a significant risk to AFV users that is not often addressed.

x
x
May 8, 2014 9:32 pm

@ AKM

I don’t know, But there must be some reason that they piloted on one continent and flown over another, eh?

@ mr fred re side slope

Very true. I remember a particular hair raising manoeuvre one weekend just after the Discovery was launched. I was following an SJ, a new 3dr Disco driven by an experienced driver sans bump stops(!) , and me in a SWB. I didn’t like the way the SJ moved across what appeared to be a fairly innocuous side slope, there was a strange grinding-scraping from the Disco that seemed bobble and wobble, and at that point I stopped to have a walk. There wa a hidden dip and rise masked by the trees and undergrowth; the clay undersurface was visible too. I took the door off the Landy and went for it as slowly as I could with a petrol motor. I was able to move by body weight out of the cab while sort jamming my foot just next to the transmission tunnel. The ruddy thing still nearly pitched. It was like being out in chop out on the trapeze. Not good. If only I had been driving FRES SV…………… :)

Observer
Observer
May 8, 2014 9:35 pm

X, the plane’s losing altitude. Pray harder! :)

TD, didn’t you post something like this before last year?

Can’t help but think this is risk aversion to the extreme. On the bright side, want to bet the TC and gunner is going to use the roll bar to swing out of the turret all the time from now on?

The Other Chris
May 8, 2014 9:59 pm

Ah, but then how do UAVs work?! :) :P

Prior to launch they are overinflated with a sense of their capabilities? ;)

#switchingperspective

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
May 8, 2014 10:02 pm

with full respect to Chris and his design form following field-craft function, maybe we can chalk this up to a vehicle that is now being used well beyond its original design parameters, and entirely in excess of its anticipated growth margin.

so rather than bemoan the addition of a spoiler, maybe we should decry the lack of a replacement vehicle that meets modern demands.

i repeat my call for BAE’s CVR21, i.e. a modern light-tank/scout of circa 16 tonnes with a v-hull and a 40mm CTA…

The Other Chris
May 8, 2014 10:25 pm

Hmm. CVR21.

Does it have a ‘V’ in it’s name? Check.

Will it fit inside an A400M?

Chris
Chris
May 8, 2014 10:54 pm

Jedi – my thanks for the offered respect! I am not really a fan of Scimitar 2 as named – to me its still a Spartan with a turret on top, a combination which was never that happy. It is very tall, and despite the stiffened suspension it is still tall for its width with a high CoG so more prone to toppling than FV107 Scimitar was.

My point though was that these are supposed to be armoured fighting vehicles, as in they exist because of the need to fight. it is their reason for existence, their primary function. To fit such vehicles with contraptions that make them considerably easier to detect when engaging hostile forces would seem to render the vehicle (or more correctly, the weapon system) fundamentally pointless. In the same way that the microwave link in FIST which required the soldiers to stand on tiptoe on top of the highest rock they could find in order to get a good network signal rendered the system pointless.

I do understand the reasoning behind the ROPS; its clearly there for a good reason, but there is a conflict of priorities here that doesn’t gel.

I accept that in this particular case the overtall overladen vehicle with narrow track centres has probably been upgraded to inadequacy, and so doesn’t deserve a place in the fighting line. Newer vehicles of more coherent design may avoid the need for ROPS by being a) more stable and b) fitted with enough cameras and sensors to avoid terrain of excessive slope or to avoid manoeuvres too sharp for the vehicles dynamic stability.

I do however share Peter Elliott’s fear that the predominance of the H&S faction backed by Eurocrat court-of-human-rights experts might lead to directives demanding all armour is fitted with such ROPS, and crumple zones, and warning beepers, and padded interiors, and flashing beacons, all permanently installed and incapable of being removed disabled or stowed for fear of damaging someone’s human rights. (No more idiotic than regulating the bend in bananas or banning British confectionery from being called ‘chocolate’ because its made different from how the Belgians make theirs.) Of course the UK would instantly and zealously comply, while the rest of Europe would find perfectly acceptable reasons to ignore the directives…

As for the CVR21 I can find no information on it. No matter; in my bunch of vehicles designed I have just such vehicles anyway. One of them even has a V in its name. It seems some great minds think alike (oops a bit immodest) although to date the great minds of MOD have chosen not to.

The Other Chris
May 8, 2014 11:02 pm

Figured CVR21 reference was either CV90 or one of the early CVR(T) replacement program studies/iterations. Or both.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
May 8, 2014 11:34 pm

“My point though was that these are supposed to be armoured fighting vehicles, as in they exist because of the need to fight. it is their reason for existence, their primary function. To fit such vehicles with contraptions that make them considerably easier to detect when engaging hostile forces.”

Interesting assumption Chris, not sure if you are aware of the latest out of the box doctrine post Afghanistan that will be tried out in BATUS this year. You may be aware under 2020 that Armoured Regiments will have 58 CH2’s in them. That will be 18 per squadron for the three tank squadrons. That’s 4 troops of 4 with two in SHQ, in all that’s 54. Then RHQ Troop and Recce troop will form the forth squadron with 4 tanks, that’s two tanks in RHQ (CO/2iC), so that leaves two tanks. Spares you may think, but no, they will be part of Recce Troop, I’m using the old name (Recce Troop) as the new one is still a bit sensitive and not for publication in an open forum yet.
Again the doctrine and procedures behind it are not for debate in a public forum, but hey, if you have Charlie 2 up and running around the recce screen then detection of them will be far easier than a Scimitar with a roll bar on it.

Observer
Observer
May 9, 2014 12:28 am

Knowing the current trends, it’ll be called the C4I Battalion or something like that.

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 9, 2014 5:44 am

That abortion of a Frankenwagon has ruined my breakfast. I am distinctly queasy.

Chris above sums up the headlines of my objections. What’s the point of a recce wagon that draws attention to itself?

Phil
May 9, 2014 5:51 am

Seems sensible for stabilisation / peacekeeping operations and peacetime training. Silly for fighty ops though.

jedibeeftrix
jedibeeftrix
May 9, 2014 6:53 am

@ Chris – “I do however share Peter Elliott’s fear that the predominance of the H&S faction backed by Eurocrat court-of-human-rights experts might lead to directives demanding all armour is fitted with such ROPS, and crumple zones, and warning beepers, and padded interiors, and flashing beacons, all permanently installed and incapable of being removed disabled or stowed for fear of damaging someone’s human rights.”

No argument from me.

Sorry, i erroneously added an “R” to the name:

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

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 9, 2014 7:06 am

When the cvrt2 remanufacture for 50-60 pieces was announced, it was to be for several models. Did only the turreted Spartan happen?

Chris
Chris
May 9, 2014 7:45 am

Jedi – the picture as published looks very noddy. But it didn’t take long to work out someone in the PR dep’t had changed the image proportions (presumably to fill a hole in corporate blah text in just the right way to make the page all neat and full, as they do). If you take the image and reduce height only to 80% of the published version, you get – Stormer 30. Or at least a vehicle hull very similar. Same width too according to the report. The rear deck is raised, and the glacis extended further forward, and the outward angled flanks depicted as vertical, but the running gear, layout, lower noseplate etc are still as per the predecessor. As for the turret, it has a lot of similarity to the demonstrator version of CV90 recce, at one time BAE’s FRES demonstrator: http://defense-update.com/features/2010/february/cv90_fres_sv_demonstrator_100210.html which makes sense, although I suspect the rear of the turret has been shortened and other measures taken to reduce its weight a bit. The change of turret from the original Oto Melara Hitfist would account for a large chunk of the weight increase from 13t to 17t I guess. The report does not mention the V-hull bit (nor did Stormer 30 have one) but it does suggest this vehicle can swim – by my simple sums the weight vs displacement figures mean this would need the same sort of floatation screen the early CVR(T) had.

