WCSP: Britain’s Warriors to Undergo Mid-Life Upgrade
Britain’s MCV-80/FV510 Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle was produced between 1984 and 1995. Built of all-welded aluminum construction and armed with the 30 mm Rarden cannon, it was designed to destroy enemy armored personnel carriers at ranges of up to 1,500m, while offering a fast, armored battlefield taxi for up to 7 infantry soldiers. These IFVs were pressurized to protect against Soviet chemical and biological weapons, and included a full range of night vision equipment. They served capably during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, were used to maintain the peace in Bosnia/Kosovo, and have found themselves in very high demand on the post 9/11 front lines.
Individual programs have improved some vehicles’ optics, radios, and add-on armor, but keeping the fleet in service until 2035 will require more extensive work. Hence the GBP 1 billion Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP). In mid-November 2009, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin UK submitted their bids, but the decision took almost 2 years. Fielding isn’t expected until 2018, but work proceeds.
WSCP Program, Technologies, and Bid Teams
The WCSP effort has 4 main sections; WFLIP (Warrior Fightability Lethality Improvement Programme) to improve turrets and sensors, and add firepower; WMPS (Warrior Modular Protection System) to add a modular armoring system; WEEA (Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture) to add a fully integrated set of modern, expandable electronics and communications gear; and ABSV (Armoured Battlefield Support Vehicle) to improve the repair and recovery variants that keep the fleet in the field.
Out of 789 Warrior IFVs received by the British military between 1987 – 1995, WCSP will upgrade 643 vehicles with WEEA electronics, and WMPS modular armoring upgrades. The latter offers a standard armor mounting system, giving the new Warriors the flexibility to fit different types of armor as future protection technology advances. Within that group, 449 vehicles (69.8%) will also get the WFLIP program’s new turret and weapon system. The remaining ABSV Warriors will be turretless, and carry out field repair and recovery roles using winch and crane attachments.
The UK MoD awarded its contract to Lockheed Martin UK in October 2011. The System Architecture Design Review was completed in November 2012. A future Critical Design Review will be followed by man-in-the-loop firing trials in 2014, and the demonstration phase will end in 2016. Production will follow, with 2018 set as the scheduled in-service date.
The core of the WFLIP weapons program will be a new gun, paired with an automated ammunition feed instead of manually-loaded 3-round clips. It will be mounted in a new, stabilized turret, capable of firing accurately on the move, and linked to advanced sensors, modernized targeting systems, and a built-in defensive aids suite. If it works, the gun could offer a system that combines 25mm gun and ammunition space requirements with 50mm gun punch.
The UK Ministry of Defence mandated the CT40 CTWS (cased telescoped weapon system) and its 40mm ammunition for both Warrior WCSP and Britain’s forthcoming FRES-SV scout vehicle. The system is produced by CTA International (CTAI), an Anglo-French joint venture between BAE Systems and Nexter. It fires a 1 kg HE (high-explosive) round with 3 times the terminal effect of the 30mm Rarden shell, and its high explosive air burst (HEAB) capability allows detonation in mid-air at precise ranges. This is very useful for dealing with urban strongpoints like a room inside a reinforced building, or enemies hiding behind cover.
The system’s most unusual feature, however, is its ammunition – a projectile encased inside a cylinder, with the propellant packed around it. That cuts round length by about 50%, and improves volumetric efficiency by about 33% for a given level of performance. Storage space is always at a premium, and these efficiencies remove some of the natural penalties that accompany a larger 40mm gun. Telescoped ammunition also allowed CTAI to replace the normal breech arrangement with a static ammunition feeder that feeds into a novel rotating breech design, via a hollow trunion. Practical advantages include a feeder with less than 50% of the number of parts found in a standard system, all located farther forward, out of the crew’s way.
WCSP: Challenges & Teams
Despite this compartmentalization of the WCSP, the process must also be managed holistically. As BAE Systems’ Warrior campaign director Judith Eastwood, points out, changes in one area lead to changes elsewhere:
“For instance, as Warrior weight has grown, we have developed better brakes. These generate extra heat, which has to be managed to avoid knock-on effects.”
And so forth. Despite general agreement on this point, the competing bids represent different philosophies.
BAE Systems’ Team
BAE touted the need for a new turret into order to provide optimum structural integrity, protection and crew exit, and human design for the crew. BAE sees less value in keeping the Warrior’s exact current chassis. Crew stations and hatches, for instance, were re-designed to accommodate the extra bulk of infantry body armor, which has become ubiquitous in recent years and can make it hard for troops to escape the vehicle. Their “make it right” approach would have changed both the chassis and turret, while adding other improvements.
