Those new fangled Strike Brigades

Does anyone know what they will look like?

I ask because there seems to be a dearth of released information, this doesn’t, of course, mean the information is not there, it means it has not been published.

That hasn’t stopped the speculation and doom-mongers mind.

What is mildly concerning though is that this is the latest re-organisation in a long line of re-organisations, each of which is accompanied by a truckload of acronyms and management buzzwordery, but ultimately are replaced a few years later.

All through the FRES debacle, the concept of the Medium Weight Force has waxed and waned but the Strike brigade concept looks very much like it. In fact, as many concepts have been, it is based on the availability of vehicles.

The vehicles we have dictated organisational concepts rather than the other way around.

The 1998 Future Army Structure (FAS) saw the end of the Arms Plot, reorganisation into twelve larger Regiments and an overall reduction to infantry 36 Battalions, per Future Infantry Structure (FIS).

It was to be in place by 2008 and would comprise two armoured brigades, three mechanised, one light and one air assault.

2- 3 – 2

The Medium/Mechanised Brigades were planned to make use of the emerging FRES concept.

As Defence Strategic Guidance had informed the Future Land Operational Concept, this Future Land Operational Concept would be used to inform Future Army Structure (Next Steps), in early 2009.

The Future Land Operating Concept (FLOC) from 2008 described a slightly different future;

Major combat operations will be characterised by the deployment of ‘high-end’ military capability against a broadly matched, conventional adversary. The land component of such a force will probably be of at least divisional size, and operations will feature fire and manoeuvre at formation level.

This resulted in a proposal for a three-tier structure, heavy, medium and light.

Heavy; An all-arms heavy major combat operations capability needs to be retained to counter the re-emergence of state-centred conventional threats that base their offensive fighting power on mass and manoeuvre. Sufficient core expertise, firepower, protected mobility and mass should be maintained, albeit at levels of readiness agreed by Government, within readiness planning yardsticks, in the event of the unexpected and as seed corn for regeneration. In addition, these forces provide a substantial deterrent to would-be aggressors, as well as the explicit capacity for overmatch in relation to irregular opponents. Consequently, these forces need to be progressively modernised and proactive in responding to novel technologies that could enhance capabilities while remaining aware of significant antiarmour and anti-manoeuvre capabilities available in the commercial market.

Medium; Land forces will be required to achieve early effect across a range of complex, and frequently occurring, scenarios. This requirement will necessitate an increase in Land forces flexibility and the development of forces capable of rapid deployment, yet with integral firepower and levels of protection that are matched to the likely threat. These are described as ‘medium forces’ in this paper and they are characterised, in part, by their air deployability. Medium forces will need higher levels of mobility and protection than currently available to ‘light’ forces as well as greater deployability and agility than ‘heavy’ forces. The acquisition of an integrated suite of modern platforms, and the streamlining of some existing capabilities, will increase current Land forces capability to respond to crises. The Joint Medium Weight Capability (JtMWCap) concept highlights how this capability can be progressed; exploiting the capabilities of wider joint assets and scaled for rapid deployment, recovery and re-allocation. The Land core of JtMWCap must be capable of strategic movement by air and sustained ground manoeuvre, exploiting the advantages of firepower, mobility, increased levels of FP and access to wide area and specific ISTAR. Additional support from battlefield helicopters, joint fires, robust, networked Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) and optimised logistics should allow a reduced expeditionary overhead, and connectivity with allies. tMWCap Land forces should be designed primarily for rapid intervention potentially within urban terrain, with the adaptability to meet other Land priorities and be directly applicable to major combat operations.

Light; The speed of response of light forces will add flexibility to the national contingent capability. Better suited towards operations in complex terrain, as part of an all arms grouping, light force capability and mobility is continually developing. For strategic deployability, light forces will rely on the provision of theatre entry capabilities by land and sea, but light force elements will have to be trained, equipped and resourced appropriately if they are to be launched into volatile operations from high readiness. It will be increasingly challenging to provide the FP and protected mobility requirements for light forces in high intensity stabilisation tasks. Migrating SF capabilities and developing threats will necessitate a review of training, equipment and structures

The FLOC 2008 did recognise that it might not be possible to maintain a force capable of large-scale combat operations and smaller operations on an enduring basis. It made the assumption that enduring operations would be much more likely than major combat operations at a large scale.

FAS (Next Steps), therefore, came out of a recognition that the future would likely not be characterised by major combat operations but instead, operations characterised by enduring operations such as the then Iraq and Afghanistan would be much more likely.

The Army had to choose, and it chose enduring operations like Afghanistan and Iraq.

The resultant organisation was called the Multi Role Brigade.

It envisaged 8 identical Brigades and 3 deployable Divisional HQ’s, each larger than a conventional Brigade and broadly configured for enduring operations like Iraq or Afghanistan

Clearly, the underlying thread was to ensure sustainability for a long term operations with each Brigade deploying for 6 months every 3 years. From the existing brigade/divisional that defines the function of a Brigade as armoured, light role or mechanised the Multi Role Brigade would be homogenous.

The 2010 SDSR described the MRB’s thus;

We will restructure the Army around five multi-role brigades, keeping one brigade at high readiness available for an intervention operation and four in support to provide the ability to sustain an enduring stabilisation operation. Key to the utility of these multi-role brigades is their “building block” structure, allowing greater choice in the size and composition of the force that might be deployed, without having to draw on other elements from the rest of the Army as has been the case in recent times. With suitable warning time, the brigades could be combined to generate a larger formation.

The multi-role brigades will include Reconnaissance forces to gain information even in high-threat situations; Tanks, which continue to provide a unique combination of protection, mobility and firepower; and Infantry operating from a range of protected vehicles.

The brigades will be self-supporting, having their own artillery, engineer, communications, intelligence, logistics and medical support. Territorial Army personnel will be fully integrated into the new structures, in both specialist roles and reinforcing combat units.

In addition to the historic pattern of enduring operations the influencing factor in the MRB concept was that in those same operations a range of capabilities had been used, from heavy armour to light infantry including artillery, engineers and the other enabling functions. When these other capabilities had been used they had been pulled in from all over the Army, creating disruption and upsetting established rotation patterns.

So it was these factors that informed the creation of the Multi Role Brigade; sustainability within harmony guidelines, likely operations and reduction in disruption.

Each Multi Role Brigade (MRB) was planned to consist of 6,500 personnel and comprise a mixture of an armoured regiment, brigade reconnaissance regiment, armoured infantry battalion, mechanised infantry battalion, light role infantry battalion and a cast of supporting functions. The Combat Support functions such as artillery have also started the transformation process with RA Close Support Regiments, for example, likely to comprise both Light Gun and AS90.

In 2012, I wrote;

What I find hardest to understand in this is exactly how it is going to be achieved with 82,000 regular soldiers. The SDSR based 5 MRB’s on a total Army number of 95,500, not 82,000.

So when the Army was reduced to 82,000 Regular personnel, FAS(Next Steps) and the MRB was simply not viable.

The answer was Army 2020, informed by a new Future Land Operating Concept in 2012.

This video from 2011 made it clear MRB was not long for these shores

Recognise who that is!

FLOC 2012 provided the underpinning for Army 2020, where the prevailing view in 2008 on was that enduring stabilisation operations would be the norm as the Afghanistan deployment was moving toward the end, the Army saw a different future.

A future without the Army.

FLOC 2012 recognised the fundamental uncertainty of the future and proposed a framework for Army 2020. The manoeuvre approach was back and the future was back, in some measure, to the concepts and ideas that would be familiar to those of a BAOR vintage.

The Three Month Exercise concluded that an Army of 82,000 Regular and 30,000 Reservists would be the new baseline.

2010 National Security Strategy described a new Priority One Risk;

An international military crisis between states, drawing in the UK, and its allies as well as other states and non-state actors

The Army, therefore, tried to organise itself on the simple principle that it was not Mystic Meg.

Army 2020 was revealed in July 2012 and described the future of the structure of the British Army; two years after the Multi Role Brigades were described as the future.

Army 2020 was clear about its backdrop;

It can no longer be assumed that the Army will be permanently engaged on an enduring stabilisation operation.

A series of amalgamations and disbandment’s followed and the organisation changed, again, into two forces; a Reaction Force and an Adaptive Force, that were both to be supported by CS/CSS Force Troops.

The Reaction Force will provide the lead Armoured Infantry Battle Group and the lead Airborne or Air Assault Force to provide a rapid reaction war fighting/deterrent capability.

It will consist of three Armoured Infantry Brigades and 16 Air Assault Brigade under the command of a divisional headquarters. Each Armoured Infantry Brigade will have three manoeuvre units: a type 56 tank regiment and two armoured infantry battalions. They will also have a heavily protected mobility infantry battalion and an armoured cavalry regiment which will be able to task organise with intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.

The Reaction Forces will also have 101 Logistic Brigade under their command for logistic support.

The Adaptable Force will be a pool of Regular and Reserve forces held at lower readiness. They will provide further capacity when required and be able to generate additional brigade-sized forces for enduring operations. However, more routinely these soldiers will carry out wider engagement overseas to help to build capacity in friendly nations’ armies, and fulfil the UK’s standing garrison tasks in Brunei, Cyprus and the Falkland Islands. In addition, these troops will be responsible for public duties and state ceremonial tasks.

Adaptable Forces will encompass seven Regular infantry brigades, paired with a Reserve unit, reporting to a divisional headquarters. How these paired forces will be deployed will depend on the operational requirement, but the Reserves could make up as much as 30 percent of a deployed unit in an enduring operation, whereas simple operations could have the Reserves deployed as a complete battalion.

Like the Reaction Force, the Adaptable Force will have its own logistic support provided by 102 Logistic Brigade, which will be predominantly made up of Reserve troops.

Force Troops will support both of these forces. They will consist of an Artillery brigade with supplementary Fire Support Teams, and an Engineer Brigade that will integrate the Explosive Ordinance Disposal squadron in response to the improvised explosive device threat of the modern battlefield. It will also include the Medical Brigade, and 104 Logistic Support Brigade, which might take on the Joint Force Logistic Support role.

In addition, there will be two Signals brigades, one of which will include five multi-role signals regiments providing Information Communication Support, together with a newly created non-deployable Surveillance Brigade under a 1-star headquarters. Furthermore, there will be a newly created Security Assistance Group pulling together the soft effect capabilities of the Military Stabilisation Support Group, 15 Psychological Operations Group and potentially Media Operations Group.

At the time, Ukraine, Crimea and ISIS were not on the political map so the Army found a new interest in ‘homeland resilience and security’

Army 2020 saw a proliferation of sub-unit types that were based entirely upon what vehicles could be found, post-Afghanistan.

Armoured Infantry Battalion and Armoured Regiments were joined by Armoured Cavalry Regiments, Heavy Protected Mobility Battalions, Light Cavalry Regiments and Protected Mobility Battalions.

Army 2020 was always work in progress and over the next couple of years the structure established itself, the goal was still the same, maintain mass in the areas that are the hardest to generate if they go i.e. combined arms manoeuvre at divisional scale, whilst trying to stave off conflict with ‘upstream engagement’ that as a by-product, would provide the rotational mass for any future enduring stability operation.

This provided an ability to generate force by picking and choosing to suit the operation, without the constraints of the homogenous Multi Role Brigade.

In June and September 2014 the Public Accounts Committee and National Audit Office released reports on progress towards Army 2020, neither made pleasant reading.

Both drew into sharp focus that the Army had no Plan B, should Plan A (for Army Reserve) fail.

Army 2020 was still a sound concept, derived from a great deal of analysis, but the widely published difficulty of increasing the Army Reserve strength was causing a great deal of concern, the concept would be held at risk if the Army Reserve recruitment and sustainment drive foundered.

French operation in Mali showed the value of a deployable force that could operate across large areas, after it’s problems with FRES UV, the British Army green eyed monster was out.

At the same time as the well-publicised Army reserve problems, Russia decided to upset the global apple cart with its shenanigans in Ukraine.

With the two in perfect harmony, and with Mali and US Stryker Brigade deployment exercises in Europe as a convenient backdrop, SDSR described a new Army organisation;

4.40 We will be able to deploy a larger force more quickly. By 2025, this highly capable expeditionary force of around 50,000 (compared with around 30,000 planned in Future Force 2020) will include:

A maritime task group centred on a Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier with F35 Lightning combat aircraft.

A land division with three brigades including a new Strike Force.

An air group of combat, transport and surveillance aircraft.

A Special Forces task group

So, a Land Division with three Brigades including a new Strike Force is the new future.

A war-fighting division optimised for high-intensity combat operations. The division will draw on two armoured infantry brigades and two new Strike Brigades to deliver a deployed division of three brigades. We will establish these two Strike Brigades to be able to deploy rapidly over long distances using the new Ajax armoured vehicles and new mechanised infantry vehicles. They will double the number of brigades ready for operations. With these and 16 Air Assault Brigade’s very high readiness forces, we will improve our ability to respond to all likely threats.


A number of infantry battalions reconfigured to provide an increased contribution to countering terrorism and building stability overseas. They will conduct defence engagement and capacity building, providing training, assistance, advice and mentoring to our partners

Defence engagement and capacity building sounds very much like the lightest possible organisation i.e. without vehicles, is that being cynical?

But what of the Strike Brigades?

The Strike Brigade goes all the way back to FLOC 2008 and the Joint Medium Weight Capability, the father of FRES.

Funnily enough, it is widely believed that the Strike Brigade will have the yet to be obtained Mechanised Infantry Vehicle at its core and leavened with Ajax vehicles, mixing tracks and wheels to produce a medium-weight force.

Patria AMX VP

Force generation, readiness and equipment challenges remain somewhat of a challenge, there are many moving chess pieces on the table and Ajax, at 30 plus tonnes is not going to be deploying anywhere quickly.

We can all start speculating about where these Strike Brigades will be drawn, what they will be equipped with and how we are all doomed, but it is clear that the clock has been wound back and we intend, after many bites of the cherry, to get a FRESalike Medium Weight force.

The Army will change as it has done numerous times and who knows if Joint Force 2020 will be replaced by something else in the 2020 SDSR.

The original FRES idea was for a bulging medium weight force buttressed by a smaller and heavier force. We are not quite there with this announcement, the heavy (armoured) and strike (medium mechanised) would seem to be in harmony, and given that we can’t afford the vehicles, the lightweight force will be larger than the others combined.

However, Army 2020 was a smart concept resulting from a great deal of serious thinking, recognition of uncertainty and the difficulty of force generation problems. There ws risk, and it may not be funded, but as a conceptual starting point, more than sound.

Link this with some of the work on medium weight concepts and a 2 Heavy, 2 Medium and 4 Light Brigade construct starts sounding like a very good proposition, yes, I said 4 Light brigades.

FAS was to take 10 years, starting in 1998. It lasted about that long before it was replaced with FAS (Next Steps)

FAS (Next Steps) and SDSR 2010 introduced the Multi Role Brigade that lasted until 2012, when it was replaced with Army 2020.

Army 2020 was to take eight years but only lasted until SDSR 2015 described Joint Force 2025 and a ten-year journey to the new Strike Brigades.

Stop the bus, I want to get off!

Who would have thought that it was Russia that provided the impetus for Future FRES, or FFRES as I like to call it :)

To be continued.




