The Seventies

At the beginning of the seventies, both CVR(T) and CVR(W) were coming into service, as the production of FV432 completed. Protected mobility would be a feature of a number of campaigns, and towards the end of the decade, Warrior would start on its development path.

The Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment (FVRDE) and the Military Experimental Engineering Establishment (MEXE) at Christchurch amalgamated in 1970 to form the Military Vehicles and Engineering Establishment (MVEE).

CVR(T) and CVR(W) Enters Service

After producing 17 prototype vehicles of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) CVR(T), Alvis was awarded a production contract for 2,000 vehicles in May 1970 and the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Wheeled) CVR(W) Fox production contract awarded to the Royal Ordnance Factory (ROF) Leeds.

Before production got underway for CVR(T), an extensive trials programme was carried out by the Military Vehicles and Engineering Establishment (MVEE) and Royal Armoured Corps (RAC) Equipment Trials Wing. These trials took place in the UK, Australia, Abu Dhabi, Iran, and Canada. Hot/Wet, Cold and Hot/Dry trials confirmed CVR(T)’s excellent mobility and reliability.

By 1973 Scorpion had entered service with the British Army, specifically the Blues and Royals in Windsor and 17th/21st Lancers in West Germany – it had already been delivered to the Armour Centre at Bovington in Dorset, and the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering at Bordon in Hampshire in 1972. During the initial deployments in Germany, a Scorpion also set the record for a tracked vehicle around the Nürburgring.

CVR(T) Scorpion at the Nürburgring

The CVR(W) Fox entered service in 1975 with the 1st Royal Tank Regiment with deliveries peaking at 40 vehicles per month.

The CVR(T) and CVR(W) Family of Vehicles

The two defining characteristics of CVR(T) were its mobility and the fact that it was a family of vehicles designed from the outset to meet multiple requirements.

At the time CVR(T) was pretty groundbreaking. One of the real breakthroughs was the use of welded aluminium armour throughout. Although both the United States M113 and Sheridan armoured vehicles made use of aluminium armour, it was either of lower quality as in the M113 (in which type 5083 alloy used) or not used throughout. The Sheridan had an aluminium hull of the same alloy as CVR(T) but the turret was of welded steel construction.

The CVR(T) hull and turret were made entirely of the new 7039 aluminium zinc-magnesium alloy.

Air mobility, both for air landing and air despatch were a key requirement.

CVRT-Scorpion-Air-Transport

Sling loading by Chinook was also a crucial capability, one that would be exploited in the Balkans and the Falklands campaigns.

CVRT-Spartan-Chinook-sling-load

A quote from an out of print armour magazine summed up early experience with CVR(T), its mobility and compactness;

Not only was the Scorpion allowed into areas where no other tracked vehicles had been allowed, opening up new exercise possibilities, but it was also able to go where no other vehicle had been able to go before. We did an exercise early on called “Lobster Quadrille”, where our aim was to infiltrate behind the enemy. We achieved it by driving up a river bed at night, a route the enemy had not anticipated anybody using. You could motor along at very low revs making it very difficult for anyone to hear you, or to place you if they could hear the engine

CVR(T) has a lower ground pressure than a walking man at 34.5kN per square metre.

Transport by truck was also an important consideration and many trials with the new Foden/Ampliroll hooklift pallets (now commonly known as DROPS pallets) demonstrated that the vehicle family could be transported long distances and deployed using this method.

CVR(T) Scorpion Road Transport

Using trucks to deploy tracked vehicles is not unique to CVR(T), but their low weight and compactness allowed two to be carried on each transporter. Most standard civilian trucks could also easily be pressed into service. Specialist low loaders and their equally specialist drivers were, thus, not needed for CVR(T) to achieve excellent intra-theatre or inter-theatre mobility (by road).

Their low weight also meant that if they did need bridging support, it could be of a lower bridge class and use more rapidly built types, like the Medium Girder Bridge, for example.

CVRT-Scorpion-on-a-Clas-60-MGB-in-Hong-Kong

CVR(T), therefore, was built around a set of requirements that placed mobility – both strategic and tactical – at the forefront of the design’s requirements.

This was a decision that would be vindicated time after time.

FV 101 Scorpion (Fire Support)

Scorpion was the lead CVR(T) variant equipped with the L23A1 76mm medium velocity gun, a 25% lighter version of the L5A1 used on the Saladin. The range of munitions included a very effective canister round, High Explosive Squash Head (HESH), High Explosive (HE), smoke, illuminating and various practice types.