Anyway. I think I understand what a CV21 is now. Perfectly valid conservative basic hull with a modern turret and no doubt some whizzy combat system electronics inside. A couple of days ago I put a link to Stormer 30 photos on the Open Thread: https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/05/open-thread-may-2014/comment-page-1/#comment-288313

Interestingly enough Stormer 30 was one of the benchmarks I used to measure my concept designs against, as it had been around for years before I started but was (in my view) the right sort of size to match up to the 2001 FRES spec (when FRES was still vaguely rational). It took some effort and lots of ‘no that’s not good enough start again’ cycles but in the end I think my designs had moved a long way forward from Stormer. If there’s ever a customer (or helpful investor) a real one might get made; who knows? It would be interesting to trial one against the other.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 9, 2014 8:02 am

A forgotten version of d the Stormer is the bridgelayer. Sold to Indonesia and Malaysia. I suspect that is how thebridge layer proposal for Warrior conversions (when the overall FRES SV numbers crowded out that flavour of it) emerged so effortlessly.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 9, 2014 8:07 am

Those roll-over bars… Do they incorporate the anti-IED antennae that on some cVRTs were separate (and over the rear end of the vehicle)?

Observer
Observer
May 9, 2014 8:53 am

Remember the Stormer rather well due to some interesting encounters with a then prototype Bionix in ’97. They were trialing the new IFV under dri-clad covers so we had no idea what was under there, so we gave it a good guess based on shape and most of us reported it as a Stormer, which led to some speculation that we were getting Stormers to replace our old AMX-13s so we ended up studying it a lot. We only found out 2 years later that it was a totally new, then unnamed vehicle.

Another interesting factoid is that a variant was entered in the US ICV competition with the turret replaced by a small RWS. It dropped the weight from 23 tons to 17. So we can safely say losing a turret saves you about 5-6 tons.

Chris
Chris
May 9, 2014 10:05 am

CBRNguru – ref C2 recce wagons – to be truthful I see little significant difference in using a 3.5m wide 2.5m tall C2 for recce compared to a 3.6m wide 2.5m tall FRES/SCOUT-SV. They would be equally difficult to conceal if attempting stealthy observation from OP. And C2 has the 4th man that Obs considers necessary, and C2 hide ought to be better protected (good old Chobham), and C2 can punch like an MBT because – um – it is one.

There is a degree of confusion in public source data about ASCOD width. This seems to be explained on the Global Security website that declares Spanish ASCOD (Pizarro) to be 3.15m wide, but Austrian ASCOD (Ulan) to be 3.64m wide. As the GD FRES/SCOUT-SV trials vehicles started as ex-Austrian Ulan it seems we have the wider spec hull.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 9, 2014 12:14 pm

Chris,
Is the difference not down to different armour fits? It could even be down to what you are measuring – grouser to grouser, hull side to hull side or wing mirror to wing mirror.

Chris
Chris
May 9, 2014 12:58 pm

MrFred – presume you refer to ASCOD width – its possible its a choice of appliqué that makes the difference but looking at this page: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/ascod.htm with its two specs side by side you would think they would be comparing equivalent dimensions?

Another interesting point in that write-up is the quote at the end that the Renk transmission was problematic and was replaced with a Spanish built unit which improved reliability. I think GD have put the Renk transmission in FRES/SCOUT-SV…

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 9, 2014 1:16 pm

Being as the linked page doesn’t cite its sources, I wouldn’t be surprised if they are not equivalent.
The GDELS website reckons the ASCOD2 vehicle can drive between walls 3.25m apart

Chris
Chris
May 9, 2014 1:50 pm

Page 33 of http://www.ediu.ee/public/documents/05-02-2014_GDELS_PRESENTATION_ENG_V_27_BC.pdf shows a wide ASCOD branded ASCOD 2 – clearly appliqué slabs on the flanks, but as this presentation is only 3 months old you’d assume the image is current thinking. If the non-slabbed ASCOD is 3.15m wide, this wider version would be an interference fit between walls 3.25m apart. Note that the image is captioned as a FRES-SV prototype.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
May 9, 2014 2:19 pm

Chris – I can see where you are coming from, big is big whither that be Scout or CH2, saying that the Germans used Luchs for a long time for Recce. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sp%C3%A4hpanzer_Luchs.
I was a mere Tank Commander for 14 years from Cpl to S/Sgt (which is unusual, but there was a concept behind that in each squadron when I was doing it). So my knowledge of Recce is limited, but I have several mates that enjoyed running about in dinky toys. My understanding that there are several roles within recce and OP’s is just one of them.
Again my understanding from current thinking, which of course may change tomorrow, is that an Armoured Regiment is not expected to provide all the disciplines within Recce today. The Scimitar/Scout/CH2 troop will be named something else, as I said before that name is sensitive but let’s just say it will have ISTAR in its title and will be assigned other assets from other units within a Battle Group. So OP’s may not be done by having a large vehicle parked or hidden away. It might be personnel dropped off with various surveillance equipment, do what they need to do and then get picked up again at some stage.
The Scimitar/Scout with CH2 is, according to my sources, reinventing the wheel as this has been tried in the past when Recce Troops had a GW Troop. The issue being that there was a limitation of distance between bounds that Scimitar could go forward because it has to do cover/over-watch using the 30mm. GW could cover up to 4 kms, which allowed bound distances to be greater when the Scimitars were moving forward. That was the theory, whither just having 2 CH2’s and 6/8 Scimitar is going to be able to do the same type of concept is debatable. When Scout appears on the scene with a 40mm cannon things may change again, and of course the whole use of CH2 working within the ISTAR set up may not last beyond one MEDMAN in BATUS.

x
x
May 9, 2014 2:29 pm

Might sound a bit obvious but surely somebody within the Army would have stipulated that FRES SV should be have pressure signature no more (hopefully less) than Warrior? We need have brigades with 1xMBT, 3xinf batt, and I x FRR/light cavalry. The only trouble is the light cavalry aren’t light. Surely this cuts the options if we needed to send a brigade to somewhere without decent infracture? If FRES SV had the same signature as Warrior it could be a substitute for CR2 (in certain circumstances) but of course it can’t. Never mind the limited weapons fit. Perhaps being a humble civilian I am missing something? Something deep and doctrinal…….

The Other Chris
May 9, 2014 3:00 pm

Note the caption for the ASCOD 2 vehicle picture in the pdf referenced by Chris is:

Prototype for the Specialist Vehicle (SV) programme for the UK MoD
– GDELS Company Presentation 2014

Chris
Chris
May 9, 2014 7:30 pm

CBRNguru – today my copy of Jane’s IDR flopped on the doormat. The first report on Page 4 talks of Force Troop Command, and states “Another new organisation is 1st Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) Bde” – is this to what you refer? If so, why should its creation be so sensitive? Seems quite sensible (the engineer said) to put the information capture, data analysis, cross correlation, intelligence assessment and intel dissemination personnel under the same organisation?

Red Trousers
Red Trousers
May 9, 2014 7:40 pm

Chris,

There are two big differences between similarly sized AFVs, one being a CR2 and the other being a FRES SV. Noise output.

You can hear a Chally 2 squadron manoeuvring from literally miles away. A single tank at least two miles away, well outside its’ weapon envelope. An idling engine on a single static tank at about a mile, even the APU betrays it at half a mile. And the noise is reasonably directional, if not exact. I couldn’t put an empirical figure on it, but in 20 years of force on force exercising I would think that above 90% of first detections were by noise, cueing eyes to look in a certain direction.

