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Future of the UK Armoured Vehicle force

uk 75

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Another of my heretical posts.

I have never been a great fan of British armoured vehicles (except for the Scorpion, Scimitar family which met a very British requirement and have served well).

Now is the time to give up on this sector and go for a small number of off the shelf foreign buys.


Main Battle Tank This seems to be a no-brainer. Scrap all the awful Challengers and their variants
and buy a small number of M1A1s off the shelf to maintain a training and
regeneration capacity. In the unlikely event of a land general war becoming
likely we could then add M1s easily.

MICVs Warrior seems to have turned out okay in the end, so I would keep them, but
the FV 432s must be replaced by something cheap and off the shelf.

SPGs Scrap the 155mm and MLRS and replace them with the 155mm gun used
already by the Canadians.

Essentially the UK must face up to the fact that it cannot afford to deploy and man a force in the field larger than a Brigade. Usually this Brigade would be working with the US, but in extremis it should have the ability to perform light fast interventions (Not another Falklands-please). British Top Brass and Politicians must not think that Kosovo, Sierra Leone and so on are worth our lives. If the International Community wants to solve these issues let the Brazilians, Chinese, and Indians provide the people and the money, we have done our bit.....

UK 75
 

JFC Fuller

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Challenger is not awful and is currently scheduled to serve through to 2035 along with the warrior both of which are expected to receive considerable upgrade.

The AS90 gave sterling service in Iraq, both as an offensive and defensive weapon, especially when tied to counter battery radars. The M777 is a niche weapon intended more to replace the 105mm towed guns and can not provide manoeuvre forces. If anything the AS90 should get the long planned upgrade to 52 cal ordnance.

FV432 will be replaced by off-the-shelf vehicles. FRES-SV and UV are both based on off-the-shelf foreign designed platforms.
 

zen

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It is strange how some, always think UK efforts "awful" and desire the UK to ditch the lot for US products.........

And 'retreat' from the world is the path to poverty, so yes, we can "leave it to the international community", and in turn they will deal with these issues in ways that increasingly make life harder for the UK to prosper.
 

red admiral

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Current option seems to be scrap most of what is old, mothball the Challenger 2s, and buy ASOD with what little money there is. The only real reason for moving to ASCOD seems to be that Warrior isn't being built any more and it's not effective to restart production. There isn't the perceived need for tanks or gun artillery for the wars we're likely to be fighting. With the little money there is to go around it's not effective to maintain the capability.
 

JFC Fuller

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red admiral said:
Current option seems to be scrap most of what is old, mothball the Challenger 2s, and buy ASOD with what little money there is. The only real reason for moving to ASCOD seems to be that Warrior isn't being built any more and it's not effective to restart production. There isn't the perceived need for tanks or gun artillery for the wars we're likely to be fighting. With the little money there is to go around it's not effective to maintain the capability.
The plan to replace all but the AS90, Challenger II and Warrior have been existence for years under the FRES programme and has nothing to do with the current fiscal climate. Large numbers might be mothballed but they will remain in available. Further more the UK basically splits its armoured vehicle fleet in two, Challenger and Warrior forming the heavy end with everything else falling into a category below that (medium armour), Afghanistan has effectively produced another category with the Warthog, Jackal and Ocelot as light armour. Each category is now mirrored by armoured logistics and engineering vehicles.

As for tanks and heavy artillery in COIN, Leopard IIs are currently being used in Afghanistan and AS90 proved very effective in Iraq at taking out terrorist mortar and rocket teams. Mothballed means the platforms will be available should they be required and in truth the number of Challenger IIs currently combat ready is very limited anyway with most of the personnel assigned to more Afghanistan friendly vehicles.

