Thursday, March 21, 2013

Budget and updates

Budget: a simple explanation of the defence situation

The Budget 2013 brings further pain to the armed forces, with a reduction of 249 millions in 2013/14 and 247 millions in 2014/15. 
These cuts are in addition to the Autumn Statement reductions of 250 and 490 millions, and in total mean that over the next two financial years the MOD is seeing its funding reduced by roughly 1.3 billion pounds, making it (once more) one of the biggest contributors to spending cuts, regardless of the disproportionate damage that such cuts (relatively tiny in comparison to wider government spending) have on military capability. 

The MOD has been given permission to carry over into the next two financial years the huge underspend of the year 2012, accounting for between 1.5 and 1.6 billion pounds. 
This may look good on the Chancellor's spreadsheet, but it does not represent a particularly good item of news for the MOD. 500 millions out of that figure were unallocated money built in the 2012 budget, which was not used. It will now be clawed back by the Treasury with the new wave of cuts. This is a relatively neutral budget measure, in theory, but the MOD naturally was hoping to be able to employ that money in the coming financial years to cover some of the many requirements that remain without a budget. 
Potentially much worse is the fact that the remaining one billion of "underspend" is made up by money which was originally reserved for very specific needs: 500 millions were planned to be spent on ongoing equipment programmes, but weren't use in 2012 because of changed programme timelines. We have to assume that this money will still be needed in the coming years, however.
Similarly, the remaining 500 millions had been set aside to cover the costs of industrial liabilities and redundancy payments connected to equipment and manpower cuts. They ended up not being needed over the course of the year 2012, but we can safely assume that most, or all of this money will need to be used in coming years.

In practice, the MOD is carrying over 1.6 billion of which up to 1 billion was needed (and planned to be used) for several voices of expenditure. 
The MOD also has roughly 200 millions of uncommitted money in the 2013 budget and 200 millions in the 2014 budget. 
The 1.3 billion cut can be managed without eating into the Contingency money and the 8 billion uncommitted money for the White Board list of future programs, but it is going to be more of a problem than the Government wants you to believe. 
Using the carried-over 2012 underspend and the uncommitted in-year reserves, the MOD can probably manage. Just. 
However, there's up to 1 billion of expenses that the MOD hoped to cover with the 2012 underspend, and if all of that expenditure does indeed come up, the ministry will have to eat away all the contingency money built into the next two financial years and still have to find up to 300 millions from within its accounts.   

The Treasury is also cutting 300 millions from the Treasury Special Reserve which pays for Afghanistan operations. This is made possible by the accelerated withdrawal of combat troops. 
Such war expenditure fell from £3.777 billion in 2010-11 to £3.458 billion in 2011-12. In December last year, the MOD estimated the war costs for 2013 to go down all the way to 2.5 billion: it is not clear at the moment if the 300 millions removed from the Treasury are part of the planned reduction in spending or in addition to that original target. 
In any case, it is to be hoped that such reductions does not damage the forces on the ground and the withdrawal of equipment and stores back to the UK, which is also going to be funded by this Campaign budget. 

The real battle for the future of the Armed Forces will be fought to ensure the Treasury does not slash the baseline budget for the MOD for the spending period starting in 2015/16. The assumption is that the MOD will get a general budget flat in real terms, with a 1% uplift to the sole equipment budget. The uplift seems safe, but the Treasury will no doubt seek to calculate a lower than promised baseline budget for the MOD, and if it does, the impact will be devastating. 
Unfortunately, Osborne's words from yesterday's announcement read: 

Departmental budgets have yet to be set for the year 2015-16, which starts before the end of this Parliament. This will be done in the spending round that will be set out on 26 June. I said last autumn that we would require around £10 billion of savings from that spending round. I confirm today that we will instead be seeking £11.5 billion of current savings. We have got to go on making difficult decisions so that Britain can live within its means. And because we make those decisions, we can get our deficit down and focus on our nation’s economic priorities.

