Friday, January 11, 2013

Gaps, gaps, gaps - part 2

Part 1 of this report: Gaps, Gaps, Gaps

Next in line is the FRES SV vehicle family. Unfortunately, the NAO report covers a period that ends before the most interesting developments. Following confirmation of the enduring requirement for FRES SV at the completition of the SDSR, and indeed following the army restructuring program (Army 2020), the number of vehicles to be purchased and timings have all changed.
Entry into service will happen at least 9 months later than originally planned. The date is not disclosed, but we are possibly looking at 2018, if not later. I've read that CVR(T) vehicles will not be entirely gone before 2026.

An option that could be given the go ahead in the immediate future would however partly compensate the delay to entry in service by bringing forwards development and demonstration of the RECCE Block 2 group of vehicle variants.
The FRES SV has been broken down into multiple parts, all with their own decision Gates. So far, activity has focused on RECCE Block 1 (Scout vehicle, Armoured Personnel Carrier, Repair, Recovery and Common Base Platform) but the Block 2 could now be added to the ongoing activity, to demonstrate Ambulance, Command Post and Engineer Recce variants.
Part of the Block 2 should also be the Joint Fires direction vehicle, destined to carry a full six-man Fire Support Team of the Royal Artillery, with full equipment for the direction, under-armor or dismounted, of mortar, artillery and air attacks.

A RECCE Block 3 is also envisaged for the future, but budget uncertainty makes me be particularly careful about these future, as yet uncommitted to parts of the program. Bringing forwards demonstration of Block 2, to include the vehicle variants it covers into the Initial Operating Capability would be a very welcome move, as it would greatly increase the chances for the Army to actually get the vehicles it needs.

The Type 45 destroyers are now going strong, and the program has achieved a very positive in year net cost variation of -108 millions, which have been handed back for use elsewhere in the equipment programme. Reportedly, this year we'll see up to four Type 45 fitted with Harpoon missiles, presumably coming from the retired Type 22 frigates, but the NAO does not speak about it. Major improvements in Combat System software and communications (SATURN has been fitted) are reported.

The Typhoon Future Capability Program is, as always, a source of misery. While the Typhoon program registers a positive result, with a cost reduction of 69 millions, the Future Capability Program 1 for introduction of advanced Air-Ground features reports a 22 million cost increase (to 441 million) and, more importantly, a massive 18 months delay, to December 2013, which also affect the Meteor as we have seen before.

A combination of technical complexity, Partner Nation disagreement on a synthetic training solution and delays in agreement of an international support arrangement have caused the delay.

Anyway, the SDSR has pushed to the right the requirement for Typhoon ground-attack capability to 2015.
Future Capability Program 1 introduces Paveway IV, full functionality of the Litening III targeting pods and other improvements.
Future Capability Program 2 will follow, at some point, hopefully including integration of Storm Shadow and Brimstone.

An Active Electronic Scanned Array voice has made its appearance into the Report, with Initial Investment Decision made in July 2011, but no other detail is provided. The budgeted-for date of entry in service is currently classified.

Regarding the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme, the NAO reports that the current plan is for the upgrade of 445 vehicles (all variants, including FV514 Artillery Observation Post, but excluding the Battery Command vehicles which appear not to be in use anymore, with a number having been converted in Ambulances by the REME for use in Afghanistan) from an affordable fleet of 565.
The FV514 vehicle is very important to the future of the Royal Artillery. As part of WCSP it is getting mechanical, electric and protection upgrades, but a separate programs will have to be funded at some point to upgrade the fire targeting and direction equipment. I plan to write an article in the near future looking in more detail into the Warrior situation, and more info will be provided there. 

Importantly, the NAO report confirms that the Armored Battlefield Support Vehicle element is not dead, despite having been silent ever since it was made a part of Warrior CSP by the 2005 defence industrial strategy.
The ABSV is described as:

A new variant, replacing obsolescent platforms, that has equal protection and mobility to the core fighting platforms. Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle is currently in the Concept Phase and is subject to future approval.

The ABSV, also known as "turretless Warrior" is meant to replace a number of FV430 tracked vehicles inside armored infantry battlegroups. Also known earlier as Battle Group Support Vehicle (BGSV) and earlier still as M1P1 (tracked vehicle which was accompanied by the also cancelled M2P2, the 8x8 Boxer vehicle), it has had a complex history to say the least.
At least 3 prototypes were ordered to then Alvis Vickers, and at least one was built and demonstrated. The requirement has varied anywhere between 125 and 300-plus vehicles, with Ambulance, Command Post and General Support variants envisaged.

With how things are evolved over the years, now ABSV and FRES SV Recce Block 2 are kind of in conflict for the same roles, replacing FV430 vehicle variants.
Using turretless Warriors for the roles might cost less than build a wholly new FRES SV, and of course having almost all the battalion using Warrior mechanics is good for logistics, but insertion of technology which is so important for Command and Ambulance vehicles in particular suggest that going for a new, modern FRES variant is desirable.

However, the FRES Engineer/Bridgelayer vehicle has been cancelled, while a Warrior bridgelayer prototype has been showcased in 2011. Since the requirement is still there (some 35 vehicles were envisaged), to support the FRES Scout, ABSV might end up delivering Bridgelayers instead of ambulances, command posts and APCs.
There is also another requirement that has been ignored this far, which is that for a Mortar Carrier replacing the relevant FV430 variant currently in use. As the Mortar Carrier role should not require a too complex modification to the Warrior hull, and since the requirement would be for a low number of vehicles (between 6 and 9 vehicles for each armoured infantry battalion, so around 54 at most) it might make sense to convert surplus Warrior hulls as a low-cost, big-gain program.

