Information

Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle (UK)


Photograph of a Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle taken by Peter Antill.


Fresh thinking on ‘close battles’ sealed British Warrior vehicle’s demise

/>British soldiers stand by their Warrior armored vehicle in an early morning mist as they prepare to drive into the town of Az Zubayr from the Shaibah Logistics Base in southern Iraq on Dec. 15, 2005. (Matt Dunham/AP)

LONDON and WASHINGTON — Changing battlefield priorities was one of the reasons behind the British Army’s decision to ditch the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle update program in the recent defense, security and foreign policy review, according to British Army chief Gen. Sir Mark Carleton-Smith.

Speaking to Defense News during a recent visit to Washington, Carleton-Smith, the Army’s chief of the general staff, said that divesting the aging vehicle frees up money to invest in other equipment that is a better fit for how the land component will fight going forward.

“We need to reimagine how the close battle is fought. And I think most close battles in the future are going to look and feel very much more like Mosul and Raqqa and Fallujah, than it is going to feel like the central European plain,” Carleton-Smith explained. “Therefore, the utility of an [Infantry Fighting Vehicle] in order to maneuver dismounted ground troops into fixed defensive positions, feels like less of a priority for me, against being able to operationally deploy infantry across large strategic distances quickly.”

The security review, released in March, axed plans to extensively upgrade the virtually obsolete Warrior, as the U.K. Army and the other armed services have embarked on a transformation policy towards the information age and away from traditional platforms.

Since 2011, Lockheed Martin UK has been leading the development effort to update Warrior with a new cannon and digitized turret, better protection and other improvements.

The upgrade program is now seven years late and more than £225 million ($319 million) over budget, with Lockheed pointing the finger at the MoD for much of the delay. Still, until the release of the security review, the program was expected to move forward pending government approval a more than £800 million ($1.1 billion) production deal to update around 275 vehicles.

Nixing the upgrade program has already had its industrial consequences Lockheed has announced job losses at the Ampthill, southern England, site where it has invested in creating a turret center of excellence.

The company is also supplying General Dynamics UK with turrets for its Ajax armored reconnaissance vehicle fleet now in production for the British Army, and is casting around for opportunities to leverage its turret capabilities in other programs.


Desert Warrior infantry fighting vehicle family

The Desert Warrior family of vehicles has been adapted for operations in hostile desert conditions. Between 1987 and 1995, 789 FV510 Warriors were produced for the British Army and 254 Desert Warrior infantry fighting vehicles were manufactured for the Kuwaiti Land Force.

Warrior section vehicles carry driver, commander, gunner and seven fully equipped soldiers together with supplies and weapons for a 48-hour battlefield day in NBC (nuclear / biological / chemical) conditions.

The Warrior adapts to a range of roles with weapon fits ranging from machine pistols to 90mm guns, mortars and missile systems. The Warrior is in service in the following variants: infantry section vehicles, infantry command, repair vehicles, recovery vehicles, observation post vehicles, artillery command and anti-tank guided weapon carriers.


The British Army Hasn’t Bought New Armored Vehicles In A Quarter-Century

1st Battalion Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment soldiers in their Warrior Infantry Fighting . [+] Vehicles during NATO Exercise Allied Spirit 8.

How incompetent are the officials in charge of the British Army’s major equipment programs? Despite spending billions of dollars since 1997, the army has delivered zero—that’s right, zero—new armored fighting vehicles to front-line units.

A quarter-century of wasted effort has left the army with a shrinking and obsolete fleet of leftover tanks, fighting and reconnaissance vehicles and armored personnel carriers. A new, government-wide “Integrated Review,” due to be released this week, threatens further cuts to an already inadequate armored force.

Now imagine a war with Russia along NATO’s eastern frontier. The alliance would expect the British Army to join in the fighting. But it’s not clear the Brits with their dwindling stocks of antique vehicles would have much to offer.

A House of Commons committee summarized the sad state of the British Army’s heavy forces in a March 9 report.

“We are astonished that between 1997 and late 2020 (with the exception of a small number or armored engineering and Viking protected mobility vehicles) the department has not delivered a single new armored vehicle from the core procurement program into operational service with the army,” the committee’s investigators wrote.

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The problems began as the Cold War ended. “The perceived loss of a challenging but known threat in the form of the armored forces of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact meant the British Army has struggled to redefine its role,” the committee explained.

“Since at least the 1990s it has tried to move to more deployable, medium-weight armored forces, suitable for expeditionary warfare against unforeseeable opponents. However, indecision around requirements, a desire to have the latest (immature) technology, operational experience and a lack of stable funding for its programs mean the British Army’s [armored fighting vehicle] fleet currently faces mass-obsolescence and requires significant funding for modernization.”

Each major vehicle type is suffering its own unique crisis. But the U.K. Ministry of Defense downplayed the problems. “The [Integrated Review] will provide resources to deliver an upgraded and networked armored force to meet future threats,” the ministry’s press office tweeted.

