Will MOD Cancel Warrior CSP?

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by maninblack, Jul 13, 2017.

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  1. maninblack

    maninblack LE Book Reviewer

    Will MOD Cancel Warrior CSP?

    When the Warrior IFV entered service in the mid 1980s it was in many ways a revolutionary vehicle for the British Army but it had flaws that were created by the attitudes prevailing in the MoD from the late 70s onward. It had a semi-automatic 30mm gun, which while it was a vast improvement on the GPMG on the FV432 it worked on a 3 round clip. Was this a legacy of the prevailing view in the MoD that machine guns apart automatic weapons were to be avoided? Just remember a previous generation of middle ranking officers had downgraded the FN Fal to produce the less capable semi-automatic SLR because Tommy Atkins couldn’t be trusted with an automatic weapon. This 1950s attitude also meant that Warrior lacked basic sensible equipment such as air-conditioning as the chaps didn’t deserve it, or waterproof clothing, or decent boots.

    Fast forward until Warrior has been in service 20 years and a combination of mission creep and UORs has increased Warrior’s in service weight by 10 tons, the poor old girl is gasping and panting in a series of desert conflicts she was ill designed to fight. The decision was taken to upgrade Warrior, give her a few new toys and a decent modern automatic gun. If you watch what has happened here you may notice the officers taking this decision are two generations on and have spent their careers using the SA80 with its automatic capability, introduced around the same time as Warrior.

    Now here is where MOD herd mentality came into play. The fashionable view at the MoD was referred to as the ABB policy, “Anybody But BAE Systems.” DE&S staff were guilty of muttering in the coffee bars and meeting rooms that BAE Systems stood for Big & Expensive and they “needed teaching a lesson” Over the previous 50 years all the major national defence industrial businesses had agreed, unofficially, to take the public blame when programmes were late into service and over budget. That these delays and cost over-runs were frequently caused by the MoD and armed forces changing the requirement half way through the design and build rarely reached the press. Look at the F35 catapult debacle for example. Now the scene was set for an ill thought out cake and arse party motivated by spite.

    Over the next few years programmes that logic dictated were in the bag for BAE Systems got strangely awarded to companies with little experience of the job in hand or capability on shore for example Ajax went to a company that didn’t have a UK factory to build it. Jackal series production went to a shipyard (the only defence capable UK shipyard not controlled by BAE Systems!) Virtus was awarded to an Israeli company that had never made military load carriage but were famous for sandals and Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (CSP) went to Lockheed Martin at Ampthill. Shortly before Lockheed Martin bought Insys at Ampthill it had been publicly shamed by the cancellation of the Soothsayer project; a programme so grossly mismanaged by the team at Amphill now operating under the Lockheed Martin banner.

    Meanwhile in a quiet shed in France BAE Systems (Hiss! Boo!) and Nexter of France had been working on a Anglo-French Government funded research programme to build CTA40, a twin feed automatic 40mm weapon using innovative cased telescoped ammunition. This gave a weapon that could fire and switch between armour piercing or airburst without ceasing fire.

    France and the UK commenced vehicle programmes at roughly the same time. The French specified CTA40 onto their EBRC Jaguar vehicle, while the UK MoD specified only the specified parts of CTA40 made by Nexter out of spiteful determination to deny BAE Systems any work. This Nexter only variant was also specified onto the General Dynamics Ajax vehicle giving Lockheed Martin two turret contracts for the price of one. All Ampthill had to do was build two versions of the turret and make a new ammunition feed and ancillaries. So all the UK millions invested in developing CTA40 had subsidised the French in acquiring a shiny new 40mm weapon and Ampthill had to start again using components that they didn’t design or understand.

    The first version of the Warrior CSP turret was too small and the gun didn’t fit, the second version is vastly overweight and the new Lockheed Martin-Nexter CTA40 can only fire when stationary unless you want to risk a jam. The version of the turret for Ajax is 2 tonnes above specified weight plus having the gun that doesn’t work. Both programmes are now years late with no solution to make the turrets work. The French Jaguar vehicle is now in service.

    When you factor in BREXIT and the fall in the value of Sterling the MOD equipment budget is suddenly in trouble. UK manufactured equipment has barely changed in price but overseas equipment is 15-10% more expensive than it was 18 months ago. The MOD desperately needs to cancel some projects and push the costs out by 5-7 years in order to trim its sails.

    An obvious candidate programme is the now over budget, over weight, non-functioning Warrior CSP. For a fraction of the CSP budget the MOD can drop the Ampthill white elephant, do a quick and dirty refresh on some basic Warrior systems and win itself a breathing space in which to force the original BAE Systems-Nexter CTA40 into Ajax. Everyone saves face except Lockheed at Ampthill and in 2023 the MOD can announce either a second purchase of Ajax Mk2 or more likely a fleet replacement of CV90s when the ABB mob have retired.

    In the meantime we will be able to judge how many ABB officers remain when we learn the identity of the preferred bidder for the Challenger 2 upgrade, another one where BAE Systems should have it in the bag.
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  2. Perchance does @maninblack have any links to Big And Expensive Systems?:smile:

    Not that what you've said isn't right on the money, mind.
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  3. rampant

    rampant LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    No a bad summation
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  4. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    See, this is the kind of stuff that clearly makes amateur military enthusiasts and Defence blogs go weak at the knees, doubtless sounds impressive to politicians and civil servants, but has no practical purpose to soldiers. It sounds like the kind of vastly expensive overengineering which is killing our equipment programmes.

    If that is the only selling point for this piece of kit, then if it's been ignored, good. Explain exactly what the use case is for a 40mm that can switch seamlessly from anti-armour to anti-personnel fire? Is this some ARMA (sorry, VBS) type Cold War virtual scenario where we go weapons free against an enemy attacking in massed tank and infantry formations, like happens in all our exercises and none of anyone's wars since forever? Perhaps using anti-armour rounds to punch a hole in, say, a building and then fire airbursts into the mix?

    Real weapons in real wars are used by soldiers, who have human reaction times, rules of engagement, and have to make decisions. Anything that isn't fully automated (no "killing" weapons are, only anti-projectile ones) which operates faster than those core times is a waste of resources. I genuinely cannot think of any realistic scenario where the weapon you describe is likely to be required. At the most basic level, even firing on an IDed enemy static armour + infantry defensive position would require the gunner to fire in bursts, simply for ammunition conservation. Possibly the only real scenario I could think of in which this would have some use would be a single enemy tank advancing in an urban road with close infantry support, and in that case, it is being built for the wrong country: I can't imagine UK ROE which would allow airburst over direct fire in that situation, for fear of accidentally brassing up civilians in the buildings. Moreover, "close infantry support" usually isn't so close as to necessitate seamless fire at one target, because these days there are standoff distances to patrolling with armour, lest you get liquefied by the pressure shock of your own armour's main gun firing, a lesson the US learned in Fallujah when they tried to emulate WW2 / Vietnam tactics and take cover directly behind modern tanks with vastly more powerful guns.

    This could go on, but the point is: this is at best a feature of incredibly limited use in practice. Imagine if, instead, BAE had proposed and focused on a 40mm weapon that was X times lighter, had Y more ammunition capacity, was Z time more reliable or easier to maintain, or cost a fraction of the price so the soldiers who used it could also have a range of other kit they need. That would be something any real soldier might get excited about.

    It may be that you have described it poorly, or the thing has other useful qualities. But if you are going to write a puff piece about a piece of kit / BAE on these forums, it might be worth doing it about something that has some obvious practical military use.
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  5. MIB - a very good part summation. The problem is that BAE systems (and/or their predecessors) had a terrible habit of milking the cash cow dry with little or no give. RAPIER was a classic example. The REME techs could have repaired some minor faults on the spot but the Black Box had to go all the way through the repair system. There were very good reasons for this blah etc but the fact remains that in many cases they took the piss. As did other defence Manufacturers e.g. Land Rover.

    The real problem is that UK plc is trying to emulate the US defence procurement system without the budget, the industrial database, the budget or the political will.

    Also 40mm CTA isn't Thors' Hammer. It is 40mm calibre ammunition with all of the capabilities and weaknesses of such a calibre.

    Edited to add - nice one @Sarastro
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  6. As a follow up, I do disagree with @maninblack on the utility of RARDEN. In the 80s it was a proven and reliable weapon system with good-ish AP penetration, a reasonable selection of effective ammunition natures, small volume in the turret and was already fully supported by the Sup & ES systems. Granted it looks quaint and antiquated now, but it's nearly fifty years old so no shocks there. @rickshaw-major 's comments on the requirement for bells and whistles on the BAE 40mm are on the money too.
  7. Sorry but where do you get the impression that standing behind a tank that is firing is going to kill someone from the pressure? If you are stood in front of the vehicle when it is firing you will have a bad day, the rear less so.
  8. Sarastro

    Sarastro LE Reviewer Book Reviewer

    Liquefied was obviously an exaggeration. It's been a while since I read this particular lesson (US Lesson Learned from Iraq era), but what I remember was:
    • Infantry need a standoff distance behind tanks (cannot remember how far)
    • Preferably behind hard cover, hilariously. As if the normal drill in contact is to just hang around in the open.
    • Cover ears if warning of fire is given.
    I think it was more to do with burst eardrums and similar injuries than actual pressure injuries, given that most infantry at the time (and still) don't carry ear defence with sufficient noise reduction for big guns, artillery etc.

