Monday, June 24, 2013

News from DVD2013 - UPDATE

The DVD event this year at Milbrook made less noise than in other years, partly because the Paris airshow stole the headlines and partly because the focus is shifting away from making big orders under Urgent Requirement procedure to fill gaps evidenced by combat experience in Afghanistan to finding ways to bring the UOR stuff already purchased into the Core Budget.

Jane's has a video feature about DVD2013 which contains a few interesting news. First of all, the Warthog seem to be on the list of the goners. The Army's position seems to be that there is no place for the vehicle in the Core Budget. This is hardly a surprise: who's been following this blog for a while has probably had the chance to hear from me the opinion that, either the Royal Marines are interested and buy in, or the Warthog has not an evident place in Army 2020. Mind you, this does not mean that it is a bad or useless platform, but that it does not fill an evident, prioritary capability slot and is, consequently, not going to see the money.

A Foxhound WMIK is also shown in the video. So far, the army has not ordered the WMIK nor the Utility variants of the Foxhound, since it already has Jackal, Coyote and Husky. Standardizing on a single platform (the Foxhound) would be of course interesting and advantageous, but it would cost a lot of money that the Army simply does not have.
The Foxhound in the images is fitted with an Electronic Warfare package on a telescopic mast.

A more interesting fact quoted in the article regards the exposition of a HDT Storm vehicle, a lightweight high mobility 4x4 developed as a weapon platform with casualty evacuation capability, with complete air transportability. The Storm fits within a Chinook's cargo bay, can be air dropped (including with Joint Precision Air Drop package, JPADS, to ensure high accuracy delivery) and can be airlifted by any tactical cargo aircraft. The Storm has a pintle mount for a medium machine gun near the driver's seat and a ring mount for an additional machine gun on top, giving 360° field of fire. It is meant to carry up to three litters in Roll-Over Protection system (ROP) while retaining its combat capability.

The HDT Storm provides impressive all terrain mobility

The HDT was showcased, according to Jane's, because industry is eyeing a MOD requirement, that could be launched in 2016, for the purchase of a similar platform as part of a program to try and rebuild a complete Joint Personnel Recovery capability (Combat Search and Rescue) to close one of several macro-gaps (Maritime Patrol Aircraft, carrier strike, Joint Personnel Recovery and Supression of Enemy Air Defence, SEAD)  in capability identified by Permanent Joint HQ (PJHQ).
The british army, in theory, already has a vehicle that fits inside a Chinook, and that is the Supacat HMT400, better known as the Jackal. However, fitting a Jackal inside a Chinook is a challenge: there really is no space to spare, the weapon mount on the ring on top of the vehicle must be removed and then re-fitted following disembarkation, and the HMT400, anyway, is not a vehicle thought for casualty evacuation.
While a Jackal with fuel and armor weights 5500 kg, and with crew and payload (kerb weight) can weight well over 7500 kg, with a minimum height (suspensions fully lowered, no weapon mount on top) of 1885 mm and a width of 2050 mm, the Storm only weights 1960 kg (kerb weight) rising to 3651 at full load, and is 1680 mm high and 2030 mm wide. The Storm can launch quickly out of a Chinook, without needing to be re-fitted with any piece, and ride over extremely rough terrain to reach the casualties and evacuate them back to the LZ. The mobility of the Storm is absolutely impressive, and significantly exceed even that of the Jackal, with its approach angle of 74° and capability to overcome a 914 mm high vertical obstacle.

Squeezing a HMT Extenda into a Chinook, with no space to spare @Supacat

The HDT Storm has been selected by the USAF for its Guardian Angel Air Deployable Rescue Vehicle (GAARV), so it is well placed to compete for any possible british order. If Joint Personnel Recovery ever manages to get funding in such a strained budget, that is.

The video also shows what looks like an unmanned, remotely controlled Project PANAMA Land Rover Snatch. These Land Rovers converted in drones are used as part of the Talisman route clearance convoys in Afghanistan. When not used to scout ahead of the other vehicles for mines and IEDs with their large front-mounted detector (ground-penetrating radar?), they are often seen towed by the large Mastiff vehicles.
The Land Rover in the video is shown with a second sensor, a Raytheon SOTERIA laser mine detector. It is not clear if the British Army has shown any interest for this system, which was classified before being shown at DVD. It might already be in use.

