Qioptiq logo Raytheon Global MilSatCom

Warrior WCSP Moves Up A Gear – Two Years To Go By Julian Nettlefold

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Lockheed Martin’s WCSP Team led by Lee Fellows, Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme Director at Lockheed Martin gave a brief on the WCSP programme during DSEI, supported by MoD IPT leader Marcus Bruton. They said that the WCSP trails would continue for another eighteen months to two years which is at the far end of original projections and confirms a source who suggested last month that all the new vehicles in the British Army fleet would be in service within five years

They confirmed that Lockheed Martin successfully completes anchor milestone of 20 Battlefield Mission assessments for its Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme.  The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) has recently completed a significant programme milestone – Lockheed Martin jointly with Armoured Trials and Development Unit (ATDU) crew have covered over 5,000 kilometers and fired thousands of ammunition rounds to achieve 20 Battlefield Mission assessments. Lockheed Martin UK successfully completed 20 Battlefield Mission (BFM) assessments earlier this month, proving the reliability, lethality and game-changing capabilities of WCSP. BFMs are a key element of the enduring Reliability Growth Tests (RGT), which are made up of a combination of Qualification and Verification (Q&V) activities and representative BFMs – 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.

Lee Fellows said, “The programme is at an exciting point – we are six months into RGT and continuing to achieve all our milestones and commitments as agreed with our customer.I’m proud to lead a programme that will bring our British warfighting capability into modern times – our armed forces have some of the world’s most skilled and capable soldiers who know how to get the job done and do it well. “Working in collaboration with our Defence Equipment and Support customer, Lockheed Martin plays a key role in helping to modernise the British Army; providing a critical capability which will serve for decades to come.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 full picture of the battlespace. Whist trials are ongoing at Bovington, with the vehicles continuing to undergo Q&V activity and complete more BFMs.

The testing of the Warrior CSP is also possibly the first time the British Army has tested a high-calibre system of this kind since the Challenger II in 1990.

Lee Fellows stressed that the programme was on schedule despite reports to the contrary, saying it achieved its timeframe by using a a total of six vehicles for the firing and mobility trails with three on station and three in reserve  for maintenance and any upgrades/changes.

 WCSP is the first time the British Army has tested a high-calibre system of this kind since the Challenger 2 in 1990.

During trials the CT40 cannon has been fired almost 3,000 times, with the supporting chain-gun having fired around 40,000 rounds during testing. WCSP has covered nearly 13,000km during testing.

Lockheed said that the trails are likely to continue for another 18 months to two years which appears to be a longer schedule than originally planned. Lockheed expects to have completed 40 BFMs by November 2019 and the FV520 and 521 variants Qualification and Verification by around July 2021 and  Design Acceptance by August 2021.

 

 

 

 

 

When asked about the Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicles (ABSV), Marcus Bruton confirmed that the IPT was looking at ABSV as ‘the next variant’ and that the MoD was looking at procuring around 180 vehicles. To underline this Lockheed had an ABSV model on its stand and GDLSUK had an Ajax GD/Pearson Engineering Bridgelayer on its stand, suggesting that ABSV may be competed.

At the March Bovington event, a number of suppliers  told BATTLESPACE that they were expecting a contract in the fourth quarter for around 250 vehicles, but this looks to be delayed with the RFQ process ‘anticipated’ for 4th quarter 2019.

Background

The battlefield landscape is changing – modern warfare is becoming more sophisticated and complex. To be able to operate efficiently within this increasingly threatening environment, armed forces need the most up-to-date capability and technology to work with. For decades the Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) have provided the British Army with a reliable platform, however, the much relied upon capability is now in need of modernisation.  

Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP)

Critical to this much needed upgrade is the Warrior Capability Sustainment Program (WCSP) which is a development and demonstration contract awarded to Lockheed Martin in 2011. The contract which was competed for between Lockheed Martin UK and BAE Systems, includes the development and upgrade of 11 demonstration vehicles which have been kitted out with new digital turrets, enhanced sighting, and upgraded lethality with a new stabilised CT40 cannon.

