Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Army vehicle projects post-DSEI 2015

SDSR 2015 – Issues, analysis and recommendations going towards the review


Army vehicle projects - Post DSEI 2015 

Royal Air Force 
Royal Navy 

The following is a small update to the Army's situation, with the addition of the latest updated (and non updates) coming out of DSEI. It is hightly recommended to read the previous chapter, "Army Projects and Requirements", if you aren't up to date. 

The Challenger 2 problem

DSEI brings confirmation that the British Army is increasinly aware of the big obsolescence problems of Challenger 2. The biggest issue at hand is the decreasing efficacy of the L30 rifled cannon, particularly in the anti-armour role. The problem is well known: the Challenger 2 uses 2-piece ammunition, which makes it impossible to employ an APFSDS penetrator with the length and mass required to ensure lethality. The CHARM 3 penetrator is incredibly small compared to the latest, long darts which have been developed for the smoothbore 120 mm guns. A small dart inexorably means low lethality, and there is little that can be done to improve the CHARM 3’s effect.

In addition, the rifled gun is now unique in NATO, and its HESH round, which used to add useful flexibility not matched by the rounds available on smoothbore cannons, is now more than balanced by a whole range of novel generation multi-mission shells developed for smoothbores.

It is increasingly evident that the L30 is the biggest problem at hand, and at DSEI, british army officials have, for the first time, admitted that it simply does not meet the requirement anymore.

Already back in 2006, a Challenger 2 was experimentally retrofitted with a smoothbore L55 cannon by Rheinmetall. Changing the gun proved to be pretty easy, but the enormous issue is the storage of ammunition. Pretty much none of the spaces currently available can be readily adapted to carry the longer one-piece ammunition. Especially not in a safe way: if currently the launch charges and HESH can be stored below the turret ring, where they are somewhat less vulnerable, one piece ammunition does not afford that luxury. One piece ammunition need specific storage spaces, protected with armored bulkheads and with solutions for “venting” an explosion away from the crew, like on the American Abrams.

In practice, retrofitting the Challenger 2 with a smoothbore cannon requires a “new” turret. That’s why the Challenger Lethality Improvement Programme was dropped. Subsequently, plans to adopt a more powerful and fuel efficient engine also had to be shelved. As of last year, the LEP was heading towards a mere obsolescence-removal exercise involving, primarily, electronics.

At DSEI, the British Army has kicked the ball back to square one, recognizing that such a LEP would not solve the issues. What can be done? Hard to say. It is no longer taboo to say that the Challenger 2 might be replaced. The options, however, are limited: there is talk of a possible new-generation MBT project to be launched by France and Germany, and it would be great if the UK could be involved, but we don’t even know yet if the project will effectively start. We don’t know if the UK can get into it, and we don’t know when such a new tank would be available, and at which cost.

So, what? 

The Challenger 2 experimentally fitted with a smoothbore L55 gun. Storage of the ammunition is a huge issue that requires vast redesigning of the turret spaces.

There is a very real risk that complexity and costs will end up giving us a LEP which does not solve the big issues. This would be a bad outcome, but it remains likely. The sad truth is that Challenger 2 can’t do with a simple “Life Extension Programme”, but needs a big Capability Sustainment Programme, like Warrior.

The biggest obsolescence Challenger 2 is grappling with is its main armament, and ignoring this defeats the whole purpose of having MBTs. Add to this the obsolescence of sensors and electronics, and the turret really could be replaced entirely, pretty much. A new engine would also help, since Challenger 2 is a dead last in terms of speed if not of mobility in the wider sense, especially in the “mobile fortress” configuration which has been used in Iraq, with the installation of big add-on armor kits.

And all the issues be solved?

Money as always will be the chief factor. We don’t know exactly how much money Challenger 2 will get. Last year Jane’s reported that the LEP budget had gone down from 1.2 billion to 700 million pounds. Which is a huge amount of money under certain points of view (certainly for an electronics-only LEP!) and not quite enough under others.

