Return to Contingency
The May 2012 NATO Summit confirmed the commitment to withdraw ISAF personnel by 2014, together with the conflict in Georgia/South Ossetia a few years earlier, rising tensions in Ukraine and a general sense that the aspirations for warm relations between NATO and Russia were further away than ever, the British armed forces came to the realisation that collective territorial defence was back in fashion and with it, combined arms manoeuvre.
With Lockheed Martin continuing to insist that an upgraded Warrior turret offered better value for money, BAE still insisting their MTIP-2 turret offered better capability and commonality with Scout, BAE continued to showcase their CV90 with demonstrations of an advanced thermal camouflage system called Adaptiv and the latest CV90 build standard called Armadillo.
General Dynamics kept up the pace with Scout.
January to March
In January 2012 the MoD’s long-awaited Defence Equipment Plan was published, not much detail but a confirmation of a commitment to FRES, even though that term was increasingly rare in the media.
It also included a commitment to bringing appropriate UOR equipment into the core equipment plan.
The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme now had an estimated full operational capability date of 2020 with production starting in 2018. The original aspiration of upgrading 643 vehicles had by now slipped to less than 400.
The £1 Billion programme cost included £358 worth of government-issued equipment such as the 40mm CTA with the balance going to Lockheed Martin.
Cost per vehicle for Warrior CSP was therefore in the order of £2.6m.
The UK and France announced an enhanced package of defence cooperation measures and the formation of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF).
To coincide with the completion of the Preliminary Design Review for the Common Base Platform that would support Recce Block I vehicles (Scout, Protected Mobility, Recovery and Repair), a series of new images were released by General Dynamics and the MoD for each of them.
Recce Block II was planned to comprise Ambulance, Engineer Reconnaissance, Joint Fires Direction and Command Post variants.
The MoD reported successful cold weather trials for the SV Scout thermal imaging system.
April to May
May 4th, 2012, the Army released Joint Concept Note 2/12, Future Land Operating Concept, an update of the 2008 version.
This laid the foundations for Army 2020 and from a FRES perspective, completely expunged the whole notion of medium weight intervention forces.
The document contained ZERO instances of the word ‘medium’ and scant mention of rapid intervention.
One cannot escape the conclusion that the troubled concept of the medium weight force that was so completely aligned to FRES (or perhaps the other way around) was now history. All that study, all those joint concept notes, hundreds of thousands of words, tens of thousands PowerPoint slides and God only knows how many millions of the Queen’s Pound Notes.
Incidentally, this document was replaced by JCN 1/17, which has not been published.
After various rumours in the press, the MoD confirmed on May 17th that SV Scout was secure.
The press release also summarised progress to date:
- 4 contracts signed with suppliers to the programme across the UK and Europe;
- Testing of key components completed;
- First development turret for the Scout variant of SV built and tested;
- CT40 cannon system integrated into turret and successfully fired;
- Representative PT3 Scout SV prototype unveiled;
- New armour system tested against latest IED threats;
- Powertrain physically integrated into the Mobile Test Rig (MTR)
In early May, BAE released details of a light tracked vehicle built on the work completed as part of CVR(T) Mk2.
CV21 had a top weight of 17 tonnes, armed with a turret mounted automatic cannon and was amphibious. With a target cost of £1m BAE soft launched the concept to gain interest.
In the early part of 2012 information on Agile Warrior and the studies being carried out by General Nick Carter were being released and discussed. These studies were looking at the shape and organisation of the army in a post-Afghanistan world where the regular army would be in the region of 80,000 personnel.
Agile Warrior was a series of activities designed to get the Army thinking;
- Deliver an authoritative evidence-based analysis of future land-force requirements within a JIIM context
- Across all Lines of Development
- FCOC era out to 2020
- Policy aware not policy constrained
- By the Army not to the Army
- A Brand name
The second to last bullet point is especially illuminating, many considered the previous organisational and doctrinal constructs were forced on the Army by those in the joint doctrine development functions, especially when headed by Admirals and Air Marshall’s.
Agile Warrior 11 had a number of themed questions;
- Test the ability of the TAS structure to transition to best-effort Divisional level operations in a hybrid conflict.
- Test how a Multi Role Brigade will fight and operate in a hybrid conflict. Test how our sustainment and service support organisations will operate in hybrid conflict.
- Evaluate and determine the Army’s future C2 requirements and associated models, for ISTAR and CIS.
- Determine the ‘Understand’ demands of continuous modulated engagement and deployed brigade operations and recommend the optimum structures to meet them.
- Determine the nature of future demand on commanders and soldiers.
- In what ways will we need increased Army agility in the future and how should we look to promote it?