A PANAMA Land Rover as seen in Afghanistan, under tow and with the large IED Detector folded up

The Raytheon SOTERIA mounted on top of the Land Rover

The show also provided a perfect occasion for Navistar and Supacat to announce their collaboration agreement to jointly support the 1000-strong combined fleet of Husky, Coyote and Jackal vehicles which the British Army is bringing into core budget.
For the occasion, one of 16 new Husky recovery vehicles was showcased. The Husky Recovery is the MOD's solution to the urgent requirement for a light recovery platform, alternative to the huge, 32 tons MAN Wrecker, which is unsuitable for tight areas and for some tasks. The Husky Recovery seem set to have a good long term future, since the Coyote, Jackal, Husky and even Foxhound fleet are all "clients" for such lightweight recovery service and they all are an important component of Army 2020.
It would appear almost certain that additional Husky recovery vehicles will be required in future. British Forces News has a video from Camp Bastion showing the Husky Recovery.  

WEW also put its focus on long term support of UOR capability, in particular regarding the Fuel Dispensing Racks it provided to the MOD for use in Afghanistan. These containerized 9500 liters tanks, compatible with hook arm and Enhanced Pallet Load System (EPLS) cargo trucks (6x6 or 8x8) are designed as self sufficient fuel stations that can be loaded on a truck, transported to a FOB and dropped on the ground, ready to dispense fuel. 

The FDRs are only one of many deployable, containerized solutions developed in the last few years. CT scanners, workshops, fitter sections and other services have been similarly made "expeditionary" with some brilliant solutions. G3 has provided many of these solutions.
For example, already back in 2008 the MOD took delivery of 13 Combined Instrument Repair Facilities (CIRF’s), container-mounted laboratories for the maintenance of day, night and laser sights used on armored vehicles including Challenger 2, Warrior and FRES SV.
There are also 44 Deployable Machine Shops 

A containerized hospital facility also entered service. A full solution for the support of the Military Working Dog Regiment also followed, with 17 containerized accomodation units having been procured, each comprising environmental control and spaces for the handlers to prepare food for the dogs and do basic admin. 
More recently, the Fitter Section In A Box (FSIAB), was procured: a container with two inflatable shelters, its own generator and all the tools needed for maintenance on Foxhound, Husky and Jackal/Coyote vehicles.
Other solutions and offers also exist.

The look of a container accomodation unit deployed and fitted with external kennels

This year, G3 and Marshall have decided to work together in Team M3 to offer their combined capabilities to the MOD. This year's box solution is the module containing the two-man self-contained, deployable laboratory developed for the Future Deployable Geospatial Intelligence project. The Box is installed on a Mowag DURO II vehicle. The DURO is already in use in the british army in several roles, including as carrier for the deployable REACHER satellite communications terminals.

The DURO on mobility trials.

Marshall Specialist Vehicles is one of several companies composing the Team SOCRATES, comprising SciSYS and Actica Consulting. The team is lead by Lochkeed Martin UK, which won the contract for the Future Deployable GEOINT in January last year.
The Future Deployable GEOINT project is part of a wider program, PICASSO, for the modernisation and sustainment of british GEOINT capability, within the evolution of the armed forces' ISTAR.

Update 24 and 25 June 2013

Shephard adds more news from DVD with some news taken from Brigadier General Robert Talbot Rice, the head of the DE&S Armoured Vehicles Programme. 

Talbot confirms that the Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme is taking shape. It is currently still in the concept phase, but it will hit Initial Gate next year. It seems that all decisions that matter have yet to be taken, and the Brigadier General does not provide any real clue about what the Army is planning. The LEP will be mostly about Obsolescence Management, and this was to be expected, but Talbot nonetheless says that there opportunities to do some "really good things".
Accepted that the idea of replacing the rifled cannon with a smoothbore german L55 gun is dead, because of problems in adapting the internal storage spaces for the one-piece ammunition, there are other "opportunities" that were already highlighted by the now defunct Challenger 2E. For example, the replacement of the powerpack with a more modern one: years ago, the diesel Perkins CV 12 TCA 1,200 hp with associated Davis Brown TN-54 transmission and cooling system were replaced on a Challenger 2 used as demonstrator. In what was called Project Exmouth, the powerpack was replaced by a 1,500 hp diesel MTU EuroPowerPack composed by MT 883 V12 engine and Renk HSWL 295 TM transmission.
The improvement was dramatic: more speed, better mobility, and considerable free space obtained aboard, which could be used for storing more fuel or adding other capabilities. Eventually, this solution was adopted by the Challenger 2E that BAE offered, unsuccesfully, on the export market.