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Paul Robinson
Paul Robinson
November 27, 2015 10:10 pm

Just to upset the apple cart and confuse the sums we’ve been doing on our fingers and toes, – does this take into account the troops attached to the NATO and EU “Rapid Reaction Forces”, Naval Standing Forces, detached sailors to French, US, and other ships, the Fleet Air Arm boys with their choppers on French ships at moment (i probably get more on that in my e mail, due to bilingual subscriptions to other defence sites, than most folk). Too many “great ideas” and small unit integrations, collaborations, etc, etc, that will probably confuse the sums even more, if not with withdrawn from these all arms, all nations groupings, for British forces. Creative accounting seems to be used as ever, counting all these forces as available, despite being already committed to other multinational units. I’ll bow to your better information to me good sir, but as said, read so much in French defence sites about Brit forces embedded in other European and NATO units, that makes me think our stretched forces, are being counted twice, when already committed, yet to MOD still available for independent british use. Getting to stage where confusticating meself. Hope made some sense.

Mike W
November 27, 2015 10:31 pm


TD, these new Strike Brigades have been described in the Press as being “self-supporting”. Unless I am being very naive, that presumably means they will have their own integral supporting units: “artillery, engineer, communications, intelligence, logistics and medical support” etc. etc. (Extract from the 2010 SDSR describing the then proposed Multi-Role Brigades).

Are we then, as far as a part of the Army is concerned, back to the idea of the Multi-Role Brigades? If we are to have more integrated all-arms brigades, these would avoid the disruption you describe as being caused by pulling capabilities in from all over the Army and also avoid “upsetting established rotation patterns”. There would be greater cohesiveness and integration, wouldn’t there? Or am I exaggerating the whole thing?

Also, have only just seen Paul Robinson’s comments but how much I agree with them!

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 27, 2015 10:32 pm

As it stands with one Armoured and one Infantry Brigade becoming Strike Brigades, just a fancy name for Mechanised surely, it will leave the army with several uncommitted RA,RE,RLC,RAMC,REME Regiments/Battalions if one of the remaining 6 Infantry Brigades is not deployable. It also causes problems for the usual rule of needing 5 to keep 1 deployed, as the total number of deployable Brigades drops from 7 to 6.
It just smells like a chance to cut by Stealth again, removing AS90,Challenger 2 elements which reduce to merely 2 Regiments of each. If the Light Gun is used in place of AS90 that leaves the RA in the ridiculous situation of having 5 Light Gun Regiments to only 2 AS90.

November 27, 2015 11:01 pm

the concept of the Medium Weight Force has waxed and waned but the Strike brigade concept looks very much like it. In fact, as many concepts have been, it is based on the availability of vehicles.

TD, you summed it up quite well. Just a couple of things to add:
– it was about the time (finally)
– the balance within land forces is more related to the threats picture than in decades
– and, it is not just the availability of vehicles, it is to protect the contracts/ plans. E.g the support contract for Mastiff and its numerous relatives was granted in 2014 for 2+5 years. So, 6 years from now we might have the MIV transition in full swing (for an off-the-shelf purchase, one might add!). The secret is not in the difficulty of getting a suitable MIV, it is in how to eat your cake and keep it, too. The mentioned vehicle family will just be transitioned to new users with a perfectly good need, but the tactical units will be in place and trained for acting as part of strike bdes, or a larger (armoured/ mech.) entity. Even the Germans started training with wooden mock-up tanks on car chassis (in 1933… they got quite far in 6 years).

Peter Elliott
November 27, 2015 11:30 pm

Unless the new look armoured brigades are more tank and gun heavy than the existing. It’s possible the same number of Challenger squadrons and AS90 batteries just get task orged from 3 into 2? The Mech Infantry converts to MIV releasing Warriors for conversion to get the last of the Bulldog variants out. Dont assume a 2025 armoured brigade looks the same as a 2015 or 2020 one…

Might the ‘spare’ CS and CSS from the downgraded line infantry brigade be used to backfill missing capabilities in 3x and 14x? ISTR that in SDSR 10 these lost the ability to deploy at brigade strength and were reduced to generating a VHR battle group each. Getting our elite light inf back to true brigade strength seems a legitimate use of resource to me.

November 28, 2015 3:32 am


Armoured Infantry brigades for high intensity ops, seems reasonable. Except if they are 1 x Chally MBT / Heavy Cav with 3 x Warrior battalions that is a loss of another tank Regiment.

No where does it say a Strike Brigade (stupidest name ever invented) is to be “self deployable by road” so rapid deployment of some units, and less rapid deployment of others from the brigade could be by air, road, rail, or most Likely of all in a global context, by ship.

So a weird amalgam of Ajax FRES tracked medium armour, maybe 2 battalions of MIV and 1 of Mastiff ? Would the Strike Brigades Medium Cav Recce Regiment include Squadrons on Jackal 2 as well as Ajax, because these could self deploy by road, or be more easily delivered by air transport ?

If a Strike Brigade is going to have any firepower then the MIV best be something like the VBCI 2 IFV variant with 40mm CTA / 2 x ATGW but only 6 dismounts. These Brigades are also going to need something a bit niftier than towed 105mm light gun !!

A little judicious investment could make this structure viable but I don’t see it being forthcoming :-(

November 28, 2015 5:23 am

You guys seem to be interested in their TO&E, whereas I am interested in whether the Brits have come up with some doctrinal innovation.

I suppose not; “Strike brigades” sounds as buzzword-y to me as “unit of action” did. Those brigades will probably not even share a common TO&E.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 28, 2015 6:39 am

In my deal world, the current planned do have possibilities and could result in the following.
2 Heavy Brigades each with an enlarged Armoured Regiment with Challenger 2 (4 Sqns instead of 3), a Cavalry Regiment with Ajax, two Armoured Infantry Battalions with Warrior Mk2 and an integral Artillery Regiment with AS90 and GMLRS.

2 Medium “Strike” Brigades each with four Battalions of Mechanised Infantry in MIVs and an Artillery Regiment with towed M777 155mm. Each Battaion would be made up of a Direct Fire Support Company with a MIV equipped with a 40mm CTA and two heavy ATGW. Three Infantry Companies with a MIV equipped with a RWS with either a 12.7mm HMG or 40mm AGL and a Support Company equipped with both a 81mm mortar equipped MIV and APC variants carrying the Battalions SFMG and light AD sections. The M777 would be towed by a MIV variant carrying the crew and initial ammunition and supported by a ammunition carrying variant.

1 Air Mobile Brigade with four Airmobile Infantry battalions and Airmobile Artillery Regiment equipped with 105mm Light Guns. The Air Mobile Infantry would have a Recce Section equipped with Jackals as well as the option to deploy their Support Company and ATGW teams on either Jackals or a similar platform. The Artillery would also be able to deploy a light platform to tow their 105mm if needed.

Each Brigade would have an integral Logistics and Engineering Regiments and the Brigade Headquarters would contain the formations ISTAR and Higher level Signals units. At Divisional Level their would be additional Logistics support and additional ASTAR assets such as Watchkeeper but these can be tasked to Brigade level as needed.

From the above the UK could deploy a Heavy Division and a Rapid Reaction Airmobile Brigade, whilst retaining a Medium Brigade tasked with home defence, supporting the Light Role Brigades. It is the latter that I think are going to feel the knife. As has been suggested else where these formations could possible loose their heavy weapons and manpower as their role is redefined. Whether whole Battalions disappear is going to depend on the inevitable battle of the Cap Badges.

The Army has ten years to bring in this reorganisation and ensure the right kit is brought into service. The time frame is probably driven mainly by the availability of funding to purchase the new kit, especially sufficient MIVs, but it is possible if the structure remain stable and no major new ideas are developed by the top level or major events shift priorities.

November 28, 2015 9:46 am

Meh look how many re-orgs there were in BAOR. They’re political, and the name is a political choice that will eventually fade away. I’m looking forward to seeing what they’re actually meant to do and if that represents a real change. Otherwise its simply the newest of a never ending battlegroup, brigade, division shuffle.

November 28, 2015 10:02 am

Phil – I suppose deep down we all think there’s more than a hint of window-dressing here to help make SDSR look more gutsy than it might have been, but in my opinion there is a material effect in that the renaming of parts of the Army structure (and the woolly descriptions attached) signify the sort of use intended? If for example ‘Strike Bde’ had been named ‘Constabulary Bde’ but contained all the same units equipment and assets, the understanding of their purpose would have been quite different. In real terms to the fighting soldier there may be little difference, but the name does sort of indicate the strategy.

November 28, 2015 10:06 am

I think it has been shown that ‘No plan survives contact with the next SDSR’… I don’t see Army 2025 resembling anything like the PowerPoint presentations we might see in the coming months but its Saturday morning and I enjoy playing fantasy formations from my armchair…

@ Lord Jim

Your ideas appeal to me but I would make a few adjustments.

For the ‘heavy’ brigade I would add a third Armoured Infantry Battalion [I think there are just about enough Warriors to squeeze out six in total] given each of the two brigades a total of 5 manoeuvre units.

For the ‘strike’ brigades I would add a ‘multi role’ cavalry based on variants of the MIV, and possibly a few Jackals, and avoid the use of AJAX in these brigades; as others have pointed out, they don’t lend themselves to ‘rapid reaction’.

I agree that the this is an opportunity to add a further battalion to 16XX, giving a total of 4 Air Mobile and while, ideally, I would return 1 Para to the ORBAT, I sense that the unit is now integral to any expansion plans of SF.

That’s 18 infantry battalions in total across 2 ‘heavy’, 2 ‘strike’ and 1 Air assault.

I would have a further ‘adaptive’ brigade, which is focused on this notion of ‘upstream engagement’, peacekeeping and COIN. It would be based on the light protected mobility battalions and from its six manoeuvre units cover the two required for the Cyprus tasking and the Falkland company-level roulements.

There is a requirement for 2 battalions for Public Duties [plus the incremental companies] which post-Paris should not be seen just as a ‘ceremonial’ role but a very much needed support to the authorities in the event of an incident. There is, finally, the Brunei commitment.

That would make 27 battalions in total.

November 28, 2015 10:15 am

Better get cracking on the decision between Stryker, VBCI and Freccia then. …… and we all know how difficult that will be. Especially if someone needs to make a decision about 105mm turrets too. As for artillery will we see the adoption of the 120mm mortar?

November 28, 2015 10:17 am

Lots to like in LJ’s comment/ vision.

When we are talking about a mech. formation, I don’t really see the usefulness of (man portable) 81mm mortars when you can have the same vehicle with a breach-loaded 120mm: some real punch (incl. limited direct fire), each fire unit ready to fire immediately when stopping (own and target location GPS’essed in real time) and MRSI (with proxy fuses that would simulate for an GMLRS effect on infantry and soft-ish targets, when the latter is used with the AW warhead… which we do not possess).

This part should not be a problem with the 6×6 derivative of the Jackal “The Air Mobile Infantry would have a Recce Section equipped with Jackals as well as the option to deploy their Support Company and ATGW teams on either Jackals or a similar platform. The Artillery would also be able to deploy a light platform to tow their 105mm if needed.”
– isn’t it already in use for resupply?

November 28, 2015 10:37 am

I’d probably agree that the name is political but the concept of a medium weight formation that has more strategic mobility than the heavier armoured units and more firepower than our under mechanised light units is what the Army has been trying to acquire since the early to mid 90’s. All the operations post Op Granby have reinforced this in my view.

November 28, 2015 10:43 am

I have a few questions about the equipping of the brigades though, are the numbers for Ajax and it’s variants going to increase? Are we going to fudge the vehicle types and continue to have a mish mash or are we going to truly create a formation from a family of vehicles such as the Italian or American formations?

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 28, 2015 10:55 am

I didn’t go down the 120mm mortar route for the Mechanised Brigade as I was trying to keep the existing 81mm, 105mm and 155mm. The other reason was that it is a simple variant to put an 81mm into the back of a 8×8 and be able to fire from it, with a number of existing 8×8 designs already having a such a design.

Given the availability of various multi-function fuses for calibres above 30mm, I think the 40mm CTA could be given a very flexible HE round, providing very good direct fore support and the existing ASFSDS round is almost overkill against anything other than a MBT. For that the FSV Variant would have the heavy ATGW (Brimstone). Its guidance package would enable autonomous, self designated or third party designation.

By giving the Brigade’s integral Artillery Regiment the M777 we would open the way for the purchase of the Excalibur GPS 155mm round in its various forms. This would add enormously to the Brigades fire support capabilities as well as enabling the use of the various types of 155mm rounds not available to the smaller 105mm.

One additional thing I would like to see added to both the inventories of 16 Airmobile and 3 Commando Brigades is the latest variant of the good old Carl Gustav. This is considerably lighter than the old M2 and has a wide variety of modern ammo types providing a good fire support tool. These include all the warheads used on various types of AT4 plus others. The US Army Rangers love theirs and the ammo is considerably cheaper that using a Javelin to take out bunkers for example though the range is less.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 28, 2015 10:56 am

Sorry TD, put in the wrong email with the last comment.

John Carter
John Carter
November 28, 2015 11:52 am

Bring back the cavalry Nick Carter.

November 28, 2015 12:38 pm

Why are we so s**t at this type of thing, The USA has had Stryker brigades around for ages and we have to wait until 2025. Really should not be that difficult.

November 28, 2015 12:49 pm


I think one of the site owners @UKDF put it quite well, by saying something like “the whack the mole games in the sand pits” put just about every weapon programme, carriers included, back by about ten years.

November 28, 2015 1:26 pm

I don’t think we need look much further than the Stryker Brigades to understand Strike brigades (the clue is in the name, no?). There will also be a pull to be able to operate alongside the US anyway. Its the 96 hours mobilisation, long-range ‘self’ deployability and low logistics footprint that are key requirements. Probably means moving the mech infantry from the Armoured Infantry Brigades (only 2 of which will survive), and moving two of the Warrior Battalions from the reroled AI brigade back into the two remaining AI brigades to make them all Warrior/Chally/Ajax units. Splitting one of the Ajax Regiments between the two Strike Brigades – maybe adding an additional Squadron so each Brigade has 2 Squadrons of Ajax – too? The remaining unallocated 4 Battalions of infantry from the AI brigades (3 in Mastiff/Ridgeback and 1 in Warrior) will be augmented by 2 from the adapatable force, and all given MIV. Need ATGM and probably M777 (or something like Caesar) and an Exactor battery on MIV, plus all the usual supporting forces, some UAS and Starstreak to give them similar capability to Stryker Brigades. One Chally Regiment will surely go, probably to create the extra Ajax Squadron, and 2 ATGM/Direct Fire squadrons on either Ajax or MIV derivatives. The MRAPs freed up will go to force troops and to provide more protection to the remaining light infantry battalions, along with new buys of MRV(P). That’s my guess.

November 28, 2015 1:39 pm

Once again the army’s top brass are letting the rank and file down. For me this is quite simple A brigade is circa 6200 strong with with 4 battalions of combat forces and 4 battalions of support. We really need 16 Brigades to make up the fighting force with a further 4 Brigades of core functions like SFG/Medical/Logistics/ CnC etc. This model allows for a 4 unit structure to be in place throughout the force that will allow for indefinite deployment of 4 Brigades or 1 Corp at any point in time. Each Corp would have a role High Readiness / Strike/Armour/Light Infantry (reserve) and be self sustaining – I would like to see each of these corps provided with a set budget that covers all their kit and personnel. This is both efficient and ultimately sustainable but requires new thinking. Anything else is just PR and not strategic

Mike W
November 28, 2015 2:00 pm

I would agree with Phil that the name “Strike Brigades” is “a political choice that will eventually fade away.” However, he is looking forward to see whether the latest plans constitute a real change.

