An Exercise in Trade Offs

This is one of those posts where I must start with a request to not argue the details.

OK, suppose you are a Western Army with a record of expeditionary operations, some great trousers and an armoured vehicle fleet that belongs mostly in a museum. Because the boys in dark and light blue want to spend some of the defence budget on their own kit, the budget is not huge.

This army with the great trousers needs to replace its ancient tracked armoured personnel carriers and possibly its late vintage protected patrol vehicles.

For argument’s sake, let’s call the project FRES UV, I know, not sure where that came from!

So, with a finite budget that will likely mean not enough of the ‘top of the line’ do you trade specification for quantity?

Lets just say you can have 10 of these…

Transpotec 7

Or 4 of these…

For 1 of these…

Remember, don’t argue the details, this is about principles.

Is the Army and MoD (with the great trousers) able to make a risk based procurement decision, is it functionally capable of accepting a trade off, or will UV be a Boxer/AMV/VBCI purchased in tiny quantities because UK requirements basically mean the highest possible specification and the highest possible price?






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July 7, 2015 9:39 am

In short?….No.

My evidence?…. The MOD response to that study that you featured in ‘Defense Acquisition in the 21st Century’-

That paper by Civitas was a sensible and cogently argued piece of work that has very real benefits for Defence and, just as importantly, the economy.

The MOD’s response was utter b****x…

July 7, 2015 9:49 am

You forgot a key component of your equation: who do you intend to fight?

I know this is basically trying to predict the future but do, doctrinally and strategically, regard yourself as a top tier player? In which case you’ve got your answer: you need to buy from the top shelf because you conceive that you will need to go toe-to-toe with another top shelf buyer (Note, we’re not talking about lads mags, here – sorry if that’s a disappointment).

Do you intend to embrace the role of a second-rank European COIN/Peacekeeping/Training and Stabilisation force whose expeditions usually arrive the day after the US has won the war and wants some help cleaning up the messy peace? In that case your protected vehicle is probably fine. Caveat: stay on good terms with the top-shelf nations or they might sell your opponent something nasty that will turn your vehicle into a crater. Result: as a nation you are blown on the winds of change, rather than blowing those winds, yourself. Strategic irrelevance.

Do you regard yourself as a paramilitary police force that sometimes does COIN in other people’s countries? Then option one and a training curriculum based around civil unrest, protecting the ruling elite from the unwashed masses, and upholding the ideology of Austerity Britain in the face of things like facts, thrown bricks and teenage opportunistic looters is probably for you.

So, you’re the MoD. What do you really think? Aspirations lead to top-shelf, but the trousers don’t have deep enough pockets, which means your Western army is saddled with a lot of option 2 protected vehicles, or completely unprotected vehicles that bristle with guns (some of which don’t even have protection from the rain, FFS!).

July 7, 2015 10:07 am

But the boys in dark blue say: You great trousers men have so many horses and so many troops parading every day or everynow and then for tourists and the Queen? We on our side need the pennies and pounds for our great aircraft carriers which will help bring your men ashore (not that we want to since we have our own boys in green) and our (never to be cut) nuclear deterrent.

The light blue men say: Let’s not forget how you need us to transport you in theatres littered with IED.

Rocket Banana
July 7, 2015 10:43 am

I’d probably have multiples of:

1 x 60 tonne MBT
2 x 30 tonne IFVs
4 x 15 tonne MRAPs
8 x unprotected GP vehicles

July 7, 2015 11:26 am

In a sane world (my opinion) there would be a tiered buy. Some of the Gucci kit, more of the less shiny but still good kit, and a fleet of the sturdy adequate kit. The reasoning goes like this:

I have limited budget.

Option 1. I need to provide top-flight protection for the high risk scenarios but if I buy an all Gucci fleet then there will be insufficient numbers of seats to move the required numbers of infantry which means they march behind the protected few in slow time, or we requisition 52-seater coaches to drive them into battle. High risk for those that don’t get seats in the Gucci kit.

Option 2. If I buy only the good (not Gucci) kit then there will be more seats available and I may have enough seats for the required number of infantry to be moved. This is a better solution for all but a worse solution for the Gucci-moved few in Option 1. There will be times when the capability of the Gucci transport would be the minimum protection necessary, at which point using good (not Gucci) transport would be reckless and ill-advised. High risk for those punching into the most hostile areas.

Option 3. I buy, say, 55% transport capacity of good (not Gucci) transport. I buy 10% capacity of Gucci transport and 35% of adequate transport. (Using TD’s 1:4:10 price ratio this is the same price as all good(not Gucci) transport.) Now Command has a significant proportion of Gucci capability transport to use where risks are highest, a main fleet of good (not Gucci) transport which would have reasonable mobility, and a well protected fleet of OKish mobility to move infantry in bulk to locations close enough for the good and/or Gucci taxis to readily return to collect them. No-one goes on foot or in unarmoured 52-seater coaches.

To put some numbers to it, assuming the Gucci transport is Boxer-ish (£2.5m each) with 8 dismount seats, the good (not Gucci) transport is RG35 (£625k each using the ratio defined) with 6 dismounts and the adequate transport is MuConPers (£250k each using the defined ratio) with 16 seats in the armoured container, and assuming there are 1200 infantry to move and a vehicle budget of £125m, here’s the three options again:

Option 1 – £125m buys 50 8-seat Gucci vehicles which can carry 400 of the 1200 infantry.
Option 2 – £125m buys 200 6-seat good (not Gucci) vehicles which have a transport capacity of 1200 infantry.
Option 3 – £37.5m buys 15 8-seat Gucci vehicles, £68.75m buys 110 6-seat good (not Gucci) vehicles, £6.75m buys 27 16-seat adequate vehicles. Total cost £113m, total transport capacity 1212 infantry.

Engineer Tom
Engineer Tom
July 7, 2015 12:22 pm

Another question is how we deal with losing personnel, this leads in to how much armour is needed, i.e. do we provide protection against the worse case scenario or is there a formula for acceptable losses. In health and safety speak when does the cost of that little bit more protection become prohibitive to the action being carried out. If we go up against an airforce will the vehicles then need to have armour to protect against bombs, if we go up against tanks do they need armour to stop tank rounds and what happens when they start making even bigger IED’s.
I don’t have an answer but, it is a question I feel that needs to be discussed as it feels like these days no deaths are acceptable to the public.

July 7, 2015 12:40 pm

I think Chris’s Option 3 seems a reasonable mix . The higher the threat the less we can bring to the party but can operate on all battle field forward edges. Option two would mean consistent kit and logistical commonality but hard decisions would have to be made on losses or doctrine changes to commit all the C2’s and AH-64’s to close infantry support to allow the infantry to complete their tasks whilst they try to deal with the OPFOR AT .
On Engineer Tom’s point on were is our ( the publics) cutoff point on acceptable if any casualties I think it depends on the OPFOR. If its a bunch of locals running around their fields,dunes and mountains killing our troops with stuff they have knocked together in their shed/tent/ cave , none. If its the Red Army , sorry Russian Army I think the public will comprehend that they have good kit and it will get kills and so mentally be more prepared casualty figures to mount.

July 7, 2015 1:04 pm

Most would accept that Challenger 2 is the best armoured vehicle in the world today having entered service only recently 2002. It is not invulnerable though , in Oct 2006 an RPG-29 was fired at the frontal armour of a C2 which was fitted with ERA also , penetrated blowing off the foot of the driver. Un-reported the government was caught out 8 months later when again in Iraq a roadside bomb blew the legs off another C2 driver. Initially Liam Fox stated it was the first penetration of a C2 but the first drivers family informed the press of his injury and how it was sustained. If our MBT can be knocked out by a RPG or an IED whilst inflicting casualties the risk has to be accepted as very real.

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 7, 2015 1:30 pm

It kinda depends on what you want to do.

Buying the cheaper vehicle is not a sensible idea if we already have vehicles that fulfil their role, so they add no additional capability.

We have nine protected mobility battalions already; how many are ever going to be deployed at any one time? Buying more of the same, or similar, just because they are cheaper than other options isn’t the right thing to do, particularly as we will already pool and centrally manage vehicle fleets.

If we need the expensive vehicle option, then we have to go with that. If we cannot afford to equip the units as required, then maybe we should accept that we cannot afford to keep the unit; instead of trying to outfit it on the cheap.

I don’t think trading off substantially different vehicle types is a viable plan. Trade offs can be made in marginal capability areas though. For any of the representative examples shown above, there will be several other makes and models that offer broadly similar capability, mobility, protection, firepower, etc. And I believe that over-analysis of product capability is a fruitless exercise because of the inherent uncertainty as to what situation and environment they’ll be used in.

