Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by Richard_North, Dec 19, 2006.
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Since Gordon won't let Tony buy any new kit, we've sent our list to Santa.... Have we got it right?
Oh Lordy, where do we start?!
No.10 Then we need a mine/blast protected patrol and convoy escort vehicle, to replace the "Snatch" and "Wimik" Land Rovers. The 6x6 versions of the Cougar being bought by the MoD (and re-named the Mastiff) are too big and cumbersome to be used. The vehicle illustrated is the RG-31. It has proved its worth time and time again in Canadian and US hands, saving many lives in circumstances where Land Rover crews would have been killed. Nevertheless, the Australian Bushmaster would be just as acceptable as would - at a pinch - the German Dingo II.
First of all, lets look at a comparison of the specifications of Cougar 6x6 and RG-31 mk5:
GVW 23.6 tonnes
GVW 14.2 tonnes
Note that Cougar 6x6 is about 50cm longer, and 8cm wider. Admitedly, Mastiff's bar armour would extend further, but this applies equally to Cougar and RG-31 as a base platform.
Also note that the third axle of Cougar 6x6 allows almost 10 extra tonnes of weight, although this does not neccessarily mean it will run at maximum.
Now, given that Snatch is dwarfed by both of these beasts, how is Cougar "too big and cumbersome"?
You might also note that the RG-31 offers a maximum protection level of 7.62x39 AP-I BZ (i.e. Ap round fired by AK-47), whereas the Cougar offers 12.7mm APM2.
Indeed, I have found very little evidence of situations in which a dead Snatch crew would have been saved by the RG-31. You will have noted from news reports that the majority of UK casualties in Snatch occured in Iraq - comparing the Herrick and Telic threat nature is like apples and...errr...Star Anais.
No. 11 This picture shows a US Stryker wheeled armoured personnel carrier. Operations by the US in Iraq and by the Canadians in Afghanistan with their Bisons, have demonstrated the value of wheeled carriers. They are faster, quieter, more comfortable and cheaper to run - also requiring less maintenance. For sure, they do not have the cross-country perfomance of tracked carriers, but no one is suggesting that our Warriors should be dispensed with. Alongside tracks, though, there is a role for wheels. We need some.
The Stryker is the US interim solution to a medium-weight force, prior to the development of FCS. FRES follows the FCS 'medium-weight' concept closely, but you have criticised FRES as a mere instruement of the vaunted EU rapid-reaction force..?
No. 12 And finally... we need a new tank. The British Challenger II MBT (and the US Abrams) were built for taking out Soviet T82s at long range under all conditions. They were not built for counter-insurgency. Pictured is an Israeli-built Merkava MBT. It is not perfect but, with a personnel and stores carrying capability, it is better than other Western tanks. They performed well in Lebanon and provide a good model on which to base new designs. Not for this Christmas then, but in years to come, we want a new MBT from Santa.
Why is Merkava 'better' than Western designs? I have heard many rumours of the supposed Israeli mastery of all things armoured, most of which are the result of myth and outstanding PR on the part of the IDF. But as the recent Lebanon campaign prooved, they are still vulnerable to modern ATGM. The carriage capacity of the Merkava is very limited btw, almost to the point of being useless in the situations we find ourselves.
The IDF have had to upgrade their MBT fleet several times to move with the evolving IED threat in places like the West Bank and Gaza, but I can honestly say that the Merkava offers no inherent design advantage. I would still take a CR2 anyday.
To sum up, I agree with your overall sentiments in terms of putting the best kit in the hands of the troops. However, many of your assesments re. contemporary military equipment are wrong...which is not suprising given the layers of detail that differentiate 'real' equipment performance from brochure engineering.
Good points, well made and I thank you for them.
As regards Land Rovers in Afghanistan, however, I am aware of three incidents involving British Land Rovers, two invovling "Snatches", here and here - both with fatalities, and the recent one involving the "Wimik", here, where serious injury resulted.
By contrast, there have been several incidents involving Canadian RG-31 Nyalas - both mines and sucide bombs, where there have been no or very slight injuries, including this famous incident in September, here. There definitely seems to be a good case for using mine/blast protected vehicles for road-based patrols and for convoy escorts.
As regards the respective sizes of the Cougar/Mastiff and the RG-31, nearly 10 tons weight in my book is very signficant. Quoting the dimensions themselves does not give the whole picture. The RG-31 derived from a Unimog chassis while the Cougar is based on an artic truck. From all accounts, the two behave very differently and we have frst hand accounts from Canadian drivers on the suitability of the RG-31.
As to to the use of the Stryker, I am making a point about a vehicle - I thought that there was general consensus that there was a role for a fast, wheeled APC - pity we got rid of the Saracen. It was actually better designed and protected than some of the contemporary designs.
FRES, on the other hand, is more of an operational concept than a description for any particular vehicles. I need not tell you it stands for Future Rapid Effects System. encompassing all sorts of equipment, including new vehicles.
