Saturday, December 23, 2017

The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme



The December issue of SOLDIER, magazine of the British Army, contains a brief article which reports the beginning of field trials with the prototypes of the upgraded Warrior family. This is an important and much awaited milestone, reached after a stormy programme review sparked by the difficulties encountered by Lockheed Martin UK in providing the modern turret with 40mm CTA gun. The programme accumulated a 12 months delay and an unspecified cost growth caused by the decision to fit the vehicle with a whole new turret instead of remanufactured ones.

The delay resulted in a 22% in-year saving in 2016/2017 as some activities could simply not progress and shifted to the right. The expected in-year expenditure of 87 million shrunk to 68. There is no indication yet of the extent of the long-term cost increase, however.



The first upgraded Warrior vehicles entered Factory Acceptance Tests earlier this year. In September it was reported that qualification trials were to begin in Bovington by the end of the year, and the schedule seems to have been more or less respected since then.
Lockheed Martin UK manufactures the new turret and also puts together the upgrade “kits” that turn the old Warrior into the new one.
Lockheed leads a team which includes: Ultra Electronics; the Defence Support Group; SCISYS (Electronic architecture); Rheinmetall Defence; Curtiss Wright (they supply the turret-drive servo system for the Ajax Scout turret. Their role with Warrior is the same); Thales UK (optics and Battlegroup Thermal Imaging system); Moog; Meggitt; CTA International (supplying the 40 mm CTA gun); Westwire; TKE; MTL and Caterpillar UK (support to the powerpack).
Rheinmetall is the supplier of the Ajax Scout turret structure, a derivative of their LANCE product, and for WCSP they were meant to rework the existing Warrior turret and adapt it to the new requirements. This is no longer the case, and a whole new turret is produced instead.
The difficulties encountered by the LM team vindicated BAE’s original warning and underline the validity of their offer, which was turned down: BAE had offered a whole new turret along.


DSEI 2017 

As well as manufacturing the new turret for WCSP, LMUK is also responsible for putting together the upgrade ‘kits’ that will refresh the vehicle’s protection as well as the platform’s electronic architecture.
The new turret and main gun are only the most visible of a series of modifications and upgrades. The CSP is the sum of multiple development programmes:

-          WFLIP (Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme) to improve turrets and sensors, and add firepower by changing the turret and gun;  
-          WMPS (Warrior Modular Protection System) to add a modular frame that takes note of the experience of Iraq and Afghanistan TES armor fittings and prepares the vehicle, PUMA-like, for easy and rapid installation of existing and future add-on armour packages when needed;
-          WEEA (Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture) to add a fully integrated set of modern, expandable electronics and communications gear;

For years, the CSP also included the Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle, a family of “turret-less” variants of the Warrior that should have been developed to finally replace the FV432 within armoured formations.


Warrior numbers  

The original production run of Warrior delivered:

- 489 FV510 Infantry Section Vehicle (105 of which are platforms for the mobility of ATGW teams, once with Milan, now with Javelin)
- 84 FV511 Infantry Command Vehicles
- 105 FV512 Mechanized Combat Repair Vehicles
- 39 FV513 Mechanized Recovery Vehicle (Repair)
- 52 FV514 Mechanized Artillery Observation Vehicles for the RA
- 19 FV515 Battery Command Vehicles for the RA

In the 90s, A standard armoured infantry battalion of the British Army was expected to use some 63 Warriors:

- 47 FV510 Infantry Section Vehicles (including those kitted for ATGW transport role)
- 9 Infantry Command Vehicles (these are turreted and armed but have a completely different arrangement in the back)
- 4 FV513
- 3 FV512

A number of Warrior recovery and repair are found within MBT regiments, REME battalions and AS90 artillery formations. The Battery Command Vehicles are no longer in use and some were hastily converted into ambulances in Afghanistan for the armoured company group.

In its early years, WCSP was meant to upgrade 643 of the original vehicles with WEEA electronics and WMPS modular armoring upgrades. Within that group, 449 vehicles were to get WFIP program’s new turret and weapon system as well.

The SDSR 2010, however, drastically reduced the number of armoured infantry battalions, from 9 to 6, and that number has then been further slashed to just 4 for Army 2020 Refine.

In 2014 the NAO reported that the “affordable fleet” was down to 565 Warrior vehicles, 445 of which would be picked for getting upgrades under WCSP. 65 of those 445 vehicles would have been converted in APCs and Ambulances under ABSV, while the remaining 380 would consist of around 250 Section vehicles with turret and 40mm gun, with the balance made up by Recovery and Repair and Artillery Observation vehicles.

ABSV was ultimately split from WCSP, initially to “become its own Category A (400+ million pounds in value) programme” under the main budget heading “Armoured Infantry 2026”. This happened in the 2014/15 financial year.
The latest Major Project spreadsheet published by the MOD, however, which was released in July this year but is, as customary, current to 30 September of the previous year, shows that the “Armoured Infantry 2026” budget has reduced to 1612,72 million from 2176,45 million in the previous report. A note in the sheet says that ABSV was “removed” in the Annual Budget Cycle 2016, giving no other indication about the future of this vital requirement.

As result of all these passages, WCSP has been almost halved in scope, with 380 vehicles now expected to be upgraded, with 245 of these being in the turreted IFV configuration.