This way, FRES SV RECCE Block 2 would replace APCs (not overly complex, but required in significant numbers that Warrior wouldn't be able to cover) and the complex Command, Ambulance, Communications and Engineer Recce / Joint Fires variants, while surplus Warrior hulls could be used for covering the need for Bridgelayers and Mortar Carriers. The numbers are also compatible with what the NAO says, as 565 - 445 gives 120, a number of hulls more than adequate to meet the two requirements i suggest to tackle.

IOC for Warrior CSP remains defined as one Armoured Company equipped and trained collectively at Level 2. Expected in November 2018.

Among the pre-Main Gate programmes appears MARS, which will of course move up into Post-Main Gate in the 2013 report, since the contract has since been awarded for MARS FT.
The NAO report confirms what i had already reported: the procurement of the MARS Fleet Solid Support Ships currently sits on the White Board, waiting to be given the go ahead later in the decade, post SDSR 2015.
Money is planned to be provided from the core budget for assessment phase of Solid Support in the coming budget cycles.

One major, welcome programs in Pre-Main Gate phase is the Network Enabled Airspace Defence and Surveillance (NEADS), which is the Army's effort to modernize the obsolete air defence capability currently available.
A very complex program, it is considered of prioritary importance by the Army since future operations are expected to be conducted in far less permissive environments. NEADS is meant to expand the defence capability to give protection from the whole range of threats: aircrafts, helicopters, cruise missiles and, very importantly, against UAVs and Rocket-Artillery-Mortars. 

Three Increments are planned:

Increment 1 will replace Urgent Operational Requirement equipment with an enduring Counter Rocket Artillery & Mortar automated sense and warn capability from 2015.
This capability is being used in Afghanistan to protect UK bases from rocket artillery and mortar attack. This was provided under Treasury Urgent Operation Requirement Funding. Automatic Sense and Warn capabilities will be brought into the core equipment programme.

Increment 2 will deliver an initial Counter-Unmanned Air Vehicle Capability and replace the existing Counter Rocket Artillery and Mortar intercept capability from 2017 as well as sustain ground-based air defence in the Falkland Islands beyond 2020.

Increment 3 will improve protection against the remainder of the Difficult Air Targets with Full Operating Capability expected in 2027.

The Difficult Air Targets set includes cruise missiles, Unmanned Air Vehicles, Attack Helicopters and Rockets, Artillery and Mortars.

Automatic Sense and Warn UOR is an adaptation of the Land Environment Air Picture Provision (LEAPP) equipment program for Afghanistan needs. Another element is JAPPLE. In 2011 i wrote this description, which should still be at least partially valid, even though not much info is available on this kind of systems, for obvious reasons.

The Joint Air Picture Provision of the Land Environment is active in Helmand since 2008. A team of eight, split between Camp Bastion and Lashkar Gah, provide the Joint Helicopter Command and to the Combined Forces HQ a 24-hours complete picture of activity going on in the air, to direct air defence efforts and de-conflict the Joint Helicopter Command routes and missions with the concurrent artillery fire or othe potential threats. In addition to this constant presence, the system also deploys small forward teams with troops where necessary. 

JAPPLE builds on the capability provided by the Automated Sense and Warn system: this was procured as UOR for Afghanistan, and is a combination of software and hardware capable to fuse together information coming from a number of sources, including MAMBA artillery locating/battlefield surveillance radars. Mainly, though, it uses two Giraffe ABM radars. The information is fused and transmitted on the LEAPP C2 network, and alarm of incoming attack is launched via the Waves towers installed in based in Afghanistan. Two Giraffe radars are in Bastion, two in Kandhar.
In the system, at some point, is likely to be integrated also the flow of informations coming from B-ISTAR sensors.
The whole system is currently manned by 5th Regiment RA, with the support of roughly one battery deployed on each Herrick cycle by 16 RA.

LEAPP in itself (Land Environment Air Picture Provision) is a little known but invaluable programme which is going on from a few years, and that allowed the advanced JAPPLE to happen. LEAPP provides near real time correlated air picture for the land environment. It is a combination of control nodes and organic sensors, and a vital software, Bowman data radio-compatible, capable to link and connect all Royal Artillery assets (artillery batteries receive info and feed back into the system the data of their own firing trajectories, so that all things moving in the air can be mapped). LEAPP is deployed at formations Hqs, and provides its air picture to all users via NATO data link 16 and 11.

The report says that the C-RAM interception capability will be replaced in 2017, but please note that the British Army currently has not an in-service C-RAM interception capability. ASW is a detection and warning system only.
In Iraq, the Army deployed, as UOR, a number of american-made Centurion C-RAM trailers, fitted with suitably modified Phalanx CIWS guns taken from the Royal Navy's stock. However, for what i understand that was a temporary solution: Centurion was not deployed to Afghanistan, the trailers have been handed back to the US and the Phalanx guns returned to the Royal Navy.
The "existing" C-RAM capability is virtual, but a C-RAM protection system was promised in SDSR documents. Nice to see that they are sticking to that promise. 

We can assume that  connected to NEADS will also be the replacement for the now retired COBRA counter-artillery radar and for the active MAMBA: the Common Weapon Locating Radar, which should be the ARTHUR Mod C from Saab.
Entry in service should be in 2014 but an order has not yet been finalized.

