Military Pallets, Boxes and Containers – Part 9 Trucks and Trailers

Mobile Electronics Unit

When I wrote about the issues and range of potential solutions for pallets and containers in the previous post I came to the conclusion that barring some major investment in a metric JMIDS like capability across the three services and the joint supply chain the best we could hope for is a greater use of sub 20 foot containers for unit loads and container inserts for unit stores. The impact would potentially be relatively minor because the mechanical handling equipment already in service for pallets handling can mostly be utilised for these smaller containers, within certain constraints.

The logical next step is to examine the means to move those boxes, pallets and containers; trucks and trailers.

An Eclectic Mix of Vehicles

To describe the logistics vehicles in service (or recently left) within the confines of the Ministry of Defence (MoD) as an eclectic mix is the charitable thing to do. Less charitable types might describe the fleet as a dogs breakfast resulting from a series of incoherent, illogical and short term service-centric decisions.

Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan required the purchase of a number of vehicles under the UOR process because simply put, the existing fleet was inadequate for the conditions and threats encountered. As operations ceased the decision was made to bring all the UOR vehicles into the core fleet as a transition to Future Force 2020 in which it was envisaged that the fleet would get back into a more stable steady state.

SDSR 2010 also mandated a return to the UK from Germany and overall force reduction size which has contributed to the problem of trying to hit the moving target that is fleet coherence.

It is easy to be critical of the current situation but that must be tempered with the obvious need to deliver suitable vehicles to theatre; the Urgent Operational Requirement fulfilment process cannot, and should not, put the long term situation at the top of the decision process.

To try and understand how the future might be structured the current must be described.

Multi Role Tactical Support

These vehicles are not all strictly speaking classed as operational support of multi-role but it is convenient to lump them together. I have also excluded the many flavours of the Land Rover because they are not primarily used for the movement of unit stores but have included the Pingauer, because they do and also provide the base platform for a number of specialist conversions that have relevance. Panther is also included because it falls within the MRV(P) programme that will be discussed below. Likewise Fuchs, nominally an ‘armoured vehicle’ but potentially replaced with MRV(P)

Pinzgauer 4x4
Pinzgauer 4×4
Pinzgauer 6x6
Pinzgauer 6×6
Tellar (Duro base vehicle)
Tellar (Duro base vehicle)
Fuchs NBC Reconnaissance vehicle (Image Credit - Plain Military)
Fuchs NBC Reconnaissance vehicle (Image Credit – Plain Military)
Husky is a new protected support vehicle, providing commanders with a highly mobile and flexible load carrying vehicle. This has been designed for a range of Afghanistan missions, including transporting food, water and ammunition, and acting as a command vehicle at headquarters. Some vehicles will be fitted out as protected ambulances. Equipped with a machine gun, Husky will join its sister vehicles Wolfhound and Coyote as part of the £350m Tactical Support Vehicle programme.
Husky is a new protected support vehicle, providing commanders with a highly mobile and flexible load carrying vehicle.
This has been designed for a range of Afghanistan missions, including transporting food, water and ammunition, and acting as a command vehicle at headquarters. Some vehicles will be fitted out as protected ambulances. Equipped with a machine gun, Husky will join its sister vehicles Wolfhound and Coyote as part of the £350m Tactical Support Vehicle programme.
Jackal Armoured Vehicle
Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV)
Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV)
Wolfhound Dog Pod (Image Credit - Plain Military)
Wolfhound Dog Pod (Image Credit – Plain Military)
A British Ridgeback vechile drives into a camp in Kabul.
A British Ridgeback vechile drives into a camp in Kabul.

Most of these are UOR’s, the exceptions being Pinzgauer, Fuchs and Panther and some have sub variants such as Husky ambulance and recovery (from Boniface Engineering). The background for these vehicles is widely known so I am not going to go into much detail.

Non Articulated Cargo

The Army has four types of basic cargo truck in service, not including the Leyland and Foden DROPS which are practically out of service now.

There are also a collection of specialist vehicles used mostly by the RAF.

MAN Support Vehicle

The £1.3 billion Support Vehicles (SV) contract was to replace DAF 4 tonners and Bedford TM 8 and 14 tonne trucks plus assorted vehicles based on these chassis like the old Bedford TM UBRE POD’s and Foden recovery vehicles. The original contract was for 4,815 cargo trucks, 314 recovery vehicles and 69 Andover recovery trailers but following a decision not to upgrade the existing Leyland DAF 4 tonne vehicles an option for an additional 2,077 vehicles was exercised. As part of this revision, the number of recovery vehicles was reduced to 269.

Type Axles Name Qty
HX60 2 Cargo (Light) Medium Mobility GS 3394
HX60 2 Cargo (Light) Medium Mobility Cargo 958
HX60 2 Cargo (Light) Medium Mobility GS CALM 84
HX60 2 Cargo (Light) Medium Mobility Cargo CALM 209
HX60 2 Cargo (Light) Medium Mobility GS tail lift 28
HX58 3 Cargo (Medium) Medium Mobility GS 264
HX58 3 Cargo (Medium) Medium Mobility Cargo 63
HX58 3 Cargo (Medium) Medium Mobility GS CALM 3
HX58 3 Cargo (Medium) Medium Mobility Cargo CALM 46
HX58 3 Unit Support Tanker Medium Mobility 230
HX77 4 Cargo (Heavy) Medium Mobility GS 464
HX77 4 Cargo (Heavy) Medium Mobility Cargo 328
HX77 4 Cargo (Heavy) Medium Mobility GS CALM 12
HX77 4 Cargo (Heavy) Medium Mobility Cargo CALM 119
SX44 3 Cargo (Medium) Improved Medium Mobility GS 41
SX44 3 Cargo (Medium) Improved Medium Mobility Cargo 59
SX44 3 Cargo (Medium) Improved Medium Mobility Cargo CALM 5
SX44 3 Unit Support Tanker Improved Medium Mobility 81
SX45 4 Recovery Vehicle (Heavy) Improved Medium Mobility 288
Recovery Trailer AT DBT30 69
TOTAL Excluding Trailers 6,676

These quantities have been revised up following a decision to mount the FALCON communications on SV and additional EPLS conversions from the original HX77’s.

MAN Military Trucks (now Rheinmetall) produce two variants;

HX is the lower mobility variant, classed as Medium Mobility, with conventional leaf spring suspension and tipmatic gearbox. The 2 axle variant has a 326bhp engine and the 3 and 4 axle variants each have the same 440bhp engine as the SX.

  • Medium Mobility – HX60, 4×4
  • Medium Mobility – HX61, 6×6
  • Medium Mobility – HX58, 6×6
  • Medium Mobility – HX80, 6×6 tractor
  • Medium Mobility – HX81, 8×8 tractor
  • Medium Mobility – HX77, 8×8

SX has a stiffer chassis, full automatic gearbox, coil spring suspension and 440bhp diesel engine so has much greater mobility, classed as Medium Mobility

  • Improved Medium Mobility – SX44, 6×6
  • Improved Medium Mobility – SX45, 8×8

As can be seen from the table above, the Improved Medium Mobility was ordered in relatively small numbers, most being the specialist Recovery and Unit Support Tanker variants.

MAN SV HX60 - 01


MAN SV HX58 - 01

MAN HX77 - 03

MAN SV Unit Support Tanker (UST)
MAN SV Unit Support Tanker (UST)


SV Recovey Trailer (Plain Military)

Support Vehicle Recovery Trailer

There has been some movement on final delivery quantities since then and inevitably, the fleet size will fluctuate due to combat or non combat related damage. In the original contract a number of appliqué protection kits were purchased but these were called the Riotous Assembly Protection (RAP) kit so one can imagine the actual level of protection. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have of course influenced the programme; in 2008 Project Fortress was let to provide a protected cab, weapons mount, run-flat tires, BOWMAN twin fit, wire cutters, ECM and night driving aids for 324 vehicles.

As a follow on, 324 vehicles (including 211 FORTRESS vehicles) were upgraded to the more advanced Theatre Entry Standard. The weapons mounts were provided by ISTEC Services. All the SV load beds were supplied by Marshall.

MAN SV HX60 Project Fortress trials Vehicle
MAN SV HX60 Project Fortress trials Vehicle
ISTEC Weapons Mount for MAN SV
ISTEC Weapons Mount for MAN SV
Marshall loadbed for MAN SV Truck
Marshall loadbed for MAN SV Truck

For operations in Afghanistan, where artillery ammunition expenditure rates were relatively low and operations conducted from fixed locations the traditional role of the DROPS fleet was not required, supplying forward operating bases and general cargo movement was. With much greater use of ISO containers the MoD diverted about 90 HX77 SV’s from the core programme to be converted under an Urgent Operational Requirement called the Enhanced Palletized Load System or EPLS. Some of these have also been used for the REBS bridging system UOR and an additional 87 EPLS obtained.

EPLS can lift ISO containers without first placing them on a flatrack but in most other respects, EPLS is broadly similar to DROPS. The H Frame or Container Handling system uses ISO locks and can lift 8’0″, 8’6″ and 9’0″ containers with an optional kit for 4’0″ and 3’3″ half height containers. EPLS has been a great success in Afghanistan and will now be bought into the core fleet.

EPLS and 20ft ISO Container on DROPS Flatrack (Image Credit Plain Military)
EPLS and 20ft ISO Container on DROPS Flatrack (Image Credit Plain Military)


Rapidly Emplaced Bridging System (REBS) (Image Credit - Plain Military)
Rapidly Emplaced Bridging System (REBS) (Image Credit – Plain Military)

The final contract was for  7,216 vehicles  with additional purchases of 107 HX60 for the FALCON communications carrier, 87 HX77 EPLS (not the conversions) under a UOR contract for Operations in Afghanistan and five SX45 for the Land Environment Air Picture Provision (LEAPP). The MoD transferred four HX77 EPLS to New Zealand.

Leyland DAF 4 Tonne General Service

The original plan was to replace the Leyland DAF 4 tonne trucks with MAN SV but a number of specialised variants remain given the saga of the MAN SV’s towing some of the older trailers including FEPS and the Light Gun it looks like a number of the General Service vehicles will also remain, with minor modifications. A dedicated High Mobility Support Vehicle Trailer has been obtained from Universal Engineering.

DAF 4 Ton Truck
DAF 4 Ton Truck.
Leyland DAf 4 Tonne Air Portable Tactical Aircraft Refueller (Image Credit: Plain Military)
Leyland DAf 4 Tonne Air Portable Tactical Aircraft Refueller (Image Credit: Plain Military)
Leyland DAf 4 Tonne Air Portable Fuel Dispensing Vehicle (Image Credit: Plain Military)
Leyland DAf 4 Tonne Air Portable Fuel Dispensing Vehicle (Image Credit: Plain Military)


Iveco Trakker

The ALC C Vehicle PFI includes a number of Iveco Trakker vehicles;

6 Truck Mounted Volumetric Mixers fitted with Nurock Volumetric systems for precision on demand supply of various types of concrete and cements. This is especially suited for airfield damage repair where the high strength requirements call for precise mixing.

33 Truck Mounted Loaders were supplied, fitted with a Mackworth flatbed with twistlocks for securing 20ft ISO containers and a 5.3 tonne capacity TL C2 40 2E/A2 Terex Atlas lifting crane. Because the lifting arm is mounted at the back of the load bed and has a long reach and high load capacity it can fulfil many of the traditional roles of the Grove Coles cranes such as lifting containers, loading MGB pallets onto their trailers and splitting BR90 panels for inspection and build.

61 Medium Dump Trucks which have a slightly longer wheelbase (3.82m) than the other variants and are fitted with a Thompson tipping body, 2 are also be provided in a winterised/waterproof variant. Off road payload is 16 tonnes and on road, 10 tonnes.

71 Self Loading Dump Trucks fitted with an Atlas Terex TLC105.2/A1 hydraulic lifting crane with digging bucket and Thompson tipping body made using Hardox steel from MTL. The bucket can carry 350L of material and the vehicle will be used for a wide variety of combat engineering construction tasks, replacing the well used Volvo FL12 Self Loading Dump Trucks. In addition to lifting loose materials such as sand, gravel or hardcore using the bucket, the crane can also be used for engineer stores, pallets or any general materials up to 2.6 tonnes at 4.1m reach. A lower weight can be lifted out to a longer reach if needed.

In 2010, ALC contracted with Thompson and Bozeat Industrial Engineering to supply a tipping body for a protected 4 axle version of the Iveco Trakker to be called the Self Loading Dump Trucks (protected) or SLDT(P), with 24 ordered in total. The protected cab was already developed for another customer (Germany I think) so was an off the shelf item but BOWMAN, ECM and the additional bar armour added considerably to the cost of the standard unit.