July 7, 2015 1:41 pm

monkey – ref casualties – it is horribly clear the public perception is that wars can be fought without loss of life of any of our military. I have no idea where the misconception came from; experience of two World Wars and Korea and The Troubles and the Falklands should still resonate, but between the 80s and now a lie has been sold to the electorate that war can be risk-free. Technology will preserve life. Our forces are the best in the world with the best equipment in the world. No other nation can match our military prowess. And so on.

As a result there is no option but to wrap our personnel in so much armourplate that their military effectiveness is badly limited, for example the deployment of massively protected Mastiff that was so heavy and had such poor mobility that it was pretty well restricted to use of roads and tracks, thus reducing the military effect (of being where the soldiers were needed ASAP) while at the same time making their likelihood of meeting an IED much higher because they had to travel the same roads day after day – the need for IED protection became a self-fulfilling prophecy. It would be interesting to compare the number of IEDs encountered per 1000km between Mastiff using roads and Jackal scampering off-road, but I doubt such figures would be published.

Perhaps its time to realign public perception with reality; to get a clear understanding that putting the armed forces into harm’s way has a cost in life & limb that has to be measured against the tactical and strategic benefits gained by the military operation. When the call goes out that “Something Must Be Done!” it should be clear that there may well be casualties to grieve.

We have discussed before that the Military Command must have the authority to ask – command – subordinate troops to engage regardless of the risk to their survival. Clearly Command would at all times look to preserve the life of their troops, but if there is a vital objective to be won for the greater good of the campaign then there should be no restriction upon making the hard decisions.

I would suggest it should also be part of the public re-education that part of the reason there may be casualties is that money is diverted from defence to NHS schools benefits etc. Ultimately the people paying for all the armed forces are the Great British Public. They – that is to say we – all need to understand our implicit responsibility when the hearses roll. We equip the armed forces; we decide how well manned they are; we decide to deploy them, through our democratically elected government.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 7, 2015 2:50 pm

There is a far bigger picture here, related to the defence acquisition post. With FF2020 the Army initially came up with a relatively good restructuring programme that unfortunately rapidly fell victim to the bean counters. The short termism of the Treasury meant that FF2020 became an exercise in fitting a square peg into a round hole, dictated by compromise and funding issues. The resulting force would have been barely fit for purpose but now even that reorganisation is out the window.

The vast majority of the Army’s kit is out of date a not fit for purpose. We need to retain a number of Challenger 2s and Warriors and purchase some FRES(SV). However the number required need to be dramatically reduced to fit in with the forecast fiscal reality.

We need a good wheeled AFV for at least eight Infantry battalions. I will ignore our legacy MRAVs as these are not the right vehicles for the Infantry in future operations. They are useful in COIN operations but so are 8×8 AFVs. 8x8s however are also very effective in all other operations, as has been realised by nearly every other NATO nation. Why does the UK have such a problem with wheeled platforms, we didn’t used to. IS every other country wrong. WE do not even have to develop our own platforms, there are a multitude out there, with the most modern being easily adapted to the UKs needs.

Modern 8x8s have evolved into a pretty damn good balance of mobility and protection. Most NATO countries have begun replacing their Cold War M113 style battle taxis with wheeled platforms and gained greater mobility and cheaper running costs. Platforms like the Boxer or VBCI are not Gucci but the right spec for the job.

Simply put these are the platforms we need. If we have to reduce the numbers of other platforms and personnel numbers across the MoD to afford a fleet of the these platforms to bring the Army into the 21sat century then so be it. This is where the SDSR need to come in. I personally believe that Afghanistan will have been the last persistent operation the UK will partake in at brigade level. We may contribute forces based around an infantry battalion reinforced with additional assets such as an armour squadron etc. With this as a base the size of the UKs forces needs to be recalculated.

With our limited budget, the purchase of FRES(SV) is going to damage the Army procurement process for many years to come. It truly is a Gucci platform, designed for a role that really no longer exists. We do not need three to four Recce Regiments. Yes individual Armoured and Armoured Infantry battalions need a section of around eight platforms for integral recce but that is it. Its predecessor the CVR(T) has been used as a light tank more often than not. The days of a large ground based recce screen advancing ahead of multiple Armoured brigades is long gone. Deep recce will in all probability be the domain of ISTAR assets in any future operations. So we are buying a large number of FRES(SV) simply because the MoD and Government needed to have something to show after years of messing about.

We have to have the right platforms to do the job. Armoured lorries and MRAVS cannot replace our fleet of outdated AFVs. I do believe in the principal of kit being good enough rather than “Gucci” but that is what Boxer and VBCI are, good enough to do the job. If we are unwilling to find the resources, then we need to excuse ourselves for participating in operations. These resources already exist we just have to have to willingness to change the way we organise and use our armed forces.

July 7, 2015 2:57 pm

The public perception of the need for defence spending and how those defence assets are used is very mixed from conversations I have had . Some see it as a waste of life and money brought on mostly by our sandbox wars others that it is essential for a country of our standing to have a global presence. Regardless of public perception we have international commitment’s from NATO to the BoT’s which draws a line on how low we can go and have a better than even chance of meeting other nations expectations of us.

July 7, 2015 3:44 pm

@Lord Jim
The US use the Stryker from GDLS based on their Canadian LAV/Swiss Piranha. In Iraq/Afghanistan they did around 5 times the mileage per month of the Bradleys ( 1200m v 290m 2006 figures ) and after the old cliche ‘lesson learnt’ came up to scratch in protecting their occupants against IED/RPG attack although casualties were incurred they performed over 6 million miles of patrol in total with over a 1000 units per year deployed. On return they needed much less deep depot maintenance if any compared to the Bradleys which all required a depot full strip down before being returned to their service units ( on a fifth of the mileage) .
This report breaks down the various data , page 29 Table 1.4 gives the mileage details ( also trucks , hummers , recovery vehicles, various helicopters etc )

July 7, 2015 3:52 pm

monkey – understood.

Lord Jim – clearly I have a different opinion, or else I wouldn’t have spent five years and a lot of personal funds designing (among others) wheeled combat armour of different and I believe more effective forms to the established fashion as represented by VBCI AMV and Boxer. I would look to providing similar protection levels to these vehicles and better mobility at a lower price – not sure it would be in the £600k bracket, but not £2.5m per, if my sums are in the right ballpark.

July 7, 2015 3:54 pm

Are the Boxer/VBCI/AMV Gucci gold plated vehicles or is it the Warrior? Should we follow the French example and replace the Warrior with wheeled vehicles and have an IFV version for the armoured brigades and a less well armed version for the medium role?

Rocket Banana
July 7, 2015 4:38 pm

We need a couple of hundred MBT and we need a couple of hundred IFVs to flank them IF we NEED three armoured brigades.

Perhaps we should simply make sure the Army get the basics right before we go buying 8x8s that woudn’t stand up to the Talliban.

July 7, 2015 5:02 pm

Why wouldn’t an 8×8 be capable of standing up to the Taliban? plenty of nations used them succesfully in Afghan. The French seem to be happy with the performance of their VBCI in both Afghan and Mali which.

How many units have decent protection and firepower in a British Army armoured brigade? pretty much no one but the Infantry and tankers.

July 7, 2015 5:31 pm

Why don’t we aim at a point in time were all the Scout SV (550) are in service and have all the Challenger 2’s (420+) refurbished and complete the Warrior (550) rebuild for all of them . Add in our existing MLRS launchers and put the CAMM(L) on tracks to. Keep the Foxhounds for nipping about and the other MRAP’s for resupply. Chuck in Terrier and the bridging units and and we would have about 2000+ heavy tracked armour to deploy with some existing wheeled MRAP’s thrown in .
By being ALL heavy it would take is six months to get anywhere in force so no one would invite us unless it was up against Russia or China. We could handle the defence of the BoTs with the RM/Para’s/Gurkhas etc as none are of any size and 10,000 heavily trained light infantry should manage the job. If we buy it we will be asked to use it and won’t our Government just rush in and say yes when most others will say nein/ non/nada/nor on your nelly except a token company or two so they can appear on wikki as being there and demand somewhere to patrol far away from the bad people with guns.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 7, 2015 5:40 pm

If you have been able to design a Wheeled AFV that has the same level of protection and mobility of a Boxer/VBCI/AMV I would be very interested in seeing the details. As for prices for the three existing designs, the AMV or its derivatives are certainly more in the £1m category from what I can dig up but my resources are not comprehensive. I cannot deny I am a strong advocate of wheeled AFV as Monkey pointed out they provide more flexibility and bang for your buck than traditional tracked platforms. Most current 8×8 designs are now combat proven with operations in Iraq/Afghanistan and Mali and all have, after a few teething problems performed very well.

