The CT Cannon

The first demonstrator for 45mm Cased Telescoping automatic cannon appeared in 1991, After changing the calibre to 40mm, the system went into an extended period of development and qualification.

45mm CTA Cannon

In 2015, the MoD finally placed a production order, although there was an announcement in 2015 for a £75m order

The deal with the joint BAE/NEXTER company CTA International was for £150m and will provide 515 weapons for the SV Scout and Warrior vehicles. The contract also included initial spares, test equipment, specialist tools and some training.


There will be 245 for the Scout and 245 for Warrior, the balance being used for training, trials and ammunition qualification.

Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said;

Today I can announce we have signed a £150 million contract to fit the Scout with a new Cased Telescope cannon providing it with unrivalled firepower and a new ‘airburst ammunition’ capability.

The airburst section of the announcement was new and welcome news.

CTA 40mm Natures

Anecdotally, the cost of the cost of the new ammunition is said to be ‘eye watering’


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

At DSEi in September, the first prototype was revealed.


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Warrior CSP Image 1


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Warrior CSP Image 3


[tab title=”Warrior CSP Image 3″]

Warrior CSP Image 4



The plan remains to complete the order for 245 turreted Warriors out of a total order of 380, the final variant split or whether any will be in the form of the much fabled Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle has yet to be revealed.

After investing £37 million in its Ampthill production facility for both Scout and Warrior, despite them being different designs, they are hoping for follow on orders.

SV Contracts and News

Throughout 2015, as the Specialist Vehicle progressed, various contracts were announced.

They included;

Rheinmetall; £130 million contract from Lockheed Martin for the production of turret shells, the Turret Structure and Weapons Mount (TSWM). First production unit is scheduled for delivery in 2016.

Lockheed Martin Scout Turret

Thales; £125 million contract for sighting systems and ancillary equipment. This includes the Orion primary sight, local situational awareness cameras and smoke dischargers. Scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2021.


Thales; £54 million contract for gunnery sights, the DNGS-T3 Stabilised Day/Night Gunnery Sight. Scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2021.

Oxley Group; £1 million contract for internal lighting including DC Combi LED interior lights and Gooseneck task lights.

Meggitt; £27.2 million contract for ammunition handling systems. Scheduled for delivery between 2016 and 2021.

Kongsberg; £61 million contract for Protector Remote Weapon Station (RWS).

Curtiss Wright; £32 million contract for Turret Drive Servo System (TDSS).

ViaSat; £3.8 million contract to supply encrypted storage systems

Esterline; £13.5 million contract to supply rugged display terminals including TX-335S turret crew-station displays, TX-321S triple-head driver’s displays and VPU-101 video-processing units.

Raytheon; undisclosed contract amount for power management and distribution system

Saab; undisclosed contract amount for Mobile Camouflage Systems. Scheduled for delivery between 2017 and 2024.

Marshall Aerospace and Defence; Contract to support XPI Simulation for driver training systems. 28 sets of static and full motion simulators.

XPI Simulation; £20 million contract for driver simulators.

Smiths Detection; £6 million contract for LCD 3.3 Detectors.

Vitavox; £2.8 million contract for ‘outacom’ public address systems.

Williams F1; £17 million contract for design support on the Core Infrastructure Distribution System (CIDS) power and data backbone.

GKN Aerospace; £27 million contract for rotationally moulded fuel tanks that will be self sealing and foam filled for explosion protection.

The manufacturing strategy changed in 2015 with mounting speculation about the work split between General Dynamics locations in Span and the UK.

A £390 million support contract, in addition to the manufacturing contract.

The contract will extend the current in service support contract for the Scout Specialist Vehicles (SV) to 2024, delivering onshore technical engineering and maintenance from a site in South Wales. As a result, General Dynamics UK has taken the decision to bring to Wales: assembly, integration and testing for the vehicles which was previously carried out overseas.

The manufacturing strategy changed in 2015 with mounting speculation about the work split between General Dynamics locations in Span and the UK.

A £390 million support contract, in addition to the manufacturing contract, was let in order to build up experience to 2024 to allow a more thorough assessment of support requirements to be completed.

