The Power of 8 – Conclusions

Conclusion

What does this discussion mean for the Army’s proposed 2020 structure?

If all armoured vehicles can now be neutralised by tank guns or ATGMs, heavy armour is largely redundant. That being the case, we need to determine what is the minimum level of protection required for different vehicle types and, specifically, whether a medium armour capability can substitute heavy tanks.

The key areas governing choice of vehicle type are strategic mobility (ability to deploy long distances quickly), tactical flexibility (ability to switch tasks / redeploy once in theatre), off-road performance, protection (level of armour), firepower (organic weapons), reliability (mechanical integrity / ease of maintenance) and cost. Using these criteria (see below), medium armour wheeled vehicles appear to provide the best balance of characteristics.

Summary Comparison of Tracked AFVs versus Wheeled AFVs

Power of 8 Graphics 4

The British Army’s 3rd (UK) Division (The Reaction Force) will be substantially upgraded through the acquisition of FRES SV and upgrade programmes for Challenger 2 and Warrior. But even with new tracked vehicles, the three component brigades will remain heavy armoured units that lack the flexibility to deploy rapidly. Once deployed, however, they would certainly have sufficient organic firepower to be effective across a variety of roles.

The British Army’s 1st (UK) Division (The Adaptable Force) can rapidly deploy 6 Light Protected Mobility (LPM) battalions equipped with Foxhound and 3 Cavalry regiments equipped with Jackal. However, these units lack sufficient organic firepower to be used in anything other than counter insurgency / peacekeeping operations. There are no tanks or vehicles mounting tank guns or cannons. There are an additional 15 infantry battalions that have no protected mobility at all.

 

In line with every other army in Europe and every member of NATO, the British Army urgently needs a “go anywhere, do anything” capability that would be provided by a force equipped with a family of 8×8 wheeled vehicles. Therefore, the need to fast-track a reinvigorated FRES UV programme is paramount. This cannot simply be the purchase of a single-type 8×8 vehicle that is issued to various units on an ad hoc basis. The capability needs to be delivered via properly organised brigade structure in a new division.

A revised Army 2020 structure should be comprised of three core formations, a Heavy (tracked) Armoured Division (3rd UK Division), a Medium (Wheeled) Armour Division and a Light Division (1st UK Division). The three primary divisions would be supported by an air mobile brigade to provide a quick reaction force.

Proposed Structure for a Revised Army 2020

 Power of 8 Graphics 7

The revised structure above would create six fully capable multi-role armoured brigades as envisaged by the 2010 SDSR plus a further three light brigades suitable for COIN deployments. The three medium armoured brigades would be very similar to US Stryker brigades.

The overall number of regular infantry battalions would be increased from 30 to 37 to address manpower concerns. The total number of regular cavalry regiments would increase from 9 to 12. The number of reserve cavalry units would stay the same at 4. The number of reserve infantry battalions would be 10. The 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment would be returned to strengthen 16 Air Assault Brigade and a new “Ranger” regiment created to provide dedicated support for SF units.

The core weapons of the heavy armoured division would be Challenger 2’s 120mm gun and the 40mm CTA cannon mounted on Warriors and Scout SV vehicles. The core weapons of the medium armoured division would be similar: a low-recoil 120mm gun mounted on 8×8 Fire Support Vehicles (issued to cavalry units) and a 40mm CTA cannon mounted on 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicles. The Royal Artillery would provide four 155mm AS90 self-propelled gun regiments, four 105mm light gun regiments, and four missile / UAV regiments. It might also be worth adding four additional artillery regiments equipped with 8×8 artillery vehicles with either 155mm guns or heavy 120mm breech loading mortars.

A comparison of the costs of procuring a tracked brigade versus a wheeled brigade, amounts to a saving of approximately 40-50%% for the latter.(15)

Power of 8 Graphics 5

Cost comparison of tracked AFVs versus wheeled AFVs

In the final analysis, acquiring wheeled medium armour brigades would give the British Army a true “full spectrum” capability that would provide an inherent flexibility to fulfil any of its primary defence commitments. The right 8×8 platform: GD Stryker DVH, Patria AMV, KMW Boxer, Nexter VBCI, Iveco Freccia, or ST Kinetics Terrex, would combine excellent IED protection, unprecedented mobility and the ability to mount a variety of weapons. Although any of the 8×8 vehicles listed above can be bought commercially-off-the-shelf, the UK’s industrial defence strategy should make building them domestically a priority.

 

With individual 8×8 vehicles weighing less than 30 tonnes, we could easily airlift a wheeled brigade anywhere within Europe within 72 hours. We could also deploy it very rapidly within the United Kingdom if the need arose. An 8×8 formation could travel independently by road or track to any required region. Once in theatre it would be self-sufficient with a vastly reduced logistical footprint versus legacy tracked formations. It would have an inherent flexibility enabling it to operate integrally with tracked brigades, light protected units or the air mobile brigade.

 

The acquisition costs would be 40-50% less than buying a comparable tracked fleet. Maintenance and spare parts costs would also be reduced. By using a common platform we would simplify training and resupply.

 

The requirement for FRES UV is one of the UK’s most important defence procurement programmes. It is the Army’s equivalent of the Navy’s CVF or the RAF’s F-35. It represents a step-change in our military capabilities. Given the current state of 8×8 development, such a programme is not a complex, high risk endeavour but a straightforward process. The need for 8×8 vehicles is not only concerned with protected mobility, but also delivering direct offensive firepower to support troops on the ground. Ultimately, we will only be acquiring a capability that the armies of the USA, Canada, Germany, France, Italy, Poland, the Czech Republic, Finland, Sweden, the UAE, and even the Philippines, already have. Ultimately, it may no longer a question of whether we can afford to upgrade our AFV fleet, but whether we can afford not to.

 

 

 

Boxer Prototype
Boxer Prototype

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sources:

 

  • Brief Guide to Previous British Defence Reviews, Claire Taylor, House of Commons Library, October 2010.
  • Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty, HMSO, October 2010.
  • BBC interview with MoD spokesperson quoting official figures Radio 4, July 2013 in response to questions about Army redundancies.
  • Transforming the British Army – An Update, July 2013, MoD Publications.
  • General Sir Nick Houghton, Chief of the Defence Staff, 19 December 2013.
  • HM Treasury, UK Public expenditure Statistical Analysis (PESA) 2013
  • The Strategic Corporal: Leadership in the Three Block War, Gen. Charles C. Krulak, USMC, Marines Magazine, January 1999.
  • Stryker Combat Vehicles, Gordon L Rottman & Hugh Johnson, Osprey Publishing, 2006.
  • Cut to armed forces undermine nuclear deterrent, Richard Norton-Taylor, The Guardian newspaper, 27 March 2014.
  • IHS Janes
  • UK MoD
  • Author’s analysis based on RUSI estimates 2013, IISS Military Balance 2012 and IHS Janes
  • IISS Military Balance 2012
  • Lockheed Martin’s quoted unit cost for a Javelin antitank missile
  • IHS Janes / RUSI
  • The Yom Kippur War: The Epic Encounter that Transformed the Middle East, by Abraham Rabinovich, Schocken Books, ISBN 0805241760, 2005
  • LAV-25: The US Marine Corps’ Light Armored Vehicle, by James D’Angina, Osprey Publishing, 2011.
  • From Transformation to Combat, The First Stryker Brigade at War, by Mark J Reardon & Jeffrey A Charlston, Center of Military History, US Army, 2007.
  • French Army Post-Operations Debrief, 2013.
  • General Dynamics land Systems (Europe) / ASCOD.

 

 

 

188 Comments
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Hohum
Hohum
October 6, 2014 10:07 am

Monty,

I could spend all day nitpicking at individual parts of this series but it would be largely pointless as in general I agree- as does the Army, most western army’s and just about everybody else.

If one wants a global role that is flexible then medium infantry formations mounted in 8x8s need to form a key element of the overall force structure, most western forces have been moving in this direction. They must provide MRAP levels of IED protection though.

For anybody who has properly been following events in Syria, one of the key conclusions has to be that alongside the IED the ATGM is the next major threat in a hybrid environment, hard kill active protection systems are the answer but they are expensive and reliability needs improving.

Martin
Editor
October 6, 2014 10:37 am

@ Monty – A good article and some solid ideas. I like your Army structure and its a lot cleaner than the current one. However you are advocating a 25% increase in Army numbers. Even if we could get the extra money (which we can’t) I seriously doubt we could recruit in sufficent numbers to get the Army back up to this level.

Martin
Editor
October 6, 2014 11:07 am

@ Monty – one other point I would like to make about your army structure. With your forces deployed in 3’s it seems well set out to provide a rapid intervention at either battalion or divisional level. However it seems that it would struggle to deploy a coherent brigade size force on an enduring operation. This was the issue with the old force structure in Afghanistan that lead to force 2020. How would you tackle this issue?

Observer
Observer
October 6, 2014 12:18 pm

Interesting and well written article Monty, though there are some premise that I don’t agree with, but those points are rather specific and does not detract from the overall drive of the series.

Some of the points I disagree with:
1) That ATGMs are as effective as guns for effect.
-The possible opponents that the West can face have traditionally gone ERA heavy, which will affect missiles with shaped charges to a much greater extent than sabot.
– This is in combination with anti-missile systems like Arena and Drodz or off the shelf Israeli systems reduce missile effectiveness rather steeply.
2) IEDs are the future of warfare
-In a conventional war, minefields are laid out only in very specific locations and are usually required to be marked. I already laid out before that “IEDs” or mines as we used to call them, are defensive tools usually used to delay an enemy and are usually laid only at an objective or a major route that the enemy is likely to take, not at random behind your own lines. It would be painful if you killed your own logistics vehicles.
-The current spat of IED casualties is a specific scenario that combines a COIN campaign with asymetrical warfare and access to rear areas with the inability to separate friendly or neutral civilians from hostile combatants. This might mean that your tracked vehicles which might be only used in a “high tier” war might be able to do without a severe focus on IEDs.
3) Air deployed armour
-Unless you have a very focused doctrine on it like the French do, it might be better to just give it a miss than get a half past 6 capability.

Martin Ryder
October 6, 2014 12:18 pm

A tour de force, for which you deserve congratulations.

My understanding of Army 2020 (Transforming the British Army 2013, page 25) is that:
(a) one third of the Army’s major fighting units will be ready for or deployed on operations each year, each with an Operational Fleet of vehicles;
(b) one third will be training for operations, each with a Training Fleet; and
(c) one third will be employed on ‘other duties’, each with a Basic Unit Fleet.

This means that the numbers of vehicles, and associated costs, required for your excellent proposed Army 2020 design would be less than if all units were on full readiness for operations. However the personnel costs would remain the same and it is those costs that will kill the idea, whoever is in power in 2020.

I watch the Armed Forces TV news every night and have been dismayed by the ponderous deployment of the Challengers, etc of the QRH Armoured Battlegroup to Poland. No blame on QRH and no doubt the deployment would be speeded up by the MOD if the Russians looked likely to invade but it would seem that Putin could be drinking champagne in Paris before our tanks could reach the continent.

The MOD really should look at the idea of having an all 8 x 8 Armoured Force, even if that meant cancelling the Scout order. In the meantime the armoured battlegroup’s equipment should stay in Poland and 3 Division soldiers should rotate through the training area, as they do through Suffield.

Rocket Banana
October 6, 2014 1:02 pm

Very good Monty. I’ve been thinking along the same lines for a while except that I came to a slightly different Army 2020 structure.

I decided it was better use of resources to have a single heavy and single light division.

The medium “kit” then flanks the heavy division and acts as the centerpiece of the light division leaving no real need for a dedicated medium division. It simply allows certain assets of a deployed brigade (or battlegroup) to be used accordingly.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
October 6, 2014 2:12 pm

Surely an 8×8 brigade should be capable of self deploying to either southern Turkey or Estonia within 72 hours by road (and cross channel ferry), the travel time is quoted as 28 hours by car on google, to Tallinn, or 54 hours to Turkey’s south eastern most corner. Use air transport for support elements that can’t self deploy.
Also can they fill up at any service station, might be handy when deploying through friendly countries, or just on training.

monkey
monkey
October 6, 2014 2:53 pm


Nice article , you clearly point out the elephant in the room , our present fleet that use to fulfill the medium role is too old, too light and under armed and needs replacing quickly or we will end up in combat with a situation like in Afghan with troops in Snatch Land rovers being maimed or killed due to the inadequate preparation.
. Observer points out the use of defensive systems against missile threats by both Russia and the Israelis who have much recent experience against such threats in Chechnya and the Lebanon respectively, why don’t we have a similar system either in development or another’s on trail?

a
a
October 6, 2014 3:45 pm

Also can they fill up at any service station, might be handy when deploying through friendly countries, or just on training.