The Challenger 2 tank is the army’s heaviest and most powerful vehicle. Following several rounds of force-reductions since the end of the Cold War, just 227 of the 70-ton tanks are in service.

The Challenger 2 with its rifled 120-millimeter cannon was a world-class tank when it debuted in 1998. But the army hasn’t ever significantly upgraded the vehicle. To put that into perspective, in the 23 years since the Challenger 2 entered service, the U.S. Army the developed and fielded several new versions of its own M-1 tank.

The British Army for years has tinkered with various upgrade concepts, potentially including new sensors, electronics, fire-control and automotive systems. The most ambitious upgrade would entirely replace the tank’s existing turret.

Officials were supposed to cut the contract for the billion-dollar effort last year. But the deadline came and went without a signing.

Observers expect the Integrated Review to shrink the Challenger 2 fleet to around 150 tanks. Whether those remaining tanks will ever get their long-delayed upgrades remains an open question.

The army’s 759 Warrior infantry fighting vehicles carry infantry into battle. The 28-ton, tracked vehicle sports a turret with a non-stabilized 30-millimeter cannon. The lack of stabilization means a Warrior can’t accurately fire while moving.

Like the Challenger 2, the Warrior hasn’t been updated at all in its 37 years in service. The lack of stabilization for its gun is a particularly egregious shortfall. Twelve years ago, the army launched a comprehensive upgrade program that aims to add a totally new turret with a bespoke 40-millimeter cannon.

But that program has spent half a billion dollars without yet updating a single vehicle. Critics blame the army’s weird insistence on developing a new gun instead of fitting a modern, off-the-shelf cannon.

The Integrated Review could end the upgrade effort and scrap the entire Warrior fleet, leaving the army without a tracked infantry fighting vehicle.

The army’s Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Vehicles (Tracked) are 50 years old, on average. A replacement is on the way—albeit belatedly and with the usual confusion and mismanagement. The new Ajax tracked reconnaissance vehicle comes in a number of variants for scouting, engineering and other tasks.

The army has ordered 598 of the 40-ton vehicles. They were supposed to enter service in 2019. Two years later, the troops are still waiting. “It is not exactly clear what caused this delay,” the House of Commons committee noted. But there are clues that the Ajax’s 40-millimeter gun—the same boutique gun the army wanted to fit to the Warrior—is the root of the problem.

There’s no plan at all to replace the army’s 500 1960s-vintage FV432 tracked armored personnel carriers, but a separate effort to introduce a wheeled APC might in the short term finally produce a combat-ready vehicle.

After a decade of delays, two years ago the U.K. defense ministry cut a $3-billion contract for 508 Boxer wheeled APCs. The first batch should enter service in 2023.

The 40-tons Boxers are a bright spot in the army’s vehicle portfolio. “We welcome the decision to procure the Boxer,” the committee stated, while noting that the APCs would have been ready a decade earlier if the bureaucrats hadn’t dragged their heels.

One successful—albeit late—program cannot save the British Army’s armor, in the committee’s assessment. The tanks are too old and too few. The obsolete infantry fighting vehicles likely are on their way out. The tracked APCs are older than everyone who rides in them and there’s no clear plan to replace them. New tracked recon vehicles and wheeled APCs are late and too few.

The defense ministry shrugged off the committee report. “Modernizing armored capabilities is not replacing 'like for like' but integrates [sic] new technologies and ways of operating,” the ministry’s press office tweeted.

The ultimate consequence of this generational foul-up isn’t hard to predict. If in some near-future war the British Army still can field a fighting division with at least one armored brigade—and that’s far from a foregone conclusion—that division could be uneven in equipment and design.

It might have some new middleweight vehicles. But the balance of its AFVs could be incapable of matching more-numerous Russian vehicles one-for-one.


Fresh thinking on ‘close battles’ sealed British Warrior vehicle’s demise

LONDON and WASHINGTON (Defensenews): Changing battlefield priorities was one of the reasons behind the British Army’s decision to ditch the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle update program in the recent defense, security and foreign policy review, according to British Army chief Gen. Sir Mark Carleton-Smith.

Speaking to Defense News during a recent visit to Washington, Carleton-Smith, the Army’s chief of the general staff, said that divesting the aging vehicle frees up money to invest in other equipment that is a better fit for how the land component will fight going forward.

“We need to reimagine how the close battle is fought. And I think most close battles in the future are going to look and feel very much more like Mosul and Raqqa and Fallujah, than it is going to feel like the central European plain,” Carleton-Smith explained. “Therefore, the utility of an [Infantry Fighting Vehicle] in order to maneuver dismounted ground troops into fixed defensive positions, feels like less of a priority for me, against being able to operationally deploy infantry across large strategic distances quickly.”

The security review, released in March, axed plans to extensively upgrade the virtually obsolete Warrior, as the U.K. Army and the other armed services have embarked on a transformation policy towards the information age and away from traditional platforms.

Since 2011, Lockheed Martin UK has been leading the development effort to update Warrior with a new cannon and digitized turret, better protection and other improvements.

