On February 18th Lockheed Martin UK gave an upbeat update on the WCSP RGT Programme but expressed short term concerns for the Programme.
WCSP has sailed through 80% of Reliability Growth Trials (RGT) but UK government short-term budgetary concerns remain.
Keren Wilkins WCSP Programme Director at Lockheed Martin UK gave an upbeat update on the WCSP Reliability Growth Trials (RGT) at Bovington. However, when questioned she said that concerns still remained as to whether WCSP would survive any envisaged cuts in the forthcoming Defence Review. She stated that the Army was insistent on the need for a Main Battle Tank and a tracked, not wheeled, IFV in support with WCSP as the solution for a tracked IFV in the Strike Brigade role to support Challenger 3. Given the rumours about reduction in troop numbers by a rumoured 10,00 soldiers, that may impact on WCSP numbers. Thus, she could not discuss any manufacturing contract negotiations for base hulls between MOD and Babcock.
With regard to ABSV and the FV432 replacement using excess Warrior hulls, she said that that appeared to have been put on the back burner with the Army concentrating on its four major Programmes.
The Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) completed a significant programme milestone last week as Lockheed Martin UK, Ministry of Defence’s Defence Equipment and Support and the British Army’s Armoured Trials and Development Unit completed 80 percent of its field testing regimen designed to prove the reliability of the improvements to the vehicle.
These tests are known as Reliability Growth Trials (RGT), and the recent accomplishment highlights the programme is now close to completing all RGT activities. RGT is made up of representative battlefield missions that demonstrate the reliability of the capability ahead of full-scale manufacture. Qualification and Verification Trials are also progressing well which will lead to Design Acceptance and subsequently a contract award for manufacture by the end of 2021.
WCSP has been in trials since 2019 to demonstrate that the capability meets the reliability our soldiers depend on in theatre. WCSP equips the British Army for the modern battlespace and provides the only capability that allows soldiers to safely enter and operate in the most demanding close combat and high threat environments.
Lockheed Martin has demonstrated that the WCSP design is low risk; it’s mature and reliable and meets the Armoured Infantry’s mission ahead of the manufacture contract award. Lockheed Martin’s production line at Ampthill (Bedfordshire) and its established supply chain are ready to begin manufacture of Next-gen Warrior.
WCSP update and benefits to the UK:
* Lockheed Martin UK submitted the WCSP Invitation to Negotiate response for the WCSP manufacture contract on 21st December. The response, which was submitted ahead of time to the MOD is currently being reviewed. Lockheed Martin is supporting MOD as part of the standard review process.
The benefits of WCSP stretch far beyond the battlefield – there are huge prosperity and economic benefits to the UK:
1) The economic and prosperity benefits of the WCSP programme
o UK Prosperity – Independent analysis by KPMG has estimated that, between 2021 and 2029, a WCSP manufacturing contract would contribute over £1bin in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy, generate at its peak 1,951 jobs, and support up to £276.2m in tax payments.
o UK Sovereign Capability – LMUK has made significant investment over ten years to develop the UK’s only sovereign capability for turret design, manufacture and support. This could have wider impacts on the UK ambitions for a Land Sector strategy.
o The UK will retain its only world-class turret design and manufacturing capability that ensures future security of supply and technological advantage for the UK; the skills, infrastructure and industrial know-how will be available in future times of need
o Export opportunities – according to the KPMG report, the medium calibre turret market could be worth an estimated £16 billion over the next 10 years. The skills base and IP that will allow the UK to export its AFV capability to the benefit of the wider UK economy depends on the award of the WCSP Manufacture contract
2) The impact of the WCSP programme on jobs
o The WCSP contract currently supports 1,300 jobs across a nationwide supply chain of 260 companies.
o Around 2,000 high value jobs will be created and sustained as a result of the manufacture contract
o If a manufacture contract is not awarded, there is a serious risk to loss of jobs both at Lockheed Martin and across the UK supply chain which makes up 80% of the WCSP solution
3) How the WCSP programme addresses the MOD’s modernisation agenda
o Equips the British Army for the modern battlespace to meet 21st Century defence needs
o Provides the only capability that allows soldiers safely to enter and operate in the most demanding close combat and high threat environments, including support of the Challenger main battle tanks
o Significant upgrade compared to the legacy Warrior 1 with enhanced firepower fightability, survivability & situational awareness
o The upgraded Warrior vehicles, including their open architectures and digital turrets, will also provide a digital backbone for the armed forces, enabling the delivery of multi-domain integration, human-machine teaming, and additional capabilities such as cyber, electronic warfare, and long-range and novel weapons
UK Turret Capability – Growing into the future
Both Keren Wilkins and Peter Pietralski, Engineering Director and Vehicles Chief Engineer stressed the huge ten year investment that Lockheed Martin has made in the Ampthill facility to create a UK Turret Centre of excellence which, once WCSP and Ajax were on track for full production would create new opportunities for exports of other turret systems. The British Army’s Future Land Systems policy relies on having such technology in the UK to develop new turret systems with new Boxer variants being slated as one possibility once the WCSP Manufacture contract is awarded. Peter Pietralski said that Lockheed had developed new modular turret designs based on the WCSP design and also had in development an unmanned WCSP turret which the company had developed following remote firings of the exiting WCSP 40mm turret. The new turret was based on 40mm CTA but other calibers were under consideration for potential markets valued at £16bn over 10 years. These new turret designs would accommodate such new capabilities as APS, CV-UAS systems, Air Defence and be future proofed for current and future threats.
