Ajax to MIV and the Emergence of STRIKE

As SV Scout completed its assessment phase despite having been awarded a manufacturing contract, the British Army returned to the idea of a medium weight capability.

2015

January to March

The Major Projects Report 2014 and Equipment Plan 2014 to 2020 was published by the National Audit Office in January 2015. It noted that the Scout Specialist Vehicle project had been accelerated, leading to an increase in the budget of £1.1 Billion over the next ten years but overall costs had actually reduced by £613 million over the 30 year period to 2044. On what basis this assumption had been made or what levels of certainty for a 30-year forecast was not included in the report.

Further news from the MoD and General Dynamics showed their thinking on the modularity of SV Scout with the emergence of two configurations, Major Combat Operations (MCO) and Peace Support Operations (PSO).

The former would have a baseline fit of CTA cannon and primary sight whilst the latter would be fitted with additional armour, a self-defence weapon RWS and Electronic Countermeasures. It is perhaps easier to envisage this as the difference between the Theatre Entry Standard for Operation Herrick Warrior, or TES(H), and those used for training in the UK or Germany.

For the more jaded and cynical observer, this was simply a means of rationalising a reduced quantity of those items on the ‘optional extras’ list.

The interview covered Generic Vehicle Architecture compliance and details of an aspiration for an ATGW armed variant:

GVA is an evolving standard and has changed overtime, there are certain aspects of GVA that haven’t yet be defined. Scout’s electronic architecture may well be the predecessor to a fully-compliant GVA because in some respects, it goes beyond GVA standards. Scout is as compliant as it can be so we get the benefits so we strongly believe in GVA and believe that GDUK does as well.

This confirmed that GVA had moved beyond the GVA that allowed Foxhound to be the first GVA compliant vehicle, and that it was therefore, no longer compliant with GVA.

Scout was as compliant as it could be, not non-compliant, as compliant as I could be.

Ukraine took delivery of the first of 55 AT-105 Saxon vehicles in February, surplus from the UK. Despite much derision and a couple of false starts, they went on to prove remarkably useful and well regarded.

General Dynamics announced a £61m contract with Kongsberg for the supply of Protector Remote weapon systems (RWS) for the Scout Specialist Vehicle Programme

Defense News reported in February that Scout Reconnaissance had passed its Critical Design Review at the end of January. The next milestone was reported to be the System Critical Design Review that would cover all the variants; Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support, Scout reconnaissance, Equipment Support Repair and Equipment Support Recovery variants.

The CDR covered the fully-integrated SCOUT Reconnaissance platform, including the platform hull design, the Lockheed Martin UK-developed turret, Electronic Architecture, onboard software solutions, sub-systems and variant-specific products, such as the Primary Sight.

From this point, a decision on continuing with the contract would be made.

Interestingly, the report made no mention of the £3.5 Billion manufacture order the MoD had placed with General Dynamics the year before.

Nexter demonstrated a VBCI variant equipped with the T40 two-man turret equipped with the CTA40 cannon and MMP missiles.

April to June

In parallel with Specialist Vehicles, the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme also progressed.

The Capability Sustainment Programme has 4 main components that are planned to see Warrior out to 2040;

  • WFLIP (Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme)
  • WMPS (Warrior Modular Protection System)
  • WEEA (Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture)
  • ABSV (Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle)

In the earlier Warrior upgrade programme contest BAE had proposed a new turret with the CTA 40 called MTIP2, Lockheed Martin proposed an ATK Mk 44 Bushmaster 30mm in minimally modified Warrior turret and Finmeccanica with the Hitfist turret, also mounting a 30mm weapon. The Bushmaster is the same as that used by the Royal Navy in its DSM30 ASCG systems.

It is interesting to note that in BAE’s submission for WCSP they were clear that upgrading the existing Warrior turret was not the optimal route and proposed a new turret, the same turret except the turret ring interface, as their CV90 based FRES Scout. In their bid, they emphasised the logistics and training commonality advantages of such an approach.

The Lockheed Martin bid proposed upgrading the existing Warrior turret.

In 2014, Lockheed Martin came to the same conclusion as BAE, ditching the existing turret in favour of a new design from Rheinmetall.

Lockheed Martin completed live firing trials for the Warrior CSP with its new turret design.

AMPTHILL, BEDFORDSHIRE, 20 April 2015 – The British Army’s Warrior armoured vehicle has demonstrated its firepower and fighting capability during successful firing trials in Scotland. Pictures and video released today by Lockheed Martin UK show the Warrior vehicle’s new turret and cannon successfully firing against targets while on the move. These are the latest trials that Lockheed Martin UK are undertaking as part of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme to upgrade the Army’s fleet of 380 Warrior vehicles. Senior members of the Army and potential international customers were invited to the Ministry of Defence’s ranges in Kirkudbright to see the Warrior in action and get an update on the progression of the programme. Modified, designed and installed by engineers at Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site in Bedfordshire, the infrastructure of the Warrior vehicle will be significantly improved, including fitting the new turret with the ultra-modern CT40 weapon system, an updated environmental control system to improve crew comfort, better all-round awareness cameras and driver’s night vision, along with a modular protection fitting system to the chassis to enable quick change of armour for specific threats.

Warrior Firing Trials

Rolls Royce announced a €80 order from General Dynamics for the supply of 589 MTU Series 199 diesel engines for SV Scout with deliveries from 2016 to 2022.

It was reported that the MoD would consider an Economic Viability Review for Scout SV in June.

This was to consider the manufacturing strategy for Scout. Previously, it was agreed that the first 100 vehicles would be produced in Spain with final integration work completed in the UK at DSG in Donnington. The balance of the order would then be completely manufactured and integrated at DSG. The reduction in order quantity prompted General Dynamics to change their mind and switch everything back to Spain.