Some 34 US-made Lightweight Counter Mortar Radar are in use after being procured as UOR. Most of them are in Afghanistan, but a number was also used to provide protection to the Olympic games in London. It's near certain that these precious radars are part of the solutions being brought into Core Budget.

The NAO does not go into such detail in its report, but includes this information:

Approval for the Assessment Phase 1 was given by the MOD Investment Approvals Board in February 2010, and ratified in June 2010 as part of the review by the new coalition Government.
The objective of the Assessment Phase 1 is to establish the most cost effective solution to the Increment 1 requirement and early de-risking activities for Increment 2.
The current approval covers Assessment Phase work required to reach Main Gate 1, which leads to the Demonstration and Manufacture phase for Increment 1 and effectively Increment 2 Initial Gate. The Assessment Phase has been structured into three workstreams as follows:

a. Workstream 0. Initial de-risking activities will identify and address any changes and further lessons learnt as a result of the evolving Land Environment Air Picture Provision and Urgent Operational Requirement projects and current operations. Further work will develop the architecture required to allow the incremental insertion of capability over the project lifecycle. This will also drive coherence into future Urgent Operational Requirement activity and address any scaling issues as a result of the Defence Review.

b. Workstream 1. The work stream will result in the down selection to a single affordable option to be presented at Network Enabled Airspace Defence and Surveillance Main Gate 1 to deliver the Automated Sense and Warn capability. A full option analysis will be undertaken to investigate retaining extant Urgent Operational Requirement and Core Programme components as well as alternative off the shelf solutions.

c. Workstream 2. This work stream will result in the development of a detailed system architecture and associated systems and technical requirements and initial evaluation of potential equipment options. It is planned to de-risk the overall Network Enabled Airspace Defence and Surveillance architecture, by integrating Future Local Area Air Defence Systems (Land) and High Velocity Missile models/ equipments into a representative Network Enabled Airspace Defence and Surveillance system and also undertake an initial assessment of Counter-Rocket Artillery and Mortars effectors.

In 2010, associated with the Strategic Defence and Security Review a number of options were raised to maintain alignment with wider Defence priorities. These were primarily associated with scaling and delivery timings.

An Industry Day was held in November 2010, at which a number of companies were briefed on the programme. Since then industry have been kept informed of developments via a series of newsletters. A series of one to one discussions with industry on Increment 1 is currently being conducted, following the Request for Information for Increment 1.

The NAO notes that, as of March 2012, NEADS activities were on track and making good progress towards the first Main Gate point. The Main Gate expected date, however, is classified and obscured in the report.
Surprisingly, the NAO shows FLAADS(L) as expected to hit IOC or even In-Service date in November 2016: i'm not sure how we should read this passage, however. While FLAADS(M) has long been expected to start replacing Sea Wolf on the Type 23s from 2016, Rapier replacement was expected not to be funded before 2018 at the earliest. I'd be surprised if it had been brought forwards.
Not because it is not needed, but because of budget considerations.

Another program of interest is the already mentioned upgrade to the Spearfish torpedo.

Spearfish is the sole heavyweight torpedo in the UK arsenal and is carried aboard Trafalgar and Vanguard Class submarines. The weapon was introduced into service in 1994 and is the only submarine launched weapon for offensive and defensive operations against ships and other submarines. Spearfish will be deployed in the Astute Class from 2013 and an upgraded Spearfish weapon is the planning assumption for equipping the future Deterrent.

The Spearfish Upgrade project is required to deliver a mid-life upgrade to sustain a credible and safe weapon for future submarine operations. The scope of the project includes digitisation of the weapon, the provision of a new insensitive munition warhead to replace the current ageing warhead, changes to the fuel system and the introduction of a new communications link. The upgrade will address obsolescence and also enable future reductions in through life costs.

Assessment Phase began with a contract assigned to BAE in April 2010, and will be completed in April 2014 with in-water trials. So far, the effort is progressing satisfactorily and on time. The new Insensitive Munition compliant warhead achieved the required level of technological maturity in January 2012 completing successful land based and underwater scale test firings undertaken in Germany and in the UK respectively.

The fibre optic dispensing system evaluation trials in April 2011 proved that the fibre in use was too weak and required replacement with a more ruggerized one. There are no delays to report anyway.

Initial design work to define and develop the interface between the upgraded weapon and the submarine combat system was completed in February 2012. Work is ongoing.

Regarding CEC, the NAO unfortunately confirms that:

Planning Round 2012 has announced United Kingdom Cooperative Engagement Capability Project Delete Option E12AW006S has been taken and is not part of the funded Core Programme. Delete Option also identified £1m to conduct project close down activities in Financial Year12/13.

It is a big loss of capability, in particular for the Type 45 destroyers. It is not clear how this PR12 decision affects the possibility, for the Navy, to resurrect the CEC effort in the coming years.

Particularly unwelcome is this passage:

Once the Sea King leaves service there will be some consequent capability gaps until upgraded Merlin helicopters can take on the tasks of providing helicopter lift from naval vessels to the shore (a two-year gap until April 2018) and providing airborne surveillance and control capabilities for the future aircraft carriers (a potential four‑year gap until 2020). The Department is examining alternative means of closing these capability gaps.