BAE’s WEEA offering is very similar to the open architecture system that BAE Systems is offering for is CV90 FRES SV, while its WMPS solution will provide a standard mounting system for the various armor fits that have been developed for the Warrior under recent UOR (Urgent Operational Requirement) rapid buys. A new blast-attenuating driver’s seat will improve earlier UOR mine protection measures, which included new belly plates, and stiffer suspension to restore the vehicle’s ride height.
The UK MoD ended up disqualifying BAE’s bid around February 2011, however, for reasons that weren’t made public. That left a different philosophy to guide the upgrades.
Lockheed Martin’s Team (winner)
In contrast to BAE’s approach Lockheed Martin UK touted the virtues of a WFLIP turret that’s a modified version of the current system. They point to lower acquisition costs by avoiding significant hull modifications, and better whole life costs from reuse of existing spares stocks. Their upgrade is designed to be achieved as part of the Warrior Base Overhaul process done by the UK Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO, which was later merged into the DSG).
In October 2011, that approach won the contract. Lockheed Martin UK’s Warrior Transformation team includes:
- UK’s Defence Support Group (and see Nov 19/09 strategic partnership entry)
- Caterpillar UK
- CTA International (40mm cannon, ammunition handling)
- Curtiss-Wright Antriebstechnik GmbH (electro-mechanical turret drive and stabilization system)
- Elbit Systems Kinetics
- Jenoptik ESW
- Lorica/ Plasan
- MIRA (mechanical design, electrical design, systems integration and test)
- Moog (rotary base junction)
- NP Aerospace – portion now up for bid.
- Rheinmetall Land Systems (turret design, cannon mounting)
- SciSys (electronic architecture)
- Thales Optronics (Battlegroup Thermal Imaging; commander and gunner sights)
- Ultra Electronics (power distribution, driver instrument panel, cannon control unit, fire control computer)
Contracts & Key Events
2012 – 2013
Oct 30/13: Kuwait. The Kuwaitis are reportedly inquiring about a similar upgrade for their 250+ vehicle Warrior fleet. Word is that they’re willing to run the same competition based on their own needs, rather than just picking the same solution as the UK. Sources: Tactical Report, “Kuwait: Desert Warrior, Lockheed Martin v/s BAE Systems”.
Nov 13/12: Update. Lockheed Martin UK offers a brief progress report. WCSP programme manager Colin Gilding says that they’re “integrating a number of new technologies into the existing platform around space, weight, height and power…” The System Architecture Design Review was completed in November 2012. The Critical Design Review will be followed by man-in-the-loop firing trials in 2014, and the demonstration phase will end in 2016. Production will follow, with 2018 set as the scheduled in-service date.
Lockheed Martin UK’s Ampthill facility has received GBP 2.5 million in investment, including a GBP 1 million motion test rig with 8t capacity. It incorporates advanced aircraft simulator technologies, and will be used instead of outdoors vehicle tests for turret stabilisation testing, turret servo testing, human factor assessments, training, and shakedown testing.
Nov 13/12: Sub-contractors. Lockheed Martin UK announces some new suppliers and responsibilities. MIRA will help Lockheed Martin UK with mechanical design, electrical design, and systems integration and test, working side by side at their dedicated new facility at Nuneaton. They’ll start with about 20 engineers and support staff, which will grow as the program matures.
Ultra Electronics is already a partner, and their Precision Air & Land Systems unit at Cheltenham now has a contract that includes the Warrior Power Distribution System, the Cannon Control Unit and Fire Control Computer (FCC). Ultra is already well underway with the development of the FCC, and will deliver the first Warrior units early next year. Their team will grow to 30 people during peak periods, and the recent contract will help them secure their supply chain.
2010 – 2011
Oct 25/11: The UK Ministry of Defence signs a GBP 642 million (currently $1.06 billion) with Lockheed Martin’s team, as part of the GBP 1 billion WCSP upgrade program. WCSP reportedly got the go-ahead only after the Treasury’s spring 2011 agreement to a modest 1% increase in the MoD’s defense equipment program after 2015.
Lockheed Martin UK’s team will be responsible for upgrades and enhancements that extend the Warriors’ service life to beyond 2040, and the firm says that WCSP will support up to 600 jobs in the UK. UK MoD | Lockheed Martin | BBC.