The final two Iveco Trakker variants are for well drilling, the Drill Rig and Flush Capping System

SITE EQUIPMENT - Truck Mounted Volumetric Mixer
SITE EQUIPMENT – Truck Mounted Volumetric Mixer
CRANE - Truck Mounted Loader 6T Terex Atlas
CRANE – Truck Mounted Loader 6T Terex Atlas
DUMP TRUCK - Dump Truck Med 6x6 Trakker AD380T 45W
DUMP TRUCK – Dump Truck Med 6×6 Trakker AD380T 45W
DUMP TRUCK - Dump Truck Self Loading Iveco Trakker
DUMP TRUCK – Dump Truck Self Loading Iveco Trakker
Self Loading Dump Truck Protected (SLDTP)
Self Loading Dump Truck Protected (SLDTP)
Dando Watertec 12.8 Truck Mounted Well Driller (TMWD)
Dando Watertec 12.8 Truck Mounted Well Driller (TMWD)

Alvis Unipower

Although not strictly a cargo vehicle the Alvis Unipower was bid as part of the HET competition but after losing to Oshkosh their new owner, BAE, no longer market the vehicle. The Army eventually took delivery of 190 Unipower 8×8 vehicles in three variants for use with the BR90 bridging system.

The C Vehicle PFI comes to the end of its term in 2020 and BR90 is currently undergoing a Capability Sustainment Assessment. The 140 or so Unipowers left (Tank Bridge Transporter, ABLE and BV) may possibly be withdrawn and the bridging components transferred to another vehicle. Malaysia is a BR90 user and uses a MAN base vehicle.

Alvis Unipower Tank Bridge Transporter
Alvis Unipower Tank Bridge Transporter (Image Credit: Tony @Plain Military)
BR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment (ABLE) Bridging Vehicle
BR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment (ABLE) Bridging Vehicle
BR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment (ABLE)
BR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment (ABLE)

BR90 - Malaysia 02


Mostly for use on main operating bases or training areas although the RAF green fleet refuellers are meant for tactical deployments. The older ones are a mix of Dennis, Bedford’s and Scammels but the newer types are MAN TGS’s

RAF MAN Fuel Tanker
RAF MAN Fuel Tanker
RAF Mercedes Snow Plough
RAF Mercedes Snow Plough

RAF Snow Clearance

RAF MAN Aircraft Refueller
RAF MAN Aircraft Refueller
Mobile Electronics Unit
Mobile Electronics Unit

Articulated Bulk

Articulated vehicles are used for bulk cargo, fluids and vehicle transport.

Close Support Tanker (CST)

The Oshkosh MTVR derived tractor unit has all wheel drive and rear wheel steering providing excellent mobility for such a large vehicle. Three trailers are in service,;

200 Close Support Tanker (CST) with 20,000 L (5280 gal) capacity

57 Close Support Tanker For Water (CSTW) with 18,000 L (4755 gal)  capacity

82 Tactical Aircraft Refueller (TAR) with 15,000 L (3960 gal) capacity

The tanker trailers are provided by Magyar in France and for the refuellers, the pumping and metering equipment by Alfons Haar in Germany.

Close Support Tanker (CST) (Image Credit - Plain Military)
Close Support Tanker (CST) (Image Credit – Plain Military)
Close Support Tanker
Close Support Tanker
Oshkosh Tactical Aircraft Refueller
Oshkosh Tactical Aircraft Refueller

Heavy Equipment Tractor (HET)

Like the Iveco Trakkers, the Oshkosh 1070F (Euro III compliant) Heavy Equipment Tractors (HET) are provided through a PFI, Fastrax, a KBR company. Starting in 2001 the 22.5 year £290m PFI provides 96 HET’s and trailers (89 King GTS 110/7 trailers and 3 Tru-Hitch recovery systems) with the drivers through FTX Logistics based in Bulford and Fallingbostel. The drivers operators are sponsored reserves.

The King Trailers are recognisable by the perforated plates on the side that flip down to support very wide vehicles like main battle tanks and the four thousand wheels!. In order to comply with relevant European legislation the width is limited to 2.9m to allow it to be unescorted and each axle is limited to 10 tonnes. The King trailers experienced mobility problems in Afghanistan due to the poor road conditions and in 2009 the MoD purchased 20 two axle trailers with a maximum payload of 45 tonnes from Broshuis in the Netherlands.

Challenger HET
Oshkosh Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET)

King GTS 100 Trailer
King GTS 100 Trailer
Broshuis Improved Mobility Trailer
Broshuis Improved Mobility Trailer

Light Equipment Tractor

The Seddon Atkinson Strato has been out of service in the Army Light Equipment Tractor role since 2012 and the Future Light Equipment Tractor programme cancelled but the interim solution has involved a handful of the MTVR tanker tractor units being used in the role with Broshuis trailers; the Interim Light Equipment Tractor. 60 three axle semi trailers were obtained in 2005 and a further 39 in 2006.

ILET (Plain Military)
ILET (Plain Military)
Broshuis I-LET Trailer
Broshuis I-LET Trailer

Also in service with the MoD and RAF are a number of other tractor/trailer combinations. For nuclear weapon transport and RAF movement.

Nuclear Weapons Prime Mover (Image Credit - Plain Military)
Nuclear Weapons Prime Mover (Image Credit – Plain Military)
Royal Air Force Seddon Atkinson Tractor Unit
Royal Air Force Seddon Atkinson Tractor Unit
RAF Volvo FH12 Tractor
RAF Volvo FH12 Tractor
RAF MAN TGA Truck2 MT Squadron
RAF MAN TGA Truck 2 MT Squadron

Replacement Programmes

Status and Issues

‘Ruthless Commonality’ is an enduring hobby horse at TD tower not because of reasons of neatness but simply because of cost.

It is obvious that the more individual types of equipment there are in service the proportional cost to support them will be greater. No organisation can afford this and the British forces are no different to any other organisation. Whether commonality should exist at system or sub system level is an interesting debate but I think we can all agree, some sort of commonality is a Good Thing™

In the list above there are Iveco, Cummins, Caterpillar, Steyr, MAN, Mercedes, MaxxForce, Detroit, Mercedes Benz and DAF engines. At this subsystem level there will be little or no commonality and a closer look at the power ratings reveals different manufacturers engines of comparable output sitting in the logistics and support vehicle space. In the 320 to 330 BHP range, the Husky, Mastiff/Wolfhound and MAN Support vehicles all use different engines, between 400 and 450 BHP there are Cummins, Detroit, Man and Iveco engines powering the Unipower, HET, CST, MAN SV and Trakker vehicles.

Now consider things like wheels and tires, lamp clusters, power steering components, transmission parts and switchgear; all things that break and wear down. For each of these there is a NATO Stock number, an entry into a parts ordering system, a technical description and detailed procedures for changing them and not forgetting a stock holding or call off contract with suppliers.

Each vehicle will also need a range of operating training courses at DST Leconfield or maintenance courses at REME training schools, those courses will have instructors and require training vehicles, those instructors will need salaries and pensions and the course administration will need another group of people. Expensive service personnel will also have to attend those courses.

Vehicles will have support contracts managed by personnel in DE&S Abbey Wood, more salaries and pensions.

All this matters because duplication and overlap creates inefficiency, inefficiency adds unnecessary cost and unnecessary cost means a reduction in combat capability, it really is that simple.

Put the same vehicles into a deployed operation and the problems are amplified, amplified for a couple of reasons.

In a modern operational risk environment to days of soft skinned vehicles are pretty much gone so each type will have a home and away specification. Look at what was required for Theatre Entry Specification for any of the logistics vehicles, ECM, BOWMAN, armour, weapons mounts, night vision capability, situational awareness additions and wire cutters for example. Instead of doing the design/certification work once and reaping the economy of scale benefits on longer production runs there were/are numerous and very expensive design programmes and boutique vehicle modifications to small fleets because of a simple lack of commonality.

Self Loading Dump Truck Protected (SLDTP)
Self Loading Dump Truck Protected (SLDTP)
Oshkosh Heavy Equipment Tractor (HET)
Oshkosh Heavy Equipment Tractor (HET)
BR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment Afghanistan TES 01
BR90 Automotive Bridge Laying Equipment Afghanistan TES
Close Support Tanker
Close Support Tanker

Some of these vehicles might be managed under a PFI but on operations, it is the joint supply chain that must accommodate vehicle spares diversity, a MAN brake light, an Iveco Trakker brake light and, well, I think you get the picture!

The elimination or reduction of duplication at component, sub system and system level must therefore be a key aspect of future vehicle programmes.
This is of course, all common sense and the Army is just as aware of the need to reduce duplication in order to reduce cost as anyone else but after doing the hard yards in Iraq and Afghanistan the diverse vehicle fleet cannot be consolidated overnight, it is not economically feasible to do so and also, the Army has to be ready for operations. It does not get a post Afghanistan grace period in which it can relax and sort its vehicles out.

There are multiple overlapping Out of Service Dates (OSD) to factor in to future programmes and the two key PFI’s (HET and C vehicle) will also conclude in the next decade. First out will be the C Vehicle fleet in 2010 then Wolfhound and Mastiff, in 2024, by 2025 the articulated tractors from Oshkosh will be out of service, 2027 will see Husky gone and 2030, the end of Jackal/Coyote, RWMIK, Land Rover and Pinzgauer. By 2034 the MAN Support Vehicles will be with Withams and inexplicably, Panther will soldier on until 2037.

These OSD’s are sourced from a presentation given by the head of Operational Support Programmes earlier this year, it also stated that the OSD for Foxhound was 2024. I can only assume this is a mistake, maybe the Panther (Less Protection than a Crisp Packet) OSD is 2024 and Foxhound is 2037?

Regardless, most of these OSD’s are relatively far into the future.

The responsibility for operational support vehicle replacement resides in the Operational Support Programme which includes both Operational Support Vehicles Programme (OSVP) and Protected Mobility Platforms (PMP).

The diagram below gives a good overview of current and future fleets.

Current and Future Vehicles
Current and Future Vehicles

There are three major programmes in flight;

  • Multi Role Vehicle (Protected)
  • Future Non Articulated Bulk Capability provided by the Common Articulated Vehicle (CAV)
  • Future Common Articulated Bulk Capability, provided by the Non Articulated Vehicle (NAV)

All of these are intended to come into service on or around 2020, the inference being no changes to the fleet before then. Each of them also has a non too distinguished pedigree of failed predecessors, OUVS, F-LET and HLDC for example.

We might also speculate on the commercial model used for the programmes, although C Vehicle and HET PFI’s have worked pretty well I think the PFI concept is damaged goods and it would be a brave man to bet on continuance in the same format.

What is not shown on the diagram, sadly, is the C Vehicle fleet and Unipower BR90 fleet, which is either a simple omission or an opportunity lost to the lack of joined up thinking that got us in this position in the first place. It is also an Army only affair, the RAF’s MT fleet is not shown, although again, that might be a simple omission, hope so.

The Mastiff family is also undergoing a number of conversions and updates to align with Army 2020.

  • Mastiff Troop Carrying Variant (MAS TCV) to Mastiff Enhanced Communications Variant (MAS ECV) Conversion
  • Ridgback Troop Carrying Variant (RBK TCV) to Ridgback Command Variant (RBK CV) Conversion
  • Wolfhound Explosive Ordinance Disposal (WHD EOD) variant to Wolfhound Military Working Dog (WHD MWD) variant Conversion
  • Mastiff 1 to Mastiff 2 Conversion

Influences and Requirements

The requirements for the future programmes described above must be defined with reference to the contemporary operating environment, where and how the vehicles will operate, the range of enemy threats that must be mitigated and a range of other issues.

Although the Army in its current ‘return to contingency’ mode is seen driving non TES Challenger on Polish exercise areas this is an illusion. It is the smallest of remote possibilities that the British Army will ever deploy again into a combat environment at any kind of scale without the full ‘up armoured’ TES versions of its vehicle fleet. The contemporary operating environment also includes the contemporary risk and litigation environment, where the MoD has a duty of care to its personnel. Put the two and two together.

Pick any combination of asymmetric warfare, three block war, the nine domain challenges or ambiguous combat operations and the logistic vehicle answer is always the same, soft skinned vehicles are yesterdays news. It is a brave (or foolish) man that predicts the future conflicts the British Armed forces will be involved with but I think it would be reasonable to say the IED, RPG and AK will figure largely.  In looking at the MRV(P) requirements I think there might be some element of wishing for the future to be somewhat different to what it is likely to be.

The demand for precision indirect fire and its resulting systems could also result in a complete reversal of one of the underlying driver for logistics vehicles, artillery. In the post on pallets I described how DROPS (concept and quantity) was born from a requirement to keep the AS90 self propelled guns  of the Royal Artillery fed with a constant stream of ammunition in order to blunt the advancing Warsaw Pact forces in Germany. Only 32 AS90’s were deployed to Iraq in 2003 and none to Afghanistan. SDSR 2010 signalled a reduction of the AS90 fleet to 89. It should be obvious that with GMLRS and an overall reduction in force size, the demand for a DROPS fleet to support the Royal Artillery is significantly smaller. Am not ignoring or downplaying the artillery demand on the supply chain but placing it in context.

Many of the Army’s smaller logistic vehicles are deliberately constrained by C130 carriage. There is not much point having an air assault brigade if it not air mobile of course, whether this means Chinook sling loading, parachute delivery or simply flying in the back of an aircraft is another debate but what is certain is the C130 is going out of service. A few may hang on and money is currently being spent on the Block 7 software/hardware update with a lead in to 8.1 in 2019 but the venerable Hercules is on borrowed time. Which for many vehicles is a good thing because the larger A400M can now accommodate a C130 transportable vehicle with TES type modifications, unlike the C130, which in many cases cannot. The A400M is going to be the backbone of the UK tactical air transport fleet, we should be thinking about this for vehicle design and stop worrying about C130 carriage.

