The Boxer Armoured Vehicle and the British Army

The ARTEC Boxer 8×8 armoured vehicle will meet the British Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement that will equip the new Strike Brigades.

Boxer and the British Army go back much further than widely known.

There are three broad stages of the UK’s involvement with Boxer, starting in the late eighties/early nineties and this is how I am going to structure this article, with a final section on the vehicle itself

Boxer and MRAV

Boxer and FRES

Boxer and MIV

Boxer Vehicle Details

 

 


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Change record

Version Date Description
1.0 29/03/2017 First release

 

 

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Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

Boxer is an excellent vehicle but the MOD couldn’t go far wrong in purchasing Patria either and which is already deployed in versions fitted with both the Amos mortar system and a 105mm gun. To me the missing vehicle in the MIV proposals is a dedicated ATGW carrier as used to be provided by Striker/Swingfire. An elevating box launcher for Brimstone plus an automated loader would seem to be ideal solution.

Jed
Jed

Ivan – I don’t think we need Brimstone on a vehicle like Boxer due to it’s size and weight. With it’s range it can be fired in in-direct fire mode from a the US Army Multi-Mission Launcher, MML has been tested with Hellfire and carries 15 missiles. For a Striker replacement on both Ajax and MIV I agree on an under armour pop up launcher, but with MMP.

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

Why introduce a third ATGW system into the UK inventory, especially when it has only 40% of the range of the, er, British made alternative…and a less effective war head?!

Jed
Jed

Ivan

It would not be 3rd type because I would replace Javelin with MMP. However, Javelin, MMP or Spike are the “right size” for RWS, turret or other Armoured vehicle launchers. They are essentially infantry ATGW and so their use provides commonality with dismount ATGW teams,

The Brimstone is too big and heavy, and it’s range is for to great and cannot be any where near utilized in a “direct fire” mode. Use it’s range, MMW active seeker and others features in an appropriate long range engagement methodology.

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

I think you’re just playing fantasy armies, Jed. There is no more prospect of the skint MOD replacing Javelin with another system just as there is no prospect of them adopting MML either. You’re objections don’t hold much water as swingfire was never an infantry weapon and was never considered “too heavy” by anybody, being only ever vehicle mounted. Troops used Milan, as they now use javelin. Brimstone can be used in a direct fire mode. And only weighs 50
Kg, a weight any fit bloke should be able to handle, but the weight is only relevant when it is being loaded onto the vehicle. There is an obvious paucity of anti tank weapons in the UK armoury, if MIV is going to have any battlefield overwatch then use an existing system, and if the bumpf is to be believed, Brimstone is as good as it gets.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

This is good news although a loooong time coming.

I think the money being spent on Ajax is going to hobble the programme in terms of numbers we can afford over numbers we need. The decision to change priorities to the scout programme over the utility version is going to prove a pain for years. It was obvious that the UV and MRVP programmes were and are needed more.

Ogden Dowcett

This is by far the best article I’ve read on the history/development of he Boxer and the progression from MRAV to MIV. A solid choice for the UK Army, though one has to wonder what would have happened if they had not dropped out of MRAV in the first place. I understand the reason for dropping out, just doing a “what if”. Now that “standard” 8×8 protection levels have grown beyond what a C-130 can carry I would love to see the IBCTs transition from the Stryker to the Boxer (wishful thinking I know) as in my opinion it’s a much better vehicle for that role that the current Stryker and we get the added bonus of commonality with our allies in both Europe and Australia.

I know, as evidence by the pictures in the article, that the 155mm AGM had been mounted on the Boxer but does anyone know if a 105mm direct fire module, akin to Centauro or Stryker MGS, been thought/tossed about? I very much like the drive-by-wire capability shown in the JODAA video and can see several use cases for it.

Anyways, again well done on the article and I look forward to seeing the updates as more info is made available.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard

Jed, I agreed totally with your article on Strike Brigades of three years ago. Mixing Ajax and Boxer makes no operational sense at all! Let Ajax loose among the Armoured Brigades, stop putting CTA turrets on Warrior. Put them instead on scout/fire support versions of Boxer. Also buy a small number of Boxers with 155mm guns and GMLRS. If we’re going to exchange smaller Heavy and Light forces for creating wheeled Middleweight forces that exchange protection for greater in-theatre strategic mobility, let’s do it in a way that is operationally workable. At the moment we’re spending a lot of money buying two top drawer vehicles and will end up with neither fish nor fowl.

mr.fred
mr.fred

If you stop putting CT 40 turrets on the Warriors, what do you do with the armoured infantry?

Ogden Dowcett

Mr.fred, I believe what SR meant was to replace Warrior with the IFV version of Ajax rather than just upgun the Warrior to 40CTA and so the armored infantry would benefit from a newer more well protected ride. The turrets that were destined to upgun the Warriors could instead be used to arm the Boxers giving it a bit more punch than the normal .50cal RWS.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

Where’s the money coming from for Ajax IFV versions, how are we going to afford to buy enough MIV for the 2 strike brigades and extra Ajax (which cost a lot more than Boxer)?

Are people forgetting that there are a lot of 432 variants that still need replacing in the armd brigades plus Challenger upgrades let alone MRVP 4×4 and 6×6 to procure before we start dreaming of an Ajax IFV.

The Army can create 4 coherent brigades (2 armd and 2 strike) with what we have now and what is getting ordered without cancelling Warrior and adding more costs just for the sake of it.

mr.fred
mr.fred

What Ajax IFV?

Also, there’s more to Warrior CSP than the turret.

Ogden Dowcett

Mr.fred, my apologies I should have used “an” instead of “the” when referring to an IFV version of Ajax as there is no defined IVF variant. In my mind the it was a “simple” solution of putting an unmanned version of the Ajax 40CTA turret on the Ares APC turning it into the Ares/Ajax analog of the Warrior.

As far as money goes, we have the similar funding problems here in the US, too many things the “must” be done an not enough money to do them all. Personally I prefer moderate near term pain to avoid excessive long term pain or put another way, take one step back to take two steps forward but I’m no acquisition expert no politician so I realize my simplistic view may be just that, simplistic and unfeasible given realities I may not be aware of.

mr.fred
mr.fred

I’m glad you put “simple” in quotation marks, but I still think that you overestimate how easy it is to just slap a turret on something, especially if the base platform isn’t designed to take it in the first place and more so if you are converting manned to unamanned.

I don’t know what savings, if any, you’d get in the long term by developing and building Ajax IFVs, but you’ve got the up front costs that are likely to be such that Ajax IFVs are twice or three times a Warrior upgrade, plus the time value of money.

Observer
Observer

Well, at least it’s manned to unmanned. Can you imagine the trouble trying to find space for a turret basket inside the vehicle if it was unmanned to manned? One benefit I found to the unmanned turret fad is that the removal of the turret basket from inside the vehicle now lets an ‘IFV’ potentially carry the same amount of dismounts an ‘APC’ used to carry without downgrading the weapon system, or at least if you were not using a huge top of the line gun, you can actually use a ‘small’ medium calibre weapon like the 25-35mm Bushmaster RWS and still keep 11 dismounts.

Unfortunately, the reducing number of dismounts in current vehicles is more due to increasing armour thickness cutting into internal volume than weapons. At least with RWS, there is some take back of internal space, I shudder to think of a modern ‘squeezed’ IFV with heavy armour AND a turret basket….

fred
fred

well been announced..over a holiday period? UK will rejoin Boxer program.
https://www.defensenews.com/land/2018/04/02/uk-to-re-join-boxer-program-17-years-after-opting-out/

Peter Arundel
Peter Arundel

I’m not entirely sure who the paint job and slogan are aimed at. Is it just another example of those wacky continentals having a laugh?

JohnHartley
JohnHartley

On the one hand, it is very good news that the British Army is finally getting a credible 8×8, with a reasonable British built content. (Roll on a Challenger 3 with 130mm RH gun!).
On the other hand, are we buying heavy kit, that will be hard to deploy?

