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...?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Regarding Maritime Patrol Aircrafts

A very much recommended read on the MPA problem is the Defence Research Paper written by Wing Commander S. Austin, Royal Air Force. I heartily suggest that everyone reads it.

I will quote a few extremely relevant passages of the document, and its conclusion , as  they represent a perfect, brief but powerful summary of what is also my own opinion on the matter:

Discussions with PJHQ staff have identified that the UK faces a number of capability gaps against the ‘full spectrum defence capability’ which is deemed necessary to carry out the seven military tasks identified in the SDSR. These include the maritime patrol and carrier-strike capabilities already discussed, a gap in the UK’s signals/electronic intelligence (SIGINT/ELINT) capability due to the retirement of the Nimrod R1, a lack of Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD) capability, and the inability to conduct Joint Personnel Recovery (JPR). Of these, the requirement for maritime security is the only one which is required all-day, every-day, regardless of whether the UK is engaged in hostilities or not. Furthermore, it is reasonable to assume that SEAD and JPR capabilities will only be required during intervention operations which are likely to be discretionary and/or conducted as part of an alliance, whilst the replacement capabilities for SIGINT/ELINT and carrier-strike are fully-funded and will enter service in 2014 and 2020 respectively. It is therefore concluded that the lack of a wide-area maritime patrol capability is the most significant gap, and that the regeneration of this capability should be the highest priority for UK defence. Whilst there is still enormous financial pressure on the Government, the MOD has reportedly balanced the budget, not only securing those capabilities already identified for Future Force 2020, but also including an ‘additional £8bn of funding over the next ten years which is respond to emerging equipment requirements.’

It is therefore recommended that serious consideration is given to filling the gap left by the MRA4 which, ironically, was scrapped to save just £2bn over ten years. Unfortunately, it is likely that the recent decision by the Government to revert to the STOVL variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and not fit the new carriers with ‘cats and traps’ will be detrimental to any decision on future maritime surveillance in two ways. First, whilst the SDSR did not state that the UK no longer needed an MPA capability, just that the MRA4 would not be brought in to service, any decision to subsequently procure an MPA will be portrayed as another Government U-turn; having recently made a U-turn over the JSF, this is now even more unlikely, at least before the next SDSR. Second, the lack of ‘cats and traps’ severely restricts future options for carrier-based maritime surveillance and/or patrol, be that manned or unmanned.


New technologies are becoming available which will assist in the maintenance of maritime situational awareness. For example, the Automatic Identification System (AIS) is a transponderbased tracking and identification system fitted to ships which works by electronically exchanging data directly with other nearby vessels and shore-based stations or, more recently, indirectly via satellite. The AIS transponder transmits the vessel’s position, course and speed, as well as other data such as the ship’s, name, flag state and destination. Primarily aimed at collision avoidance, the system can also be used to assist with maritime security. NATO is currently developing algorithms which will monitor the AIS feed and automatically identify abnormal activity. However, there are limitations with AIS and it would be foolish to become over-reliant on such technology alone. First, it is not mandatory for AIS to be fitted to vessels less than 300 gross tonnage which leaves a sizeable void in the maritime picture. Second, other than navigational information, the data transmitted simply reflects that put into the system by the crew and provides little insight into the actual cargo being carried or the crew’s intent. A clear example of the vulnerability of the system occurred in July 2009 when the Russian cargo vessel Arctic Sea ‘disappeared’ after transiting thought the English Channel. The official Russian investigation claims the vessel was previously hijacked off the coast of Sweden and forced to sail to Africa; the counter-view is that this story itself is a cover for illegal weapons-smuggling by Russia. Either way, the vessel passed through the English Channel without suspicion before switching off its AIS, and then remained undetected for three weeks until intercepted by a Russian frigate off the Cape Verde Islands.