One option is doing away with the Challenger 2 entirely. There are still Leopard 2 tanks being sold on the cheap: Poland has paid just 180 million euro for 119 Leopard 2 tanks with all accompanying equipment. Of course, these were not at the latest standard, but they bring the L55 smoothbore, which is the key to solving the lethality problem.

The latest standard Leopard 2s, the A7, obviously cost quite a lot more. Saudi Arabia was about to procure 200 such tanks back in 2011, and the pricetag was indicated in 1.7 billion euro.

The UK needs a workable plan to put in service at least 200 MBTs armed with the L55 smoothbore, if its heavy armor is to remain credible. 
Extra money, of course, is highly unlikely. Some room for manoeuvre could be obtained, but only by shifting money away from other armoured vehicle programmes. The budget for Challenger 2 is to come from within what was, until 2014, the Mounted Close Combat Capability Change Programme, which is now broken down into four main areas: Armoured Cavalry 2025; Armoured Infantry 2026; Armoured Main Battle Tank 2025 and Mechanized Infantry 2029.

The budget for the MCC super-programme, was last indicated in 17.251,83 million, but spread over many years, towards 2030. The budget covers the whole life costs, not just procurement, and also includes simulators and initial support packages. It is very hard to guess how this figure breaks down, and thus nearly impossible to tell how much money could be shifted to Challenger 2.

In addition to Challenger 2, this pot of money must provide for the FRES SV / Ajax programme, the Warrior CSP, the ABSV if it finally kicks off and the Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) which is the new name of what once was FRES UV, so we should not be fooled into thinking that there is any real abundance.

Fixing the Challenger 2 programme, however, is a big priority, in my opinion. An MBT which is no longer lethal is no longer credible, especially not out to 2035 or 2040, which are the dates towards which the Out of Service moment should be pushed thanks to the LEP.

Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle, WCSP, Ajax.  

I hoped DSEI would bring news about this key programme, which represents the way out from the ancient FV432, which currently has a 2030 OSD which would give it a good 70 years service life. It is ridiculous that the Army is still stuck with this old workhorse, which was once supposed to be replaced by Warrior, and which to this day is still seeking a successor. Unfortunately, little to no news came out of the show.

The ABSV might have to wait until 2017 to hit Main Gate, with deliveries of an unknown number of vehicles in an unknown number of variants due to be completed, in the Army’s “aspiration”, by 2026.

Armoured Infantry 2026, the name of the programme, is also, in one short phrase, the objective the Army has: renewing the armoured infantry by 2026, rolling into service the Warrior CSP and the ABSV.

My frustration with the Armoured Vehicles strategy of the Army are well known. To this day, the degree of uncertainty surrounding not just ABSV but WCSP is astonishing, and throws ridicule on the notion that “armoured infantry is the core of Army 2020”.

For now, the WCSP plans to upgrade a mere 380 Warrior, of which only 245 are Section vehicles with the new turret and gun. These numbers are flat-out insufficient for the six battalions planned, and Lockheed Martin UK, which assembles the turrets, says it is “hopeful” that more will eventually be ordered.

It is also not clear what the variant split is regarding the remaining 135 vehicles. Several news releases mention a “command” variant which has never existed in the Warrior fleet. There are Infantry Command vehicles, which are minor variations of the Section vehicle, and thus part of the 245.

There used to be a Battery Command variant used by Royal Artillery AS90 batteries, but only 19 were produced and I understand they have ceased to be used already years ago, with a number converted in ambulances for use in Afghanistan.

What’s left is the FV514 variant, the Artillery Observation vehicle. Not clear what, if anything, will happen to these. Until at least 2011, the plan was to have a FRES SV Joint Fires variant AND upgraded FV514, made into Joint Fire direction platforms as well.

Whether this is still the case, is an unknown. The FV514 was going to receive only the basic mechanic and protection upgrades under WCSP, with the RA supposed to fund a separate upgrade to the mission equipment, to turn the FV514 into a platform capable to direct mortar, artillery and air attacks from under armour. The Royal Artillery experimented possible configurations at least into 2011, but what happened afterwards is a mystery. 23 Ajax in Joint Fires configuration are on order, but the number is pretty tiny, considering that each AS90 battery, alone, used to employ 3 FV514.