As the Germans did as they were moving through France, if I remember. Except that presumably the UK 8×8 div would have the RQMS following along at the end of the column with the regimental fuel card. (“Mileage, sir?”)

a
a
October 6, 2014 3:50 pm

Observer points out the use of defensive systems against missile threats by both Russia and the Israelis who have much recent experience against such threats in Chechnya and the Lebanon respectively, why don’t we have a similar system either in development or another’s on trial?

The trouble with active protection measures like Arena (and for that matter ERA) is that it is pretty unpleasant for any dismounts in the area. I don’t think British armour uses ERA, for exactly this reason. There was some talk about electromagnetic disruptive armour a few years back – not sure if that went anywhere.

Peter Feeney
Peter Feeney
October 6, 2014 4:36 pm

Flexibility to Deploy Quickly, Heavy Armour.
We got out of barracks to Survival Areas in 9 hours, from a standing start. We could fight across the full spectrum.
We deployed to TELIC in 21 days immediately after Xmas leave, having conducted a TTW package on BH Ranges. When we arrived on 24 Feb, (by sea, so out of our control), we did so after a Strategic change of dir to the southern route. We fought full spectrum.
Armour’s deployability is hindered by the willingness of the deployer to throw assets at moving it. Armoured forces can scale down – med/light forces are brushed aside by heavy forces…. As the Americans are so fond of saying, “Do the Math(s)”!
WHY must we accept that ALL armour will fall victim to tank guns and missiles? 1973? Canadians in Herrick? Israel’s (with Cas, accepted) EVERY tine they leave camp.
Please give example of defeat of the full spectrum (ie supported) armoured force by light/medium forces.
Oops!
And as for the invincibility of helis – US Aviation Bde, Iraqi Freedom, Karbala Gap anyone?
Success is about the right package, not about how fast your Whimpic can get to Brands Hatch! Get there firstest by all means, but with the mostest!

monkey
monkey
October 6, 2014 5:05 pm

@a
I see your point regarding dismounts not wanting to be just under an explosion :-)
In the instance of nearby dismounts or innocent civilians for that matter the system ,at the commanders discretion, could be turned off. The Trophy Windbreaker system used by the Israelis on their Merkava’s has stopped 5 anti-tank weapons during the recent Operation Protective Edge including RPG-29 , Kornet-E and the Konkurs. The US is looking at fitting this or a similar system to their vehicles as an extra layer of protection and would seem as a relatively cheap way of increasing survivability .

mr.fred
mr.fred
October 6, 2014 6:50 pm

It is my hypothesis that part of the reason the British Army is currently struggling with decades old vehicles is the repeated promises and failures of the all-conquering medium force.
A light/medium weight, strategically mobile force is desirable. It isn’t, however, going to be able to supplant heavy armour. It shouldn’t try as this distracts from it’s mission and results in years of faffing around trying to change the laws of physics.

Regarding the prevalence of IEDs (or, in conventional parlance, mines); If they are destined to be such a large part of future warfare, where is our capability in this future force structure? Our mobility and counter-mobility sections? I see a proliferation of direct-fire vehicles, but none designed to lay or clear mines, which seem to be important.

wf
wf
October 6, 2014 7:38 pm

@mr.fred: you’re certainly right about the will-o-wisp of “medium” vehicles. C130 compatibility requirements have wasted tens of billions so far. Buying more tank transporters seems a cheaper and better way of providing improved strategic mobility.

I suspect a reasonable level of air transportability means 2 vehicles per A400 or 4 per C17, which says 15 tonnes each, which sounds increasingly close to Foxhound type vehicles. Why not go for a two tier Army, with a light wheeled and medium/heavy tiers? Four bde’s of each.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 6, 2014 9:11 pm

An immense effort Monty, which must have taken a bloody age to write and put together. Couple of problems with it though;

“If all armoured vehicles can now be neutralised by tank guns or ATGMs, heavy armour is largely redundant.”
– I would strongly disagree with this. While modern tanks are becoming more vulnerable to a variety of modern threats, the reality is they remain immune to/less affected by, many of the old ones. By scaling everything down to 8x8s you’d just lower the firepower requirement for the enemy to take your vehicles out. Suddenly running into a company of BMPs now poses the real risk of your force being wiped out in short order.

If we go way back to WW2 and the era of widespread tank use, there were plenty of weapons kicking around on both sides that could kill the enemies AFVs. But as the size requirements of the defensive weapons went up, so did their expense and their scarcity. Small hand held weapons helped, but were chronically inaccurate beyond short ranges. Even though weapons abounded across the various theatres that were capable of preventing armoured thrusts, armoured thrusts still occurred on a routine basis.

The demise of the tank has been somewhat over stated I think.

The second gripe would be that there isn’t the money to pull off anything mentioned above. There won’t be any 8x8s coming because cuts are likely round the corner and so the MoD will have to make do with what it has.

Thirdly, I still don’t understand the obsession with the 8×8? In a full blown hot war no 8×8 will match a tracked IFV for off road mobility, which is the most important (you’re not going anywhere the tanks aren’t going, especially not if there are enemy tanks at the other end). And yet for peacetime operations Foxhound and Mastiff are going to be lighter (for your air transportability), cheaper (not least because we have them), easier to maintain, and sufficiently protected for COIN and peacekeeping work.

In summary, there is not scenario in which 8x8s seem to come out as the solution. Not without pushing the scenario to ridiculous extremes.

mr.fred
mr.fred
October 6, 2014 10:45 pm

I wonder where the cost of different vehicles comes from.
Quickly looking around at the VBCI, it seems to come in as somewhere between $4.6m to $6.6m US.
The Freccia, at €1,540m for 249 (of different models), would average $9m US each, although the simpler vehicles would cost less and the more complex ones more.
The Piranha III cost the Belgians about $6m US per vehicle
It cost the Canadians $2m US each to upgrade their LAV IIIs.

Observer
Observer
October 6, 2014 11:03 pm

Chris B., maybe daily COIN patrols? Much more comfortable without much loss in protection since the opposition isn’t usually equipped with an MBT or BMPs.

Regarding ERA, there are non-explosive types called NERA for when you want to stay friendly with your infantrymen. Less effective but much safer. Good tactics can also negate the problem, keep infantry behind the tank, not in front or beside the front 1/3 until time for them to move. Personally, I think the “dangerous” factor of ERA has been a bit overstated. After all, you’re talking about infantry that is also standing close to a 25-40mm explosion or worse 105-120mm hit. A bit more shrapnel is the least of his problems.

Monty, IEDs are not here to stay, they were here decades ago, yet they are now fading from general usage by things like the Ottawa Convention. I know, that covers anti-personnel mines only, but most countries seem to be erring on the side of caution and AT mines are also being seen as “guilt by association”. And you may misunderstand the usage of mines, not surprising since most of our recent experience is in an insurrection campaign design to maim and injure servicemen. Mines or military IEDs technically, are not meant to kill, they are meant to take a vehicle out of combat for that operation. In military usage, mines are used to channel and delay enemy forces, and having to call an engineering vehicle to do a tow is a very good way to delay someone since they will be reluctant to simply abandon a vehicle that can be easily repaired. It’s like the “injure or kill” paradigm with AP landmines, injure someone and tie up the resources needed to rescue him vs killing the person.

monkey, re: anti-missile systems, I recommend off the shelf. Start a new research project and you’ll probably see it cost a few billion and an in-service date of 20-30 years down the road. Why reinvent the wheel, especially when the reinvention costs?

mr fred also has a very good point with regards to mines. Just because it is fading in popularity and is required by law to be marked does not mean we will not bump into someone who just doesn’t care or is desperate enough to use them. I really don’t mind seeing some of the new vehicles carrying mine plows, which seems to be the simplest solution to me.

Dan R
Dan R
October 6, 2014 11:27 pm

I think I’d make two comments.

I’d bin the 120mm direct fire and the AT vehicle. If you want to deploy an AT missile why not deploy it on a 40mm gun turret a’la Bradley.

I’d also bin the 120mm gun from the army as a whole since we’re either going to have to develop new rounds for the L30 or buy 120mm smooth bore and retro fit at great expense.

Instead I’d spend my money on a hyper velocity missile. The Starstreak would appear to be a good starting point. Enlarged to 150mm with the motor extending the entire length of the missile with long rod going down the centre and an extendable probe being used to reduce drag and trigger ERA and active protection systems. The Starstreak guidance system would be unchanged. This system would be able to deal with tanks and would be pretty effective in urban areas as at ranges under 2000m the deflagration of the remaining propellant would knock massive holes in buildings (see one of the LOSAT videos where it knocks the turret off an M60). Active protection systems would have great difficulties dealing with it and I suspect plenty of people would buy it.

Also I’d design my reccon/AT vehicle to be optionally manned so if I want to send it into a quick draw situation with a tank I don’t have to worry about the crew.

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2014 1:30 am

Dan, if you converted a Starstreak into an ATGM, it would only be classed as a 2nd generation ATGM due to the guidance system. 3rd gen ATGMs are “fire and forget” or even “lock on after launch”. And the term “hypervelocity” is a catchall, even NATO 5.56 is technically “hypervelocity”.

This is also in addition to the fact that designing a new missile is probably going to cost much more than your refit.

Think a lot of countries forget the principle of KISS. Keep It Simple, Stupid. Cheaper is a bonus. Or a corruption of an old saying, “You don’t have money to integrate an off the shelf product, but you got money to keep making tweaks on a brand new experimental system?”

Dan R
Dan R
October 7, 2014 7:21 am

What generation a Starstreak derived ATGM is is just semantics. At most combat ranges it’s time of flight will be so short you won’t be worrying about user vulnerability. The Starstreak guidance system has already been upgraded to automatically track the target.

Secondly making it self guiding would add weight and reduce performance as the beam riding system weighs grams and fits on board a dart.

I suggested moving to a larger diameter to fit the form factor of the US CKEM which was designed to offer total over match at TOW missile sizes.

a
a
October 7, 2014 8:48 am

In a full blown hot war no 8×8 will match a tracked IFV for off road mobility, which is the most important (you’re not going anywhere the tanks aren’t going, especially not if there are enemy tanks at the other end).

There are two assumptions involved here here and I’d be interested in the opinions of knowledgeable people (ie not me) on whether they are both reliable:
1) no 8×8 will ever match a tracked vehicle for offroad mobility
2) there is no reason in a hot war to go anywhere that tanks won’t go.

1) seems to be a statement about the way things are right now, and I have seen some pretty sporty stuff done by wheeled vehicles, so I would be sceptical that it’s necessarily even true at the moment let alone in ten years’ time.
2) well, the premise of the article seems to be that you don’t necessarily need a tank to fight a tank on near-equal terms, especially if you have an 8×8 with ATGM or a 120mm gun. And there is also the point that, if you aren’t a tank, maybe it’s quite a good thing for your life expectancy to be able to go where the tanks can’t go because then they won’t be able to come after you…

Distiller
Distiller
October 7, 2014 8:49 am

Airlifting a SBCT or MEB equivalent anywhere for sustained combat operations, even low intensity, is de facto impossible. 20.000 tons of stuff, 1.000 vehicles, 4.000 men, 1.500 tons daily. Takes roughly one wing of large roro airlifter (let’s say 50 C-17, with a crew ratio of 2+) for each brigade to get anywhere fast and fight there. And that is without aviation component. Even though a smaller and lighter British expeditionary unit might have a somewhat smaller footprint the thing does not scale linear. So, how many C-17 does the RAF have? How many aerial tanker in case the destination is a little further away? How many tanker airports en route? Even if all that can be satisfied, what capacity does the destination airfield have? Expeditionary ops via air hit logistics limits very fast. And that already with entry under peace time conditions. With forcible entry necessary the whole thing is reduced to the equivalent of a jump across the Channel.

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2014 9:00 am

Dan, what speed do you think “hypervelocity” is?

And how does a Starstreak automatically track its’ target when it is SALH?

