Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle
The Warrior combat vehicle is the mainstay of the British Army’s armoured infantry force, a solid and capable vehicle with a long and successful service history, currently subject to a controversial upgrade programme, it is set to remain in service for another 15 or 20 years.
This article will describe the predecessor to Warrior, development and deployment, and plans for the future.
The Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) Concept
The tracked armoured personnel carrier was a logical development of the British and Canadian Ram based Kangaroo, ‘Defrocked Priest’ and Landing Vehicle Tracked (LVT) ‘Alligator’ vehicles used in Normandy, Holland and Italy during World War II.
The Post War focus for the British Army was ‘withdrawal from Empire’ and the defence of Western Europe against Warsaw Pact forces. Although the Saracen family of vehicles were highly mobile, they could not keep up with Main Battle Tanks.
The Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) developed to allow infantry soldiers to survive in an NBC environment and against artillery fragments. The vehicle would provide sufficient mobility to get the infantry to a point of disembarkation, and no more.
We can reasonably trace the FV432’s roots to a number of post-war vehicle developments such as the Oxford Carrier and FV401 Cambridge Carrier, however, the direct forerunner of the FV432 is the FV420 series of vehicles, developed in the late fifties.
The FV420 vehicle family was to comprise; FV421 Load Carrier, FV422 Armoured Personnel Carrier, FV423 Command Vehicle, FV424 Royal Engineers Section Vehicle, FV425 Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Section Vehicle and the FV426 Orange William Anti-Tank Guided Weapon Vehicle, although only a small number were built. Using experience from the FV420, the FV431 Load Carrier was the first of the family. It had an armoured front section with the ability to carry a 3-tonne payload.
Both it, and the prototype FV432, were built by Sankey in 1962. Following troop trials, the first production FV432 vehicles entered service in 1963 and by the end of the production run in 1971 over 3,000 vehicles had entered service with the British Army.
It is a simple and adaptable vehicle, a basic armoured box of welded steel construction to provide protection against automatic weapons and shell splinters. The FV430 series of vehicles has progressed through several marks and many variants although it was never given a formal name. The original suggestion of Trojan was dropped after objections from the Trojan car company.
The 432 would also be used for many tasks and have role-specific equipment, WOMBAT carrier, ground surveillance, command, mortar, ambulance, recovery, Carl Gustav, Barmine layer, Milan, sonic detection, a 30mm RARDEN Fox turret and even to provide OPFOR vehicles. Other variants (over the years) included the FV433 Abbot Self Propelled Gun, FV434 Carrier Maintenance, FV436 Mortar Locating Radar, FV437 Pathfinder (with snorkel), FV438 Swingfire Launcher and FV439 Communications.
It is still in service in 2020 – some 60 odd years after it was first introduced – and is likely to continue to be so for some time still to come, the joke being it will still be there when everyone else is in laser hover tanks!
With the Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC) firmly established and in service across NATO, further doctrinal and trend development came to the conclusion that APC’s would likely meet enemy APC’s on the battlefield, thoughts moved to how they would survive and defeat them.
Emerging thinking and conceptual development were given fresh impetus after the appearance of the Soviet BMP-1 during Victory Parades in 1967, entering service with the 120th Guards Rogachev Motor Rifle Division a year or so later.
Formal work on FV432 replacement started the same year.
By the early seventies, work by the Fighting Vehicle Research and Development Establishment (FVRDE) had progressed rapidly. Although differences remained between NATO nations on whether personnel should fight mounted (with firing ports) or dismounted, size of the basic fighting unit, and others, the Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV) became dominant during this period. No longer would personnel dismount at stand-off distances and advance to contact on foot, the MICV would allow them to dismount practically on top of their objective, having the firepower and protection to get them there and help infantry personnel win the close battle whilst there.
As is often the case, several concepts emerged and were progressed or eliminated. Early 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.
Another concept envisaged a single, 30 tonne vehicle, powered by a Rolls Royce CV8 derived engine providing 75bhp of power , a TN-17 transmission system, and protected by the (new at the time) Chobham composite armour. A number of small development contracts were let and a turretless automotive test rig produced. A number of proposals for armament and concept of employment considered a 30mm RARDEN equipped turret for a platoon commander and 7.62mm GPMG for accompanying section vehicles, for example.
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.