The Warrior Capability Sustainment Program (WCSP) will involve upgrading anywhere in the region of around 380 Warriors with the Warrior Modular Protection System (WMPS) and Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture (WEEA). Within that group, it is expected that 245 vehicles will also be fitted with a new turret and weapon system under the Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Program (WFLIP). The remainder, which will be designated as Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicles (ABSV), will lack turrets and carry out field repair and recovery roles using winch and crane attachments.

Eleven upgrade Warriors were delivered by Lockheed Martin UK to the UK MOD in Bovington in 2018 for Qualification and Verification trials. The results, if they go to plan, will be the catalyst for production negotiations to get underway later this year between Lockheed Martin and the Defence Equipment and Support arm of the ministry. Numbers are key to the final production contract with some observers suggesting that a contact for around 250 vehicles will be placed around December 2019. Lockheed has 43 staff at Bovington to support the trials which take place over 183 Hectares with 7kms of cross-country tracks and 8kms of metalled road.

There’s a lot to be said for Warrior CSP, it is set to re-define IFVs and land warfare as we know it and extend the vehicles’ service life to 2040. The upgrade will bring a game-changing capability to the British Army in terms of lethality, survivability, fightability and situational awareness. For one, the new cannon is more efficient, is multi-natured, and fully stabilised; thus, enabling fire-on-the-move. The 360-degree camera coverage provides greater situational awareness not only to the commander and driver, but also helps soldiers better understand the landscape and environment which they are about to be confronted with.

What’s next for Warrior CSP

WCSP continues to perform well and to the schedule agreed with the UK MOD. The new capability on offer from Lockheed Martin will be truly tested and put through its paces through ongoing trials and through numerous Battlefield Missions over the next 18 months, by the end of which the vehicles will have a covered more than 29000km and fired thousands of rounds of ammunition.  Once fully demonstrated the capability will be ready to enter service and help deliver an Armoured Infantry that is more capable; comes with significantly enhanced lethality; upgraded situational awareness; better integration with dismounts; and improved combined arms cooperation, thereby providing a battle-winning contribution to the UK Divisional Warfighting capability.

Although the actual number of vehicles to be upgraded has not yet been confirmed, it is understood that it could involve between 380 to 250 Warriors across the five different vehicle variants. ABSV would add another 180 vehicles.

Lockheed said at DSEI that there is no Plan ‘B.’ However, BATTLESPACE understands that the MoD has a backstop plan if WCSP does not meet its performance trials forecasts. Our readers know the concerns we have expreseed as to whether the current turret configuration is robust enough in the long term to support the large 20,000lbs recoil of the CT40 canon.

At this point it must be stressed that Warrior is a key element for the supply chain to remain intact post-Brexit given that the Ajax supply chain is mainly sourced form a European supply base and other UK vehicles such as FV432, Bulldog, Scimitar and AS90 are going out of service. We analyse this alter in the feature ‘Defence Supply Chain Post-Brexit.’

These include:

  1. A new hull already designed for the Scimitar upgrade and readily adaptable by BAE Systems with a larger engine bay for Warrior. This hull would have vastly increased armoured protection.
  2. The installation of a different canon,  Bushmaster30/40 or the new 50mm canon proposed for the new US Mobile Protected Firepower project currently being bid by BAE Systems and GD.
  3. An increased buy of up to 250 of the long-wheel based Ajax variants as being offered to the Australian, where GD is expected to win against competition from the BAE Systems CV90 and the Rheinmetall Lynx.
  4. Using elements of the current Warrior fleet of 768 vehicles for ABSV along the lines of the AMPV 113 upgrade project BAE is undertaking in the USA with the new hull as above and uprated driveline.

Dedicated Warrior CSP event

On 7th March 2019, Lockheed Martin UK, Ampthill brought together its supply chain partners and members of the press to celebrate milestones and demonstrate how strong collaboration with suppliers is continuing to support the WCSP programme success. Around 30 suppliers came together at the Tank Museum in Dorset for Lockheed Martin’s exclusive Warrior CSP event – a real celebratory moment which demonstrated the collaboration and partnership which is taking the programme from strength-to-strength.