The contract will extend the current in service support contract for the Scout Specialist Vehicles (SV) to 2024, delivering onshore technical engineering and maintenance from a site in South Wales. As a result, General Dynamics UK has taken the decision to bring to Wales: assembly, integration and testing for the vehicles which was previously carried out overseas.

At DSEi in September, the latest Scout prototype was revealed, along with a name change.

Scout was now to be called Ajax.


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Scout Ajax 1


[tab title=”Ajax Image 2″]

Scout Ajax 2


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[tab title=”Ajax Video 1″]


[tab title=”Ajax Video 2″]


[tab title=”Armed with Ajax, sorry, couldn’t resist!”]



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

Ajax will apply to both the whole family of vehicles and specifically, the vehicle formerly known as Scout. Within the 245 Ajax variants will be three roles, this remains unchanged from previous announcements. These are Reconnaissance and Strike (Qty 198), Joint Fires Control (Qty 23) and Ground Based Surveillance (Qty 24). The last two will carry less ammunition for the main weapon and replace that with demountable equipment and additional personnel.

The engineering variants have been renamed as; Equipment Support Repair becomes Apollo (Qty 50) and Equipment Support Recovery becomes Atlas (Qty 50). This is a slight change from previous releases, with the recovery variant increasing from 38 to 50.

The non-turreted, non-engineering variants were previously called Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support (PMRS) that covered four roles; armoured personnel carrier, command and control, formation reconnaissance overwatch and engineer reconnaissance. In the latest announcement the Command and Control (C2) variant is called Athena, Qty 112, no change. The Engineering Reconnaissance variant is now called Argus, Qty 51, again, no change.

This leaves a balance of 81 vehicles from the 589 vehicle total order.

These two remaining roles were previously split between the armoured personnel carrier and formation reconnaissance overwatch, quantity 59 and 34 respectively.

The formation reconnaissance overwatch role was previously covered by a missile carrying concept and then by the direct fire variant but given that neither of these are included in the Ajax programme, the role looks increasingly like to be covered by dismounted Javelin teams. This is an obvious trade-off, lessons learned reports from both 1991 and 2003 confirmed the value of a long range (2-4km) Anti-Tank Guided Weapon carrying armoured vehicle. At approximately 2km, the Javelin missile system is outranged by most main battle tank main weapons and thus vulnerable. Swingfire provided a stand-off anti-tank capability that could outrange tanks main guns. This is no longer the case.

It was reported that the PMRS Armoured Personnel Carrier variant will now be called Ares, with a quantity of 93 on order.

Obviously, the sums no longer add up.

It could be that the change in the recovery variant quantity was misreported, which would bring the quantities and variants back into line with previous reporting.

Assuming this to be the case, the role and variant split no looks like;

AJAX family

This may well be incorrect, the difference between role and variant is not well defined

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

This is interesting because it has slipped, again.

IOC is now planned for the middle of 2020

Interviews and announcements from DSEi also provided more details on the role split between Major Combat Operations (MCO) and Peace Support Operations (PSO).

220 sets of each type of armour will be purchased, role changing can be completed in the field, although with only 220 sets for a complete fleet of 589; that will make for an interesting deployment problem.

General Dynamics, on 25th November 2015, that the deal for the Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) site facility in Wales had been concluded in late October. The site was formerly used for fork lift production and is relatively close to the existing General Dynamics location in oakdale. The first vehicles will enter AIT at the Wales site in early 2017.

For the initial svehicles, AIT will be completed in Spain, but by vehicles 64-70 the transition to Wales be completed.

AIT for vehicle 70 onwards will be conducted in Wales.

The schedule for design verification and validation will continue through to 2017.

Shepard’s also reported in November 2015 that the Ambulance Variant may well be back in the programme, throwing the vehicle counts in some uncertainty.

Initial Operating Capability will be 47 vehicles, all delivered by Q2 2019.

Full rate production is expected to start by Q4 2018, after Main Gate 2 at the end of 2017.

SDSR 2015 confirmed that Ajax vehicles would form part of the new ‘Strike Brigade’ concept, to be established by 2025.

Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV)

With Specialist Vehicles now moving at pace, the Army turned its attention to the issue to protected mobility. It has long recognised the limited scope of Mastiff/Ridgeback despite finding a role for them in the Mechanised Brigade structure and so FRES UV was back on the menu.