For 3 Commando Brigade the issue is less about air transportability and more about water and winterising, compatibility with ships and fitting on landing craft although in the current Ship to Objective Manoeuvre and Operational Mobility from the Sea context we might also need to consider what the wheezy Merlin HC4’s will be able to carry.

Personally, I think if 3 CDO and 16 AAB had any shred of self preservation instinct they would be talking to each other about merging and creating a single oversize and heavier brigade structure that still retained rapidity of response and high mobility courtesy of Messer’s Chinook, A400M and LCVP Mk10, but like whether air mobility means parachutes or helicopters, that argument is for another post!

SV Scout and its family will present the Army with another logistic challenge. DROPS could carry, and has carried on many operations, a pair of CVR(T). The articulated light and heavy equipment transporter fleet could comfortably carry two, without breaking the merest hint of a sweat. They could also be stuffed into containers and easily carried on the majority of civilian trucks. CVR(T)’s replacement, the SV Scout will not be able to be carried on any of the DROPS type vehicles, it is simply too heavy. Instead, it will require the same class of vehicle currently used for Challenger, Warrior and some of the heavy plant; the Oshkosh Heavy Equipment Transporter. Apart from these being provided by a soon to terminate PFI, there are only a small number of these exotic beasts, less than a hundred total in the fleet. Without augmentation moving an armoured division from the Port of Disembarkation (POD) to its area of operations is going to be a rather ponderous affair.

Although 20ft ISO containers were quite common in Afghanistan a manoeuvre focused operation may not use containers to the same extent with a reversion to a ‘pallet economy’ more likely.

For the smaller vehicles the payload will likely be no more than a pallet or two but there are issues of protection and mobility to consider also. Afghanistan and Iraq focussed one the need for protection as vehicles, by virtue of the operating environment, could not utilise their mobility to avoid repetitive use of established roads and crossing points. In a faster flowing operation with greater potential freedom of movement the dial would need to be swung back in favour of mobility and away from protection.

Organisational change with the resultant transition to ‘Contingency Operations’, the prevailing strategic landscape and wider MoD ‘transformation’, especially within DE&S will also influence equipment decisions.

The Army has also, as a matter of coincidence, ended up with an oversize MAN SV fleet, it being originally scaled for an Army size much greater than exists now, or is likely to exist in the future, could some of these be used for a replacement for the tanker fleet, using ISO Tank Containers instead, reducing the need for specialist vehicles?

Specialist vehicles like tankers deliver that 100% of capability but if a tanker truck has a major problem with its brakes it will be classed as Vehicle off Road or VOR. There are much fewer tankers available in the fleet so it will have a disproportionate impact on operations. If the ‘tanker’ part of the overall package were demountable, using a tank container for example, it could be transferred to another vehicle with little effort and the valuable capability it imparts, made available in short order.

Demountable payloads, and this applies across many domains, provide flexibility and resilience.

Finally, there is the elephant in the room, funding.

The Army is seen by many as the SDSR 2015 cash cow that can be remorselessly beaten like a Mexican piñata until the money for F35, Carrier Strike,  Typhoon, Type 26, complex weapons and Vanguard replacement comes tumbling out. We keep hearing how Afghanistan was the last hurrah for the British Army and the future is more Libya style operations characterised by remote control meddling from sea and air with SF only ground forces. The mood music is crystal clear, the Army is last in line for investment unless a) it cuts numbers again or b), President Putin starts driving his tanks into Poland.

So not only does the Army face significant technical, organisational and doctrinal change it also has to face the reality of being on the budgetary down slope for the next several years. Does it trade away personnel numbers for better equipment or does it do the opposite and rely on UOR funding to plug obvious gaps during the next major operation?

Both options have inherent risk.

Operational Support Programmes

The Army is of course fully aware of the issues with having a post Afghanistan vehicle mix that is both unnecessarily diverse and not optimised for its view of the contemporary environment. It has a number of vehicle programmes in various early stages that will address the issues at hand.

The existing protected mobility fleet is being retained in core to provide space for these programmes to be realised; Multi Role Vehicle (Protected), Utility Vehicle (no longer called FRES), Common Articulated Vehicle and Non Articulated Vehicle. A number of smaller programmes also exist such as a protected ambulance and light role recovery vehicle but I have not included them here, or UV.

This request was published in December 2013;

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

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

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

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

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

The OSP Programme Management Office (OSP PgMO) in the DE&S at Abbey Wood is conducting a Market Survey to inform Concept Phase.

These are the Army programmes, clearly commonality is front and centre, at least for the vehicles in scope. It would make sense if BR90 and C Vehicles formed part of the requirement and maybe we can be hopeful about the other services.

I do get that sinking feeling though, are we missing an opportunity to be more ambitious?

Multi Role Vehicle (Protected)

The MRV(P) is a Category A programme that is intended to replace a number of vehicles and is the latest incarnation of the 2003 Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) programme that was cancelled a few years ago.

‘Salvador’ wrote a very good article on OUVS in 2009, click here to read.

One MRV(P) variant will be for the carriage of unit stores, which may be palletised or contained within a Quadcon for example. MRV(P) will have a palletised load system, brilliant.

In April this year the MoD released this request

Specialist and Logistic Project Team (SLV PT) in conjunction with a yet to be selected vehicle trials and demonstration authority will be running a multi role vehicle – protected (MRV-P) pre-concept study; It is planned to hold the study the week after the defence vehicle demonstration which is being held on 20th & 21.6.2012. Designed to determine the quantity of platforms that conform to the high level requirement and fall within the desirable Unit Price Cost (UPC) of 250 000 GBP, the study will look at a number of vehicles in the 5 to 15 tonne range that are modular to may be considered as being able to form the base vehicle for and other programmes such as future protected battlefield multi-role ambulance.


The MRV (P) programme is currently at the pre-concept phase and has evolved from the operational utility vehicle system (OUVS), with significant changes in the total numbers and protection level. The vision is for one variant to fulfil all roles, using plug-and-play communications and flexible seating layouts. MRV(P) is not seen as appropriate for providing utility vehicle support to rapidly deployable forces (i.e. first-in, airborne or amphibious), where a lighter, more agile, capability is required. There are currently no KURs or URD for MRV (P), so a clear high-level requirement is needed.

The roles expected of the capability include:

Command and communications post vehicle,

Command and liaison vehicle,

General purpose vehicle – cargo,

General purpose vehicle – pax,

Light gun towing vehicle.


The study within this pre-concept phase is to assist in de-risking the MRV (P) Concept Phase by indicating the general ability of the market to meet endorsed MRV-(P) 3OAs. The study is to be completed by an independent vehicle trials and demonstration authority. Prior to the authority being selected all interested manufacturers should express their interest to Lt Col Licence SLV PT. Once the trials and vehicle demonstration authority is selected, the authority will engage directly with OEMs in order to secure platforms for trial. It must be noted that this study is not for down-selection purposes, but a practical method to conduct a market survey on a wide selection of available candidate Military/Commercial Off the Shelf (MOTS/COTS) vehicle platforms.


Base platform. The base platform must fall within the 250 000 GBP UPC, it must be of a modular design capable of fulfilling the requirement for a ‘family’ of platforms and although there must be capacity for growth, must contain the following minimum requirement:

Number of crew ? 6 (Pax) Dvr, Comd, Gnr + 3 (pax carrying platform)

Payload capacity > 2 500kg (Cargo) + Crew of 3 To allow for the appropriate crew, pax, Bowman, ECM, cargo preponderance requirements for towing and up to 20 % growth.

Unladen mass <14 000kg <10 000kg if transport by C130.

Turning circle < 18m Land Rover = 14m

Width < 2.5m Medium Mobility

Power to weight ratio > 20 hp/t at the wheels Medium Mobility

Ground pressure < 450Kpa Medium mobility

Ground clearance > 240mm Medium Mobility

Ballistic threshold protection (Stanag 4569) ? level 2 Objective level 3

Blast threshold protection (Stanag 4569) ? level 2a/2b Objective level 3a/3b

Growth Potential

The platform design must incorporate adaptable vehicle architecture to allow the following capabilities to be integrated into the platform:

Open architecture communication information system,

Generic vehicle architecture level 2,

Fitted for electronic counter measures,

Fitted for bowman,

Fitting of protect weapon system.

Estimated cost excluding VAT: 250 000 GBP

This has a number of interesting points, the low cost mainly.

The diagram below explains the variants, although omitting the gun tractor.

MRV(P) Variants
MRV(P) Variants

Looking at quantities and timelines, two diagrams lifted from a May 2014 presentation given by the Head of Operational Support Programmes.

MRV(P) Indicative Strategy
MRV(P) Indicative Strategy
MRV(P) Numbers
MRV(P) Numbers
MRV-P timeline
MRV-P timeline

A few thoughts…

Am I the only one that thinks a Panther (less protection than a crisp packet) OSD of 2037 whilst the shiny new £800k Foxhound will be at Withams in 2024 looks odd, perhaps it is an RAF thing, or a mistake, or both.

MRV(P) will be in service for quite a few years before the other types fall away but it should be noted that the initial requirement is for 800 only with the dangling carrot of another 4,000, maybe, perhaps.

A single order of 4,800 vehicles might attract a unit price of £250k but less sure about one for 800, which as per every other single defence programme will be reduced. Manufacturers are not going to be giving volume discounts where the volume commitment is ‘maybe’

MRV(P) is not intended to replace the Land Rover (except RWMIK) and Pinzgauer vehicles that are used by light role forces but will replace Jackal and Coyote, you guessed it, used by light role forces.

It is good to see Generic Vehicle Architecture still in the mix for future vehicles.

I would imagine Navistar and Iveco will be making a case for a run on purchase of the MXT (Husky) and LMV (Panther) respectively. Supacat are said to be preparing their SPV400 and many others, this kind of vehicle sits inside a saturated market space, there are numerous off the shelf solutions available.

The General Dynamics (Mowag) Eagle, Thales Hawkei, the larger Thales Bushmaster and Renault Sherpa also look like interesting contenders. All have the crew cab, personnel carrier and cargo flatbed variants available.

Sherpa Light APC

Renault Sherpa Light APC
Renault Sherpa Light APC

Sherpa Light Station Wagon

Renault Sherpa Station Wagon
Renault Sherpa Station Wagon

Sherpa Light Carrier

Sherpa Light Carrier
Sherpa Light Carrier

I quite like Thales Australia products, especially the larger Bushmaster which could replace Mastiff, this is of course unlikely because that would step on the toes of UV. Bushmaster is available in all the variants in the MRV-P requirement, in addition to Ambulance, ISTAR, EOD and Pioneer and , it is also not from the pre IED generation like Eagle and Sherpa.

Thales Bushmaster
Thales Bushmaster
Thales Bushmater IED Strike
Thales Bushmater IED Strike
Thales Bushmaster ISTAR
Thales Bushmaster ISTAR
Thales Bushmaster Pickup
Thales Bushmaster Pickup
Thales Hawkei
Thales Hawkei
Thales Hawkei Pickup
Thales Hawkei Pickup

Foxhound out of service date not withstanding the General Dynamics Ocelot/Foxhound platform must surely be in the running, especially in the less expensive (non composite) version.

Ocelot S Logistics
Ocelot S Logistics
Ocelot S - Stretch
Ocelot S – Stretch
Ocelot S - Ambulance
Ocelot S – Ambulance

The KMW Dingo family should also be a contender, this is a very well developed vehicle with many 4×4 and 6×6 variants, all right off that shelf; Patrol, NBC Recce, ISTAR, Ambulance, Recovery, EOD, Repair, Command Post, PsyOps

Dingo Patrol
Dingo Patrol
Dingo Recovery
Dingo Recovery

Dingo Pickup

Dingo 2 Recce
Dingo 2 NBC Recce

If commonality with the Jackal/Foxhound platform is not required then it would be good to see the smaller UK manufacturers get a look in like Penman/Creation, Universal Engineering, Oviks, Morgan Composites or TMV.

Creation Zephyr
Creation Zephyr
Oviks Crossway 6x6
Oviks Crossway 6×6
TMV 6x6
TMV 6×6

Cast your mind back to OUVS and there was a Small and Large, MRV-P does seem to include a stretched variant although not for stores carriage but personnel and I think it would provide greater clarity if two sizes were specified. Like OUVS, MRV-P has great potential to standardise across a very diverse fleet, certainly in more than the initial 4 or 5 variants would suggest.

Perhaps the Army is reticent to create a programme with as much ambition as OUVS and is taking a more conservative path to make sure it gets into service.

I am also doubtful about replacing the highly mobile Jackal/Coyote with a lower mobility vehicle, the Army is trading down on mobility and protection in order to get MRV(P) at a relatively low cost, I fear some of the hard won recent lessons are being discounted because MRV(P) is fashioned around how the Army now sees itself.