Observer
Observer

Peter, fighting beside the Americans, it’s obvious they had to take some steps to prevent friendly fire.
If people still shoot at it even with that colour scheme, they definitely need new glasses. lol.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard

Dear all. I’m no expert. I’m not aware of the exact financials or procurement problems here. I have worked over thirty years in delivering complex programmes to military customers so I am painfully aware of development, integration and testing issues, not to mention OT&E and acceptance and qualification trials. All I am saying is that if you deploy a SB consisting mainly of AJAX and BOXER, your strategic mobility will be dictated by AJAX. You might as well have deployed Challengers and Warriors, except without the firepower. If strategic mobility is not an issue, then why not buy more APC variants of AJAX instead of BOXER and have vehicle commonality? Presumably if we are buying BOXER (which is an excellent choice by the way) it’s because we want to benefit from the advantages of a top drawer 8X8. So then don’t tie it’s hands and feet together by deploying it with a tracked vehicle in something called a SB. Makes no sense to me, unless I’m missing something here…. Like Jed said in 2015, it smells of a political fudge to justify cutting back on the numbers of Challengers and Warriors (not that I am a particular fan of either, but that’s not the point).

Observer
Observer

Richard, that contradiction has been noted before. My only optimistic viewpoint on it is that they have not really tied down how to use the vehicles yet so usage is still open for consideration. They just only formed a study group on the issue this year in January if my memory, which is admittedly questionable these days, serves me.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard

On Ivan’s point: an interesting one. No question that it would make a lot of sense to standardise on a single missile if possible and DM Brimstone is the obvious candidate. Brilliant piece of kit. The first move has to be Apache and Predators. Problem is when you start firing it from the ground. For a LOS engagement, laser designation, no problem (other than you expose your designator’s position, but let’s not go there). Bit of an overkill weapon for a LOS engagement, though… It’s real advantage would be for NLOS engagements, where it would be more than a Swingfire replacement! Here you would need a forward designator or tactical drone designating. Again, no problem. But if you wanted to take advantage of the MMW seeker (the whole point of Brimstone) you’d have some difficulties. You’d be limited to having to designate first and then scarping, allowing the active radar to take over (unless you were firing against formations of tanks in a many-on-many engagement like the good old days of the Fulda Pass – less likely these days). Remember, when you’re on the ground NLOS is a lot closer than you think. For a missile the size and power of Brimstone, an IIR seeker is a lot more suitable for a NLOS ground to ground engagement and for that you need a secure, NLOS data link for man-in-the-loop, ideally a fibre optic thread. So here is where Brimstone becomes less attractive and Spike or MMP more so.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard

Re my latest on Brimstone, sorry, got to call them Protectors these days, not Predators (stupid name…)

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard

Observer, fair point. But this is not rocket science. It doesn’t need a working group. If you deploy BOXER on its own, as currently envisaged your most powerful weapon will be a 50 cal MG on a RWS? Aside from the dismounted teams, that is… If you deploy them with anything else, they can only move at the pace and range of the slowest. I’ll say no more because I’m repeating myself.

Observer
Observer

Don’t look at me Richard, I know that, you know that, but their higher ups obviously need a report in triplicate. lol.

One ‘problem’ with the Brimstone/Hellfire as a NLOS weapon is that it is a ‘boost/glide’ weapon, it boosts to altitude, then glides down to hit the target so it can’t really maneuver that drastically since it’s basically just using windflow to steer, not to mention once the booster cuts off, the glide slope is pretty much set. If you want a NLOS weapon, I’d recommend using a ‘constant boost’ missile instead, you can fly it above the target and just drop it straight down since it is still under power.

Simon

Not sure why using Boxer and Ajax together is a problem.

1. If you want rapid deployment you send Boxer.
2. If you need tracks and a 40mm (assuming we don’t fit one to Boxer) you send Ajax and use Boxer as the APC. The fact that Boxer /could/ deploy quicker doesn’t matter.

Boxer might not be able to go where Ajax can go but as an APC it doesn’t necessarily need to. For the times that the going is poor we simply use the tiny Ajax APC variant.

Observer
Observer

Simon, the problem comes in the proposed strategic ranges the Boxer is advertised to operate in. The ranges seem to be international in scope, for example, sending the Boxer to Poland over land. The problem comes in terms of ‘control range’, it’s near impossible for a brigade commander to control his force when 2/3 of it is somewhere in Poland or Ukraine while the other 1/3 is somewhere in Germany or France trying to catch up.

The problem is not on the tactical level but on the strategic one.

Ogden Dowcett

All,

Here is how I see things things playing with regards to the British Army’s Armor situation. My apologies in advance if I mix up terms/program names, I’ve done my best best to keep up with all the name changes, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I missed a few. I will also refrain from using specific unit sizes (Brigade, Company, etc) and use the general term of Unit as I’m not well versed on UK Order of Battle/Unit structure other than the well publish Brigade variants (Heavy, Strike, Medium, Light, etc).

From where I’m sitting I believe the UK, like the US, wants to retain the basic types of armored units, Light, Medium, and Heavy. As Light, Medium, and Heavy are subjective terms I shall define them as follows: Light – up to 20 tonnes/all around protection up to 14.5mm (LAV-25A2), Medium – 20 to 40 tonnes/all around protection up to 30mm (Boxer), Heavy – 40 tonnes and greater/all around protection greater than 30mm (Ajax). Granted the Ajax published weight range of 38 – 42 tonnes spans 2 categories I place it in the Heavy as it seems more heavy than medium to me and my assumption, based on published photos, it add on armor modules will give it all around protection greater than 30mm, again that is my assumption and I realize I could be wrong. Give the above constraints/definitions I would do as follows:

1) Move the Ajax from the Medium units and put them in the Heavy Units to operate along side the Challenger in the classic Heavy Armor formation. Warrior is long past due for replacement and the turret upgrade, while a nice step in the right direction, is a like using a Band-aid for something that requires stitches, in my opinion. Better to just replace the whole lot of them and redirect the money for the the ongoing upkeep and requisite upgrades to a system that will be more cost effective in the long run and provide better protection for its crew and dismounts. Being classified as a “heavy” unit will not prevent it from being used in a Strike Unit role and deploying on its own if the use of Challengers are not warranted. Strategically it make sense to me to keep the tracks together as they have similar deployment/logistical constraints.

2) Put the Boxer in the Medium Unit role and rather than procure just the base “APC” variant, procure the full range of module options leveraging off of what the other Boxer users have already, or are planning to do. Additionally, procure a mission module to drive module ratio of 3:2 as not all mission modules need to be deployed on drive modules all the time, especially in garrison. The “surplus” mission modules can be either used statically or mounted on a rack and carted about on the back of a MAN, Oshkosh, or similar logistics vehicle. Why wear out an expensive drive module on exercise when the exercise environment may not warrant it? Does a Command module really need to be on a drive module if, for the exercise all it’s going to do is travel by road and then sit at camp? The Boxer Unit, with all its mission variants, can be the “go-to” deployment units for all but the most intense conflict scenarios, especially if a 105mm direct fire capability similar to Centauro or the Type 16 MCV is developed for the Boxer.

Fiscal constraints aside, I like the overall direction the UK is heading with its armored vehicle programs. As an outsider looking in it seems as if the MoD is really trying to get its house in order. Hopefully, here in the US, our AMPV will end up being the US analog of the Ajax program and that the powers that be will remove their collective heads from various locations and realize how much could be gained by transitioning our Stryker based IBCTs to Boxers.

Please poke holes and tell me what I’ve missed.

—————————————–

Mr.fred,

In response to your earlier comment…. I believe that the Ajax turret is based on the Lance turret of which there are both manned and unmanned versions which should help with the manned to unmanned conversion. If as Observer stated, 40CTA is not needed, one could, theoretically, just use the unmanned Lance turret in either 30 or 35mm.

No argument that the turret upgrade might one half to one third the cost of an Ajax IFV but I would argue that the Ajax IFV is a better investment in the long run than the turret upgrade. The saving I see are from a maintenance/operational perspective and a survivability perspective. The amount of money to keep the Warriors operational, relevant, and survivable is only going to increase as time goes on. Why not take that money that was going to be used for Warrior upkeep and instead use it on an Ajax based Warrior replacement that should have fairly level maintenance costs for the foreseeable future rather than increasing ones year after year?