Then there’s another aspect. A recce wagon needs to be able to infiltrate, not just silently but using local infrastructure. Anything over 10 tonnes MLC is forced to go the long way round, in Western Europe. Far less MLC is available in undeveloped countries. I plotted the advance routes for the NATO recce push into Serb-held Bosnia post Dayton -about 180 kms to take account of bridge classification versus CVR(T) @ 10T MLC, against about 100 kms as the crow flies. Just goes to show.

A recce wagon over 10T MLC is cod all use to man nor beast. Couldn’t give a toss about armour, it is all about getting there. So I hope that in your portfolio of wagon designs you’ve got a recce wagon at MLC 10 that makes bugger all noise. ;)

X, you won’t find ground pressure requirements in an URD – that is SRD level stuff. I wrote the KURs and Priority 1 URs for FRES SV in 2000-2001, and no SRD then existed. I’m unsure if the SRD ever got agreed before 2007 when the whole programme for SV had become completely ridiculous. I am not responsible for anything written after 2002, because by then I’d handed over my job to someone else and had joined the Dark Side.

x
x
May 9, 2014 7:49 pm

@ RT re Ground Pressure

Shades of Blues & Royals in the Falklands……

http://i856.photobucket.com/albums/ab130/juddyburton/Falklands%20land%20rovers/f1_0006.jpg

I would have thought as a spec’ it would have been well up the list of considerations. Bit like designing a ship and not giving a toffee about the draught.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
May 9, 2014 9:00 pm

Sorry to be vague Chris – but no, 1ISR is old news, it’s been on many an organisational slide including the “Transforming the British Army an Update July 2013”. Page 13 gives the breakdown.
https://www.army.mod.uk/documents/general/Army2020_Report.pdf
This new organisation is being trialed as a possible future concept that’s all and its not to be mentioned in full in the public domain as it might come to nothing.
It’s like the FUCHs fiasco, there was a lot of very pissed off people, military and DE&S that it had been leaked to the media that it was being trialed again by the QDG’s. To the extent that some poor guys from 1RTR transferred across hoping to be part of the CBRN R&S Sqn because they thought QDG’s were going to get it. It was never a 100% given that FUCHs was coming back in and in the end when it does, it’s going back to the RTR.

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 9, 2014 9:31 pm

@CBRNGuru & Chris…Sounds a bit like the re-invention of the Reconnaissance Corps of WW2 Vintage…in light of the discussions going on about this subject on two threads, it’s quite interesting that they did not survive in the post-war order of battle, but the Paras and SAS did…although I believe the SF set-up now have both the SFSG and a Special Reconnaissance Regiment?

There is a series of articles here if anybody knows enough about it…and if you throw in Phantom, it can be headed by a photo of the original David Niven, which would no doubt please our colleague who employs that Nom de Plume…

GNB

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
May 9, 2014 10:06 pm

@GNB

I had to Google Reconnaissance Corps, very interesting thanks, wonder why we never kept it up.
I also had to Google David Niven, I was not so impressed with that one ;-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 9, 2014 11:13 pm

@David Niven…your namesake? Stowe School, Sandhurst, HLI and then Hollywood…where despite being a friend of Errol Flynn with a promising career as a matinee idol he headed straight back home at the outbreak of war…rejoined and ended his war as a Lieutenant Colonel having served in the GHQ Liaison Regiment (Phantom)…wrote a very funny if admittedly not completely accurate autobiography as well…what’s not to like? :-)

On the other, you might want to track down Osprey Elite 152 “The British Reconnaissance Corps in WW II”…like all their paperback military histories most informative, lavishly illustrated…and short.

GNB

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
May 10, 2014 12:00 am

@GNB

All the other stuff is well and good, and I take my hat off to him, but he was never a Royal Engineer and I am much better looking than the real David Niven ;-)

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
May 10, 2014 12:40 am

There was I assuming all Royal Engineers looked like John Rouse Merriot Chard VC…dark, dour and with a full beard.

GNB :-)

Chris
Chris
May 10, 2014 8:53 am

RT – first the noise thing – I can’t say I have heard (or seen video of) ASCOD manoeuvring at close quarters; there was a video of the other FRES contender CV-90 playing on the pan outside its sheds, and the noise from its V8 was similarly deep and booming to that of C2’s V12. In absolute dB terms maybe not quite as loud but still… This promo video gives a flavour: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1eGGyJ9fIE Funnily enough every video I tried for ASCOD had some typical Hollywood “only America can do this” patriotic type soundtrack plastered over it, I can only assume because GD doesn’t want to let mere mortals know how loud it is…

Now then. Vehicle weight. I do have a 4×4 which is intended to stay in the 7t range (I have not yet spent the week it takes to ask CAD the weight & CoG of every part modelled so I can build a weight & CoG spreadsheet. CAD’s supposed to provide the complete assembly weight & balance totals but every now & then it invents phantom parts of no size but which add the odd few tonnes to the total and which cannot be deleted. That’ll be kwolity software again). The smallest tracked vehicle is still of CVR(T) scale and has had no weight control program run on it but sad to say I don’t think even the most optimistic weight reduction would get it sub-10t (initial all-up weight 13t). But for this it has a lot of firepower and heavier protection than you might be prepared to run with. I had a smaller slightly lighter tracked option but discussions both here in TD World and face to face with Army personnel showed the compromises necessary to achieve that design would not be permitted by the User.

Like all these things, given a realistic spec and time, a design could be created that might well answer the need. Fortunately the systems & components around which the designs evolve allow considerable flexibility hence moderately rapid concept development – no need to start from scratch every time. As ever, the crunch is cash. I’ve self-funded the design work for four years (and am highly pleased with the results although I might be biased) but there’s an evident limit to how far savings can stretch. So all these might end up no more substantial than their current state of vapourwear (as one of our commenters described them); Gucci pictures on my PC screen.

In the industry over the past 30 years the big change has been the removal of Gov’t/MOD development funding. The result is that there is a good deal of design stagnation; where once the cutting edge of new ideas was in the defence domain and civilian engineering picked up the developments, now the defence companies tart up their shelved designs and relaunch them with a few new ideas brought in from the much better funded commercial market. Hence Jedi’s favourite CV21 which would seem to be a light rework of the 1990s Stormer 30 with the CV90 turret designed for the FRES demonstrator which in turn presumably used the Warrior focused MTIP turrets as the basis. Stormer 30 being closely related to Stormer the HVM carrier which was originally a RARDE/MVEE project to make a bigger vehicle using CVR(T) parts (FV4333) – so even CV21 owes its existence to Gov’t funded work in the 70s. Why would any company big or small spend a fortune of their own capital designing niche vehicles for customers that on balance of probability won’t buy? Obs in Singapore I believe has a Government prepared to fund new ideas, hence the Singapore defence industry is producing stuff that is very marketable. And the US has Gov’t funded defence product development, and the French, and the Israelis – all strong exporters.

So my stuff is quite unusual; its all new design, it uses the best of modern existing available technology (or at limit stuff in the latter stages of development) – no unobtanium required. What it is not is a set of reworked 1990s designs warmed over and renamed. Which is how I get (if calculations are accurate) very high mobility and good protection in smaller than average vehicles still scaled for 97th percentile personnel which are fuel efficient and stealthier than others of equivalent capability. Should be quite quiet.

Without development funding (more than my savings can support and still no Lotto win despite the ‘in it to win it’ ‘life changing’ ‘strike it rich’ promises) these will stay locked in my PC as what-might-have-been design studies. Probably the best light armoured vehicles in the world. Probably.

Observer
Observer
May 10, 2014 10:52 am

Chris, the bad point about your designs is that the trend is moving away from vehicles in the teens tonnage to the 25-40 ton bracket, which means low demand. Most people may not say it, but they are gearing up for possible war with China, and that involves heavy protection in an anticipated intense war.

