FUCHS CBRN Vehicle Regeneration

Great news, the MoD has let a contract to regenerate the FUCHS CBRN vehicles.

Nuclear, Biological, Chemical and Radiological protection equipment. Regeneration (repair, servicing, calibration and re-commissioning) of the Fuchs C&R Area Survey and Reconnaissance Vehicle and the supply of training, with In Service Support.

The initial value estimate is £7,115,941 and the contract has been placed with the German company FWW

Fuchs NBC Reconnaissance vehicle (Image Credit - Plain Military)
Fuchs NBC Reconnaissance vehicle (Image Credit – Plain Military)
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Ray
Ray
January 27, 2015 4:02 pm

Who gets these – the Army or RAF?

wf
wf
January 27, 2015 4:16 pm

You wish there was the budget to integrate the systems on standard Foxhound/FRES chassis…

Jed
Jed
January 27, 2015 5:00 pm

Or perhaps we could buy up every delapidated second / third hand Fuchs we could get hour hands on, pay a bazillion pounds to refurbish them, and call them FRES UV ?????

monkey
monkey
January 27, 2015 5:20 pm


At the estimate of £7,115,941 that’s more than a single FRES SV :-)
@x
We could buy new from Algeria who have built a plant to build them from new under licence

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
January 27, 2015 9:46 pm

OK, so here’s the real story.
Yep, Rheinmetall have the contract, bit of a no brainer since they built the things. Then the German Government gifted them to us for Gulf War 1.
Used and upgraded by the Joint CBRN Regiment until they were disbanded and from that came the CBRN Wing with just the RAF Regiment.
Well, pissing about in armoured vehicles in support of the Army as a Formation asset did not appeal to neither the Army nor the RAF. So off to storage they went…well that’s want most people thought. They were in hangers for a while then the space was required for something else so they were left outside with no covers on and some arsehole took all the sights out. So there they sat for 6 months filling up with the elements.
In the meantime things are winding down in Afghanistan and thoughts of conventional operations sprung to mind. The Army Inspectorate is sent out on a fact finding mission on CBRN capabilities within the British Army and report back that they have the total sum of nothing!! So knee jerk reaction from the Army board is that they need something. What do we have, Aah…some FUCHS vehicles. Now we need some manpower to use them, Aah the RTR is amalgamating, let’s save some personnel from there and form the CBRN Recce and Survey Sqn of the RTR. So on amalgamation, Falcon Sqn is formed to provide a CBRN Recce capability using 9 FUCHS (did have 10, but that’s another story). Where to place them? Near the RTR, so Warminster was chosen, Harlem Lines where the Armoured Demonstration Sqn seemed like a good idea since that capability was going to be rotated through the three Armoured Regiments in Tidworth.
So far, so good, but a blog would not be a blog if we could not bring up the fact that we like to moan and belittle our forces because of the cock ups the military like to make. Just like any Government or indeed civilian organisation if only hindsight was applied to this whole episode.
So DE&S has had to remove the 7 million plus from other CBRN projects to get this up and running. So that money will only get the vehicles back up and running with all their current equipment on board to the standard they were at before storage. They thought this was good enough, however powers to be at Land Command have said that they are having a laugh because no vehicle is allowed to be used or deployed for operations unless it is already up to TES. FUCHS is nowhere near TES and would require several more million to make that happen. So a bit of a limbo there, now that things have calmed down and SME’s have looked at this in detail, why do we need FUCHS? It must travel though the contamination to pick up readings that means the whole decontamination equipment has to be re-established to provide the capability of carrying out Operational Decon. If they are used in Operations in foreign parts there is a policy in place that says if they cannot be cleaned and certified 100% clean they are not to set foot back on UK soil.
Which enemy Force in today’s current climate is going to use WMD to take out a grid square and carry out denial tactics with War Grade Chemical Weapons? The current answer from us (UK) and NATO is that the threat is more likely to be improvised devices using the odd chemical shell obtained from Libya or Syria or by products of Chemical weapons manufacture or Toxic Industrial Materials as being used in Syria at the moment. CBRN IPOE (Intelligence Preparation of the Environment) is the big thing at the moment. So where does that leave FUCHS, nowhere really, all you need is a Foxhound fitted with several sensors and a couple of disposable mini UAV’s at can fly into any contaminated area and bring a sample back and then just cordon off the area that may not be any bigger than a couple of hundred meters. If the UAV gets contaminated then just destroy it, they have served their purpose. This is the way CBRN Recce is heading, obviously downdraft from the blades is a small issue but that is being worked on at the moment.
Anyway I could go on with other factors like SDSR, manning from the RTR to Falcon Sqn but I think you just the jest that this is a possible white elephant in the making.
There are a lot of positive things happening in the CBRN Domain at the moment within UK Armed Forces, I would suggest this is not one of them.

Mike W
January 28, 2015 12:19 pm

CBRNGuru

Wow, what specialist expertise!