Phillip Dunne, the Defence Procurement Minister, had requested the MoD and General Dynamics ‘look again’ at this and it would be considered during the forthcoming SDSR.

A MoD spokesperson told Janes:

There are 300 jobs supporting the final manufacture of the Scout armoured vehicle in South Wales, with the main assembly of the vehicle currently taking place at production facilities in Spain. A review of the economic case to transfer vehicle assembly to the UK is currently in progress with a decision expected later this year.

The wording in this was deliberate, especially regarding the term ‘assembly’

A number of sources stated that whatever future options were chosen, assembly meant just that, fabrication of the hulls would still be completed in Spain.

Vector was removed from Service, as indicated in a response to a Parliamentary Question. Other out of service dates were as per the table below.

Vehicle Type Planned Out Of Service Date
Challenger 2 2025
Driver Track Training Vehicle 2025
Challenger Armoured Repair and Recovery Vehicle 2040
Trojan 2040
Titan 2040
Warrior 2025
Saxon Out of service
Samson 2026
Spartan 2026
Scimitar 2026
Samaritan 2026
Sultan 2026
Snatch Land Rover (1, 1.5, 2 and Vixen variants) Out of service
Snatch Land Rover (2A and 2B variants) 2024
Snatch Land Rover (Vixen Plus variant) 2024
FV 430 Out of service
Mastiff 2024
Jackal 2030
Vector 2015
Bulldog 2030
Panther 2037

July to September

The Government published the Major Projects Portfolio in June that described a number of changes relevant to SV Scout.

It described the Mounted Close Combat (MCC) Capability Change programme:

The aim of the Mounted Close Combat (MCC) Capability Change Programme was to deliver appropriate, integrated capability in order for the Army to generate and sustain MCC capability for operations, within allocated resources, in the 2025 timeframe. There have been significant changes to the MCC Programme since the submission of the Q2 2014 summary.

It went on to describe how MCC had been split into four parts.

Armoured Cavalry 2025. Consists of the SCOUT Specialist Vehicle Equipment Project; its supporting training solution; and the other pan-Defence Line of Development projects to deliver the new Armoured Cavalry capability out to 2050;

Armoured Infantry 2026. Consists of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Project (WCSP) – a full turret upgrade to the Army’s principal Infantry Fighting Vehicle. The Army also has an aspiration to establish a further project within the programme to provide support to the Armoured Infantry capability through the Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle (ABSV). This will create an upgraded and fully integrated capability out to 2040+;

Armour Main Battle Tank 2025. Consists of the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme which extends the life of the tank and its training aides to provide the Armoured capability out to 2035;

Mechanised Infantry 2029. It will enable the protected movement and manoeuvre of infantry and associated combat support users. Currently in the Concept phase and not yet formally established as a programme.

A Parliamentary Written Question in July revealed the progress on the Economic Viability Review of the production strategy for SV Scout

Asked by Sir Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) Asked on: 15 July 2015 To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, if he will take steps to establish a Scout specialist vehicle assembly line in the UK; and if he will make a statement.

Answered by: Mr Philip Dunne Answered on: 21 July 2015  The Ministry of Defence is currently considering an unsolicited proposal from General Dynamics for an extension to the existing initial in-service support arrangements for the Scout Specialist Vehicle during its manufacture period. This extension might result in General Dynamics Land Systems UK taking the decision to transfer some vehicle assembly to the UK.

General Dynamics had submitted a proposal to extend the initial existing service support, despite it not yet being in manufacture that would enable them to establish some assembly in the UK. In effect, General Dynamics offered to go back to the original concept as part of a deal on the extension of initial service support.

On the 21st of July, the Government announced the new manufacturing strategy in a written answer:

Assembly, integration and testing for Scout specialist vehicles beyond the initial 100 vehicles will be conducted by General Dynamics Land Systems UK Ltd, in South Wales. Many of the vehicles’ key sub-systems are designed and assembled in the UK, including the 40mm turret, the day night sensor systems, the enabling electronic system architecture and the advanced armour packs. Overall, 60 per cent by value of the work will be completed by UK manufacturers.

This was a return to the original concept but instead of DSG in Donnington (which had by now been sold to Babcock), the location would be a General Dynamics facility in South Wales.

The support contract extension to 2024 was for £390 million.

The Capability Design Review was completed by Lockheed Martin for Warrior in September after live firing trials in Scotland in May.

At DSEI in September, a number of key announcements were made.

The first Warrior CSP prototype was revealed.

The plan for Warrior remained to complete the order for 245 turreted Warriors out of a total order of 380.

The 245 turreted versions would be split between FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle and FV511 Infantry Command Vehicle. Whilst the FV512 Mechanised Combat Repair Vehicle and FV513 Mechanised Recovery Vehicle (Repair) would likely be the majority of the non-turreted versions, the number of FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle and FV515 Battery Command Vehicle variants covered by WCSP was not published. Given many FV515’s were converted to ambulance variants for operations in Afghanistan and the possibility of some Ajax taking the role of the artillery observation roles, the final numbers were uncertain.

Plans for the Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle (ABSV) also remained somewhat vague and aspirational, despite BAE showing a version at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics.

The first SV Scout reconnaissance variant prototype was shown off the whole programme was now renamed Ajax.

Scout Ajax 2

Scout Ajax 1

DSEI 2015: General Dynamics Land Systems UK Scout SV is named Ajax

Ajax All-Purpose Cleaner – "Armed with Ajax" (Commercial, 1979)

Janes and Shepard both reported the name change and an update on variants and quantities.

Ajax would apply to both the whole family of vehicles and specifically, the vehicle formerly known as Scout Reconnaissance.

