LAST DITCH ATTEMPT TO GET FRES UNDER CONTRACT
By Julian Nettlefold
06 Nov 09. In what was described as, “A process crammed into two months which should have taken six.” by one SME bidding into BAE Systems for the rush to get the FRES Scout contracts submitted by November 1 The bids for the FRES Scout vehicle were submitted by General Dynamics and BAE Systems offering the ASCOD and CV90 respectively, with GD offering the Lockheed Martin turret developed for Warrior and FRES with the ability to use the CTA 40mm and ATK Bushmaster 30/40. BAE is offering a modified MTIP 2 turret to make more room for the FRES Requirement with CTA without any option for the Bush 40.
In a brief last month at the MoD, the Panel told journalists that they were concerned with the growing numbers of vehicles coming into their inventory. The Editor asked then why they were proposing to buy either CV90 or ASCOD when Warrior was available? The Panel seemed unaware that Warrior was the same age, dimensions and weight as CV90. There are 50 Warriors in storage at Donnington which could easily be upgraded by DSG to meet the FRES Scout requirement. The mystery remains as to the whereabouts of the warrior jigs. Nick Prest has assured the Editor that they still exist, then why does BAE not offer an upgraded Warrior which is probably the best APC in the world and now has the required UORs to bring the vehicle spec in line with current Theatre? CV90 and ASCOD will require UORs to bring them up to current theatre standard which will add to the bill, also the Scimitar and Warrior crews and mechanics transitioning to the chosen vehicle will require costly and lengthy training.
The sticking point is the turret/canon configuration which could sink the whole process, even if FRES Scout survives not only General Sir David Richards’s reported wish to transform the Army away from legacy systems such as FRES and the incoming Government’s likely Defence Review. Neither turret offered by BAE or GD is mature enough as the canon, CTA, which the MoD has mandated, is not even productionised, neither is the ammunition. The canon will have to pass the required TRLs in the process to make it reliable enough for production and then the whole process has to be repeated to qualify the turret with the canon. The recent reported setback where BATTLESPACE understands that a misfire in the breech caused an explosion on a CTA test does not bide well for the qualification of the gun or the ammunition, which in itself has a long way to go with no crucial air burst round visible.
General Dynamics submitted its bid yesterday. The General Dynamics team, led by General Dynamics UK, is offering a low-risk evolution of the ASCOD Infantry Fighting Vehicle, already in use with the Spanish and Austrian armies, for the Specialist Vehicle element of the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES SV). The ASCOD SV vehicle will have the best mobility in its class, with tremendous growth potential for optimum survivability for British troops against the threats of the future. General Dynamics has
integrated turrets from every leading manufacturer onto its vehicles, and has selected Lockheed Martin UK INSYS as its turret provider for the Scout variant of FRES SV.
Dr Sandy Wilson, President and Managing Director of General Dynamics UK, said: “General Dynamics’ ASCOD SV has leap-frogged its rival for FRES. Based on a proven European design, ASCOD SV is the latest-generation vehicle developed specifically for FRES SV by a team of GD’s British and European engineers. It is a low-risk choice for FRES SV, with excellent weight and growth potential. Our UK engineering talent and experience means that General Dynamics UK is now the country’s leading integrator of Armoured Fighting Vehicles. We’re offering a new solution with best-of-class technology and the confidence that comes from our track record of being trusted to deliver.”
In accordance with the Defence Industrial Strategy and