————————————–

With regards to the ATGW discussion, I don’re believe a single missile solution possible for LOS, but do believe a two missile solution is, one primarily for ground launch (short to long range LOS) and one primarily for air launch (long to extreme range LOS). I agree that Brimstone should be used as the primary air launched weapon. For the primary ground launched weapon I would pick either the Spike family or MMP (if it is developed in to a family like Spike was). For NLOS engagements I would pick the Spike NLOS or develop an MMP NLOS. The Javelin was a good weapon when initially deployed but now I believe it’s outclassed by the Spike and MMP, and TOW just needs to die.

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard

Observer, I wasn’t criticising you in any way, not at all. By the way, I wasn’t advocating Brimstone as a NLOS solution, on the contrary. Merely trying to answer Ivan’s suggestion to adopt it as a Swingfire replacement and why, although the perfect fit for Apache and Protector, I would prefer MMP or Spike as a ground launched ATGW.

Ogden, you’re on the money my friend. Absolutely! Ajax belongs with the heavies. That doesn’t preclude its deployment elsewhere if appropriate. Time for Warrior to go OR be upgraded just as an APC. Base your medium units on Boxer but buy some modules other than just APC – they don’t need development, they’re all there already. The French are the masters of this (although not on Boxer, of course). And you’re right, despite all the above, U.K. is indeed buying some very good kit for its army. But this is after years of time wasting, heads up orifices and lots of money down the toilet. And it is this sorry and unfortunate history, I am afraid, that is delivering this confused force structure and concepts of use, despite the kit being excellent. The hope has to be that despite the political bull***t, come the day the ‘stars’ will use the kit sensibly… although we are spending money on Warrior that we shouldn’t, about the right amount on AJAX and not enough on Boxer…

mr.fred
mr.fred

Ogden,

The Ajax turret may be based on the Lance turret, but in the sense that the Ajax itself is based on the ASCOD. The guns are different, the ammunition feeds are different, the sights are different, the electronics are different, the armour is different… It’s pretty different.
Then Ares will have an APC roof rather than one intended to support a turret.

Warrior may be getting older, but using that as your IFV saves you half your acquisition cost, so that’s quite a hurdle to clear for your operational savings to start with, never mind that your 100% extra debt will be incurring interest, opportunity forgone or however else you like to account for spending money now as opposed to later. Personally I see Warrior CSP as a stopgap to go alongside Challenger 2 CSP, to carry the Armoured battlegroup out for long enough to get a good idea of the replacement strategy. Switching to a new IFV would only delay a needed upgrade for vague and nebulous promises of jam tomorrow.

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

Interesting to read so many opinions! Has anybody a view on whether Boxer is the “right” 8×8 to go for? There are a number of alternatives available, Are they all of a muchess, or are there genuine advantages/disadvantages. Germany does seem to produce outstanding military vehicles, just as they do commercial cars.

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

Does anybody have first hand or operational experience of Boxer or something similar

Ogden Dowcett

Mr.Fred,

Obviously there are difference between the Ajax and Lance turret which once can easily tell by comparing pictures of the two. I was under the impression that the underlying “bones/structure” of the two turrets was the same and the the differences were based on what modular components were mounted to the “bones” and where they were mounted. As far as the Ares APC roof goes, if it truely can not handle the weight of an unmanned turret then I see 3 solutions, reinforce the current Ares roof similar to what we did with the Stryker for the MCT30, take the Ajax roof and graft it to the Ares body, or use the Ajax instead of the Ares as the Base for the IFV. None of my proposed solutions are trivial but they should be doable.

As far as the Warrior goes, I will have to respectfully disagree with you, I believe both it and the Bradley’s time have come, not to mention the related Bulldog and M-113 but that’s a different conversation all together. Both the Warrior and Bradley were fielded in the 80’s and, I believe, as platforms, have reached a point of diminishing returns as far as continued upgrade and operations go. They are not bad platforms, just past their prime, and outclassed by just about every other modern AFV out there. In my opinion, the money you “save” by keeping Warrior and upgrading its turret is spent, and more, on ever more costly maintenance as the system gets older and older.

—————————

Ivan,

From my American perspective, Boxer was absolutely the right choice since it’s RHD!!! :D Seriously though, I do believe it was the correct choice in that it’s modularity, separate drive and mission modules, give its users unprecedented flexibility and helps preserve that flexibility on into the future. Need an Electronic Warfare vehicle? Well all you need to do is design and pay for a compatible EW module and not a whole vehicle. Operating in an environment that needs the EW capability but not all the armor? Mount the EW module on the back of a MAN. Mission module on one Boxer damaged and drive module damaged on another? No problem, use the undamaged modules of each to turn two “bad” Boxers into one good one.

Observer
Observer

Richard, my apologies, tone is a bit hard to transmit in print, I thought the lol at the end would have been an indicator that I find the situation humorous too.

Ogden, while the Boxer is modular, it’s not modular to the point of field mix and match, you’ll still need to go to a factory to strip out and replace modules. Most likely, I’ll bet whatever module is built on stays on till the end of the vehicle’s service life. You want that level of mix and match, you need ATTCs.

Ivan, personally, I feel that all the current 8x8s are more or less of similar capabilities if you’re not on the bottom end of light weight. The Stryker is way too light, though to be fair, it was one of the first ‘new’ 8x8s to come into service and weight creep only started years after it came out.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

I think most people agree that Ajax should not be in the strike bdes but we have just spent a sh*t load of money on the vehicles and we need to use them, hence strike.

It would be nice if at least one regiment of Ajax moved from each of the strike brigades back to the amd brigades. For no other reason than to give the strike brigades a fighting chance of using the strategic mobility which sets it apart from the amd brigades. We might be able to move an Ajax regiment by road with what we have in terms of low loaders but I’m not confident of two if you want to deploy the brigade in any useful time frame.

We could create a strike brigade consisting of one Ajax regiment and two Boxer with another cavalry regiment providing recce etc with Panther, Foxhound or MRVP. You would have better strategic mobility with this formation than with the present idea.

We still do not know what the CS and CSS units will be using in the strike bde and wether we will procure enough Boxer to equip them. Are we going to have hybrid track/wheeled CS and CSS units so as to support the Ajax/Boxer mix?

I’ll say it until I’m blue in the face, FRES Scout should never have been made the priority over the FRES utility version but we are where we are so we’ll need to fudge because no more money is coming. Which is why the Warrior upgrade was the right choice imo.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

Observer,

Boxer is capable of changing modules in the field it does not require returning to a factory.

Ogden Dowcett

Observer,

Based on the Modularity section of the Vehicle Details page of this article, specifically the pictures and video, I do believe you are mistaken in saying that the mission modules are not field replaceable. The interfaces between the Drive and Mission modules are standardized, all mission modules have the same superset of defined interfaces. Some modules may use all the defined interfaces, other modules may only use a subset of the defined superset.

mr.fred
mr.fred

Ogden,

When you say “bones” of the turret, do you mean the basic structure? That may be so, but the base structure is probably the cheapest bit of the whole thing. The weapons are different, that is obvious. The CT40 needs a special ammunition feed and dedicated control electrics, so that’s new. The secondary weapon is totally different and in a different place. The sights are different, we know that, and Ajax is GVA compliant while Lance isn’t, so the elctronics are different. Maybe it is just a repackaging exercise, but I can’t imagine that there is anything on what there is of the Lance turret in there that would make that any easier.

Warrior is an 80’s machine, ASCOD dates to the 90’s. ASCOD gets updated to be Ajax, Warrior gets updated, but less so. I wouldn’t expect there to much in it in terms of maintenance. If nothing else, maintenance costs might be lower in favour of Warrior as it doesn’t have so much high value , no user serviceable parts inside , systems as Ajax.
The FV430 series got updated to Bulldog, but isn’t related to Warrior any more than the M113 is to Bradley. Since you mentioned Bradley, there is a vehicle that is of similar age to Warrior and currently being upgraded and the fleet being expanded to replace the remainder of the previous generation M113s, form the basis of the artillery vehicles and generally act as a stopgap until the US next generation combat vehicle programme gets going.

Ogden Dowcett

Mr.fred,

Yes I meant the basic turret structure. I must admit had to look up what GVA was. Which GVA are you referring to Def Stan 23-09 (UK GVA) or STANAG 4754 (NATO GVA)? If the later I don’t see why the Lance turret wouldn’t be GVA compliant as it’s my understanding NGVA started with GVA and added to it.