Other proposals included a version with General Support Rocket System RS80 (FOIL) that would eventually give way to MLRS in the late seventies and a vehicle with wholly modular armour that could be tailored to the threat environment.
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, with GKN and Vickers Defence Systems selected for competitive studies.
The older doctrine foresaw NATO forces retreating gradually in face of Warsaw Pact forces and defeating them by attrition. The overwhelming superiority of opposing forces meant this was increasingly unrealistic and resorting to tactical nuclear responses meant in reality, strategic nuclear exchanges. The alternative was to take a more aggressive stance and instead of retreating in good order, NATO forces would aggressively manoeuvre to engage those advancing forces at the most advantageous point to inflict maximum damage.
This needed combined arms manoeuvre, infantry vehicles working closely with tanks, artillery and close air support. MICV was designed to keep up with main battle tanks, destroy enemy infantry vehicles and fight forward to dismount their infantry practically on top of enemy positions.
MICV would then withdraw and provide fire support.
Industrialisation of the Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV)
The result of the concept, test and study work completed between 1971 and 1976 was the General Staff Requirement (GSR) 3533, to be fulfilled by the MICV4A design, and subsequently, the Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle for the Eighties, or MICV-80.
(GSR) 3533 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 finally 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.
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.
GKN Sankey was 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, and it was the production contract that he wanted.
Despite success with AT-104, MCV-80 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.
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.
The first prototype was completed in 1981, shown below.
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, shades of FRES, SV Scout and Ajax.
The first MICV-80 protoypes had twin doors but this was subsequently changed.
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.
With development complete, GKN, Vickers Defence Systems, Royal Ordnance and Alvis participated in the production contract. 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, GKN won the £1 billion contract in 1984 and MCV-80 became Warrior.
Production started at GKN in Telford in 1986, the first production vehicle shown below.
The original order was for 280 vehicles with the balance to 1,053 following after completion. It was hoped that a 1,800 strong fleet would eventually completely replace FV432 in the nine 9 newly formed Armoured Infantry Battalions, but the costs meant the FV432 would have to continue 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.
Like CVR(T), Warrior is a family of vehicles built with a common hull and automotive components.
A Warrior powerpack consists of a 550hp Perkins CV-8TCA 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, the 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 polyethene 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 motion sickness so it is often painted.
The basic infantry section vehicle is 6.3m long, 3m wide, 2.8m high, and with a combat weight of 28 tonnes. This combat weight has, of course, increased with those still in service. Fuel capacity is 772 litres which provide a maximum range of 660km.
A number of variants came into service with the British Army and GKN developed and proposed a number of others.
FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle
The most common variant is used to transport an infantry section, defeat enemy APC’s and positions. Housed in the Vickers Defence developed 2 man welded steel turret is an unstabilised 30mm RARDEN cannon and McDonnell Douglas EX-34 chain gun, designated L94A1. Traverse is powered, but 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 turreted variants by its single powered door, the infantry section vehicle carries 7 infantry soldiers in addition to the 3 crew (commander, gunner and driver).
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 for those that were destroyed, leaving a final total of 492.
These main variants came into service between 1988 and 1990.
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.
Other than those changes, the FV511 is designed to look just like the FV510.
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.
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.
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.
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).
The 19 FV515 Battery Command Vehicles were the final Warrior variant, providing AS90 battery commanders with armoured mobility.
Change, and Options Thereof
To say the nineties were a somewhat busy period in the story would be a significant disservice to the word busy.
Replacement programmes came and went, operations in the Gulf and the Balkans tested the legacy fleet, and all this took place across an arc of extraordinary political change, industrial consolidation, military thinking and advances in technology.
- FV432 – in service 1963
- CVR(T) – in service 1972
- Warrior – in service 1986
In addition, there were a number of specialist vehicles like the FV180 Combat Engineer Tractor (in service since 1976). And let’s not forget the Saxon. CVR(T) was getting on in years and thoughts had now turned to its replacement. FV432 was even older and had never been completely replaced by Warrior, as originally intended.
For all intents and purposes, the British Army was still very much configured to counter an invasion of Western Europe from the Warsaw Pact nations, it was still in a Cold War configuration.
The end of the Cold War arguably started with the 1985 death of Konstantin Chernenko and the appointment of Mikhail Gorbachev as the General Secretary of the Soviet Union Communist Party. What followed was a cascade of agreements, revolutions, recognition of nation states and the smashing of concrete walls.