“Warrior 2” and ABSV

Once upgraded, the vehicles change denomination:

FV510 becomes FV520
FV511 becomes FV521

And so along. The Army has also assigned:

FV525 to the Warrior Ambulance variant
FV526 to the Warrior APC variant

Prototypes of such turretless variants have been seen already back in the 90s, when Alvis was still active. In more recent times BAE Systems has showcased a Mortar Carrier sub-variant of the Warrior APC, and an Engineering variant, able to serve as breaching and bridging vehicle has also been developed and trialed.



The ABSV requirement is ancient and its history is one of constant deaths and resurrections and uncertainty and delays. In 1995, the UK MoD had formalized its requirement for a new vehicle called the Multi Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) which was meant to replace the FV432 family; Saxon (4 × 4) armoured personnel carriers and those elements of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family which would have not been supplanted by the then Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement (TRACER). TRACER eventually died, supplanted by FRES, then FRES SV, now Ajax. MRAV is most commonly remembered because in 1999 the MOD joined the Boxer 8x8 programme and then cancelled it.

The original turretless Warrior, when Alvis Vickers was still a thing. 

Today's BAE Systems ABSV Mortar Carrier 

The Engineer Warrior, which could also fullfil the requirement for a medium weight assault engineering capability which used to be part of FRES SV but did not make it into Ajax 

MRAV, however, was not meant to result in a single vehicle family, but in two: M1P1 was tracked and also known as ABSV; M2P2 was the wheeled element, which became Boxer, then FRES UV and now is attempting to come back under the name MIV.
More than 20 years completely wasted, and the solution to the problem is still not in sight. ABSV, following the unclear ABC2016 decision, is in a particularly worrisome position while MIV might end up being Boxer all over again.

For the development trials, LM must deliver seven FV520s (section vehicle); two FV521s (infantry command vehicles); one FV522 (repair); one FV523 (recovery); and one FV524 (artillery observation vehicle).

The first company group equipped with the upgraded Warrior was expected to achieve IOC during 2020, but this might now have slipped to the right by as much as a further year.


Clear as mud

British Armed forces management is clear as mud. It is not a new discovery, but the sheer complexity and intricacy of the story of every programme never fails to amaze. It would take ages to follow all the name-changes and chair-shifting that have happened over the decades, and this is not the aim of this article.

It is however instructive to try and track the evolution of the budget allocation for the main armoured vehicles programmes in just the last few years to see how dishonest and murky the whole process is. Since the MOD refuses to reveal numbers or even detail exactly what requirements are included in the Equipment Programme, it is pretty much impossible to ensure any form of true accountability. I’ll go back just four years in this brief travel through the dishonesty of a government which wants to murk the waters so that cuts can not only be ordered, but hidden away in the countless folds of the programme.

In 2014 the Army had a massive overarching programme known as “Mounted Close Combat” which covered everything from Challenger 2 to Warrior and from Ajax to Mechanized Infantry Vehicle. That monster programme had a budget of 17.251 billion, spread out to the project end date of 31/12/2033.

Obviously, as a single programme its scope was way too vast and so it was split into four separate components going into 2015.

“Armoured Cavalry 2025” chiefly covers the acquisition and entry into service of the Ajax family of vehicles, to culminate by 30/04/2025 in a completely renewed Armoured Cavalry capability.

“Armoured Infantry 2026” includes chiefly the Warrior CSP, but not only that. There is the enduring problem of replacing FV432 as well, with the ancient vehicle having a notional OSD of 2026.

“Armour MBT 2025” covers the delivery of life-extended MBT capability to be fully operational by 2025.

“Mechanized Infantry 2029” covers the renewal of this other area, with FOC in 2029 and with the main focus being MIV.

In 2015 the MOD included only Armoured Cavalry and Armoured Infantry in the list of the major active programmes, so no detail at all was available about the other components. The Cavalry component had a budget of 6831,53 million; the armoured infantry a budget of 2176,45 million. Thanks to the NAO’s own report, the last one of its kind, unfortunately, we learn that Warrior CSP aimed for 445 vehicles in total, including 65 “Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicles”, aka converted, turret-less hulls to replace FV432 with. The report, however, noted that the ABSV requirement is larger than 65 vehicles and the army envisaged a greater procurement effort, including more variants. A delay of two years to the ABSV element was anticipated, and once implemented it was decided that ABSV will be its own Category A (aka, worth over 400 million) project, separated from WCSP proper.

The report published this year, and which actually details the year 2016, has the Armoured Cavalry pricetag reduced to 6248 million thanks to vaguely described “cost saving measures” including an extended Initial In-Service Support Contract for Ajax. Good news, in theory. In practice, we don’t know what elements of capability were traded out to make it happen.
Armoured Infantry also drops, all the way down to 1612,72 million, to be expended out to 31/12/2026. In this case, the budget has shrunk because ABSV was “removed as a direct cost-saving measure in the Annual Budget Cycle (ABC) 2016”. There is no way to tell whether the removal is permanent or not, and if, when and how we can expect ABSV to reappear. Is the 2015 plan of making it its own programme later on still on the cards? The FV432 still definitely needs replacement, but we are given no clue of what’s happening.

Together, these two changes amount to almost 1150 million which have shifted around / vanished. With no fanfare, no real way to assess how bad the damage is.

Armour MBT 2025 gets finally reported, with a budget line of 744,79 million to be expended between 04/12/2014, start date, and 01/06/2026, current end date.