Frenchie
Frenchie
October 7, 2014 9:48 am

Great reflection on what should be the equipment of the British Army, I’m very worried about the logistics that would be required to move and refuel battalions formed only tracked vehicles by nearly 40 tonnes.
From our side our VBCIs will be upgraded at the level of shielding about mines and IEDs with a weight that goes from 29 to 32 tonnes and an active protection SHARK.

AndyC
October 7, 2014 10:03 am

An excellent article but I believe there is a way to get three Divisions even out of the current Army 2020 structure.

My understanding is that the Reaction Force is made up of 3 Armoured Infantry Brigades and the Air Assault Brigade.

The Adaptable Force has 6 Cavalry Regiments and 7 Infantry Brigades (for the sake of simplicity let’s say the Battalions in Cyprus and Brunei are the 7th Brigade and set them to one side).

We could then re-order these forces as:

3rd Division principally with heavy armour made up of 2 Armoured Infantry Brigades (Challenger 2/Warrior/Scout) and the Air Assault Brigade (Apache/Wildcat) – all from the Reaction Force

1st Division which could be heavy or light made up of 3 Adaptable Cavalry Regiments (either using the Challenger 2s currently in storage or Jackal/Coyote depending on the mission), 1 Cavalry Regiment with Scout and 4 Infantry Brigades (either with 8×8 wheeled Utility Vehicles or Mastiff/Wolfhound or Foxhound/Husky depending on the mission)

2nd Division made up of medium armour with the third Armoured Infantry Brigade from the Reaction Force, 2 Adapatable Cavalry Regiments with Scout and 2 Infantry Brigades with 8×8 wheeled Utility Vehicles.

This wouldn’t require any expansion in personnel which as you admit is very unlikely.

It would only work with a lot of vehicles being kept in storage and with a large order for Utility Vehicles. If my numbers are right there are enough Challenger 2s in storage, Scouts on order and plenty of Mastiff/Wolfhound/Foxhound/Husky to make this work. What’s needed to complete the picture is at least 1,600 8×8 wheeled Utility Vehicles. That’s probably about an order for £4.8 billion if we were to go for the VBCI which judging by the MoD mood music is the current front runner.

Frenchie
Frenchie
October 7, 2014 10:31 am

I find that the unit price of VBCIs is too expensive, a Patria AMV probably cheaper and more modular.

monkey
monkey
October 7, 2014 11:09 am

@Observer
With you on don’t develop an independent defence system against missiles , the Trophy system works in combat so I’d go with licenced manufacturing here and encourage our European allies to use the same one , that would be a laugh :-) . Whatever though, it is a technology that provides an extra level of protection and also if circumstance made it unavoidable to either loose the applique ,to get back mobility in very soft conditions or stay on the roads only and lose flexibility of operations could give a commander some rest at night that he hadn’t sent his is men out naked for some dude in a bush to fry up with a $100 RPG-7.
The same tech extended to transport vehicles running supplies to FOB etc wouldn’t go a ‘miss'[ either (pun intended).

monkey
monkey
October 7, 2014 12:08 pm

@Distiller
On moving kit by air ( when all in place ) and all available (unlikely but bear with me).
10 Airbus Voyager both as AAT and transport
8 C-17 Globemaster III 1 C2 or 2 SV/UV/Warrior
22 A-400M Grizzly 1 SV/UV/Warrior
So at best 6 C2 + 1 AVRE + 1 ARV and a mix of 22 SV/UV/Warrior flown 2000 miles without inflight refuelling or using a friendly airport.
So assume only 1 flight there and back again per 24 hours including loading/offloading/refuelling.
All other kit/troops/trucks/foxhounds/towed Arty/Rapier/CAMM etc on the AAT and commercially contracted freighters/airliners.
So in a 5 day build up on 1 flight per day :-
30 C2
22 SV
44 UV
44 Warrior
Use Heavy 5 AVRE and 5 ARV to support all. You may want to loose some C2 in favour of AS90 or SV/UV/Warrior for GLMRS. Not a lot I grant you but in combination with allies either local or with similar air logistic capabilities could multiply up to a reasonable force that could give the local miscreant OPFOR commander pause for thought that a sizeable Tier1 military has turned up in support of his enemy .The 2000m radius covers all of region north of the Sahel ,all of Eastern Europe (by that I mean just this side of the Urals) and much of the Middle East. If we used the AAT that radius could increase to 3000m easily but would push the turn around time at either end.
As an example of commercial cargo 747-400ERF freighter capacity.
http://www.boeing.com/assets/pdf/commercial/startup/pdf/freighters/747f_int.pdf
They have issues with cargo deck point loading that would for stall loading anything much bigger than a Foxhound/Jackal/Husky/MAN HX60 Truck ,all would have to be empty and dry. Apache/Wildcat/Puma etc could fly themselves there.

wf
wf
October 7, 2014 12:34 pm

When it comes to airlift, heavy forces aren’t really all that fast.

http://www.stripes.com/news/1st-id-task-force-s-tanks-deployed-to-northern-iraq-1.4187

If we want any sort of air mechanization, we’re going to have to rediscover CVR(T) or buy a job lot of BMD-4’s. 8*8’s are 25-30 tonnes already even when armed with nothing heavier than a 50 cal, and not even the US could really sustain a significant number by air.

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2014 12:42 pm

monkey, ammo, food and fuel too. :( I’ll bet that 50% of your lift is going to be tied up in supplies and that is a conservative guess!

Frankly, I won’t bother with the armour and ship in infantry instead. You get a lot more for your air freight than you can get with armour. If you want a force like that, then the emphasis should be on light, easily shipped equipment for infantry that can increase their effectiveness in a defensive role against other types of hostile forces.

Dan R
Dan R
October 7, 2014 12:48 pm

0bserver:

The stats for the CKEM which was that it had a diameter of 150mm a mass of 45kg and delivered 10MJ to the target. Speed was said to be Mach 6.5.

Depending on the altitude of the Mach number that would make the velocity at burnout between 2145 ms and 1800ms and the rod between 4.35 and 6.2kg. Even with a pinch of salt it would clearly be a massive overmatch on any armour.

I would expect Starsteak derived technology to achieve similar result to the actual performance of CKEM.

Though if you wanted to fit the missile in existing tubes and launchers you are probably looking at a missile with around 60% of the kinetic energy (25kg launch weight) for a broadly similar performance in terms of penetration in that it would still be an over match. It would have less lethal range against heavy armour but I think the aims of CKEM were probably excessive and timely strike is going to be less important the further away the target is. It would still be lethal to most targets out to around 8km.

In terms of automatic tracking I was referring to the sight unit. The current system allows the user to point a cursor at an area of contrast on the thermal imager and the sight keeps the laser on the target. Time of flight to 3000m would be less than 2 seconds so issues of it being CLOS missile are fairly minor in terms of interfering with the launcher while the missile is in flight.

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2014 12:53 pm

Dan, Starstreak only hits Mach 3.

They did test it out in a ground attack role though, effect was said to be equivalent to a 40mm round hit.

Chris
Chris
October 7, 2014 1:04 pm

I have lots of things I could write in response to post and comments, but I’ve written them all before so I won’t repeat them.

wf – ref rediscover CVR(T) – trying my best…

Obs – from memory Starstreak is a bit faster than that. But maybe I remember wrong.

S O
S O
October 7, 2014 1:08 pm

“If all armoured vehicles can now be neutralised by tank guns or ATGMs, heavy armour is largely redundant. ”

I’m not sure what meaning you ascribe to the word “redundant” in this context, but I think I would disagree if I knew.
Remember, the UK and others used the heavy Centurion tanks for decades, and it was obvious they could be penetrated by a great many munitions during almost all of their careers.

Armour has diminishing returns.
Partial and thin armour is much better protection than no armour, since it protects against gazillions of tiny fragments.
Full light armour protects against gazillions (not all) bullets, but comes at a much heftier price in weight.
Medium armour adds protection to weak shaped charges, moderate mines, all bullets and some grenades and the weight penalty hurts.
Heavy armour incurs an in many scenarios prohibitive weight penalty, but it adds protection against ten thousands of shaped charges and ten thousands of long rods.
No armour is actually or ever was invulnerable.

The issue is that doubling the weight-associated problems reduces casualties by much less than half. People with (too) much math training would think of a curve now, and the challenge is to find the optimum, or rather to choose multiple points along the curve.
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2010/09/about-tanks-and-why-theyre-necessity-in.html

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2014 1:43 pm

Ok Chris, Mach 3.5 :) Hardly Mach 6 territory which was why I said that “hypervelocity” was a catchall phrase. More marketing than actual technical breakthrough, though it was fastest in the short range classification. NATO 5.56 already hits Mach 3. I believe the American AIM-54 hits Mach 5, but that one was a huge bastard and used higher in the atmosphere.

SO, so true. And this is in addition to different types of defence like mine resistance, KE resistance and shaped charge resistance.

Frenchie
Frenchie
October 7, 2014 3:19 pm

For me the resistance to mines and IEDs of a vehicle is not essential. The main thing is the mission.
When there is a major conflict like the Gulf War we can afford to put vehicles in ships, time does not count.
Otherwise, it is important to be able to act very quickly as part of an expeditionary force without waiting the heavy forces. For this, we must get vehicles close to the size of American Stryker. The problem is whether we is are ready to lose men or not.

BSmitty
BSmitty
October 7, 2014 5:35 pm

I’m with those who say the IED threat is specific to certain circumstances, and not generic . As Observer said, “The current spat of IED casualties is a specific scenario that combines a COIN campaign with asymetrical warfare and access to rear areas with the inability to separate friendly or neutral civilians from hostile combatants. ”

It also requires that insurgents have ready access to IED-making materials. We were gracious enough to give the Iraqi insurgency thousands to hundreds of thousands of tons of munitions at the start of the insurgency when we failed to secure Saddam’s munition stockpiles around the country.

Certainly if you have the requisite components mentioned above, you will have to deal with IEDs. But there are many situations where one or more of these prerequisites are not met.

On the topic of 8x8s vs MRAPs. 8x8s offer far superior off road mobility, making them preferable for a general purpose military vehicle. They also often have superior armor vs direct-fire weapons. 8x8s in the AMV-class are often rated vs up to 30mm frontally (of what type is rarely specified). MRAPs are lucky to stop HMGs.

Personally, I think we (the US) should have a number of “light” but fully motorized infantry units. I’d just plus up an IBCT with full mobility via armored HWWMV and/or trucks. MRAP style vehicles are too heavy. Even JLTV and Foxhound are MUCH heavier than an armored HWWMV.

Dan R
Dan R
October 7, 2014 7:25 pm

Observer:

Note I was talking about Starstreak derived technology.

Starstreak hits 1250 ms, and throws around 3.5kg of warheads and pylon down range. However the rocket is only around 60% of the length of the missile.

I would have the motor extend to the tip with the rod down the middle. The guidance system fits on a 0.9kg dart so it’s not going to add much weight to the main missile to add actuation and guidance to the existing fins.

The existing missile weighs 14kg this new one will be more dense (as it is all motor) probably in the region of 25kg. This fits pretty well with a scale from CKEM at 150mm, 1.5m long and 45kg. (130mm, 1.3m long, 25kg)

My specs would then be 2000ms peak velocity, 2.5kg rod, 40-1 l/d, DU material and a max penetration of 900mm.

This is obviously a ball park estimate but it does show that Starstreak technology would be worth investigating as the starting point for a CKEM. Ideally if you could get it lethal enough at 130mm it would be a plug and play solution to turn existing vehicles and firing posts into anti tank systems but if you upped it to 150mm it would easily have the capability.

Take it to its logical extreme and fit this system as a single round on every RWS. It would make every British army formation very spikey.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 7, 2014 8:39 pm

@ a,

In regards to your points,

1) The laws of physics have a reputation for being somewhat inflexible and uncooperative to say the least. Fundamentally, when you take a 30 ton object that normally rides on two long tracks and replace those tracks with 8 wheels, you significantly increase the ground pressure of the vehicle. The only way to restore the original ground pressure would be to shave off weight, but now you’re making the vehicle very vulnerable to incoming fire.

For certain there are wheeled vehicles that have proven very agile off road, even in muddy terrain, but they often weight very little and have little or no armour. That’s fine for some roles and probably has a place in the mix, but that’s not much cop for an infantry fighting vehicle. Just as an example, the fields around where I live have been plowed over the last month or so and the other day we had quite heavy rain. Under those conditions you’d never get a 25-ton 8×8 across the field. You’d be lucky if it got half way. That’s not a lot of use during an armoured thrust.