Non Articulated Vehicle (Protected)

The Heavy Load Distribution Capability (HLDC) has changed into the Non Articulated Vehicle (Protected) seems to be a straight replacement for the existing DROPS fleet which is now more or less out of service. What isn’t clear is whether this will be Medium Mobility (Leyland) or Improved Medium Mobility (Foden)

The slit chart from the same presentation mentioned above shows a number of options including converting an additional batch of 15 tonne SV to EPLS.

Non Articulated Vehicle (NAV)
Non Articulated Vehicle (NAV)

A requirement of 1,349 vehicles does seem rather high given the likely operational context, it was reported earlier in the year that an additional purchase of 350 EPLS vehicles combined with the existing MAN SV UOR EPLS fleet and a life extension for the DROPS fleet would get to this number but the DROPS fleet was withdrawn last month, the RLC HQ confirming;

The DROPS vehicle has been the workhorse of the Army for 25 years. At the end of this month we say farewell to the last of our DROPS……whilst eagerly waiting for them to be replaced by the latest 15T MAN Support Vehicle. Sad to see a great truck go, but always better to see a greater one arrive

This would seem to point to ‘new vehicles’ from MAN, rather than simply using the existing 170 odd EPLS. It would be good if those new vehicles were from the SX range, the improved medium mobility version equivalent to the FODEN DROPS but it appears that they will be lower mobility HX77 drawn from the existing fleet. The EPLS fleet will therefore appear to number approximately 350, all of them taken from the core HX77 fleet and equivalent in mobility terms to the Leyland DROPS, not the Foden DROPS. I have also seen a number of comments regarding lower ‘sturdiness’ and slower loading speeds compared to the much loved Foden. It has also been reported that the programme will include 130 trailers . Much of this is third hand reporting so to be honest, I am not confident that this is the current position.

An SX would also be the obvious choice to replace the Unipower vehicles used for the Royal Engineers BR90 bridging system. A shame, as the Unipower remains an excellent vehicle but they must be getting more difficult to support by now and this isn’t going to improve. The Malaysians use a MAN base vehicle for their BR90 equipment so it does not seem an insurmountable challenge.

Another issue that should really be considered as part of the NAV programme, but doesn’t seem to be, is what happens  when the C Vehicle PFI concludes in 2020. This includes a number of Iveco Trakker AD380T45W vehicles used in the Truck Mounter Loader, Volumetric Mixer, Tipper, Self Loading Dump Truck, Well Drilling and Flush Capping roles.

Will the PFI be extended, an alternative commercial arrangement defined or the entire capability bought back in house. Who knows what option will be taken but if we are thinking about commonality and reduction of types it must make sense to migrate the equipment onto MAN SV chassis.

Iveco Trakker Protected EPLS
Iveco Trakker Protected EPLS

The MoD only ‘own’ the Self Loading Dump Trucks (Protected), enlarging the Iveco fleet does not make a great deal of commonality sense, despite Iveco pushing their case.

Common Articulated Vehicle (CAV)

Is it possible to bring into service an articulated vehicle that is capable pulling both the gooseneck King trailer and the more conventional Broshuis/Tanker types, the same vehicle that can be used for peacetime and overseas operations and used in both the light, heavy and tanker roles

No news on quantities because I think this is relatively early in the planning stages but the decision might come down to a question of sticking with Oshkosh or not. For non operational peacetime tasking I could see a joint Army/RAF function emerging with a mix of White Fleet on unmodified civilian tractor units, civilian contractors and a small number of military owned units to ensure availability. It would be good to see these using the same vehicle.

For operational use, we might replace the water and fuel trailers with container based units such as the WEW Fuel Dispensing racks and similar. I am going to explore this option in the next post but it would not be a simple swap. Replacing the Oshkosh Het and MTVR tractor units with a single MAN unit might also be possible.

The MAN HX81 is a relatively new addition to the HS/SX family now in service with the Bundeswehr, the second video shows the Goldhofer MPA trailer. The Bundeswehr has three Doll trailers in service, 30 tonnes, 50 tonnes and 70 tonnes.

MAN HX81 6

MAN HX81 7

MAN Hx81 4

MAN Hx81 3

MAN HX81 2

MAN HX81 1

The engine is more powerful than the existing SV fleet but it would have a great deal of commonality.

Given the size of the MAN SV fleet it does seem to be somewhat of a no brainer to at least consider the HX81 as a replacement for the HET and CST, think of the logistics savings.

And that is why I shall leave this post, a question about logistics commonality.

In the next part of the series, a few more thoughts on trucks and trailers.

The rest of the series…

Part 1 – Introduction and General Principles

Part 2 – Pallets

Part 3 – Containers and Flatracks

Part 4 – Container and Flatrack Handling

Part 5 – Boxes

Part 6 – Air Transport Pallets and Containers

Part 7 – Air Despatch

Part 8 – Issues and Solutions for Pallets, Containers and Boxes

Part 9 – Trucks and Trailers

Part 10 – More Thoughts  on Trucks and Trailers

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107 Responses

  1. Dear God, there is a part nine & its a long one! Will need to find the brandy before I try to wade through that.

  2. Impressive and well-argued coverage of a long-standing and progressively worsening problem. Particularly important to get the ‘special-to-role B vehicles masquerading as C vehicles’, and desirably the deployable RAF fleet, onside. Recovery vehicles have long been based on common cargo types – why not Sapper ‘funnies’ too?
    The biggest problem (after funding) seems to be the silo competition approach to individual requirements – maybe the DE&S bean-counter rules will need addressing. That said, the assertions that are obvious common sense in the real world will need quantifying, in cost savings/avoidance and/or increased operational effectiveness, to satisfy the system and justify the inevitable levelling up of some requirements in the interests of commonality. We also need some exemption from the Euro 3/4/5/6/etc emissions b****cks that festoons commercial vehicles with ever more gubbins to get in the way or go wrong, besides breaching commonality over a lengthy production run every time the standard is updated. (How much CO2 does firing a CR2 or AS90 produce?)

  3. Interesting that you think that not including the RAF MT fleet is an ‘omission’.
    As far as I can see 60% of the RAF’s requirement can be met by commercial off the shelf vehicles anyway. (History is our guide here- the RAF had a large fleet of Thornycroft Sturdy & Nippy’s, as well as Bedford MS- all civvy street models in WW2, and later with the Bedford TK [the civvie model upon which the Bedford MK was based]) Indeed the snow clearance vehicles and the most of the refuellers/fuel delivery vehicles you’ve pictured are off the shelf models that can be seen on many airports in Europe. Even the 2MT arctics are just civvie vehicles in green.

    I don’t see the point in buying expensive military chassis and new bodies, Which will be used to carry out tasks that can be performed equally well by a much cheaper, off the shelf, civilian vehicle, Commonality or not.

  4. Interesting point on commonality, what’s best cost wise, commonality with other vehicles in the MoD or with vehicles on civilian airports? I think for small fleets the latter.

  5. It would be useful if some of the commanders of these logistics wagons could actually read a map properly, or had even the slightest Scooby about how to arrive at a particular grid reference at a specific time, not trying to arrive via the enemy’s front line, nor rev the tits off a diesel engine in getting there.

    And get rid of the flat glass windscreens. You can see the wagons for miles with thermal. It’s not the engine heat, it’s reflectivity of cold glass.

  6. Well I got through it without brandy. Well done TD, more interesting than I thought possible. Yes there is a case for standardisation & using one chassis/engine/suspension for many different variants, makes sense. Given the dire financial situation, UK production should be a priority. Also lets not forget the bi-polar decision making. For example the pols will want low emissions/good fuel economy for their climate change agenda, yet the need for extra armour will go against that. So either lightweight armour or hybrid drive systems. Perhaps both. In theory, I am not against PFI, but I have yet to see one that has been a good deal for the taxpayer.

  7. Why are they even having a contest for mrvp if the answer isn’t foxhound then a meeting without tea or biscuits followed by a 3 week interagation using sleep depreciation to explain what another alternative will do would need to be mandatory as foxhound was designed specifically for the army in the first place.

    Using a similar concept to foxhound for the other classes would seem sensible perhaps going to talk to volkswagon on there MRB and mlb concepts maybe a good place to start.

  8. It’s useful to remember that when unit tankers were introduced in the 1970s, they were palletised and fitted on a 4 tonne. IIRC the only vehicle modification was to the engine exhaust, which went forwards. It invites the question as to why dedicated fuel tankers are required.

    UK’s primary defence mission is as part of NATO. Campaigns against a third rate enemy (Iraq – moderately well equipped but incompetently led) and insurgents should not obscure the possibility of a more competent opponent requiring higher intensity operations and ammo expenditure to match.

  9. ‘MRV(P) has a £250k ceiling’

    Is that going to be achievable, considering that even Panther cost a lot more than that. I think the Bushmaster might be closer to that figure due to exchange rates but I think 250K is asking a lot.

    Does any one know if they are considering dropping the MAN engine and gearbox into the Mastiff and Wolfhound as part of the refit after Afghan?

  10. One of the problems we had in using a reservist based force is that a lot of equipment for the reserves are often either left idle clocking up platform life with no one using it and/or procured in such small amounts that if the reserves were activated, most of them would end up with no vehicle to use.

    The MoD solution for this problem was to get civilian versions of C-vehicles (if you are driving a C-vehicle in a FEBA, you really need to learn how to read a map, like RT said), and rent them out to defray the costs. This is something similar to the STUFT for ships, but in reverse, the MoD owns the vehicles and are actually reclaiming them from trade rather than buying them.

    Would a system like that be useful in the UK context?

  11. DN – its a hard choice to re-engineer Mastiff family vehicles with MAN engines and ZF transmissions if they are even more expensive than the Caterpillar diesel and Allison transmission currently fitted. And presumably if re-engined now, the new engine would have to abide by the latest EU emissions regs – even if the current Mastiff didn’t need Adblue to run, the new one would. Emissions controls on vehicles that cover such short distances per year (compared to civilian & commercial traffic) is completely idiotic but then we consistently allow (without protest) the political dunderheads to invoke stupid rules so I suppose its our own fault. The £250k per vehicle limit will afford 7t typical basic armoured vehicles. If state of the art protection is needed then even such sized vehicles would cost more than the budget (see Foxhound…) and the same would be true if that budget is to cover Bowman and ECM and fancy IT networking.

    RT – ref windows – there is always a conflict between protection, vision and (as you argue) stealth. These days the idea of a fold-down hatch with tiny vision block (Ferret & Saracen style) for the driver would go down like a lead balloon because when open visibility is good but protection poor, when closed protection is good but vision poor. Current EU regs (sigh – them again) have demands on all-round vision that result in commercial trucks being festooned with more mirrors than a Mod’s scooter so that all ground close to the vehicle can be seen (current rules do not permit cameras in place of mirrors) – if that many mirrors were mandated in front of a vision block there would be no space to see forward. Something has to give – in the case of Jackal protection is poor but vision/situational awareness is good. Stealth? Three or four soldiers on top of a moving platform without any form of screening must show well on TI…

    TD – ref GVA – I am much less a fan of this than you are, mostly because I cannot believe the GVA standards will not go obsolete far faster than the life of either vehicle or typical military electronic unit, such that in their service life vehicles and their electronic kit will suffer more refits due to GVA updates than they would had the things been wired in the old-fashioned case-by-case way. My PC is about 5 years old and is now an unsupportable dinosaur; most web content fails to display correctly because standards have been changed to suit smartphones & tablets. In 5 years even the fastest procurement programme is likely to have just entered service – obsolete on delivery. Chasing IT standards* is a constant race to keep within reach of the latest fad, and I can’t see MOD keeping up.

    *Hard to justify the term ‘standard’ when its only valid for 6 months before a new fad has to be adopted.

  12. Chris

    I was thinking more of using the existing engines and transmissions from surplus MAN vehicles. It would need a cost v benefit analysis but as we are already spending money on the fleet to bring it into core I do think it might be useful to look at considering the time span of the vehicles expected service.

  13. TD

    Mod must know by now which bits are driving cost on foxhound so what makes them think they can suddenly do the same thing for a 1/3rd of the price. I assume that these new vehicles are going into harms way so I’m guessing the protections standards aren’t going to be massively different to what was asked of foxhound. Has some new tech dramatically reduced the price of protection, if so why hasn’t it been back engineered onto foxhound, have protection levels been reduced would incorporating this onto the foxhound module reduce cost.

    Or has the reformed budget concuss mod reverted to type and simily said this is the budget for mrvp and someone’s gone to a spreadsheet added up how many vehicles currently used in the role and divided the two to get a figure of 250k.

  14. Chris,

    There’s always horses*** (or bikes). If we didn’t have such lardy front line wagons, we wouldn’t need such lardy loggie wagons.

    As for protection, get a decent commander in there. Don’t get seen – the best way to avoid being shot at. And don’t travel on roads.

    *** I have ridden three horses this morning to stop them becoming lardy stable goats, and I expect to ride a bike later today down to the Co-Op to buy some milk and fags. There is nothing better than travelling without an engine.

  15. @ Chris

    ‘ Emissions controls on vehicles that cover such short distances per year (compared to civilian & commercial traffic) is completely idiotic’

    Doesn’t that potentially leave us with an odd fleet with unusual engines? If civvy street is all on the latest spec Euro 6 engines, we would then have something just built for us enginewise. Could that would lead us into expensive spares ie Mod only spec engines, because civvy street are all producing the latest thing?

