A proposal from Anglo Engineering Concepts to meet British Army vehicle capability gaps and drive down support costs by adopting system engineering thinking and a design language that places the designer closer to the user.

Anglo Engineering Concepts is run by an experienced design engineer that formerly worked as one of the three design engineers in the Drawing Office of Alvis. The design engineers’ remit was to bring forward realistic innovation – this approach of creating designs stretching beyond current capability that could be manufactured in the near future from available technology has since remained a core design principle. 

In more recent times, this same design engineer was part of the team that created Lockheed Martin’s AVA wheeled vehicles that were exhibited at the DE&S DVD events.

The designs described below have been reviewed by serving Army personnel, by MOD and DSTL personnel, and by various experts in the industry, including the former Manager of the Alvis Drawing Office. Generally (and it is to be hoped not just out of politeness) the designs have been well received.

Some design choices caused concerns, but wherever possible these concerns have been addressed in subsequent revisions. This highlights another core principle behind the design work – that solid direct communication between designer and user is essential to effective vehicle development.

A Short History

When the MOD embarked upon a replacement programme for CVR(T) it at first seemed, under FFLAV, that modern, more capable and better-protected versions of the Scorpion family were sought. This seemed rational; there are tasks ideally suited to small-light-fast armour which MBT-sized vehicles or up-armoured Land Rovers cannot perform as efficiently, if at all.

FFLAV though did not progress to a procurement programme.

The TRACER study that succeeded FFLAV was far more ambitious. As the TRACER programme progressed, the vehicles grew larger and heavier, although still nowhere near MBT size. There seemed to be a capability gap opening up between Land Rover-sized CVR(T) and this new breed of digitised high-tech reconnaissance vehicles.

Many in the industry saw a need for light armour and moved to offer solutions – Stormer 30 being an obvious example.

When FRES described a need for C-130 transportability, simple, light and upgradable armoured vehicles like Stormer 30 were brushed aside as the new programme would deliver exactly that class of vehicle, only better.

Skip forward many years; as we all know, FRES eventually delivered something that is the width and height of an MBT, at half an MBT’s weight and with half an MBT’s engine power.

When FRES turned heavyweight, BAE toyed with what seemed to be a relaunch of Stormer 30, the hull updated and apparently carrying a version of their FRES CV90 prototype turret possibly armed with the Mk44 Bushmaster cannon, but it appeared only as a low fidelity graphic:

This vehicle, it seemed, never reached the prototype stage, but CVR(T) derived designs continue to emerge – there are rumours another Stormer 30 rebirth is imminent but yet to break cover – which only shows how good the CVR(T) concept was way back in the 1970s.

Anglo Engineering Concepts sprang from a conviction that Ajax could not perform the same tasks that CVR(T) suited, and where size and weight were defining requirements.  Several vehicle concepts were created, assessed, and either set aside or carried forward for further development.

This coherent design and development process has been ongoing for over seven years.  Seven years of design effort aimed at a single family of armour — this is a duration of design effort not seen since the days of the Establishments.

The effect the closures of the Establishment had on UK defence equipment design was fundamental.  The MOD assumed the industry would perform all the work previously done by the Establishments, but cheaper!

Of course, it didn’t.

The industry is not a charity; unless there’s a high probability of a good return on its investment, it does nothing. Without a cast-iron contract, or a winnable competition for one, or at least a clear indication from MOD that they have a clearly defined requirement for a specific capability, there will be no design effort in the industry.

And as soon as the opportunity expires, all design effort stops. Dead. There should be no surprise that since the 1990s, nearly every armour bid has been based upon previously fielded products minimally modified to tick the latest requirement boxes, or on products imported from afar, developed on their nation’s taxpayers’ money.

This is perfectly summarised in one simple quote from William Suttie’s book ‘The Tank Factory’, where he is looking back at the 1920s.

“The decision to focus tank design in industry and run down the experienced and innovative Department of Tank Design (DTD) was a significant factor that resulted in Britain becoming a backwater in tank design until the Chertsey Establishment was established.”

Clearly, that was a lesson not learned.

In this modern environment, the sustained focus of design effort is a rarity and has delivered not so much a set of vehicles, as a design system comprising a set of subsystems and components that by use in different configurations permit rapid development of role-specific vehicle types.  

The designs resulting from this methodology have been created and developed despite there being no MOD procurement project, formal requirement or funded study.

These are simple honest vehicles designed from the inside out to be effective, maintainable, and achievable, but just as important is the design process that produced them.

Anglo Engineering Concepts — Family of Light Armour

While it has been the norm for the Armed Forces to do the best with the kit which is available, this has at times made tasks more difficult, less effective or in some cases much more dangerous. Gaps in capability place additional strain on the serving soldiers as they wrestle with equipment that is not really the right tool for the job.

What is needed is a wider range of useful tools in the Army’s toolbox, so that the difficult task of the soldier can be made as easy as possible.

The most obvious gap in UK equipment is precisely the space that has been occupied by CVR(T), and FV600 before that, and the likes of the Daimler, Coventry, and Staghound armoured cars before that. Considering the age of FV432 Bulldog and M270 MLRS, ongoing concerns over Panther protection, and the mobility of the Mastiff family, there is a broad spectrum of light to medium armour that might be considered also in need of replacement.

It appears the US Army has determined it too has a similar need for such armour (as reported here:


The vehicles broadly align within the earliest FRES framework; C-130 transportable combat armour fulfilling many of the defined FRES roles. But before embarking on a design, their purpose had to be adequately defined. As one of the VERDI-2 trials operators (LCoH Bright) stated at the end of its trial:

“The main question to be answered before TRACER comes off the drawing board is what is the main role of recce? What does it need to do, collect information or destroy enemy light armour or both?”

The first task faced by any armoured vehicle designer and the user is to understand the role; to scope out something like a Cardinal Points Specification of perhaps half a dozen defining characteristics the design needs to have. Without such a CPS the created armoured vehicle may not fit comfortably into any role – a square peg looking for any vaguely square-shaped round hole into which it can be forced.

Once each role had its defined purpose, a brief study was carried out to investigate the problem space, including reviews of the strengths and weaknesses of earlier vehicles to pick out valuable features to carry forward to new designs. Ever since the invention of the tank, armoured vehicle designers have come up with very clever solutions to problems that are as relevant now as they ever were.

Incorporating these, together with modern systems and approaches is in no way outdated thinking; the external shape of the new designs merely reflects the packaging of the necessary subsystems and human factors, taking those earlier smart solutions which have been brought up to date into account.

There may be raised eyebrows at the imposed C-130 transportability constraint given that the UK now has A400M, but there are sound reasons to work with this constraint.  Firstly, the 9ft (2.74 m) by 9ft (2.74 m) gauge and 18t weight limit are entirely appropriate for a family of vehicles to replace CVR(T) and other similar light armoured vehicles.

Secondly, while the UK has A400M many of our allies do not, and the flexibility of deploying as part of an ally’s force seemed worth retaining. Thirdly, complying with the C-130 gauge also makes rail and road transport much easier, ensures slick RO-RO operations, and keeps the vehicles down to road vehicle bulk such that few routes would be impassable using the extant infrastructure. 

Finally, holding to C-130 constraints maximises export potential which would be of value to UK PLC.

The counter-argument most often pitched at this is that in the contemporary operating environment, the light armour of such compact form cannot meet the protection levels necessary to survive the most likely threats. This would be a valid argument if the entire fleet of armour was to be changed to sub-20t vehicles. but the Army will still have its 70t MBTs, 38t Ajax, 30t+ upgraded Warrior and MIV, which is likely to be a 35t vehicle.

If threats are so severe, then field the kit appropriately but accept the limitations they bring; the restrictions on routes, the greater logistic tail, and the reduction in stealth (visual and IR but particularly noise). On the other hand, where rapid reaction and get-to-anywhere mobility are key, using a light small mobility-focused armour capability has its advantages.

Different tools for different jobs.

Low weight does not necessarily mean paper-thin protection.  These smaller vehicles have been designed with a thick and heavy hide but due to smaller surface areas, the weight of equivalent protection armour is less than would be seen on larger armoured vehicles.  There are also some very intriguing new developments in passive and reactive forms of protection, and many active forms of protection are now being marketed. 

Clearly, the cost is key as in all projects, but this points towards better-than-expected protection in smaller and lighter platforms.

Those who follow TD’s daily feed of defence-related snippets will recall this comment:  “Start with a common engine, wheels, tyres, transmission & other bits, then, AND ONLY THEN, build vehicles around them. 

Systems thinking.”  Those who cut their teeth in the UK defence industry of the last century have always sought to use common components and subsystems, a discipline that the Government Defence Establishments promoted, encouraged and sometimes enforced. No surprise then that exactly this approach has been followed with the vehicle concepts described here.

This graphic shows each current vehicle type drawn to the same scale; it is not exhaustive or definitive, for example, no armoured JCBs nor Command or Engineer or Repair/Recovery Variants of all the types depicted, but it does indicate the broad and varied nature of UK armoured vehicles.

Anglo Engineering

Some armour is very new, some are ages old, some have aged well and others badly. Many have been purchased as Urgent Operational Requirements when existing fleet shortfalls were identified, and some of these may not be retained in service in the medium term. 

What is quite plain to see is that there are many types, each filling a niche role, all needing their unique equipment care and REME support to keep working.  That is a lot of different vehicles with different spare requirements and different maintenance procedures.

Anglo Engineering Concepts — Vehicles

Shown below is a brief outline of the vehicles, their purpose, and some development rationale as the process evolved. They are each valid Light Armour solutions as they stand, but it should be understood that they also serve as examples of the wide variety of armour that the design approach can deliver.

They may be viewed as vehicle proposals or equally a basis for further development. They did not come about all at once but progressed over the development period in response to user feedback and other inputs.

The 3D images are taken from CAD where the vehicles have been modelled. The CAD models are not complete production-ready designs but do serve as packaging exercises and allow some degree of human factor and maintenance assessment.

Anglo Engineering Raven

Role:  Fast Light Armoured Fire Support; Reconnaissance Vehicle

Anglo Engineering Concepts Raven

Design:  The initial concept was nothing more ambitious than a low-profile hull on which either Ajax or Warrior CSP turrets could be mounted to provide obvious commonality and support advantages whilst also providing a lighter lower-profile fighting vehicle than an IFV.

Not as easy a task as imagined, modern turrets are huge compared to those of years ago; a function of larger guns, elaborate feed systems, a lot of electronics to house, the requirement to accommodate physically larger soldiers and the space demands of body armour and wearable personal technology.

There has apparently been a loss of focus on designing armour to the minimal possible dimensions over the years. This may be a simple consequence of moving to CAD – if the design only exists in the virtual world, it’s difficult to grasp the reality of internal space. There is also a significant reduction in the rate of new projects compared to previous decades, meaning engineers are just not using their skills often enough to gain the all-important knowledge that translates to experience and technical intuition.  

There is a school of thought that the use of automated design tools in place of experienced designers will make better products, but this is far from proven.

For a combination of some or all of the above, Ajax and Warrior CSP turrets are large.  During the evolution of the design process, it became clear they could not form the basis for a CVR(T) sized vehicle and in addition, their asymmetric width creates issues on small vehicles.

After a good deal of concentrated options assessment, a configuration was found that created a balanced vehicle that worked using either of these British Army turrets or either of the two BAE Systems proposed Warrior CSP and CV90 FRES turrets.

This vehicle was named Raven, and for the purposes of illustration, the third-party turret with which it has been fitted is the BAE Warrior CSP turret, selected before the MOD decision was made to buy Lockheed Martin turrets for Ajax and Warrior CSP.

There are some unusual design decisions embedded in the hull design which significantly improve personnel protection without adding weight.  This vehicle tips the scales at approximately 14t. As might be expected, it has a crew of three, but perhaps not as expected it also has a high power-to-weight ratio giving a very lively performance. 

In subsequent reviews, serving British Army representatives voiced concerns and reservations over some of the more radical technical choices involved in the hull design.

Anglo Engineering Rǽde

Role:  Armoured Personnel Carrier

Design:  The low-profile Raven hull had its roof plate raised to create a personnel carrier.  The resulting vehicle, called Rǽde, has a similar internal volume to the Alvis Stormer APC.  But where that vehicle was defined as 2 crew plus 10 dismounts, using the 97th percentile male soldier anthropometric model that is now demanded, reduces the capacity to 5 dismounts.

The current Def Stan requirement is that vehicle seating must be separate and well-defined with restraints and supports, and where possible arranged facing fore/aft.  If all the non-mandatory guidance is followed, when there is a seating capacity of five, five is all that can be carried. Older military personnel carriers would be fitted with benches or close-coupled flat-squabbled seating facing side-on. 

While there would be a nominal seating capacity, the seating arrangement could take more at a crush in emergencies. Following all Human Factors guidance has implications that must be understood. 

In the AEC designs for Armoured Personnel Carriers, the seating for dismounts is blast-attenuating but side-facing, and while the seats are individual and shaped, they are close enough to their neighbours to act as a bench when necessary.

With the cancelling of Warrior CSP, a trial fit of the Rapier remote turret on the Rǽde hull has been given an initial assessment. The turret requires a well in the outer armour of the hull for the ring and RBJ (the slip-ring unit for electrical connection) which constrains dismount compartment headroom, added to which the significant weight of such a turret on a light armoured vehicle would lead to lateral instability.

This IFV version would also exceed the C-130 transport gauge due to excess height. While it might seem an attractive fightable concept, the penalties are not insignificant, and operating APCs in concert with fire support such as Rapier or Raven would probably deliver a more robust combat effect.

Anglo Engineering Ram

Role:  Close Combat Support; Assault Gun

Design: With a fixed forward-firing 25 mm Oerlikon KBA or CTA40 and two Selex Enforcer RWS, the Ram is designed for close assault in urban and semi-urban terrain. With one RWS, the opposition may approach if it is focused elsewhere, with two RWS the probability that neither is about to sweep for threats is small. 

To aim the hull gun, the vehicle must be aimed much like the S-tank, and like the S-tank the hull attitude can be adjusted in this case by air-suspension units.  The flanks are designed to support heavy anti-IED/RPG slab armour, making this vehicle both heavy and wide.

Ram has not yet been transferred into CAD.

Anglo Engineering Rival

Role:  Protected Cargo Vehicle

Design:  In a complete change of direction, there was a request to investigate if the technology of the tracked vehicles above could be re-engineered into a wheeled chassis, specifically, in this case, a chassis for an existing armoured cab, to be configured as a drop-side cargo truck.

The exercise proved successful and resulted in a cargo carrier of modest size and payload capacities between 8t and 11t and room for six NATO standard pallets on its conventional drop-side load deck.

At a late stage, the Design Authority for the cab decided it was not to be used.  An alternative AEC cab was created on the same footprint and with the same mounting interface to suit the chassis.  The cargo deck and dropsides were modelled on the excellent Marshall’s products used on current British Army MAN/Rheinmetall cargo vehicles.

This could also be adapted to the protected tanker role.

Whilst the suspension and general layout meet the requirement, at between 6.5t and 8t per axle it was too demanding on available technology. The axle rating was reduced to 3.5t per axle for all other wheeled vehicles, making these lighter vehicles feasible within current technology, but the geometry and configuration of the suspension remain the same.

A note about this geometry; a request was made to the designer of Jackal, and he kindly defined the trigonometry of the suspension. The suppleness of wheel movement will be equal of Jackal but at 3.5t the axle loading is less and the tyre width greater, which allied to the high power-weight ratio makes the fully armoured vehicles’ theoretical mobility considerably better than the impressive Jackal

Anglo Engineering Ræcc

Role:  Autonomous Engagement Capability; Armoured Car

Design:  The first of the wheeled vehicles using this 3.5t axle loading was perhaps an odd choice.  The lack in the UK Order of Battle of high-speed high mobility firepower capable of long-distance transits and being able to counter a broad spectrum of threats seemed to be a capability gap worth filling.

The four possible UK turrets (one each for FRES and Warrior CSP from BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin UK) did not fit well on a vehicle designed to be small and mobile, not only because of their size and weight but also because the turret basket size did not suit this vehicle’s narrow V-hull.  A more comprehensive selection of firepower was also required.  

A new remote turret was designed, armed with the CTA40 and with Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank Guided Weapons installed conformally. The turret also has an elevating sight – it only rises a few feet, but as one RAC Major commented, he had found standing on the turret top with a pair of binos a very effective way of seeing without being seen; he didn’t see the limited elevation as a handicap. 

The hull has room for just two crew, but then the gun has its autoloader and the missiles are in essence ready-rounds, and the 7.62 mm coax was given large ammo can use, so much of the gunnery effort was taken care of by machinery and advance vehicle preparation.

The turret was set on an 8×8 hull of low profile and of a deep V profile in which the crew operated, and sat in a well-protected citadel using the array of electronic vision options for driving targeting and situational awareness.

A point to consider here is that LCoH Bright after the VERDI-2 trial stated the following:

“The trial on Salisbury Plain was a success in as much as it proved a two-man crew can operate effectively for 48 hours in a closed-down environment, and it opened our eyes to what is available to the recce soldier of tomorrow […but…] it must be smaller and faster.”

The Ræcc vehicle concept, like VERDI, is a two-man vehicle, with electronic vision and a remote turret, but packaged small enough to fit C-130 and just possibly light enough for CH-47 lift and has mobility and speed in Jackal’s class.  That’s all LCoH Bright’s wishes fulfilled.

It was presented to a group of the Army that has the remit to embrace and assess new developments. But where Raven raised some concerns under review by the User group, Ræcc raised considerable objections. The reliance upon electronic vision, no ability to get the commander’s head out with a clear sight of all sides of the vehicle, difficulties with misfires and ammunition feed stoppages and on and on.

So despite the outcome of the VERDI-2 trial, when offered just what that trial’s team recommended, it was the User who rejected unmanned turrets and solely electronic vision.

Quite disappointing, but the point of the AEC design approach is that the same building blocks may be moved and recombined with a high degree of configuration flexibility, so the rejection of one particular vehicle configuration does not mean a start from scratch.

A redesign then…

Anglo Engineering Raccoon

Role:  Autonomous Engagement Capability; Armoured Car

Design:  Raccoon is still an 8×8, but now with a one-man turret.

To accommodate one man, the turret is physically larger and has a reduced number of missiles. And of course, it now has a basket that occupies much of the hull. The hull too needed redesign, with effort upon retaining some crew protection mechanisms employed in the earlier Ræcc hull.  It grew a little taller, the turret moved further back.

It is not as compact as Ræcc, but one of the opportunities the redesign brought was the provision of protected missile stowage for two of each GW type, armoured both from the outside world and from the crew citadel within.

Anglo Engineering Rapier-C

Role:  Reconnaissance Vehicle

Design:  The turret of Raccoon, complete with both natures of guided weapons, is still more compact than the Ajax and Warrior CSP turrets.  The next task was to see how much smaller the tracked hull could get if this one-man turret was to be used.

The hull width was reduced as the basket is a smaller diameter; the L/C ratio that defines tracked vehicle steering behaviour allowed a shorter run of track on the ground as the vehicle was narrower, there was (just) enough room to get two crew, driver and gunner, side by side in the hull and room for the engine bay behind the turret basket.

This compact vehicle called Rapier-C ended up very nearly CVR(T) scale.

Rapier-C is a tracked vehicle as narrow as a Scimitar (if track guards are omitted) and a few per cent longer and taller, with a crew of three, and with CTA40, 7.62 coax, ATGW, Anti-Aircraft GW and an elevating sensor.

It has low ground pressure within 10% of that of a Scimitar and a very high power-to-weight ratio that provides astonishing performance. With the removal of track guards, antennas and the upper EO/IR sensor, it fits into an ISO container.

It is perhaps worth pausing here to compare and contrast with Ajax. Many will not have seen Ajax in the metal and will base an idea of scale upon photographs. Face to face, it really is imposingly large as are most new armoured vehicles, but for those who remember the compact dimensions of Scorpion/Scimitar/Sabre, this is a real step-change.

To help appreciate the size difference in absolute terms, the image below provides a comparison, Scimitar the blue-coloured vehicle is Rapier-C, and the pink outline is Ajax. Each to scale

There is no doubt that once in service, Ajax will be a competent vehicle and there will be situations in which it will be the ideal fighting vehicle to use.  Would these be situations where similarly armed, similar weight Warrior CSP couldn’t be used with similar success?

Or similarly, armed similar size and weight MIV? Or even Challenger 2 which is similar in width and height and has only 25% greater ground pressure under its tracks?

Possibly, possibly not, but it is a fair bet these other vehicles could be more readily substituted for a missing Ajax far better than an Ajax could be substituted for a missing Scimitar in situations ideally suited to the CVR(T) capability

Anglo Engineering Rapier-A

Role:  Reconnaissance Vehicle

Design:  A predecessor to Rapier-C, Rapier-A was a concept using the remote turret of Ræcc complete with CTA40, coax, SHORAD and ATGW and its elevating surveillance sensor, offering better personnel protection than Rapier-C in a smaller package yet, but at the expense of Mk1 eyeball direct vision – a proper VERDI-2 capability in a Scorpion sized vehicle – but currently shelved due to the User rejection of reliance upon remote electronic interaction with the outside world.

Anglo Engineering Raðe

Role:  Fast Scout and Liaison

Design:  Following the FCLV debacle and the continuing run of rumour and disquiet that Panther may not suit the role for which it was procured, and to see how compact a vehicle the standard wheeled driveline and suspension set-up would support, a vehicle similar to Ferret was constructed.

This was Raðe – a two or three-man vehicle, rear-engined. Originally penned to take the Thales (ex-Helio) FVT800 turret, it seems Thales has withdrawn this.  So a similar turret fitted with .50 cal and a 7.62 mm chain gun was created. With the one-man turret, there is only room for the driver to sit ahead of the basket front & centre; with a remote weapon station, two personnel would easily be accommodated behind the driver. 

Two axles hence 7t all-up mass, overall dimensions not dissimilar to CVR(T) but obviously with greater ground clearance.

For comparison, this is not of the Ferret scale. The reason is simple – there is no way a vehicle of Ferret size could accommodate two 97th percentile soldiers, let alone the three that this vehicle could accommodate. Raðe is similar in dimensions to the Coventry Armoured Car, and both wider and taller than CVR(W) Fox

Anglo Engineering Rǽs

Role:  Civil Order Policing; Military Utility

Design:  Using Raðe as a starting point, a Utility Variant was drawn up called Rǽs. To create a usable rear access cargo compartment, the engine bay was moved to the side just in front of the rear wheel. The wheelbase had to extend to make the space, meaning this is the only wheeled vehicle that fails to meet defined HMLC criteria, due to break-over angle.

While the cargo space is limited, the vehicle retains the same armour protection as all other vehicles. The siting of the engine bay means there is no room for a turret basket, so RWS or a simple head-out machine gun would be the self-protection measures.

The vehicle was designed to adopt roles that FV1611 (Humber Pig) would have undertaken; riot control and civil order policing.

Anglo Engineering Ræcc-R

Role:  Autonomous Engagement Capability; Armoured Car

Design:  At a briefing to British Army personnel new to the AEC concepts, it was suggested the mix of ATGW and anti-aircraft guided missiles on Raccoon was flawed, not because they were technically incompatible but because the level of training to get one crew competent on both missile types was unlikely to be provided.

Better to fit just ATGW and a gun, they said. Another redesign then.

Removing one of the missile systems allowed the turret profile to reduce back to that of the unmanned turret whilst still having room for the one crew member within. There followed an effort to redesign the first Ræcc hull to suit this smaller one-man turret, which has worked, although some benefits of the earlier design are lost, notably in relation to hull crew protection. 

The result was a vehicle looking remarkably similar to Ræcc and using the same subsystems driveline etc, but having an entirely different internal configuration and hull structure.

This is called Ræcc-R, it represents a moderately compact armoured car the likes of which were common Army equipment until the 1970s, armed with the Army’s favourite medium calibre gun, CTA40, and ATGW. 

Vehicle performance is on par with the typical Golf TDI.

Anglo Engineering Rapier-AC

Role:  Reconnaissance Vehicle

Design:  The Ræcc-R turret (or a close derivative of it) offered itself as a way to revive the remote turret Rapier-A recce vehicle. Keeping to a vehicle crew of two, driver in the hull and vehicle commander either in the optionally manned turret or beside the driver, the vehicle remains as compact as the Rapier-A and maintains that vehicle’s crew protection advantages, but now, of course, allows the commander to operate head-out in the turret.