Advances in vehicle electronics, communications technology, sensors and computing equipment would all be harnessed for military vehicles, despite the technology drivers being largely civilian in origin. The microelectronics revolution was moving into gear.
The first SMS text message would not be sent until 1992 but the background work was well underway. First generation analogue mobile networks were in limited service based on the iconic Motorola DynaTAC cell phone, while the much more advanced 2G digital mobile telephone networks were already in development
Desktop computers had gone from the ZX81 in the early eighties to IBM PC Clones, which were widely adopted. The World Wide Web had been invented, the first web search for porn had taken place and Photoshop was at Version 1.
The next ten years would see even more rapid change and military equipment would benefit just as much as plumbers, stock brokers and spotty faced teenagers.
The fall of the Berlin Wall and the dawning of the end of the Cold War resulted in Options for Change, the title of the 1990 Defence Review, the first carried out since the 1981 Nott Review. In the House of Commons on 25th July 1990 Tom King MP, the then Secretary of State for Defence, said…
Options for Change precipitated a reduction in armed forces personnel by just under 20%, the formation of ‘British Forces Germany’ (following the disbandment of ‘British Forces of the Rhine’ and a reduction of the number of personnel deployed to Germany) and a whole host of other amalgamations and changes. The Army suffered the greatest reduction in manpower, going from 160,000 to 120,000 personnel.
Whilst this was happening, Cold War ‘heavy metal’ was arguably to have one last hurrah in the desert.
Operation GRANBY – The Gulf War
In response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in August 1990, a coalition was formed that would see 35,000 British personnel deployed as part of Operation GRANBY. 4th Armoured Brigade, 7th Armoured Brigade and HQ 1st (UK) Armoured Division, and 5,000 vehicles were all shipped to Saudi Arabia in time for the 1991 kickoff.
7th Armoured Brigade consisted of the Royal Scots Dragoon Guards and Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars in Challenger I, with 1 Stafford’s in Warrior. 4th Armoured Brigade was infantry heavy with 1st Battalion Royal Scots and 3rd Battalion Royal Regiment of Fusiliers in Warrior, with 14th/20th King’s Hussars in their Challengers.
These two brigades would be reinforced by personnel from the Grenadier Guards. Over 250 Warriors of all variants were deployed to the Middle East. The FV432, Warrior and CVR(T) all saw action, as did the Ferret and many others. Operation GRANBY also resulted in changes to the peacetime establishments. Instead of using FV432s for mortar fire controllers and Milan teams, additional Warriors were provided instead. This was a clear recognition that FV432 was now well behind the curve.
An appliqué armour package was fitted to the Warrior vehicles, in theatre, to provide greater protection. The utility of this additional protection was proven when a Warrior Infantry Command Vehicle was hit by a 120mm HESH round fired by a Challenger I of the Scots Dragoon Guards. It resulted in much less damage than one might reasonably expect, and no deaths, although there were some very serious injuries.
A number of Warriors were modified with a turret-mounted Milan firing post. Although it could not be used on the move it did provide much greater mobility and protection for Milan than the FV432s would have.
This operational replacement of some FV432/CVR(T) with Warriors enabled other organisational changes that differed from the peacetime norm. Instead of mixing armour and armoured infantry they were now organised independently and were only combined on a mission-specific basis.
By the end of January 1991, 1 (UK) Armoured Division was declared operational after much preparation, training and reorganisation.
By the end of February, after 100 hours of fighting, it was all over.
GKN and the MoD specified reliability as key criteria during the development of Warrior and this approach would be vindicated. The Warrior fleet achieved a 95% availability during Operation GRANBY.
The British Army’s legacy fleet of CVR(T), FV432 and Warrior had seen service in the Gulf War and whilst that conflict proved their enduring value, it also highlighted their shortcomings. Despite various plans to replace them, they were to have another outing, in the Balkans.
The first deployment was in 1992 as a result of UN Resolution 743, the so-called Vance Owen Plan. 743 called for the creation of buffer zones between Serb and Croat forces in Bosnia and Croatia, the zones to be monitored by UNPROFOR.