Regarding Crowsnest, the intended replacement for the Sea King MK7 ASaC, we will know more this year, if plans do not change: assessment phase will finally be launched. Avoiding this particular gap is extremely important.
Just as unwelcome is the gap in amphibious support helicopter capability. It is not clear how this must be read: the plan so far has been that in 2016 the Commando Helicopter Force will take over the Merlin HC3/3A, but properly "navalized" HC4-standard airframes were not going to arrived before 2017.
In the disaster, we have to hope that the April 2018 is the new date for conversion to HC4 standard of the Merlins: if the delay is to be intended as total lack of helicopters for CHF for two years due to postponed Merlin transfer, the only sane option is keeping the Sea King going for a little longer. It would be totally irresponsible to do otherwise.

Finally, they have nothing to do with the NAO report, but they are relevant news:

- The british armed forces have selected their new sidearm: it's the 9mm Glock 17 Gen 4 pistol, fitted with Picatinny rail under the barrel. It is lighter than the Browning, the clip holds 17 rounds (vs 13) and it allows much shorter reaction times from draw to firing of a full sequence of 5 rounds.

25.000 pistols have been ordered, at a cost of 9 million. Afghanistan-deployed troops, of course, will get the weapon first. Firearms distributor Viking Arms Limited, of Harrogate, will deliver guns and holsters.

- An UOR has also been financed to procure a number of LSD500 laser surveillance and sniper detection systems from France's CILAS. The systems are for use in base protection in Afghanistan.
I don't question the wisdom of the purchase which i'm sure is made for good reasons, but bases have already the Boomerang III system, while soldiers have seen the UOR for a body-worn or rifle-mounted sniper detection system cancelled last year. I would have preferred to fill the capability gap in terms of wearable/rifle mounted shooter detection system first, to extend the capability to foot patrols away from FOBs and vehicles (a number of vehicles in theatre are fitted with Boomerang III). 


  1. Gaby

    "Once the Sea King leaves service there will be some consequent capability gaps until upgraded Merlin helicopters can take on the tasks of providing helicopter lift from naval vessels to the shore (a two-year gap until April 2018) and providing airborne surveillance and control capabilities for the future aircraft carriers (a potential four‑year gap until 2020). The Department is examining alternative means of closing these capability gaps."

    As you say:

    "Just as unwelcome is the gap in amphibious support helicopter capability."

    These are very serious gaps indeed. As you say of the latter: " the only sane option is keeping the Sea King going for a little longer. It would be totally irresponsible to do otherwise."

    Could not that solution be used to cover the Crowsnest gap as well? I am pretty sure that that is what will have to happen. The Sea King looks to me to have a pretty robust airframe and could surely be "run on" for a few more years.

    Is it technically advisable and would it be very costly, do you think?

    1. Technically, i believe it is feasible. For sure, there's going to be a cost attached to a Sea King retirement delay: it is to be seen if the MOD will be able/willing to shoulder that cost.

  2. Hi Gabriele, As I know you're aware, today the MoD announced that the next standard Service Handgun of the British armed forces will be the Glock 17 Gen 4.
    What will happen to the UOR Sig Sauers is a mystery although knowing the MoD they will either be re-sold or kept in storage (the latter being the most practical).

    I have researched recently a company I'm sure you're aware of called Manroy Engineering who stated not long ago that they would be either expanding their product range to Pistols and Assault Rifles, aswell as manufacturing the Licensed M2 HMG (Which Manroy Exports to over 30 countries)and their own copy of the GPMG. Manroy also stated that they wanted to compete in the recent Pistol Porcurement Programme, but it seems nothing has come of it? Manroy also stated that they would compete to either licence produce or manufacture their own weapon for the up and coming Service Rifle replacement. So it would be good if you can keep tabs on this company and what they're doing.

    I was wondering if you could at some point write up an article on the future Service Rifle replacement as I'm sure even you stated that the gate for replacement is next year. In my opinion I have noted only 3 likely competitors for the bid although I'm sure their will be a large amount of competition. The 3 Assault Rifles I feel most suit the role are as follows, and the reason I mention Manroy is because of their ability to licence produce weapon, both aiding the economy and military at the same time.

    Rifle Option 1: The Colt Canada C7/C8 - Already used by Special Forces and the Pathfinder Platoon, the C8 SFW or L119A1 in British Service won out over the HK416. Essentially an improved AR15 with heavy barrel and quad rails, the C7 Family have proved popular over their American cousin the M16. However, conventional layout, Gas impingment and shorter barrels (16 inch SFW, 14 inch Carbine) do not fit in line the British Military Doctrine which focus' on Marksmanship, Reliability (Gas Impingment is dirty and fouls weapon parts) and Accuracy. With Afghan combat proving that carbines and the 5.56 round are not sufficient to engage forces armed with 7.62 at ranges beyond 200 metres (the reason we both know that the L129A1 was introduced - and is proving a dream).

    The Second Weapon of choice in my opinion of course the HK416, useing a short-stroke gas system developed from the SA80's, being highly durable, modular and ambidextrous, the HK416 is in no doubt a bad weapon. The MoD seem to have developed quite a relationship with HK and HK weapons have always reached the final stage of tests. However, the exprence of the weapon, its inherent Accuracy problems and its conventional layout are what have lead it to loose out against the C7/8.

