Many of Britain’s army vehicles are old and worn, and the necessities of hard service on the battlefield are only accelerating that wear. The multi-billion pound “Future Rapid Effects System” (FRES) aims to recapitalize the core of Britain’s armored vehicle fleet over the next decade or more, filling many of the same medium armor roles as the Stryker Family of armored wheeled vehicles and/or the Future Combat Systems’ Manned Ground Vehicle family. Current estimates indicate a potential requirement for over 3,700 FRES vehicles, including utility and reconnaissance variants. Even so, one should be cautioned that actual numbers bought usually fall short of intended figures for early-stage defense programs.
The FRES program was spawned by the UK’s withdrawal from the German-Dutch-UK Boxer MRAV modular wheeled APC program, in order to develop a more deployable vehicle that fit Britain’s exact requirements. Those initial requirements were challenging, however, and experience in Iraq and Afghanistan led to decisions that changed a number of requirements. In the end, GD MOWAG’s Piranha V won the utility vehicle competition. FRES-U is not the end of the competition, however, or the contracts. In fact, FRES-U had the winning bidder’s preferred status revoked; that entire phase will now take a back seat to the FRS-SV scout version: