07 Jun 06. In a surprise move the MoD’s DPA Close Armour IPT has not mandated BGTI for any of the prospective turret suppliers for the forthcoming WLIP, Warrior Improvement Programme. The fact that BGTI is a newish installation had led many observers to expect that it would be mandated, particularly given the work to upgrade the gimlet and other improvements undertaken with the CTAI turret contract.
However the situation is as follows; although BGTI has been fitted to Warrior and the CVRT fleet, the MoD has taken a view not to mandate it for WLIP. Sources close to BATTLESPACE believe that this is for the following reasons.
Not all of the current Warrior Fleet if fitted with BGTI, and if in fact the DPA goes for the upgrade of the 449 Warrior vehicles under WLIP, they will have to buy approx 100 more BGTI systems than currently contracted for.
Also some of the other turret systems, many of which are COTS solutions, have proven and fully integrated FCS and sighting systems from other manufacturers. To mandate BGTI could potentially add additional cost and risk to the programme. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.8 ISSUE 22, 02 June 2006, BAE SYSTEMS AND ABRO SQUARE UP OVER WARRIOR UPGRADE CONTRACT)
However that said BGTI does have the following in its favour. Although not technically the most advanced solution available on the open market, it is in-service with an established logistics & training footprint within UK MoD. It will provide adequate performance for the operational requirements of the Warrior vehicle and is cost effective. Other possible contenders remain the Hägglunds UTAS and GD MK46 sighting systems which are viewed in some quarters as much better but they are also more expensive. The loser in the original BGTI requirement, DRS, which has now developed a strong capability in advanced optical systems may also come back into the fray, this time on its own, not with a UK partner, as it did with Avimo last time. The Avimo/DRS bid was looked upon favourably the last time and now that DRS is ten times the size it was then and has access to the huge DoD R&D fund and has considerable expertise in the Bradley Reset Program and is now fully established in the U.K., we may expect developments here. DRS already supplies Platform Bisa Processor Units (PBPUs) and the Commander’s Crew Station (CCS) on Challenger 2. BATTLESPACE is interviewing Fred Marion of DRS at Eurosatory and DRS’s strategy in this area will become clearer.
BATTLESPACE sources suggest that the smarter turret suppliers will offer a BGTI option to the DPA and allow the customer to make the decisions based on cost performance trades. Thales has a strong card in its position as the incumbent supplier from its Glasgow Plant and will obviously be trying their best to preserve their BGTI business base in the UK on Warrior and thus for any export requirements and FRES.
Original favourites CTAI have tried to up the stakes on this programme by moving it away from a gun competition to a turret system level. However they will be going head to head with GD, Oto Melara, Hägglunds, Bofors, UDLP & Rheinmetall amongst others. All these have a proven and solid track record in turret and turret integration to multiple platform types. CTAI has no production base, no previous turret experience, not to mention a cannon and ammo technology that is still extremely high risk. Timescales may be running against CTAI as it still has to establish a filling plant and productionise the canon, both of which are very costly and time consuming.
If the DPA decide that the WLIP will run concurrently with the Reset Programme post-Iraq this will mean a shorter timescale and favour not only ABRO which is lobbying hard to have the work done at its Donnington Plant at the same time as the Reset and the established turret manufacturers and ATK’s internationally established Bushmaster canon. BAE is believed to be wanting the Warrior Upgrade Programmes to be brought into one Prog