The next point in the story is the change in emphasis from the wheeled Utility Variant to the tracked Reconnaissance Variant and the subsequent change in name. This was then followed by SDSR 2010.
The first piece of FRES related news for 2008 was the announcement of the contract award for the System of Systems Integrator to Boeing and Thales after being named as preferred bidder the year before;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) today announced the award of a contract to Thales UK in partnership with The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] for the System of Systems Integrator (SOSI) role on the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) program. The initial six-month contract, valued at £4 million (US$8 million), defines the framework for the SOSI’s ongoing role in the subsequent phases of this key program, which will provide the British Army with a new family of medium-weight, network-enabled armored vehicles. The role of the SOSI is to drive the successful delivery of a coherent FRES capability. The Thales UK-Boeing SOSI team will be integrated into the MoD’s FRES project team to form an Integrated Customer Team that will manage the delivery of FRES. The SOSI will provide expertise in the following areas:
Program management, System-of-systems engineering and integration, Through-life capability and technology management, Alliance development and supply chain management, Development of MoD’s SOSI competence[/su_note]
The MoD placed an order for an additional Force Protection Cougar (Mastiff) vehicles in February.
Whilst the writing was on the wall for the Spitterskyddad Enhets Platform (SEP) when the MoD chose to move ahead with the Trials of Truth, in February, the Swedish FMV formally cancelled. BAE had invested considerable sums in SEP and elected to continue development.
The Defence Select Committee published their Defence Equipment 2008 report on March 11th, in evidence to the committee the MoD made this statement on FRES;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Real progress has been made on FRES. Implementation of the FRES competitive Acquisition Strategy is being driven hard to ensure we deliver, as early as possible, a FRES capability that meets the Army’s needs through life[/su_note]
Further evidence to the committee raised the same issues of upgradeability through life that had been emphasised in previous submissions;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Q187 Mr Holloway: Notwithstanding your comments about adapting it through its life, you are buying something now against a range of threats as yet unknown which tries to do absolutely everything. Surely, given the gigantic cost of this I still do not understand why you would not be better getting the best available thing at the time in speciﬁc numbers?
Lieutenant General Applegate: What we have done is to identify what we believe is the best available developmental vehicle in the market place that has a future. The alternative is to buy something that is basically a cul-de-sac and goes nowhere; it cannot be upgraded and cannot meet the threats over time.
We believe that we have now identiﬁed that particular preferred design for the utility vehicle and we are conﬁdent that in conducting what is an aggressive programme to deal with some of the technological risks to produce something as early as we know the Army wishes which will provide a level of capability that is far in excess of what we have today in order to meet those threats and, importantly, that it would have growth. If we bought something now literally off the shelf effectively we would have to shoe-horn in, as we do on UORs at the moment, a series of subcomponents in a very poor fashion and it would have very limited life, so it would be a bad decision.
The Army is quite convinced about that, and there is a decision as to whether you literally buy off the shelf, assuming there is the ability to ramp up production, or have something that gives the Army conﬁdence will grow through life. We must have that conﬁdence if we are to grow. One of the things we have noted with the current range of vehicles is that we tend to have them for a long time and increase their capability over time. We also have tended to increase their weight, their demand for power, the levels of protection and the other elements we put on them.
To try to do that with an off-the-shelf system at the moment would be a recipe for disaster[/su_note]
Given that both VBCI and Boxer were practically off the shelf and Piranha V was ‘developmental’ the writing was on the wall for VBCI and Boxer. Many commenters asked why bother with testing VBCI and Boxer if the Army was set on a development vehicle.
Following BAE’s continued investment in SEP, a demonstration in April showed off one fitted with an active protection from ADS GmbH.
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The trial demonstrated a successful defence against two RPG-7 warheads.
The Defence Support Group was formed in April that brought together ABRO and DARA into a single new defence Trading Fund.
Also in April 2008, the MoD announced that the CTA International 40mm CTWS had been selected for both the Warrior and FRES Scout
In early May came the announcement everyone had been anticipating, the General Dynamics Piranha V was selected as preferred bidder for the FRES Utility Vehicle.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]General Dynamics United Kingdom Limited, a wholly owned subsidiary of General Dynamics (NYSE: GD), has been selected by the UK Ministry of Defence as the provisionally preferred bidder for the Utility Vehicle Design (UVD) for the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES). Subject to satisfactory completion of the package of work on risk reduction and confirmation of preferred bidder status the team, led by General Dynamics UK Limited, will develop the PIRANHA V as the FRES Utility Vehicle for the British Army. The company will now enter negotiations with the MoD to determine the scope of development work required.
Dr Sandy Wilson, president and managing director, said: “We are delighted that PIRANHA V is the British Army’s choice for the FRES Utility Vehicle. With over 9,000 PIRANHAs already in service, the family’s pedigree speaks for itself. We have continued development work at our own initiative, and we will work closely with the Ministry of Defence to de-risk the programme. At the same time, we will be continuing our strong bids for the Utility Vehicle Integrator (UVI) role and for the follow-on FRES Specialist Vehicles (SV).”
PIRANHA V will deliver an extremely reliable platform with superb protection and mobility to meet the Army’s FRES requirement, together with the necessary growth potential to meet future challenges. General Dynamics’ comprehensive experience of delivering wheeled armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) programmes to tight timelines reduces potential risk considerably and will be invaluable in delivering PIRANHA V to the MoD. The vehicle offers a cost-effective and robust solution that complies fully with the Defence Industrial Strategy.[/su_note]
General Dynamics released two images of the proposed Pirahna V design that showed a number of differences from the vehicle that participated in the Trials of Truth; different side armour, a more angular nose, remote weapons station and active protection equipment.
Preferred bidder was not a contract award though, the MoD and General Dynamics then entered into a period of negotiation covering many issues but especially, intellectual property. Also of note, the fact that the scope of development work had yet to be determined.