    Finally, and most importantly of all is the weapon i personally believe (if their is no domestic alternative or SA80 modification as you have hoped for) should see service is the Thales F90. Developed in Austria and based on the Steyr AUG, the F90 seems to tick all the boxes. It is made of lightweight Polymers, features rails (although limited) is extremely ambidextrous meaning for once left handers can enjoy being in the British Army... It has a similar short stroke Gas System, is proven as a reliable and durable bullpup and is accuracte (although I'm not sure in comparison to the L85A2, although their is plenty of room for modification). Thales' biggest business is Thales UK, with the CVF being designed by the French company. Thsi is where the benefits come economically aswell. If Thales doesnt' have the proper facilities to manufacture in the UK then Manroy do. The F90 is also speculated as a solid replacement for the FAMAS and with the UK and French militaries becoming ever more closely alligned, a standard service rifle for both has alot of benefits. The Irish also use the AUG aswell as the Australians and more importantly the Falkland Island Defence Force. The potential of this weapon is too great, but obviously I'm here to see what you think?

    1. I will of course write about the requirement for the new rifle whenever there will be information to report.

      For now, though, i wouldn't really know what to say. I've heard nothing significant ever since the requirement came out.

    2. I read today that an MOD spokeswoman confirmed the Sig P226's will not be retired from service.

      25,000 is not enough for all frontline duties, plus training for all units preparing for deployments and any other duties where pistols are needed, so plenty of use to be found for them

    3. I expected it. Special Forces and other operators are said to like the P226 more, and anyway a sizeable investment has been made on buying P226s in recent years, so it is only right they are used well into the future.

  3. Gaby

    Thanks for the reply about Sea King.

    This ABSV (or “turretless Warrior”) vehicle really intrigues me. I heard little or nothing about it for such a long time and yet here it is surfacing again.

    I think it is an excellent idea to introduce such a vehicle (common components with the Warrior fighting vehicle and similar protection and mobility). However, as far as the provision of variants is concerned, the situation has become very confusing. Originally, I thought ABSV would be a common base platform for all the variants to support Warrior. Then, later, at one point, it seemed to become a programme dealing with Recovery and Repair variants only and now it seems as if it has the potential to become something similar to the original idea.

    FRES Recce Block 1 seems to have included both recovery and repair vehicles (whether enough for the Warrior formations is not known) so that it may very well be that ABSV is intended for other variants. A bridgelayer seems like an extremely good idea, as does a mortar carrier. Has there been anything even mentioned about the Fire Support vehicle (and I don’t mean the Joint Fires direction vehicle). I suppose that would prove too expensive at the moment.

    1. My understanding is that the ABSV has nothing to do with Recovery and Repair: there are two very large and capable fleets of Repair and Recovery vehicles on Warrior hull (FV512 and FV513). The WCSP delivers upgrades to them.

      In practice:

      FV510 - the Warrior IFV, getting new turret and 40mm gun and full range of upgrades
      FV511 - Infantry Command, getting turret and 40mm etc
      FV512 and FV513 - Repair and Recovery have no turret and gun but get the other improvements
      FV514 - Artillery observation post has a fake gun fitted, so no 40mm, but all other upgrades are rolled in.

      The few remaining FV515 Battery Command vehicles aren't being upgraded, for what i understand.

      There is no need for Repair and Recovery vehicles to support Warrior.

      The FRES Repair and Recovery vehicles replace the Samson (CVR(T)) and FV434 (REME variant of the FV430 vehicle family).

      What is needed is a replacement for command posts, ambulances, APCs, Engineer Recce vehicles, and Fire-direction vehicles.
      Of almost all of the above there is two vehicles in service: one CVR(T) and one FV430-series.

      Command post: Sultan (CVR(T) and FV430 variant
      Ambulance: Samaritan (CVR(T) and FV430 variant
      Communications: FV436
      Engineer recce/APC/FIre direction: Spartan (CVR(T))

      and so along.
      The CVR(T) vehicle variants are mostly localized in the Recce cavalry regiments, while the FV430 variants feature heavily alongside Warrior in the Armoured Infantry battalions.

      FRES SV will deliver a replacement valid for all these vehicles.
      In theory, you could convert a number of Warriors to cover the same roles in the Infantry battalions, but i don't think it would be cost effective. You'd still need FRES SV variants to meet the numeric requirement, so you'd duplicate everything once more, with the difference that now there's not a small (CVR(T)) and a big vehicle (FV430) but vehicles roughly of the same size and weight.

      FRES SV has its own Repair and Recovery variants.

      What remains out of the picture is the Bridgelayer (this segment of the FRES plan has been cancelled) and the mortar carrier on FV430 hull.
      Since a Warrior bridgelayer is already available and the requirement for mortar carriers is small in numbers (but important), i can only see Warriors used to meet these two requirements.

      For now, the "light tank" FRES vehicle has been cancelled. It could reappear one day, but for the moment it has been removed.

  4. Gaby

    Well, that's cleared that one up, then. All very lucid and with far more detail than I was expecting.

    I think I must have been confusing the WCSP upgrades to the Repair and Recovery vehicles on Warrior hull (FV512 and FV513) with the ABSV programme. I'm sure I did read somewhere, though, that ABSV was now solely concerned with REME-type vehicles. No matter!

    Interesting what you say about CVR(T) vehicles not entirely going from the fleet before 2026. I was going to say that that probably applied to variants like the Samson and not to recce vehicles but I suppose that with an appreciable number of new-build CVR(T)s, they will take a long time to be phased out, even the recce ones with new-build hulls. They would be best placed in a specialist light armoured unit to support 16 AA Brigade and 3 Cdo Bde, don't you think?

    1. The CVR(T) Mk2 will possibly be the last to leave service indeed, but it's far more likely that it will be simply because they have decided to take it slow with the build up and introduction into service of FRES SV, more than because they plan any specific support to the PARA and Commandos. I'd like it if it was the answer, but i fear it is not the case.

