goes to US company, General Dynamics [22/03/10]
MoD has today confirmes that British arms manufacturer BAE
Systems has lost out to the American company General Dynamics
in the race to secure the $6billion contract for the next
generation of light tank for the British Army.
initial order will be for around 600 of the so-called Specialist
Vehicles with oders for more likely at a later stage.
the contract is going to an American company the MoD has
gone to great lengths to claim that the vehicles will be
assembled in the UK. Yeah, well we've heard that before.
General Dynamics will doubtless start repatriating jobs
when the going gets tough back home.
deal is another example of Britain losing expertise, particularly
R&D, to foreign companies; once these skills and the
manufacturing base are lost, they will never return. Every
sell-out to a foreign country digs away at our ability to
act independently. We've seen how hostile the current US
administration is to the UK when Hilary Clinton joined forces
with Argentina saying that the sovereignty of the Falkland
Islands is negotiable. With the extra control the US will
now have over the Army's tank fleet, they may make negotiation
the only option.
how much the lobbyists and their labour party stooges get
for securing a $6billion contract. I image that would have
been a very expensive cab.
at last year's DSE International Exhibition (see
Aquilavictrix LPPV: Orcelot v SupaCat) that the
mittens came off in the contest between Force Protection's
Ocelot and Supacat's SPV400 to win the contract for the
Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) that will replace
the Army's much criticised Snatch Land Rover. The two contenders
have been undergoing engineering and operational trials
at test facilities at Millbrook and Aldershot and a decision
on the winner is expected by August with a military in-service
date the following year. Funds will be provided through
the Urgent Operational Requirements process.
in Spetember 2009 the MoD was saying that they were initially
looking to place orders for 400 vehicles. Needless to say,
Gordon Brown has now halved that. Continuing
his 12 year jihad against the Armed Forces, the prime minister
has taken another swipe of his axe to the Army's funding
and announced that now only 200 would be ordered.
enough and with true labour spin, he tried to make his announcement
sound as if he was promising 200 extra vehicles rather
than what he was really doing which was to provide 200 fewer!
The hypocrisy and duplicity of this man is unbelievable!
announcement comes in the wake of the barrage of criticism
that he and his fellow ministers received at the inquiry
into the deaths of the four soldiers killed when their poorly
protected Snatch Land Rover was hit by an IED. This decision
of Brown's to actually halve the number of Snatch vehicles
being replaced, is therefore particularly callous and sinister
coming as it does at this time.
admits scale of cuts in training exercises [05/03/10]
days ago Liam Fox MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Defence,
tabled a written question asking the government how many
training exercises originally planned for 2010 have already
Armed Forces Minister, Bill Rammell, admitted that 55 exercises
had so far been cut. However, he also said that: "Success
in Afghanistan is our main effort, and will remain our principal
commitment for as long as it takes. Our approach at this
time must be - and is - Afghanistan first. All exercises
that better prepare our forces for operations in Afghanistan
will continue but those exercises that are considered not
to directly support our effort have been examined critically
and, where appropriate, cancelled."
The training exercises cut were:
flag West 10-9
know how many training exercises are undertaken each year
but 55 sounds like a lot. Snatching short-term savings by
cutting the training budget is bound to have long-term implications
for the future effectiveness of the Armed Forces especially
as they should be prepared for combat in a variety of warzones.
sorry to see "French Connection", "Tricolour"
and "Asterix" go, but great shame about "Roman
training at the touch of a screen [03/03/10]
Communications, a leading supplier of Technology Based Training,
has announced the imminent release of three major mobile
learning solutions for the British Army.
MoD has commissioned LINE to develop three highly innovative
learning solutions to be delivered on mobile devices. Two
of the projects will be delivered using Apple iTouch. The
first covers training on vehicle service schedules and the
second delivers restricted content quickly and securely
to the target audience. The third project delivers complex
procedural training using touchscreen tablets. All of the
projects are due for release in early April 2010.
prides itself on working "pragmatically to deliver
the MoDs modernisation and training transformation
agenda across Defence to genuinely improve operational capability".
hope LINE's touchscreen solution is significantly better
than my new LG-POP which fails to respond however gently
or firmly, casually or positively, I touch the screen.
Terrier unleashed [21/02/10]
has started at BAe Systems' plant in Newcastle on the prototype
Terrier engineer vehicle. 60 Terriers were ordered for the
Army last March in a £300million contract which also
secured 650 British jobs.