Yes all AFVs are expensive these days but through life costs for wheeled AFVs are significantly less than the tracked equivalents. So if the Army finally realises that it needs to replace the FV430 fleet and prioritises it accordingly, what should we replace them by. In my view in need to be a front line combat vehicle able to cover large area rapidly under its own power and not need transporters. It should be protected against mines and IEDs as well as conventional threats and able to keep up with MBTs. It should have sufficient fire power to suppress enemy infantry and lightly armed vehicles. It needs to carry two four man sections plus its crew of two to three. It needs to be readily adaptable to a variety of roles, using a standard platform, such as command, ambulance, mortar carrier, recovery vehicle, plus some more exotic variants if possible.

All of the above are met by the Boxer/VBCI and AMV amongst others. their specs are what I see and the minimum required to be effective but that is my opinion. The last thing the Army needs is a wheeled AFV that is the equivalent of the “Snatch” Landrover, which though substantially cheaper, falls short when it matters. In my view whilst you can use a VBCI in peacekeeping and or COIN you cannot use a Mastiff as part of an armoured battle group.

Chris if you have designed a cost effective wheeled AFV that matched the Boxer etc. congratulations. Did you do it as a personal project or were you working to meet someone needs? As I mentioned earlier I would love to see what you have come up with if it is unclassified.

Rocket Banana
July 7, 2015 5:41 pm

I rather messed that up. I meant 400 IFVs anyway.

I can only see strategic mobility as the main selling point for an 8×8. So once you’ve got your 8×8 into theatre what do you shoot things with?

July 7, 2015 5:46 pm

Even with that list we would still not have enough protection to the same level as the Warrior’s. There is not enough Warriors to replace the 432’s in the mortar and other minor roles in an armoured infantry Btn as it is without going into the CS units the will be required to support them.

July 7, 2015 6:09 pm


The MOD person in charge if the decision will probably be sued or criminally prosecuted in 20 years time if they don’t choose the best protected option.

July 7, 2015 7:03 pm

I guess a lot of it depends on the specific western armed force in question. Presuming it’s the UK, the medium weight band is currently quite well covered, so I would say that a further vehicle in the same weight class would be both superfluous and would leave gaps elsewhere in the armoured vehicle capability. A lighter and cheaper vehicle for protected mobility would seem suitable, so I would recommend a number of the RG35s or similar capability to replace the Mastiffs as they go out of service. The battle boxes may do as an upgrade for soft skin transport, but not as any kind of combat vehicle – not enough mobility to overcome it’s meagre protection.
The Saxon wasn’t a really bad idea, but not really very well implemented.

July 7, 2015 7:19 pm

I think the overwhelming pressure is to have high spec kit. In theory did SNATCH inhibit our ability to get the job done? No. Not if you’re more ruthless about casualties. But we’re not prepared to do that. The big question is are we displacing one risk for another – does having high spec kit mean that more cop it when there’s not enough to go around? Those with it have a high survival rate but no other fucker has.


July 7, 2015 7:50 pm

To accomplish a goal a certain expenditure has to pass. Either in men ,materials or money. Assuming the other side can’t be bribed with money,promises or other BS, so we have to decide how much to spend in materiel to accomplish our goal in terms of casualties and their costs financially and buying kit and its support to still accomplish the goals as required . Availability of finance is normally a limiting factor but as a nation that prints hundreds of billions of her majesty’s pounds to bail out global corporations to stop a few thousand job losses in the UK its shouldn’t be a worry :-(
However defending Europe and our way of life , 2000 years after nailing someone to a tree for saying ” wouldn’t it be good to be nice to each other for a change” defence needs to provide credible protection to its citizens and the military that perform at the sharp end. Spend wisely but spend!

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 7, 2015 7:50 pm

I’ll post this extract from a Time article, because the idea of 8×8 armoured land yacht being good at COIN has cropped up again.

COIN is not a vehicle. To conduct a counterinsurgency campaign, on some occasions in certain circumstances, an 8×8 APC may well be an appropriate vehicle. But on other occasions, during a COIN campaign, Foxhound might be the appropriate vehicle; or a package of Warrior & Challenger; or Merlin, etc.,8599,1587186,00.html

“U.S. soldiers walked beats like police officers and were stationed in local patrol bases, the equivalent of precinct houses. They were instructed to treat the Iraqis with respect. Knocking down doors was replaced by knocking on doors.”

“In May 2003, within weeks after he arrived, Petraeus staged elections for a city council and began to disburse funds to clean schools, reopen factories, fix potholes and establish recreation programs. He was, in effect, the mayor of Mosul. The tactics Petraeus used were well known to a tiny cadre of military intellectuals in the Pentagon: they were classic counterinsurgency methods, and they were scorned by most of the brass (and by Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld), who thought that nation building was a job for social workers, not soldiers. Even though counterinsurgency seemed to be working in Mosul, the Pentagon wasn’t impressed.”

“In January 2004, Rumsfeld replaced the 101st Airborne in Mosul with a Stryker Brigade, one of his prized innovations. Instead of patrolling the streets on foot, the Strykers dashed about in high-tech armored vehicles. They didn’t do any of the local governance that Petraeus had done. They were occupiers, not builders, and put Iraqis in control of civic order. Within months, Mosul descended into chaos.”

The Other Chris
July 7, 2015 7:54 pm

For sake of discussion: How many of all of the above options could we receive by ditching the C2 fleet and instead taking fully deployable and sustainable alternatives?

Does the UK need an MBT?

a) For acting on our own? Will we be venturing where MBT’s are required?

e.g. CD’s, BoTs, HADR, British & Irish Archipelago?

b) For acting in partnership? Will our partners in these locations already have necessary MBT’s?

e.g. Europe? Africa? Middle East? Scandinavia? Commonwealth?

Rather than be a “Full Spectrum” force, will we serve our own interests and those of our allies far more if we can deploy and sustain meaningful numbers of “Key Spectrum” capabilities that make a large impact?

Will we free Allies up to focus on their own required “Key Spectrum” covering their specific interests which, when combined with ours, becomes “Full Spectrum”?

As opposed to lending smattering here or there of “British Flavoured Full Spectrum” spread thinly to a larger ally’s taste?

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 7, 2015 8:06 pm

Chris: “…the deployment of massively protected Mastiff that was so heavy and had such poor mobility that it was pretty well restricted to use of roads and tracks”

Don’t forget that the British substantially up-armoured the original American vehicle specifically to survive on the roads.

There’s a good few tonne of plate armour bolted onto the base vehicle, and bar armour on top of that.

I dare say that the off-road performance is notably better without the heavyweight mods, but then again the British had other higher-mobility vehicles like Warthog and CVRT for trekking about the countryside.

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 7, 2015 8:51 pm

Lord Jim is saying that we need eight battalions equipped with an 8×8 IFV.

There are only six battalions of Warrior as it is.

The advantages put forward for wheeled IFV are their rapid mobility in certain aspects of manoeuvre warfare and in-theatre deployment; basically that they can reposition themselves faster and more independently than tracked IFV.

We don’t need eight battalions full of them to get the benefit of their particular advantages; particularly as we still reasonably need some light role infantry and protected mobility units too.

I would suggest that three battalions of wheeled IFV would provide all the advantages that they could ever offer.

The Army 2020 plan envisaged that one third of the Adaptable Force would be either deployed or available for contingent tasks in any given year (that’s one light cavalry regiment, two light protected mobility battalions, three light role battalions – and their partnered reserve units).

Equipping one light role infantry battalion, from each of the three allotments of units in the Adaptable Force, would be useful but not excessive.

The French operation in Mali is sometimes used as an example of the practicality and benefit of wheeled IFV. In the deployed French brigade, there were only three VBCI companies; there was another battalion’s worth of VAB mounted infantry, and another couple of battalions with lighter vehicles.

If we ever needed to dash a wheeled force across to eastern Europe, with just three wheeled IFV battalions we should be able to quite rapidly deploy one (with a couple of Foxhound battalions also available, plus an air assault battalion and a heavy protected mobility battalion from the Reaction Force). That’s plenty more than enough for a vanguard force for an armoured brigade.

July 7, 2015 8:52 pm

Here’s some perspective:
Back in the early 2000’s I wrote an article-styled text on convoy security. I did a literature research previously to incorporate foreign and historical lessons.

The idea of a protected vehicle for transport of supplies, a squad of infantry or engineers and the like was back then a truck with a shielded machinegun, centreline seat bench for the infantrymen to face outward, sand bags on flat bed floor and improvised sand bag or steel plate armour left and right. This was the level of protection as known by the “guntrucks” of Vietnam, and actually more than most mobilized infantrymen would have enjoyed in Central Europe. Even dedicated AFVs of that time meant for active force infantry were merely protected against AP mines, Dragunov or PKM steel core bullets @ 100 m, 155 mm HE shell at 15 or 50 m (which did not necessarily mean that more than 99.9% of fragments would be stopped). The standards were not elevated noticeably for SFOR.
Much of the convoy security literature was actually not about passive protection, but reconnaissance; keyword “rat patrols”.