Meanwhile, in the USA, a seismic shift was about to take place in the Future Combat System (FCS) programme.
After being restructured in 2007 in response to the requirements of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the new Defense Secretary (Robert Gates) was about to mark the card of the FCS. Delivering a speech in Colorado in May, Robert Gates vented his frustration with the US military:
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]I have noticed too much of a tendency toward what might be called ‘next-war-itis’ — the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict. It is true that we would be hard-pressed to launch a major conventional ground operation elsewhere in the world at this time — but where would we sensibly do that?
Smaller, irregular forces — insurgents, guerrillas, terrorists — will find ways, as they always have, to frustrate and neutralize the advantages of larger, regular militaries, and even nation-states will try to exploit our perceived vulnerabilities in an asymmetric way, rather than play to our inherent strengths. There have been 150-plus attacks so far on MRAPs and all but six soldiers have survived,” Gates, these vehicles are saving lives.
That is the war we are in. That is the war we must win.[/su_note]
FCS was no longer flavour of the month.
Although FCS and FRES had diverged, this and continued accusations that the Army was not funding protected mobility vehicles because they were preserving funding for the next war and FRES meant the implications were again, obvious. The accusations were made by many, putting shiny new vehicles over ‘protecting our boys’ was a common media theme.
FRES was in trouble.
Making the assumption that future operations would include more Afghanistan than Gulf War the MoD published the Defence Strategic Guidance document in June. Although the full spectrum combined arms operations were still considered an important capability to retain, the DSG focussed on enduring stabilisation of counterinsurgency type operations.
Meanwhile, Vector was not having a good deployment to Afghanistan
It continued to struggle with the heat and weight of its armour, the legendary Pinzgauer mobility had been compromised to such a degree that it was restricted to good roads and tracks. Robbed of its mobility it had to rely on its upgraded protection, which on many occasions proved completely and utterly inadequate against IED’s. Introduced with much fanfare it was proving to be a total, embarrassing and dangerous failure, acquiring the ‘coffin on wheels’ nickname.
A small number of ADI Bushmasters were purchased, reportedly for SF use in Afghanistan, a vehicle with excellent mine/IED protection, much in contrast to Vector.
Following experience in Afghanistan, the MoD embarked on an Environmental Mitigation programme for just over 100 CVR(T) vehicles.
At the June Eurosatory, show BAE showed their self-funded MTIP 2 turret on a Warrior chassis. The MTIP 2 turret was a brand new design with a fully stabilised 40mm CTWS and applique armour package that provided the same protection level as the hull.
The first batch of 151 Ridgebacks were delivered to the UK in August following a contract award to Force Protection that also included the Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle and development of the Mastiff 2 which although focused on improving Mastiff’s poor mobility. It also included better seating and driver’s vision equipment.
A Joint US/UK Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)/Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) Working Group, was formed in July 2008, in order to progress the possible joining of these two key programmes.
The additional protected mobility contracts were formally announced on the 29th of October 2008.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Defence Secretary John Hutton has announced a package worth £700 million today, which will pay for some 700 new armoured vehicles to further improve the safety and protection of troops on operations in Afghanistan.
The Protected Mobility Package announced by Mr Hutton today, Wednesday 29 October 2008, includes provision of £350 million for 400 brand new armoured support trucks which will be used to accompany patrols and carry essential supplies such as water and ammunition. The three distinct categories of Tactical Support Vehicles (TSV) are:
Wolfhound: TSV (Heavy). Heavy armoured support trucks – supporting and re-supplying Mastiffs in the highest threat areas. These vehicles will have the highest levels of mine blast protection;
Husky: TSV (Medium). Medium armoured support trucks – carrying out the support roles in lower threat areas and where heavy vehicles, like Mastiff, cannot be used;
Coyote: TSV (Light). Light armoured support vehicles – supporting Jackals across the harsh terrain of Afghanistan.
Other vehicles which will be paid for out of the £700 million include:
Over 100 brand new cross-country vehicles called Warthog which, with greater protection levels, will replace Vikings in Afghanistan, and over 100 more Jackals, the extremely agile all-terrain vehicles which include high-levels of off-road mobility and firepower.
£96 million from the package will also be used to develop a specialist route clearance system known as Talisman, which will provide a new high-tech way of dealing with the IED (Improvised Explosive Device) threat. Among the Talisman vehicles to be developed will be the Buffalo mine-protected vehicle and the Engineer Excavator.
In addition, new vehicles, and upgrades and modifications were also announced today. 30 base Cougar vehicles will be purchased, a mixture of 4x4s and 6x6s, which will be modified to boost our training fleets for Mastiff and Ridgeback.
The new Panther vehicle has been modified and upgraded to prepare for its arrival in Afghanistan and a new variant of the Snatch has been developed, known as the Snatch-Vixen, which, specially designed for Afghanistan, has been given extra power and payload which enhances the mobility and protection of the vehicle.
Today’s announcement builds on previous measures that are already making a difference in Iraq and Afghanistan including the introduction of the hugely successful Mastiff with its superior levels of protection and the Jackal with its impressive firepower and speed, allowing troops to get off the tracks and roads and strike hard at the enemy from all directions.
Mastiff’s smaller brother Ridgeback, due to arrive on operations early in the new year, will also add to these measures, delivering protection levels close to that of the Mastiff in a package that gives better access to urban areas.
£500 million of the funding for the Protected Mobility Package has been allocated from the Treasury Reserve while Defence will fund a part of the package in acknowledgement of the long term benefit to core defence capability these vehicles offer beyond our current commitments[/su_note]
This was a typical MoD news announcement that announced the same things it had already announced but it was a welcomed, if belated, recognition that vehicle protection was high on the priority list and the blind defence of Snatch, Vector and WMIK Land Rovers was simply no longer in any way tenable.
