Monday, January 13, 2014

The evolving budget situations: army programs on the (slow) move

Defense News reports that the Army is about to move, handing out new requests for information for four important programs. None of these four is a new requirement: each has already an history behind, some already stretching over years. The four programs are:

Light Recovery Vehicle: a replacement for the old Bedford-based LRV. The requirement has circulated for quite a while already, but an earlier attempt to select a new platform was eventually stopped, with some 16 Navistar Husky vehicles converted into interim LRV platforms under UOR. British Forces News has a video of the Husky recovery in Afghanistan: these vehicles cover the needs of the deployed force, supporting vehicles such as Foxhound.

The MOD however aims to bring a definitive air-portable LRV vehicles into service by 2016. A number will be assigned to the amphibious brigade as well, thus introducing the necessary wading and winterization requirements. The MOD has already taken vision of some products that could meet the requirement, such as the Penman-EKA LRV, based on a DURO III 6x6 chassis. Another option is offered by MAN Truck and Bus UK Ltd which have created a LRV variant based on the MAN HX60 4x4 truck already in widespread use in the british army. This could be an excellent solution, offering logistical commonality. 

Multi Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P): this is the biggest program by both numbers of vehicles and variants envisaged and, of course, by cost. Unsurprisingly, it is also the one program that has been around for the most time, having spent years already languishing through studies, concept phases, trials, rethinks and rebranding.  MRV-P is in fact the child of the failed Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) program, which came to light as far back as 2003.

MRV-P should replace Land Rovers, Pinzgauers and other old and unprotected vehicles currently widely used in a variety of roles within army units. The MRV-P should also introduce a gun towing variant, a new vehicle which shall replace the (already withdrawn) never loved RB-44. For the gun-towing role and for mortar platoons, 650 old Leyland 4-tonne trucks were kept into service with a decision taken in 2011, being preferred over the RB44 TUH.

There are not many new things to say about this long-running program. An article I wrote in June 2012 contains pretty much all the info available, and some analysis, so I suggest you read it. The most evident possible novelty is that there might now be another serious contender in the race, since General Dynamics Land Systems - Force Protection Europe has privately funded the development of a family of Ocelot (Foxhound in british army service) variants based on a cheaper crew citadel made of steel instead of high-end, expensive composites as in the current patrol variant. Known as Ocelot-S, the new family of vehicles offers a wide range of variants, covering multiple roles.

The steel citadel imposes a 1800 kg weight penalty affecting the payload of the vehicle, but is said to enable a significant reduction in cost. The use of steel also reduces the protection level afforded by some degree (GD promises that the protection afforded is “similar”), but the requirement for MRV-P is much more permissive than for the Light Patrol Protected Vehicle, so this would not be a problem.

As I said back in 2012, Foxhound is a very expensive vehicle, and is far from meeting the cost objective set by the MOD. The new variant might go some way in mitigating this issue.

Obviously, with 400 Foxhound in the patrol variant already on order and destined to equip six infantry battalions under Army 2020 plans, basing MRV-P on the same mechanics would simplify training and logistics.

GD is exploiting the experience collected with Foxhound to try and offer an Ocelot-S product virtually ready for british army adoption. The Ocelot-S command variant in fact comes with a General Dynamics UK's (GDUK) integrated communications and battle management system and with Thales' generic vehicle architecture (GVA) kit. Both are already in use on Foxhoud and, to varying degrees, on UOR fleets such as Mastiff, which are now being taken into core.
Other variants on offer include a logistic flatbed cargo vehicle capable to transport two NATO-standard pallets with a two-tonne payload to the rear of a protected two-door cab. Ambulance, general purpose, dog kennel, fuel bowsers, gun towing and shelter carrying variants are all being offered as possible developments by GD, which also says that there is the potential to stretch the chassis to create a long wheel base variant and, in the longer term, extend the Foxhound developing a 6x6 vehicle variant. 

Ocelot S ambulance variant

A proposed Ocelot S APC variant, with stretched chassis (Long Wheel Base variant)

Ocelot S logistic support variant

The Ocelot-S might give new chances to Foxhound, to expand on many additional roles within the british army.
That is, of course, if the cost really goes down a lot, and if the program manages to get funding and progress to actual delivery. 

For the MRV-P program, Supacat offers its SPV 400 vehicle, and its proposed 6x6 variant, the SPV 600
The requirement for a new battlefield ambulance which Defense News quotes should be known (if it hasn’t undergone a new change of acronym already!) as Future Multi Role Battlefield Ambulance. This vehicle, which would replace the venerable Land Rover-based one, could actually end up being just another part of the MRV-P if a suitable variant on the same mechanics can be delivered.  