UK forces were deployed under Operation GRAPPLE
Escorting UNHCR aid convoys started in 1993. Because BRITFOR was armoured and had a certain reputation, success with aid convoys was better than many other nations, The combination of the imposing presence and protection of Warrior and the agility and mobility of CVR(T) combined to form an effective capability.
Towards the closing period UNPROFOR operations, the difference between public opinion and on the ground reality was marked. Despite evidence to the contrary, there was a nearly-universal perception of Serbs as bad guys and Bosnian Muslims as victims. The peacekeepers were often placed in impossible situations because of the restrictions placed upon them. The mortar attacks on the Markale market in Sarajevo, the massacre at Srebrenica, taking of UNPROFOR hostages and the general political environment would prove to be decisive factors in the move to the next stage, IFOR.
Following the Dayton Accords it was NATO, not the UN that would be responsible for the implementation of the agreement and so IFOR was constituted, the Implementation Force.
Off came the white paint.
During 1998, conflict returned to the Balkans, specifically the Serbian region of Kosovo, a region not included within the Dayton Accords. Repression and violence soon followed. British Forces deployed again.
The Many Faces of Warrior
Against the backdrop of a decade of operations in the Gulf and Europe and a rapidly changing social, political and technological environment, Warrior development continued apace.
ATGW; two versions were proposed, one for HOT and the other for TRIGAT. The HOT version had 4 missiles mounted on the Hot Compact Turret and another 14 stored in the hull. Reloading was carried out external to the hull. The TRIGAT version used an elevating mast that allowed reloading under armour. For operations in 1991, 10 Warrior section vehicles were converted to fire a Milan ATGW
Armoured Personnel Carrier (APC); armed with a single man cupola mounted 7.62mm GPMG with additional space from the removal of the turret used for stowage. This variant had roots in the original automotive test rigs and early concepts of a mixed turret and non-turret mix.
Medium Calibre Gun; Two turreted variants, one with a 90mm gun and the other with a 105mm gun. The 105mm version used a South African developed turret with a stabilised main gun and coaxial 7.62mm GPMG. Both gunner and commander had stabilised day/night sights and a fire control that enabled fire on the move. Combat weight was 29 tonnes.
Others; load carriers, MLRS, Rapier and alternative turrets were also envisaged or concepts developed.
Desert Warrior; 245 were ordered by Kuwait in 1993, the Desert Warrior has the same turret at the US LAV-25, equipped with a 25-mm M242 Bushmaster automatic cannon and dual TOW ATGM’s. Additional air conditioning and firing ports differentiate it from British Army vehicles.
Warrior Defence Reconnaissance Variant; As part of its proposal for the FFLAV competition, GKN developed the ‘low profile Warrior’.
This would eventually be more widely known as Warrior Reconnaissance as it developed further. It was shortened by the removal of one set of road wheels, featured a new radar-absorbent appliqué panels and the same Delco turret at the Desert Warrior. The standard crew of three was joined by a sensor operator and equipped with an elevating sensor mast multispectral surveillance system utilising radar, thermal imaging, day/night sights and a laser rangefinder/target designator.
The reduction in size and payload over a normal Warrior but retention of the same powerplant improved power to weight ratio significantly. The turret featured a fully stabilised M-242 25mm automatic cannon and TOW missiles in side mounted launchers. Additional communications equipment and an integrated sensor management system completed the specification.
Handling was apparently not brilliant but it was nonetheless an interesting development that echoes the much later ASCOD and CV90 proposals for FRES/SV.
This was further developed to include an elevating sensor mast.
Warrior 2000; Warrior 2000 was then presented as a contender for a Swiss Infantry fighting vehicle requirement. It was of all aluminium construction and had a range of improvements including better protection, digital fire control system, all round camera system, more powerful engine, hydraulic engine deck lift, double pin tracks, reduced thermal and acoustic signature and an electric drive fully stabilised turret fitted with an ATK Bushmaster 30mm automatic cannon.
Engineering and Battlefield Support; The Battlgeroup and Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle has been an ongoing and unfulfilled requirement, essentially, Warrior variants replacing FV432 variants.
Mortar; a breech loading mortar called project THOR
VERDI and VERDI-2
VERDI were two significant pieces of research work carried out by MVEE and industry, and important to the overall story.