Talisman was an integrated package of vehicles, unmanned systems and other equipment designed to increase stand-off distance between the man and the IED. C-IED is a subject that is often beset with competing opinions even within the C-IED/IEDD community, especially given the sometimes less than creative tension between a desire to exploit the intelligence from painstakingly cleared IED’s to simply moving them out of the way. There is also a genuine issue about assurance, can machines provide this assurance, or will a man always be needed. That said, Talisman, a system that had been in the pipeline for some time, started to gain greater attention in the press.
Preparations were well under way for withdrawal from Iraq by the end of the year but in Afghanistan, Viking was proving to be predictably vulnerable to IED’s, despite the gushing praise heaped upon it when first deployed. The larger ST Kinetics Bronco was in the pipeline.
Meanwhile, Mastiff had transformed mobility, despite its size and weight.
Stork sold their Boxer interests to Rheinmetall.
Although the initial assessment phase concepts had been let towards the end of 2007, with little fanfare, with the Utility Variant in progress, more contracts for the FRES Scout were let.
A study contract was awarded to Lockheed Martin by Atkins, the FRES Systems House, in October for FRES Specialist Vehicle turret and mission systems.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]The study, to be delivered by January 2009, will develop performance, cost, time and risk information during integration of a concept turret and mission systems for the FRES Scout Vehicle (SV). Lockheed Martin’s principal sub-contractors will be SciSys and Ultra Electronics. The main emphasis of the study is to help MoD refine the FRES SV user and systems requirements, cost estimates and schedule to delivery. Trade studies will be performed in order to develop and assess options for integrating the mission systems into a combat-effective, affordable and low-risk Scout turret concept[/su_note]
Building on Defence Strategic Guidance, the Defence Doctrine Development Centre produced the Future Land Operational Concept (FLOC), also in October 2008, it defined the Medium Weight Capability;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Medium Capability. Land forces will be required to achieve early effect across a range of complex, and frequently occurring, scenarios. This requirement will necessitate an increase in Land forces flexibility and the development of forces capable of rapid deployment, yet with integral firepower and levels of protection that are matched to the likely threat. These are described as ‘medium forces’ in this paper and they are characterised, in part, by their air deployability. Medium forces will need higher levels of mobility and protection than currently available to ‘light’ forces as well as greater deployability and agility than ‘heavy’ forces. The acquisition of an integrated suite of modern platforms, and the streamlining of some existing capabilities, will increase current Land forces capability to respond to crises.
The Joint Medium Weight Capability (JtMWCap) concept highlights how this capability can be progressed; exploiting the capabilities of wider joint assets and scaled for rapid deployment, recovery and re-allocation. The Land core of JtMWCap must be capable of strategic movement by air and sustained ground manoeuvre, exploiting the advantages of firepower, mobility, increased levels of FP and access to wide area and specific ISTAR. Additional support from battlefield helicopters, joint fires, robust, networked Command, Control, Communications, Computers and Intelligence (C4I) and optimised logistics should allow a reduced expeditionary overhead, and connectivity with allies.
JtMWCap Land forces should be designed primarily for rapid intervention potentially within urban terrain, with the adaptability to meet other Land Priorities and be directly applicable to major combat operations[/su_note]
This is a very interesting document that showed how the original intent for FRES had progressed.
As Defence Strategic Guidance had informed the Future Land Operational Concept, the Future Land Operational Concept would be used to inform Future Army Structure (Next Steps), in early 2009.
In November, Quentin Davies confirmed to the House of Commons that the FRES Assessment Phase would cost £618 million
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Future Rapid Effects System: the estimated cost for the assessment phase as set out in the Ministry of Defence Major Projects Report 2007 is £618 million. The cost of this programme will not be fixed until the main investment decision is taken.[/su_note]
A Parliamentary Question revealed more details on Talisman:
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Ann Winterton: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence which vehicles make up the Talisman project currently subject to an urgent operational requirement; and what the in-service date of the project is.
Mr. Quentin Davies: Talisman is a project which will deliver a system of vehicles, sensors and techniques to counter improvised explosive devices. In doing this, the system will better enable safe movement along routes in Afghanistan.
Initially the system will include three vehicle types: Mastiff, Buffalo and High Mobility Engineer Excavator.
Talisman is scheduled for initial fielding during late 2009, although its development will continue beyond that point.[/su_note]
The Buffalo had been in service with the US since 2002, 6 years before this announcement, also the same year that MINDER was cancelled.
Testing for the US Army Buffalo A2 programme began and at this point, over 25 improvements had been incorporated into the original design, including fire suppression, additional armour, a claw mounted real time video camera and the Air Digger.
Another Parliamentary Answer revealed that the earlier joint OUVS/JLTV working group had not resulted in a desire on behalf of the UK to progress JLTV for the UK.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Mr. Quentin Davies: Defence Ministers have not had any discussions with the US Administration about the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programme. Since the establishment of the USA/UK Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)/Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) Working Group in July 2008, a number of discussions on participation have taken place by officials.
The JLTV capability is a replacement for HUMVEE and performs both a utility vehicle and patrol vehicle role. It therefore goes beyond the requirement for OUVS and the two parties have agreed that there is not enough synergy to warrant collaboration on the acquisition of vehicles at this time. The Working Group does however; continue to share research and development between the two programmes.[/su_note]
Shortlisted vehicles for OUVS included Eagle IV, DURO IIIP (both General Dynamics), a version of the Light Multirole Vehicle already in UK service as the Panther command and liaison vehicle (IVECO), G series UNIMOG (Mercedes), Sherpa (Renault) and Copperhead (Thales). The latter is based on the Bushmaster infantry mobility vehicle, which recently entered limited service with the British Army.
Back with FRES…
Then came shocking news.
Preferred bidder status was withdrawn from General Dynamics in December with the MoD citing an inability to come to an agreement with General Dynamics on commercial and intellectual property issues.