Defense News’s article is confused in this passage:

Starting with a lightweight recovery vehicle that the MoD’s Defence Equipment & Support organization said it wants in service by 2016, the British military is looking at adding a multi-role vehicle-protected (MRV-P), a protected battlefield ambulance and a vehicle able to carry a protectable palletized load system by 2020.

Only the MRV-P program is big enough to qualify for what is called a Category A program, with a value of £400 million (US $660 million) and above.

The fourth machine, a lightweight air-portable recovery vehicle, which will need to be able to wade ashore in support of Britain’s commando forces, is in the assessment phase and replaces the elderly Bedford-based machine.

The highlighted paragraph clearly is talking of the Bedford Light Recovery Vehicle, but erroneously suggests i("the fourth machine") that it is talking of the "vehicle able to carry a protectable palletized load system by 2020."
I'm not sure of what exactly this could be. A small vehicle to move pallets, especially around helicopter landing zones, replacing the horrendous Springer and the old Supacat "Super Cat" ATMP, or actually the long-delayed replacement for DROPS? I'm inclined to believe it is the replacement for DROPS, but we'll need confirmations going ahead.

A replacement for the DROPS truck fleet is another long running program. The last time it surfaced, it was known as Non Articulated Vehicle Programme. Previously, it had been known as Heavy Load Distribution Capability (HLDC).
The old DROPS trucks are unprotected and no longer adequate to operational scenarios. In Afghanistan, the container carrying capability has been covered by the Enhanced Palletized Load System. The EPLS was obtained converting a first batch of 90 HX77 MAN Support trucks before ordering an additional 87 newly produced, with 31 being used for the establishment of a training fleet. At least 10 EPLS trucks have been used as platforms for the carriage and employment of the Rapidly Emplaced Bridge System  (REBS) in british army service, while three more such trucks were handed over to New Zealand in late 2012, which urgently needed them for its own REBS purchase. It is unclear if the three trucks have then be replaced by new ones in the british army. Even if they have, there are at most 167 EPLS vehicles for the transport of palletized supplies, plus 10 fitted with the REBS bridgelayer system. 167 vehicles, or less, to replace a fleet which up to recent times had counted 1400 Leyland Medium Mobility Load Carriers and 375 Foden Improved Medium Mobility Load Carriers. A large reduction in the requirement is evident, but certainly it has not reduced enough to make 167 vehicles enough to cover it all. 

EPLS in action

EPLS will be taken into core as interim replacement for DROPS (which has seen its OSD advanced from 2021 to December 2014 in the SDSR 2010), but it is obvious that the army badly needs to either purchase more, or select a definitive replacement and procure it. Quickly. 

As for "enhancing performace" of the UOR fleets, the Defense News article probably refer to the work already announced to convert some of the vehicles into command and communications variants, as well as for restoring the vehicles to full efficiency as they come back from Afghanistan.
It might also refer to the fact that the vehicles will be stripped of the RPG cage armor and thus made narrower and lighter to be able to move on UK roads and to reduce wear and tear. It can be expected that the reduction in weight and bulk will result in improved manoeuverability. But of course, the additional armor would be fitted again right away for deployment, so this would be a rather virtual "enhancement".

The MOD has recently disclosed the total numbers of UOR vehicles, of various types, that will be taken into core:

71 Coyote
325 Husky
441 Jackal
439 Mastiff
169 Ridgeback
60 Warthog

It is not clear if the Wolfhound vehicles are being counted in the “Mastiff” total, or if they have been left out by the list. Up to 130 of them should be available.
Keeping track of the exact number of UOR vehicles purchased over time has been very complex, but Defense Industry Daily has tried. According to their data, the total numbers of vehicles of the various types purchased for operations are:

97 Coyote
351 Husky
462 + Jackal
506 Mastiff (Wolfhound included?)
168 (some order slipped under the radar?) Ridgeback
115 Warthog 

14 Buffalo vehicles have been purchased for the TALISMAN route clearance system of systems. I'm still waiting for an official confirmation of some kind about their future. They are being brought back from Afghanistan, but there's no certainty yet on whether or not they will go into core, or into storage. 

The Jackal totals are broken down as being:

202 Jackal 1
120 + Jackal 2
140 Jackal 2A

A variety of support equipment related to these fleets and also purchased under UOR, has been brought into core, including CHOKER and 69 Pearson Engineering Super Light Weight Rollers.

It is not mentioned in that article on Defense News, but the british army Small Arms Corps journal mentions the fact that a program has been started for a replacement Mortar Platoon carrier vehicle for Light Role infantry battalions. Unfortunately, there are no details available.

A replacement for the FV432 Mortar Carrier in use in armored infantry battalions will also be needed but is never mentioned openly: my guess is that it could perhaps figure as part of the Armored Battlegroup Support Vehicle (ABSV) conversion of surplus Warrior IFVs that is in the concept phase. 