- Test and evaluate the major constituent parts of our current doctrine and determine its necessary conceptual direction of travel in the next 10 years.
The final report (summary) highlighted 17 key insights and the 2012 events worked on the following questions;
- Urban Operations;
- Cyber and Influence;
- C2 at Div. and Bde;
- Whole Force Concept; Contractors & Reserves
- UORs into Core;
- National Interests;
- Professional Development;
- Force Support;
Separate but linked activities included Exercise Urban Warrior and Exercise Mad Scientist.
A number of these documents pointed to the Multi Role Brigade being able to sustain an ongoing stability operation in a town the size of Newton Abbot, population 25,000. Certainly not Basra or an area like Helmand.
Despite assurances at the beginning of the month that Scout was secure, Defense News published a story on the 26th that cast some doubt on that.
What this made clear was that whilst Scout was secure, the final numbers and variants would be dependent on priorities within a fixed financial envelope.
At the Eurosatory exhibition, Colonel Peter Flach MBE (Retired), General Dynamics Director Marketing and Customer Relations confirmed that they were working to the original timetable for Scout pending being told by the MoD otherwise. Peter Flach had a long relationship with FRES, having served as Deputy Project Manager for MRAV, IPT Lead for TRACER and various other programmes as a Colonel in the Royal Hussars. After leaving the Army, he joined General Dynamics in 2004, left in 2009, and rejoined in early 2011 as military liaison director for Scout SV.
Peter Flach had earlier authored an excellent article for RUSI that asked ‘Whatever Happened to Medium Weight Forces’
If anyone could answer that, it was Peter Flach.
The basic conclusion was that they hadn’t gone away (despite what the Future Land Operating Concept said), they had just got heavier to reflect increasing demands for protection and ISTAR equipment.
The first Foxhound vehicles were deployed to Afghanistan.
In July 2012, Army 2020 was in the public domain and whilst the media generally focussed on the Reserves and cap badge bun fights, the Multi Role Brigade was deleted, replaced with the Reaction Force, Adaptable Force and Force Troops.
This was a significant change.
The previous approach that saw the future as being enduring stabilisation operations as per Iraq/Afghanistan and organised the Army around this, the five Multi-Role Brigade structure.
The harsh realities of Iraq and especially Afghanistan had resulted in a political situation that saw the future as exactly the opposite. The writing had been on the wall for the Multi Role Brigade and Army 2020 finished the job.
Writing in the Times, Sir Peter Wall said;
Many believed that whilst the Multi Role Brigade was sensible it was simply unaffordable, even in the watered down concept presented in SDSR 2010. Army 2020 would retain a heavy core with a lighter follow-on force bolstered with an enlarged reserve component for enduring operations.
On the surface, Scout was completely unaffected.
There was also a strong sense that the Army needed to break out of the ‘Afghanistan envelope’, as Sir Peter Wall put it.
Army 2020 was work in progress and much of the detail would emerge over the coming months.
What was clear though, was that the Army was going to have to make do with the various UOR vehicles and the resultant changes in structure reflected this, the Heavy Protected Mobility Battalion in an Armoured Infantry Brigade equipped with Mastiff for example.
What also crystal clear, the Army had taken a significant force reduction that no amount of brochures or fine words could hide. Whichever way you looked at it, wholesale capacity reductions and capability gaps were the themes of Army 2020.
A mock-up Scout was shown with the new turret but basic ASCOD chassis. The Thales VELT/Orion sensor can be clearly seen on the rear of the turret.
As part of Army 2020, a number of Land Rover WMIK’s were transferred to the Army Reserve Royal Yeomanry to form a Light Cavalry capability. Specifically, the variants were the R-WMIK and R-WMIK+ versions of the Land Rod Rover Wolf. Their role was to ‘provide a rapidly deployable force with fast mobility and substantial firepower and to provide reconnaissance security and, if the situation demands, decisive tactical effects by raiding and attacking the enemy’
The Royal Yeomanry had, of course, previously operated Fox CVR(W) vehicles, when in the early nineties they switched to Land Rovers. The R-WMIK, or Refurbished-Weapons Mount Installation Kit Land Rovers have been engineered by Ricardo to include a wide range of protection, firepower and operability improvements. Further ballistic protection was available via the Jankel Modular Armour Protection Installation Kit (MAPIK). The + model was a later conversion which provided an automatic transmission and additional armour protection. Both variants had the rollover protection system and frangible alloy wheels.
The Light Cavalry regiments were then organised on similar lines to regular cavalry with four vehicles per troop, three troops per Sabre Squadron and a support squadron.
