FRES/MEDIUM FORCE – ITS ALL IN THE NUMBERS
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
The RUSI Future Armour Conference in June drew attention to a number of crucial developments in the U.K.’s FRES Programme currently being managed on behalf of the DPA by Atkins.
BAE Land Systems briefed BATTLESPACE Editor Julian Nettlefold with developments of the company’s bid for the Technology Demonstrator Programmes. The budget for the TDPs is only £65m, a drop in the ocean when compared to the U.S. average of 12% of contract value for TDPs. The IOC for the first 100 vehicles is slated for 2012; there are 14 variants planned with current funding of £14bn.
BAE is bidding the Chassis TDP against General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS). GDLS is hopeful of receiving its TDP next week. (See: GD SHOWS THE WAY AHED, L-3 AND HORSTMAN SHOW OFF ACTIVE SUSPENSION ON LANCER CHASSIS)
The announcement by Brigadier General Charles A. Cartwright, Program Manager, FCS Unit of Action, during the AUSA Winter meeting that the U.K. and the U.S. had agreed an MoU on co-operation for the U.S. Future Combat System (FCS) and the UK’s Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) has clarified the confusion with regard to U.S. Industry participation in FRES and the ongoing ITAR problems. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.7 ISSUE 6, 10th February 2005, FRES LOOKS TO EUROPE – U.S. COMPANIES TO BE SIDELINED?)
“Brigadier Moore and I signed the MoU in December to commence co-operation between the two nations on their respective projects,” he told BATTLESPACE Editor, Julian Nettlefold, “This does not mean that FRES becomes part of the FCS Program but allows for both systems to share technology and interoperability and logistic support.” (BAATLESPACE will run an interview with General Cartwright in our October issue)
When asked by the Editor whether the ITAR problems would restrict technology transfer his view was that this MoU would smooth the way for technology transfer but the UK’s Defence Industrial Policy required that the bulk of the FRES IP and technology should reside in the U.K. In fact some agreements for ITAR transfer had already been agreed.
“The signing of the MoU would start a process of quarterly meetings starting with a January meeting in California, followed up by the RUSI conference in June.
Boeing also announced that there had been a separate agreement reached on the development of the C4I architecture with the FCS team, which may also curtail BAE’s aspirations to manage the FRES architecture.
However further details of numbers required and the establishment of the new Medium Force that will include existing systems such as 430, Warrior CVR(T) and Panther could well impinge on the Army’s aspirations of 3775 vehicles. “We are looking at £850k per baseline vehicle,” BAE told BATTLESPACE, based on the published numbers. However that price is bound to rise if the numbers decline. In addition there were whispers that an Interim Solution based on a re-engined 430 Series vehicle with a Cummins engine and upgraded armour and optics could be procured for the much needed Saxon replacement. The requirement for a wheeled vehicle for Northern Ireland usage is diminishing due to the rapid troop rundown in the area. A source close to BATTLESPACXE said. “Any slippage would require an interim solution given the age of the Saxon vehicles; if further slippage occurs, FRES could disappear all together.”
The MoD is now planning an £601m Warrior Upgrade Programme (WALIT)for 2010-1, this will include systems and chassis upgrades for some 1000 vehicles and a new canon which will be the same as the FRES canon, this is expected to be carried out by ABRO under sub-contract from BAE to keep the vehicle in service until 2035. In addition there will be a Challenger 2 Upgrade Programme at some point to allow the vehicle to continue in service until 2030.
The ageing CVR(T) vehicles, numbering some 1000 are also to be upgraded to keep them in service to 2