Total managed expenditure for 2015-16 will be set at £745 billion. How the savings will be achieved will be a matter for the spending round, but existing protections apply. We are also taking steps to help all Departments to achieve the savings required. Together, my right hon. Friends the Chief Secretary and the Minister for the Cabinet Office have indentified that a further £5 billion of savings in efficiency and cutting the cost of administration can be made. This will go a huge way towards delivering the spending round in a way that saves money but protects services.

So too will action on pay. The Government will extend the restraint on public sector pay for a further year by limiting increases to an average of up to 1% in 2015-16. This will apply to the civil service and work forces with pay review bodies. Local government and devolved Administration budgets will be adjusted accordingly in the spending round. We will also seek substantial savings from what is called progression pay. These are the annual increases in the pay of some parts of the public sector. I think they are difficult to justify when others in the public sector, and millions more in the private sector, have seen pay frozen or even cut. I know that is tough, but it is fair. In difficult times with the inevitable trade-off between paying people more and saving jobs, we should put jobs first.

The crux of the matter is that "existing protections apply". That is almost certainly going to condemn the MOD to further, devastating cuts that the armed forces are simply no longer able to absorb. Worse, those devastating cuts are unlikely to significantly change the country's financial situation. You cannot fix the economy of the nation if you refuse to touch departments that represent some of your biggest voices of expenditure. It is impopular? Oh yeah, probably. But you have to do it all the same. You can't fix things destroying the small to tiny budgets while protecting to the end the huge budgets. 

Typhoon progresses 

The Typhoon Tranche 1 is receiving the Drop 2 upgrades, after they were trialed and evaluated on the nine aircrafts the RAF sent to the Red Flag exercise in the US. 

The Drop 3 upgrade for the Tranche 1 aircrafts is already undergoing flight testing, and a Drop 4 is also planned. It is not clear if these upgrades mean the RAF is indeed going to retain its Tranche 1s for the time being, equipping six or seven squadrons with Typhoons to keep the frontline relevant, but i can only hope it is the case. This plan, a dramatic rethink of the long-standing idea of retiring all Tranche 1 Typhoons by 2019, maintaining only 107 aircrafts in 5 frontline squadrons, has been in the rumors for a while, ever since sources such as Jane’s and Combat Aircrafts Monthly reported about it.

The “Drop” approach is a RAF idea to keep the Tranche 1 aircrafts relevant despite their official, four-national plan of development having been finished, as planned, with the Block 5 software release.
Work on the Tranche 1 aircrafts was expected to end then, and all Eurofighter development activities would focus on Tranche 2 and Tranche 3 only. The RAF and BAE, however, have collaborated to develop Drops of improvements, and the other Eurofighter countries have now joined in the development programme. Hopefully, this will allow the Tranche 1 to serve for a much longer time than initially envisaged.

Meanwhile, the first Tranche 3A Typhoon is being tested in the anechoic chamber, and the day of its delivery draws near. Tranche 3A aircrafts incorporate many advancements and improvements, and are ready for the fitting of AESA radar and Conformal Fuel Tanks, both of which have the RAF’s attention.

An excellent article on the future of Typhoon was recently published by the Royal Aeronautical Society, and you really don’t want to miss it, so click on the link straight away. 

Conformals, Meteors and Storm Shadow missiles. In time, this is how the Typhoon could go to war
The Phase 1 Enhancement will be complete by February next year, when the upgrade P1EB will be rolled out on the fleet. The P1EA part of the upgrade has been fully developed and trialed and will be rolled out in the next few months: this will enable the RAF Typhoons (not the Tranche 1, though) to finally use the Paveway IV bomb. Software and hardware improvements are also included in the enhancement package, which will finally make of the Typhoon a true swing-role fighter, opening up the capability to simultaneously employ Air to Air and Air to Ground weaponry. The Helmet Mounted Display is also getting its air to ground mode, enabling pilots to sled the laser targeting pod on targets on the ground simply looking at them.
The Typhoon will acquire complex attack capabilities: it will be able to engage simultaneously four targets with six bombs, or to attack one or multiple targets with multiple weapons having each different attack patterns and parameters. HOTAS commands will be doubled, from 60 to 120, and the autopilot and Direct Voice Data Imput will be improved and expanded to reduce pilot workload even in complex fighting.  
There will also be upgrades to the IFF, Defensive Aids (DASS) and communications.