The upgrade program is now seven years late and more than £225 million ($319 million) over budget, with Lockheed pointing the finger at the MoD for much of the delay. Still, until the release of the security review, the program was expected to move forward pending government approval a more than £800 million ($1.1 billion) production deal to update around 275 vehicles.

Nixing the upgrade program has already had its industrial consequences Lockheed has announced job losses at the Ampthill, southern England, site where it has invested in creating a turret center of excellence.

The company is also supplying General Dynamics UK with turrets for its Ajax armored reconnaissance vehicle fleet now in production for the British Army, and is casting around for opportunities to leverage its turret capabilities in other programs.

Carleton-Smith said that once the Army’s transformation agenda was taken into account, along with the competition for resources and age of the platform, killing off Warrior was quite a straightforward decision.

“It became really quite an easy decision. If we were going to get to true transformation, we needed to leave behind as many of the 20th century legacy systems [as possible] and Warrior fell precisely into that,” said the British general.

The plan is for the Warrior to be taken out of service by the middle of the decade, as the wheeled Boxer 8࡮ armored vehicle enters service. While Boxer isn’t a perfect like-for-like replacement, its ability to quickly travel long distances provides greater value than updating the Warrior, said Carleton-Smith.

The British MoD already has a contract with Boxer maker ARTEC to build more than 500 vehicles, with the extensive local supply and manufacturing effort being led by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land and Krauss-Maffei Wegman’s U.K. subsidiary, WFEL.

Under the current contract, deliveries were scheduled to run for nine years starting 2023. The delivery tempo of just one per week, from two production sites, was labelled “astonishing” in a recent parliamentary Defence Committee report.

Carleton-Smith said the Army was now looking to raise the production speed and buy additional vehicles in the wake of the Warrior decision.

“The debate was, were we going to pour very scarce, precious new money into a platform that was going to be nearly 50 years old by the time we were fielding it? Or would it not be better, to take this moment to take it out of service, invest the money in new emerging capabilities, such as Boxer, buy more of them, and accelerate the production?” he said.

The MoD said recently it was looking at options to increase the lethality of some of its Boxer fleet with missiles or a cannon to better replace the lethality lost by ditching updated Warriors equipped with the CTAI 40 mm gun.


Lockheed Martin UK cuts 158 jobs as Warrior decision bites

Lockheed Martin today announced the loss of 158 jobs at its Ampthill armoured vehicles business following the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) decision to terminate the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP).

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Lockheed Martin today announced the loss of 158 jobs at its Ampthill armoured vehicles business following the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) decision to terminate the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP).

The termination of the programme was announced in the UK’s recently published Defence Command Paper, ending hopes for a production contract worth around £1bn that would have extended the in-service life of the UK’s Warrior infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) and seen them equipped with a new 40mm cannon.

Lockheed Martin said the loss of the 158 jobs was a ‘direct result’ of the decision to terminate the programme and followed a company review of the workforce and workload at the Ampthill site.

The defence command paper confirmed long-rumoured plans to retire the UK’s fleet of Warrior IFVs. Instead, the British Army’s Warrior capability will be replaced by the incoming Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) by the middle of the decade.

The British Army’s order of Boxer vehicles is set to be accelerated the paper also mentions expanding the capability of Boxer.

Lockheed Martin Ampthill vice president and general manager Lee Fellows said: “Despite the need for this workforce reduction, we remain a strong business, with a very talented, dedicated team. This exercise will ensure that we maintain competitiveness by delivering affordable products and services to customers while positioning for future growth opportunities that will benefit the facility in the longer term.

“We remain committed to supporting impacted employees and providing whatever assistance we can during this difficult time.”

Lockheed Martin also manufactures the turrets for the British Army’s new AJAX vehicles at Ampthill. The site is part of the company’s Missiles and Fire Control business unit that currently employs around 900 staff.

The company added that work in support of AJAX, classified special projects and mission support ‘remain unaffected’.

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Had the programme not been cancelled, Lockheed Martin had anticipated that a manufacturing contract could have been wrapped up by the end of 2021.

Before the Defence Command Paper was published, Army Technology reported that cutting the programme could set back years of work to rebuild the UK’s turret design capability as the AJAX and Warrior CSP turrets were the first to be designed in the UK since Challenger 2 Main Battle Tanks in the 1990s and the original Warrior IFV’s in the 1980s.

Ahead of the publication of the Integrated Review, in February, Lockheed Martin’s Warrior CSP programme director Keren Wilkins told reporters that the company did feel ‘vulnerable’ to being cut by the MOD.

In the same month, Lockheed Martin announced that the vehicle had completed 80% of its reliability growth trials – equivalent to 95 battlefield missions.

Before the cancellation of Warrior CSP, Lockheed Martin estimated the programme would have amounted to about a third of the workload of Ampthill had the system gone into production.

Last year, a KPMG report commissioned by Lockheed Martin said that a production contract for Warrior CSP would have added up to £1bn to the UK economy. Around 80% of the Warrior CSP solution was sourced from British suppliers.

