Feeds

Committee blasts delays to new UK armoured vehicles

Chaos at MoD continues

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

In the latest blow to a beleaguered MoD, the influential Parliamentary Defence Committee has release a stinging review of the ongoing Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) project.

FRES is a potentially colossal programme intended to replace much of the British army's current combat vehicle fleet. The MoD estimates final costs at £14bn. Very few MoD projects have ever come in under budget, so the money's certainly there.

So is the need. Some of the army's armoured vehicle fleet, such as the FV430 series, have been in service since 1962. Investigations into their replacement began as long ago as the 1970s. Further projects have begun, become bogged down, and foundered ever since. Examples include the TRACER (Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement) and the "Boxer" Multirole Armoured Vehicle, both now defunct.

Meanwhile, British soldiers have been dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, often killed by roadside bombs while riding in lightly protected vehicles. As a consequence of this, temporary armoured expedients such as the Mastiff and Vector personnel carriers have been hurriedly bought off the shelf and rushed into combat in Iraq – but these, according to the MoD "do not possess the capability the Army requires as they are not armoured fighting vehicles", perhaps begging the question of why – in that case – they were purchased.

What the MoD means by this is that Mastiff and Vector are thought to be OK against insurgent opposition, but not for a serious high-intensity clash against a first-rate army. There are those who doubt that such a clash will ever again take place – General Rupert Smith, who commanded the British armoured forces in Gulf War I, has stated that the last real tank battles took place during the Yom Kippur War of 1973.

Nonetheless, the Army want to be ready in case he turns out to be wrong. That would seem to indicate a purchase of heavy metal such as the current 60-ton Challenger main battle tanks, and their accompanying infantry carriers. But these are no longer seen as ideal, because the only way to get them anywhere is to ship them by sea and rail. That takes a long time, hence the "Rapid Effects" part of FRES. The original requirement stated that all FRES vehicles should be readily air portable, weighing less than 17 tons.

However, it is now thought that a vehicle which can reliably resist basic threats such as roadside bombs and shoulder-fired RPG rockets is likely weigh as much as 27 tons. The UK forces possess only five aircraft able to carry vehicles of this weight. Unsurprisingly, the Defence Committee suggested that the current requirement "may be unachievable without a significant technical breakthrough". Estimates of when FRES might be in service ranged from 2009 (by Lord Bach, defence procurement minister in 2004) through to 2017-18 (by Atkins, consultants hired by the MoD).

It appears that the UK's soldiers may be waiting a while yet for their new vehicles. ®

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
Scrapping the Human Rights Act: What about privacy and freedom of expression?
Justice minister's attack to destroy ability to challenge state
WHY did Sunday Mirror stoop to slurping selfies for smut sting?
Tabloid splashes, MP resigns - but there's a BIG copyright issue here
Google hits back at 'Dear Rupert' over search dominance claims
Choc Factory sniffs: 'We're not pirate-lovers - also, you publish The Sun'
EU to accuse Ireland of giving Apple an overly peachy tax deal – report
Probe expected to say single-digit rate was unlawful
Inequality increasing? BOLLOCKS! You heard me: 'Screw the 1%'
There's morality and then there's economics ...
Hey Brit taxpayers. You just spent £4m on Central London ‘innovation playground’
Catapult me a Mojito, I feel an Digital Innovation coming on
While you queued for an iPhone 6, Apple's Cook sold shares worth $35m
Right before the stock took a 3.8% dive amid bent and broken mobe drama
EU probes Google’s Android omerta again: Talk now, or else
Spill those Android secrets, or we’ll fine you
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.
A strategic approach to identity relationship management
ForgeRock commissioned Forrester to evaluate companies’ IAM practices and requirements when it comes to customer-facing scenarios versus employee-facing ones.