The Phase 2 Enhancement programme is being planned out. Meteor integration, ASRAAM improvements and Storm Shadow are high on the list of priorities. Storm Shadow, in particular, is now seen as the main focus of the next enhancements, also because partners such as Saudi Arabia are impatient to get the missile.
The first flight of a Typhoon fitted with Storm Shadow missiles is expected this year, with the aim of putting the capability in service by 2015/16. It has been suggested that Saudi Arabia is urging a faster integration, aiming for 2014.
The full integration of Meteor has instead been delayed to 2017, as the NAO 2012 report noted. 

BS116, the first Typhoon Tranche 3, shows the small "bumps" where the Conformal Fuel Tanks will be installed.
Early tests to design the Conformal Fuel Tanks.

The notional calendar for the Phase 2 Enhancement was to see a focus on improved air dominance capability in the 2014/15 timeframe, with Meteor integration and ASRAAM improvements, but the delay imposed to the Meteor and the urgency accorded to Storm Shadow has probably changed things significantly.
In the 2015/16 period, the ground attack capabilities of the Typhoon should be expanded significantly. Some customers (Saudi Arabia, it has been suggested) have required an anti-shipping attack capability as well: for the UK, the focus will almost certainly be on integration of Brimstone 2 and Storm Shadow.
In the same period, the AESA radar will finally begin to be available, and depending on how funding will be released, it is expected that all capabilities will be demonstrated and integrated, in time to reach Full Operational Capability in 2018. This target is very important for the RAF, considering the March 2019 withdrawal date for the Tornado GR4. 

Meanwhile, works continue at Lossiemouth to enable the transfer of the Typhoons squadrons and QRA service from Leuchars. 
1 Hangar Annexes are being refurbished to enable 6 Squadron to move in by December this year. The Hangar number 3 is being prepared for the arrival of 1 Squadron instead. 
A Typhoon Availability Service (TAS) building is planned, which will host maintenance and support mostly carried out by BAE personnel. A facility will also be built for Rolls Royce personnel and equipment supporting the availability of the EJ200 engines and the C4I Squadron infrastructure on the base will be expanded to take in the Ground Support System for the Typhoon.  

Tornado GR4’s last updates

The Tornado GR4s are getting their last updates, as their planned retirement date draws near. A number of Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems have been acquired for use in Afghanistan but are available for use on the wider fleet. The Tornado has benefitted of UORs which have expanded its self-protection capability, thanks to the Advanced IR Counter Measures (AIRCM) pod (a customised version of Terma's Modular Countermeasures Pod/MCP) and its communications capability, but it has also finally been getting the SCOT (Secure Communications On Tornado) package, a software-defined radio system embodying the Have Quick II waveform used for air-ground communications with JTACs and other waveforms including SATURN (Anti-jam Tactical UHF). 

Took a long time, but the Tornado GR4 is better equipped than ever thanks to Terma pods, TIEC and SCOT
An extremely relevant update which has been in the works for years, the TIEC (Tactical Information Exchange Capability), is finally being rolled out onto the frontline fleet. The TIEC, which first flew on Tornado in 2010, will finally introduce a tactical data link 16 capability on the GR4 fleet.
The lack of data link has been one of the biggest limitations to the Tornado’s capability in recent times. Over Libya, the problem was mitigated by pairing Typhoons (fitted with full Data Link 16 capability) to the Tornado GR4. The Typhoon crews would share on the radio the information coming to them via data link.
Now, thanks to SCOT and TIEC, the GR4 will finally be networked in. 

F35 updates

The first british squadron on the F35 will be 17 Sqn, which will work as joint RAF/RN Operational Evaluation Unit. The squadron is currently mounted on Typhoons, but it will “merge” this April with 41 Sqn, the multi-type RAF Test and Evaluation Squadron, which will thus fly with Typhoons and Tornado.