The vastly improved Challenger 2E failed to win the export orders BAE had hoped for, and it was eventually abandoned @Image courtesy of JW Boer

The replacement of the powerpack and the addition of an Auxiliary Power Unit to provide the tank's systems with energy while the main engine is off, would rank, in my opinion, as not just "really good things" but as extremely good things.

The Challenger 2 at the latest Theatre Entry Standard for Iraq operations. A true mobile fortress, it could certainly use a more powerful engine

On the Warrior CSP, the read is less pleasant. Apparently, so far the MOD has placed a firm contract for just 65 vehicles to be fully upgraded (including the much improved turret with the CT40 gun). The aspiration is to upgrade 300 more, but the Brigadier General specifies that discussions are still ongoing at Army HQ to decide exactly how many Warriors should get the upgrade. The Brigadier says that, if it so was decided, higher numbers of Warriors could be upgraded, but taking the money away from the pot currently reserved for FRES UV.

The last solid info we were given on the Warrior upgrade came from the NAO Major Projects Report 2012. The document allowed us to learn that:

The affordable fleet is made up by 565 Warrior vehicles (all variants, we have to assume)
The Warrior CSP was planned to be done on 445 vehicles

It is worth remembering that the Warrior upgrade is made up by several different components. In the words of the NAO:

1. Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme
(A new turret incorporating a fully stabilised automatic 40mm cannon)
The 40 mm Cased Telescopic Cannon and Ammunition System has been mandated as the weapon system for Warrior and procured by a joint Anglo-French project. The project is currently part way through qualification of the ammunition and cannon, concurrently the weapon system is being integrated into Warrior by Lockheed Martin UK, who will qualify the new turret.
2. Enhanced Electronic Architecture
(Power generation and distribution enhancement and the introduction of a modern electronic architecture)
3. Modular Protection System
(Applique Armour fixing points, enabling a 'tailored' armour solution to counter specific threats)
4. Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle
(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 "full upgrade" comprising modular protection system, enhanced electronic architecture and WFLIP is destined to the frontline IFV variants (FV510 Section vehicle, including those modified for anti-tank section carriage, and FV511 infantry command vehicle), while the "turretless" variants, only get the EEA and MPS improvements for obvious reasons. (NOTE: the turretless variants include the FV512 recovery and the FV513 repair variants, but also the FV514 artillery observation post, which has the turret but only a dummy gun due to the need for space for the electronics).

The Warrior CSP full package @Lochkeed Martin UK
The Warrior CSP programme is still in its Demonstration Phase, so that justifies the low number of full upgrades so far ordered. Final decisions on the exact numbers are evidently yet to be made. If Shephard's report is correct and the 300 further vehicles are to be intended as "turreted", that would mean a maximum of 365 vehicles armed  vehicles upgraded from a total of (if the NAO data is still up to date) 445 vehicles interested by the CSP. 
This would leave 80 repair, recovery and artillery observation vehicles. The numbers should be about right for the planned force of 6 armoured infantry battalions.

A Warrior CSP prototype, seen during trials with the Modular Protection System

Where exactly the Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle sits, is hard to say. Until the release of the NAO 2012 report, many (certainly i had) had assumed that ABSV was dead, since nothing had been heard about it from as far back as 2005, when, while in the concept phase, it was merged with the Warrior CSP upgrade in the Labour mandated Defence Industrial Strategy (page 79, paragraph B3.8)

The ABSV requirement can be traced back to at least 1995, so it is rather scary to see it still as just a concept. Three prototypes were built in the early 2000s, when the conversion of 125 Warrior vehicles was envisaged, with ISD in 2007. There was to be a Command Post variant, an ambulance and a personnel carrier / general support variant, which perhaps would have included a mortar carrier development.  The objective was (and still is, at the end of the day) the replacement of a large number of FV430-series vehicles.