During the event, BATTLESPACE took the opportunity to speak with Lee Fellows, Warrior CSP Director at Lockheed Martin, and DE&S WCSP Director Marcus Bruton OBE about the programme.  Hearing first-hand from both the contractor (Lockheed Martin) and customer (DE&S) it was apparent that the relationship between the two organisations is one of trust and a collaborative partnership – both stated that the programme was progressing well and to schedule; this combats some of the negative speculation over recent months which has suggested that the programme was running into delays.

Marcus Bruton, WCSP Director and Hannah Wood from DE&S Communications both gave upbeat briefs.

The reliability trials are scheduled to run until July 2020, but DE&S Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme Director Marcus Bruton told Defense News during the briefing that the crucial production talks could get underway much sooner.

“What we are doing at the moment is going through the demonstration phase, we will push hard on the Reliability Growth Trials, and as the confidence increases then we are going to enter into manufacturing negotiations this year,” said Brunton.

Asked why it had taken so long to reach the reliability trials phase Brunton said, “Integrating 21st century technology into 1970s platform was always going to be challenging – that’s at the heart of the issue.”

Lee Fellows outlined key WCSP milestones. These included that in March, the programme team has performed a successful Manned Fire-on-the-Move; the next stage in this important British Army programme.  The platform is now certified for live firing and the MOD crews will soon start to add to the hundreds of CT40 and thousands of chain gun rounds already fired by the Lockheed Martin team.  Lockheed Martin’s WCSP Turret has also displayed the capability to hold Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, such as the FGM-148 Javelin. Other technology areas addressed in the Lockheed solution include better EMC protection and an unmanned variant.

 “The upgraded vehicle will redefine land warfare as we know it. We have improved the lethality of the capability as well as enhancing safety and survivability.  We have an incredible solution for the British Army. Working in close collaboration with our customer, we are not only providing a game-changing capability which will bring a dated platform into modern times, but we’re also ensuring that the upgraded technology remains current for decades to come.” Fellows said.

A new area, outside WCSP, being explored to cut down on track noise to comply with new hearing regulations, is a new rubber track system and a new powerpack being another new option.

Mark Farrell, Warrior CSP Supply Chain Lead at Lockheed Martin said to Defense News, “This is a really exciting and critical time for Lockheed Martin. We have just entered Reliability Growth Trials (RGT) with our MOD customer, this is when we’ll really be able to demonstrate that we have a product and capability which is reliable and absolutely performs. Our programme continues to go from strength-to-strength and together we continue to achieve all programme milestones. Our success is underpinned by our robust and capable supply chain. We have invested in fostering relationships with our suppliers; moving from a typical customer, supplier relationship to a more collaborative partnership – this has paid dividends. We have every confidence in our supply chain and their commitment to the programme.”

Melissa Goodwin, Lockheed Martin WCSP Programme Manager, gave a brief about the technology involved in the Lockheed Martin solution. The network enabled turret has a modern Lockheed Martin Fire Control System which is common to Ajax and Warrior to enable the required fire-on-the-move scenario. Situational awareness has been improved with six LSAS cameras providing 360 degree day/night vison and displays linking commander and crew. In addition, new environmental control, systems have been installed for crew comfort in arduous conditions as experienced in Afghanistan in particular.

“Giving the Section the ability to view outside threats before disembarkation gives a huge advantage as the situational awareness achieved is improved by a factor of 100% allowing the soldiers to fight as soon as they disembarque knowing the terrain, targets and threat which have been evaluated from ISTAR systems within the vehicle.” Melissa Goodwin said.

Other variants of Warrior, like the command, observation and recovery vehicles, also will be upgraded.

The demonstration and manufacturing phases of the program were approved by the Ministry of Defence in 2011 at a cost of £1.3bn. An in-service date (ISD) for the upgraded vehicle was set for March 2020, and the out-of-service date extended to beyond 2040.

The vehicles have now commenced into Reliability Growth Trials (RGT). These trials will develop the reliability and performance of the capability. As the 11 demonstration vehicles progress through RGT and complete scheduled battle field missions, each round fired, kilometre covered, and distance travelled will be critical in providing evidence to the UK MOD to support future investment in the capability.   The trials schedule and results will be the catalyst for production negotiations which are expected to get underway later this year. Lockheed Martin has 43 staff at Bovington dedicated to the trials which take place over varied and challenging terrains.

