FRES – TIME FOR AN NAO REPORT
By Julian Nettlefold
10 Jul 08. As the FRES Requirement appears stalled, we noticed a PQ by Dr Liam Fox as below. It makes staggering reading and is just the tip of the iceberg.
Armoured Fighting Vehicles
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer to the
hon. Member for North Durham of 13 June 2008, Official Report, column 556W, on
armoured fighting vehicles, if he will break the £130 million expenditure down
by year. 
Mr. Bob Ainsworth: Expenditure on the Future Rapid Effects System since the
launch of the assessment phase in 2004 is £127.993 million. This answer corrects
the previous answer I gave on 13 June 2008, Official Report, column 556W, to the
hon. Member for North Durham (Mr. Jones). The breakdown of this figure by year
is as follows:
Expenditure (£ million)
We draw our readers attention to the huge figure spent on FRES since 2004 – £130 million! Not one single vehicle has been built from this huge expenditure. But, this is only the start.
Dr Fox should table a Supplementary Parliamentary Question, as below:
Dr. Fox: To ask the Secretary of State for Defence pursuant to the answer on
armoured fighting vehicles, if he will break the spend on FRES and associated projects prior to 2004 by year.
£130 million will look like a Walk in the Park!
History of FRES
Firstly we must look at the situation when the first shot at renewing the British Army’s fleet of armoured vehicles took place – The Future Family of Light Armoured Vehicles – FFLAV.
In the 1980s the British Army had a fleet of some 3000+ CVR(T) vehicles in various configurations, a fleet of Saxon APCs, the deadly Fox armoured car, which regularly killed soldiers by turning over and a fleet of Warriors.
At that time there were a number of Companies able to compete for the new family, VSEL in Barrow, builders of the Light Gun and AS90, GEC Marconi at Leicester, Alvis original manufactures of CVR(T), GKN Defence at Telford, manufacturer of the Warrior and of course Vickers Defence Systems in Newcastle.
The MoD started work on replacing vehicles of the Scimitar family in particular, in the 1980s, with FFLAV programme. What must be appreciated is that the last wheeled vehicle to be designed and built in the U.K. was the Saxon – based on a Bedford 4 tonne chassis. Alvis had not built a wheeled vehicle since Saracen and Saladin in the 60’s, VSEL had never built a wheeled vehicle as neither had Vickers nor GEC Marconi. Thus the wheels vs. tracks argument was won in favour of tracks, as this is where the UK expertise lay. Also the CVR(T) range was regarded as an excellent and suitable vehicle to build on the next generation. Many vehicles had been sold overseas out of a total of 3500 built, thus there were export prospects for FFLAV.
CVR-T (Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance – Tracked) is a family of full tracked chassis, lightweight armored vehicles intended to fulfil a broad spectrum of roles. It was fielded by the British Army in the 1970s. CVR-T variants typically weigh between 8,000 and 9,000 kg, have a three-man crew and a top speed of 80 kilometres per hour.
The Saxon was intended to act as a cheap but efficient “battle-taxi” for units that would have to make long journeys from the UK to reinforce the BAOR. As a lightly armoured wheeled vehicle it is much faster – especially on roads – and easier to maintain than a tracked vehicle. Indeed, it shares many parts with commercial trucks, reducing the operating cost.
It is armoured against small-arms fire and shell splinters, but is not intended to stand up to any anti-vehicle weaponry. The vehicle has a single machine gun for local air defence, and can carry up to ten men.
A number of Saxon IS, or Saxon Patrol, vehicles were acquired for service in Northern Ireland, serving both as troop carriers