As far as the ASCOD goes, yes it is a 90’s design but for Ajax it’s my understanding that, while it looks like an ASCOD from the outside, internally it’s essentially a new vehicle…. new engine, new suspension, new electronic architecture, etc. GVW has grown from the original ASCODs 28 tonnes to the 42 tonnes of the Ajax, to me that implies, regardless of visual similarities, that it’s for all intents and purposes a new vehicle.

For the Bradley, I hold a similar opinion of it as the Warrior, it’s reached the point where further upgrades are a waste of money and it needs to be replaced. With the AMPV, I assume it’s taking a route similar to Ajax in that while it looks like a turretless Bradley it’s essentially a new vehicle internally. I say assumption because I have been unable to find similar information on AMPV that I have found for Ajax.

I was not trying to relate FV430 (my apologies I thought Bulldog was the name of the series) to Warrior other than it was the precursor to Warrior like the M-113 series was the precursor to the Bradley, both were initially fielded in the 60’s, and both need to be replaced as well.

Mark
Mark

This one has me anyway caught between two opposites. Happy they’ve final made a decision or furious that we’re back where we should of been in 2003. I think there is a serious number of retired senior officers and mod officials that should hang there head in shame at this announcement. What exactly the thought process was that decided to invest in FRES, Ajax AND warrior over this vehicle in particular was hard to fathom then even more so now and after what’s gone on in the interim.

To think of the money wasted acquiring a hodgepodge fleet of armoured vehicles and the lives damaged due to operating with geriatric vehicles ill equipped for the missions they had to preform when we could of been equipping with boxer or accelerating that purchase and modules thru UOR is beyond infuriating!

boxer and patria amv are both excellent vehicle I always preferred patria because most if not all the variants we would want are already there to buy. With boxer it remains to be seen if the army and MoD have the staying power and focus to develop the modules required for boxer to make this the transformational vehicle it has the potiential to be for the army.

Ogden Dowcett

Mark,

What additional modules are needed by the UK beyond what Germany and the Netherlands have developed and what Australia is/plans to develop?

Sceptical Richard
Sceptical Richard

What a wonderful discussion and what a wonderful passionate bunch of guys you all are! Conclusion: U.K. will end up with two wonderful sets of vehicles hopefully to be employed correctly when needed even though for historical and political reasons it all looks a bit like a dog’s breakfast. Could the money have been better spent? Sure! Have all the right decisions been taken? No! Would all of us have done better given the chance? I’ve really enjoyed this and would love to meet all of you and pontificate over a drink forever…

Observer
Observer

DN, Ogden, maybe I should have phrased it better, but ‘possibility’ does not mean ‘common practice’, the ‘possibility’ of field swapping modules is there but practically, the usability of it is near nil. It’s not too different from the Stanflex concept of ships and the LCS, swappable modules, but the ships still need to return to port to swap it out since the chances of finding a random module and equipment for swapping at sea is non-existent. Same on land, the possibility of an MEV assigned to a FOB is rare, those things are rare and specialized, not to mention the idea of modules just lying all over the place is not in line with the practice of ‘you bring what you use’.

It’s not the first time ‘modularity’ was brought up as a concept but field use usually kills off the practicality of the idea. It’s also the idea of the ‘arms room’ concept of weapon modularity where people proposed weapons that can be converted from one type to another (AR/SAW/SMG etc) and it is possible in the field, but how often do you hear of people converting their weapons type once issued?

There is also the problem of how the services role jobs. You give the Boxer to, say, a tank driver. Do you think that if you removed his weapons module and slap on an ambulance module, he becomes a corpsman? I doubt it. In reverse, you take a Boxer ambulance and swap the module for a weapons module, does that mean the medic now knows how to operate a tank in coordinated armoured combat with an ABG? No. New module, same old crew.

Once a vehicle is set in a role, the only time it changes roles is if the parent unit sends it back to the rear areas for replacing, especially since units are often role locked. Such modularity might help with repairs, but not field use.

Ogden Dowcett

Observer,

Perhaps I could have been a more clear as well. As far as swapping goes I see 3 situations in which it would be used. The first is in garrison where you need a module to be mobile but don’t want to wear out a Drive Module, in that situation use the rack mount and wear out a less expensive truck, either a MAN or a commercial 8×8. The second is when deploying. Deployment commanders can pick the Mission Modules they take based on the mission they are going to perform. For example the Unit goes on a HADR mission but troop still need protection. The Commander can opt to leave a majority of the “aggressive” IFV modules at home and bring more Engineering and Medic modules to provide more assistance capability. The third situation is the battle damage I discussed previously. I don’t expect the modules to be swapped on the front line but at the lager/repair area where the vehicles are recovered to. An AEV/crane does not have to be used to perform the module switch jack stands can be used as shown in the pictures.

As far as you arms room example goes, I would pick my weapon version prior to the setting out on the “mission” to the version I feel is most suitable for the mission. For a desert mission where I can expect to see the enemy a long way off I’d pick the DMR version, for an Urban environment the SBR version. No one in their right might is going to try and reconfigure their weapon in the middle of a mission/fight. The same goes for the Boxer Mission modules and extends to the StanFlex modules you mentioned, make the best choice of modules for the deployment based on the environment/mission you expect and after that, make do with what you’ve got.

For the service roles, I think it’s common sense that you don’t try and make a medic crew out of an IFV crew and vice versa but a Boxer driver is a Boxer driver and they take their orders from the vehicle commander. “You give the Boxer to, say, a tank driver. Do you think that if you removed his weapons module and slap on an ambulance module, he becomes a corpsman?” Who, in their right mind, would ever consider making a tank driver a corpsman? I think I understand what you are trying to say about a crew manning a module they were not trained on but I would argue that the purpose of unit deployment attachments and detachments is to care of issues like that. If the IFV module is left in garrison and an engineering module brought in it’s place then the IFV crew stay in garrison and an engineering crew is attached to the unit for the deployment.

I appreciate the respectful point and counterpoint between us as I believe it causes both of us to sharpen our respective pencils and thoroughly think through our views.

Observer
Observer

Ogden, that’s the problem of computer games, the army has a fixed orbat (order of battle) which the rank and file are not supposed to change, we’re not as free to select our equipment as people imagine. You CANNOT go ‘Oh today I want to carry the SAW’ or ‘The LAW is so heavy, I want to leave it back at base’. Try telling your sergeant that and see what that gets you. The squad is 2 Law, 2 Saw, 2 M-203 and the last thing a squad leader wants is to hear ‘Oops sorry we were all lazy today so we all decided to carry carbines’.

The point I was trying to make for the medic is that the vehicles are assigned by unit role, you will NOT get a medic becoming a tank driver or a tank driver trying to become a medic since they are in totally different units. Same thing with the modules, the vehicle is assigned to do a specific job in the unit, there should be no reason for it to suddenly decide to be something else. The ‘module swap’ theory assumes vehicles can be easily ‘swapped’ between units, like for example an armour unit suddenly decides to ‘give’ a vehicle to an engineering unit and hence you need to ‘swap’ modules, but the reality is that no commander ever likes losing a combat vehicle, even if it is to their own side, trans-role donations of vehicles are very rare, unlike similar to similar unit lendings to ‘fill’ casualties. Engineers need a vehicle? Tell them to bring their own or requisition it from HQ.

Army equipment and order of battle is very rigid, for good reason. The last thing you need is to need something and find your privates ‘configured’ it out the last time you were in camp. It’s so rigid to the point where you are even told where to stow your gear on your webbing, this is so that if someone needs something, like a field dressing from you while you’re unconscious and bleeding out, he does not need to do a strip search just to find that item.

Army equipment is not swapped on a whim. More like you’ll need to fill in forms just to get permission to change. Even the US Army’s the same, you’re not allowed to change your mission items on a whim.

My estimate is that you need to be at least a Colonel or One Star (US system) to be able to make that decision (Regiment Commander or Brigade Commander), anyone with S-level experience experience, I’d love to hear your estimate of the authority level needed to give the order to supply and swap modules.

Ogden Dowcett

Observer,

While I do enjoy the occasional computer game, my preferences lean more towards Sid Meier’s Civilization series than the Call of Duty series. My military knowledge comes from 8 years of active duty, 3 years of civil service, and my own personal interest in staying current with military platform/system.