The whole thing is, as TD says, “depressing”.
The debacle of the planned storage of the vehicles appears farcical and difficult to believe.

However, surely there must have been some rationale behind the Army’s decision to resuscitate the Fuchs? If they had nothing at all in terms of CBRN, then nine vehicles would have been been better than that nothing, even if it meant restoring them to TES and re-establishing the decontamination equipment, if any emergency arose. Why are other NATO nations retaining the capability? And why are new armoured vehicles for the CBRN role (not the Fuchs) still being developed?

I cannot profess to very knowledgeable in your area but I did think at the time of the Syrian crisis blowing up and all the stories about the use of chemical weapons, that the Fuchs should be retained in case the UK had to act. In the military you are constantly facing the entirely unexpected and maybe another similar situation will arise.

If what you say is true, though, and it is a “possible white elephant in the making”, then do you think that after all the re-configuring in order to form Falcon Sqn and all the re-jogging involving the equipment, including the contract awarded to Rheinmetall, that they are really going to renege on the arrangement in SDSR 2015? That really would be laughable.

What happened to the tenth and eleventh vehicles, by the way?

Enjoyed reading your comments.

Simon257
Simon257
January 28, 2015 12:44 pm

I really cannot see why we would want to refurbish 25 year old vehicles. As CBRNGuru has pointed out, it would be better to use Foxhound as a base vehicle. We are bound to have a few parked up at Ashchurch!

Overseas
Overseas
January 28, 2015 2:16 pm

@CBRN Guru

Very interesting, thanks.

The Ginge
The Ginge
January 28, 2015 2:30 pm

Having read the comments and especialy CBRNG’s the only thought I had was would I want to be driving around taking samples whilst someone was lobbing Artillery Shells at me in a Foxhound. 2nd the cost of moving all the equipment over to another vehicle, fitting it, certifying it etc must me pretty costly plus I presume the fact is that a Fuch can operate on a battlefield and drive down city centre streetas well.
The easiest answer is that we should have never let them get in that state in the first place. If your keeping something keep it bloody operational or chuck it out to start with.
As an example of all the old comments of fitted for but not with for the RN or reduced readiness state for Amphibs or in humity controlled storage for Army Tanks the list goes on off stuff stored to save money that costs you more to reactivate 10yrs later. But I suppose thats then on someone elses budget and watch.

Chris
Chris
January 28, 2015 2:49 pm

TG – good point raised there ref Foxhound; I’m none too sure it has an overpressure CBRN filtered air system. I can’t recall seeing any reference to the filter, nor can I remember seeing a compartment and access plate for filter changes on the vehicle. You’d be brave (stupid?) to drive into contaminated terrain in a free-breathing vehicle, although I guess PPE might just do?

Hohum
Hohum
January 28, 2015 6:56 pm

CBRNG,

Thanks for that, I had always been puzzled by the emphasis given to CBRN in the SDSR- I just could not find the threat behind it, especially a battlefield threat. For all the headlines the amount of chemical weapons in the world is declining rapidly.

Fuchs was even more bizarre, its a unique vehicle in the Army, its old and not very good (to Ginge’s point, I would actually rather be in a Foxhound in that scenario); why on earth would you reuse that platform?

The whole thing (and Army 2020 in general) just felt like the Army had written a list of everything they used to do back in the 80s/90s and everything they had started doing post 2001 and then concocted a plan that allowed very small numbers of personnel to cover each of the roles on that very long list.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
January 28, 2015 10:07 pm

@Hohum

In some respects I think you are correct, it’s spreading the jam thinly on certain assets so that we can say we have our own capability without having to use elements of any CBRN Regiment NRF. If we need to deal with a situation that does not involve NATO but may have some form of IPOE threat then better to have your own assets to deal with it. We do not want to ask for Czech, Hungarian or Slovenian CBRN assets to assist us.
Saying that, some parts of CBRN are deemed to be “taken at risk” than try to have an effective countermeasure to deal with it. Bio is a prime example of “Alarm to treat” than “Alarm to detect”. No point buying expensive Biological detection equipment that you would have to deploy in vast numbers at a suitable distance in the possible threat area. Best keep it simple and have enough assets to raise the alarm then confirm the agent (which depending on technology can take anything up to 24hrs), then introduce the correct medical countermeasures.

That’s one of the reasons why IBDS has gone from 44 Systems down to 9, that and the fact it is old technology and consumables for each vehicle is about £250,000 per annum to run!

I agree with some of the previous comments on Foxhound, yes it has no CBRN filtration system, but it does not need one to be honest. Remember the NATO IPOE threat assessment; we are not dealing with vast amounts of chemical agents being spread all over the place. CBRN Recce and Survey is a Post Incident (that’s the new terminology, attack in not a viable word anymore) operation. You go in after any incident has happened to confirm use. Take samples, then use “Reachback” to consolidate and provide more analysis of any findings.