The ubiquitous Land Rover, or Truck Utility Medium (TUM), was still very much in use across all arms of the British Army and it seems set to stay this way for some time. The short wheelbase version, or Truck Utility Light (TUL), is perhaps in shorter supply as they did not support a full BOWMAN fit and so have been more readily disposed of since their order in 1996. This order saw just under ten thousand Wolf Defenders (High Specification, or HS) being accepted into service in a number of variants; winterised/waterproof, Fitted For Radio (FFR), hard top, crew cab and others.
Since then, a plethora of improvements were made to the fleet, everything from improved rollover protection to better sound insulation, but it remains unlikely they will be replaced before the 2025-30 timeframe.
There have also been a number of conversions, over 160 Ambulance variants (out of a total ambulance fleet of approximately 800) converted to double cab variants for example.
The Pinzgauer 716M was ordered in 1994. A Mechanised Infantry battalion would have 14 TUM; 2 TUM per three of the Company HQ and one Support Company, and 6 additional in the HQ Company (of the battalion) and 2 TUL; one of which was in the HQ Company and the other in the MT Platoon. 4 TUM GS assigned to REME LAD and Signals.
Whilst the Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) programme that was to replace many of these was ceased a number of years previously, the Multi Role Vehicle (Protected), or MRV-P, was beginning to gain traction in mid-2012. Although the UK and USA had a working group for similar requirements, the UK decided the US Joint Light Tactical Vehicle would not meet the requirements of OUVS.
OUVS was largely a simple replacement for Land Rovers and Pinzgauers but as with FRES, Afghanistan and Iraq had demonstrated that such vehicles would be largely un-deployable into the kinds of theatres the British Army then envisaged itself fighting in.
Pre-concept phase demonstrations and requirements definition work commenced with the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) contenders thought likely to also be considered, there was also discussion on the need to keep the costs down to less than £250k.
Whilst Land Rover and Pinzgauer would remain in service with the light forces, the rest of the Army would be equipped with MRV-P and this meant many vehicles.
The requirement was summarised as:
MRV-P would cover a number of roles; general purpose, command and liaison, command post, communications and Light Gun towing vehicle. Initial concepts called for a base vehicle capable of carrying a crew of 3 and 6 passengers or a payload of 2.5 tonnes, maximum weight of 14 tonnes, width less than 2.5m, STANAG Level II ballistic protection and blast protection of STANAG Level II/IIa. The vehicle would also need to be fully Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) compliant.
A number of contenders emerged in addition to the LPPV contenders, the Thales Bushmaster for example.
August to September
BAE Systems launched the latest 6×6 variant of their RG35 family of vehicles.
The RG35 was certainly an interesting vehicle family, building on 30 years of South African experience and with a high degree of commonality across the 6×6 and 4×4 variants.
October to December
The MoD announced the purchase of another 51 Foxhound vehicles bringing the total to 376 and a further 20 Warrior vehicles were upgraded to the Theatre Entry Standard (Herrick) at a cost of £3.6million.
The SV Mobility Test Rig (MTR) was undergoing its Accelerated Life Testing, designed to demonstrate reliability and provide test data.
MTR also underwent low temperature testing the INSTITUTO TECNOLÓGICO ‘LA MARAÑOSA’ that included a 72 hour period at -32 degree C followed by a series of starts using a preheater and no pre-heater.
Lorica Systems UK, a joint venture of Marshall Marshall Land Systems and Plasan (since wound up) were selected by Lockheed Martin to provide the armour for the Warrior CSP Assessment Phase.
By the end of 2012, the Protected Mobility variant had completed its Preliminary Design Review and was well on its way to Complete Design review scheduled for 2013.
Early 2013 was a relatively slow news period for Scout as General Dynamics progressed with its development and the British Army got to grips with Army 2020.
January to July
The MoD placed an order with Force Protection for 47 Mastiff protected vehicles in April.
General Dynamics reported that the Mobile Test Rig (MTR) had completed cold weather trials.
Despite that good news, General Dynamics also reported that the Spanish Government reduced its ASCOD Pizarro order from 190 to 117 in return for a five-year integrated support package.
General Dynamics also announced in July, a reduction in its workforce at Andover, Pershore and Ashchurch in England and Newbridge in South Wales. Its UK Headquarters was also to close, together with earlier reductions, a 40% reduction in UK workforce. The restructuring also saw control of armoured vehicle programmes move to the USA.
A contract announcement for the Telescoped Cannons (CTC) ammunition was published:
The UOR into Core programme for protected mobility continued with the announcement of an RFP for fleet conversion;
The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme was also shown off in the middle of 2013, after completing the initial design review. The first Battlegroup was set to be available by 2018 with Full Operational Capability by 2020.