The KPMG report added that a contract for the production of 275 vehicles between 2021 and 2029 would have delivered 100 annual Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) jobs and up to 2,000 annual FTE jobs through the supply chain and direct employment at the peak of production.

KPMG also found that a production contract could have generated £278.9m in direct Gross Value Added (GVA), £484.3m in indirect GVA from the supply chain and £280.4m in GVA created through Lockheed Martin employees spending Warrior CSP-related wages.

The programme was comprised of three parts the Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP), Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture (WEEA), Warrior Modular Protection System (WMPS).

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MCV-80 Warrior

The MCV-80 Warrior infantry fighting vehicle was developed to replace the FV 430 series of armored fighting vehicles. It's production ended in 1995. Currently it is in service with the British Army (over 700 vehicles) and Kuwait (over 200). The MCV-80 has been successfully employed in military conflicts, including the Gulf war, Balkan region and Iraq, where it proved to be a highly effective IFV. Very few armored vehicles can match it's reliability and performance. Warrior should remain in active service until 2025.

It's main armament is a turret mounted 30-mm Rarden cannon. It has an effective range of fire in 1 500 meters and can destroy lightly-armored vehicles and other targets. It also carries two 7.62-mm machine guns and eight 94-mm light anti-armor weapons (LAW).

This infantry fighting vehicle is well protected against small arms, heavy machine guns and artillery shells. Furthermore it proved to be highly effective against mines. It can also be fitted with an add-on armor plates for improved protection. During it's service history there used to be an accidents, when Warriors ran over an anti-tank mines without being seriously damaged.

The MCV-80 Warrior carries a crew of three and seven infantry troops.

This infantry fighting vehicle comes with a Perkins / Rolls-Royce V8 diesel engine, delivering 550 horsepower. It's performance and speed allows it to keep up with the Challenger 2 main battle tanks on the cross-country.

There are numerous special purpose vehicles, based on the MCV-80. These vehicles include artillery observation post vehicle (OPV), command post vehicle (CPV), Royal Mechanical and Electrical Engineers vehicle (REME), recovery and repair vehicle. Moreover, all these models are equipped with a 7.62mm machine gun for anti-helicopter capability.

All vehicles come with an NBC protection system and night vision equipment as standard.

Despite it's success Warrior requires upgrades. For this reason it is scheduled to undergo a Mid-Life Improvement Program from 2007 up to 2012. During this program, the vehicle should be provided with a new power pack, modern medium-caliber cannon, and a digital fire control system. These improvements will ensure a lead-time for the introduction of futuristically designed and developed vehicles that will replace the Warrior as well as the Challenger 2.


Contents

The first mass-produced IFV was the West German Schützenpanzer 12-3 which served in the Bundeswehr from 1958 until the early 1980s. The SPz 12-3 mounted a 20 mm autocannon in a small turret and carried a half-squad of five armoured infantrymen.

Western powers were surprised when the Soviet Union paraded the BMP-1, in 1967. The BMP possessed a very low profile and was armed with both a 73 mm smoothbore gun and an AT-3 Sagger ATGM. Its steeply-sloped front armour offered full protection against NATO's standard .50 calibre machine gun and partial protection against 20 millimetre Oerlikon cannon both in a 60 degree frontal arc, while its 73 mm gun and ATGM were a threat to NATO APCs and even MBTs.

Since then, all major military powers have developed or adopted IFVs. The German Marder and Puma followed the Schützenpanzer, the Chinese ZBD-97, the Soviet/Russian BMP-3, the Indian Abhay IFV, the Yugoslavian BVP M-80, the Canadian LAV III, the British Warrior, the American M2 Bradley, the Spanish Pizarro/ASCOD, the Italian Dardo, the South African Ratel, the French AMX-10P and VBCI, the Swedish Combat Vehicle 90 and the Dutch YPR-765 AIFV.

Combat applications in close-combat environments are likely to drive up survivability requirements necessitating the same protection level required by main battle tanks. ΐ]


Development

The Ministry Of Defence started to make proposals for their future APC requirement from 1967 until 1971. GKN were selected to undertake competitive studies and subsequently won the bidding for the contract in 1976 and production begun in 1979, where it was called the MCV-80. It had to meet several criteria, firstly it had to have the capacity for ten infantry men which was to inc the crew and their equipment, secondly it had to be able to match the speed of the newly appointed British Army MBT, the Challenger 1, thirdly its protection had to be strong enough to with stand indirect artillery, hand held rockets and small arms fire. It also had to be versatile in the jobs it could be used for, such as a support maintenance vehicle or air defence, creating its own family of different versions of the vehicle.

In 1984 GKN had completed its contractual obligation and produced 12 MCV-80’s, four of which participated in exercise Lionheart in Germany to see if they could match the speed of the Challenger 1’s and in the same year the British Army welcomed the MCV-80 into service, were it was renamed The Warrior.