My comment about choosing various individual weapons was in response to your comment about ” ‘arms room’ concept of weapon modularity”, I was not stating that individuals get to choose their weapons weapons before a battle, though in some specialized units that may very well be the case. In my experience, unit commanders can and do, within limits, tailor the kit that their unit carries beyond what is considered minimum essential/required.

I think there may be some confusion about the size of the unit I am referring to as your comments seem to be more focused on individuals or small units. I am looking at things from the Brigade level since the “Strike Brigade” appears to now be the UK’s “go-to” unit for deployment whether the whole Brigade deploys or a subset of it. The Brigade commander would be the one making the decisions as to the composition of the deploying unit to best suite the operational requirements of the deployment. With the current TOE of the Strike Brigade, using both Ajax and Boxer, I agree that the benefits of the Boxer’s are not as pronounced with the current structure as they would be if the Brigade was Boxer only, outside of the logistics and support elements.

To fully take advantage of the Boxer’s capabilities may require a shift in traditional TOE structures. Does every single Mission module need a Drive module or can a 4:3 or 3:2 mission to drive module ratio be used were the “stand-alone” module would be used with or transported on a MAN or similar truck in situations where a Drive module is not needed? I honestly don’t know what the correct answer is which is why I ask the question. Maybe a 1:1 ratio is the correct answer and if that is truly the case, it should be as a result of careful consideration and not a knee jerk “because that is the way we’ve always done it”

Observer
Observer

Just a reminder, when vehicles (and modules) are in storage, they are kept in climate controlled (air conditioned) storage buildings or sheds stripped of batteries to prevent corrosion, not left outside in the rain and sun. Even surplus tanks in storage are stored in these locations under what we call ‘dri-clad’ conditions. I think TD had an old article once which showed tank storage in the UK? Can’t find it now, but the point is that modules are not just left lying around, they are stored carefully in vehicle depots. Which means for any swap to happen, either the vehicle has to be sent back or the module has to be sent forward, they are not items you can find lying around at the front. Corrosion is pretty bad if something is exposed to the environment. I’ve seen a Centurion rusted to a shell just by being left in the open for a few years.

Ironically, the only vehicle depot facility the UK has right now is in…Germany.

Ogden, I just got reassigned to reserves last year after 20…ok 19, basic doesn’t count, years in an armoured brigade, though as recon not armour. Things are not as cut and paste as people tend to believe. It’s not just about ‘capability’ but logistics, organization and concept of usage too. Modules are one of them. The ability may be there but the logistics, organization and concept of usage just isn’t.

Let us not even get into the discussion of ‘lifespan hours’ and ‘depreciation’ for modules that are not being used….

‘Damn you real life, why did you have to kill off so many beautiful ideas!!!’ :)

I do agree with the Ajax/Boxer split though, given a choice, I would have recommended following the layout of the US’s SBCT, even with TehFinn’s objections instead of a mixed unit with different sub unit mobility.

Ogden Dowcett

Observer,

Agreed that real life limitations kill many great ideas similar to ideal physics and real life physics. But I also think that as new capabilities become available “killed” ideas should be revisited to see if the the reasons they were killed are still valid or whether they should be resurrected either in part or as a whole.

I also agree that “ability may be there but the logistics, organization and concept of usage just isn’t” which is why I’m asking questions and proposing new ideas. I would argue that a similar state existed when tanks were introduced in WWI, the ability was there but the logistics, organization and concept of usage (other then drive towards the enemy and shoot stuff) wasn’t. As people used the tanks they figured out how to use, support, and organize them effectively beyond the initial “idea” of how they would be used. Instead of trying to force the square peg (ideal way to use Boxer) into the round hold (traditional Army way), start in the middle somewhere, make both the hole and peg octagonal, and go from there.

I agree that putting non-mounted modules (other than prepositioned stocks) into storage is pretty useless. But do the non-mounted modules need to go into storage? Why can’t they be used statically for training and therefore get regular PM? Is there the same crew training benefit, aside from the Boxer driver, for mounting it on a MAN instead of a Drive Module? Granted for some modules, like an IFV/CRV module, it does not make sense to mount them on a MAN for anything but logistical transportation. I’m not expecting answers to my questions, just ideas to consider on how to get the most efficient and cost effective use out of the Boxer.

BV Buster
BV Buster

Observer: Been a while, how are you?

How I would like to see this modular system work is the following;

Firstly flip the mission to drive module ratio on its head, have more drive modules then mission ones. That way for example, an Inf Coy could have 12 APC, 2 command, 4-5 Amby and REME variants and 1-2 empty driver modules. If one of the APC variants takes a hit in the engine or a more likely situation, Rifleman sniff test drops a spanner in the engine bay and totals the pack and half the wiring loom, its a hell of a lot quicker changing a module then fixing the hull.

With regards to the modules , how hard would it be to strap a generator to one and plonk it on a range in a semi fixed position? use it for basic gunnery training without the track mileage?

I believe Boxer was the correct choice, I have had a good look around most of the competition and to be honest there was not much between them.

And now the important bit. Get your self a command module, cut a huge hole in the side and install a sliding hatch, install a massive water heater and cooking facilities and paint the F****R bright red. I present to you the worlds first 8X8 go anywhere under fire NAAFI wagon!!!!

Observer
Observer

Hey BV, it has been while. I do agree the best benefit I see to modularity is the quick repair capability and even the ability to rerole…but BEHIND the lines IMO, not at the front. A unit might turn in a vehicle to a repair depot with a busted pack, they can get reissued with a new vehicle and once the old vehicle is fixed, it does not need to go back to the same type of unit but get reissued to another unit with a totally different role. I never said the concept was unworkable, just that mix and match (rerole) was unworkable used right at the front, it’s perfectly usable in a climate controlled rear area repair depot.

Sometimes, you just need to know when not to push a concept pass the working limits.

As for turning them into buildings, I suppose you can test out the concept, after all, we already have containerized building modules.

More ‘movers’ is probably the best suggestion I’ve seen for their concept of use instead of more modules, which in hindsight is probably more likely since modules can often work even if they get ‘excessively ventilated’ while damaged engines tend to pack it in and call it a day.

‘I present to you the worlds first 8X8 go anywhere under fire NAAFI wagon!’
That really might be a very good idea. A hot meal. sugar and some ‘shopping’, even with a limited selection is a massive morale boost in rough conditions.

Ogden Dowcett

For those interested on how Australia plans to take advantage of the Boxer’s modularity (and how it might inform how Britian incorperates it), Ian Bostok has a prety good write up in the latest issue of DTR http://defencetechnologyreview.realviewdigital.com/?iguid=40483767-9451-46c3-ab78-403f67b06a76#folio=31

Not sure what the norms are here about sharing links, apologies if I violated them.

Observer
Observer

No worries Ogden, TD seems pretty relaxed on these things. (*psst* If they find me floating face down in the river, TD did it…)

Just to correct a point, Australia, according to that article, is -testing- the Boxer’s modularity, not planning to use it. Good luck to them but I doubt they’ll get very far, it’s not the Netherlands and Germany not making the most of the modularity but that in practical terms, modularity has little to no influence on front line usage due to the problems I mentioned earlier.

As for training modules, it’s not like it has not been done before even with vehicles that do not have the Boxer’s ‘modularity’. Long time ago when dinosaurs still walked the Earth, I had the dubious pleasure of being ‘trained’ on an M-113 Overturn Simulator, which was a stripped M-113 mounted on 2 motorised rings that flipped us upside down once we were seated. Vehicle ‘shells’ used in training have been around for decades, it’s hardly a point that is unique or needs to be advertised.

Ogden Dowcett

I don’t think anyone it talking about front line usage/swapping beyond what would take place repair and refit lagers/areas that are normally set up away from the front lines.

Yes they are testing it, but why test if they are not planning on, or hoping to, taking advantage of it?

For me, one of the key points is that if one needs a new capability at some point in the future, one does not necessarily have to buy a whole new vehicle to get that capability , also one could potentially off load excess capability with having to dispose of the whole vehicle. For example say one User A bought 200 APC modules and Drive modules but after a few years decided that they really only need 150 APC but are lacking in artillery, User A only need to buy the arty module and not a whole new vehicle. User B, for whatever reason, decides they need more APCs. Use B can, assuming the used APC module from User A are acceptable to User B, save some money by purchasing “new” drive modules and “used” APC modules rather than new modules of each. User A can apply proceeds of the sale to the cost of the new atry modules. Again I understand the modularity provided by the Boxer is new territory for everyone and requires a change from the traditional thinking on vehicles where the mission defines the whole vehicle to the mission defines a part of the vehicle that can be swapped out as a whole with relative ease. I look at the Mission module as a very big version of the LRU philosophy used on modern aircraft.