I see them as potential infantry support vehicles or demolitions vehicles, so you might want to look for countries that are heavily infantry based and planning to motorize their forces.

Chris
Chris
May 10, 2014 11:12 am

Obs – light, yes, but still highly protective of the personnel. Although I accept if the blast or impact is extreme a light vehicle will tumble sooner than a heavier one. Not that that is always a worse option; rolling away from the impact if all occupants are well restrained and cushioned may be better than remaining in line with the blast/ballistic event and being penetrated. Worth noting in external armour area the designs are approximately a third that of FRES/SCOUT-SV and the vehicles weight is approx a third too. There is no engineering reason to declare FRES/SCOUT-SV would be better protected than these smaller vehicles – although there are brainy folk doing clever stuff on the project so perhaps the GD vehicle has a slight advantage. Personally if I was to be put in something in a hostile situation I’d prefer to go in the smaller target, given similar protection levels. But I’m not, nor have ever been, a ruffty-tuffty soldier.

As for bucking the trend? Good. As I noted above the trend has been set largely by re-profiling and up-armouring somewhat ageing designs, and I’m not doing that. I’ll happily be a trendsetter, the vanguard of the next generation…

Observer
Observer
May 10, 2014 11:28 am

Well… good luck, but please bear in mind the up-armouring of the Viking and the resultant breakage.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 10, 2014 2:26 pm

The trend to the 25-40t range is, IMHO, indicative of trying to do things on the cheap. They are scarcely any better protected than lighter vehicles and nowhere near as protected as proper heavy vehicles, which start at 40t and go up from there. If people really are worried about high intensity conflict with a major power, doing it properly would seem to be the order of the day, not frittering money away on something that is neither fish nor fowl.

Observer
Observer
May 10, 2014 5:05 pm

mr fred, not sure if you are familiar with M-113s. Those are 13 tons with the protection of a tin can. It’ll stop 5.56 or 7.62S, but not much more. 7.62 NATO will definitely punch through, much less any form of LAW/RPG. At least the new 20 tons+ has up to 30mm resistance, so how can you possibly say that they are scarcely better protected? Big jump from 5.56 to 30mm.

Rocket Banana
May 10, 2014 5:28 pm

Assuming it’s reasonable to suggest a .50 cal is the biggest caliber that’s reasonably two-man portable, what level of protection would one need for those?

If you’re going up against 30mm or 40mm cannons then perhaps you’re doing it all wrong. Use an MBT to flush them out and kill them.

Surely you shouldn’t be shipping troops into a battlefield that you do not control enough to guarantee they’re safe from such weapons. Either that or keep them on-foot, highly mobile and dispersed behind the forward line of MBTs.

I still stand by light forward recce and MBTs for skirmishing and recce-in-force.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 10, 2014 7:05 pm

Observer,
I think we can do better than the 1960’s M113. Even so, if you are going against an opponent with 30mm cannon, then there is an argument that you ought to be deploying heavy vehicles. Infantry weapons go up to 14.5mm, anything bigger is on a vehicle. The RPG7, much less anything more modern, will go through most IFV-derived vehicles and out the other side.
Pretty much the only discriminator is medium calibre cannon. When medium calibre cannon are in the field, then so are ATGW and tank cannon.

Observer
Observer
May 10, 2014 7:47 pm

mr fred, that would make modern IFVs proof against any crew served weapon save for RPGs, not a trivial consideration, especially once slat armour is installed. It means that you can take on any infantry garrison with a high degree of immunity. Even with ATGMs and 125mm cannon in the field, it’s still worth fielding some medium IFVs to provide your MBTs with some anti-infantry support. You just got to pick your targets properly, leave the MBTs to your MBTs and go after their infantry, IFVs and APCs instead. That’s how combined arms battle groups roll.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 10, 2014 8:28 pm

Observer, yes, it would. Protection against all infantry weapons save dedicated AT weapons can also be achieved at under 20 tonnes, so what is the point of the next five to twenty tonnes?
If you want a supporting vehicle for your MBTs, why is it not equivalently protected, being based on the same weight class chassis? Something like the Namer with a remote turret.
If you want a vehicle to keep up with the big ones, do it properly. Likewise for a lighter vehicle, do it properly.

Observer
Observer
May 10, 2014 8:39 pm

mr fred, can it? Can a light weight aluminium hull be made 14.5mm resistant?

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 10, 2014 8:55 pm

Observer, Yes, it is, provided you have a bit of appliqué on it. Hardened steel works (so it was claimed for the Stormer vehicles) Even the old CVR(T) vehicles were allegedly protected from 14.5mm over the frontal arc. Those were all somewhat less than 15 tonnes, let alone 20.

Observer
Observer
May 10, 2014 9:09 pm

The Bionix and the Stormer are of similar dimensions and capabilities, only major difference was a steel frame vs an aluminium one, but even that single difference drove the weight to 2x that of the Stormer. (Or was that steel armour vs aluminium armour? Did the Stormer have an aluminium frame or a steel one?)

To be fair though, there was a turretless variant that dropped the weight down to 17 tons. But that left people with a rolling box that was simply a target, something that seriously displeased them. They feel much better if they can kill whatever is trying to kill them.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 10, 2014 9:22 pm

Engagement distance plays a big role. This is for the base Ulan, from which the SV Scout is being improved (lifted from a globalsecurity review):
“The armor provides protection against 30 mm projectiles to distances of 1000m on both sides the driving vehicle longitudinal axis from the front; armor-piercing 14.5 mm projectiles to distances of 500 m on both sides the driving vehicle longitudinal axis from the front; 7.62 mm projectiles to distances of 30 m complete; and shard from 155 mm artillery. Apart from the standard armour, various additional armor protection is possible or provided at the Spz Ulan.”
– sounds like they have used google translation (from German?)

Includes the answer to mr. fred’s question “how close is close”
– 7.62 mm projectiles to distances of 30 m complete

Chris
Chris
May 12, 2014 7:22 am

A few more thoughts and snippets of information in no particular order…

Obs – Stormer was (is?) a full welded aluminium structure. When I was last in front of one on the line there were only a couple of external disruptor plates added – a strip across the nose just under the glacis and possibly a facing plate on the beam at the front of the roof – otherwise the aluminium was the armour protection. Engine compartment covers were steel but then they had the steel louvre packs welded into them. As for effectiveness of aluminium armour, given enough thickness (approx 3x) it seemed to work as well as steel RHA, although I’m not expert enough to know detailed performance against each type of threat (MrFred might well be correct that a high hardness disruptor is needed to defeat 14.5AP, at least with a rational thickness of armour). It does explain why both aluminium and steel AFVs end up much the same weight though; aluminium is a third the weight of steel but to get equivalent protection it needs to be three times thicker.

RT – another bit about noise – there was a trial on top of a hill near Imber that was set up to test which technology was best for detecting helicopters on simulated attack runs. This was early 90s. Two of us from the company were invited to observe. On the hilltop were an array of systems – some ready for the military, some a bit of a lash up – that included radar, optical, thermal imager, acoustic, ESM. It was a well chosen day as the weather provided 50mph horizontal sleet from the West (helo approach from the Southern sector). In maybe a dozen simulated attacks the first detection method was consistent and consistently accurate; it was my colleague who would point into the howling grey gale and say “There!” because he’d heard the approaching Lynx. This was interesting from two perspectives – firstly that even in foul weather a pair of human ears beat every carefully tuned purpose built techno detector, secondly and more surprisingly that no matter how hard the wind blows and how much stuff its blowing across the gap between the noise emitter and the two ears, the noise is still detected on an accurate bearing. Not deflected at all. One other interesting point – the Lynx of the time (AH7?) was very quiet thermally from the front; the cockpit glazing shielded engine/transmission heat very effectively.