Today's shape of the ABSV is not yet clear. FRES SV is supposed to deliver an armoured personnel carrier, so that developing one from old Warrior vehicles does not appear necessary. FRES SV (albeit in a later phase, RECCE BLOCK 2) should also deliver ambulance and command variants.
On the other hand, there is no clear replacement in sight for the FV430 mortar carrier, and a medium weight bridgelayer requirement, for 35 vehicles, which was to be part of FRES SV, was descoped while a Warrior bridgelayer prototype was showcased.

The situation is especially complex because early this year the press reported that FRES SV, having been delayed with an extension to the demonstration phase, could be expanded to include vehicles originally planned for later RECCE Blocks: specifically the ambulance (from Block 3) and the Command Post and Engineer Recce Vehicle from Block 2.

However, i have not heard any news on wheter the decision was effectively made or not.

FRES SV as it was a few years ago, from a BAE presentation

The evolving shape of FRES SV. The Medium Armour and Manoeuvre Support parts of the programme are dead. Medium Armour was officially removed in Plannint Round 11. The red arrows show the proposed changes, which would bring forward the demonstration of Engineer Recce, Command Post and Ambulance variants. At the moment i don't know if the proposal was given the go ahead or not.

Planning Round 11 confirmed that FRES SV remains a fundamental part of the future army, but pushed entry into service to the right by 9 months while extending the scope of the demonstration phase. The ISD date is not disclosed (it is classified in the NAO report), but we are possibly looking at 2018, if not later. I've read that CVR(T) vehicles will not be entirely gone before 2026.

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 if other vehicles types are brough forwards, the whole strategy of the Blocks could be in for a rethink.

Part of the Block 2 is 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. However, in the Army 2020 structure, there might now be a direct overlap between the Warrior FV514 and the FRES FST: with the centralization of the tracked armoured vehicles in three brigades, instead of having such elements in five multi role brigades, means that, basically, the FV514 and FRES FST seem to now be in direct competition for supporting the tracked heavy armour, while there is not a planned FST vehicle for the wheeled mechanized battalions planned in the force structure.

One possible scenario is the cancellation of either the FV514 or of the FRES FTS, in my opinion. If i had to choose, i'd prefer developing the FRES FTS, which would offer much more advanced and future proof electronics as well as more space. It would cost more up front, probably, but it would be a better investment for the future.
Eventually, a FRES UV FST would be needed in future for the wheeled mechanised battalions, instead. Two tracked, medium weight FST vehicles are redundant, while there's a clear gap waiting to happen in the wheeled formations.

The FRES SV programme was expected to also include a larger, rear-echelon command post and a larger Unit Aid Post vehicle (ambulance variant for the evacuation of  casualties to the rear echelon, towards the UAP vehicle that is equipped for treatment), but even this might well change.
Finally, the RECCE Block 3 was also meant to include a Ground Based Surveillance vehicle, shown with mast-mounted long range sensors; a Shielder (retired from service early as part of cuts) replacement fitted with mine dispensers but also other means of area denial, including non-lethal solutions, and an Overwatch vehicle armed with long range missiles.
All three these variants appear, to my eyes, to be exposed at particularly high risk of never happening, despite being immensely interesting. The Shielder replacement vehicle would have a flatbed fitted with the systems selected under the ongoing Counter Mobility studies.  

In practice, a whole rethink of FRES SV appears necessary (again). The tightness of the budget, the overlap with Warrior in some niche areas and the gaps emerging because of the changing face of the Army suggest that a 3 Blocks FRES SV is no longer desirable.

One would expect the Warrior ABSV variant to go and fill the roles left uncovered by FRES SV. But the brigadier does not provide hints, and actually adds confusion when he says that part of the requirement for FRES UV could be perhaps covered by "more ABSV vehicles".
I hope he has clear ideas himself, because he admittedly lost me along the way: i'm finding it hard to guess what the line of thought is. Especially since it is not even clear from where the ABSVs will come from: there is no real room in the 445 vehicles highlighted for the CSP: perhaps ABSV would be about conversion of the remaining 120 vehicles (565 affordable fleet - 445 for CSP).

The Royal Artillery is trying to find ways (and funds) to implement its own specific system upgrade on the FV514, to turn it into a modern Fire Support Team armoured carrier. Below you can see the prototype, and read about the main features. The images and data are from Gunner, the Royal Artillery's magazine.