If it depended from me, I would NOT bother with a FV514 upgrade. The FV514 has a dummy gun, so it won’t get the new turret. Even if it was “dressed up” so that it continues to resemble other Warriors, the additional sensors needed for the Joint Strike role would make it recognizable all the same. Another problem is that, unless the Royal Artillery manages to get the Joint Strike upgrade incorporated into WCSP, the FV514 would have to go to factory a first time for WCSP, then again for the separate upgrade. How many years would it take, and how long would the units be left without their vehicles?

Moreover, is it worth it in any way to try and jam so much modern equipment into an old horse like Warrior, even after it gets a modernized architecture under WCSP?

If I was the one making the decision, I would forget about FV514 and purchase a few more Ajax Joint Fire variants. More modern, less cramped, and with a working gun.

The FV514 hulls would be very useful for ABSV, which should convert “surplus” Warriors into mortar carriers, APCs, ambulances, maybe command-support vehicles (“true” Command posts should come via FRES SV / Ajax, in the form of the ATHENA C2 variant) and Anti-Tank Guided Weapon carriers.

The insufficient number of Warrior getting the new turret and gun is a major concern. One way to reduce the need for Warriors is via ABSV: if the ATGW variant materializes, the Anti-Tank Platoon will not need Warriors (unlike now). An ATGW variant allowing the launch of missiles from under armour, as well as the carriage of dismount Javelin teams, would be a massive improvement in the Army’s capability. 

The FRES SV / Ajax family is supposed to include an Overwatch variant providing long-range, guided weapon firepower. Unfortunately, it seems most likely that this will end up being just an APC carrying dismount Javelin teams: this should be corrected by adding a vehicle-launched weapon too, ideally with greater range.

The use of dismounted, 2.5 km Javelin in the Overwatch role is a downgrade from Striker, which until 2005 provided vehicle launched Swingfire missiles with a 4 km reach.

Much curiosity remains about the Ground Based Surveillance sub-variant of Ajax, too. In a world in which armies are modernizing and adopting mast-mounted sensor heads combining radar and EO, the Ajax does not look much innovative at all.

There is the risk that the GBS sub-variant ends up being just an APC carrying 3-4 dismounts and their sensors, and this would be very underwhelming.

Mechanized Infantry Vehicle

The Army really wants a 8x8 APC. Indeed, it wants more than 300, so it is preparing to a new attempt at procuring them after the utter failure of FRES UV. The vehicle, coming in different variants, is meant to replace Mastiff and Ridgback, which are the current interim solution equipping the 3 “Heavy Protected Mobility Battalions” spread across the 3 heavy brigades.

A 8x8 combat vehicle is going to bring better capabilities than Mastiff, particularly in terms of mobility, but I have to sincerely say that I’d very much encourage the army to get the armoured infantry right, before getting bogged down in another major, expensive procurement programme.

While I’m not blind to the advantages offered by an 8x8 solution, I believe that replacing Mastiff is not quite so high on the list of the urgencies. I say this especially considering that the army is most likely to procure only APCs armed with nothing more than a .50. These vehicles are going to be an upgrade over Mastiff in a low-complexity scenario, but not much of an upgrade in a more complex scenario. Ultimately, since there are so many issues left to be solved in the heavy armour area, I would focus my efforts there.

Non-Articulated Vehicle – Protected (NAV-P)

Not an armour programme, but a key one. Any vehicle the army might field will mean little if there are holes in the logistic area, and the missing replacement of DROPS is potentially a huge hole. DROPS is fundamental: it carries a vast variety of key payloads which include the ammunition for the artillery. The army is in the absurd situation of having declared DROPS out of service last year, while still using hundreds, alongside with a small fleet of EPLS, exactly because it cannot do without them.

NAV-P cannot be delayed forever. It should sit high on the list of priorities. Despite the obvious urgency, no noise from DSEI.