FV101 Scorpion CVR(T)

In addition to 40 rounds of 76mm ammunition, several hundred 7.62mm rounds for the coaxial GPMG were also carried.

FV 107 Scimitar (Anti APC)

In order to counter enemy personnel carriers at longer ranges than the 76mm gun, the high velocity L21A1 30mm RARDEN cannon was developed by Royal Armament Research and Development Establishment and the Royal Small Arms Factory (Enfield).

FV 107 Scimitar CVR(T)

RARDEN could fire ammunition from the Hispano Suiza 30mm HS 831L, but the Armour Piercing Discarding Sabot, or APDS, ammunition (that would contribute so much to RARDEN’s accuracy and effectiveness) was developed specifically for the new gun. At only 90kg the gun was also much lighter than comparable weapons of the era, and the external spent case ejection system meant that fumes inside the turret were reduced.

Although RARDEN was very accurate, the 3 round clip-loading mechanism meant sustained firing was punctuated with reloading pauses.

The turret design was largely common, although with some key differences such as gunner sighting arrangements.

FV 102 Striker (Anti-Tank)

Of all the CVR(T) variants Striker was perhaps the most ingenious. Intended to provide anti-tank overwatch for the other variants, Striker was equipped with a launch system for the Swingfire anti-tank guided missile.

After the cancellation of the Orange William missile in 1959, Fairey had continued development work on wire-guided anti-tank missiles that would result in Swingfire. Introduced in 1969, Swingfire was a brute of a missile. The warhead weighed in at 7kg alone and it had a couple of unique features that set it apart from its rivals.

FV 102 Striker CVR(T)

Upon launch, the missile could immediately switch direction by 90 degrees by using a ‘jetivator’ which controlled the direction of the rocket motor exhaust, and a remote sighting assembly which allowed the launching vehicle to adopt a hull down, or concealed, firing position. The remote sight could be located up to 30 metres away horizontally and 15 metres higher or lower. Striker could carry five missiles in ready to launch boxes with an additional five stowed in the hull. With the missile launcher in the stowed position, Striker looked like just any other armoured personnel carrier, not the lethal anti-tank machine that it was.

There are a number of theories as to why five missiles.

One, in true research establishment fashion, the boffins reportedly determined that the kill probability of each Swingfire was 40%. Thus, it would take precisely two and a half missiles to kill each enemy tank. They also calculated that a vehicle engaging enemy tanks with ATGW (Anti-Tank Guided Weaponry) would only kill two before itself being destroyed. Therefore, five missiles were all that was needed.

Two, that the number was based on the number of Soviet tanks our forces may be expected to face. A Soviet Motor Rifle Regiment Tank Battalion had forty tanks, four companies of ten. A Medium Reconnaissance Regiment had sixteen Strikers (four per Squadron). A Medium Recce Regiment would deploy with a total of 80 Swingfire in the launchers and a further 80 internally stowed (with 80 more (20 per Squadron) available in forward resupply). Therefore if a withdrawing Medium Recce Squadron’s overwatch were to face an advancing Soviet MRR Tank Company the ratio of (loaded) Swingfire Missiles to T64/72 would be 2:1

Three, five missiles conveniently fit across the width of the vehicle.

I will leave you to decide which one is true!

FV 103 Spartan (Armoured Personnel Carrier)

Intended to provide protected mobility for four dismounted personnel, such as Pioneers or Blowpipe teams, Spartan was a simple adaptation of the base Scorpion design. Although it had a higher roofline it was still compact and, despite weighing slightly more than Scorpion, performance was largely the same. Spartan could also mount the advanced (for its time) ZB298 ground observation pulse Doppler radar that could detect moving vehicles at 6,000m and personnel at 3,000m.

FV 103 Spartan CVR(T)

A variant of Spartan was also proposed with the TOW Missile.

Spartan-TOW-Missile

A stretched Spartan was considered as a future replacement for the FV430. The stretched version would have had an extra road wheel, and accommodated three more dismounted personnel (for a total of 7 dismounts + 3 crew). The Jaguar petrol engine would have been replaced with a Perkins diesel to provide greater range.

The image below shows the CVR(T) Scorpion prototype number 11 after it had been cut and extended with the addition of an extra road wheel.

Stretched CVR(T) Hull P11

After meeting with some success with the stretched Scorpion, MVEE built another prototype, this time from scratch and called it the FV4333.

