22 Mar 21. The UK Defence Command Paper announced this afternoon by Defence Secretary Ben Wallace contained some well-advertised announcements and some better kept secrets. The main thrust of the UK Defence Command Paper is to prepare the British Armed Forces for future conflicts using new technologies to meet the evolving threats in what will become multi-domain conflicts with space having a new and important exposure.
A certain element of UK Defence Command Paper was ‘The King’s New Clothes,’ or a ‘Jam tomorrow,’ approach to conceal the need to fill the huge funding gap in the existing equipment budget. Many of the technologies mentioned in the Paper are new and evolving and will take years to field. At the same time new training and doctrine techniques need to be developed to allow troops to work with unmanned vehicles and new technologies on the battlefield. In addition, the lawyers will be immersed in examining the legalities of deploying these unmanned systems and the consequences for such issues as blue-on-blue engagements with unmanned vehicles and new Rules of Engagement in general.
The Announcements (extracts)
The Army will receive significant investment in order to become more agile, integrated, lethal and expeditionary. We will invest an additional £3bn in new Army equipment on top of the more than £20bn planned. Investment in new vehicles (including Ajax, Boxer and, Challenger III); modernised long-range precision fires (including multiple launched rocket systems and Apache); new air defences; tactical surveillance drones; and new electronic warfare and cyberspace capabilities, will transform the Army’s equipment over the next decade.
The Army will be designed to operate globally on a persistent basis. A new Ranger Regiment will be the vanguard of this expeditionary posture as part of an Army Special Operations Brigade. This Regiment’s four all-arms units will be aligned with the new Divisions of Infantry and initially seeded from the current Specialised Infantry Battalions: 1 SCOTS, 2 PWRR, 2 LANCS and 4 RIFLES. They will be able to operate in complex, high-threat environments, taking on some tasks traditionally done by Special Forces. This work will involve deterring adversaries and contributing to collective deterrence by training, advising and, if necessary, accompanying partners. The Army will establish this Regiment in August and invest over £120m over the next four years in equipping it.
In addition, a new Security Force Assistance Brigade will be established. They will draw on personnel and expertise from across the Army. These units will be expert in building the capacity of allied and partner nations. Routinely deployed around the world these Security Force Assistance units will contribute to conflict prevention and resilience at an early stage. Defence’s global foundation will underpin this.
The Army’s increased forward presence will be supported by a very high readiness Global Response Force, consisting of 16 Air Assault Brigade and the newly formed 1st Combat Aviation Brigade, which will be ready to respond to emerging crises from humanitarian relief through to crisis response and warfighting. The newly formed Land Operations Command will coordinate the Army’s global engagement daily.
While this renewed structured is optimised to operate, warfighting capability remains the cornerstone of deterrence and the bedrock of a world-class British Army. The 3rd (UK) Division will remain at the heart of this, able to manage a multi-domain battle in ever greater depth; designed to act with NATO and capable of providing a framework for Allies. The 1st (UK) Division will be capable of operating independently or as part of multilateral deployments. It will provide theatre enablement and offers NATO the agility to command operations on its flanks.
The 6th (UK) Division will deliver cyber, electronic warfare, information operations and unconventional capabilities designed for warfighting and for operations conducted below the threshold of war. We will also continue to lead the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) headquarters, which stands at high readiness to deploy and lead NATO’s Response Force. The Reserve component is intrinsically important to the generation of warfighting mass.
The Army of the future will be leaner, more lethal, nimbler, and more effectively matched to current and future threats. The new structure will reorganise the Army into more self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams (BCT) able to meet demand by drawing on their own dedicated logistics and combat support units. A new Deep Recce Strike BCT will combine the Ajax’s formidable sensors with enhanced fires systems to provide long-range persistent surveillance for the coordination of deep fires. Overall, this restructuring will see a reduction from the current Full Time Trade Trained strength of 76,000 to 72,500 by 2025.
