FUTURE VEHICLE CAPABILITY VISION – THE ROAD AHEAD FOR THE FUTURE
By Julian Nettlefold
14 Apr 11. At a briefing on defence procurement reform in London in 2009 Lord Drayson the then Minister for Defence Procurement stated that the time had come for the development of a new procurement policy to stop defence procurements of equipment where the contract had met problems or cost overruns. This was echoed last night at the SSFA Corporate Friends meeting at Ernst & Young’s London Headquarters in a speech by Ursula Brennan, Permanent Under Secretary of State at the U.K. MoD. Could this be the way to deal with the Scout programme and its sister FRES UV?
Our views on the FRES debacle are well rehearsed, not least being the £300 million of MoD money wasted without producing one single vehicle which could have been used to save lives in Afghanistan.
However, the debacle could be used to great effect by the MoD to defer the buy of Scout and FRES, a system which is now so tainted that only consultants and Civil Servants make money from it, to have a major rethink on the future armoured vehicle requirements for the British Army.
What has in essence happened with Scout and FRES and is clearly also facing the DoD over the proposed Ground Combat Vehicle is that current designs have hit a technology brick wall. Whether you dress up Scout as a ‘new Warrior’ the fact remains that both vehicles are broadly similar in weight performance and technology with Scout coming wrapped in brand new paper to give those championing it a plinth to claim the huge advances in technology – wrong! Why buy a vehicle for the next 25 years which was developed in the 1980s? It will be old before its time and cost huge sums of money to update it over the coming years. The huge £500 million slated for seven Scout prototypes comes on top of the FRES money. What will the MoD get for this huge spend, an ASCOD with an advanced databus system, network and advanced protection. Not a lot for £500 million!
What the MoD should consider doing as stated by Ursula Brennan and Lord Drayson is to scrap Scout and FRES UV, use the money to buy a small number of UORs for Afghanistan and invest the savings in the future.
The FRES UV programme was damned by many, including BATTLESPACE as the worst procurement ever and a waste of money. However an analysis of vehicles purchased by other countries including the USA in particular and Germany show that these vehicles were designed for a pre-IED war and that they will need updating to meet this new threat. The U.S. DoD has quietly got the Stryker double hull update underway to offer greater protection, the next stage being an automotive update to accommodate this extra weight. These enhancements are also being fed through to the new GD Piranha 5. These enhancements certainly give the user a better protected and user-friendly vehicle, but it is just an upgrade rather than an update. The spend of £300 million was perhaps far more than was required to find out these problems but had the MoD gone ahead with the purchase of Piranha but it is likely that any upgrades required to bring the vehicles up to Theatre Level Entry standard would cost a great deal more.
The answer is a complete rethink of future vehicle designs, tearing up the technology of the past and start again from a clean sheet. This is exactly what the U.K. MoD has done with its Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision (FPV). The Editor wrote to Lord Mandelson during the financial crisis and suggested that as part of the excellent Composites Initiative that the government include the design of a new armoured vehicle which would give the UK a world lead and leap frog existing technologies. Well, it looks like FPV might be the beginnings of this process.
Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision
Background of Future Protected Vehicle Capability Vision (FPVCV) as published by the MoD.
Since WWII the development of armoured vehicles has been largely