Many years later, after Alvis purchased the design rights from the MoD, it was to be called Stormer.

FV 104 Samaritan (Ambulance)

With a high roofline, Samaritan was the armoured ambulance variant, able to carry four stretchers.

FV 104 Samaritan CVR(T)

FV 105 Sultan (Armoured Command Vehicle)

Sharing the same high roof (300mm taller than Spartan) as Samaritan, Sultan was a command variant equipped with map boards, bench seats, radio equipment, lighting and a penthouse (tent) to provide additional space.

FV 105 Sultan CVR(T)

FV 106 Samson (Armoured Recovery Vehicle)

Equipped with earth anchors and a straight pull winch, Samson was the recovery variant that could recover all members of the CVR(T) and CVR(W) family, in addition to much larger vehicles.

FV 106 Samson CVR(T)

FV 721 Fox

The production Fox was equipped with the Rank Precision Industries SPAV L2A1 night sight and carried 99 rounds of ammunition for its RARDEN 30mm cannon.

FV 721 Fox CVR(W)

In addition to the reconnaissance role, Fox was also intended to be used to counter insurgents and Warsaw Pact airborne forces in Germany, where its high road speed and long range, permitted rapid intervention. A ZB298 radar could also be fitted. A number of other Fox variants were developed but these never entered service.

The Cutting of Teeth

Scorpions from A Squadron 16th/5th The Queen’s Royal Lancers were transported by RAF C-130 Hercules aircraft to Cyprus in August 1974. They were to protect the British Sovereign Base Areas during the Turkish invasion of the island.

CVR(T) Scorpion in Cyprus 1974

Rapid effects and air deployability in action, 1974, over 40 years ago.

A number of Scorpions were also airlifted to Belize in 1977 to quickly reinforce the garrison after border tensions rose.

Protected Mobility

A pair of Saracen’s were transferred to the RAF in 1970 and modified for use as mine roller vehicles in Aden, specifically, RAF Salah.

The troubles in Northern Ireland represent an interesting case study in protected mobility in an increasingly hostile environment. The in the late fifties, the Royal Ulster Constabulary used locally modified Land Rovers, then progressing through the Land Rover Hotspur, Shorland and Tangi in the sixties, seventies and eighties, and now, the PANGOLIN and Penman Public Order Land Rover.

Although intended as a stopgap until Saracen entered service, the FV1609 Humber Pig would be the protected mobility workhorse in Northern Ireland until replaced with Saxon in the nineties.

In the early seventies, it became clear that the Provisional IRA was acquiring more powerful weapons. The Pig’s vulnerability to armour piercing small arms ammunition was of concern and so a programme of up armouring was initiated, designated Operation Bracelet. This programme required batches of Pig’s to be withdrawn and upgraded which resulted in shortages of protected mobility vehicles. To fill the gap, Saracens were stopped from being sold to overseas customers and transferred directly from Alvis to Northern Ireland, some even with their desert paint still in place. 230 such vehicles were available for Operation Motorman in July 1972. The choice of Saracen was deliberate, its replacement, the FV432, was a tracked vehicle and putting tracked vehicles onto the streets of the Northern Ireland so close the Russian quelling of protests in Prague with tanks was simply untenable.

With emergency services vehicles increasingly targeted, a number of Saracen’s were also converted to armoured ambulances. These had three medical personnel and an RCT driver.

When Operation Bracelet had finished, a similar up armouring project was initiated for the Saracens, this time called Operation Kremlin. Vehicles were, again, withdrawn in batches, using kits produced by Alvis. These added laminated vision blocks and additional armour plating. Mk2 APC (up-armoured) became Mk5, Mk3 APC with Reverse Flow Cooling (up-armoured) became Mk6.

While this programme was in progress (it completed in 1974), a Saracen was damaged by an RPG-7; the first time one of these weapons had been used against British Army vehicles in Northern Ireland. An additional protection kit was developed and introduced under Operation Kremlin 2, consisting of the now familiar anti RPG bar/slat armour.

One of the last Saracen’s to leave Northern Ireland was a Special Water Dispenser (SWD) variant operated by 321 EOD Company, Royal Army Ordnance Corps (RAOC), in 1984. Others were retained as reserve vehicles until later in the decade.

Production of Saracen ceased in 1972. Over one thousand eight hundred had been built, seeing service in a number of theatres and with seventeen countries.