Warrior is a 1980s design and hopelessly out of date as a new build product, even the much modded Warrior 2000 designed for export failed to gain any orders and lost against the CV90. Also, the FRES-SV platform should be called what it is, ASCOD-SV, it will have an 800hp engine, a combat weight of up to 42 tonnes, currently very secret levels of mine protection (one assumes all seats will be suspended etc) and the Lockheed Martin turret with the 40mm CTA gun. It is on par with the German Puma (actually has a significant subsystems relationship).

The UK Defence Industrial Strategy basically states that the UK does not need an indigenous/independent armoured vehicle design and development capability. This has been proven to be a stupid idea by the last 9 years of conflict which resulted in the very expensive and prolonged purchase of the Ridgeback/Mastiff.

What has been shown in the last 9 years is three-fold:

1) The Army needs to maintain a comprehensive toolbox of vehicles, everything from light to heavy, wheeled and tracked, multiple engineering and bridging vehicles, MBT's / IFV's etc, etc.

2) An industry capable of very rapid prototyping and construction needs to be accessible to both modify existing vehicles and design news ones as required. The failure of the DIS in this area should have resulted in resignations. It was catastrophic and cost a lot of lives it is a terrible indictment of the establishment that this decision has not been reversed and nobody has taken responsibility. Simultaneously it shows the disinterest from the press that the issue has not been brought the fore (only the consequences, not the root cause).

3) Protection, everything needs it as far as is possible to allow the platform to fulfill its missions, Jackals, Ocelots, trucks etc etc etc. And you can never have enough. The original desire for Warrior was for a 30 ton vehicle with Chobham armour propelled by a 750hp engine. This did not happen but since entering service combat weight has increased dramatically as extra protection has been added. Now including a suspended drivers seat.

Anyone who thinks the lessons of the last few years are that you can dispense with MBT's, IFV's and SPH's has clearly been living as a hermit. At best numbers should be decreased to take into account what is actually deployable beyond Europe in order to free up resources for the armouring of everything else in the vehicle fleet.
 

uk 75

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Thanks for the responses and sorry again to do the devil's advocate arguments so starkly.

This is clearly an involved issue and one which has not been covered competently in the media
(surprise, surprise).

My downer on Challenger is somewhat out of date, based on the poor performance of the tank in NATO competitions compared with M1 and Leopard2. However, only Challenger and MI have actual combat experience, so I chose M1 rather than Leopard (as did the Aussies for example) as a replacement. Given that the UK can only ever operate a small number of tanks and then only as part of a coalition (usually with the US) I still cannot see a new British tank being value for money.

I am unfair in comparing AS90 with the again untested German PZH2000 and finding it somewhat old fashioned. My reason for wanting the airmobile 155mm capacity was that it is more generally useful than just in high intensity warfare.

The Military used Iraq (and a rearmed Russia) as the basis for keeping their armoured fleet in 1997.
I am not sure that either cuts more ice now that NATO's frontiers have expanded and in any case why should the Brits rather than the Germans, French and Poles etc shoulder this burden. I can see virtue in us adding quality small formations to international operations but given the parlous state of our economy and industry I find it hard to see who we can maintain a sizeable ground force in the absence of a clear and present threat (as in the days of Warpac).

What sort of Army ground force should we have?

UK 75
 

JFC Fuller

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uk 75 said:
My downer on Challenger is somewhat out of date, based on the poor performance of the tank in NATO competitions compared with M1 and Leopard2. However, only Challenger and MI have actual combat experience, so I chose M1 rather than Leopard (as did the Aussies for example) as a replacement. Given that the UK can only ever operate a small number of tanks and then only as part of a coalition (usually with the US) I still cannot see a new British tank being value for money.
Challenger is not a bad tank and the UK is perfectly capable of deploying large numbers if it so requires, see Iraq 2003. Obviously it is ridiculous to base current force structure on recent experience.............oh wait?

I am unfair in comparing AS90 with the again untested German PZH2000 and finding it somewhat old fashioned. My reason for wanting the airmobile 155mm capacity was that it is more generally useful than just in high intensity warfare.
Completely unfair, the two are designed to do completely different things and both are required.