Use of this turret does, of course, mean the absence of anti-aircraft GW, but there remains the 40 mm CTA gun, the coax 7.62 mm chain gun and two ATGW in a conformal silo, as well as an elevating sensor.

A note about sensors here; the preference is to use spherical units as they maintain a constant silhouette as they pan and tilt, which helps reduce their detection. 

But fully gyro-stabilised sensor balls are eye-wateringly expensive – each one way more than the cost of the base vehicle – so a more cost-effective adequate surveillance and targeting sensor solution has to be found.

Assuming an affordable optics solution is found, the vehicle design is sound. Still a work in progress, this is Rapier-AC

Anglo Engineering Ox

Role:  Multi-Role Rapid Reaction

Design:  This was the only vehicle in the set that was designed from the outset as a multirole concept based upon an automotive V-hull and a clearly defined and separate ‘mission module’ for the crew and the mission equipment.

However, this is not one vehicle structural design to which role equipment is bolted. Each role requires a separate design of mission module and to support the diverse needs of the role the V-hull may differ in length and number of axles.

The intent is that each vehicle would leave the factory already configured to the role, and that any reconfiguration to a different role would require a return to the factory or at least to third-line workshops.

The design of Ox owes much to FV603 Saracen, a fine design in concept if a little flawed in execution. Not surprisingly, when creating a wheeled V-hulled APC with an engine bay in the nose and crew compartment behind, the result looks like Saracen.

No bad thing; the design was well-considered. The V-hull holds a constant profile for the full length of the vehicle and is the structure upon which all the driveline is mounted. 

The mission module sockets into this V-hull behind the engine bay and may take various forms, although each so far considered has a similar driver station.

The following graphic shows some options:

Several variants of the Ox family have been constructed within CAD, showing the variations in V-hull length, number of axles and variations in the mission module.

Anglo Engineering Raven-R

Role:  Fast Light Armoured Fire Support

Design:  Earlier this year, the Raven hull design was reviewed with the Rheinmetall Lance and Leonardo Hitfist 30P turrets; with these more compact units, the hull could be reconfigured, and some radical elements engineered out. This much more conventional, reworked design has been named Raven-R.

Apart from the obviously different turret, it has a forward engine bay besides the driver and a rear escape/resupply hatch, but otherwise shares the original Raven hull’s components, performance, and vehicle role.

What it loses is the unconventional crew protection advantage of the original Raven hull, but its entirely conventional layout would not raise any of the concerns voiced against the original design.

While the vehicle could be constructed at the same weight as Raven, it would be expected that extra blast protection measures would be demanded to offset the higher risk configuration. This would, of course, impact vehicle weight.

While the use of a turret not fitted with CTA40 may prevent UK MOD from considering the vehicle, the use of this hull with either Lockheed Martin UK turrets, Ajax or Warrior CSP, by current assessments is inappropriate due to the long forward overhang in front of the ring which pushes the turret axis far back down the hull. 

There would also seem to be significant width of the turret to the right of the centreline in each of the Lockheed Martin designs, which makes fitment to these narrow vehicles far from ideal. It is possible the information available in the public domain is misleading, or indeed has been misunderstood, but until further information is published it seems wise to look at narrower turrets such as Lance or Hitfist.

Anglo Engineering Concepts — Large Calibre Turret Assessment

An obvious task is to look at the options for fitting turrets with larger calibre guns.  Both Leonardo (ex-Oto Melara) and CMI/Cockerill have 105 mm or 120 mm turrets that are offered for OEM fitment. 

A high-pressure gun option would be best, such that MBT armour might be challenged.  Initial assessments suggest these off-the-shelf turret options have baskets that are too broad for either wheeled or tracked vehicles of this size; the rings are similarly broad but could be accommodated.  It is a shame there are apparently no decent guns being made or marketed in the 60 mm to 75 mm range – such a calibre would suit vehicles of this size well.

But for this task, the turret from the BAE M8 Buford (designed by United Defense) has been assessed for its compatibility with AEC vehicle hulls.  This is a 105 mm armed turret with an autoloader, but unlike most of the similarly armed turrets available from the likes of Leonardo or CMI/Cockerill, the autoloader is not mounted in a turret bustle. 

In the case of M8, it is a very compact unit nestled below the breech.  What this means is that the turret armour is compact and ideally suited to small vehicles with limited hull roof plate real estate.  This should be no surprise, as the M8 Buford is itself a small vehicle.

In the large calibre turret marketplace, most turrets are designed for hulls larger than the AEC vehicles.  Unusually, the M8 turret was designed to suit a vehicle specifically designed for C-130 transportability; a next-generation Sheridan.  It was this design constraint that made the M8 turret the ideal candidate for assessment for its compatibility with the AEC hulls.

The Buford hull and that of Raven-R have a similar width between the tracks.  The basket would fit neatly.  The depth of the internal volume in Raven-R is greater than that of the very compact M8, but for reasons of internal configuration, the Raven-R roof plate cannot be lowered.  However, the same limitations do not apply to the original Raven hull; more of that later.

Looking at the autoloader operation, it would seem most likely to be operated hydraulically.  The current Raven hulls are not equipped with hydraulic packs, so this would be a further design update.

But for the basic question “does the turret fit?” the answer is a clear yes.

The size of the turret is illustrated by comparison with the Hitfist 30 mm turret that Raven-R was designed to carry.  Big, but not outlandish.

The same turret has been assessed against Raccoon and Ræcc, with the expectation that their steeply sloping hull sides would not allow the M8 turret’s basket to fit.  Given the autoloader configuration, it would seem highly unlikely the turret basket, could be reworked to a smaller diameter.  

However, the interference in each case is minimal – maybe a 20 mm radius reduction at the basket floor for Raccoon and a 50 mm reduction of floor radius for Ræcc due to its lower hull roof plate – suggesting that it would be possible to engineer a fit. 

The hull roof plates of the wheeled vehicles are narrower than on the Raven hulls, which may cause rework if the M8 turret ring is as broad as the armour structure suggests.  But again, such changes are possible.

It can be seen that the turret looks larger than the hulls would be expected to carry, despite its compact arrangement.  However, even on the taller Raccoon hull, the height of the cupola hatch is within the 9ft (2.74 m) C-130 gauge (just). 

Turret weight may be more than desired too, although the complete M8 Buford vehicle was designed for C-130 transport, which suggests the weight of the turret may not be seriously greater than the one-man 40CTA turret that Raccoon was designed to have. 

Using the Ræcc hull reduces overall height marginally and moves the turret axis forward nearer to the vehicle midpoint.

The barrel overhang may be an operational irritation, particularly as there would appear to be fairly limited elevation, so running fast over rugged terrain may prove a risky business.  But this would be no different to many large calibre AFVs.  Indeed, the issue may be more pronounced on the M8 Buford itself, where the turret is mounted on a lower hull but with just as much forward overhang. 

This would also apply to the lower profile Raven hull.

So.  Back to the original Raven hull reworked for a lower roof plate, named Raven-F.  This is to reduce the hull height under the turret ring, which would make for a more stable platform.  On the downside, the turret ring is further forward than in Raven-R, extending the barrel’s overhang.  But this option does make a better-balanced solution, in proportions that have since the arrival of Centurion been considered the norm for main battle tanks. 

Except in this case the vehicle is smaller and because of that, lighter – rough estimate only, but of the order of 16 or 17t.  From muzzle to rump it is 8.7m, from ground to cupola it is 2.45m and to turret ring is just 1.435m.

It is little more than the length of Challenger 2’s hull alone; it is just 200 mm longer and 100 mm taller than the unarmed Boxer, and 200 mm narrower.  It is also 200 mm shorter and 100 mm lower than the M8 Buford AGS that the turret was designed for, and with a better power-to-weight ratio too.

The obvious question that would be asked is, “Why not just buy the M8 Buford vehicle as it is?”  Indeed, if the need was just to buy a tracked 105 mm easily deployable AFV, it would make sense to buy COTS. 

But if a 105 mm direct fire capability was desired as just one part of a wider fleet of diverse capabilities, especially if tracked and wheeled were both required, then these AEC hull options make sense. 

The commonality is a great advantage.

The OEM option turrets have not been discounted as possibilities and given time and more information than the public domain has to offer, their suitability could be determined.  But the apparently comfortable fit of the M8 105 mm turret illustrates such firepower is entirely possible on these compact, high-mobility vehicles.

Anglo Engineering Family Values

Every one of the above vehicles remains within the C-130 gauge for air transport; everyone fits within the UK’s most restrictive W6 rail gauge (for some of the taller vehicles that require the use of Warwell wagons but many could sit on typical flat container wagons).

The 4×4 scout Raðe, the utility Rǽs and each of the Rapier recce vehicles could be moved inside 20ft ISO containers with minimal preparation. These are designed to be easy to deploy in numbers wherever they are needed. Tracked vehicle ground pressure is just 10% higher than CVR(T) at its initial 9t Gross Vehicle Weight, 60% of that of Warrior and 40% of Challenger 2.

Tracked vehicle acceleration would leave most GTIs behind and wheeled vehicle acceleration matches typical family cars, this performance is a result of ensuring enough torque to sustain speed on a 40⁰ climb gradient if ever wheels or track could keep traction. High levels of redundancy within the driveline would offer resilience against damage or component failure.

They are not the world’s most protected armour; they would undoubtedly need to be fitted with RPG protection (Tarian nets would be favourite) and would benefit from being fitted with ABBS VGAM blast protection system; they are not spacious; the turreted vehicles are not armed with 120 mm MBT guns.

Being armoured they are not as light as soft-skinned vehicles and transport under CH-47 would be a challenge for most and impossible for the larger types, but then compromises must be made.

These are simply nimble, small, highly mobile, and reasonably well-protected useful vehicles.

Underlying all the designs is a firm principle to engineering the different vehicle types from common components – common engines and drive systems, common air filtration systems, common instrumentation and controls, for the wheeled vehicles, common suspension, steering, wheels and tyres, for the tracked vehicles common suspension, idlers, road wheels and track-type – with a sharp focus on simple affordability.

Rather than designing a single complex all-encompassing multirole vehicle, individual simpler designs focused on their prime role have been created, but each is based upon the same subsystems and components resulting in very high commonality to ease support burden.

As each vehicle type is freed from the burden of meeting the needs of many roles, they become more compact, lighter, and affordable.

Affordability improves if more types are brought into service as the common support brings benefits in maintenance training, spare inventory, diagnostic aids, and even maintainer currency.

This can perhaps best be illustrated by repeating the earlier graphic of the breadth of UK armour, this time with the above-described AEC vehicles replacing current incumbents:

The shading behind the vehicles shows common support. Consider what such broad common support means; much more accurate spare scaling, streamlined maintainer training, and much-improved maintainer currency, leading to greater maintenance efficiency, lower maintenance cost, and greater vehicle availability. Common support makes sense.

One family of many forms, large and small, tracked and wheeled, this is the sort of joined-up thinking the Army and the MOD needs.

These designs are by no means the limit of possibilities. Given current technology, assume a wheeled vehicle maximum weight of 17t or so, for tracked vehicles that may be increased to somewhere near 28t. This is due to driveline capability, the lower maximum weight for wheeled vehicles down to the larger diameter of wheel/tyre which demands greater torque to achieve acceptable performance.

Note though that the designs undertaken for tracked vehicles have been substantially less than 20t, mostly because this is where the projected UK capability is weak but also because of the self-imposed C-130 transportability constraint. There is no reason why lighter heliportable vehicles could not be designed, as long as lower protection was accepted.

There are challenges not yet met for an amphibious operation, articulation, integration of major hydraulic powered systems (cranes, diggers, winches, lifts) and high recoil force systems (large bore mortar, SP gun), but there are no fundamental reasons why these should be more difficult than in any other armoured vehicle design.

An Echo from the Past

Before Ajax, FRES. MRAV and TRACER, there was the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles, FFLAV.  Here is what the Alvis team offered for FFLAV:

One view of this offering is to see it in the light of where the British Army is now.  In place of VBL, the UK has Panther FCLV.  In place of CV90, we have Ajax, remembering, of course, CV90 was the other FRES-SV contender.  In place of BMR, we will have MIV.

Was FFLAV visionary?  Well, probably not, but it was blindingly obvious good honest robust common sense.  So blindingly obvious that thirty years down the line, the original FFLAV solution is roughly what the Army has selected.

There are differences, though.  Ajax, as delivered, is far heavier than the 1990 FFLAV version of CV90.  MIV is likely to be far heavier and bigger than BMR.  And of course, where the FFLAV proposal focused on upgraded and developed CVR(T) and Stormer vehicles, these are now due to retire from UK service.

Taking an alternative view, compare the FFLAV offerings to the AEC family described in the text above.  VBL roles are covered by Raðe scout and Rǽs utility.  BMR is covered in the same weight range by the various versions of Ox. 

Stormer and Rǽde APCs are direct equivalents.  Scorpion is matched by Rapier.  And while CV90 is heavier than the Raven concepts, there is no technical reason why the Raven driveline couldn’t be used on tracked vehicles up to 28t.  And in addition to covering the FFLAV bases there are also the Ræcc and Raccoon armoured cars, and Ram assault gun, and providing driveline technology develops there is the Rival armoured logistics truck too. 

And there is VERDI-2 envisioned capability in Ræcc Raccoon and Rapier.  And the design approach could deliver many more types of light armour for additional roles too.

The AEC family of armoured vehicles aligns exceptionally well with the FFLAV vision.  Except for the one attribute that FFLAV couldn’t deliver – common support throughout the entire range.

Options for Advancing the Anglo Engineering Project

The original design, Raven, was first briefed to the appropriate MOD desk officer late in 2010.  Several other briefings have been made since as the text above notes, and the designs have been changed where advice from Users was offered.

The most challenging aspect has been the MoD’s procurement process. Although the MoD has several initiatives in certain product sectors for SME engagement, major vehicle projects tend to be placed only with larger and established companies.

It was suggested at one briefing by a DSTL engineer that would be a good idea to generate a prototype of one of the AEC vehicles to test the concepts, with a view to jointly creating a DSL-owned design for the industry to bid to build (very much as Establishments worked) but he failed to convince his colleagues.

The UK still has a broad spectrum of excellent companies, each expert in their domains, despite the low-volume market for military equipment. 

And at all levels too, from stock materials through welding, casting, forging, moulding and fabrication, on through component manufacturers and integrators of specific military systems, to platform level assembly and integration plans to vehicle designers and manufacturers, to complete military product suppliers such as the various divisions of BAE.

The UK has all of this onshore, and it would be perfectly feasible to complete the process through to manufacturing within the UK.

What this means is that there is a broad range of opportunities in how to turn the AEC designs into fielded combat equipment.  The following options are, of course, predicated on the Authority and the Army deciding they want this sort of capability.

  • Government buys the designs outright and either completes the development of the designs in-house and raises a competitive procurement for primes or manufacturers to bid for the production contract, or raises a competitive procurement for a development and production contract. This would be similar to the process used on Establishment-designed products. The Government has purchased the designs, owns the IP and may change production suppliers as needed. The support contract need not rest with the manufacturer and might be competed separately. This gives the Authority the greatest contractual freedom over the course of the equipment service life.
  • Government sets up a collaborative design team, containing Authority, Government scientists, and Army and Industry personnel, all performing tasks necessary for the designs to reach maturity. Somewhat similar to recreating the Establishment’s function, except with the use of Industry players in completing the designs, the IP would need to be shared or purchased. If the latter, this would need declaring at the start of the project so that contributing businesses knew from the outset that whatever they embody in the design would cease to be their IP at the end.
  • Industry adopts the designs either by collaborative development or simply by the purchase of the designs by a company of the stature the Authority is prepared to contract, thereafter developing the designs under its R&D budget. The resulting vehicles would be COTS for future competitive procurements; should the Authority choose to buy them, the IP would remain firmly within the company’s ownership.

Each of these options has advantages and disadvantages, but it is probably fair to say the preferred MoD method of standard Competitive Procurement adds significant bid and compliance costs, takes the longest and puts the greatest distance between User and Designer, often allowing User input into the design only at formal infrequent reviews and measuring every User suggested improvement against the contracted Requirement. 

It also almost guarantees no commonality either to in-service material or to other projects in the procurement cycle.

It is hoped that reforms at DE&S may provide some future flexibility that reduces bid costs and allows a more integrated and collaborative approach.

A shorter concept to ‘out of service’ cycles would also have significant competitive and industrial advantages


The AEC concept vehicles described above have all been designed using current technology and were deliberately designed to be as affordable as the technology allows. The Army could benefit from an increase in inventory – more tools in the toolbox – so designing the most affordable solution is in the MoD’s interest.

As such, they would be ideal candidates for streamlined low-cost procurement, where the simple adequacy of the vehicles would be matched by a simple and adequate acquisition process based on free open communication and common teamwork.

It could be revolutionary.


Change Status

Change DateChange Record
 01/10/2017Initial issue
 22/07/2021Format refresh 
 20/11/2022Minor corrections and updates 

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This Post Has 200 Comments

  1. Senior Moment

    As a civvy this reeks of joined up thinking and cost efficiency.

  2. Rocket Banana

    I’m now crying into my cornflakes!

  3. Chris

    Frenchie – the text says Ræcc Rapier and Raccoon vehicle turrets have CTA40, coax machine gun, anti-air and anti-tank missiles. No separate vehicle types with just the one missile system, although clearly such a thing would be possible…

  4. wf

    I suspect if you want traction, getting Rapier and the like in to begin with as a CVR(T) replacement is the way to do it. Did you consider hybrid-electric drive and unmanned turrets as options to further reduce weight and size?

  5. Chris

    wf – not sure hybrid systems save weight – look at hybrid cars; they are no lighter than the mechanically driven models. But they do go a bit faster. As for remote turrets saving weight, surely that depends whether the weapon systems are armoured as ‘mission critical’ systems? The likes of the Raphael 30mm RWS would be lighter but the gun seems (at least on the early models) to be unprotected. If the weapon system gets armourplate then its weight advantage would be down to reduction in overall size only?

  6. Chris

    Frenchie – cousins!

  7. Frenchie

    ;-) Chris !!!
    Turrets without pilots is practical, but for engines, if you fight in a lost corner of the planet, it is better to have engines not too complex to repair.

  8. Chris

    Frenchie – agree simple is good; simple means the vehicle crew have a chance of fixing stuff themselves. Unfortunately, because engines have to comply to emissions regulations, and because they need to achieve maximum economy, and because the current engines are made to suit the modern market anyway, it is not really possible to fit mechanically controlled engines any more.

  9. wf

    @Chris: hybrid drive weight is much the same, but the ability to eliminate a transmission path and increased flexibility in engine placement has to help. An unmanned turret allows the elimination of the penetration of the turret into the hull as per Bradley TD, allowing more useful internal volume: the latter went from effectively 6 dismounts to 9, all in suspended seating.


  10. Chris

    wf – its noted in the description that the Rapier design with a remote turret came out smaller than the one-man turret version, so yes there is a likely size advantage. But it may not be as pronounced on a low profile (Scorpion-like) hull as the remote turreted Bradley achieved. But possibly academic if the Customer doesn’t want to accept remote turrets.

  11. Deja Vu

    Fascinating read. Too much to take in at one go. I too was wondering about Hybrid as providing more flexibility and commonality and meeting modern eco considerations. Also the possibility of limited silent movement.

  12. jedpc

    Well, to paraphrase a certain Vulcan – Fascinating ! Don’t see you getting any traction on the tracked light recce, there is no stated requirements after all, but if only we could have all those Ox variants as MIV / MRV-P then the Strike Brigades might not be quite so laughable.

  13. Chris

    jedpc – no requirement, but still a fast approaching capability gap? Maybe gap is the wrong term as other nations’ armies get by without CVR(T) sized armour, but its definitely a capability that will be lost with CVR(T) retirement. More than a few soldiers (both serving and ex-Army) have muttered that loss might hurt.

  14. Hannay

    Thanks for writing this and doing the work. Looks like some good solid thinking has gone into it, and resisting the urge for shiny new stuff.

    Some questions that jump out to me: how much protection do the vehicles actually have? And how often do we expect to operate in threat environments that this is consistent with?

  15. Chris

    Hannay – possibly delving into detail that isn’t for public discussion there – all design work on military kit here in the UK is governed by export controls so some things have to be kept below the radar. As for the ‘how often would it be usable?’, as noted near the top there would still be heavier armour in service if that’s what the situation requires? Also, there is a school of thought that states the ability to use unexpected routes made possible by light weight small size and high mobility is a method for enhancing survivability beyond the physical protection level (probably a degree thesis in that).

  16. Hannay

    Indeed, but those are some of the key questions to answer for a UK acquisition programme. I’m not sure on how best you should try to sell this; maybe addressing a light armour capability gap; or regenerating UK design and manufacture; or playing heavily on the exports and prosperity angle; or all of them

    Really needs some interest at 1* or above level to get UK moving I think

  17. Chris

    Hannay – yes all of those arguments and more. If only the MOD had a defined ‘new ideas’ 1* to go talk to…

  18. Rocket Banana

    How do I go about ordering 200 x Rapier-C?

    …As long as it has 30mm frontal and .50 cal protection everywhere else.

    Has anyone thought about twin engines?

    It must be cheaper to install two 2.0l mass produced turbodiesels?

    Diesel-electric then works pretty well split left and right. Either that or use a limited-slip-diff to bind both sides together?

  19. Frenchie

    On the weight of vehicles and protection, I think that we decide which missions should be able to make a military unit, and then comes the choice of vehicles to carry out the mission. A rapid reaction force, (I don’t know how to qualify the Strike Brigades) can not work with the vehicles that are planned to endow it, it is impossible logistically.
    And I agree that the article is great of course.

  20. Chris

    Simon – assuming you represent Her Majesty’s Government I would guarantee you and AEC could start discussions right away about development, proving and acquisition strategies…

  21. Rocket Banana

    Unfortunately Chris, I represent Ernst Stavro Blofeld and his aspirations of world domination :-)

    You are aware SIMON stands for Subversive Information Manipulation OrganisatioN aren’t you?

  22. JohnHartley

    Janes, 25 Sept 2017, “Valhalla Turrets reveals new 57mm remote gun system development”. “The Hildgard 57 MRGS uses the 57mm L/76.6 rifled weapon from the Russian S-60 towed anti aircraft gun”. Has a co-axial 14.5mm heavy machine gun. Ammunition handling system will have 33 rounds of 57×348.
    That turret on a modernised, upgraded Stormer hull, would be hard hitting & deployable.

  23. Chris

    Sorry Simon – I’m afraid that’s: No sale!

    Frenchie – agreed if there is a need for genuine Rapid Reaction then a Brigade of 35t+ vehicles is not the right resource for the task, and something smaller and lighter is needed. The alternate perspective is if the plan is to only use 35t+ vehicles, then best forget dreams of Rapid Reaction, at least if needing to deploy by air.

  24. Hannay


    Maj Gen Chris Tickell as D CAP might be the right place? Turns out Army structure is a nightmare compared to the other services. I’ll try and do some more digging too.

  25. Chris

    Hannay – thanks, and really good of you to take the trouble to dig the details out; all such potential contacts are welcome.

  26. steven duckworth

    Having commonality of core components is key to keeping the long term ownership costs of vehicles down , ask airlines who opt for an all Boeing 7** fleet or Airbus 3** fleet.
    The turret options are key to the acceptance by the British Army as the feedback shows but adaptability to overseas customers turret options for export orders are equally so as these will possibly be the ‘local’ content they will need to use to sell the design to their own supplier base i.e. votes ( as well as power plant?) .
    All in all were we need to be to re-establish ourselves as an armour manufacturer and design supplier of outstanding kit. C2 will need replacing eventually so staring with a solid base of light/medium armour will be a great beginning.
    The British Army need to get behind this!

  27. Chris

    SD – thanks for the vote of confidence!

    SO – Yes Raðe and CRAB are very similar. I hope both equally good vehicles too. GeFAS though is a very long creature with an exceptionally long nose, so I’m not sure the resemblance to Ox is there. But you are quite right about military vehicle size; the text makes clear the AEC vehicles are within the C-130 transportability gauge, but that still allows up to 2.7m width and height which is not small. The fact that most modern military vehicles exceed these limits shows just how big the average armoured vehicle has become.

  28. Chris

    JH – just seen your comment about the Bofors 57mm turret – really quite interesting, and they have evidently made prototypes. Worth further investigation. Thanks for the pointer!