The restructuring of the Army means fewer units are required. The creation of Combat Service Support Battalions will require fewer separate units of logisticians, electrical and mechanical engineers, and medics. The Infantry will be restructured into four divisions. These divisions will comprise a balanced number of battalions offering the full range of infantry roles. No cap badges will be deleted nor any redundancies required. It will ensure all infantry soldiers can access the full range of operational opportunities. Across all parts of the Army, these new structures provide more operational resilience, integration, deployability and greater opportunity for our people. The introduction of ‘Intelligent Recruiting’ will ensure that personnel are also better allocated across the Infantry. This new structure will require the deletion of a single infantry battalion and a further four battalions will provide the foundational units of the Ranger Regiment.
Through a more productive integration of the Reserves, increased lethality of weapon systems and survivability of platforms, and a specialised workforce fit for the digital age, the Army will continue to be world-class. Human-machine teaming will also play an increasingly prominent role in how the Army delivers effects. We will make sure that we are fit for the challenges of the future with the establishment of a new experimentation battalion, drawn from the Yorkshire Regiment, which will lead in the trialling of cutting-edge technology and its integration into the way we fight; testing the BCTs to their limits, driving innovation and ensuring that the Army’s structures, equipment and way of fighting evolve in line with the threats.
Warrior WCSP Cancelled, Challenger III Goes Ahead. Ajax Procured In Full
Modernising the Army will mean some legacy platforms that have already been extended beyond their planned life will be retired. In doing so, the Army will be able to invest new funds into accelerating the in-service date of the Boxer armoured vehicle and enhancing its capability. Boxer will allow the Army to respond at pace to deliver soldiers around the battlefield, travelling long distances quickly, cross country, and in the most austere and hostile environments. As planned, the Army will invest around £1.3bn in our armoured capability by upgrading 148 of our main battle tanks to ensure the Challenger III will become one of the most protected and most lethal in Europe. The remaining fleet will be retired. We will no longer upgrade Warrior but it will remain in service until replaced by Boxer, which we expect to happen by the middle of this decade.
Now that WCSP has been cancelled after the MoD spending £500m and Lockheed £100m of its own money, wait for the gloves to come off for the blame game to commence! Reports stated that BAE Systems were wary of WCSP given their paying out for overruns on Terrier, so submitted their bid accordingly. In the Editor’s view, the dogged decisions to keep the CT40 as the armament of Warrior in the face of mounting criticism of its performance and TRL level took the whole of WCSP down with it! That is where the debate will be around the GFE equipment and its effect on the cost overruns.
When asked by the Editor today, the MoD would not comment on the TRL Level of CT40 or the overall cost to the taxpayer.
The MoD said in the earlier briefing that the full complement of Ajax vehicles will be procured particularly as the Army needs the Recce variant for the Deep Recce Brigade Combat teams formed as part of this Review.
Investment in ground-based air defence will deliver a system of survivable and digitally connected platforms with a new short-range capability, including small drones, and a new deployable medium range capability. These will give the Army an air defence capability to defeat modern airborne threats.
An investment of over £200m over ten years will deliver an enhanced electronic warfare and signal intelligence capability. An increase in new personnel able to collect and exploit signals intelligence will demonstrate a significant uplift in our electronic warfighting capability in all formations.
Killing off Warrior will put the Strike Brigades at a disadvantage given that Boxer needs to keep up with Challenger III. Sources suggest that the MoD has looked at the Rheinmetall Lynx tracked APC. Or, there may be a competition as in Australia to include such vehicles as the Hanwha Redback? The MoD will have to take a £500m hit on Warrior as will Lockheed Martin which has spent £100m of its own money on WCSP. Where this leaves the CT40 Programme, which in our view was the major contributor to Warrior’s demise is unsure. Any Boxer variant to support infantry will require a turret and Lithuania is the only European customer to order this and there is no Boxer turret in production with CT40 mounted. At least the MoD has kept Warrior in service until a Boxer replacement is developed.