As the US Army wrestles with the problem of replacing its M113 variants, the turretless Bradley offers a capable and relatively straightforward solution. The UK, faced with the need to replace the FV430-series vehicles, could follow the example replacing (at least a part of) them with the "turretless Warrior" under the ABSV name.

Lastly, it is worth reminding that at DVD 2013 the MOD started looking around for a light, air droppable vehicle which can fit ready to go inside a Chinook and that would be used for C-SAR missions (and special forces work, i'd suppose?), as part of an ambition to rebuild a Joint Personnel Recovery Capability from 2016.

There are a lot of requirements begging for attention, and also several programs starting, re-starting, or just trying to move ahead, out of the infinite successions of concept and assessment phases, studies of all kinds, and costly delays that keep coming.
We will see how much manages to actually go ahead and deliver.


  1. Gaby

    “The Ocelot-S might give new chances to Foxhound, to expand on many additional roles within the British Army.”

    Yes, I can see the rationale behind the move to develop the Ocelot-S. I am just wondering where that leaves some of the variants planned for the Foxhound. I can see that logistic support variant might very well be filled by the Ocelot-S but Foxhound was also planned to have a logistics variant, wasn’t it? It was also planned to develop a WMIK-type fire-support and force protection vehicle on Foxhound. I have not heard anything about this recently and wonder what has happened to the Foxhound variants. I would imagine that the Ocelot S could not fulfil the WMIK role, though, or could it?

    1. Yes, the Foxhound with its composites citadel was offered in the flatbed logistic variant and in WMIK variant. However, none of these two variants have received any offer so far, probably in good part due to the high costs.

      The WMIK role would probably be best suited for the Foxhound full spec, with the use of composites to achieve both weight reduciton and protection enhancements. But probably a WMIK role is not on the cards anytime soon, since there are hundreds of Jackals coming into core which will cover that voice. Replacing the Land Rover RWMIKs is probably down low on the priorities list, and the little money available will be used for other things, for now.

      The Ocelot S might have some chances with the MRV-P roles, though, and is probably reasonably protected to cover the logistic role at a more reasonable cost.

  2. Whilst I am an Ocelot fan the variants being proposed by GD suggest the type is now at the end of it's development potential. An 1,800kg weight penalty will have a severe payload penalty and it's own effects on mobility (the steel pod not only increases the weight but will push up the CoG) whilst the extended wheel-base version would further negatively impact mobility. All in all, neither the steel pod or the extended wheel base versions look like especially attractive options.

    MRV-P has all the character traits of a project whose ambition has yet to be reconciled with available budget.

    The other interesting thing about the vehicles being brought into core is the retention of virtually the entire Mastiff/Ridgeback fleet which suggests that FRES-SV has got further lost in the long grass.

    Finally, the Army has some big spending programmes (Scout and Warrior CSP) coming up at about the same time it wants to do MRV-P alongside a range of other seemingly unfunded projects such as dealing with the obsolescence in Challenger and AS90.

    To summarise, the Army's equipment programme is looking very vulnerable as we go into SDSR15. If the reports of falling recruitment and failed recruitment outsourcing/IT projects are true it's numbers might also be in trouble. Given the cotton wool, relatively speaking, it was wrapped in in 2010 it would be about time. It is worth considering though.

    1. I believe you meant FRES-UV since that is the most analogous programme versus the capability provided by Mastiff.

      With regards to the "big spending programmes", I wonder how long it will be before someone bites the bullet on FRES-SV. Given the further reductions in heavy armour to just three Brigades it is surely not beyond the whit of man to simply focus all of the remaining monies on focusing those Brigades on upgraded versions of Challenger, Warrior and AS-90. That would have the added benefit of reducing logistical costs too....

      Does anyone know whether there are contractual penalties to be paid on FRES-SV should it be scrapped?

    2. I did mean FRES-UV yes.

      I don't know whether it will be SV, but it looks like something is going to have to give.

    3. There are not enough Warriors to cover the reconnaissance/armored cavalry role as currently envisaged, and the Warrior has not the mobility required. FRES SV / Scout might be killed, but only if there's a big rethink in the whole concept and in the intended structure of the three armoured brigades.

      FRES SV and Warrior CSP as of now remain the big priorities.
      FRES UV is not intended to enter service before 2025, and the UOR fleets might well end up pushing the ISD further to the right.

      It is more likely that some of the programs explained in this article will (once more) end up being put off. The Army has no intentention, as of now, to give up on FRES SV.

    4. Gabriele,

      I agree completely. I suspect however that we might see further size shrinkage though in terms of orders. The current manpower target may find itself under pressure.

      MRV-P looks very vulnerable to me.