In a series of wider changes, the System of Systems Integrator was also removed from the programme.
General Dynamics, Boeing, Thales and BAE (who were still hoping for FRES UV Systems Integrator) all had an unpleasant Christmas present.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]The government has wasted time and money on a solution which required General Dynamics to concede something that they were never going to give
In a December 11th statement to the House of Commons, John Hutton, the new Secretary of State for Defence, said;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]We undertook to inform Parliament about the major decisions emerging from our examination of the equipment programme as soon as we were able to do so. The following are the key conclusions.
In May 2008 we announced the provisional selection of Piranha V, offered by General Dynamics (UK) Ltd, as the preferred design for the FRES utility vehicle. Following a period of intensive negotiations with General Dynamics to address a number of commercial issues, it became clear to both parties that it would not be possible to reach agreement on the commercial conditions required to enable further progress on the basis of the current procurement strategy. I have therefore decided that we should withdraw General Dynamics (UK)’s provisional preferred bidder status.
Our examination of the equipment programme has, separately, considered the balance of investment and priority in the army’s armoured vehicle programme. We have concluded that, in the context of current operations, and bearing in mind the considerable recent investment in protected mobility, the highest priority should now be accorded to delivering the warrior capability sustainment programme and the FRES scout vehicle as quickly as possible. Against that background, we have decided to restructure the FRES programme, giving priority to FRES scout over the FRES utility vehicle. Whilst this will mean a delay to the programme, we recognise the importance of the utility vehicle and are now looking at the best way to take this procurement forward. General Dynamics (UK) will have an opportunity to compete in any future utility vehicle competition.[/su_note]
The National Audit published their annual tale of woe on the 18th of December, otherwise known as the Major Projects Report. The cost of the FRES Assessment Phase had risen by £206 million to £319 million, due to the Specialist roles now being included in the Assessment Phase.
This document also noted that FRES would now meet 16 roles and comprise five families of vehicles:
- Medium Armour
- Manoeuvre Support
- Basic Capability Utility
No mention of the major decision on the Utility variant though.
In January 2009, with General Richards as CIC (Land), OPERATION ENTIRETY was being pushed to the fore. The defence main effort was Afghanistan and the entirety of the MoD would be focused on it.
Whilst the reality of FRES UV was sinking in and the MoD poised for yet another kicking by the Defence Select Committee, serious thinking about how to avoid the many problems of incremental armoured vehicle development was taking place in the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (DSTL).
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Gadgets and gizmos that could equip the British troops of the future helped launch the MOD’s new Defence Technology Plan on Thursday 26 February 2009. One of the concepts showcased at the launch was the Future Protected Vehicle – lightweight vehicles designed to achieve the effectiveness and survivability of a main battle tank. This computer animation shows how these vehicles could be used in one battlefield scenario.[/su_note]
We could perhaps observe that the phrase ‘gadgets and gizmos’ was ill-judged, the February 2009 research call was ambitious.
The MoD released a video and some computer generated graphics
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The 2009 FRES programme got off to a cracking (not) start as the Defence Select Committee published its Defence Equipment 2009 report in February.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]The FRES programme has been a fiasco.
In February 2007 we concluded that the MoD’s attempts to meet its medium-weight vehicle requirement had been a sorry story of indecision, changing requirements and delay. Two years later the story is, incredibly, even worse. We find it extraordinary that, some seven months after announcing General Dynamics UK as the provisional preferred bidder for the FRES Utility Vehicle, the MoD has announced that priority is now to be given to the FRES Scout Vehicle. Whilst we recognise that the MoD’s equipment requirements need to reflect changing threats, that is no excuse for the MoD’s behaviour in this programme; they have wasted their and industry’s time and money. The FRES Utility Vehicle programme was, from the outset, poorly conceived and managed. The MoD must work out what its requirements are for medium-weight armoured vehicles and identify lessons from the saga of the FRES Utility Vehicle programme.[/su_note]
The report repeated what the committee said of FRES in 2007
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]The MoD’s attempts to meet its medium-weight vehicle requirement have been a sorry story of indecision, changing requirements and delay. It is high time the MoD decided where its priorities lay
On FRES UV and the collapse of the contract negotiations after General Dynamics was awarded preferred bidder status with the Piranha V, the report made clear the MoD’s position on intellectual property and design rights;
General Dynamics always made clear that they had a different concept than we did as to the role they wanted to play. We made clear that their concept was not ours and their concept was not the basis on which we were going to let the contract. They decided however to bid, making it quite clear that they had a different concept. The basic different concept, as you say, related to the fact that they wished to continue to have the intellectual property and they wished to be responsible, if they got the design contract, for the development and manufacturing, or at least to have a share in that.
What we did was we gave them provisional preferred bidder status, and we made it clear to them that we were making it provisional because confirmation of their status was entirely contingent on our agreeing on commercial terms that would be acceptable to us.
Having postponed the commercial discussions, because that is the way the company wanted to play it (and we saw no reason why we should not play it that way, and everybody was being completely honest and transparent with everybody else) we then tried, in good faith, to see if we could reach agreement with them commercially in the course of the summer, and we failed to do that. Both sides, with no ill-will, in total transparency and with good faith decided then that we did not have a basis on which we could proceed commercially. That is the position we found ourselves in last month[/su_note]
The members of committee were aghast at this.
General Figgures said;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]capability (which I plan) is a relative notion; you cannot stand still in time because the enemy has a vote in this… the fact that our original view with respect to FRES was that perhaps it had to be proof against kinetic energy rounds in preference to chemical and improvised explosive devices. Our experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has demonstrated that we have got to shift that balance[/su_note]
In March, it was announced that FRES Specialist Vehicles would be obtained in a single programme.
The all new and improved FRES Specialist Vehicle programme comprised five blocks of vehicles and sixteen variants with an expected final quantity of between 1,200 and 1,300.