The question is whether we are finally going to get the right vehicle. As David Niven says “the concept of a medium weight formation that has more strategic mobility than the heavier armoured units and more firepower than our under mechanised light units is what the Army has been trying to acquire since the early to mid 90’s.”

We have not previously had such in mechanised formations. The old Saxon was a useful IS vehicle but as a “battle taxi” it was little more than an armoured truck and lacked both mobility and protection. The Mastiff, recently intended for the Heavy Protected Mobility Battalions, has proven to be a fine MRAP vehicle but is lacking in mobility, especially off-road. According to Monty’s predictions, we are due three hundred 8 x 8 vehicles and if we procure something like the Piranha V, the Boxer or the VBCI, then surely we shall be experiencing a step-change, with a vehicle that is far more mobile and will perhaps have V-shaped, double-hull type protection. So has the promised change finally arrived?

I agree with others about the need for more firepower, though. Ideally I suppose a combination of 105mm Direct Fire Ajax variant, an ATGW variant of the same vehicle and a 120mm Mortar on MIV would be highly desirable but who in their right mind can imagine that we are going to get a quarter of that lot? However, it would certainly seem that we need more than a 40mm cannon in such formations.

One worrying concern is that in at least two locations to which we have recently deployed , we have faced the problem of extremely powerful IEDs. So would an integral component of heavier MRAPs and Talisman-type clearance vehicles also be necessary in the new wheeled formations?

November 28, 2015 3:00 pm

yep, roughly on those lines.

But RE “long-range ‘self’ deployability and low logistics footprint ” everything is relative
– low logistics foot print is certainly true in Stryker bdes, but that is a relative measurement to their Heavy Bdes (M1s are gas-guzzling at three times the rate of a normal diesel driven tank); so logistics self-deploy with the bde but low footprint is only in their manning, manifesting itself in highly automated, monster-sized
– self-deployability for the UK version would mean a lot of HETs; so many that some would need to be “STUFTed” from normal trade?

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 28, 2015 3:48 pm

How about something like this?

Current AI Brigade Current Infantry Brigade ( 7th ? )

Armoured Cav Reg Light Cavaly Reg
Armoured Reg. Foxhound LPM Bn
Warrior AI Bn Foxhound LPM Bn
Warrior AI Bn Light Infantry Bn
Mastiff HPM Bn

+ supporting arms held in Force Troops and 101 and 102 Logistic Brigades.

AS90 / MLRS / Exactor RA Reg Light Gun RA Reg ( 1 Battery Reserve )
Armoured RE Reg. RE Reg. ( 1 Sqn Reserve )
Armoured REME Bn REME Bn
Armoured RAMC Reg RAMC Reg ( 2 Sqns Reserve )
Close Support Logistic Reg Theatre Logistic Reg
Theatre Logistic Reg Reserve Logistic Reg
Reserve Supply Reg

Migrate to this ?

Ajax Reg Ajax Reg

RA Reg RA Reg
RE Reg RE Reg
Theatre Logistics Reg Theatre Logistics Reg
Reserve RLC Reg Reserve RLC Reg

This would need the 3rd Armoured Regiment to convert to Armoured Cavalry/Ajax, the remaining 2 Armoured Infantry Brigades to swap their HPM Mastiff Battalions for the 2 Warrior Battalions. Then 3 x HPM, 2 LPM Foxhound and 1 Light Infantry Battalion become MIV Battalions.

The 3rd Regiment of Artillery and Engineers in existing Armoured Infantry Brigade would need re equipping, losing Titan. Trojan, Terrier,AS90, MLRS, which would not like to see.

“Left over” would be 1 existing Light Cavalry regiment on Jackal, and the Close Support Logistics Regiment from the greater list of Armoured Brigade support assets held in 101 Log Bde, which could be used to reinforce 16AA Bde. 16 Air Assault recently lost its supporting CVRT Squadron from the Household Cavalry, so using a rapidly deployable regiment on Jackal would be a plus for replace this.

Certain elements of the existing 7th Infantry Brigade support units converting to Strike Bde are found from the reserves at present, so these would be removed to make an all regular force.

As mentioned elsewhere, Mastiffs, Ridgebacks released would go to Force Troops, and released Foxhounds to the remainder of the Light Infantry Battalions of the Adaptable force, where there would be 4 more under current plans, 6 LI battalions being re roled into LPM on Foxhound.

This still leaves 1 deployable Brigade in the current adaptable force ( 4th or 51st? ) with at present a similar set up, including supporting CS,CSS assets, to the Infantry Brigade being re roled into Strike. What happens to this is unclear from the SDSR announcement.

Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
November 28, 2015 3:51 pm

I wrote the above using spaced columns to separate the lists of units, but it has condensed them! Hope it is still readable! :-(

November 29, 2015 3:39 am

Actually I think the recent White Paper is fairly clear.

1. “2 x Armoured Infantry Bdes”, this means infantry heavy armoured bdes (note that UK hasn’t had a tk heavy armd bde since c.1975). Probable org: 1 tank regt,3 armd inf bns (Warrior). The only unclear bit is whether the tk regt will have 3 or 4 tk sqns and the total tk strength, and whether or not it will include an armd recce regt, probably yes to the latter.

2. “2 x Strike Bdes”. I suspect each will have 2 Armd Recee Regts (I think there are enough RAC regts) and 2 Inf Bns, which vehicles these will have is the question.

Field Arty, since c.1970 (the end of empire) the only bdes with arty under command have been 3 Cdo & 16 Abn. The rest are always under command of a 1* RA HQ (7 RHA would benefit from this, their gunnery has been crap for decades, it was lucky they weren’t DS to 16 Bde in 1982). There are various good reasons for this and I can’t see any reason to change, the best reason is special-to-arm oversight of training that is professionally knowledgeable and won’t take crap excuses if the gunnery goes wrong.

The interesting question is equipment, obviously the armd bdes will have AS90. I assume the precision fire btys (GMLRS and Exactor) will be retained. My guess on the strike bdes is 105mm L118, unless there are sufficient AS90 in store, but it could be a mix, I’d also guess that the plan may be to get something like Caesar (wheeled 155mm). Whether a 4th precision fires bty can be resourced is a good question. Another problem is that the total number of regular bdes is unchanged, and this probably means that its not possible to give each manouvre unit in the bde a full DS bty. Obviously the continuation of the 4 regular bdes means that AD and Surv/Tgt Acq is unchanged, although I’m not sure about bde packages of Watchkeeper..

November 29, 2015 8:05 am

I also belive that CGS has spoken about the need for UK to retain expertise in Divsional Level command for land operations. So the confusion of having 4 full-fat brigades and a three brigade division is probably understandable in that one strike brigade will train with 3 Div, to enable us to deploy a full div if needed in a State-based conflict (Ukraine/support to NATO members), while the other will be available for independent operations, probably, as 16x has recently become, under the direct control of Land Command or even loanable to Joint Forces Command (i.e. primarily geared up for the anti-ISIS mission), or to form part of a multinational division/force. A further upshot should see two of the remaining adaptable force LI bns reroled for light protected mobility with foxhound, giving a total of 1 AA, 2 AI, 2 Strike, 3 LPM and 3 LI Brigades, of which the LPM and LI brigades will be small (1-3 Bns) and have a new UK-based CT function in addition to other duties such as PSO and provding personnel/units for MATTs and to rotate into longer term deployments, if required. Personally, I wouldn’t be suprised to see one Strike Brigade earmarked for multinational deployments, avoiding the necessity of breaking-up 3 div if such a deployment was required.

November 29, 2015 8:54 am

On 3 cdo, I read somewhere (maybe Admiral Z’s speach as DSEi?), that the MTF will include a RM Cdo, and the current exercises with France have included a LPD and a Bay in each TF. So my guess is that 3 Cdo will rotate units through the MTF along with a Bulwark and Bay and alongside a Carrier and Escort group, providing the MTF with an in-theatre amphibious assualt capability. Its possible that the carrieir air wing will also include some Merlin HC4s, which can also double-up in the COD role. Expect to see an SSN, 1-2 P8s and a number of allied warships assigned to each carrier deployment too.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 29, 2015 8:59 am

It is absolutely clear that the disappearing armoured brigade will not mean more armoured units within the two remaining armoured brigades!

Firstly, their is no point in breaking up one of the armoured brigades unless there is a plan to do something different with the units, other than to continue holding them within armoured brigades.

Secondly, just increasing the size of the remaining armoured brigades only serves to produce overlarge and unwieldy armoured brigades. Someone above even suggested having five manoeuvre units within an armoured brigade; there was an American Cold War plan from the ’50s to use formations of five (rather than the standard three), this was to supposed to deal with nuclear attrition but the idea was eventually abandoned because the formations were simply too big. There will remain three manoeuvre units within the armoured brigades, a C2 regiment and two Warrior battalions, plus the heavy cavalry regiment with Ajax.

Thirdly, we don’t have an Army big enough to not use the units from the disappeared armoured brigade to form the new strike brigades. The 2020 plan and the new 2025 plan both have the same number (11) of Army brigades. The change, relative to the 2020 plan, is one less armoured brigade, one less infantry brigade, but two new strike brigades. There is no increase in Army manpower, so if you just rolled the manning from the disappeared armoured brigade over to the remaining armoured brigades, you run out of soldiers to put in other brigades.

In addition to those factors, the strike brigades (and 16AAB) are the new high-readiness brigades, no longer the job for the armoured brigades themselves, so logically there will be a heavyweight element within the strike brigades.

Some folks heard the PM’s specific mention of Ajax in his speech in relation to the strike brigades, and jumped to the conclusion that this means more Ajax, or even 5,000 troops trundling around in Ajax vehicles. Ajax remains the heavy cavalry variant of the SV. There is no requirement for increased requirement for Ajax vehicles in the two remaining armoured brigades. There is unlikely going to be a heavy cavalry regiment within the strike brigades. The subordinate unit of the regiment that would have gone into the third armoured brigade is a squadron. There won’t be increased orders for heavy armour while cutting armoured formations.

Ajax in the strike brigades will not take a more prominent position than a single squadron, and it will not be used as an IFV. The Prime Minister’s specific mention of Ajax in his speech can be put down to the single fact that on the same morning at RAF Northolt, he reviewed and clambered over and into a shiny new Ajax. The mention of Ajax relates to the photo op, rather than to an expanded role for Ajax.

My suggestion is that the two armoured brigades will lose their 2020 Reaction Force heavy mobility battalions, and will therefore consist of a tank regiment, two armoured infantry battalions, and a cavalry regiment.

The strike brigades will consist of an armoured component of one armoured infantry battalion (Warrior) with an associated cavalry squadron and tank squadron. There will also be a mechanized infantry battalion in the new MIV, and another infantry battalion in MIV or Mastiff (depends how much money there is for the MIV, there will probably be at least two MIV battalions in the Army, and probably not more than six – all a question of when the money runs out). 3 & 4 regiment AAC may possibly end up in the strike brigades.

My guess is that the air assault brigade will keep its recently reattached single air assault infantry battalion.

In the infantry brigades, the Adaptable Force concept must continue. There are eleven Army brigades in the 2020 plan, and eleven brigades in this new plan; there is no increase in the size of the Army, so no means of having six fully formed infantry brigades under the new plan.

My guess is that the infantry brigades are somewhat similarr to the 2020 plan. First two brigades consisting of one light cavalry regiment, two light protected mobility battalions, one light infantry battalion. One infantry brigade consisting of one light cavalry regiment, one light protected mobility battalion and one light battalion. Three further brigades with only one or two regular infantry battalions. You can speculate as to whether there will be cash to equip any part of the six infantry brigades with the MIV.

I’ve heard suggestions that the armoured and strike brigades are in the same division, and that the strike and air assault brigades are in the same division. Probably, and similar to the 2020 plan, 3Div will consist of the armoured, strike, and air assault brigades. 1Div will consist of the six infantry brigades.

Overall, an evolution of Reaction/Adaptable Force, rather than a wholesale reorganization.

November 29, 2015 9:10 am

And finally on the ‘light frigate’. In Nelson’s day the RN tended to have less capable ships (on paper at least), than our main opponents – especially our frigates. But we had a lot more of them and they were at sea a lot more and so had much better trained crews (most of whom incidentially would be categorised as refugees and migrants these days). Stick to firm costings, no more that 3,500 tons, designd around a helicopter, Sea Ceptor and a gun and maybe a small mission bay. That will do, but lets get 8 of them and start to prioritise hulls and crews over gucciness.

November 29, 2015 9:43 am

Of far more concern to me is not what they’ll be like (I can guarantee you one thing, they’ll change ORBATs a lot before 2025) but rather how will the transition be handled – what will the Army look like in 2019? When will the Armd Bde be stood down? Are we going to have a former armoured brigade driving around in Scimitar 2, Jackal and Mastiff firing towed 105mm guns for years – or good jesus, Bulldog??

Saying the Army will be organised in such a way in 2025 is an almost worthless statement.

The name is political and kit driven (hence 2025 time-frame). What would be awful is having two shitty mechanised infantry brigades puffing around for 10 years on out-of-date and shared kit instead of a fully fledged heavy war-fighting brigade.

What do we get in the interim?

November 29, 2015 10:03 am

A very good point. I’m sure some sort of Army 2025 document will appear in the next months. Given Ajax and Warrior 2 are on thier way, and the Challenger LEP is included in the SDSR, I would expect to see 2 AI brigades re-equipped first off, while the MIV procurement process goes ahead. It would make some sence to reassign one of the Adapatable Force brigades as the first Strike brigade, and let it pootle around in MRAPs for a while before MIV arrives to develop a CONOPs. Converting the 3rd AI Brigade to a Strike Brigade should wait until MIV arrives.

@BB. I don’t see any Warrior in the Strike Brigades – would not suit the likely CONOPS. But I do see the AI Brigades having 3 Bns on Warrior 2 and one on Challenger. They may or may not retain a full Armoured Cavalry Regiment, depending upon what the Stike Brigade will look like. Its possible that the first Strike Brigade will be Ajax Heavy, pending the arrival of MIV, and then thinned out so that the AI Brigades get more Ajax. Depends how quickly we want to get a Strike Brigade operational. I do hope we don’t get into some sort of procurement morass over MIV, after all we’ve been around the houses several times on an 8×8 procurement and there are plenty of good platforms out there.

November 29, 2015 10:51 am


I don’t see how the standing up of two strike brigades (which are meant to be more strategically mobile) will not effect Ajax numbers. Considering that the intention was to purchase enough to replace all the cvrt variants in the armoured infantry and cavalry units in the 3 reaction brigades. I don’t see the point in adding a Warrior unit the the strike brigades either, surely that would be a half arssed replication of the heavy units? Would a reduction in the Warrior IFV upgrade to allow hulls and funds to be used to convert to the ABSV variant for the heavy brigades a better solution? These new formations rely on acquiring a suitable vehicle in both numbers and variants to be effective coupled with a well managed transition as Phil has said, or it will be a typical British fudge that causes more problems than it solves.

November 29, 2015 2:46 pm

As a result of decisions made following SDSR 2010 the British Army was presented with a number of challenges including (but not limited to):
a reduction in the total number of regulars
a requirement for a significant increase in the use of reserves
a constrained equipment budget
a requirement to adopt an expeditionary stance.

The response from the army – Army 2020 Transforming the British Army, signally failed to address those challenges.