      As for ABSV, i think the source of the misunderstanding was DefenseIndustryDaily, who suggested that the turretless warrior would cover roles such as "recovery and repair". I was always skeptical about that and never agreed with that exposition, but many other reporters took it as correct and the myth was born, with the bit of info circling all around.

      In the defence industrial strategy published in 2005 ABSV was described in this way:

      The CSP (Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme) will include the current Armoured Battlefi eld Support Vehicle (ABSV), also in its concept phase. We
      plan ABSV to modify the remaining Warrior IFVs not required under Future Army Structures to provide an armoured support vehicle for armoured infantry and engineer units.

      No mention at all of recovery and repair (which would be REME stuff). The hint about engineer units and the fact that a prototype Warrior engineer/bridgelayer has been prepared suggest to me that it is possibly since 2005 that the Army has been reasoning about using Warrior for the medium weight bridgelayer requirement.

  5. Gaby

    Thanks very much for the reply. I thought I hadn't imagined the reference.

    I suppose one alternative to the Warrior Bridgelayer would be, as we have discussed before, an armoured version of the REBS bridge. I dd not know until the other day that the REBS can be transferred from the carrier truck to an armoured vehicle for laying the bridge under protection, using a special adaptor module. However, that would seem not to be the most efficient way of employing the bridge, considering the time taken to transfer it, and having the actual bridge on Warrior full-time seems by far and away the best solution. They certainly need something for the Warrior formations, as Titan cannot do the lot.

    1. To be sincere, the prototype has been demonstrated with the current range of assault bridging also available for use on Titan. I don't know if REBS will also stay or if, as UOR, will be disposed off. I don't think i've heard anything about it so far.

      As for the formations that would get intimate support from a Warrior bridgelayer, i'm thinking more about the RECCE Cavalry mounted on FRES SV.
      FRES SV is a big vehicle. In many areas it might be unable to use bridges because they don't hold its weight.
      And for its recce role, it will operate far ahead of the battlegroup, at least in theory. So, it needs a Bridgelayer to have freedom of maneouvre.

      Warrior companies are the core of the Battlegroup, instead, and are far more likely to benefit from Titan and ABLE support from attached engineer squadron/regiment.

      That's why, i'm guessing, FRES included a bridgelayer equipment.
      Using Warrior is probably due to budget: i suspect it'll cost a lot less!
      After all, Warriors and FRES SV vehicles will mix together into hybrid formations in any case, so the logistic aspect is not vital. You can't avoid supporting both vehicles anyway.

  6. Gaby

    Yes, I see the point(s) you are making. Thanks very much for the reply.

    Now for a question about C-RAM. I take the point that ASW (Increment 1) is a detection and warning system only. However, what about the report saying that the C-RAM interception capability will be replaced in 2017? What exactly will come in in 2017? Will it be some new kind of weapon system to protect against Unmanned Air Vehicles? In the same context you mention sustaining ground-based air defence in the Falkland Islands beyond 2020. So will it be some kind of C-RAM weapon system as opposed to a sensing and warning system, or is that too much to hope for given the present financial situation?

    1. In 2017 there should be an interception capability against RAM threats: the report specifically mentions "effectors", which normally indicates the hard kill component, either gun, missile, or perhaps, by then, laser, since Rheinmetall is progressing well on C-RAM laser demonstrations.
      Hard to say now what will be used to provide this capability by then: maybe the RapidFire AA variant of the 40 mm CTA with the A3A airbursting shell. Maybe a laser, by then! Who knows.

      Regarding the sustainment of air defence in the Falklands beyond 2020, it will almost certainly be a matter of deploying a battery of FLAADS(L): Mount Pleasant is now protected by Rapier firing units, so i'm assuming that the missile system replacing Rapier will take over the role, simply enough.

  7. Gaby

    Thanks for your reply about C-RAM.

    One more question - this time concerning the Type 45. You say "Reportedly, this year we'll see up to four Type 45 fitted with Harpoon missiles, presumably coming from the retired Type 22 frigates."

    So what armament does the Type 45 now carry? (I haven't been following naval topics very closely on here.) Presumably it will have the PAAMS missile system (with the Sylver launcher silo and Aster 15 short range and Aster 30 long range missiles? Then I take it that there is a 114 mm main gun. It should also have a couple of 30 mm guns. I believe that it also has a couple of Phalanx but am none too sure about that. Does it have any tubes for torpedoes? And now some of them are to get Harpoon as anti-surface missiles, which is good. Is that about it or can anything else be taken off the Type 22s?

    1. I don't think the 45s havve shipboard torpedoes. That one of the reasons it's weaker that the US AB class destroyer.

    2. Type 45s carry a 114mm gun, 2x 30mm guns, a number of miniguns and GPMGs.
      2x Phalanx 1B Baseline 2 CIWS are being fitted to all Type 45s. Daring and Diamond already have them for sure.
      Then there's PAAMs, with 16 Aster 15 and 32 Aster 30 missiles being the standard mix.

      They are fitted for, but not with, two twin-tube Stingray torpedo launchers.

    3. Type 45s reply mostly on the helicopters for ASuW and ASW

  8. Do you know of there is anything worthwhile on the type 22s or even the retired type 42s thats could be utilised other than harpoon? Ive seen some of the phalanx are being transferred.


