There have been a number of recent features in the press regarding the progress of the UK’s Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP).
In 2009 BAE Systems, as Design Authority was commissioned by the MoD to produce a programme outlining the way forward to increase the lethality and performance of Warrior, after perceived failings observed during both Gulf Wars.
The Study was then put out to competition between BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin was selected in 2011.
An Ageing Platform!
The first rule of thumb for any MoD looking to upgrade an ageing armoured vehicle fleet is, beware!
Seasoned BATTLESPACE readers will have seen over the years the number of UK armoured vehicle Programmes to hit the buffers, we won’t rehearse these again!
Warrior, by its very age (over 30 years) and condition adds an extra challenge to the MoD and Lockheed Martin, the ability to supply an enhanced vehicle within the 1980s design, in an ageing aluminum hull, using the same running gear as designed for the lighter original vehicle. During the bidding process BAE Systems warned of such problems and lost out to Lockheed Martin. BAE had already suffered from Liquidated Damages for the late delivery of the Terrier Engineer vehicle, which we must not forget, was a new design and not an upgrade.
Lockheed Martin UK Contract
Lockheed Martin UK was contracted to make major enhancements to the lethality and survivability of the Warrior IFV including full electronic architecture, new main armament and improved levels of vehicle and crew protection. Lockheed Martin has developed and built a new turret which will be integrated onto the base platforms to begin Reliability Growth Trials (RGT) in 2017. In September 2015 the Programme took a major step forward with the completion of a Critical Design Review (CDR).
A team from Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill site, who are working to deliver the British Army’s Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme, spent several days analysing and scrutinising the proposed design alongside representatives from the Ministry of Defence. The CDR is the final stage of the design and development phase of the programme, which is enhancing the combat capability of 245 of the Army’s fleet of Warrior vehicles with a new turret, cannon and electronics. Its completion was a major milestone and demonstrates the maturity of the project. The CDR follows successful live firing trials that took place in Scotland in April with the new turret and cannon.
However, concern remains that the MOD Programme is over budget with the blame finger being pointed at the CT40 cannon and consequential impact into the turret. Sources close to the programme told BATTLESPACE that certainly the CT40 cannon had delayed the Lockheed programme. The MoD also determined that the new turret needed wider hatches to accommodate the new body armour package, a new Rotary based Junction to take account of new power requirements and software and LRU upgrades, under a package costing £58 million. BATTLESPACE understands that a future ECM (Electronic Counter Measures) upgrade has also been accommodated within the design but has not yet been implemented.
In spite of all the above, Lockheed Martin said in a statement that WCSP is on track with all the enhancements and changes made within the original contract timescale. Sources have told BATTLESPACE that the first four turrets are being issued to the MoD this month for Reliability Growth Trials and eleven turrets and vehicles will be delivered to Bovington by the end of the year for Reliability Trials lasting a year. It is understood Lockheed will have approximately 50 people based at Bovington during this period.
However, other sources told BATTLESPACE that the original Thorough Life Costs required have been discarded, given the extra weight and the delay of the Programme (the vehicle is 5 years older) and extra spares and support will be required bringing the total contract value to £1.8 billion. The cost of keeping the spares supply for such an ageing vehicle adds considerable costs.
The forthcoming Trials will determine whether the addition of extra weight will impact on the performance of the existing Running Gear and whether any additional strain to the system will impact on projected Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) of the vehicle. Also, the cost of keeping the spares supply for such an ageing vehicle adds considerable costs.
In addition to the work carried out by Lockheed Martin under WCSP, Babcock DSG will be stripping down all the hulls and upgrading them, including delamination, to take account of any cracking. The running gear, including engine and gearbox remain as the original vehicle.
Another factor affecting the contract price is the reduction in the number of Brigades under the new British Army structure, that would give a smaller fleet including training stock in Canada of between 320 to 350 vehicles and thus raise costs per vehicle. The residue vehicles would then be considered for the ABSV Requirement for which BAE Systems has already conducted a Study including a Bridging Variant.
Once trials commence in 2017 then the MoD will be on track as to whether the vehicle transitions to a full production contract taking it through to 2040. Sources suggest that, given budgetary requirements and the current reported £20 billion overspend, that the MoD has commissioned a new study by Jane’s IHS to look at alternative vehicles such as CV90 or an Ajax APC variant. An Ajax solution for WCSP would give a huge saving in Through Life Costs, commonality and fleet age and could be the answer though this would be a significant upfront investment and further delay.
The Warriors would then transition to ABSV variants, removing the turrets, which of course reduces weight, and thus allows more protection, would give an FV430 Series Replacement as the US Army has done with the older Bradley chassis under the AMPV Program to replace the M113 fleet. Surplus Warrior vehicles would then be cannibalized to provide a spares package.