Multi Role Vehicle – Protected

The first purchase of MRV-P vehicles might be drawing nearer, with Main Gate expected in 2017. Industry is preparing to compete, and General Dynamics will put forwards both the Eagle and the Foxhound, the latter probably in the form of its cheaper steel-hull variation.

The first purchase is reportedly expected to include 500 or more “general service” troop transports plus 78 ambulances and 27 recovery vehicles.

Obviously, if the Foxhound can be made cheap enough to be affordable (at the current pricetag, it has no real chance) it is an obvious favorite, due to fleet commonality considerations.

Much has yet to be seen and decided regarding MRV-P. As discussed earlier, the requirements suggest that 2 variants, one “short” and one “long” might be necessary, so much so that both a 4x4 and a 6x6 variant might be procured.

The high level of uncertainty, however, suggests that MRV-P remains at risk of further delays. Anyone of the other vehicle programmes could be given higher priority and push MRV-P further to the right.

Going into the SDSR, the Army’s top priorities on the vehicular front, in my assessment, should be:

-          Upgrade Challenger 2 seriously, or replace it early. If the upgrade can’t fix the lethality problem, go for replacement. A L55 Leopard 2 is to preferred to Challenger 2, at this point in time.

-          Increase the number of Warrior Section Vehicles towards 300, the bare minimum needed for six battalions. Consider that a training fleet would also be necessary, ideally, especially due to BATUS swallowing up a battlegroup’s worth of vehicles.

-          Proceed with haste with ABSV, including the ATGW variant.

-          Ajax, WCSP and ABSV are deeply interconnected: make sure they are run with coherence! Do not duplicate where there is no need to. Complex roles like C2 and Joint Fires should be left to the newer vehicle. Adjust the numbers to ensure that the three fleets complete each other.

-          Do not waste the big investment made on Ajax by cutting corners on Overwatch and Ground Based Surveillance: provide adequate tools for the job. Mast mounted sensors and a longer-range, under-armour precision weapon capability are both necessary.

-          Procure a NAV-P solution. More EPLS, or anyway a solution using the MAN SV truck as base would have obvious logistical benefits.

-          MIV and MRV-P are both needed and welcome, but they look lower priority to me, and I’d accept a hit in these areas in order to achieve better results elsewhere. 


  1. From what i've read there is not enough space to install a 120mm smoothbore on to the Challenger 2. What do you think about an unmanned turret upgrade for the like the Jordanians have developed with the South African's for their Challenger 1's?


    1. As the article says, the problem is not the gun, but the ammunition storage. I don't think the british army is convinced that an unmanned turret is up for the job, and anyway we'd still be talking about a whole new turret: at that point, it might be better to just bring Rheinmetall aboard and adapt the A7's turret to the Challenger to create a hybrid...

    2. Thanks for the reply. I heard that they couldn't store enough ammunition to make it a viable option when they were testing the smoothbore 120mm.

      If there are not enough Leopard 2's on the market what about joining the Turkish with the Altay project? We could produce a UK specific version. They are about to start large scale production in the region of 1000 tanks.

  3. I am afraid there might not be enough Leopard 2's available. Germany likes to keep some in reserve and there were plans to restore some back into service in the future. There is however a large number of M1A2s available. Perhaps that's an option...

    1. The M1A2 has that horribly fuel-thirsty engine and the shorter L44 gun. I'd avoid it, but it is another option nonetheless.

    2. The turbine is indeed far from ideal, especially for cost-conscious force such as the BA but the Abrams has all the necessary protection and it shouldn't be a problem to swap the L44 for L55 because the turret has a similar design to that of Leopard. Also for all that fuel mobility at last wouldn't be a problem.

      If the decision was to acquire Leopards then there's still the question of finding available 200 L2A4's. I was doing a little calculation on a side and comparing to the production totals I managed to account for all but about 400+ tanks. Some 200+ would be in Heer reserve the rest would probably be with KMW waiting for a major rehaul for an interested party. But it really seems to me like the clock is indeed ticking, if it isn't too late already.