British Army Invests in New Fleet of Armoured Vehicles

There have been numerous false starts including the Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles, the joint UK/US TRACER (Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement), BOXER Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) and the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES).

Today the situation has changed and the UK is now making major investments in its ground manoeuvre capability, with a mixture of upgrading older platforms including the CHALLENGER 2 main battle tank (MBT) and the WARRIOR infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and the procurement of brand new platforms including the AJAX family of vehicles (FOV). As of result of the UK General Election held in December 2019 which resulted in a clear overall majority for the Conservative party, there will be another defence review which could potentially have an effect on some major UK programmes, including those for the British Army.

One of the prototypes of the WARRIOR Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) upgraded by Lockheed Martin UK and clearly showing the new turret armed with a 40mm CTAS and a 7.62mm co-axial MG (Photo: Christopher F Foss)

CHALLENGER 2 MBT

The CHALLENGER 2 main battle tank was developed by the then Vickers Defence Systems (VDS) for the British Army as a follow on to the earlier CHALLENGER 1 MBT which has now been phased out of service and passed onto Jordan who deploys them as the AL HUSSEIN. A total of 386 CHALLENGER 2 MBT were built by VDS with final deliveries taking place in 2005 , with production undertaken at their Newcastle-Upon-Tyne and Leeds facilities, both now closed. The only export customer for CHALLENGER 2 was Oman who took delivery of 38 units optimised for use in the high temperatures encountered in the Middle East.
As a result of the reduction in the size of the British Army, the CHALLENGER 2 fleet has already been reduced to 227 units which is now being reduced further, as the Royal Armoured Corps will now only deploy two regiments each with a wartime establishment of 58 vehicles, but as a result of fleet management each regiment only holds 20 vehicles.

CHALLENGER 2 MBT is now to go through the CHALLENGER 2 Life Extension Programme (LEP) which aims to extend the out of service date (OSD) to 2035/2040. Following a competition BAE Systems Land UK/General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) UK and Rheinmetall Defence of Germany were each awarded contracts for the Assessment Phase (AP) of the CHALLENGER 2 LEP in December 2016 worth £22M as well as two CHALLENGER 2 MBTs, one as a reference vehicle, and the second to be upgraded. The aim of the CHALLENGER 2 LEP was to upgrade sub-systems, especially in the area of the turret.

BAE Systems Land UK/GDLS team elected to upgrade the existing turret with new sights, flat panel displays (FPD), and gun control equipment (GCE), but decided to retain the 120 mm L30A1 rifled gun which fires separate loading ammunition and for which no significant ammunition development has taken place.

Rheinmetall Defence elected to design and build a brand new all welded steel turret incorporating advanced passive armour, but with the option of additional explosive reactive armour (ERA) for a higher level of protection. The turret also has a Thales generic vehicle architecture (GVA).

The UK has selected the ARTEC BOXER to meet its Mechanised Infantry Vehicle requirement, with 523 production vehicles to be delivered from two production lines in the UK. (Photo: RBSL)

The new turret also has new Thales sights, FPD, and GCE, but is fitted with the latest Rheinmetall 120mm L55A1 high pressure smooth bore gun which is already in quantity production and installed in the latest Krauss-Maffei LEOPARD 2A7 MBT. This can fire the latest Rheinmetall DM63 series APFSDS ammunition as well as the Rheinmetall DM11 programmable high-explosive air-bursting (HE-ABM) round which are already in quantity production for the German Army and export customers.

One of the drawbacks of the currently deployed CHALLENGER 2 is that the commander`s SAGEM (today SAFRAN) stabilised sight only has day channels and a laser rangefinder, but for CHALLENGER 2 LEP, RBSL have fitted the Thales ORION stabilised panoramic sight which is already in production for the GDLS AJAX reconnaissance vehicle. This features day colour and long range thermal cameras plus an eye-safe laser rangefinder which enables hunter/killer target engagements to take place under almost all weather conditions. The gunner has the Thales DNGS day/thermal sight incorporating an eye safe laser rangefinder.
The first unmanned firing trials of the CHALLENGER 2 with the new Rheinmetall Defence turret took place at the company`s firing range in December 2018 and were unmanned.
It is understood that the preferred option is the Rheinmetall Defence proposal which is expected to lead to a submission of a bid for Demonstration & Production (D&M) phase in the first quarter of 2020 for around 150 units which is sufficient for two regiments plus additional vehicles for deployment in Canada and the UK. If all goes to plan, Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is 2023 and full operational capability (FOC) is 2025.

RBSL have offered a number of potential future options including cameras for situational awareness through 360 degrees, Rheinmetall ROSY electrically operated grenade launchers and a roof mounted remote weapon station (RWS) which would probably be government furnished equipment (GFE).

The Royal Engineers capability has been enhanced by the introduction of the TERRIER Combat Engineer Vehicle. (Photo: RBSL)

The CHALLENGER 2 LEP programme is now being run by Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) which was formed on 1 July 2019 and is a joint venture between Rheinmetall of Germany (55%) and BAE Systems Land UK (45%) with its headquarters in Telford.
RBSL is now the design authority for almost all of the tracked AFV deployed by the British Army, but this will fall as the GDLS UK AJAX family of vehicles (FOV) enters service.