Previous Designation Quantity New Designation Quantity
SV SCOUT Reconnaissance and Strike 198 Ajax – Ajax Reconnaissance and Strike 198
SV SCOUT Joint Fire Control 23 Ajax – Ajax Joint Fire Control 23
SV SCOUT Ground Based Surveillance 24 Ajax –`Ajax Ground Based Surveillance 24
SV PMRS Armoured Personnel Carrier 59 Ajax – Ares 93
SV PMRS Formation Reconnaissance Overwatch 34
SV PMRS Command and Control 112 Ajax – Athena 112
SV PMRS Engineer Reconnaissance 51 Ajax – Argus 51
SV EQUIPMENT SUPPORT Recovery 38 Ajax – Atlas 38
SV EQUIPMENT SUPPORT Repair 50 Ajax – Apollo 50
Total 589   589

 

As can be seen from the above, the previously designated role of PMRS Formation Reconnaissance Overwatch had been removed and the quantity aggregated with the Ares variant. It was reported that the means of delivering this requirement were still under investigation and options being considered included a dismounted Javelin team to an RWS fitted with a single Javelin launcher.

The total remained the same at 589 vehicles, and the total number of turreted and equipment support versions, likewise.

Reliability Growth Trials and Reliability Qualification Trials were scheduled to start in 2016 to and complete in 2018. Deliveries of the prototype vehicles were scheduled to complete by early in 2017 with the Initial Operating Capability (IOC) 1 planned for the middle of 2019. IOC 2, which will include the command and control variant was planned for the middle of 2020.

Interviews and announcements from DSEi also provided more details on the role split between Major Combat Operations (MCO) and Peace Support Operations (PSO). 220 sets of each type of armour will be purchased, role changing can be completed in the field, although with only 220 sets for a complete fleet of 589.

October to December

On October 22nd, the National Audit Office published the Major Projects Report 2015 and the Equipment Plan 2015 to 2025.

It signposted a significant change in the way major projects would be reported on:

The process of preparing and validating the project summary sheet reports requires considerable effort on the part of our staff and that of Defence Equipment and Support and Information Systems and Services. This is because the format, developed more than 30 years ago, does not align with the information that the Department’s internal systems produce to measure project progress. These systems have themselves been identified by Defence Equipment and Support’s new private sector partners as priority areas for improvement during the organisation’s current transformation. Over the coming months, we and the Department will work together to develop a more cost-effective way of keeping Parliament informed about the progress of major defence projects. We will take advantage of expected improvements in the quality of data to reduce the resources needed to validate data

The Major Projects Summary sheets provided Parliament and the public with a historic and significant record of the various changes in major projects, going back many years.

In November, the National Security Strategy and Strategic Defence and Security Review was published and focussed on three key themes; Protect our People, Project our Global Influence and Promote our Prosperity.

The Future Force 2025, for the Army, built on the adaptable force/reactive force model and specifically of relevance to the medium weight force, would comprise:

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

David Cameron also described the new structure:

We will create 2 new ‘strike brigades’ by 2025 to be rapidly deployable, able to self-deploy thousands of kilometres, and with a much lower logistic footprint. They will use the new Ajax family (previously known as Scout) range of vehicles, comprising 6 variants and almost 600 armoured vehicles.

The two STRIKE Brigades were to be created by re-rolling one Infantry Brigade and one Armoured Infantry Brigade.

The statement from David Cameron did not detail what was the comparison for a ‘much lower logistic footprint or how a tracked vehicle could self-deploy thousands of kilometres.

A number of component and sub-contract contract announcements for Ajax from General Dynamics continued throughout the year.

2016

January to June

In February, the MoD issued a revised requirement for the Multi Role Vehicle – Protected.

Supply and Support of a Multi Role Vehicle Protected (MRV-P) Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA)

The requirement was defined for two vehicles based on a common platform, providing

  • Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV). Driver, commander and seating for 6 personnel
  • Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA). Combination of permanent seating for 2 x Medical Attendants seated at the head of the stretcher and ability to transport 2 stretchered casualties or 1 stretchered casualty and 3 Seated Casualties and combinations thereof.

The Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) would also provide the base platform for a number of other role specific variants such as EOD, RMP, Engineer Support, and Gun Limber

The core requirements included:

  • An in-service life of at least 25 years.
  • Expected to be based on Military off the Shelf (MOTS) mature platforms of modern design
  • Max width 2,500 mm, Max Height 2,650 mm (transit mode)
  • No requirement for helicopter underslung transport
  • Medium Mobility classification
  • Ballistic threat at protection to Stanag Level 2 and blast threat protection at Stanag Level 2

The expected entry into service was 2019 and estimated value of between £170m and £200m with expected quantities being 150 TCV and 80 FPBFA.

In March, the MoD announced the official opening of the Ajax assembly facility in Wales.

AJAX – the future of Armoured Fighting Vehicles

The announcement focussed on the industrial and employment benefits:

In addition to the 250 jobs being created at the Merthyr Tydfil facility, the Ajax build programme is sustaining 300 jobs at General Dynamics in nearby Oakdale, and a further 2,250 jobs at more than 210 companies across the UK supply chain.

Compare this with the announcement from only a few years earlier in 2010:

The ASCOD SV programme is British to its bootstraps, delivering a Military off the Shelf vehicle with British design by British engineers to the British Army while safeguarding or creating 10,600 jobs for British workers.”

Evidently, the earlier aspirations and claims were no longer relevant.

A written question confirmed the production approach.

The British Army will receive 589 Ajax vehicles which will come in six variants. A total of 100 vehicles will be fully manufactured and assembled in Spain. The hulls for the remaining 489 will be transported to the Merthyr Tydfil facility where they will be combined with constituent parts to make complete vehicles.