  29. mr.fred

    One thing to consider regarding extant turrets is that the cost, for the most part, is not in the structure. You could aim to use the same sights, electrical and electronic systems gun control equipment and guns that have been proven to work together but enclose them in a new structure.

    For a general purpose missile turret you could consider the Thales multi mission system that can run Starstreak and lightweight multirole missile at the same time.

  30. Taurevanime

    Very nice article and some good designs. Two things I would like to bring up though.

    Why have you never looked at the Toutatis unmanned turret that the French developed for the 40mm CTA weapon system? I know it lacks guided weapon systems and you have been keen to include them into designs. But the UK has been more than willing to field turrets without missile systems on vehicles in the past and even currently. Such a turret may offer the same advantages as the Lance and Hitfist turret, while still retaining the 40 CTA weapon system with the rest of the fleet.

    Secondly, I think the Ram design, while it certainly brings a good amount of protection for an assault vehicle. The need for active suspension systems and the gun being the same 40mm gun as the rest of the fleet, it would be a rather costly vehicle with a very small niche to fill. I assume a 90mm Cockerill or larger gun can not be fitted due to their size or lack of autoloader on designs.
    With that said the L9 165mm gun is of rather compact size and well suited to the task of assault gun. Or is it still too large due to the need of a dedicated loader?

  31. Chris

    mr.fred – note the words under Rapier-AC about the cost of EO/IR sensors. Huge expense. But with the incredible numbers of digital camera sensor chips (in every phone now) capable of high definition imagery in poor light conditions, and solid state uncooled IR cameras, and the anti-shake digital post processing in a lot of dedicated digital cameras, you have to wonder if a perfectly adequate sensor ball couldn’t be created at a tiny fraction of the cost of gyro-stabilised stirling engine cooled high spec FLIR balls? Weapons will though remain expensive. Can’t help that. If I recall correctly the combined cost of the Rarden gun, the Spire sight and the turret’s Rotary Base Junction was almost the same as the cost of the rest of the Scimitar vehicle. But I might be wrong there.

    JH – a note about the Hildgard 57 MRGS you referenced – while interesting I can’t imagine use of a Russian AA gun using Russian ammunition in any British Army vehicle. Not for the foreseeable future. But something to bear in mind where export potential is concerned.

  32. Chris

    Taurevanime – Toutatis was investigated and has influenced the designs a lot. It was a sharp and well thought out design. There is of course no reason why it couldn’t be fitted to an AEC hull if that’s what the customer desired. As for the Ram vehicle, its very much a niche thing, really valuable when its necessary but quite pointless at all other times. It has had less design effort so far precisely for that reason. As for bigger calibre weapon, the overall length of the vehicle is much the same as the Raven, and a barrel length over 3m would become a bit of an issue, let alone the size of the breech, the recoil motion and the ammunition stowage. One of the CTA40 round natures (GPR-PD-T) is described as capable of penetrating more than 200mm of reinforced concrete – this seemed a reasonable amount of punch for starters. But if a customer wants this sort of vehicle but with a bigger gun, it can be looked at.

  33. steven duckworth

    Re the FLIR requirements COTS solutions are available . A marinized FLIR , gyrostabilized , with a very broad operating range is offered by

  34. Chris

    SD – I used as an example device a full mil FLIR sensor (more accurately two of them) on the CTA40 turrets. I had the opportunity to directly ask their price a month or so back and was fairly horrified at how much they’ve apparently gone up by since I’d last checked the price (although that was years back). The challenge is to get the right sort of optical performance and the necessary aiming stability at a price that doesn’t multiply the vehicle price several times over. Sounds like a Uni project to me.

  35. mr.fred

    I had noted the comments in the article about the cost of electro optics. It struck me as odd that these were identified as the sole high cost items in the vehicle when There are numerous other systems that are going to be up there as well. Stabilisation and gun control equipment, for example.
    On the cost of the electro optics, I’ve no doubt that the proliferation of sensor technology will, eventually, bring costs down, but simply slapping a smartphone into a tank is not going to work as well as people imagine it might. If it were so easy to make a low cost sensor system, wouldn’t people have done it? For pure observation anti-shake would be ok, but if it’s part of your gunnery system how do you account for it when directing your gun? Gunnery requires very, very accurate systems.
    Then there is latency, safety integrity levels and resilience to the armoured vehicle environment, which is fairly unforgiving.

    Which sets up another thought. If the design IP is let, shared or whatever, to a party, who then have to do a bunch of work to make the system work correctly and safely, who owns the IP at the end?

  36. Chris

    mr.fred – I accept lots of systems have the potential to be a lot more expensive than you might at first imagine, but seven-figure price tags for each sensor system struck me as steep. As for shared IP, such issues have rumbled around the technological industry for a long time now. Personally, with a taxpayer’s hat on, I favour the system the UK once used almost universally, where the Gov’t paid for stuff to be designed (either in-house at Establishments or out in industry as funded development or Cost-Plus) and then there was no argument – the IP was owned by Her Majesty’s Government and it could licence manufacturers as it felt fit.

  37. mr.fred

    I kind of agree: the IP should reside with the person who paid for it.
    Although with increasingly optimised and specialised designs required to obtain advantage on the last generation, in some cases you are reliant on manufacturers IP to make the design work.

    And optics are really, really expensive. From what I’ve seen you can tell the difference. Whether that difference is worth the cost or not can only be answered by a whole heap of operational analysis that the MoD don’t seem to do anymore.

  38. S O

    Little question; isn’t anybody else irritated by the gimballed sensors in the 3D images? Those sensors would barely have horizontal vision (not really if there’s camo material on top), and in many directions the dead angle against crouched infantrymen might be dozens of metres!

  39. mr.fred

    Less so because there is a statement about how the roof mounted ones are on short masts and as such are presumably seen here in their recessed states. I assumed it counted for all of them.

    I was more bothered about the lack of protection for any of the sensors, but that seems to be a bit of a trend for modern fighting vehicles.

  40. Chris

    SO – sorry you are irritated. The text explains the sensors in the turret top are on elevating platforms = the images show them retracted where they would be best protected in transit. The ones set in the turret front, like those in the same position in Lance, the Puma E8 and the Kongsberg MCT-30 remote turret, are for targeting so the right place for them is at the height of the gun and as close as possible to it to minimise parallax error. Pointless having a targeting sensor that has a better field of view than the gun has an arc of fire.

    JH – thanks again for the link. If you check this page: http://www.valhalla-turrets.com/calliber-57/ and scroll down past the Hildgard RWS with its russian gun you will find the larger Odin remote turret with the Bofors 57mm naval gun. I think for western powers the Bofors option would be more acceptable?

  41. Chris

    mr.fred – correct deduction. I considered dropping the upper sensors into a protected housing but the elevating mechanism cannot collapse lower so it added more height than I thought sensible. The sensor can of course be rolled to protect the ‘windows’ leaving the back of the ball to field twigs and the occasional stone. But these are, as has been stated a few times, concepts that in discussion of an interested customer would be modified as necessary.

  42. S O

    Ræcc – the telescopic mechanism would need to be in or right next to the breech, which looks misplaced.

    The tracked vehicle on the right appears to be too narrow. There’s a golden middleground for track contact length to gauge ratio. A too slim ratio like this will make pivoting and turning generally difficult. The increasingly compact powerpacks allow for much shorter vehicles than the 1970’s generation (see Leclerq) , so this ratio is against the trend.

    The Ox appears to overemphasise protection. The ratio between cost of the vehicle and actual payload seems to be horrible. It would replace near-COTS trucks that got uparmoured (RHA + cheap slat armour) cabins in some roles!

    The tracked vehicles appear to use continuous band tracks. Segmented band tracks are much better, as they allow for much quicker and easier repairs and for carrying a spare segment for repairs after a hit. No such spare segment is mounted anywhere.

    There aren’t enough smoke projectors. Raven seems to lack them entirely.

    The panoramic mirrors on Ræcc and Rapier look wrong. The user’s head would need to be so close that he would bump into the mirrors all the time.

  43. Chris

    SO – I’m sorry the description text is not more clearly written. To take your points in order:

    The sensor ball on the front of the turret does not elevate because it is the gun’s targeting sensor and as the previous response to you stated it has to remain at the mantlet trunnion height and as close to gun axis as possible to do its job. The sensor on the turret roofplate does elevate.

    It is noted in the text above that L/C ratios have been central to the design of the tracked vehicles. The ratio is close to the theoretical ideal, and on a par with Warrior. If the CAD graphic fails to give that impression then that’s beyond my control. Perhaps the impression is caused by the vehicle configuration; these are light armour and like CVR(T) the track edge is in line with the outer edge of the armour. Many armoured vehicles have tracks inset in some cases by best part of half a metre, often a result of years of added applique armour along the flanks that has increased the hull envelope width far more than the length.

    Ox protection is on a par with the other wheeled vehicles. Is it over-emphasized? Well, as the point was to design high mobility well protected armoured vehicles, the emphasis has to be there. As for arguments over cost of purpose-designed armour vs. up-armoured cargo trucks, you are right they have to be determined to be good value in terms of their operational utility for the customer to decide to buy. Perhaps the question is better aimed at the Armies that are buying expensive wheeled armour – why for example did Bundeswehr buy 400 Boxers when it could have bought much cheaper armoured cab Rheinmetall/MAN SX and HX trucks? Clearly they thought there was value in the more expensive option.

    Continuous vs. segmented band tracks? Yes there are downsides to continuous bands. I took pains to put those arguments to a supplier of both types of track, continuous and segmented, and was in turn presented with some sound but unexpected downsides that relate solely to segmented track. The choice is far more balanced than it seems at first sight. Those arguments might have been slightly influenced by the manufacturer’s potential profit advantage of the one track type over the other but the engineering rationale was sound. I’m not going to broadcast their products’ weaknesses because that would not be good ethical practice.

    Smoke grenade launchers – in most cases I have put a pair of launchers on the vehicles. As the text pointed out for Raven-R, this was a design put together for COTS turrets, the two mentioned being Rheinmetall Lance and Leonardo Hitfist – I chose to make a CAD model of the Hitfist turret because there is more public domain technical data for that. The technical data does not show a ‘standard’ smoke grenade discharger fit although the Polish turret has a set on the left hand side only, six tubes angled to cover both left and right arcs. I could have fitted what are pretty much the UK standard grenade dischargers but as the text points out without a CTA based turret the chances are the UK wouldn’t take on the vehicle, and as it seems each nation has its own favoured smoke grenade system there seemed little point bothering to second-guess what that might be. Yes the vehicle would need smokes; that I didn’t model any on a COTS turret already fielded with smokes fitted hardly proves the design deficient. As for total numbers of smoke grenade launchers on the rest of the vehicles, with the exception of Ajax which now has four off four-tube launchers, the UK fielded vehicles have until now been fitted with one four-tube launcher per side. I checked the current state of Megatron, ATDU’s Challenger 2 reference vehicle used to check out latest design modifications and it too it seems has just one launcher per side. Again, if the demand changes then the number/type of launchers can be revised without issue.

    Periscope positioning – you may be right. As with other aspects in the design these things can be amended when a customer engages. Bear in mind these designs are deliberately as small as possible so they are not palatial inside; it is far easier to design oversized products than minimal sized ones, but there are penalties if sharp concentration on constraining dimensions lapses. As I recall, on the subject of periscopes and their positioning, in CVR(T) the driver’s scope has a foam rubber pad fixed above the glass for the driver’s head to rest against – the manufacturer’s data for the driver sight shows the design eyepoint approximately 40mm from the glass. And it is arguable that reducing the distance between head nominal position and obstruction (in this case the sights) reduces the velocity the head can reach before smacking into them, possibly making the more confined space less damaging in reality.

    I trust the above text has helped put some of your concerns to rest. There is no such thing as perfection in design, the best that can be achieved is the optimum set of compromises to suit the priorities of the requirement. Some customers might prefer a different balance of compromises. But for the constraints I imposed on the designs, the compromises made have justification.

  44. JohnHartley

    The Bofors 57 turret looks good, but would the extra ton+ weight over the Valhalla, be a problem on an evolved stormer hull?

  45. Chris

    JH – you may note from the selection of vehicles that the one variety not present is an IFV. When it comes to high mobility light armour, my view is that firepower and infantry transport are best separated into focused platforms. The APC prime role being to avoid getting in harm’s way as far as is possible so that the troops may be deployed safely and fighting fit where needed, the armoured car (for want of a better role designation) deliberately putting itself in situations where it can take action to protect the APC and its occupants. One APC/Armoured Car pair probably capable of transporting as many dismounts as two similarly sized IFVs, but having more operational flexibility, the ability with the dedicated armoured car to mount a more capable array of firepower than could be perched atop a high roofed hull, and as a consequence ending up with two vehicles of lower profile than the ‘APC + turret’ IFV. So, the question of putting a heavy turret on the roof of an APC is not one that is foremost in mind. The potential to fit the heavier Bofors turret (or indeed an AEC turret fitted with the Bofors gun) on either wheeled or tracked low profile hulls does strike me as something deserving of consideration.

    As for the use of Stormer itself, that’s something that lies in BAE’s court. Obviously I believe the designs I have come up with offer many advantages over Stormer, but that’s far from saying the CVR(T) based vehicles are useless. They have proven useful platforms and over the years have improved with upgrades born of operational experience. Maybe though after 50 years its time for a newer concept to pick up the challenge.

  46. TehFinn

    Chris, I share the same view. I also think that we should separe infantry carriers and fighting vehicles. APCs should focus on two obvious things: ability to carry as much infantry as possible and mobility whereas fighting vehicles need to focus on firepower and protection. While armoured forces use tracked APCs and tanks for this lighter wheeled formations need to retain their inherent strategic mobility. If we are to design vehicles for high end warfare we need to throw mine protection away with birthwater and focus on protection against 30×165 APDS and bomblets. APC could be somewhere in 15-20 ton range and IFV 25-30 ton range. Make the IFV lean, short and longish and the APC box on wheels.

    PS. Is there any vehicles in which infantry sits along the long axis of the vehicle instead of facing each other?

  47. Chris

    TehFinn – as it stands the personnel carriers have been fitted with side-on seating. With the single traditional and rational rear door, side-on seating makes for much faster mounting and dismounting. No seats to snake between, particularly if the seat squabs of the sideways facing seats flip up like cinema seats once they are unoccupied. Rapid egress and entry seems to be a good idea for a battlefield taxi operating potentially under fire.

    That being said, the opportunity remains to attempt a design with fore-aft facing seats. At the moment given the width of personnel compartments possible between the wheels/tracks, I think the packaging would be very low density.

    The Rival logistics truck does sit all crew facing forward, this being sensible only because 1) a rear door is impossible, and 2) side doors *are* possible due to the much higher cab floor in this vehicle. This could be configured as a personnel carrier rather than a cargo carrier, but gut feel is that it would be a less ‘tactical’ solution, being taller and heavier and therefore less mobile than the dedicated tracked and wheeled APC options. On the dedicated vehicles side doors along the lines of slam-door commuter railway carriages, one door per seat row each side, are just not viable due to the height of the roof and that of the sponson or mudguards.

  48. stephen duckworth

    ” If we are to design vehicles for high end warfare we need to throw mine protection away with birthwater” that’s not going to sell to the British Army or ANY overseas customer IMHO. IED’s and their conventional equivilant anti-tank mines are a part of modern warfare for some time ( a very long one) . When ANYBODY with internet access ( thank you Google) or acess to an experienced ‘ colleague ‘ can build an IED from material available on any farm let alone actual HE mine/IED protection is a must if you expect soldiers to actually use it.

  49. ArmChairCivvy

    I think Israel is already treading the path prescribed by TehFinn
    “focus on protection against 30×165 APDS and bomblets. APC could be somewhere in 15-20 ton range and IFV 25-30 ton range. Make the IFV lean, short and longish and the APC box on wheels. ” with the wheeled APC and the Carmel family of IFVs and related support vehicles.
    – anything bigger than the 30 mm (that proliferates on battle fields) hitting… and it is “gonners” for heavier vehicles, too. Hence APS becoming the primary protection, against anything above the autocannon and aerial/ artillery dispersal bomblets (as area weapons).

    I had a slight difficulty with something being, at the same time short and longish… but then it occurred to me that short stood for “not tall”

  50. ArmChairCivvy

    Bradley seems to be in the process of being reworked to provide a good compromise (3 crew and 9 dismounts, can’t remember if the secret sauce is the unmanned turret – or not).

    9-man squad, to me is the minimum as one hit (taken) and the “fire pair” is out of the battle. With the 6 dismounts, you get only two “pairs” and some specialists will also need to be incorporated (leader, radio, medic, sniper, anti-tank… you name it – SAW or similar replacing the need for a two-man belt-fed support weapon eating “up” 33% of the squad!).
    3+3+3 embedds the specialists that also do the manouevre, and the support the other two, in theor turn.

  51. TehFinn

    ArmChairCivvy, finnish jäger squad is made of three three-man teams. First team: squad leader, support gunner with ACOG and rifleman, second team: assistant squad leader, PKM gunner, ammo bearer/pioneer, third team: team leader, PKM gunner, ammo bearer/medic. Typically everyone without PKM carries LAW. In a platoon there’s three jäger squads, FO squad (5 strong), three drivers, couple of runners, signalist, medic, platoon commander and assistant commander. FO and platoon commander are officers, platoon assistand commander, FO NCO, squad leaders and squad assistant leaders are NCOs. Snipers, mortars and heavier AT are company level assets. Each jäger platoon has one NSV which is normally be mounted on one of the vehicles but if the situation requires it can be dismounted and probably fire support squad would be made of 2-4 pkm gunners+ammo bearer pairs and couple of guys carrying the NSV and ammo under the command of platoon assistant commander.

    Panzerjäger squads size depends on the vehicle, 8 for CV90 and 6 for BMP-2. For MTLB I think it’s 9.

    Stephen, we need to be protected from 6-8kg HE, not the 40kg roadside bomb of Iraq. What I meant by dimensions is that it wouldn’t be vertically high meaning low silhouette, not very wide and reasonably long along x-axis. Like a drag racing car or BMP.

  52. Chris

    TehFinn – there are sound reasons why wheeled and tracked (unarticulated) vehicles nearly all have the same length to width proportions. Too long and thin and the ability to turn becomes exceptionally hard, so manoeuvrability suffers and so does general mobility. Too short and fat is also an issue; turning is OK but straight line mobility at speed becomes unstable both in direction and in vehicle pitching. Typical length to width ratios tend to fall in the 2:1 to 2.5:1 range (ignoring added width of applique armour and such like). For specific reasons some designs have been of unusual proportions – the GeFaS that SO mentioned for example which in its original form was hugely long for its width, designed such that the crew pod was nowhere near the wheels and so less likely to suffer with mine blast under wheel – but the mobility would still suffer no matter how good the engineering might be. All wheel steering helps a little but a long beam still sweeps a large area when it turns.

    As for the right number of seats for personnel carriers, as you note it sort of depends on the force structure the Army has developed. So the right number is the number the Customer requires, whatever it might be.

  53. TehFinn

    It’s easier and cheaper to make the dismounting infantry to adapt to the vehicle than the other way around. If you can afford to design and manufacture a vehicle that fits your needs and required amount of dismounting infantry then it’s great but for the rest of us we just have to adapt to others vehicles.

  54. Chris

    TehFinn – consider it less a matter of doing what’s easiest, and more a matter of achieving the best compromise. Vehicles with poor mobility are as much a liability as are vehicles with inconvenient internal space or awkward doors ramps and hatches. The art of the designer is to get the best compromise for the Customer’s requirement priorities.

  55. TehFinn

    Probably so.

  56. ArmChairCivvy

    Holy Moses “is made of three three-man teams. First team: squad leader, support gunner with ACOG and rifleman, second team: assistant squad leader, PKM gunner, ammo bearer/pioneer, third team: team leader, PKM gunner, ammo bearer/medic. Typically everyone without PKM carries LAW. ”
    – no wonder you don’t call them rifle squads; a bit strange that the long reaching MGs do not have ACOGs or the like?
    – the only rifle seems to be for the “close” protection of the leader and the sniper? The former talking to his NOKIA (calling for an arty/ mortar strike, of course, no gossip) and the latter seeing the world ( a very small part of it) through the straw with magnification

    The first bingo! at the beginning of that quote.
    The second one ” 6 for BMP-2. For MTLB I think it’s 9.” with the MTLB. But does it really have protection against much more than AP rounds from AKs?
    – when the military photos stream was still going the joke was that when the BMP has reservists in the back, the number shrinks by one (may be the joke is so old that it was for BMP-1s?).

  57. TehFinn

    We don’t call them rifle squads because of traditions. We have jäger squads, platoons, companies, battalions and brigades. Recently we bought optics for PKMs, just didn’t mention that. The support gunner has assault rifle with ACOG, others use either iron sights or red dot. The actual snipers at company level use TKIV85 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/7.62_Tkiv_85) and TKIV2000 (TRG-42 .338). We don’t need optics because infantry battalion battle group has 42 indirect fire weapons above 81mm. We just get in contact and the FO does all the killing, the infantry is there just to protect him/her.

    I was taught that PKM can penetrate MTLB from 50m.

    Snipers and squad leaders don’t call fire, the forward observer does that. Each platoon has FO squad which consists of FO officer, FO NCO, two FO man and radio operator.

    “– when the military photos stream was still going the joke was that when the BMP has reservists in the back, the number shrinks by one (may be the joke is so old that it was for BMP-1s?).”

    Don’t know about this one.

  58. ArmChairCivvy

    Thx for the additional info. Not to go too far from vehicles, what form of recce supports the MTLBs (which, I hear, go like fire in all terrains, swamps and snow included) so that the guys can be sure they will be the h&ll out of theirs well before closing to 50 meters of the OpFor?

    RE: this detail ” Each platoon has FO squad which consists of FO officer…” I hear it is a long tradition and for that reason one in every seven of the Finnish casualties in WW2 were officers? Only “bettered” by the Israeli tank commanders in the Six Day War – vision blocks and aircon added since…

  59. Mike W

    Hi Chris

    Have not contributed for a long time but came across this article and was moved to comment on it. Found it a riveting read: enthusiastically written and genuinely inspiring. Very best wishes in your efforts to convince the British Army planners that designing the most affordable solution is in the MoD’s interest and would increase their inventory. It would be marvellous to see a regeneration of British armoured vehicle manufacturing.

    Just one point on which I think you’re absolutely right. You say in a reply to jedpc, usually a most astute commentator, that there may not be a stated British Army requirement for tracked light recce, but that there might be “a fast approaching capability gap”. I’m sure you’re right and that the British Army will sorely miss a reconnaissance vehicle of the size and weight of CVR(T) when it is retired.

  60. Chris

    Mike W – thanks for the support, its always most welcome. There will be apparently more news tomorrow (15 Oct) about the shape of cuts MOD will have to invoke by Treasury demand. In such times it seems there ought to be MOD teams searching out cost-effective equipment programmes, so the approach I have outlined ought to be of interest, at least it should in a rational world. I live in hope.

    As for formal requirements differing from real life capability gaps, there is a suspicion that having spent so long performing studies and eventually selecting ASCOD-based Ajax as the platform which will take over from CVR(T), it would be unconscionable to create a new Requirement for the replacement of CVR(T). Such a move would undoubtedly generate some difficult questions. So even if there is a painful loss of capability, I doubt a formal requirement will surface in the near term. However, the MOD is a multi-faceted organisation and it could chose to set up an investigation related to the retirement of the light armour fleet. If it thought it useful, of course.

  61. TehFinn

    Motorized (MTLB) company has a squad of motorbikes that recce the route. They’re also likely to be accompanied by Leo2A4s. Battalion has dismounted, motorbike, UAVs and MTLB mounted recce

    It’s true, junior officers leading from front suffered great number of casualties. I think I read an article that said 1/10 of platoon leaders died during the WW2.

  62. ArmChairCivvy

    Sounds like you don’t like surprises, then? “Battalion has dismounted, motorbike, UAVs and MTLB mounted recce”
    – I liked Mike W’s comment below, in the same vein
    – and I bet you have conscripts queuing up, to be the ones who get to be on cross-bikes?

  63. TehFinn

    No, we sure aren’t too keen on those. And yes, motorcycle driver is very sought after profession in the army. Most who are selected to drive them have some sort of motocross background.

