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Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
June 21, 2014 8:48 pm

As ex pat mad Ulsterman, non terrorist type, & ex Police Authority & private security employee, living in northern Frogland, can confirm the French miss no chance trying to flog kit. The present exercise with the Canadians, is sure to be a major sales opportunity for flogging ships, aircraft, & blindées to the Maple syrup lovers. It’ll look pretty with a maple leaf on it the BPC, armoured car, Rafale; FREMM, etc, etc, etc, c’mom, c’mon buy one, you know you want it. One day Canada will actually sign a contract & start modernising it’s forces.

June 21, 2014 9:44 pm
Swimming Trunks
Swimming Trunks
June 21, 2014 11:08 pm
Slightly Agricultural
Slightly Agricultural
June 22, 2014 12:25 am


Hmm, I heard rumblings about buying M777, something about the production lines closing. I think BAE were trying to tempt Larkhill and extract a last few orders by offering a “deal”.

Dropshorts probably didn’t like that they were told they could have it to factory spec, or not at all. No scope for “Yeah, but could you just change…” which is our usual way of doubling the price of things.

Open competition (curse the EU…) is a very double edged sword. The Army gets rather miffed when they play with a new toy like CAESAR, decide “Yup, we’ll have some of those” and stump up a massive pile of cash to DE&S, only to (much later) be handed something totally different because “that’s what won the competition”.

June 22, 2014 3:53 am

t is worth noting that:

AS-90 has been in service barely more that 20 years. It is the most modern UK AFV, in GW2 it had the highest availability rate of all the main UK AFVs deployed.

L118 underwent a mid-life upgrade less than a decade ago, although cost constraints meant that most of the new titanium assemblies were not acquired, the most important assembly, a new recoil system was. Digital sights were introduced over a dozen years ago, the US Army has just caught up with this. New shell designs were introduced for HE (greatly improved lethality and IM compliant) and smoke (RP) about 5 years ago, and new illum has or is about to be selected. A BB ER shell is available but has never been acquired. This page suggests no shortage of spare barrels http://nigelef.tripod.com/p_105ltgun.htm

Referring to L118 as a ’40 year old gun’ is being a tad devious, but understandable from a marketing point of view.

The competition between Ceasar and portee M777 was for a gun for the three mech bdes, these no longer exist. The outcome has never been announced.

Brian Black
Brian Black
June 22, 2014 6:08 am

The Army plan had been to cut back on AS90 and MLRS units, but also to increase the number of Light Gun units by 2020.

I expect that this is more likely a rethink of the default idea of re-equipping regiments with the 105 gun, rather than evidence of any scheme to scrap a particular system.

Having said that though, perhaps features like Caesar’s barrel length (which didn’t quite make it to AS90 “Braveheart”), low minimum crewing, and rate of fire are being compared against possible upgrades to AS90. And if Caesar theoretically allowed batteries to be trimmed of a gun or two, and the odd crewman, without reducing effect at the target end, then those savings would add up over time.

June 22, 2014 9:12 am

‘It appears the experimentation work is not just focused on 155mm, but will review the 120mm mortar and guided multiple launch rocket system and other capabilities.’

Are the Army looking at a mix of 155mm and heavy mortars, like the French? Is TD on the cusp of getting his 120mm mortars for the light Bde’s?

The Other Chris
June 22, 2014 9:54 am

Complete with auto loaders?

June 22, 2014 11:22 pm

The question about 120mm mortars is well asked within the context of 8×8 vehicles. Vehicles like the Patria AMV Nemo or Amos provide significant firepower that can keep pace with an advancing formation. In a highly fluid campaign, that is a worthwhile benefit.

I share the view that VBCI is not the best choice for the UK. It is likely to be the most expensive to produce given that France has bought only 350 whereas most competing designs have been made in thousands, reducing the cost of spare parts which can now be sourced from several markets. Secondly, the suspension system is less good than Boxer, Piranha V and AMV. Thirdly, there is less interior space versus Piranha V and AMV XP. Fourth, although the engine has been made easier to change, there are still issues with the transmission . Fifth, 8×8 steering systems are incredibly important – get it wrong (Piranha) and the vehicle will overturn or, if you urge on the side of caution, the turning circle will be too large.

AMV, Centauro 2, Piranha V and 3+ are all post-Afghanistan designs that incorporate important revisions, whereas VBCI is still more or less the same vehicle we rejected in 2007. The basic VBCI design is quite heavy and when you add appliqué armour, the weight growth is considerable.

I tend to think that the Army will want to avoid any kind of criticism in their choice of vehicle. Any Stryker derivative (Piranha 3+) would be criticised after failings in Iraq, Boxer would be criticised because we previously rejected it, Piranha 5 would be criticised because so many other armies have rejected it. VBCI was also rejected previously. So, it is far more expedient to go for a different design.

I think this puts Freccia and AMV in a strong posit, both of which are combat proven. I think it all hinges on three factors:
– Unit cost and lifetime cost per vehicle
– Choice of UK manufacturing partner
– Growth potential of the platform

Perhaps the most significant nail in the VBCI’s coffin has nothing to do with actual vehicle suitability, but rather Francois Holland’s total failure to keep any political promises made to Cameron.

My only hope is that a proper objective evaluation is done.