In June, air transport trials commenced for Ajax, or more specifically, the Ares variant. The vehicle was loaded into both A400M and C-17 loading mock-ups at the Joint Air Delivery Test and Evaluation Unit (JADTEU) at RAF Brize Norton in order to develop tie down schemes.

Not, it must be added, the turreted variant.

The first production CTA40 cannon was handed over the British Army in March followed in April by the first live fire of Ajax.

In early April 2016, AJAX completed it’s first instrumented static live firing at Radnor Ranges in Powys, Wales.

AJAX First Live Fire 1

The First Live Firing of the Britsh Army's AJAX Armoured Fighting Vehicle

AJAX First Live Fire 3

AJAX First Live Fire 2

Commenting on the test, Senior Requirements manager for the AJAX Program, Lt. Col. David Cathro, said;

This a great achievement for the program, the challenges in getting to this point should not be underestimated and today [Friday] is the result of a lot of hard work. Seeing the firings today gives us confidence that the Army will receive this battle-winning and transformational capability on time and to budget.

Testing and qualification continued and in June 2016, the MoD issued a £12.9 million contract extension to CTAI for additional qualification.

The DE&S Specialist Vehicles Cannon Delivery Team, part of the Ministry of Defence (MOD) intends to place an amendment to contract MATT/CCAP/003 (Common Cannon and Ammunition Project — 40mm Cased Telescoped Cannon and Ammunition Qualification Programme) with CTA International (CTAI), the designer and manufacturer of the Cased Telescoped Cannon and Ammunition (CTCA) to provide services required to conduct the qualification of a Target Practice Reduced Range (TPRR) type of ammunition on behalf of the United Kingdom and French Authorities. The qualification services will comprise an initial confirmatory phase of ammunition firing trials, plus options to undertake full ammunition firing trials, testing, evaluation activities and commissioning of a production facility thereafter.

This trial firing was unmanned.

Defense News reporting in June that the UK was in negotiation with the US Department of Defense for the supply of a number of Joint Light Tactical vehicles (JLTV) to meet the MRV-P requirement:

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle could be in line to win its first export order even before the US Department of Defense makes a decision to order full rate production of the platform. The UK’s Ministry of Defence has revealed it is in talks with the Pentagon, which might lead to a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) deal. The British Army is interested in acquiring the Oshkosh Defense vehicle, set to replace the Army and Marine Corps Humvees, to meet part of a requirement known as the Multi-Role Vehicle-Protected (MRV-P).

The news report also described how MRV-P would be divided into three packages:

  • Package 1; smallest of the vehicles for troop carrying
  • Package 2; larger vehicle for troop carrying and ambulance
  • Package 3; recovery

Package 3 was reported to be on hold and Package 1 and 2 would potentially be different vehicles, the Rheinmetall Survivor-R, Thales Hawkei, General Dynamics Eagle and others were mentioned as a potential contender for Package 2.

Supacat launched their Landrover Discovery based LRV400 Mkk2 reconnaissance vehicle and Kembara Suci Sdn Bhd announced an upgrade package the Malaysian Army CVR(T) Scorpions. The upgrade would include a new Deutz engine and replacing the 90mm Cockerill gun with a 20mm Oerlikon automatic cannon.

July to December

The Bundeswehr announced all its Boxers would be upgraded to the A2 standard, a package of improvements in all areas of the vehicle’s design, from repositioning the towing cable to common displays.

A written question confirmed when the first Ajax vehicles would be delivered:

The first vehicles from the AJAX fleet will be delivered to the British Army in April 2017, with deliveries scheduled to be complete in 2025.

As a recognition of changing threats, the MoD announced work on active protection systems.

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) has placed a £7.6 million contract with QinetiQ to evaluate an Active Protection System (APS) for armoured vehicles.

QinetiQ will work with a number of sub-contractors, including Airbus Defence and Space who are contracted to deliver, for evaluation, a number of systems based on the MUSS® self-protection systems. The technical assessments will quantify how well the system performs against a range of weapon systems, and will also include a BAE Systems appliqué integration of a MUSS® system onto a Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank to demonstrate potential future capability.

The MEDUSA Technical Assessment Programme (TAP) is a key part of on-going DSTL research into APS, alongside a complementary effort to develop the open architecture to support a future modular capability.

DSTL has been investigating APS for a number of years, and considers them an important part of a future survivability capability for keeping pace with new threats. A holistic view of survivability is required, drawing upon a range of technologies, which address all aspects from prevention of target detection to mitigation of potentially lethal effects. Active Protection defeats threats before they strike a vehicle, by sensing them and providing a ‘soft’ response (based on jamming or obscuration of the guidance mechanism) or ‘hard’ response (based on physical interception).

A manned firing trial was completed for the Ares variant and to coincide with this, General Dynamics published a new image of Ares that showed what appeared to be additional modular protection on the vehicle’s nose.

To meet MRV-P Package 3 (despite it being on hold), Supacat showed an HMT-600 based recovery vehicle.

Supacat also showed a gun limber based on the same basic, and mature, HMT600 design.

In September, Janes reported on the progress of MRV-P.

Group 1 (Package 1) would be met with and off the shelf purchase of the Oshkosh Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) via a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) arrangement. This surprised many given that JLTV had been rejected by the pre-cursor to MRV-P, the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS)

The larger vehicle, Group 2 (Package 2) would be decided by competition in October/November. Group 2 could be met with either a 4×4 or 6×6 vehicle with the two variants as described above, the Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV) and the Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBFA)

Manufacturers in the down-select were BAE Systems Land (UK) with a design from Penman, General Dynamics with the MOWAG Eagle 6×6, Rheinmetall with the Survivor-R, and Thales with the Thales Bushmaster.