    5. My apologies - I should have been clearer. A big re-think on the 3 armoured brigades was exactly what I was suggesting, with 2 cavalry regiments and 2 armoured infantry batallions per brigade and with the two cavalry regiments each having 3 Chall 2 squadrons and 1 Warrior squadrons, the numbers could be made to work.
      The point around mobility is key and I have a couple of questions on that -
      1. How much more mobile is FRES SV planned to be than Warrior, given that the vehicle itself is planned to be heavier?
      2. How do other nations, and in particular the US and Germany, manage to fulfill the equivalent recon role - I believe they both simply use variants of their MBT and IFVs.... Why can't the UK do the same?

    6. FRES SV, if it maintains all its promises (it reportedly has some weight problems at this stage of development), will be much more agile than Warrior thanks to the greater installed power, larger tracks and additional road wheel on each side (7 vs 6), greatly reducing the ground pressure. FRES SV despite its mass has more to share, in terms of ground pressure, with Scimitar MK2 than with Warrior.

      Germany has downgraded its reconnaissance units. They used to combine Leopard tanks, Luchs and Fuchs, but now use the 4x4 Fennek and essentially stick to stealth reconnaissance, having sacrificed their capability to fight for information. If i'm not mistaken, they aren't even classed as "combat" units anymore, but as Command Support units.

      The Americans use Abrams, Bradley and Humvees with long range sensors in their Heavy brigades. They can sneak and observe from concealment, or fight for information deep into enemy territory thanks to the MBTs.

      Italy prefers to do recce by strenght not with tracked tanks but with the 8x8 Centauro tank destroyer, supported by lighter APCs and Lince 4x4 vehicles with mast-mounted sensors.

      France uses the wheeled AMX-10R or the Sagaie armored vehicles in mechanized formations, and in future plans to use the EBRC, armed with the same gun of the FRES Scout, but wheeled. Its heavy armour brigades no longer have a specialised recce formation, probably more because of budget difficulties that because of a conscious decision. Battlefield reconnaissance, after all, remains a key factor.

      The UK prefers to stick to tracks, and has assessed the FRES SV as the best solution. Differently from the US, the UK hasn't yet mixed up tank, recce and armored infantry elements in the same peacetime formations. It is considered more effective to eventually mix MBTs, Warriors and/or Scouts in battlegroups, during deployment.
      It is not clear if, when and how the FRES Scout regiments will include sneakier vehicles with mast mounted sensors to complement the "strenght" provided by Scout.

    7. As we've veered into armour here, I've been wondering about the feasibilty of reducing the armour to two bdes. I think "Phil" on here has suggested the same thing. Two bdes wouldn't be a disaster, as any prolonged op is likely to have a short conventional phase, before giving way to COIN/stabilisation (requiring adaptable Forces), and an initial armd bde deployment followed by a second roulement would still provide an armd operations for up to 12 months.

      Removing an armd bde would provide enough Warriors for the ABSV role, and the engineers and artillery could convert to wheels and light gun, and reinforce the Adaptable Force, to allow for three deployable light bdes. So basically, you'd have two armd and three light bdes, instead of the current three and two.

      A possible spanner in the works could be the training requirement. The Paras, Marines and light infantry are essentially on two-year training cycles, but maybe armour needs a three year cycle, meaning three armd bdes are needed to ensure one is always "ready".

      Any thoughts, Gabby?


    8. In theory, it is feasible. The problem would be in the force generation cycle, which, on two instead of three brigades, would have to be compressed down to two years. There is also another issue: normally this kind of "cuts" end up saving a lot less money than one would think, so the problem is always the same: cutting on one side is easy, but the savings might well prove not enough to properly reinforce the other formations.

      I think we should not try to rush thoughts on cuts of these magnitudes. There's already enough risk as it is that the armed forces end up forced to scramble other downsizing plans...

    9. Hi Gabriele and ADB.

      Thanks for another good post Gabriele.

      ADB, yes that is what I have suggested. This would also make sense as only 6 infantry battalions are to be based on the plain, therefore the remaining 3 battalions that should make up the 9 battalions needed for the 3 armoured brigades are miles away!
      6 Battalions in 2 armoured brigades on the plain, 9 battalions in 3 light brigades based in Catterick, Aldershot and Colchester?
      That gives 5 brigades to rotate. But that just my humble opinion of course.


    10. Thanks both for replying. Gab, I'm not really suggesting much of a cut - most of the "lost" armoured brigade could be re-roled to light (although the pollies might have other plans). I'd bin a tank regt, maybe keep the armd recce regt (could provide a squadron of Scimitars to support each Jackals recce regt?). And it might solve the "not enough Warriors for ABSV conversion" problem. And now Phil points out basing issues, too.

      Phil, I believe you are Army or ex-Army? Is there a more significant training requirement for armoured units, that means they need two years training before having a "ready for deployment" year?