Army 2020 focussed on the creation of the so called Reactive Force. This force which relied upon the two biggest equipment programmes. FRES SV and Warrior CSP and a minimum 80% complement of regulars, effectively created a two tier army. Furthermore the Reactive Force consisting of heavy armour formations was ill-suited to expeditionary operations.

Army 2020 by abandoning the approach adopted by FAS and FAS Next Steps (stability and career prospects offered by the large regiment structure) and by its focus on the Reactive Force at the expense of all others, failed to create a structure to support retention. Perhaps even more significantly the structure set up for the Reserves is predictably failing to meet its objectives.

Reservists are assigned to their own units and thus deprived of the chance to join or identify with regular regiments. These reserve units are not governed by readiness cycles and thus reservists and their employers are unable to prepare with any degree of certainty for their possible call up.

The establishment of Strike Brigades is a step in the right direction. It will certainly make the army structure more suited to expeditionary operations and it will blur if not entirely remove the two tier distinction created by Army 2020.

If the Strike Brigades are to be properly equipped money will have to be freed up from the equipment budget to buy the MIV.. The turret in a modern AFV makes up some 50% of the cost of the vehicle. It does not make sense to design and manufacture two new AFV turrets. We should see if funds can be freed up by abandoning the new Warrior turret, use variants of AJAX to provide all the turreted AFVs (except tanks) required by the AI brigades and ABSV Warriors to provide the remainder.

We should build on our defence agreement with France and choose VBCI 2 as the MIV. But not a variant equipped with the CTA 40 turret as this will add substantially to the unit cost. Fire support could be provided by a version of the new JAGUAR vehicle equipped with the AJAX turret.

As a further step we should look to standing up 5 Strike Brigades to support a readiness cycle (only 3 sets of AFVs would be needed). These brigades should be based around 3 infantry battalions (either 2 x medium and 1 x light or 1 x medium and 2 x light as funds permit) with a reconnaissance regiment and supporting artillery. The medium battalions to be equipped with the MIV and the light battalions to be equipped with BUSHMASTER or similar.

The biggest challenge remains – how to organise to best support recruitment and retention of both regulars and reservists.

November 29, 2015 3:03 pm

Do you think that converting a non-IFV Ajax to an IFV version and then buying new for all the Warriors needed would save money?
If it did, what would be the point in converting the Warrior hulls for ABSV when there is no commonality to the rest of the fleet? Wouldn’t Ares be more sensible in that scenario?

November 29, 2015 3:30 pm


‘a requirement to adopt an expeditionary stance.’

This has been known since the early 90’s from our deployment to the Balkans onwards after the collapse of the USSR it was even the basis for the 1998 SDR ‘A force for good etc’, it is nothing new to the 2010 SDSR.

November 29, 2015 4:09 pm

There’s a continuing theme of treating two particular new ways of doing things as being ineffective: this despite wider spread similar practice across a number of past and present first order fighting at armies. There’s a definite sense of “that’s not how we do things so it isn’t working”. I’m talking of course about settling discreet infantry battalions down into permanent or semi permanent roles and an army which has part of its strength as an integrated reserve force.

Both of these have been standard practice for decades in many successful armies. I see no evidence so far that either of these can’t be made to work as successfully in the British army.

On a site that’s always talking about the need for innovation in the ground forces it’s interesting to see the two biggest innovations in recent history constantly derided either with no evidence offered or without any time being given to its implementation.

November 29, 2015 4:54 pm

@Mr Fred
If we are to obtain a new IMV then we need to free up money from somewhere. We seem fully committed to AJAX and have already paid for substantial development. One avenue we can explore is to abandon the development and manufacture of a second new turret.
A second step would be to re-examine the various versions of the AJAX fanily to see if most or all can be provided more cost effectively by turretless versions of Warrior, which would not require the manufacture of new hulls but would still be a step-change from FV432 in its various versions as well as SAMSON, SPARTAN etc.

There is no less standardisation under this approach just a different distribution of variants.

@David Niven
Whether or not the requirement for an expeditionary stance was new or well established in 2010, the point is that Armt 2020 did not properly address it.

I’ve said nothing about settling discreet infantry battalions down into permanent or semi permanent roles. In fact on this issue I completely agree with you it is the way forward.
On the issue of reserve forces, are you claiming that the Army 2020 approach is proving successful?

November 29, 2015 5:20 pm

I don’t just mean you but this section to me reads as the usual : the adaptable force is second rate anyone posted to it will sign off. “Army 2020 by abandoning the approach adopted by FAS and FAS Next Steps (stability and career prospects offered by the large regiment structure) and by its focus on the Reactive Force at the expense of all others, failed to create a structure to support retention. ”

As to the reserves – seeing as it takes up to three years to train someone then I still don’t think enough time has passed to make a concrete judgement. In my mind it would only have failed if on an enduring operation it couldn’t meet requirements. Poor recruitment is not necessarily an indication that the concept is flawed – the regular army may now have been finding it just as challenging to recruit and retain.

November 29, 2015 6:06 pm

Yes, we can explore cancelling the second turret. Assuming that the Infantry Fighting Vehicle is still a requirement for the Armoured Infantry, we would still have to replace the Warrior. If it’s a new vehicle, then it’ll cost twice as much per replaced unit. You would be making savings from cutting the development contract (maybe) but will it be enough?
However, since Ajax is a scout vehicle, not an IFV (it just looks like one), you would need to alter the design to get a dismount section in the back, so you might not make as much money back on the development costs.

On the second step, using all the Warrior hulls for ABSV would waste the development work done the Ares and associated variants. It would also reduce commonality of training and logistics in both the Formation Recce and Armoured Infantry units, since the turreted and unturreted variants will be dissimilar.

While the number of vehicles built to a single design may be greater, they will be mixed between units, which will not be particularly helpful.

November 29, 2015 6:16 pm

To be clear, I am saying that in any organisation if investment and resourcing is focussed on one section or area then other sections or areas will see themselves as the “poor relations”. The parallels with the Army 2020 structure are readily apparent.

My comments regarding the abandoning of the large regiment structure relate to recruitment and retention of both regulars and reserves and are independent of the operational structure.
In most activities that require a team effort, people like to “belong to” or “identify with” a team or company or organisation. In the British Army the regiment fulfills that role.

Large regiments allow: the specialisation of battalions; the control and direction of resources (soldiers) at a local level; the opportunity to easily move between battalions in the regiment to suit personal circumstances or for career progression. These and associated benefits represent a great aid to retention of the regulars. Where such regiments are regionally based the effect is enhanced.
If every 3, 4 or 5 battalion regiment had an additional reserve battalion then some of those same benefits can be enjoyed by the reservists.

The success of THE RIFLES would bear repeating.

November 29, 2015 6:19 pm


The Army failed to address the expeditionary aspect of the force by not finding a suitable vehicle for the FRES requirement from the late 90’s onwards. There was no money to address the problem in the 2010 review which was just a money saving exercise for all 3 services. With these re badged ‘strike brigades’ the army has just come full circle back to FRES or ‘Go first, Go hard and Go home’ (or similar) mantra that was espoused in the late 90’s. They will however require proper funding and a coherent plan for transition so only time will tell, but if what BB said was true I’m not holding my breath.

November 29, 2015 7:02 pm

The Chemistry student of Asian origin
with a lot of spellos
replaced by someone who can count (the first one could, too, which was the whole function of the call sign, anyway)
… Carry on, regardless! And no harm done.

And this one (as I am reading on), Bingo!
“There is no less standardisation under this approach just a different distribution of variants.”
– exactly that @percontator

November 29, 2015 7:36 pm
people like to “belong to” or “identify with” a team or company or organisation. In the British Army the regiment fulfills that role.

Large regiments allow: the specialisation of battalions; the control and direction of resources (soldiers) at a local level; the opportunity to easily move between battalions in the regiment to suit personal circumstances or for career progression. These and associated benefits represent a great aid to retention of the regulars. Where such regiments are regionally based the effect is enhanced.
If every 3, 4 or 5 battalion regiment had an additional reserve battalion then some of those same benefits can be enjoyed by the reservists.
The success of THE RIFLES would bear repeating.

I agree (ref: the leading in sentence), but what is this “the success of the Rifles”? Any statistics for that?

November 29, 2015 8:06 pm


Fair enough. But as ACC says, is there actually any evidence to show large regiments have such an effect? There’s lots of talk about regimental pride but I rarely see anything approaching an empirical study on it. I think in reality people will have an affinity for any group of men which is well led and well run. Time for a Corps of Infantry?

November 29, 2015 8:14 pm

I have over many years held the opinion that the great deeds of bravery for which the British Armed Forces are known were less to do with King & Country patriotism, or with resolve to obey orders without question, and far more to do with not letting their oppo down. Partly a function of (now waning) British sense of fair play and not letting the side down – stiff upper lip and all that – but also I am sure a product of the training and military exercises that create bonds as strong as family within the platoon/squadron/ship/regiment.

November 29, 2015 9:17 pm

Following SDSR 2010 the army could have addressed the requirement for expeditionary operations but chose to spend such funds as were available on SCOUT SV and WARRIOR CSP for the AI brigades.
The establishment of Strike Brigades is the first proper attempt to address this issue. As you say, how successful it will be only time will tell.

1) far too cryptic for me
2) no stats but a generally held opinion on ARRSE

My description of the benefits of large regiments was not to do with the concept of regimental pride as such but more to do with the structure of large organisations.
Single battalions do not offer sufficient choice or variety to the individual nor do they allow those in command sufficient flexibility to take proper account of, for example, personal circumstances and career progression when taking decisions.
A Corps of Infantry is too large for the individual to easily identify with and too remote for those in command to be fully aware of the personal qualities and aspirations of those they direct.

From an operational point of view large regiments give sufficient scope for responsibility to be devolved to the regimental CO to provide a fully manned battalion for operations. He will have access not only to the existing complement of the nominated battalion but also other regular battalions and the reserve battalion within the regiment. No need to mix and match from outside his own command.

Mike W
November 29, 2015 9:44 pm

“Time for a Corps of Infantry?” Mmm! I wonder.

It wasn’t so many years ago that the US Army sent a team across to the UK to discover what they could learn from the British regimental system. They rather admired the sense of commitment and allegiance they saw in the British Army and wished, I think, to discover what contribution the keeping of unit history and tradition made in creating those qualities.

I happen to agree with percontator when he says “people like to “belong to” or “identify with” a team or company or organisation. In the British Army the regiment fulfils that role.”
Also with Chris when he says, “but also I am sure a product of the training and military exercises that create bonds as strong as family within the platoon/squadron/ship/regiment.” but, in my opinion, not much above the size of a regiment. There is surely an optimum number which comes into play somewhere here. In terms of cohesion you can create “bonds as strong as family” within an organisation of, say, 600, but how large would a Corps of Infantry be? 20,000 or so in the present-day British Army? Can an ethos really be created in something that large? Look at what happened when large-scale comprehensive schools of 2,500 were introduced. A sense of impersonality appeared along with them.

Of course when you start talking about operational, as opposed to administrative structures, then often you have to bring in more flexible ideas.

November 29, 2015 9:59 pm


I think you hit the nail on the head matey. We have made considerable investment in the FRES Ajax family, but now we seem to gravitating towards this idea of wheeled medium Mechanised formations aka “Strike Brigades”. I agree it would make sense to maximize the investment in Ajax, but propose a slightly differentt way of doing it.

I think the Armoured Brigades could be “square” – we have enough (227) Challengrs in the fleet for 4 armoured Regimemts, and given that the SDSR document said our division would be based on only 1 of the armoured brigades, the 4 Chally Regiments could involve the the existing reserve yeomanry regiment. Or you could re-role a cavalry regiment if required.

With two MBT regiments, a Brigade Cavalry Regiment on Ajax, and enough Ajax (I will return to this) for Recce squadrons / platoons in the tank and armoured infantry units, why do,we need rebuilt Warrior with a Seperate turret project ? With 2 Armoured Infantry Battalions meaning a 1 to 1 ratio of tank to IFV do we need a tracked IFV at all ? Cheapest would be a turretless upgraded Warrior APC with RWS, but a little investment in what 200 to 250 (?) more Ares APC variants of FRES SV would offer massive commonality !

All the Ajax family vehicles would be in these two brigades with none in the Strike Brigades, and we would need to buy at least 6 battalions with if MIV 8 x 8 to equip them. I envisage the Strike brigade having a Medium Cavalry Regiment on for example VBCI 2 with CTA40 turret with 2 x ATGW and 2 Mech Inf. on VBCI APC with RWS only. A third Mech Inf Battalion could be on Mastiff, Foxhound or MRV(P). Support units and Brigade HQ could use the Mastiff’s converted to C2 vehicles and ambulances etc. A CEASAR style 155 on a MAN SV / HX series truck with armoured cab would be better than wheeled 105 but hey we already hit the budget pretty hard…..

If we only have two armoured (tracked) brigades, how many Warrior ABSV and Warrior APC versions would we need to upgrade and convert to support brigades HQ, and AS90 Regiment and a armoured engineer Regimemt ??

So, would maximizing Ajax be cheaper in the long run than fitting Warrior with a new turret, and doing the rest of the upgrades on less of them, also allowing us to buy MIV in decent numbers ?????

November 29, 2015 10:23 pm

Why not just scrap warrior all together use all 600 Ajax in the armoured formations with challenger and then go all wheeled in the strike brigades. Would 700 wheeled vbci-2/ Stryker 2 cover the two strike brigades and how much would it cost. Get rid of the rest and put foxhound with the paras and the infantry brigades.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 30, 2015 5:56 am

The removal of IFVs from the heavy Brigades, which I actually agree with, has always started a bun fight in the past about how an APC with only a HMG/AGL cannot protect itself or deal with similar vehicles operated by an opponent. My opinion is that the APC is there to support the infantry and an HMG/AGL is more than sufficient to keep the opponents heads down as the infantry advance to contact. In addition those weapons can deal with low end opponents AFVs, but it would be the accompanying MBTs who would provide the real anti-armour hitting power. In the past my argument has been to actually use an 8×8 in this role but as has been pointed out we have invested the most of the Army’s present and future equipment budget on Ajax, with the Warrior CSP coming a poor second. Using an Ajax variant in the role of APC raises the issue of how many dismounts could it carry. If it is less than eight then we need to look else where. Carrying six in a full fat IFV is a compromise due to increase in firepower a large turret brings. An APC needs to carry a full section of two fire teams.

Looking at the current Armoured Infantry Battalions they have 57 Warriors, 21 FV432s and 8 CVR(T)s, though some use CVR(T) variants instead of some of the FV432s. That would require nearly 100 Ajax in all variants if we dropped the Warrior and ABSV per battalion, Each of the Armoured Cavalry Regiments would have around 55 Ajax and each of the armoured Regiment would have 26 Ajax. To equip the two Armoured Infantry Brigades would therefore require a minimum of 560 Ajax variants, without allowing for replacements to cover maintenance schedules and losses. That covers pretty much all of the Ajax family the Army is planning to procure. Dropping the Warrior CSP and ABSV would hopefully allow funding for the purchase of the additional RWS for and the development of an APC variant. IF we went down this route I would like to see an over watch variant of the Ajax purchased if funding could be found, equipped possibly with a ground launched variant of Brimstone. The US developed a Hellfire turret that could be fitted to many platforms from the M2 to LAV but never put it into service. BAe now own this design so could possibly be tempted to dust it off. To do this we would need an additional 50 Ajax platforms to equip both the Armoured Infantry Battalion and Cavalry Regiments. We could also transfer the Starstreak turrets form the Stormer chassis to that of the Ajax and so on in the name of standardisation and so on. Together with the Challenger 2 LEP we would end up with two very modern and well equipped Armoured Infantry Brigades but also use up the vast majority of resources leaving little left over to proceed with any purchase of an MIV for the Strike brigades. Given to slow approach we have adopted towards all procurement programmes these days to balance yearly budgets, it would be unlike the new “Strike” Brigades could be up and running by 2025. This would leave the MoD/Army plenty of time to change its plans again, whist maximising our investment in the Ajax platform.