Recce Block 1 would comprise 589 vehicles in four roles and three variants;
- Scout, envisaged as a block of 270 vehicles
- Equipment Support Recovery
- Equipment Support Repair
- Protected Mobility Recce Support
Recce Block 2 comprising 141 vehicles in three roles and one variant;
- Joint Fire Control
- Engineer Reconnaissance
- Formation Recce Command and Control
- There was also a Light Armoured Support (Cargo) variant but this was later removed.
Recce Block 3 comprising 280 vehicles in six roles and four variants
- Route Denial Mine System, a scatterable anti-tank mine system
- Formation Recce (Overwatch), much like CVR(T) Striker
- Formation Recce Command and Control, additional purchases of the vehicle in Block 2
- Ground-Based Surveillance
- Medium Formation Recce Unit Aid Post
- Medium Formation Recce Ambulance
Medium Armour (previously Direct Fire) comprising three roles and two variants;
- Direct Fire likely armed with 120mm smoothbore main gun
- Equipment Support Direct Fire Repair
- Equipment Support Direct Fire Recovery
The separate Manoeuvre Support Armoured Vehicle Launched Bridge (AVLB) requirement would most likely be met with Terrier.
The first vehicles were expected to enter service in 2015.
General Dynamics proposed a further development of the ASCOD 2 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) to meet the FRES Specialist Vehicle (SV) requirement and BAE, an improved CV90. Both, of course, made various claims about the suitability of their respective products with BAE emphasising the commonality of their MTIP-2 turret with both Scout and Warrior.
France and the UK agreed on a common certification process for the 40mm CTWS in March.
In April, Supacat conducted live-fire trials with Jackal ISTAR equipped with a Kongsberg M151 Protector remote weapon station. This vehicle was not in response to a specific requirement but a logical development of the Jackal and recognition that Jackal might provide some basis for a lightweight CVR(T) Scimitar replacement.
The MoD was also progressing with the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) and Lockheed Martin showed off their unusual looking but reportedly very capable Adaptive Vehicle Architecture (AVA) vehicle at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics show. These were targeted at both the medium (4×4) and large (6×6) requirement and were both built by Babcock. Both vehicles were based on a reinforced HMT Chassis, Lockheed Martin having purchased the intellectual property for HMT a few years earlier.
The Jackal 3 was unveiled at the show, having a protected cab.
The Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle was also unveiled.
The MoD announced a further £74 million order of 110 Jackal 2’s and 70 Coyote Tactical Support Vehicle (Light). An order for 200 International MXT vehicles was confirmed in a £200 million contract in May and after a £20 million upgrade, the first Panthers were deployed to Afghanistan. This Theatre Entry Standard (Helmand) was for 67 vehicles only, the remainder of the 401 strong Panther fleet were not deployed because of concerns regarding their vulnerability to IED’s.
A joint Supacat and Babcock press release in April confirmed their relationship;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Supacat Ltd, the designer of the widely acclaimed ‘Jackal’ weapons-mounted 4×4 patrol vehicle and Babcock the leading engineering support specialists have formed an industry alliance to deliver around 110 Jackal 2 (the enhanced, latest iteration of the original Jackal design), and more than 70 of the new 6×6 ‘Coyote’ Tactical Support Vehicle (Light) (TSV(L)). Supacat as the vehicle designer has been awarded the prime contract supported by Babcock as the vehicle manufacturer for whom the contract is worth around £55 million. This contract is in response to the MoD’s latest Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) and is a part of the £700 million Protected Mobility Package announced by the MoD late last year. The vast majority of both vehicle types are scheduled for delivery in 2009 to support operations in Afghanistan. Within the alliance, Supacat, as the design authority will be responsible for design, development, prototyping, integration and overall programme management. Babcock will take responsibility for detailed production planning, purchasing and manufacture at their Devonport dockyard facility. A single project office, located at Dunkeswell in Devon, will provide overall control.[/su_note]
The Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) programmes was deferred for two years as part of the 2010 Planning Round.
The MoD responded to the Defence Select Committee’s scathing Equipment Report in May.
On the accusation that the MoD could not hit water if it fell out of a boat, it said this:
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]We do not accept this conclusion[/su_note]
And went on to state:
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Defence has invested significantly in Protected Mobility (PM) in the recent past, however the PM package has never been designed as a substitute for the Utility Vehicle (UV) programme; indeed, it has been designed to cater for the specific operational requirements of Iraq and Afghanistan, and the capability delivered falls significantly short of the stated UV requirement to deliver the medium component of the Balanced Force through the FRES programme.
In May 2008 we announced the provisional selection of Piranha V, offered by General Dynamics (UK) Ltd, as the preferred design for the FRES UV. Following a period of intensive negotiations with General Dynamics to address a number of commercial issues, it became clear to both parties that it would not be possible to reach agreement on the commercial conditions required to enable further progress on the basis of the current procurement strategy. It was therefore decided that we should withdraw General Dynamics (UK)’s provisional preferred bidder status.
Our examination of the Equipment Programme, in 2008, separately considered the balance of investment and priority in the Army’s armoured vehicle programme. We have concluded that, in the context of current operations, and bearing in mind the considerable recent investment in Protected Mobility, the highest priority should now be accorded to delivering the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme and the FRES Scout vehicle as quickly as possible. Against that background, we have decided to restructure the FRES programme, giving priority to FRES Scout.
We are now considering how best to take forward the procurement of the Utility Vehicle, but General Dynamics (UK) will have an opportunity to compete in any future Utility Vehicle competition.
The cost of the FRES UV programme until the end of February 2009 was £133m. This investment in the UV programme will serve to progress and de-risk the early stages of the SV programme. The Department can confirm that we have identified lessons that will be applied to all elements of the FRES programme as it moves forward. We are now considering how and when to reset the competition.[/su_note]
This was the first time the £133 million figure was released but it wasn’t the first time that the MoD and the phrase ‘lessons’ was mentioned in the same paragraph as FRES.