    3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Gaby,

    Many thanks for responding so amazingly quickly to my suggestion/request. How do you do it?

    I'm afraid that what you say about Challenger2 is right. A pity, because it has been a fine tank in its time and I was fond of the old warhorse. Maybe an amazing piece of British inventiveness/ingenuity can solve the problem. Let's hope so.

    I shall need some time to think up some more questions but in the meantime what is this Land Joint Strike initiative? Will it consist of formations somewhat akin to the old proposed Multi-Purpose Brigades, with the Joint Force armed with an all-round range of equipment? Do not worry if you do not have the time to answer..

    1. Not at all sure what, if any, change this "joint land stike" concept brings. I'm assuming it doesn't change much from now, with the heavy brigades having one battalion on wheels in addition to the tracked ones.

  5. Gaby

    Many thanks for that reply.

    DSEI did not seem to throw up much information about other areas of the British Army. Just briefly, if you could, was there much on Engineering equipment (the possible refurbishment of the BR90 system or anything about Talisman, for instance)? Anything on the Battlefield Ambulance or the Light Recovery vehicle? Or anything else? Thanks if you have the time.

    1. Not that i'm aware of. Unfortunately, it does not surprise me too much: this edition of DSEI comes before the SDSR is published, but very close to it. Worst possible position, it was to be expected that news would be few. Everything is in the waiting & hoping stage, pretty much.

  6. I have to say, I think the BA has really messed up it's tank design policy. Both the BA and the French Army run a fleet of around 200 tanks. However, whilst since the 1980's the French will have purchased just 400 Leclercs to equip their fleet, the BA will have purchased over 1000 (420 Chally 1, 380 Chally 2, 200 New tanks if they come). As soon as each generation of British tanks comes into service, they immediately seem to be obsolete!

  7. Gab, so glad you back. I was getting bored ;)

    Looking forward to the naval piece. There have been so many contract awards recently I’m not sure there is much point in a strategic review at this rate.

    There has only even been 1 challenger ever disabled in combat, and that was by another challenger.

    I can’t say I feel great about getting Germanys essentially un combat tested Leopards; I’m sure on paper they are great, but …..

    I thought the concerns about Challenger are really more about ARMATA, certainly that would be my call.

    360 vision, 360 radar, active protection, and a very very interesting set of variants.

    What do you think?


    1. I think the Leopard would be a good solution. They are better in many ways, indeed.

      And yes and no. The Army is using ARMATA as the boogeyman for underlining the urgency of solving the CR2 problem. But the lethality shortcomings have been known for years. CHARM 3 is now at least a couple of generations behind US and German long-rod APFSDS rounds, and increasingly ineffective against the likes of T-90s and advanced russian armors.

    2. I have to admit ARMATA capabilities do read a bit “fantasy fleet” if half of them are accurate I’ll be amazed.
      I think we can probably agree that the active defence and automated turret are probably a serious development.
      Rifled or Smoothbore I can’t see lethality going UP with current rounds if that system even slightly works.
      The only thing that might penetrate will depend on rate of fire, and T-14 has that too.
      I’m glad to see Ajax with an Armata like distributed 360 sensor systems for the crew. But its clear to me tank systems are about to jump to a new lever of complexity with AESA and a more serious ground to air capability.
      Money is a real problem, but I think we might have to go for a ground up design.

    3. It is yet to be seen if the active protection system works, It very much resembles, in its main munitions, systems Russia already had years ago and which haven't changed the rules of the game. Intercepting APFSDS is still complex due to their tremendous speed. You need very early detection, and an exceptionally accurate timing with your active protection to knock them off course.

      The Ajax does have 360° STA coverage. And the radars on ARMATA are to detect incoming fire, not an actually viable way to find the targets.

  8. Hi Gabriele, just a short query. Exactly what vehicles are set to be replaced by the MRVP programme?

    1. A share of the Land Rovers, Pinzgauers in a variety of roles. It is also meant to replace RB44, which is actually already out of service and has been for a while, receiving only an interim replacement in the form of Pinzgaurers and trucks.