The British Army had quickly adapted to a changing threat in order to maintain freedom of movement for infantry personnel, EOD teams, medics and others.

A lesson it would have to relearn later.

Infantry Fighting Vehicle Concepts

Although we might reasonably define Warrior and similar vehicles as belonging to the heavier end of the weight spectrum, as we can observe from Ajax and its inclusion in Strike brigades, this type of vehicle has relevance to the story.

The Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) developed Post-War to allow infantry soldiers to survive in an NBC environment (that was fully expected) and against artillery fragments to a point where they could dismount and mount an attack. The vehicle would provide sufficient mobility to get them to that point of disembarkation.

The FV432 was a logical development of the British and Canadian use of Sherman ‘Kangaroo’s’, ‘Unfrocked Priest’ and Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) ‘Alligator’ vehicles in Normandy, Holland and Italy.

The recognition that an APC would likely meet an enemy APC also moved thinking forward. They would need to defeat enemy APC’s, not just provide mobility and protection for dismounted infantry. This was reinforced by the appearance of the Soviet BMP during Victory Parades in 1967, entering service with the 120th Guards Rogachev Motor Rifle Division.

As described previously, FV430 series of vehicles entered service in 1963, concepts for its replacement were developed by FVRDE from 1967. This work was at the concept stage only but they all involved the evolution to an infantry combat vehicle and by the seventies, this had progressed much further.

Although differences remained between nations such as whether personnel should fight mounted (with firing ports) or dismounted, size of the basic fighting unit, and others, the Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle, as opposed to the Armoured Personnel Carrier, became dominant during the seventies. No longer would personnel dismount at stand-off distances, the MICV would allow them to dismount practically on top of their objective, having the firepower and protection to get them there.

These initial studies examined trends in armoured vehicles, especially those of the Warsaw Pact, and concluded that a vehicle much better protected than FV430 would be needed. A heavier vehicle of up to 30 tonnes and powered by a 750hp engine would be needed to survive on the modern battlefield, i.e. West Germany.

The early Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle’s (MICV) concepts envisaged three weight classes, Light at 14.6 tonnes, Medium at 24.2 tonnes and an up-armoured version of the Medium that weighed 28.9 tonnes. The Light variant would use the same engine as then in-development Combat Engineer Tractor (CET) and a number of other variants would be part of the family.

FVRDE also suggested that the FV430 replacement would benefit from the new Chobham armour and the same RARDEN cannon as fitted to CVR(T). This 30 tonne Chobham armoured concept was subsequently dropped but many of the proposed design features were carried forward.

Another MVEE concept considered a vehicle with wholly modular armour that could be tailored to the threat environment. Chobham armour was a collective name for a range of different composite armour constructions created under Project Burlington, developed over a number of years that would eventually be used on Challenger 1 and 2, and many other vehicles since. The initial testing during the early seventies confirmed that a Burlington protected MICV could withstand all known handheld hollow charge weapons, 105mm APDS and HESH.

None of these ‘heavy MICV’ concepts progressed as they were considered too expensive to procure in quantity.

Approval was given by the MoD to enter a Project Definition phase for stage 1 (PD1) and was completed by the new Military Vehicles and Engineering Establishment (MVEE) between 1972 and 1976. MVEE also contracted with a number of industry partners as part of PD1 to support their work. Following completion of PD1, a competition for the development phase was announced that would take forward the chosen MICV4A concept.

Manufacturing contracts would be let separately from development, this was the first time such an arrangement had been proposed.

GKN Sankey won the development contract in 1977, largely due to the technical prowess of the Sankey chief designer, Ken Lofts. It was an important win for GKN as the prevailing thinking was that the winner of the development contract would be in pole position for the separate manufacturing contract as well, at that time thought to be for in excess of 1,000 vehicles. This initial contract covered ‘Project Definition Phase 2’ which also included the production of the first batch of vehicles.

MICV4A was by then known as Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle for the Eighties, or MICV-80. Further project definition followed under General Staff Requirement (GSR) 3533 that specified the carriage of 10 personnel (including driver and gunner), ability to keep up with the Challenger 1 Main Battle Tank, protection against shell fragments, automatic weapons fire and sufficient firepower to counter enemy MICV’s and dismounted infantry. The MCV-80 (Mechanised Combat Vehicle for the eighties) was selected on the basis of a study that compared the GKN design with the US XM2 vehicle that would go on to become the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle.

AFV’s for the Eighties

As the MCV-80 project progressed into manufacture a separate study was started to examine the wider requirement for armoured vehicles, called Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AFV’s) for the Eighties.

