May 28, 2013 by Think Defence
With FRES Specialist Vehicle news rather thing on the ground a recent visit to the CTA International factory in France from the Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Peter Wall will have to do.
As we know, the CTA 40mm cased telescopic cannon is the preferred option for both the FRES and Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme, in addition to a number of French programmes.
After awarding the FRES Specialist Vehicle contract to General Dynamics, the MoD entered discussions only with Lockheed Martin for the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme. The idea of course being to maximise commonality between both vehicles as Lockheed Martin are under contract to General Dynamics for the FRES Scout turret.
In the earlier Warrior upgrade programme contest BAE had proposed a new turret with the CTA 40 called MTIP2, Lockheed Martin proposed an ATK Mk 44 Bushmaster 30mm in the same Warrior turret and Finmeccanica with the Hitfist turret, also mounting a 30mm weapon. The Bushmaster is the same as that used by the Royal Navy in its DSM30 ASCG systems.
The Capability Sustainment Programme has 4 main components that are planned to see Warrior out to 2040;
WFLIP (Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme)
WMPS (Warrior Modular Protection System)
WEEA (Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture)
ABSV (Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle)
Not much news around on the last one but the WFLIP will involve upgrading the turrets with the 40mm CTA, amongst other improvements. When you consider the £500m price tag for just the development phase of Recce Block 1 (not all of them by a long way) the £1b cost of around 350-400 upgraded Warriors seems like money well spent.
Production is scheduled for 2016 with initial operating capability a couple of years later.
The history of the CTA 40mm goes way back to the TRACER programme and started with the creation of CTA International in 1994, a joint venture between BAE Systems and Nexter, although when first created it was Giat and Royal Ordnance. It has been continued to be developed since then, despite TRACER being cancelled, integrated onto a US Bradley (click here for an evaluation report) in 1999 and the various changes in both FRES and the French EBRC and VBCI programmes.
If the 2016 production target is met, it will have taken nearly a quarter of a century to get the CTA 40 into service with the British Army.
Read more at the CTA website
Joining the unproven, expensive and technically risky CTA 40 will be the existing L94A1 7.62mm chain gun, apparently the Army’s most unloved weapon and putting it into an existing turret design will be a company that has never designed a turret, sub contracting to another company that is not the design authority for the vehicle.
When in service we will have zero logistics commonality on joint operations with anyone but the French, the other nations will of course be enjoying those commonality advantages and also have the advantage of drawing ammunition natures from a wider and thus less expensive development pool
What could possibly go wrong?
Meanwhile, the British Army will be using a Recce vehicle that has pretty much the same size, weight and general characteristics as a Warrior and we still haven’t decided what the lighter end of the recce vehicle will be, unless that is an open topped jackal, which it actually seems to be.
Our new Best Friends Forever, the French, have taken the spirit of commonality one step further by developing yet another 2 man turret for the CT40 called the Nexter T40
The T40 is shown in the video below fitted to an AMX10RCR and being climbed over and in by General Sir Peter Wall.
There was also some talk of a CT40 equipped Leclerc a few years ago, called the Leclerc T40, proposed for the Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance à Chenille (EBRC) programme. Nexter are in competition with Panhard and their Sphinx vehicle, fitted with yet another turret for the CT40 that has drawn on expertise from Lockheed Martin UK.
Will be interesting to see where all this goes