Mechanized Infantry 2029 remains unreported as it is still in very early stages, with little to no money allocated to it yet. A Written Answer to Parliament has since disclosed that MIV is now in the assessment phase, with a budget of 9 million, for “confirming the optimum fleet mix and delivery sequence”.
I’m tempted to offer a comment about the need for 9 million to determine what should be, really, the very basis of the requirement, but it wouldn’t be kindly worded.

There is still a lot of money left to get to the over 17 billion originally attached to the MCC, but tracking all movements is difficult if not impossible. It is not even possible to determine whether the Multi Role Vehicle – Protected budget is included within this macro budget area or whether it sits under another heading. We might get some information about it, but probably not before July 2018, when a new spreadsheet will make it possible to track the changes enacted during the year that is now ending.


Active Protection Systems

APS technologies can include ‘soft-kill’ defences that jam or decoy the seeker of incoming missiles; and ‘hard-kill’ solutions that intercept an incoming projective with an effector fired from the vehicle itself.
The Army has two ongoing programmes that aim to have pan-fleet applicability: one is MEDUSA, and is looking at how Soft Kill defences could be adopted on british armoured vehicles. The other is ICARUS, which is examining Hard Kill defences.
The studies will run out to 2019, and include equipment trials, some of them already ongoing on Challenger 2. ICARUS should eventually lead to a UK sovereign Modular, Integrated Protection System (MIPS) electronic architecture (EA) that will enable the installation of sensors and effectors (both soft and hard) as required.

MEDUSA trials have already seen Rheinmetall’s ROSY rapid obscurant system tested on a Challenger 2, while a wider test campaign revolves around the integration of the soft-kill Multifunction Self-Protection System (MUSS), manufactured by Hensoldt and already installed on the german PUMA IFVs.

In November this year the Israeli IMI company revealed that a Challenger 2 has also been fitted with the Iron Fist Heavy: this APS is a hard-kill system that destroys incoming missiles before they can hit the tank. It uses "mini-missiles" that are fired against the incoming threat and that should be safer for accompanying allied infantry than the well know Trophy, which uses blasts of pellets. 

Obviously, both programmes could have a major impact on the future of Warrior’s survivability.


The new armoured infantry capability

As of August 2016 the Army was still expecting to get an ABSV to support the “new” Warrior. The importance of this supporting vehicle cannot be overstated. In particular, the Army hopes that ABSV will finally remedy to a capability gap which is rarely mentioned yet is particularly damaging: the complete absence at present of a mobile, fire-under-armour anti-tank missile capability. An ATGW sub-variant of the ABSV APC is a desire the Army has had for years. The last time it dared mentioning it in public was in 2014 when, with remarkable and sadly misplaced optimism, the colonel in charge for armoured vehicles procurement envisaged a 2019/20 entry in service for ABSV. This now seems very unrealistic, and we don’t even know whether ABSV is still alive at all.

Capability-wise, WCSP will deliver a vehicle which is far more lethal and far more aware of its surroundings.
A new Main Engine Generator will provide 1200 amps for the various on-board systems and all variants will be fitted with Auxiliary Power Units to enable silent running. A new battery management system is meant to prevent increased demand from draining batteries dry while a Health and Usage monitoring System (HUMS) should make maintenance easier.

Renewed environmental control makes the vehicle more suited to extreme climates, and the adoption of mine-blast resistant seats improves survivability for the occupants.

Local situational awareness will be provided by six Local Situational Awareness Cameras (LSAS) distributed around the vehicle.
The driver will receive improved vision hatches, forward day & Thermal Imaging camera (SELEX ES Driver’s Night Vision System 4 (DNVS4)) and rear day & low light feed to aid manoeuvre.
An Elbit Instro CRONUS Thermal Imager Gunner Sight is provided for the gunner, with an automatic “cue to slew” function for improved target acquisition. The commander has a Thales Catherine BGTI REO/IR system. The new turret for the Warrior is now LM UK’s baseline Export Turret which is being offered for export. Inside it is more spacious and rationally organized and it offers greater survivability thanks to the under-armour storage of ammunition of the CTA gun.
Local Situational Awareness information, from navigation to imagery feed from the CRONUS and LSAS cameras, will be accessible to both the crew and dismounts in the back thanks to new displays.

Lethality sees the most dramatic uplift of all, as the Warrior goes from the non-stabilized RARDEN 30mm to the new 40mm CTA gun in a fully stabilized installation capable of accurate fire on the move.
The existing L94 chain gun remains as coaxial weapon. The cannon fires two ammunition natures; Armour Piercing Fin Stabilised Discarding Sabot (APFSDS) and a dual function General Purpose Round (GPR), with Air Burst (AB) and Point Detonation (PD) settings. The APFSDS round provides penetration of well armoured targets: the most optimist say that the CTA can take out anything less protected than a T-72. The RHA penetration value is given at 140 – 150 mm at 1500 meters.
GPR-AB will provide suppression and neutralisation out to 2000m.
For training purpose there is a Target Practice Tracer Round (TP-T) that does not have terminal explosive effect and associated hazards.