FRES Utility Vehicle went from Utility vehicle to utility Vehicle (Wheeled) in the intervening years but this latest attempt was to be called the Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV)

The underpinning concept is called the Land joint Strike (LJS) and will be built around the Ajax family of vehicles that will reportedly;

Give the British Army the ability to defeat hybrid opponents in difficult terrain and densely populated urban areas

Unless those hybrid enemies have main battle tanks of course.

A force comprising Ajax, with its 40mm automatic cannon, is going to be rather overmatched by anyone with a T-72.

The MIV will also form part of the Land Joint Strike concept.

In August, the Spanish Government approved a $99 million contract for the development of an eight wheeled combat vehicle with Santa Bárbara Sistemas, a Spanish subsidiary of General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS), possibly based on the Piranha V platform.

Rheinmetall continue to develop the Boxer and in September 2015 confirmed they were submitting a bid in response to the Australian LAND 400 Phase 2 programme in conjunction with Northrop Grumman that would include the Boxer Cavalry Reconnaissance Vehicle.


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Boxer with Lance


[tab title = “Boxer Cavalry Reconnaissance Video”]



The PGZ Rosomak and Patria AMV also continued to be developed, a number of variants have recently appeared.

The Rosomak has many variants including a 120mm direct and 120mm indirect variant, equipped with a CMI XC-8 120mm HP gun and 120mm CPK mortar respectively.


[tab title=”Rosomak 120mm CMI Turret”]

Rosomak 120mm


[tab title=”Rosomak 120mm Mortar”]

Rosomak Mozdzierz RAK



At DSEi Patria launched their Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV) XP variant.


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Patria AMX VP


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Patria AMV XP Image 1


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Patria AMV XP Image 2


[tab title=”AMV XP Video”]



BAE have partnered with Patria to offer an AMV for the Australian LAND400 programme. The AMV proposed will be fitted with an ATK Orbital 35mm Bushmaster III automatic cannon as fitted to Dutch and Danish CV90’s.

Nexter have developed the VBCI, the VBCI 2 features a slew of improvements (many of them after direct feedback from the UK Trials of Truth). These improvements include a higher roofline, new hull design, upgraded suspension and tires. This provides greater protection, internal volume and mobility although the variant range is still somewhat limited, especially in comparison with its peers. If the UK does purchase the VBCI or VBCI 2 and wants an ambulance or recovery variant, it will have to fund its development.


[tab title=”VBCI 2 Image 1″]

VBCI-2 Image 4


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VBCI-2 Image 3



A small team of British Army personnel have trialled the VBCI in France, many thought this, coupled with a reciprocal purchase of Watchkeeper RPAS by France might seal the deal but a competition was confirmed at DSEi.

The VBCI 2 may well be a shoe in, but the MoD isn’t going to be that obvious.

The USMC’s quest for a wheeled armoured vehicle seems to get ever more convoluted with each month but this may well yield a number of potential MIV contenders. The ST Kinetics Terex 2 was also launched and may be offered for MIV.

The Piranha V remains an option also.

Piranha 5

The number of 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles is large and one would have assumed that the KMW/Rheinmetall Boxer would have been in the running, its MRAV British heritage and investment, high levels of protection and large number of variants are big plus points. It is also about 300 into a 472 order (assuming no more orders are forthcoming) which would put the UK into a good negotiating position.

But no, a statement from KMW confirmed that they would not be offering Boxer, I suspect they assume that Boxer remains politically toxic for the British Army, imagine the embarrassment, and they do not want to compete with a vehicle that will also be in their portfolio when NEXTER and KMW merge.

This is a shame, Boxer would be a strong contender if offered.

For LAND400, the VBCI will not be offered, the same principle of not competing with oneself.

Also at DSEi, it was announced that Germany was considering the deployment of a wheeled rapid response brigade equipped with the ‘PuBo’ Boxer, a version with a 30mm turret and EuroSpike Anti-Tank Guided Missiles.

SDSR 2015 confirmed that MIV will form part of the Strike Brigade concept, to be established by 2025.