This is not the route I would choose but any attempt to reduce the current purchase of Ajax or to give the appearance that it is not the all singing and dancing platform the Army want above all else, would be too damaging to the Army and Government after the ridiculous development time the programme took and the amount of PR put out by various agencies. So Ajax it would have to be and maybe the continuing PR will be able to hide the lack of any progress on MIV.

Brian Black
Brian Black
November 30, 2015 9:12 am

The Warrior CSP contract was awarded in 2011, and the bulk of a billion quid committed. The 3.5 billion quid SV contract, which does not include a single IFV to use instead of Warrior, was awarded last year.

Any suggestion that throwing Warrior into the bin and replacing it with SV IFV variants would be cheaper is bonkers. BAe’s WCSP proposal included major hull modifications and was rejected for a cheaper and less ambitious LM proposal.

Buying brand new SV variants to replace Warrior would be ruinous. Trying to repurpose planned SV to replace Warrior would require unpicking that 3.5 billion quid contract that has been years in the making, and would leave the armourede units, and the Army as a whole, desperately short of vehicles.

The only other alternative armoured vehicle plan that might produce vehicles in some way capable of doing the job of Warrior, Ajax, and the others is the MIV plan. So far, there is no MIV, there is no prime contractor, there is no customer specification, there is nothing. We are years away from seeing a single Mechanized Infantry Vehicle if it happens at all.

We are so far along with Warrior and SV that it should now be accepted as happening. What we saw for the 2020 plan regarding armoured infantry and cavalry vehicles is pretty much happening. Uncertainty exists around the MIV still, and the Army has to move around in something, so the Warrior and SV plan will continue.

Jim, one of the reasons for uparming Warrior, and for fitting a cannon to the American’s Stryker, was so that the vehicle can quickly and decisively win the engagement; rather than just keeping the opponents’ heads down while your own infantry spends the next hour slogging it out with them, risking more casualties in the process.

November 30, 2015 10:03 am

Buying brand new SV variants to replace Warrior would be ruinous. Trying to repurpose planned SV to replace Warrior […] would leave the armourede units, and the Army as a whole, desperately short of vehicles.

Quite agreed.

4 x (57 Warriors, 21 FV432s ) plus 1 more bn’s worth in BATUS =390 Warriors and Warrior-based ABSVs, perfectly doable, allowing for specialist Warrior versions in other units.
– the “not enough Warriors available” problem done away with, in one fell sweep (when the various levels of upgrades were planned the target fleet was numbering close to 600; a few may have expired since)

The only compromise I could see is having only every second Warrior with autocannon, the companion having the HMG/AGL combo.

225, I think, was the number of the turrets, so you get a hundred to put onto the MIV. 300 total has been speculated about (not allowing for specialist versions) so that would give every mounted platoon (in MIVs)an autocannon each.

November 30, 2015 10:11 am

Seems to fall over from successive, multiple edits, so Play It Again, Sam… just for clarity:

Buying brand new SV variants to replace Warrior would be ruinous. Trying to repurpose planned SV to replace Warrior […] would leave the armourede units, and the Army as a whole, desperately short of vehicles.

Quite agreed.

4 x (57 Warriors, 21 FV432s ) plus 1 more bn’s worth in BATUS =390 Warriors and Warrior-based ABSVs, perfectly doable, allowing for specialist Warrior versions in other units.
– the “not enough Warriors available” problem done away with, in one fell sweep (when the various levels of upgrades were planned the target fleet was numbering close to 600; a few may have expired since)

The only compromise I could see is having only every second Warrior IFV fitted with autocannon, the companion having the HMG/AGL combo.

225, I think, was the number of the turrets, so you get a hundred to put onto the MIV. 300 total has been speculated about (not allowing for specialist versions) so that would give every mounted platoon (in MIVs)an autocannon each.

November 30, 2015 11:08 am

There’s an assumption – erroneous in my view – that you can plonk any turret on any hull without the slightest problem. So here’s some problems to be going on with:
– Does the new hull have enough room on the roofplate for the turret ring?
– Is the structure strong enough to take the weight, inertia and recoil loads there?
– Does the turret armour overlap the hull sides?
– Does the hull roofplate have adequate flat area to clear turret armour in traverse?
– Does the basket profile fit within the hull sideplates?
– Does the hull have adequate power (electric or hydraulic) for the turret drive?
– Do both turret and hull have similar protection level?
– Is the vehicle dynamically stable with the turret fitted?
– Does the vehicle plus turret fit within required road/rail/transport gauges?
– Does the vehicle still meet dismount accommodation requirements?

And so on. Some of the apparently petty compatibility issues can be a major headache to overcome; for example the Warrior FLIP turret I believe has ammunition feed from the basket floor – if the wheeled hull sidewalls are not far enough apart low down to fit the current basket floor, the ammo feed system would need redesign. It might even be a case of space for *either* ammo feed *or* commander & gunner feet – not both.

Big turrets on top of APCs are just not a good idea.

November 30, 2015 11:45 am

Chris, do you see a flipside with the planned Warrior turrets reuse on other AFVs?

There is always TOUTATIS to go to, but I must say that level 3 protection is not very impressive (the plusses come in weight and size of turret ring):

” The turret weighs less than 1.5 ton Panoramic sight and weapon station, both remotely controlled from within the protected hull, installed on the TOUTATIS RC turret.and has Level 3 protection. It is equipped with 68 automatically loaded CT ammunitions.

[…] to offer 95% hit probability at a stationary target sized 2.3×2.3 meters ( 80% probability against moving target), with a first three rounds burst. TOUTATIS is designed to “drop-into” existing 1.20 meter diameter turret rings.”

Mike W
November 30, 2015 12:03 pm

Brian Black’s post is the one I really wanted to write. I agree with him that “buying brand new SV variants to replace Warrior would be ruinous.”

If it were a few years ago, then the idea of dropping the Warrior CSP and ABSV (supported by some of you) might have been viable but, as Brian says, the contract for Warrior has been signed and sealed (Lockheed Martin secured a £642 million (US $964.6 million) contract with the MoD in 2011 to become the prime contractor for the Warrior capability sustainment programme (CSP). The service life of the vehicle will be extended to 2040. Work is well underway on the programme; the original 11 demonstration vehicles have become 12 and I have read recently that the scheduled in-service date for the upgraded Warrior is 2019.

So Lockheed has the programme well under its belt and I would imagine any decision to cancel it would result in penalty clauses which would presumably be swingeing. The other thing to bear in mind is that the FV432s/Bulldogs would also need replacement and quite a few of those still serve in various roles (mortar carriers, ambulances, etc.) in armoured formations.

Therefore, as Brian asserts, any suggestion that “throwing Warrior into the bin and replacing it with SV IFV variants would be cheaper” is far from sensible.

Buying brand new SV variants to replace Warrior would be ruinous.

Mike W
November 30, 2015 12:25 pm


On the subject of “compatibility issues”, I have a question to which I can find no answer anywhere.

Presumably the FV432 81mm mortar carrier will eventually be replaced by a version of the Warrior. I am absolutely convinced that I read many moons ago, perhaps over ten years ago, that there might be problems with fitting the 81mm mortars on to Warrior. Do you either remember reading anything about this problem yourself or can you work out why it might be a problem. I think a mention was made of “outriggers” in the article concerned, although I can’t see why, unless it would be to improve the stability of the vehicle.

Apologies to TD for this slight digression to the thread.

November 30, 2015 12:29 pm

ACC – I suspect Warrior FLIP turret would only be compatible with the bigger (and heavier) wheeled vehicles, where the hull could take the turret without modification and the weight of the turret wouldn’t raise the combined CofG too high compared with width of the suspension track.

Toutatis I think is a good bit of design, exploiting the fairly unique advantages of CTA40. No doubt it could be up-armoured without becoming anything like the weight of the typical 2-man turret, but as it has no personnel within its armour, there might be an argument that its protected enough as it is. The question about its use really comes down to the willingness of the User to have a moderately powerful direct fire weapon on remote – my discussions have suggested the User prefers to rely on physical line of sight (via periscopic sights) than on electronic remote sight.

November 30, 2015 12:38 pm

Mike W – sorry I have no information on this. However, in the past I dabbled on the edges of a large bore mortar integration, and determined a major issue with simple mortar tubes is recoil. No problem if the mortar is sat on the mud with a spreader plate – the ground is generally stable under such sharp impacts. But vehicle structures and suspension may not take the hammer-blows with ease. At minimum the vehicle might be kicked all over the place as it bounces off the suspension end-stops, at worst the impacts might tear the hull. If you look at the vehicle mounted mortars they are massive and include recoil mechanisms. For example

The Ginge
The Ginge
November 30, 2015 12:39 pm

Just been reading all the comments, from a layman’s perspective it does seem all rather simple. With no need for expensive redesigns of Warrior or changing the SV Purchase. The key is in what was said no more money, no more troops.
So the easiest Route is the 3 Heavy Protected Battalions form the core of your First Strike Brigade. They get the Royal Scots Dragon Guards as Light Cavalry. All of the wheeled support vehicles in 101 Logistics Brigade are put together to support the formation, with towed Light 105mm Guns. This forms a “Scottish” Battle Group/Strike Brigade whatever you want to call it. And is located at Catterick.
The 7th Brigade is rerolled out of the adaptable force to form the 2nd Strike Brigade re-armouring a Brigade with a strong tradition of being an armoured force. They take all of the rest of the Mastiffs in the British Army since supposedly over 400 were taken in to the core budget. They retain the 1st The Queen Dragon Guards as their Light Cav. Support functions are taken from 102 Logistics Brigade and suitable towed 105mm Artillery. The 7th Brigade will need more Infantry as at the moment it hovers around 450 to 500 which a Strike Brigade will need 709 Infantry. So that is approx. 2,100, so an extra Light Infantry Batt will be needed, so it should consist of 1 & 2 Royal Anglian and 1 & 2 PWRR.
Now that means that 11th Infantry Brigade has to become HQ for South East and East.
One Tank Regiment is merged so the 2 Tank Regs are the Tank Regiment and the King and Queen’s Royal Hussars. All troops are used to make sure both Tank Regiments are fully staffed and the two Heavy Cavalry Units are the same and do not rely on back filling from reserve untis. No redundancy etc due to shortage of staff and the Tanks themselves moved to being a Reserve unit beside the Royal Wessex Yeomanry with a Second Yeomanry Reg stood up at Catterick. These 2 reserve formations are attached to the 2 Strike Brigades to provide a bigger punch if deployed to a near or peer to peer conflict turning them into Mechanised Armoured Infantry Brigades (looking at you Russia). All of the Scout SV vehicles are used in the 2 Armoured Brigades, including replacing CVR(T) and FV432 used in the Scout / Fire Support role within the armoured infantry Battalions. We make sure enough Warriors are upgraded so all 6 Armoured Infantry Batts are properly equipped.
That means all 8×8 purchased in the next 10yrs need to replace ALL the vehicles in the 2 Strike Brigades. We need an 8×8 family that provides a 105mm Direct Fire Veh, APC, Scout Vehicle, vehicle mounted TOW, Mortar, 155mm Artillery, anti-Air Missiles etc etc. Just look at the Italian or American versions of these formations which in the American’s case have been proved to work. By 2025 1 Brigade fully converted by 2028 both. By off the shelf at least 2 “families” of this type exist don’t start from scratch, buy and then convert.
The Last Light Cavalry Unit reinstates the Para’s Cavalry Squadron per air mobile Infantry Batt. And moves back to Swanton Morely.
It means support functions will get hand me down Mastiffs and are not going to get shiny new 8×8 until at least 2030.
You end up with 2 properly equipped Armoured Brigades, 2 Strike Brigades in 8×8 with the ability to be up gunned with Reserve Tanks. That’s 12 Infantry Brigades, 2 Tank Reg ( 2Reserve Tank Reg) 2 Ajax Cavalry units and 2 Light Cav initially on Jackals moving to 8×8 Scout Vehicle by 2025/28.
It leaves you with 4 Brigades plus 16AA(3 Battalions Light Inf) & 3rd Cmd as 6 deployable Brigades of 15 Army Battalions and 3 Navy Commandoes.
It leaves the adaptable force with 18 Light/Light protected Infantry Battalions spread over 6 Brigades and providing standing formations for Brunei, Cyprus, Falkland Islands etc, Specialist UK Anti-Terror Cover, Overseas Engagement and Training. Supported by 1 Support Regiment/Brigade, 1 Artilery Reg. They will have to be self-supporting using Trucks, Land Rover WMIK and man portable javelin.

November 30, 2015 12:46 pm

One more comment that got jammed bcz of edits (copy-paste bringing it to you now):

I must say I was coming from the angle of the often used rule of thumb that an autocannon turret adds 50% on top of a base APC/IFV. And farming the savings (HMG+AGL RWS significantly less!) to get the MIV prgrm launched as per yesterday.
– if that’s a good idea, then the practicalities can be worked out, I am sure (?)

I appreciate the users know these things better than we armchair generals (ref. Chris’s comments about sights).

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 30, 2015 12:48 pm

I think I said it towards the end of my post the using Ajax to replace Warrior was something I didn’t agree with but as we were buying so many and wanted to limit them to the two Armoured Infantry Brigades, it was an option even if not a good one.

If it were possible I would actually reduce the Ajax purchase to number required to equip two Cavalry Regiments and provide replacement for the CVR(T) variants in the six Armoured and Armoured Infantry Regiments. This would result in an order for just over 200 Ajax variants. The money saved after in increase per unit for Ajax, would be put into the purchase of the planned MIV, of which we would need around 500 to equip two four Battalion MIV only Brigades.

I am a huge fan of the current generation of 8×8 and would also like to see the platform takeover the many of the roles the Army currently uses the FV432 rather then using the ABSV, especially in units that are part of the four Reaction Brigades and their Headquarters. An 8×8 would probably be more cost effective in roles such as Ambulance, Signals, Mortar Carrier, than the ABSV, whilst having the mobility to operate with the other tracked AFVs.

In my view there is no role of the Mastiff and other MRAVs currently in the inventory in these Brigades, but if they are to be retained then they should be issued to the adaptive formations. In fact seeing a Foxhound or Mastiff outside Terminal four at Heathrow in response to a security threat is preferable to seeing an Ajax.

The Toutatis turret would seem ideal for a Direct Fire Support variant of the MIV. A recce version similar to what other nations have done with their LAVs would also be a good candidate.

The Army is at a crossroads and has the opportunity to make sense out of all the messed up decisions and programmes of the past. Making the RIGHT decisions now and sticking to them could see it evolving into the a very effective and relevant force for the 21st century. The Army must clearly define to roles for both the Reactive and Adaptive formations and equip them accordingly. The personnel in both must have a clear un
understanding of their reason for being especially those in the Adaptive formations, so that they feel relevant and have vital role in the nations security, and are not second class soldiers.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 30, 2015 12:49 pm

No sign of the edit function again.