Such were the times when we still thought about warfare essential to our countries, not unnecessary occupation wars on distant continents. We thought of wars with dozens of divisions facing more dozens of divisions. The question was whose MBTs, SPGs and air superiority fighters would be decimated to impotence first.
Because protecting infantry on administrative marches was an uncritical issue. What good would be a mechanized brigade be if its support troops were decimated on marches? Hardly any. No army considered it wise to spend scarce resources en masse on protecting infantry, engineers and support troops during marches. The German army didn’t even buy frag protection vests until the Cold War had ended!

The answer to the right mix is obvious: If you’re thinking about actual deterrence or defence against being blockaded, bombed or invaded, then there won’t be money left for armouring infantry trucks after all the really important things were afforded. Even that protected DROPS 8×8 truck with armoured container would be too expensive.

paul g
July 7, 2015 9:19 pm

wasn’t it discussed on here about the latest purchase of the patria, where the buying country has quite literally bought the base hull and are putting their own equipment in. Would this not be ideal for us as the divvy press would pick up on the base price then we could crow about the jobs created for the equipment fits, particularly if includes UK built engines, comms etc etc

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 7, 2015 9:33 pm

The Other Chris, would you go as far as saying that as the little British Army is not massively effective on its own, perhaps throw our lot in (in entirety) with the Americans?

Go the whole hog, and say that we’ll now only operate Stryker divisions / BCTs (or other single type of unit). And equip and organize them exactly to the US Army (or Marine Corps) order of battle?

If we forgot about significant independent operations, and the consequent need for a range of different units, we’d get maximum efficiency in terms of equipment and training.

Would you like to see a fully integrated Anglo-American Army? We would of course still have the choice as to whether we made our units available for particular operations; but if we did, they would sit within the American command structure.

July 7, 2015 9:56 pm

Lord Jim – despite no significant or meaningful interest from MOD, just because they are what they are the designs are all automatically export controlled. No details on the web then. Further to that there are some smart ideas in the designs so no-one (outside the customer set) gets to see the concepts without NDA cover. If you represent a business that thinks it could be interested to get involved (and are not a hungry competitor, obviously) then I’m sure TD would allow off-line conversations between us. However if its just curiosity and personal interest then I must I am afraid hold back the information.

I can say that the few individuals and groups that have been briefed have been complimentary and on more than one occasion those briefed said they were impressed with the designs. I don’t believe the statements were them just being polite…

BB – yes I was aware of the NP Aerospace armour upgrade. The point is that the act of piling on protection more or less forced the vehicles to use dangerous IED prone routes thus making the extra protection appear absolutely vital – the self-fulfilling prophecy – where a more mobile vehicle using unexpected routes may not have suffered IED threats. And yet based upon Mastiff experience all vehicles are being slabbed out with IED-proof hides. It seems somewhat knee-jerky.

TOC – I have always favoured a multi-layer fleet, from massively protected C2/Titan/Trojan/CRARRV through Warrior/FRES all the way down to Jackal Panther and RT’s pushbike at the light protected end of the ORBAT. As we have described it before, lots of different tools in the toolbox. Each will be best at facing off the threat in specific scenarios so giving Command the widest variety of capabilities makes for the most agile response in any situation. Naturally I’d like my vehicles to be in the mix, but I know full well they would not be the best kit to use in every case. We could call the ORBAT ‘Full Spectrum’ if you need a label.

Phil – you describe Option 1 in my list of what to buy (

Hannay – if the only option is maximum protection then we should just go buy as many Namer APCs as the Army has budget for. Personally I think the operational implications of 60t APCs would leave the Army pretty impotent; certainly not rapid reaction capable. Surely the right starting point is ‘What operational capability do we need?” and thereafter look to get the best solution that can deliver the capability.

July 7, 2015 11:51 pm

Interestingly on chapter 1 page 9 the report you mention gives the Cold War planning assumptions, for usage rates of combat vehicles , trucks, and helicopters. For a period of several months the anticipated daily usage rate for helicopters was 4 hours flight time. now this seems a bit low to me but I wont argue the point. What I do find astonishing are the rates for combat vehicles at 250 miles a day and trucks at 80 miles a day. As these figures are repeated in different ways as monthly and annualised rates its not a simple error. So how accurate is the rest of the report? If the figures are right and the US cold war planners thought their combat vehicles were going to be doing 250 miles a day for a couple of months, frankly they must have been morons. Its such a ridiculous figure.

Jeremy M H
July 8, 2015 12:23 am
Reply to  whitelancer

I am always amused at people who declare professional planning assumptions to be garbage without offering any reason as to why.

Assume a brigade were to displace 20 miles In some direction, a realistic Cold War scenario. Then assume a brigade covers about 7 miles of frontage. How many miles are necessary to drive just to complete that movement?

Please enlighten us since the figure provided by professionals is stupid.

July 8, 2015 12:50 am
Reply to  Jeremy M H

Combat vehicles shouldn’t move much more than average trucks, though, Staff, AD, hospital trucks and such don’t move much, but supply trucks move much more thank AFVs.

Jeremy M H
July 8, 2015 1:09 am
Reply to  S O

Depends on what trucks one is talking about really, but I don’t see the issue with the 250 mile estimate on vehicles. That basically means moving about 10 miles every hour. In a mobile battle where one is constantly repositioning their forces to meet evolving threats that really isn’t that far.

Simply moving a reserve brigade up 10-20 miles and laterally into place will eat up a lot of that figure in the matter of an hour or two. We are talking about averaging like 12 miles of movement every hour with 6 hours of rest. It just isn’t that much.

And supply trucks move further on a large scale map. AFVs in Europe would have moved around tactically almost constantly. Moving from one firing position to the next. Moving around trees and obstacles. Engaging in local counter attacks. All of this adds constant miles to vehicles.

July 8, 2015 1:53 am

No way, AFVs don’t move that much even in mobile warfare.
250 miles per AFV and day is wrong almost by an order of magnitude.
An AFV would require a thorough refurbishment with entire tracks replaced and so on after a week of this tempo.

The AFV’s share of fuel consumption in a brigade is less than 20% despite being fuel guzzlers.
That’s because they move little compared to the trucks that haul the fuel and ammo.

A SPG can be expected to consume about 200 rds/day. That would be about 50 fire missions at most, and 1 mile displacement after every fire mission (shoot & scoot) + following a moving brigade still doesn’t add up to 200 miles, much less 250.

And quite frankly, a MBT crew that does 500 miles in two days (and much of it offroad) will be spent – it will break down before the tank does.

Brian Black
Brian Black
July 8, 2015 10:37 am

Whitelancer, four flying hours per day is not low for sustained flying over a period of months.

For AFV mileage, might they be using some adjusted figure to take into account static engine running? Not miles on the clock, but still burning fuel.

The Other Chris
July 8, 2015 10:54 am

What we are seeing a lot of, both in practice and in the discussed alternatives, is continuous slicing of our capability salami’s followed by a rearranging of ORBAT with nice names such as “Adaptable Force”.

How much slicing of a capability can we perform before that capability and the capabilities it in turn supports become ineffective. e.g. If we slice off the ability to deploy a few more Tonka’s, how long until the Tonkas follow the Harriers?

Following the above example (I have no dog in the fight regards Challenger 2), it’s nice to have a fleet of MBT’s, sure, I get it. We’ve historically been good at building and operating them. We’ve historically needed them from Aden to Ardennes. We named them Tanks. Can’t get more British than that!

Do we need them now?

Germany does, that’s quite clear. France does too. The USA feels it does. Poland is screaming out for more…

Do we still need them?

Do any of our capabilities support and multiply the effectiveness of our allies MBT’s more? Such as Apache, Sentinel R1, Reaper, Scout SV, Loggies and Engineers? If we had more Sentinels, more Apaches, more Foxhounds, more personnel, more AGM’s, more MANPADS, more BV’s, is that more valuable than shipping a few MBT’s that we’re unlikely to use on our own anyway?

If we could *sustainably deploy* larger numbers of these capabilities, does that provide a more effective whole for our allies compared to adding a few Tonkas here, a few Challies there, a few Scout SV someplace else? Can we free them up from supporting other capabilities to focus on their priorities more?

Would larger numbers of these “sovereign important” capabilities, that can be sustained for longer and deployed faster, help us when operating on our own more?

That’s the lines of what I’m asking.

A “Barbour coat and Thermals” approach instead of TD’s usual favourite alternative phrase.

July 8, 2015 11:15 am


I would argue the other way, a massive reduction in light infantry to only the number of Btn’s we can equip with Foxhounds and have enough CS and CSS for with a with a reduction in heavy armour to keep a core competency and to add a bit of punch for the annual 10 year dust up in favor of a larger medium sized capability within a smaller army.

July 8, 2015 11:47 am

TOC – I am nervous of deletion of capabilities on the grounds someone else will provide the capability for us. We have spent the past 5 years in this situation with MPA (arguably with carrier fixed-wing airpower too) and have found a degree of embarrassment in asking nicely if our allies wouldn’t mind doing what we should be able to do for ourselves.