Report from Gunner magazine, showing the trials done by the Royal Artillery to shape the way forwards for the FV514

As we saw earlier in the article, there is now reason to believe that two tracked FST platforms are not needed nor desirable. If i was the one taking the decisions, i'd:

- Restructure ABSV to deliver a Warrior Mortar Carrier and the Warrior Bridgelayer. FV514 would be abandoned.

The US Army is having its own ABSV problem as it tries to replace the countleass support variants of the ancient M113. BAE systems is offering them the "turretless Bradley" family. Above, the proposed 120mm mortar carrier. Simple and relatively inexpensive, it is the kind of proposal i'd want to see as part of ABSV.

The turretless Bradley proposal: mortar carrier, medical evacuation vehicle, medical treatment vehicle, Command Post and General Purpose/APC. A programme of this scale was not viable for the Warrior, so long gone out of production, but nonetheless a number of hulls should be converted under ABSV to replace FV430 vehicles in some roles. The ABSV, however, should not overlap with FRES SV. It is not desirable to have two different tracked APCs, command posts and ambulances. In my opinion, ABSV and FRES SV should collaborate to replace, together, the FV430 and CVR(T)s in all roles. While adding a medium weight bridgelayer.

- FRES SV restructured to deliver Scout, Recovery, Repair, Armoured Personnel Carrier, Command Post and communications, Ambulance/Treatment, Fire Support Team vehicles and Countermobility platform.

Long range sensors and overwatch missiles, which are by definition meant to stay away from the fighting and observe / strike from long range and concealed positions, could be installed on cheaper platforms than a fully grown FRES SV hull. An example of this approach is the Sandcat 4x4 fitted with a battery of SPIKE NLOS missiles, which could be a very powerful solution to the Overwatch requirement. I'm pretty sure that Foxhound could be kitted in a similar way.   

Regarding FRES UV itself, it is in concept phase with a team of just one, for now, working on writing the list of requirements. Talbot Rice says that funding for FRES UV is available in the core budget from fiscal year 2015/16 onwards. The entry into service is expected in 2022 according to the MOD, but the Brigadies suggests that there is still a lot of thought to be put into the programme before final decisions are made. The army will see if other platforms (from Foxhound to ABSV) can help cover the needs of the force, but he anticipates that there is an irreducible requirement that will have to be met with a wheeled protected mobility platform. The new bit of info here is that it is no longer restricted to 8x8 only: Talbot mentions specifically a 6x6 as a possible solution.

FRES UV, judging from the road described in the Army 2020 plan, will very much return to the general requirements that were of the MRAV programme, years and years ago, when the UK hadn't yet left the Boxer 8x8 programme and FRES was yet to come.
Back then, the requirement was for a 8x8 vehicle which would come in APC variant (for 8 to 10 dismounts), Ambulance and Treatment, Mortar vehicle and Anti-Tank Platoon variant, with supports.
If Army 2020 wants to mechanized and put on wheels a minimum of three infantry battalions, FRES UV will need to deliver the same kind of variants, plus FST vehicle and Infantry Command variant. 
Either on 8x8 or 6x6 architecture.

At the mention of 6x6, the mind races to the VBMR 6x6 vehicle that the french army wants to replace a thousand or more VABs. I've been saying at least since 2011 that it would make sense to work as much as possible together on this one, and perhaps someone at DE&S agrees with me.
It would appear fair and advantageous for both to rub each other's back where possible: for example, it now seems likely that the french army will order 30 Watchkeeper drones to fullfill its requirement, as outlined in the recent White Paper. If this interview is real, french minister Le Drian says it is already decided that Watchkeeper will be the chosen sysyem.
In addition, Shephard reports that french army personnel is in the UK from over two months and has been trained on the Terrier, since the Armee de Terre has an incoming requirement for such an engineer vehicle. 
Interesting scenario, isn't it...?


  1. Gaby

    You have highlighted some interesting points in this item on DVD 2013.