Terriers will fulfil a variety of roles for the Army: obstacle
and mine clearance, digging-in equipment and troops, route
opening and maintenance, and general engineer tasks.
learnt from production of the Titan, Trojan and Panther,
particularly with regards to blast protection, have been
built into the design of this latest dog of war.
has been another key in-built feature of the Terrier. Earlier
trials have convinced the MoD that the Terrier will meet
the exacting reliability levels prescribed for the vehicle
which are over and above those of Armoured Fighting Vehicles
currently in service with the Army.
the full monty - and the Taliban's gone for a burton [18/02/10]
Army has brought in its latest weapon to counter the Taliban's
IEDs. Used yesterday for the first time in Afghanistan,
the explosives on the 230-metre long snake-like rocket-propelled
device will clear a large area thought to contain mines
and improvised explosive devices. Mounted on the back of
a Trojan armoured engineer tank, the Python replaces the
ageing Giant Viper, which dates back to the Fifties, and
has the ability to clear a much longer 'safe lane' than
Sergeant Mark Eastley, from 30 Armoured Engineer Squadron,
said: It takes your breath away. You see the flash,
hear the bang and then feel the shock wave. Or as
Lieutenant Colonel Matt Bazeley, commanding officer of 28
Engineer Regiment, put it: "We are clearing this belt
of death so that civilians and their families can begin
to live without fear of being blown to pieces by a cowardly
and dishonourable enemy that is happy to kill indiscriminately."
reminds me of those ingenious devices which inventors came
up with during WW2 to combat German mines. I think it was
in an episode of World at War that we saw film of
giant rocket-powered cartwheels careering over beaches and
tanks with revolving chains protruding from their fronts
flaying the ground ahead for mines. The Germans themselves
came up with their own minesweeping machines: the WunderWaffe
4, which rolled out of one of Krupp's factories in 1944,
was a 130t vehicle, articulated in the centre, suspended
on 12ft diameter steel wheels and designed to clear a wide
path through a minefield.
say "necessity is the mother of invention" and,
as the Taliban get ever more sophisticated in their use
of the insidious IED, so too does NATO develop new technologies
to counter them. IEDs have accounted for about 80% of British
casualties in Afghanistan.
about Operation Moshtarak, the Taliban had planted thousands
of IEDs and booby traps ahead of advancing Allied soldiers.
Python will help to clear these and make the area safe for
British soldiers and for the local Afghan people alike.
is a busy time of the year for companies wishing to get
their hands on lucrative defence research funding.
week the Centre for Defence Enterprise at Harwell showcased
several projects which have already received government
funding. Incorporating a range of technologies, these projects
aim to ensure that UK forces "will have the battle-winning
edge in current and future conflicts".
that could be made into uniforms and used to power weapons,
radios and charge batteries;
surveillance systems that could stay airborne for upto
portable solar-powered battery to increase power at FOBs;
camera to provide wide-angled surveillance images;
month the MoD will be hosting its annual Defence Research
conference and exhibition at the ICC in Birmingham. The
main partner in this enterprise is our old friend QinetiQ
- they seem to have an influence over much of MoD spending
message behind Defence Research 2010 is that the MoD will
for the first time be opening up its entire £400million
annual research budget to private industry and universities.
So, no more secret military research programmes.
£1billion response to helicopter criticism [06/10/09]
to Britain's military helicopter fleets are being announced
thick and fast in the wake of the harsh criticism doled
out to ministers over the summer.
over a week ago Defence Minister Quentin Davies said
that RAF Chinook helicopters operating in Afghanistan
will receive a £408m upgrade to deliver more powerful
engines and more advanced, digitised cockpits.
of days later the MoD reported a £300m
upgrade to the RAF's Puma fleet which should see improved
performance and enable operations in the toughest conditions
today the MoD has today announced an Integrated Operation
Support (IOS) contract worth £439million aimed at
improving the technical, engineering and logistic support
available to Apache attack helicopters operating in Afghanistan.
Apache Project Team Leader in Defence Equipment and Support
(DE&S), Air Commodore Doug Whittaker said: This
contract will improve the quality of support provided to
the front line as well as making savings over the helicopters
lifetime. Given the success of Apache on operations, this
contract is most timely and welcome.