There is also no control over allies ORBAT – if we decided to pension off C2 because M. Hollande has some, but in a year the French white paper “Options pour le Changement” concluded there was no point retaining Leclerc, where would we be?

Then there is the rarely mentioned national interest – if Europe decided it needed to take action against Israel, there would be no US support. I would imagine if the US wanted to lay into Oman or Jordan the UK would politely decline to help. Allies have different red-lines they each will not cross. A case in point – the Suez Crisis.

Its really easy to state our friends and allies will stand by our side and do whatever we need them to do, but I think in real life such agreements are always under tension and can snap apart without much warning.

July 8, 2015 11:58 am

That article on how Gen Petraeus administered his fief and the response from the locals was very interesting . By pretty much replacing the previous administrations policing presence with more armed soldiers the locals kept to the same behaviour patterns . Then by being a constructive force rather than the previous ones destructive activities built trust as well as respect. The doctrinal change brought in by the next administrator to patrol in Stryker’s dissociated the new US Army troops from engaging with the locals in the same manner as the previous regiments deployed. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it springs to mind.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 8, 2015 3:28 pm


The reason I mentioned the need for eight infantry battalions to be mounted in 8x8s was that I see the core of the Army’s future being four brigades, each with;
1x Armoured Regiment (Challenger 2).
1x Armoured Infantry Regiment (Warrior)
2x Mechanised Infantry Regiments (8×8)
1x Artillery Regiment (Dependant on mission)

The British Army still has far to many “Light role” battalions, that have little relevancy in the 21st Century. Land Rovers and 4 Tonners are nor really usable in operations. They have a role at home but that is about it. All Infantry need to have some level of protected mobility, be it a Foxhound, a Warrior of something in between and it is the latter I am concerned about. Have a set of kit shared by various units as was done in Afghanistan is a very short sighted solution, with increased procurement costs under UORs, real lack of support structure and of course the platforms wear out far more rapidly leading to the need to replace them.

The Commandos already have their Viking Mk2s but not enough of them. 16 Airmobile should have a number of Foxhounds, plus Jackals (I know they are not really protected) for recce. Those infantry units retained that do not have Warrior of an 8×8 should have a platform similar to the VAB/VBL combo the French use. The Foxhound would fit this category if the price can come down through the numbered that are required. The units in Mali using light vehicle were not standard infantry but equivalents of our Paras or Commandos.

Unfortunately a number of “Light role”, infantry battalions would be lost with the above, but excluding 16 Airmobile I cannot see us needing more than twenty battalions, of which eight would have a large TA/Reserve component. This is off the top of my head so please do not bite it off.

The Other Chris
July 8, 2015 4:33 pm

How is the Husky roll out going?

July 8, 2015 5:48 pm

Lord Jim,
Something in between a Foxhound and a Warrior would seem to be what TD is getting at here. The idea of having both an 8×8 AND another wheeled vehicle would be redundant, either with each other or each with the upper or lower ends of the spectrum respectively.

July 8, 2015 5:48 pm

“All Infantry need to have some level of protected mobility”

IF the other troops stay at a fortified base.
How much utility had this kind of military operation for the UK in the 21st century?
I suppose it did cost greatly more than whatever it utility was.

Now what about conflicts that are not about megabases, outposts, patrols and raids – but about battalion battlegroup manoeuvres in a theatre with hundreds of thousands of 1st world army OPFOR troops?
I suppose infantry (and engineers) need protected mobility within line of sight with the enemy – the classic battle taxi job. It can be done with HAPCs.
All other movement should be very cost-effective, and attention should be paid to how to equip mobilized forces. It would be irresponsible to send active forces troops into theatre with gold-plated gear and mobilized forces with repainted and otherwise unmodified civilian trucks.

July 8, 2015 7:24 pm

For this one “Something in between a Foxhound and a Warrior would seem to be what TD is getting at here. The idea of having both an 8×8 AND another wheeled vehicle would be redundant” the how to have your cake and eat it, too, recipe is the AMV:
– 6 wheeled ones for battle field taxis
– a much smaller number of 8x8s for IFV use (even then, they don’t all need an autocannon)

M for modular…

Rocket Banana
July 8, 2015 9:42 pm

Lord Jim,

Where is your recce (in force) and what flanks the MBTs on the other side if you only have a 1:1 ratio of CR2:Warrior?

I think we’ve got it right with 1 x SCOUT-SV + 1 x CR2 + 2 x Warrior + support and logistics.

Perhaps this is why I keep seeing SCOUT-SV as the Warrior replacement. We’re buying almost exactly the right number for a 3:1 ratio against our active MBTs. Delivering four brigades worth (one in maintenance) of vehicles.

Not sure we need FRES-UV at all… unless we can’t ever deploy the other stuff.

July 8, 2015 10:21 pm
Brian Black

Whitelancer, four flying hours per day is not low for sustained flying over a period of months.

For AFV mileage, might they be using some adjusted figure to take into account static engine running? Not miles on the clock, but still burning fuel.

I’m happy to accept the 4 flight hours for helicopters it seems to be in the right sort of area and I don’t have enough knowledge to argue otherwise.
As for combat vehicle mileage I did wonder wether they had somehow taken account of engine running time but their is no indication of this in the report. It would also only be relevant to the engine rather than the vehicle as a whole so I feel it is unlikely.

@Jeremy M H

I am always amused at people who declare professional planning assumptions to be garbage without offering any reason as to why.

I must apologise for not explaining my reasons, in truth I didn’t think it was necessary as the figure at least for combat vehicles is so absurd.
First I should say I’m more inclined to believe the report has got the figures wrong, deliberately or other wise. Which would bring into question the rest of the report.
It’s only if the figures are accurate and truly are those used by cold war planners that I feel safe in calling them morons.
The first point to make is that they are averages so on any particular day some of your combat vehicles will do no mileage some less than your average figure some about average some more than average and some a lot more than average. Now 250 miles a day is not impossible for an AFV (I’m assuming by combat vehicles they mean Abrams, Bradley and M113). As you point out you only need to average just over 10 miles an hour, factor in crew rest vehicle maintenance refuelling etc. and your probable going to have to double that. The only realistic scenario for achieving this is a long route march on good roads with no unforeseen obstacles. Even then this would only be done if HETs could not be used, and it certainly couldn’t be done day after day for a couple of months.
On the battlefield AFV,s do a lot of movement, mostly in short bursts interspersed with a lot of time stationary either engaging the enemy or waiting, mostly just waiting. Even in an ideal situation say a pursuit of a defeated enemy the chance of any of your combat vehicles doing 250 miles in a day is remote let alone your whole force averaging it.
I think if you ask any AFV commander they will confirm that it is a totally unrealistic figure. Which is why I cant believe any half competent planners would have ever come up with it.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 9, 2015 12:56 am

Ok, where do I start here. By saying we need something between the Foxhound and Warrior I meant we need an 8×8, mainly for the Mechanised Infantry Battalions which would be the four that previously used Saxons plus converting two Armoured Infantry battalions and two “Light role”, battalions into Mechanised units.

With the present and future need to keep casualties to a minimum, at a minimum all Infantry deployed on combat operations need some form of protected mobility, but ideally support troops should also be protected. The levels of protection offered by very lightly protected vehicles such as the Snatch are now unacceptable. However, the current fleet of MRAVs are not suited to anything other then COIN and peacekeeping roles, and these are the types of operations we should become involved with in future in my opinion. The UN has many other nations with more manpower to do those roles but that is a different argument. An 8×8 thought can do those roles and operate within high tempo operations. In addition the idea of differentiating between frontline and rear areas if no longer applicable. Remember when the RAF Regiment had CVR(T)s to protect bases even in the UK Well that is the mentality we are being forced to adopt. Purely conventional warfare is in all likelihood a thing of the past. Nations have seen the effectiveness of asymmetric warfare and will conduct similar operations in combinations with more conventional actions in my view.

Regarding the recce of apparent lack of, in the Brigade structure I put forward, there would be two eight vehicle “Platoons” plus ISTAR assets. This assumes that the Mechanised Battalions do not have a FRES (SV) (It really needs a name you know) Recce platoons like the Armoured and Armoured Infantry Regiments. However a Foxhound Recce variant could fulfil this role as could a modified Panther, with improved optics etc. operations like the German/Dutch Fennek. The 8x8s would be an integral part of the brigade not staying back behind the Warriors and Challenger 2s. Many modern 8x8s have protection levels almost the equivalent of platforms like the Warrior.