2) If you’re going on the offensive then you need tanks, not IFVs pretending to be tanks. And the sole purpose of an IFV is to take infantry along under cover of armour at a pace that can keep up with tanks. While you would expect there to be times when the infantry are detached for other jobs, fundamentally the purpose of armoured infantry is to provide support to tank operations. So yes, they will almost exclusively be going where the tanks are going.

Chris
Chris
October 7, 2014 10:03 pm

Chris.B – yet again in agreement. For similar weight vehicles the best Mean Max Pressure I can achieve with wheeled vehicles is two times that of tracked vehicles. Clearly in many terrains the wheeled vehicles can make progress just fine, but in extreme conditions the tracked vehicle can keep mobile where the wheeled vehicle bogs. I also agree trying to sit an MBT on wheels is a poor compromise – either huge wheels to try to reduce ground pressure, or heavily loaded wheels giving iffy mobility, or light protection.

But, oh 8×8 lovers everywhere, all is not lost (in my opinion). In my view the best armed forces have a broad mix of significantly different capabilities. I do not buy into the idea that 80t MBT can be used for every task an army will ever face; I believe the optimum fighting force contains heavy hitters and lighter fighters that in concert present opposition forces with greater challenges than just an armoured column in isolation. So in my world the best solution includes the lighter smaller tracked fighting vehicles, and the wheeled armour that can self-deploy greater distances at speed when the need arises, and infantry, and even RT’s pushbike if he insists. Each able to take the fight to the opposition in different ways.

Of all the types of armour the world has invented, the one I find least value in (caveat – without military experience this is an outsider’s view) is the IFV. To move a section, to me there is far greater value in a straight-forward APC and a properly armed fighting vehicle than in two IFVs. But then I don’t like injecting unnecessary compromises into designs – the results are rarely as good as the sum of the parts.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 7, 2014 10:21 pm

@ Chris,

“yet again in agreement”

Are we sure there isn’t an apocalypse coming? Someone be sure to warn us if there is a sudden out break of a deadly and infectious virus, or some event that looks like it might kick off world war three…

I think the value in the IFV is that it can fight other armoured vehicles in an emergency unlike an APC, while also providing tremendous supporting fire to the dismounted chaps. They don’t like the 30mm up ’em Mr. Mainwaring!

Dunservin
Dunservin
October 7, 2014 10:24 pm

Obviously, armoured and well-armed hovercraft are the only way to go. I’m surprised no one has hoisted in this BGO (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious) before. Shame it took a fish head to point it out but then everyone else seems to have an opinion on warships. ;-)

The next issue is whether to classify their operators as ‘drivers’, ‘coxswains’ or ‘pilots’. As they will be capable of navigating on water and therefore subject to COLREGS (International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea), I favour ‘coxswains’ myself.

http://www.mar.ist.utl.pt/mventura/Projecto-Navios-I/IMO-Conventions%20%28copies%29/COLREG-1972.pdf

P.S. A ‘boatswain’ is defined as a lover of boats. I’ve yet to determine the equivalent definition of ‘coxswain’.

S O
S O
October 7, 2014 10:25 pm

The only country with a convincing case for why they have wheeled armoured formations is Saudi Arabia.
Their national guard units with armoured trucks (6×6, 8×8) are highly road-mobile, independent of a functioning rail network (which is rudimentary anyway) and meant for only one real purpose: Deterrence and Suppression of revolts, both of subjects and of foreign labourers. Conventional warfare weapons and munitions and associated training are merely toys for show. What matters is the ability to quell revolt anywhere on the peninsula within days.

They displayed their efficacy in Qatar.

Dan R
Dan R
October 7, 2014 11:19 pm

B Smitty,

I’d argue IEDs are a factor of modern conflict that isn’t going away.

To a degree I suspect it is more of an issue that conflicts are more commonly fought over human resources rather than land and combatants are less clear cut than in a clauswitzian struggle. Hence less front lines and no out of combat zones.

IEDs popped up in Vietnam, Northern Ireland and MRAPs were developed by South Africa based on their experiences in their colonial wars in Africa. Land mines were hardly uncommon in world war II.

I’d also counter your point about IEDs being a product of lots of munitions being available in Iraq and Afghanistan. You can make IEDs out of a lot of none military substances and from low or even home manufactured explosives hence they are going to be an unconventional forces first port of call as they are substantially easier to get a hold of than real military kit.

Observer
Observer
October 7, 2014 11:53 pm

Dunservin, I saw what you did there. :)

Dan, if I can’t convince you that there is really nothing special to Starstreak save that of good marketing, then it’s obvious that we’re not going to agree. What specifically *is* “Starstreak derived technology”? Action/reaction rocketry? That’s hardly unique or special. It’s not even Ramjet or Scramjet. I even gave an alternate example, why not “AIM-54 derived technology” which already hits close to your Mach 6 spec? Because there is no such thing as “AIM-54” or “Phoenix” derived technology, just tweaked action/reaction rocketry.

If you want CKEM, just get CKEM, Lockheed will love you considering that they spent all the money for the project to hit technical demonstrator status only to get cancelled, a buyer will recoup some of the money they lost, or even better if you simply bought over the plans, no need to reinvent the wheel just because of nationalistic sentiment.

And avoid DU, it’s a political bad word these days.

Re Wheeled vs Tracked, it’s never going to end is it, the arguments. :)

One thing I did notice about wheeled vs tracked is that wheeled versions of APC/IFVs tend to have a bit more internal space. Compare any of the designs with tracked units like the Warrior or Bradley, it looks like the tracked IFVs have a vehicle shape that is cut more angular and compact than 8x8s, while 8x8s really look more like rolling boxes.

S O
S O
October 8, 2014 12:01 am

Mines are not going away (and DoD acronyms may be fashionable, but are often stupid).
They are usually only a nuisance, though. They slow down more or less and they can be used to harass, and that’s about it.
The whole “COIN” warfare hardly ever reached above the level of harassing actions.

Who can remember harassing actions as being decisive instead of a mere nuisance in European wars?
There’s no report of any European battle ever won by sniping, wake-up artillery shells or similar harassing actions.

conceptually related:
http://defense-and-freedom.blogspot.de/2009/09/pains-cold-war-so-called-rogue-states.html

Martin
Editor
October 8, 2014 12:47 am

@ SO

its a good point. By the standards of wars even as late as the 1960’s causalities in Afghanistan and Iraq were relatively light and most of the insurgency operations would have been seen as harassment on a historical scale.

I dare say the allied occupation army’s of 1945 had more driving related casualties than the entire coalition casualties from IED’s in Iraq and Afghanistan.

mr.fred
mr.fred
October 8, 2014 6:51 am

Observer,
I would guess that “Starstreak technology” would be the kinetic energy, hit-to-kill, simple control system, and beam-riding aspects of the Starstreak weapon.

DU is a bad word, but I’m waiting to see what happens for the surprise discovery that tungsten is also a toxic heavy metal.

I would suspect that the greater interior space of a wheeled vehicle is down to the wheeled vehicles simply being bigger. It seems that a wheeled APC is nearly as tall to the hull roof as a tracked IFVis to the turret roof.

wf
wf
October 8, 2014 8:54 am

@mr.fred: we could also note that wheeled vehicles are generally 25% larger than tracked ones with the same internal volume due to the transmission and axle space they require inside the armoured envelope.

Nick
Nick
October 8, 2014 9:04 am

Frenchie and others

“Otherwise, it is important to be able to act very quickly as part of an expeditionary force without waiting the heavy forces. For this, we must get vehicles close to the size of American Stryker. The problem is whether we is are ready to lose men or not.”

A very important point in my opinion, but I think this is the key to one of the current dilemmas that the Army faces. We are currently (and conceivably only ever likely to) committing forces on a small scale with rather limited aims. Fast mobile, light forces seem to fit the bill from a military perspective. BUT whilst such actions may be politically necessary, at least in the UK currently, there is little public appetite to foot the bill for this (whether financial or in terms of casualty) sort of action.

As a result, you end up having to design vehicles which give higher levels of protection to limit casualties (creating massive 8×8’s like the Boxer design), which compromises both airlift and ground mobility and hence rapid deployment.

The design quandary you have then, is why spend limited resources creating light rapid reaction forces, which aren’t particularly light or rapid to employ. You might as well spend the same money on equipping your light and heavier forces with the same equipment and accept the time penalty for deployment. Whilst IED levels may be lower in future deployment environments, the numbers and sophistication of RPG/ATGMs will only increase ? It seems to me that better protection is therefore here to stay regardless.

Doesn’t this make sense anyway ? Apart from one or two cases (Mali for example), isn’t it a trueism that speed of deployment isn’t actually a major issue in practice. Take current or recent examples. Even if there wasn’t actually any political hurdle to deploying ground troops in Northern Iraq or Syria today, would we actually want to deploy a small light force quickly ?

It seems to me (like Chris from a non-military perspective) that one real lesson the MoD and Politicians should have learnt from the Afghanistan/Iraq campaigns that we seriously under-deployed in the first instance (and arguably all the way through our involvement there). That we weren’t (it seems) expecting a RPG and IED/mine rich environment when we deployed is a different matter entirely.

Chris
Chris
October 8, 2014 10:07 am

Chris.B – I think you may have misunderstood my not too clear writings earlier; I get why IFVs were invented, my opinion though is that an APC and a dedicated fighting vehicle operating as a pair would be operationally more useful than two tall possibly top heavy IFVs – same number of dismounts, same number of drivers and vehicle commanders and gunners, same number of vehicles. I’m sure I wrote much the same before, but the difficulty as I see it with IFVs is the deliberate smudged priorities of the thing – if two IFVs stumble upon an enemy threat, the vehicle commander in each vehicle must decide whether to prioritise the delivery of the dismounts and hence not engage the enemy, or to prioritise engagement in which case the dismounts in the back are at risk of becoming casualties by being taken into the engagement as cargo. If there is a troop carrier and a separate fighting vehicle, there is no confusion – the fighting vehicle engages as appropriate and the troop carrier does not, taking all efforts to safely deliver the dismounts. For good measure, an APC without a medium calibre turret on top and a turreted fighting vehicle without a hull tall enough for dismounts are both lower/more stable/lighter than would be the equivalent IFV. Just seems better force packaging to me.

Observer
Observer
October 8, 2014 10:22 am

Nick, I’m still wondering why people want to airlift armour. :)

You really do get more effect airlifting well equipped infantry.

I’m personally not that fond of Stryker TBH, IMO it’s a bit too light and lightly armoured but that is personal preference, so I know it’s not really a deal breaker.

In a really old blast from the past, I remember one of the methods to dealing with a minefield was to call in a 155mm strike on it. Impact fused rounds will cause craters and besides damaging the mines, the shock may also cause some of them to literally bounce out of concealment since mines can’t be buried too deep or the soil will act as a shield. Not a commonly used method, it stuck in my head due to the exotic way of clearing a minefield if you don’t have a breecher vehicle or a mineplow handy.

Chris, forces usually have a 1:3 ratio of heavies to mediums, so there is a fair chance your “APCs” may have to end up operating independently from your MBTs.

Brian Black
Brian Black
October 8, 2014 10:22 am

I’m sure there is a role for wheeled armoured vehicles in the Army. Reasonably well protected and armed vehicles that can deploy or manoeuvre faster than the Challenger and Warrior units. But they are not a magic silver bullet solution to every problem that crops up.

The only real advantage that anyone seems to come up with for 8×8 vehicles is that they can deploy and manoeuvre faster than the primary armoured force. So I don’t see the logic that the primary armoured division needs to be mirrored by a wheeled armour division.

The advantages of rapid deployment and manoeuvre come by making compromises elsewhere. So why lumber a whole division with those compromises if you only want a unit that can react quickly while the heavy armour catches up?

As we have a heavy armoured force at the scale of a single division of three brigades, I should think that a proportionate size for any 8×8 rapid deployment and manoeuvre force would be from one to three battalions. Beyond that size, you’d be wasting your resources moving that compromised force when you should be moving the heavier units, or the heavier units have begun to catch up.

Saying the British Army needs an 8×8 division alongside 3 div makes no more sense to me than saying that we need a parachute division. Beyond the first few units, they become surplus to requirements, a waste of resources.