The Military used Iraq (and a rearmed Russia) as the basis for keeping their armoured fleet in 1997.
I am not sure that either cuts more ice now that NATO's frontiers have expanded and in any case why should the Brits rather than the Germans, French and Poles etc shoulder this burden. I can see virtue in us adding quality small formations to international operations but given the parlous state of our economy and industry I find it hard to see who we can maintain a sizeable ground force in the absence of a clear and present threat (as in the days of Warpac).
Yeah, such a parlous economy, being the 6th largest in the world and all. ::)

What sort of Army ground force should we have?
A normalised version of the one we are developing now, I see no better format than one developed out of experience from Iraq and then Afghanistan.
 

zen

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The 'heresy' would now be to point out the 'cuts' are well beyond the actual requirements of finance and have more to do with fullfilling public perceptions and prejudices.

Fine if we have prior to invading Iraq ramped up to 5% of GDP for the task, then a scaling back now and once we leave Aghanistan would be both acceptable and rational. Say to something like 2.5% of GDP.

However throughout the last ten years we've not peaked above 2.4% and have at times reached 2.2%.
SO it is no wonder the military in somewhat dire straights and consequently persuing these 'minor' cuts for PR is deeply counter productive to the UKs longterm interests.

Currently we don't envision any large scale conventional conflicts, and if we consider them, they are generaly of a short term nature. Consequently moving a lot of the heavy armour over to an expanded reserve force possess considerable potential to save monies.
UK has a very small percentage of reserve forces, which is rather the 'odd man out' among the likes of the USA, Australia and Canada.

Challenger is a good piece of kit, what replaces it is another matter, but the decisions to loose MBT design and production (along with the majority of heavy armour bar the guns) from the UK have already been taken it seems, that prior to the general election. Not a wise move I fear.
 

JFC Fuller

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zen said:
The 'heresy' would now be to point out the 'cuts' are well beyond the actual requirements of finance and have more to do with fullfilling public perceptions and prejudices.

Fine if we have prior to invading Iraq ramped up to 5% of GDP for the task, then a scaling back now and once we leave Aghanistan would be both acceptable and rational. Say to something like 2.5% of GDP.

However throughout the last ten years we've not peaked above 2.4% and have at times reached 2.2%.
SO it is no wonder the military in somewhat dire straights and consequently persuing these 'minor' cuts for PR is deeply counter productive to the UKs longterm interests.
Exactly, the UK budget situation is not a product of defence spending, in fact during some of the Labour years it actually fell in real terms. The problem is with the explosion is state spending that occurred in other areas, most notably welfare and the NHS (which make up 46% of the budget respectively), unfortunately the NHS has been ring fenced forcing savage cuts elsewhere with no account being taken of the stagnation in defence spending that has occurred in recent years despite the wars that have been fought.

Currently we don't envision any large scale conventional conflicts, and if we consider them, they are generally of a short term nature. Consequently moving a lot of the heavy armour over to an expanded reserve force possess considerable potential to save monies. UK has a very small percentage of reserve forces, which is rather the 'odd man out' among the likes of the USA, Australia and Canada.
Defends how you define reserve, the UK has plenty of armoured vehicles (including Challenger's) sat around not doing anything (in storage), no reason why they can not be reactivated if required. If you mean manpower then the UK has the TA.

Challenger is a good piece of kit, what replaces it is another matter, but the decisions to loose MBT design and production (along with the majority of heavy armour bar the guns) from the UK have already been taken it seems, that prior to the general election. Not a wise move I fear.
That decision was taken much earlier than that, it is a key plank of the UK Defence Industrial Strategy. And it is utterly irrational, at the same time as the MoD was planning the procurement of 3,000+ armoured vehicles under the FRES programme with procurement to last until the heavy armour replacement came round in about 2030-35 (meaning continuous production) they decided to dispose of the industry, something which is just absurd. The consequence is that the as the need for mine protected vehicles came round the UK had nothing and had to get whatever over capacity US industry could generate (and that turned out to be very expensive for the UK).

