20 Mar 08. Sources close to BATTLESPACE tonight confirmed that Maj. General Alan Macklin has written to the main companies concerned in the Warrior WLIP Upgrade and FRES Programmes to confirm that the MoD has decided to mandate the CTAI system for the WLIP and FRES as the sole gun solution. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.10 ISSUE 11, 19 Mar 2008, Another gun another calibre!!). Companies involved include Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, ABRO, General Dynamics UK, Thales, Thales/Boeing, Atkins, Selex, CTAI and ATK, This sole source selection is contingent on the MoD securing satisfactory terms and conditions from the BAE/CTAI team. It was not confirmed which turret solution will be chosen but it is believed that the Warrior WLIP Programme will be reviewed and no doubt suffer some delays. The BAE MTIP 2 turret solution is seen as the front runner given its maturity.
The announcement is due to be made as part of the ongoing discussions which will take place next week between the French and U.K. Governments as to overall defence co-operation which may include an offer of UK involvement in the French Scorpion vehicle Program.
NEXTER is also believed to be making strong representations to win the FRES UV Programme and is believed to have offered substantial carrots for greater UK-French involvement in NEXTER itself.
Clearly there is a deal of politicking over this announcement as the CTAI Programme was the standard bearer Franco-British Programme and it would not be politic to announce a U.S. solution during a delicate State Visit which is also believed to include wider discussions on the CVF carrier Programme. It is believed that the two countries wanted to announce CTAI as the solution at Eurosatory four years ago.
None of the losing companies were available to comment given the holiday period, but it appears to be a kick in the teeth for SELEX, ATK and Lockheed Martin in particular, all of whom have invested a great deal of time and PV money in this Programme.
As our readers know, we have expressed concerns as to the technical abilities for the CTAI solution. Sources had expected that 40mm would be mandated given the cavalry’s desire to have a larger gun for FRES Recce but a down-select to mandate solely to CTAI was a bolt from the blue, particularly given the development stage of the gun and the ammunition; the MoD scrutineers must have been given some comfort in this area. One solution put forward was a 30 or 40mm gun with a missile such as Javelin to engage targets at longer range. However, CTAI is believed to have assured its customer that the gun can perform at long and short ranges. One result of the recent trials was believed to be a reduction in the lethality of the ammunition given the increased barrel wear found in trials. In addition given the technology, the CTA round is believed to suffer accuracy ‘wobble’ at short ranges. But, political Programmes tend to have money thrown at them!
This announcement also impinges on the Thales BGTI system which was designed for the Warrior and Scimitar 30mm systems and therefore may require re-engineering at considerable cost to meet the greater range of CTAI; a high costs to pay, given that the system is just bedding into service and has just been ordered for the Armoured Corps Scimitar Recce vehicles.
Whether or not the CTAI solution will come in service on time and within budget and whether it is the best solution for our soldiers appears to have taken second place to trumpeting it as the prize Joint Anglo-French Programme to kick off the discussions next week. This may appear to distance the U.K. from the U.S. in arms deals and hasten the building of a Pan European Procurement system which requires defence to be treated as a central issue thus taking the budget strain of individual countries.
Other sources suggest that this award could be a quid pro quo for GDUK winning the FRES UV selection. An announcement which will of course be made af