ACC – quite correct about the importance of range on projectile effects. If I remember school physics well enough the projectile momentum is proportional to speed and mass, their energy is proportional to mass and the square of impact speed (unless explosive warhead of course), but wind resistance rises at the cube of speed. The mass of projectiles is small, so momentum is lost to wind resistance much faster in the case of small calibre high velocity projectiles than in the case of larger calibre lower velocity projectiles (same momentum). Of course no-one makes the larger calibre weapons deliberately slow; they are forced out of the muzzle with as high a velocity as possible to deliver the hardest punch possible on target. However the physics does explain why larger calibre projectiles remain effective over longer ranges and why their effectiveness does not drop off as fast with increasing range as it would with smaller calibre projectiles. The same physics of wind resistance also explains why, in order to raise top speed from 408kph to 431kph, the engine power of the Bugatti Veyron needed to be raised 20%.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 12, 2014 7:58 am

Chris, where is the formula that explains (for small calibre rounds) the critical effect of diameter to length ratio for retaining punching power over longer ranges? I guess for explosive warheads you start with optimising that design first, and the next parameter to optimise is the overall ammo load (propellants included) so the issue mainly comes up for man-portable weapons… Someone put the limit at 14.5, so anti-material rifles would be a borderline case.

Chris
Chris
May 12, 2014 8:10 am

ACC – I think you need to find an expert to answer questions like that. I do recall though a discussion with an aero engineer who pointed out that the removal of external door handles from train doors had more effect on the aerodynamic efficiency than would be possible in replacing the bluff non-aerodynamic nose of the train with a sharp pointy one. Sometimes the flanks of a high speed object are more draggy than the nose. As for 14.5mm being used as a benchmark round, I was under the impression this was only because the Soviet heavy machine gun was 14.5mm and had AP rounds. I didn’t think it was anything to do with high academic science determining limiting cases?

x
x
May 12, 2014 8:22 am

It has been a long time since I have Tony Williams here………..

Tom
Tom
May 12, 2014 8:25 am

Chris – Exactly right re 14.5mm benchmark. Soviet HMG so the heaviest anti-infantry weapon likely to be faced. I wonder whether the Soviets worked on a 12.7mm benchmark for their armour.

Observer
Observer
May 12, 2014 8:51 am

Tom, nah they were more worried about enemy anti-tank weapons so they really went nuts over ERA. Blocks and blocks of that stuff over everything.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 12, 2014 9:04 am

Observer, do you mean their APCs as well?

Chris
Chris
May 12, 2014 2:31 pm

I have always thought there was much wisdom in the theory of survival that went “Don’t get seen. If you’re seen don’t get hit. If you’re hit don’t get penetrated.” This I interpret as 1) be stealthy and difficult to detect; 2) present a difficult target; 3) have sufficient protection. In that order. In terms of the vehicle designs that translates to 1) be quiet, as small as possible and have no trihedral radar reflectors, 2) be small and very nimble/fast/mobile, 3) have basic old fashioned good protection level armour. Covering the outer surfaces with 5t of explosive bricks seems unnecessary and unnerving.

monkey
monkey
May 12, 2014 2:55 pm


re 12.7 mm or 14.5 mm protection I would have gone for the upper as not only the west could be a possible combatant but also China as well as members of the former Soviet block who also use that calibre.

S O
S O
May 12, 2014 3:12 pm

“theory of survival that went “Don’t get seen. If you’re seen don’t get hit. If you’re hit don’t get penetrated.””

To penetrate first is much more important in AFV vs AFV combat than avoiding hits or penetrations.
That’s why developers and trainers attempt to shave off deciseconds from the engagement drill.

Chris
Chris
May 12, 2014 3:17 pm

SO – a fine theory as long as you are positive you will see the opposition before (or at the same time) they see you…

monkey
monkey
May 12, 2014 3:42 pm


I agree with you on the small fast nimble and carry just enough armour to take a round or two from your peers. re the small aspect, people being people sized has a few factors , do you build your tanks to accommodate the 97th percentile man or as was the earlier practice of choosing smaller framed individuals limiting your crew options. Also crew size , 2 , 3 ,4, 5? Workload and automation are a factor in this choice. From your earlier posts you have done extensive work ups and designs on this matter with possible permutations being many. Myself I would go for the short bloke option with a crew of three , driver sitting in front gunner and commander just behind ala McLaren F1 seating ,behind them a turretless gun system (take your pick based on role) At the back either side of the troop compartment a couple of fixed output multifuel gensets powering a battery setup which feeds hub mounted motors driving all wheels to a rubber banded track. The gensets work alternatively or together to top up the battery as required with a small APU to trickle charge the batteries during layup and provide heating/cooling to were needed. Silent running with low heat signature would be possible on batteries only say cross country for 20km before drained and to allow the tank to ford rivers for a short duration submerged.

x
x
May 12, 2014 4:04 pm

Surely with modern gun laying technology at a given distance and speed a 5m long vehicle is as vulnerable as a 10m long vehicle?

Chris
Chris
May 12, 2014 4:39 pm

Monkey – thanks (!) – some good ideas in there which I might use mercilessly if I create yet another different concept without funding… Sorry – couldn’t resist.

The crew seating locations are really defined by armour envelope (I try to avoid blast pockets – internal corners as viewed from outside the hull in which blast fronts would trap and concentrate – this means there is a consequent restriction on interval volume shape) and by system components. So far I only have one vehicle where I have that seating arrangement and to do that I had to compromise on the blast pocket rule; the reason being it was the only way to get enough internal space to make a valid vehicle given the other constraints of that particular role. Most of the vehicles, while being small compared to the modern matt green fleets, are still hefty by civilian transport measure. This of course is no surprise; anyone coming upon Scorpion/Scimitar in traffic would see how they dwarf cars around them; even Ferret is big in rush hour traffic. But much of the bulk is either occupied by tracks (between which the hull crew must fit) or wheel-arches with all the space needed for wheels suspension & steering components and the swept volume required for full steering and suspension motion (military vehicles have big wheels and requirements for long travel suspension and small turning circles – all conspire to make the wheel arch volume big). The upshot of all this is that military vehicles made as small as possible end up much smaller inside and bigger outside than civilian vehicles would be. Such is the nature of the beast… So two personnel side by side is a realistic limit for vehicles of less than 3m overall width, if dealing with tracks or many-axle wheeled vehicles, unless the option is taken to go tall, in which case the crew sit above not between the tracks/wheels – I have not taken that option. I have however retained 97th percentile personnel accommodation if only because anything less would these days be kicked out immediately by Tick-Box-Charlie at MOD’s DE&S or any equivalent purchasing organisation in the West. That also applies pressures on internal volume allocation.

I have a remote turret; not to Army liking, mostly down to a lack of trust in the adequacy of fitted systems – “What if the gun jams?” “How can I access comms kit front panels if they’re in a remote turret?” “I need to be able to operate head-out at the highest point of the vehicle to assure situational awareness” and so on. No amount of arguing that systems would be reliable or electronic vision of high enough resolution would make a remote turret acceptable. As a consequence I also have a manned turret. The conservative attitude is sort of understandable, but if remote systems are not accepted the options for making big steps forward in military vehicle design are extremely limited.

x – aiming at smaller targets might be no harder, but without guided munitions there must still be a hit probability related to CEP which gives a smaller target a slightly better chance; also if smaller means more nimble and easier to find effective natural cover, a bit more advantage again.

monkey
monkey
May 12, 2014 5:29 pm


By all means use what you will :-)
Re the unmanned turret it seems other countries notable Russia is ok with this for example the BMPT mentioned a few days ago, reliability on most systems comes down to settling on what you want and staying there (i.e. don’t introduce new variables with a can we just add ? policy) , then testing testing testing . Bang a couple of million rounds through it in all the possible operation conditions and wait for it to break/jam , develop reasonable maintenance schedules and strategies for what next if it does break under combat conditions. Also if its supposed to stop small arms fire ,hose it down during these tests with a few million rounds, air burst shells/mortars over it , use grenade launchers at it , don’t wait until combat to be really sure the it will protect those who serve.
I know the standards drawn up for the but they cannot possibly cover every eventuality can they.
p.s. I would propose operating it by remote during these tests :-)

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 12, 2014 6:38 pm

Chris,

Out of interest, how much resolution do you think adequate for situational awareness?