The sad reality resulted in this: 9/11 was in 2001. Ocelot is the first British new design armoured vehicle to enter service in with the British Army since 9/11 and it will not be in service until 2011, 10 years after 9/11. Furthermore it is nothing especially complicated, just a basic 4x4 Land Rover replacement- the sort of thing that is ten-a-penny on the international market. Oh, and it is not really British, most of the subcomponents are foreign in origin and most of the design work was done by the US firm Force Protection. The only British part of it will be the assembly and the basic concept from Ricardo. For the country that invented the tank this is a truly shocking state of affairs and when one considers the people who have lost their lives or limbs as a result it makes me sick to think that nobody has been held to account.
 

zen

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The economics front is somewhat muddied by the whole 'defence systems inflation' rate, which is not the same as either RPI or CPI. That said the last Labour government was remarkably tardy in any of the major procurement decisions, both civilian and military.

TA is very much what I was thinking, as are a number of notable thinkers on the matter which drew my attention to the option, but they are meeting some stiff resistance from the old guard in the Army. However Fox and No.11 may actualy have something there they can work together on. It comes down to making it easier to be in the TA from both the induviduals point of view and that of their employers in the civilian world.

As for the decisions on armour, yes they are mad and ultimately more costly than any saving they produce. However its BAE Systems IF I reccal correctly that made the statement they intend to close down the UK side of whats left, some time ago this year.
 

JFC Fuller

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zen said:
The economics front is somewhat muddied by the whole 'defence systems inflation' rate, which is not the same as either RPI or CPI. That said the last Labour government was remarkably tardy in any of the major procurement decisions, both civilian and military.
Agreed, but the harsh reality is that defence spending is such a small proportion of state expenditure and that is the main factor.

TA is very much what I was thinking, as are a number of notable thinkers on the matter which drew my attention to the option, but they are meeting some stiff resistance from the old guard in the Army. However Fox and No.11 may actualy have something there they can work together on. It comes down to making it easier to be in the TA from both the induviduals point of view and that of their employers in the civilian world.
I m still not sold on the TA, being a soldier is an increasingly complex task and having people performing the role part time does not strike me as a sensible idea. I admire everyone who serves in the TA but ultimately the professionalism and skill they possess can not match that of a full time soldier.

As for the decisions on armour, yes they are mad and ultimately more costly than any saving they produce. However its BAE Systems IF I reccal correctly that made the statement they intend to close down the UK side of whats left, some time ago this year.
Only because they lost the FRES-SV contract to GD, which only happened because the the MoD decided that the UK would never develop another armoured vehicle from scratch.
 

HeavyG

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zen said:
The economics front is somewhat muddied by the whole 'defence systems inflation' rate, which is not the same as either RPI or CPI. That said the last Labour government was remarkably tardy in any of the major procurement decisions, both civilian and military.

TA is very much what I was thinking, as are a number of notable thinkers on the matter which drew my attention to the option, but they are meeting some stiff resistance from the old guard in the Army. However Fox and No.11 may actualy have something there they can work together on. It comes down to making it easier to be in the TA from both the induviduals point of view and that of their employers in the civilian world.

As for the decisions on armour, yes they are mad and ultimately more costly than any saving they produce. However its BAE Systems IF I reccal correctly that made the statement they intend to close down the UK side of whats left, some time ago this year.
I guess the closest we have to the TA here in the US is the National Guard. The Guard is apparently proficient enough to deployed into hot combat areas plus we have organizations that help foster support from employers, something that I presume is lacking in the UK.

As for BAe, I think their subsidiaries in other parts of the world have become more profitable than the UK-based ones.
 