    First, there is the matter of Warthog and it looking as if it will not go into the Core budget. I think that it’s more than a bit of a shame because that vehicle seems the just the kind that the British Amy might need in a future out-of-area contingency. It is very fast, mobile and well-protected. Above all, it is all-terrain with superb cross-country performance. Can you name another vehicle that will do the job equally well? The 100 re-furbished Vikings will be pretty much taken up by the Royal Marines.

    The British Army must have had the WMIK version in mind when the vehicle was first designed, mustn’t they? They are the only users of the vehicle and must have expected the other two versions (WMIK and Utility) to enter service, I think. Would be nice to see a well-protected WMIK in service.

    As far as the Storm vehicle is concerned, do you think that the Army possibly has it in mind as a lightweight fighting vehicle for, say, 16 AA Bde, as well as it filling the role of casualty evacuation? The Army lacks that kind of light, nippy vehicle.

    1. I don't doubt the qualities of the Warthog, but it is no immediately evident place in Army 2020. If there was money to spare, probably the Army would have mounted a battalion on it for mountain, jungle and difficult terrain ops, but money will have to go towards more immediate needs.

      As for the Foxhound, it was designed primarily to have the shape it has now, that of protected patrol vehicle to replace the Snatch land rover. Of course, in the longer term, it would be fantastic to order more, and replace Jackal and Husky and Coyote as well. But for now it is financially unthinkable, and we should just be very happy that there are Jackals and Huskys around!

      As for fighting vehicles for 16AA, i think the Army would prefer the Jackal, despite the limitations in its Chinook transportability. Jackal is more appropriate for pure fighting, and the Army had already launched a call to introduce in service a new parachute load platform sized for 10 tons loads and specifically thought for launching combat-ready Jackals (and Foxhound too, as the weights classes are the same). Not clear if it went ahead or not, though. Might have been delayed.

      The Storm as combat vehicle could still have a role (perhaps with the Pathfinders as well as with special forces) but i mostly see it in for niche applications more than frontline fighting. For that, Jackal is overall better suited.

  2. Gaby

    Many thanks for your thoughts on those matters.

    Did not think the Husky would be selected in the light recovery role. There were some other interesting candidates around, including one (the Penman-EKA), based on the DURO vehicle and one, I think, on the 6-tonne MAN truck. Apparently, those developing the Husky version managed to break it during one test! Maybe it is a UOR for Afghanistan and not the same programme as the others?

    1. It is a possibility. Was it not to prove satisfactory, they could launch a new requirement for a light recovery vehicle and seek a different solution. For now, though, it seems to be Husky.

  3. Gaby

    Sounds as if there really will be some opportunity to do “some really good things” to improve the Challenger. Did the Brigadier General specifically mention the upgrading of the power pack to 1,500 hp or was it your idea of an “opportunity”. Not 100% clear from your wording.

    As you say, not such good news on the Warrior CSP programme. I find myself becoming very confused about figure here. As you say, “If Shephard's report is correct and the 300 further vehicles are to be intended as "turreted", that would mean a maximum of 365 vehicles armed vehicles upgraded from a total of (if the NAO data is still up to date) 445 vehicles interested by the CSP... This would leave 80 repair, recovery and artillery observation vehicles. The numbers should be about right for the planned force of 6 armoured infantry battalions.”

    And yet you go on to say “Especially since it is not even clear from where the ABSVs will come from: there is no real room in the 445 vehicles highlighted for the CSP: perhaps ABSV would be about conversion of the remaining 120 vehicles (565 affordable fleet - 445 for CSP).

    I am confused by the term “affordable fleet”. Does that include vehicles not included in the CSP programme, perhaps even still armed with the old Rarden, or will the remaining vehicles be used for another purpose, e.g. for conversion to ABSV (which is included anyway as part of the CSP). I hope this is all clear, Gaby. I am really muddled now. Sorry!

    1. Regarding the Challenger 2, the powerpack replacement is only my guess about what "the good things" might involve. The replacement of the rifled gun with a NATO standard smoothbore is not going to happen, but i hope the planned change of powerpack will still go ahead.

      As for the Warrior, you are not the only one who's confused!
      However, the MOD apparently still has 565 working Warriors, of all variants, which it can realistically maintain. That's how i interpret the "affordable" adjective.

      According to the NAO 2012 report, 445 of those 565 vehicles are due to be touched by the CSP programme.
      These 445 vehicles must contain: the combat, the recovery, the repair and artillery observation vehicles for 6 battalions.