[box type=”info” fontsize=”22″ radius=”0″]Both Warrior and Scout (now Ajax) continue to develop. The Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) is also back on the agenda, confirmed in SDSR 2015, to form part of the new ‘Medium Weight’ Strike Brigades[/su_note]


Table of Contents


The Sixties and Seventies

The Eighties

The Nineties

A Trip Across the Sava River

FCS and the Birth of FRES

2000 to 2005

2006 to 2010

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

2011 to 2014

Generic Vehicle Architecture

2015 to Today


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This Post Has 39 Comments

  1. ArmChairCivvy

    A good read, the last two chapters.

    Was wondering if the previous parts also have updates?

  2. Think Defence

    ACC, yes, every single section is updated

  3. Hohum

    Absolutely no reason to think VBCI would be a “shoe-in”, especially since its notable failure to win a single export order. Same goes for Boxer, in fact given that vehicles production schedule I would not be at all surprised if KMW is thinking of abandoning it if it doesn’t achieve an export win in the next couple of years (basically Land 400).

    The real platforms to watch are LAV/Piranha and AMV (inc derivatives).

  4. Hohum

    Actually they are basically saying it they could offer Foxhound, Eagle V, both in competition with each other or a combination of the two.

    In short, they don’t know yet.

    MRV-P could be interesting, it’s the larger variants that are the complicating factor.

  5. Essaich

    So now both the RAF and Army have a vehicle called Atlas, helpful. Fortunately Atlas can’t transport Atlas.

    I doubt there’s any political appetite to put a larger gun on Ajax. A shame, the CV90120-T of its vanquished CV-90 competitor looks impressive and would help against anyone with a T-72.

  6. Chris

    Afraid I look at the modern wheeled turreted armour and can’t see past a tall vehicle with a really short wheelbase and long overhangs front & rear. They must rock and roll like a fishing boat in heavy seas.

  7. Dahedd

    Oops real typo there. Yes Ascod variant with a 105mm gun.

  8. Jackstaff


    Just finished my third read-through (I like to do it every few months esp. since you finished the last installments, at least until the hash of MIV is settled.) Truly one of the site’s crown jewels, especially the work on those two crucial periods c.2001-2003 when the workable vision was binned and c. 2006-09 when FRES ran down the cliff and lit itself on fire. Also the gift for illustration (I’m a sucker for R&D blueprints of familiar designs, or designs that should’ve been purchased but were not, like the beautiful HS.681 or the American YC-15 both of which — despite its remarkable incremental development — should’ve replaced the C-130 long since.)

    The failure to either offer (French pressure I’m sure, desperate for that shot to get VBCI 2.0 operating with the UK) or request (once again the braided upper-reaches refuse to admit error fifteen years on, that kind of inflexibility costs lives when applied elsewhere) Boxer borders on the criminal. Is it a perfect design? No. Is it easily one of the best (including built-in preparation for UK comms) for what the British Army *wants*? Absolutely. The service needs something that’s strong enough (armour and, crucially, engine for power-to-weight) to be part of battlegroups alongside C2 and Warrior WCSP, and that can be the armoured glacis in battlegroups built more around Foxhound et al. All the bollocks about how to transport it and building in growth potential (never met Scimitar Mk 2 did they?) was limited brains trying to outthink themselves or, also probable, justify chasing after “transformation” (which would either make them legends in their time, gotten right, or guarantee project-management postings out over the horizon while it took forever to get right. Win-win.) As it is, MIV trials should/should’ve been limited strictly to Boxer, Patria AMV-XP, and LAV 6.0 anyway. The reason? Interoperability with allies. Not with France — all this treaty jointness stuff is pleasant and a political/general staff-level alliance is crucial. But even in a major NATO war, much less Mali/Sierra Leone-style ops, Tommy and the Poilu will not be side-by-side. Much more likely British troops will fight alongside Scandinavian, or Dutch, or Canadian, or Polish, or US forces. French ground forces will be busy on other fronts, both in the Patrimonie and within NATO. Stick with something that interrelates to the comerades-in-arms.