BV Buster
BV Buster

Well that answers my question on putting a module on a range. I’m not sure if I like the idea of putting a module in a fixed fob location, goes against my insatiable appetite to maneuver and slaughter, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

Looking at Boxer in a superficial schoolyard Top Trumps kind of way, what advantages would a Warrior 2 have over a 30mm RWS armed Boxer? I think you fine people know where I’m going with this one.

Observer
Observer

….are you assuming that all your tests will give you a positive result?

You don’t have to look very far for examples of testing without adoption, just look at the US’s R&D. Lots of programs, very little new equipment.

Personally, I agree with a lot of what you’re proposing except that there seems to be some areas where the concept is brought to end goals I don’t think it can meet. (Note: can meet, not do not want to meet). The biggest dividend IMO would be in repairs and procurement as you pointed out. Beyond that, I hesitate to promise anything.

Ogden Dowcett

I’m assuming neither positive nor negative test results. I test to verify that my assumptions about how I intend to use something are correct or whether they need to be modified or in the extreme case scrapped all together. Or in your words, test gives indication as to whether end goals are actually capable of being met. As you said, there are several examples where testing showed that initial assumptions about what was being tested were way off base and the related idea needed to be tossed out or re-examined, the USMC EFV program for one.

Not to repeat myself but, why would I waste time testing a capability/feature if I’m not planning on using it? The Aussies are testing the modularity of the Boxer ergo they want to, or are planning to, take advantage of it as much as they can otherwise they are just wasting time and money that can be used for other things.

Observer
Observer

Americans jump before they look. Australians look before they jump.

:)

Ogden Dowcett

I beg to differ…. we do both at the same time it’s more efficient that way (or so JSF would have us believe) :D

Frank Morelli
Frank Morelli

In all the very well informed and amusing (in some cases) posts below, I see a lot of discussion of Boxer’s “strategic mobility” with no questions asked. I would like to pose that question – just how strategically mobile is Boxer? Strategic in this sense presumably means being able to self-deploy into a theatre of operations from outside. If it means move by air or sea or rail, then Boxer offers little over Ajax or any other equivalent-sized tracked vehicle, as it weighs nearly the same (35T in the German army version, more for the Aussies vs. 38T starting weight for Ajax) and is about the same size (slightly narrower but longer than Ajax). So – if we take a “realistic” scenario, Mr. Putin becomes more than usually belligerent and we decide that we really must get reinforcements quickly into, say, Poland….the Boxer strategic mobility will be put to the test (presumably) with a 2000kms road move on its own wheels. The logistics of such an operation are NOT negligible. Even if we assume the infantry manpower are airlifted to destination, we still need to provide fuel, food (minimum of Driver/Commander per Boxer), breakdown recovery and repair, and a way of crossing the channel (ro-ro ship or Tunnel). This chain will also need to be 2000kms long…has anyone any knowledge of a. whether Boxer has been tested on such strategic road move distances and b. how often did it break down during such tests? At a guess Boxer has about 800L of fuel for its brochure road range of 1000kms, which presumably translates in real world to about 500kms (I can’t find the fuel tank size on any published information). That means 4 complete refuellings en route as a minimum if we are ready to drive the tanks empty (which I doubt) which is on its own a signifcant challenge as it is well beyond any amount of fuel in unit stocks in USTs. Assume convoy speed of 60kmh which seems generous to me, that is 34 hrs of driving with zero stops which would of course be needed for rest (we could put more than one driver per vehicle on board if we have sufficient trained drivers, which I doubt…). So we arrive realistically at an absolute minimum deployment time of 48hrs but more likely longer. I note that in 2017 in an effort to prevent old skill sets being lost, the Army carried out an exercise moving heavy armour by rail through the Chunnel to the continent, in small numbers. Frankly, that looks to me MUCH more realistic as an option for strategic moves of Boxer, and if given high priority on rail networks, would be about as fast as on own wheels. I note (living as I do in Germany) that it is quite common to see Boxer and other wheeled AFVs on German army tank transporters on the Autobahn, but only rarely on their own wheels on such road moves.
I agree that at the OPERATIONAL level (i.e. in-theatre but over longer distances than mere tactical moves) 8×8 wheels offer capability that tracks don’t (Russians into Pristina airport with BTRs, for example) but it is very rare that unsupported APCs whatever their intrinsic mobility offer a military solution (Pristina was a political move by the Russians, it wasn’t a move of a balanced capable military force). So Boxer would need the antiarmour, engineer and artillery support that is mostly not wheeled for this capability to be relevant. Certainly we can buy Boxer modules for all those things (it would be nice to replace our M270 MLRS chassis with Boxer for example, just a thought, get rid of a non-standard chassis) but I really doubt we are going to do so.

Observer
Observer

For the fuel, I’m not sure about the UK or US situation but my company (military, not civilian) had corporate fuel cards from Shell where we would refuel then charge it to the corporate account, so for any long route march, we would be using civilian petrol stations to refuel en route.

For breakdowns, we usually just count them LOBO (Left Out of Battle Order) and leave the vehicle and crew for a followup recovery team or self repair while the rest of the unit carries on. It’s a lot more common on tracks and the protocol is somewhat similar to a ‘thrown track’ scenario.

Do take the point on transporters though, more often than not, these military vehicles are ferried to their destination. Transporters disrupt civilian life and traffic a lot less and instead of 6 people being tired, you only get 2, the transport driver and his co-driver. If he has any. If you are willing to tire your men, it IS possible to conduct a long route march, it’s just uncommon as there usually isn’t any point other than toughness and endurance training.

As for the support units….that is another very painfully valid point. You’ll need a whole new support structure if you’re going to support the new BEF with anything but hand carried or Boxer towed.

wf
wf

@Frank Morelli: frankly, I think you’re nailing it on the head there. The obsession of some with how supposedly superior “wheels” are to “tracks” because of their strategic “mobility” is really a big nothing that a few hundred tank transporters can’t fix, and for a given weight, tracks have superior tactical mobility, armour and profiles.

I’m sure Boxer is a superior COIN vehicle to Mastiff, but some clear thinking on the Russian threat would be useful: the most likely scenario is a “Baltic grab” that will be over before *any* significant reinforcements can arrive: we need to forward deploy to deter this. Improving our armoured forces to allow a quarter to be rotationally deployed in the Baltics would be both cheaper and more effective.

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

Am I missing something, or is the “problem” with self deployment not a bit of a myth? I mean commercial vehicles drive for literally thousands of miles each year without breaking down every other day and military vehicles are built to a higher standard while using the same roads. What don’t I know? I get the rest of the stuff about infrastructure, fueling, rest etc. One last question, how long before we see the BA forward deployed to C Europe again? (I know there is a small force in Latvia). Any thoughts? Cheers.

Observer
Observer

@wf

The ‘tracks = better tactical mobility’ is a bit of a myth perpetuated by a lot of people that think the wheels used in the military are similar to the wheels on their cars. They are not. In fact, many rough terrain construction vehicles are wheeled. It’s that the common reference point is wrong as for many people, wheeled = my car I drive to work with.

One big sticking point against tracks is their very unfortunate tendency to throw their tracks. They either misalign or loosen or their retaining pin slips out or breaks. Throwing tracks is very, very common, a problem that 8x8s will never have. So, over some time like a day or two, wheeled vehicles will actually end up having superior tactical mobility since they don’t have to worry about suddenly losing propulsion.

As for being forward deployed…. You do know the UK’s only vehicle storage depot is in Germany? Your tanks are already forward deployed, even if you don’t want them to be. Go check it up, the Glouchestershire vehicle depot in the UK is going to be redeveloped. All of your reserve storage fleet is in Germany.