Therefore, for the foreseeable future, no combination of satellite or Remotely Piloted Vehicle/Hybrid Air Vehicles technology can provide a cost-effective or even practicable alternative to the capability provided by a manned MPA; even the US, with the most advanced satellite and RPV technology in the world, is still spending over $25bn on a fleet of 117 new P-8 Poseidon MPA.

Fundamental to the regeneration of this capability will be appropriate sponsorship and ownership of the requirement, which has traditionally sat across a number of ‘desks’ within MOD. This is exacerbated by current military doctrine, which barely recognises that the air domain needs to be utilised for effective maritime patrol. For example, British Maritime Doctrine (JDP 0-10) barely mentions the use of the air domain for the conduct of wide-area maritime operations. Similarly, whilst AP3000123 defines the fundamental roles of air power, the description of ‘intelligence and situational awareness’ is focused entirely on the land environment, whilst the description of ‘attack’
includes just a single sentence on each of the ASW and ASuW roles. Within AP3002124, the emphasis remains clear; twenty pages are devoted to counter-land operations, whist counter-sea attracts just a single paragraph. Sadly, this reflects the neglect and lack of investment that has befallen the role of maritime aviation for many years, and was almost certainly a contributing factor to the decision to scrap the MRA4. Unfortunately, a review of the written evidence provided to the HCDC by ex-senior officers reveals that whilst there is unanimous agreement that the withdrawal of MPA capability has resulted in significant gaps which should not be accepted, single-Service bias is clearly evident in some of the proposed solutions.
Therefore, if the UK is going to consider the case for the regeneration of a wide-area maritime patrol capability in the 2015 SDSR timeframe, the first challenge is to ensure that the capability does not, once again, fall between the cracks of single-Service in-fighting. Which Service ‘owns’ or ‘operates’ the future capability is far less important than ensuring that the UK actually has the capability at all. The UK should therefore start with the cross-Government development of a UK Maritime Security Strategy which, as this paper has outlined, will confirm the specific importance of the maritime environment to the UK national interest and the threats which the maritime environment presents. This will direct the cross-Government requirement for maritime situational awareness which, when combined with the military capabilities required to conduct ASW and ASuW, will determine which aircraft provides the most cost-effective solution and how this should be integrated into the force mix.

[My note: the lack of any apparent interest for counter-sea missions is evident not just in lacking doctrine but, obviously and consequently, in the equipment and capabilities. Example of this situation is the lack of any anti-ship missile beyond the ancient Harpoons of the Type 23s and the also obsolescent, small Sea Skua missile, helicopter launched. British submarines lost their sub-launched Harpoon variant already in 2003, and the last remains of air-launched heavy anti-ship capability vanished along with the Nimrod]

Given the UK’s vulnerability to maritime threats, which will only increase as the capability gap endures, and the limited window of opportunity to exploit the retention of maritime skills afforded through the ‘seedcorn’ initiative, it is the conclusion of this research paper that the regeneration of a sovereign MPA capability should be the highest priority for UK defence and national security.

Given the current financial constraints, and the Governments recent U-turn on the carrier strike capability, such a decision is not realistic before the next SDSR in 2015. However, much can be achieved in the meantime; for example, a holistic agreement of the capability required for UK maritime security, both within the MOD and across Government, will ensure that this vital capability does not, once again, fall between the gaps of single-Service in-fighting. Fundamental to this will be the clear articulation of the requirement for maritime patrol within joint doctrine, and appropriate ‘ownership’ of the requirement, potentially utilising the newly created Joint Forces Command.
The current position resulting from the decision to scrap the MRA4 was succinctly captured in written evidence provided to the HCDC following the SDSR:

‘...the SDSR has accepted inappropriate capability gaps which we believe cannot
. We are confident that they will be changed before the next defence review in
2015: they will be changed either by courageous decision and frank admission of error or they will be changed more cruelly by events, with all the risk which that implies.’

It can only be hoped that the inappropriate capability gap with respect to wide-area maritime patrol is changed by courageous decision, before events conspire to prove beyond doubt that the gap accepted as a ‘tolerable risk’ was indeed a ‘gamble which did not pay off’.