The first stage looked at medium weight vehicles. Stage 2, main battle tanks, and stage 3, a self-propelled anti-tank gun (SPAT) with an air-portable variant called ASPAT. All the concepts except ASPAT used an evolved MCV-80 design with greater protection, weighing 43 tonnes, ironically, about the same weight at the latest Warrior and Scout variants. ASPAT was to reuse on CVR(T) components and weigh 12 tonnes, the same approximate weight as the latest CVR(T) Mark 2 vehicles.

GKN also proposed a shorter and lower variant of Warrior to be used in the reconnaissance role called LOVATT, once again, shades of FRES and SV Scout.

None of these concepts progressed beyond the study phase but it is somewhat ironic that current vehicles seem rather similar.

Protected Mobility in Africa

This could also be argued as having nothing to do with FRES, Ajax or the British Army’s Medium Weight Capability, but the issue of protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) would impact FRES in such a fundamental manner, again, it is worthwhile to make some reference to it.

The British Army certainly recognised the need for protected mobility in lower intensity environments through the sixties and seventies, Aden towards the end of the sixties and throughout the seventies, in Northern Ireland and Oman. It could be argued, however, that South and southern Africa produced both a greater need and a greater response.

Many designs evolved across southern and central Africa, starting with simple adaptations of existing vehicles and culminating in highly specialised designs for logistics, personnel transport and detection of mines.

The seventies saw the concept evolve from the Kudu to the Buffel to the Casspir.

These vehicles went from field modifications of the civilian vehicles available in the area to more sophisticated modifications of off the shelf civilian and military vehicles, to bespoke designs that made extensive use of civilian automotive components.

The history of these vehicles is very complex with a number of manufacturers and designers being involved over many years, a book could be written on the subject alone.

Initial designs took an existing truck or Land Rover chassis and applied for the V-shaped protective steel plates. The success of these first attempts was significant but deficiencies were recognised and over the years the design concept was perfected, branching into a number specialist vehicles and designs that were no longer conversions but built from scratch. Taking an existing chassis and transplanting a V-shaped hull created an effective but very top heavy and ungainly vehicle, they were often toppled by the blast but despite this, its occupants more often than not survived, unlike in conventional vehicles. The injuries that did occur whilst riding in these vehicles were mainly as a result of ignoring standing orders and procedures about strapping in or securing loose objects. When subject to a large mine strike even a loose cigarette lighter can be a fatal projectile. Many of these early designs were also transplanted onto railway vehicles which were proving vulnerable to mine attack.

The Buffel was probably the most widespread of the type and consisted of a V-shaped hull fitted to a Unimog chassis and with extra wide wheel rims to try and counteract poor stability. An armoured cab was fitted, dispensing with the passenger seat allowed the creation of a protected citadel for the driver that also ensured any transmission or engine components did not intrude into the driver’s area during a mine explosion. A number of variants were produced, some armed, some unarmed and a wide number of mechanical enhancements. Retaining the basic mobility of the Unimog it still suffered in very wet conditions, after heavy rainfall for example. The Buffel was a significant export success and has been extensively used in Sri Lanka where the locally produced version is called the Unibuffel, a snip at less than £30,000. A particularly useful feature of the Buffel is a very large water tank, invaluable in areas where water was a scarce commodity.

In order to address a number of issues including the high centre of gravity, the monocoque hull concept was developed. Without a separate chassis, the hull formed the chassis rather than sitting on it. The Mamba still used the Unimog running gear but without a chassis, relying on the monocoque hull. These types are characterised by employing a sacrificial drive-train and wheels while the engine and gearbox are inside the shell. The Casspir was designed in response to a police requirement and is one of the most widely known vehicles of the type.

In a widely reported incident, a Casspir detonated 4 TM57 landmines arranged in two stacked pairs, one pair under a wheel and the second pair linked a meter away. The vehicle was launched into the air but the most severe injury sustained by the occupants was a broken ankle. The TM57 has just over 6kg of military grade explosive.

Route clearance demanded more specialised vehicles.

The Pookie was a specialist mine detection vehicle first developed and built in Rhodesia in 1976 by Ernest Konschel comprising a monocoque armoured capsule sitting on an open frame chassis. The donor chassis was Volkswagen Kombi which used low downward force torsion arm suspension and this was combined with surplus Formula One tires to create a ground pressure of less than 3lbs per square foot, lower than a human.