Rheinmetall Defence – Survivor R 4X4 Protected Multi-Role Vehicle [1080p]

GDELS EAGLE 6×6 VIDEO

BUSHMASTER: presentation of an Australian success story

As part of Tank 100, the MoD and DSTL released updated concepts from the Future Capability Vision and described technologies that might be found on future vehicles.

Modern technologies mean that future armoured vehicles could be very different from the heavy tracked vehicles in service today. For example:

Active protection systems that can destroy incoming weapons fire reduce the need for heavy armour, allowing lighter weight vehicles to be developed

Stealth technologies that make vehicles harder to locate, target and destroy

Electric drive systems that are smaller, lighter and more efficient than traditional fossil fuel engines. Their use could also reduce the vehicles heat signature making them harder to detect

New energy storage systems that could power lasers and other advanced systems such as electric armour

Materials technologies that allow innovative forms of armour to be developed that boast both high levels of protection and low weight

Advanced suspensions and electric drive systems that enable wheeled vehicles to have similar mobility to tracked vehicles, but travel much faster

Remote controlled unmanned vehicles that operate as an integral part of the vehicle which could be used in a range of ways such as reconnaissance, route proving and force protection.

The three vehicles detailed were:

Land Apache: A lightweight (13 ton) very agile platform with advanced suspension and electric drive. Equipped with long range sensors and missiles, it would exploit networking with other platforms and unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) for intelligence gathering and the defeat of threats

Urban Operations Vehicle. A medium weight (22 ton) vehicle optimised for operations in urban areas. Multi-wheel steer, long travel suspension and electric drive provide agility. Multiple sensors and weapon systems allow the simultaneous detection and engagement of threats, advanced active protection systems provide protection against rocket propelled grenades and other threats fired from short ranges. The vehicle can be fitted with a dozer blade and robotic arm for clearing rubble and barriers

Force protection unmanned vehicle – A very lightweight (2 ton), high mobility vehicle that is capable of reaching speeds of 50 mph (80 kph). Its design allows the vehicle to be configured for a range of operational requirements and sophisticated countermeasure launchers for defence.

Imagery released of Land Apache and the Urban Operations Vehicle below.

In October, a number of news outlets reported that The MoD intended to purchase the Rheinmetall Boxer to meet the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle requirement without competition. Quantities were reportedly up to 800 at a cost of £4 million each.

In December, Janes reported that as part of Army 2020 Refine, main battle tank numbers would be reduced from three Regiments to two. The unit would re-role to Ajax as part of the Strike Experimentation Group.

An extract of the full statement is reproduced below:

The Army is refining its force structure to deliver the capabilities set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) 2015 and modernise the Army’s ability to fight at the divisional level. The SDSR 2015 significantly increased the readiness levels required of the Army, underpinned by investment in new capability and a war-fighting division as part of Joint Force 2025. It introduced the innovative Strike brigades, based on the new AJAX vehicle family and the development of Specialised Infantry battalions, reconfigured to provide an increased contribution to countering terrorism and building stability overseas.

I am today setting out refinements to the Army which will take place during the life of this Parliament. These have been aligned with the “Better Defence Estate” strategy announced in early November. As we previously committed, we will continue to sustain a regular Army of 82,000, a whole force of 112,000 regular and reserve troops and the Army’s footprint in the devolved nations. All existing regimental cap badges will be retained. Large parts of the Army will be unaffected but it will involve some units changing their role, equipment or location.

A modernised division will be centred on the 3rd (UK) Division, organised with four brigades of two Armoured infantry and two Strike, rather than three Armoured infantry as now. A significant uplift in capability, it will hold one of each at high readiness, rather than the current single armoured infantry brigade. From this, in times of crisis, the Army will be able to deploy a credible division of three brigades. To develop and transition to this new posture, in 2017 the Army will launch a Strike Experimentation Group in Warminster. This will ensure that the first new Strike Brigade will be formed by the end of the decade.

Summary of changes proposed under Army 2020 Refine

Strike Brigade

The first Strike Brigade will operate from Catterick and Salisbury Plain and will be composed of the Household Cavalry Regiment, The King’s Royal Hussars, the 1st Battalion Scots Guards and The Highlanders, 4th Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland. A number of Royal Logistic Corps (RLC) and Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineer (REME) units will be allocated to provide close support logistic support, beginning with 1 Regiment RLC and 1 Close Support Battalion REME.

Support

The changes announced will require adjustments in some supporting and enabling elements of the Army. HQ 102 Logistic Brigade, 32nd Regiment Royal Artillery, 35 Engineer Regiment, Headquarters 64 Works Group Royal Engineers, 2 Medical Regiment, Headquarters 4th Regiment Royal Military Police, 33 Field Hospital and 104,105 and 106 Battalions of the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers reserve will be rationalised, with all manpower in those units being redeployed to other areas of the Army in its refined structure.

The basic organisation of a STRIKE Brigade would, therefore, consist of;

  • 1 Regiment of Ajax in the reconnaissance role
  • 1 Regiment of Ajax in the ‘medium armour’ role
  • 2 Battalions of mechanised infantry in the yet to be purchased Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV)
  • Supporting CS/CSS

At the end of 2016, Patria showed an AMV fitted with a modified Lockheed Martin Warrior two-man turret.

Experimentation with the Strike Brigade continued throughout the year.

To demonstrate the enduring value of the CVR(T)/Stormer design, the Imperial Forces deployed one to Jedha as the TX-225 GAVw “Occupier” combat assault tank.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story – Clip: "Jedha Tank"

2017

The first units to receive Ajax were confirmed in January:

The King’s Royal Hussars are planned to be the first Field Army unit to receive AJAX in 2019.

