AN APC IS NOT FOR CHRISTMAS
By Julian Nettlefold
17 Jul 09. One of the key indicators emerging from the current world recession is that, like 1929, that a technology gap has caused a drop in world trade and development.
This is as true in military equipment as other industrial goods like cars and trucks. The emergence of the hybrid car is a good example.
In armour and armoured vehicles the new IED theatre and the development of new composite armour has caused a rethink in the USA in particular and long-running projects like FCS have been consigned to the bin with a new look being made at a new fleet of vehicles with new technologies coming into service in around 2020. It is likely that with the success of the Oshkosh M-ATV vehicle in the USA and the TSV Fleet in the UK that both JLTV and OUVS may go the same way as FCS.
Our views on the FRES debacle are well rehearsed, not least being the £300 million of MoD money wasted without producing one single vehicle which could have been used to save lives in Afghanistan.
However, the debacle could be used to great effect by the MoD to defer the buy of FRES, a system which is now so tainted that only consultants and Civil Servants make money from it, to have a major rethink on the future armoured vehicle requirements for the British Army.
The offer by BAE Systems to supply CV90 for a complete replacement of all existing vehicles is seen by us as more as politicking and BAE trying to save what is left of its European armoured vehicle business by using the impending election to force the Government’s hand into saving jobs. But, CV90 is as old as Warrior and, in spite of BAE’s statements at the recent Industry day that it has made significant improvements to the vehicle, it is not the next-generation system required to take over from Warrior, CVR(T) and FV430. BAE needs the jobs at Haaglunds after the loss to Patria of the Swedish order. Again, this shows the technology gap with Sweden choosing to go the safe route of the Patria vehicles rather than buying the unproven SEP vehicle in spite of the huge investment made by BAE and the Swedish Government.
The risk-averse FRES IPT may see CV90 as a way of salvaging its reputation to bring in a replacement vehicle at little risk but with little new technology. But, you can bet that once the decision has been made that the IPT and the Army will have to re-look at the vehicle to bring it up to the current Theatre standard as warrior with the Required UORs. This will cost a huge amount, add weight and leave the MoD with a vehicle with little more capability than Warrior.
But Paul Stein, Science& Technology Director at the MoD has other ideas and has initiated a project for a 30 tonne tank project with the ‘capability/performance’ of a current Main Battle – Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision (FPVCV) – which will produce the technology required and make the U.K. a world leader in the next generation of armoured vehicles.
Background of FPVCV as published by the MoD
Since WWII the development of armoured vehicles has been largely evolutionary rather than revolutionary. This has resulted in increases in weight or compromises in capability in order to meet constraints of weight, size and cost. This Capability Vision (CV) seeks to break out of the traditional evolutionary Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) design cycle through generating radical concepts for a Next Generation family of
AFVs which exploit electric drive and other emerging technologies. The CV will aim to de-risk the integration of critical technologies and exploit the benefits of flexibility and synergy that they could provide. It will culminate in an integrated physical demonstrator which will embody the effectiveness, survivability and high tactical mobility currently associated with a MBT but with the logistic footprint and strategic mobility of a rapidly deployable, lightweight, air portable system. The vision will encompass the modular, open arch