In the late seventies, it was clear that vehicle microelectronics were going to play a major role in armoured combat vehicle development and so their integration with vehicles would require a new approach. MVEE established the Systematic Approach to Vehicle Electronics (SAVE) initiative that defined standards for electrical and electronic distribution, and physical characteristics. The Modular Assembled Vehicle Installation System (MAVIS), or to you and me, a shelf, also defined means by which electronics could be secured and mounted in vehicles.
In 1987, the Vehicle Electronics Research Defence Initiative (VERDI) built on this previous work. It examined how modern vetronics (a portmanteau of the words vehicle and electronics), sensors and communications equipment could be exploited to improve performance and reduce crew numbers.
VERDI was a technology demonstrator using an FV510 Warrior as the base vehicle.
Concluding in 1990, VERDI demonstrated a number of different technologies including data bus multiplexers, navigation, data fusion, positioning, display and engine monitoring. The benefits of mounting sensors on an elevating pneumatic mast from Clark Masts were also assessed. The demonstrator mast was equipped with a thermal imager and image intensifier. A crew of three was retained for this initial demonstrator but it was clear there was potential to reduce even this.
The Wide Area Surveillance Automated Detection (WASAD) project built on earlier work at the Vehicles and Engineering Establishment (MVEE) which examined remote vision, vehicles with external cameras (instead of optical periscopes) and unmanned turrets. MVEE had concluded that the available technology of the period was not mature enough for adoption into service. WASAD took another look, with newer technology. It developed a panoramic day/night vision system that included automatic target detection and recognition whilst on the move, connected via voice recognition to the fire control system on a modified Challenger 2.
WASAD had shown the potential of electronic systems integration in combat vehicles while highlighting the need for greater standardization to ease implementation.
VERDI and WASAD had demonstrated huge potential and this resulted in a second phase project starting in 1993, VERDI-2. It was also designed to de-risk some of the systems thought likely to be included with the new Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement (TRACER).
The VERDI-2 Warrior was designed to test 2-man crew concepts and the ability to manoeuvre using only indirect vision. It had a side by side crew station, each two CRT displays that could show mapping information, GPS data, symbology and other sensor information. VERDI-2 only had a crew of two, both side by side.
The turret was also armed with an early version of the Starstreak High-Velocity Missile, Air Defence Alerting Device (ADAD) and a mock-up of the CTAi 40mm cannon.
A new concept for VERDI-2 was to team the 2-man Warrior with a Troop Leader’s Stormer, communicating in real time to establish a ‘recce team’. This vehicle acted as a communications and data hub and was equipped with additional data networking and processing equipment. VERDI also demonstrated a remote surveillance remote tracked vehicle called HARP that was carried as a demountable payload.
Trials were completed by Household Cavalry, their 1994/5 Journal describing the process, including this amusing comment on the fragility of early vehicle electronics:
One of the trial’s participants concluded:
The choice of Warrior for use as the base vehicle for the VERDI demonstrator seems to suggest an explicit recognition that CVR(T) did not have space or electrical generation capacity for modern sensors and computing equipment.
Iraq , Afghanistan and Points Slightly Earlier
In 2001, after a competition between Avimo, Hunting Engineering and Thales, a £230m contract was awarded to Thales for the Battle Group Thermal Imaging (BGTI) programme for thermal imaging sighting systems on 455 Warrior and 146 Scimitar. The contract was split into two groups, Group 1 and Group 2.
- Group 1 was for Scimitar and Warrior Section and Command IFV’s, both thermal imaging and navigation. 350 were fitted to Warrior and 146 on Scimitar.
- Group 2, was for 100 Warrior Repair and Recovery variants and excluded the navigation elements.
One of the key requirements for BGTI was integration with BOWMAN and the ability to hand-off target information to Challenger 2.
The legacy fleet was having to be being maintained beyond its intended point because of the failure of two attempts to replace it.
In March, after a build-up period, CVR(T), FV432 and Warrior went to war, again, with 1(UK) Armoured Division.
Task Force Helmand was reinforced with Warriors and armoured infantry in September 2007, by 2009 the toll of Afghanistan was showing and a range of improvement packages were implemented, culminating in the TES(H) upgrade programme that was delivered by 2011.