The AJAX Family of Vehicles

The standard reconnaissance vehicle of the British Army since 1974/1975 has been the Alvis SCIMITAR member of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) FOV. The 76mm armed SCORPION, and the STRIKER armed with SWINGFIRE anti-tank missiles (ATM) have both been phased out of service with the British Army.

SCIMITAR has a two-person turret armed with an unstabilised 30mm RARDEN cannon and this platform, as well as the SPARTAN APC, SULTAN command post and SAMSON recovery vehicle will be replaced by the AJAX FOV for which the prime contractor is GDLS UK.

Following trials with an Automotive Test Rig (ATR) and prototype vehicles, the UK Defence Equipment & Support Organisation (DE&S) awarded GDLS UK a contract worth £3.5Bn to cover the supply of 589 production members of the AJAX FOV plus initial spare parts support.

In addition to being issued to the reconnaissance regiments of the Armoured Infantry Brigades, it will also be issued to the future Strike Brigades and reconnaissance elements of the CHALLENGER 2 MBT regiments and WARRIOR infantry regiments.

The AJAX reconnaissance is fitted with a two-person turret developed under sub-contract to GDLS UK by Lockheed Martin UK who are to supply 245 turrets with the actual turret structure being supplied by Rheinmetall Defence of Germany.

Other sub-contractors include Moog for the slip ring, Curtiss-Wright for the all-electric GCE and stabilisation system, Meggitt for the ammunition handing system (AHS) with GD UK supplying the electronic architecture and the latest Bowman digital communications equipment.

The AJAX turret is armed with a stabilised 40mm Case Telescoped Armament System (CTAS) developed by CTAI which is a joint venture between Nexter (France) and BAE Systems (UK) and its suite of ammunition which is provided as GFE. Mounted co-axial is a refurbished 7.62mm L94A1 chain gun.

The British Army has taken delivery of 400 General Dynamics FOXHOUND (4ࡪ) protected vehicles. FOXHOUND is being offered on the export market as OCELOT. (Photo: GDLS)

AJAX is the heart of the British Army’s deployable Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) capability. Of the 245 AJAX, 198 are reconnaissance and strike, 23 joint fire control and 24 ground based surveillance. Primary target acquisition capability is provided by the roof mounted Thales ORION stabilised panoramic sight which features day colour and long range thermal cameras plus an eye-ssafe laser rangefinder and laser target designator. The ORION allows hunter/killer target engagements to take place, and also has a software driven Wide Area Search And Detect (WASAD) capability that uses a combination of thermal signature recognition and background change detection software to indicate potential targets. ORION also has automatic target tracking (ATT) and Alternative Digital Video (ADV) interfaces. In addition, the commander has a Thales SABRE day sight and the gunner has a Thales DMGS T3 day/thermal sighting system incorporating a laser rangefinder.

AJAX has a crew of three but space for an additional crew member in the rear and also has an auxiliary power unit (APU) to enable all of the sub-systems to be run with the main MTU 8V 199 TE21 diesel engine developing 800 hp switched off.

Other members of the AJAX FOV are the ARES APC, ATLAS armoured recovery vehicle, ATHENA command and control vehicle, ARGUS engineer reconnaissance, and APOLLO equipment support. All of theseof these will be armed with a RWS armed with a stabilised .50 M2 HB MG provided as GFE.

By December 2019, two ARES platforms had covered more than 10,000 km in Reliability Growth Trialsin addition to the 24 plus AJAX FOV variants that had been delivered for company and British Army trials and training development at the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) as well as the Armour Centre at Bovington, Southern England. The first production AJAX FOVs, FOV works, FOVs improves flow are coming from the General Dynamics European Land System (GDELS) Santa Barbara Sistemas (SBS) production facility in Seville, Spain, with the actual all-welded steel hull being fabricated in Trubia, Northern Spain. Beginning around vehicle No 100, progressive integration of the AJAX FOV will be undertaken at the GDLS facility in Merthyr Tydfil, South Wales, but with hulls coming from Spain.

GDLS UK will fit the turret as well as integrating the hull with advanced torsion bar suspension, tracks, secure electronic architecture, modular armour system, Thales acoustic detectors, Thales cameras for situational awareness, Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) and Environmental Control System (ECS).

Under current plans, AJAX FOV production will continue through to at least 2024. The AJAX FOV and more specialised models such as an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), are already being offered on the export market.

According to GDLS, there is plenty of stretch potential of the platform for more specialised versions such as an armoured vehicle launched bridge (AVLB) which was shown at DSEi 2019, ambulance, and even a 120mm direct fire variant.