Monkey,
How much do you reckon that a few million rounds of ammunition and sufficient vehicles for testing would cost?

monkey
monkey
May 12, 2014 6:46 pm

@mr.fred
Random figures :- the ammunition £1bn, manpower £1bn , 10 x prototypes £1bn
The same as FRES then and at least you would have , if extremely battered , 10 vehicles which is more than FRES has produced for its £3bn .

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 12, 2014 7:14 pm

Monkey,
Touche.
Although, starting from here, would the cost be worth it, especially if you ran the tests, found that they did not meet your requirements, and had to do it all again?

Chris,
A further thought. The advantage of the unmanned turret seems to me to only work if you already have enough headroom in the hull (i.e. on an APC/IFV hull) and you don’t care about protecting the turret systems, at least to the same extent as the hull. What, to you, is the attraction?

monkey
monkey
May 12, 2014 7:21 pm

@mr.fred
“Although, starting from here, would the COST be worth it, especially if you ran the tests, found that they did not meet your requirements, and had to do it all again?”
Sending men into the hot zone in something as crap as a snatch landrover facing threats we all ready new existed i.e. NI’s version of IED , 100kg of fertilizer and diesel .If the tests fail ,that a good thing we found out now not in combat.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 12, 2014 9:02 pm

Monkey,
Bearing in mind that the cost of such a large set of tests would also include the opportunity forgone, the cost is not purely monetary, though that is a good way of measuring it. Rather than blitzing a vehicle with a million rounds, it would make far more sense to ensure that the armour design works, then that the joints between plates work, then that particular features, such as moving parts, work, then you might use a few vehicles testing those features and joints that only exist on real vehicles and those threats that are only applicable against the whole vehicle.
Testing at each stage allows you to go over the design until you get something that works without having to change large parts of the design. Ultimately the testing on the full vehicle ought to be confirming what you already really know.

I would be very surprised if any armoured vehicle in the British army wasn’t tested and all weak spots known. The CAV100 vehicles (the infamous Snatch) were tested and stopped everything that they were supposed to stop. The problem was the threats that they weren’t supposed to stop.

Chris
Chris
May 13, 2014 6:50 am

OK, so why are remote turrets better than manned ones? Here is a short list:

1. Without personnel volume the turret can be made physically smaller. This means for the same protection level there are big savings in weight.
2. Without personnel there is much reduced need for controlled environment. If manned, there are demands on volume of fresh air, temperature controlled and filtered (CBRN filtration is rumoured to be in vogue this year). All the kit in remote turrets want is enough cooling/heating to stay safe and some dust control; the turret does not need to be fully sealed.
3. Even more compact remote turrets tend to have room for extra systems. Assuming the turret systems are armoured to make them survivable and are not gun-on-stick devices, there will be volumes of enclosed protected space. Into these go secondary weapon systems, sensor systems, masts if required, batteries/APU if desired, stowage.
4. If the turret takes a direct hit there isn’t necessarily any injured crew. Especially if there is an armoured boundary between turret ring and crewspace.
5. The lack of turret basket frees large volumes for other stuff in the hull below. Extra space for stowage, personnel, systems, rations or fuel.

But then, why are manned turrets better than remote turrets? Here’s a list:

1. Head-out operation is enabled. Most Army types put much more trust in Mk1 Eyeball (and Ears, Pair, Listening, For The Use Of) than in remote sensors, even though tactically the thermal image is becoming the primary view. In situations where manoeuvring through crowds is required the ability of the man out the top to see all round fast enough to avoid accidents is highly valued. As is the ‘soft issue’ of having a recognisably human face in charge of a 50t armed armoured monster rumbling through often scared people’s lands.
2. There’s direct access to systems to detect and address equipment failure. Gun jams, poor electrical connections, fallen obstructions preventing mechanical movement of turret/gun/sensors etc.
3. The turret crew always align with the weapon. Seemingly unimportant, but the relation between motion sensing via inner ear and the view presented to the eye has a huge effect on the brain – discrepancy between these generally causes motion sickness. (Ever read a book in the car? Bleagh! And the steering wheel gets in the way.) Motion sickness is debilitating and made worse if there is a need for concentration on fine detail.
4. Manned turret generally provides a separate hatch for each member of the crew. This may help egress in sticky situations although exiting at the highest point in a combat zone is far from ideal. In the case of remote turrets there may be a queue for the hull door.
5. Using turret volume as crewspace marginally increases total vehicle volume. Although the volume lost to turret basket and inaccessible areas around it can completely negate this.

Pluses and minuses. There is never a ‘right’ answer in engineering, instead there is just the best balance of compromises for the given task.

Observer
Observer
May 13, 2014 7:21 am

mr fred, 8 megapixals and 125 degree screens :)

Which is much much more than you’ll ever get out of a vision block. Hell, even 125 degree vision is pushing it considering that the human head can’t absorb that degree of vision all at once, which means parts of the screen is unwatched.

Tradeoff is that you might lose peripheral vision, but gain sight in other frequencies. You can’t see a guy prone in the bush. Your TI camera can. Wonder if you can turn millimeter radar into a decent picture. Then you can add radar vision to the mix.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 13, 2014 8:41 am

Observer, yes you can. Only highly reflecting objects, like those made of metal will be sharp, but the blur around it will be good enough to tell you where that object is sitting… And then you can home in by other means.

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy
May 13, 2014 8:52 am

My money is on the combination of crew pods and unmanned turrets.

Has anyone else heard the rumours that the new Russian MBT will be like this?

The third element in the “winning” combination is something like this
http://www.rheinmetall-chempro.de/index.php?fid=1951&lang=3
… When a leading guns & ammo producer buys a controlling interest in an armour solution, then you know it is a significant step forward. The speculation is that v few Leo A7s will get ordered as upgrading the earlier ones with AMAP gives you much better VFM

monkey
monkey
May 13, 2014 9:06 am


“Ever read a book in the car? Bleagh! And the steering wheel gets in the way”
I find it use full to support the weight of a hardback ,especially on a long motorway journey :-)

@mr fred
I agree with everything you said re the design build up , but then spray the final design with a million rounds etc just to be sure.

p.s I am sure the snatch was fully tested to it design requirements but then used somewhere that grossly exceeded those boundaries in Afghanistan , boundaries we knew before we got there , we had full reports of the tactics used by the mujahedeen against the Russians and those same men led the fight against us with the Taliban. One report I read had an IED detonated fractionally early on a snatch , the occupants survived but the whole front end and engine block was blown sideways 50m.

Chris
Chris
May 13, 2014 9:07 am

Obs – an interesting subject, human vision. Many animals, even sharp-eyed hunters, apparently have little cognitive vision processing capability according to those that investigate brain structure. That which we define as ‘sight’ is almost exclusively the cognitive processed assessment of what our eyes detect, hence we classify and inspect and identify and cross-correlate etc. This is process intensive and relatively slow. But there is a second area of brain hooked to the optical nerve feed, and this is common and well developed in vision priority animals, and it is the instinctive motion detector. Ever wondered why you duck & close your eyes before being aware something is about to hit your face? Or wondered why a cat will hunt a piece of string being tugged & jerked to move like a small rodent? The cat doesn’t notice ‘string’ does not look like ‘mouse’, its reacting instinctively to rodent-style movement. The stuff we see ‘out of the corner of the eye’ is the instinctive sight centre at work. It operates on very different criteria and is tuned to different priorities. Its the bit of the brain that identifies quickly and accurately which people at a distance are looking directly back at you – we all know which people are staring directly at us even if when we inspect the person with foreground cognitive sight we can’t actually determine clearly the white, iris or pupil of the person’s eyes. Different bit of brain, different job.

So. Use of electronic vision, even in wide angle surround-screen technicolour glory, will shield information the instinctive element of sight normally picks up. But it adds sharper focus and zoom capability and vision in many spectral bands. It may well improve the foreground analytical vision capability of the user but at the expense of instinctive fight/flight threat detection.

There is stuff I still don’t get about vision. Like being able to detect someone staring at you when they are out of your field of vision? And yet when you spin round you know exactly where to look? Perhaps, you might say, we assess situations and just on the balance of probability we react. Maybe. But as an experiment, next time you see a cat idly walking away from your house and not looking in your direction, give it a long cold stare at the back of its head – there is a high probability it will become less relaxed and more agitated and will start glancing around nervously looking for the observer – it knows its being watched. A little harmless fun for lazy evenings.

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 13, 2014 6:57 pm

Observer,
8MP and 125 degrees would correspond to four 1080p displays and cameras, assuming a 64:9 aspect ratio. Fine if you can stream that in real time. At 24 bits per pixel, that’s 192 megabits per frame, or 4800 megabits per second if you are working on 25 frames a second (600 megabytes/sec?) Pretty hefty, especially if you also have other data streams and more than one set of cameras.
The data transfer rate is probably doable, but I don’t know if you could do it real time with a network robust enough for military use.

While the user will only be looking at a small part of the screen, they can change where they are looking very rapidly, so having a wide field of view available for instantaneous inspection makes sense.

Even if you do have the requisite screens and cameras, you still lack stereoscopic vision and the ability to move your point of view compared to operating head-out or even compared to a decent set of vision blocks.

Chris,
Without personnel requirements you can make the turret smaller but you must at the same time make the hull bigger to accommodate the crew that you have moved there. Unless the vehicle already has the room in the hull.

Observer
Observer
May 13, 2014 7:25 pm

mr fred, the stereoscopic vision problem isn’t one I’ve noticed at long range, but you are right, at closer ranges, it becomes a huge problem. I’ve personally been involved in 2 accidents caused specifically by that lack and witness to one which it could be a contributing factor. The item in question was night vision binoculars while infiltrating by motorcycle. That damn thing is all 2D, so you can’t judge distance at close range which almost led me to garotte myself on marking tape thinking it was still far away.. Long range, people estimate distance by comparing size to known objects, not 3D separation, so it’s less of a problem there.

I can only assume people who use projected screens for combat vehicles are assuming engagement at a decent range. Like the infantrymen near APCs post we discussed, contact at that range is a fair rarity, so I guess they are not too worried about it.

I hope.

monkey
monkey
May 13, 2014 7:43 pm

Re all round vision , on the video report on the progress the F35 is making the Navy guy mentioned the helmet display systems giving an 360 degree view based on where you are looking along with information feeds/targeting info. Is this being put forward for armoured vehicles crew? Taking a real time feed from the optical/EM sensors to such a system could prove to be as an effective tactical boost as was proposed for the Typhoon helmet system and now promised for the F35 surely?

Observer
Observer
May 13, 2014 7:58 pm

Sure monkey, anyone wants to pay for a 150 million dollar tank? :P

“All round vision” is less effective for land than air based systems. Too much stuff on land cluttering the place. Besides that, how much can you take in at once? You may have 360 degrees helmet vision, but you only still have a 90 degree head.

Chris
Chris
May 13, 2014 8:25 pm

Ref HMD and the like – pretty sure its a question of cost. One HMD system plus sensors fitted to a £150m combat aircraft and flown by an extensively trained pilot who has spent years working through the system on Bulldog (equivalent), Tucano and Hawk to prove he/she is made of the right stuff is an affordable option. Three HMD systems plus sensors (and anti-interference measures between HMD) in a £2m vehicle operated by personnel who have had considerably less training in vehicle control, emergency procedures and even I suspect combat manoeuvres is quite different, even more so when there are a few dozen FJs but a couple of thousand AFVs to equip. Oh and the average HMD is huge so that the visor stands off a distance from the eye (and gives volume for the projectors etc), creating a large vulnerable helm – think http://static.memrise.com/uploads/things/images/20465545_131020_1748_48.jpg – which would not only force larger internal volume requirements for crewspaces (the 40mm clearance from helmet to roofplate is one of the few must-be-met HF requirements) but would also drive a need for much bigger access hatches.

When I was on the TRACER studies I found a two-eye dual display system that was very compact, allowed vision through the displays (necessary) and fitted like a mask allowing standard headgear/headphones etc to be worn. Really good. The company was American; aimed at the civilian hunting market (??) and when last I looked had invoked a US-sales-only marketing strategy. The webpage made it very clear they would not sell to scum of the earth (non-Americans) under any circumstances. Shades of Deliverance; the vague sound of duelling banjos in the distance… I can find no record on the web of either the device or the company now. But the concept was sound; with the arrival of gaming head-worn displays that are slim & lightweight maybe a sensible AFV wearable display system will eventually turn up. I could design one but there’s a limit to how much funding I can sink into speculative design effort…

But until HMD are compact, robust, and cheap, I doubt they will find their way into AFVs.

Obs – you beat me to it, with a much more concise explanation…

mr.fred
mr.fred
May 13, 2014 8:30 pm

Observer,
I can totally get behind screens for long range engagement, but the wide area search and immediate surroundings are also very important. Not all battles take place on a billiard table where there is also no danger of falling down the pockets. Close in vision is useful for avoiding bumping into or falling down things.
That said; wide angle cameras are great for driving because you can get vision to where you could never see from a hatch much less from inside a tank using conventional vision devices.

monkey
monkey
May 13, 2014 9:33 pm

@Observer
The helmet does not cost $150m
The engine alone is $58m on our version.
Have you had a neck injury ? 90 degree head movement ?
You know as well as I do that development cost + manufacturing cost divided by numbers produced equal the cost to customer , if the there are minimal development cost i.e it all ready works in the F35 and you produce a another 5000 on top of an existing 2500 (all ready paid for production line) the unit cost drops.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
May 13, 2014 10:06 pm

Didn’t someone post a link to an article about the Norwegians testing the Oculus Rift with an AFV a few days ago?

Chris
Chris
May 13, 2014 10:46 pm

Monkey – I don’t think aviation qualified hi-tech oojamaflips are sold cheap if there’s a bulk buyer on hand. Supply & demand levers still apply and the supply would remain tightly limited if only to keep the selling price astronomical.

DN – they did; this is approaching the domain from exactly the opposite corner – cheap but limited technical performance. But as a first experiment its valid.

The goal is to get adequate performance at low unit price; for that I suspect developing the commercial systems would get there faster than trying to engineer a cut-price flight-certified weapon-grade Gucci-sight. But we’ll see.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
May 13, 2014 11:35 pm

@ Chris, the good old remote turret saga has been raging on ever since Huntsman Sqn 2RTR had the S Tank for 6 months.
As you indicate pro’s and con’s for and against both concepts, but for MBT’s the case has never been the engineering it has been personnel. A troop only has so many personnel; you are in a location where the troop may be isolated, you must provide ground sentry, static or mobile or really unlucky both. The wind is coming from a completely different direction to where the main threat is so if there is a CBRN element you need to provide the chemical sentry upwind. The chemical sentry is masked up and the ground sentry is focused on his task, there might be an Air threat so you may have to provide an Air Sentry. You will also need someone on radio watch.