This ultra-low ground pressure meant that it did not even detonate anti-personnel mines and allowed the detector to be used without fear of detonation; the Pookie could drive right over a mine and not set it off.

Detection allowed the mine to be cleared or selectively detonated and standard operating procedure was to detect, mark and retire, with sappers carrying out the controlled detonation or removal. These standard operating procedures developed in Rhodesia would go on to form the basic concept of operation for modern systems.

In four years of operation, not a single mine was detonated by a Pookie but they found over 550 and had both a practical and psychological effect. Although relatively slow it was very effective and during the latter years of its service, the enemy was known to have placed a bounty on them.

None were lost to landmines although a number were damaged in ambushes that specifically targeting them and only 1 driver was killed, by a direct RPG hit. Responding to the threat of ambush they were fitted with the spider, a 24 barrel 12 gauge shotgun providing a 270-degree arc of fire.

Built at a very low cost, R$11,000, they were a great success.

The Spinnekop was another variation on the same theme but developed by South Africa later in the decade.

This distinction between general mobility and route clearance is important and will be discussed later.

The Last Domino was a documentary about the South African border wars with some fascinating footage of mine protected vehicles, clearance and airborne operations, well worth a viewing.

Other Vehicles

In 1969, the Société Anonyme de Véhicules Industriels et d’Equipements Mécaniques commenced development of the Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VAB), in response to a French Army requirement. A year later, the Délégation Générale pour l’Armement (DGA), awarded a development contract to for a number of prototypes, all of which were delivered in time for a series of trials in 1973. A production contract was subsequently let and the first production vehicles achieved operational acceptance in 1978, with full operational capability in 1983.

The VAB driver and commander sit side by side, with the 300hp situated behind the driver. With a combat weight of just under 15 tonnes, its 280 Litre fuel tank provides approximately 1,000km range. It is also amphibious, and available in 4×4 and 6×6 versions, although overall dimensions are the same.

GKN Sankey developed the AT-104 in the early seventies and 30 were sold to the Netherlands and Brunei.

Summary

The beginning of the seventies saw the manufacture and introduction of CVR(T) and CVR(W), vehicles both for the defence of Europe and overseas commitments. These designs had evolved over many years and drew on experience from Saladin and Saracen.

The security situation in Northern Ireland and its requirement for protected mobility saw Saracen enjoy a second lease of life.

Despite that, the main development effort was for the defence of Europe and the evolving doctrine that resulted in a change from APC’s to MICV, given impetus by the appearance of the Russian BMP-1.

FV432 was to become Warrior, although the heavier Chobham/Burlington protected concepts were rejected, ironically given that is what we have now. A new approach saw separate competitions for late-stage development and manufacture,

Vehicle protection against mines was arguably perfected in south and central Africa.

Whilst this was happening, the government conducted a defence review, the Mason Review, published in 1975;

In the 1968 Supplementary Statement on Defence Policy the Labour Government made clear its intention that “Britain’s defence forces, apart from those needed to meet certain residual obligations to dependent territories…should…be concentrated in Europe”. This remains the Government’s firm policy. But the Conservative Government’s 1970 supplementary Statement on Defence Policy, while accepting that the North Atlantic Treaty organisation should remain the first priority of defence policy, placed more emphasis on a willingness to counter threats to stability throughout the world. So when the Government came into office in March 1974 it inherited a defence programme of worldwide political and military commitments, and military forces stretched to meet those commitments.

This made it clear that defence spending would fall in line with the NATO average.

It established four priorities, the nuclear deterrent, UK contribution to NATO forces in Germany, anti-submarine capabilities to enable reinforcements to move from the USA to Europe, and home defence. Out of area forces were cut, transport aircraft, parachute forces and amphibious forces, likewise. Capabilities committed to the Mediterranean, Caribbean, Middle East and Asia were all to be drastically reduced.

The British Armed Forces were to be concentred in Europe and the Atlantic, there was no requirement therefore for a medium weight capability that balanced deployability with survivability. If the Saladin/Saracen combination was out of fashion by the beginning of the decade, it was out of fashion twice by the middle.

These cuts were to be carried out in the ten year period from 1975 to 1985, whilst many of the problems encountered in the South Atlantic in 1982 were blamed on the Nott Review, their seeds were certainly sown by the Mason Review in 1975.


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



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Ben Lewis

Reckon the square bracketed bit about the Mamba is part of the document notes.

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