Money spent so far; £133 million on FRES UV and £57 million on MRAV
Total = £191 million
Contracts for Talisman were placed in the first half of 2009; Force Protection Buffalo’s, RQ-170 T-Hawk Micro UAV’s, QinetiQ Dragon Runner robots and a £25m contract to Thales to act as the Mission Systems Design Authority which included ‘warehousing’.
In response to the long-overdue requirement to replace the Snatch, specifically the Snatch Vixen, the Light Protected Vehicle Competition was launched with a Pre-Qualification Questionnaire issued in June. Bids had to be in by the end of July, the MoD was not messing about although the scoping studies had been in progress for some time.
The requirement was described as:
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Mastiff levels of protection in a 7-tonne vehicle, with a footprint roughly the same as a Land Rover[/su_note]
Prospective competitors included;
- Supacat with a new design,
- Force Protection with a new design,
- Creation/Babcock with Zephyr,
- Renault/Land Rover with Sherpa,
- Oshkosh with Sandcat,
- Iveco with a development of the LMV,
- BAE with RG32,
- General Dynamics with Eagle.
In June, official cancellation of the Future Combat System (FCS), confirming an earlier announcement in April by US Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates. This was a clear break from the ‘go fast go home’ medium weight philosophy, operations in Afghanistan and Iraq having put paid to that vision.
The Secretary of State for Defence, John Hutton MP, in a speech at the Royal Society of Arts in London in the same month, echoed Robert Gates thinking about changing priorities.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]But we will need to go further. We must be ready to consider deep and wide-ranging changes to our Armed Forces – changes that will help our own people prosecute these kinds of campaigns even more effectively and safely in the future. Earlier this month we saw real leadership from President Obama and Secretary Gates in their ambition to set the US military policy on a new course, rebalancing and reprioritising investment effort on a huge scale. We need to see a similar readjustment here in the UK in the years ahead. A rebalancing of investment in technology, equipment and people to meet the challenge of irregular warfare. If a country like the US, with all its vast resources and military strength has decided to prioritise, I believe the UK must do the same.[/su_note]
If the FCS/FRES concept of substituting protection derived from mass for speed, electronic countermeasures and networked precision was killed by Iraq and Afghanistan, this was the official wake.
Despite this, and with almost perfect timing, the 30 Tonne Tank burst back onto the scene.
Following up from the initial publicity earlier in the year, the MoD held a number of industry sessions in June to further detail the Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision.
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]We are looking for highly innovative ways of delivering the same capability as our current Main Battle Tanks, but in a significantly lighter package that is more easily transportable, fuel efficient and less reliant on the supporting military infrastructure. This is part of the Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision.
A potential solution is the use of
Hybrid Electric Drive Technologies that can significantly enhance mobility over demanding terrain with the benefits of good fuel efficiency and high reliability. Creative ideas that will provide the overall systems architecture that will host all military vehicle functions should also be included. We will award a number of contracts to demonstrate proof of principle of innovative technologies and applications of technology that will improve the mobility and overall effectiveness of the Future Protected Vehicle.
Technologies that can significantly enhance mobility over demanding terrain with the benefits of good fuel efficiency and high reliability. Creative ideas that will provide the overall systems architecture that will host all military vehicle functions should also be included. We will award a number of contracts to demonstrate proof of principle of innovative technologies and applications of technology that will improve the mobility and overall effectiveness of the Future Protected Vehicle.
Following the seminar on 25 June, proposals for these short, focused demonstrations need to be submitted to Centre for Defence Enterprise by the 3rd September 2009. Winning proposals will get a contract award within a few weeks leading to demonstration of their proof of principle within 3-4 months after contract award. [/su_note]
The headline scope was:
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]An Electric 30 tonne Armoured Fighting Vehicle with the ‘punch’ of a current Main Battle Tank
An electric 30 tonne vehicle which will embody the effectiveness and survivability currently associated with a Main Battle Tank but with high tactical mobility, reduced logistic footprint and strategic mobility of a rapidly deployable, air portable system
It will employ a modular, open architecture approach to underpin a future generation of mission configurable platform
A ‘Troop Carrier’ variant capable of carrying a fully equipped eight man section is to be the main demonstration focus
An electric 30 tonne vehicle which will embody the effectiveness and survivability currently associated with a Main Battle Tank (MBT) but with high tactical mobility, reduced logistic footprint and strategic mobility of a rapidly deployable, air portable system.
It will employ a modular, open architecture approach to underpin a future generation of mission configurable platforms
A ‘Troop Carrier’ variant capable of carrying a fully equipped eight man section is to be the main demonstration focus
Enhance survivability and other performance aspects, through adjustable ride height (2 meters of suspension travel is the target)
Test Bed Demonstrator within 4 years
Experimental Operational Capability: ~2013[/su_note]
Somewhat puzzling was the requirement for it to weigh 30 tonnes yet still be transportable in a 20 tonne payload C-130. And then in the same pack, was a revision to transportability, back to A-400M and C-17. I can only assume this slide was a hangover from previous FRES requirements as it was still referring to a Utility, Recce and Heavy family of vehicles.
Regardless of that confusion, the vision seemed to be a re-run of FRES, coming right on the heels of FRES and FCS being strongly repudiated both in the USA and UK barely a few weeks before.