      It could then be used to replace also Panther, Husky, WMIKs etcetera.

  9. Hello Gabrielle,
    If the money is there ie over the next ten to fifteen years, I personally would go for modernised Abrams M1A2's from GD complete with MTU-883 diesel engines and L55 guns, augumented by modernised Strykers with uprated engines (C9 600hp) bought for a very good price with some of the work done over here. I think probably the best value of any deal as this would give us virtually brand new condition vehicles and excellent operabilty with U.S and Canadian forces in the field, as well as freeing up cash for other projects.

  10. L44 equipped with DU round, especially the latest AKE (M829A4) apfsds-t, is far more lethal than L55 with DM63 tungsten penetrator. The UK has anything reservation regarding DU?

    1. Some problems exist, but CHARM 3 is DU and staying, so it should be doable.

      And it would be even better to put M829E4 into a L55, have you ever considered that?

    2. I don't know the price difference between L44 and L55. Also, longer barrel gun is less maneuverable under urban combat environment. The Japanese considered adopting L55 for their Type 10 tank before settling on L44 for the very same reason.

  11. My problem with British Army modernization efforts. Too many new starts and too little resources. The condition is set for failure. They should just concentrate on one big program at a time. Get Ajax right and ready before dividing attention elsewhere. A new 8x8 wheeled armored vehicle, a new tank, a new protected tactical vehicle. Are you kidding me? Where are the money come from?

  12. Here is my recommendation:
    1) Kill MRV-P. If more protected vehicles are required, buy more Foxhounds. Plus a small acquisition of air droppable light vehicles for Commando units.
    2) Expand Ajax program. Use the new chassis to fulfill ABSV requirement.
    3) Buy 2nd hand Leo2, with limited update. Retire the Challenger fleet.
    4) Terminate WCSP, go ahead with a cheap LEP on Warrior instead.

    Under my proposal, Ajax is given the highest priority to ensure its success.

  13. Hello Gabbi, could you explain the differences between the ASCOD vehicle and Ajax?, can Ajax carry any dismounts in addition to it's crew?
    Many thanks, fantastic blog as always.

    1. The original ASCOD has different and inferior protection, a different turret with a smaller gun and a different, less powerful engine. Sensors and system architecture are also entirely different.

      Ajax has a door in the rear, but i'm not sure how the rear space is configured. An earlier prototype went on show with a couple of seats installed in the back, but i don't know if they are still there and if they have a clear-cut role. Generally, Ajax is not to be considered a IFV or APC. The recce squadron's dismounted element will ride not in the Ajax, but in the Ares APC variant.

  14. While I agree that the Challenger 2 is now no longer up to the task due to outdated ammunition. I don't know whether buying new tanks of the current generation when a new one is coming along. Realistically the Leopard 2 only has about a decade left in it at most.
    Unless the MoD gets assurances by the government that their budget will increase and they will either join other nations or start their own project for a new MBT and the Challenger 2 replacement/upgrade is just an interim solution. I think the wiser choice is to just deal with the outdated equipment and save money to join a project for a future MBT with the US or European allies.
    At least that way they can take the millions saved and invest them into the WCSP, FRES SV / Ajax, ABSV and the like. All thing that are also needed. And which will likely see more use in future conflicts than MBTs. Since it's mainly about counter-insurgency operations now and I highly doubt we would go to war with Russia. And for a COIN war the Chally is still a perfectly fine vehicle.

    That also brings me to the renewed effort to attempt FRES UV once more. I wholly agree with you that this idea should be dropped. Mastiff is good enough for the task at hand currently and isn't even that old yet. Not going through with replacing it is going to save a lot of money that can be spent on assuring that what we are already buying is better and no capabilities remain lost. Like with the Striker retirement.

    The Army should face the music and realize that they have limited funds currently and that they can't replace every vehicle they own in one go.