2012 images by LM. They should still be representative of the design, but probably not up to date

There are 70 rounds ready to fire in the ammunition handling system.
Made by Meggitt, it is composed by a translator, which holds 15 rds, and the magazine holding 55. At least 30 more rounds can be loaded internally through the turret, and the AHS identifies the type of round using colour bands on the case. It can cycle up to 400 rounds per minute, so selection of effects is not an issue. The AHS sits outside of the manned spaces of the turret, along the right side, so the crew is protected by a layer of armor and spall liner.



The power train remains the same with an option to upgrade, and this is the one weakness of an otherwise ambitious programme. The upgraded Warrior, at nearly 28 tons in combat order, once fitted with the roughly 10 tons of the WRAP 2 add-on armour package will max out its existing powerpack and will rapidly begin to grow limited in speed and agility.

The armoured infantry section is going down from 10 to 9 men, which actually means from 7 to 6 dismounts, since the others are the Warrior IFV’s crew. The Warrior loses a dismount seat in the upgrade, as new blast-protected seating and situational awareness troop compartment screen take away precious space.


FV524

Another enduring mystery is what exactly will happen with the Artillery Observation Post variant (FV514, to become FV524). The WCSP does not include mission-specific upgrades for this variant, which is by now obsolescent and which has to literally be transformed from an old school vehicle for the observation of the fall of artillery shots into a Joint Fires Control platform capable to direct precision air strikes as well as artillery and mortar fire. The FV514 has a turret, but the 30 mm gun is a dummy. It is not clear if under WCSP it will get the new turret, but without gun, or at least a "make up" to make its existing turret indistinguishable from that of upgraded Warriors IFVs. It is obvious that if it keeps the dummy Rarden gun and the current turret shape, it will stick out like a sore thumb among the upgraded and much different Warriors amongst which it is supposed to hide from enemy attention.

The Royal Artillery is responsible for developing and funding a new, up to date mission package of sensors and communications that will enable the direction of artillery fire and air support from under armour.
The RA has been experimenting possible solutions since 2010 / 11 if not from earlier, but it is not at all clear if it has the money to fund the upgrade.


The Royal Artillery has been working to define the mission equipment for the FV524, but the status of this particular upgrade remains uncertain 

If the upgrade can’t be embodied into the WCSP production phase, it will have to follow it, and this means, at best, that it would happen in the 2020s, and it would come into service near 2030, way too late.
Worse, if the RA package of upgrades can’t be funded at all, the FV514 risks being close to useless.
Moreover, since one of the Ajax sub-variants is equipped for Joint Fires Control (we don’t yet know exactly how, however), the opportunity of pushing on with the FV524 is questionable. Maybe purchasing more Ajax Joint Fires would provide an easier, more straightforward solution to the problem.


Battlefield implications

Armoured Infantry units are contemplating the possibility of more frequently operating without MBT support. Fire on the move capability, greater range and increased armour penetration coupled with better sensors will enable Warrior to hide less and fight more.
This could become more feasible if ABSV progressed and delivered that much-desired ATGW under-armour variant that would enable Warriors to take a much more aggressive approach in the field.  
The enhanced thermal imaging capability of the vehicle, in addition to local situational awareness and to the infantry’s own improved Night Vision capability (through visors and FIST weapon sights), is likely to also increase the focus on night manoeuvres.
The Warrior coming out of CSP will be a “real” fighting vehicle and can expect an increase in tempo and pace of operations. It will be asked to contribute more.

WCSP modular mounting frame for WRAP 2 side elements is tested 

The full WRAP 2 and Theatre Entry package 

A lot depends on FV524 and on ABSV. The ability to call in and accurately direct supporting Fires from under-armour is obviously of utmost relevance, while the availability of supporting vehicles, from ambulances to mortar carrier and ATGW, will determine the true capabilities of the AI formations.


Training implications

The CTA 40mm gun hits harder and further away. This will complicate training and require upgrades to the current AFV ranges. The new gun has a shorter shelf life, and that is true for ammunition as well. The latter is also considerably more expensive.
When added to the greater complexity of scenarios for which Warrior crews will need to prepare (see “battlefield implications”) means that training will have to change and adapt. The use of simulation will increase even further, both to save money and to give the crews the chance to face complex battle scenarios.


Wild proposals and “MIV for everything”

A proposal that sometimes surfaces in discussions about the future of the British Army is that of using Ajax as an IFV, binning WCSP. This is a rather wild idea, that does not seem to have any root in official thinking, and for good reasons: it is pretty much impossible to convert the existing Ajax into an IFV. The space in the back is more or less nonexistent. Obviously it would be possible to develop an IFV variant with logistical commonality to the Ajax, but that would not save anything. The easiest way to do it would be to adopt an unmanned, remotely operated, non-hull penetrating turret, which would free up all the space needed. That is what the germans did with their PUMA, or the Americans did with the new 30mm gun turret for Stryker.
It is not impossible per se, but would require a new contract, a new development phase, and new vehicles, or at least a complex renegotiation of the contracts for both the hulls and the turrets.