      Regards, ADB

    11. The Adaptable Force works to the same three year cycle, by the way. Not two year.
      The PARA and Marines work on different, internal cycles, because they rotate into readiness one battalion (plus supports) at a time to provide the Airborne and Commando Task Forces.

    12. Fair enough re the AF infantry, Gabriele, but if the Paras can do all their infantry training, heli assault trg and para jump quals in one year, could light infantry be declared ready after a year instead of two? It might have something to do with the Paras only taking already experienced soldiers from other infantry units, or maybe it's madness to expect the Paras to maintain standards on a two-year cycle, I don't know.

      Anyway, it would be interesting to see if the armour needed an extra year for manouvre warfare training phase, or something.


    13. ADB.

      As I understand the current army rotation, infantry battalions must have a gap of two years between operational tours.
      (I am sure Gabriele will put me right). Operational tours are at the moment 6 months. Therefore you need five brigades to cover the 2 year six month rotation.
      3 CDO and 16 AA work another way, as they are quick reaction forces. This has been a subject of an earlier article. My opinion there was that these or maybe a combined brigade needs to have 5 infantry and/or commando units to fulfil its rotational needs. But again that's only my opinion.

      Phil (ex army)

    14. That's correct. The Harmony Guidelines for the Army require that a deployed soldier won't deploy again before 24 months have passed. That is a 1 in 5 rule: for every man deployed, there are four at home recovering, training, preparing their own next tour.
      For the Marines, the rule is 1 in 3, as for the navy crews. With three battalions they are more or less okay. The problems are in some support areas, most evidently in the Engineer capability, especially if all the requirements continue to fall on the lone 59 Squadron.

      Harmony guidelines for deployments are one thing. Force generation cycles are another.
      The Force Generation Cycle for the Reaction and Adaptable brigades spans three years, one of which spent "at readiness".

      16 Air Assault, left with just two PARA battalions, is effectively on 2-year cycle. One year = one battalion at readiness.

      3rd Commando will have a three year cycle, with each commando group at 5-days readiness for a year. This is only virtual, however, as the Commando in the "other tasks" year will still be asked to deploy teams on ships all over the world following the disbandment of P Squadron.
      As seen earlier, this cycle is also not true for the supports, which will be worked harder than that.

      The airborne task force

    15. I was about to add, the airborne task force is based on a PARA battalion, but only 1 company in the group will be ready to actually parachute into battle, plus small bits of supports.

    16. Same with the Royal Marines. The full battalion can't land all at once

    17. For an operation, it could be lifted on the ships currently available. And landing would happen in waves, probably company sized, via helicopter and landing crafts. It is a very different thing.

    18. Gab and Phil. Understand re Harmony guidelines, but they could be met by three armd and two Adaptable Force bdes, or two armd and three Adaptable Force bdes. So I'm still wondering if maintaining three armd bdes is necessary because it takes each armd bde two years to build up to "readiness", as opposed to the Paras' one? If so, you have to retain three armd bdes to ensure one is always available.


    19. In theory i guess it could be made to work, but it would be challenging to compress the training time so much. And there would be a potential retention problem: being at readiness a year on, a year off is already quite taxing for the elite formations. Expanding it to large regular army brigades would require even more committment from the soldiers.

      It would actually make far more sense to give 16AA brigade at least a third regular battalion to spread the challenges over a few more shoulders. The ABTF of today as i said requires only one company fully trained to include parachute assault readiness, but for the rest it isn't much smaller than the ABTF that was sustained when the brigade had 4 battalions.
      This is the actual problem: i think soon or later the Army will have to take note.

    20. All of the suggestions on reducing to two armoured brigades are really interesting, although I have to say I don't agree with them both on the basis of both force rotation (ie if you are serious about a capability at the Brigade level, you really need 3 of it); but also on the points of -
      1. 3 Armoured Brigades actually only require 6 armoured infantry batallions anyway - the weird thing about the armoured brigades is the inclusion of a single mechanised infantry batallion in each - which both introduces a whole different logistical challenge to the Brigade and frankly makes them difficult to control (ie 5 maneouvre batallions in each)
      2. Why are you seeking to generate another Light Brigade?!? - frankly if there is one thing the British Army has too much of it is light infantry. Far better surely would be to strip out the mech infantry batallions and either ideally form another mech infantry brigade or use them to transform the 2 adaptable force brigades to useful mech infantry and use the savings from all of this to actually make 16 AA and 3 Cmd properly deployable 3/4 maneouvre batallion formations....

      And btw if someone says "we need light because the new world is expeditionary and needs speed" I will scream.... - Britain has no plans or resources to fund the required airlift to make that a reality and, frankly, once you have a light brigade speedily in place - then what when the opposition deploys a batallion of armour......?