Please, when you have some time on your hands, follow the link and read the document to be given a very clear explanation of why the MPA gap needs to be closed, with the maximum urgency.

As should be entirely clear by now, i firmly believe that a capable Maritime Patrol Aircraftis the first priority of SDSR 2015.
Notoriously, there are a number of Off the Shelf MPA solutions from which we could choose, but in my opinion, most do not properly respond to the needs of the UK, as long as the foreign policy of the country remains as global and as muscular as it is. The armed forces clearly need to be built to operate far away from home, so whatever MPA solution is chosen it must offer the greatest possible mission range and endurance.
Ultimately, i believe the most interesting possible solutions are two: the P8A Poseidon and the Sea Hercules.

P8 Poseidon
I've already written extensively about the P8, with the most up to date information being condensed in this paper.
In this occasion i'll only summarize the reasons i see to pursue a Poseidon solution:

- The Poseidon has a large planned production run. 117 for the US alone, plus more for India and Australia. It will have the formidable backing of the USN, and this gives the UK the possibility to negotiate an agreement resembling the one signed for the Rivet Joint fleet: the UK's 3 Rivet Joints are supported as if they were part of the US fleet (of 17). This means a virtual single fleet of 20 aircrafts, which all get stripped down, refurbished and upgraded at regular intervals of four years. The UK sits at the table and is part of the decision making process on how to upgrade the system, on what capabilities to integrate and what improvements should be pursued.
A similar deal is particularly advantageous for the UK, as it ensures significant efficiencies and, moreover, a constant growth of the platform's capability, which keeps the pace of the US equivalent.
For the P8 it would be a bit more complex as the UK would, of course, want to integrate its own weaponry (Stingray torpedo first of all) but this should not be a show stopper.

- The Poseidon is a modern platform looking to the future. High altitude ASW operations, stand-off engagement of targets with gliding torpedoes and advanced technology for the detection of dangerous, silent diesel-electric subs is already on the way, to keep the platform relevant for many decades to come, even as new threats emerge such as submarine-launched anti-air missiles, which seem to be likely to become a real nightmare for low-flying ASW platforms in a not distant future.

- The Poseidon is not just a Maritime Patrol Aircraft. The US is developing for it a new powerful surface surveillance radar, the Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS). This huge podded radar, superior to even that used on the J-STARS, would make the P8 a more than suitable replacement not just for Nimrod, but for the Sentinel R1 as well, which could then be replaced without loss of capability, helping to finance the MPA purchase.

Concept art of a P8A Poseidon fitted with the long pod of the AAS radar system.

The main problem of the Poseidon solution is the high cost. Secondarily, the Poseidon would require
an integration campaign to add british systems (the Stingray at the very least). It would also be more than desirable to add a refueling probe (the P8A as of now only has a USAF-style fuel receptacle) to make it capable to refuel from RAF and NATO tankers.

Sea Hercules
The Sea Hercules made the news for the first time in 2011, when UK's Marshall first proposed to develop an MPA variant of the C130J, installing equipment taken from the Nimrod. In more recent times, Lochkeed Martin has started to market a more ambitious and detailed solution, which, it has been reported, has been offered to potential customers, including the UK.

The original Sea Hercules proposal by Marshall

The SC-130J Sea Hercules is an interesting proposal, albeit one that exists only on paper, at the moment.
The airplane would be fitted with radar, chin-mounted EO/IR turret, digital MAD boom, ESM, palletized rotary sonobuoy launchers, consoles for five mission operators and a mission system shaped on the proven SOA already flying today on the P-3 Orion. Under the wings, the Sea Hercules would have two large external fuel tanks and two pylons for the carriage of up to four Harpoon-class anti-ship missiles.
For the carriage of anti-submarine torpedoes, LM proposes the development of "sponsons" to be fitted to the fuselage, each containing, in an environmentally controlled bay, 3 torpedoes. The mission range and endurance is good, and exceeds that of the legacy P-3 Orion. Lochkeed Martin details that the Sea Hercules (with an unspecified mission payload of weapons and sonobuoys, though) would have an endurance of 4 hours at a range of 1325 nautical miles (against 4 hours at 1200 nautical miles for the P-3), or 8.3 hours at 940 nm, or 11.1 hours at 462 nm.