    What is sickening — just sickening — about this whole fascinating story is the ease with which we can conjure an alternate procurement reality. By now one could’ve had a modular combat force (less rapid-reaction) at least on Canadian or Australian lines if not SDSR 2010’s MRB prescription. However many bdes, five was probably a good bet overall, on the lines of:

    1x cavalry regiment either with a family of partially-compromised TRACER or, much as we have, soldiering on with CVR(T) family to either a BAE or General Dynamics SV destination
    1x tank regiment with Challys
    2 x heavy infantry bns on Boxer IFVs mounted with CTA 40mm
    1x smaller infantry bn on a slightly butched-up (side armour) Bushmaster, plus a second such bn rotating out to other duties (Norn Iron, “upstream” jobs, etc.)

    All of it in service by now. Already. Maybe, without all the other ****ing about, even the 40mm turrets. And good (even the Bushmasters if you’re careful) across the spectrum of where you’d want to use any kind of armoured or protected mobility. Obviously you wouldn’t bring the Challys everywhere but that’s the one major adjustment for taste.

    And it was all sitting there. Being developed, or “on the menu” of potential procurement choices. We’d have much less to talk about, and perhaps there are even better (or at least more exquisite) solutions for equipping the pointy bits of the British Army. But I can’t help thinking we’d have been better off nonetheless.

  9. Jackstaff

    PS: It’s remarkable (under camouflage) how much Ajax and its family looks like TRACER on Human Growth Hormone, with side armour and without the Very Useful recce telescoping mast. Sigh.

  10. @Ravenser

    The, albeit brief, reference to Swingfire highlights an important ATGW capability gap. Having an anti-armour capability that outreaches MBT main armament can be advantageous. No one is particularly interested in, or cares very much about overwatch, until they are hightailing it away from rapidly advancing enemy armour desperate for even the slightest time-giving advantage. A well camouflaged stand-off anti-tank capability, that reaches out to 4km that can stop an advancing MBT in its tracks is an asset that shouldn’t really be overlooked.

  11. mr.fred

    Why does the service need a vehicle capable of operating in armoured battlegroups alongside Challenger and Warrior? It already has Challenger and Warrior for that role.
    Furthermore, interoperability with allies doesn’t necessarily mean using the exact same vehicles. Having a capability that complements an allies force or fills in where he is weak is just as, if not more, useful.

    If we’re going to put on the 20:20 hindsight prescription lenses, we could go back further to a point where we could have had Stormer in place of CVR(T), Warrior 2000 with a common turret, old warrior chassis taking over from FV430 chassis and plenty of scope to look at replacing Saxon.
    Round about now it would be about time to upgrade the fire control across the fleet, using common sensors and systems. Possibly upgrading the 30mm guns to Super 40. There might even be enough in the kitty to look at bringing Challenger replacement forward to deal with any lethality problems with the gun. Or at least the money spent on CT40 could have been spent on 120mm work.

  12. MikeKiloPapa

    “MIV trials should/should’ve been limited strictly to Boxer, Patria AMV-XP, and LAV 6.0 ”

    The LAV UP/ LAV 6.0 (i swear, GDLS Canada chose to call it 6.0 just to piss MOWAG off) is really not in the same league as the other 8x8s in your line-up. Despite the fancy name and the double v hull modification, its still basically just a souped up LAV III, and so is smaller , has far less armor protection, mobility and payload than newer designs like Piranha 5. Unlike the latter, the LAV platform also has very limited, if any, growth potential left.

  13. Jackstaff


    Tusind tak on the info (I am absolutely certain you’re right about GDLS’s reasoning. Ain’t corporate life fun?) Like our blog boss I’m less concerned about maxed-out growth potential as long as it’s been used well (and my original reasoning, besides commonality, for LAV 6.0 was that its mods are the result of input from people who saw its earlier failings in actual combat and wanted to correct them) but you make a perfectly valid point — do we know for sure which GD ginned up and ran up the M1 last year? Still think Boxer would be the way to go for the UK, and AMV XP, well, I am a Patria fan. Anything you can say in public without fear of repercussion about Denmark’s selection process and plans for use? (My layman’s guess was that, as the Danish Army are Old Believers in the battlegroup church, they would do everything up front that’s not the tracked pointy bits of Leo 2A6 and CV9035.)