And COIN does not equal 8×8. A lot of COIN is about establishing civil structures; and when any fighting needs to be done, a range of capabilities and vehicles will be needed depending on circumstances and environment.

One snapshot of a COIN operation might see Warrior mounted infantry and tanks doing things remarkably similar to what they might have trained to do back in the ’80s. Another snapshot of a COIN operation might see a few Foxhound mounted troops escorting a local police patrol around a dusty town somewhere, in a manner similar to Northern Ireland. And another COIN snapshot might see marines fast-roping from a Merlin into the middle of a jungle somewhere. In many COIN situations, an 8×8 will be an impractical lumbering land-yacht, or a poorly protected tank.

I do think there is a gap to be filled between the light and heavy ends of the Army; but I think you should view any medium armour force in a similar way as you would view an airborne force – rapid reaction to theatre, or within theatre, then replace with more suitably tailored units as soon as possible.

Nick
Nick
October 8, 2014 10:47 am

Observer

just to clarify, can I assume that your well equipped airlifted infantry would have armoured 4×4 (Foxhound style) or 6×6 trucks (Mastiff style), some mobile light artillery and MANPATs on arrival. Backed by UCAV and helicopters asap afterwards.

Observer
Observer
October 8, 2014 10:57 am

Nick, hell no on the armoured 4x4s. Never really saw much point in them in a war, only COIN.

Biggest I’d feel comfortable with would be something like RT’s Chenowth Light Strike.

If you’re in such a tearing hurry, you’re most likely to be on the defensive, so a force designed to hold a location would be more appropriate for an airborne strategic reaction force. If you are the one doing the invading, you got time to do it right.

Yes on the rest though. Infantry to hold the approaches, indirect fire ATGMs and mortars mounted on light strike vehicles to quickly bring firepower to bear on any point of pressure while keeping behind the infantry screen and out of trouble, helicopters to help against a major push.

BSmitty
BSmitty
October 8, 2014 11:44 am

R,

IEDs have likely been around since the invention of explosives. They aren’t going away, but they aren’t an end-all-be-all threat that requires everything down to logistics and transport vehicles to be armored up to MRAP levels. The level of “threat” of IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan was due to the nature of the conflicts (insurgencies), our aversion to casualties and the amount of munitions available to insurgents.

So, IMHO, we should have a ready stock of MRAP-type vehicles available, and all dedicated armored vehicles should pay more attention to the IED threat in their design. But not all vehicles need to be MRAPs, or armored to MRAP levels.

Jed
Jed
October 8, 2014 12:03 pm

Monty

Great series well written. Have you convinced me, maybe…… ;)

The commentary on articles here is often polarizing and yet if there is a single truism for military operations it is that there is no single solution to every problem. One size does not fit all. Ideally we should have a well balanced set of capabilities developed and deployed based on our analysis of the threat matrix that we face BUT being a liberal democracy we are always always hamstrung by available funding. That being said, if I may address some large and smaller points;

1. Heavy tracked armour is not dead but our ability to deploy and maintain it is weakened by the reduction in force size and reduction of budgets e.g. Other nations deploy MBT to ops in Afghanistan but we declined

2. What is the threat and where do we envisage fighting in the future ? This is linked to strategic and theatre deployability – strategic mobility for heavy tracked armour is via RFA Bay and Point Class do-ro (and STUFT) into friendly ports. If no friendly ports then forget it, call the USMC because we have run our amphib capability down too low.

If we want to concentrate on securing the borders of EU / continental European NATO with reduced U.S. Assistance (so they can pivot to the pacific) then it’s back to the days of BAOR for heavy tracked forces – better to put a Reaction Force mech brigade in Poland. If you want to reinforce it, and other European countries quickly using extensive road infrastructure then your wheeled 8 x 8 FRES UV becomes “son of Saxon” and plays to its theatre mobility strengths.

At the same time you have the vehicle handy to deploy further abroad (Africa) for limited “3 block war” scenarios outside of full peer on peer proxy wars.

3. The anti-tank conundrum. Yes the Chally 2 gun is outdated compared to long barrelled 120mm smooth bore with latest long rod penetrators. However a tank is NOT just for fighting other tanks. Can we get an updated AP sabot round from somewhere that can still defeat a large number of threat tanks – yes I should think so. However at the same time, think all arms anti-armour battle: fast air delivered Brimstone, Apache delivered Brimstone, Javelin, MLRS and conventional 155mm artillery. Definately time to re-evaluate the purchase of a smart 155mm delivered AT sub-munition. Perhaps the Merlin 81mm MMW guided AT mortar round would be more successful with the latest in g shock hardened electronics too ?

Meanwhile Javelin has been tested out to over 4km and has been fired from RWS. To maximize the use of an existing weapon system how difficult would it be to fit single launchers to RWS on fRES Scout PMRS version, on an 8 x 8, even on Husky if required etc ?

Point being, non tank equipped forces have a long history of anti tank actions, and the whole army does not need to try and hide behind 3 regiments of Chally 2……..

My commuter train is approaching Toronto Union station, more later

Frenchie
Frenchie
October 8, 2014 12:44 pm

One or two light armoured brigade would be useful in some cases, against a clearly identified enemy, as the Islamic state, which would have 3,000 Humvees, 50 heavy tanks, 150 light tanks and 60,000 small arms. Against such a force, moving an armoured division would not be appropriate. One or two light armoured brigade equipped with wheeled vehicles would be more appropriate, as part of a largest coalition with the USA of course. They should be equipped with wheeled vehicles with turrets 120mm, or anti tank missiles and turrets AMOS, APC etc …
This is a far-fetched hypothesis for now.

Observer
Observer
October 8, 2014 1:01 pm

Frenchie, we tried fitting a 120mm Thunderbolt turret to our Bionix IFVs (~25 tons). It didn’t work out too well, the vehicle was too light structurally to support the gun and the stresses it placed on the turret ring reduced hull life. 105mm has been successful, most notably the US’s Stryker MGS and the Italian Centaruo, so my guess is that the break between the 105 and the 120 mark was the breaking point for anything below 30 tons.

Frenchie
Frenchie
October 8, 2014 1:33 pm

Observer, I read about “army recognition” that the Italian Centauro 120mm weighs 25 tonnes, so it’s possible, although I am not sure of anything.

Observer
Observer
October 8, 2014 1:41 pm

Did some checking up, they did say a 120mm/45 low recoil gun so yes it is possible. Wonder how they bypassed the turret ring stress problem?

monkey
monkey
October 8, 2014 1:42 pm

The GIAT 120FER and the IMI RG120 are being designed to get round the issue of the heavy recoil of a standard 120mm smoothbore tank gun on a light chassis.

S O
S O
October 8, 2014 3:31 pm

“Did some checking up, they did say a 120mm/45 low recoil gun so yes it is possible. Wonder how they bypassed the turret ring stress problem?”

Muzzle brake and longer recoil

Rheinmetall had two “low recoil” 120 mm guns on offer a decade ago: Rh 120-20 and Rh 120-30. The -20 version had a muzzle brake and a maximum braking force of 200 kN. The -30 version had no muzzle brake and a maximum braking force of 300 kN. Recoil length was 500 mm for both and ammunition identical.
The original Rheinmetall 120 mm L44 gun had a recoil length of maximum 370 mm and a maximum recoil force of 600 kN.
(source Jane’s)
longer recoil -> 1/2 peak force.
added muzzle brake -> 2/3 peak force
longer recoil + muzzle brake -> 1/3 peak force

The longer (L/49) CV90120’s gun is from RUAG and combines 500 mm maximum recoil length with 260 kN maximum recoil force.
(source Jane’s)

OTO Melara’s 120 mm L/45 gun has reportedly 550 mm recoil length, pepperbox muzzle brake and a peak recoil force of 245 kN.

———–

and Brimstone in general:
Get off this Brimstone fetish. It’s always Brimstone this, Brimstone that at TD.
Even in an all-out war one could expect very few per cent of the Brimstone inventory to kill an AFV or boat, with the rest lost to various causes, failing, defeated or expended on other targets.
GBU-54 deserves this much attention due to its versatility, but Brimstone doesn’t.

Jed
Jed
October 8, 2014 4:07 pm

SO

I don’t have a Brimstone fetish – read the comment properly. I noted it as an existing air launched anti-armour weapon that is in the UK inventory. I did not claim it was a silver bullet, nor as TD himself does, have suggested it ideal for an IFV launched “over watch” application.

I never claim silver bullets for any solution. Again, I was noting that an all arms approach to an enemy well equipped with tanks means using weapons systems other than our tanks, that is all.

I will let others who have a genuine Brimstone fetish dispute the veracity of your acerbic little comment.

Chris
Chris
October 8, 2014 8:57 pm

Obs – ref “forces usually have a 1:3 ratio of heavies to mediums, so there is a fair chance your “APCs” may have to end up operating independently from your MBTs” – when I write of APCs and accompanying fighting vehicles I am suggesting something on the lines of Saracen and Saladin (as in similar mobility), not something disparate like Spartan and Challenger. In other words it would change the current amorphous IFV fleet into something more structured, with the armed fighting vehicles protecting the valuable APC payload of infantry. If I remember what I once read in NATO maritime ops manuals, much like the structure of a convoy, where the valuable cargo travels in unarmed transport while the fighting ships form a protective barrier for them. To my simple mind the IFV is akin to fitting all cargo vessels and tankers with sonar depth charges and a few gun turrets and sending them out in a bunch into the wide and hostile ocean to look after themselves.

Observer
Observer
October 8, 2014 11:21 pm

Chris, think that is the problem. An APC is literally a “cargo ship” and unfortunately historically this kind of “cargo ship” has been thrown right into the teeth of fighting by desperate infantrymen for ages, starting with armed half-tracks all the way to misuse of the M-113 as a light tank by the Vietnamese, to the point where an IFV makes more sense. A small military cannot afford a “fighting vehicle” that sucks up forces needed for other jobs just to protect it. As it is, an IFV force can deploy by itself to take an objective and often does, RT might have a better idea on how often Warriors deploy independently of CR2s. An APC force can’t do so without higher risk. As for convoy tactics, wrong environment. Not even MAN truck logistic convoys have tank guards, strategically, land forces keep their convoys safe by keeping hostile forces out of their area of ops, not by close escort convoy tactics.

Chris
Chris
October 9, 2014 7:02 am

Obs – I’m sure we are talking at crossed purposes (not sure if that translates well outside UK but hey…) – as I noted above I still see an “IFV” force, but instead of each vehicle being turreted with smallish calibre gun and carrying 4 dismounts, I see two types of vehicle (common chassis), one being an APC to carry 8 dismounts with no more than self-protection MG and a second type being a turreted version, with possibly heavier armament/mix of armaments, good sensors and no dismounts. Same number of vehicles in your IFV force, same number of vehicle crews, same capacity for moving dismounts. Deploying by itself there would still be the turreted protection organic within the force. As I suggested earlier, think FV600 Saladin & Saracen as examples?

Observer
Observer
October 9, 2014 8:44 am

Ah, I see, my bad, I misunderstood and thought you wanted an all APC force and yes, it does translate.

The force mix you envision is actually fairly common and is in use in many armies worldwide, which does indicate that you were on to something. :)

Obsvr
Obsvr
October 9, 2014 9:14 am

No doubt more brigades are a wonderful thing, but the proposal lacks combat support, and service support seems to have been forgotten, therefore the proposal is not fit for purpose. Some points:

How many AAC regiments are needed? Ie what aviation is required for a brigade? A starting point would be a reasonably sized regiment per division with attack, reconnaissance and liaison capabilities.

Field artillery, fulfilling the roles of Direct Support (DS) plus General Support (GS), Reinforcing and General Support Reinforcing needs consideration. UK has been weak on the last three since NS ended and arguably weak since 1945. It’s pretty much agreed by most western armies, and certainly by UK, that a DS battery is required for each tank and infantry unit, leading to a DS regiment of 3 or 4 batteries per brigade of all types, the provision of a tactical group for the armoured reconnaissance regiment is also a very sensible move. You could also argue that since armoured brigades are only useful in higher intensity war then the batteries supporting them need to be 8 guns not 6. A division, particularly one for higher intensity war also needs a GS regiment, which is where MLRS comes in, with both GMLRS and unguided missiles.