November 30, 2015 1:03 pm

I was not suggesting cancelling Warrior upgrade overall, just the turret :-).
I work with Lawyers, in a bank, commercial contracts are renegotiated all the time ! However I accept your “ruinous” statement as we are talking about the MOD…….

Therefore it would seem we have too many FRES Ajax on order already, unless Strike Brigades are mixed wheeled and tracked. It seems we missed a chance to rationalize, commonize and lever that considerable investment.

On APC versus IFV. Allegedly upgraded Warrior can only fit 6 dismounts. VBCI 2 with turret can only carry 6 dismounts. Kongsberg Protector RWS dual mount version can carry 40mm AGL and 7 62mm MG. The AGL with air bursting munitions should be excellent for suppressing enemy infantry ATGW teams, which is pretty much what the infantry is there for in all-arms armoured Manouvre combat is it not ? However as Kongsberg have also test fired the Javelin from the Protector RWS, there is a useful capability there too. Agreed that if “medium” armour in the form of IFV is deployed alone, then the medium calibre auto cannon is a good thing.
Perhaps in these days of RWS proliferation IT would be profitable for FN to reconsider the BRG 15.5mm HMG which apparently had excellent armour piercing performance.

November 30, 2015 1:27 pm

As I understand it, the turret is more than half the cost of an IFV/Ajax vehicle. Leaving aside the contractual issue with Warrior FLIP turret, replacing Warrior with a variant of Ajax would remove a whole series of mechanical support costs from the budget due to commonality, as well as producing a better defended vehicle and avoiding the other mechanical upgrades to Warrior. The cost might actually be largely equivalent seen in lifecycle terms…

November 30, 2015 1:37 pm

wf – we might hope as LMUK are the producers of both Ajax and Warrior FLIP turrets that they have done all they can to reduce differences between them, to make the best use of common support. Its obvious that to the User (especially the likes of REME) having one set of spares and one set of expertise to look after both turrets would be A Good Thing. Unfortunately, as LMUK are working for MOD on Warrior but GDUK on Ajax, I fear the projects are stovepiped just as the contracts and accounts weenies like, meaning that common sense and doing what’s right for the User just don’t get a look-in.

November 30, 2015 2:40 pm

One could say that, as an integrator, LMUK has produced the Warrior WLIP turret:

“Lockheed Martin has used its world class Systems Engineering and Systems Integration expertise to integrate the ATK Bushmaster 30mm Mark 44 Cannon, onto a modified Warrior turret with a dual axis stabilised BGTI sight from Thales Optronics Limited. Rhinemetall Defence has designed the cannon, the mounting structure and the Ammunition Handling System. Curtiss-Wright is responsible for the turret stabilisation.”

November 30, 2015 2:49 pm

ACC – that’s a long time out of date if it still says Mk44. The turret has been CTA40 for the past 5 or so years.

Mike W
November 30, 2015 2:50 pm


Many thanks for your knowledgeable and interesting reply concerning compatibility issues.

November 30, 2015 3:15 pm

Thanks Chris, did not even remember there had been another gun in the frame… that’s how it swam through

Mike W
November 30, 2015 4:10 pm

@Lord Jim

“The Army is at a crossroads and has the opportunity to make sense out of all the messed up decisions and programmes of the past. Making the RIGHT decisions now and sticking to them could see it evolving into a very effective and relevant force for the 21st century. The Army must clearly define to roles for both the Reactive and Adaptive formations and equip them accordingly.”

Beautifully put and couldn’t agree more. We simply have to overcome the mistakes and delays of the past. Mind you, I wouldn’t solely blame the Army for them. Successive governments had a large role to play in creating them. Cancelling an Army vehicle programme is much easier than cancelling huge and really expensive projects such as ships or planes.

“I work with Lawyers, in a bank, commercial contracts are renegotiated all the time!”

Point taken but I honestly think that in the defence world, penalty causes nowadays are particularly draconian. It was said with reference to the decision taken to preserve both the CVF carriers in the 2010 SDSR that, because of penalty clauses, cancelling one of them would have been more expensive than keeping it!

November 30, 2015 5:19 pm

@Lord Jim
I had suggested (as a way of freeing up money for MIV) that just one new turreted AFV – AJAX – be procured and that all the turret-less AFVs in the AI Brigades be based on a turret-less version of WARRIOR as represented by ABSV.
Given this , I have some problems with the numbers you have quoted.
If we are looking at 2xAI Brigades each comprising 1xAR, 1xFRR and 2xAI Battalions, the number of AJAX required would be (source Charles Heyman):
AR – 8 (Scimitar replacement) x 2 = 16
FRR – 36 (Scimitar replacement) x 2 = 72
AI – 65 (Scimitar and WARRIOR replacement) x 4 = 260
The above gives a total of 348 to equip the 2 x AI Brigades. Obviously some additional would be required to allow for attrition and training but still well short of your total of 560.

@Brian Black @Mike W
I had not proposed binning WARRIOR but rather dropping the new turret and using upgraded WARRIORS with the turret removed (which as I understand it is what ABSV will be) to replace all FV432, non-Scimitar CVR(T) variants and turret-less versions of the AJAX family in the AI Brigades.

Yes, this would mean the re-negotiation of contracts but both L-M and GDUK would be getting substantial work so I’m not sure why you should be so alarmed by the prospect.

I am not an expert on AFVs but fail to see why the development of an IFV version of AJAX would be so difficult given that it was derived from an IFV.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 30, 2015 6:27 pm

I based my numbers on Ajax replacing all CVR(T) and FV432 platforms currently in the Armoured, Armoured Infantry and Cavalry Regiments/Battalions, so the difference between us is probably the non-turret CVR(T) variants and the FV432s.

November 30, 2015 6:31 pm

The Ajax was derived from an IFV, true, but it’s been fitted with a bigger turret (less room in the hull) different comms and equipment appropriate to its role (which is not being an IFV). I’ve not seen inside the GD vehicle but I have seen the Ares and the CV90-based offering, both of which were far from roomy in the back because they had filled up all the space. Going back to the IFV would require relocating all of that. Not saying that it’s hard, more that it’s not cheap. Going from an IFV to a recce vehicle cost the best part of half a billion pounds. Changing back will eat into any savings you might gain from shutting down the Warrior upgrade.
Using brand-new turreted Ajax-derived IFVs to replace upgraded Warriors will double the unit price.
Paying the development cost for ABSV as a unique type doesn’t make much sense when Ares is pretty similar and common with all the other proposed vehicles.

November 30, 2015 8:29 pm

You may well be right and I am certainly not in a position to argue with you on the physical details of the vehicles.

A couple of questions however.

You make the point that room in the hull has been taken up by equipment appropriate to the reconnaissance role. If an IFV variant is to be produced, why does that specialist kit need to be relocated and not just removed ?

Are you claiming that the half a billion pounds spent on the conversion from ASCOD to AJAX was required only to change roles from IFV to recce?

A couple of other points.

I quite agree that using a brand-new turreted AJAX-derived IFV would be substantially more expensive than a WARRIOR CSP. But there is quite a bit of political commitment behind the Scout SV programme and as Brian Black has pointed out, contracts have been signed. Any change of plan needs to be presented in a positive light and a reduction in total numbers with the rationale of all of the turretted AFVs being AJAX variants allows for that.

I am not proposing paying the development cost for ABSV as a unique type but rather amending WCSP to produce turret-less vehicles.

November 30, 2015 8:59 pm
Reply to  percontator

Argue away. Nosing around a couple of demonstrators at shows hardly makes me an authority.
On the internal equipment, it was apparent that much of the equipment in the space that would be used for dismounts was stuff that had been displaced from elsewhere, presumably by recce specific equipment so you would have to relocate rather than simply remove.
On the half billion, what else where they spending it on?
It might not be so expensive to re-role to IFV, but it won’t be free either.

I am not proposing paying the development cost for ABSV as a unique type but rather amending WCSP to produce turret-less vehicles.

I rather think that you are. WCSP is a programme past most of its major design reviews (i.e. not really that far behind SV) and based on providing turret upgrades. ABSV is a new programme not yet past initial gate. Your proposal is essentially throwing that away and funding a new programme that duplicates one of the SV vehicles. ABSV on Warrior makes sense if Warrior IFV, OPV and RRV are the backbone of the armoured infantry battalions already. If the primary vehicle of the armoured infantry is Ajax IFV, then it makes more sense to have the support vehicles based on the same chassis.

November 30, 2015 10:30 pm

I am just using ABSV as an illustration of a WARRIOR without a turret.
I believe WCSP is more than just a new turret. So it would appear fairly straightforward to carry on with the other updates but complete the vehicle without a turret.

It may make more sense to have the support vehicles on the same chassis as the IFV but not if the objective is to save money and we already have 600+ Warriors.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
November 30, 2015 11:08 pm

Surely if we really really want to use an Ajax variant to replace Warrior the best way would be to use what the Ajax was based on as a starting point, the ASCOD. Then start adding the things to turn it into an Ajax whist ensuring you leave room in the back. Simplistic thinking but far easier than taking an Ajax and trying to turn it back into an ASCOD!

December 1, 2015 7:34 am

So you’d end up with a Warrior hull without a turret. There’d be a hole in the roof and nowhere for vehicle crew to sit. You could rectify that, but it would cost money.
If the objective is to save money, you also have to consider that going ahead with the Warrior upgrade and saving a couple of million per vehicle may offset the remaining cost of the development programme. Also that keeping a common chassis within a unit may well improve logistics and maintenance support.

Lord Jim,
You could turn the Ajax into an IFV. No doubt about it. But it wouldn’t be free.

December 1, 2015 7:53 am

From the pictures, Ajax has an awful lot of computers inside. Ajax IFV variant doesn’t need those :-)

December 1, 2015 8:15 am

Lord Jim – as mr.fred says, anything is possible. But there are reportedly a lot of differences between ASCOD & Ajax (uprated engine, stronger transmission, better armour solution, GVA, uprated suspension and so on) which for commonality’s sake would need to be part of other variants in UK service. Much of the £0.5bn development budget mr.fred pointed to yesterday evening has been spent on these changes (the rest on the turret and ‘recce stuff’) but undoubtedly incorporating these changes into any ASCOD base design will cost quite a lot. For all the UK specific components there will be no economy of scale – the piece-parts will be bought at essentially one-off prices.

MOD could have bought ASCOD as a standard vehicle and replaced the turret only. It didn’t. It bought a look-alike in which almost every component needed redesign to make it – um – ‘Good Enough’. It is a funded development unique UK vehicle that just happens to be ASCOD shaped – by rights because of the funding the IP ought to rest with the British Taxpayer, but you can bet GD’s lawyers didn’t allow that.

Whichever way its cut any Ajax family vehicle will be an expensive option to buy and to own. If MOD were to cost both C2 and Ajax costs on exactly the same basis of accounts, there probably wouldn’t be much difference. But then again at 40t+ the vehicle is 2/3 the weight of the tank so the costs would be in the same ballpark anyway.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
December 2, 2015 3:06 am

I was sort of playing “Devil’s Advocate”, regarding producing a Ajax IFV variant to replace the Warrior. In my mind if we want to retain an IFV the Warrior CSP will do the job quite nicely. The question I have is that we are buying all the shiny new Ajax and the Army seems to be trying to find a role for them. Putting these 40t platforms in the “Strike” Brigades defeats the whole idea behind them. I get the impression the Army is gong to end up using the majority of the Ajax as very expensive Medium tanks. As I have said before, like banks being too big to fail, the Ajax programme has too much invested in it, cash, careers and credibility.

December 2, 2015 8:45 am

Lord Jim – I have noted before that I have no doubt Ajax will be a competent combat vehicle (very well protected, good sensors, good medium caliber gun) and there will be times when it would be exactly what is needed. Its just that its as wide as C2 and as high as C2 and not a huge amount lighter, and in an army that has a 30t+ IFV being upgraded to the same gun. its quite hard to see what gap its trying to fit in. You would think, in these days of limited budget and with governments that are willing to send forces anywhere at short notice, there ought to be a ‘necessity test’ for new equipment that demands proponents identify situations where there is nothing in the inventory that could be used instead of the proposed new kit.

For example, there will be a suggestion Ajax should be the recce component for C2 deployments. But if Ajax is the same height and width, and it makes almost as much noise, and its ground pressure is not much lighter (I think by rough calculation its MMP is around 200kPa vs C2 at 250kPa), then what’s the penalty for using C2 as scouts? Better protected and better armed and (obviously) common support and ready to re-role from recce to combat – what advantage does Ajax bring?

I am not one of the Army’s tactic development experts; I have no insight into nuances of capability that they must have. But from the outside looking in it does seem that the UK has a fine and expensive new armoured solution looking for a problem to solve.

To a degree I see similar difficulties justifying the purchase of Ajax/Warrior weight 8×8 IFVs – sure a wheeled vehicle can scamper about a bit faster than a tracked one, and self deploy if absolutely necessary, but a 30t+ vehicle is a 30t+ vehicle whether wheeled or tracked; the same sort of size, the same limits on transportability, the same limits on route width and weight restrictions.

Mike W
December 2, 2015 6:42 pm

Don’t want to be a Johnny-come-lately trying to revive a thread that might be declining in popularity but the discussion has been first-rate and really fascinating.

There’s just one more question I want to ask. Several correspondents have mentioned how the new Strike Brigades are supposed to be self-deploying, by road if necessary. Now presumably, if they are to be fast to deploy and manoeuvrable, then they will have to have some method of crossing water obstacles, gaps etc. Does that mean yet another specialist variant will have to be developed, e.g. a medium bridgelayer? I suppose ABLE/BR90 vehicles on an upgraded carrier vehicle might suffice but they will have other commitments with heavy armoured forces, won’t they? Titan will be too heavy for such formations.

Now some of us have already been, quite rightly, admonished by Phil for being too concerned about what the Brigades will look like rather than how the transition will be handled, but TD started off by asking the question: Does anyone know what they will look like?” so am trying to think about some of the problems involved. Does the above problem mean the development of yet another variant of AJAX or the new MIV (we have already had suggestions for a 105mm Direct Fire Vehicle, a Mortar vehicle, an Overwatch vehicle, etc. etc. Are the problems more complicated and expensive than we imagine at the moment or am I worrying about something relatively trivial?

December 3, 2015 8:33 am

Mike W – my opinion for what its worth – to a degree the level of difficulty the new Strike Brigades will have deploying is a function of the sort of equipment they comprise. If they travel in broad heavy vehicles then many route options may be deleted as unsuitable, and yes then new routes would need to be created by the Engineers. If they are equipped with vehicles of comparable scale to typical road transport then the civilian infrastructure would be adequate to support movement. Clearly there would still be high value in taking Engineer support to open/reopen routes to gain tactical advantage, but best its not all tied up miles away from the front line making a tank sized bypass for a mountain village.

Within the Engineers’ toolbox the old 17.5t CET has been replaced by the 30t Terrier. If the Strike Brigade ends up with MIVs of smaller lighter high mobility kit, the Terrier might be the heaviest vehicle present, meaning it might spend much of its time engineering routes for itself.

Not to worry though – those fine chaps at JCB supplied HMEE, which can hoof along at 60mph or so. Sounds about right for the new rapid reaction forces. As for bridging, again if the combat vehicles are lighter then the bridging requirement reduces significantly, not only in terms of the strength of bridging required but also the numbers of cases where extant bridges would be too weak to use.