17 Sqn will then reform, in the USA, with the F35B. The first frontline squadron on F35B will be 617 Sqn, and it is expected to stand up on the new type in 2018. In spring next year, 17 Sqn will be operational at Edwards AFB, in the USA, where the first two or three british F35Bs will be based, serving as part of the Operational Evaluation Fleet.
Not far away, at Yuma, the US Marines are standing up their first operational F35B squadron (VMFA(AW)-121) and conducting their own Operational Evaluation with the squadrons VMX-22 and MAWTS-1. The VMX-22 squadron introduced the MV-22 Osprey to service, while the Marine Aviation Weapons and Tactics Squadron MAWTS-1 will work to develop training and tactics for the F35B, inserting it in the Marines’ air force, getting it to work in complex environments alongside Prowlers, F/A-18s, Hueys, Cobra and all other aircrafts part of the USMC arsenal.
The british OE squadron will as a consequence be in the best possible place to gain access to a huge amount of knowledge on how best to employ the new aircraft.

The third british F35B will not be delivered before April, and it will initially move out to Eglin AFB. We will by then learn if this aircraft will be part of the Eglin-based training fleet or if it will also move to Edwards.
The F35B plan, in fact, includes having a training fleet of 6 jets based at the Eglin training centre, alongside the USMC F35B training squadron.
The jets based at Edwards will be busy in Operational Evaluation until 2015/16 at least. Afterwards, they’ll possibly move back to Eglin to be part of the training fleet: it is not yet clear.  

At least a second frontline squadron will stand up with part of the 48 aircrafts to be acquired as part of the 10-year budget, and the expectation is for this second unit to wear Fleet Air Arm colors. It is to be hoped that a third squadron can be squeezed out of the fleet, though.

The british order book so far includes 2 aircrafts delivered, one soon to be delivered, a fourth ordered as part of the LRIP7 and four more in the LRIP8.   

In an interview to a specialized Italian publication, the Italian General Defence Secretary, general Claudio Debertolis, revealed that the british MOD has launched the studies for the integration of the Meteor on the F35 and has formally asked Italy to join a common integration programme. According to Debertolis, the cost would be of about 100 million euro for each country, and Italy is “evaluating its options”.  

UK and MBDA hoping in good decisions

2013 is going to be a very important year for MBDA, which waits and hopes for a series of important decisions to be made by several countries.
As mentioned above, a decision is expected rather urgently from the UK and, hopefully, Italy, regarding the go-ahead order for the integration of the Meteor missile on the F35. A decision made rapidly would allow both countries to insert the missile in the list of requirements for the Block IV development of the Joint Strike Fighter. The requirements for the F35 Block IV are expected to be finalized soon.

MBDA, and the UK MOD as well, are also impatiently waiting for the French defence White Paper, which should be published by mid April. The planning document will determine the fate of the FASGW(H) missile destined to the Royal Navy Wildcat helicopters, and it will have an impact on other cooperation programs including Aster, Storm Shadow mid-life upgrade and on the joint development of a new MALE unmanned aircraft, which is effectively stalled and motionless in absence of a firm commitment from Paris.

More promising is the situation of other possible cooperations, including future generation unmanned mine countermeasure drones for use at sea, the Future Combat Air System UCAV for the 2030s, and possible future joint satellite communications programs. These are generally seen as more secure, also because decisions on them are less urgently needed. 

Army 2020 full overview  

I'm not done working and studying on the Army 2020 plan, and i will certainly write more about it in good time. But you can access excellently informative documents thanks to AFF, which has a document ten times better then the ministerial announcement available from the MOD. This document also lists out how battalions and regiments are assigned to the various commands:

Among the news, the passage of the Royal Artillery air defence regiments under Air Command control, presumably meaning that the 57-strong HQ Joint Ground Based Air Defence, already based at High Wycombe, will become essentially a light blue affair. 
Second loss to the RAF for the Army, after the passage of the whole CBRN role to the RAF Regiment. 
My expectations regarding the Intelligence and Surveillance Brigade have been proven entirely right, as 5, 32 and 47 Regiments Royal Artillery, plus 14 Signal Regiment (Electronic Warfare) have been resubordinated to this command. 