  64. Greenie

    Fascinating read. Bit too much for my little brain to absorb!
    I am surprised that lighter armoured vehicles , as described, combined with active defence system with soft and hard kill, are not considered for light ready deployable force.

  65. Chris

    Greenie – not so long ago the value of mobility and rapid deployment was understood and valued. But at that time other factors were also understood; there was the Military Covenant for one thing, and an acceptance that one of the risks of a soldier’s military career was of being killed doing his duty.

    One aspect of the Military Covenant was that those on active duty under orders were not at risk of being taken through the civil courts when things went wrong – the Government held responsibility for whatever their military forces did. That’s gone now, as several court cases have recently shown, some of which have been little better than witch-hunting by unscrupulous lawyers (reference Phil Shiner, who was struck off for multiple professional misconduct charges). So now, those in command have one eye on the military objective and how to achieve the objective as effectively and rapidly as possible, and the other eye on what lawyers might be able to construe from the results of their orders being followed. Sending troops into danger in the most effective efficient military kit for the task may be seen as reckless, particularly if much bigger heavier better protected but much less militarily efficient kit is available. Cue the queue of lawyers and their manslaughter cases.

    As for the understanding that a military career was dangerous, in times past there was a greater acceptance that part of the armed forces implied contract of service was that if ever needed it was simple duty to salute and accept being sent on an unsurvivable mission. I was once present in a briefing where a Sergeant from a Recce troop went through his duties and highlighted the really important aspects. His description finished with a statement akin to “I construct the Report such that the most important information is sent before the less important details, because I need to get the greatest value over to HQ before I’m killed.” This was not emotive; it was just part of the job description. But that was decades ago; now the military is desperate to avoid crucifixion by tabloid headlines, the military command knowing their politician masters will instantly side with the headline writers to protect their own votes. A soldier’s career must be as safe as a teacher’s, and no military imperative is allowed to put any soldier at risk. Or so it would seem.

    These two factors would seem to be the core reasons for western armed forces equipping with ever heavier better protected vehicles. And on one plane I can’t disagree that trying as hard as possible to protect your own service personnel has to be a good thing. But. The military has a job to do, and if there is a conflict between ultimate personnel protection and getting the job done, then ultimate protection may not be such a good thing. I come from an age where the accepted wisdom was that acting fast to control situations before they got out of hand was the right military approach, and sending a rapid reaction force forward in a fast fighty formation while seriously risky for the brave personnel involved was the best way to prevent the larger numbers of casualties that would ensue if the opposition had a chance to establish a strong position. Those sent forward still deserve the best kit that can be provided, but necessarily constrained to the needs of rapid reaction and maximum high speed mobility.

    I hope the vehicles I have offered as examples meet that criteria. I hope I have done my job well enough to offer the best protection such light armour can provide, and the best mobility I can devise, and the most comprehensive firepower I can fit on the armed fighting vehicles – but not at the expense of true rapid reaction.

    If the military situation suits, these would be far more effective than bigger heavier vehicles which would be far slower to deploy in numbers. But equally if the situation has passed and opposition forces are established at strength, then those bigger heavier assets in the inventory must take up the fight.

    If there is no option of rapid reaction then the heavyweight slog is all that is left. To a degree then, the choice to go ‘all heavy’ is a self-fulfilling prophecy, as it ensures conflicts develop at a pace that force the use of heavily protected assets.

    Clearly then, like yourself, I believe a highly mobile punchy set of light armour has real military benefit. Not in replacing all heavier armour, but as another layer of capability between heliportable WMIKs and 35t+ sloggers, just like CVR(T) once was.

  66. steven duckworth

    A stitch in time saves nine springs to mind.

  67. Chris

    SD – just so. And reiterated in other related concepts such as ‘getting inside the opposition’s OODA loop’ or the value of Tempo once highly lauded in the British Army’s operational handbook. Sadly the idea of acting fast to gain and hold the initiative seems to have fallen out of fashion, which might well prove a painful development.

  68. wf

    @Chris: another one of the “lets see what we can screw the forces for” brigade was Graeme Stening, who as memory serves sued the MOD over the 1991 RRF friendly fire incident. Just Google the name to see his just desserts :-)

    Personally I think the “medium weight will allow us to rapidly react without 100 C17’s” is massive bollocks: even the Falklands required massive amounts of assault ships, helicopters and BV’s to make a light infantry force marginally viable.

    However, “raids and theatre entry” sound a lot more likely, plus the force multiplier effect of even lightly armed CVR(T) is well proven. With that in mind, I see a role for Rapier (C), in the same weight class as original CVR(T) but ideally low enough to fit within a Chinook, so that both assault and recovery are possible via heli, even if they arrive by LCU/LCVP or parachute. Perhaps you should rename Rapier Locust II :-)

    Question: if we mounted a remote only turret, could we fit a gun tank tank *and* an APC variant within the Chinook envelope given the human factors that you are working with?

  69. Chris

    wf – as it stands none of the vehicles are within CH-47 internal cargo gauge. Jackal only just fits and then only with its air suspension pumped out. Some of the vehicles might make the underslung load limit, although as noted this would be a struggle, and would mean quite a lot of post-lift prep before being combat ready – not ideal. Naturally, being CVR(T) sized or there-abouts, if the protection level was reduced to counter small-arms fire only (much as CVR(T) had) then the weight would reduce and heliportable vehicles would result. Horses for courses. As for squeezing the armour dimensions down to fit within CH-47? Gut feel says the internal volume (given the subsystems developed for the larger scale vehicles) would be compromised beyond tactical sense. A whole new set of assemblies would need developing, and the result wouldn’t look much different from Wiesel so perhaps if internal carriage was a vital consideration a Wiesel variant should be bought?

    Would I advocate a full Rapier-A/Ræcc remote turret atop an APC? I don’t think so, for a few reasons. First it would increase the height of the vehicle beyond C-130 gauge which I’d prefer not to do, secondly the raised CofG would potentially compromise dynamic mobility where mobility is one of the key attributes of the vehicles, and thirdly in my view it confuses the role of the vehicle. An APC’s primary role is to stay out of trouble and deliver its dismounts where they need to be as safely as possible. A vehicle with a decent quantity of firepower has a primary role to a) monitor and b) neutralise opposition threats, which means it is not making efforts to stay out of trouble. So if an IFV can be described as a well armed APC, what should it do if it encounters a threat? Does it engage as would a combat vehicle (and put its dismount passengers in the firing line) or does it leave the threat in place to ensure it can deliver its dismounts? On the Tank Museum website I read exactly the same problem affected Ferret Mk5 – the ordinary MG-armed Ferret was designed to operate by stealth. Once fitted with Swingfire, the crew couldn’t easily determine if their role was to watch without being seen, or to give away their presence by taking a shot at a passing threat, potentially giving the opposition valuable intel in the process. Hence I favour fielding APCs and turreted combat vehicles as distinct entities.

    As for massed deployment only by air, I suspect you’re right. But an air-bridge deploying a fighty vanguard force makes sense to me – something to hold the fort until the slow-time delivery of heavyweights can be completed.

  70. Ant


    Great read, thank you.
    Regarding only NON-personnel carrier types, where smaller dimensions for drivers/gunners or even commanders could be selected by the user:
    What benefits could be derived in terms of reduced weight of armour or better C-130/Chinook carriage?
    Let us prescribe, say, the 50th centile for men instead of the 97th. Or, making an exclusive role women in frontline service, say to the 70th centile of female soldiers (with body armour).
    Obviously, APC types would still have to cater for 97% male physique.

    Does this release any capability?

  71. wf

    @Chris: I was asking more out of a desire to see how practical you thought it. Whether the theatre entry is via amphibious, parachute or helicopter, the ability to rapidly shuttle around light armoured vehicles by helicopter has proven useful, and obviously internal carriage will allow better flight profiles. Since both the CH47 and CH53 have a fairly low cabin at just under 2m, nothing other than a CROWS type external turret is likely to fit, and as you say, it would be insane to exceed the C130’s 2.74m. It seems to me that without heliborne capability (either slung or internal) and the discipline it imposes, any “light” vehicle will be remorselessly driven up in weight until it hits C130 weight class. And at that point, it probably stops being useful. I’m still interested as to whether the 97th percentile human APC could potentially fit within a CH47 :-)

    I understand from the engineering point of view being able to produce “pure” fighty or transport vehicles makes life far easier. But unless we are going to fight in conveniently rolling and open terrain only and ignore towns and close country, the fact is that protection of a lightly armed vehicle via other vehicles becomes very problematic. It’s noticeable that even the Israelis are now fitting the Namer with a remote controlled 30mm turret: despite originally touting it as a pure vehicle, and the US is doing the same with Stryker.

  72. Chris

    Ant – I did a rough back-of-envelope sum (engineer speak for ‘guess but with numbers’) that suggested a 5% reduction in personnel max linear dimension (height being the obvious one to pick) and a consequent reducing of personnel space to suit would deliver a reduction of vehicle weight of about 20% for the same protection and performance. Obviously its never that simple, as for example a specific type of engine doesn’t come in a range of sizes like clothes do, and the weapons, the ammunition, the jerry-cans, the radio kit etc would also stay as big. But the payback does seem to be disproportionately large for a modest reduction in maximum anthropometric accommodation.

    Most will have heard that the Red Army put a size restriction on their tank crews – 5ft 8″ I think – which led to many of the T34s running into battle with female drivers. But if you sit a T34/85 next to the PzKW-5 Panther which has a 75mm gun not an 85mm, the T34 is noticeably smaller. So the smaller personnel meant the crewspace was smaller and lighter for the same protection, so a smaller engine could be fitted that further reduces vehicle size and weight which meant better fuel economy so smaller fuel tanks – a long chain reaction of benefits.

    Would the UK military impose such a restriction? Despite having minimum height restrictions for the Guards, I doubt there would be apetite for maximum heights for RTR. No longer Fair Diverse Acceptable or Politically Correct. Personally, if I thought there was military advantage to be gained in making slightly smaller heavy armour and it was my choice to make, I’d impose the limit like a shot.

    Back to your question – would it help with C-130 or CH-47 gauge compliance? All the above described vehicles would physically fit C-130 and are within the gross payload weight limit. Slightly smaller might be an advantage where crawlspace over the vehicles is marginal. But would it make any fit inside CH-47? No I don’t think so, for the reasons noted above – the engine and driveline and suspension components and most of the rest of the basic vehicle would all need changing. In essence the link to the rest of the concept family would be gone and it would be a clean-sheet design – a completely different vehicle.

  73. Chris

    wf – with the components so far developed I would predict a reasonable chance of making heli-portable armour, but underslung and with lower protection levels than currently envisaged. If that was a trade the User was prepared to make, then theres a fighting chance a fully prepared ready-to-fight vehicle could be lifted by CH-47. As it stands there would be a need to reduce the load from the design combat weight to get into the CH-47 lift envelope, meaning there would need to be a few REME run ragged screwing the machine together and a team restacking stowage between helo delivery and being ready to move into action.

    Of course all of the above relates to the 8x8s and smaller tracked vehicles. THe 6×6 Ox would be 10.5t GVW, the 4x4s are 7t GVW. They should present few problems for Chinook underslung lift. The 10×10 and larger tracked vehicles would in all likelihood never get down to CH-47 lifting limits.

    Could a full-size APC fit inside a Chinook? I’m sceptical. I think there would be too many compromises (very light weight, very narrow, either very low roof or an armoured Dormobile style lifting roof section with all the weaknesses such a floating structure would add) and the end result would be a very bad version of an APC, poorly protected, cramped, very long for its width, iffy roll stability and bad mobility. And to top it all probably minimal dismount capacity.

    I have considered self protection for the APCs but up to .50cal HMG. Although FNSS sells a 20mm armed one man turret that might just fit. The APC in CAD (nowhere near a complete concept) has the Raðe turret perched on top as a ‘space claim’ envelope to make sure I don’t put immovable items where its basket would need to be. Ox is shown above with Istec protected ringmounts as an example. But should a customer wish to discuss different options, they could be investigated.

  74. Ant

    Thank you. So if I understand correctly, there is a very considerable 20% weight reduction to be had, although this would not translate into a radical new capability in terms of transportation.
    But that 20% is very valuable in giving a smaller target, plus numerous collateral advantages, including further C-130 carriage, or could be traded for better protection, or more range, more ammunition, better sensors at the same weight…
    It would take an expert in Equality and Diversity legislation (anyone?) but I am not sure it is unreasonable in the first case to design seats for small people, so not sexist “as such” (although accepting that women being smaller, it is arguable it is in fact discriminatory), but here are so many other posts in the Forces open to patriotic women, a niche employment within the whole as RTR drivers/Gunners may be OK.
    Like you I would go for it in a shot with those advantages, and woe betide anyone who makes jokes about women and parallel parking lest they get a tank accidentally parked on their bonnet.

    PS: I think @wf and I happened to come out with questions in a similar line together, by chance, and your last paragraph crossed over.

  75. Ant

    On a different tack;
    Puma has extra add-on armour available taking it from (stretching my memory) from ~35 tons (A-400M deliverable) to 44 tons (which is not).
    Could you design a “Hobart’s Funny” to mechanise/facilitate rapid post-delivery up-armouring in the field?
    You can follow my gist (a bit tangentially) here:

  76. Chris

    Ant – don’t take the 20% figure as a cast-iron guaranteed weight saving – as I noted there are many aspects of the design that wouldn’t scale neatly so the figure would end up somewhere between ‘big person’ vehicle weight and a weight 20% less. Without doing the whole design (a few months effort) anything closer than that is blind guesswork. But I am confident a reduction in upper limit of physical size, if translated into a vehicle just the right scale for the new biggest crewman, would result in a vehicle size and weight reduction.

  77. steven duckworth

    I believe that the post WW2 Japanese designed Type 61 MBT took advantage of the then smaller stature of the Japanese soldiers IIRC . It enabled them to produce a 90mm armed MBT 6m long by 3m wide by 2.5m high weighing only 35t.
    However today that 97% percentile is pretty much mandatory as people are still getting bigger (my 13 year old is 6’2″ already) .
    Someone commented on another blog that a modern APC had to cater for a squad of Fijian soldiers in the back but another commentator added a squad of Fijian soldiers was just plain unfair on the OPFOR !

  78. Chris

    Ant – as I understand the state of the art and with experience of one modern armoured vehicle with optional applique, there isn’t anything particularly difficult about hanging extra armour on the outside of a vehicle. Its just very very heavy. So at minimum a hoist or crane, or MHE like a fork-lift. Thereafter the difficulty is lining up the applique so it all screws clips or locks together correctly. As with the CH-47 APC, my gut feel is any attempt to invent some form of ‘transformer’ mechanism would be detrimental in that for the rare usage, it would take up space and would weigh quite a bit if it could reliably lift chunks of armour.

  79. Chris

    SD – just so. Don’t forget the volume added by body armour and wearable tech. Someone should get a Uni to study the dramatic increase in average height that has happened over the past 40 years or so. Natural selection? I don’t think so. It would be interesting to compare rates of increase with the use of growth hormones in farm animals?

  80. steven duckworth

    According to the latest research the population of the USA has stopped increasing in average hight partly due to dietary issues so perhaps we will plateau out too? As you say the bulk of the kit a modern soldier needs to wear is dramatically bigger than say the 60’s and is only contributing to the growth of vehicle size along with the size of the soldiers themselves. The number of dismounts from an APC has a logical lower limit based on the operational practices of a particular army, a minimum squad size along with weapons that may be embarked based on the specific theater threats ,MANPADS or ATGW etc. You’ve had a tough job conceptualizing this range of vehicle’s , hats off to you Chris!

  81. Chris

    SD – I really doubt I did everything to perfection but I’ve tried hard to do what’s right. And anything that needs revision can of course be sorted once issues are identified.

  82. mr.fred

    On the subject of removable appliqué armour, I would think that it’s a good idea to design into any given vehicle as it gives you a chance to modify you protection and mobility to suit the environment. Although if you are changing the vehicle weight substantially you also need to be able to change the suspension.

    If you plan to do it out in the field, you don’t really want specialist kit that you have to carry on every vehicle (parasitic weight) or a specialist vehicle (thats guaranteed not to be where you need it). Simple cranes if you must, or ideally light enough to be man handled. The brackets should be designed so you can fit the armour in place then fit bolts or what have you to hold it in place. Trying to fit bolts on a suspended load is both a pain in the posterior and dangerous.

  83. Chris

    mr.fred – let me offer a reason why such excellent adaptability turns out to be redundant. Imagine a vehicle with baseline L2 armour – good against small arms only – with great heavy slabs of applique armour that increases the protection to L5. Now assume the vehicle is designed with growth targets that allows enough suspension capacity to support growth above the base L2 protection level; just enough to take the L5 applique. Now put yourself in the shoes of Military Command. Knowing that if they field the vehicle in its base configuration and it was to come under fire that resulted in casualties or fatalities then the tabloids would scream out that the Army was culpable because they hadn’t fitted the applique, do you think Command would ever let the vehicle out of the compound without the weight of applique fitted? Look at Warrior as an example. Once the slab armour had been fitted for the Balkans as a valid and valuable theatre specific mod, all Warriors have had the applique fitted as standard. I will be very surprised if Ajax ever goes into action without maximum applique fitted. If the applique armour is designed and proven effective it will be the standard fit – the tabloid judge jury and executioner guarantee it.

    Its the quickest way to use up all design growth margin. The fact its removable additional armour is of no consequence as it will never be removed. Even if the extra weight makes the vehicle inadequate, no-one will dare put a signature to instructions to remove it. Yesterday I noted a similar effect in a response to Greenie (October 19 07:52) – with the evaporation of the likes of Crown Immunity and the erstwhile robust Military Covenant, individual officers it seems are open to criminal charges if they put their soldiers in harm’s way, so you can understand the change in attitude.

  84. mr.fred

    Although the Warrior’s armour fit is a good example of what I am talking about. In Iraq it was fitted with the corrugated ERA setup but when it was deployed to Afghanistan, that got taken off and replaced with less effective, but lighter, bar armour, because it needed the mobility and the threat wasn’t so high.
    When seen on excercise the Warrior tends to not have the appliqué fit, which almost certainly reduces wear on the vehicles.

    So what is your solution? Build the vehicles up to the light weight limit so there is no room for growth? That’ll still get people in trouble, witness Snatch Land Rover. Or build the vehicle with all the armour permanently fitted, where you can’t rearrange the coverage or type of armour?

    I’m of the opinion that any armoured vehicle should have an appliqué fit to increase its flexibility, transportability, upgradability and lots of other words that end in “ility”

  85. Chris

    mr.fred – yes and no. As noted above in the main text I am sure RPG protection is a good thing and suggested Tarian nets offered the best solution for light armour. I also noted ABBS’s blast acceleration attenuation system was worth fitting. But I set out deliberately to design light armour, focused on high mobility and minimum size for the role. I also noted that the ORBAT would still contain its heavy elements and if the situation (hence threat) was such that heavyweight protection was more important than nimble mobility then take the heavy kit and leave the light armour in the garages.

    I understand your desire for flexibility but honestly I see following such a path as a way to get the concept designs upgraded to inadequacy. With maximum added flexible armour the mobility is poor, the size has grown, the economy is worse, the reliability is worse, the utility is worse. So your solution is: Design for all that extra weight?

    That means redesigned suspension with more robust (heavier) components and stiffer springing. It means a more powerful engine and more capable driveline, both probably heavier and larger. That means a larger fuel tank. In order to maintain internal volume it means a bigger vehicle. Which makes the same level of protection hull heavier just because plate areas have grown. All of this makes a heavier base GVW which eats into the applique weight budget. Is this really the same vehicle any more? Its certainly not in the same class and as the objective was to address a capability gap, designing something that misses the gap (for no matter what well intentioned reasons) is not a clever strategy. And having designed all the component parts to suit a heavier vehicle the unavoidable question is “but why design it to have less protection than it could so obviously support?” and so the base vehicle design is instantly under pressure to get heavy. Honestly, if you want to get to really heavy protection then don’t bother to buy light armour. Go buy Boxer or Bionix or Terrex2 or more Ajax or the latest AMV or CV90 or VBCI. But accept the penalties that come with bigger heavier vehicles.

    But if you value the qualities and capabilities of small light highly mobile armour, then accept there must be some discipline in not trying to turn it into something its not, or else all those apparently valued capabilities will be trashed.

  86. EdS

    Hi Chris,

    Thanks for the very interesting article. Seems like a very sensible proposal and I wish you success in getting the MOD to buy into it. A few comments and questions:
    1. You mentioned turrets such as Lance or Hitfist for the Raven… Much as it would be good for allies to support the “courageous” decision of the British&French to introduce CTA40, I suspect many other governments would prefer the lower cost and risk of 30×173 or similar. Would 30×173 be an option on the other cannon equipped vehicles, e.g. Ræcc? Might be useful for the export market.
    2. 30×113 option for Raðe?
    3. You have GMLRS and artillery tractor variants of the Ox, are any more indirect fire variants planned? e.g. mortar variant of Rǽde or even a light SPG like Abbot? Would these be useful for a rapid deployment force that can’t bring AS90 along? (The SPG being better at the “and scoot” part than a towed howitzer).
    4. I appreciate the rationale for keeping the vehicle sizes as small as possible, to keep weight down, improve armour protection for a given weight, etc., but I’m sure you’ll agree that there are certain functionality, ergonomics and habitability considerations that cannot be compromised. Given that, can you reassure us that all the vehicles come equipped with a BV? :-)

  87. Chris

    EdS – important stuff first – yes every vehicle has a BV (more accurately a model of the RAK30) fitted, even Raðe. Rest easy.

    1. The use of COTS turrets with the likes of Mk44 gun in other vehicles is not straightforward. The vehicles are small and (in the case of the wheeled ones) have steeply angled lower hull sides such that turret baskets of ‘normal’ dimensions do not fit. There is always the opportunity to design new turrets for different weapon fits, but this all takes time and at the moment is probably not sensible. As for 30×173 gun options, the Denel GI 30 looks quite a neat design, having breech-mounted magazines which would eliminate complex ammunition feed systems.

    2. I’m none too convinced Raðe could take the likes of M230 in a turret and the added weight may well exceed the design limit of 7t GVW. A heavy turret on such a compact 4×4 would almost certainly result in some undesirable dynamic handling characteristics. See CVR(W) Fox as an example.

    3. As it stands I’ve put a hold on inventing new variants as each takes a good deal of time to design and model. The intent has been to show the range of sizes and types of vehicles that can be designed within the family, not every single possible variant. Of course different variants would be investigated to suit requirements as and when a customer turns up with real needs and a programme. Understood that a ‘mini-SPG’ would be a good addition to the fleet though.

    4. To repeat because of course it is the most important attribute of each design – yes there is a BV in every vehicle type.

  88. mr.fred

    I was running on the assumption that armour arrays were the staple of any AFV these days and consequently the outer layers would be appliqué as a matter of course, rather than heaping masses of additional armour on a light platform.
    You would have a base structural layer and then sections of armour arrays get fitted on top. If your CONOPS allow you could still let a vehicle out “naked” but most of the time you will have your optimised fit on. That would be the design weight of the vehicle. You could attach more weight if mobility less of a concern, or scale it back if the choice is between a more lightly protected vehicle or no vehicle. Or you can alter it based on operational concerns, as most modern armour tends to be optimised against specific threats.

    For the specific example, an L2 fit with an L5 upgrade option. You could ship without the L5 and fit in theatre, or swap L5 kits off damaged or otherwise inoperable vehicles onto spares. If the situation means it is unlikely that the opposition doesn’t have anything bigger than a L4 threat, you could drop to L4, taking a substantial load off the vehicle and supporting logistics, improving mobility with no practical difference to the protection. Or you could find yourself somewhere where the kinetic threat from the front is less but the shaped charge or IED threat from all around is higher. Appliqué systems mean you can alter to suit.

    Or, ten years down the road when people are regularly using L3 threat weapons and ammunition for small arms, you can use the standard appliqué fittings to bump the base level to L3, while one where the protection is built in needs more costly re-work.* Similarly if the baseline fit is L5 and the threat increases to L6. With a vehicle designed with an appliqué fit it’s a matter of changing the outer layer(s) while a built-in version needs additional modification. Yes it’s a hit to mobility and weight, but it’s at least an option compared to shrugging and saying “if you can’t take a joke you shouldn’t have joined”

    Or, going a bit further, you might find that the threat changes to the point where you’d have to increase the weight to the point that your mobility is compromised. At that stage, there’s no point in having armour against a lesser threat than you face and it might be the case that it makes more sense to drop some of the armour and only be proof against the next tier of threat down, regaining mobility and capacity for other useful kit. As an example, you are armoured to L5 and your opponent has up gunned his vehicles to something that could deal with L6 protection, and the next heaviest weapon he has is a L4 one. Rather than add armour to L6+ and rendering your light vehicles tactically and strategically immobile, you say sod it and drop the protection to L4. You won’t stop his best gear, but you wouldn’t have been able to anyway, so you might as well have improved mobility.