JFC Fuller

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As for BAe, I think their subsidiaries in other parts of the world have become more profitable than the UK-based ones.
Really? BAE does huge amounts of business in the UK and the only market that can come close is the US....where it has lost a number of major deals this year and are currently the subject of an export ban.
 

uk 75

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As usual this exchange is generating some useful and interesting info and views.

To sum up so far, you seem to be advocating no major changes to the UK Army other than
perhaps a greater role for Reservists in looking after the mechanised component.


Based on the current order of battle what would you like to see the Army organisation and equipment
that comes out of the Defence Review?

The UK Defence Industry has been radically restructured since the 1997 Defence Review, in part because of the international to and fro of company mergers and purchases. What changes could or should the UK Government now make to procurement management and industrial policy?

The Ocelot example you cite does not seem very encouraging.

UK 75
 

JFC Fuller

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uk 75 said:
As usual this exchange is generating some useful and interesting info and views.

To sum up so far, you seem to be advocating no major changes to the UK Army other than
perhaps a greater role for Reservists in looking after the mechanised component.
Current UK armour inventory is based on nearly a decade of continuous conflict, short of some major new threat merging there is little need for change.

The UK Defence Industry has been radically restructured since the 1997 Defence Review, in part because of the international to and fro of company mergers and purchases. What changes could or should the UK Government now make to procurement management and industrial policy?

The Ocelot example you cite does not seem very encouraging.
The reconstitution of a domestic armoured vehicle design and development capability in the UK.
 

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I think the British Army should re-introduce conscription, the Home Guard and Army commandos. :p

If nothing else, the Home Guard can be used in peace time for humanitarian efforts (when there will be floods etc).
 

Grey Havoc

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Hammer Birchgrove said:
I think the British Army should re-introduce conscription, the Home Guard and Army commandos. :p

If nothing else, the Home Guard can be used in peace time for humanitarian efforts (when there will be floods etc).
The above quote may be even more relevant, tongue in check though it was, in light of recent and ongoing events both in the UK and abroad.


In other developments:
Meanwhile, Army troop numbers have been cut from 100,000 to 80,000 and the only new armoured vehicle in the Army’s pipeline is the FRES SV Scout tracked reconnaissance vehicle.

The latest news, however, is that FRES SV, like so many previous UK AFV programmes has run into difficulties.

The 40 mm CTA cannon is reported to have an unacceptably short barrel life while its feed mechanism is mechanically unreliable. With an increased armour requirement, the vehicle is also struggling to meet weight targets, which is indeed surprising because ASCOD 2’s ability to deliver growth potential in terms of maximum vehicle weights was a key factor in it being chosen over CV90.

Even without unexpected issues, the decision to use the ASCOD 2 IFV chassis for a reconnaissance vehicle remains controversial.

Despite the MoD insisting that a vehicle weighing 35 tonnes versus CVR(T)’s 7-10 tonnes was necessary to achieve protection requirements, critics consider that the size and weight of FRES SV is fundamentally too big to perform the reconnaissance role. The counter to this is that the reconnaissance role has evolved, with the capability to fight for information an essential new requirement.

In future, reconnaissance regiments will evolve into highly flexible medium tank regiments that use their speed and agility to perform a variety of battlefield roles.

Assuming that ASCOD 2 is an appropriate choice for whatever roles FRES SV must perform, it remains an IFV platform. That being the case, it would make sense to adopt a common platform for both IFV and Recce roles. So, if we adopt ASCOD 2, it seems logical to use the same platform to replace Warrior.

Under current plans, Warrior will not be replaced before 2040.

It will have to make do with a mid-life upgrade despite being older than most of the soldiers who operate it.

However, the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) programme now also appears to have stalled.

This is because of vulnerabilities that have emerged from its use in Afghanistan, which suggest that a fundamental redesign is required to make the vehicle less of a death trap in the event of fire. Furthermore, fitting the same 40 mm CTA cannon will apparently reduce the vehicle’s capacity to carry dismounted soldiers.