Technologies Kinetics have just unveiled the Warthog, a
variant of their Bronco All-Terrain Vehicle modified for
the British Army. The MoD ordered 100+ of these armoured
vehicles in a £150million deal signed last December
under the Urgent Operational Requirement programme.
modifications required by the UK included a protected gun-mount,
specialist electronic counter-measure equipment and communications
for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:
"Warthog will be true to its name as a beast of a vehicle
that can manoeuvre across difficult terrain, power-up steep
gradients and even cling to slopes. Warthog will provide
improved protection to our troops in Afghanistan's Green
Zone, where water and a fragile infrastructure make it difficult
for other vehicles to operate. It will be able to move through
deep water while carrying troops at the heart of our operations."
have assured the MoD that the Warthof will be delivered
to the British Army on schedule later in the year. Twelve
UK Armed Forces trainers have already begun operation and
maintenance training in Singapore to allow them to start
bringing the vehicles into service shortly after delivery.
Ian Simpson, DE&S Head of Combat Wheels Group at the
MoD said: "The Warthog has proven itself to be a very
capable vehicle in tests and trials. I am impressed by the
high standards of engineering applied to this vehicle and
the quality of the support package; providing our deployed
forces with the higher levels of protection and mobility".
will be replacing the Vikings currently in service in Afghanistan.
Let's hope that they live up to their tough name and do
indeed provide our troops with the extra protection they
his "morale-boosting" visit to British Forces
in Helmand, Defence Secretary Bob Ainsworth had again to
defend the continued use of Vector Light Protected Patrol
vehicles in Afghanistan.
Vectors, brought in to replace the discredited Snatch Land
Rovers, have been condemned by commanders on the ground
as providing inadequate blast protection and being unreliable,
a view supported by the National Audit Office back in London
to High Intensity Operations", May 2009).
Ainsworth's predecessor had agreed to their withdrawal,
it was in a Vector that Britain's latest casualty, Senior
Wojtak of the RAF Regiment, was tragically killed
In defence of their continued use, Bob Ainsworth maintains
that the Vector is one of a number of vehicle types which
commanders can call on to meet the needs of a particular
operational situation. Unfortunately, lack of confidence
in the Vector is forcing commanders to call on Snatch once
again, though admittedly in their upgraded Vixen variant.
UK has recently allocated £1.3billion for improved
armoured vehicles - I suppose being the MoD you can expect
a 10% wastage.
unsurprisingly the UK also spends by far the least on equipment
for her soldiers in Afghanistan than our major allies.........
battle to win the contract to supply the UK's Future Rapid
Effects System Specialist Vehicle hotted up when BAE Systems
rolled out its contender at the DSE International Exhibition
its CV90-35 Mk III Infantry Fighting Vehicle, BAE hopes
to win the mega contract which could see orders being placed
for up to 1,300 armoured scout vehicles. The CV90-35 is
already in production for the Dutch Army and orders are
expected soon from Poland and Norway.
against it is General Dynamics' Austrian-Spanish Cooperative
Development (ASCOD) Tracked Armoured Fighting Vehicle which
is already in service with the Spanish Army where it's called
the Pizzaro and with the Austrian Army where it is
know as the Ulan.
International Exhibition also witnessed the start of a catfight
between Force Protection's Ocelot and Supacat's SPV400 to
win the contract for the Light Protected Patrol Vehicle
(LPPV) which will replace the Army's much criticised Snatch
the number of British soldiers killed or wounded by IEDs
increasing, the Army is keen to replace its vulnerable Land
Rovers with patrol vehicles which are versatile but which
also possess a mine protection capability similiar to that
provided with the heavier Mastiffs and Ridgbacks.
initial requirement for 400 vehicles coming into service
in 2012 but this figure is likely to increase significantly
as the Army replaces its entire fleet of Land Rovers.
no strangers to Gloucestershire [10/08/09]
an week in which four British soldiers have been killed
by IEDs, it is now reported that, not only are badly needed
heavily armoured Ridgbacks held up in Dubai, there's also
a field full of them parked up in Gloucestershire!
of 157 Ridgback armoured vehicles have been ordered from
the US but only 20 have so far reached the frontline. The
rest, along with a whole managerie of Panthers, Huskies,
Coyotes, Bulldogs and Mastiffs, are waiting shipment at
the MoD's Defence Storage and Distribution Agency's (DSDA)
vehicle store in Ashchurch, in the badlands of deepest Gloucestershire.
surrounding the armour on the new vehicles has been
suggested as one reason why their deployment is held up;
their "UK eyes only" classification means they
have to wait for scarce transport from the RAF.