The current Sea Hercules improves radar integration, adds two under-wing pylons for anti-ship missiles and conformal sponsons containing environmentally controlled weapon bays for torpedoes. @Lochkeed Martin

The attractive things about the Sea Hercules are:

- The cost, both of acquisition and through life. There is no doubt that a Sea Hercules would cost a lot less than a P8 for hour of flight. Initial acquisition costs should also be much lower. Besides, it is an airplane the RAF already knows very well, with logistics already well established and with refueling probe already installed and working.

- The possibility that the existing RAF C130J airframes could be life-extended and fitted with the MPA kit, lowering even more the cost of the solution. Marshall, in the UK, could be part of the project, covering the life extension intervention and perhaps having a part in the installation of the mission systems. It might also be involved in the design of the sponson weapon bays.

- The retention of a number of C130J airframes for the MPA role could give renewed strenght to the rumored request of the Director Special Forces to retain a number of Hercules in the long term for the execution of future special operations, for which the A400 is apparently seen as unsuited because too large and too precious to risk so deliberately. While mainting a tiny number of C130s for the sole special forces wouldn't be cost effective, the preservation of a larger fleet of C130s busy in the two different roles would be much more realistic.

The Sea Hercules internal arrangements and mission endurance. Images Lochkeed Martin, text is mine.

There are problems regarding a Sea Hercules proposal as well, though. For example, while the C130J is currently expected to be in service worldwide out to 2045, there are risks that the type will age and progressively become less common and, as a consequence, less well supported.
In addition, while LM has great experience in putting complex, modular mission systems on C130s (the Harvest Hawk gunship kit for the USMC being a good example), they have not yet attempted anyhing quite as ambitious as the ASW full kit. The conformal weapon bays in particular would have to be developed from a clear sheet of paper, so that there are risks.
Moreover, the attractive option of using the C130J airframes that the RAF already owns could not be valid if the hard-worked aircrafts are assessed to be too worn out to make it cost-effective to life-extend and modify them.

The Sea Hercules modular's nature could allow the UK to select its own sensors and equipment, even re-using ex-Nimrod kit, but differently from what would reasonably happen with the P8, the UK might be more or less alone in the future when trying to upgrade and keep relevant a platform that, effectively, is born old under many aspects. Such long-term expense might prove too much for the UK alone.

These factors should be considered by the MOD in a honest, in-deep assessment of the possibilities. The Sea Hercules, at first glance, seem to offer excellent capability at a cost which is potentially extremely low compared to other alternatives, starting with the P8.
The retention of C130J as a MPA platform would also make it easier for the Special Forces to obtain the preservation of a few aircrafts in "Project Hermes" configuration, to serve as SOF flying taxi, while the A400 Atlas takes up the standard airlifiting job. This would help improve the insufficient tactical air transport capability as well.
Project Hermes is about moving the special forces gear (EO/IR turret, countermeasures, radios...) from the old SF C130K  onto the newer C130Js. The programme is unfortunately very late compared to the original schedule, because the Block 7 software upgrade for the C130J would not arrive. Finally, a RAF Block 7 aircraft is expected to fly this summer, signalling a much needed step in the right direction, especially since the last 8 remaining C130Ks have had their Out of Service date delayed, but only out to October.

On the other hand, the P8 is more modern and more forward-looking, and comes with the potential for very advantageous collaboration with the US. While the P8 would have no part in improving the tactical airlift capability, it would still deliver additional services along the much needed maritime ISTAR: fitted with the AAS radar, the P8 would fully replace the capability provided by the Sentinel R1 and indeed exceed it by a huge margin, allowing a consolidation of manned ISTAR platforms on fewer types.