      As an aside I am fully cognizant that the monies or will to form an 8 deployable brigade are highly unlikely, but at the very least lets make the 7 being planned for both fully deployable and with a bias towards the "heavier" end of the scale - real light-scale troops are useful, but more than 2 Brigades? I for one would rather have 3 Heavy and 2 Mech Brigades and use them without their heavy equipment / for more "peace keeping" rather than "war fighting" roles than 2 heavy and 5 light that then can't be used for much else other than "light" roles.....

    21. I do actually agree with your reasoning. And i'm pretty sure ADB meant more or less the same thing, on re-distributing the vehicles and equipment of the armored brigade to reinforce the remaining ones.

    22. Yes, I was thinking along the lines of redistributing the equipment among the light bdes, because I think the latter are TOO light. The tank and recce regts from the disbanded armoured bde could break into indt sqns, with one each going to each deployable Adaptable bde. The tanks might be traded in for an 8x8 vehicle with the a 90mm gun or something, but the idea would be to beef up the firepower of formations currently destined to have little beyond grenade-launcher and GPMG-mounted Foxhounds and Jackals. Likewise, a Scimitar sqdn per Adapatable Bde would also be useful, while the AS-90 regt could go Light Gun and the armd engrs would become wheeled.

      Anyway, not particularly banging the drum for a reduction in armour , but just trying to work out if it would be feasible if more cuts are called for (as I believe will be the case).

      Gab, re your concerns about amour being on readiness every second year, might it not be as taxing as for Paras etc because the armour wouldn't be rapid response forces on short notice to move?

      And "Anon" I agree with removing the Mastiff b/ns from the armoured bdes, too - they are not suited to manouvre warfare.


    23. My thanks for the response ADB - makes perfect sense.
      Also I completely concur on the fact that additional cuts are coming. The key battle to be fought now with regards to ground forces are to ensure that they are directed away from the units and resources contained within the 7 "deployable" brigades. In particular they represent what should clearly be the real core force of 8 cavalry regiments and approximately 18-20 fully resourced infantry batallions (assuming 3-4 batallions per Infantry Brigade and 2 per Armoured), together with all of the supporting regiments of log, eng, signals and artillery to be able to put those 7 brigades in the field (and not totally inadequate units such as 3 Commando's engineers).
      To be frank - that leaves only one logical target - INFANTRY BATALLIONS.....
      It will be extremely telling to see what actually happens - if the cuts are directed any where else, without resignations from senior officers, it will be clear that political considerations are paramount and that senior amry officers are unwilling to discharge their duties to the state as I currently understand them.

  3. Another informative post, Gabriele. Thanks. I don't comment much as I have little to add, but do enjoy reading your posts.


  4. Gaby,

    I know this is not directly on the subject of the four (possibly new) vehicle types but I happened to come across this news a short while ago.

    Indonesia has ordered air defence equipment worth £100 million from British arm of Thales to fill a gap in its short-range air defences. It has entered a deal to buy the Forceshield system of vehicle-mounted missiles and radars. This is, I think, good news for Northern Ireland and the British defence industry.

    The deal has several components, including Starstreak missiles, lightweight multiple launchers and RapidRanger weapon launchers. The Starstreak is intended to replace the Rapier missile system to provide air defence out to seven kilometres. Apparently the RapidRanger will be integrated into the Vamtac (a Spanish vehicle similar to the Hummer)) while the lightweight multiple launcher will be on, wait for it, a version of the Land Rover Defender.

    Now I think that at the moment CAMM and Starstreak/Stormer will be the mainstays of the Army 2020 air defence but could such a system (Forceshield), and it is British, possibly have a part to play in future British air defence? I was thinking particularly that the lightweight version of Starstreak could be useful in a dual role: anti-air and anti-vehicle. The MRV-P might be a possible platform.

    1. It might as the sensors for air defence are improved and renewed, and Starstreak might end up living well into the 2020s, perhaps on a new launcher vehicle. The british army already uses the LML launcher, of course, possibly from on board vehicles, even if, i understand, it is more commonly only transported, then set up somewhere and operated from the ground. The Starstreak LML batteries use, as far as i know, Pinzgauer vehicles carrying the launcher, the crew and a decent number of missile rounds.

      The LMM missile can already be launched from the Stormer, which was upgraded in a way that allows it. So, the Stormer is no longer limited to Starstreak itself, and is (potentially) a more multirole platform. It is to be seen, though, if and when the army acquires LMM missiles to make use of this capability.

      As for a possible new launcher vehicle, in a DSTL newsletter there was mention of an ongoing study into the usefulness of lightweight turrets equipped with anti-air and anti-surface / multi role missiles. So, there might actually be already some established interest for a solution of that kind.

  5. Where is the link for the MOD disclosure of the vehicles?


      Will edit the article to add the link directly in the text.

    2. ok better now.