The various upgrades fitted to Warrior to enable service in Afghanistan increased its weight to just under 40 tonnes and the impact on mobility and reliability was significant. A refresh upgrade programme for 70 vehicles was initiated, designed to restore mobility, improve reliability and implement a number of improvements in various other areas. The £30m contract was awarded to BAE to bring vehicles up to ‘Theatre Entry Standard (Herrick)’, or TES(H)
The resultant vehicle still weighed just under 40 tonnes but new suspension, brakes, air conditioning and other improvements restored mobility and reliability. Additional protection included improved seating for crew and passengers, transparent armour for the turret and a newly designed armour package. Vehicles upgraded to TESH(H) totalled 70 across the major variants; FV511 Infantry Section Vehicle, FV512 Infantry Command Vehicle, FV513 Mechanised Recovery (Repair) Vehicle, FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle and FV515 Battery Command Vehicle, the latter converted to armoured ambulances.
- A flexible modular armour system that can be adapted to meet changing threats and reduce vehicle weight
- Enhanced seating design and cushioning to further improve mine protection and comfort
- An improved driver vision system with an increase from one to three periscopes, providing a wider field of vision and a night-vision capability
- Increased low-speed mobility and climbing performance, enabling the vehicle to tackle tough terrain and get closer to a target or destination
- Motorsport-derived carbon fibre brakes, providing significantly reduced stopping distance
- Improved air conditioning for troop comfort in hot and harsh environments
- Wire cutters to protect the driver, commander and equipment on the vehicle from obstacles.
The roll-call of British sub-contractors on the programme included Allen Vanguard (Tewkesbury), Astrum, Remown (both Co Durham), Caterpillar Defence Products (Shrewsbury), Dana Spicer (Birmingham), GKN Driveline (Telford), Icon Plymer (Nottingham), MTL (Rotherham) Thales Optronics (Glasgow), Thyssen Krupp (Birmingham), Tinsley Bridge (Sheffield) and W A Lewis (Shrewsbury).
In many ways, Warriors in Afghanistan were deployed as ‘medium armour’ to dominate ground, provide route security and in the infantry support role, acting as main battle tanks without the weight, arguably, the equivalent to FRES Direct Fire.
It is also interesting to note the weight increase.
Warrior came into service as a 24 tonne vehicle and was now serving successfully in Afghanistan, having been continually upgraded over its lifetime, at 40 tonnes, over 60% heavier. Warrior was not selected on the basis of future weight increase potential but here we were, operating in a very hostile environment at a significant weight increase over the original specification.
One cannot view efforts to improve Warrior without understanding the 40mm CTA system.
Recognising the approaching obsolescence of the 30mm RARDEN cannon, the MoD started a series of trade studies in order to develop the concept for a medium calibre weapon to replace it, one suitable to deal with the emerging Russian combat vehicles. These trade studies prompted GIAT and Royal Ordnance to explore options for a collaborative development programme. Consequently, a Royal Ordnance and GIAT 45mm Cased Telescoped Weapon System (CTWS) demonstrator was completed in 1991 with the prototype the following year.
This demonstrator had some input from the ARES 45mm weapon that had been in development in the USA. Differences from the older US system included a change from metallic to plastic for the ammunition case and the use of electrical drive rather than being gas operated.
The CTWS was intended for TRACER, a mid-life Warrior upgrade and the French VAD.
In 1994, the joint development concept was formalised by the creation of a 50/50 Joint Venture between GIAT and Royal Ordnance called Cased Telescoped Ammunition International or CTAI for short. In 1997 the decision was made to move the calibre to 40mm and rename it the CT2000 (rather optimistically, as it would turn out to be).
The Objective Future Cannon Programme (OFCP) was initiated in 2002, a joint programme between the UK MoD and French DGA. This defined the future programme activities and a number of key user requirements and specification;
- Rate of Fire 200 Shots per minute
- Fire two ammunition types selectable <3s
- Remote operation
- Low integration volume <80 litres total swept volume
- Dispersion > <0,35 mil APFSDS > <1 mil GPR
- Minimum Fatigue Safety Life 10,000 rounds
- Operates in safety –46°C to +63°C
- Satisfies prevailing UK MoD and French DGA safety standards
- STANAG 4439 insensitive
- Reliability >98%
- Supports ‘coincidence’ fire control solution
The first firing demonstration of the CTAS on a Warrior was in January 2002, in the ‘Xena’ turret, shown below.
