WARRIOR CAPABILITY SUSTAINMENT PROGRAMME TAKES SHAPE
By Julian Nettlefold, Editor, BATTLESPACE
We must stress at the outset of this article that because of the growing urgency of the Requirement, it has been delayed and a new Requirement is being written around a solution that can be provided in the short to medium term, rather than wait for high-end solution. The MOD has asked Industry for solutions and has decided to bring forward the requirement and de-scope it for early introduction of the system in 2010 to improve Warrior capability in Afghanistan.
Currently there are two programmes for Warrior being considered by the MoD, the Mid-Life Improvement (WMLI) is one programme, the Lethality Improvement Programme, (WLIP) another, they were always separate programmes. WMLI about FIST and fitting the vehicle systems to support that, whilst WLIP is about the turret and gun. WMLI is scheduled to run alongside FIST in 2008/9, whereas WLIP is in the 2011/2012 timescale. However, we now understand that, to save integration costs and time, that the IPT is considering merging the two Requirements into the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme. This would enable ABRO, which is currently refurbishing Warriors as they return from theatre to work the required upgrades into the vehicles as they flow down the line at Donnington.
Thus, combining these two, the UK MoD’s Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP)is still taking shape with bidders for the Turret Integration Requirement laying out their stall at this year’s DSEI. The IPT has shortlisted four bidders, Finmeccanica, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin INSYS, and GDUK. Finmeccanica is offering its Oto Melara HITFIST turret as mounted on Polish Patria 8×8 APC, Lockheed Martin is offering a derivative of a Rheinmetall turret, BAE is offering its CTA solution whilst GDUK is offering the GD Mk40 turret as used on the Marines EFV vehicle. The overall value which includes the turret and gun, new APU, upgrades and HUMS is approximately £800m for 449 turret systems.
The DPA is examining whether there is a need for upgunning Warrior and whether 40mm CTA would be the right choice. CTA has received £6m to develop a turret for the gun and to undertake some risk reduction to see whether the system is suitable, a far cry from being the preferred choice for the DPA. The DPA is a long way from issuing a requirement for this stage of the WLIP and is awaiting the UOR document from QinetiQ which has been contracted to undertake a study. Thales has been given some development money for a stabilised sight for Warrior whilst there is also believed to be some P-BISA money flowing into the requirement as WLIP requires a stabilised platform. CTA also has a £2m contract to develop an airburst round, a requirement that other companies such as Rheinmetall, the world leader in such fuzes, are believed to have declined.
The issue is calibre and whether the required gun should be able to engage vehicles such as BMP-3 as required from the TRACER/FSCS Requirement or be used as an Infantry Support Weapon. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have sharpened the views of the IPT as the current Rarden canon is rendered obsolete in supporting infantry in certain scenarios of ambush and patrol as it cannot fire on the move and thus provide the required covering fire. The stabilized platform for WLIP will give the infantry the required capability.
The crucial Requirement for WLIP is for the new turret system to provide fire suppression and close support to infantry when they come under fire. The current Rarden system is not stabilized and thus the gun cannot sustain accurate fire when the vehicle is on the move. In addition, the ability of the gun to dual feed ammunition is again crucial to survivability. Rarden has only a single feed utilising clips of three, thus only one mode of ammunition can be used at a time. The secondary Requirement, more suited to the FRES Recce Requirement is to