UK Industrial Strategy
From an industrial point of view, Warrior is key to the UK tracked vehicle supply chain and cancelling WCSP will cause some firms to go bust. In essence this announcement hands the UK armoured vehicle supply chain to German and Spanish companies.
Babcock is already conducting a comprehensive review of all its businesses following the arrival of new CEO David Lockwood. Loss of WCSP where Babcock Land Defence Ltd. (previously DSG) had a major part to play in supplying the upgraded raw hulls, will usher in the much-predicted write-down of the DSG acquisition and also the possible sale of the unit. Lockheed has already stated that the future of its Ampthill turret facility will be reviewed in the event of a cancellation of WCSP. Finding a buyer for the Warriors will be an uphill struggle given their condition and the huge international choice for such vehicles on the world market. Expect Kuwait to follow suit and cancel its Warrior upgrade and to buy a new fleet. One option could be to retain a number of Warriors to be converted at a later date to ABSV to replace the ageing FV430 Series which is still in service. (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.23 ISSUE 11, 15 March 2021, NEWS IN BRIEF – UNITED KINGDOM AND EUROPE, £80bn boost for UK military)
Lockheed Martin commissioned a paper emphasising the contribution that Warrior made to the UK Defence Industrial Base; this appears to have been ignored by the MoD.
Some 2,000 jobs at Lockheed Martin UK and its supply chain, which is 80 percent British, are now at risk as well as the future of a center of excellence in turret design the company has spent some £200m ($280m) developing at Ampthill, southern England, over the last ten years.
A KPMG report commissioned by Lockheed Martin said that upgrade work for an assumed 275 vehicles over the next eight years could bring about £1bn, or $1.4bn, gross value added (GVA) to the British economy.
Aside from Warrior, the Ampthill site also produces turrets for the General Dynamics UK Ajax armored reconnaissance vehicles being assembled for the British Army in a factory in South Wales.
Karen Wilken of Lockheed Martin told BATTLESPACE that interest in the export market was expected to grow once the turret is in service.
A £16bn ($22bn) market for medium-caliber turrets over the next 10 years is forecast, she said.
Lockheed Martin UK is already seeking to leverage its WSCP skills and is undertaking conceptual work on future turret developments, including what the company calls an unmanned urban fighting vehicle.
Company officials said future development maintaining British turret capabilities would be unlikely to survive axing of the WSCP.
Lockheed would not comment on cost of the huge investment made in the Ampthill site.
Statement From LOCKHEED MARTIN UK
In response to the statement made to the House of Commons today and publication of the Ministry of Defence document ‘Defence in a Competitive Age’ Lockheed Martin UK chief executive Peter Ruddock CBE said:
‘Against the backdrop of a government facing tough economic challenges we recognise that difficult decisions had to be taken during the integrated defence and security review. I’m disappointed that the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP), which would have provided the British army with a critical capability, will not proceed to a manufacturing contract.
We will review the Integrated Review, and use it to inform our long-term strategies and investment plans.
There are a number of areas where Lockheed Martin could grow its business, including in multi-domain integration, space, cyber and electronic warfare, weapons, and training.
We also see scope for greater collaboration with the commercial and technology sectors, building on our existing venture capital investments in areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence, and autonomy. This aligns with the Government’s technology and prosperity agenda.’
There is no mention of a JLTV Procurement for the Infantry.
The Army is retiring its oldest CH-47 Chinook helicopters and investing, alongside the US, in newer variants of this operationally proven aircraft, enhancing capability, efficiency and interoperability. Our AH-64 Apache Attack Helicopters will be upgraded to a state-of-the-art capability by 2025. Investment in a new medium lift helicopter in the mid-2020s will enable a consolidation of the Army’s disparate fleet of medium lift helicopters from four platform types to one; including the replacement of Puma. The Army will also retain and upgrade Watchkeeper.