    Stephen Duckworth,

    Shame we don’t have emojis, I’d be cry-laughing all the way (as I was) at your MIV. :) Well at least its axles are in the same league as Mastiff’s…

    @Mr. Fred,

    On interoperability, it’s rooted in my suspicion that a British heavy division deployed in a NATO direction will probably end up absorbing a “local” heavy brigade (Norway’s Brigade Nord up in Finnmark, Lithuania’s Iron Wolf Bde that’s to get Boxer with a gun on it, or elsewhere in the northern NATO reaches perhaps a full-cream Danish heavy bde to top the division up.) At that point, and operating in the same neighbourhood as allies like the Poles, Finns, Swedes, etc. (yes the last two aren’t NATO but they know whose side they’re on if the Russians get greedy with the Arctic and want to keep salami-ing NATO out of existence.) Then whether or not it’s the exact same model and although they’ll have some different gubbins in the cabin, having stocks of the same sort of tires, fuel mixes, oils, gear bits, axles, armour add-ons, etc., would be useful to loggies of each country along the front. Of course it would probably be more like a case of borrowing from the likes of the Poles and Finns who think actually having stocks (rather than cadging money around in the budget with surcharges on them) is a good idea….

    As for working with C2 and Warrior WCSP (and with Ajax and Foxhound in the “strike” — naff name — bdes), it’s based first on the history of the Army with armoured battlegroups in the post-Cold War era (chiefly Granby, Kosovo, and Telic I), which shows favouring BGs with about five maneouvre elements (squadrons/companies) within them, which gives you at least a “square” (four elements) force and when you have the luxury (as with the packing of 7 Armd Bde in Telic I) a fifth as a reserve and rapid-response component. This rather than the square-at-most and often triangular American approach, or the very triangular French one (the frogs have bigger elements, so they can make up a little at platoon level but it’s still a stretch for them.) On recent exercises regaining combined-arms experience, a typical heavy battlegroup from one of the “armoured infantry” bdes has been 1x Chally sqdn, 2x reinforced Warrior companies, and 1 x Mastiff company. Why the wheeled bit? Speed of response unless you’re in an actual, geographic mire, plus rear and flank security (it’s like an infantry-intensive cavalry element b/c of the added ground speed of wheels), ready reserve, and maneouvrability whenever the BG is forced to operate in or around towns or suburbanised areas. Plus when you have an armoured regt, two Warrior-based bns, and a wheeled bn, you can build three BGs for action, and have a fourth BG’s HQ and support coy in reserve in case that element of one of the “working” BGs exhausts itself or — in an age when Redfor have electronics too — they are targeted for decapitation fires and need replacing (a command/support “spine” for the BG elements already in the field) because of losses. A lot of folks have looked at the five regiment/battalion maneouvre HQs in the heavy bdes as curious, really it makes sense if you’re expecting a serious fight.

    My own hindsight is a little less generalised — Warrior 2000 and Stormer were good ideas and frankly I’d rather have a tweaked-up Stormer “40” (rather than 30, bet it could just about handle the turret assembly and ammo) as “Ajax” although perhaps, just perhaps, they’ve got good stuff under the bonnet for a future fleet beyond FRES, like AS90 replacement and a “21st-century Centurion” rather than a 75-tonne behemoth [Chally LEP, God love her] as future MBT.) But they were Nineties ideas, when the climate was driven by Options and by that ugly post-ERM minor depression we’re old enough to remember. There was a “sweet spot” around 2000 when there was both institutional and engineering traction for things like a working TRACER and Boxer (leading Shinseki’s “interim” idea and accompanying VBCI with a better vehicle) which was missed — a little, military procurement version of AJP Taylor’s old line about 1848 when “Europe reached a turning point, and failed to turn” — and then we’ve had fifteen years of Olympic deck-chair arranging and scrambling to get back to an equivalent of that sweet spot.

  14. Jackstaff


    Errata: “they” being your service’s new Patria Vs.