I am very uneasy about FRES because I do not believe that "situational awareness" and standoff weapons can replace armour in counter-insurgency operations where the enemy does not reveal himself (if at all) until he strikes and where one of the main weapons is the IED.
On the Merkava, the after battle reports spoke very highly of the tank, recording that it was able to deliver supplies to hotspots, that no other vehicle could reach and that it was used for casevac in some instances, when no other vehicle might have survived. Of course it is vulnerable - there will never be a vehicle ever that is totally resistant to all weapons.
And not am I suggesting that we replace Challengers with it. What I am suggesting is that we could look at how the Merkavas performed, identify their strong points and then think about tank-like vehicles that might be more effective in COIN (and especially) urban operations. There has, in that context, been some discussion about the utility of hybrid vehicles.
The US, incidentally, are applying the TUSK upgrade to their Abrams. That, or something similar, may be enough for Challengers, but a little blue water thinking might not go amiss. I don't think we can assume that a tank built primarily as an anti-tank weapon for northern Europe is necessarily optimal for counter-insurgency in Mid-East urban environments.
No, no no. This is a US list that goes for sanctuary first. Know and realise this, you can never be safe in a fixed point. All that happens is you need more and more protection over time. See L2 from NI, Iraq, Afghanistan if you don't believe me. The enemy will always find a way in. The better option is comms that allow you seperate staff operational functions. PS. BOWMAN is not the answer as a collaborative planning tool.....
For the rest
3. Agree for UAVs, not sure about UCAVS at the level you want
4. I briefed against this in Baghdad last year and remain completely unconvinced about the usefulness of spending a mil bucks for taking out a scum's car and a couple of local hoodlums. Nuts - there are more cost effective options.
5. Agree with the need for something cheaper than Lynx but still see it a complete waste of time buying something that can't carry at least a section minimum at a time. Blackhawk is my choice
7. Like but would spend more on TUAVs before I forked out the big bucks for what you are suggesting. Face it - our need is at the tactical level not operational.
8. Agree - but would say that getting support from a cheap, v old A-10 far outguns what you are suggesting
9. Agree - MASTIFF
10. Agree but it is whether there is anything on the market that we can take now or whether we would be better getting something designed
Ref stryker - watch out in the spring for the Trails of truth for our FRES baseline veh. You may well see this veh (or rather a Pirahna 4+) in them.
New tank - why? What we need is money enough to operate the CR2s we have. Agree that is not designed for CI ops but it would do the job. Face it - what t lacks against the Merkova is the ability to throw some troops in the back and that platform has been designed very specifically for one type of op over anything else. We, the UK, have a slightly wider operational view and internationally diverse foreign policy that may require a platform that has a wider utility than the Merkova
Why C130's?????? Why invest in an aircraft chassis that is 50+ yrs old and doesn't meet our requirements? Give us some more larger lift capability. If not A400s,we spend enough on the C-17 and Antonov hiring them for tasks beyond the 4 that we have now? Why not properly equip ourselves with enough of them? The J class also have some fundemental problems too that have been discussed elsewhere in ARRSE. Ask the Para's for details.
Agree that this is the right principle - but some functions (primarily G4) are extremely difficult not to end up fixed. BFIs, Fd Hosps, Wksps & APODs are nec static (and can't be provided in a 'safe area' as per old doctrine). Accordingly, the idea of some active defence as per points 1 & 2 (rather than just hesco) appeals to this scaredy-cat REMF.
I did post a long reply but it has been eaten.
I wanted to ask how we can afford to abandon expensive assets like the Consulate at Basra Palace, which was renovated at a cost of Â£14 million before the civil servants were withdrawn.
In addition to C-RAM (which is used in the Green Zone), there are plenty of defence options, not least standing helicopter patrols guided by counter-battery radar. And there is that epic account by Michael Yon of a mortar team being tracked by a UAV with helicopters and then ground patrols being vectored in.
Also, why is it that installations like Shatt al-Arab Hotel cannot be defended? Is Hesco the only option when any Tom, Dick and Abdul can acquire a war surplus mortar and take pot shots at will?
I really do not understand why this is wrong . The US is doing it, the Canadians planning it for their Afghanistan bases. Perhaps someone could enlighten me why it is not good enough for us.
Certainly the counter battery and point defence system (items 1 and 2) are the biggest plus in my list.
The other stuff is OK but we have kinda make-do's for all of it.
The first two items though would let me sleep better. Have you seen the US point defence system here: http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=101970
there's a you tube somewhere of it working too
It might be a first, but I think I am agreeing with you.
(What I disagree with, is you using these issues to score cheap party-political and repetitive anti-EU points with, through the dubious medium of Christopher Booker).
"For the next item, we have the Force Protection Buffalo - equipped for mine and IED clearance. This machine is currently in service in Iraq where it provides invaluable service in detecting IEDs that would otherwise kill and main. So far, with the Cougars, which are used by bomb disposal officers, these vehicles have received over 1,000 hits from IEDs, without a single fatality. The British forces rely on a man walking in front of a vehicle (surprisingly they do not give him a red flag) and the bomb disposal officers have unarmoured "Duro" trucks. Neither is acceptable."
