On July 30th the Lockheed Martin UK Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) Team gave an upbeat brief regarding WCSP reaching the next milestone in the Programme by successfully completing Phase One (59 Battlefield Missions) of the Reliability Growth Tests (RGT) taking place at ATDU Bovington.
WCSP addresses key capability gaps faced by the legacy vehicle. Once in-service, the significantly enhanced capability will change the way the British Army operates, enabling soldiers to carry out tasks in an even safer, and more modern environment. The key upgrade being delivered by Lockheed Martin is the ability to fire-on-the-move with the new CT40 stabilised cannon. The new digital turret will not only upgrade the lethality of the platform, but the enhanced situational awareness will provide soldiers with a far greater understanding of the battlespace.
The Integrated Defence Review has put a question mark over not only the future overall defence budget but also individual programmes such as Warrior CSP given that the production contract is subject to final approvals.
Despite COVID-19 temporarily suspending trials down at Bovington, it wasn’t long before trials were successfully and safely recommenced. The Joint Team developed and implemented a highly rigorous and enhanced health and safety plan that would see crew members re-enter trials without compromising crew safety and welfare, which the company states have been and remains central to trials. Although there have been some setbacks and delays caused by the pandemic, trials have remained to schedule and will recommence in September once the Range reopens.
RGT demonstrates and proves the three original elements intended for Warrior enhancements: Fightability and Lethality; Enhanced Electronic Architecture; and the Modular Protection System. It is so designed to prove the reliability of the GFE CT40 cannon and associated ammunition and its integration within the new turret. The WCSP enhanced Electronic Architecture (EA) and power supply, particular to the new turret, Human Factors, Logistics and the new Modular Armour Protection System, are divided into twelve different Test Groups for the ongoing Trials Phase which has now reached the half-way point with completion date expected to be in mid-2021 with Design Acceptance taking place mid-2021.
The joint WCSP team, Lockheed Martin UK, British Army and Armoured Trials and Development Unit, successfully completed the significant milestone of 59 Battlefield Missions (BFMs), – bringing the programme to the end of the first phase of the Reliability Growth Tests (RGT).
Battlefield Missions (BFMs) are how the reliability growth is demonstrated along with parallel Qualification and Verification (Q&V) trials to demonstrate that WCSP has met the contract requirements. By the time the development programme comes to a conclusion, the vehicles will have travelled the equivalent distance of a return journey from the North to the South Pole.” Peter Somerville of Lockheed Martin UK told BATTLESPACE.
The WCSP trials, which started in 2019, are now at a significant point in the development programme. There have been a number of successful first-time events that have demonstrated the game-changing enhancements made to the platform. Once in-service, the updated and modernised platform will provide the British Army with the Armoured Fighting Capability it needs; it will serve for several decades to come.
Keren Wilkins, Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme Director at Lockheed Martin said, “This is a tremendous achievement – the programme is at an exciting and equally critical point. With half of the trials successfully behind us, we’re now preparing for the second and final phase of Reliability Growth Tests. The Programme has turned a real corner, it continues to run to schedule and has demonstrated a number of successful first-time events. Despite some of the challenges presented by COVID-19, the joint team has pulled out all the stops to complete this significant milestone. The trust, transparency and partnership across the team truly underpins the progress that is being made on the programme.”
“Have you finalised the design and supply chain?” The Editor asked.
“Yes, the Design is finalised and now that we have received the Invitation to Negotiate, we are developing Supply Chain solutions to meet the production and in-service requirement. Any emergent additions, not currently in our baseline design will have to be addressed through competition.
“The updated platform will provide a future proof UK sovereign Armoured Fighting Capability which supports 900 skilled jobs across the UK supply chain, many of which are small-medium sized British businesses. A WCSP production contract will protect these jobs and lead to the creation of even more UK jobs to produce and sustain the capability. We have now finalised all the sub-system designs, any new areas of scope will be competed for the Production Contract. One of the areas we will be competing is the Integration contract for the conversion of the hulls. The raw hulls will be supplied to an agreed WCSP design entry standard by Babcock Land Defence Limited (formerly DSG) as Government Furnished Equipment to the WCSP selected Integrator. Lockheed Martin (UK) is supplying the Hull Modification Kits.” Keren Wilkins, said.
“When do you expect a Production Contract? CDS General Sir Nick Carter said at a recent conference that he expects Main Gate in November 2020.”
“We are aware that Army are targeting a Main Gate submission by year (2020) end but cannot speculate when that may be followed up with a contract award. RGT is due to finish next summer (2021).” Keren Wilkins said.
“Do you expect any penalties for any Trials delays or design changes?”
“The WCSP development phase contract is a firm price programme. Lockheed Martin funds schedule and cost impacts where they are not the responsibility of the MoD. Specification and design changes requested by the MoD are implemented with strict reviews as a contract amendment. As of 31st December 2019, Lockheed Martin absorbed a loss of around £100 million from WCSP on a contract value of around £300 million.
Col Howard Pritchard, Assistant Head Combat Programmes Deliver for the British Army, said, “I am delighted to see that Warrior CSP remains on target to successfully reach its reliability growth targets. Achieving the 59th BFM against the backdrop of COVID-19 social distancing measures and Government guidelines has been a challenge for all but overcome through excellent teamwork and collaboration between the Army, DE&S and Lockheed Martin joint team.”
Marcus Bruton, WCSP Team Leader for Defence, Equipment and Support, said, “Reaching the 59th BFM on the Warrior CSP reliability trials is a significant achievement and testament to the great collaborative working between DE&S, the Armoured Trial and Development Unit and Lockheed Martin.”
“Do you see ABSV running close behind WCSP given the rumours that FV432 will be phased out soon?”
“We cannot speculate on any potential future ABSV/WR SV contract. There are obvious efficiencies, economies of scale and commonality benefits to be had by basing WR SV on the WCSP solution but the Army are yet to go public on any Key User Requirements for this capability,” Peter Somerville said.
It is certainly a tribute to the WCSP Team to get to this stage of the RGTs with little or no delays. The next stage is going to be the hard bit, getting the MoD to part with the money to get to the Production Contract!