Despite earlier indications that Rheinmetall would not offer Boxer for the MIV requirement, Rheinmetall started to build a UK industrial team for the bid, the aim was to produce 60% of the vehicle by value in the UK.

Given the weight increases in the Ajax vehicle family, a Parliamentary Question elicited a response confirmed the issues of air transportability.

The Marquess of Lothian Conservative

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether the Army’s Ajax tanks require dismantling before they can be accommodated on transport aircraft.

Earl Howe The Minister of State, Ministry of Defence, Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

There are a number of options available for the air transportation of Ajax across the world, including the A400M and C-17 aircraft. The vehicle is designed to be modular and parts can be removed for this very purpose; this is not unusual and does not cause any issue.

Trials and development work on Ajax continued; landing craft and amphibious landing for example.

These trials were described by the MoD:

At Instow on March 2nd, an Ares variant of Ajax – designed to support and carry troops – was first put through a dip tank to confirm that entry and exit angles could be negotiated and to check for any unexpected leaks. The armoured vehicle then crossed the beach and entered the sea to prove that it could successfully traverse water obstacles and manoeuvre on and off a landing craft with a dozer blade fitted to the front. Tie down schemes were also developed and tested dynamically on board the landing craft

The 400th Boxer was delivered in February.

The total Boxer programme now stood at 696 with the vehicle in service, or planned to be in service, with Germany, the Netherlands and Lithuania.

Spain took delivery if its second batch of Pizarro tracked infantry fighting vehicles in March, the final batch of 36 vehicles would be recovery variants.

In March, the Latvian Army released images of Exercise Allied Spirit VI in which their CVR(T) vehicles obtained from the UK were used to great effect.

A Freedom of Information request published in March revealed further information on Army 2020 Refine.

The Royal Dragoon Guards (RDG) and Royal Lancers would be equipped with Ajax from CVR(T) as part of 1 Brigade 3 (UK) DIV. The Strike Experimentation Group (SEG) would comprise the Household Cavalry Regiment (HCR) and Kings Royal Hussars (KRH), the latter re-rolling from Challenger 2. Thus, Ajax would equip four regiments (plus 4 and 5 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery and other Royal Engineer units)

The Mechanised Infantry Vehicle would also equip 4 and 5 Regiment Royal Horse Artillery, 21 and 32 Engineer Regiment, 3 Medical Regiment. It would also equip 1st Battalion Scots Guard 4th Battalion Royal Regiment of Scotland, 1st Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment and 3rd Battalion The Rifles,

Therefore, the Strike Experiment Group comprised;

  • 2x Regiments equipped with Ajax (HCR and KRH)
  • 2x Battalions equipped with MIV (1 SG and 4 SCOTS)
  • 1x RLC Regiment (1 Regt RLC)
  • 1x REME Regiment (1 CS Bn REME)

This also confirmed the outline quantities, four Ajax regiments and four infantry battalions with MIV (plus supporting units)

At the Paris Air Show, a number of news outlets reported on a series of tense conversations between the MoD and Lockheed Martin, for example:

One of the less well reported discussions at the Paris Air Show last week apparently took place between Tony Douglas, the Chief Executive of Defence Equipment & Support, and Marilyn Hewson, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin. Central to the discussion was the issue of continuing delays to the WARRIOR Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP).

Lockheed Martin was contracted in 2011 to upgrade and enhance the UK’s fleet of over 600 WARRIOR Infantry Fighting Vehicles, extending their service lives into the 2040s. The company won the contract, valued at £1 billion (of which fully two thirds is likely to be booked by Lockheed Martin itself) after the MoD eliminated BAE Systems from the running. Six years later none of the required 12 demonstrators with replacement turrets and weapon systems has been delivered and the company is said by observers close to the programme to be struggling with cost and complexity.

Timing could not be worse for either party, as the government initiates a 60-day spending review in the wake of a Brexit-inspired devaluation of almost 15% in the pound. The National Audit Office has issued a stark warning regarding unprecedented levels of risk in the MoD’s equipment plan, adding that the current £10+ billion contingency fund could be entirely swallowed up.

The original plan called for the upgraded WARRIORs to enter service next year, which is now clearly impossible. Although any programme as complex as this must involve the risk of schedule slippage, the extent of the delays is apparently causing concerns over the 500+ AJAX order, for which Lockheed Martin also builds the turrets.

Clearly, all was not well in the Warrior CSP camp but the following month, a rather interesting counter from Lockheed Martin:

Meanwhile, the first upgraded Warrior vehicles have now entered Factory Acceptance Tests with full qualification trials expected to begin in Bovington by the end of the year. As well as manufacturing the new turret for WCSP, LMUK is also responsible for putting together the upgrade ‘kits’ that will refresh the vehicle’s protection as well as the platform’s electronic architecture.  For the development trials, there will be: seven FV520s (section vehicle); two FV521s (command vehicles); one FV522 (repair); one FV523 (recovery); and one FV524 (artillery observation vehicle) to come in the future.

In July, the DCSA published details of the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of the Oshkosh JLTV to the UK.

WASHINGTON, Jul. 10, 2017 – The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the United Kingdom for Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) and accessories.  The estimated cost is $1.035 billion.  The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.

The Government of the United Kingdom (UK) has requested a possible sale of up to two thousand seven hundred forty-seven (2,747) Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV).  This possible sale also includes baseline integration kits, basic issue item kits, B-kit armor, engine arctic kits, fording kits, run-flat kits, spare tire kits, silent watch kits, power expansion kits cargo cover kits, maintainer and operator training, U.S. government technical assistance and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and program support. Total estimated cost is $1.035 billion

This was for MRV-P Group 1 although the total quantities were much higher than previously indicated.