Feb 11/11: BAE. Reports surface that the UK Ministry of Defence has rejected BAE Systems’ WCSP proposal, leaving Team Lockheed as the only option. If the program continues, that is, and if they submit a satisfactory bid. No public explanation was given.
Jan 31/11: Is there a future for WCSP? Even after the recent Strategic Defence and Security Review, Defense News reports:
“The Warrior program, a top British Army priority, is at serious risk of being descoped, delayed or even shelved as budget cuts bite deeply into equipment plans. If the money is available – and that’s a big if – the revamped Warrior could have an initial operating capability of 2015, defense sources here said… Depending on whom you listen to, the WSCP program is either dead, almost dead or facing big changes.”
Some accounts have the number of remaining Warrior vehicles cut to just 270.
Jan 5/11: LMCO. Lockheed Martin UK announces that its Warrior Transformation Team (WTT) has successfully completed the latest series of live WCSP turret firing trials at the Faldingworth Test Range in Lincolnshire, confirms that they’ve submitted their Revise and Confirm proposal for the delayed WCSP upgrade program, and touts commonality benefits given their FRES-SV win.
In detailing its partner firms, the Lockheed Martin UK release no longer mentions NP Aerospace. Questions to Lockheed Martin UK received the response that: “The element that was NP is now being competed”.
March 3/10: WSCP Delay. Funding shortfalls have led the MoD’s Investment Approvals Board (IAB) to call for a 1-year delay before launching the WCSP program. The recommendation was made following the IAB’s Feb 25/10 meeting, which also covered the MoD Defence Equipment & Support’s recommendation in the FRES-SV competition. Jane’s report | PURCON | Defense News re: IAB’s agenda.
Feb 26/10: BAE. Jane’s reports that the FRES-SV industrial programs have become an issue in the Warrior competition, and could elbow it out. At the same time, BAE Systems had warned that its UK military land vehicle concerns will become a “dwindling support services business” should the group fail to be selected to meet the UK FRES-SV and the Warrior Capability Sustainment Plan. In other words, significant layoffs.
Feb 22/10: BAE. BAE Systems announces that they’re starting to build a GBP 4.5 million Turret Test Rig (TTR) for the FRES Scout and Warrior upgrade programs. The rig is closely modeled on BAE Systems’ Mission Equipment Vibration Table (MEVT) in Minneapolis, built for the US Future Combat Systems program. Indeed, systems modeling and analysis manager Vince Whelan relocated from Minneapolis.
The TTR is designed to take a turret through a 20-year life-span in 12-18 months by subjecting it to “shake, rattle and roll” tests under extremes of temperature. Electronic components in particular tend to dislike vibration, but the life of an armored vehicle makes a lot of vibration inevitable. Testing must be done, but field testing is inefficient and expensive. Hence the development of facilities like TTR/MEVT.
Feb 8/10: Cannon. The CTA International (CTAI) joint venture between BAE Systems and France’s Nexter signs a GBP 11 million contract with the French and British ministries of defense, in order to fund qualification of their 40mmm CTCA caseless cannon system. Qualification will begin in early 2011, including freezing, baking, humidity, “shake, rattle and roll” trials, etc. The UK and France have already signed a Government to Government Technical Arrangement for a jointly-funded qualification program, which will require around 15,000 rounds.
The final ammunition requirements will be defined once the prime contractors are announced in the next few weeks. Nexter has secured an ammunition supply contract from the French government, while BAE Systems Global Combat Systems – Munitions (GCSM), recently submitted a proposal to produce that 40mm ammunition through Britain’s existing MASS munitions supply contract.
While the system has been passed for manned firing and considerable data has already been collected, these trials will formally pass the system for use by the British and French armies. CTCA will be used in the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP), the FRES Scout reconnaissance vehicle for the British Army and in the French Army’s EBRC future reconnaissance vehicle. In Britain, however, the WCSP/FRES turrets and the FRES Scout chassis will be selected through competition. BAE Systems release.
2007 – 2009
Dec 15/09: LMCO. Lockheed Martin UK announces that their team has successfully tested its design for the Warrior Capability and Sustainment Programme (WCSP) in a series of limited live firing trials, at the QinetiQ Test Range in Shoeburyness, Essex, UK. These tests were designed to prove structural integrity, accuracy, and integration. See also Dec 3/08 entry.