I guess at this point TD would point us to his bridging series:

December 3, 2015 9:03 am
the bridging requirement reduces significantly

– I wonder if the 3 dozen Warrior based bridge layers (plan) will come back now?
– anyway, having small and nimble bridging units around provides ad hoc SHORAD platforms (so that you can fire even if there are tress all around you). Much nicer for those guys too, rather than standing on an exposed hill top.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
December 3, 2015 9:27 am

Thanks Mile W and Chris – I was wondering this point.

AVLB is a close support or assault bridge. Do the Striker Brigade require this capability.

The infantry deploying by helicopter or on assault boats can secure a bridgehead, allowing a general support bridge like ABLE/BR90 to be constructed.

Gen “Sharpend” Tony Jones described building Bailey in Italy as an assault bridge under fire, but we live in risk averse times.

I presume with its improved armour the Bulldog does not swim or as a QMSI said of the 432 “not so much can swim as it doesn’t sink.”

Mike W
December 3, 2015 11:52 am

Many thanks, guys, for your thoughts on that one.

@ Chris.

I was thinking perhaps of scenarios where conventional roads might run out but where you might still be confronted by rivers or gaps of one kind or another. e.g parts of Africa.

Have not heard anything about the Warrior-based bridgelayer for a long time now. I do know, though, that Pearson Engineering have developed a ridge launching mechanism which could be fitted.

@Deja Vu

Thanks for those very interesting views. I think it has been years since the FV432 or Bulldog could swim. That would mean flotation screens.

Lovely mental picture of the Terrier having possibly to spend much of its time engineering routes for itself! As you say, something like the HMEE might be one of the answers for the rapid deployment forces.

Mike W
December 3, 2015 11:56 am

Sorry, last paragraph in previous post applies to your comments.

December 3, 2015 12:08 pm
I do know, though, that Pearson Engineering have developed a ridge launching mechanism which could be fitted.

When I looked into it, it seemed to be the one they sold a couple of to Indonesia and Malaysia (but on a Stormer chassis). Yonks ago…

December 3, 2015 12:19 pm

Mike W, ACC – if the Pearson unit is still producible then there is no reason why it couldn’t be fitted to a newer base vehicle of compatible size. If it fits a Stormer then there wouldn’t be many armoured vehicles that couldn’t cope with it.

I have a cunning plan for a bridge that rolls up, but that’s another thing altogether.

On the Pearson bridge, this is on their website:×613.jpg

Mike W
December 3, 2015 2:44 pm

“When I looked into it, it seemed to be the one they sold a couple of to Indonesia and Malaysia (but on a Stormer chassis). Yonks ago…”

I do remember the bridge fitted to a Stormer chassis. In fact, I think I saw it down at one of the old BAEE exhibitions years ago. I think it was produced by Alvis and it was sold to Malaysia. I’m not sure whether they used Pearson technology, though. What I was referring to was something called the Bridge Launch Mechanism (BLM), which is a special attachment system that makes it possible for a vehicle to launch assault bridging. See Chris’s comments.

If it can be fitted to an 8 x 8 wheeled vehicle, the it could provide an answer, if they ever have enough money to procure it.!

Looking at the Pearson website, I see that the Defence Secretary has visited the firm recently and has had a good look at the PEROCC mine and IED clearance vehicle. Now there is a piece of kit!

Intrigued by your roll-up bridge!

December 3, 2015 5:58 pm

Think you all have enough to set up 3 Divisions (1 deployed, 1 reconstitution after deployed and 1 training for deployment). Each DIV could have 1 Armor BDE (1 CAV REG, 1 TANK REG, 3 INF BN, 1 ARTY REG) & 1 STRIKE BDE (3 INF BN, ARTY REG & CAV REG/SQD). Could also add 16 PARA BDE (3 true PARA BNS), 3 CDO BDE (RM) and maybe create another light BDE (bring back 24 BDE and make it an Air Assault?), giving each DIV an additional “Light” BDE that could possibly be task organized with a PARA BN, Light (AA?) BN and a CDO. With the numbers of Army Reserve INF BNs on hand you could also have 6 LIGHT BDES with 2 INF BNs each, giving each DIV an additional 2 BDES

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
December 4, 2015 12:36 am

I think the Army need to get its arse in gear with regards to its reorganisation and re-equipment plans. At present we have a lot of talk but little form information on timelines. From my point of view I would like the following to take place;

By 2020 the Army should have re-equipped two Armoured Infantry Brigades each with one Armoured Regiment (Challenger LEP), one Armoured Cavalry Regiment (Ajax) with four Sabre Squadrons instead of the planned three, and two Armoured Infantry Battalions (Warrior CSP). In the latter I would like to see four Infantry companies with reserves used to make up the manpower. This would result in each brigade being able to deploy four Battalion based battle groups each of one Armoured Squadron, one Armoured Cavalry Squadron and two Armoured Infantry Companies. Also new I would like to see a Star Streak unit of eight to ten launch vehicles integrated into each Brigade Headquarters, removing them form the Royal Artillery but retaining the manpower. The two support companies would be deployed as required and all four Battlegroups would be supported by the Brigades Artillery Regiment (AS90/GMLRS) and Logistics Regiment, with other assets being allocated to the Brigade Headquarters from the Divisional Support Group, such as ISTAR, Air Defence, Engineering and additional Logistics.

Also by 2020 I would like to see a Battalion level trials units set up to work out how the planned “Strike” brigades are to be formed and utilised, as this is a totally new area for the British Army.

Additional variants of the Viking Mk2 would be purchased for the Royal Marines including a SP 120mm automatic mortar using the Singapore Technologies system, and a variant carrying the Starstreak HVM taken from the current Stormer chassis. In total sufficient Viking Mk2s should be available to mount an entire Commando plus the support weapon to the remaining two. This is a substantial increase, but the utility of the Viking Mk2 has been proven

Finally I would like to see two brigades, call them Stabilisation Brigades for now, from the planned Adaptive force mechanised with both the platform retained from Afghanistan and new build. These should comprise of one Light Cavalry Regiment (Jackal/Foxhound), Three Mechanised Battalions (Mastiff/Foxhound) and one Artillery Regiment(105mm Light Gun). A percentage of all these units would be from the reserves providing Company/Squadron sized formations to their related units.

By 2025 based on the work carried out by the Trials Unit I would like to see al least the first “Strike” Brigade operational. Initially these would comprise of Four Mechanised Infantry Battalions and an Artillery Regiment and an Logistics Regiment. Each Battalion would have a Headquarters, three Infantry Companies and A Support Company. All component units would be equipped with variants of the MIV platform, the number and availability of which would depend on funding. In an ideal would a forth Company would be created in each Battalion equipped with a Direct Fore Support Variant of the MIV and a Recce Section equipped with w Scout variant attached to the Battalion Headquarters. The Artillery Regiment would be equipped either with the towed 155mm M777 or with an SP automatic 120mm Mortar system. At Brigade Headquarters level as with the Armoured Infantry Brigades, a Battery eight SP Starstreak would be created, but the weapon system would be transferred to a MIV Variant whereas in the Former it would be an Ajax variant. Again additional support assets would be allocated by the Divisional Support Group as required.

In addition, the two Adaptive Force Mechanised Brigades would now be re-equipped with the new family of protected vehicles that were announced recently. The Foxhounds already in service would be allocated to other units within the adaptive force provide most with at least a company’s worth to give each a protected mobility capability.

Next looking at what platforms are used by other nation airmobile formations, 16 Air Mobile Brigade should be brought up to a strength of Four Infantry Battalions and be re-equipped with light protected platforms to increase their ground mobility, reducing the reliance on Helicopter lift to move any distance. These platforms should also increase the firepower of the Brigade. All of the platform(s) chosen must be easily lifted by the Chinook and multiples carried by both the A-400 and C-17. Utilisation of platforms of a similar nature to the SF would be advantageous.

On a more radical note I would form a SF Support formation made up of the existing Para Battalion and transfer a second Battalion of Paras and a Gurkha Battalion. These three battalion would act a support for the SF and as Pathfinder for other formations. In addition each Battalion would specialise in a given area, these being Arctic/Mountain, Dessert and Jungle, though all three would be able to operate effectively in all three. They would also be trained in unconventional warfare as well as Hearts and Minds operations.

All of this would mean that by 20205 the UK would have a total two heavy, two medium, two light and two stabilisation Brigades, available for operations with the SF and SF Support Group at the very sharp end and at least two more Infantry Brigades available from the Adaptive Force for tasks such as training friendly nations, disaster relief, ceremonial duties and to support the security service such as the Police. I would recommend that these Brigades and the Stabilisation Brigades rotate roles every five to six years as the roles are complimentary.

I have not gone into depth regarding the numerous support units needed by may elaborate in a future post.

Deja Vu
Deja Vu
December 4, 2015 10:25 am

Whilst any bridge is of benefit, the Pearson Bridge at 10 m span is 40% of the span of the Titan Launched No 10 Bridge.

I was wondering if a vehicle like the Churchill Ark would help with obstacle crossing. With the same chassis as the supported unit possessing extending ramps and a reinforced roof it could keep up with the fast moving brigade elements and help overcome obstacles, improving mobility off established roads. It could also possibly act as a pier for multi span bridges.

TD’s shows Churchil/Sherman/Centurion ARK, CAMP etc

Mike W
December 4, 2015 11:27 am

Lord Jim

I have now read your post through twice. You can hardly be accused of indulging in fantasy fleets, as a lot of thought and work has gone into your suggestions and they do seem within the perimeters of what is possible financially. You also say that “at present we have a lot of talk but little form information on timelines”, something I very much agree with. No doubt a lot of work is going on behind the scenes but the information given in SDSR 2015 was woefully short on detail and more information about structure, formations and equipment will be needed before long in order to focus minds and direct efforts more precisely in the areas of re-organisation and re-equipment.

I have one or two questions, though.

You say, for instance, that you would form a SF Support formation made up of the existing Para Battalion and transfer a second Battalion of Paras and a Gurkha Battalion. That would leave 16 air Assault Bde awfully short of specialist Paras. That Brigade only has two Para battalions and one Gurkha at present, so they would be reduced to one battalion of the traditional types of troops in such a brigade. You do say that “16 Air Mobile (Assault) Brigade should be brought up to a strength of Four Infantry Battalions” Do you mean by that four battalions from Line Infantry?

You also say “By 2020 the Army should have re-equipped two Armoured Infantry Brigades each with one Armoured Regiment (Challenger LEP), one Armoured Cavalry Regiment (Ajax) with four Sabre Squadrons instead of the planned three” That would be possible, numbers-wise, would it? Remember that the new Ajax-type vehicles will have to serve in the new Strike Brigades as well, unless David Cameron got it wrong and confused FRES SV with FRES UV (MIV), something which is hardly likely, I think.

All in all, some very sensible suggestions here.

December 4, 2015 11:34 am
Italian ARK, these were designed and manufactured in Italy, did not use separate trackway on the superstructure but used longer front and rear ramps made from 15 foot long US M2 Treadway Pontoon Bridge components. The Italian ARK’s saw extensive service.

Like this one better as the tank’s/ carrier’s own length is added… even if it may at times mean that it won’t come out again!

BTW, Leguan seems to the most favoured (exported) bridging option as it can be on an MBT, or a wheeled carrier, when an “under fire” crossing is not expected.

Mike W
December 4, 2015 11:39 am

@Deja Vu

“Whilst any bridge is of benefit, the Pearson Bridge at 10 m span is 40% of the span of the Titan Launched No 10 Bridge.”

Yes, I had not realized the dimensions of that bridge.
“I was wondering if a vehicle like the Churchill Ark would help with obstacle crossing.”

Yes, if affordable, something like the old ARK, using folding ramps, could be useful. It would, of course, need to be based on something much lighter and more recent than the Churchill, which went out of service in the 1950s! Even the last of the Arks, based on Centurion, had gone by the early 1970s. I am still wondering about Chris’s bridge, but presumably that is one which rolls up rather than folds up like the ARK.

December 4, 2015 4:14 pm

Ref ARK – if it was to be considered a one-shot tool for the brigade (install once and use as if permanent), and if it was deemed necessary to move fast to get where it was needed quickly, and if it was to operate where armour was also considered necessary, then if my decision I would be looking hard at the likes of CVR(T), Stormer and FV432 to see which could have the hull height reduced to save weight and lower the CofG, which could then be fitted with deck & ramps and with an armoured cell for the operators. To cope with the weight it would carry as a bridge it might need much stronger bump-stops or even deployable load-spreader plates, but that’s for the designers to figure out.

If the device is on a one-way ticket there is little point designing and buying new; use the stuff that’s due for imminent disposal.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
December 4, 2015 5:17 pm

@Mike W.
Regarding the Ajax, I think it is the wrong fit to put it in the “Strike” Brigades. This was the reason for the development of the Direct Fore Support MIV variant, which in my mid should have the same 40mm CTA and possibly two ATGW in a turret. I know this increases the height of the vehicle, but not so much that it is unstable or too vulnerable. It would be nice to have a dedicated platform for the role but my suggestions are already pushing the budget. Basically I still think the Army has realised it has ordered too many Ajax and now has to find a relevant use for them. A I have already said it would be too damaging to the careers of many Civil Servant and Senior Officers to reduce the buy after the time the programme has taken, and the Government has hyped up the Ajax as some sort of wonder platform any negative press would be very unwelcome. It has a role but it is barely a medium weight platform and far from easily self deployable. In fact it would slow down the whole brigade.

The transfer of two battalions from 16 Air Mobile namely one of Paras and one of Gurhhas, I do not see a problem. The Brigade is Air Mobile not Airborne so these Battalions could be replaced by two from the planned Adaptive force. Whist a single Para Battalion would remain in the Brigade it would probably not be fully jump rained. This would be undertaken by the SF Support Formation units which would basically be the equivalent of the US Army’s Ranger battalions in training and role with the added specialisations I mentioned I my post.

Mike W
December 4, 2015 9:00 pm

Many thanks for the reply. I suppose an ARK-type vehicle is a long shot and, because of severe financial restraints, really unusual creative thinking has had to take a bit of a back seat in the UK’s Armed Forces recently. However, it is not beyond the realms of possibility and, as ACC has said, it has the attraction of adding the length of the vehicle to any bridge arrangement. Would have to be made really watertight, though. It would not just be used n dry gaps!

@Lord Jim

Thanks also for your reply.

I agree with the point that any negative press about the Ajax, after innumerable delays, would be most unwelcome. However, when you say, “Basically I still think the Army has realised it has ordered too many Ajax and now has to find a relevant use for them.”, I don’t know so much. This vehicle is intended to be first and foremost a reconnaissance vehicle but won’t it, like the CVR(T) family, go on growing variants? You know, we had the Scorpion, Scimitar, Striker, Spartan, Sultan, Samaritan, Samson family, then came the Stormer derivative for Air Defence, Minelayer etc. Won’t the Ajax family grow in versions too for use in other areas, Corps, etc. and not just be confined to Cavalry formations? It is intended to be the base vehicle for many variants for decades to come. We have already had talk about (and GDUK has designed some of them, I think): Fire Support, Bridgelayer, Overwatch and Mortar vehicles.