Mobile Fires – Future Indirect Fire Weapon System – GMLRS ER PrSM
We plan to invest over £250m over ten years in the Guided Multiple Launch Rocket System (GMLRS) which will provide an upgraded long-range rocket artillery platform with new missiles that travel further and are more accurate. In addition, the Army is spending over £800m over the next ten years on a new automated Mobile Fires Platform that will deliver enhanced close support artillery systems and greater operational mobility. At the earlier briefing an Army spokesman said that one possibility would be an AS90 upgrade, although the age of the vehicle and lack of spares would appear to rule this out.
In the short term, the Army will invest to sustain the Exactor missile system. Over the longer-term this capability will be upgraded to provide enhanced lethality against emerging threats.
This is believed to include HIMARS on an MAN chassis and purchase of the Lockheed PrSM Precision Strike Missile for the MLRS and HIMARS vehicles (see: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.23 ISSUE 02, 11 January 2021, MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS, Options for UK Defence Review)
The 2015 National Security Strategy signalled a shift in the British Army’s planning focus from counter-insurgency (COIN), low-intensity operations to peer-on-peer conflict. While force design and doctrine are changing to reflect this, it has highlighted that certain capabilities, purchased during the Iraq and Afghanistan eras, might need to be employed differently if they are to retain utility in a divisional warfighting context. The EXACTOR missile, acquired in 2007, is one of those capabilities. While there is broad agreement that EXACTOR plugged an urgent capability gap in both Iraq and Afghanistan, concepts of operations are changing and new capabilities may need to be considered for a British Army gearing up for possible confrontation in Eastern Europe.
EXACTOR, originally designed as a standoff weapon that would allow the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) to degrade and destroy enemy armour from distance, fulfilled two roles in Iraq and Afghanistan. These were base defence and counter-battery capability against hostile indirect fires such as mortars. Its low-yield, real-time video image and accuracy made it an ideal rules of engagement compliant weapons system for COIN environments. Yet, EXACTOR’s range (25 km), whilst ideal for defending forward operating bases in Afghanistan, is too short to threaten Russia’s integrated air defence system (IADS) assets and other high value targets in the deep battlespace. Similarly, its four-pod configuration and reliance on a non-domestic supply chain means it is not optimised for engaging massed armour in the close battle either. (Source: RUSI)
As part of the £6bn investment in new technology, a part of that budget will be dedicated to developing new hypersonic weapons and a replacement for the Harpoon anti-ship missile.
The Royal Air Force will continue to grow its Combat Air capacity over the next few years as we fully establish all seven operational Typhoon Squadrons and grow the Lightning II Force, increasing the fleet size beyond the 48 aircraft that we have already ordered. Together they will provide a formidable capability, which will be continually upgraded to meet the threat, exploit multi-domain integration and expand utility. The Royal Air Force will spiral develop Typhoon capability, integrate new weapons such as the UK-developed ‘SPEAR Cap 3’ precision air-launched weapon and invest in the Radar 2 programme to give it a powerful electronically scanned array radar. We will integrate more UK weapons onto Lightning II and invest to ensure that its software and capability are updated alongside the rest of the global F-35 fleet.
We will also make a strategic investment of more than £2bn (£1.5bn of new money) over the next four years in the Future Combat Air System (FCAS). FCAS will deliver an innovative mix of crewed, uncrewed and autonomous platforms including swarming drones. This will deliver an advanced combat air system capable of fighting in the most hostile environments. The development of novel technologies, and a step change in how we use simulators for mission rehearsal and training, will enable the Royal Air Force to be among the most technologically innovative, productive and lethal air forces in the world.
The Royal Air Force’s cutting-edge equipment programmes will supercharge our contribution to national prosperity through innovation and investment in science and technology, building on our unique partnership with the UK’s aerospace and space technology sector.