Perhaps you have to understand our EOD doctrine as to why this is the case.
PS New kit would be nice though.
If I can give you a simple example. There was a case for the reintroduction of Patriot to protect two US key fixed point assets in Baghdad. A load of flight crew passes were nicked and it was thought a group of Somali fundamentalists were about to use them to park a civvie plane into one of the targets.
It was realised that the planes only needed to deviate by a matter of seconds from the approved flight routes to hit both buildings, driving the decision to fire the Patriots into a v v tight window with a great deal of possibility for screw ups.
Oh and the Patriots were already removed from theatre and it would x weeks to get them back and in place.
The answer was to pray that the Somalies didn't get hold of a plane.
As I said there is always a way for the enemy to hit a fixed target. The costs for the level of protection you are suggesting for a compound miles square is awfully difficult to supply. You would need a lot of these vv expensive toys you are talking about to do it. I prefer a degree of mobility and not the seige mentality that is dictated here
These are hardly "cheap" points, when our gross contribution to the EU this year is Â£15 billion - nearly half the defence budget. And they are certainly not "party political" in the sense that all three main parties support our continued membership of the EU.
But political they are - that is what politics are all about. Parliament in the very first instance was set up to control the King's spending on war, so defence spending has always been and remains at the heart of politics.
The government can only take so much money from the taxpayer and it cannot spend it twice. And if politics is about choice, my choice is that the money should be spent on our Armed Forces rather than the EU. That has been my consistent and deeply held view for many decades. Because you may not agree with it does not make my points "cheap".
As far as I'm concerned they are 'cheap', because your underlying and main aim is to further your political viewpoint (which I may, or may not, agree with), not to save soldiers' lives. Call me over-sensitive, but I find that a little distasteful. Conduct your worthwhile crusade for decent kit through the auspices of John Keegan or others and I wouldn't have a problem, but using people's lives for single issue politics is not my cup of tea.
In addition, there are plenty of other targets for re-allocating cash to the defence budget - Social Security? Removing charitable status from private schools? NHS? Tax breaks for the rich? You name a bug bear and it can be used in this argument. Its just that nobody else does it but you.
Either way I am on a loser on this. If I do not point a way to how more money can be obtained to find better equipment, then I am accused of being unrealistic. If I point to one or other means by which the money can be released, I am being "political" and capitalising on the deaths of young men, etc, etc... If I suggested cutting back on something else, I would just get a different cadre of people having a go at me.
However, there is a very good reason for conjoining defence and the EU issues. Our membership of the EU is said to increase our status and influence in the world. I disagree and believe that our status and influence would be vastly more improved by having good quality, well-equipped Armed Forces.
I have said this to MEPs to their face in open debates. They cost us roughly Â£1.2 million each, the total for 86 or whatever (I can't even be bothered to check the latest headcount) is roughly Â£100 million. How many Regiments could we support for that money and how much "influence" would be bring us, compared to the "influence" we enjoy from keeping a bunch of over-paid dead-beats in Brussels.
In effect, therefore, money on defence and the EU are interchangeable - the sums are being expended for the same basic purpose.
However, the main thrust of my work is to achieve better equipment for our forces. I do that out of a sense of responsibility and for my own self interest. I am convinced that if we do lose the wars out in Iraq and Afghanistan, and have to come running home with our tails between our legs, the morale boost to Islamic fundamentalists will make this nation of ours a much more dangerous place.
Getting back to the original post, therefore, I thought you might enjoy this.
One or more of those supporting the Paras (and now the Royal Marines) in Afghanistan might have made a considerable difference. The trouble is that AC130s are expensive (to buy and maintain). At just over Â£60 million each, they are in the same league as the Eurofighter. That in itself raises an interesting issue. Which do we need more - fast jets or lumbering gunships with a long loiter time and massive firepower?
P.S. the Reuters link is dead, which is why you have a third party link.
Sorry Dicky, linking forces with EU is a stretch in anyone's terms. Why not countenance the scrapping of the navy's new carriers or the raf's eurofighter - both appear not to fit in your plans..
Don't we already have mortar-locating capability?
Secondly - this list is heavy with ultra-specialised electronicky technofixes for basic problems. But it all has the North key procurement indicator, though - a big stars and stripes on top and a Lockheed Martin logo. So that's all right then.
I suggest that rather than spend the money on a few sets of whizzies that might (or might not) hit a bullet in flight with another bullet, providing they are working, before the enemy comes up with a simple ECM defeat for them, we spend the money on recruiting and training more infantry and more Int Corps linguists and agent handlers, so we have a chance of finding out who's firing the mortars before they fire them.
BTW, does anyone operate T-82 rather than T-72/80 or 90?
Separate names with a comma.