Target Acquisition artillery, basically a battery per division (but it depends a bit on what you want to do about ground surveillance radar), and essential for higher intensity war. UAS is another matter, and probably a battery per brigade, possibly additional top end capabilities such as extra Watchkeeper at divisional level.

Air Defence artillery, higher intensity war means an air threat and there is no way that you can rely on the air farce. Therefore an armoured division is going to need a SHORAD battery per brigade and probably a CAMM regiment per division including its rear area, depending on the role envisaged for a wheeled AFV division they could need something similar.

Anti-tank artillery, a decent sized battery per brigade with a system capable of at least 5km range and capable of remoted controlling.

Quite a sizeable command for the divisional artillery commander, basically a fairly chunky artillery brigade.

The problem with mortars is limited range, not surprisingly, to be light they rely on small propelling charges and lower velocity than guns hence less range. Problem is that once you start operating armoured forces distances increase and mortars lack the range to concentrate the fire of multiple batteries. Truck mounted guns have a similar problem with multi-battery concentrations, in their not range but traverse. Caesar makes M777 look good!

Combat engineers, UK has learned that a regiment per brigade is essential when the brigade is an armoured force, including specialised armoured engineer vehicles. Foot-borne brigades can probably get way with a large squadron. However, you also need to think about the specialists such as the amphibious rigs (ie M2) to give the capability to cross reasonably sized rivers (you can’t put AFVs in rowing boats, amazing how often this gets forgotten), not forgetting the need for expeditionary construction work. Specialist regiments I think.

Signals, basically a regiment per division plus a squadron for each brigade, that gives the formation HQ communications. Of course the size of these units depends on the nature of the step-up arrangements for movement and the extent of duplication Then you have to think about the rear, flank and LO links and EW. The latter is a clearly expanding requirement with the capability to provide information to tactical commanders at a fairly low level. Of course the HQs will also need force protection elements, RAF regt don’t bother to apply, rejection sometimes offends.

Logistic units, how long is a piece of string? Start thinking logistic brigade per division. Particular once you get into higher intensity operations ammo and fuel requirements become very substantial. It would be nice to think that modern equipment is so reliable that it never breaks down so 2nd line repair and maintenance support is minimal. Then reality intervenes. Not forgetting the ordnance capability to provide vehicles to replace those destroyed. Leading to medical, helmets and body armour are wonderful but casualties occur and you need the medically capabilities to handle them. Finally, the one the British army studiously avoids because the regimental system cannot cope with it outside a world war and conscription – battle casualty replacements and a holding unit for them.

Of course there is another way to increase capability and it’s much more efficient in terms of manpower and equipment – ‘square-up’. Start with the Type 74 armoured regiment (ie 4x4x4+HQ tanks), and add a fourth company to each battalion, and if you really wanted to make a show a fourth platoon per coy and 4th section per platoon although I reckon a support sect in each platoon with sharpshooters, light mortar, something MAWish (ie short range direct fire HE) and ideally an extra MG might be better, although the last two are probably only needed with non-mechanised units.

a
a
October 9, 2014 1:13 pm

Obviously, armoured and well-armed hovercraft are the only way to go. I’m surprised no one has hoisted in this BGO (Blinding Glimpse of the Obvious) before.

On the off-chance that this was serious – it’s been looked into, but hovercraft, while unquestionably a Triumph of British Ingenuity, have the defects of their qualities, viz. they can’t get a grip on the ground. Which means they have huge difficulty a) going up hills and b) pushing things (trees, walls etc).

I like the half-and-half idea, I must say (one APC, one dedicated fighting vehicle, rather than two Warriors)

Alex
Alex
October 9, 2014 3:59 pm

huge difficulty a) going up hills and b) pushing things (trees, walls etc)

Bit like daleks then?

BV Buster
BV Buster
October 9, 2014 5:43 pm

https://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/10/power-8-part-3/

I wrote this a few days ago and just got round to posing it, if you have a few seconds feel free peruse at your leisure.

BV

Tom
Tom
October 9, 2014 6:38 pm

Hi all,

First ever post, so sorry if I am being dumb, but could somebody explain to me the rationale behind the structures of the various brigades that make up the Adaptable Force?

The structure of the 7th and 51st Inf. brigades looks balanced each with a light armored cavalry regiment and three infantry battalions. I assume these will form the 4th and 5th brigades that are deployed on long-term operations.

However, I am more confused with the structure of the 5 remaining brigades, which are much more varied in their composition, especially the 160th Inf. brigade, which is made up of a single infantry battalion.

Thanks

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 9, 2014 8:00 pm

“But most of the time on all hard surfaces, 8x8s will cope just as well. It is only snow, mud and marshland that really upset 8x8s”

To; all the enemies of Her Majesty the Queen,

Henceforth, the Sovereign state of the United Kingdom does hereby declare that in future it shall except no funny business between the months of September to May. Warfare will only be considered from the end of May to the end of August each year, weather permitting of course. We thank you for your cooperation.

God save the Queen!!

Which is really the problem with 8x8s. They’re perfectly fine providing it doesn’t rain. When it does, they’re fucked, as indeed are the people in them and the people that rely on their support. And the reason for hamstringing the armoured forces? So we can race about a bit quicker than a Warrior can on peacekeeping operations and non-critical interventions, a job which could be done by Foxhound or Mastiff equally well.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 9, 2014 8:20 pm

‘They’re perfectly fine providing it doesn’t rain. When it does, they’re fucked’

Not really as you could always fit something like the hovertrack to them to improve them in the wetter and softer ground. They still would not match tracks but then you would still have a cheaper vehicle to run logistically.

http://www.unusuallocomotion.com/medias/images/hovertrack.jpg?fx=r_250_250

Gloomy Northern Boy
Gloomy Northern Boy
October 9, 2014 8:35 pm

@alex – Daleks have evolved…they now hover vertically at some speed, as well as operating independently at the outside edge of the atmosphere… :-(

GNB

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 9, 2014 8:42 pm

@ David Niven,

“Sir, we’ve got a cracking idea”
“What’s that?”
“We’re going to replace our tracked fleet with a wheeled fleet”
“What happens if it rains?”
“We’ll put tracks on them!”
“Why don’t we just stick with the tracked vehicles in the first place?”
“…….”

Edit;
To; all the enemies of Her Majesty the Queen,

Henceforth, the Sovereign state of the United Kingdom does hereby declare that in future it has decided that it will take part in wars during the months of September to May, and even during wet periods from late May to late August.

However, we now require all enemies to wait patiently during periods of wet weather to allow us to fit our temporary tracks to our wheeled vehicles. We thank you in advance for your cooperation.

God save the Queen!!

Jed
Jed
October 9, 2014 8:52 pm

Monty

ref: “Javelin is designed to operated within a 2 km envelope, so was a Milan replacement not Swingfire/ HOT substitute”

Maybe, but Javelin has just been tested out to over 4KM, it has also been test fired from an RWS, so turning a Scout SV Protected Mobility Recce Support verison into AT over watch is actually fairly simple.

I have been looking at where we might save money to add to a FRES UV purchase of an 8 x 8.

Perhaps Warrior should be scaled back saving money on the turret upgrade and on the ongoing maintenance of very old FV432 series vehicles – let me explain.

Make the “hard core” tracked fleet the minimum required to support the 3 regiments of tanks – so 3 regiments of Warrior, but without turret in the APC role, delivering a full squad of 8 dismounts to support their assigned tank regiment (40mm GMG and 7.62 in a dual weapon RWS). They dont need the CTA 40 as they are always going to be used in close support of Challenger 2. Other turretless Warrors replace as many FV432 series as possible, and perhaps an additional follow purchase of FRES SV or even Warthog replace the rest.

Medium armour in this case is the FRES SV equipped Cav regiments.

Hopefully that might save enough to equip the 2 Mech Inf regiments per Reaction Force brigade with your 8 x 8 – lets say the up-rated version of VBCI for the sake of it. Many could be APC, with some recce / AT / fire support variants with CTA40mm. AT vehices are equipped with Javelin mounted on RWS. Mastiff then get passed back to Adaptable force brigades until finally replaced by maybe enough more VBCI to supplement the “light protected mobility” Foxhound mounted battalions.

The hard core of tracked heavy armoured battlegroups remain Challenger 2, Warrior APC, our various combat engineering vehicles and AS90 SPG.

Medium capability becomes the mech infantry in the 8 X 8 and light protected and true light infantry are as per already planned.

mr.fred
mr.fred
October 9, 2014 8:56 pm

I wouldn’t go so far as to suggest that a little bit of mud would stop a wheeled vehicle, but equally, slapping on some rubber tracks to make an ersatz half-track isn’t going to make it even slightly on a par with a fully-tracked vehicle. There must be a reason that half tracks are no longer found in any military worldwide, save perhaps relics here and there. Even the ever-pragmatic Russians eschewed the BTR152 family – ideally suited to half-tracking – for something with a more even distribution of wheels.

I think that there is a place for wheels, but one should take care to avoid selling them as being able to do everything else too.
Monty makes the comparison to the F-35, claiming that battle management systems can allow a lighter force to fight at arms length. This, I fear, is expecting the enemy to co-operate in the creation of your dream engagement. Any competent opponent will try to close you down and force you to confront your weaknesses, close distances and use whatever means to force you to break cover where you will be more vulnerable to his long range fire than he is to yours.
It also fails to address why a heavy force cannot also be equipped with sensors and battle management equipment or why a lighter hunter-killer force cannot outmanoeuvre you in turn.

For a Swingfire replacement, I think that while Brimstone makes an obvious like-for-like replacement, something more akin to Spike NLOS appeals to me as it covers a larger area and is more versatile. Couple a few launch systems with emplaced sensors, UAVs and UGVs, you can put a harassing fire on any advancing formation over a very wide and deep area. Time of flight becomes a problem at longer ranges, but that can be mitigated by having ATGW at lower levels. The infantry will have them anyway.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 9, 2014 9:10 pm

.B.

“Why don’t we just stick with the tracked vehicles in the first place?”

because they are eye wateringly expensive, track milage is what restricts training with tracked vehicles there are only so many links you can remove after the track has stretched before you need to replace the whole thing plus the extra fuel consumption due to friction. Every thing is a compromise and how is putting a rubber band on your last two axles any different to adding snow chains?

@mr.fred

‘slapping on some rubber tracks to make an ersatz half-track isn’t going to make it even slightly on a par with a fully-tracked vehicle’

Never said it would, I said it would improve it’s mobility.

mr.fred
mr.fred
October 9, 2014 9:22 pm

DavidNiven,
Enough to make it worthwhile to bother? How does it work with the multiple independent large deflection suspension typical of off-road vehicles? They look bulky enough that you’d have to truck them up separately, unlike chains which can be stashed on board.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 9, 2014 9:53 pm

@mr.fred

‘Enough to make it worthwhile to bother?’

Thats something you would have to test. I worked in Norway once and the Norwegian army had a 6 wheeled vehicle with a metal track fitted that worked pretty well and this was in the mid 90’s.

‘How does it work with the multiple independent large deflection suspension typical of off-road vehicles?’

Is’nt hydro gas independent? You could lock it out to reduce it’s travel length plenty of vehicles have the ability to lock out the suspension, the CET had the ability and that was 1970 technology.

‘They look bulky enough that you’d have to truck them up separately,’

Probably, but that comes down appreciating the conditions you are likely to face and planning.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 9, 2014 9:55 pm

@ David Niven,

Typhoons are expensive. Astute Submarines are expensive. Lots of the things the UK forces use are expensive. But they’re also the best tools for the job available. Wheeled vehicles are not quite the cheapo options that some people seem to think and yet for that price you get the sub par option that has little to recommend it. It is literally a solution looking desperately for a problem to solve.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 9, 2014 10:15 pm

‘Wheeled vehicles are not quite the cheapo options that some people seem to think’

They are in both fuel,range and in addition servicing.

‘It is literally a solution looking desperately for a problem to solve’

Your talking as if we have never used a wheeled fighting vehicle, the 8×8 I presume would replace the 432 and not Challenger and Warrior. You generally lose mobility due to loss of traction with wheeled vehicles in soft ground not sinking or bellying out.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 9, 2014 10:34 pm

@ David Niven,

The savings aren’t going to be that great to justify the significant outlay required upfront to buy them (in a time of budget squeezes no less) and in the long run it looks like a classic example of penny pinching and leaving the forces with inferior equipment. “Don’t worry boys, we know they’re shite in the rain and mud, but at least we saved £500 on the petrol bill!”.