I continue to most vehemently contest the decision to put all artillery, logistic and engineer formations under formal command of the Artillery, Engineer and Logistics brigades. I continue to think that no advantage at all can come from this arrangement. 
I also personally entirely disagree with the creation of a new 1-star command in the Military Police Brigade at Andover, especially since the expanded Provost service doesn't even get into the Military Police Brigade but remains under HQ Provost Marshal, meaning that yet another 1-star command has been preserved. With the creation of the Police brigade, at least they could have rationalized this aspect. 
I will write more in detail about these issues in the future, however. 


  1. Good work Gabriele. Thank you.

    As ever, HM armed forces greatest enemy, their own government.

    Unfortunately most of the public in the UK care not a jot as long as the welfare state and the NHS are untouched. These are bloated and ripe for trimming. As you say, it is unpopular for our traitorous politicians so they remain untouched.

    Is there any sign of 5 Regiment AAC coming under the surveillance brigade?

    1. Defence is not just through hard power but soft power too.

      Unfortunately many of you don't get it.

    2. With the things you do not get, we could fill books.

    3. For me, Defence is about having armed forces matching the position of the United Kingdom as a world nation.

      P5 member, G8 member, etc, etc.

      When our politicians grandstand on the world stage but run our forces into the ground, this makes me mad. I hate them.

      They are happy to cut, but not to give up their P5 status. Hypocrites.

      Soft power is a load of bull. And should be left to the DofID and the loony Foreign aid budget.

      Speak softly, and carry a big stick. That is my belief.

      Too many people run my country into the ground these days. We are somebody on the world stage, and should have the forces to go with it.

  2. Just read the document you link.

    5 Regiment AAC is indeed listed as " manned airborne surveillance " yet its formation is listed as " defence " ???

    Surely it could be in the intelligence brigade as the manned airborne element complimenting the RA's UAV regiments?

    Maybe it is moving to HQ DSF? 651 Squadron I believe was under the SFAW at Odiham. May explain the oddity.

    1. 5 Regiment seems to be mostly involved in internal security and northern ireland duty, so it does not really have a deployable nature. I'm not surprised to see it remains assigned to the vague, catch all notion of "defence".
      651 sqn is in the Special Forces Support Wing, instead.

    2. I understood it was with JSFAW but was now part of 5 Regiment, along with the Islanders of the merged 1st FWW, and 655 Squadron.

      It is listed as such under the regiments website but maybe this is all wrong and it's a cover for its SF role.

  3. No use protesting

  4. I am always suspicious when assets are lumped together under one banner, like the artillery regiments. Makes it easier for the bean counters to chop.

    This was my first thought when in 2004 they removed several of the single battalion regiments. This way battalions are lost but the cap badge remains. Typical political trick.

    Also agree the artillery and engineer regiments should be under the command of the maneuver brigades they support.

    They are physically, maybe it is a simple administrative command, like the old 1 Artillery Brigade and 1st Reconnaissance Brigade that had no operational command as such. Another example would be the "Brigade of Gurkhas"

    Hope so.

  5. From looking at the more detailed table from the AFF, the deployment of LPM battalions seems at odds with the MoD's graphic on the heavier adaptable brigades - 4th. 7th, 51st.

    I understood these were getting 2 Foxhounds Battalions each?

    51st has 2. 7th has only 1. 11th has 1. And British Forces Cyprus has 2????

    What would BFC need Foxhound Battalions for? I thought that the 6 LPM Battalions would be concentrated in the 3 brigades, to make 2 deployable ones.

    Can someone explain?