  15. Jackstaff


    Also a very good point. What needs to happen, and it will be like pulling teeth because the service is so hidebound, is now they’ve decided to have a light cavalry tank like the American M3A3 or the French AMX-10RC successor the Jaguar, they need to put ATGM launchers on Ajax itself. These are *not* Scimitar successors, who had a very nice (calibre, bugger to use often I am told by those who did) 30mm for self defence in a defensively armoured little recce box, they are light cavalry tanks. They should be able to 1) contribute to a heavy bde’s anti-armour efforts, 2) overwatch themselves, and 3) the regts with the “strike” bdes (I suspect we are going up to four Ajax regts while something else takes their place as regimental/battalion recce with the Chally and Warrior formations) can plink stray bits of functioning enemy armour or mousehole buildings and revetments in their “Anglo-Mali” deployment scenarios.

  16. stephen duckworth

    On the choice of the MIV I personally think the Piranha V should be selected .As the production version of the Piranha Evolution that won the trials of truth and has been specifically designed for the British Army with the same architecture as the AJAX family , Bowman fitout , the V6 version of the same series of MTU V8 engine used in AJAX etc etc it should be a shoe in but we will probably buy French with zero British content but a bumper sticker and get them 10 years later than GDLS could deliver the Piranha which has a much cooler name than VBCI which sounds like you should of worn a condom.Rant over.

  17. Jackstaff

    @Stephen Duckworth,

    Again :) You should rant more. I still like Boxer’s stronger engine, and the fact its current operators are already building field experience with the vehicle. But the advantages of Piranha V vs VBCI are clear, even the done-up Mk 2 version being offered instead of Boxer. I would, however, say to GDLS, “right, Britain is now officially in the tank for you for its next generation of armoured combatants. Given that, how about you come help rebuild at least some bits of the once-mighty British armoured-vehicle industry? I mean actual physical plant and design teams in-country where possible. Spain are buying in as their BMR-600 replacement because they get to put the things together.” Of course the Right Sort of Chaps in government and out are perfectly happy to outsource all industry when possible, then there are fewer domestic competitors to the financial-rentier sector for economic and political power. But it would be a Good Thing if a grand bargain with GDLS for Ajax family and MIV (potentially up to 1000 vehicles total between the two, a good-and-proper production run counting all the variants) resulted in actual practical work in the UK, not just hunt-and-peck contracting of systems integration. We know from past experience France would **** the UK on workshare with VBCI Mk 2 for a less-well-suited vehicle. So that’s my own rant then :)

  18. Frenchie

    If I may, I have not much to say, I agree with your concept of mechanized infantry vehicles for Strike Brigades, they correspond to our “medium brigades” for short, but there is a big problem, our “medium brigades” are used for the wars in southern countries with not very modern and solid infrastructures, there is a problem of vehicle weight.
    Our current vehicles weigh between 4 and 20 tonnes, future vehicles will weigh up to 25 tonnes, I think that’s already a lot. If you want to cross a bridge with a 30 tonnes vehicle, this will require a great prayer.
    So there is a little thinking to do about the weight of the selected vehicle.

  19. stephen duckworth

    I agree on levering GDELS to start actual cutting metal and welding up of the kit we are paying for in the UK in the same way Hitachi have had to build a plant in the North East if they want to supply the UK rail network. All well and good us being all chummy and playing with a straight bat and all that tosh but French armour is built in France , German armour in Germany , Italian armour in Italy and as you say Spain is insisting the Piranha V\’s they are buying are built in Spain and quite right too in this case.

  20. mr.fred

    Would handing GD a monopoly be a good idea?

  21. stephen duckworth

    @mr Fred
    Handing GD a monopoly is obviously problematic but so is sourcing from overseas. If the host country decides to have an issue with us , say Spain over a Rock and that’s where our new tracked and wheeled armour is coming from we may have problems. Yes we could go to court ,in Spain , to force them to deliver the goods but after how many years? Our buy of armour is always going to be in the mid hundreds at best so we are going to pay through the nose so why not leverage our purchasing with one supplier who stands to win long term consistent orders in these times of economic uncertainty.

  22. mr.fred

    I think we’d be better off spending the money making sure we have a number of commercially viable manufacturing facilities with the capacity to build armoured structures and the systems that go into an armoured vehicle rather than handing it off to a systems integrator who is good at powerpoint.
    While the hulls for the SV are built in Spain, how much of the systems in the vehicle also come from there? The engine, the suspension, drivetrain periscopes, armour systems, weapons systems; all come from all over the place and the lack of any one would restrict the supply of AFVs.
    One reason I rather like the Patria is that they tend to license the production – Poland and South Africa have production lines.