Although not specifically aimed at any one vehicle the Manned Turret Integration Programme (MTIP) was a technology demonstrator working on the integration of the 40mm CTWS and a number of different sensors.
A demonstration contract was placed with Cased Telescoped Ammunition International (CTAI) to complete risk reduction demonstrations on a manned turret, feed systems and other sub-systems. CTA was required to demonstrate the CTWS in a manned turret fitted to a Warrior by the end of 2006. The French Délégation Général pour l’Armement (DGA) also placed a contract with CTA for an unmanned turret called TOUTATIS, again, to be trialled on Warrior.
In 2003, CTAI demonstrated early models of both turrets on Warrior, the manned turret providing Level IV protection at a weight of 3.8 tonnes and the unmanned turret providing Level III protection but at the much lower weight of 1.5 tonnes. The unmanned turret also had all the ammunition within the turret and a simpler feed mechanism, carrying capacity was 68 rounds, compared to 42 for the manned turret.
MTIP and TOUTATIS, shown below, left and right.
Additional firing trials were carried out in 2004 at Ridsdale Ranges.
In recognition of the need to maintain Warrior capability, the MoD embarked upon the Warrior Lethality Improvement Programme (WLIP) in May 2005.
The initial plan envisaged an upgrade to 449 IFV’s and the conversion of 125 vehicles into the Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle (ABSV), essentially, a de-turreted IFV used for certain FV432 roles like mortar carrier and ambulance.
The original intent was that the 40mm CTAS would be central to the Warrior Fightability and Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP) but in 2005, the MoD announced a competition, despite the significant investment in the CTAS since the early nineties. The competition originally specified a minimum calibre of 35mm but this was subsequently changed to 30mm to allow other guns to compete.
Competing bidders included General Dynamics with a version of their Mk46 turret, as fitted to the proposed USMC Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle and now used in naval applications, Selex offered a Mk 44 Bushmaster in the Oto Melara HITFIST turret, Lockheed Martin/Rheinmetall, a modification of the existing Warrior turret and CTAI/BAE, the 40mm CTAS in MTIP-2.
The image below shows a mockup of Lockheed Martin Warrior turret rebuild with 40mm CTAS.
In April 2008, the MoD announced that the CTA International 40mm CTWS had been selected for both the Warrior and FRES Scout and at the June Eurosatory, show BAE showed their self-funded MTIP 2 turret on a Warrior chassis. The MTIP 2 turret was a brand new design with a fully stabilised 40mm CTWS and applique armour package that provided the same protection level as the hull.
In November 2009, Lockheed Martin and the MoD’s Defence Support Group signed a partnering agreement in support of their Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) and Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) bids.
Lockheed Martin and BAE submitted their bids for the Warrior Capability Sustainment Project in November.
After Lockheed Martin had been awarded a study contract to investigate a common Warrior/FRES turret, it became clear that there would, in fact, need two turret variants, one for Warrior, and the other optimised for the reconnaissance role for Scout.
Lockheed Martin proposed an upgrade of the existing Warrior turret and BAE, their advanced MTIP 2 design on which they had been working on for some time. BAE was certain that an upgraded Warrior turret was not a sensible option and would be difficult meet the MoD’s requirements with it in any case.
BAE announced their investment a £4.5 million in a Turret Test Rig for both Warrior and FRES programmes in February 2010.
Further development and qualification of the 40mm CTA weapon were agreed by France and the UK in February.
In March 2010, it was announced that General Dynamics had been selected for FRES SV Recce Block 1, or more specifically, selected as preferred bidder.
In late March 2010, the MoD Investment Approvals Board recommended a year-long delay to WCSP. Lockheed Martin was awarded the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) contract in October 2010.
WCSP was designed to extend the service life of Warrior to beyond 2040 by which time it would have been in service over 50 years. The upgrade includes a new turret and 40mm CTA weapon, Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture and Warrior Modular Protection System. The demonstration phase, at a cost of £200m, would upgrade eight section vehicles and three other variants ready for trials between 2013 and 2014. A production phase would follow that would upgrade 380 infantry fighting vehicles and other variants.
Each Multi Role Brigade was to have 1 Battalion equipped with Warrior.
Demonstration was expected to cost £200 million and manufacture £642 million. WCSP was designed to extend the service life of Warrior to beyond 2040. At this point, Lockheed Martin were still insisting an upgraded Warrior turret would be used for the WCSP vehicles.