Another proposal revolves around MIV. What if ABSV was cancelled in favor of more MIVs? This one is a far more realistic proposal, and in theory it could well happen. In general I would not recommend mixing wheels and tracks: the Army itself reaffirmed this basic truth in its Agile Warrior studies. On the other hand, though, it seems pacific that modern 8x8 retain excellent off road mobility and it can be assumed that MIV-based variants could support Warrior well enough. It would be a compromise, obviously, but everything tend to be. The closest thing worldwide to a MIV-Warrior combination is seen in the Netherlands, where Boxer was procured specifically (and only) to replace supporting vehicles, including the tracked M577. The Netherlands never acquired the Boxer as APC for their infantry.
The advantage would be that the various sub-variants would only need to be developed once.
Obviously, a Warrior-based ABSV would share the exact same logistic tail and the exact same mobility as Warrior. It is also hard to imagine that converted Warrior hulls, which will be available in the hundreds, could ever cost the same as, or more than, new MIVs. In theory, converting “surplus” Warrior hulls remains the logical and cheap approach.

There is also another option, which is “MIV for everything”, with the Warrior CSP cancelled and MIV used as replacement, with the turrets ordered for Warrior being installed on MIV hulls instead.
 The examples of wheeled IFVs employed within armoured brigades alongside tracked MBTs are much more numerous: Russia and France spring to mind.
It would be embarrassing to end the WCSP now, after spending more than 200 millions and entering deals with multiple companies, but until the Manufacture contract isn’t agreed there is, in theory at least, the chance to go with this radical approach.
Can the existing contracts be renegotiated without huge negative impacts on the budget and on timelines?
Does the money suffice to purchase enough MIVs, and in all the sub-variants that are required?
If the answer to both questions was to be “yes”, the idea would not be insane. As always it would be a compromise, but not a bad one.


When Warrior was proposed for everything

Note that no one knows for sure how many MIVs the Army expects to procure. Four battalions are expected to be equipped with MIV, exactly the same number of units that will be getting Warrior CSP. Unsurprisingly, one estimate of the number of MIVs to be ordered is around 350.
However, much higher numbers have made the news: when the press reported that the army wanted to fast-track a 3 billion pounds deal for Boxer, for example, the number given was 800. That number is far higher than what is required for 4 battalions. It must be said that the expectation is that MIV will include more sub-variants, which in Warrior’s case are covered by FV432 now and by ABSV, assuming it materializes, in the future. MIV could probably include an ambulance for the medical regiments and a mortar carrier used to be part of the requirement.
It is also true, however, that 800 continues to sound too high a number. In addition, the Army 2020 Refine papers suggest that Mastiff will remain in the longer term as a supporting vehicle to MIV, and the variants of the Multi Role Vehicle – Protected might also help in some areas.

The Army still doesn’t seem able to decide where these closely related programmes meet, where they overlap, and where one could replace the other.
But maybe there is a part of the Army that already thinks that MIV should take the place of Warrior. So long as it didn’t result in further battalions being left mounted in nothing but boots, it could be a solution. It is very much time to take decisions and then stick to them, however. 20 years of expensive doubts and rethinks and U-turns have caused more than enough damage already.  




26 comments:

  1. Fantastic work again Gabriele as always.

    Rather than the latter option of doing away with Warrior and going all MIV, what about doing away with MIV and going all Warrior/ABSV?
    Could that be an option?
    That would of course mean no 'Stike' brigades but would that be a bad thing???
    There are plenty of Warrior hulls knocking around and surely it would be alot cheaper to convert them than spend 3mil a unit on Boxer???
    I personally would rather 3 armoured brigades with Ajax/Chally upgrade /Warrior upgrade/absv/AS90 upgrade.

    I suppose all the UOR stuff (mastiff etc) could be placed into 1 or 2 brigades to form decent mechanised units perhaps aswell??

    Kind regards

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    1. That is another option, and i'm tempted to say i prefer it too. You probably know that i'm far from convinced by the whole strike brigade thing.

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    2. Brilliant LJ. Mud in Flanders done for us 100 years ago, did for Napoleon at Waterloo and Hitler in Russia. Make tracks not wheels.

      Delete
  2. Its certainly a preference of mine, especially given the financial issues that are present at the moment.
    I think for the next ten years concentrate on getting 3 armoured brigades fully up to strength then go from there.
    Once they are sorted maybe move on to an 8x8 and form strike after.
    We just cant afford to do it all now.
    At a 1mil a unit average cost we could convert a very large number of Warrior/ABSV. MIV is big bucks if you buy anywhere near what we need

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  3. From MikeW:

    Gaby

    Massively impressive article. So knowledgeable, well researched and detailed.

    I think that if such an article has appeared in “Soldier” magazine, which is after all, the main periodical/journal serving the British Army, then it must be a near certainty that Warrior CSP will enter service. Not of course conclusive evidence but the Army/MOD will not wish to deceive their soldiers about the direction of travel, will they?

    I have been uncertain myself as to which route should be taken. I have seen other arguments on blogsites, etc. and one especially which impressed me recently. It ran along lines that the Challenger 2 LEP programme and the Warrior CSP programmes should both be cancelled and the money spent instead on variants of AJAX to form a really modern armoured force. It was argued so ingeniously and that I was temporarily persuaded. However, I could not make the sums add up, mainly because of lack of information about what new vehicles would cost. The new IFV version of Ajax that GD has already developed (with an extended crew compartment and an extra set of road wheels) is still at a very early stage of development and has not yet been proven. It will also no doubt be costly. The Warrior 2 the other hand, as Gaby says, already entered Factory Acceptance Tests earlier this year and qualification trials are to begin in Bovington by the end of the year. It may be that it is already too late to change, especially if there are penalty clauses to be encountered.