    Do you have any more up to date info? Curious if so.

    PS Obviously the problem with this ref 40mm is that the effective area of a 40mm airburst round in the open is really quite small (2-4m if I remember right, depending on ammunition), so would only be of use against AP targets either in an enclosed space or right up against the armoured target.

    PPS That's man carried 40mm. Vehicle ammo may be different, but I imagine not vastly within the same calibre. Happy to be corrected if wrong.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
  9. jrwlynch

    jrwlynch LE Book Reviewer

    Particularly since the world and his dog has had this feature for decades, with (for instance) the BMP-2 and the M2/M3 Bradley, among many others, having dual-feed with a simple switch on the gunner's panel to choose between AP and HE. IIRC (it's been a while) the older systems then left you remembering which graticule to aim with, the newer ones simply change the equations used for "point, lase, aim, fire" for the different ballistics.

    Does the CTA40 finally give us a feature that we could have had on the original Warrior if we'd wanted it (albeit that with RARDEN your "dual feed" was grabbing a three-round clip of a different nature), or is there meant to be some microseconds-shaving technology that means the switchover is even faster (with no evidence to indicate there's a pressing need...)

    I'm concerned that, as well as the image and/or reality of "Anyone But BAE", the bigger issue is that by obsessing about CTA40 (it's cost a fortune to develop, so we have to use it, so it's the preferred solution even though it's a unique and rather exquisite solution nobody else seems to be joining us in, and having chosen CTA40 as the future recce/IFV gun we've now got no money or weight for ATGM or overwatch, so we're reduced to spinning dits about how CTA40 can kill "some main battle tanks"...) we're painting ourselves into a corner with a unique weapon, expensive ammunition, and limited ability to adopt innovations others come up with.
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  10. Not sure you're being consistent here.

    From the comments, it appears that the 40mm CTA has an autoloader with a feed that allows the gunner to switch ammunition natures automatically, and for his fire control system to adjust itself accordingly. One operation, not two (i.e. manual changeover of ammunition / choosing different aiming marks / mode switch on gunner's sight).

    You're worried that this is a bad thing, because it's
    • too automatic (you want to ensure a slight risk of selecting the wrong aiming mark for the ammunition nature being fired)
    • a waste of resources (autoloaders are far too good for the likes of a gunner, make them work for their qualification)
    • too fast (if you're busy brassing up the depth trenches while the attack goes in, and a T-62 appears on the skyline, of course there should be a delay in switching natures and targets - adrenalin is good for the soul!).
    I suppose the question would be what are the other manufacturers doing? As they all offer "make it foolproof" ammunition/fire control selection, CTA is merely following best practice. If they're ahead of the market (in target effectiveness for volume taken), then CTA has a technically competitive product and might even sell it into other turrets. They're always going to be up against NIH for the USA (even if the US did run a comparative trial for CTA40, and discover that it did what it said on the tin)

    Edited to add: All of the Bushmaster types offer a dual-feed system. If CTA didn't offer it, would you be complaining that we'd bought an outdated lemon?
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
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  11. Apart from the French...

    A question for the RAC / Armd Inf trials types - are the "we take up much less volume in the turret" benefits of the CTA40 vital / important / just nice for any Warrior upgrade?

    PS a 2014 article that discusses the medium-calibre state of the art...
  12. Doesn't seem that silly a decision to me. Anyone who has fired a hand-held weapon in fully automatic mode will know that, after the first aimed round or two, it is a complete waste of ammunition.
  13. jrwlynch

    jrwlynch LE Book Reviewer

    No direct experience, but I think it may be a significant factor; given that RARDEN was often praised for its "minimal intrusion into the turret" (Janes & elsewhere, now repeated on Wikipedia....) and therefore the Warrior turret will probably be sized & laid out accordingly, so anything displaced into the hull to make room for gun + ammo will displace "something" from inside the hull to... somewhere else.
  14. I've been sat on a CR2 when it fired.

    No dramas to report.

    E2A to be specific next to commanders hatch, left there of.
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2017
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  15. I would think it would be news to the as90 crews too who work behind the guns.