Maj Charles Brunskill, part of the Armoured Trials and Development Unit said: “This thing is light years ahead of the current Warrior in terms of capability. The digitisation of the turret and the stabilised gun, which can fire on the move, are phenomenal and a step ahead of even the Challenger’s technology”.

Defence Supply Chain Post-Brexit

During the March Bovington briefing Lockheed Martin quite rightly highlighted the importance of the UK Supply Chain to the WCSP Programme.

Axis Electronics MD Paul Chaplin said, “We are a proud supplier to the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme. We have partnered with Lockheed Martin for the past 5 years, and our relationship has now matured to a point where we can consult Lockheed Martin for advice and guidance on a range of business challenges – their advice and support is invaluable to our organisation. Working alongside the world’s largest Defence Prime has enabled Axis to develop in areas such as cyber security; with Lockheed Martin’s support we have now achieved our Cyber Essentials Plus accreditation. I think it’s a very exciting time for Warrior CSP, and for supply chain partners such as ourselves. It’s a critical milestone as we enter RGT and a real opportunity for us to prove that our product works. The Lockheed Martin Warrior CSP supply chain is critical to the success of the programme and we take that responsibility extremely seriously.”

But, has the MoD overlooked a key elephant in the room over WCSP – the UK Supply Chain for armoured vehicles Post-Brexit, in its drive to demonstrate value for money in defence contracting?

Since the Drayson speech that the UK would no longer be a manufacturer of armoured hulls, the number of key suppliers is dwindling with little appetite by existing suppliers to maintain their existing product range in the face of lack of orders and extended supply periods when orders are placed. The GDELS Ajax Programme has created a further hiatus in the UK Supply Chain. When GDELS announced the Ajax Programme bid, announced that the bid would be ‘British to its Bootstraps.’ In fact, the opposite happened, and the bulk of the Supply Chain was based upon the Spanish Ascod vehicle, a process which caused the demise of several manufacturers such as GKN Land which benefitted very little from Ajax, having failed to win the wheels contract.

Following successful trials and a contract for around 250 vehicles, the remainder of the Warrior fleet may be slated for the dormant Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle (ABSV) to replace the ageing and vulnerable FV432 range as the US has done with the M113 replacement AMPV,  a process likely to be repeated by other M113 users across the world. This provides a problem for the MoD and the Government in its wish for the UK to remain self-sufficient post-Brexit. If WCSP is cancelled, with ABSV being nowhere near fruition, just a concept study, many of those companies present at the Lockheed/DE&S Bovington Open Day may well shut up shop as Warrior WCSP is the only tracked vehicle Programme for their products along with the ageing and mostly mothballed FV432/Bulldog fleet. Sources told BATTLESPACE last year that even now Babcock is finding it hard to source certain spares for Warrior. So, if WCSP fails, the whole supply chain for the existing UK tracked armoured vehicle fleet, including the ageing FV432/Bulldog fleet, AS90, Challenger 2/CRAAV/Trojan/Titan and Terrier, lies in danger of collapse as an industrial base of Just Terrier and Challenger 2 variants is unsustainable and would also jeopardise the ability of DE&S to manage UORs in the event of war.

The Scimitar fleet is already being replaced by Ajax so that problem is receding, along with AS90, most of which are in storage. Solution, scrap the whole Warrior/FV432 fleet and buy a new fleet along the lines of the current MIV Programme. Any such move would most certainly be blocked by the Treasury and the Army as to build such a capability from scratch with a new vehicle, most likely an Ajax variant, would take a lot of time and money, which as we know from WCSP, the Treasury is reluctant to part with! In addition, the political fallout from factory closures, loss of key technologies and redundancies in key marginal seats would be a disaster for the Government.

Lockheed Martin has suggested that it will holding another Warrior CSP brief later this year. We will update this feature to reflect any new updates and progress on the programme.

  1.  
Back to article list