WARRIOR IFV

The British Army took delivery of 789 WARRIOR IFVs, improved flow from the former GKN Defence, Telford, production line with final deliveries made in 1995. Since then, the WARRIOR IFV has been upgraded with the General Dynamics UK Bowman digital communications system, Thales Battlegroup Thermal Imaging (BGTI) system, plus a raft of Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) upgrades to part of the fleet which have mainly covered survivability. The slow firing and unstabilised 30mm RARDEN cannon has been retained which means that the vehicle has to come to a halt in order to engage the target. A 7.62mm L94A1 MG is mounted co-axial with the 30mm RARDEN cannon.

Following a competition, Lockheed Martin UK were selected to be prime contractor for the WARRIOR Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) with contract award in November 2011. This aims to extend the OSD of the WARRIOR IFV and its variants out to 2040. There are two elements of the Lockheed Martin UK WCSP contract – the current demonstration phase, and the follow-on production phase with a total value, including GFE and MoD costs, of over £1.3Bn.

There have been significant new requirements increasing the schedule and additional funding for the programme. Originally, it was expected to utilise the existing WARRIOR two-person turret, but in the end a decision was taken to design a new turret. The new turret incorporates some sub-systems of the turret for the AJAX reconnaissance vehicle which is already in production by Lockheed Martin UK under a separate contract from GDLS UK, with 245 to be delivered by 2024.

Lockheed Martin UK delivered 11 WCSP by Q1 2018 for qualification and Reliability Growth Trials (RGT) which, following shake down and confidence trials, are being undertaken at the Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) at Bovington, Southern England. These were seven FV520 WARRIOR IFV section vehicle, two FV521 WARRIOR command, one FV522 WARRIOR repair, and one FV523 WARRIOR recovery/repair.

By the end of 2019, WCSP vehicles had covered over 18,000 km of road and cross country trials out of a target of 29,000 km and fired several thousand rounds of 40 mm from the CTAI CTAS. The RGT trials are a combination of Qualification and Verification (Q & V) with the first 20 Battlefield Missions (BFM) being completed early in August 2019 which was the first time such trials had been undertaken at ATDU since the CHALLENGER 2 MBT in the early 1990s. Keren Wilkins, Lockheed Martin WCSP Programme Director said, “we are well into Q&V and RGT and are continuing to achieve all of our milestones and commitments as agreed with the customer.” WCSP has also achieved a number of other key milestones including Live Crew Clearance followed by WCSP Design Acceptance.

Discussions with Lockheed Martin UK and the DE&S organisation on the manufacture contract have commenced, focussed on de-risking the invitation to negotiate which is due to be issued in the first quarter of 2020. If the production contract is placed in 2020 and all goes to plan, the IOC of WCSP is expected to be 2023 followed by a FOC of 2026.

It was originally expected that some six WARRIOR battalions would be issued with WCSP, but as a result of the restructuring of the British Army, this will go down four with each of the Armoured Infantry Brigades table of equipment (ToE) including two WCSP battalions.

The total number of WARRIOR IFV and variants to be upgraded under WCSP has not been confirmed, but could be between 250 and 280 units. The main elements of the WCSP are the WARRIOR Fightability & Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP), WARRIOR Enhanced Electronic Architecture (WEEA), and the WARRIOR Modular Protection System (WMPS). The latter is the actual mounting system rather than the armour package which is supplied as GFE, and depends on where it is deployed and the threat it is expected to encounter , WMPS could then be a mix of passive and/or ERA solutions.

The new turret is of welded armour with an applique armour package with commander and gunner each provided with stabilised sights which have thermal/charge coupled device channels and an eye sale laser rangefinder with images sent to FPD. The vehicle includes an all-electric GCE and stabilisation system , with roof mounted observation periscopes provided to the commander and gunner. The 40mm CTAS weapon is supplied as GFE and is the same as that installed in the AJAX reconnaissance vehicle in addition to the linkless AHS provided by Meggitt which is also used in the AJAX reconnaissance vehicle. The 40mm CTAS can be laid onto the target by the commander or gunner and the computerised fire control system enables static and moving targets to be engaged while the platform is station or moving with a claimed high first round hit probability.

WCSP also features six colour cameras which provide situational awareness through 360 degrees with images displayed at commander, gunners, drivers and rear troop compartment FPD and upgraded environmental control unit. The WEEA is the Lockheed Martin UK Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA) which will allow for the rapid installation of new sub-systems as they become available. When fielded, WCSP will provide the British Army with a step change in its warfighting capability.

In the longer term. Surplus WARRIOR IFV could be converted into Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicles (ABSV) to replace some of the remaining FV432 series currently deployed which are now some 50 year old.

The British Army was originally due to be the second customer for the BOXER Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) (8࡮) after Germany, but subsequently withdrew from the programme. BOXER was one of the three 8࡮ vehicles that took part in the British Army’s “Trials of Truth” at the ATDU with the other two being the GDELS-MOWAG PIRANHA 4 (8࡮) and the Nexter Systems VBCI (8࡮), the PIRANHA 4 was selected but in the end no contracts were placed.

The formation of the “Strike Brigades” led to an 8࡮ requirement for a Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) and in March 2018 the UK MoD announced that they would re-join the BOXER programme via the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR).

