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Warrior – Sustaining Critical Capability For British Army By Howard Wheeldon, FRAeS, Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd.








Having been deployed in virtually every conflict that UK armed forces have been engaged over the past three decades, the story of Warrior IFV (Infantry Fighting Vehicle) has undoubtedly been one of great success. But, as has so often been the case in regard of military equipment, save for a handful of UOR’s (Urgent Operational Requirements) and having failed to invest in Warrior IFV capability in the subsequent years, the necessity of modernisation challenge that  laid down within the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme has been one that was very urgently required.

In short, while the structural integrity and protection offered to troops remains very sound, Warrior IFV can no longer be considered a fit for purpose armoured personnel fighting vehicle with a required level of lethal capability for modern warfare.

Hence, back in 2011, the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) was born in order that this most crucial piece of Army equipment capability should be modernised and upgraded allowing the vehicle not only to have enhanced lethality including a new turret and 40mm stabilised cannon that would allow Warrior to fire on the move, and provide the Army with a game changing capability that could remain in service until 2040.

The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme was awarded to Lockheed Martin UK in 2011 and the work is conducted at Lockheed Martin’s biggest manufacturing facility in the UK, in Ampthill, Bedfordshire. Warrior CSP directly sustains employment for 900 people and indirectly supports hundreds more across the UK supply chain including many small and medium enterprise companies.

Steeped in British engineering history, Ampthill is at the forefront of complex mission systems integration, system design and development and the implementation of electronic architecture. The broad portfolio of projects underlines how strategic investments in technology are providing affordable solutions to complex problems.  Working with multiple partners in British industry and academia, Lockheed Martin’s Ampthill plant is bringing a world of new innovation to the UK    

Whilst not without a number of challenges that have needed to be addressed, live firing tests and battlefield mission trials of the upgraded vehicles have gone extremely well. It’s the strong partnership and collaboration between Lockheed Martin and its customer DE&S that has been a real contributory factor to driving the programme to success.

There is no doubt that the capability and technology behind WCSP is second to none, but without a robust, open and transparent relationship, a complex programme such as this would be even more difficult to deliver.

The programme, which remains critical to the UK’s preparedness for future operational deployment needs in support of NATO missions, has performed well, meeting all its milestones in the past two years. I understand that the enhanced lethality that the new turret and 40mm stabilised cannon provides within the upgraded capability has been very well received by the Army. So too has the 360-degree situational awareness capability which is set to provide a significant uplift for dismounts in the back of the Warrior; better preparing them for exiting the vehicle and burden sharing whilst mounted.

Testament to the progress and success of this development programme is the Voluntary Transparency Notice served by the MOD last week stating the intent to enter into negotiations for a single source contract with Lockheed Martin UK for WCSP Manufacture.  

Warrior CSP is currently due to pass design acceptance in 2021 with procurement contracts due shortly after. This is a major and much needed equipment procurement programme for the British Army and it is one that is urgently required. Having invested heavily in its Ampthill, Bedfordshire plant, Lockheed Martin is ready to move into the full manufacturing phase. The hope is that the urgency of need by the Army for Warrior CSP will not be lost or further delayed by the planned review of defence that will restart later this year. 

Warrior IFV  

Designed and built in the UK, a vehicle of all-welded aluminium construction armed with the 30 mm Rarden cannon, the Warrior MCV-80/FV510 Infantry Fighting Vehicle was designed from the outset to destroy enemy armoured personnel carriers at ranges of up to 1,500m while at the same time providing Army personnel with a fast, well protected armoured battlefield taxi able to carry seven 7 infantry soldiers and equipment to where they needed to be. Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles were also pressurised in order to provide protection for personnel against potential chemical and biological weapon attacks and they included provision for use of night vision equipment. Produced in a number of variants including Infantry Command Vehicles, Mechanised Combat Repair and Recovery, Mechanised Artillery Observation and Battery Command, Warrior proved itself time and time again to be an armoured-personnel fighting vehicle capable of being all things to all men.    

Warrior has served in many conflicts that British or NATO soldiers have been deployed including Operation Desert Storm in 1991 (Gulf War 1), Bosnia and Kosovo where they were used on a variety of UN based requirements in order to maintain the peace and most recently, with ISAF forces in Afghanistan.