The Royal Air Force will retire equipment that has increasingly limited utility in the digital and future operating environment. This will include rationalising older fleets to improve efficiency, retiring 24 Typhoon Tranche 1 by 2025, and Hawk T1. We will enhance the new military flying training system with further investment in synthetic training that will deliver more capable pilots more quickly and more efficiently. The Royal Air Force will retire the BAe146 as planned by 2022 and take the C130 Hercules out of service by 2023. The A400M Atlas force will increase its capacity and capability, operating alongside C-17 Globemaster and Voyager transport aircraft and tankers.
We will retire the E-3D Sentry in 2021, as part of the transition to the more modern and more capable fleet of three E-7A Wedgetail in 2023. The E-7A will transform our UK Airborne Early Warning and Control capability and the UK’s contribution to NATO. The nine P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft will help to secure our seas. The introduction into service of the 16 long-range Protector remotely piloted systems will be the backbone of persistent, multi-spectral surveillance, with the ability to strike and act decisively against our potential adversaries around the globe.
The Royal Air Force will amplify UK global influence by deepening our alliances in the Indo-Pacific, Middle East and Africa. Developing a global network of adaptable basing with key allies and partners will enable our aircraft to be forward deployed and able to respond ahead of potential adversaries. The Royal Air Force will play a key role in persistent engagement, including seeking prosperity opportunities through the delivery of world-class aviation training and building the capacity of partner nations’ air forces, such as the Joint Typhoon Squadron with Qatar. In addition, the Royal Air Force will continue to provide niche capacity building missions, including in areas such as intelligence and targeting, space, surveillance and reconnaissance, force protection, battlespace management, air traffic control, aeromedical advice and air safety.
Royal Navy Announcements
As the foremost Navy in Europe -one of only three navies in the world to be able to operate two 5th generation carriers and F-35B jets -the Royal Navy provides a critical contribution to NATO’s Defence and Deterrence of the Euro-Atlantic area through its highly capable, high readiness forces. By permanently attributing the nuclear deterrent, a Carrier Strike Group and Littoral Strike forces, we will cement our enduring commitment to NATO security objectives.
The Royal Navy will be a constant global presence, with more ships, submarines, sailors and marines deployed on an enduring basis, including to protect shipping lanes and uphold freedom of navigation. With support from partners in the Indo-Pacific, Offshore Patrol Vessels will be persistently deployed and a Littoral Response Group (LRG) in 2023 will complement the episodic deployment of our Carrier Strike Group; contributing to regional security and assurance.
The Royal Navy will invest £40m more over the next four years to develop our Future Commando Force as part of the transformation of our amphibious forces, as well as more than £50m in converting a Bay class support ship to deliver a more agile and lethal littoral strike capability. Forward deployed to respond rapidly to crises, this special operations-capable force will operate alongside our allies and partners in areas of UK interest, ready to strike from the sea, pre-empt and deter sub-threshold activity, and counter state threats. This will be enabled by the deployment of two Littoral Response Groups; the first in 2021 will be deployed to the Euro-Atlantic under a NATO and JEF construct, while a second will be deployed to the Indo will be deployed to the Indo-Pacific region in 2023. They will also be able to deliver training to our partners in regions of the world where maritime security is most challenging.
In conjunction with the US, and other NATO Allies, the Royal Navy will continue to invest in underwater capabilities as this remains pivotal to protect our critical national infrastructure, safeguard maritime trade and maintain our underwater advantage. This will include delivering a safer, faster and automated Mine Hunting Capability (MHC) in partnership with France. The Royal Navy will retire Mine Counter Measures Vessels as these new capabilities come into service.
The Integrated Review and the Accompanying Command Paper quite clearly is a trumpet blowing Post-Brexit fanfare of how Britannia will rule the waves and protect the UK’s multitude of overseas interests having left the EU. The UK will deploy to the Pacific Region to support its allies in that region to counter Chinese threats in the region. In the long term the armed forces will be smaller, more compact, more high-tech to meet and defeat these new threats. But, in the short term will be shorn of a great deal of legacy capability to enable the current remaining Programmes to be fulfilled. But as