In the future, besides, challenges lay ahead over the replacement of the aging E3D Sentry and also of the Rivet Joint. The P8 airframe might very well expand into those roles too.

Both platforms have a lot of merits. Probably, however, if the Sea Hercules could realistically be delivered at a really low cost, it would be the choice of the MOD. And it would not be bad at all.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Fuchs resurrection and a new MBDA concept for future weapons

Fuchs to resurrect? 

The Telegraph reports that, as part of a review into the Army's capability to deal with contingency scenarios (shaped, in this case, on Syria's situation), the defence chiefs have concluded that the early retirement of the armoured Chemical, Bacteriological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Reconnaissance Vehicles, the Fuchs, was a grave mistake. The MOD is now reportedly scrambling to find money from other voices of expenditure to re-direct on CBRN, to bring the Fuchs back out of storage and into an active role. 

If the Telegraph's information is correct, Rheinmetall's technicians have already been called in the UK to survey the storaged vehicles and overview their return to service. The 9 armored vehicles (from an original number of 11, gifted to the UK by Germany on the eve of the involvment in the first Gulf War) used to be operated by the soldiers of 1st Royal Tank Regiment as part of the Joint CBRN Regiment, formed by Army and RAF units. 

The Fuchs CBRN wide area recon / survey vehicle

The Joint CBRN Regiment was terminated in 2011, however, with the early withdrawal from service of the Fuchs and the passage of the whole CBRN role to the sole RAF Regiment (even if a small number of army and navy personnel continues to be part of the team). 
The Joint CBRN Regiment, born from the Labour-led Strategic Defence Review of 1998/99, was based in RAF Honington and comprised 1st Royal Tank Regiment (minus A Squadron), elements of the Royal Yeomanry regiment (Territorial Army), 27 Field Squadron RAF Regiment and 2623 Sqn
RAuxAF Regt. 

In December 2011, the Army moved out of the picture with the Regiment becoming the "Defence CBRN Wing", manned by the RAF Regiment. In the occasion, the Commandant General RAF Regt issued the following message to the Corps:

“On Tue 2 Aug 11, the Secretary of State for Defence agreed to the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) measure - subsumed by a PR11 Option - to delete the Joint Chemical Biological Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) Regt and transfer all of Defence’s specialist CBRN capabilities to the RAF Regt.

The key implications of this decision will be as follows: there will be no impact upon those capabilities currently provided by the RAF Regt (26 and 27 Sqns RAF Regt and 2623 Sqn RAuxAF
Regt, and the RAF will remain the Lead Service for CBRN); the wide area CBRN reconnaissance and survey capabilities, based upon the Fuchs armoured vehicle, will be gapped; all other capabilities currently provided by the Army element of the Jt CBRN Regt (the Multi Purpose Decontamination System, some of the Light Role Teams, and all command and control) will transfer to a wholly-RAF Regt manned Defence CBRN Wg, which will include 26 Sqn RAF Regt, 27 Sqn RAF Regt and 2623 Sqn RAuxAF Regt. Whilst there will be a modest increase to the RAF Regt
establishment, there will be a net reduction of 319 Army posts in the current specialist CBRN Force. The total saving to Defence will be £129 million over 10 years.

The Commander-in-Chief UK Land Forces informed 1 Royal Rank Regt (1RTR) personally yesterday of the decision to cease all Army involvement in specialist CBRN.
No decisions have been made on the future of 1RTR; this will be considered as part of the wider requirement to restructure the Army in light of the recent outcome of the ‘3-Month Exercise’, and is wholly a matter for the Army. 1 RTR will remain at RAF Honington for at least the medium term, while the transfer of capabilities takes place and their future is decided.