  23. stephen duckworth

    On the indigenous capacity to manufacture the complex components required for modern military combat vehicles I couldn\’t agree more we should encourage it. It is possible we may allready be capable of manufacturing all that is required within the UK . The 2011 Japanese tsunami impact on the car manufacturing industry where very small \’mom and pop\’ companies where destroyed affecting the supply of complex critical (aren\’t they all?) caused the Japanese motor industry to diversify their supplier base but also illustrated how very complex components can be manufacture by tiny companies.The case for a feasibility study to investigate whether we can reliably produce all the components required is begging ,a lot better than spending £120m on seeing if we could produce a EuroUCAV IMHO. If a ability is found to be lacking then some form of government sponsored stimulation to create it could be implemented. When the Caliphate has established itself in Rome and the barbarians are massing on the Pas de Calais we could regret not doing so.

  24. mr.fred

    I think we’ve already got quite a lot of capability. A google search on “armour fabrication” turns up three UK companies. Suspension we have Horstmann, Tracks and Cast armour we have Cooks. Selex ES and Thales are based in the UK and do sensors and fire control. Pearson Engineering have taken over the Vickers factory in Newcastle and still do defence-ey things. Qinetiq do electric drives, as does Magtec, David Brown does transmission. There’s a few companies who do motion control who conceivably could do turret drives but none who obviously do. I seem to remember that Fairey Hydraulics did an autoloader for the Jordanians but that was a few years back. They’re now Claverham but the autoloader isn’t on the website.

    With all that, you just need someone to design the whole thing and stick it together in a barn somewhere.

  25. mr.fred

    The Ajax has been firing recently:

  26. TSB

    Just read an early draft of an article that starts: “Apart from Russia, the focus for new developments in AFVs has been the Asian sphere. In Europe, the most important development projects are represented within the framework of the French SCORPION programme, the British Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) and the modernisation of the WARRIOR MCV, as well as the Turkish ALTAY main battle tank (MBT)…” Now I’m not an expert, but has anyone anything to add to this, perhaps?

  27. Frenchie

    DVD 2016: Bidders line up for British Army’s MIV 8×8 requirement

    From french sources, tests have selected Piranha IV Evolution, while the Piranha IV Evolution is available only on paper. It was a project at the time of testing. So who did the tests ? A Piranha IV.

  28. Frenchie

    Sorry wrong source, it was at the time of the previous tests, I am an idiot :(

  29. Peter Elliott

    It’s a smart looking idea. The weights quoted are presumably without aplique armour. Theatre Entry standard the vehicle would be a whole lot heavier.

    In terms of the UK I don’t see us putting the Challenger turret on anything else though. MIV will probably have an Medium RWS or at the outside a 40mm CTA. And that and the existing Ajax buy will take all the budget for the foreseeable future.

    Our next “firepower” vehicle is likely to be the Challenger replacement itself for which I wouldve thought we are likely to use whatever American or German smooth bore gun and turret are then in production. But that vehicle will want a new “maximum protection” hull and new automotive design. So not a reused Ajax.

    If we did buy something like this it would announce the end of Challenger and the end of our heavy armoured capability. And I don’t think we’re quite there. Yet.

    I could imagine a post Challenger ‘Army 2030’ where the deployable mech brigade has a mixture of Ajax, Warrior and MIV with firepower provided only by missiles and Apache -E. In that context the most likely new variety of Ajax would be a missile carrier with some mixture of Javelin, Exactor and Brimstone.

  30. Stephen Duckworth

    Nice find on the GDLS Chimera (I bag’s it first) .
    That photo must be a naked AJAX body and running gear ) with a little rear add on. The ‘Chimera’s final weight of 27 t less the 8 t 120mm turret gives an AJAX core weight of 19 t at what protection level though it begs to question. The new Welsh factory is ready to start assembling and pre-service acceptance test (embedded Army staff) the Ajax family next year so off we go me boyohs! Or is it vamonos muchachos!
    A story 30 years in the making brought to you by TD Studios…,……

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