The British Army published an update to its re-organisation plans in July.
It reconfirmed commitment to Scout Specialist Vehicle (SV).
August to December
At the DSEI show in the London in early September, General Dynamics showed off the Specialist Vehicle Mobile Test Rig. They revealed that the MTR would be very similar to the Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support variant.
The PMRS variant would have a crew of three and carry an additional four dismounted personnel, the same as the CVR(T) it was replacing.
News also emerged during the show that General Dynamics had agreed to pay Lockheed Martin an undisclosed penalty payment as they had failed to keep to the schedule in providing information that would enable them to develop the SV Scout turret.
It was also reported that General Dynamics admitted work on SV was taking longer than expected:
A number of news outlets reported that weight growth was the most significant issue and source of delay.
The expectations at this point were still that the first batch of 100 hulls would be fabricated in Spain and shipped to the UK for integration work to be completed, and for subsequent hulls to be manufactured in the UK at the Defence Support Group site in Donnington.
The final contract for Foxhound vehicles was placed by the MoD in October bringing the total to 400, a total investment of £371 million.
Testing of the Mobile Test Rig continued in Spain;
By the end of 2013, Foxhound had entered service and the MoD announced further orders, bringing the investment to £371 million and 400 vehicles.
Also by the end of 2013, the MoD had announced that the vast majority of the protected mobility vehicles would be bought into core.
A flurry of activity in the wheeled vehicle market occurred in 2013, new versions of the Patria AMV increases in production volumes of the Rosomak, first demonstrations of a number of amphibious vehicles for USMC requirements, new Stryker variants and even the Japanese unveiled an 8×8 vehicle equipped with a 105mm gun.
January to June
The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) completed its Preliminary Design Review in January 2014 following the System Design Review several months earlier.
February 2014 saw the publication the National Audit Office Major Projects Report
It also confirmed the work done on some of the other variants.
All the Key User Requirements were forecast to be met, the vehicle programme was right on track.
The document also confirmed significant milestones for the two years previous;
- May 12 – Mine Blast De-risking Trial
- June 12 – Mobile Test Rig Roll-out (start of mobility trials)
- September 12 – Ambulance role mock-up
- December 12 – Preliminary Design Review Exit
- January 13 – Risk Review (Interim)
With another election on the horizon and a potential SDSR, moving Recce Block 2 and 3 forward to Main Gate Approval was seen as unwise.
Following the Lancaster House agreement on defence cooperation, the UK announced it would be trialling VBCI in an 8 month programme with Phillip Dunne commenting in Janes that;
More news on the emergent Multi Role Vehicle (Protected) emerged in April with the publication of a pre-concept information request:
The estimated cost was less than a third of that published for Foxhound, notably so. MRV-P was to be a low-cost but protected replacement for a number of legacy vehicles.
On April 28th, 2014, General Dynamics announced that the Common Base Platform Critical Design Review (CDR) for the Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS) variant of the Scout Specialist Vehicle (SV) had been completed.
In a presentation to industry, further details on MRV-P were released:
The variants were:
And the details on quantities and timelines:
The initial MRV-P requirement was the order of 800 vehicles with a potential of up to an additional 4,000. Initial Operating Capability was to be by 2019 and Full Operating Capability by 2022.
A Freedom of Information (FOI) request released in June indicated a higher total contract value for the Assessment Phase:
This new figure included initial support.
At the Defence vehicle Dynamics exhibition, General Dynamics again showed off the maturing Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS) variant, the pre-production prototype.
On the 20th June 2014, ARTEC handed the first production Netherland Boxer over to the medical company of the 13th NL Brigade and at Eurosatory in Paris, BAE demonstrated a CV90 equipped with CMI turret and 105mm main gun.
A couple of images were released showing the Protected Mobility Support variant carrying out additional testing in Spain.
CVR(T) Mk2’s were fitted with rollover protection.
Also in In June, a picture emerged for the Spanish Vehículo de Observación Avanzada) Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle, based on the ASCOD Pizarro.
Note the elevating mast.
July to December
Lockheed Martin released a video of a test firing a Javelin missile from a two-man turret fitted to a Boxer, building on earlier work with a Hellfire/DAGR turret system on a Patria AMV.
All that was left for Scout was a production order and in early September 2014, the MoD obliged.
General Dynamics issued a press release on the 3rd of September announcing the order;
Delivery was scheduled between 2017 and 2024, with an initial Brigade ready to deploy by the end of 2020.
Speaking on the eve of the NATO Summit, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said:
The vehicle also put in an appearance at the NATO summit.