Two teams were selected, BAE and Innov8 (a team led by Thales)
There were six technical study subjects
Systems integration and Architecture
- Vetronics and Architectures requirements data collation
- Vetronics architecture technology review
- Electrical power generation, management and control requirements
- Man–Machine Interface (MMI) requirements
- Vetronics architecture definition
- Power system solution definition
- Software and middleware definition
Reduced Footprint and Burden
- Review logistics and supportability issues
- Identification of key drivers
- Guidelines for CV design
- Framework for assessment
- Technical solution review
Mission effects (Including lethality)
- Role capability/functionality review
- Technology review
- Subsystem Solution Analysis
- Definition of baseline and STR technologies
- Infrastructure requirements
- Review current and future survivability technologies
- Burdens and infrastructure requirements
- Define candidate technologies and technology groups for the CV
- Define key concept design features; Platform layout and design, redundant systems, CBRN decontamination and Mine protection
- Review of mobility requirements
- Review of current and future mobility technology
- Review of HED demonstrator and other hybrid electric drive activities
- Recommend and justify mobility concepts, including whether FPV CV Demonstrator is to be tracked or wheeled, suspension and running gear requirements, power and drive train
- Review of key risks and assessment criteria and define phase 2 risk reduction, analysis and trials requirements
- Identify total systems level requirements for the CV demonstrator
- Identify the total sub-system fit requirements
- Develop high level concepts for the CV design
- Down select concepts
- Design of CV demonstrator
- Identification of key risks for CV build
Some of these built on previous work, GTID and GVA for example.
In addition to these, an additional study into Hybrid Electric Drive technology was also included.
The FPV Capability Vision vehicle was required to have the following characteristics:
- Weight: 30t (plus growth potential)
- Speed: 80kph, Road range 500km
- Ground pressure: 270kPa VLCI (equivalent to 200kPa MMP)
- Water crossing: ability to ford to depths of 1.4m
- Reconfigurable between roles: Lethal Effects, Recce, Troop Carrier, General Utility
- Very High level of crew survivability across all scenarios
- All environment, all weather, day/night capability
- Low signature
- Modular vetronics infrastructure
- High performance long travel active suspension with energy recovery (2m) –to enhance survivability and provide a stable high speed weapons platform
- High voltage power system supporting weapons and protection systems
- Built in HUMS, diagnostics and automatic fall back modes
- Multifunction crew stations to share workload, embedded training
- High efficiency sub-systems
- Organic renewable energy power generation systems
A few interesting images and concepts appeared over the next couple of years as the programme progressed.
It really was an ambitious vision, just like FRES and FCS, explicitly stating the MoD wanted a revolution, not an evolution.
Following the design rights and intellectual property issues exposed by FRES UV and subsequently ridiculed by the Defence Select Committee, the MoD announced a new approach to design rights and intellectual property.
At the RUSI Land Warfare Conference on the 23rd of June, Quentin Davies MP, Permanent Secretary and Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, said of the armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) sector strategy;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]From now on, we will be insisting from the outset that we have the rights to all design information and access to relevant design knowledge for the purpose of upgrading, supporting or inserting technology in the future into the vehicles we are buying in order to maintain the appropriate degree of sovereignty over industrial skills, capabilities, capacities and technology to ensure operational independence. We should take a slightly less protectionist and slightly more international position. We need of course those capabilities, but we don’t necessarily need all of them in this country and we’ll be prepared to look at them in the EU and NATO and, on a case by case basis and if there’s a justification for it, even outside those areas.[/su_note]
This also signalled two things;
- The future of the British armoured vehicle industry would pivot on FRES SV and Warrior CSP contracts.
- A warning shot to BAE.
And so came about what seemed like a buy anything but BAE policy in armoured fighting vehicles resulting in the drawn-out demise of the legacy of Alvis, GKN, Sankey and Vickers.
At a July conference on Countering the IED Threat, General Sir Richard Dannatt stated:
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]The insurgent has chosen to put his strength up against our weakness, it forces us into bigger and more protected vehicles, or even better for them, to stay in our bases and not have any access to the people. To do our job we must integrate with the people, and the insurgent wants to prevent us from doing that. It is time for expenditure on counter IED to move from UOR to core business. If we accept that we will be in Afghanistan for three to five years and beyond, there is no doubt that this is now our core business.[/su_note]
The British Army and MoD had by this point put considerable effort into countering the IED threat with a range of measures that were not only defensive, but also included extensive means of defeating the network that put them into the ground in the first place.
At the September DSEi show in London General Dynamics UK Vice President, Steve Rowbotham, told reporters;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]ASCOD 2 has leapfrogged past its nearest rival.[/su_note]
He also revealed that initial chassis production would be carried out in Spain followed by a transfer to the UK. The Common Base Platform was being developed by taking the ASCOD technology test bed PT5 and integrating a range of new automotive components.
BAE made similar claims, pointing out the combat provenance of CV90 and the fact that it could point to a completed vehicle, not a video of an old ASCOD and some nice graphics.
Coherence with the Warrior MTIP turret was also emphasised. Yet again.
BAE also focused on the intellectual property issue that had scuppered the Utility Variant competition, campaign director Arne Berglund said;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]We will use a tried and tested model to ensure the UK MoD has access to the information it needs to ensure operational sovereignty[/su_note]
At the same time, BAE stated that initial production would take place at the production facility in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden with some integration work carried out in the UK.
By August, with General Richards now Chief of the General Staff, OPERATION ENTIRETY went forward in a major fashion. Afghanistan demanded all the services engage fully to ensure success.
The SV competition result was due to be announced early in 2010 and represented the first £2 Billion phase of Specialist Vehicles, Recce Block 1.
November was the bid submission month for FRES Specialist Vehicles, neatly coinciding with a leak of Bernard Gray’s report on defence acquisition and procurement reform. The leaks did not paint a pretty picture.
2009 marked a low point in relations between the Army and the government.
Helicopter availability and personnel caps in Afghanistan were poisonous issues that bled out into the public domain. None of this helped the case for FRES and to make matters worse, the National Audit Office Major Equipment Report started the budget ‘black hole’ ball rolling.
In November, Lockheed Martin and the MoD’s Defence Support Group signed a partnering agreement in support of their Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) and Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) bids.