The UK has used wheeled vehicles before, but they tend to be lighter vehicles more in the vain of something like Saxon, for which a replacement exists in the shape of Foxhound and Mastiff. The 8×8 is more expensive to buy and operate than these vehicles for the “low” intensity operations, despite not offering much in the way of any discernable advantage. And yet at the same time it doesn’t solve the problems of wheeled vehicles used in the armoured infantry role. It’s the second rate option in both domains. A solution looking for a problem.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 9, 2014 10:43 pm

.B.
‘significant outlay required upfront to buy them (in a time of budget squeezes no less)’

The vehicles or the band tracks? the tracks would not cost more than 2 tyres and tracked vehicles are at least double the cost of wheels.

‘problems of wheeled vehicles used in the armoured infantry role’

You wouldn’t use 8×8 in the armoured infantry role they would be a replacement for the 432 in the mechanised role. They would however have more of a utility in both COIN and peer on peer conflict over Mastiff by way of their protection and mobility.

Observer
Observer
October 9, 2014 11:25 pm

There seems to be a serious underestimation of the capabilities of an 8×8 here. Practically I seriously doubt if you’ll see any difference in tactical performance between an 8×8 and a tracked vehicle in the <30 tons range. If you wanted to totally replace your IFVs or APCs with 8x8s, I won't really find it amiss. And while people look down on wheeled mud performance, I wonder why they don't look down on tracked performance in extremely rocky areas where large wheels give a better performance than tracks?

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 9, 2014 11:35 pm

@ David Niven,

The Vehicles. And if you look at the figures a) we already have tracked vehicles. The proposal from Monty is to buy a brand new fleets worth of 8×8, 2) new Tracked IFVs do not cost double the cost of an 8×8 IFV. God only knows where you got that from.

There are currently no plans that I can see in Army 2020 to use 432. Even if you did, mechanised infantry are typically part of armoured forces, so you’re going to end up following the tanks and IFVs. That means that if you went with 8x8s then i) you would be sacrificing the ability to follow them across all terrains, in all conditions and ii) would sacrifice the sole advantage they have of greater speed on roads, because you’re tied to the speed of the tanks.

An 8×8 is not going to be that much more protected than a Mastiff for COIN work. And where exactly are you going to take it that you wouldn’t a Mastiff? Across some farmers field? I’m sure he’ll thank you for that. If the ground is hard then Mastiff will be able to cope. If its wet then you’re 8×8 is in trouble as well, as evidenced by the mobility problems the Canadians have had in Afghanistan. And yet you’ve just invested in a vehicle that is technically more complex than Mastiff and as such is more difficult and more expensive to maintain.

And you’ve done this because……? What? Some mythical, or at best absolutely marginal gain in some obscure element of performance? To save a few bob on the annual petrol bill? Of all the things that need fixing in defence this is probably down there with new coffee machines for the main building. It has no obvious gain, but will cost millions upon millions to implement.

I think the word “folly” would probably best sum it up. Spend the money on more Tomahawks, or helicopters, or some new training facility. Pretty much anything than this utter waste of cash.

Observer
Observer
October 9, 2014 11:47 pm

Maybe you should get your supplier to stop making wheels out of sugar Chris B? :)

A little mud and water won’t kill an 8×8, you’re talking about things like swamps and bogs, and any tanker that drives his MBT willingly into a bog needs to get his head checked.

Tracked vehicles also have a much higher maintenance cost. You need to replace track pieces often and their mobility system involves a lot of friction and stresses, wheels, not so much. This affects availability rates.

As for tying it with MBT, see previous where I point out the ratio of medium to heavies and that the mediums are often detached for independent duty.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 10, 2014 12:03 am

@ Observer,

You must have be having a laugh. Wheeled armoured vehicles have a fairly notorious and widely reported history of struggling in rough terrain. You mentioned rocks for example. During the invasion of Greece way back in ye worldy war two, zee Germans were fighting through British positions in and around Mount Olympus. The tracked vehicles had no problem but the whole thing nearly came to a grinding halt thanks to the difficulties they had getting their supply trucks across the same terrain.

This is not something that has magically cropped up in the last year and you make it sound like nobody has ever sat down and pointed out the problems 8x8s have in poor terrain. This is pretty widely and comprehensively documented stuff.

Observer
Observer
October 10, 2014 12:23 am

Chris B, I’ll come right out and say most of your complaints are overblown.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 10, 2014 12:34 am

@ Observer,

Really? After all, there’s only around 75 years worth of practical information available on this subject.

Observer
Observer
October 10, 2014 12:40 am

Chris B, all the googlefu can’t beat an actual integrated combined arms live fire exercise, which we do annually.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 10, 2014 1:22 am

@ Observer,

What the fuck are you talking about?

I pointed you in the right direction with the Greece example, an actual example from a real war. But of course, rocks are easier for wheeled vehicles right? You said it so it must be true. Then we have the fact that all the major armies that fought in the European theatre of world war 2 abandoned half tracks and the like in favour of fully tracked APCs for their armoured units based on their practical experience, in a real war, of the mobility conditions encountered. The only country that tried something different were the Russians with a light, 4 wheeled job, but even they realised over time that it was insufficiently mobile across country and eventually moved over to a variety of tracked designs.

Or perhaps I could point you to a piece by Paul Hornback. Allow me to quote you a section; ” Recent operations in Bosnia have demonstrated the inherent weaknesses of wheeled vehicles with regard to mobility and protection. When operations were conducted on roads, wheeled vehicles demonstrated excellent mobility
and speed; but when off-road usage was required, and wet or snow conditions prevailed, mobility suffered.”

I’m not sure as you could classify Bosnia as being either a swamp or a bog. But there’s more, and keep in mind this was based on testing and experience of the US army; “However, when the gross vehicle weight exceeds 20 tons and off-road usage remains above 60 percent, a tracked configuration is required to guarantee the best mobility for unrestricted, all-weather tactical
operations.”

Note, not preferred. Not desirable. REQUIRED.

Oh but there’s more still; “Army studies have indicated that, for a comparable VCI (or ground pressure) at the same gross vehicle weight, wheeled platforms require up to six times more volume for drive train and suspension components than tracked
platforms. This results in up to a 28 percent increase in vehicle volume if the same interior volume is maintained. Survivability analyses clearly indicate that a larger size is more readily seen and subsequently hit and destroyed. Additionally, as a combat platform’s size increases, so does the gross vehicle weight (provided the same ballistic and mine protection are maintained), which tends to degrade vehicle mobility and deployability. In general, wheeled platforms are more vulnerable to small arms fire and grenade, mine, and artillery fragments, due to the inherent weakness of wheeled suspension designs, components, and tires.”

But don’t worry, they’re easier to support; “However, one must bear in mind that wheeled vehicles generally have a higher
percentage of on-road usage while tracked vehicles incur more off-road usage. Obviously, the more severe crosscountry terrain results in reduced reliability for the tracked vehicle. A recent test of the Up-Armored HMMWV, running a scout profile with 68 percent offroad travel, resulted in significantly lower reliability when compared to the same platform running at a tactical truck profile of only 40 percent off-road.”

He finishes; “Army studies unanimously conclude that a tracked configuration is the optimal solution for tactical, high-mobility roles (off-road usage greater than 60 percent), gross vehicle weights in excess of 20 tons, and missions requiring unrestricted terrain movement, continuous all-weather operations, smaller silhouettes/dimensional envelopes, and greater survivability”

His credentials in case you’re wondering; “Mr. Paul Hornback is a general engineer with the federal government. He is presently assigned to the HQ TRADOC Combat Development Engineering Division, Fort Knox Field Office, which provides reliability, maintainability, and systems engineering support to the Directorate of Force Development, Fort Knox, Ky. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and a Master of Science in Industrial Engineering, both from the University of Louisville. His military experience stems from a six-year tour as a UH-1N helicopter pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.”

Is he sufficiently qualified for you? A masters in Industrial Engineering, a former Marine, who worked in an engineering division studying precisely this sort of thing? I suspect he’d know a thing or two.

Or you could pick up some history books and read about the practical experiences of the people that had to fight in armoured divisions over a variety of terrain. Or you can go hunting for some videos put up by the actual users of 8×8 vehicles, though I recommend if you’re going to type “Stryker” into the search box then you also add -nomorenarcissism -dynamicpara, unless you want to sift through a bunch of videos by that Mike Sparks fella.

If you can be bothered to look, you’ll find this particular issue has been done to death academically. In fact it’s dead, buried, dug up, killed again, cremated, the ashes scooped up and smashed with a hammer, burned again and then ejected into space. And guess what! Nobody yet has found a way to alter the laws of physics. Not one. And so would you Adam and Eve it, tracked vehicles come up tops time after time after time.

If you persist in putting your fingers in your ears and hoping it will all go away then fine, knock yourself out mate. That’s entirely up to you. But that doesn’t change reality.

Observer
Observer
October 10, 2014 1:34 am

Chris B, lots of words. Just let me say that I’m with an armour unit who do combined ops with 8x8s, specifically the Terrex, and we never had any difficulty with 8x8s not catching up with MBTs. Not in India, not in Thailand, not in Australia. And not “history”, I’m still with the unit.

And I’m not talking about paper, I mean actual on the ground integrated runs.

All your bullshit is really that. Bullshit.

Don’t like it? Go suck your thumb. We got it, we’re using it despite the complaints of someone who runs on pure emo and gossip of “it is bad”.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 10, 2014 1:57 am

@ Obsever,

Are you fucking mental? You’re calling “bullshit” on the combined combat experience of several hundred divisions during world war two, plus the experience of US, British and other forces in live combat theatres over the last twenty years? Not to mention professional engineers and military research units who have tested these things to death in fairly comprehensive test environments. Or as you call it “gossip”. Oh, and let’s not forget physics. You’re calling physics “bullshit” and “gossip”.

Round of applause for you my friend.

Observer
Observer
October 10, 2014 2:01 am

I give up, it’s useless talking to you. We got 8x8s, we’re going to use them regardless of what a useless waste of time like you think.

Questions I’m willing to answer, denials, I’m not.

And this is practical experience, we have never had any trouble having 8x8s catch up with MBTs.

Chris.B.
Chris.B.
October 10, 2014 2:14 am

@ Observer,

Do you not see the contradiction in your own argument? Your’re talking about denial yet you operate in a very narrow set of circumstances and your training was in places like India and Australia, both of which are reknowned for their hot and dry weather, while pretending that the vast experience of people who actually went to war in a variety of places, many of them very much of the wet and muddy variety, is invalid. You ignore the information that has been scientifically collected and evaluated by militaries with vastly more resources and operational experience than your own, because….? Because you went on exercise once to India and it was ok, therefore your very limited personal experience trumps the overwhelming mass of contradictory evidence. Oh and physics.

This discussion is not about the Singapore armed forces. It’s about the UK armed forces and the variety of situations in which they might find themselves. What Singapore does with its time and money is irrelevant.

Observer
Observer
October 10, 2014 3:37 am

Oh so sorry, did not know this was the “Power of 8-Conclusion for UK only”.

So tell me, if 8x8s are such a disaster, why are so many countries getting them? Don’t tell me, vast segments of the world’s military have a deathwish. I knew there was a reason people got nukes! Tell me again about how Stryker, Boxer, FRES UV, Centauro, BTRs etc are all disasters.

You don’t like 8x8s, I don’t care, but false declaration of inadequacies are exactly that, false declarations, which involves the UK too, especially if someone believed your lies. They can do the job, quit being an old complaining biddy. You know the kind, the tea is too hot, too cold, too sweet, too bitter etc.

Think Defence
Admin
October 10, 2014 6:06 am
Reply to  Observer

Its only the Internet you know chaps

Observer
Observer
October 10, 2014 7:33 am

I know TD, it’s just that complaints about “It can’t be done!” tends to be annoying when something has been done already. It’s a bit like physically proving bees can’t fly. The bee doesn’t care, he just flies. :)

wf
wf
October 10, 2014 8:05 am

@Observer: the points .B are valid. I think our opinions are very much influenced by NW Europe in WW2 and more recent conflicts like the FI, not to mention the recent Canadian experience which caused a rapid withdrawal from the “wheels everywhere” school of thought.