    So I think that I would go along with Luke Jones’ eminently sensible suggestions. His comments are succinct and incisive, going to the heart of the matter, which is affordability. As he puts it: “Rather than the latter option of doing away with Warrior and going all MIV, what about doing away with MIV and going all Warrior/ABSV?” That would mean no Strike Brigades being formed in the immediate future (I think for the next four years, say, rather that Luke’s ten) but they are a good idea, and when we can afford the Strike concept, we should attempt to form at least one brigade. In the meantime, the sensible idea is to build up our armoured brigades “with Ajax/Chally upgrade /Warrior upgrade/absv/AS90 upgrade.”

    As an amendment to that, we could perhapstry forming an experimental smaller Strike formation (say, of battlegroup size, with new 8 x8 MIVs, to see how it worked and how the vehicles performed. Gaby, of course, would say that that was going about it in an “half-arsed way”!

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    Replies
    1. You might remember that i wrote recommendations to better exploit the great air mobility capabilities the UK has (from C-17 to the vast Chinook fleet). Well, a highly mobile and deployable wheeled battlegroup would complement that quite nicely. Air-Mechanization has been a feature of some of the most successful operations in Afghanistan and Mali, and could be a good starting point.

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  4. Gabriele, excellent article.
    The army has a track record of getting it wrong on the vehicle front. I would think using the spare warriors and forgetting MIV would make sense.
    I do like the idea of buying some MIV's and using them in 3 CDO and 16AA. As suggested at battle group strength.
    But I don't hold out any hope of the army doing anything that makes sense or is affordable.
    Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

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  5. I would scrap it all and just buy a family of 8x8s and a family of 4x4s. At this rate we will have one MBT and two MICVs to back it up sometimes in the mid 2050s. The defence industry have gone from making money in support, to making money from dragging out implementation, and buying off politicians and ex-senior forces with cushy jobs. We need to concentrate on the navy, airforce, and implementing a proper border force, and remember that WW1 and WW2, though terrible were exceptions when it comes to defending our island home.

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  6. From MikeW:

    Gaby

    You say: “The Warrior loses a dismount seat in the upgrade, as new blast-protected seating and situational awareness troop compartment screen take away precious space.” The “Soldier Magazine article says that “interior space has been decluttered, significantly improving comfort for the crew.” Is that only because “The armoured infantry section is going down from 10 to 9 men, which actually means from 7 to 6 dismounts.” So is the actual interior space smaller or larger? If it is smaller, what happens if we get money for extra personnel and the cut from from 7 to 6 is restored? The Warrior2 should be planned for well into the future, should it not?

    The other point concerns the question of cancelling ABSV was in favour of more MIVs? I don’t know whether you have seen the report emanating from the “Telegraph” (today?) that hundreds of eight-wheeled mechanised infantry vehicles(MIVs) are likely to be acquired, without being put out to competition. The article adds that the vehicle to be chosen chosen is likely to be Rheinmetall’s “Boxer”.

    Now, on the one hand, Boxer has many more variants already developed and a large number of variants is absolutely essential if the Strike Brigades are to be successful. (Boxer could even solve the wheeled howitzer support problem because Donar can be fitted to it.).. The vehicle is also battle-proven. On the other hand, we shall be getting an older vehicle. I was astonished when I read in your article how far back Boxer goes: “MRAV is most commonly remembered because in 1999 the MOD joined the Boxer 8x8 programme and then cancelled it.” Surely it would be advantageous to choose a newer vehicle, in order to update the fleet?

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    1. I'm guessing that the truth, as always, sits somewhere in the middle. They have probably improved the arrangements in the troop compartment, but space cannot exactly increase unless the hull is lenghtened or the turret ring narrowed, and none of the two is happening. Add in the fact that in general today's soldiers are bigger than in the past and carry more equipment and a reduction in the number is not surprising. The new USMC 8x8 provides a good idea of how a modern IFV / APC is sized: they want it to be comfortable for the "95 percentile" soldier, which means accommodating big guys. The vehicle is massive.

      As for Boxer, i don't think purchasing it is a good idea. There are a few variants developed for it, but if you go check the list it is not impressive. There are other contenders which have been developed in far more variants. Boxer does not have a mortar variant; the engineer variant is little more than a transport for the engineers and their explosives and that leaves command, APC, IFV recently added.

      The British Army had initially selected Boxer in 1999 and cancelled it by 2003, indeed. Personally i would never want to go back to it. To my eyes, it would be pretty embarrassing.

      I saw the Telegraph report, but i'm not sure whether it is based on any new information. It looks to me like they are going around in circles, with fears born out of the original reports having never been adequately dispelled.

      Delete
  7. From MikeW:

    Hi Gaby

    You mention at one point near the end of your article: “Another proposal revolves around MIV. What if ABSV was cancelled in favor of more MIVs?” As you say, it’s certainly one that could happen in theory. However, I thought that I would put forward another theory that you and others might think verges on the ludicrous. Is it beyond the realms of possibility that the Bulldog version of the FV432 series could be asked to soldier on in the ABSV role? Yes, I know that it an almost fifty year-old vehicle but the Bulldog is a refurbished version of the 432, with new power pack, transmission and other improvements. Not only that but it already has a mortar version and an ambulance version in service. If you subscribe to the theory that an armoured vehicle could essentially be a steel box to which things can be added, then is it absurd to say that Bulldog could still fit the bill? I hasten to add that it would not be my choice.