MoD argues that it's a question of phasing: "It is
imperative that if the mission is to be sustainable, we
need to have a fleet in theatre and in the UK for training,
maintenance and upgrades."
the reason, the soldiers on the frontline urgently need
the added protection provided by these latest armoured vehicles.
So, MoD, get those doggies (and Ridgbacks) rollin' !
Eurofighter order slashed - Army's gain?
government's decision to slash the final order for Urofighters/Typhoons
may hopefully be good news for the guys on the frontline
UK had originally agreed to buy 88 aircraft in the third
and final tranche of the overall Urofighter order but that
order has now been slashed to only 40 fighters. In total
the RAF will now only be getting 160 Typhoons out of the
232 it had originally been promised.
only two months ago that Gordon Brown seemed
to confirm that the UK was going ahead with the final
order as planned: "I am pleased that we are moving
forward with this important programme with our partner nations.
This will strengthen Britain's defence capability, and will
create new jobs in advanced manufacturing that Britain needs
to emerge stronger and fitter from this global downturn."
Still, we've come to expect U-turns from the government
Urofighter programme began in the mid-80s and originally
aimed to provide an aircraft to dogfight Soviet jets over
mainland Europe. Things have obviously moved on since the
Cold War days and many strategists believe that the Urofighter
is no longer appropriate for the type of conflict that Britain
has to face these days.
the MoD could be persuaded to divert some of the RAF's leftover
funds to provide practical support to British troops in
Assault without battery: the self-powered soldier [27/07/09]
at Leeds University are developing a way to capture the
kinetic energy produced when soldiers march, convert it
into electrical energy and use it to power their equipment
(radios, night vision goggles, torches,etc).
devices or 'energy harvesters', would use high tech ceramics
and crystals as piezoelectric transducers in order to convert
mechanical stress into an electric charge.
of the need for heavy batteries, new technology would plug
directly into the soldier's clothing and gear thereby knock
up to 10kg off what a soldier has to carry. Eliminating
the need for batteries would also reduce resupply requirements.
company-sized patrol on a 48 hour operation the average
battery weight per man is 3.76kg with a maximum of 10.5kg.
With the total carried weight ranging from 33kg to 55kg,
batteries account for 10% of in the average weight and 30%
in the worse case (CDE Seminar Defence Research 2009).
Leeds project links in with the MoD's Defence Research Programme
'Reducing the Burden on the Dismounted Soldier' which is
aimed at finding new ways to reduce the weight that the
modern soldier has to carry - body armour, communications
and IT kit, lunch and other essential equipment.
States researchers have been looking at other ways of reducing
the soldier's need to lug around batteries by generating
and storing their own power. One solution is 'nanostructured
fibre'. These fibres, woven into military uniforms, would
act as rechargeable batteries or 'photovoltaics'.
Australian government has announced a $1.6million competition
to come up with the next generation of military robots.
robots will be designed to carry out surveillance missions
in urban combat zones thereby replacing soldiers in what
are very dangerous situations. Although the robots will
initially be unarmed, the Australian government intends
that they will ultimately have the capability to neutralize
enemy forces - i.e. "Exterminate them!"
shortlisted entrants will demonstrate their prototype machines
at the Land Warfare Conference in Brisbane in November next
for pre-deployment training: should be there by 2010 [26/06/09]
to a recent parliamentary question from Shadow Defence Sec.
Liam Fox MP about equipment available during pre-deployment
training, Bill Rammell MP, Armed Forces Minister of State.
gave the following reply.
Close Combat (DCC) equipment.
Availability ranges from above 90% for small arms to below
50% for complex items such as night vision equipment and
Osprey body armour. The situation continues to improve;
75% of the funded requirement is expected to be met by December
2009 and 100% by mid-2010.