An alternative Brigade structure would be to retain two Fully Armoured Brigades organised as Simon has suggested and have two Mechanised (Medium) Brigades equipped with 8x8s and Foxhounds. In an ideal world these Mechanised Brigades would have the same variety of assets as a US Army “Striker” Brigade though probably based on a different platform. What is really obvious from all my suggested ORBATs is that I believe strongly that we are buying too many FRES(SV). We have placed large orders though so should we expand upon this in the future to replace the Warriors and its variants as a long term programme? I mean the new turret for the Warrior could be transposed into an IFV Variant of the FRES(SV) platform. Cancelling any idea of purchasing an 8×8 would result but we would be back to the levels of heavy formations we had with the BAOR with would please many.

July 9, 2015 3:17 am

alternative Brigade structure would be to retain two Fully Armoured Brigades organised as Simon has suggested and have two Mechanised (Medium) Brigades equipped with 8x8s and Foxhounds. In an ideal world these Mechanised Brigades would have the same variety of assets as a US Army “Striker” Brigade though probably based on a different platform. What is really obvious from all my suggested ORBATs is that I believe strongly that we are buying too many FRES(SV). We have placed large orders though so should we expand upon this in the future to replace the Warriors and its variants as a long term programme? I mean the new turret for the Warrior could be transposed into an IFV Variant of the FRES(SV) platform. Cancelling any idea of purchasing an 8×8 would result but we would be back to the levels of heavy formations we had with the BAOR with would please many.

I had the same initial thought as Simon. Mixing MBTs and IFVs/ APCs 1:1 at BG level is fine (depending on the tasking) but at bde level would mean both a serious lack in the number of manoeuvre units and infantry overall. 1:2 would be more like it. Think about the Stryker Bde as a developed concept for hi-mobility ops. It is supposed to cover its own flanks, do its own recce (in addition to what is provided by air) and for a sustained 3 day period protect its own supply units, whether on the move or stationary
=> was it 8 manoeuvre units that were deemed necessary?

Having read the next piece (where the quote is lifted from), I would say that it is often forgotten that though the SV and Warrior numbers are roughly matching (in the 500-600 range), they will be exactly matching in the Scout and IFV roles (245 245). The balance (of both) will be in Specialist and supporting roles.

Consider 400 Foxhounds next, each with 4 dismounts. Recce and patrol and convoy protection aside, that would give you 3 Coys worth of infantry. Add the Mastiffs: we know that they yield 3 bns. Husky roll-out? Resupply and specialist roles?

So the hard core is 100-ish MBTs, 2 x 245 IFVs, more rocketry than SPGs and a minimal SAM protection for units on the move. We need to realise the minuscule scale this represents, and then plan around it… to provide the more mobile units (including those for early entry) around this hard core, for the various scenarios.

No UVs required? I beg to differ…

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 9, 2015 4:23 am


I am trying to work out if we agree or disagree? In my opinion the best re-organisation would see the Army with four Brigades as I originally stated. From each brigade you can deploy a number of Battlegroups of varying size, composition speed of entry. For example a Battlegroup built around a 8×8 Battalion can be deployed faster but could then be reinforced by the remainder of the Brigade arriving later. The formers smaller foot print would allow it to be up an running far faster, securing a foot hold and backing up and complimenting the light forces rapidly deployed such as elements of 16 Brigade. As each battalion has an integral recce element including ISTAR assets together with other air assets already in theatre, the formation(s) will have more than adequate situational awareness.

This is why obtaining a medium capability is so important. We need units that can effectively operate with both light and heavy formations. If the 8×8 Battalions include a FSV variant they would provide light units with effective direct fire support. More importantly they would provide an effective manoeuver force. Working with heavier units they again provide a rapid manoeuver force whilst the heavier units pin the opposition in place or roles could be reversed.

However to do this effectively needs the MoD to purchase an 8×8 with the right levels of mobility and protection, and flexible enough to be produced in the required number of variant, ideally a modular design such and Boxer or the AMV.

In fact if the Government and MoD had not bought into the US Army’s FCS pipe dream we could have gone into Afghanistan with Infantry battalions already equipped with the Boxer, seen how the Striker Brigades operated and studied the lessons learnt and evolved our own formations. Whether we would have ended up with Striker(UK) only Brigades or integrated the battalions into brigades with Armour and IFVs who knows?

So in my mind the trade off is not in the capabilities of a single platform, but rather trading off different platforms, in my case reducing the numbers of FRES(SV), Warrior and Challenger 2 and purchasing an effective 8×8 in addition to reducing the number of ineffective “Light role” infantry Battalions. For the latter I would retain;
1 Ranger Battalion (SF support)
3 Airmobile Battalions
4 Armoured Infantry Battalions.
8 Mechanised Battalions
5 Light Role Battalions (including one Battalion of Foot Guards).

To this we can also add the three Commandos giving the Army 24 Battalions. The last three would have an enlarged operational establishment filled out by TA/Reserves providing either a forth infantry company of increasing the number of platoons per company to four. This would in principal enable the Brigade to form nine to twelve company level manoeuvre groups built around an Armoured Troop, Infantry Company (Arm Inf or Mech) and a Recce Section (FRES(SV) or Foxhound) supported by other assets such as ATGW, Mortar and Fire Support Sections. This would provide the maximum flexibility and the combination of tracked and wheeled AFV would mean it would be able to control a substantially greater area then our current force structure.

In a nut shell then I am proposing that for the Army to be fit fir purpose it need to carry out a major restructuring and trading off numbers in certain capabilities to gain number in others.

July 9, 2015 8:24 am
in my case reducing the numbers of FRES(SV), Warrior and Challenger 2 and purchasing an effective 8×8 in addition to reducing the number of ineffective “Light role” infantry Battalions


We seem to be mainly in agreement, as proponents of medium capability. I don’t see it shaping as a medium force, as a bde would probably, in contrast to Herrick(s), be shipped as one, and the BGs formed “in the field” according to the changing needs.

About the quote, specifically, I did point out how “minuscule” the hard core is already, so trading in the mentioned platforms would not be my preferred option. If the other trade-off you mention is a must (given the overall constraints), so be it.

If we were to deploy along with the Americans, would you like the kind of jokes they coined in Iraq: The USMC had to be escorted to battle by Army tanks?

Also, going with the mentioned modular options, one could have cheap platforms for battle field taxi jobs and complex (not cheap) platforms for demanding jobs, all with a high degree of commonality (and economies of scale both in procuring them and in running them). Having said that, the “cheap” Boxer option has not yet materialised (nor has anyone ordered 6×6 AMVs).

Rocket Banana
July 9, 2015 10:16 am

I’m also a little confused as to who agrees with who ;-)

My stance is that the whole point in Warrior is to be able to keep up with (and go the same places as) Challenger. CVRT then provides the recce capability, again, with tracks so that it can actually go the places the rest of the force will go.

So really regardless of numbers and types we simply need three tracked brigades (with a fourth in maintenance).

So I think I agree with Lord Jim in that the other option is to say that we’ll go for a wheeled brigade or two that has reduced firepower but is more deployable. These brigades could actually follow on from the tracked brigades and form part of a logistics and supply bridge between the forward force and the trailing supply line/base.

Combining tracks and wheels just seems madness for the main spearhead… and that includes using wheels for recce in force (“fighting for information”).

July 9, 2015 10:40 am

ACC – I believe the unarmoured 4×4 MAN Support Vehicle/Cargo Vehicle cost us between £100k and £200k each? Something along those lines. (Rheinmetall won Australia’s LAND 121 3b competition at a price of £850m or so for 2500 vehicles; a mix of big & small, armoured and unarmoured. That’s an average of something like £340k each.) You could predict that a MAN-based light armoured personnel carrier (MAN’s armoured cab and a minimal blast/small arms protected shelter with blast impact attenuating seating on its back) might cost an extra £150k per truck assuming existing vehicles are modified. £250k-£350k each? Still not hugely capable off-road but at least support costs are low. Does that make a cheap battlefield taxi? Or would it be unreasonable to move personnel in these in hostile areas?

Is it better to look at proper APCs with good mobility and better protection? A well designed basic APC of around 14t ought to cost something like £500k-£600k (extra for comms, weapons and exotic armour solutions). Is that a cheap battlefield taxi? While the price might be higher than a truck & shelter, the tactical mobility and protection would be better and the profile lower – useful if trying to move behind cover.

Basic AMV at 20t costs around £1m, LordJim said. It is on the shelf, there are other users. But the light version (the one that can still swim, incidentally) has heavier, better protected, more expensive siblings equally ready for purchase. Even though the lighter option might make sound tactical sense, because the heavy versions look exactly the same the gutter-press would have a field-day if the MOD didn’t buy the heaviest most expensive best protected option. That would seem to put AMV back firmly in the Boxer class. Unlikely to be a cheap & cheerful battlefield taxi I suggest.

I favour the middle way – not a truck nor a heavyweight. But then I would because that’s exactly what I have designed.