    1. The three "deployable" adaptable brigades will have to take infantry battalions from the other adaptable brigades in order to go up to strenght.
      One Foxhound battalion, for example, is in 11th Brigade as you did see.
      The deployability of 4 and 7th brigade will (i'm guessing) come from having the chance to work with the artillery and engineer elements in their areas, and by having suitable HQs. Due to Cyprus and Woolwich rotations, they won't have their full share of infantry battalions directly under command, but they would take up the missing pieces from the rest of the adaptable force.

      As for the Cyprus battalions, my guess is that the battalions will go to Cyprus in a Light Role configuration, leaving the vehicles behind to be taken up by the battalions in Cottersmore and Catterick. I don't see why they'd want to deploy Foxhounds at Cyprus, after all, when the posting has been covered by Light Role infantry for years.

    2. OK.

      What a mess they have made of my armed forces.

      Leaving the vehicles behind is understandable. Why they do not just issue them to the battalions in Cottesmore and Catterick in the first place is beyond me.

      Also, we have the Medical Regiments in the Logistic Brigades. I know they already came under 101 and 102 now, but if we are going down the "Golfbag" approach of pick and mixing to form brigades ( pathetic ) why not put them in 2 Medical Brigade with the other RAMC units?

      I agree that forming a 1st RMP Brigade is a total waste of time.

      104th LSB, a key enabler, now has just 2 Regiments! I would have liked the Dog Regiment in there.

      The beefed up Intelligence Brigade is excellent. Several cap badges all fused in one organisation.

      Finally, are we aware if the individual Groups within 8 Force Engineer Brigade will remain? At present it has Infrastructure, Air Support and EOD Groups.

      Thank you Gabriele.

    3. Well, i think that the Foxhounds will indeed be issued to units in Catterick and Cottersmore: the key is looking at the dates in which the battalions move out to Cyprus or Woolwich.
      For example, 1st LANCS won't move out of Catterick before 2015: we have to assume the ORBAT change and the passage on Foxhound will start happening before the move. When they move to Cyprus, they will be replaced in Catterick by 2 Yorks which will be coming back from Cyprus itself. I believe the Foxhounds will stay with the Yorks at that point.

      Same for 2nd Royal Anglian, which won't move out of Cottersmore before 2017.
      In the same time, 2 PWRR will be returning from Cyprus and heading into Cottersmore: my guess is that the Foxhounds will then go from 2 R Anglian to 2 PWRR.

      We also have to assume the differences between Light Role and Light Protected Mobility won't be very radical: there is less than 10 men of difference in Establishment, so passage between the two should be very heasy. Not at all comparable to going on Mastiff and even less comparable to transiting to Armoured on the Warrior.

      The position of the Close Support medical regiments is reasonable in the Logistic brigades. The Logistic brigades will be assigned directly to divisional HQs (101 to 3rd Division, 102 to 1st Division) and the elements contained in the logistic brigades will directly support a brigade deployment.
      The medical brigade will contain the field hospitals, the hospital support regiment and MEDEVAC group.

      104 Logistic brigade is small in terms of regiments, but moving the Dogs regiment to the Engineers makes sense with how heavily they are involved in EOD activity.
      The loss of the Pioneer regiment is the other loss of 104 Bde, but overall the capability has been preserved in this area, and it is certainly not the biggest concern...

      The intelligence and surveillance brigade is a good development indeed, i think.

      As for the Groups in 8th Force Engineering brigade, while i can't say for sure, i believe it is reasonable to assume that they will remain. Indeed, 11th Signal Brigade (which is going to become pretty huge) is to be "divided" in Groups as well.

    4. Thanks Gabriele.

      Suppose it makes sense re the CS Medical Regiments. Now why don't they follow that approach with the Artillery and Engineers, assigning them to the units they will support.

      I recall your article and graphic weeks back re 11 Signals and the Groups within, yes.

  6. The retention of the Tranche 1 Typhoon's would be excellent news! What squadron numbers are likely to be used for the 5th, and possible 6th/7th squadrons? 20 43 and 111 seem the most likely to me.

    1. For the fifth, it might be a race between 43 and 111.

      As for the other one or two squadrons, we don't yet know if they will exist for real... the RAF might well be unable to fund the plan.

