Feeds

Committee blasts delays to new UK armoured vehicles

Chaos at MoD continues

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

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. ®

Security for virtualized datacentres

More from The Register

next story
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Don't bother telling people if you lose their data, say Euro bods
You read that right – with the proviso that it's encrypted
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.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.