Perhaps your opinions are informed by both the terrain in which you usually operate and the force density? I’m no offroad driver, but my experience of exercise areas is that once 20 4 tonners have gone over a track in winter, nothing without tracks will make it past. Northern Germany has plenty of thick forests in which this becomes a big issue.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 10, 2014 8:51 am

The proposal from Monty is to buy a brand new fleets worth of 8×8

Yes to make a medium weight force that can add firepower to the light units if needed and provide flank and follow up forces to the heavy units if needed, or deploy independently as required. The class of vehicles they would be replacing are the 432 and Mastiff.

‘There are currently no plans that I can see in Army 2020 to use 432’

Thats going to be hard to do without buying a replacement considering the amount of CS units that use them what are the armoured medical regiments and CS engr units going to use? Unless we are just talking infantry but then if we are the discussion is pointless without equipping the CS units with the same protection and mobility.

‘Tracked IFVs do not cost double the cost of an 8×8 IFV. God only knows where you got that from.’

Take a look at the picture from the post ‘Panzers East’ and then tell me that tracked vehicles do not cost double to own and operate. A track vehicle is constantly wearing out its running gear at a higher rate than a wheeled vehicle every time you move it, how much does it cost in idler wheels, sprockets, tensioning arms, tracks and track pads a year in BATUS? I have a feeling it’s more than what they spend in tyres and shock absorbers for the wheeled fleet.

Chris
Chris
October 10, 2014 9:30 am

Hmmm. I’m sort of neutral on all this. Certainly I think a well designed 8×8 (or 10×10…) with fancy torque vectoring stuff and all wheel steer and the rest of the Gucci mobility gizmos would have mobility that conventional wisdom would say is beyond credibility. They are very good. In most conditions. And I don’t doubt the practical experience Obs has with a mixed wheeled/tracked force being tactically efficient. There are situations where wheels will suffer mobility issues that tracks can overcome – sloppy greasy mud, deep snow, the Falklands… But equally there are strengths we all know & appreciate in terms of long haul self deployment which wheels do well and tracks don’t, generally lower noise profile, marginally reduced support burden (note all the Gucci stuff noted above – high performance off-road multi-axle armour is not really equatable to Bedford 4-tonners).

So to draw Chris.B towards middle ground I’d suggest using the example of the Wehrmacht’s difficulties with logistics trucks over scrabbly terrain was not really appropriate as these were presumably commercial chassis vehicles with at best 4WD, but possibly not even that?

And to draw Obs towards a grudging admission tracks sometimes win out, an example from british tank history – as WW2 loomed, the War Dep’t drew up a spec for a new infantry tank. The Generals of the time knew that the next war would be exactly like the one they served in just 20 years before – entrenched with shell-pocked slippy slimy no-man’s-land that needed to be crossed. The result was the Churchill, 44t of slow well protected tank on tracks optimised for soft squidgy ground. Tracks just like the Rhomboids had. What a surprise the generals had when WW2 turned out to be Blitzkrieg. But. In the push towards Berlin in late 44/early 45 (a winter of unpleasant weather) it was found the only vehicle that could thread its way through the Reichswald was Churchill – it had finally encountered the terrain it was designed for. http://www.royaltankregiment.com/9_RTR/tech/reichswald/Reichswald%20Report_files/image022.gif

Anyway. In my opinion (and noted a few times before) the right thing to do is have a variety of sizes/weights/capabilities/configurations of armour within the Army, such that for any given task the commander can commit the machinery that would provide best military advantage. Wheels & tracks both have a place in that.

a
a
October 10, 2014 9:41 am

This is getting a bit abrasive, but Observer does make a good point: 8x8s are really common in armies around the world, so if we’re going to dismiss them as useless for the British Army we either need to say why all those other armies have got it wrong, or why they are doing stuff we will never need to do and vice versa. The Soviets, for example, were not short of tracked IFVs, but they used a lot of 8x8s in Afghanistan in the 1980s. They must have found them useful for something. The Stryker brigades were not a complete failure in Iraq – we didn’t see the US ditching its Strykers for Bradleys or Mastiffs, in fact they bought more of them and even went for upgrades to a V-hull.

(Examples from WW2 are not really relevant. That was 70 years ago; I suspect automotive engineering has come on a bit since then.)

The argument that they’re good but we can’t afford them is viable, I suppose.

a
a
October 10, 2014 9:55 am

Plus, I think the argument that “in a hot war, you won’t want to go anywhere that tanks can’t go anyway” falls over when you look at the last few hot wars we’ve fought, especially the Falklands and the Gulf. There were plenty of tank vs. IFV and tank vs. light tank engagements in 1991, as RT will no doubt be happy to describe.

Observer
Observer
October 10, 2014 9:56 am

wf, what Chris B points out are theoretical shortcomings, literally on paper. In practice, there are factors that offset the problem to a very severe extent, one of which is that even tracked vehicles do not go into questionable terrain. I’ve seen M-113s, which are tracked, bogged down and even overturned on bad terrain, but for some reason, people overlook that and go to extremes like assuming the instant a wheel touches water it breaks and that tracks miraculously lets even a 60 ton MBT float over a bog.

As for mud and swamps, so damn true on the tonners, but the A-vehicles, even 8x8s don’t usually have a problem oddly enough. It’s usually the 4 wheeled loggy vehicles that get stuck in the soup, things like the Unimog, rovers or the 3-5 tonners. Especially in the monsoon season. Cold, wet, miserable and brown. On the bright side, if you wait long enough to dry, most of the mud tends to flake off by itself, so you can simply knock chunks of it off your slacks. It’s not like Europe has a monopoly on mud. Unfortunately.

Think the best example would be to take an old 8×8 designed to be used in Europe. I’ve heard complaints about the BTR-60s+’s mechanical reliability, ergonomics and protection, but never about their mobility. If 8x8s are so bad with terrain, why all the complaints about everything else BUT terrain handling? Or could it be that there was never a problem in the first place save on paper?

Chris, I’m never anti-track, as long as it does the job. I’m just anti-scaremongering. If it works, why not? And tracks are still the primary motive mechanism >35 tons. I’ll never say no to tracks.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 10, 2014 10:09 am

‘high performance off-road multi-axle armour is not really equatable to Bedford 4-tonners’

Who said it was, most problems that arise from all the things like diff locks etc come from an electrical fault not mechanical and they are not that unreliable where they start to become only marginally cheaper to run and operate than tracks, are we suggesting that a DROPS and MAN SV (which is gizzmo’d up to the eye balls) costs as much to run as a Warrior?

Chris
Chris
October 10, 2014 11:11 am

DN – ref Bedfords – it was one of Chris.B’s comments that used WW2 logistics vehicle mobility as an example why wheels don’t work in tactical situations. But now you bring the subject up…

DROPS (Leyland) – Medium Mobility. DROPS (Foden) – Improved Medium Mobility. MAN SV (HX chassis with leaf sprung suspension) – Medium Mobility. MAN SV (SX chassis with coil sprung suspension) – Improved Medium Mobility. (Classifications as defined by MOD using the Logs Vehicle Def Stan.) These may have technology added but they are essentially trucks and as trucks their support is not on a par with armoured hulls. By the time the complexity increases to provide formal High Mobility – vehicles like the FRES UV contenders – then the support costs compared to Warrior will be a lot closer. I’m not anti-wheel pro-track nor anti-track pro wheel, they each have advantages. But its well to recognize that vehicles designed to accomplish the same tasks whether wheeled or tracked are going to offer comparable performance at comparable weights and have comparable costs. If wheeled armour had a significant advantage then all vehicles would be wheeled; if tracked armour had the advantage all would be tracked. That the arguments continue, and vehicles of both types continue to be fielded, only goes to show there is no clear advantage (across all situations) either way.

Jed
Jed
October 10, 2014 1:59 pm

Chris – how dare you be so logical and so bloody even handed and sensible, how very dare you……

To change tack just a little

I wonder, what is the cost benefit analysis of (eventually) replacing Mastiff with an 8 x 8 and adding some for the Adaptable force brigades, compared to a Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected) than includes an APC variant (again, back to son of Saxon, which was only 4 x 4). Would the steel hull Foxhound, maybe in 6 x 6 be “good enough” to provide extra protected mobility to what are currently un-armoured “general service” infantry battalions and CS / CSS units ?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven
October 10, 2014 3:20 pm

‘then the support costs compared to Warrior will be a lot closer’

In what sense? the spares would be similar I grant you but as I pointed out it’s the running gear and fuel consumption that drives up the cost of ownership of tracked vehicles not servicing the engines. How many times will you need to replace an axle, diff lock, or tyre on a wheeled vehicle no matter where its been driven compared to the drive sprocket, track pads and track on a tracked vehicle? The reason training is restricted on tracked vehicles is due to the cost of track mileage.

I also see a use for both wheels and tracks and think we need a balance between our medium and heavy units, but there is no getting around the fact that if you want tracks vehicles over a certain weight they are more expensive to own than a similar wheeled vehicle.

‘Would the steel hull Foxhound, maybe in 6 x 6 be “good enough” to provide extra protected mobility to what are currently un-armoured “general service” infantry battalions and CS / CSS units ?’

How would that work when it came to deploying them?

mr.fred
mr.fred
October 10, 2014 4:07 pm

The subject of wheeled vs. tracks always seems to get quite polarised, with the debate splitting into two side and both sides exaggerating the strengths of their candidate while denigrating the capabilities of their opponent.
I suspect that, in truth, most people are somewhere in the middle but sweeping statements end up with them erring to one side or the other.
For myself, I’m not against wheeled vehicles, but I get antsy when they are sold as a super-duper rapid-response force that can do all a heavier vehicle can do, and more! Ultimately the 8x8s currently in favour are armoured trucks. If used as such I am sure that they will make a useful contribution to a combined arms force (and that seems fro be a dirty word these days, for reasons I do not comprehend). I don’t think that they are suited to go it alone other than in relatively low-threat scenarios.
In fact, my concern extends to cover the entire gamut of “medium-weight” vehicles. In reality, AIUI, most are up-armoured lights. These vehicles just don’t offer the protection of the heavies and aren’t really that much more mobile, when all is said and done. I would prefer it if the solution was more along the lines of a lighter heavy and a more honest light – something which could be armoured up to the levels of current mediums if needed but equally could be operated without (and the military and political flexibility to run at lower protection levels)

Part of the lighter overall weight saving would be by optimising for size – it’s a section vehicle, so it seats a section rather than having a few empty seats for some reason. It’s a troop carrier so it carries troops, not troops and a gun. (though I would make an exception for a dragoon vehicle with as smaller dismount section if that would work). Or it’s a fighting vehicle so it carries a weapons system rather than trying shoe-horn troops into it as well.

One place I can see the current slew of 8x8s working is where you slim down the platoon to three vehicles, using the additional seats to spread the platoon command element out across vehicles. This would reduce convoy size, resulting damage to unmade roads and lighten the support load.

Think Defence
Admin
October 10, 2014 4:35 pm
Reply to  mr.fred

So how about a diversion

Accepting the size difference, what is the protection and mobility difference between your traditional 8×8 Boxer/VBCI/AMV etc and a MAN SV SX with all the gucci Project Fortress protection upgrades.

Then tack on an armoured passenger compartment/container, there are a few of them about

Now look at the cost differential

Justify your 8×8 in that equation

A bit too extreme?

OK, go down the scale a bit. Have a look at the Archer SPG that uses a Volvo articulated loader with 2 man armoured driver/commander compartment. Apply the same modern protection systems and armour (given the narrowness of the tandem seating front compartment I expect mine/blast resistance will be very good) and, add the same crew container.

Do the same mobility v protection v cost equation

Then factor in commonality in other areas

Think revolutionary!!!

Chris
Chris
October 10, 2014 4:44 pm

Perhaps TD you should check out the enormity of the Archer? About twice the size of AS90 – not something easy to conceal…

Much the same with the MAN truck with the likes of MuConPers module (yes OK its ISO container sized but that doesn’t make it ideal) – a big tall vehicle with (as I noted earlier) a lesser capability in mobility terms. Even Boxer looks bijou in comparison.

Not ideal in my opinion.

Think Defence
Admin
October 10, 2014 4:57 pm
Reply to  Chris

Ah, but if all they have to do is provide protected mobility and deliver a bunch of infantry to a convenient location then size is perhaps less of an issue.

Think about the cost difference

DavidNiven