On 5 November 2019, it was announced that a £2.3Bn (€2.6Bn) contract had been placed with OCCAR for 523 MIV (8࡮) and a similar number of mission modules with first vehicles to enter service in 2023. OCCAR in turn place contracts with ARTEC which is a joint venture company between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rheinmetall Military Vehicles, and Rheinmetall Defence Nederland, with BOXER production currently being undertaken at two lines in Germany Munich and Kassel, and one line at Ede in the Netherlands.

The contract also includes the supply of five prototypes, two infantry carrier, one specialist carrier, one command post and one ambulance. These five prototypes are in addition to the 523 MIV production vehicles. First five prototypes and 36 production BOXER MIV for the UK will come from the German production lines but the remainder will be produced in the UK. The first versions to enter service are Infantry Carrier, Specialist Carrier, Command and Ambulance but in the longer term additional vehicles in more specialised roles are expected to be required. Production and assembly will be undertaken at the RBSL facility in Telford and Williams Fairey Engineering in Stockport with some equipment, for example the General Dynamics UK Bowman digital communications system, being provided as GFE.

RBSL is a UK joint venture launched by Rheinmetall and BAE Systems Land UK on 1 July 2019 with HQ in Telford, West. Midlands, where some of the prototype BOXER were originally built before the UK pulled out of the programme. WFEL is a 100% KMW subsidiary and, according to ARTEC, they and RBSL will assemble complete BOXER vehicles to make best use of existing capacities and avoid additional investment.

BOXER is already in service with Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands and entering service with Australia with some 1,400 under contract or delivered.

The UK has a requirement for a Multi-Role Vehicle – Protected (MRV-P), with the Group 1 requirement to be met by the Oshkosh Defense Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) already in production for the US armed forces and export.

There is a competition for MRV-P Group 2, with the two remaining contenders being Thales Australia (BUSHMASTER 4ࡪ) and GDELS – MOWAG EAGLE V (6࡬). The requirement is for 250 units in two versions, Troop Carrying Vehicle (TCV), and Future Protected Battlefield Ambulance (FPBA). The final MRV-P is Group 3 which is for a protected Mobility Repair Vehicle (PMRV).

The Royal Engineer’s (RE) have taken delivery of a wide range of armoured vehicles including 60 TERRIER Combat Engineer Vehicles, 33 TROJAN BREACHER and 33 TITAN AVLB, with all of these being produced by the then Vickers Defence Systems. For operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the UK procured a large number of wheeled Mine Resistance Ambush Protected (MRAP) type vehicles to replace vehicles such as the Snatch Land Rover (4ࡪ) which were very vulnerable to IED as well as small arms fire and shell fragments.

Following a competition, in mid-2019 the UK DE&S organisation awarded a contract to NP Aerospace valued at £63M for vehicle “Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) which runs through to 2024.

Under the terms of this contract, NP Aerospace and its partners will ensure that the British Army fleet of some 2,200 Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMV) are upgraded to the highest standards and ready for combat and ensures the vehicles are repaired, upgraded, and returned to the front line as soon as possible. The wheeled vehicles covered under this contract include the FOXHOUND, MASTIFF, WOLFHOUND, RIDGEBACK, BUFFALO, CHOKER, RODET, JACKAL, COYOTE, and HUSKY.

For PMET, NP Aerospace is the lead vehicle integration and engineering authority and will work closely with all of the vehicle OEM and three key partners. The latter are Atkins who are the systems safety partner, HORIBA MIA the vehicle engineering and test partner and Interactive Technical Solutions who are the integrated logistics support partner.

Under UOR funding, the UK also purchased from STK Land Systems 115 BRONCO all terrain tracked carriers (ATTC) which were delivered between 2009 and 2010. These were modified to meet UK requirements and called the WARTHOG. The UK procured four versions of the WARTHOG, ambulance, command vehicle, repair and recovery, and troop carrier. Modifications included mine protection, installation of bar armour, smoke grenade launchers, air conditioning system, cameras for situational awareness, and roof mounted PWS.

It was expected that these would be taken into the core British Army AFV programme, but a decision was subsequently taken that they would no longer be deployed. They are now up for sale by the Defence Equipment Sales Authority.

Christopher F. Foss has been writing on armoured fighting vehicles and artillery systems since 1970 and until recently was editor of Jane’s “Armoured Fighting Vehicles” and the artillery element of “Jane’s Artillery and Air Defence”. He has also lectured on these subjects in many countries as well as chairing conferences all over the world. He has also driven over 50 tracked and wheeled AFVs.

Joint Power for Europe’s Next-Generation Fighter

New challenges call for new responses. When it comes to the protection of the German and European airspace, a system made up of manned and unmanned flight vehicles – dubbed the Future Combat Air System (FCAS) – is the solution. And the Next-Generation Fighter (NGF) will be an essential part of this. The NGF is expected to enter service by 2040 – powered by an engine that goes far beyond today’s capabilities.


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