      BTW, Any FOIA says 49 Inkerman Battery is not under JGAD. It has LEAPP (not in the FOIA but implied) but not directly under JGAD.

    3. It makes no frigging sense to keep it on its own, though. I suppose it is just a matter of time and it is not formally yet under command because the resubordination concludes and the battery moves, eventually, to Thorney Island with the rest of the air defence force.

      On ARRSE it was suggested the battery might actually end up becoming part of 16 Regiment. In any way, every indication is that it will come under JGBAD control, either as a battery-entity or eventually resubordinating as part of one of the air defence regiments.

    4. It was a personal FOIA. Can't disclose the contents though. Why not try and see what they say?

      I do not trust forum sites.

    5. by the way, some of your links to your articles link to 404.

  6. Gabriele and guys,

    I think we can all see a better way of organizing the army, to give it more deployable brigades.
    But lets not forget,
    We only have one real training area in the UK for large tracked vehicles, Salisbury plain.
    Most units vehicles will be in storage.
    Infantrymen fight on foot, (only tankies like to fight from inside vehicles) and no vehicles do very well on the Brecon Beacons, the Falklands and in the jungle. (Speaking as an ex infantryman)

    Looking at the wider picture, as the government has announced a further cut of 25 billion to spending in the next parliament, we must assume that the MoD will be asked to cut its budget yet again.

    My own opinion is that we an island with many obligations around the world our priority should be in keeping a strong maritime force. I would go further and say I would like the RN to get a bigger share of the cake. For me the RN gives us more bang per buck spent than the other two services even though it gets the smallest share of the annual budget. (Not including equipment purchase). Trying to be strong everywhere makes us weak everywhere.

    In my view, I can see the following being targets for cuts;
    RN, the number of new frigates, maybe resulting in the current number being cut.
    Army, its equipment budget and maybe the merger of some infantry regiments.
    RAF, the RAF regiment cut and the Tornado force being scrapped almost immediately.

    SDSR 2015 will in view be another defence cut and with pressure on the defence budget from the Trident replacement programme increasing annually I cannot see things getting any easier in the near future.

    I hope that the chiefs (If they can tear themselves away from cocktail parties, negotiating there directors pay for there retirement job in the defence industry and worrying about there peerage) and Mr Hammond are working hard on providing the country with a defence that is within budget and makes some sense. I am looking for;

    RN, enough escorts so we can permanently attached them to the carrier and Bulwark/Albion. So having permanent task forces. More OPV’s to carry out standing tasks.
    Army, to be sensibly organized into at least 6 brigades (including 3 CDO) and based accordingly. Including further reforming of infantry regiments and taking another look at how regular and reserve infantry units are organized. A serious look and cut at its public duties commitments.
    RAF. To at least get some MPA so we can patrol our own waters.
    Politician’s, to realize that if you cut defence spending you have to cut defence commitments.


  7. It seems odd that British Army has decided to keep all UOR variants for long term usage. In contrast, US Army's enduring plan for MRAP envisions only three models: M1240 M-ATV, M1235 Maxxpro Dash, M1234A1 Maxxpro Ambulance. Less model type means less burden and more save on logistic support.

    1. Fact is that the British Army had failed for years to renew the line of armoured vehicles and, more relevant still, it has a massive gap in terms of medium weight mechanized infantry formations. The US has got the Stryker and the brigades equiped with it. The UK has kind of nothing between Warrior and Land Rovers (Foxhound now). It used, of course, the Bulldog APC in up to three battalions, but that one is tracked like Warrior, and shares much with the Warrior's logistic weight, while offering far less firepower (it carries a slightly larger infantry section, but has at most a GPMG RWS or shielded turret).

      The UOR fleets will enable the british army to have something decent in terms of mechanised, wheeled forces for medium intensity operations. Waiting for FRES UV, if and when it eventually becomes a reality...

  8. Gabriele - your last sentance is most interesting. The British Army has always struggled to prioritise between FRES SV and FRES UV and as a result over the last 20 years is that they have ended up with nothing.... I guess the most interesting question is, have they made the right decision now on focusing on SV.... - my gut reaction would be "no" but I'd be really interested to hear your thoughts on that question.

    1. Since the Army has choosen to first of all prioritize its armoured infantry component, it is completely right to focus on FRES SV first, since it is going to deliver important components of the armored infantry brigades. For FRES UV, my position remains that, when the time comes, the british army should follow the french (if their plan goes well, of course) with their 6x6 VBMR. The french plan to buy at least one thousand, and if the vehicle keeps its promises, it will deliver good capability at a good price.
      If the same old story of reinventing the wheel happens once more, the army is not going to be able to uplift its capability, because costs will grow too much.