    2. Agreed, if the RAF struggle to fund a full sized Typhoon fleet then a compromise of perhaps around 130-140 airframes in 6 squadrons would still be very welcome news.

  7. "The crux of the matter is that "existing protections apply". That is almost certainly going to condemn the MOD to further, devastating cuts that the armed forces are simply no longer able to absorb."

    It is to be hoped that the statement is fluff designed to appeal to the lib-dem's, to whom we have to thank for ringfencing education and health.

    The reason I say "hoped" is because the latest budget axed some relief on NICs paid by final salary pension schemes............... which will be disproportionately derive from manpower heavy departments like health and education.

    1. Let's hope in some kind of miracle. Because they are really scraping the bottom of the barrel and scratching the wood away. Scratch it some more, and you'll punch a hole in it.

  8. How is the IAF upgrade on their IDS going? I assume since it's a NETMA upgrade it's similar to ours and the GAF, are they getting a LEP as well as the new equipement?

    1. A fleet of 58 Tornado has been subjected to the MLU-IT. It comprises improvements to communications (but there are probably differences from SCOT), MIDS Data Link 16, NVG-compatible display improvements, digital maps and other changes. The upgrade is described as "sufficient to keep the aircrafts operational out to 2025".

      Weaponry integrated includes Storm Shadow (finally! It was just in time for Libya ops...), Small Diameter Bomb (500 ordered from the US) and AARGM AGM-88E anti-radar missiles.
      There is also full integration of the Rafael RECCELite reconnaissance pod.

    2. I didn't realized Aeronautica Militare had purchased Storm Shadows for her Tornado fighters until this post. How many rounds did Italy brought?

    3. It was 250 rounds. A sizeable number was expended over Libya in 2011 and another few (i don't know the exact numbers) went for integration test firings in South Africa.

  9. A highly interesting post Gabriele, my interest is Army 2020, your second last paragraph is correct at this moment is time with reference to the CBRN Role going from green to light blue. However, the Army Inspectorate done a damning report on the Army’s CBRN capability and like a lion that has been prodded from a deep sleep I think you will find the green machine is fighting back with a vengeance.
    Obviously it is too late for 1 RTR as they start the process of amalgamation, but the strange element is that FUCHS is under trials in the summer with a squadron from a future Light Cavalry Regiment to access its viability as a CBRN Recce Vehicle. Is it a real requirement for future operations, although FUCHS is one of the best CBRN Recce vehicles around its main disadvantage is that it must traverse through a contaminated area to pick up any contamination and therefore requires through Decon once its mission is finished. Stand-off detection of particles is getting better and the capability to detect on the ground is almost there. Plus, the reality of an aggressor being able to deliver large amounts of war chemical that can justify the use of such a specialist piece of equipment. The trial and subsequent report will attempt to answer some of these questions, if it stays, then a Light Cavalry Regiment may pick up the responsibility to enable the use of FUCHS.
    How it affects the Light Role and SIBRA Teams within 26 and 27 Sqns of the RAF Regiment is still up for debate. As of right now the 10 year plan for CBRN is on track to deliver up to 10 CBRN projects within 2-3 years with up to 60 million already allocated and the over 600 million from years 4 to 10. The Army will obviously try to ensure it does not get into the mess it is in now and try to take more control of CBRN Assets that can be of benefit to its own service.

    1. Thank you very much for this info. It's great stuff, and i had no knowdledge of it.
      Among the projects in the CBRN area, if i've not been overtaken by events, there are the fitting of generalist CBRN warning sensors on FRES Scout and the acquisition of a Role 3 CBRN-proof field hospital kit, does that result to you too?

    2. The Trial Development Program for CBRN equipment on FRES was completed in 2009 using a Spartan as the demonstrator. Various chemical detectors and a RAD detector was fitted, along with a MET sensor, all linked together by a software package. I think since Mastiff is coming back from Afghanistan for the three Heavy Protected Infantry Battalions, then UV FRES has a long way to go and that is where the CBRN fit was looking at. Whether Scout will have the ability to retrofit CBRN equipment is another matter, I am not sure.