    I saw a comment on a blogsite the other day (and I can’t for the life of me think where) which suggested that the Bulldog/FV432 was basically a superior vehicle to the Warrior. I did a bit of a double take when I read that! It is, after all 25 years older than Warrior and I don’t know specifically to which characteristics that writer was referring but is there anything in the argument? Not directly following on from the previous point but have you heard anything to the effect that Warrior was having problems with its lamination (I presume that refers to its armour). Does it have laminated armour? I don’t even know! Any help would be appreciated.

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    1. Even in the best of cases FV432s would be operational out to 2026, which means close to another decade. Could they be stretched even further...? Yes and no. Yes as in, if ABSV does not progress it will have to keep going. No as in, it really shouldn't.

      The comment about FV432 being "better" than Warrior is probably outdated and taken wildly out of contest. It was true, kind of, for a while when the up-armoured, upgraded Bulldog APC was put into service in Iraq. Carrying a full section of infantry made it somewhat "superior" in the scenario to Warrior, but other than that...?

      Delete
    2. Speaking as someone who is in a unit equipped with FV432's (ambulance variant), even with the Bulldog upgrade they desperately need replacing. They require a ludicrous amount of maintenance, are extremely prone to breaking down, and are slow (especially when uparmoured with Theater entry kits, anecdotally I've heard of Iraqi's on Bicycles outpacing uparmoured Bulldogs). In terms of Brigade level Mobility the Bulldog is a massive handicap, and the only reason they are still in use with us is because we just don't have anything that is tracked and can support armoured formations.

      I think I saw the comment you refer too as well Mike, someone claiming that the hulls of Warriors where in worse state than Bulldogs hulls due to the way they where made, honestly that was the first and only time I'd heard that theory put forwards, and I've never heard it from people working with them so I take it with a massive grain of salt.

      MR

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    3. From MikeW:

      @Anonymous (5.41pm)

      Many thanks for your reply. It is most useful as it comes from someone serving at the moment and with first-hand experience of the vehicle concerned.

      Actually it confirms my view that the British Army’s vehicle fleet is in a truly parlous state. Little wonder really as both manpower and kit have suffered from the most atrocious and cynical treatment by governments for decades now but especially over the last decade. O.K, so we have a deficit to get down but what about looking for other areas of expenditure in which cuts can be made, instead of making the easy ones in areas where those serving cannot really protest?

      Glad you saw the same comment, Anonymous, and like you, I shall take similar stories with a huge grain of salt.

      On the subject of the proposal that Gaby mentions (not his proposal) to cancel ABSV in favor of more MIVs. As he says, this is a realistic proposal, and “in theory it could well happen”. Like him, though, in general I would not be in favour of mixing wheels and tracks too much. It would probably work better if introducing modern wheeled 8 x 8s, with their vastly improved tyre technology and excellent off-road mobility, etc., into essentially armoured tracked formations, rather than the other way around (as in the rather bizarre proposal to mix wheeled and tracks in the Strike Brigades, where speed by road seems to be of the essence.

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    4. @MikeW

      No worries. I think parlous might be a bit of an overstatement though. The Bulldog is by far the oldest and most tired piece of kit going, even the venerable Land Rovers are not as old as the 432's. What I feel is more irritating is as we are cutting down on capabilities and not replacing old systems in need of replacing we are looking at shiny new projects (cough MIV) that we don't *really* need. I'm in favour of cleaning up our house and getting everything in order before building an annex you know?

      Unlike you and Gabi however I'm very ambivilent about Wheels and Tracks being mixed in the same unit. To be fair I think this is a very REMF point of view that I have (I'm coming to the end of my first posting in a Medical Regiment so maybe Teeth Arms units will correct this view?) but so far most units I've worked with or been in have had some sort of Track/Wheel mix. If MIV ends up being used as a solution to replacing the Bulldog then at I'll take it over nothing, though we'd prefer ABSV since it's "proper armour."

      MR

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    5. Well, MAN SV, Landies and Panther are everywhere and are wheeled, yes, but that's still not quite the same as having the mortars and HQ completely on wheel running behind the infantry in Warriors.

      Delete
    6. From MikeW

      Hi Anonymous

      Yes, I might have overstated the condition of the British Army’s vehicles by describing them as “in a parlous state”. I was perhaps too swayed by seeing a Warrior at a Plymouth military show, which was in a condition which can only be described as ghastly. Bits of metal falling off etc. I suppose it is not surprising that the FV432s/Bulldogs are so tired. Look at the years on them.

      I would agree with you entirely when you say “I'm in favour of cleaning up our house and getting everything in order before building an annex you know?" That’s why I think the the Challenger LEP, the Warrior CSP, the ABSV programme and the upgrading of AS90 to the Braveheart standard are essential to give our heavy armour a respectable capability. That must surely come before spending billions on shiny new 8 x 8s (if that’s what you meant), although when we can afford them, they would be nice.

      I would imagine that in medical units, you often use wheeled vehicles alongside tracked without any detriment to performance (e.g. Land Rover ambulances alongside Bulldogs?). However, as you intimate, the “teeth arms” might have a different view!

      I suppose you are all looking forward to the new wheeled ambulance, if it arrives (as a derivative of the MRVP Group 2 (Eagle or Bushmaster) programme.