Ivan the Terrible
Ivan the Terrible

Observer – sorry, should have made explicit I understand the difference between wheeled and tracked, my point was about our expectations of military vehicles as compared to commercial ones. As for forward deployment, I’m all for it. However, a return to a permanent garrison, along the lines of BAOR might be politically untenable for our present government.

wf
wf

@Observer: I’m perfectly well aware of what worn track pins and incorrectly tensioned tracks can do. However, my points still hold: tracks are still superior, especially over ground that’s already been churned up. You really, really won’t find 30+ tonne civilian off road trucks either: they are just impractical unless they have some form of road to run on, and given the number of marshes in the Baltics, the idea of sticking to the roads only looks like a quick way to lose all your combat vehicles.

Germany was forward deployed 24 years ago. Not anymore.

@Ivan the Terrible: actually, I think the current “the Russians are coming” contretemps can provide the political cover. And having a significant force in the Baltics would force the Russians to deploy masking forces themselves. Despite the propaganda, Putin really doesn’t have many top class units: the more we ensure they are tied up in garrison, the fewer are available to make trouble with elsewhere. Permanent deployments al la BAOR would be foolish on the grounds of spousal survival alone ;-(

Frank Morelli
Frank Morelli

If I can bung in another ha’pennyworth – I noted with lots of interest in the US competition for the JLTV which of course Oshkosh won, that the protest of the selection by the loser was dropped like a hot potato when it leaked into the press that one of the primary criteria was the reliability (or as our US friends would have it, “distance between critical mission failures”, i.e. breakdowns. On which Oshkosh had treble the specified requirement as demonstrated performance with its test vehicles, about three times better than the figure stated for the Humvee in the same article and well over three times better than the nearest competitor which was protesting. Good for Oshkosh. The fascinating figure was that the Oshkosh JLTV which of course the Brits are getting reached about 6600kms if memory serves, and the Humvee manages about 2200kms or so. Let us suppose for a moment, in the absence of figures, that the Boxer is as reliable as the JLTV which I for one think is extremely unlikely, 8×8 and far more complex versus 4×4 but let it stand…. what that means is that, on a 2000kms move, you can expect to have to recover/repair fully one third of the vehicles. The REME will be working overtime….If the reliability is only as good as a Humvee, nearly 100% of the vehicles would have to be recovered/repaired. Even if the real figure is that of JLTV we still don’t have that amount of resources anywhere in the army organisation on a strategic move. Of course we can do this, it would just take weeks and weeks to carry it out, not in the slightest realistic however in the short timescale of the move itself. With this in mind it’s easy to see why the Bundeswehr moves its Boxers on Tank Transporters (which incidentally are at least as disruptive to traffic as the Boxers alone would be, spent quite a bit of time cursing in the resulting traffic jams on occasion – as a civilian!).

Observer
Observer

Er… Frank, I don’t think maths works that way lol.
It’s not a linear progression, it’s a bell shaped curve (this means that the probable number of breakdowns is not on a scale consistent to distance but starts low then increases as you go along), along with the word ‘Mean’ in the report ‘Mean miles before failure’. 50% of all the vehicles will pass the max number, ‘mean’ is the ‘average’ value, which is the total divided by 2. Which is a lot different from ‘miles before failure’. By about 2x.

Frank Morelli
Frank Morelli

Hi Observer,

I know what averages are. If a mean value for breakdowns across a fleet is one per 6000kms, and a fleet (say a battalion of roundabout 50 Boxers to make the sums simpler) is driven 100 000 kms (i.e. 50 vehicles x 2000kms each) then the number of breakdowns that will be experienced (statistically) is 100 000 / 6000, correct? (equals about 16).

But even that assumes a reliability as high as JLTV which as I said is a bit unlikely…How many recovery vehicles will a Boxer battalion have? And how many can its REME fitters repair simultaneously? It looks to me on an optimistic estimate that a Boxer battalion on a strategic move arrives minus a high proportion of its strength until this can be recovered and repaired, taking how long?

Observer
Observer

Frank, that is incorrect. An example of how incorrect it is would be the reverse, 2000 vehicles driven 50km each. According to your hypothesis and process, You will get the same result if 2000 vehicles just drove 50km. But if any vehicle broke down just driving 50km, I’d say they got a real QC problem. Or to go further 100,000 vehicles drive 1km, does that mean 16 will break down? Does the vehicle happen to be called a Yugo?

That is my point when I said such things do not work 1-on a linear scale and 2-the maths does not work like that. It’s something similar to a lottery, just because the odds of winning are 1 in 100 does not mean 100 tickets is a sure win. Probability does not work like that.

I won’t even dare to say I got the concept correct, it has been very long, but I still remember how NOT to do it. Adding all the mileage together over multiple vehicles is definitely wrong. In theory, the loss rates should be shaped like a bell curve with the highest point at the 6,000km mark though I know enough about life to guess that to get a nice curve, you probably got to play some ‘best fit’ games. In practice, you might even need to see individual results to determine if there were any outliers to skew the mean. For all you know, only one vehicle might have passed the mark but drove long enough to pull all the other results up which results in a ‘skewed mean’.

comment image

The distribution of losses would be something like this, small at first then with increasing batch size as you get closer to the mean. But remember, not every vehicle breaks down at the mean, half will continue on. In (very, very loose) theory, the last vehicle should break down at 12,000km if the mean is 6,000. (But life isn’t that tidy usually).

Peter Elliott

The only upside to the “missing decade” is that Boxer 2020 will be a more mature vehicle than Boxer 2005 would have been. Lessons will have been learned and incorporated in protection, systems, and IT architecture that we will now get the benefit of.

I agree that the wasted money and lost opportunity in the meantime are scandalous.

And I agree that we should basically be building an homogenous medium mech force with a bit of Challenger stiffening where required. It remains to be seen whether we can actually afford 4 whole brigades of that, including transport for all the CS and CSS elements. To be charitable you could say: that’s why Warrior’s being eked out: becuase it will take decades to trickle-buy enough Boxers for the whole force.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

‘To be charitable you could say: that’s why Warrior’s being eked out: becuase it will take decades to trickle-buy enough Boxers for the whole force.’

Or you could be mistaken as neither MRAV, FRES or MIV were or are intended to replace the Warrior.

Peter Elliott

Should they be though…?

Think Defence is all for ruthless commonality, you know ;)

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

‘Should they be though…?’

Not neccesarily.

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

When I say not necessarily, I don’t mean never it’s more a when.

The Warrior csp is a £1.3 billion programme and by nao reports is running good enough with minimul cost problems etc. Warrior is a proven workhorse and is reliable and is far from obsolete and after the upgrade will soldier on until 2040 so considering the cost and capability it’s not too bad.

When it comes to finally retire Warrior what will be the capability of vehicles in that time and will Boxer be suitable?

Although I think there may be some problems with the turret for Warrior and a decision is due soon. If it’s not up to scratch then maybe it’s better to ditch the programme and go with Boxer.

Upmill
Upmill

SV/UV not intended to replace Warrior sounds very much like Typhoon/F35B were never intended to replace Tornado.

But thanks to cuts, delays and time – they are.

Of the key Armoured forces vehicles- CR2, WR and AS90, WR is the only one that Ajax or Boxer could replace. That might be worth reflecting upon.

Stepping back a bit to all the talk of fantasy Armies – I think a pertinent comparison is the US. 7 times the economy, 5 times the population. Their Army has 32 Brigades, of which 10 are Armoured, 7 Stryker and 15 are Infantry/Airborne/Air Assault.

On a GDP basis we should be able to afford 1 1/2 Armd, 1 Stryker and 2 Infantry/Airborne/Air Assault Brigades.

At a Division level the US has 9 effective Divisions, so proportionally we’d have 1 1/3.

Of course this ignores that the US spends more of its GDP on defence and benefits from economies of scale.

Thus an Army of a single division comprising Armoured, Strike and Airborne seems “reasonable” unless we (a) spend more GDP on defence than the US or (b) have some fantastic purchasing power wheeze that gets us more for less.

Observer
Observer

DN, personally, I think this life extension is probably the last the Warrior can take. It’s really getting old and IIRC the hull is aluminum which limits how much more weight you can add to it. Not looking down on it, if anything, I’d call it one of the vehicles that define the IFV, but old age and mission weight creep is simply catching up with the vehicles. In 2040, you’ll probably need to look for a new replacement.

Or you can start looking now and in 20 years time, they might just be ready to come to a decision. lol.

mr.fred
mr.fred

Why should aluminium be any worse than steel for structural capacity?