      There are around 56 "combat" Warriors in each battalion, so you'd need 336 in total, plus some training and attrition.
      Shephard notes that 65 "combat" Warriors are already being readied, and the army aspires to get 300 more, so my calculation is confirmed. 336 + some slack.
      There are also at least 7 recovery/repair vehicles in each battalion, and a number of Warrior recovery/repair also appear in the REME components of tank regiments and other heavy armour formations. At least 50 Recovery/Repair vehicles are needed, probably more.
      And then there are the Artillery Observation Posts.
      Realistically, we do reach the 445 number.

      365 Warrior "combat"
      80 "support" Warriors

      Then there is the ABSV, that is "a new variant (or variants?)", without turret. The NAO does not update us on what requirements the ABSV is going to fullfill.
      But as we saw above, there is no room in the 445 CSP vehicles to build a new variant. Unless, but i hope it is not the case, the battalions are mounted in "mixed" companies of "Combat" Warriors (with turret and 40mm gun) and "APC" Warriors, without turret and armed only with a shielded machine gun or, in the best case, a RWS.
      But i hope this is not the case, it would steal away a hell of a lot of firepower from the battalion.

      I'm assuming that ABSV will (eventually) be obtained converting the other 120 Warrior vehicles making up the Affordable fleet.
      Curiously, 120 is almost the same thing as the 125 ABSV that have been the planning assumption in the last decade.

      The question is: what is ABSV about?
      Originally, it was about an APC, a Command Post and an Ambulance. But all these variants are supposed to come out of FRES SV, and two similarly sized tracked command vehicles aren't needed.
      That's why i say that mortar carriers and bridgelayer would be the best uses for those Warrior hulls.

      Complex matter, i hope my explanation is clear enough to be understandable!

  4. Hi Gabriele.

    I don't know if the MOD is not going to turn back and give the greater part of the variants of FRES project to Utilitary Wheeled Vehicles.
    Vehicles of the French Army in 2020 will all wheeled vehicles, except the Leclerc tank of course.
    We will have the VBCI which will have the role of Warrior. The EBRC vehicle designed to replace the Sagaie and AMX-10 RC.
    The VBRM that replace the VAB in all its variants, which is considerable. That would be good news for the United Kingdom because these vehicles are very cheap.

    1. I know, the French army has definitely chosen to prioritize wheels over tracks. However, the british army is shaped around the Warrior and FRES Scout, both tracked, so the various support variants will be indispensable. Reductions are possible, but a complete passage to wheels, no. I can’t see the British Army putting wheeled combat vehicles in the same battalions made up by tracked ones.
      The FRES UV, which is focusing on wheeled platforms, could indeed be based on VBMR, but it is planned to equip three battalions in addition, not in replacement, to the Warrior ones. As I’ve written, I’ve been interested in the VBMR since the beginning: it is definitely a vehicle the british army should consider… economies of scale would be considerable.

  5. Yes, it's obvious that the MOD will not swap his Warrior against the VBCIs, but for the variants ground radar, ambulance, launched anti-tank missile, it's possible.

  6. Gaby

    Much clearer now. Thanks for taking all that time to explain.

    One or two confusing details still remain, though. I am quite convinced, for instance, that I read a few months ago in "Soldier Magazine", in an article that was on the subject of Warrior upgrades, a remark from a senior officer, who said that it was good news because Warrior would now have an Ambulance version. That suggested that the "old" ABSV programme was going ahead, at least in part.

    On your point about not doubling up on variants provided by both FRES SV and Warrior, yes, I would agree that it is not a good idea to duplicate. However, that would mean using FRES SV variants in Warrior armoured infantry battalions and vice versa. Would there be enough vehicles to go around, especially if the FRES SV variants were to be cut back because of more emphasis being put on the Warrior programmes?

    1. I know there are a small number of Warrior ambulances, obtained thanks to modifications done by the REME on the old Royal Artilery Battery Command Vehicle variant, which was no longer really in use.
      That's yet another thing to clear: i don't think if it is good for the future, or if it is just a stopgap.

      The point is that upgrading Warriors might not be enough even to provide the support vehicles for the Warrior force. Some mix up of FRES SV and other vehicles is, i believe, impossible to avoid. At that point, producing more FRES SV might be the best option.