This decision brings to a conclusion a protracted period of intensive, sometimes understandably impassioned debate over the future provision of specialist CBRN capabilities for Defence. Detailed planning for the implementation of the measure will now commence.
This will be the responsibility of the AOC 2 Gp, on whose behalf I will develop plans for the appropriately timely transfer of operational command and control and operational capabilities, the continued delivery of which remains the Defence priority. This will be done in close cooperation with HQ Land (specifically, Director Royal Armoured Corps) to ensure that Army personnel matters are addressed positively and sensitively.

1RTR have made a quite extraordinary (and often largely unsung) contribution to Defence over the past 12 years. They have done so with all the exemplary professionalism and commitment typical of their proud heritage. It has truly been an honour to serve alongside them, and I know that all members of the RAF Regt will wish them every success in whatever the future may hold.

As for the RAF Regt, this decision will leave the Corps as the UK’s sole provider of specialist CBRN capabilities for Defence. Clearly, given the circumstances of the MOD’s preparedness to take risk against the deletion of the Fuchs capability in the context of a parlous financial climate, this is the right decision for Defence and it is not the time for inter-Service triumphalism. Be under no illusion that the responsibility placed upon the RAF Regt will be enormous and expectations will be high - we must deliver, and I know that we will, no matter what the challenges that lie ahead.”

The Defence CBRN Wing, which has taken over the number, nameplate and identity of 20 Wing, RAF Regiment, is composed by Wingg HQ, 26 Sqn RAF Regt, 27 Sqn RAF Regt, 2623 Sqn RAuxAF Regt, and a CBRN Operational Conversion Unit (OCU).
The transfer of capability from the Army elements of the Regiment to the RAF includes the formation of 6 new RAF-manned Light Role CBRN Teams (in addition to 2 that the RAF element already provided), the transfer of the Decontamination capability (with the Multi Purpose Decontamination Systems) and of the specilistic CBRN Command & Control capability. 

The 8 Light Role Team (LRT) is a strategically mobile, easily deployed self-sufficient CBRN investigation team. It is composed by 8 men, assisted by a bespoke Pinzgauer 6x6 vehicle fully loaded with CBRN Detection, Identification, Monitoring and Analysis Equipment.
The elements of kit retained to be used by the LRTs comprise both in service and Commercial Off The Shelf equipment, which can be dismounted and loaded onto other platforms. The team is self-sufficient for a period of 3 days, during which it can carry out up to three missions, each lasting up to 8 hours.

A Light Role Team showing off its kit

27 Squadron, Royal Air Force Regiment, holds the Integrated Biological Detection Systems (IBDS) platforms. The IBDS is a detection suite with atmospheric sampling equipment, a meteorological station, chemical agent detection and cameras for 360° surveillance, all housed in a rugged 14 feet container meant for quick air deployability. It can be airlifted by aircrafts and helicopters and ground-dumped or installed on a 4x4 truck. The system is operated by a team of four and comes with its own independent power supply, GPS, NBC filtration and environmental control unit for operation in all climates. 

Another fundamental piece of capability is the Multi-Purpose Decontamination System (MPDS), produced by Karcher. This is a high-pressure, high-temperature water/steam pump, installed on a water tank carried by a Leyland DROPS truck. It is used for the washing and decontamination of vehicles and has been upgraded with the installation of the Direct Application Decontamination System (DADS), which dispenses a decontaminant agent.
The small number of MPDS available brought to a UOR order on the eve of operation TELIC, with the purchase of the Bruhn Newtech/Cristinini Vehicle-Borne Decontamination Capability (VBDC). The system is actually a small, back-worn device that can be carried inside or outside a military vehicle and be employed by a single man to decontaminate the vehicle with the dispensing of BX24 (chlorine bleach) decontaminant through a telescopic brush.