You arrive at the location after a replen at dark o clock, the troop carries out its tasks and the “stags” start straight away, normally maximum of an hour at a time. You do this sometimes day after day, I can tell you after 3 days of either live training or exercising in BATUS you and the rest of the troop are mentally and physically f$%ked. And that’s with a four man crew, try that with a three man tank crew in a tank troop and it is absolute hell as Huntsman Sqn found out. Human errors racked up fast because of complete tiredness.

The Mk 1 eyeball has no place in an MBT for anything other than spatial awareness when closed down. Head up, turret open is OK, as a Commander if your shoulders where out then you were in deep shit in a tactical environment, peace time movement is a different ball game. When closed down (a new commander’s night mare in BATUS) then optical and thermal sights are great for target location, but when “jockeying” i.e. moving from one tactical bound to another, that’s when the Mk 1 eyeball really comes in because you can be reversing at 20 mph with the hull going one way the turret and gun pointing in a complete different direction. You then have to move without being seen and not crashing into anything or your own troop tanks and if you are a Troop Sgt or Leader then you need to look out of the episcopes and be aware of where the rest of the troop is heading and ensure the gunner and the troop keep the guns on the threat area all times.
If you are glued to TV screens or main sights it will all go to rat shit. You end up facing the wrong way, far too far away from the rest of the troop in a hull up position being bollocked rigid by safety staff.

Chris
Chris
May 14, 2014 7:16 am

I have never used an AFV in anger but have tried the seats a few times. I describe the driver task (to those who have never been inside armour) being akin to trying to drive a house when only allowed to look out through the letterbox. One of my bosses said ‘once inside a vehicle with the hatches down the crew is both blind and deaf’. Clearly (pun!) there is a need to get better vision and possibly hearing for all personnel under armour; the difficulty is getting the right capability at an affordable price.

In some of my designs (wheeled) I chose to use windows – sorry, ‘transparent armour’ – rather than hatch & periscope set-up, not only because the situational awareness is much better with broad azimuth direct vision, but also because the resulting vehicle looks more “Hearts & Minds” and not “Shock & Awe”. Wheeled vehicles, even matt green monsters, look less aggressive & less ‘dangerous’* than tracked vehicles, and its helpful to deflate tension in the local populace to keep vehicles’ appearance as benign as possible. There was an edict in the times of The Troubles that no tracked vehicles were to be used in NI as the reaction would be that the Gov’t had sent ‘tanks’ against its own citizens**. So instead of Spartan we used Saracen – almost the same from a tactical point of view but a truck not a tank according to the media – and Humbers. Although by the time The Troubles had ratcheted up to full-on anti-army conflict the chunky Humber had grown into one of the most aggressive looking thugs on wheels: http://www.nam.ac.uk/images/online/northern-ireland-1969-2007/images/104068.jpg, http://www.milweb.net/webverts/36053/a.jpg

*The only thing that signalled times were desperately dangerous more than the appearance of tanks on the street was the arrival of the BBC News team with Kate Adie…
** Tracks were used – once – in The Troubles; AVRE were deployed to shift barricades for a few hours on 31 July 1972.

monkey
monkey
May 14, 2014 9:46 am

@David Niven
The article you mentioned re 360 degree head set from Oculus Rift used to help drive a tank.
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27292447#
Oculus Rift 2 sells for $350 (three hundred and fifty USD) from their website
https://www.oculusvr.com/order/
When it works like this I am buying one

Observer
Observer
May 14, 2014 11:51 am

monkey, no neck injury. Practical demonstration. Tomorrow, count how many times you looked straight behind you. The world is 360 degree. Your FOV and vision habits are not. And you are way too optimistic on the price. Planes and their systems run into the 100 million dollar + range for fighters. A tank is only about 5 million +/- (Abrams is about 8 million per). You are looking at equipment that are one magnitude of cost apart, even without the engine (140 million for the F-35 minus 58 million is still 82 million for the frame and electronics, still close to the 100 million ballpark).

CBRN, S-tank? The one with a fixed forward gun and looks stepped on? :) It’s an interesting rarity, don’t think anyone uses a fixed turret tracked MBT any more. Fascinating stuff.

The Other Chris
May 14, 2014 12:05 pm

Commercial units such as Oculus Rift have quite a narrow frustum.

The jitter problem the HMDS was struggling to deal with on the F-35 is due to the order of magnitude greater area of view, aligned with calculating proper perspective of the pilot and delivering that in a reasonable latency.

Current unit reported to be down to sub 150ms latency. Newer version due for delivery Q3/Q4. No spec update on that yet.

By comparison, latest Oculus Rift is aiming for 30ms latency, narrow frustum, no perspective. Think the software would need a port and rewrite to be military grade as I don’t think it meets determinism or real-time standards off the top of my head.

Very useful for proof of concept though.

monkey
monkey
May 14, 2014 12:36 pm

@Observer
Sorry about the neck thingy :-)
The Oculus Rift along with Google glasses are driving the technology costs down ,the Norwegians used COTS just to see if it was worth funding some research of their own , the Oculus Rift they used could not clearly define even if a person was carrying a weapon at any range beyond 15m! They deemed it a ‘partial success’ with a view to continuing with more research .They used both the original Oculus Rift , the link I provided and cost was for the new version, which was also used in the latest report. Its along way to go yet to get an affordable system but I predict it will be in service with someone before FRES enters service.

Observer
Observer
May 14, 2014 12:50 pm

On a practical note, lots of times, we’re just reinventing the wheel. The US had an old “Future Combat Systems” 40 ton “pancake” tank which was driven by camera. Think it was in 2007. Unfortunately the program was so in the future in both concept and price that it was canned. Think youtube still has some videos on it.

Chris
Chris
May 14, 2014 1:17 pm

Obs – here is the filmshow: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2AZe8jOuGpo

monkey
monkey
May 14, 2014 2:49 pm

The Future combat system family is very interesting and the US Army where right behind it but the money just wasn’t there post the global 2008 F**K up .The 155mm NLOS-Cannon was built and tested and ready to go , it seems like the LSAT machine gun they put the budget on the most complicated version first with the remaining family being all based on the same chassis ,drive train , electronics suite etc. There was to be a 120mm mortar carrier ,SV , IFV etc .

wf
wf
May 14, 2014 3:13 pm

Biggest problem with the FCS was that they were obsessed with air portability: originally everything had to fit in a C130 and weigh no more than 20 tons. Needless to say, this was wildly impractical. Now, if they had specified MLC50 and C17 portability, we might have seen the platform in service now :-(

monkey
monkey
May 14, 2014 3:36 pm


Yes it seems for weight the sacrificed almost all armour , relying on active defences pretty much for everything above small arms/HMG fire.
At 20 tonnes they have got themselves an option for the Future (pun intended) to put this project into service if air mobility still keeps up as a priority( with all those C130’S out there ,over 500 in service with the US armed forces ! That a hell of deployment.) I think the FCS programme was to replace the Stryker family which I believe was brought in as an interim solution to Project Objective Force.

Chris
Chris
May 14, 2014 8:45 pm

Talking of very light very fast army wagons, beat this: http://www.webwombat.com.au/motoring/car-images/porsche-911-carrera-army-camo-2-big.jpg (Hah those crayszhy Dutch peoplesh!) Would this beat the humble bicycle for recce? Would it be the ultimate Rapid reaction wagon? Short on firepower though, and the support costs would be astronomical.