    1. There is no official confirmation, but the appearance of new antennas on four Type 23 frigates suggests that the COBLU COMINT intellinge suite has been transfered from the Type 22s.
      The Seawolf missiles are probably not going to be useful as the Type 23 uses the more recent VL ones, upgraded, but the radar illuminators will be harvested for spares, among with other things.

      I don't know if the Stingray torpedo system could be moved on to the Type 45. I fear no, but i'm not sure.
      The Goalkeeper CIWS will be sold/harvested for spares to support those operative on Albion and Bulwark.

      The Phalanx guns are of course moving off the Type 42s and onto the Type 45s, following maintenance and upgrade to the latest standard.

  9. Gaby

    Just to revert for a moment or two to an earlier point.

    “I've read that CVR(T) vehicles will not be entirely gone before 2026.”

    I don’t know whether you’ve read the article in the “Sunday Telegraph” this morning, Gaby, on Britain having a new plan to defend the Falklands and if so, whether you regard it as perhaps somewhat alarmist, even sensational. Personally I don’t, and think the Government and MOD are right to take reasonable precautions.

    However, if the Islands were to be taken in a surprise attack, wouldn’t (in any ensuing re-take operation) the CVR(T) be a damned sight more useful vehicle than FRES SV, so heavy it would probably sink in the Falklands mud. An argument for keeping a number of them (CVR(T)s) for a good few years to come?

    1. I do not expect to see the Response Force Task Group heading towards the South Atlantic, frankly. Sending an extra company of PARAs "for training" is more realistic, i think. The rest is probably overkill and can better be used elsewhere. For the moment. In the future, it might be different.

      As for CVR(T), i don't think their permanence has anything to do with the Falklands.
      Nor do i think they are necessary. The FRES Scout at 34-tons battle weight hasn't a much greater ground pressure than the original CVR(T) at 8 tons (possibly 0.52 kg per square cm against 0.36 for a lean, clean Scimitar). The Scimitar 2 has weight increased to 12.5 tons but same tracks-width and number of wheels as the original Scimitar. Ground pressure of Scimitar MK2 is now considerably higher as a consequence.

      FRES SV has 7 wheels and over 6 meters of track lenght to spread its weight upon, and the tracks are more than 53 cm wide.
      The end result is that at 34 tons it might have lower ground pressure than Scimitar MK2 at 12.5. I would make the rough calculation but i don't have at hand data about the Scimitar's track width.

    2. I have long thought that our lone frigate or destroyer patrolling the S.Atlantic is a far less effective defence of the Falklands than say a few more Typhoon (maybe a 'light squadron' of 8 with Brimstone and Meteor etcetera in the future), a well fortified Mt Pleasant and a light battalion that can combine the role of garrison with some useful cold weather and mountain training.

      Although having said all that, looking at the current state of the Argentine navy and air-force I really wouldn't be too worried about the islands security for the near future.

    3. RFTG to Falklands only if tensions are high. One more frigate should be there since Type 45s do not have strong ASuW capability

  10. Gaby

    Yes, I did not know all those facts about the relative ground pressure of the two vehicles. FRES SV at 34 tonnes seemed to me a much, much heavier vehicle than CVR(T) and I rather crudely assumed that its ground pressure would be also much greater, little thinking that it might possibly be lower! Thanks.

    Agree with all you say about the Falklands.

  11. Thanks for the informed response as usual. Just from your answer, it posed another question. Why is it that hms albion and bulwark as well as the t-22s had goalkeeper fitted rather than phalanx? Surely it created unnessasary and expensive supply chains in terms of ammunition and spares? Plus as i understand goalkeeper is much more invasive, compared to phalanx which is pretty much just bolted on. And i believe for a period was even used at camp bastion as a rudimentary point defence for incoming mortars

    Cheers, sellers

    1. Goalkeeper is more effective than Phalanx, but it does have the problem of being invasive indeed. Invincible and Illustrious and the Type 22s and LPDs were fitted with Goalkeeper. HMS Ark Royal and Ocean were given Phalanx instead.

      The Royal Navy has now decided that Goalkeeper will be retired from service by 2015, since after HMS Illustrious retires, only the LPDs will be using the system.
      I guess (and hope) that Phalanx will replace Goalkeeper on Albion and Bulwark.

    2. Phalanx is as you say slightly less effective, but a dam sight easier to bolt on and as others have mentioned it makes sense to have 1 type with 1 supply chain instead of 2.

      Good news on Harpoon being transferred to the T45's, although it's a shame only 4 out of 6 will be fitted, fleets within fleets often irritate me!

      I'm pretty sure the T45's are also designed to accommodate anti sub torpedo's, I can't see why the spare Stingray systems couldn't be adapted and fitted in the future, it's another layer of defence that the ships should really have.

    3. I'm sure the Type 45s are fitted for but not with Stingray, but they are almost certainly fitted for the same internal Magazine Launcher system as on Type 23.
      The Type 22 has a different fit, and i don't know if it can cost-effectively be adapted for use on the 45s. That is the issue.

      It would take some investigation, but if i learn something about it in the future, you can expect to read it on here, as always.

  12. Just been reading about brimstone, and the potential for a naval version called sea spear. Do you know how this is going. And would this be the long term replacement for harpoon? Or is it more seen as a replacement for sea skua

    Cheers sellers

    1. Brimstone demonstrated good capability against fast crafts in firing trials from a Tornado, and development of a ship-launched, optimized variant shouldn't be an issue.
      It is aimed essentially to export, though: the UK has no requirement for Sea Spear as of now. Conceptually, it sits midway between FASGW(L) and FASGW(H), so it sits between the Thales LMM and the Sea Skua/Sea Skua II.