  16. @Chris – buy a MacBook – but avoid the latest OS which relies on iCloud… My 5-year-old (with some extra RAM) still works fine.

    @DavidNiven – there’d be all sorts of ECU-type problems to solve, for far less gain than was achieved by eg. re-engining CVR(T) and 432. And the current support package is now (more or less) in place. If there are surplus MANs, surely better to use them in other B vehicle roles (replacing DAFs?), store until the C vehicle PFI runs out, or to beef up an operational reserve?

  17. TD,

    Are Donkeys scheduled in for Part 10? The Royal Army Service Corps used to have thousands. Nothing wrong with a donkey or mule to get loads to tricky places.

  18. @RT – Had 20 donkeys (plus one Landrover) in a company of SOAF in 1963. Carried the 19 set on one and the batteries on another. Max payload 90lbs (0.041t). Multi-fuel, no emission control. Also, all must be same sex or else…

    @DavidNiven -PS: Also, doubt MoD has full IPR on Mastiff as UOR purchase, so necessary design data might not be available.

  19. oldreem – I’m not sure swapping Billy-ware MS monopoly for Apple i-Everything monopoly is much better. What annoys is that looking back NT/XP & Office200X did everything OK so why is it now impossible to use? Because the software mafia demand we buy a new version (incompatible with the old) full of gadgets and gizmos we didn’t need, didn’t want and won’t use. And with a GUI that’s worse than the one before. And that uses 20x the hardware resource to run. Whatever happened to “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”?

    Topman – I have my beedy eye on a designed-for-the-military diesel that is going through the latter part of development. But even if that doesn’t surface, its no secret that inside the modern EuroX engine all the stuff is just like old oil-burners always had. It can’t be hard to make a military version of any diesel, one with minimal complexity, as few sensors as possible and that can run on aviation kerosene like the Def Stan says they must. If that means MOD have to put some pennies toward the development & support then that’s what they must do. If the commercial diesel is run on AVTUR like the MOD standards say it must I understand all warranties are void and engine life is predicted to be short. In other words the commercial EU-spec engine and the Def Stan mandated fuel are not compatible. MOD still spec both must be used. Daft.

    RT – I like simplicity and light vehicles; I have nothing against horses & mules being employed if they work better than motorized vehicles in a given situation. I’m sure I said before I think the best solution for the military is to have a broad spectrum of vehicles (and animals if you so desire) so that the best option may be deployed to meet any scenario. Personally I like motor vehicles, high mobility quite well protected ones as compact as they can be made. As for size of vehicles, my measure of ‘reasonableness’ is that they should be able to mix and meld with commercial/private traffic such that they wouldn’t stand out as military without close inspection. The benchmark profile I set to meet or undercut is the Sprinter van, as they are everywhere the world over. Width is harder to keep down to normal road-vehicle scale; generally if width is reduced height will increase just to fit everything within a hull of similar protection. And I really don’t like tall narrow armour. Saxon, anyone?

  20. @Chris: bear in mind that the pace of progress in computing is a bit dizzying, and most successful open source projects generally replace 25% of their code every year. Given this, there are three logical responses: ensure the data formats are open and free so even the oldest file can be safely altered, ensure you have the rights to the source code for long lived applications, and assume that equipment will have a fairly short hardware refresh cycle (which makes sense since these days software is most of the cost anyway).

    I commented on GVA at the time, but from the hardware point of view what it *did* specify seemed OK to me. Consumer devices may become unusable within a few years, but single mode fiber and cat6 cabling is exactly the same as two decades back, and cable termination standards are much the same. It’s ripping out the cabling that will cause unnecessary additional cost :-)

  21. @Chris – that’s my point. I’m still running 2009 Snow Leopard (OS10.6.8) with no problems and (despite some alarmist media coverage) it’s still supported. Plus iWork, which is more intuitive and flexible than Office once you get used to it (for my needs anyway), and can read and save as Office equivalent formats (with a few little foibles). Just bought grandson the last Macbook model (2012 but still available) with a proper HDD, disk drive and upgradeable RAM – wouldn’t touch the fancy newest ones. Also with Mountain Lion (OS 10.8), which is proven and stable; later OSs (Maverick, Yosemite) are as you say going even more tablet-like and still give some people problems. I’ve never met anyone who would willingly go back to MS after owning a Mac; although it’s said that ‘MS is for business, Mac is for people’. Plus Macs are generally more secure (fingers crossed…).

    Reference the diesel/AVTUR aspect, isn’t there also still a risk of having to use relatively high sulphur diesel in some parts of the world? That as you know quickly screws up the fancy Euro IV-plus engines. Don’t know what the DEFSTAN says about that.

  22. @Chris

    ‘ If that means MOD have to put some pennies toward the development & support then that’s what they must do’

    I think that is what I mean, UK only spec diesels in small numbers might be costly in spares as we lack economies of scale to push prices down. I just think we might end up with some sort of oddball engine only we use.

    How often would we gain an advantage from using AVTUR? Genuine question possible on airfields but how much else?

    Simplicity I’d agree with you, isn’t there an MRAP that uses databus for even things like the interior lighting? I think someone on here mentioned it.

  23. wf – I am content to be a Luddite when it comes to technology for technology’s sake. I understand the ideal of plug-and-play IT, but for vehicles likely to be in service for 30 years plus and relatively rarely used in anger (hopefully) I am pretty sure chasing the VGA standard will be a burden not a blessing.

    oldreem – I am forced to maintain allegiance to Office2003 as a lot of stuff I have uses specific functionality in that program. I tried porting some to OpenOffice and it turned to garbage. As for AVTUR I believe by the spec it is already too sulphurous to meet the EU green diesel standard. And yes I agree there may well be situations where fuel of opportunity is rough high sulphur diesel.

    Topman – the common fuel policy is I understand in place so that all fuel needs of the UK military are met by the same fuel – fast jets & turbo-props, trucks & tanks, RIBs & frigates. It has caused some additional work to the UAV sector; most were 2-stroke petrol, now there are some with heavy-fuel engines and no doubt more will turn that way in future. The point is that MOD wants to have one fuel only, whatever the machine, so that any depot/tanker/AOR/bowser/replen needs deliver one fuel only with confidence everything will work on it. As for vehicle simplicity, I met the DE&S fellow responsible for GVA and tried very hard to persuade him that 24V battery-switch-load electrics made very good sense for basic automotive systems, such that failures could be easily diagnosed and repaired by the vehicle crew using basic tools in short order, to get the thing going again. Sitting on the battlefield in a vehicle immobilised by a blue-screen-of-death moment, waiting for REME to turn up with the right bit of diagnostic kit and a truck full of spare ECUs, is no way to fight a war.

  24. @ Chris

    There are a whole host of reasons why we will continue to carry F76 and AVCAT at sea.

  25. @ Chris

    Not sure the MoD are driving to one fuel. On paper possibly, but APATS covered the naval angle. Petrol and diesel are widely available certainly on airbases (away anyway) mainly because we lease so much civvy stuff, everything from generators to minibuses. So we still end up having to resupply various fuels, perhaps different for the army, but not from what I’ve seen. Perhaps oldreem could expand. Loads of our kit is diesel, only people I’ve seen use AVTUR for ground equipment USAF.

    ‘I met the DE&S fellow responsible for GVA and tried very hard to persuade him that 24V battery-switch-load electrics made very good sense for basic automotive systems’

    How did that go?

  26. @Chris: think we need to look at the financial and operational justification for keeping all our platforms for 30 years. Planning and designing to do so is both nearly impossible and guaranteed to result in the over-engineering about which you have just been railing against.

    Whilst for a nuclear powered SSN a 25 year lifetime makes sense, I can’t see the need for the same for a AFV or fighter aircraft: they will wear out faster and given the space, power and thermodynamic constraints it’s harder to upgrade them. Upgrading by “forklift” will both keep economic production rates and avoid painful attempts at upgrading.

  27. Topman – just leafed through the Def Stan and by my understanding GVA has been drawn with basic automotive stuff outside the boundary.

    APATS – I wasn’t aware AVTUR is not for use at sea (?) but the POL Def Stan says so too. And old fashioned Dieso is still listed as a valid permitted fuel type. In which case all the guff about Common Fuel Policy that blighted previous MOD vehicle projects seems somewhat of an expensive nice-to-have. Hey ho.

    wf – I can’t speak for pros & cons of keeping aircraft or ships for decades, but AFVs tend to stay on the books because they get so little use (and are built by requirement to be robust) so they take a very long time to wear out. All different in the case of peer-peer conflict where there would be significant attrition, but through times of peace and police actions these things are just too good a condition to scrap. Unless a friendly nation wants to buy them at a good price (rarely happens) or we decide to build a new generation anyway and sell the old ones cheap or for scrap or to the public (??) they just sit in sheds for years with 100 miles on the clock. Its one of the paradoxes of defence spending – if you don’t spend enough to show a credible defence capability then you invite hostile nations to have a go at us (scary prospect) but if you spend more and do have a credible powerful defence capability then chances are no-one would chance taking action (ends up looking like defence has no purpose). If you don’t spend, you need what you haven’t got, if you do spend, you don’t really need all you have.

  28. @Chris

    The use of Dieso makes perfect sense for warships. Think of where we often have to source it from and the amounts involved. often we are not even taking fuel from military sources when deployed, never mind UK military and would you be comfortable with a few hundred tonnes of AVCAT in the tanks of a ship that could take a hit? There are differing regs for AVCAT tanks.

  29. @Chris: if you want to actually train our armoured brigades to do anything other than polish their tanks, they will need to drive a bit further than 3 miles a year. The old BAOR standard was 250 track miles pa I believe :-)

    What with the Jordanian’s and the Baltics, we do seem to be able to sell our old stuff too!

  30. “Warships….”

    Come on APATS, don’t get silly. They are expensive floaty little boats of cod all practical utility. Just like tanks. Waste of taxpayers money since 1945.

  31. APATS,

    “would you be comfortable with a few hundred tonnes of AVCAT in the tanks of a ship that could take a hit? There are differing regs for AVCAT tanks.”

    AVCAT or AVTUR? Hundreds of tonnes of AVCAT in the tanks must be a normal situation for aircraft carriers, and certainly is for replenishment tankers. AVCAT isn’t any more scary than DIESO. Without looking them up, differing regulations for AVCAT tanks are probably related to fuel hygiene for aircraft, rather than any additional threat posed by AVCAT.

    An interesting paper on JP-5/AVCAT as a single fuel for use at sea, noting that the idea was considered at least as early as 1967:

  32. Chris,

    “I wasn’t aware AVTUR is not for use at sea (?)”

    It’s all to do with flashpoint. Anything below 60ºC is not acceptable for carriage at sea. A history of nasty fires on aircraft carriers with low(er) flashpoint fuel is the reason.

  33. @Anixtu

    Carriers have special AVCAT tanks of the required capacity but still do not use it for Ships propulsion which should tell you something. Tankers the same. AVCAT is also inherently more difficult to keep clean enough for use than F76.

  34. @Anixtu

    Thanks for the link. Am on the move at the moment, will have a good read later. Is it related to JP-8 replacement proposals?

  35. Anixtu – I hope there’s no DOT4 brake fluid or the likes aboard then. Not widely understood that boring old brake fluid is the most dangerous fire hazard in the average car. Also few brake systems are robust in their design (the average modern car fluid reservoir just clips loosely to the servo and can quite easily detach and rupture in impact situations with consequent fire). The fluid requires no initiating spark, just a temperature above its flash-point and oxygen. It will spontaneously ignite. Flashpoint is between 90ºC & 135ºC, but without the need for an ignition source I’d suggest its at least as iffy as the banned AVTUR…

  36. @ Chris

    You have to understand the difference in sheer volume. You are talking about tens or hundreds of tonnes of AVTUR, thousands on a capital ship vs brake fluid in pretty minimal amounts.

  37. wf – I’m sure I noted this before, but its pertinent here – Witham had a 432 on sale last year, fresh from MOD, with a certified mileage of 39 miles on the clock. In 55 years service, that’s not very far at all…

  38. APATS,

    The principal reasons for not using F-44/AVCAT as the default fuel for ship propulsion are 1) historically F-44 was much more expensive and 2) machinery was designed around F-76/DIESO, or converted to it from heavier fuels. F-44 can be substituted for F-76 for ship’s propulsion as a short-term operational expedient, with certain precautions and preparations.

    Aircraft turbines are more sensitive to fuel quality than ship turbines, which in turn are more sensitive than diesels. Unless you are saying that there is some property of F-44 which attracts contaminants more readily than F-76, in which case I’d like to hear more details.


    JP-8 isn’t relevant to use at sea. The paper linked is about converting the USN to a single fuel, substituting JP-5/F-44 as the default fuel for ship propulsion in place of F-76.

  39. @Anixtu

    Cheers, I’m thinking of the other way around, JP-5 has the potential to replace JP-8 in not-so-wet environments. Regardless, the paper looks like it will be a good read tonight. Thanks :)

  40. @ RT The lead mule in a mountain artillery battery was an animal beyond price, and definitely not to be entrusted to the RASC.

