FRES and Europeanisation of the British Army

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by zippy483, Jul 10, 2005.

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  1. Read this in the Telegraph this am

    A couple of things spring to mind.

    How is it that the single most important procurement project for the British Army is only debated by 2 MP's?

    What are we going to get for out £4million per vehicle?

    And How does more expensive and less able but it's OK because its European fit in with a better equipped Army?

  2. Several chunks of it look rather suspect. For instance, stating that buying vehicles made in co-operation with Europe " rules out any future British military partnership with the US, thus spelling an end to the Anglo-American "special relationship"." seems rather extreme. Also, as I understand it the UK has vetoed Gallileo being used for military ends - if so the claim about it being built to a "european standard" meaning it must use Gallileo is a leap of imagination on the part of the author.

    Oh, and the reason it is only being debated by 2 MPs is that the debate was held in Westminster Hall - not the Commons - while other things were on. As I understand it, Westminster Hall debates are non-binding and don't really count for very much - making the whole exercise kind of pointless.
  3. I'm not so convinced that FRES's woes are a result of "europeanisation" (whatever that is). It's more a result of the completely unrealistic specification and the incompetence of the DPA.

    Put another way, as we all know from buying whizzy electronic gadgets for a given level of performance the smaller one costs more. FRES is being built to a particular size and is expected to deliver levels of performance currently delivered from much larger pieces of kit - so anyone surprised by the cost shouldn't be running the procurement process. Which brings me to the DPA ...

    It's also worth noting that the US is on the verge of acknowledging that their FCS initial requirement is not realistic - and if the US can't afford it there's no way we can.

    Personally I think we gold-plate our designs far too much which leads to weight and cost increases. We need to stop chasing the extra 20% of performance that drives 80% of the cost. The argument is then that the soldier deserves better, but at the moment they're driving the 432 series around and will continue to do so until we buy something.

    The insistence on turrets for instance - why not go for an assault gun/S-tank layout where possible ? FRES needs a genuinely radical approach if it is to have a chance of succeeding, not the usual defence contractors churning out the usual product.

    For more discussion on the wider issues see:
  4. What is Panther like, does anyone know? Is it more expensive that the Hummer because it's better or are the US's economies of scale having an effect. Regardless of what Booker suggests (he does get a little OTT) I can't see that the Hummer is an appropriate vehicle for European roads and therefore is not a viable purchase for us.
  5. maninblack

    maninblack LE Book Reviewer

    The article in the telegraph is at odds with perceived wisdom on the project. In general it is believed that FCS and FRES will likely merge into an anglo-american project under BAe. Unless the Telegraph know somethng the rest of the defence industry know then it is unlikely to involve a European joint venture and certainly would not be part of the rush to Europeanise.
  6. it looks like an armoured 4*4 team cab pick up .Even with a night sight
    for the driver and a remote control roof mounted gpmg cant see why its worth 400 000 quid . For that sort of money i 'd want something pretty spectcular.
    Is someone taking mod for a ride or what ?
  7. From my experience of working for the MoD it's probably 150 grand for the base vehicle, fifty grand for a support contract and the other couple of hundred thousand for the non-recurring portion of UK-exclusive changes that we "absolutely must have". The fact that they're not worth a tenth of that is neither here nor there, some staff officer got to bang the table at the procurement meeting and sound warry to demand them (leads to good ACR) and some civil servant got to work some overtime to insist that the manufacturers include them (again, good report). They'll both be out of post by the time it enters service and the manufacturer just sighs and makes the bill out.

    Not that I'm cynical or anything.
  8. From my knowledge, the Panther is mine resistant, has a thermal sight, for both gunnery and driving and can be armoured.

    On FRES: The specification isn't that unrealistic, what's screwing the project is the supper high powered all singing, all danceing electronics that TCH insisted on..

    At the moment the ACAVP has the right weight, and good protection against various attacks. Up to 30mm solid shot. The HEAT protection was described as "better than expected".

    It's my understanding if Time alows and FRES is to opperate in hostile enviroments for extended periods, then it will have bolton chobham armour panels that can be flown in seperatly. So for Quick in and out missions like sEria Leone, they wouldn't bother, but for a Rapid Deployment force like Opperation Dessert Sheild, then they would have the extra armour.

    How feasble this is I don't know.
  9. I've got to leap to the defence of our "acquisition" bretheren here before things get out of hand. Most of the Big Bad Projects are legacy ones, left over from before the whole "smart" process started. You can probably reel off a list of names at will here (eg Nimrod MRA4).

    Since those, there has been a huge amount of investment in the acquisition area in terms of staff training and project management. The benefits of this are only now just being realised.

    One of the biggest frustrations within the DLO/DPA is political interference. Yes, there may be an american/brazilian/swedish company that can make just what we want, at the right price, at the right time etc, but if UK interests wave the red flag, you can bet it goes to a British company at twice the price, with half the capability, or takes twice as long to get right.

    In addition, we the military do not cover ourselves in glory. We tend to change our minds half way through, alter the specification, add in a little bit here, little bit there, and by the time you know it, it costs three times as much and still doesn't do what we wanted it to do originally.

    So, OOTS, agree with you on the 80% - 20% thing, we need to do more of that.

    MIB - FRES was preceded by TRACER, which was an Anglo-American project that got binned when the yanks went down the road of the Brigade Combat Teams and FCS.
  10. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Ever been in a Hummer ? I had a ride in one of the unarmoured bog issue ones in Iraq - it is an agricultural vehicle ....makes British Army Landrovers look sophisticated.

    I was talking to a US colleague last week ( he's just come back from a vehicle fleet support role in Tikrit) and the US supply chain is having big problems meeting the demand for armoured Hummers. Big stink last year because a Tennessee National Guard unit was << up-armoring >> its vehicles using mild steel plating recovered from junk yards in Kuwait....

    Panther is designed for a different role . Good article at

    eg in REME area:

    ( I wish I knew where this ' why don't we buy what the US Army uses?' cultural cringe comes from : in some cases their kit is not as good AND costs more)

    Le Chevre
  11. First Chris Booker is a bit tin foil hat with regards to "the European project"

    Second if (a big if I know) we are getting piles of new kit we complain??

  12. Goatman

    Goatman LE Book Reviewer

    Coo! Illustrates the usually unseen links between politics and journalism really this article.

    Turns out that the Booker piece is lifted virtually word-for-word from a piece on the Bruges Group website by one Richard North, a fomer MEP, who has written a book about the satanic conspiracy that is the EU with - why, Christopher Booker......shome coinshidence shurely ?

    Er, no...just another foaming-at the-mouth Right Winger with an anti Yurpean agenda using the paper that the majority of Service officers read to have a pop at a Govt decision he did not personally agree with......

    It's only when you meet some of these people that you learn to put a bit of perspective on the magisterial tones of [insert name of 'serious' broadsheet here ]

    Trouble is, certainly in the Army, if it's in the ToryGraph ( undoubtedly the most widely read paper in the Mess) then, Mercy, it must be true mustn't it ?

    um.....not necessarily, General ......

    << Aux armes - Les Journos ! >>

    Le Chevre