Lockheed Martin and BAE submitted their bids for the Warrior Capability Sustainment Project in November.
The two-year study contracts for the Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision matured and a number of their outputs were discussed in the media at the end of the year. The BAE concepts were particularly interesting, a family of vehicles called Pointer, Safeguard, Bearer, Raider, Atlas, Wraith and Charger.
Pointer was a small Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) that would provide a variety of observation, reconnaissance and fire support for dismounted personnel in limited terrain, especially caves and urban areas. Powered by a fuel cell, it would have an endurance of 8 hours.
Wraith was a very low signature unmanned scout vehicle equipped with adaptive electronic camouflage, cooling and noise reduction systems. Various sensors included facial recognition and advanced electro-optical. Another unmanned scout was Raider. Raider was smaller, wheeled, and featured an automatic cannon and smoke dischargers.
Charger was a 30-tonne assault vehicle equipped with non-line-of-sight vertically launched missiles and an automatic loading mortar. It was designed specifically for breaking through walls and had a spaced armour concept that elevated armour panels using electromagnets.
Bearer and Atlas were logistics vehicles and Safeguard, the main utility variant that could be adapted for many roles and requirements. Safeguard would have disposable sensors attached to the hull that dismounted personnel could deploy. It also had the ability to be raised by 1.3m when travelling in IED high threat areas.
Hybrid Electric Drive technologies were also included in the research activity.
Multidrive partnered with QinetiQ on their Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) demonstrator vehicle. Under the Applied Research Programme (ARP) contract, QinetiQ was to act as systems integrator for the design and build of a 6-wheel, 18-tonne technology demonstrator, with individual wheel control.
The 6×6 HED demonstrator built on the smaller High Mobility Demonstrator (HMD) vehicle.
[tab title=”HMD and HED”]
[tab title=”HED Video”]
Welcoming the new contract Defence Procurement Minister, Lord Bach said;
[su_note note_color=”#c9cfd8″ text_color=”#151715″ radius=”1″]Building a hybrid drive demonstrator will allow us to closely study the claimed advantages of hybrid electric drive ( HED ) and its suitability for future military vehicles. The results of this wholly MOD funded evaluation programme will provide detailed data in key areas such as mobility, design flexibility, operating costs and fuel economy, which will lead to informed choices based on hard data and real experience.[/su_note]
QinetiQ has since gone on to secure a number of research and development contracts with hybrid electric drive systems.
By the end of the year, the first of the 115 ST Kinetics Bronco/Warthog protected mobility vehicles started to be delivered. Variants included a troop carrier, command, ambulance and repair & recovery. Warthog increased the standard 16-tonne Bronco Gross Vehicle Weight to 19 tonnes, additional armour from Permalli, air conditioning from Gallay, Platt MR550 weapons mount and a full suite of BOWMAN communications and ECM equipment making up the difference.
After Lockheed Martin had been awarded a study contract to investigate a common Warrior/FRES turret, it became clear that there would, in fact, need two turret variants, one for Warrior, and the other optimised for the reconnaissance role.
By the end of 2008 FRES had changed lanes. The embarrassment of the UV competition was hastily being airbrushed away as focus on delivering the numerous protected mobility UOR’s for Afghanistan took centre political stage. Instead of defaulting to the runner-up vehicles in the UV Trials, either VBCI or Boxer, the MoD chose to simply defer the whole project and switch to Scout.
The MoD decided to defer the OUVS requirement for a couple of years, kicking the replacement for Pinzgauer and Land Rover into the long grass as Husky, Wolfhound, Coyote and Warthog joined Mastiff, Ridgeback and Jackal in Afghanistan.
Talisman was entering service as well, despite the gap since MINDER was cancelled and US/Canadian forces had been operating similar equipment for many years.
Meanwhile, the FRES concept had evolved again as detailed in the Future Land Operating Concept, FRES SV Scout was back on the menu and the original FCS/FRES concepts were well and truly skewered by protracted operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
CVR(T) was increasingly showing its age and given the FRES UV was never likely to be in service in Afghanistan by the time the UK completed its deployment, there was much less of a rush for UV so it was back burnered, like OUVS.
Lessons were learned though, rest assured of that.
Both BAE and General Dynamics extolled the virtues of their respective Scout offerings, versions of the CV90 and ASCOD vehicles respectively. Both were eighties designs, only slightly younger than Warrior and both were nowhere near as ambitious as TRACER or the FRES TDP’s.
After the FRES UV debacle, the MoD was in no mood for risk.
As the year closed, BAE and Innov8 showed off the results of their Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision studies but given the MoD’s all-round aversion to technology risk, it was hard to see any of them progressing beyond the conceptual stage.
FRES as a term also started to disappear from MoD and industry releases.
British Army Medium Weight Capability – Table of Contents
What this document is, sources and acknowledgements, and what this document is not
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.
CVR(T) and CVR(W) enter service, and the rapid deployment concept cuts its teeth with the C-130
CVR(T) continues to be developed and sees action in in the Falkland Islands and Warrior enters service. Oh, and Saxon.
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.
Three vehicle development projects that would have importance to the ongoing story of developing a medium weight capability.
Important milestones in the development of medium weight capabilities, a trip across the Sava and WWIII averted at an airport.
The Future Combat System, the UK follows suit, FRES and being a force for good.
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.
Between 2005 and 2007 the Army experienced significant change. FRES picked up speed but operations in Iraq overshadowed the medium weight concept.
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.
2010 to 2011, putting the embarrassment of FRES UV behind it, the Army switches to FRES SV, a replacement for CVR(T)
2012 to 2014, as an end to the Afghanistan deployment drew near, Scout continued and attention turned to Warrior.
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).
A few thoughts and opinions.
Weights, measures, variants and roles
A revolution in medium calibre weapons, but can we afford it?
The essential glue that binds the increasing quantity of vehicle electronics