    * It could be said that optimising a design too far based on the current requirements is a recurring theme on British Armour Engineering**. Challenger 2 is hard to upgrade because it was designed around the 120mm rifle. Several generations*** of WW2 tanks had to be replaced completely because they couldn’t be up gunned.

    **non-intentional abbreviation
    *** two or three, depending on how you define it

  89. mr.fred

    Also, on turrets, you might also consider Rafael’s Sampson Mk2 or Kongsberg’s MCT for remote systems.

    And for suspension upgrades, I was thinking more along the lines of being able to adjust it and/or fit uprated parts rather than fitting over engineered systems from the get-go.

  90. Chris

    mr.fred – while I can see logic in your approach I struggle with practicality. I can see a case (indeed anyone looking at AFVs sees the case everywhere they look) for ‘wallhanging’ applique that adds to the most obvious exposed plates of armour, but in my view the armour effectiveness must be viewed in the round from all directions. I fail to understand how removable panels work when they are to cover the areas where suspension is fitted, or over hull roofplates where there is a turret mounted. Along the flanks, over the nose, up the glacis plate, well OK I can envisage wallhanging. But there will be areas where protection remains at the design baseline. The framework and interchangeable panel construction I suspect only has a role for ballistic and possibly frag protection and would work best on vehicles such as Jackal where the crew sit in an armoured space but the base vehicle protection is understood to never change.

    With the exception of Rival which is an armoured cab on an unarmoured chassis, all the AEC vehicles have a coherent protection strategy – there are no areas deliberately weak in protection, neither for either engineering ease nor for supposed probability of risk. If a customer wants to play probability games then all things are possible but its not what I have designed. If a customer wishes to hang ceramic plaques on the upper hull sides then I have no objection. So long as there is understanding that such plaques only improve the bits of hull they cover. Otherwise to get a different level of all-round protection would need in essence a replacement hull (and turret if present).

    We may be talking at cross-purposes, but I struggle to see applique making more than local improvements to specific areas of the vehicle. And I stand by the previous point that the AEC vehicles have been designed specifically to slot into the light highly mobile easy to deploy armour capability gap that the withdrawal of CVR(T) and 430 series creates, and if heavy protection is needed the ORBAT has heavy armour available for use.

    On turrets I looked briefly in passing at the Kongsberg turret which is taller than I’d like and has a strange armour arrangement (assuming the outer structure is armour and not just there for weather protection). I haven’t looked at the latest iteration of Sampson 30mm yet but then the target customer has declared a requirement for CTA40 so that’s what has been fitted.

  91. Mark

    Interesting read from someone who is a novice at vehicles. But as an engineer I like the systems engineering approach behind these concepts and something sadly lacking across much of defence.

    “Now put yourself in the shoes of Military Command. Knowing that if they field the vehicle in its base configuration and it was to come under fire that resulted in casualties or fatalities then the tabloids would scream out that the Army was culpable because they hadn’t fitted the applique, do you think Command would ever let the vehicle out of the compound without the weight of applique fitted”

    If this is the attitude to risk (and I think it might be) in the army or political chain of command then why would you bother buying light armour at all. You would simply just buy and send heavily armoured vehicles to any and all tasks.

    It comes back to my thoughts that light forces outside of special forces are no longer useful or viable on modern battlefields and for the uk we simply can’t afford to equip or deploy and sustain heavy armour at any scale to make a difference on any likely future budget .

  92. DavidNiven


    The systems thinking is obviously a massive logistical bonus, but I’m not sure where these vehicles are pitched.

    My understanding is you are suggesting that we replace everything bar heavy formations with this concept. If so will we not end up facing a medium gap which we already have (especially if we cannot up armour to a small degree)?

    Would this concept be better aimed at the MRVP requirement and aim at replacing Jackal etc on the light recce front?

  93. mr.fred

    Appliqué doesn’t have to be ceramic, flat or limited to certain areas. Most, if not all, modern AFVs derive their protection from appliqué systems. There will be weak spots in any armour schemes. Stanag 4569 allows for this and even defines what is counted as protected and what isn’t.

  94. Rocket Banana

    Field-fitted applique makes a lot of sense to me but only for transportability limits. E.g. Chinook 10t vehicle + x tonnes of applique. Or A400M 37t base Ajax + 5t of applique.

  95. Chris

    Mark – I think its a matter of military utility. I recall visits to the sheds on trials way back in the 90s where the RTR Challenger crews were hugely disparaging about the value of CVR(T), to the point that they clearly thought them pointless and that all tasks could be done better with heavy armour. And yet, 25 years on CVR(T) is still in the ORBAT (just); indeed 100 new Scimitar/Spartan hybrids were bought not so long ago. There must be military utility in this class of armour, or none would still be in service. And equally clearly, there must be military utility determined by the Army for all varieties of armour, light medium and heavy, by the same reasoning. So at the moment it must be that your lack of faith in the value or effectiveness of armour, even in the current low numbers, is not shared by the military. If armour was truly ineffective or an unsustainable drain on budget resources, and the cash could make a much more effective Army elsewhere, I would imagine someone in authority would have worked that out and changed the forward plan.

    DN – thanks for the positive note. So. Where does the AEC fleet fit you ask. Looking at the second of the graphics showing the broad range of armour in the ORBAT, you will note Warrior and Ajax (plus derivatives) remain – arguably medium weight although for my money nearer the heavy end of medium. You will also note Jackal & Coyote remain. When this graphic was drawn MRV-P was nowhere near deciding on vehicles, nor really was it clear what MRV-P was to replace. It was more like a Snatch replacement at the time – a more armoured GP Landie. Given the unit cost price cap applied to the programme that seemed rational as only armour in the 5-7t range was affordable. So the bit in the middle of that lot has been the target for the AEC vehicles just as the graphic shows. Some years into the design work, MIV and then Strike turned up. Conceptually I think these vehicles could do very well filling the MIV slot and making Strike a much different beast to the Armoured Bdes – quicker to deploy, in greater numbers, with a much reduced logistic tail, highly mobile and, where armed, with the same gun as Ajax (and with added ATGW and depending on customer decision SHORAD). However, it seems the die is cast and MIV will be a bigger beast which current indications put in the 35t bracket. Personally I see this as a way to slow Strike reactions almost to those of the Armoured Bdes, but I am not the military decision maker and its their budget. But even if you accept MIV is already decided as a Boxer AMV VBCI Terrex SuperAV sort of thing, there is still the question in my mind as to whether there needs to be a CVR(T)-like capability, and whether it should be of a form that could also cover several other diverse and ageing platform families such as Husky Mastiff Ridgeback Wolfhound Panther Fuchs and Bulldog. The logistics advantage would seem to suggest its worth investigating. If, that is, there is value in armour at this weight. We have sat on opposite sides of arguments in the past and I am quite sure you would prefer to spend any spare cash found down the back of MOD’s sofa on heavy armour not light, but in my view there is genuine value in having the broadest spectrum of tools to chose from when deciding what forces to deploy to seize the military objective in the most timely and efficient manner.

    A note on weight and size. The Rapier-C is Scimitar sized. It is calculated as being between 13 & 14t. Ajax is 40% larger in each direction (length width height) without its flank applique. If I was to take the Rapier-C design and just scale it up to the same dimensions as Ajax without changing armour thicknesses, lets have a quick look at what happens. Surface area of hull and turret armourplate would double (1.4 squared). The armour weight then would double. This would need heavier duty suspension. The weight of the track would increase 2.8 times (1.4 cubed) as its length thickness and width would all scale up. The heavier vehicle would need a more powerful engine and stronger driveline, to hold the same power to weight ratio the increase would be significant. Weight of these components would be much greater as a result, as would the weight of the volume of fuel required for the same range due to a worse fuel economy. Its all wet-finger guesswork as to attempt to validate the sums would need best part of a years effort to create a proper design, but its rational to consider an Ajax sized version of the 13t Rapier would weigh somewhere near 30t. So when considering the utility and protection offered by compact light armour such as this, its perhaps useful to see it as the capability of an Ajax sized 30t vehicle made really compact and easily deployable? As the text above states, small vehicles can have good protection even if they are relatively light. Add to this that they are smaller targets and can more readily use limited natural cover and can use routes not suited to larger heavier vehicles, and tactical survivability is not much different to heavier vehicles with thicker protection.

    mr.fred – as I noted a while back I understand your argument. But I think it comes with penalties. Other manufacturers may well have decided this to be excellent marketing value and designed their products with adaptable replaceable armour rather than an armoured hull. The vehicles shown above have not been designed with interchangeable armour panels and if they had been, their shape and configuration would have no doubt been quite different. And in all likelihood they would have needed to be bigger and of simpler external form, which the rash of cheese-wedge nosed slab-sided 8x8s would tend to evidence. I have tried to give these vehicles a good level of protection that suits their size and the advantages that size offers, knowing full well other heavier bigger vehicles will remain in the ORBAT even if these entered service. I think that makes sound rationale and gives these vehicles their most compact form and best mobility. If a requirement surfaces that demands MBT levels of protection on vehicles not a great deal bigger than Land Rovers, then you’re probably right that this isn’t the best place to start. As I said not that many comments back, and think worth repeating verbatim, if you value the qualities and capabilities of small light highly mobile armour, then accept there must be some discipline in not trying to turn it into something its not, or else all those apparently valued capabilities will be trashed.

    Simon – all the arguments about applique apply no matter what reason lays behind the desire. But let me suggest where the good idea of squeezing into transportability limits has difficulties, particularly with helo lift. Assume a 15t vehicle with a 10t core and 5t applique. Also assume the need for helo lift is to move the vehicles way forward to gain significant tactical advantage. At the departure base the vehicle would require strip-down to get to its underslung cargo weight. Lifting off tonnes of armour presumably needing MHE of some form, probably a forklift at minimum, or some form of gantry and block & tackle. The 10t base vehicle is carried close to opposition forces and left there – then what? Even if it arrives with crew and ammunition its in no fit state to fight. So a second helicopter flies in the applique. 5t of it. Is the vehicle crew then responsible for assembling the armour to their own vehicle? Or is a REME detachment shipped in to build a gantry for a hoist and to then assemble the vehicle? When the vehicle is complete, are the REME left there, close to the enemy? And no matter how the scenarios are constructed, the same thought arises – why the necessity for helo lift if the vehicle is not going into action the moment its on the ground? Why not take a slower route and deliver a fully combat ready platform? For helo lift then I see massive stripdown of the vehicle and reassembly on delivery as unacceptable and incompatible with the urgent nature of the delivery method. I do however see the validity in the second case, that of strategic airlift in strip-down form and rebuilding the platform to combat readiness at APOD. At least in that case there would most likely be a wealth of engineering help and MHE in place and the urgency to get into contact would probably be less.

  96. JohnHartley

    One missed medium tank opportunity, was the Vickers MK3 (M), whose prototype was running in 1997. An updated Vickers MK3, with ERA, developed for the Malaysian Army. A financial crisis stopped the purchase.
    I think it a shame that the British Army did not get 75 or so, as a 39.9 ton tank with a 105mm gun, would have been useful in all those places it was hard/impossible to get a 62.5 ton Challenger 2.
    At that time no one wanted to spend money on armour. One of those, what ifs.

  97. mr.fred

    I’m not sure that you do understand my point, insomuch as I have one. The 8x8s with their modular armour do have armoured hulls. The appliqué systems that they fit to all surfaces, including behind the wheels, are the mass efficient way to provide protection, but are based on a base level armoured monocoque.

    On a related note, what are all the bolt heads on the outer faces if not for attaching appliqué plates?

  98. Chris

    mr.fred – effective armour needs layers and the bolts you question hold the outer layer of armour in place. As designed this is not applique as the base protection needs its presence. It is simply part of the vehicle. I can do no more than say I have not designed the vehicles to take replacement applique panels of different thickness and would see a lot of redesign to make such an approach slick; also to repeat for a vehicle of its class I think the protection level reasonable rational and appropriate. Should a customer engage and demand such modular armour then that would be investigated and the pros & cons would be determined for customer appraisal.

  99. EdS

    Chris, thanks for the answers to my questions. Interesting about the turret issues for 30×173 and the advantage of CTA over “smaller” guns. My question about 30×113 on Raðe was motivated by reading about the US plans to put it on JLTV (albeit in an unarmoured RWS).

  100. Chris

    EdS – there are a lot of perfectly good turrets with guns like Mk44 installed; the issue in the case of trying to fit them to the AEC wheeled turreted vehicles is purely one of incompatible hull shape. Obviously unmanned turrets do not have turret baskets to worry about, but equally the basket for a one-man turret can be a lot smaller in diameter than for a two-man turret. While the CTA40 offers advantages due to the location of mantlet trunnion axis (being halfway back down the breech block hence reducing both intrusion into the internal volume and swept volume required for elevation/depression), it is really the reduced size of basket that makes the big difference with regards these vehicles.

    As for an RWS with M230, I don’t think I’ve seen one yet so cannot really comment. I’ll keep an eye out for it.

  101. Rocket Banana


    “…why the necessity for helo lift if the vehicle is not going into action the moment its on the ground?”

    Good point, as of course, it would. If, however, you lose the Chinook transportability of your recce vehicle you lose much of its tactical flexibility. You may as well grow to 37t and use Ajax.


    1. Scout as normal
    2. Reach ravine impasse
    3. Remove applique
    4. Lift by Chinook
    5. Scout (light)
    6a. If clear lift applique, forklift and crew by Chinook and apply. Goto 1
    6b. If not extract by Chinook and call in an air strike. Goto 4

  102. Chris

    Simon – I suggest that small light highly mobile armour has many more tactically valuable attributes than just the ability to dangle under a helicopter. But the point is taken. I noted in the discussions about increased armour and heavier weight that the ORBAT would still have its heavier platforms for tasks where the AEC vehicles were determined to be a bit too light. I can equally suggest if the AEC vehicles are too heavy for a given task there are still platforms such as Jackal that could be used. Different tools for different jobs. Of course if you kit out the Army with nothing but heavyweight armour as you suggested (You may as well grow to 37t and use Ajax) then if they are too heavy you are left with nothing but jeeps and infantry.

    Or if helo lift is an absolutely vital aspect of modern warfare, and all vehicles are under pressure to get heavier and better protected, then maybe CH-47 itself has become redundant and a fleet of CH-53K should be bought to replace them? It has a payload limit just short of 16t according to some sources on the web.

    Genuinely I should be interested to know just how often this sort of battlefield up-armouring has been attempted, other than crews hanging logs and spares and scrap iron to their vehicles in ad hoc manner.

  103. Rocket Banana


    Funny. I nearly mentioned CH-53K in my comment :-) Mark has also already suggested similar on the TD Archive site.

    As for how often, I do not know, I only know what I read on TD’s Medium Weight article and realised that tactical mobility and/or the flexibility provided by copter lift is highly valuable and not something many people bring to the party.

    JLTV might offset some of the value to be honest.

  104. Chris

    Simon – yes MRV-P does look a bit JLTV shaped now. Shame – Raðe would be a good fit too, and at the same basic weight. No A-kit/B-kit approach though, not as designed.

    Which of course reminds me that the 4×4 scout Raðe and the utility Rǽs are well within CH-47 underslung load limits. And of course if a customer really wanted a 10t tracked recce vehicle then such a design could be investigated so long as the consequences were understood. But for now I think there are enough example designs to give a good idea of the sorts of designs that the engineering approach could deliver.

  105. mr.fred

    If the armour isa layered and the outer layer is not structural then it’s appliqué, at least in my book (MIL-STD-662)
    If you aren’t designing upgrades from the start then that’s fine – the layered construction will help in that regard even if it’s not specifically planned for.
    If anyone is planning on doing armour changes in the field (for transport or repair) I would strongly recommend against specialist kit. If it can be lifted by hand then that’s best, if it needs to be lifted by mechanical means make sure you can do it in austere conditions with the sort of kit you might have on hand anyway. If the bolted connection is set up such that you can fit the plates in place and have them stay there before you have to do the fasteners up, that is preferable to trying to line up a pair of holes and poke bolts through.

  106. ArmChairCivvy

    Hi Chris,
    Was skimming through the article (again) and trying to map the models/ designs against a requirement in running – there should be some potential with Ox. Initially with MIV (though the speculation keeps flipping between Boxer and piranha V as to which one is already “a done deal”). The other one is the wheeled ambulance, probably initially only 70-80 units, even though the stated requirement started much higher – I guess we have changed the planning assumptions as to how many casualties might ensue from the types of operations we could, potentially, undertake. A shrinking set of scenarios, that one!

    After the rather long intro (above), and coming down to the real world, it has been pointed out that the Ox family bears a resemblance to a German family of vehicles. Is there any industrial synergy, ie. components that are in production and could be directly applied to Ox?
    – I am thinking on the lines of Jackal/ Coyote and the SF versions of that platform (sold to several countries) where the design is owned (and further developed) by one company and the manufacture is by another one (that can absorb discontinuities by virtue of their other “lines”)

  107. Chris

    ACC – as noted in a previous comment response to DN, conceptually I think the whole variety of AEC vehicles would suit MIV’s needs, or more accurately the full spread of needs of the Strike Brigades if the intent is to make them a lighter leaner more deployable Rapid Reaction force of quite distinct character from the Armoured Infantry Brigades. Ox looks most like the idea of MIV that we have been led to understand – medium weight, 8×8, people carrier, armed for self protection only, and so on.

    As for taking just one variant of one type of AEC vehicle into service, as in the Ox Ambulance? That would negate so many of the real plus points about the family – common support being the obvious attribute, but also spread development costs, reduced training burden, economies of scale despite the wide variety of shapes and configurations, etc. There is little more sense in picking an Ox Ambulance as in selecting a Dingo Ambulance, if in each case they would end up unique vehicles with unique support requirements within the Army’s ORBAT.

    I know the design of the Supacat HMT quite well. Its suspension as configured has internal chassis space claims the AEC vehicles could not accommodate. The intended engine for the AEC vehicles is very compact and the Cummins power unit of HMT would require more space and hence redesigns. The driveline is quite different too. Engineering commonality to such a vehicle (which is now of course approaching 15 years old) would take a lot of rework and would in all likelihood result in less compact and heavier designs. It doesn’t on the face of things seem to bring many advantages? Much the same would apply if dealing with other extant vehicle components, no matter what country they are sourced from. Added to which the chances of being given full engineering access to the component designs to be sure they were strong enough but not over-engineered for the task would be quite unlikely – IPR issues are a minefield. Had the Government owned the designs then maybe there would be scope for re-use because there would be no IP barrier to engineering data.

    As for the Supacat design/Babcock build of the Jackal, this was a commercial arrangement set up between the two businesses, and no doubt took into account factors such as the inability for the Dunkeswell site at the time to push vehicles down the line at the required production rate, DML/Babcock’s Naval Engineering focus meaning it was unlikely to use Supacat vehicle design knowledge in its own future products, and the proximity of Plymouth to Honiton keeping jobs in the area and making the necessary staff movements between the sites slick. I am quite sure if DML had, at the time of the production deal being set up, their own army vehicle business then the conflict of interest would have prevented that deal being signed. No business willingly hands over its Intellectual Property to a competitor.

  108. Ogden Dowcett

    Thought from across the pond…. apologies if it rambles as I’m an engineer and not English/”American” major.

    First and foremost, bravo on the BV in every design, we need our coffee as much as you need your tea :D

    As several of the previous comments stated, since initial design effort has, for the most part, been relegated to company funded efforts, the (for lack of a better way to describe it) “true” systems engineering has given way to “tweak” engineering in order to save developmental costs. As a result a majority of decisions are made that are “penny wise but pound foolish” because everyone wants to win the bid/contract with “our solution costs the least out the door”, nevermind that it takes 3 mechanics 3 hours to fix what only takes 2 mechanics 1 hour on the more expensive solution. I realize this isn’t a systems engineering problem but more an acquisition problem but it does impact the defense sector system engineering discipline as a whole in that there are very few opportunities for systems engineering to be practiced on the scale alluded to in this article which can e used to train the next generation of systems engineers.

    As for the designs themselves, in my opinion, they very much lend themselves to having FCS or GCV or “insert whatever the next Army ground system acronym will be here”. Everything is well thought out and accounted for (validated) as a need through conversations not only with the customer, but the end user as well. For the most part the initial constraints for each design were adhered to and “mission creep” was avoided. When the initial constraints were not adhered to it was because either the customer or user rejected the constraint, like the initial unmanned turret of the Ræcc.

    This is the kind of engineering that lead me to to become a systems engineer after a stint as a Misguided Child for Uncle Sam. Maybe separating the designers and the manufactures is a possible solution. Companies like AEC come up with the initial designs that are acceptable to the customer. Then the manufactures look at the designs and come up with a ROM cost and time to produce each of the acceptable designs. Customer picks the most promising design and best suited manufacturer and the three (designer, manufacturer, and customer) sit down and come up with a more detailed cost/schedule to figure out if the choice was a “right”. If right then move on to the next step to execute the program, if not either make changes with the existing designer and manufacturer or restart from whatever previous step is appropriate.

    Again apologies for jumping about a bit, I wanted to get thoughts to um screen(?) quickly. Again well done, and I have always found the articles/posts here well written (unlike this comment), very useful and informative. I look forward to the next installment.

  109. Chris

    Ogden – Thanks for the positive comments. And an excellent opening statement too – we here have often been baffled that the US military couldn’t see the point of the BV. To paraphrase Neil Armstrong, “That’s one small grey box in the cab, one giant teapot for mankind…”

    You will see at the end of the description a set of different ways to progress the project, and I suspect your idea aligns best with the first option, where Government buys the designs which it can then commission industry parties of its choice to take to production. I am pretty sure the Government would hate this, despite all advantages it brings, because it is alien to the established procurement process. I would bet their preference would be the third option, where a corporation takes the designs and thereafter bids them under competitive procurement processes. This seems to me to be guaranteed to take the longest to get product into service and almost certainly the most expensive, and the one with greatest impedance to accommodating User needs that are not explicit Requirements. I think the approach that has greatest promise, and the one not yet tried, is the second option where User Customer and Industry knuckle down as a proper seamless hard-working team to make things happen.

    I believe in the power of talking. A huge book of ‘shall’ statements is a poor substitute for a discussion over how something needs to work, what it needs to do, where it needs to do it and how it has to fit with everything else. And formal quarterly reviews (death by viewfoil) are no substitute at all for standing round a prototype discussing what needs to be changed to make it work right. It would be interesting to hear your General Milley’s opinions on such a radical idea as actually talking through the design choices to get to the best solution.

    Whether anything comes of the design work here in the UK has yet to be seen. As noted in the main text, the US Army has signalled it has a similar desire for Rapid Reaction light armour, so there does seem to be a wider market for such things. Time will tell.

  110. ArmChairCivvy

    Some quotes lifted out from postings since my previous:

    There is little more sense in picking an Ox Ambulance as in selecting a Dingo Ambulance, if in each case they would end up unique vehicles with unique support requirements within the Army’s ORBAT.
    – have to start somewhere (as said, no sense in either, but only one is a dead end)

    the idea of MIV that we have been led to understand – medium weight, 8×8, people carrier, armed for self protection only
    – this is what I do not get:
    1. the formations are(?) meant to be self contained, and also fast moving (whether to deploy, or to cover a wide area)
    2. what can such a formation achieve, if support beyond self protection follows… later?

    As for the Supacat design/Babcock build of the Jackal, this was a commercial arrangement
    – happened once, could happen again? Events, my dear boy, events (forgotten who to attribute to)

    bravo on the BV in every design, we need our coffee as much as you need your tea :D
    – we have started to run, after learning to walk: it is CV now, can cook sausages in it (Who will clean up??)

    relegated to company funded efforts, the (for lack of a better way to describe it) “true” systems engineering has given way to “tweak” engineering,
    I realize this isn’t a systems engineering problem but more an acquisition problem
    – just so true, put nicely put, into a nutshell

    the US Army has signalled it has a similar desire for Rapid Reaction light armour, so there does seem to be a wider market for such things. Time will tell.
    – best of luck form all readers here

  111. Chris

    ACC – ref all have to start somewhere – agreed every journey starts with a single step, but no-one takes a step then stops to wonder where to put the next foot. There needs to be an intent to get to a destination otherwise a whole bunch of first steps in different directions will get us nowhere.

