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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.....

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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.
 

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?

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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.
 

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.
 

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.
 

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
 

Hammer Birchgrove

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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/
 

jsport

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

Grey Havoc

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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.
 

Grey Havoc

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Not sure who would buy this, given the very poor reputation of the original.
 

uk 75

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I think that once the risk of a prolongued "general war" passed in the 50s with the arrival of H bombs, the existence of a UK manufacturing capability has at best been about providing jobs and at worst helping shareholders.
We purchase such modest numbers even of rifles let alone MBTs that we can afford to let others develop these systems.
 

Grey Havoc

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For what it is worth, the British government is now (rather desperately) denying that this story is true. I think the backlash came as a surprise to those who were promoting this plan (it shouldn't have).


https://www.reddit.com/r/ukpolitics/comments/lr3jwh View: https://www.reddit.com/r/ukpolitics/comments/lr3jwh/dozens_of_tanks_to_be_scrapped_in_redesign_for/
 
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