The Eighties

A Trip down South

CVR(T)’s operational service in the seventies had demonstrated the vehicle’s exceptional mobility and ease of deployment. This meant it was to find a role in the Falklands Conflict in 1982, although many doubted it could cope with the terrain.

Two troops (3 and 4) from B Squadron, The Blues and Royals were tasked to travel south. Vehicles were transported aboard the M/V Elk while crews embarked on the SS Canberra. The vehicles taken were Scimitar, Scorpion and a single Samson.

After arriving at Ascension Island and engaging in some range practice the vehicles were then moved aboard HMS Fearless in readiness for the amphibious landing at San Carlos.

CVR(T) at Ascension Island - Ranges 1982

After the initial landing had taken place the lodgement area was first enlarged in preparation for the move on Stanley. During this time the Scorpions and Scimitars provided perimeter security from dug-in positions and acted as logistics carriers, shuttling stores from one place to another.


During the air attacks on the San Carlos area a Scimitar crew claimed they downed an A4 Skyhawk flying at 1,000 metres.


Even at this stage many thought the terrain would defeat the CVRs and that the vehicles would play little part in the continuing operations. But after some lobbying by The Blues and Royals officers the CVRs were tasked to support 45 Commando in their move along the northern route, and 3 Para in their move to Teal Inlet.

2 Para, with their objective of Goose Green, were unsupported. It might be interesting to speculate on the effects armoured fire support would have had on the battle at Goose Green… but that is another article !

Lieutenant Colonel Andrew Jones (RTR) continues the story…

Battles fought across the high ground above Port Stanley were planned to take place at night and involved close direct and indirect fire support. The first phase-attack was opened by 3 Para with their assault on Mount Longdon. Initial surprise was achieved in the darkness, but the enemy were soon alert and resisted fiercely with heavy accurate fire. 4 Troop provided valuable direct fire support with their 76mm, firing HESH. The battle for the eastern sector of Mount Longdon was to last 6 hours and, for the western half, 4 hours. The enemy positions were captured by a process of calling for very close fire support, at times within 50 meters of the leading British troops.

Two techniques used by the British employing the CVRs proved very successful. The first involved a diversionary attack on the night of 12 June. In the attack, the Scots Guards employed 4 Troop in a reconnaissance role and then a direct fire role in support of the diversionary assault. The impact of the use of the CVRs was instrumental deceiving the enemy.

The Argentine commander later admitted that “…he had been entirely deceived by the diversionary attack into thinking it was the main attack on his position”

The other technique employed by the CVRs is known as “zapping”: …the CVR crew would engage the Argentine position with a brief burst of machine gun fire provoking a response, which was promptly silenced by the main gun. The 30mm RARDEN cannon, with its high velocity and great accuracy, was much favoured for this technique.

Few Argentines felt able to reply after being zapped.

Armour, played key roles during the Falklands War performing reconnaissance, security, and support of dismounted manoeuvre missions. The presence of the CVRs during the initial build up phase provided a degree of security otherwise not available had an attack been launched by the Argentineans, particularly if they had used their 90-mm gun equipped Panhards (wheeled armoured vehicles). Once again, armoured vehicles surprised their supporters and silenced the critics with their great mobility in terrain considered unacceptable. When employed in support of infantry, the CVRs provided critical direct fire, especially with their passive sights during the hours of darkness. Additional roles of air defence and aiding the logistics only enhanced the primary fire support role provided by the CVRs.

The two troops deployed provided fire support for the 2nd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment during the Battle of Wireless Ridge and for 2nd Battalion Scots Guards during the Battle of Mount Tumbledown

CVR(T) was well suited to the boggy terrain of the Falklands because of its very low ground pressure.

This, coupled with skilled driving, kinetic energy recovery ropes and the occasional assistance from the Samson of B Squadron, The Blues and Royals meant that all fears surrounding their mobility were allayed.


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Meanwhile, the Argentine Panhard wheeled armoured cars stayed in Port Stanley because of mobility issues.


CVR(T) also proved resilient.

A Scimitar was damaged by a mine and was recovered by the sole Chinook in theatre, repaired by the attached REME section and returned to service in short order.


The sole Sampson recovery vehicle also tipped over the side of a small bridge but was also quickly returned to service.

Eighties CVR(T) Developments

At the 1980 British Army Equipment Exhibition Alvis demonstrated a diesel engined Scorpion and shortly after announced British Leyland were to sell their stake in Alvis to United Scientific Holdings.

Alvis purchased the design rights from the MoD for the FV4333, a concept vehicle developed from the Scorpion in the 1970s. Alvis christened it the ‘Stormer’.

With CVR(T) entering service with the RAF Regiment 1981 Alvis announced they would be developing Stormer, which was more or less a larger CVR(T) with an extra road wheel and a new engine/transmission.