The Defence CBRN Wing also provides two SIBCRA teams: Sampling and Identification of Biological, Chemical and Radiological Agents Military Sampling Team (SIBCRA MST) that are deployed globally to exploit CBRN programme/event scenes, recovering evidence and intelligence to approved analytical agencies in a safe & forensically-sound manner in order to support national strategic decision-making. Notably, the SIBCRA team from 26 Squadron RAF Regiment was in recent times involved in the british deployment of a Radiation Monitoring Team to the damaged nuclear power plant of Fukushima, in Japan (Op PEDIGREE, March 2011). 

The loss of the Fuchs, however, has severely reduced the capabilities of the CBRN force, so much so that a generalist "Detect and Warn" CRN capability, capable to operate on the line of fire, is to be provided by a suite of sensors installed on the FRES SV Scout.
The integration of such a CRN sensor suite on a non-specialized vehicle is a first, for the UK: it has not been done before on other vehicles. 

Scout will have three Radiological detectors - two external and one internal, that will have the ability to calculate the duration a crew will be able to stay in a Radiological hazard area without causing long term illness from the accumulated dose received. There will also be one internal and one external Chemical vapour detector with the ability to detect Toxic Industrial Chemicals.
The sensor suite is meant to create a CBRN report that can be quickly sent up the command ladder thanks to the advanced communications suite of the Scout vehicle. The timely transmission of such reports is meant to cue the intervention of specialist CBRN vehicles and survey teams. The CRN detection capability of the FRES Scout is not a replacement for the specialist kit found in the CBRN force, nor an appropriate replacement for the Fuchs's capability, but it will of course better protect the soldiers on the frontline and enable a faster response. 

The crucial fact remains the gap in capability caused by the retirement of the Fuchs. The highly mobile, armored wide area reconnaissance and survey capability is gone, and the MOD has been well aware of the gap, from the very start. 
Well before the Telegraph's article was written, i first heard of internal reviews and discussion within the MOD over the gravity of the gap introduced, so it is not really a surprise to hear that the Fuchs might be in for a resurrection. 

I very much hope it does return, it would correct one of many errors made in the rushed SDSR, when the need to find quick, easy savings ruled supreme. 

1st Royal Tank Regiment, having left the CBRN arena, is now engaged in a return to armoured warfare ahead of the merge with 2 RTR and the transformation in a single Type 56 Challenger 2 regiment in the Reaction Force. 
A Squadron is about to assume the 18-tanks structure envisaged as part of Army 2020, while the other squadrons are training to return to the Challenger 2, while also serving in exercises and experiments meant to refine the concepts of the new army organisation. Their flag is not planned to be lowered at Honington before next year, though, so one squadron still relatively "fresh" of work on the Fuchs could still be re-directed. 
Otherwise, the call might go out to the TA. 

An armed MALE for us, please   

It was in the air for quite some time, so the news that Dassault, EADS and Alenia are calling for the joint development of a new, european Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) unmanned vehicle is not surprising either. 
This, in a way, signals the failure of the bilateral UK/France, BAE/Dassault "TELEMOS" program. After a very promising start, the bilateral program had very quickly ran aground, with France opening the door to the other european aerospace industries and, at the same time, delaying the actual launch of the program. 
Expected to start already in the summer last year, now TELEMOS appears dead. The UK and BAE have been effectively sidelined, and now a choice will have to be made on wether to join in another european project; go alone, or buy US kit. 

All four nations have requirements (more or less clear) for weapon-capable MALE vehicles. Three of them (UK, Italy and now France) have selected the Reaper. Germany is thinking about it. 
Reaper is considered, more or less by everyone, an interim solution: in the UK it is still only a UOR, funded by Treasury funds that will dry up when operations in Afghanistan end. 
The RAF's Reapers could survive if they are included in the forces that the UK will continue to maintain in Afghanistan after the end of combat operations. When Herrick 21 ends, in 2014/15, all remaining british activities in the country will be known under the collective name Op TORAL. Mainly, it will be about training and the already famed "Sandhurst in the sand" accademy for the preparation of afghan officers. However, it has already been suggested that the Reapers could also stay in Afghanistan, flown by pilots based in Waddington, to ensure the safety of the british personnel and to offer support to the ANA.
The other option is bringing the Reaper into the core defence budget, as an interim (or perhaps even definitive) solution to the Scavenger requirement. It has been suggested that, in this case, the Reapers would not be cleared to fly in british airspace, so they would be stored in their deployment containers and all training would be done with simulators (or in the US, as happens now). The RAF could accept the Reaper as a final solution because it has built a facility in Waddington for their control from UK soil, and it has received support to employ weapons from them. Indeed, the US are helping the UK integrating the Brimstone missile, to replace the Hellfire currently employed.