Powered by a Perkins Rolls-Royce V8 Condor engine producing 550bhp and that gives a road speeds of 75km per hour Warrior has four-speed fully automatic transmission and hydrostatic drive steering.  The suspension provides high-speed crossing across rough terrain at speeds that are faster than most main battle tanks. The vehicle is fitted with TR30 single pin tracks from Astrum. All major systems including the power pack can be removed and replaced in less than one hour by two men.

While Warrior in its present form remains very capable, decades of under investment have taken its toll. One of the major weaknesses of Warrior IFV’s was the inability to fire a large calibre weapon on the move and addressing this issue required a new turret design.

While some investment was made to improve optics, radios and to a certain number of vehicles, the addition of what was called a ‘wrap two’ armour system in order to give greater protection against improvised explosive devices (IED’s), increasing obsolescence needed to be addressed.

In order to ensure that Warrior capability could be maintained in service beyond 2040, in October 2011 the MOD awarded the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme to Lockheed Martin. This programme envisaged that 449 vehicles would be upgraded with Warrior Modular Protection System (WMPS) and Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture (WEEA). And that 449 vehicles would be fitted with a new turret and weapon system under the Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP). The WMPS modular armour system offers a standard armour mounting system, giving flexibility if required to fit different types of armour as future protection technology advances. Remaining ABSV Warriors would be turretless and used to fulfil roles such as command and control, mortars and ambulance.

A System Architecture Design Review was completed in November 2012 and the Critical Design Review was followed a considerable number of live firing trials over the past three years. The demonstration phase had originally been due to end in 2016 with production contracts following. However, defence related issues and an upgrade to the cannon have caused the programme to be delayed. Production contracts are now not expected to be confirmed until 2021 with an expected in-service date of 2023.

The Warrior Capability Sustainability Programme will deliver vital, battle-winning capability to the British Army and sustain hundreds of highly skilled UK jobs. Lockheed Martin has invested more than £100 million in the site to develop a unique, state-of-the-art manufacturing facility to meet its commitments on this programme.


The Warrior (MCV-80) family of tracked armoured personnel fighting vehicles was developed in the early 1980’s as a planned replacement for the large British Army fleet of FV430 tracked Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs).

The underpinning concept of the FV430 family of armoured personnel carriers had been based on requirement for a tracked protected capability (primarily against artillery fragments) vehicle for the infantry, one that was capable of ‘keeping up’ with a main battle tank and that also had the ability to survive in a Nuclear, Biological and Chemical warfare (NBC) environment. 

Some 3,000 FV430 series armoured personnel carriers were built by GKN Sankey between 1962 and 1971. For the record, Joseph Sankey Ltd operated from large factories in Wellington, Shropshire and Bilston, Staffordshire. It was acquired by John Lysaght Ltd in 1919 and the enlarged company was itself acquired by Guest Keen Nettlefold in 1920. In subsequent years, variants designed for specialist tasks such as reconnaissance (Recce), Fire Support – Direct (including anti-tank) and Indirect (Artillery and Mortars), Command and Control (C2), Repair & Recovery, Ambulance, Counter-mobility, Counter-battery (weapon locating radar) were also built.

With a concept and assessment phase for Warrior having begun in the early 1970’s and this in turn having been followed by a lengthy further period of development, the submission from GKN Sankey was selected by the MOD in 1984. As the next generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle for the British Army, Warrior was originally known as the MCV-80 (Mechanised Combat Vehicle for the 1980’s).

MCV-80 production commenced in 1986 – a 6.3m long vehicle that was 3m wide and 2.8m tall and that had an entry level weight of 28 tons. MCV-80 would come in six variant forms – FV510 (Section), FV511 (Command), FV512 (Repair), FV513 (Recovery), FV514 (Observation Post Vehicle) and FV515 (Battery Command).  Entering service with the Army in 1988, the infantry variant had an un-stabilised 30mm cannon and chain gun, a crew of three and could carry up to seven soldiers in the section compartment.

By the time MCV-80 ‘Warrior’ production ended in 1995 over 750 had been delivered to the British Army.  Overseas sales were limited to Kuwait with 245 ‘Desert Warriors’ supplied – these having a different turret and a 25mm Bushmaster cannon together with dual TOW ATGMs and additional air conditioning capability.