  9. Gabriele - thanks and that makes sense. I happy to agree with the prioritisation of the 3 armoured brigades. I guess my question is more along these lines -
    The UK took delivery of 386 Chall 2 and 789 Warriors. Even allowing for attrition etc it is likely that there are approximately 350 Chall 2 and over 700 Warriors that could be used / converted / upgraded. My question is - and I am conscious that this will lead not to an "optimal" solution but an "economic" solution - does that pool of vehicles provide the UK with enough vehicles to equip 6 armoured regiments and 6 armoured infantry batallions + any other tracked vehicles that would be present in the supporting regiments in the 3 brigades?
    I'm really keen to hear your judgement on this question.

    1. You could perhaps squeeze out of the tanks and Warriors left aside over the years some kind of reconnaissance regiment combining modified Warriors and Challenger 2 tanks. But it is not that simple: in the case of the tanks especially, many of the vehicles will have actually been stripped to supply spares to the others.
      And anyway, there wouldn't be enough Warrior vehicles left to cover all the other combat support roles.

  10. Thanks for the response! Things are never easy, but c'est la vie. Hopefully the Army will at least focus on attempting to standardise on Warrior variants for the 6 armoured infantry bats.

  11. Anon: if you're the same anon I was discussing things with earlier, one of the benefits of going to two armoured bdes and three light might be that there are enough Warriors to replace all the FV432s etc in the support echelons of the two remaining armd bdes. In financially tight times, it makes sense to me.


    1. I am and yeah, I take the point and can definitely see it. In that circustance I'd want to see -
      1. The four armoured regiments standardised on the old 44 Regiment structure, ie 3 Chall 2 squadrons + a squadron of Warriors for recee
      2. Obviously the 4 armoured infantry batallions fully standardised on warrior as well
      3. The three Infantry Brigades mechanised on VBMR or a-another wheeled APC. The whole point of cutting both an armoured brigade and scrapping FRES SV would be to free up the funds required to achieve 3 cavalry and 9 infantry batallions standardised on as few a vehicle types as possible.

      As an aside, given what I've seen over the last few years in UK defence, my guess would be that the actual outcome of all of this will be -

      1. FRES SV not cancelled but continues to drift to the right and drip feeds only a few hundred extremely expensive vehicles into the armoured regiments.....
      2. 1 armoured brigade scrapped and turned into a light infantry batallion which is only semi deployable
      3. 2 deployable infantry brigades mechanised as far as possible on whatever combination of Mastiff variants can be brought together
      4. FRES UV drifts even further to the right - ie 2030s

      Apologies, the above is very pesimistic, but unfortunately not beyond the realms of possibility...


    2. Hadn't thought of having square armd bdes (2 tank, 2 Warrior regts each) but 4 x 44 vs 3 x 58 MBTs would be similar in number. I was thinking more of re-equipping the redundant tank regt with Centauros or something and having a squadron of 16 per light bde, but there you do.

      BTW, you're not being pessimistic, just reading the trends.

  12. I am very couriuos about British NOT having created 2 US style cavalry regiments (Hussars and LAncers maybe) with 3 bn each with combination of CR2 and FV51X /or maybe 8 smaller Bns with 4 bn per regiment).
    Thats ruffly estimated 24-30CR2 per bn for a total 144-240 MBTs, and 56-72 FV51X per bn for a total of up to 600 vehicles (guess what?... there ARE 6 tank/recce Bns and those numbers of equippement already exist in inventory). It would give 1 full, armoured/mechaniced/cavalry whatever you would like to call, Brigade strong/big even for new HBCT US standards.
    That would free 22-26 FULL Inf Bns for other roles (lets say 4 regiments with 6 Bns each or as you wish, doesnt matter).
    Personally, I would like to see British PARA Rgt with min 3 Bns, but ALL to be organised and trained like USA Rangers style/type (if expensive to train/create/equipp than integrate foot part of RAF Rgt with PARAs so UK have REALL airassault/airborne/quickresponce/semicommando light inf formation).
    So, no expensive/hi-tech procurements/integrations with new doctrines, just good-old British style drill/traing that, when you take a better look at it, works quite well (and by what British army is recocnised around the world).
    Oh, and I am sorry for my bad english writing.

  13. Gaby

    Sorry to bother you when you're still receiving posts on the T-26. I just happened to catch the Twitter entry from the Royal Logistic Corps on the DROPS vehicles, saying that they (that unit?) would lose them at the end of this month.

    Well, that was the original plan but more recent reports filtering through suggest that the solution will be a combination of EPLS, re-furbished DROPS and possibly a new-buy vehicle.

    Have you heard any more? If they start withdrawing the DROPS now, they are going to be awfully short of logistics vehicles!

    1. I tried to ask about that issue, but so far i got no answes. Not sure how it is going to work... i hope the army is not going down to just the EPLS, because there really seems to be too few of them.

  14. Gaby

    Thank you for the reply.


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