    Ref MIV – I noted in a response to DN a while back, and again this morning to yourself, that my view of MIV may differ from that of MOD, in that I see value in MIV being a broad family of capabilities not just a wheeled APC. Clearly the name MIV wouldn’t be appropriate in its literal sense but in my book the military need is more important than the programme name. It seems to me a Strike Bde with a wide selection of armour covering as many roles as possible would make an effective self-reliant fighting force.

    It may be that the new cooker on board is silver with a black lid, and officially named something like Vessel Cooking and Heating, but its still the BV and we all still think of it as a small grey box. Some things are just tradition.

    Agree ref Ogden’s assessment.

    I fear there’s more fortune required than luck could ever supply, but the good wishes are honestly greatly appreciated.

  112. Rocket Banana

    Fix the following and you’ve fixed governmental spending waste in more than just military circles.

    […“true” systems engineering has given way to “tweak” engineering in order to save developmental costs. As a result a majority of decisions are made that are “penny wise but pound foolish” because everyone wants to win the bid/contract with “our solution costs the least out the door”…]

    The world is run by short-sighted bean counters.

  113. Chris

    But Simon – PFI represents tremendous good value! The politicians said so; it must be true.

    It is perhaps the nasty side of modern democracy. With regular elections where voters choose which set of promises they like best, its no surprise the decision most often rests on “What party will make me financially better off?” People don’t vote for national security or the national good, we put our cross against the party with the nicest set of give-aways. In such a system spending taxpayer money on long term projects that offer the voter no personal increase in living standard, even if in the long term they would prove hugely valuable to the nation, will never win political backing over tax reduction, benefits increases or money for schools or the NHS.

    Ultimately then its not the bean-counters that set the short-termism of western politics but us the voters. If we the collected population of the country were prepared to put the nation’s future prosperity before our own personal standard of living, then great things could be done. But we won’t, will we?

  114. Rocket Banana


    The world isn’t run by governments. It is run by commerce. That is run by short-sighted bean counters made ever more short-sighted by short-sighted bean counters within the banking systems :-)

    As for voting for one’s own best interests, I stopped doing that the moment my first child was born.

  115. Chris

    Simon – glad to hear you vote for the future of your descendants. I try to vote for the greater good too and hope it makes a small difference. As for financiers and bankers being in the driving seat, I fear you are quite right when it comes to business decisions within industry. But I sincerely hope that policies of the nation are made by politicians who are at least elected and hold office on sufferance of that electorate, rather than by faceless self-serving unimpeachable bankers. It is the politicians who *should* set policy and make decisions that are in the national interest – that is what they should promise at the hustings and that is what they should be elected for. Still. Enough of this. Shouldn’t we be talking about AEC vehicles instead?

  116. mr.fred

    A question for you, Chris:
    The Ox particularly, although shows on the others to lesser extents seem to not take advantage of the volume available above the wheels or tracks for stowage or armour arrays. Is there a logic behind this dead space?

    Also, all vehicles seem to have a slight inwards slope, which, in my mind, doesn’t improve the protection but does cut down on internal space. The thinking there?

  117. Chris

    mr.fred – the decision to kit wheeled armour with tinplate mudguards instead of extending the hull over the wheels is purely one of blast damage mitigation. The mudguards are sacrificial and inconsequential and once gone allow the blast to punch air beside the vehicle rather than being trapped under armour, worse still in the sort of pocket that wheelarches tend to become. Similarly the wheel and suspension if ripped off by blast can fly past the armour rather than smashing into it as a secondary projectile. The same narrow hull mechanism was used on most wheeled armour from the earliest days until FV600 series. On many of the concepts the space above mudguards is used for limited stowage and in a few cases for ancillary systems, these systems being kept towards the rear of the vehicle as blast damage is most likely to be triggered under the forward wheels. It should also be noted that space under armour is expensive; to expand the armour outboard increases the hull plate area significantly and thus weight, with all the consequences that brings to performance and cost. So expanding the internal volume to include the above mudguard space would increase weight, increase cost, decrease performance, add blast damage risk and as a final trick remove the crawlspace JADTEU requires for C-130 transport. One more aspect to consider too: for bar armour (or Tarian nets) to work there needs to be airspace between the RPG barrier and the hull. Increasing the hull width to the full extent of the mudguards would force a greater overall width in cases where RPG protection is added. Not so much dead space, as ‘this volume intentionally left blank’.

    Inward slope is partially to aid structural rigidity – triangles are harder to distort than squares. Also reduces plate area to help limit weight, also helps prevent unintended radar reflecting features, also lowers CofG if only marginally. As noted above, space under armour while desirable from User and system installer point of view comes with costs. Nothing comes for free.

  118. S O

    “The use of COTS turrets with the likes of Mk44 gun in other vehicles is not straightforward.”

    Minor nitpick because this mistake is done so often:
    COTS = commercial off the shelf
    MOTS = military off the shelf

    A gun turret is certainly not “COTS”, but may be “MOTS”.
    “COTS” is an over-used buzzword.

  119. Chris

    SO – a discussion had a lot in the office with both company staff and customer. The decision made in the end was that COTS meant ‘buy it and use it’ so literally off-the-shelf, but MOTS meant not ‘military-off-the-shelf’ but ‘modified-off-the-shelf’, or if you prefer, ‘buy it, make limited modifications and use it’. Clearly that choice of definition is not universal and brings ambiguity. For clarity I chose to use COTS as it is understood the intent is to buy fit and forget.

  120. Observer

    Colour me a skeptic but I really don’t see the point in some of these. There is a claim of C-130 lift capability but from what I see, some of the designs are definitely NOT C-130 transportable, not to mention my opinion of airlifting heavy armour is a negative sum game. You can lift a LOT more material, useful or otherwise, as opposed to a single light tank/tankette. If in infantry or light strike vehicles, you can ship hundreds of infantrymen, or close to a dozen light strikes which you can configure as ad hoc artillery or tank killers. Going the other way, you can bring in an Apache with the lift from one of your light tanks, which would give you a unit that is a lot more reactive to situations, flexible and lethal. All for one light tank. You want to scout, bring in light strikes, you want to flatten the enemy, bring in an Apache. Air lifting in armour is neither here nor there.

    BTW if you want to heli-insert, your vehicle must be 5 tons or less (ballpark figure, changes on engine, age, make etc) for CH-47. And properly balanced. So if you want to design a heli-insert vehicle, you need to keep it in that range, and even at 5 tons, it’ll cut the CH-47’s operating range (hauling stuff uses fuel that reduces the helicopter’s operating radius).

    Operational wise, do you have enough air lift to insert in a force that can be ‘relevant’ to the conflict? Lifting in 2 tanks might give the enemy some pause operationally but practically, they’re just a speed bump. Unless they are on a ‘show the flag’ mission, which is a different story. This is also where the ‘credibility’ of the air lifted forces come into play. As I mentioned, the lift needed for one squadron of tanks can put close to 1500 men on the ground or a similar squadron of AHs, which is arguably a lot more effective than the light tanks. 1500 properly equipped men can hold a city for a long, long time.

    Trying to design armour for C-130 capability is like trying to grow up inside a 2m x2m crate, it becomes self limiting and confining. Just scrap the C-130 requirement and ship in the damn things by sea, like everyone else.

  121. Observer

    -A gun turret is certainly not “COTS”, but may be “MOTS”-

    But, but, it’ll look so nice on my car!!


  122. Chris

    Obs – long time no hear! To the comments then. C-130 gauge is, as stated in the text, a constraint that has many attributes suited to this class of armour. But on the precise subject of your assessment of the C-130 compatibility being at odds with mine – all variants have been assessed not only for gauge compatibility on the cargo deck but also for clearances driving up the ramp and on to the deck. Such assessments are perhaps simplistic but nevertheless are of course in the document set. On some designs there may be crawlspace discussions to be had but that’s all part of the task of obtaining clearance from the appropriate military authorities. Maybe the vehicles appear to be bigger than they really are?

    Ref the utility of airlift armour – understood that the military value of a C-130 carrying infantry or other weapon systems may be greater. But if a C-17 can deliver one (possibly two) Ajax or five Ræcc or Rapier vehicles armed with the same gun and with added GW, then that might be seen as an advantage in some situations. Its a matter of offering the greatest choice of tools to military command.

    Ref CH-47 lift – many movements of CVR(T) underslung from Chinook have shown the RAF will move much greater loads than 5t. Not far, obviously, as the cargo weight reduces max fuel load, but still (as Falklands showed) tactically useful. However I have noted consistently that the majority of the vehicles described above would struggle to be brought down to CH-47 lift weight, which (as discussed in the comment ping-pong with Simon earlier on heli-lift) would result in post-transit work to restore the vehicles to full fighting rig, something that in most cases to my mind negates the urgent nature of rotary wing lift. Two of the vehicles, the 4x4s, are light enough to be underslung in fighting order, although their utility on the ground makes such a transit unlikely.

    Ref ditch the C-130 gauge limitation – now why would I do that having come up with reasonable and useful designs within that constraint? I’m more than happy for the air-lift never to be used, if that’s what the User decides is sensible, but that should be the User’s decision, not one forced upon him by a lazy engineering decision. As noted a way back in response to a comment from DN, I did a rough estimate of the weight of Rapier if it was simply scaled up to Ajax dimensions without changing the armour protection level, and the rough assessment came out at 30t GVW or so. More than double the weight for the same firepower and protection, but with much worse stealth, fuel economy, support trail, and transportability constraint. To me that’s quite a lot of downside. What is gained is internal space. On the grounds that there are already the likes of Warrior, possibly a future Ajax APC or IFV variant, and the likelihood of a Terrex or Boxer sized 8×8 MIV, if the internal space is important then those vehicles can be deployed instead of the AEC ones. Choices.

    I’m sure designing bigger would be easier, but the engineers’ convenience is a poor priority to put on combat armour design, in my opinion. Surely any business in this domain should prioritise the User needs and role capabilities, not minimum design effort costs? If not then maybe the world has moved on, and there really is a need to re-form the military design establishments.

  123. Observer

    Chris, in reverse, there is a limit to even how much engineers can cut the corners on design. Not cut corners on cost or out of laziness but simply because there IS a physical limitation as to how much you can do with weight and space constraints.

    The CVR(T) is, what? 8 tons? The air force probably rounded down the numbers when they told us not to go past 5, just in case. Nice to know we still got a bit of fudge factor to play with.

    The problem I see with this is less of an engineering problem but more of an ‘accounting’ one, the ‘expenditure’ for one light tank (I’ll refrain from calling them tankettes lol) to be airlifted can be ‘spent’ for a lot more men and lighter equipment which would indirectly give better capabilities as a whole than a single tank. A single C-130 can carry up to 90 men, a force with much more firepower, flexibility and resistance to being wiped out than 2 tanks. Air transport is a premium capability and the heavier the cargo, the higher the cost will be, to the point where you easily hit diminished returns. Air transportable light armour is IMO pass the point of value for money in terms of lift capability vs ‘lesser’ forces.

    Unless you are the US with near unlimited amounts of airlift to spend, I have to go the other way and recommend working on the assumption that you will be having very limited number of aircraft and ‘packets’ going into the zone and configure your loadout accordingly. The US can toss in a battlegroup in one wave, we can’t. Air transportability is one of the capabilities we should NOT retain for armour at this point in time, it is a ‘big boy’s toy’, a field where we, as skints, should not even be considering. Let the rich boys keep their waves of flying armour. The rest of us poor people will just ship them like the rest of the world. lol.

    Accounting and finance problem, not engineering. We’re just too poor to field the air fleet needed to toss in a credible armoured force as opposed to a huge wave of infantry.

  124. Chris

    Obs – OK I understand the argument, although I hold that Command having the option to air-lift rapid reaction type armour is a positive, whether it is used often or never.

    Ref cutting corners, I have not to the best of my knowledge been forced to leave weaknesses in the designs, nor miss out major subsystems. Like I said a few times over, its a more difficult task to design smaller not larger. But if it was easy everyone would do it. There is always a risk of things going a bit pear-shaped between Gucci concept and productionised design, but that applies no matter what size the product might be.

    As for accounting I could take your argument and topple that on its head too – why for example buy Ajax or Bionix or Puma when there is the cheaper option of Rapier or Raven, offering the same firepower and not so different protection in a lighter smaller package? Its a strange effect, but excluding the expensive military subsystems (weapon, comms, sensors) the price of armour turns out to be essentially proportional to vehicle weight no matter how carefully the price is constructed. Buy smaller and the budget stretches to more platforms.

    Sorry to repeat myself here but there’s far more advantage in keeping small and lighter than just air transport. Particularly in terrain that has adapted to typical road vehicles over the years, keeping as near as possible to road vehicle bulk and weight enables use of extant road infrastructure (and more importantly the bridges in that road network). After the Normandy landings the M4 Shermans had difficulty in the Bocage, being narrow sunken lanes – imagine trying the same advance in Ajax Challenger or M1 Abrams? I noted a couple of years back some wag commenting Devon was safe from invasion because enemy tanks would never fit down the county’s sunken lanes.

    Would infantry and skirmishing buggies work better than armour? Some will say so, and I am in no position to argue against those with military experience. But if armour was expensive unwieldy inefficient and of dubious military value then the world’s armies would not keep buying new vehicles. Clearly armour has a purpose and a tactical value. To me there is no justification for leaving a gap between infantry with jeeps and 4m wide 40t+ armour. If both ends of the spectrum have sound tactical justification then the justification for the likes of these vehicles is as strong.

    So essentially you are down to “Why spend money on things like this when there isn’t much cash to go round?” – another fully understandable position. But my question in answer is “Why spend limited cash on the likes of Ajax and Boxer or Piranha or AMV when the same cash could get greater numbers of armoured vehicles of the same or better firepower that offer similar protection?” I suspect the die is cast in the UK and Ajax is a done deal and big MIV a racing certainty, but that doesn’t invalidate the question.

  125. Observer

    Regarding ‘more’ for ‘less’, that is actually an approach I support, provided the basic needs are met. For things like Puma, Boxer, Bionix etc that you mentioned, the ‘basic need’ was to carry an infantry squad, so unless you want all your infantry to be trained circus midgets, they unfortunately need to be big. Or at least not so small that chiropractors start seeing dollar bills. lol.

    Personally, I love the idea of a 2 man mini tank, it might not be able to go head to head with a Challenger or an Abrams, but if they were everywhere, then you would be giving the enemy hell everywhere but where the MBTs are. The unfortunate part is not in combat but in maintenance and laager. It has been demonstrated that you need at least 3 men for maintenance to be done ‘efficiently’ on an armoured vehicle, preferably 4, same for laager security. This drives the vehicle size up too just to get the other 2 men in. You won’t really need the 2 extra men in combat but to KEEP the vehicle in combat, they are invaluable. If you can deliver, then go for it, I don’t really mind, it’s just the air lift part that gets my gander up since people just toss it out like just flying in one or two would solve all problems without thinking of the entire situation as a whole. “Oh the British has one tank parked at the entrance of the city saying we cannot pass.” “Just blow up that idiot and carry on.”. If the enemy wants something badly, a simple show the flag like that isn’t going to stop them. But “The British got 3 platoons of Infantry entrenched in the city with Javelins” is a massively different matter.

    For the size comparison, do you mean the OX MLRS is C-130 capable? I was under the impression the pod was a bit too long, but I could be mistaken considering I never really measured the pod.

    The US army is looking for a new light tank, you can try them if you want, who knows, you might just get the contract. Other than them, the market’s kind of dry at the moment. Everyone’s either got their own, making their own or can’t scrape the cash up for a new vehicle at the moment.

    …….Out of the box thinking….China? Or Russia? Might work, they’re on the buildup these days, provided you can endure the possibly bad PR. Maybe if you contacted their government? If the West isn’t biting, try East. What can you lose. Other than your good name that is. lol.

  126. Chris

    Obs – yes even the 10×10 Ox squeezes in – just. Our air transport gatekeepers, JADTEU, might demand changes though. The process is a degree involved, they warn.

    One of the serving personnel I discussed personnel numbers with stated by experience the important number was the personnel in a troop. That number ideally being twelve. Three four-man MBTs or four three-man recce vehicles – have both worked in the past. Presumably so would six two-man vehicles then. But I take the point about maintenance tasks. Maybe the six vehicles are five combat and one REME wagon? That’s an issue for the Army to address though – I’m not going to instruct anyone on the personnel structures to use. But I would suggest if there is a need to keep a local maintenance team with the combat vehicles it might make sense to provide them a more useful platform than a spare seat in the fighting vehicles – a cargo wagon with a crane, maybe?

    The US on past experience would be unlikely to buy military kit from another country. Indeed why should they if they have more than enough manufacturing capability in-house. So at best I see the distant possibility of the purchase or licence of the designs, much as happened with Harrier/AV8a. But China or Russia? Despite no government support or funding of the design work, the designs are still fully under the UK’s Export Control laws. Her Majesty’s Government would view certain trading arrangements with considerable displeasure which would not be a good thing. So what can I lose? Liberty and a future.

    Back to your first point, the inside of Ox APC is not dissimilar to the accommodation in Mastiff/Cougar. Not spacious, possibly not all that comfortable. But I’d suggest for tactical moves not unsustainable. For strategic moves then probably best to find a bigger bus.

  127. Observer

    You know, there is something called a licence. lol.
    It’s an export control law, not an export ban.

    As for the US, our NGAFV is in the running for their MPF project though personally I suspect they got as much a chance as a snowball in the Sahara. From the looks of the outer shell, it looks like ST Kinetics and Deisenroth have been sharing research data again. Their published findings, though self aggrandizing, is interesting reading. I’ll put it up here.

    “To meet the required protection against heavy machine gun ammunition fired from a distance of 50 metres (160 ft), different options were compared by IBD and ST Kinetics. A 30 millimetres (1.2 in) thick plate of high-hardness armour (HHA) steel provides enough protection. This was indexed as reference to calculate the mass efficiency and thickness efficiency of different armour solutions.[4] Utilizing only 23 millimetres (0.91 in) HHA together with a 10 millimetres (0.39 in) liner to absorb the fragments, the mass efficiency can be increased to 1.2 (the armour provides 1.2 times as much protection as HHA of the same weight). Using a 22 millimetres (0.87 in) MEXAS armour panel on top of 7.3 millimetres (0.29 in) HHA boosts the mass efficiency to 2.5 compared to the HHA reference.[4] The best result was achieved by utilizing a 20 millimetres (0.79 in) thick MEXAS armour panel on top of a 7.3 millimetres (0.29 in) HHA plate fitted with a 10 millimetres (0.39 in) liner on the interior — a mass efficiency of 3.5; however the higher thickness decreased the thickness efficiency to 0.8 compared to the other tested armour layouts.”

    This was from the 19th International Symposium for Ballistics in 2001. Bit dated. it does show that to resist 12.7mm ammunition, your outer hull should have at least a thickness of 4cm.

  128. Chris

    Obs – interesting stuff on armour. Good to know various sources show a level of concurrence, hence the AEC designs as described are on course for meeting the protection levels intended.

    On the subject of export controls, maybe Singapore is different but in the UK, as in the US, there are parts of the world to which the sale of military use equipment is prohibited. For all other nations, a licence is still needed. At least that’s the firm understanding I gained from the official documentation. Naturally all these things can change over time as the Government’s foreign policy evolves, but the rules at any given time are clear and strict.

  129. Rocket Banana

    Hi Obs,

    As one of the advocates of air-transportable armour I would like to point out that many of your use-cases seem to see the above vehicles as mini-tanks. If you look at them as recce vehicles only then the notion of tactical mobility becomes paramount.

    So CH-47/CH-53 liftability allows them to cross the ravine, the swamp, maybe even a small mountain range. The range of the copter at high loads is not much of a problem as it’s only being used to lift them over an obstacle or shift them from ship to shore along with your platoons of Javelin armed infantry.

    The other thing is that being C-130 or A400M transportable means we can get a battlegroup in position the next day rather than a month later when the ship turns up with the “heavies”.

    This thread is killing my PC :-(

  130. Observer

    Simon, it’s dying for a good cause. :P

    The inverse of your position is then ‘if you’re just doing recce, why ‘armour’ then?’. This is in addition to the situation that calls for an immediate airlift are mostly defensive scenarios, raids into enemy territory is not a tactic that meshes well with defensive scenarios, it is an aggressive posture and if you were the aggressor, time is on your side, which means you would have the time to ship in ‘proper’ forces for your invasion. The only time you would do that and not plan for a breakthrough into the enemy is if you don’t expect to get the force you sent out back. Not a good practice.

    The biggest problem I see here is people mistake ‘capability’ for ‘practice’, just because a vehicle can do something does not mean it is wise, appropriate or possible to do so in the field and airlifted aggressive armour is usually at odds with the main purpose of our designed airlift, ‘our’ meaning Singapore and the British Army. The US is so large they CAN airlift in a credible armoured unit in a short period of time for aggressive operations, but even so, for their airborne ops, the airborne tanks are still subordinate to the infantry, like in Panama. We do not have that level of capability so it makes more sense for us to concentrate on improving what we can do other than what we might wish for. Airborne armour is nice to have, but we’re not rich enough to get it to the level of credibility in either defensive or offensive operations in the short period of time we have due to the low number of transports. A focus on better equipping the infantry flying in would pay off bigger dividends than investing in the diminishing returns of one or two light tanks.

    In airborne/airlift ops, the tanks will always be a sideshow, the main lifting has always been done by the infantry, even in Panama, there were only 14 Sheridan tanks airlifted in despite the massive number of units involved. If you want heavy firepower, I would recommend something like the South Korean’s Spike firing Sand Cats instead. Recce, use light strike vehicles or just simple motorcycles, lugging along something with a cannon isn’t really ‘recce’.

  131. Ogden Dowcett

    Reading, and enjoying the lively debate between Chris and Obs, and if I may be so bold as to interject……

    Yes, the US historically has preferred solutions both designed and manufactured here in the US, though there have been a few exceptions, the Land Rover based RSOV for our 75th Ranger Regiment, the Pandur for our SOF, and as Chris mentioned, the Harrier for the Marines. Recently DoD has begun to take Non-US designs more seriously as, in my personal opinion, the DoD is fed up with our contractors’ performance, or more accurately, non-performance. F-35, FCS/GCV/etc, KC-46, EFV are a few of the programs where the US companies over promised and under delivered. The US Army looked at a number of international designs for what would eventually become the Stryker (why they didn’t pick the Boxer is beyond me, but that’s a whole other conversation). The Air Force looked at Airbus and Boeing for the current KC-46 debacle (very happy Boeing is paying the “penalties” and not me as a taxpayer), and are currently looking a European and asian designs for its T-X program. The current USMC effort to replace the AAV has been narrowed down to two foreign designs from BAE and ST Kinetics, though the Marines do have a history of embracing Non-US designs to meet their needs as evidenced by the Harrier and the LAV-25. All of that is to say, IF there is a good design/solution for a DoD program I don’t think it matters as much any more where it comes form as they are very much trying to get the most bang for their buck (pardon the pun) which leaves the door wide open for Non-US designs and Solutions (Trophy on the M-1 for example). Just my 2 cents.

  132. Rocket Banana


    I had a feeling you might mention the bike for recce :-)

    I agree that if you’re the invader then you have time to bring the heavies. However, it doesn’t stop a defensive posture being aggressive (OCA for example). Also it doesn’t stop a lighter vehicle being more tactically mobile, or having a cheaper logistics tail.

    If you look at how CVR(T) has been used over the years in TD’s recent MASSIVE FRES article then maybe you’ll understand why I think getting rid of the capability is slightly beyond foolish.


    Even now Trump is putting “America first”?

  133. Chris

    Ogden – that’s an encouraging assessment. I look forward to the first multi-hundred AFV order from DoD with keen anticipation.

  134. Observer

    They say the MPF program is going to be done in 4 years. I suspect it’ll be more like 10. You need to be a pretty big company to endure a dry spell that long, which is also one of the reason small contractors get locked out of the US procurement system, they simply can’t endure the long wait times on the process.