      Cheers,

      Mike

      Delete
  8. Hi Gabriele and Guys,
    Happy new year to everyone.
    Off topic, but thought this may of interest;
    According to ARRSE, the current British army has currently;
    4 Generals, 12 Lt Gen, 42 Maj Gen, 142 Brig, and
    504 Col.
    I have no idea what posts they are in,
    but I find it amazing we have 12 Lt Gen and 42 Maj Gen and I would love to know what they command or do?
    Phil (The cynical ex pongo)

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  9. Hi Gabriele,

    Sorry for the completely off topic question,
    but I've had no luck google fuing this.

    The missile silos on the Type 23s and Type 45s are enclosed in a box (for want of a better description), this is obviously to protect the cells from water washing across the deck and sea spray.

    However, an article on a US defence blog, made the point that US Navy ships also operate in the North Atlantic, yet their Mk 41 launchers are buried in the hull with no protection from rough weather. Is this because US VLS cells are better designed, as the blogger implied, or is it just because the RN prefer the silos to have more protection?

    Waylander

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  10. I'm not sure what the exact reasoning behind the cells arrangement was. Obviously they will have considered, among other things, the different design and size of the ships, and tried to determine how much seawater would be able to wash over the cells.

    In the Type 45 the silo is necessary also because, obviously, they decided to keep the cells higher up and have them sticking out almost one floor above weather deck level. That is also true on the Type 26, but in different fashion: the MK41 pushes up one deck but is not further enclosed in a silo like on the 45. On the other hand, the cells are located much further back.

    I don't think it has anything to do with Sylver being any less weather-proofed than MK41. The RN might just like to be extra careful with salt crusts after experimenting it on the Sea Dart launchers of early (short hull) Type 42s...

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    1. Thanks for the info.

      Waylander

      Delete
  11. Hi Gabriele,
    Just reading your tweets and the article in the times.
    Firstly, I think that Deborah Haynes needs to do a bit more work on her knowledge of the British Army.
    There is no such thing as light infantry regiments,
    (anymore), and how did she arrive at the 42 cap badges lost?
    However, reading between the lines;
    To arrive at manpower reduction of 11,000,
    Maybe its 3 light role infantry brigades?
    The loss of 3 RAC regiments, I guess that was coming,
    3 CDO and 16 AA working together, no surprise there either. I guess under joint forces command?
    Reduction in the number of Ajax, that's no shock as there is only going to be one strike brigade operational, just two RAC regiments.
    To get to the 11,000 reduction, counting the 3 RAC regiments, it looks like about 9 infantry battalions?
    plus some others from god knows were?
    Puma, C130 and Tornado, being retired extra early, didn't surprise me either.
    Albion kept for awhile, a couple of frigates to go early, sounds about right.
    RM to be cut, as Bulwark and Albion bow out, its looks like the other two Commando's will go the same way as 42, and the assault boats squadrons to be reduced?
    As its getting closer to the refine paper being published, CO's must start being told to pack the regimental silver soon.
    5 billion is a huge hole to plug.
    If its all true of course. If there's any extra money floating about its going to the NHS, not the MOD. Ever day on the news in the UK, the headlines are 'crisis in the NHS'
    I would rally like to hear you take I what's going to happen.
    Regards Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

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    1. I have no idea how it will go. If it goes ahead it is game over, that's all i will say. What remains is a make believe exercise with little meaning and no direction.

      Delete
    2. Gabriele,
      Watched parliament this afternoon also.
      Its going to be interesting to see what happens when we see the report.
      I notice its now armed forces numbers will remain the same, not army.
      Could that include an increase in reserve numbers to make up for the cuts in regulars?
      Pretty much confirmed that there is no extra money for the MOD, and they must remain within budget, therefore cuts seem unavoidable.
      Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

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  12. Hi Gabriele and guys.
    After watching Carter yesterday,
    I thought it was time for a rant.
    In my humble opinion, his speech was nothing more than a plea for more money.
    The Russian threat is of course real,
    but coming from Carter I find is amazing that he is worried by the number of Russian tanks,
    Under Carter's watch, the British army is to reduce its number of MBT from 168 (don't know how they get 300), to just two regiments of 56.
    and from 3 armoured brigades to 2. The remaining two armoured brigades being stripped of two units,
    leaving them with just 2 infantry battalions and one tank regiment each.
    As to the plea for extra money, even after this big speech, the headlines on the BBC news last night was still the crises in the NHS.
    The treasury has to ask, about the waste and poor spending record of the MOD.
    Lets just mention Foxhound as an example.
    What a great vehicle, lets order a load more,
    oh no, its rubbish lets bin it.
    Going further back, Saxon. The list is endless of cock ups that have cost millions.
    Now Carter wants to order another wheeled vehicle.
    I fear another costly cock up approaching.
    Even if the treasury gave the army more money,
    It will waste loads of it, spend it on strike,
    which is another cock up waiting to happen,
    but still fail to replace the 50 year old vehicles still in the front line against according to Carter,
    the clear a present threat from Russia.
    Phil (the cynical ex pongo)

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  13. The UK needs enough Warriors that it can fully “Warriorise” 4-6 x Armd Inf Bns (I believe the current plan is 4 but I’d say 6 are needed no point putting Masstif in Armd Inf Bdes). No Fv432s/Bulldogs, Panthers etc etc (unless absolutely necessary). Plus any specialist versions as required. Are there enough?

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