  41. @oldreem
    ‘If there are surplus MANs, surely better to use them in other B vehicle roles (replacing DAFs?), store until the C vehicle PFI runs out, or to beef up an operational reserve?’

    All the DAF’s have been replaced and the reserves use MAN as well. The PFI with C vehicles is not going to go away in my opinion as it has worked out pretty well financially for the MOD, so you will always get anomalies such as the Iveco Trakker being used as a base vehicle for C vehicle roles due to ALC getting a say in procurement (as long at meets the requirement). MAN SV’s are an expensive truck for a civilian company to maintain plus the DROPS replacement is a separate purchase, although I don’t see why we just don’t buy more MAN’s.

    So I think we will have some spare engines and transmissions if we wanted.

  42. Time for a re think?
    The question started in my mind: –
    Is the military soft skin vehicle dead at least as far the army is concerned?
    Are all the armoured mine protected vehicles etc bought for Iraq not, actually as useless in a ‘real shooting war’ as professional and knowledgeable contributors think they are? Ignoring any specific vehicle issues that is I am talking about the generic type.
    What is the Issue?
    Rather like helicopters, photocopiers and computers, ‘Guided weapons’ have in effect finally reached the capability attributed to them in bond films and the like.
    Here are some of the weapons either out there now, or on track for delivery:-
    Cannon Launched: –
    1. Excalibur Range 30 miles CEP 20 metres
    2. XM1156 Precision Guidance Kit (A cheap way of reducing CEP to 50 metres).
    3. Copperhead
    4. Krasnopol
    5. Basir
    6. Smart
    7. Long range Land attack projectile Navy)
    8. A slew of 5 inch gun projectiles

    Rockets/ Missiles (just at what point does a rocket become a missile)???
    1. MLRS (Grid Square removal anyone? Guided missiles under development).
    2. A whole slew of soviet and BRIC developed types.
    1. Stryx
    2. Several others planned.

    The point about a lot is this is many of these, unlike copperhead which was a 70’s program that cost a fortune and never really worked as advertised, are mostly a lot cheaper than they would have been to develop a decade or so before now, and they seem to work or have realistic targets to work.
    This means that in effect creeping across the battlefield, and expanding the term battlefield in a big way, are projectiles with ranges of 30 – 100 miles able to hit a CEP of 50 metres or less, in some cases much less. And they are arriving at a cost that means they can be deployed in big numbers by 2nd tier armies. They aint going to go away.
    To put that into perspective, if you are reading this in England there is nowhere that can’t be shelled from the sea. As in the specific house you are sitting in now!
    What about the truck you are driving?
    Random or even targeted rear area shelling is not exactly new. What is new is that now it can be personal. The shelling aimed at a tennis court sized area up to 100 miles away, can be with a much reduced outlay, in terms of guns and shells. If in a war the enemy can hit a cross road, a road, or a staging area 20 miles behind your ‘lines’ with a handful of shells, with an accuracy that would have required a battery of heavy artillery firing for half a day to hit the same target; can we say there is anywhere that soft skin vehicle can be used in a peer to peer Hollywood high concept war?
    Your rear area isn’t really rear is it?
    Part of the issue is that previously the enemy would have to line up a battery of guns – which means he would have to have a battery of guns, supply them with lots of Drops delivered shells, and that lot would make a big air target. Here we are talking about 1 gun firing for a couple of minutes.
    The 155 mm shell goes off with hell of a bang. I don’t suppose a 5 inch naval shell will be that much less destructive.
    Now STANAG protection levels, talk about ability to resist 155mm shells at certain distances
    Level 4
    Kinetic Energy
    14.5x114AP / B32 at 200 meters with 911 m/s
    155 mm High Explosive at 30 m

    Level 5
    Kinetic Energy
    25 mm APDS-T (M791) or TLB 073 at 500 meters with 1258 m/s
    155 mm High Explosive at 25 m

    Levels 4 and 5 come with a big weight penalty. Steel armour to meet these criteria runs at 20 mm thickness and more.

    This of course leaves aside any question of IED, off route hollow charge mines, or targeted anti-armour missiles launched by air, sea or land.

    In my humble opinion strapping a few plates to a commercial chassis is a non-starter. It is beyond what in my view is practical to put on a commercial load carrying vehicle and still leave a useful load carrying capacity, and still use readily available commercial components. The closest we have are Wolfhound and its MRAP ilk. Should we instead of seeking to scrap them as useless, start work on their new heavier and more capable replacements?

    So are we looking at a fleet of 3 or 4 thousand specially designed 40 ton + vehicles capable of carrying 20 ton containers. I don’t see that as cheap!

    However if a peer enemy without air support or even and airforce can pick a spot on the map where there is a pretty good idea there will be a convoy – say a bridge or crossroad and hit it on the nail with a burst of 4 shells in the almost certain knowledge it will take out a few trucks, then soft skin vehicle casualties are going to rocket.

    I don’t have an answer but it does seem that issue is being studiously ignored….

  43. @Thread
    On the subject of a single fuel embarked on warships the USS Makin Island (the last of the Wasp class) and the evolved version the new USS America class use a single fuel for propulsion and aviation JP-5, They have bunkerage for 1 million gallons. The US can however go down this route due to the huge number of bases globally and the huge auxiliary fleet they possess.

  44. monkey,

    “On the subject of a single fuel embarked on warships the USS Makin Island (the last of the Wasp class) and the evolved version the new USS America class use a single fuel for propulsion and aviation JP-5,”

    Any source for that other than a Wikipedia article? It is unlikely to be the case and more likely that whoever wrote that part of the article does not realise that marine gas turbines do not normally run on “jet fuel”.

  45. Ixion,

    Interesting thoughts, but you are missing surveillance capabilities out of the equation. And C2, and logistics (if Obsvr was online he could remind us all of the components of indirect fire, five of them if I remember, buggered if I can recall the last).

    Anyway, my main point is that the ability to chuck projectiles with great accuracy is not that useful just by itself. You need other things to happen as well to achieve the proper effect.

  46. @Anixtu

    ‘Aircraft turbines are more sensitive to fuel quality than ship turbines’

    Not too sure that’s true, I don’t think there is any difference between the core engines. Possibly more of a matter of sensitivity of ancillary drives and gearbox/cooling (and units mounted onto them) even things like fuel seals and tanks can matter. Unless they are modified in the turbine, combustion chambers etc?

    Tbh I didn’t know you used diesel for GTs at sea, I suppose it’s easier to get hold of as most ships use diesel.

    Totally OT; Harriers could use diesel for a very limited time( I think it was 24 hrs).

  47. RT

    I agree completely about targeting.

    My point was the US now have a simple strap on kit (ooh er missus) for a conventional shell that can be targeted at a very small area a long way away.

    Now we have discussed before the effect of vehicle size on reasonable road mobility it does not take a genius to look a a map and say to oneself

    “I will bet my bottom dollar the road junction at xyz has a lot of traffic going through lets just pop 2 minutes at 4 shells a minute a 20 metre CEP every hour or so into it and see what happens”.

    Great thirsty armies remain road bound its not practical to shift that quantity of fuel food and ammo not on roads. For targeting purposes you only need a map.

    The relative cheapness of the new weapons means they will be coming to a battlefield near you.

  48. Ixion,

    Lots of problems with that concept, not least of which is ROE (for Western forces).

    Counter-battery fire? Ammunition expenditure rates? Simple mathematics (an exploding shell is dangerous for about one second: 8 in one hour mean the crossing is dangerous for 8/3600ths of an hour, odds that you don’t need to be very brave to ignore)?

    And have you looked at a map recently? Between me and 100 miles away in any direction there are literally tens of thousands of crossroads. Good luck finding the ones I might use and shelling them for 8/3600ths**** of the time.

    **** Edit, sorry, I mean to simplify that number. 1/450th of the time.

  49. RT

    Ok you make a good point.

    But we are discussing a a good old fashioned peer or near peer warfare in which our armoured forces are attacking or defending a chunk of territory.

    This means that whilst the enemies recon forces may be moving like ghosts everywhere, the main forces will be coming from a general direction so your 360 becomes 180 often less. Chuck in a bit of coastline and a few rivers/ mountains then your 180 becomes poss as little as 90 degrees.

    Then add in a few road junctions and bridges and I bet I could pick out a dozen places where the traffic would have to come through. If there is an armoured division at the pointy end then there will be a lot of convoys going through very regularly. And if not if I just shell he ones that would make it harder for the enemy to avid- I force them to go very round about way.

    BTW I meant a 2 minute burst every couple of hours, randomly timed. Your going to hit something and worry the shit out of anything coming through.

    The point is if these shells are that cheap, in the future the enemy can afford to fire a few at quiet a few cross roads and still not have to lay out the kind of fire power that would be needed in say the 80’s.

    I wonder if any logistics types are considering the prospects?

  50. Ixion,

    Fair enough, crossroads do canalise, and some intelligent analysis will reduce the number of possibilities still further, but its still on the “long shot” side of things, I think. But your wider point about cost is a real one.

    On the subject of crossroads, does anyone else apart from me get apoplectic with Junction 10 of the M40, particularly going northbound onto the Silverstone dual carriageway towards Northampton? Bane of my bloody life, that junction. Just spectacularly poorly designed. I would happily see the cost of a floaty little boat for the Andrew reassigned to the Transport Department if they can sort that one out.

  51. Topman,

    “Not too sure that’s true, I don’t think there is any difference between the core engines. Possibly more of a matter of sensitivity of ancillary drives and gearbox/cooling (and units mounted onto them) even things like fuel seals and tanks can matter. Unless they are modified in the turbine, combustion chambers etc?”

    “Quality” may not have been the right term, though the properties of F-44 and F-76 are different. Contamination with water and sediment was what I had in mind. I assume (war)ships have more opportunity for filtration and separation before the fuel hits the turbine than an aircraft does, so the standard of cleanliness of fuel in the bunker tanks can be lower.

    “Tbh I didn’t know you used diesel for GTs at sea, I suppose it’s easier to get hold of as most ships use diesel.”

    Most Merchant ships with diesel cycle piston engines use residual fuel oils, Heavy Fuel Oil (HFO) or Intermediate Fuel Oil (IFO). Thick, black stuff that has to be heated in the tanks before it will flow. Steam warships of the pre-GT generation used FFO which AIUI is similar to HFO.

    I am not certain, but I expect the move to F-76 from the 70s onwards was driven by the needs of gas turbines, rather than a case of GTs using the fuel that was then common (which would have been FFO). The boilers of steam warships, naval gas turbines, and marine diesel engines can all run on F-76.

    F-76 is roughly equivalent to the commercial Marine Gas Oil (MGO), not quite the same thing as automotive diesel.

  52. @Anixtu

    ‘ I assume (war)ships have more opportunity for filtration and separation before the fuel hits the turbine than an aircraft does, so the standard of cleanliness of fuel in the bunker tanks can be lower.’

    Yes, there are filters on the aircraft but plenty of work is done before it even gets in the tanks. Plenty of checks on additives added (unless you’re in army in the FI, just bung anything in) and on bulking then again on the bowsers.

    I wonder what is done before adding it to aircraft onboard? Any extra filters or checks either onboard F/D or aircraft carrier compared to ship fuels?

  53. IIRC the normal armour protection standard is 155mm at 15 m not 25. You also have to consider the protection provided by the surrounding terrain, including buildings, not forgetting good old fashioned holes, the sappers are quite good at digging larger ones. Then there is the issue of finding the individual targets and locating them accurately, not forgetting that these targets may well be working quite hard at not being found. The technology to determine what is inside a large building without physically looking inside doesn’t exist.

    The next point to remember is that precision munitions are expensive but those that merely reduce the dispersion are substantially cheaper and various suppliers are emerging although actual use doesn’t seem to exist (at least no-one is shouting about it).

    However with precision munitions you need precision target location in three dimensions, this capability is not widespread. Even if you can directly see the target precision fixation of it is difficult because there is dispersion all over the place (eg accuracy of observer’s three dimensional position, accuracy of orientation, accuracy of laser range finding, and of angular measurement horizontally and vertically, it all adds up). Of course if an observer can see a target then laser designation may be the answer (the Indians seem to find the Krasnopol shell useful) but throughput is low because an observer can only designate for one shell at a time.

    Obviously with munitions that course correct to reduce the CEP it’s a lot simpler, not forgetting that a 10 m CEP means that only half the munitions fall with 10 m, the rest will be up to 30 m away. Then, if its a fragmenting munition, the fragments are not evenly distributed all around the point of burst (unless the angle of descent is vertical), and some areas within the desired fragment distance there will be no fragments. Add this to a bit of external protection like a building, then it’s clear that the situation is not as simple as it might first seem. I’d argue that the real value of CEP reduction (ignoring the point that dumb shells don’t have a CEP – they have a large PEr and a small PEd) is for suppressive fire to enable the manoeuvre arm to get closer to the enemy before suppressive fire has to lift for troop safety reasons.

    In summary reality is not quite the same as the marketing brochures would have you believe.

  54. IXION, I think the rest have covered it pretty well in that you can’t simply lob a few rounds blindly and expect to hit a military target (civilian, you probably will. And cause a propaganda stink you won’t believe).