    Chris, I totally agree on the ‘light being better’, which then brings back the point on ‘why light -tank-‘ then as there are other vehicles that can do the job on an even lighter budget. The light tank is like a reverse Goldilocks scenario, the high end has uses, the low end has uses, the middle…. jack of all trades, master of none comes to mind, though that is unfair to it since there are some niche uses for light/medium armour. Just not airborne.

    The ‘common hull’ concept isn’t really new, the US tried it with the tank before the Sheridan, think it was the Walker Bulldog they called it. Despite all the ‘variants’ the US government insisted on, it never really caught on in a big way. It’s an old concept that comes up again and again over time. With more or less the same result. LCS anyone? At least Stanflex got some use out of the idea but like I said, not to the extent of becoming a trend setter or global fad.

  135. Chris

    Obs – I’m obviously more pro-Light Armoured Vehicle than are you. If the answer was always ‘go heavier’ then by now we would have made leviathans that would have made Hitler’s Maus and even the Ratte look puny. There is a Goldilocks zone for each and every scenario, where being less protected is too vulnerable but more protected to big and heavy, and the middle way just right. Sometimes that ‘just right’ will be MBTs, sometimes dune buggies with a ring-mount. But sometimes – as the UK found with CVR(T) – the ‘just right’ will be light high mobility AFVs.

    On the subject of common hulls, I am not a fan of such families. The hull is in essence just a protected box so in my concepts you will note each type of vehicle wears a unique hull, shaped for the task to be performed. Of all the vehicles only the Ox was designed to take different shaped (for want of better description) mission modules, leaving the general arrangement of the automotive V-hull common. But even there, to suit different roles the length and number of axles changes. As written in the text it is not the basic kitted out hull that gives commonality across the range, but the subsystems and components that go into each different hull. A much more robust approach to commonality than the Common Hull idea of last century, as I’m sure you will agree.

  136. Ogden Dowcett

    Simon – I hold many opinions of our current President, none of them flattering and none appropriate for the civil discussions here :D I shall tone it down and say I think he’s a buffoon (His famous “steam catapults are better than EM ones” quote for example) and our country has entered a “dark ages” period since he has assumed the Presidency for various other reasons.

    In my opinion, DoD knows that they are accountable to the US public more than they are to the President because that is where their personnel voluntarily. Who is going to volunteer for military service if the military isn’t trying to get the “best” kit/systems out there to enable the most people to come home safely? Who would join the military if they knew they were going to go to Iraq or wherever and ride around in legacy HMMWV instead of Iveco LMV, Plasan Hawkei, or an MRAP? This is why they are starting to look beyond our borders for designs that may meet their needs. Get the design, license it, and produce here to ensure a steady supply. To the critics that say “But it’s not American!!!” I believe the word the Brits would use is “bollocks”. Who cares (with some exceptions) where the design comes from if it meets your needs more effectively than a domestic design.

    Chris – Haha. I wouldn’t hold you breath just yet, the signs are there that things are starting to change, but it’s like trying to turn a supertanker.

    Obs – “They say the MPF program is going to be done in 4 years.” If I was a betting man my money would be on cancellation, but maybe I’m too pessimistic in that regard. As for the “common hull” tank are you referring to the progression of the M46, M47, M48, and M60 “Patton” tanks? Each one was a further development of the previous and as a result look similar. As for common hulls, I’m more a fan of it for naval design (I’m a fan of Damen’s Crossover design and StanFlex) than I am for ground vehicles. Rather than a common hull, I’d lean more towards using common components, where appropriate of course, like suspension, engines, driver modules, sensors, etc as several different hulls could be designed to use the common components for different mission sets which is what I believe Chris did.

  137. Chris

    Ogden – I can hold my breath for a really long time. As for “several different hulls could be designed to use the common components for different mission sets which is what I believe Chris did” – yes that’s exactly the idea.

  138. Observer

    If you were old enough, the US did try common components once upon a time for the air force during Mcnamara’s time. It was…definitely not a success, though less than a resounding failure. One of the results of it was the initial F-14 used the same engine as the F-111, leaving it very unstable even though it was lighter than the F-111. The quirks caused by the disagreeable pairing was responsible for at least 1/4 of the crashes of the F-14 at that time, until they finally replaced the engine with a ‘non-standardized’ one. So if the US military establishment doesn’t like the idea, they got cause since they got burned with the concept once. It isn’t just a whim for them, more like a hard knock from life.

    Ogden, it’s not like either of the candidates in this election was any good, though Trump is turning out worse than I imagined. Remember, you got a choice between Trump and Clinton, Mrs. Most people don’t bring it up but they still remember Clinton, Mr and Lewinski, so the choice was between a grandstanding attention seeker and a woman who can’t seem to keep her husband from straying. Not exactly people of sterling character and performance.

    My sis told me this joke a few months back during the election.

    ‘Trump and Clinton were fighting in a lifeboat in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. Who won?’

    While tongue in cheek, it does showcase the point that neither candidates were really outstanding. Or rather, were outstanding in the wrong ways.

    As for the US army and ‘best equipment’, well, one can dream. lol. The ‘military-industrial complex’ is a mess, there were a LOT of interesting projects that were canned, either from lack of funding, lack of need or lack of usability. For example, the M2 replacement, the LSAT, the EFSS (though that one is Marine Corp’s patch). A lot of projects were done just for the sake of doing it, giving little usable equipment in return.

    Chris, I do quite agree with most of what you said, as I pointed out, my objection was very specific, to the use of tanks in airborne operations and even then is dependent on an external factor, number of transports. If you had 20-30 transports like the US does, I would say ‘Go for it.’ since in those numbers, you can get a credible force in. Pity not many of us have 20-30 transport aircraft. Even the heavy lift, we hire AN-124s from Russia.

    One place I can see this tank in is the same role as the Scimitars or CVR(T), infantry fire support. Too ‘low level’ to commit an MBT to the job, yet needs to be done, it would be a ‘workhorse’ tank for the infantry. I won’t use a ‘pure’ tank to do close recce though, more an IFV since the best way to get info is still on your belly, crawling close to the enemy. If your men were caught, a ‘pure’ tank would be very badly affected to the point where it may not be able to get back since the crew is the one doing recce. An IFV can bring in an ‘info gathering crew’ while keeping the vehicle crew intact so tank capabilities are unaffected. One thing to plan for is that close recce is a risky business, we were once told to expect 50% losses, so to go with a minimum crew is cutting it way too close in my opinion since any loss of crew = loss of vehicle capability.

    But you got a bigger problem than our possible disapproval of your designs. Sales. lol.
    Not many people shopping for a family of new vehicles right now, they’re either building their own or getting 2nd hand or retiring the capability. It’s going to be hard to make a sale in this kind of climate. I still contend your best bet is either China or Russia. You can always ask, worst thing your government can do is say no, but you might get lucky. Who knows, you may just succeed, if you don’t even attempt, you’ll definitely won’t succeed.

  139. Chris

    Obs – I understand your position on air-lift. Although I am content to maintain the ‘C-130 transportable’ nature of the vehicles because a) it leaves the option if ever needed, b) it makes for easier and more efficient air-lift in larger transport aircraft, and c) even if the vehicles never set wheel inside an aircraft that still doesn’t invalidate the designs or their fighting capabilities. C-130 transportability is just one aspect of the design, not their sole military capability.

    As for export destinations, I’ve read through the documentation again and it remains pretty clear. But there are still many other nations that are permitted recipients of appropriately licenced exports. Anyway at the moment both your recommended nations seem happy to invent and manufacture their own vehicles.

  140. Ogden Dowcett

    Obs – Being in my 4th decade, I’m familiar in general with the F-111, what it was originally supposed to be, and what ended up being/morphing into, though I was not aware of the details about the initial Tomcat engine coming from the Aardvark. Thanks for the info.

    Commonality does not solve everything and, as you illustrated, can sometimes even make things worse. I advocate commonality in the instances that it makes sense, like Oshkosh using its TAK-4 suspension on several different kinds of vehicles it offers.

    As far as our last Presidential goes you’ll get no argument from me. It was like filling two bowls from the sewer and then figuring out which one smelled less foul.

    There is a reason I put best in quotes as various constraints/reasons color what the “best” is. For example, why did the Army see the LAV-III as the best platform to base the Stryker on instead of the Boxer which was also in the running and, in my opinion, a much better vehicle than the LAV-III? (Rhetorical) Obviously some equipment is more “best” (<—- atrocious English but couldn't think of a better way to put it) than others but the desire to have the "best" is always there in US Military; unlike some militaries where the personnel are seen as cannon fodder to be tossed into the meat grinder and so the "best" equipment is not needed.

  141. Rocket Banana


    We have 16 x A400M, 24 xC-130J and 8 x C-17A = 48 “lifters”. Surely that’s enough for a whole battlegroup?


    Can I point something out about “commonality” that comes from semi-ancient economics… There is a law of diminishing returns to economies of scale. If you have, for example, 1000 vehicles all with different engines things are bad. If you have 1000 vehicles with the same engine things are good. If you have 1000 vehicles, 500 with one engine and 500 with another it does not necessarily cost significantly more.

    And before anyone jumps in to suggest that I’m forgetting the supply lines, I am not. When you amortise these over the units the effect can be (depending on numbers) negligible. There definitely is /some/ effect, it’s just not necessarily as large as some imagine.

    This is where the difference between UK and US design comes in. We *need* the economies because we procure in such (relatively) small quantities. The USA does not… although if the USMC is as autonomous as it seems maybe it falls into a similar area.

  142. Observer

    Chris, I concede your point on the ‘good to have even if not needed’.

    For the aircraft though, the chances of all of them being assigned to one single operation is somewhere along the lines of the UK having a moon landing. Possible, but not likely. These guys tend to be scattered all over the globe, their demand is pretty high, even for simple cargo. Even the US with their large fleet of planes only assigned 15 C-17s to the initial push into Iraq.

    This is the difference between numbers and practice, the TOTAL air fleet may be X number of planes, but the chance of them being all operational or free at the same time is non-existent. IIRC, one flying day requires one day of maintenance to keep the plane ship-shape, so at very minimum, it’s safe to have a ballpark figure of half of them undergoing some form of preventative maintenance. Of course you could defer it to one or 2 days later in emergencies, but all of them ready to go for one single op? Very doubtful.

    On a more pertinent point, what are you planning to DO with all these designs? Without a planned for buyer or tie in with a manufacturer, isn’t this just sketchwork? What is your hoped for ‘future plan’? Sales to the Saudis? India? Iran (lol)? North Korea (even more lol)? Tie in with BAE or General Dynamics?

  143. Chris

    Obs – ref what happens next – I listed a set of options at the end of the text for different ways the designs could move forward. I am still convinced the UK has an imminent capability gap when the last of CVR(T) and FV430 are sent for auction. The vehicles were designed for this capability gap, and should fill it very well. But then like most who visit ThinkDefence I am a patriot, so there should be no surprise the intent was that these vehicles should equip the soldiers of the British Army first and foremost, to give them as much tactical advantage and survivability as I am able to engineer.

    If as jedpc recommended the roles of MIV were also taken on by these vehicles so much the better; in my view that would give Strike Brigades a fundamentally different capability (lighter, rapid reaction) to that of the Armoured Infantry Brigades, where equipping both with similar weight armour would negate any tactical difference other than longer distance road transit by the wheeled elements.

    I saw a need and I’ve done as much as I can to fill that need – its the Army’s choice if it wants them or not. If the Army, or MOD, choose not to engage then yes maybe other avenues should be explored, or maybe the data will just get wiped. It will have been an expensive exercise but I don’t begrudge that; it was done with the best of motives and my conscience is clear. And I have to admit over the years there has been a good deal of engineering satisfaction as each vehicle type resolved into a coherent design, so its not been entirely without its rewards.

  144. Observer

    In that case, I do wish you all the best. In my honest opinion, the dominance of current day ‘mega-defense contractors’ has totally 1-killed off any innovations coming from people other than themselves and 2-created a ‘too big to fail’ system where failure to deliver has become common with no penalty other than maybe a smaller bonus. I’m sure the governments of the world have their part to play in the debacle too with round after round after round of studies and trials and very relaxed delivery times to the point where by the time the equipment is ready for service, the problem it was intended to solve either blew up already or died off on its own. It’s good to see someone other than BAE or GD working on the problem.

    How far are you on the manufacturing blueprint aspect? If you can show that you have the CNC programming for the manufacturing down, it’s much easier to tie in with another manufacturer for a cooperative joint venture. This is what a lot of foreign companies are doing in the US, JVing with their manufacturers to bid for US projects. Most of the entries for their MPC and MPF are such joint ventures.

  145. Chris

    Obs – I suspect your market assessment is all too true, and yes the shape and behaviour of the defence industry has absolutely been moulded by Customer demands. Years ago in a meeting with a desk officer from MOD’s procurement organisation, after having briefed the design (that even we were disappointed with but it met the requirement), the desk officer responded with “Oh no! You’ve given us what we asked for and not what we need!” He had a fine and mischievous sense of humour, but I’m sure the sentiment was accurate. When it comes to the shape of the defence industry, its exactly what the customer has asked for.

    How far with full drawing packages? Way further back than that. There’s a lot of engineering required from experts in their field before committing to production designs would be sensible. I have 3D CAD models, true, but they are (as the text records) essentially packaging exercises. They have the internal systems modelled – engine including induction exhaust and cooling systems with all pipework, fuel system, driveline, ECS, air filtration, seating, vision systems, weapon systems, turret drives, comms and other similar systems, internal stowage (accepting that any spare internal space would become stowage space – and equally the external systems are modelled as can be seen in the images, such as suspension and steering, lighting, antennas and external stowage. But with detail design work yet to be done, all that is likely to change. Why do it to such fidelity? Because while the details will change, the volumes and space-claims required will not be so different. If I had the mountain of cash necessary and set about constructing a prototype in line with the CAD designs I am pretty confident it would work, but that’s a way away from getting to an optimised durable robust efficient fighting vehicle. On the plus side, and in this returning to your first point, there are domain expert companies around the UK who together could turn the concepts into polished military vehicles – the knowledge and generally the will is there on industry’s side, although few believe the procurement organisation would sanction such a cooperative almost collegiate approach. Especially as dealing with smaller businesses would probably require far more interim funding than would huge rich corporations. But if that regular funding bought the IPR, maybe its not such a dumb idea.

  146. Mike MJ

    Hi Chris,

    I really admire what you are trying to achieve with this concept and I wish you the best of luck taking it forward. Have you thought of other ways to get this concept noticed? I’m sure there must be a few MPs and journalists for whom TDs Medium Weight Capability article followed by your concept would make very interesting reading. Or perhaps that is not the done thing from a business point of view. I don’t know, but the more people who are reading and talking about it the better.

    Reference the Ox. Are all three of the front axles for steering? Also what are the benefits of the gap between the front three and rear axles over just evenly spacing them along the V hull?

  147. Chris

    Michael – MPs, national media, serving British Army officers of all ranks, retired officers, MOD officers – a wide variety of recipients have been contacted and some have been polite enough to respond. I think the problem as far as the media sees it is that the offerings here are not all about maximum absolute protection, and the media feels windy about advocating anything that might be seen as putting forces personnel at greater risk. The military types however have suggested (quietly) that they don’t see the lighter weight necessarily offering less survivability – the smaller size, stealth, mobility and enhanced route access being enhancements in that regard – and that if such smaller vehicles help to achieve the military objective quicker then they may prove lifesavers over the alternative approach of a protracted heavyweight slog. But the concept that, in order to minimise casualties in battle, some soldiers might need to put themselves in harms way doesn’t fly in the tabloid press, hence it seems only the march towards maximum protection makes good headlines.

    All axles steer. This contributes to tighter turning circle at low speed and enhanced vehicle stability at high speed. The axle spacing on the wheeled vehicles is partly a need of the suspension construction – for fore-aft robustness at each axle there is a relatively long reaction rod from the lower suspension arm back to the hull (which can be seen under the Ox GMLRS in the family group) but to prevent a long rear overhang at some point along the vehicle the reaction rod needs to be repositioned to go forward not rearward. These can’t simply overlap as there would be interference. So there’s a longer gap to allow the reaction rods space. Why not put the larger gap in the centre? Firstly considering mine blast there seemed to be advantage in biasing axles forward to help keep the vehicle chin off the ground if a front wheel is lost. Secondly the dynamic loading is far greater on forward axles – these have to impart momentum to the vehicle mass particularly when stepping upward whereas for rear axles the hull will already be moving in the right direction before it encounters the terrain height change – so as the front axles have to work harder biasing the others forward helps share that load a little better. Lastly the reaction rods are likely to be more robust in compression than in tension, so having more axles with the reaction rod towards the rear is a help. Any of these factors may be argued – and have been in the past – but that’s why the vehicles have the arrangement they have. If you look back at Fiat’s Puma 6×6 you will see a similar forward bias of axle location so its not a unique feature.

  148. DavidNiven


    I’m still failing to see where these vehicles fit into the UK armed forces apart from as a MRVP contender.

    You have stated that you wish to give the forces a vehicle that will give commanders a range of choices and then go on to suggest that they could be a 432/Bulldog replacement (but with less carrying capacity). In essence this would revert the armed forces to the same position it was in the early 90’s in which we had the choice of heavy or light, with pretty much zero in between and in which we discovered was inadequate for the type of operations that were becoming and were considered to become the norm and has been proven to be the case.

  149. Chris

    DN – ref carrying capacity – not quite what I wrote. What I said was that the internal volume of Rǽde would be on a par with Stormer (and FV432) but that the definition of personnel had changed such that making room for 97th percentile soldiers in body armour reduces the capacity right down. If the modern soldier definition were applied to Bulldog it too would have a dramatic reduction in official dismount capacity.

    Ref only light and heavy – again I have noted that Ajax will enter service and more than likely a MIV of 30t or more. If you want medium its there. However, I also pointed out that by constraining size the vehicle gets lighter despite having good protection. Going light does not mean dropping protection levels (although that is a choice that can be made). I’m not going to declare or argue protection levels on the open web, but will say there’s a proper step up from CVR(T) levels of protection. One of the reasons why the Rapier at pretty much Scimitar size is a good 50% heavier.

    As for fitting into UK ORBAT, if you constrain yourself to extant formal Requirements then there may not be a ‘fit’. The price cap on MRV(P) would be a hard target without the economies of scale JLTV will have. I have said that I could see MIV usefully fulfilled by these vehicles, bearing in mind the similarity of protection that small size permits, and that an AEC staffed MIV in the Strike Brigades would make a very different beast, better suited to rapid reaction. Big heavy 8×8 MIV in Strike Brigade to my mind results in Strike and Armoured Infantry Brigades being far too similar, the only difference being less firepower and longer road transit capability in the case of Strike.

  150. Ogden Dowcett

    Hi Chris,

    Are you aware of the US Army virtual prototyping effort Operation Overmatch?


    It might be a good way to get exposure here in the US. I have no idea of what is involved in becoming a part of it as I’ve only read articles about it and found it to be very intriguing. Of course it all depends on thing being realistically modeled/simmed otherwise it’s no better than pen and paper what-if war games and white papers. Anyways just thought it might interest you.

  151. Chris

    Ogden – thanks! That looks interesting – I’m off tether at the moment but will check it out as soon as I get back in office.

  152. Chris

    Ogden – I have read through the information on that link now. Its a sensible tool for the Op Analysis staff, allowing some insight into the effects new and untried technology might deliver. I might see if they want these vehicles in their sandbox. Thanks for the heads-up.

  153. Ogden Dowcett

    Chris – I’m glad you found the info useful. Hopefully all goes well for you with them if you decide to go that route.

  154. Trevor

    I realise this is now a comparatively ‘old’ article but I just wanted to say it was a fascinating and eye opening read. It’s an advancement of something I’ve been thinking of myself ( a project in my own time on solving and advancing UK military capability) as regards the military and their awful procurement and commonality amongst equipment. They definitely made a huge mistake in getting rid of the defence research establishments if that’s the correct term for them (interested amateur so my terminology may be off). Much food for thought. Thanks!

  155. Chris

    Thanks for that Trevor. With reference to procurement, my own view is that two factors are to blame – one a result of the other.

    The first that the MOD has positioned itself as ‘the Authority’ (a term it uses for itself) and as such it does not wish to be seen to involve itself with the grubby goings-on of design or production. It is the Customer; it has suppliers that do all that graft on its behalf. Think nouvelle-riche gentry and their interaction with the house staff. To a degree this lofty positioning has been reinforced by the latest reforms, but mostly it stems from the decade after WW2 through which the various military procurement arms (later to be drawn together under the new MOD) saw their absolute control and their budgets draining down at speed; the natural response when real-world status is falling is for the one-time top-dog to talk up its own importance ever more loudly in the hopes others believe it. An example of how this heightened elevated authority has manifested itself is the move away from dealing with small or medium sized businesses and only placing contracts with corporations of the size wealth and importance the MOD deems adequate to engage with. Again this has been underwritten by defence reforms that demand the supplier holds all risk (therefore must have adequate resources to be sued for full contract value if all goes pear-shaped). This is why the once vibrant (and I might suggest much more efficient) defence sector in Britain has been trashed, leaving just BAE, a small number of small independent British specialists, and a lot of foreign owned subsidiary businesses.

    Who would have predicted in the late 40s that a single high street groceries chain would have an annual purchasing budget 50% greater than the national defence budget? (2017 MOD budget around £35bn, Tesco around £53bn) In real terms, the MOD does not have the vast buying supremacy it once had.

    The second factor is that the position of absolute authority results in an unbridalled flow of commands requirements changes and whims with which the mere supplier must comply. This is the only way such an elevated purchasing body can exert control. And under such a system if anything looks like its moving away from the desired outcome the authority adds more commands requirements changes and good ideas to the existing vast pile to contain the deviation. Colossal micromanagement which results in colossal demands for proof of compliance and for audit trails and progress reports and a myriad of other hands-off micromanagement tools.

    This is not an issue afflicting defence alone; all sectors of public spending show the same characteristics of lofty authorities, micromanagement and over regulation. I hate to think just how much of the NHS budget is burned in Powerpoint departmental finance reports and audit data preparation through the dozen or so layers of budgetary management between patient and Westminster.

    What then would in my view be a better solution? Simplicity. Back in the 80s the MOD (or more accurately the services) generated very simple high-level specifications that were sent to industry for proposed solutions. These were the likes of Cardinal Points Specifications and Target Requirement Specifications. Rarely more than a page of core needs simply listed. With such clarity no-one was in any doubt about the User’s need. This level of clarity, allied to the freedom to meet that need without proving (at paper concept phase) that the delivered system would exhibit availability in excess of 97.65% and be fully disposable to the last component under latest recycling standards, meant that the User could select the best solution for their need without resorting to years of requirement generation, without expensive complex bid preparation and without equally complex bid assessment, and without the involvement of thousands. Once a solution was selected, the User, the MOD bean counters and the industry experts worked together to develop exactly the system needed, while at the same time a specification for design qualification and for production acceptance was jointly developed. The result was the User got the right kit, the MOD saw and helped control costs, and industry did not end up with thousands of imposed requirements often impossible to meet in combination and mostly applied to cover backsides from future blame.

    For examples of the simple approach, take AS90 (requirement reputed to have been a single sheet of A4) which turned out just fine, or perhaps the ultimate in concise spec writing, the memo from Winston Churchill scoping the requirement for the Mulberry Harbour in a single concise paragraph.
    Of course what such brevity demands in support is discussion between all parties – who would credit it; the best way to get something done is to discuss all issues and work together.

  156. Observer

    If I recall correctly, wasn’t the AS90 once jokingly called ‘Choirboy’ due to delays and overruns?

    The rational being it was ‘buggered by Vickers’.

    British SPGs had the tradition of being named after religious positions/figures then. Abbot, Priest, Sexton etc.

  157. Chris

    Obs – hadn’t heard of procurement issues; the programme started in the mid 80s and certainly by 1992 the vehicle was in the public domain – I recall details and photographs crossing my desk while at Alvis. I guess its possible the qual trials and acceptance into service might have dragged on, but with ISD in 1995 the programme seems no longer than many – Ajax will be of that order, MICV-80 took 8 years to turn into Warrior, and that’s seen as pretty slick these days.

    The point is though that a genuine and concise ‘must-have’ list of requirements allied to discussions throughout the design ends up with a product the User wants. Right first time, as the phrase puts it. I doubt it will ever happen because it would take the customer right out of their comfort zone (and bring them to the same level as their industry counterparts) – just too big a step for such an organisation.