Nov 19/09: LMCO. Lockheed Martin UK signs a Strategic Partnering Agreement (SPA) with the UK government’s Defence Support Group (DSG). It provides an overarching partnership framework that sets out key terms between the 2 organizations, which will be supplemented by specific teaming agreements, as opportunities arise. Specific teaming agreements for the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) and the Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) are part of the initial SPA. Lockheed Martin adds that:
“This Strategic Partnering Agreement underpins Lockheed Martin UK’s commitment to the Armoured Fighting Vehicle (AFV) Sector… Our plan, if we are successful in our bids on the WCSP and FRES programmes, is to co-locate with DSG at their Donnington facility.”
DSG launched on April 1/08 and brought together the Army ABRO and Navy/RAF DARA trading fund organizations into a single new defense Trading Fund, whose primary focus is in providing expert in-house maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade services for the through-life support of UK Armed Forces equipment. DSG’s Head Office is located in Andover and provides strategic direction to the main sites in Bovington, Catterick, Colchester, Donnington, Sealand, St Athan, Stafford, Stirling, Telford and Warminster. Smaller support sites are located in Aldershot, Bicester, Kinnegar and Sennybridge ; and small support teams are permanently embedded at other UK military sites, as well as supporting operations at home and abroad. Lockheed Martin UK | UK DSG.
Nov 17-18/09: BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin UK submit bids for the WSCP program, and offer details concerning their solutions and/or teams. A decision is expected in Q1 2010.
BAE Systems touts their delivery of over 40 Urgent Operational Requirement (UOR) modifications for Warrior in the last 5 years, and investment of GBP 40 million in company funds to develop the new gun, a new turret, and the vehicle’s electronic architecture.
Lockheed Martin UK’s release mentions its team of partners, and the firm provided additional details in response to questions; these were incorporated into the background briefing, above.
March 30/09: Cannon. Defense News reports that Britain and France have agreed to a common process to qualify CTAI’s CT40 gun and ammunition, as the culmination of a 15-year, EUR 100 million development effort by the BAE Systems/ Nexter joint venture. Testing is expected to involve around 20,000 rounds, and could clear the cannon and most of its ammunition types for action by 2012.
Dec 3/08: Cannon. BAE Systems announces the successful completion of a demonstration and trials at the Kirkcudbright range in Scotland, using their MTIP2 40mm turret and its Cased Telescoped Armament System (CTAS). MTIP2 is a BAE Systems-funded project to lower risks for both both the Warrior Fightability and Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP) and the FRES-SV Scout vehicle. While the company’s offerings will use different turrets, they’ll share many common systems. BAE:
“Over the course of 3 trials open days, visitors saw the system perform static and moving firings against static and moving targets, using both training and armour-piercing rounds. 90 rounds were fired from the 40mm gun and 600 rounds from the chain gun [coaxial machine gun], achieving high levels of accuracy and reliability.”
March 26/08: Cannon. The British MoD decides that Warrior WFLIP and FRES-SV will use the Nexter/BAE CT40 gun and ammunition system. The design beats out Finmeccanica’s HITFIST-30 2-man turret with ATK’s Mk.44 30mm gun; and General Dynamics UK’s MK46 turret with Mk.44 gun as developed for the USMC’s amphibious EFV. Lockheed Martin Insys’ is designing a turret based on the existing Warrior design, adapted by Germany’s Rheinmetall Landsysteme. It was also reportedly slated to use the Mk.44, but the firm claims that its design is weapon-agnostic, and intends to continue competing. Jeffrey Strategic.
CT40 beats HITFIST
Dec 5/07: LMCO. Lockheed Martin UK announces successful testing of its WFLIP turret design, which combines ATK’s Bushmaster 30mm Mark 44 Cannon, on a modified Warrior turret with a dual axis stabilized BGTI (Battle Group Thermal Imaging) sight from Thales Optronics Limited. Rhinemetall Defence has designed the cannon, the mounting structure and the Ammunition Handling System. Curtiss-Wright is responsible for the turret stabilization.
The series of limited live firing trials was conducted at the Cranfield Ordnance Test & Evaluation Centre on Salisbury Plain Training Area. Through rapid prototyping Lockheed Martin has taken its WFLIP turret from an idea, through concept design, physical prototyping to live firing in just 33 weeks.
- UK MoD – Medium Armoured Tracks Team (MATT)
- British Army – Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle
- Army Technology – Warrior Tracked Armoured Vehicles, United Kingdom
- Wikipedia – Warrior Tracked Armored Vehicle
- Lockheed Martin UK – Warrior fightability and lethality improvement programme (WFLIP)
- Defence Management Journal (Issue 40) – The WFLIP dilemma. Discusses the choice of gun: ATK’s Mk44 30mm cannon, or the Franco-British CT40?