  7. Gaby

    Again thanks for the reply.

    I would certainly be in favour of producing more FRES SV vehicles rather than taking money from that programme to help more Warrior upgrades. The FRES is a more modern vehicle altogether and will not reach obsolescence until decades after the Warrior.

    On the subject of improved armour for the Warrior, I think I caught a glimpse on the Janes' video (of DVD 2013) of a vehicle with the Modular Protection System (a fleeting shot of British Army heavy armour). It most probably was the Warrior rather than FRES SV (or even the Bulldog!) That probably shows that the British Army/MOD is thinking seriously about fitting it to future versions.

    On the subject of the Ambulance version of Warrior, I knew that some had been converted from artillery vehicles as UORS (only a few). I am pretty sure the officer I mentioned was talking about a mainstream programme to upgrade Warrior for the future.

    1. It might well be, but since both Warrior CSP and FRES SV are still in demonstration phase, and ABSV is just in the concept phase, i believe things are still quite fluid. And choices will have to be made on the basis of the latest evolutions of army 2020 and of the budget. Let's hope some more information comes out sometime soon.

  8. Hello Gabriele,
    We will buy 1000 VBRM, they will cost about one million euros each, so the operation will cost about one billion euros, is it possible to do the same thing for the British army ?
    Like CVR(T) series with 3000 vehicles of this family were made by Alvis Vickers.
    With VBRM or one of the same profile, RG-35 or other, I'm not promoting a vehicle that does not yet exist :)

    1. Well, first of all the french buy must happen and the desired 1 million pricetag demonstrated. For now, it is only an aspiration.

      As for the British Army, in theory everything is possible, but it'll depend on the funding available and on the relative priority accorded to FRES UV among other programs.

  9. Thank you Gabriele, it's a pleasure and an honour to discuss with you.

  10. Gaby

    Re: your suggestion of replacing the Challenger's 1200 hp power pack with a 1500 hp pack.

    I remembered that I read a few weeks ago about a trial taking place (I think it was at Bovington) using a Titan Bridgelayer which had been fitted with a 1500 cc engine. Might be nothing in it (might have been that they were trying to solve a problem with pushing the mine plough or something) but,on the other hand, it could signify something and could augur well for the future.

    1. Nice bit of news, it is indeed nice to hear!

  11. Gaby

    Re: My last comment. The outlook may not be as optimistic as I thought. I have just received my copy of "Soldier" Magazine and there is a short article in there about the Challenger upgrade. It says that the life extension project will see Challenger remain in the ranks until 2035 (another decade of shelf life).

    It goes on to state that previous efforts to upgrade its firepower and mobility were not successful and that the focus of the latest project will be on managing obsolescence i.e. replacing any components that will soon be unavailable.

    Doesn't seem too hopeful, does it? I suppose we shall just have to wait and see.

    1. I've read that article too, but i'm not getting worried just yet. Most artifles on SOLDIER are rather... disappointing on this kind of informations.
      The project anyway is still in its early phases, and they are just not saying anything other than "obsolescence management" that, potentially, means everything and nothing at the same time. It is just like when the commander of 16AA brigade said that among the options for the Apache CSP there was the idea of "doing nothing" or "buy a new helicopter".
      They just don't want to tell us anything yet.

      Not SOLDIER's fault, but... said simply, that article was useless. I don't think it is a valid indication for anything.

  12. Gaby

    Thanks for the reply. I suppose, as you say, that it "means everything and nothing" at the same time" We'll hope for the best.

  13. What's the effective and max gun range of the current Challenger 2?

    1. Very hard to say. I don't know what figures the army uses as official. In the field, effective range varies depending on countless factors, but we should remember the record kill from a Challenger 1, in Desert Storm, of an iraqi tank at 5100 meters.

  14. The CR2 upgrade to me without changing the gun is pointless the advantages of standardization with the US Army and Germany out way the possible costs if there is a problem with the turret change it for either an M1a2 or Leopard2a6 one with UK armour incorporated as it must be ammunition stowage that's the problem being one piece if it works out to expensive there are hundreds of cheap Leopard2's on the market but we in Europe are the only ones cutting the number of tanks we have everywhere else are buying them like there sweets in a candy shop


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