Then there is Challenger 2, which is also approaching obsolescence.

Its life extension programme appears as though it will only encompass minor changes. In fact, looking at the current AFV plan, it is quite easy to conclude that the Army is the least important arm of our three armed services. But the aim of this article is not to fight the Army’s corner relative to the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force, but simply to emphasise the fact that the time has come to rethink our AFV needs and to develop a coherent long-term plan for new vehicle acquisition.
http://www.thinkdefence.co.uk/2014/03/tanks-memories/
 

JFC Fuller

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Just that section you quoted is so full of fail it is making my head hurt.
 

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w/ 40mm CTA one doesn't need dismounted troops ;D :) :-X thought CTA was more compact.
 

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JFC Fuller said:
The sad reality resulted in this: 9/11 was in 2001. Ocelot is the first British new design armoured vehicle to enter service in with the British Army since 9/11 and it will not be in service until 2011, 10 years after 9/11. Furthermore it is nothing especially complicated, just a basic 4x4 Land Rover replacement- the sort of thing that is ten-a-penny on the international market. Oh, and it is not really British, most of the subcomponents are foreign in origin and most of the design work was done by the US firm Force Protection. The only British part of it will be the assembly and the basic concept from Ricardo. For the country that invented the tank this is a truly shocking state of affairs and when one considers the people who have lost their lives or limbs as a result it makes me sick to think that nobody has been held to account.
Speaking of the Ocelot, now Foxhound (way behind schedule): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/questor/11098853/Exclusive-Inside-Armys-Snatch-Land-Rover-replacement.html
 

Pioneer

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Main Battle Tank This seems to be a no-brainer. Scrap all the awful Challengers and their variants
and buy a small number of M1A1s off the shelf to maintain a training and
regeneration capacity. In the unlikely event of a land general war becoming
likely we could then add M1s easily.
I would be more incline to say Leopard 2's as opposed to M1A1's!
Cheaper, more reliable and far less operational costs!

Regards
Pioneer
 

Pioneer

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Just one out of left field, but I think the British would do well to consider the South African Rooikat design! This design would farewell in the types of wars they've been fighting the past decade+!

Regards
Pioneer
 

Grey Havoc

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Grey Havoc said:
JFC Fuller said:
The sad reality resulted in this: 9/11 was in 2001. Ocelot is the first British new design armoured vehicle to enter service in with the British Army since 9/11 and it will not be in service until 2011, 10 years after 9/11. Furthermore it is nothing especially complicated, just a basic 4x4 Land Rover replacement- the sort of thing that is ten-a-penny on the international market. Oh, and it is not really British, most of the subcomponents are foreign in origin and most of the design work was done by the US firm Force Protection. The only British part of it will be the assembly and the basic concept from Ricardo. For the country that invented the tank this is a truly shocking state of affairs and when one considers the people who have lost their lives or limbs as a result it makes me sick to think that nobody has been held to account.
Speaking of the Ocelot, now Foxhound (way behind schedule): http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/markets/questor/11098853/Exclusive-Inside-Armys-Snatch-Land-Rover-replacement.html
Foxhound MoD vehicles 'keep breaking down' (BBC News)

[Deep sigh]
 

uk 75

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With the end of the political support for wars of
intervention outside the NATO area and the unwillingness
of Germany to defend her Eastern neighbours against
possible Russian moves, it is hard to see Britain voting to
invest in a sizeable Army.
A UK Mobile Force of three Brigade Groups plus the Royal
Marine Brigade will continue to be infantry based with
vehicles and artillery being procured piecemeal. Operations against terrorism and in support of disaster relief will be the
main every day roles, plus small scale deployments in support of NATO.
If Germany and France do not increase their military readiness it is hard to see us returning on any scale
to a Continental commitment. If we did, it would have to
be in close partnership with the US and that would influence
the equipment.
 
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