DavidNiven
DavidNiven

Observer

In 2040 we will no doubt need to look for a replacement for Warrior but for the moment and the way we are financially I think the Warrior upgrade makes sense.

mr.fred
mr.fred

Although 2040 will see the need to replace Challenger 2 (if not before) which would suggest an opportunity for my favourite concept which is a common design approach for armoured battlegroup vehicles, in a bid to achieve economies of scale in the expensive areas as much as possible.

Observer
Observer

mr fred, I’m sure we all heard of the old details like how aluminum gave the same structural rigidity of steel for 1/3 the weight, which works ok if the vehicle weight was fixed for life but when upgrades and applique add more weight to it, steel adapts better to the added weight since it has a fatigue limit (the limit below which you can load all you want without causing fatigue stress) while aluminum does not, so it wears down eventually even under light cyclic loading.

These days, most armoured vehicles tend towards steel, especially if they use add on or applique armour.

As for future commonality of scale, you’re probably going to get your wish as vehicles become more expensive and super large conglomerates form to become ‘preferred suppliers’. Not that it’s a bad thing but it kind of kills the smaller players in the industry.

mr.fred
mr.fred

Aluminium is structurally more rigid for a given weight. That applied regardless of the loading. Given relative strengths, it’s also about as strong as armour steel. Steel is easier to weld, form and design, which explains its popularity as much as anything else. Fatigue is a problem in any welded structure if you increase the load on it. Aluminium may not have a run out, but if you increase loads on welded steel you can take it over the run out load as well.

Ogden Dowcett

With regards to the eventual future replacement of the Warrior, does anyone share my opinion that, assuming the replacement is not “Boxer 2” and is tracked, the ability to use/accept the Boxer modules would be advantageous? I’m not suggesting adapt the Boxer drive module to tracks like GD tried to do with the Stryker, but design a tracked drive module from the ground up with the latestest bells and whistles that accepts the standardized Boxer module.

Observer
Observer

mr fred, the construction method might be another reason as well but I was more focused on the material and that was my understanding of one of the reasons of the modern preference of steel over aluminum despite the weight savings of aluminum..

Either way, they’ll still need a vehicle by 2040 maximum and following the trends, it’s probably going to be steel framed, even if it’s simply for the sake of ease of construction since the real ‘light tank’ has fallen out of favour for increased protection, so weight isn’t too much of a consideration these days. We’ll just have to wait and see what comes up.

Observer
Observer

Found an article that gave an interesting viewpoint to modularity.

http://dau.dodlive.mil/2016/01/12/survey-of-modular-military-vehicles-benefits-and-burdens/

It’s pretty broad in terms of conclusions but does provide a fairly balanced viewpoint.

Simon

Forgive me, I’m a little confused about this “warrior replacement”.

I thought that was Ajax?

I thought the Warrior CSP was just the bridge until we have Ajax in sufficient numbers?

Observer
Observer

Simon, I’m going to have to plead old age. lol. I totally forgot.

Baggins
Baggins

On the subject of the modules, I would not be surprised if the mission modules ended up being “owned” by the units and the drive modules themselves end up as a centralised resource, being called upon based on training and operational requirements.

As and when a unit needs to be up to full operational strength it would take a delivery of freshly serviced drive modules, bolt on the mission modules and start the task.

In fact, I wouldn’t put it past the MoD for the drive modules to be owned by a private 3rd party, to be purchased, stored and maintained privately and then leased out to the Army as required.

mr.fred
mr.fred

Ajax won’t replace Warrior without further development effort because Ajax is not an IFV.

Observer
Observer

mr fred, I think it’s only a matter of time before they eventually get an IFV variant since the alternative is a new vehicle entirely which I doubt they can pry out the budget for, especially since they got a 4 man recce support variant and the ASCOD it was developed from had an 8 man dismount variant. Eventually.

I sure don’t see them getting a whole new vehicle if they already have something similar in service.

mr.fred
mr.fred

Maybe, or maybe the fundamental design will turn out to limit it by 2040-ish, or the US NGCV would be a better buy at that point. Or rolling our own armoured battlegroup vehicle after NGCV inevitably dies on its arse.
Point is, the Ajax family of vehicle would need additional work to produce an IFV – there isn’t one to pick up and use in the near term.

Interesting thought though, with the growth of electric vehicles, where is that going to leave military vehicles?

Ogden Dowcett

Observer,

Been out of pocket the last few days on travel hence the delayed response to you DAU link. Great article, I remember reading it before, just not exactly when. Now that Boxer has been adopted by a half dozen countries, a few years down the road it’ll be interesting to compare see how each country uses it, what lessons each learned from the way they use it, and whether, as a result of user feedback from a larger spectrum of users, a similar implementation of horizontal modularity is incorporated into any future wheeled/tracked AFV (outside of MBTs) development.

Orlok
Orlok

Looking at the turret options illustration – if the BA is wedded to the 40mm CTA and a common turret for Ajax/Warrior then presumably it wouldn’t be too difficult or expensive to develop a remote controlled version of the turret for Boxer? No need then to either bring into service another weapon system, or reduce the number of dismounts. Assuming of course, the Army wants to give at least some of it’s fleet that kind of armament (stick an ATGW on it too while you’re at it).

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

Very glad about this one by Frank Morelli:
“I agree that at the OPERATIONAL level (i.e. in-theatre but over longer distances than mere tactical moves) 8×8 wheels offer capability that tracks don’t (Russians into Pristina airport with BTRs, for example) but it is very rare that unsupported APCs whatever their intrinsic mobility offer a military solution (Pristina was a political move by the Russians, it wasn’t a move of a balanced capable military force). So Boxer would need the antiarmour, engineer and artillery support that is mostly not wheeled for this capability to be relevant. Certainly we can buy Boxer modules for all those things (it would be nice to replace our M270 MLRS chassis with Boxer for example, just a thought, get rid of a non-standard chassis) but I really doubt we are going to do so.”

The strategic mobility argument has been much overdone; often aggravated by the mixing up of intra-theatre and “mere” tactical mobility.
– the bang for the buck that MIV will bring into the party (or, call it “medium” formations more generically) is the one in the middle of the list

ArmChairCivvy
ArmChairCivvy

A great piece by Upmill:
“On a GDP basis we should be able to afford 1 1/2 Armd, 1 Stryker and 2 Infantry/Airborne/Air Assault Brigades.

At a Division level the US has 9 effective Divisions, so proportionally we’d have 1 1/3.

Of course this ignores that the US spends more of its GDP on defence and benefits from economies of scale. ”

The configurable brigade elements trend that seems to/ might take over within the “strike” concept, funnily enough, will give us exactly that:
– one division for manoeuvre warfare, where the AI bdes (2) are complemented by a recce/ screening “configured” force of higher intra-theatre mobility and of roughly bde strength – two bdes do not a Division make?
– the residual third of a division is the force held back for a simultaneous intervention in another region – should the need arise – and the lead formation for it would be (with the 16X shrinking away in front of our very eyes and its key aviation elements “pre-committed” to support other formations) either the rest of the “configurable brigade elements” AKA Strike or the 3 CDO

Upmill
Upmill

Thanks :-)

My point was really to all those people arguing for Divisions of this and Divisions of that – we are in reality in a completely different place, and that the extant plans are already overreaching our actual ability to generate force. Hence why our current plans make no sense in many respects on the face of it.

I think viewing our Brigades as coherent fighting formations is fundamentally wrong. What we are actually doing is creating 4 deployable brigade HQs, with a total of 4 Ajax, 2 CR2, 4 WR and 4 MIV units to pick from ala “golf bag” and merely organised in “Armoured/Strike Brigades” for peacetime administrative and logistics ease.

On operations – I struggle to see anything other than a “task organised” approach, i.e. a single Brigade HQ and 3-5 battlegroups plucked from the pool of types appropriate to the operation, no doubt including Adaptable units with protected mobility included.

Alternatively, if we want US style separate Armoured and Strike Formations, with formal tracked/wheeled split – then we should look at rationalising down to a single Brigade of each… (hence my comment that the current plans are overreaching ourselves)

I very much doubt however we (or anyone) can afford the overheads of the range of discrete vehicle and equipment types for both heavy and medium formations with so little mass of each. It is almost as if we need to choose rather than try and have a little bit of absolutely everything…

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