Saturday, June 14, 2014
Army 2020: unit structures and equipment
This extremely interesting document offers some insight into the plans of the British Army for its Army 2020 structure and equipment. It finally provides a scheme of the intended organisation of tank regiments; armoured, air assault, protected and light infantry battalions and cavalry units.
The document also provides some interesting indications in terms of equipment programs. One interesting snippet confirms that the Army hopes to convert a significant number of Warrior vehicles into "turrettless" Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicles to provide protected mobility to CSMs, medics, Mortar and Antitank platoons, as well as Battlegroup Headquarters, in other words an as full as possible replacement for the many FV430s still in service in these roles. The big concern remains on numbers: even if ABSV finally moves on from the concept phase, money will be needed to convert quite a lot of vehicles.
It is confirmed that the Warrior IFV, as part of the WCSP, will have its troop carrying capability reduced from 7 to 6, as the old seats are replaced with blast-resistant ones.
Regarding Challenger 2, the CSP is described, unsurprisingly, as being by now reduced to "just" upgrading sights, situational awareness and electronics.
FRES SV is described as providing an ambulance capability as well, which until now had been "left for later", among other vehicle variants to eventually emerge in the Block 2 of vehicle development.
This mention could imply a confirmation of the bringing forwards of the Ambulance variant, which has been in the rumors for over one year.
The Command and Support squadron of the Heavy Cavalry regiments are described as containing three Guided Weapons troops and a Surveillance Troop. It will be very interesting to see how these will be structured and equipped. A FRES "Overwatch" vehicle variant is notionally present in long term development, in future Blocks to provide (finally) a replacement for the Striker vehicles and their Swingfire missiles, which were used extensively in Operation Telic before being withdrawn from service in 2005. It is more realistic, however, to assume that cost constaints will leave the guided weapon troops equipped with Javelin and embarked on pretty standard protected mobility FRES SV vehicles.
No indication, for now, of the shape and equipment of the surveillance troop. A FRES SV ground based surveillance vehicle is, again, envisaged in the long term, possibly equipped with mast-mounted EO/IR sensors and radar.
The SA80 will be upgraded and possibly given a suppressor capability, and there is no mention of a replacement, originally expected in the early 2020s. Unsurprisingly, it seems that the replacement is being pushed well to the right.
The new VIRTUS body armour and load carrying equipment is expected to start appearing in 2015. The L129A1 sharpshooter rifle is not mentioned: earlier information suggests that all L129A1 will be roled as Sniper No2 weapon for sniper pairs, while the line infantry is being re-issued with the L86A2 for the sharpshooter role.
There is a very welcome indication that the Black Hornet micro-UAV will be taken into core.
A curious news is the planned procurement of a fighting knife for 2015.
The air assault battalions (2 and 3 PARA) are reforming companies that were put in suspended animation to re-organize for operation Herrick. The reorganization of ISTAR / Reconnaissance companies, with recce patrols, is particularly important since it has now been confirmed that 16 Air Assault brigade will no longer be supported by D Sqn Household Cavalry regiment. The brigade will employ Jackal instead. The Army plans to have the Jackal improved with greater under-belly blast protection.
In cooperation with the RAF, it is to be hoped that the planned introduction of a new heavy load airdrop platform for use on the A400M Atlas for launch of Jackal vehicles will indeed go ahead.