Italy did not consider the Reaper as an "interim" capability when it purchased them, but now it has changed its mind, because the US have turned down the request to provide weapons for the italian unmanned air vehicles. 
France is ordering up to a dozen Reapers as well, but they will be strictly unarmed and flown from the US, so that they are considered only an interim stop-gap. 

Interesting times ahead: decisions will have to be taken.

A new concept weapon from MBDA 

MBDA has launched its Concept Weapon for the year 2013. The system this time is a vertical launch artillery missile, in two different variants, for use from ships and vehicle or even containerized launchers. The CVS 302 HOPLITE weapon system is formed by the HOPLITE L, weighting 135 kg and equipped with a multimode seeker and a boosted kinetic energy penetrator capable to defeat hardened targets, and by the HOPLITE S, a slightly lighter and simpler effect, with a simpler, non boosted kinetic energy penetrator and a LADAR (LAser raDAR) seeker. 

The missiles are capable of flying at a maximum speed of over Mach 3, granting them devastating kinetic power on impact and allowing them to fly out to 70 km in less than two minutes, flying low under the radar horizon, or to 160 kilometers in around four minutes at high altitude. 

The video shows the missiles fired by launch cells that resemble that of the CAMM air defence missile. In fact, a single Sylver VLS cell is shown filled with a HOPLITE quad-pack. The missile also appears to share the Cold Launch feature of the CAMM, as evidenced by the launch from the inside of a container and from the cargo flatbed of what appears to be a high mobility truck that very much reminds the Supacat platform originally intended for roles such as LIMAWS(G), LIMAWS(R) and FALCON.
The vehicle launcher is, again, remarkably similar to the CAMM vehicle launcher, with two independent blocks of missiles. The blocks are larger (8 missiles each instead of six) but otherwise identical, as appears identical the foldable, mast-mounted data link antenna. 

HOPLITE launchers: vehicle, palletized / containerized and quad-packed in a ship's VLS cell
The HOPLITE itself is apparently just marginally bigger than CAMM (the HOPLITE L is 3,75 meters long, while the HOPLITE S is 3.2 meters long, around as much as CAMM). Probably it is just longer, but with the same diameter and, consequently, same canister size. 

The concept is very interesting, but it is only a concept, and aimed "at the 2035". Every year MBDA launches a new concept, and this shows that good thinking is going on, but i would very much prefer to see a project adopted and brought forwards to actual delivery. 

Anyway, i see with pleasure that the Cold Launch feature is being exploited in the way i suggested already long ago, to enable the use of new weapons and systems from vehicles, containers and, that is my proposal for CAMM in particular, from helicopter-mobile pallets.  
The Cold Launch, the sensor-agnostic nature of the new weapon, the data link employed to cue them, are crucial features that enable "artillery and air defence in a box", with a lot of firepower packed tightly into a palletized, stand-alone launcher that can be deployed on ships, lifted onto vehicles, or carried under slung from a helicopter from ship to shore, for example, to quickly deploy air defence missiles around a beach during amphibious operations or in other scenarios where quick solutions with limited logistic footprint are necessary. 

HOPLITE is a promising sign that the advantages of CAMM's features are not going to stay limited to the sole air defence weapon. 
Quite a lot of possibilities at easy reach!