During a long service life Warrior has had various upgrades in order to address some obsolescence issues together with emergent changes to requirement. The key driver behind most upgrades was based on operational demands, these executed through UOR’s (Urgent Operational Requirements). Not all vehicles were upgraded and of those that were these were known as ‘Theatre Entry Standard’ (TES) vehicles.

In the early 1990’s attention focussed on Warrior’s lethality capabilities together with growing concerns on obsolescence of the 30mm RARDEN cannon and its inability to fire on the move   with any real accuracy. Growing concern on these issues gave rise to a number of studies into both new weapons/weapon systems and the possibility of building a new turret.

In time the ‘Cased Telescoped Ammunition System’ solution was identified as being front-runner to replace the existing RARDEN cannon. Cased Telescoped Ammunition International (CTAI) were contracted by the MOD to demonstrate the integration of its Cased Telescoped Weapon System (CTWS) into a turret – the Manned Turret Integration Programme MTIP.  Subsequently, the Warrior Fightability and Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP) was launched and a competition ensued in order to select the most appropriate cannon and CTAI’s CT40 40mm CTWS was selected to be the new weapon system for the future Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV’s) as it also was interestingly for the next generation of  Recce Vehicle (initially called Scout and that would later amorph into AJAX).

Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme






The WCSP contract would effectively amalgamate the various multiple improvements/upgrades requirements. These included: 

Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP) – addition of a fully stabilized 40mm CT40 cannon turret with modern targeting sights and systems to enable a comprehensive Fire on the Move capability; Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture (WEEA) – an enhanced electronic architecture to integrate the onboard systems and provide upgraded power and environmental control systems; Warrior Modular Protection System (WMPS) – a modular armour protection system with rapid mounting kits.

The WCSP programme envisaged an ‘Out of Service Date’ (OSD) for ‘Warrior 2’ being extended beyond 2040 and a fleet size of around 380 vehicles. However, changing defence requirements have meant that the final size of the upgraded Warrior fleet remains to be determined. The ‘Development Contract’ called for a demonstration phase involving eleven upgraded Warrior vehicles across five variants (FV510-FV514) with the option for a follow-on production contracts being awarded to cover the manufacturing phase.

In parallel but having never been an actual component of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme, has also been the attempt to satisfy the enduring Army desire to deliver Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle (ABSV) capability. Commonly referred to as the Warrior Support Vehicle (WR SV) this envisaged conversion of a proportion of the remaining legacy Warrior (MCV-80) fleet in order to replace remaining FV432 infantry vehicles.

Sadly, presumably due to lack of available funding, ABSV (WR SV) has so far failed to progress any further in terms of development and potential acquisition although as far as I am aware this remains an Army desire. 

For the Demonstration Phase, the MoD provided eleven Warrior vehicles to an agreed standard along with new CT40 cannons. Vehicle hulls have been modified as part of an ongoing ‘Base Overhaul’ programme on the Warrior IFV fleet – this being provided by Babcock International – onto which overhauled vehicles used for trials purposes Lockheed Martin has integrated the newly built turret and associated sub-systems including the CT40 cannon.

The Development Phase essentially centres on demonstrating the design meets required performance and reliability criteria and this is delivered through Reliability Growth Tests (RGT).  RGT comprises a combination of Qualification and Verification (Q&V) activities and Battlefield Missions (BFMs).  Q&V is subdivided into 12 discrete Test Groups covering: Survivability, Signatures, Environmental, Power, Performance, Firing (manned and un-manned), EMC, Noise and Vibration, Human Factors Integration, Stowage, and Logistics & Maintenance.  BFMs are standardised and directed by MOD, each one covering a 48-hour period of operation over 5 days defined by hours operated, kilometres covered, and rounds fired.

Ampthill’s niche capabilities and proven, battle-winning solutions make it a true partner of choice for the British Armed Force and the facility is an excellent example of strength achieved through inward investment by the world’s leading aerospace and security company.

The Lockheed Martin Ampthill business is ideally positioned to deliver innovative solutions such as the Warrior Capability Sustainment programme that will keep the British Army operationally relevant and capable for decades to come. I for one am very much looking forward to a post-lockdown visit!

CHW (London – 5th May 2020)

Howard Wheeldon FRAeS

Wheeldon Strategic Advisory Ltd

M: +44 7710 779785

Skype: chwheeldon



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