The Chief of the General Staff and head of the British Army, General Sir Peter Wall, said:
General Dynamics and the MoD also released a new image of the Scout variant.
The final variant and quantity details were released over the next couple of days.
The order was broken down into three variants, with a number of roles across each of those variants.
Scout; with 40mm turret and 3 crew, QTY 245 broken down into 3 sub-variants
- 198 Reconnaissance and Strike
- 23 Joint Fire Control for the forward observers
- 24 Ground-Based Surveillance equipped with man-portable radar system
The surveillance radar was not to be integrated with the vehicle and would be operated in the dismounted role.
Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support (PMRS), with Kongsberg protector Remote Weapon System (RWS), 2 crew and 4 passengers, QTY 256, broken down into 3 sub-variants
- 59 Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC)
- 112 Command and Control
- 34 Formation Reconnaissance Overwatch
- 51 Engineer Reconnaissance (3 crew and no passengers but specialist lane marking equipment)
Equipment Support (Engineering) Variants, with Kongsberg RWS, QTY 88
- 38 Recovery (3 crew plus an extra seat)
- 50 Repair (4 crew)
The contract included an option for Block 2 vehicles but most at the time thought it somewhat unlikely the MoD would exercise it.
It is worth going back into the 2009 lineup and examine what changed since then.
The original line up in 2009 looked like this;
1,200 vehicles and 8 variants.
At the announcement of the winning manufacturer, it looked like this;
The production order looked very much different.
4 variants and 589 vehicles.
Very much different to the 1,200 vehicles and 8 variants as envisaged during 2009 but this was not necessarily ‘news’, most of this reduction in quantities and variants had been released and discussed widely over the intervening years.
Also of note was the fact that the production contract had been placed in advance of all the variants progressing through the full assessment phase design reviews.
Phillip Dunne, Defence Minister, defended this decision:
Given integration work is often where problems arise, many questioned this decision.
To coincide with the manufacturing contract, a new set of visuals were released of the Scout, PMRS, Repair, Recovery, Reconnaissance and Command & Control.
In October, it was revealed that the manufacturing approach had changed.
The reduced numbers also changed the manufacturing strategy. Initially, General Dynamics proposed to build the first 100 hulls in Spain and then ship them to the UK for integration. The second batch would then be built at DSG in the UK, with integration also in the UK.
This now changed, the DSG option seemed to be off the table with company executives saying that it was only ever an option. After negative press, the MoD asked General Dynamics to ‘look again’ at their manufacturing strategy. Lockheed Martin also dropped their plans for turret work at DSG and instead decided to complete the work at their Ampthill locations.
News also emerged that confirmed a decision by Lockheed Martin to abandon the Warrior turret conversion and proceed with a new turret design
This was no doubt cold comfort to BAE who had insisted from the start that a new turret would be needed.
The whole programme was ‘re-baselined’.
France launched the Engin Blindé Multi-Rôles (EBMR) Scorpion programme in December that brought together a number of modernization programmes. The first phase of the programme, at a cost of €752 million, was for two vehicles, Griffon and Jaguar.
The 6×6 wheeled armoured personnel carrier, Véhicule Blindé Multirole (VBMR), was called Griffon. The Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat (EBRC) was a reconnaissance vehicle called Jaguar fitted with a Nexter turret with the 40mm CTA.
With an end in sight to the UK’s engagement in Afghanistan and a recognition that enduring stabilisation operations were unlikely to part of the British Army’s future, the British Army shifted considerably in its thinking. The SDSR mandated structure went and in like with force reductions, a new model, Army 2020, emerged.
Making extensive use of the UOR vehicles, the new structure would focus on contingency operations.
SV Scout and Warrior CSP continued, at varying paces through their assessment phases and the long-dead OUVS programme re-emerged as MRV-P.
Lockheed Martin and the MoD came around to BAE’s way of thinking that a new turret design for Warrior would be needed.
One thing was certain, FRES was long gone, and so was the medium weight concept.
At a maximum weight of 42 tonnes, SV was stretching the definition of ‘medium’
Despite the lack of complete design review completion, the production order for SV Scout was placed in 2014, at a much-reduced quantity and scope of variants than had first been envisaged.
To summarise the contract values
Assessment Phase; £600.53m (including initial support)
Demonstration and Manufacture Phase; £3,500m
These costs do not include any concept phase work.
That is roughly £7m each, averaged out over the different variants
It must also be noted that some elements are supplied externally to the programme as government furnished equipment, the CTA40 cannon for example, which would only increase the unit cost.
It was planned to enter limited service 2017; 16 years after first Hansard entry for FRES, 29 years after FFLAV and 44 years after the CVR(T) also came into service.
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