    Not to mention ammo is about 15 rounds per ton. One shell an hour still means about one and a half tons per day per gun, and you also have a limited “ready use” stockpile, which is why people tend to save them for the “big push”.

    Add this to counterbattery fire where you open yourself up to being hit for a “maybe there is a target there”, it is not worth the while to do speculative fire. You have to displace every time you fire a shot, and while you “may” have a target at your crossroads, the enemy “definitely” has a target at the location of your gun.

    There is also the problem of unit size. Guns are grouped in sets of 6-8, you’re talking about putting one gun out by it’s lonesome separate from higher command like the battery commander and further up, which affects your ability to deliver reactive fire. Not to mention separate from unit logistic too.

    Obsvr said it. It’s never as simple as marketing would like you to believe.

  55. Obsvr
    I do accept that very little military technology ‘does what it says on the tin’.

    I am specifically not talking about guided targeted weapons that need on the ground targeting (although as you point out it helps a lot).

    I am talking about the big reduction in numbers of shells needed to hit a specific target say and area about the size of a foot ball pitch. Or the size of town square or bridge approach or in UK parlance RT’s least favorit junction.

    Exactly because the it has in the past taken a lot of guns and a lot of shells to cover a targeted area it has had all the difficulties you describe. It continues to have those difficulties but it is I suggest getting easier to do.

    What was as in WW2 called harassing fire is I suggest about to get a lot more personal.

    And that is without All the IED etc.

  56. With regards to our transport fleet a commitment to a single manufacturer such as the MAN Volkswagen group overtime should lead to long term savings in terms using their huge civilian servicing and spares network at least for European and MENA operations which for the fore see able future is where our focus will ( and should ) be.

  57. American CVN generally have to use scrubbers to clean the fuel they pump to their aircraft.

    From what I can glean this is because the fuel tanks are used for ballast/stability and are therefore flooded with seawater. Also bear in mind that all the debris and rubbish tends to fall to the bottom of the tank so after a period of time you have to assume you’re going to pump poor quality fuel if you’re a little low.

    The USN try not to use fuel below the 20% mark on their CVN even though they cleanse the fuel – probably because the filters get clogged up and fuel flow rates diminish.

  58. “Carriers have special AVCAT tanks of the required capacity but still do not use it for Ships propulsion which should tell you something”

    The Invincible class used AVCAT for their Olympus at times, according to many sources?

  59. Ixion, what you are describing is called “interdiction” and is normally a job for planes or attack helicopters, not artillery guns for the same reasons described above. Namely, artillery blindly fires without knowing if there is a target. Aircraft can get eyes on and fire only when there is a target. Lots more efficient.

    As for guided needing less shells to hit an area, an old joke comes to mind. Can’t remember who it was who said it but he was challenged to a “maths” question.

    How many ox’s tails does it take to reach the moon?
    One, if it is long enough.

    How many shells does it take to hit a junction?
    One, if the gunner is good enough.

  60. Radish, you are the bringer of great good cheer. Please accept a promotion in the RT pantheon of bloody good blokes (or blokette if you are not a bloke ;) ).

  61. I think the bottom line is, if you are up against an enemy that can accurately locate targets 20km behind the FEBA and hit them with vanilla flavoured 152/5mm tube or 107mm and larger MRL concentrations, let alone precision or near precision weapons, and they can maintain that capability in the face of your own attempts to degrade or destroy it, then you are in a very bad place regardless of how well protected your logistics vehicles are.

  62. I don’t think I am making myself very clear.

    The interdiction you describe can of course be done by air and of course is better done by having eyes in the target.

    My point remains however is that now it can be done by enemy artillery without an airforce without risking any airforce it may have. With a relatively modest outlay. At greatly increased ranges and with greatly increased accuracy than heretofore, with a lot less shells, and those shells cost a lot less than they used to.

    Of course guns doing the shooting are vulnerable to attack. But you do all seem to be assuming total air domination, and overwhelming force on our side….

  63. IXION’s concept of cheap common artillery firing extended range rounds onto known co-ordinates needs two things to be successful, artillery in position ( and not discovered) ,not a great feat in itself and a tip off from the OPFOR version of RT to send a burst transmission that junction objective ‘x’ is about to be populated so de-populate it with a burst of multiple rounds simultaneous impact fire and all hell breaks loose 30s later. ‘Tube’ artillery is plentiful and cheap to buy and operate compared to a strike fighter dropping $50,000 smart bombs from a $50,000,000 airframe driven by a pilot that cost $5,000,000 to train supported by an infrastructure that costs millions to build and maintain.

  64. Think most people don’t know or forget about the time of flight. A 155mm shell goes at only about Mach 1.5 which is about 1km every 2 seconds (a lot less actually due to the arcing flight path), so when you talk about “shooting something 40km away”, when you fire, your round actually lands only about a minute 20 seconds later. Vehicles can put a lot of distance between that point and themselves in 1 minute 20. Assuming a 100×100 pattern, a vehicle traveling at 6km/h will be out of the box by the time your round lands. (60km/h = 1km/min, divide by 10, 6km/h = 100m/min).

    To really “tag” a convoy, you have to call in the shot even before they reach the junction, not to mention you can’t really drop a PWP spotting round first, by the time you correct your shot, they would have moved pretty far away. Though I do suppose that is where GPS rounds help. Screw the PWP round, just key in the co-ords for the location. But you still have to call it in a minute before they arrive.

  65. I don’t think IXION is talking about having eye’s on the target. I think his concept is to just fire at coords on a map using the newer guided rounds to disrupt the rear echelons, whether you hit individual vehicles is not the point he is driving at but the fact that a crosroads or juction etc could be hit with relative confidence whenever you choose. Thus forcing us to add protection to any vehicles that would be transiting the area in case they are caught.

    As a side, if the newer rounds give relative confidence to hit known coords would this allow us to crater criticle areas and thus slow the echelons who will need to either go round or call on engineer support to maintain mobility?

  66. monkey – ref single supplier – in the mists of time that was the situation – through the 50s & 60s nearly every softskinned vehicle (LR excepted) had a Bedford badge on its nose. The Army was quite comfy with the arrangement as far as I can tell; Bedford were responsive and supportive and the products were pretty tough. MOD however hated the idea of a Monopoly (Thatcherite ideals demanded competition; MOD rushed to invoke competition for everything as if it would cure all known ills) so went out of their way to stiff-arm Bedford and court other manufacturers instead, ultimately removing all MOD business from Bedford. No doubt MOD thought themselves very clever, but the result was that Bedford went out of business*. So I can’t see any MOD desire to create yet another Monopoly, beyond those already in place that is.

    Also you have to accept the risk that any business in a guaranteed monopoly situation has the opportunity to take advantage of it – a small price hike here, an unexpectedly difficult and protracted PDS task there. Not that the companies involved would set out to be thieving moneygrabbers, but the temptation would be there and if such sharp practice occurred it would be difficult for MOD to do much about it (at least in the short term) as they couldn’t turn to a competitor’s in-service equipment instead.

    *The sadness over the demise of Bedford was that it seemed to be a company working hard to support the armed forces in as honourable a manner possible, and it was kicked out regardless. Having lost a longstanding gov’t supplier relationship, the commercial world started to doubt the quality of the product and bad times snowballed. Its really hard to recover from such a huge loss of confidence in the marketplace.

  67. @Chris – I do agree – although I’m not sure whether Bedford won the 8t/14t contract competitively (there were Unipower and Foden 4x4s on offer, I recall) before losing out on the 4t. Underlying problem there, I think, is that they had already become over-dependent on military business (and public utilities which needed small numbers of 4×4 trucks), and had progressively dropped out of the wider bus and commercial market (TK horse-boxes being perhaps among the last survivors?). Agreed, overseas military customers probably dropped out too after BA went elsewhere – although did DAF sell lots more trucks as a result? As I recall they were stuffed too when the original 4t quantity was pretty well halved at a late stage.

    However, we now increasingly hold 3-4-5 year competitions to award 30-year monopolies on in-service support and upgrades; so why not have a preferred supplier long-term relationship based more on trust and co-operation? I think that’s increasingly what manufacturers are doing with their Tier 1 suppliers, rather than the heavily adversarial approach.

  68. @Chris
    Common sense to use Europe’s largest auto manufacture and take advantage of their huge network of dealerships and supply warehouses across the world is obviously to much for HMG to comprehend. Buying the vehicles from a sole supplier who knows you want to cosy up for decades does leave you exposed to price creep but as the trucks are not far removed from std it could be kept under control. Volkswagen do have a bit of history though when it comes to sharp practice, sometime ago just after the Euro launch they were put to rights by the European competition watchdog for refusing to allow dealerships in Italy from selling to Austrians . The price of an identical model was a good bit more expensive in Austria than northern Italy so Austrians drove over the border to buy from Italian dealerships. The watchdog fined them 100m Euros for their trouble

  69. Obsvr and I probably did similar maths stuff on various courses in the early/mid 80s, although him being a gunner he would have had to do the extra hard bits with allowing for the rotation of the earth during time of flight. Being Cavalrymen, myself and muckers were excused that bit as being bloody hard, irrelevant to us, and also having to get involved with arcane concepts such as minutes of angle***. Plus, I’m sure that part of the Gunner only bit of the course was to teach Gunner subbies some proper table manners.

    *** honestly, who cares about minutes of angle? It’s either a proper milliradian, or it doesn’t matter.

  70. @RT

    Maths all done for you now, to give you an idea of the sort of capability becoming available, something like the Oto Breda 127/64 with guided ammo will enable a ship 30 miles offshore to look at a drone feed of a junction/bridge 30 miles inland, dial in the GPS coordiantes and land salvoes in the middle and at either end simultaneously or stagger their arrival and walk them from one end to the other to catch personnel running from first impact.

  71. RT – ref milliradian – I’ve done some sums. If they are correct there are 6283.185 millirads to the circle, or if you prefer 17.4533 millirads per degree. Not exactly an easy number to remember. If memory serves well, didn’t the military decree that there would be 6400 mils to a circle? Thus a 1 mil correction in azimuth does not accurately equal a yard offset at 1000yds, but given things go bang on landing there’s probably few complaints about the error. Even the military don’t use proper milliradians then.

  72. Chris,
    2000 x Pi milliradians in a circle? Plus who uses yards for anything these days? One unit length lateral movement at one thousand unit length distance doesn’t exactly equal one milliradian either, it’s a question of whether the error is acceptable.
    60 minutes in a degree? Agreed it’s a pain to work with. Entertainingly human visual acuity is about one minute of angle, so it is useful in that regard (if only to then convert into something more useable)

    And off I go into the minutiae again…

    Guided is fun, as APATS states, you can play tunes with the trajectory to drop projectiles in whatever pattern you like (with some wide limits). If you were feeling particularly techie then you could fire one shot that contained some kind of persistent observation device* and then use that to spot for interesting activity that can then cue further salvos. The trouble with long range artillery is time of flight, as previously noted. While loitering munitions partly solve that, it’s only while you have what is essentially a suicide drone in place. If you want another one that’ll take a while. Plus they don’t hide too well and you can’t get them back.

    * Not new:

  73. @Chris – yes, pi was definitely Div 1 stuff. (And never mind difference between lengths of subtended arc and straight line…)

    Going back to “through the 50s & 60s nearly every softskinned vehicle (LR excepted) had a Bedford badge on its nose. ” – at 3t-4t yes, although there were some Commers (incl. box bodies, as I remember). But not at other weights: besides the mega-expensive Leyland gun tractor/limber (10t equivalent of the Champ, with thirsty B81 engine; also as heavy rec veh), there were mainly AEC 10t 6×6, but earlier some Thornycroft and Albion (not to mention Humber, Austin and Morris 1t) – a veritable pantheon of long-extinct British makes. On what basis all these were chosen, goodness only knows. But in those halcyon days the RAF aircraft inventory was even more varied!

  74. I recall well playing a game with my FOO once at BATUS. I called in a fire mission, then gave him corrections in mixed units, yards, metres, chains, rugby pitches, sixes, and long wave frequencies.

    The bugger was good, but I think he was cheating a bit and also observing. Still, if you get a good gunner, keep him close and make sure that he is posted to the RHA. The gunners are such snobs that they like to keep the RHA affiliated to proper Regiments, so you get the same one each time.

    I still graded him top on a course I ran a couple of years later. He wasn’t really, but you need to play the game. The bloke who was best was a chippie REME who wasn’t ever going to matter.

  75. @RT” still graded him top on a course I ran a couple of years later. He wasn’t really, but you need to play the game. The bloke who was best was a chippie REME who wasn’t ever going to matter.”
    Army still not a meritocracy?

  76. Monkey,

    No, it never was, nor will it likely be. Nor are the other two services, with their “two winged master race” and “only PWOs count” mentalities.

    Its quite simple. If you want to be top dog, join a combat arm and excel. If you voluntarily join the loggies, get used to being on the hind tit.