My feelings are Foxhound is one of the correct vehicles; it has better protection than the Pinzgauer’s that the RAF Regiment Defence CBRN Wing Light Role Teams are running about in at the moment. It is already TES cleared and only needs confirmation detection equipment on it. It does not require all the crap that FUCHS is carrying like the MM1 Mass Spectrometer and as you can see from the picture TD has posted the rubbish Chemical Agent Monitor that is situated above each headlight. That uses a FAM (Display) inside to read the detector, but it is situated so high up from the ground that it is totally useless in its current position, plus it is over 20 years old and advances in chemical detection are miles ahead of something that was bought decades ago.

Also please be aware that FUCHS and almost all military CBRN capability in the UK would not be used in a civil emergency that might involve CBRN. Other countries are different, Holland is a prime example of them using the military, as they have constant up to date knowledge but get the Ministry of Interior to buy some amazing Civilian CBRN vehicles for them to use. Do not be fooled by the fact that we in the UK have TRF, yes we have military EOD and yes they have undisclosed CBRN assets. But there is more than enough CBRN First Responder capability to deal with any CBRN Incident without calling in the Defence CBRN Wing or Falcon Sqn with FUCHS. In my mind it will never happen. Even getting DSTL in the loop of any incident will take time for them to react. What it says on paper for the inclusion of Military CBRN assets including DSTL and the reality are two very different things.

Mike W,

You make a fair point, yes lots of other nations have Vehicle CBRN Capability but that’s because it is a NRF requirement within NATO members to have a CBRN Reaction Regiment that is comprised of multiple nations providing CBRN Companies that cover all the pillars of CBRN, Detection (some nations call it Sense), Protection, Decontamination (some nations call it Hazard Management), Warning and Reporting (now called CBRN Information Management) and Medical Countermeasures.

Those manufacturers of Vehicle CBRN capability are clearly aiming their sights on the Middle East and taking advantage of the happenings in Syria that has made Arab countries decide they need to have this type of asset.
And to me that’s what sums the whole saga up, the vehicles like FUCHS are a tick in the box as an insurance policy in case something happens, then the military can turn round and say they have something to deal with it no matter how ineffective it might be. Because as sure as eggs is eggs then the moment you don’t have that asset and take it at risk and something does happen, then heads will roll and fingers will be pointed.

So it’s a balancing act, have something that is shit or have nothing because the alternative is far too expensive and there are far more other higher priorities than CBRN out there in any operational environment.

wf
wf
January 28, 2015 10:18 pm

Pity CAM is so useless, since I’ve seen police at London railway stations fiddling with it…..

Mike W
January 28, 2015 10:23 pm

CBRNGuru

Many thanks for your detailed, informative reply. Many things are much clearer now. I’ll need time to digest all the points, though.

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
January 28, 2015 10:45 pm

@ wf
Civil First Responders like the Police use the ECAM (Enhanced Chemical Agent Monitor) its library of Chemical detection is better than the CAM and it has an automated mode function to switch every 2 seconds to search for two different types of Chemical agent. Not the best capability for handheld detection but far more superior than the bog standard CAM.

wf
wf
January 28, 2015 11:00 pm

Well, I’m glad their classification capabilities are better than merely observing the convulsions and the puke and making guesses on that basis :-)

CBRNGuru
CBRNGuru
January 28, 2015 11:22 pm

I would not laugh too much wf, the Police have the Four Person Down Rule…One person down, this is suspicious, no obvious cause, two persons down, this is cause for concern, three people fall over then hey, this is not good at all, four people fall over, shit it might be a CBRN Incident. Run upwind and call for assistance to hell if they are defecating and urinating and muscle twitching all over the ground.

Chris Werb
Chris Werb
January 29, 2015 5:54 pm

What is IBDS?

Hugh
Hugh
January 29, 2015 9:16 pm

Looks like an Alvis Stalwart to me…

Chris
Chris
January 29, 2015 9:33 pm

Chris W – Google says IBDS is Integrated Bio defence System so it must be true.

Hugh – minus ten points for vehicle recognition!

Chris
Chris
January 31, 2015 11:02 am

On a related subject, I just found this picture of equipment abandoned in Pripyat after being highly irradiated by the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl reactor explosion: http://www.gsc-game.com/russian/downloads/chern/kladbishe01.jpg I’m guessing the Army vehicles were rushed in to keep order and control the evacuation; the helicopters were those that flew water (initially) then concrete into the wreck of the reactor core. There are also the town’s public transport vehicles and some private vehicles in the dump, all of them contaminated with long-life fallout.

I hadn’t appreciated quite how much stuff was rushed to the area to deal with the emergency evacuation.

Ken
Ken
February 5, 2015 8:30 pm

If the British Army is so determined to have a CBRN vehicle in service, why go with an old design like the Fuchs? The US Army used the M93 Fox which was based on the Fuchs, but they are being replaced by the CBRN Stryker variant, which is a far more modern design, in general.

Secundius
Secundius
May 15, 2015 2:45 pm

Look’s like it’s FUN to drive, any on the Surplus Market yet…