July 9, 2015 11:09 am

Firstly, I have not been in the military but I am greatly fascinated by all of this. The Fres debacle is embarrassing but does highlight an issue with the MOD and possibly policy. If you want a AMV the market place is awash with them. All ready, off the shelf, no development cost, maybe a couple of tweeks but no more. Yet the last I remember is that the MOD has a ‘preferred bidder’!! What that seems to translate into is…this company will let us build these in the UK. The same can be highlighted with the Navy and their new multi mission frigate Type 26. Hundreds of millions of English military pounds will be spent researching and developing this, yet if they look over the channel, FREMM and MEKO is the same thing, ready and waiting to be purchased.
The issue is the must spend the money here argument.

Peter Elliott
July 9, 2015 11:43 am
Reply to  Dean

NAB would argue that the RN demands higher standards of survivability than other navies because it actually expects to send our ships to war.

Impossible to tell if this is either true or worthwhile unless or until a FREMM, a MEKO and a T26 get seriously beaten up. Not all designs that look equal really are. And those who know the secrets of, for instance the differences in protection between Leclerc and Challeger2, wont be telling.

The Falklands experience where our ‘cheap and cheerful’ or ‘good enough’ kit failed the test by costing lives will have informed a whole generation of procurement decisions. Snatch in The 2000s will only have reinforced the lesson.

Our European partners simply haven’t had those experiences because they’re much less inclined over the last 50 years to go in harms way. Could their kit do the job? Probably? Would it cost lives? Maybe? Would their public accept that trade-off? Almost certainly not.

Rocket Banana
July 9, 2015 11:54 am

Chris has hit the nail on the head.

What makes the best battlefied taxi?

Something that offers passenger protection and deployability but little else.

How much is the VBCI – VTT?

Also how many Foxhounds and Mastiffs do we have?

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
July 9, 2015 3:11 pm

@Simon – I think we will end up with 400 of each and the VBCI-VPC cost on Wiki is a smidgeon under GBP2 mil (at 2012 prices). So I would guess that the VTT is somewhere in that region, without a RWS. At 1:1 replacement for the Mastiffs and 1:2 replacement for the Foxhound (to keep roughly the same number of seats) that would be somewhere around GBP 1.2 billion to replace them all (sorry – US keyboard, so no pound sign)

Peter Elliott
July 9, 2015 3:31 pm

Sounds like a straight business case: cost of investment for UV vs commonality savings from reducing a zillion types of grunt taxi to one. Ruthless ;)

July 9, 2015 3:58 pm

Why would you replace the Foxhound? A Light brigade made up of Foxhounds, Jackals, Panthers and Husky would be very useful considering they can be underslung beneath a Chinook (although I can’t remember the Husky weight from the top of my head). To save money why not reduce the numbers of Infantry that have no transport and reduce our Mastiff fleet for logistic support and Talisman?
Another question is what will you use to replace the 43 series of vehicles within the armoured formations?

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
July 9, 2015 3:59 pm
Reply to  Think Defence

True – but in an lbs sense – a 1.2 billion # requirement would seem a rather weighty proposition ;)

Oh – and I forgot 160 Ridgebacks (so add another GBP320 mil for those) and 125 Wolfhounds (which probably wouldn’t be replaced, as I don’t think the VBCI would work particularly well as a logistics vehicle or artillery tractor)

The Other Chris
July 9, 2015 4:06 pm

Try Alt 156 (hold Alt while typing in 156, then release Alt) for a £ symbol.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
July 9, 2015 4:12 pm

@DN – agree with you on that one – the smaller protected vehicles would seem to be rather valuable assets. Personally I think it makes sense to have a heavy/ medium/ light weight mix, to provide all-round capability , rather than getting too focused on any specific area.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
July 9, 2015 4:24 pm

@TOC – thanks for the suggestion – I tried a few combinations to no avail – I think the alt-codes only work with a number pad, not the ones along the top of the keyboard (and guess what I don’t have on my super-whizzy compact touchpad bluetooth keyboard :)).

Finally remembered the character map in accessories (which I don’t think I’ve used since Windows 3.1) – so here it is in all it’s glory ££££££.

Rocket Banana
July 9, 2015 4:39 pm

The title of this thread is about trade-offs. So I assume having a heavy/medium/light spread is not allowed.

I suppose the point I was making is that we have Foxhound and Cougar/Mastiff so we may as well use them. They’re armoured to the medium level (RPG, IED and HMG) and have wheels so everyone should be happy.

…or are we suggesting we should ditch perfectly good kit (which has also demonstrated its value in Afghanistan) and buy into a more rounded medium weight 8×8 fleet?

By the way, no one rose to my “which is the best battlefield taxi” question :-(

July 9, 2015 4:54 pm

Simon – I though I did? Nice bespoke (that’s ‘custom’ in American English) 15t-ish wheeled APCs just like those I have a design for. Not trucks & shelters, not expensive heavyweights. But that assumes (as I scribbled a long way up-thread) that there are *also* heavyweights and basic people-movers in the fleet as well, so that Command can use the most appropriate transport for the situation in hand.

Peter Elliott
July 9, 2015 4:54 pm

Like I said Simon the best battlefield taxi (that meets protection requirements) is the cheapest to own AND operate: straight business case.

Happy to keep Foxhound for the light brigades, or anything else for the Medium if the business case to replace it doesn’t fly. It actually is all about money for this one tbh.

A Caribbean Perspective
A Caribbean Perspective
July 9, 2015 5:02 pm

@Simon – Fair point about the trade-offs, but I think the current situation is an example of that.

From what others have said I get the impression that the armoured trucks are a bit knackered, but we don’t really have the cash available to replace them at the moment, so the Army has had to keep them going, rather than replace them. Once the magic money spout comes back round to the Army, I think they will happily replace the trucks with 8x8s.

re: the best battlefield taxi – I actually quite like the French offerings – VBCI for the medium role and ACMAT Bastions for light (but keep the Foxhounds etc)

July 9, 2015 5:10 pm

The trade off is a reduction in Infantry numbers (which we do not have the capability to support already) and possibly a small reduction of armoured capability to pay for a 432/Bulldog replacement and a true medium weight capability with more utility over the full spectrum of conflict rather than the Mastiff.

Peter Elliott
July 9, 2015 5:19 pm

Politics comes into it. OsCam have committed to 82,000 Army headcount.

I think we all believe light role infantry should be liquidated to support force troops for 16x and 3x but let’s face it Tory backbenchers will eat babies to save a cap badge so I guess we’re stuck with a futile infantry tail.

The Other Chris
July 9, 2015 5:33 pm

Does a Cap Badge have to remain a light infantry Badge?

July 9, 2015 5:35 pm

Which cap badges did you have in mind? Tank corps? Army Air Corps?

Rocket Banana
July 9, 2015 5:50 pm


So what’s the difference between your 15t APC and a Cougar/Ridgeback or a Mastiff if we add a little to the weight?

They are only the weight they are because they have to be that weight to provide the protection necessary (along with the gubbins to make their wheels go round).

Peter Elliott
July 9, 2015 6:39 pm

If you were designing a force structure for 82,000 warm bodies to meet current threats would you have as many light role inf battalions as we currently have…?

July 9, 2015 7:07 pm

The title of this thread is about trade-offs. So I assume having a heavy/medium/light spread is not allowed
… Simon, the efficient frontier in portfolio theory always has a little bit of everything…. it is the percentages that you solve for

No one rose to the battlefield taxi question? Need to read up-thread: I was suggesting a 6 x 6 AMV, plain and simple, no extras exc. the comms for “awareness” and a hatch with an MG mount, should you need to cover getting out/ back in

July 9, 2015 7:51 pm

Simon – ref “what’s the difference between your 15t APC and a Cougar/Ridgeback or a Mastiff” – more wheels, much less ground pressure, more hp/t, mobility better than Jackal, lower profile. Yes sometimes weight and protection go together, but there are some natty methods to get better than expected protection in lighter vehicles* – Bushmaster is an example, or RG31/Mamba. Plus the technology used enables many very different configurations while using largely common subsystems.

*Note that I do not claim Mastiff levels of IED (or related homebrewed device) protection, the point is that the mobility should be used to avoid travelling proscribed high-risk routes. It is after all a 15t APC not a 24t mobile pill-box.

July 9, 2015 8:39 pm
Reply to  Chris

Chris, as someone who has worked on both the SV and L121 programmes, your price for the 4×4 is about right. The L121 vehicle price you quote is skewed by the fact that over 30 percent of the vehicles come with inter grated arourmed cabs and a C4I installation that would make a “bleep” drool. Armoured boxes are available and have been supplied to a another military for EOD use. It is however a B vehicle, and as such a large amount of its wiring, pneumatics and fluid lines are not under any form of armour. Therefore if is takes a hit, the vehicle will probably be disabled. it is more about saving lives than keeping the vehicle going. As TD says at the very beginning, it is a trade off. The Crew cab shown on the SX45 hook loader was for the Bundeswehr after a bus running troops to the airport got hit. With out wishing to sound crass, it is all about the body bag count and minimising the amount of flag draped coffins coming out the back of a C17.
Let’s just hope that we don’t have to experience that almost weekly occurrence for a long time to come.