    3. In October 2011 it was announced that the Scout will be fitted with the CBRN sensors kit. If there hasn't been a rethink in more recent times, the Scout should definitely embody that capability.

  10. Anonymous

    Any chance of you rating the chances of Fuchs being re-introduced into service? A difficult question, I know, but I think it is a great piece of kit - the best in the world at its job, and the British Army got rid of it far too soon. It would be tremendous to see it again, possibly manned by the TA/Reserves?

    Any other re-thinks that you know of?

    1. I would say it’s a 50/50 chance, MikeW. On the one hand, you could argue that a lot of money has been spent on upgrading the vehicles with the MM2 Mass Spec and various other add-ons that are bespoke to the UK. But hey, anything can happen in the UK world of CBRN Defence, IBDS is a perfect example of lets order 44 and end up having only 6 in use. The rest rotting away in some hanger, the concept being floored before it was delivered, technology out of date, bulky and consumables costing a ridiculous amount of money.
      I think apart from the GCC region then most countries are aiming towards Detection, Identification and Monitoring (DIM) mobile carriers such as the Light Role Teams within the CBRN Wing at the moment. Getting either ROV’s or personnel out on the ground to confirm any hazard, use various instrumentation to identify, if it cannot be confirmed then look for Scientific Reach Back to assist.
      I would suggest that FUCHs is not the best CBRN Recce vehicle out there; the Swiss and Swedish CBRN Recce vehicles would give it a good run for its money in the heavy mobile category. The Slovenian Otokar Cobra is an excellent light mobility CBRN Recce vehicle. But what we have in FUCHS is well able to carry out any required CBRN Recce tasks. It did start its life off in the Royal Yeomanry after Gulf War 1, with A Sqn in Swindon, before the whole saga of where to place it before settling at the doors of 1RTR and the RAF Regiment in the guise of the Joint CBRN Regiment.
      Its positioning is difficult within a cap badge due to whoever ends up with it, and first thoughts are RAC, would also have to look at the decon assets being available. At the moment they are in the hands of the CBRN Wing being controlled by RAF Regiment. Maybe it could end up a complete reinvention of the wheel and go back to TA or Future Reserves 2020. I think as Gabriele has indicated on many of his posts there is a long way to go and to try and second guess everything is just not worth the effort. It will all come out at some stage!!

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  12. Anonymous

    Thanks so much for the very detailed and knowledgeable reply. I just thought that it would be a shame to retire a vehicle which has only very recently had a refurbishment and upgrades with various new pieces of kit.

    And isn't it one of the Middle Eastern countries (UAE?) which has now bought all three versions of the Fuchs CBRN vehicle from Rheinmetal? They must consider there's a real danger somewhere!

  13. Hi MikeW, I will keep my reply short because really this blog is all about UK Forces and I don’t really wish to go down the road of other countries. But you are correct UAE has 32 FUCHs in three different versions, 16 standard CBRN Recce, 8 Bio and 8 CBRN Command. KSA has a number converted to CBRN from the 36 they were delivered during Gulf War 1. They are looking at replacing them with up to 100 (yep, 100!!) Dingo 2 CBRN vehicles. They will be absorbed into the massive order that KSA are after from the Germans, rumor has it that even though there is a lot of outcry from the German coalition Government, more than 10 billion Euros in the order book would be good for business.

  14. Anonymous

    Thanks again for the reply. Perhaps I was wrong to go down the road of other countries' inventories but I am pretty sure that Gabriele would not mind because the argument bears upon what the UK's inventory should be in the area of CBRN. Anyway, thanks very much for the info you have given. You certainly know your stuff. Cheers.

    1. There is no OT police here, so long as the subject stays relevant, and in this case, it is, so go at it as much as you want.

      The italian NBC regiment has a small number of recently improved french VAB 4x4, i will add.
      I think an under-armor CBRN recce vehicle remains a relevant capability to have. The americans have been buiding up their fleet of Strykers NBC, too.


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