Your point about how “The Brigade (16 AA) is Air Mobile not Airborne so these Battalions could be replaced by two from the planned Adaptive force. Whilst a single Para Battalion would remain in the Brigade it would probably not be fully jump trained.” could be somewhat contentious, I suppose. Leaving aside the arguments the arguments about élite forces versus others (a controversial area that I don’t really want to go into), there is also the powerful argument that the Paras are more suited to such a role, having trained in the role of rapid reaction/ intervention troops for a very long time and honed the necessary skills to an extremely high level.

Anyway, enjoyed reading your post very much indeed. Thanks.

December 5, 2015 6:39 am
It [the Ajax family] is intended to be the base vehicle for many variants for decades to come. We have already had talk about (and GDUK has designed some of them, I think): Fire Support, Bridgelayer, Overwatch and Mortar vehicles.
Your point about how “The Brigade (16 AA) is Air Mobile not Airborne

Two for the price of one! – through the quote facility
@MW, here’s the “really watertight” version:

… but more seriously, thanks for taking inventory of what is still missing. I would think the real gaps are the bridge layer (version Light) and the Overwatch. What makes me say this is
1. ABSV will provide the mortar support for AI and for the Strike Bdes it is likely to be a mortar crew carried by a MIV (but operated from the outside). Some creative thinking would provide a supplementary solution through this:
– a Chinook can take both the mortar carrier and the ammo carrier, and two vehicles giving enough of a crew to sustain fire as well
2. This “propper” piece of artillerycomment image is not only as fast as the MIV on roads, but it is also equally capable off-road (would not believe it by just looking at the sheer size of it!). Better still, it is also direct fire capable.

Now, points 1 & 2 could also be covered by putting an AMOS/ NEMO turret on the MIV… but then the range disadvantage would need to be countered by upping the number of Spike NLOS (Exactor) trailers available.

@LJ, the quote within the quote, from Mike’s:
Airborne as in Para, Airmobile as in hopping from one place to another, the only practical means for doing that is using helos (and we have never had enough of them for an infantry unit to have its own, unlike the Yanks, for whom they are the same as a pickup truck).
Therefore I would suggest using Airlanded as the third descriptor. Can be a combination of the two other types of units, but can be more. E.g. in the Russian VDV there is a clear difference made between airborne and airlanded (follow-on) formations whereas in the US they have airborne and airmobile (air assault) distinction at divisional level. We would do ourselves a service by being clear, when the Strike bdes will be formed, which parts of them are capable of being the follow-on echelon by virtue of lending themselves to be airlanded.

December 5, 2015 11:10 am

Lord Jim – ref MIV with a chunky turret – I have said before I dislike APC height hulls with big turrets on top. For some reason those that aren’t engineers assume this produces best of both worlds – all the advantages of wheels over tracks; all the advantages of APCs in delivering infantry; all the advantages of light tanks. Those that *are* engineers immediately start trying to work out what compromises have been made to create Frankenapclighttank, like dismount volume lost, high CofG, less capacity for appliqué, limited volume for rounds or ISTAR related IT & Comms (unless dismount volume is reduced further) and so on. To the engineer then there is a tendency to assess multi-role as ‘worst of all worlds’. I must admit I expected to find many examples on the web of wheeled IFVs that had fallen over while attempting to steer round corners, but could find only one. But in this case the comment attached to the image was a deduction that, due to the very flat ground, the vehicle must have rolled due to high CofG (and an inexperienced, over-optimistic driver):comment image

If you need a fighting vehicle, make a fighting vehicle. If you need to carry infantry, make an APC. Avoid compromises.

Mike W
December 5, 2015 12:19 pm

Many thanks for that link to Business Line showing the Amphibious Floating Bridge and Ferry System. Looks an incredible yet ingenious contraption. Reminds me in some way of the ARK with all the folding bits but it is not on a tank chassis and presumably the material from which the floats are made is not metal but some kind of composite substance? Led me on to thinking whether a lighter, faster version of the M3 amphibious ferry/bridge might be the answer but I’m getting really fanciful now.

Thanks too for your thoughts about mortar vehicles. I’m sure that you’re right about the ABSV providing mortar support for the armoured infantry and that something will be fitted to the MIV for the Strike Brigades. On Artillery, is that a picture of the Archer, by the way? Do you know how successful it is proving in service?

So we might end up with four terms: airborne, air mobile, air assault and now airlanded. What does the last describe, by the way? Follow-on formations that are brought in by cargo aircraft?

December 5, 2015 1:44 pm
is that a picture of the Archer, by the way? Do you know how successful it is proving in service?
So we might end up with four terms: airborne, air mobile, air assault and now airlanded. What does the last describe, by the way? Follow-on formations that are brought in by cargo aircraft?

Hi Mike,
No, it is the Nexter Caesar optimised for an artilleryman, rather than the first edition, which was optimised for carriage within a C-130, for expeditionary uses.

Air mobile and air assault being near synomyms, airlanded would be fully formed formations able to fight any type of opposition, but their key kit would fit into military planes… so no more charters of Antonovs from the Ukraine.
– btw, that massive arty piece could be driven into an A400M, even though it is not obvious from the first impressions

Brian Black
Brian Black
December 5, 2015 2:28 pm

Lord Jim, the Paras use Jackal and Coyote, they are not reliant on helicopters to move anywhere. Heliborne and airborne landings are used as methods of rapid deployment and manoeuvre; not for general daily transport.

Air assault units within the British Army are not ‘air cavalry’ -zipping about in helicopters left, right, and Chelsea all day- and are not immobile without aircraft.

I would disagree with the idea that too many Ajax have been bought and that a role for them is being sought.

It seems to me that there is the intent to maintain the capability to deploy an armoured division; but the perceived likelihood of the kind of conflict that requires massed armour formations has slipped down the priority scale against the need to counter irregular or stateless enemies.

The dissolution of an armoured brigade is just a recognition that a major armoured expedition is a rarer event than previously envisaged. The Scout SV contract services the Army’s 2020 plan with three armoured brigades; but it is still quite likely that with only two armoured brigades, the same amount of heavy metal will be there in the Army somewhere, just not held in three standing armoured brigades.

I think there is no need to essentially place an infantry brigade under UKSF command, nor any benefit from doing so.

Units placed under UKSF drop from other operational, garrison, or other duty roulements. This would leave the rest of the Army that bit more stretched.

On the scale of our special forces, the SFSG seems appropriately sized, and there does not seem to be any call from UKSF itself to make it bigger. If a need for more troops arose, I can’t imagine that such a dramatic increase would be immediately required.

Placing infantry battalions under UKSF command won’t make them inherently more ‘special’ than they already are. You could perhaps substantially increase those units’ budgets in order to give them new equipment and capabilities, but that would suck out money from the rest of the Army.

US Special Operations Command now has about 180% of the manpower it had in 2001; however, it also has around 500% of its 2001 budget.

The rest of the armed forces can already be made available to support UKSF led operations if required. Your idea of chucking a few battalions into UKSF isn’t presented in enough detail to explain what they would be doing these, or in what way they would be special. On the face of it, it just sounds like doling out “SF” flashes to a few choice units for no particular benefit.

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
December 5, 2015 2:33 pm

I agree with the distinctions you made and do believe the 16 Air Mobile should be equipped with platform(s) to give it both increased ground mobility and firepower. Its present organisation being basically light infantry transported by Helicopter seems to be a hold over from the Cold War where the Army used Helicopters to transport Milan teams to act as blocking forces. Having lost their dedicated Attack Helicopters, 16 Air Mobile seem now to be a more defensive formation especially with their lack of mobility and reduced firepower. As long as the right platform(s) are chosen and there are quite a few to choose from, the Brigade would be far more effective in its role of first responder.

I also agree that putting say the Ajax turret on the planned MIV is not the ideal solution but it is probably the most affordable. The direct fire support variant I proposed would not carry dismounts instead carrying additional ammunition for its 40mm CTA and ATGW launchers. The APC and Command variants with dismounts would be equipped with a RWS with either a 12.7mm or 40mm AGL. Other variants would probably only have a RWS with a 7.62 MG. As has been pointed out there are a number of “Light weight”, relatively speaking, turrets for the 40mm CTA being developed. If as I hope the “Strike” brigades do not contain the Ajax, they will need a platform of the type I have proposed. If by chance the MIV chosen has a AMX-10RC/Centauro variant with substantial commonality with other variants in running gear etc. That would be a far better solution, but with the exception of the Centauro, which is an outsider for the MIV role, using the standard MIV chassis and body would seem to be the most probable outcome.

December 5, 2015 4:33 pm

The French medians brigades will receive their new material (ie Jaguar and Griffon) at the same time as the Strike Brigades will be formed, even a little before. I do not want to sell you anything, but it would be interesting that the MoD evaluates our equipment to see if it corresponds to the vehicles that you need.

December 6, 2015 1:13 am

The only attraction in Caesar is that it is wheeled SP 155mm. However, the major problem is that the stability requirements can only be met by having a restricted arc of fire, without moving the gun, which introduces another set of problems (eg ammo positioning, compromise concealment, and the time taken, for starters).

The problem is exacerbated by the increasing need to cover wider arcs of fire due to a more dispersed battlefield, unit and formation frontages are increasing (no news here its been the pattern for the last 120 years).

Time is the critical issue, ie speed of response to opportunity targets, many armies don’t seem have very high expectations in this, the US Army being the most notable. Other armies, notably UK are far more demanding, rounds fired with 60 secs of the call for fire. One example is from GW2 when a UK bty was assigned to the USMC, their response to a call for fire was usually around 10 minutes faster that the USMC’s, even allowing for light guns versus M198, response times of this order are ponderous arty.

Of course there can be other delays, air forces sometimes have the quaint notion that they own the airspace and arty must get their clearance to use it, and stuff the direct fire units who are taking casualties and need arty fire now.

Traditionally, towed guns have had a top traverse (ie not move of the carriage) of 30 degrees left & right, which is still somewhat restrictive. UK solved this problem for 25-pdr and Light Gun by using a box trail and platform (first introduced in UK by 18-pdr Mk V in 1918 IIRC). The great advantage of tracked SPs (ignoring casemate configuration eg M44 and GE WW2 designs) is 360 degs turret traverse.

December 6, 2015 8:47 am

Obsvr – given the option of making a wheeled chassis as wide as a tracked vehicle, there is no real reason why a 360deg turret fit should be impossible. It may require height adjustable suspension to lower the vehicle to its bump-stops to increase stability, possibly needing stays to take the load off the tyres (which flex a lot). But wheeled or tracked surely the turret needs access to the outside world to reload… Which brings in the tracked vehicle’s trump-card – it can pivot on its own centre using neutral turn. Very few wheeled vehicles can – ATMP and AMX-10RC come to mind. For wheeled vehicles with long chassis performing a 90 degree change of heading on a typical width track might take a dozen shuffles forward and back, and might not be possible at all given the significant length of most wheeled arty trucks.

On a similar note, I understand the batteries make all efforts to vacate their firing position sharpish after shooting, to avoid the incoming opposition fire. With pivot-turning tracked vehicles once whatever is needed is packed they can spin round and scarper. But the long chassis wheeled trucks need to park up facing the threat (guns fire forward over the cab) meaning they are not facing the right way for a speedy exit, assuming they leave on the same route used for access. So much many-point-turn manoeuvring required, made worse if the battery is close packed.

December 6, 2015 8:52 am

All of points said above are 100% true. The first sentence is slightly under-developed, though. An SPG can’t do all those things better if it is not at the scene when the action takes place. A wheeled equivalent can keep up with something like a MIV formation.

Better still, the particular example I raised knows its coordinates on the move, so stopping and firing is a matter of getting the spades down and the “turret” aligned with the desired target’s coordinates. The autonomy with rounds has gone up from 16 on the 6×6 to 40 rounds carried.

Better still the 8×8 Caesar is 12.3 metres long and 2.8 metres wide, weighs between 26 and 30.5t. Compare that with the VBCI-2 (that is a realistic contender for the strike bdes’ main mount) weighing in at 32t -everyone quotes Ajax at 42t which is its growth limit, not its normal config – and they are both transportable by A400Ms, in addition to self deploying over great distances.

So being in the right place at the right time (+), time to firing and ability to sustain (fairly neutral)… and what else was there? The conclusion is not either or but both. For two bdes the wheeled one, say 18 for each, I put that at 200m euros
– anecdotally. one of the Archer’s problems (which I have not brought up, but Mike mentioned) is/was too small spades, so first of all the ROF was brought down significantly from the spec (stabilising between the rounds) and the much advertised MRSI pretty much went out of the window altogether

December 6, 2015 9:06 am

While on Caesar … “Ceterum censeo, delenda est Carthago”
– OK, it was Scipio, not Caesar, but close enough

The same gun as on Caesar comes fitted to the Braveheart turret. So why not upgrade the few remaining AS90s in the same go? Not that there would not be standardisation (NATO) at the ammunition level already, but better still all through
– the merry go-round is evidenced not only in the mating of the French gun to a British turret, but also the chassis for it (Korean K9, when the DIY project by the customer, Poland, went onto rocks) has the suspension system from AS90

December 6, 2015 9:27 am

the major problem is that the stability requirements can only be met by having a restricted arc of fire

This is a major problem, but the S. African G6 (a 46.5t monster) claims 80 degrees of traversal in either direction. Rather better than “towed guns have had a top traverse (ie not move of the carriage) of 30 degrees left & right, which is still somewhat restrictive”.
– I wonder what the statistic would be for the Stryker Fire Support platform (which is relatively light)?

, the Ruskies tried this
“adjustable suspension to lower the vehicle to its bump-stops to increase stability, possibly needing stays to take the load off the tyres (which flex a lot).” to have the mortars on a wheeled BTR platform, just like the rest of their “strike” bdes
– did not work, and the development was abandoned

But as we tend to buy from GD, they know how to do that:
“General Dynamics Land Systems Canada (GDLS-C) in London, Ontario closed a $2.2-billion deal in November 2009 to provide armoured vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

GDLS-Canada has never released the name of the customer for 724 armoured vehicles supplied via the U.S. Foreign Military Sales program. Several industry sources have confirmed the end destination as the SANG. The vehicles will be shipped in 10 variants, including a mortar carrier. The Finnish company Patria builds Nemo heavy mortar systems and it is seeking export approval from the Finnish government to supply 36 of these for use on the Canadian-built vehicles.”
– continuous future tense here because the quote is from 2009; approval was granted in the same year

Lord Jim
Lord Jim
December 8, 2015 3:32 am

If I remember rightly There were designs for a LAV based SP 155mm using the M777 and firing to the rear. Team this up with a specialised ammo carrier variant and though not optimal would give you superior mobility over towed platforms. However on cost grounds and unless the US Army moves from towed M777s to an SP gun, I think Towed is what our “Strike” Brigades will have. What matters is do they get the 105mm Light Gun or the 155mm M777. Two Regiments each of 3 Batteries shouldn’t break the bank.

December 8, 2015 1:23 pm

@LJ. there were better offers, for those who can’t be bothered with the link, the punch line (NB airportable, std LAV chassis):
“57-caliber 105mm outranges the proposed
38-caliber NLOS-C 155mm howitzer –
and delivers all 105mm projectiles to 30 kilometers”

and a bit more, in the way of key metrics:
Inertial Navigation System (INS)
3-Man Crew
56 Rounds On-Board In Semi-Automated Mode
6 rpm Rate of Fire
Meets C-130 Requirements – 17.5 tons
Chassis road tested in January 2004
Cannon proof fired January 2004
Turret fired 9-11 February 2004