Soon after this announcement Malaysia placed an order with Alvis for 25 Scorpion 90 vehicles, equipped with the Cockerill 90mm low pressure gun, and 25 Stormer APCs.

CVRT with 90mm

12 of the Malaysian Stormer APCs were fitted with a 20mm cannon turret and the remainder with a twin 7.62mm GPMG turret.

CVR(T) with Milan Compact Turret

The FV120 Spartan Milan Compact Turret (MCT) variant was introduced in 1986 although the Milan missile’s maximum range of 2,000 metres was a significant step down from Swingfire at 4,000 metres.

By the end of 1986 the UK had taken delivery of 1,863 CVR(T) comprising 313 Scorpions, 89 Strikers, 691 Spartans, 50 Samaritans, 291 Sultans, 95 Samsons and 334 Scimitars.

All the vehicles ordered for Belgium had also been delivered, with Belgium partly funding CVR(T) development and becoming a significant user.

After achieving export success Alvis further developed Stormer and in 1986 it was selected as the base vehicle for the lightweight air defence system, a competition between the Shorts Starstreak High Velocity Missile System and the British Aerospace Thunderbolt.

CVR(T) With Startstreak and Thunderbolt Missile

Whichever missile system was selected, it would be carried on Stormer.

Starstreak was a self-funded development of Blowpipe and Javelin, reportedly costing £225 million.


It won the competition and the base vehicles were ordered at a cost of £40 million.

CVR(T) Starstreak

Diesel engines had advanced significantly since the late sixties and, in response to a new single fuel policy, the MoD let an upgrade contract in 1988 that would see the Jaguar petrol engines replaced with Cummins BTA diesels.

This £50 million engine contract would also include a number of improvements across the vehicle fleet.

Meanwhile, Alvis continued to develop the CVR(T) and Stormer design.

CVR(T) Streaker


Stormer 1


Warrior Comes Into Service

Despite dancing around the Bradley handbag for a few years the MoD selected Warrior for the MCV-80 requirement. The MCV-80 requirement (Mechanised Combat Vehicle for the eighties) was the result of a study that compared a GKN Sankey design with the US XM2 vehicle that would go on to become the M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle .

In response to General Staff Requirement 3533 Sankey were were awarded the main development contract in 1980. By this point GKN had already completed one static and two mobile test rigs as part of earlier.In response to General Staff Requirement 3533 Sankey were were awarded the main development contract in 1980. By this point GKN had already completed one static and two mobile test rigs as part of earlier work.

Alec Daly joined GKN in 1978 to head up the Sankey division after 16 years at Ford. The new broom certainly swept clean and after the highs of the development contract award had subsided he made it clear that should it not meet time and cost objectives, there would be little chance of the production contract going to GKN. Despite success with Saxon, the MCV-80 Warrior was in a different league and the lack of business and project management at GKN seriously worried him.

To this end, he formed a partnership with the chief designer, Ken Lofts, introducing practices that were becoming more common in the automotive industry but were still rare elsewhere. One of these – at the time revolutionary – concepts was to ask the user what they wanted and what they thought was important!

We went to the soldiers and asked what they wanted most from the vehicle. They picked out two things; one, they didn’t want a mine to be able blow it up when the vehicle went over it; and two, they wanted it to start every time you pressed the button.
Alec Daly

The end of the development phase was completed on time and to budget.

This vindicated GKN but more importantly, Michael Heseltine, who had insisted on splitting the development and manufacturing contract, allowing a single prime contractor to be wholly responsible for the design and development phase, making this subject to competition and culling the Cost Plus Contract model.

Warrior certainly had a whiff of industrial revolution about it.

Prototype shown below.


GKN produced 14 prototypes, most of which were destroyed (in mine tests, for example) but some would be retained for trials and development purposes.

One of the Mobile Test Rigs was deployed to Germany for Exercise Lionheart in 1984.


The manufacturing contract saw GKN pitched against Vickers Defence Systems, Royal Ordnance and Alvis, headed by Sir Peter Levene in charge of Defence Procurement., yYes, that Peter Levene. ! Instead of caving in to pressure to reduce the cost per vehicle GKN stuck to their original bid price, emphasising quality. It would prove to be a winning strategy and in 1986 production started at GKN in Telford, the first production vehicle shown below.


The original order was for 280 vehicles with the final number of 789 completed in 1995, down from the initial requirement of 1,053.

The plan was for a Warrior to replace the FV432’s in the nine 9 newly formed Armoured Infantry Battalions, but the costss meant the FV432 would have to solider on in secondary roles

An Armoured Infantry Battalion would therefore comprise 3 distinct families of armoured vehicles: CVR(T), Warrior and FV432 plus the various odds and sods of B Vehicles likes trucks and Land Rovers.