  15. I think things need to be put in context here as far as CH2 is concerned. Before doing all things CBRN I was on tanks for 19 years and still have close contacts within that environment.
    We may talk about T14 but the main threat from what I have been told for the next decade is still the standard T64, 72, 80 and maybe T90 variants. So LEP is just the interim solution to allow time to consider the best way forward.
    Remember Gaby that not everything is put in the public domain so things maybe (I know they are) further forward than you might realise. There are lots of studies going on at the moment, a few covering the old ground of tank crew make up, 3 man, 4 man. Issue with 3 man has always been not crewing the functionalities of the vehicle but how to address the other duties during conflict. If a Troop is only down at 3 tanks and you are in a hide, then you may have ground guard to deploy along with Radio watch, plus depending on the threat CBRN Sentry, Air Sentry. Sometimes you can double up duties sometimes you cannot, so you must always look at worst case scenario. So do you increase the Troop size to 4, 5 or 6 tanks to neutralize that, but then the knock on effect might be concept of Troop or half/full Squadron battle procedures.
    At the other end of the spectrum is politics, you may not know this, but it was an open secret that in the trails of truth between CH1/Leopard and the M1, that Leopard won hands down in all areas that the Army where interested in. But that meant that BAE Systems at the time would lose a large workforce that they had set up in Newcastle to supply the then MBT90 as a replacement for the Shir 2 that Iran had ordered. Obviously that whole order collapsed when the Shah of Iran was overthrown. So to get around the problem and select CH1 is was indicated that the protection levels of Leopard did not fit in with current doctrine as far as the MOD were concerned. Whither such a blatant ploy would still be used is debatable.
    Agree that a replacement needs to be found and plans put in place as the average time of flash to bang for such Projects is normally 10 years, unless you are looking at the Arjun from Indian that has taken 40 years to get off the ground from design to meaningful production.
    So I do not see CH2 as a top priority, I see the FV432/Bulldog right at the top with the 8x8 next.

    1. I hear you, but i was shocked when i read that the LEP, not including Lethality and Engine, was going to have a budget between 700 and 1200 million pounds. That is a huge amount of money for a LEP which does not actually solve any of the big issues. A cheaper LEP would, of course, solve even less. 10 years is a long time, and they might very well become even more, we know how these things go. If the MBT is not up to the task, the rest of the armored brigade isn't either (by the way, other major point of failure of the british army today: artillery...).
      Instead of burning that much money in an indecisive LEP and wait for tomorrow's jam, which all too often does not arrive in the end, i'd prefer to burn the same amount of money on Leopards and US ammunition for them.

  16. Cbrn Guru

    Nice to hear from you again. Tremendous post, I think, drawing on your service experience and contacts.

    I had no idea all that was going on (trials of truth between CH1/Leopard and the M1 and the fact that “Leopard won hands down in all areas that the Army were interested in”. And that that in turn meant that “BAE Systems at the time would lose a large workforce that they had set up in Newcastle to supply the then MBT90”.

    However, if Gaby is right with his figures (i.e. that the LEP, not including Lethality and Engine, is going to have a budget between 700 and 1200 million pounds.”), then that surely is a huge amount of money for what you describe as “just the interim solution to allow time to consider the best way forward.”

    What do you think of the idea that Gaby floated i.e that we might do better to adapt the A7's turret to the Challenger to create a hybrid?

    Incidentally, Cbrn Guru, is there any recent news on the CBRN front? Has the search for a possible successor to Fuchs got any further? And, as a bit a of a vehicle geek, I would like to know whether the new vehicles that Gaby mentioned as coming into Falcon squadron have materialized i.e. the COYOTE MEP vehicles (fitted out for Command and Control? and for Logistic support), the DROPS trucks and the Panther CLVs? Or perhaps you are in another unit completely?

  17. I notice that the Alvis Stormer, Warthog and Wolfhound all have 2024 OSDs. Is there a plan for a Common Support Vehicle to replace them in their support roles for Starstreak, UAVs and towed artillery? Or is this something that a turretless Mechanised Infantry Vehicle could do?

    1. Like with many other things, there does not seem to be a plan.


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