In response to the Australian LAND400 requirement, both the BAE/Patria AMV and Rheinmetall/Supacat Boxer continued the evaluation process after down selection.

Rheinmetall Defence – Boxer CRV For Australia Land 400 Phase 2 Field Trials [1080p]

Boxer CRV driving through the Australian bush

AMV35 combat reconnaissance vehicles, Puckapunyal

Boxer CRVs moving cross-country, Australian Land 400 trials

Ajax manned live firing trials commenced in September, a spokesperson from General Dynamics said:

The start of the CT40 cannon manned industry firing phase is a significant milestone in the AJAX programme. This cutting-edge capability that enables AJAX to pack a significant punch, alongside its wide-range of best-in-class sensors that makes it an Information Age platform, ensures that the British Army has everything they need to do their job effectively

General Dynamics offered the latest version of the ASCOD platform to the Czech Army. As can be seen from the images below, the demonstration vehicle is fitted with band tracks, from Diehl.

Future Force Concept (JCN 1/17) was released with little fanfare but was a significant document in that is looked across the range of future challenges and described means in which they might be met. For the Land Domain, and of particular relevance to STRIKE, it described the need for dispersion and concentration.

Land forces will need to operate efficiently as dispersed elements to achieve multiple points of presence and to mitigate the threat of massed weapon effects while ready for rapid concentration for decisive effect

It also noted that dispersed forces are more difficult to sustain and that logistics reduction efforts must be sustained to enable this.

At the DSEI show in London in September, there were a number of British Army and Strike Brigade related announcements and equipment on show.

Although the General Dynamics Piranha V, Patria AMV and Nexter VBCI were on show, from the media output, one could be forgiven for thinking that only the Rheinmetall Boxer mattered. General Dynamics emphasised the speed of delivery for Piranha V with a comment that initial vehicles could be delivered from existing productions before transferring manufacturing to their South Wales factory. Nexter showed a non-turreted variant of VBCI fitted with an RWS armed with an HMG and MMP missile. Lockheed Martin also showed off a canister launched UAV called Outrider and the marketing materials showed one being launched from a Warrior.

Rheinmetall BOXER UK for MIV – Battlefield Champion

Lockheed Martin 'Outrider' – Canister Launched UAV

Rheinmetall was also reportedly pursuing a two-prong industrial strategy for MIV. The first would be to enter the competition with a high degree of UK content, secondly, re-join the ARTEC consortium and procure the vehicle through a sole source arrangement that would include full IP rights.

General Dynamics showed demonstrated their Ajax Immersive Crew Turret Trainer (CTT) and the AJAX Desk Top Trainer (DTT). Elements of the training system include:

Crew Turret Trainer (CTT): Developed by Lockheed Martin UK, in partnership with General Dynamics Land Systems–UK, the CTT is self-contained within a 20-foot ISO container and includes a representative AJAX turret, which will replicate its systems and their functionality within a static, physical environment.  All sensor views are simulated and the crews will operate in an immersive synthetic environment.  The CTT consolidates classroom-based training in an environment that reflects the experience of the real vehicle.  The first CTT will be showcased on the General Dynamics stand at DSEI.

Full Motion Driver Training Simulator (FMDTS): Developed by XPI, in partnership with General Dynamics Land Systems–UK, the FMDTS is a classroom-based, full-motion, 6 Degrees of Freedom (6DoF), fully-immersive driver simulator.  The trainee drivers will be able to experience the full performance of driving AJAX over different types of terrain and in different scenarios.

Maintenance Trainer Electrical (MTE) – Hull and Turret: Developed by Pennant Training Solutions, in partnership with General Dynamics Land Systems–UK, the MTE is a workshop-based trainer, which will support the training of British Army soldiers in the conduct of L2/3 maintenance on AJAX platforms.

One of the key objectives for the British Army is to increase the amount of virtual training to reduce costs.

Supacat launched a new version of their HMT600 based recovery vehicle to meet the requirements of the  Light Weight (Air Portable) Recovery Capability (LW(AP)RC) programme. High levels of commonality with the in-service Jackal and Coyote would be obvious advantages.

Also at the show, a British Army green version of the Oshkosh JLTV.

Building on earlier technology demonstrators and against a growing RPG and ATGW threat, Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL) announced a contract with Leonardo for the continuing development of an Active Protection System (APS) architecture. The Technology Demonstrator Programme (TDP) is called Icarus, its objectives are to develop a UK sovereign Modular, Integrated Protection System (MIPS) Electronic Architecture (EA) that will enable best of breed systems to be integrated with a common architecture, similar to Generic vehicle Architecture.

This approach has obvious benefits, commonality across multiple vehicle types and ease of upgrade for example. It also allows the MoD to avoid technology dead ends and being locked into proprietary systems.

BAE was awarded a contract to supply two experimental STRIKE Tactical Hotspots, an innovative communication solution to support the bandwidth and communications demands of STRIKE Brigades. The equipment will be fitted into a modified Panther vehicle.

The experimental STRIKE Tactical Hotspots which will be used by the British Army are the product of a technology development programme funded by us in collaboration with General Dynamics and Airbus. The Hotspot integrates Falcon broadband with Bowman TacCIS and SATCOM-on-the-Move, enhanced with the power of 4G, WiFi and Tactical Datalinks (WEnDL™) capability.

Finally, at DSEI, it was reported that the acquisition strategy for MIV would be announced by the end of the year.

Trials for MRV-P Group 2 will commence in October and finalise February 2018.

General Sir Nick Carter revealed that the STRIKE Brigade Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is planned for 2023.