  158. Rocket Banana

    Perhaps the specifications provided for development should be more along the lines of a software “User Story” (see wiki) so something like:

    “As an IFV operator I wish to fire 200 x 30mm rounds per minute out to 2000m in pitch black and fog, while travelling at 40kph over mud and grass and sipping a cup of tea”.

    “As an IFV passenger I wish to make a cup of tea while being protected from all forms of small-arms fire and artillery fragments. I wish to be able to exit the vehicle with my pack on and assault rifle ready to fire”.

  159. mr.fred

    The trouble with a “user story” is how do you translate it into specific technical language that you can use to define a contract? If you can’t define a contract, then you’re back to cost plus and the MoD taking the risk.

    I mean; what sort of mud and grass? Lords cricket ground or Salisbury Plain? What sort of 30mm? Do you even need 30mm or are you already solutionising? Do you want to hit anything at 2000m or just for the rounds to get that far? How important is drinking tea compared to the other things? What is “pitch black” in terms of lux levels, and how thick is the fog, and how is it relevant? Did you want to see anything at that distance?

    I wouldn’t be surprised if the MoD did elicit “user stories” from the users, but then fed that through operational analysis (or someone’s prejudices) to create specific contracts.

  160. Chris

    mr.fred – in my opinion all nails hit squarely on the head, but I suspect not in the way you intended; what you describe is exactly the sort of stuff that the downstream discussions clarify, if the start point is a deliberately brief specification. Is it Cost-Plus? Similar but not identical. Does MOD take ownership of risk? Yes, and in my view it should – for a start it would stop the game of deliberately writing specs with requirements far more onerous that actually necessary (call it ‘stretch’, or Gold-Plate, or even ‘trying it on’) or specs containing requirements that could not be met in combination – this, the requirement writers proudly state, is to tease out the bidders who are not analysing the requirement adequately. Imagine how much engineering effort is wasted trying to meet conflicting requirements; worse still imagine if by technical smarts your team did meet all requirements and were then loftily dismissed for ‘not knowing what you were talking about’.

    And whether MOD like it or not, they hold the risk anyway. The suppliers all have risk contingency in the bid; if all goes well that’s cash MOD didn’t need to spend, if things get bumpy then that risk budget covers the costs, if things go disastrously then the supplier may chose contract default over the cost of project recovery, and if its a big enough organisation its legal team will have ample grounds to hang blame on the customer (partial or total). If this was not the case, and businesses were only awarded contracts if they covered all risk cost from their own capital, most businesses would probably not bid, and those that did but came a cropper might well end up losing the company. Its absolutely fine expecting the supplier to hold all risk, if and only if the purchase is precisely COTS. Once the customer starts demanding changes or even bespoke products then they are part of the creation process and have to take responsibility for their decisions.

    In my opinion.

    I noted the process I favour is like Cost-Plus but different. The difference is that I would expect the customer and the user to embed with the suppliers such that they are part of the suppliers’ workforce, doing useful tasks, engaging interactively on decision making, being a true part of the team. Cost-Plus in my view failed not because the process was wrong nor even that it was unworkable, but because the customer remained remote (its that authority thing again) and managed – or failed to – by reports audits and infrequent formal meetings. Industry wasn’t squeaky clean; some organisations (you would hope not all) chose to misrepresent work undertaken and project costs because it was too easy to overclaim from such an uninvolved customer. Also evidenced was the acceptance by suppliers of new requirements that were clearly not going to work, on the grounds that working through designs and prototypes and qualification trials was all still good income and profit even though all knew the end result would be unusable.

    Apparently the early versions of Nimrod AEW3 worked well, out performing the AWACS of the day, but GEC accepted a series of upgrade requirements that the engineers determined would make the aircraft unusable. Several years down the line the aircraft was incredibly overloaded, and needed to keep excessive fuel reserves in the tanks because the fuel was also the cooling heatsink for high value high power electronics, and as a result it could barely get off the ground on the longest of runways and its endurance was hopelessly limited. The once useful capability had been upgraded to inadequacy. I may be doing GEC a disservice; maybe they did tell their customer the changes would break the capability and maybe the customer told them to JFDI anyway.

    But the point is still clear – if there is a desire for MOD and industry to work together towards a common goal, with MOD paying legitimate costs as the project moves along, then their personnel must be truly embedded and part of the day-to-day decision process that all businesses perform.

    All of this still my opinion. Others no doubt would disagree.

  161. Rocket Banana

    Mr Fred,

    I didn’t want to bore everyone with too much detail.

    Of course you’d define the type of mud and how accurate you want to fire.

    My point is more along the lines of *what I didn’t state* e.g. that it needed to be wheeled or tracked, how many wheels, how heavy, RARDEN or M230, etc.

    Another example is Typhoon. Single or twin engined. The requirement was for performance and redundancy. That can be achieved without having two EJ200s. The RAF would have had to define the performance and redundancy levels but HOW it is delivered should not be defined by the customer, otherwise you end up with T26 instead of Bay with a VLS and UUVs.

  162. mr.fred

    I’m always up for boring people with too much detail :p

    “User story” seems like short hand for “don’t solutionise”, so a good requirement set gives explicit detail on what end effect is required, without specifying how to do it.

    That and there needs to be clear priorities between requirements and clear and measurable “threshold” and “objective” performance levels. On top of that, the threshold and objective levels need to be meaningful, and benefits for exceeding one or the other need to be identified

    Trouble is, that’s really hard to do, especially with complex products.

  163. Chris

    Been thinking long and hard about the “don’t solutionise” rule. I’m pretty sure when Rover knocked out their Jeep equivalent in the late 40s the Army just pointed and said “we’ll have a few thousand of those”. Similarly the designs for Centurion Chieftain Challenger MBTs, FV510 Warrior, FV600 series, FV100 CVR(T), FV710 Ferret, FV430 series and many others were all non-competitive, with the Army and the government scientists engaged directly in design. Solutionising by my reckoning delivered some cracking kit. Looking at the more recent competed vehicle procurements, where the Army were under strict instructions to keep their mitts out of the bidders’ vehicle design, I would say competition has served the Armed Forces poorly.

  164. Observer

    …can’t help but think of the R101 when Chris started praising government solution.


    Sorry, it’s the cynic in me.

  165. Chris

    Obs – your very own CET was designed by our UK Establishments… While I accept there are examples of government work that is/was dreadful, I think it fair to note when one of the government organisations worked well and did good work. You will have noted over the years I have been consistent in praising the work of the armour design establishments (at various times labelled DTD, FVRDE, MVEE, RARDE) and TD never stops praising MEXE if only for their invention of a floating box, MEXEFLOTE.

    A case I think of credit where its due.

    As for R101, not the best solution for an airship, especially when there’s an alternative penned by Barnes Wallis that was based on conservative and proven engineering, not bright ideas and a handful of hope. But I for one would have liked to have seen one of the properly vast airships in flight; its impossible to imagine just how big they would be in real life.


  166. mr.fred

    If you own the design, you can solutionise all you like. If you’re putting it out for competition and letting someone else come up with the solution, you’re probably best to let them do it. If you don’t keep track of how everything interacts you’ll end up with a bunch of unexpected consequences.

    At the very least, the people doing the solutionising should be engineers.

  167. Chris

    mr.fred – almost in agreement there, but not quite. In my view the problem space is all about domains of knowledge. I very definitely would not want engineers to control solutions because they will never be the end user nor have they the experience of the environment of the task for which the equipment is needed. That’s User domain. Also (me included) the engineer has a low priority view of the importance of cost and timescales – getting the design right is far more important, obviously – so there need to be managers and accountants, sadly… Where I think we get to common ground is when the User has a good idea of what they need as a solution and engage with engineers (oh all right and budget holders and managers) to discuss all those unintended consequences interactively, so that when the ultimate design path is selected all involved know why the decision was made, what aspects cannot be compromised, where there is flexibility, and where the major risks lie. Its all part of getting the design right first time.

    Land Rover was a flyer taken by car maker Rover without User input, but based on the eminently highly valued Willys Jeep, so they knew what the User wanted. The other examples I listed were designed as I described above within the Establishments. Not engineers solutionising all by themselves but a fully integrated environment with scientists engineers Users and MOD managers. All contributing to the design (as they should) rather than to a set of dry capability requirements.

    As for the concept of competition, in my view it is a very poor option if the need is for new focused and nation-unique product. It works fine if there are suppliers each with products ideal for the requirement to sell, but for design-to-requirement materiel it just doesn’t work. Bidders have limited time to respond to ITTs and will apply minimum design effort to existing company products to reduce risk and to get the bid prepared in time (the majority of bid prep is taken in team structures, work breakdown structures, whole-life detailed master schedules, compliance matrices, and costs; little is applied to design). The bids are then assessed without discussion with the bidders, and the process repeated with a revised set of requirements and a reduced set of invited bidders. If no obvious winner is determined at this second bid stage there may be a third. There then follows a set of invited ‘best and final offer’ bids where the customer hopes to scare the bidders into under-bidding. or at least to bid at minimum profit. Once a winner is decided and becomes ‘preferred bidder’ then the discussions start but mostly about contract conditions, price, timescales. Little weight is put to the adequacy (or unrecognised consequences) of the solution’s design. All this bid effort takes years – literally – and costs all bidders a huge amount. All to end up with a product that at best is what the User knew he needed years before, at worst just the best of a bad lot. And after all that supposed competition, once the contract is signed then there is absolutely no escape if all goes wrong except for contract default proceedings and lengthy legal fights over financial settlement.

    If on the other hand the establishment model is used, then development and trials and production and support contracts can all be competed separately, and if any contract starts to go off the rails, the work can be moved to another supplier without any IPR issue. And the design will be what the User really wanted from day one, and the process is years shorter. And the customer, also being the design owner, can mandate and enforce component and subsystem commonality between projects, which just makes stonking good sense.

    So the agreement is that the ideal is to allow solutionising but to do so as a multi-disciplinary team of Users engineers scientists and budget-holders where all those unintended consequences can be explored up front as the concepts gel into designs. This could be as a mixed government/industry formal team structure with shared access IP, or as a government owned design establishment (which in my view has advantages) where the IP rests with the MOD. This gets the User what they need by the fastest route, with the greatest contractual freedom, and almost certainly the lowest total cost. But the MOD must hold the risk.

  168. Alf Alfa

    “That’s User domain. Also (me included) the engineer has a low priority view of the importance of cost and timescales – getting the design right is far more important, obviously –”

    I believe Robert Watson-Watts (the grandfather of RADAR) had a favourite saying of “always accept third best. First best never happens & second best takes too long”

    Then again he was living in a time of increased tension across Europe with escalating aggression and trying to head off fascism.

    Hang on a minute…..

  169. Chris

    Alf – That’s why I (reluctantly) accept programme management has a role to play. Obviously the pendulum has swung far too far towards the ‘cost/timescale is all that is important’ position.

    But to volley a quote back, one I heard 20-odd years back was “The bitter taste of an equipment’s bad design will be remembered long after the customer has forgotten it was delivered within budget and on time.”

  170. Alf Alfa


    I acknowledge and concur with the point you make.

    Just to be a pedant (a character trait i accept and rue in equal measure) I would point out it was Benjamin Franklin who wrote “The bitterness of poor quality remains long after the sweetness of low price is forgotten”.

  171. JohnHartley

    Interesting article on the engineer website. “Stainless steel composite metal foam offers more protection than other forms of armour”. About a third of the weight of normal steel armour.

  172. Chris

    Alf – a fact I didn’t know, and a quote to store away for further use, thanks. Every day a learning day.

  173. Chris

    JH – one to watch; always good to have lighter weight armour especially if its not horrendously expensive exotic materials. Considering who funded the research there will be ITAR limitations on its use. UK may have gifted Chobham (Dorchester) to the US but I’m none too sure the US would be so open in return.

  174. Ivan the Terrible

    On the topic of commonality, which seems eminently sensible, I see KMW are offering both MLRS and their automated 155mm gun based upon a modified ASCOD chassis. With the army’s systems in need of replacement soon, they would seem like a very good option – ASCOD of course, being the base vehicle for AJax etc. Just a thought.

  175. JohnHartley

    theengineer website has another item on armour. This time it is a new method of dovetailing a layer of steel in the middle of aluminium. The idea is to have a lightweight aluminium armoured vehicle, that is given extra protection by having a layer of steel.

  176. Chris

    JH yes I saw the dovetailing article although I missed the point that it was intended to make armour. Not sure how effective that would be. As a structural material encasing a steel armature in aluminium has merit – the aluminium used as a stiffener to keep the steel from buckling so that it keeps its optimum strength shape – but for armour I expect the outer layer to be hard and brittle to disrupt projectiles and the core matrix behind to be malleable ductile stuff to absorb energy without penetration. Maybe that’s simplistic.

    Good job there are experts in this world who really know about this sort of stuff.

  177. mr.fred

    More likely, they are looking at using formed steel in the joints to reinforce them, since aluminium is a pain in the butt to weld.

  178. Chris

    mr.fred – like the butt weld pun… Aluminium welding is not all that difficult these days with ‘new’ gas shielded welding techniques developed in the 70s & 80s, allied to an understanding of the effects of welding upon materials structure and the stresses welding introduces. By the time I left Alvis they had processes in place that pretty much guaranteed reliable strong and durable welded aluminium structures, having had some bad experiences in their early attempts of such construction. CVR(T) for example is quite old now and as far as I know they are not all under the welder constantly to stop the joints unzipping.

    But (no pun intended there) it does raise an allied question. Those of us who bought cars in the 70s and 80s before corrosion proofing was a thing will recall how putting steel and other metals together created corrosion nightmares in months due to what was described as electrolytic reaction. The technical term may have changed since. So how long would a steel/aluminium sandwich with what looks like a rigid metal-to-metal dovetail junction last in the real world of vehicles? How long before salty water seeps into the sandwich under capillary action? How many years before the joint is blown apart by swelling corrosion? Its not perhaps a question that can be answered now, but until defence materiel is bought and replaced as regularly as is civilian commercial kit, we need to worry about the state of robustness of structures when they are half a century old.

  179. Observer

    Think it was also called galvanic corrosion or bi-metal corrosion.
    The ‘layered armour’ concept was common in the past was it not? It was IIRC called ‘laminated armour’ and there were rumors going around that it was particularly vulnerable to your HESH rounds since it caused the inner-most layer to spall off into the crew cabins. It kind of died off with modern composite armour though it was less ‘died off’ but rather ‘incorporated into’, especially with the addition of spall liners.

  180. JohnHartley

    Five/ten? years ago, I read about someone who was trying to bring back a “mistake”. A century ago, when they were trying to develop stainless steel, there were many attempts before success. Then in the last decade, someone spotted that one of these failures, would give you most of the benefits of stainless steel, but for a fraction of the cost & much easier to scale up. Talk of cars being made with it. I never heard anything since. Anyone know more?

  181. Chris

    JH – sorry that’s a no from me. Although when you look at the likes of silver-steel, chrome-moly or chrome-vanadium steels (typically used for modern hand tools) you note the corrosion is far less than a simple hardened steel would suffer. There must be hundreds of metal combinations and an infinite spread of mixing proportions, any one of which might be uniquely brilliant in specific properties.

    However, a note of caution is perhaps wise. The old CVR(T) original build used a high current cable called Unipren. This was a very flexible battery cable that would easily wrap in loops around your finger. Inside were a very large number of small gauge copper conductors, outside was a robust thick sheath of neoprene. When it was new it was brilliant. But within a few short years, of the order of seven, the neoprene went from astonishingly robust and flexible to something more like dried-out putty. Any attempt to bend the cable’s set shape caused the sheath to split and crumble. The one saving grace was that the set sheath was quite rigid and took some effort to bend, meaning the cable remained safe in most situations. Aged neoprene extrusions or moulded parts are a nightmare. However for those specifying the material who only saw it fresh and new it must have looked like a wonder-material.

    Sometimes its worth seeing what a few years does to material before rushing to use it everywhere. Just to be sure its not going to be a litigation issue in a decade or two.

  182. Mike

    Hello Chris, I am not sure if comments are still being read but I thought I should leave a comment of support. I often refer back to this article while thinking over various vehicle issues. Like most people here I have my own ideas for what the future should hold regarding military vehicles. Your article aligned with and inspired my own ideas. Unfortunately as the lay man I do not have the skills, experience or general ability to do anything about it. Do you have any updates about this project moving forward?

  183. Chris

    Michael – thanks for the vote of support. Sadly there’s nothing to report. Many see the sense in both the size & weight of the concepts and in the common support approach but the customer set refuse to engage at any level. No doubt the same situation has played out with dozens of businesses in the past each spending their own cash on really useful ideas and ultimately giving up for being ignored – you have to wonder if this is why the UK defence sector has withered to such a degree.

  184. Michael

    Chris I am sorry to here that. I have just read TD’s article on the MRV-P. I had not realised that there could potentially be another 3 separate vehicle types added to the fleet. Insanity. People can argue forever about vehicle weight class and protection levels but with commonality there is no argument. The advantages are obvious. I was hoping the MDP would be inspired and influenced by some of the ideas put forward by people such as yourself and TD (probably foolish of me). For a while there did seem like a genuine effort from the government to boost British manufacturing too but it looks like foreign designed vehicles and British assembly lines for now. I hope things change in future and funding for smaller companies is made available to at least prove the credibility of there concepts. I wish you luck.

  185. Chris

    Michael – its not just the AEC offering that can’t make headway. To a degree the difficulty faced by UK manufacturers is one of market capacity; since the 60s the UK’s Armed Forces have shrunk back enormously and so has the budget that supports them. But a significant part is that the investment in defence engineering for which the UK was once proudly at the forefront was brutally switched off in the 80s. The Establishments were sold off, on principle ostensibly but in reality more likely just as a cash saving measure. Industry would just have to invest if it wanted a slice of the lucrative defence market, the government said.

    But as I’ve noted many times over, industry is not a charity and unless there is realistic and probable return on investment, it will not invest. Most of the UK defence sector decided there was insufficient market to make a profit and there followed masses of take-overs and sell-offs that reduced that sector’s capacity at a rapid rate. At the same time, the government discovered that their bright plan to get UK businesses to pay for all the expected defence materiel R&D had backfired and that far from getting a wide choice of developed products to choose from, the defence companies started to offer old designs with minimal upgrades that just met requirements.

    The move to buying from abroad (almost unthinkable from the end of the war until the 70s) was pretty well forced on MOD as there was so little that was up to date being offered domestically. And the foreign stuff was generally seen to be more advanced and effective – nothing to do with their nation’s government funded development of course. So we buy now from abroad because of UK government short-sightedness. And despite the unpopular nature of arms sales, until HMG stopped investing in defence R&D, the UK defence exports made a significant contribution to the Balance of Payments. That R&D cash that was saved has been hugely expensive for the national prosperity. No doubt those involved in the Whitehall bubble would have a raft of explanations excuses and dismissive statements justifying their astonishing good sense and far-sightedness, but then they would wouldn’t they.

    A few stalwart companies try hard to buck the system. For the longest time Westlands tried to survive on defence contracts, even then they needed to share development with other companies or lightly modify Sikorsky and Hughes/McDAC/Boeing designs, but they too have quietly gone, now the British arm of Leonardo’s helicopter division. Supacat is still fighting manfully, but its sales are stronger abroad than in the UK and I would not be surprised if they too move the company to more profitable shores. BAE is stronger in the US than the UK. I am struggling to think of any UK defence business making most of its profit from UK defence contracts.

    Last year it was reported that the UK spent more on festive food purchases in the four weeks leading up to Christmas than MOD’s total annual spend. Tescos buying power dwarfs that of the MOD procurement branch. In the big scheme of things, MOD is no longer the huge and mighty buying organisation it once was, although their attitude shows they believe they still are. There’s just no surprise there is so little life left in the defence industrial sector.

  186. SD67

    Heres a suggestion – forget trying to convince the MOD – convince an OEM and let them pitch it to the MOD.

    I’d suggest JCB. Already an MOD supplier, huge industrial footprint, strong political influence. Don’t mess around with DES middle management – send this straight to Lord Bamford, it’s too good to waste.

  187. Chris

    Many companies have been briefed and invited to engage. Defence players small and large, automotive businesses, plant manufacturers. The story is the same in each case; the concept is sound, the design looks robust, the need for such a class of platforms exists, but…

    In most cases the ‘but’ relates to a lack of formal requirement, without which all these businesses know investment will never turn into sales. Some of the businesses though are just scarred by previous attempts to work with MOD; one major player offered a smart idea based on an existing product, gained MOD interest, triggered an MOD project for the idea, was given a long list of capability enhancements and detail requirements to meet, put in a lot of engineering prototyping testing and productionising effort to create exactly the machine MOD demanded, only to see the MOD cancel the project because it now cost too much.

    Take a look at a successful defence company – Rheinmetall for example – and what you notice is a ridiculously slow development cycle. Decades to create a new design. Some of this time is down to complexity of the product, but far more is a result of procurement process. Imagine if the defence business produced new designs every three years, which it could if it had the cash and the workforce, and imagine what this would do to procuring organisations – they’d never buy anything because before they’d even assessed the response to the first ITT there would be a newer improved product making the proposed solution obsolete. So the defence business would sell precisely nothing, and would have massive development costs to cover for no benefit whatsoever. The only chance of making a sale is to make sure the product remains the ‘newest and best’ for the duration of the procurement cycle. Once there has been one sale, the same product has a higher reputation so is marketed hard into other militaries, holding off new product launches while there’s a chance to make a bit more profit from the current product’s development. The whole industry has been ground to a halt by disastrous procurement process. Meanwhile our potential adversaries are busy buying latest kit and investing in defence R&D to make sure their latest kit is modern and as effective as technology can make it.

    The defence industry here is slow and lack-lustre because it is required to be so. Businesses outside the defence bubble know this, and engage in defence work only when there’s a good chance of selling (rare) or if they believe there’s export potential -subject to ECO rules which bring their own set of restrictions into play. JCB is a brilliant company with strong commercial sales, and has modified some of its products for military purposes, but it well knows designing platforms specifically for defence use would cause it years or even decades of product development and proving that would most likely end up not being bought, or if bought then in far smaller quantities than the MOD promised up front. Its just not worth their effort.

  188. saleem Hatoum

    wanted to see if there is an concept of trailer for watertank and kitchen

  189. Chris

    Nothing to prevent such trailers being hauled by the AEC vehicles,but there are no trailer concepts as yet within the vehicle family, and to be truthful simple towed trailers would not be high priorities for design.

  190. Arthur Shufflebotham

    Anglo Engineering has the best website ever 😍

  191. Peter JOSEPH Diver

    Umm I have had this thought for "sometime" & that would be for a ten-ton platform & an eight-ton module like a very small boxer. keep the Alvis dimensions but break your designs down to the above. That way you create a common design, but you can then be creative on what that design can do eg height & weight can be split for Air transportation. At 18-ton much lighter than most Military vehicles & therefore can go places that our future 36/40 tonners can now. Think forests in the high north though snow & ice, because I think that that's where we are potentially playing next. Kind regards Peter

  192. Chris

    When the design for Ox started, it being the only specifically multi role platform in the set, such separate mission module/chassis configuration was considered. It took up a lot of space, made protection and structural integrity more difficult, and added both bulk and weight. The penalties imposed just to have a vehicle that could be separated into two parts were significant. As an example, an integrated design of vehicle might fit in C-130 where the same capability but as separate chassis & mission module with the same internal volume may be too large to fit C-130 when bolted together, so needing to be split for transport. The choice was made to keep the design completely modular but to create optimised integrated vehicles from them, as small size and light weight were the main drivers behind the family.

  193. Mike

    So these have been in design since 2009, are positively received, but nothing has come out of it and there are no plans to build even a prototype? What is the point then, I will never understand the MoD.

    Although a great idea on paper I do wonder how willing companies would be to give up their Intellectual Property.

  194. Chris

    I agree Mike its a poor situation. We used to have a positive relationship between designers industry and the MOD/War Dept/Admiralty etc. MOD has chosen only to deal with big companies, the corporations that do very well out of this arrangement push small independents aside (or take their ideas) to protect their domain dominance. Even the organisation MOD set up to capitalise on SME innovation (was called the Centre for Design Excellence – CDE – but I think is now branded Innovate UK) was hugely dismissive of SME effort, and massively patronising towards those who had put their own cash on the line to create new ideas for the military. I think it shows – the MOD has precisely the projects it deserves, and has only itself to blame for that.

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