In 2011, BAE was deselected from the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) in February which left Lockheed Martin as the only horse in a one-horse race, despite this they had not yet been awarded preferred bidder status. BAE also displayed a Warrior Multi Role Platform that it claimed could make use of the approximately 300 Warrior hulls not earmarked for upgrading as part of WCSP.
By 2012, 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.
In summer 2013 a number of Warrior announcements were made;
After a series of successful design reviews and 40mm CTA qualification in early 2014, the WCSP achieved Initial Design Approval in January 2014. Qualification firings included the APFSDS-T and practice rounds.
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)
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 Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) completed its Preliminary Design Review in January 2014 following the System Design Review several months earlier.
News emerged in 2014 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’.
Lockheed Martin completed live firing trials for the Warrior CSP with its new turret design.
In 2015, the MoD finally placed a production order for the CTWS, 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.
The MoD issued a contract amendment to CTAI for further qualification of the Target Practice Reduced Range round
The cost of this was 16.5 million Euros.
At DSEI in September 2015, a number of key announcements were made.
The first Warrior CSP prototype was revealed.
The plan for Warrior remained to complete the order for 245 turreted Warriors out of a total order of 380.
The 245 turreted versions would be split between FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle and FV511 Infantry Command Vehicle. Whilst the FV512 Mechanised Combat Repair Vehicle and FV513 Mechanised Recovery Vehicle (Repair) would likely be the majority of the non-turreted versions, the number of FV514 Mechanised Artillery Observation Vehicle and FV515 Battery Command Vehicle variants covered by WCSP was not published. Given many FV515’s were converted to ambulance variants for operations in Afghanistan and the possibility of some Ajax taking the role of the artillery observation roles, the final numbers were uncertain.
In March 2016, the first production CTA systems were handed over:
At the Paris Air Show in 2017, a number of news outlets reported on a series of tense conversations between the MoD and Lockheed Martin, for example:
One of the less well reported discussions at the Paris Air Show last week apparently took place between Tony Douglas, the Chief Executive of Defence Equipment & Support, and Marilyn Hewson, President and CEO of Lockheed Martin. Central to the discussion was the issue of continuing delays to the WARRIOR Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP).
Clearly, all was not well in the Warrior CSP camp but the following month, a rather interesting counter from Lockheed Martin:
Lockheed Martin showcased Warrior CSP at DSEI in 2017.
In 2018, after a great deal of speculation, the MoD confirmed Warrior CSP was delayed by 13 months, with a new ISD of 2023 and cost growth of £200m.
Lockheed Martin and 30 of its industry partners showcased Warrior CSP at the Tank Museum in March 2019 after live firing trials had completed the month before. Reliability Growth Trials were to commence the month after.
In the same month, it was reported that Warrior CSP was now three and a half years late and £227m over budget.
Lockheed Martin released a video in 2019 describing programme progress and status
Since then, trials have progressed, although still no sign of a production contract.
Warrior has been a solid, reliable and capable vehicle for the British Army.
It is important to note that it isn’t just a new turret, new electronics and electrical systems, environment and protection are all dramatically improved. The 40mm CTAS will provide a huge lethality uplift over the 30mm RARDEN and the latest sensors, fire control systems and stabilisation systems will allow accurate firing on the move.
It isn’t your grandfathers Warrior, to coin a phrase.
This has been far from an easy process, and the 40mm CTAS woes are well known.
Quantities have reduced and costs risen, and there is still no production contract.
Full Operating Capability was supposed to be 2020, for 550 vehicles.
For more money, we will have fewer vehicles, later than planned.
But regardless of the whys, the what is simple, is wringing another decade and a half out of a 30 year old vehicle good value for money?
I honestly don’t know, and it seems everyone hinting about future challenges in the integrated defence and security review, so maybe other know.
If it is cancelled, it will be another example the British Army being unable to get any of its vehicle programmes right.
Or maybe all will come good, and this vitally needed capability will begin to reach soldiers soon.
If you read above, perhaps we can also reflect on the lost opportunities.
I would like to thank ‘Challenger 2’ from the Plain Military Forum and Artem Belikov for allowing me to use some of the images above, thanks gents!
Given Artem a follow @skylancer7441