“As the UK’s Centre of Excellence for Armoured Fighting Vehicle Turret design, manufacture and integration we are always looking ahead; modernisation is at the forefront of our thinking, maximising asset utility and enabling joint operations. This isn’t just about taking steps in modular designs, but also how to leap into future paradigms. Our 40mm turrets for WCSP and AJAX are market leaders, providing soldiers with a huge increase in fighting power and built with the most modern and sophisticated systems. Its only through taking a holistic through life view of interoperability and supportability that organisations can begin to think about future proofing and providing the necessary design margin to enable future customer requirements such as Project Morpheus – the next generation communication system.” Peter Pietralski said.
The WCSP turret is already equipped with the latest situational awareness, fightability and survivability technologies. The recent achievement of reaching 80% of its reliability growth trials is a significant milestone, not only demonstrating the capability, but also the reliability needed by the British Army. Platform acceptance and reliability trials are key to demonstrating maturity and that the product really will deliver when needed – WCSP is considerably the furthest through trials compared to its counterpart programmes.
What Next? – An Unmanned Urbanfighter Turret
The modular design base of Warrior CSP’s Generic Vehicle Architecture means it is easily adapted to provide full operating capability in either a manned or unmanned configuration. For example, in WCSP the video data from the sensors provides full situational awareness and enables the system to be operated by the crew with the hatches closed. Similarly, for an unmanned turret, this video data is displayed within the vehicle hull. Weapon systems, communications, and other functions can be operated from within the safety of the vehicle hull without any detriment to performance. Indeed, the platform has already demonstrated this ability during WCSP unmanned trials at the beginning of its Design Acceptance trials.
The Unmanned Urbanfighter Turret can provide an enhanced capability for other platforms, both for UK vehicles and the wider export market seeking to leverage that WCSP maturity. The modular armour of the turret can be readily customised to reduce overall turret mass for lighter, smaller vehicles, extending the potential market opportunities. Its systems can be operated either by a Commander and Gunner in the turret (as in WCSP), or alternatively their screens, controls and other interfaces can be located within the hull of the armoured vehicle platform or even remotely. This provides greater protection for the crew and greater flexibility in the operation of the vehicle.
Interoperability with the other key international forces will see new technology maximised such as the incorporation of Anti-Tank Guided Missiles (ATGM) launchers, Air/Land Integration between ground vehicles, Attack Helicopters and Aircraft, the launch and control of Unmanned Air Vehicles (UAVs), Active Protection Systems, Counter UAS, Air Defence and many other capabilities. The WCSP proven architecture can play a full role in ‘Any Sensor, Any Shooter’ networks cooperative with other assets across the battlefield. As a result, the turret is future proofed and is designed to be developed and enhanced through life to overmatch the evolving threat.
The Unmanned Urbanfighter Turret would support and maximise return on the UK’s investment. The Turret Centre of Excellence, built by Lockheed Martin at its Ampthill site over the last 10 years, has seen significant company and MoD investment. Through the development of the AJAX and WCSP turrets, Lockheed Martin have created the UK’s leading dedicated turret development facilities along with a highly skilled, experienced workforce and dynamic supply chain to deliver and support the UK’s requirements for the next generation of systems. The Turret Centre of Excellence is a hard-earned national asset and a key component in the MoD’s Land Industrial Strategy.
Based on this Sovereign UK developed technology and capability, an Unmanned Urbanfighter Turret will provide significant export opportunities and support ~2,000 jobs within the UK both at Lockheed Martin and drawing on its 250+ established supply chain, for the next decade and beyond. The benefit to the UK Exchequer of a single export programme could be the equivalent to the cost of the entire WCSP programme – meaning export not only generates more UK jobs for this UK product – but it also generates economic benefits for the country. UK jobs, UK product, UK prosperity.
Keren Wilkins said that a lot hangs on the WCSP decision and the development of Ampthill as a UK turret centre of excellence and that any decision would be made at corporate level. She stressed that WCSP was central to development of this capability and that the UK market may not be seen as being as attractive as it once was for Lockheed Martin Land Systems. Any long-term site development decision would be made at a corporate level depending on the outcome of the Integrated Review.