      Harpoon is far larger and far more capable, it is a whole different class of missile.

  13. Ahhh fair enough. Thanks for the info. Shoot me down if this is ridiculous. But with the growing importance for defence to go further and the crucial role of force multipliers such as opv's for the navy. And warrior supplementing armoured regiments. Could this be furthered wothin the raf, as i understand we have 10 tornados in afghanistan. Could the hawk t2's be used there? As i understand they have the capability to be fitted with offensive weaponry. Are easier to maintain. And have even been used to replicate a-10 tank busters in exercises involving british forces. This would save airframe hours on the more valuable assests (tornado typhoon lightning II). And could enable us to be able to commit more forces elsewhere, eg during the libyan campaign. Obviously i only propose this as there is no air threat in afghanistan. And this could not be done in an environment that contains significant anti air capabilities.

    Cheers sellers

  14. Sorry just to add. I would think perhaps two squadrons. With 30 at a military spec. There purely for interventions in say for example afghanistan, somalia, even mali if britiain were to be a country participating in the bombing. I would hope that it wouldnt prove too expensive as the supply chains etc exist for all the hawks used for training purposes. Perhaps im being naive on this issue but just a though!

    Thanks sellers

    1. The idea of arming training aircrafts as "cheap COIN fighters" is not new. The US at one point considered standing up a large force of armed Super Tucano airplanes, but the plan was quickly scaled back and might not go ahead at all.

      The Hawk T2s are only 28 in total and are very much needed for training. It's the older Hawk T1A which had (has?) a capability to employ Sidewinder missiles. In a cold war scenario, it would have been thrown up in the air in a "give em' all you've got" crisis.

      An armed Hawk could possibly be prepared, but i doubt it would be very helpful, and i don't know if it is physically possible to add pylons in a sufficient number to enable the carriage of at least a basic weapon load, including targeting pod, ideally a gun and at least a couple of Paveway IV (you'd really want Brimstone too, though...).

      It would take an extensive redesign, rework and integration effort, taking a lot of money.

      In addition, the UK's training aircrafts are, since 2008, provided to the MOD under a PFI arrangement by ASCENT, a consortium of Babcock and Lochkeed Martin.
      Introducing an armed role very much goes beyond the scope of the contracts, and would be challenging, if at all possible.

      If there was the interest (and money) for it, the chance to have such a "light attack" capability would best be delivered as part of the replacement of the current Tucano training aircraft fleet, but deliveries aren't expected before 2015 at best: the RFP is out now.

      In short, i don't think it is a viable proposal, and i'm not that convinced by the concept, either: while a Harrier or a Tornado under many points of view might be overkill, they come capable of AAR, with a sizeable endurance of their own and the capability to carry and employ a wide arsenal (a Tornado tipically carries a couple of Paveways, a triple Brimstone rack and the targeting pod). All these capabilities would not be available in a weaponized-Hawk, and adding them would cost too much for the concept to make that much sense.

  15. Gabriele,

    What's the minimum and maximum range for the AS-90s (as in firing range?) Right now in Europe, Germany's Panzerhaubitze 2000 has the longest range amongst all European artillery units.

    1. Around 30 km at the most. The minimum range i honestly don't know.

    2. Oh Ok. That's short compared to the Germans.

  16. Gaby

    I have just been looking at the details (if you can call them that - hardly much detail!) of the MOD's 10-year equipment plan for the Armed Forces.

    Among the details given is that £12.3 billion will be spent on fighting vehicles, including Scout, Warrior upgrade and, presumably, Challenger upgrade. I just wondered whether you thought that that was a sufficient amount to purchase any other vehicle? I was thinking of such things as the Multi-Role Vehicle (Protected), which is supposed to be in the pipeline or, say, Warrior bridgelayer.

    I think the cost of the Warrior upgrade is around £1 billion and the Challenger upgrade about the same. I don't know what the cost of FRES SV will be or how many parts of that programme will be purchased and I don't know to what extent FRES UV enters in to it.

    1. Hard to say. As you note, the plan does not disclose much that we didn't already know.

      As for the Chally upgrade, though, 1 billion might be too much. It'll be an upgrade less revolutionary than the Warrior's one, and on 227 vehicles at most, not 445.

      I think 500 million was the suggested figure. But, again, hard to say.

      My personal guess is that the Multi Role Vehicle (Protected) will take a back seat to UOR vehicles being brought into core [Husky being the one most resembling the MRV(P)].

      As for FRES UV, expenditure on it should start in 2016, and should be, initially at least, relatively modest expenditure, before they reach the Manufacture point.

  17. Gaby

    Thanks for the very informative reply. Do you intend to do any post on the 10-year equipment plan? I would not blame you if you did not, as it seems remarkably short on detail and does not tell us much that we did not know previously.

    What's with the commercial (advert-type) messages on your most recent post?

    1. I apologize for the adverts. It's spam, pure and simple, that Blogger fails to filter. The blog has grown popular, and the spam assault has grown along with the visits: i can't quite keep up with it and erase all the junk, despite doing sweeps as frequently as i can.

      As for a post on the 10-year plan, yes, i think i'll write something tomorrow. But this document really is a pure disappointment. It adds pretty much nothing to what i already knew.
      I kind of published the goddamn thing before government and NAO did, with my post on the 10-year budget some time ago. It possibly is more detailed, indeed.

  18. Gaby

    Thanks for your reply and interest anyway.


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