By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
24 May 07. As the heated debate over the British Army FRES requirement spreads to the highest echelons of the military; the tussle over the FRES funding is believed to have caused a confrontation between the Navy and the Army with the Army arguing that FRES should take preference over CVF. But, the Navy has staked its future, as has BAE Systems Surface Ship Division on CVF, so we can see the sparks flying for some time to come as Lord Drayson attempts to deliver Shipco to the MoD before CVF is signed. One can understand the reluctance not to sign as there would be little left for Shipco after the Type 45 contract is finished and FSC comes on stream.
This would remind our readers of the conversation between Herman Goering and Adolf Galland during the Battle of Britain as shown in the excellent film. “What can I give you to win the Battle?” Goering asked. “A squadron of Spitfires.” Was the response from Galland.
Returning to FRES, we understand a similar conversation took place between two senior British Army Officers with regards to FRES requirements. “Give me more Bulldogs!” was the response we understand to the question, not one welcomed by the IPT!
But, on close examination of the reply, it is spot on and right. Experiences, in Iraq in particular, in urban warfare fighting, has shown that tracked vehicles are able to get out of trouble in the narrow streets at a faster and safer mode than their wheeled counterparts. Tracked vehicles can use track steer to skid round in these streets whilst wheeled vehicles have to reverse with the commander showing himself out of his armoured cupola. A French vehicle provided a solution to enable drivers at both ends.
So is the FRES Utility Vehicle the right solution for today’s threat? The U.S. experience in using the reset Bradleys to huge effect supported by the Stryker Brigades in the open areas is working very well. Now that MRAP vehicles are being procured in their thousands, these will provide the protection for troops on patrol in urban areas. GD (UK) told BATTLESPACE last week that the Canadian Army has used its LAV vehicles to great effect supporting UK troops in Afghanistan.
So should the Army, the FRES IPT and the MoD stand back and examine the current and future threat and then model the FRES Requirement as is happening in the U.S.? At the recent FCS briefing Dennis Mullenberg of Boeing made it clear that FCS was a tracked solution with the Stryker Brigades being kept for rapid intervention and other roles.
So, should the FRES Utility Vehicle Requirement be looked at again, and for a start have name change, as FRES is becoming tainted!
Warrior and CTA
The Warrior has proved to be an excellent vehicle in Iraq and the WLIP requirement should be bought forward for these vehicles to be rest before 2012. On problem remains the WLIP turret upgrade integration programme where BATTLESPACE understands that to the ire of the MoD that BAE Corporate is pulling Hägglunds and Bofors out of WLIP, leaving the unproved, CTA system as the only contender. Sources suggest that BAE Land Systems supremo Linda Hudson sent the CA IPT a letter telling them it was done and that was it!! With CTA still struggling to prove itself, this may be a retrograde step! However, we understand that the IPT requires a bid for ammunition as well as the gun. This might stymie BAE as no production line has been established for the CTA ammunition which we understand is still causing gas escape problems into the turret. This underlines the Health and safety issues so clearly outlined in the original U.S. Report on June 14, 1996: Report No. 96-164: MEMORANDUM FOR UNDER SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR ACQUISITION AND TECHNOLOGY, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE NAVY (FINANCIALANAGEMENT AND COMPTROLLER), ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF THE AIRFORCE(FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT AND COMPTROLLER), AUDITOR GENERAL, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY. SUBJECT: Technica