Operational Requirement (UOR) procured vehicles
availability of these new types of vehicles is improving
from the current figure of just below 50%. As the pace of
delivery increases this year, at least 80% of the funded
training fleet for Mastiff, Ridgback and Jackal are expected
to be available by November and 100% is expected to be available
vehicles modified to Theatre Entry Standard (TES) Vehicles
such as Panther, Viking, CVR(T) and Warrior come from the
existing fleet of vehicles; there is no shortage for training
and crews and users are largely already qualified and practised
in their use. There are some shortages in the number of
vehicles specifically modified to TES; availability ranges
from below 50% (CVR(T)) to nearly 60% (Panther).
all very well for the Minister of State to say that all
the appropriate equipment should be available in 12 months
time, but hasn'e deployment been going on for the last six
armour on show at Defence Vehicle Dynamics [26/06/09]
Wales Police "Tarian" is the name of its anti-drug
Task Force, to the defence industry it's the name of
a new textile-based armour system that will give additional
lightweight protection against RPGs for such vehicles as
Mastiff and Ridgback.
in conjunction with the MoD by the UK subsidiary of US company
Inc at its factory in Dorset, Tarian is capable of defeating
the same threats as existing bar or slat armour, but at
significantly reduced weight which allows improvements to
the vehicle's protection elsewhere.
The new armour was on show at this year's DE&S's Defence
Vehicle Dynamics arms fair at Millbrook in Bedfordshire.
Also on public show for the first time were the Army's new
dogs of war: Wolfhound, Husky and Coyote Tactical Support
Vehicles (TSV). 400 of these are currently in production
and should be available to training units later this year.
The new TSV fleet will be used to accompany front line patrols
and carry essential combat supplies such as water and ammunition.
Osprey Assault body armour and Mark 7 helmet [24/06/09]
sets of updated body armour and helmets will soon be are
on their way to Afghanistan.
to feedback received from troops on the ground, the current
Osprey body armour and Mark 6A helmet have been redesigned
to meet the requirements of today's soldier engaged
redesigned Osprey Assault body armour, whilst offering the
same level of protection as that currently in use, has thinner
plates and a closer, more "ergonomic" fit which
will make it more stable and more comfortable to wear especially
over a long period of time.
new Mark 7 helmet has been designed to accommodate the sights
of new weapons systems and night vision equipment.
Army Knife: the fourth generation [20/06/09]
only the fourth time in 117 years a new version of the prestigious
Swiss Army Knife has been released.
firms competed for the rights to market the all-in-one survival
kit but Victorinox won with "The Soldier". The
features a one-hand serrated locking blade, Phillips screwdriver,
can opener, small screwdriver, bottle opener, large locking
screwdriver, wire stripper, reamer, key ring, and wood saw
- oh, and a thingy to get boy scouts out of horses' hooves.
inspection: no problem for UK military training [19/06/09]
a 15 month period between January 2008 and March 2009 Ofsted
looked into the quality of welfare and duty of care provided
to the UK's recruits and trainees during their military
training. The inspection - you know, the sort of thing that
sends members of the NUT into a tizzy or blind panic - found
the overall effectiveness of the welfare and duty of care
provision for recruits and trainees to be satisfactory. "Inspectors
found a strong commitment from the majority of training
personnel to provide recruits and trainees with a fair and
challenging programme, while also taking due account of
individual circumstances that might affect the health, well-being
or progress of the individual. Most recruits reported that
they felt safe and well-supported, and in the majority of
establishments inspected, the welfare and duty of care arrangements
were good and integral to the training process."
military did come in for some criticism, particularly that
the pace of improvement could be accelerated, and singles
out the Army as needing to do more: "The Army has
made improvements across the board, but is making uncertain
progress in particular aspects, such as selfassessment,
which is the cornerstone of improvement and development....
establishments [should] develop their proficiency in the
use of self-assessment as a route towards real and lasting
quality improvement. This all sounds a bit New-Labour-speak
to me, so no problem there then as this mumbo-jumbo will
soon be scraped into the dustbin of history.
military are talking to each other- MultiNational Experiment
"special relationship" is still hanging on in
there - at least as far as networking is concerning.
"Army Brigade Combat Team Modernisation netwrok interoperability
testing" carried out by the UK and US armies is has
shown that the two nations' Armed Forces can communicate
effectively with each other and exchange intelligence data
and messages between their respective
systems (the UK's ISTAR?).
miligeeks are saying that they were able to translate all
the MoD's messages "pretty seamlessly" and that
the experiment overall was a great success. In operational
terms, that the two command networks can talk to each other
will mean that a target, identified by either the US or
UK forces, can be electronically passed on to whichever
combat force can best deal with it.