  77. mr.fred – ref “who uses yards for anything these days?” – Me! And feet and inches. And metres and mm. And chains and furlongs and miles and kilometres. Man must measure. It really doesn’t matter what unit of measure is used as long as its appropriate and understood; in the case of defining an angle of 1 distance over 1000 distances it is doubly irrelevant what unit is used. My car does miles per gallon but is fed fuel in litres. I buy bottled beer in 500ml lumps but beer at the pub in pints. It really doesn’t matter because we know what the measure means. A measure of spirit was 1/6 gill or 23.67ml, however Wiki says the landlord now has to sell in metric measures but may choose either 25ml or 35ml tots, which is pretty stupid – what’s the point of having two volumes 40% different, both called ‘A Measure’, but which must be exactly 25ml or 35ml? A bit like allowing petrol stations to sell in either Imp.Gallons or US Gallons (so long as they are accurately measured) but not telling the customer which version of ‘gallon’ is being bought.

    On a defence related note along the same lines, we had a project once which was required to use the RN Standard Units of Measure. So, like you would, we asked…

    Speed – kt or m/s
    Horizontal Distance – NM (to travel), km (visibility), DM or m (target & sensor range in water),…
    Vertical Distance – ft (above water, changing to FL at greater altitudes), m (below water)
    Cloud Cover – Octads

    And so on. Almost every unit of measure short of carats and parsecs appeared on the list. As for the mythical nautical mile, I lost count of how many versions there were – I can’t recall if ultimately we used the 1855m version or the 1853m version or the 1852m version. Probably the 1852m one.

  78. Chris,

    I am largely in agreement.

    Oddly, I measure distance for shooting in yards (up to about 700, the most my .223 licence allows me to shoot reliably), but distance to walk in metres, and distance to drive and velocity in miles or mph. I have no real sense of unit conversion in my head, it is what makes sense to me.

    My children (relentlessly metric) and wife think I am crazy, but then not one of them can navigate from one end of the village to the other without a Garmin, nor know how many paces they take in 100 metres. And I don’t think any of them know how far is a full blooded six or what a 5 iron can achieve from a clean lie.

  79. Relax, Monkey. He only makes (or makes up) these comments to wind people up, usually when he’s on his second bottle.

    Last time I encountered that approach for real it was from a “proper Regiment” that came bottom (10th) in the Canadian Army Trophy. Draw your own conclusions.

  80. Oldreem,

    The second bottle either does not happen at all, or is despatched before coffee break. It’s not a factor. ;)

  81. Anixtu – the term the RN used (that year) was Data Mile and yes it was 2000yds. Which reminds me there were also kiloyards (1000 yards each) just for good measure (pun!)

  82. Chris,

    My grandfather was a proper self-taught engineer, with various patents. His hobby was horology, repairing old clocks and watches. He used to literally make screws and brass springs, wearing a glass magnifying monocle.

    He had this thing against the Whitworth measurement. I don’t know why, but his view was that it was “ridiculous”.

  83. RT – do you mean Whitworth thread? If so, him being a watchmaker by hobby, it would presumably be because Whitworth is a coarse thread where you would imagine clockwork is held together with fine thread screws. Worth noting we all owe Joseph Whitworth for determining there ought to be standard thread dimensions and forms – before that, the maker would cut mating threads and screws to whatever dimensions came to mind, with the result that to replace a lost screw one needed to be made to suit. Whitworth’s lead in the field of standardisation led to accurate machining of pieceparts so that full interchangeability and guaranteed fit of spares became the norm.

  84. @RT – “Whitworth” – ah yes. Centurions up to Mk 5 had BS Whitworth and BSF threads; Mks 7 & 8 had UNC/UNF. In the Regt (proper) of which I was EME, each Tp had two x Mk 5 (actually 6/2s), one Mk 7 (actually 12) and one Mk 8 (actually 13). Sharing out the searchlights, of course, but “pass the spanner, Fred – no, NOT that one”. Is it any wonder the adjustable was popular?

  85. oldreem – I understand that the colloquial German term for an adjustable spanner is an “Englander”. I suppose proclaiming “I am an Adjustable Spanner” is marginally better than JFK’s famous proclamation “I am a Jam Doughnut”?

  86. I am old enough to have been taught imperial and metric.

    I still mostly use imperial.

    But the metric system is wonderfully logical and references common everyday easily understood things. It is also readily transferable across weights and measures.

    Ok one has to ignore that the French surveyors screwed it up when calculating the diameter of the earth (polar if I recall correctly). So the basic metre unit is “meaningless”. But from there it is a peice of piss to use.

    A cubic metre of water is a metric ton, it has 1000 10 cm cubes in it all weigh one kilo. Water freezes at 0 and boils at 100. Everything is in multiples of 10.

    Calculating space required for liquids is piss easy.

    For you imperialists out there, what is the cubic measurement of a gallon in inches?

    All that buggering about moving from 16 onces (or 18 fluid onces) to a pound to 14 pounds in a stone to hundred weights and onwards to a ton with 2240 pounds in it………. All way to much trouble.

    And thats without bakers dozens, cloth yards, barlycorns, nautical miles, etc etc.

    Metricate the lot.

    If you let me loose I would have a 10 hour day with 100 minutes to the hour with 100 seconds to the minute. Ok we would have to change the length of a second…….

    Alright I will stop now….

  87. @ IX – for the last century, since the beginning of indirect fire, arty has been an area weapon. Typically the fire of a 155mm battery effectively covers an area approx 200×200 meters, you’ll get shells falling outside that, – rather a lot of them if you are using the S African junk at its long ranges! However, assuming you have up to date meteor info (say not more than a couple of hours old but if conditions are stable substantially longer), current muzzle velocity data (not a problem with a MV radar on every gun) and theatre survey then the mean point of impact of your battery fire will be within 20 metres of the coordinates you ordered and usually substantially less. Since the 1990s when guns started having inertial/GPS navigation and individual gyroscopic orientation the old skills of slick deployment drills and accurate survey by time honoured methods have been made redundant. This means that instead of having to wait hours or days until guns had the highest level of accuracy they now have it instantly, by day or night. This has enabled tactical freedom for arty deployment, eg moving frequently or operating in smaller groups (eg 2 gun sections) or a combination, and being able to fire very quickly if necessary when moving (GW2 was a bit of a revelation on this one – safety rules make it tactically unrealistic in training). GW1 was the last old fashioned war as far as UK arty is concerned (although the 105s we still pretty old fashioned in the Balkans).

    What course correcting fuzes do is ensure that no shells fall outside the area you want them in, whether 20×20, 200×200, 500 x 20 or something else and at any range (with ‘dumb’ shells dispersion increases with range.

    Precision munitions are a different game, and the first issue is precision targeting, a capability that is not widespread. However, it does depend on the nature of the precision munition. While GMLRS or Excalibur require precision mensuration, SADARM type weapons do not and are very bad news for some of RT’s chums.

    It’s also useful to remember that arty has two main roles – casualties and damage is what everyone thinks of, but neutralisation of particular enemy groups (by HE suppression or blinding smoke) is often much more important because it enables the manoeuvre arms to manoeuvre with minimum interference. And in the end war are won by the guys who close with and kill the enemy, arty’s role is to ensure they can close on the enemy with minimum losses, and CCF will be a big step forward on this one..

  88. Ixion,

    Your length of a second won’t be more abstruse than the current SI definition, which I had assumed might be something to do with astral distance, but which Google reveals as

    “The second is the duration of 9 192 631 770 periods of the radiation corresponding to the transition between the two hyperfine levels of the ground state of the cesium 133 atom.”

    Well, that’s perfectly obvious.

  89. A year has astronomical basis (for this planet), as does a day. There ought to be more months to a year if the origin was the cycle of lunar phases. Thereafter all subdivisions are arbitrary, set because they are convenient. I must admit I assumed the second was based on human heartbeat (not that its rate is that steady).

    As for the cult of ten, on which the French metric system sits, it is easy but not necessarily as useful as the Imperial system – 12 pennies to the shilling means it may be subdivided into 2, 3, 4, 6 and 12 equal parts each of whole pennies – very useful for the trader. In metric the option is reduced to 2, 5 and 10 equal parts. In weights the pound may be divided by 2, 4, 8 & 16 into whole ounces where the kg may only be pared into 2, 4 and 8 before, even with 1000 grams on offer, the measure needs fractions of a gram to be accurate. It makes a difference if the measuring system is basic, as our medieval ancestors would have had. Equating simple equal-part division with whole numbers of measures was an obvious and logical solution.

  90. Obsvr

    I happen to be a fan of tube artillery.

    It is multi use and people still forget it killed more soldiers in ww1 than anything else and I belive did so in ww2. (I stand to be corrected az I once had the figures but lost the refference work they were in some years ago).

  91. IX, I agree with you on that, even though the specifics were disputed.

    AHs and their fixed-wing specialised equivalents would suffer horrendous attrition very early on, so that leaves tube artillery, rocketry and FJs. The one in the middle nicely makes up for the range limitations of arty (being part of it) and has evolved from being just an area weapon, too.

    Your point was about cost effectiveness, and only a mix will deliver it as the circumstances will not be known. We could of course calculate the number of CBUs delivered by fast jets it would take to destroy a whole bde… But that would be a special occurrence.

  92. On our Monopoly set, I changed the rents of the utilities from 4 & 10 times the value on the dice to 5 & 12, partly to make them more attractive but mainly to get grandchildren to learn 12 times table; schools only teach them up to 10. (I remember a wonderful conversion table on back cover of prep school exercise book: roods, rods, poles, perches etc etc.)

  93. Assume the lead elements of an MRB- like formation reaches your x-roads.

    You load up 7 fast jets with 12 CBU 105 * 40 sub munitions= 3 360. Enough to match the vehicles number in a whole division, but not exclusively loaded with armour-homing munitions.

    You distribute a copy of p.58 from this to the pilots
    And job done!

    It happened to be windy at key times of the gulf war, so wind-corrected dispensing devices were developed. On the day the option was to “waste” laser-guided weapons on taking out individual tanks.

  94. Air power has issues in the land battle, it is not the panacea it is sometimes presented as.

    First its capabilities for suppression are very poor, although Apaches are better that fast jets.

    Second is responsiveness, this can be good in COIN because there isn’t huge demand and flying distances are often quite short. However, beyond COIN no sensible ground unit (higher formation may be different) commander makes air force airpower a key element in the plan.

    First, it is not under command and therefore its availability is never guaranteed (obviously this may not be the case with army aviation).

    Second if you want it soon ie within the next 3 hours or less (which is about the window for battlegroup level operations & often a lot less) it will be ‘come as you are’ munitionswise and sod’s law dictates that the optimum munitions will not be available. Again this may not be the case with army aviation.

    Third, compared to artillery aircraft do not carry lots of munitions.

    Fourth, while aircraft are in the area all artillery and mortars may be stopped from firing for safety reasons.

  95. Lots of good comments here bring all sorts of discussion where i can contribute but ill go for a few.
    Fuel and Single Fuel Concept:
    The Single Fuel Concept is a NATO requirement “to be able” to run on F34. And that is the sticking point on some vehicles and equipment. MAN SV does indeed run on F34 all day but the EGR system it employs doesnt really like it (Merc and other truck firms use additive type emission “cleaners” like AdBlu) so you wont meet the emission rulings in Europe etc but no dramas in Operational areas. Out in Afghanistan now the Americans are wholly using F34 for MRAP’s and the like but still have a F54 requirement for the non-tac vehicles. You cant use F34 for long periods of time in normal CI engines without some form of lubricity additive which is a nightmare to add to F34 which means you then need to storage areas for it. And there is still a large F67 (petrol) requirement and F18 (AVGAS) for certain UAV’s.

    Fuel Trucks/Modular System.
    I was involved heavily in the replacement for GST 32,000ltr truck under the CAV program in the early days. We had a few meetings using external consultants and mentioned early on it was to be Protected from the start. This was to solve the problem of adding extra weight to a chassis that was not originally spec’cd for it. This though with all the additional requirements of ECM, PWS and the like turns it into both a heavy and expensive vehicle. At the time IED’s were big news out of Afghanistan so this was in the front of our minds. It all got put on hold due to costs and the GST stop gap was filled in logistically by increased CST’s in the Units. We wanted a common tractor unit to pull both a circa 40k ltrs tanker and a xxtonne LET trailer. Whilst the tanker side was put on hold the LET requirement was still there so surplus CST tractor units were used with new trailers. Im not out of this area but hopefully it will be readdressed.
    I also did a lot of work with WEW on the Fuel Flatrack system. In fact i have a very nice scale model of one in my house. These were a good concept and used in Afghanistan to great effect in the FOB’s to replace static expensive CST’s as “petrol stations”. The trouble was they were not looked after too well by FOB inhabitants and started to fail. Fail maybe not the right word but by the time they were pulled out to Bastion they were in pretty poor order. But on the scale of fuel farms etc they are not big enough to replace the present Bulk Fuel Installations that are used now. Small scale in a FOB yes, but anything more than 50,000k storage capacity you may as well start thinking of fuel farm.

    Some mention of OUV’s and such like. Im now out of the UK military but now work under a NATO remit. I spend a lot of time in Afghanistan with the US Forces and see a lot of MRAP’s such as the Oshkosh MATV and MAXXPRO version. The US have a utility variant of both these…….they put a uprated trailer on the back! Now imagine Ridgeback with a trailer on the back to transport stores??!! Its easily done and you can use Foxhound within the Group to provide more of a mobile platform that is lost when you put a trailer on the MRAPs; not that you went charging around with them anyway.

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