On the 18th of September, General Dynamics reported that it had delivered two vehicles for formal Government Acceptance Tests (GAT) as part of the programme.

Defence Equipment and Support Director Land Equipment, Major General Robert Talbot-Rice, said:

The AJAX programme represents the UK’s biggest single order of armoured vehicles in a generation and is making good progress. We remain on track to deliver this battle-winning capability, which sits at the heart of the British Army’s new Strike Brigades, into service in 2020.

As late as 2015, it was planned to enter service in 2017, not 2020.

General Dynamics remained optimistic:

Kevin Connell, Vice President of General Dynamics Land Systems–UK, said:

After seven years developing this world-leading family of vehicles, it is testament to the exceptional hardworking team at General Dynamics Land Systems–UK, DE&S and our supply chain that we have delivered these platforms into GAT ahead of delivery to the British Army.  We remain firmly on-track to meet the British Army’s Initial Operating Capability.

To coincide with this announcement, the MoD published a story about a visit to General Dynamics in Wales.

The ministers viewed a demonstration of the new Ares protected mobility vehicle, part of the £4.5 billion Ajax family of armoured vehicles, at the factory in Merthyr Tydfil. The platforms will now continue going through a process known as Government Acceptance Training (GAT) before they are handed over to the Army.

Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriett Baldwin, said:

I am delighted to see the Ares in action. This vehicle, and the others in the Ajax family, will give the British Army a multi-role, mounted fighting power and reconnaissance capability fit for the future. We continue to invest in the best equipment for our Armed Forces, and I’m delighted to support such strong investment in Wales

The ministers were also given a tour of the facility which was only opened in 2016, bringing around 250 jobs to the area. The MOD is the biggest provider of apprenticeships in the UK and many of those the ministers met were manufacturing and mechanical apprentices, keen to talk about their work in the factory. The Ajax build programme is also sustaining 300 jobs at General Dynamics’ nearby Oakdale site.

The article confirmed the two vehicles submitted for acceptance testing were the Ares variant.

Summary

This period was characterised by the ongoing development of both Warrior CSP and Ajax, progress on MRV-P and the emergence of the STRIKE Brigade with its attendant requirement for the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV)

In the meantime, the British Army reduced in size, tried to bring the Afghanistan/Iraq UOR vehicles into core, worked on withdrawal from Germany and deployments in support of NATO territorial defence, all whilst progressing the defence engagement and conflict reduction stream through various deployments of the adaptable force and specialist infantry brigades.

None of these was without problems, in-service dates have slipped and anecdotally, problems remain with both Ajax and Warrior CSP.

Whilst one must not automatically equate STRIKE with FRES, they certainly have similarities.

FRES started at around 2001, STRIKE is now predicted to achieve Initial Operating Capability (IOC) in 2023, over two decades of time elapsed.

Whether STRIKE will actually come to fruition and realise the British Army’s wish to field a ‘medium weight capability’ remains to be seen.


British Army Medium Weight Capability – Table of Contents

Introduction and Notes

What this document is, sources and acknowledgements, and what this document is not

The Fifties and Sixties

Saladin and Saracen enter service, early work on their replacement commences and completes. The FV432 enters service, and the BMP-1 does likewise, work on Warrior gains pace.

The Seventies

CVR(T) and CVR(W) enter service, and the rapid deployment concept cuts its teeth with the C-130

The Eighties

CVR(T) continues to be developed and sees action in in the Falkland Islands and Warrior enters service. Oh, and Saxon.

The Nineties

A decade of major change; the end of the Cold War, operations in the Gulf and the Balkans. The microprocessor and communications revolution. VERDI, FFLAV, WASAD and the rise of the acronym in defence. ASCOD, CV90 and others developed. Protected mobility becomes a requirement, again, and finally, interesting materials development make an appearance in the defence vehicle world.

TRACER, MRAV and Project Bushranger

Three vehicle development projects that would have importance to the ongoing story of developing a medium weight capability.

Turning Points in the Balkans

Important milestones in the development of medium weight capabilities, a trip across the Sava and WWIII averted at an airport.

Change Comes to US and UK Forces

The Future Combat System, the UK follows suit, FRES and being a force for good.

FRES Gets into Gear but Iraq Looms Large

2001 to 2004, TRACER and MRAV continue but the new kid on the block called FRES is starting to take over whilst the shadow of Iraq falls on the project.

Snatch and the Trials of Truth

Between 2005 and 2007 the Army experienced significant change. FRES picked up speed but operations in Iraq overshadowed the medium weight concept.

FRES Changes Names and Changes Lane

2008 to 2009, it becomes increasingly difficult to balance the needs of operations with the desire to transform and bring FRES to fruition at the same time.

FRES Scout to the End of FRES

2010 to 2011, putting the embarrassment of FRES UV behind it, the Army switches to FRES SV, a replacement for CVR(T)

Return to Contingency

2012 to 2014, as an end to the Afghanistan deployment drew near, Scout continued and attention turned to Warrior.

AJAX to MIV and the Emergence of Strike

2015 to 2017, a new medium weight capability vision emerges, and this requires a new vehicle, the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV), but before that, Multi Role Vehicle (MRV).

Observations

A few thoughts and opinions.

Appendix A – Ajax

Weights, measures, variants and roles

Appendix B – 40mm Cased Telescoped Weapon System

A revolution in medium calibre weapons, but can we afford it?

Appendix C – Generic Vehicle Architecture

The essential glue that binds the increasing quantity of vehicle electronics



1
Leave a Reply

avatar
1 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
1 Comment authors
HMArmedForcesReview Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest most voted
Notify of
HMArmedForcesReview
HMArmedForcesReview

I think it is 3 RHA and 4 RA not 4 and 5 RA

↓