The first unit to receive Warrior was 1st Battalion Grenadier Guards in Germany, followed by 1st Battalion the Staffordshire Regiment.

Warrior – A Family of Vehicles

Like CVR(T), Warrior is a family of vehicles built with a common hull and automotive components.

The Warrior powerpack consisted of a 550hp Perkins CV8 Condor diesel engine and General Motors X-300-4B automatic transmission. The same engine, albeit in 12 cylinder format, was used for Challenger and the Scammell Commander tank transporter, a rather intelligent piece of commonality that seems to elude us these days.

Hull armour is welded aluminium designed to provide protection against 155mm shell splinters, 14.5mm armour piercing rounds and 9kg anti tank mines. Torsion bar suspension and aluminium road wheels enable a cross country speed of 35kph.

Other mobility characteristics include a ground clearance of 0.48m, 1.3m fording depth, 2.5m trench crossing distance, a maximum vertical obstacle height of 0.75m, maximum gradient of 60% and side slope of 40%. The 82 link tracks are 0.48m wide and maintain a contact length of 3.82m for those interested in ground pressure per square metre.

Although the prototype had two fuel tanks in side mounted external panniers the production models use a translucent polyethylene fuel tank situated underneath the turret that delivers a range of approximately 600km.

During the Gulf War it was reported that the movement of fuel in the tank induced sea sickness so it is often painted.

FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle

Housed in the Vickers Defence developed 2 man steel welded aluminium turret is a 30mm RARDEN cannon and McDonnell Douglas EXx34 chain gun, designated L94A1 and possibly the most despised weapon in the British Army!

Traverse and elevation is manual, 360 degrees traverse and +45 degree -15 degree elevation, storing 200 rounds for the RARDEN and 2,000 for the chain gun. The turret also mounts a pair of smoke grenade launchers.

Distinguished from the other variants by its single powered door the infantry section vehicle carries 7 infantry soldiers in addition to the 3 crew (commander, gunner and driver).


Armoured Infantry Battalions have continually evolved in terms of their established strength and vehicle distribution, but the original establishment idea was for each platoon to have four4 vehicles organised into 3 , three sections and plus a platoon commander.

An Armoured Infantry Company would comprise 3 of these platoons, while a battalion would have 3 companies (plus fire support and HQ).

Total orders for the FV510 numbered 384 plus an additional 108 placed after the Gulf War. These 108 were to be equipped with the TRIGAT anti-tank missile, but were fitted with Milan in the interim. There were 3 replacement vehicles that were destroyed, leaving a final total of 492.

FV511 Infantry Command Vehicle

Double rear doors, externally mounted antennae and a rear compartment full of map boards and various radios distinguish the 84 FV511 Infantry Command Vehicles from their siblings. The radio fit differs depending on whether the vehicle is intended for the Company or Battalion command role.


FV512 Mechanised Combat Repair Vehicle

The 107 FV512s can tow the T4 High Mobility Trailer which is used to carry two complete Warrior powerpacks (or one for a Challenger for that matter). The FV512 is used by the REME Light Aid Detachment supporting the Armoured Infantry Battalion.


The FV512’s hydraulic jib can lift 6.5 tonnes at 4.5m outreach. The vehicle carries 2 crew and 3 fitters.

FV513 Mechanised Recovery Vehicle (Repair)

The 39 FV513 vehicles are almost identical to the FV512 but have a large earth anchor and winch, capable of a straight pull of 20 tonnes.


FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle

The 52 MAOVs were to be used by Royal Artillery and Royal Horse Artillery forward observation teams. Intentionally designed to look like the more numerous Infantry Fighting Vehicle, the MAOV contains a collection of electronic fire control and communications equipment.

FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle
FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle

In addition to improved thermal imaging and day/night optics they were also fitted with the J Band Pulse Doppler MSTAR radar, Battlefield Artillery Target Engagement System (BATES), and a navigation and attitude reference system called the Azimuth Positioning Elevation System (APES).

FV515 Battery Command Vehicle

The 19 FV515 Battery Command Vehicles were the final Warrior variant, providing battery commanders with armoured mobility.


This would of course not be a Think Defence document without some mention of ISO containers.…

Part of Exercise Lionheart in 1984 was also intended to prove the ability of British forces in the UK to make use of civilian transport to get to Germany.

The image below shows a CVR(T) Spartan being loaded into a container ready for transport to Germany.


Get in!

[box type=”info” fontsize=”22″ radius=”0″]By the end of the eighties the British Army was in a relatively good place with its vehicles. CVR(T) was being developed further and had shown its value in the Falkland Islands., Saxon was in service and Warrior was entering service in quantity. But times, they were  a -changin’ and thoughts of replacement were already in the wind.


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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