July 10, 2015 8:23 am

If we cannot reduce infantry then could the trade off be that we approach the Americans and see if they have ant Strykers going spare? It’s not going to cost as much as new even if we had them put through the double V hull upgrade. The US are cutting BCT’s so there might be enough for a couple of brigades to equip our forces with all the variants required. It could in a world with unicorns and pixie dust allow us to replace the 432’s within the armoured brigades with a version of the Scout SV PMRS.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
July 10, 2015 4:52 pm


Having thought about what you have said, would I be right in thinking your train of thought would result in an equivalent of the French 6×6 VAB but using modern materials and incorporating some of the lessons learned over the past decade or so. This sort of platform would be ideal for a generic Battle Taxi. In addition given to large number of variants that were developed from the VAB, a modern equivalent would lend itself to replacing a large number of platform within the UK Army. What is interesting is that the French are also looking for a new platform to replace the large number of VABs currently in service, and providing support platforms for the VBCI units. Do you think co-operating with the French who a pretty good and medium light AFVs could be the way forward.

Looking at the organisation (provisional) for the light and heavy protected mobility battalions, both have 50 vehicles with the former using Foxhounds and the latter using Mastiffs. The latter does also have an Recce platoon of 8 CVR(T)s whereas the former uses a Foxhound variant. Manpower is the big difference with the Former containing 581 in all ranks and the latter 708, the difference being small infantry platoons. Basically in the Light battalions each platoon is made up of four Foxhounds each carrying a four man Infantry fire team. This makes the light mobility battalions light in equipment, fire power and numbers and appears to be a purely budget driven organisation.

Under FF2020 the Army will have the following Infantry Battalions in the following roles;
6x Armoured Infantry
3x Heavy Protected Mobility
6x Light Protected Mobility
12x Light Role Infantry
2x Parachute
3x Public Duties.
TOTAL: 32 Battalions

Of these half are in 1st (UK) Division comprising 6 Brigades. This is too many and where trade offs should be made. I can just about see a viable role for the Light Protected Mobility battalions and the three associated Light Cavalry Regiments (Jackal and Coyote), but half are still Light Role Battalions!

If we turn to the to be formed 3rd (UK) Division, its three Brigades seem too large, being five battalions each, and too heavy. Do they need the Heavy Protected Mobility Battalion or even the Heavy Cavalry Regiment. In the case of the latter I think not as both the Armoured and Armoured Infantry units have a recce platoon with 8 vehicles which will be FRES(SV), giving 24 in each Brigade. Reducing the Brigades to 1 x Armoured, 1 x Armoured Infantry and 2 x Mechanised Brigades, but giving each a recce platoon would give each Brigades 16x FRES(SV) and 16 Foxhound recce variants. In addition the Brigade would have other ISTAR assets at both Brigade and Battalion level, so I think is would have situational awareness covered. At a push you could give FRES(SV) to the Mechanised units but this would restrict their in theatre mobility as they would need transporters to relocate.

So to trade offs etc. Well I like Chris’s idea of a cost effective battle taxi. So I would use it to equip a total of eight Infantry battalions from 1st (UK) Div, creating 2 Brigades. I would retain four battalions as Light Role and this would include the three Battalions of Foot Guards. The fourth Battalion would be stations in Cyprus and rotate this role with Battalions from the two Mechanised Brigades. These means the disbandment of 4 Light Role Battalions plus the three Light Cavalry Regiments as each unit in each Brigade will have integral recce units.

With the restructuring of 3rd (UK) Div. the current 3 Heavy Cavalry Regiments would be disbanded and three of the Armoured Infantry and the three Heavy Protected Mobility Battalions being restructured as Mechanised Infantry Battalions.

This cuts the regular Army by ten Regiments/Battalions and removes three Brigade Headquarters. It would also possibly lead to either a reduction in the nineteen regular Support Regiments with some transferring to the reserves to supplement the existing four. These reductions in manpower and equipment including a reduction in the FRES(SV) programme and Warrior/Challenger 2 sustainment programmes, could free up funding for the purchase of FRES(UV) and a 6×6. This restructuring would hinder persistent operations on the scale of Afghanistan, but my crystal ball point to the future being the deployment of battalions based Battlegroups, being reinforced form other brigade assets when required. Ultimately the UK would be able to deploy a full division in exceptional circumstances, but again by selecting assets from the Rapid Reaction, Reactive and Adaptive formations this could be tailored to specific mission requirements.

As I said in my initial post, I think looking a trade offs in individual requirements avoids the bigger picture and it is here as I have tried to show, trade offs in manpower etc. could possibly make a big difference.

July 10, 2015 5:37 pm

The problem is adaptability perhaps not quantity. We didn’t need MRAPs in Kuwait, Iraq 2003, Sierra Leone, Kosovo etc., but they were essential in long-term CI operations – after all they were invented in South Africa/Rhodesia, and some sort of MRAPPy things were needed in NI and of course in Iraq and Afrghanistan from 2003-present. We did need IFVs/APCs in Kuwait and Iraq etc. – so maybe we need a chassis that can be rapidly adapted when we know what kind of war we are fighhting. A good chassis (preferably designed by Germans) with a 3D printer maybe?

July 10, 2015 5:56 pm

A 3D printed universal vehicle?
If you want to eclipse the FRES shenanigans, that’s just what you should go for.

July 10, 2015 5:59 pm

Hang about – I’m not German

Lord Jim – ref our French neighbours – they have it seems decided upon their VAB replacement:

The Griffon it says is 20-24t, 6×6 with independent wishbone (A-frame for our American readers) suspension and at least front & rear wheel steering – I can’t tell if the centre axle steers too or not. The crew compartment is high off the ground, with just the top of the wheelarches pushing through the floor, but the dismounts do sit directly above the rear two axles it appears. This will have an effect on passenger blast resilience. The 3D graphic shows a largely flat floor above the suspension & driveline, again not ideal against blast, but there is always the possibility that there is a blast dissipating/deflecting structure in reality that the company chose not to show. Of course its made in France just like every other bit of French military equipment. Good for them for looking after their own industrial base.

I can’t be sure because I haven’t done a detailed analysis, but I think the Griffon is considerably taller than my design, possibly longer. It is heavier but that goes with the size, so protection levels may be much the same. In videos of the early vehicles being put through their paces the handling is effective but wallowy – like a very big 2CV which is I suppose as Gallic as you would expect.

July 10, 2015 6:38 pm

“This will have an effect on passenger blast resilience. ”
Nicely stuffed cushions needed
I always did like the 2CV , simplistic engineering but just right If you get my meaning in terms of fit for purpose considering it inception date and market place. I first truly admired It when tasked with putting one back together at school when after being informed by my older brother you could take it apart with a very basic set of tools my friends and I dismantled our Pottery teachers car as a birthday ‘prank’ at lunchtime, we were inevitably caught and ordered to undo our work under the supervision of the metal shop teacher ( an ex-RAF Sergeant who flew in the BoB amongst other battles, fingers and parts of his face to prove it ) I owed a 2CV as a teenager , roll top version. I thought It was cool anyway.

July 11, 2015 7:11 am

It might help to remember that since WW2 the Brit Army has never had more than two armoured brigades, ie brigades where tank battalions outnumber infantry battalions.

In a brigade all the infantry have to be the same, anything else severely constrains operational flexibility and inhibits what is possible.

Outside COIN it is well established that the moment you have less that one DS battery per manoeuvre battalion then you are heading up shit creek sans paddle. The great historical UK weakness, back to the year dot has been insufficient OP parties/FSTs/whatever you want to call them, anything less than one per tk sqn/inf coy is criminal negligence, and they should be mounted in the same way as the sub-unit they support, although tank mounted FST/OPs have cons as well as pros, and the cons may now outweigh the pros. GS arty, eg GMLRS, etc, CB/CM radars, UAS, etc is in addition.

There also has to be sufficient AD arty to provide close protection to the manoeuvre battalions (tk & inf), and an area AD capability. Close protection AD needs to be appropriately mounted. Ideally FST and close AD vehicles should be the same platforms as the units they are supporting because this simplifies forward EME support.

Towed 105mm is the only viable gun for light brigades (until reality strikes and a towed 125ish mm appears). 155mm SP is the only realistic weapon for DS of tk/armd inf units. Btys should be 8 guns, large btys are essential when you are not planning to deploy a divisional or larger deployment, which enables effective massing of fire.

Arty ammo must be the right types and quantities, which has significant logistic implications because arty ammo is the main logistic load. If there is an enemy that may be able to mass armour, then SADARM/BONUS etc become mission critical for DS of infantry.