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Issue N째 23 September / October 2015

European Defence Review

Greece and European solidarity (Editorial) Body Protection Mine protected vehicles Grenade launchers The British Government on defence


© Natcom - - 01 47 30 31 32 - Photos : Sirpa Terre, Mer et Air – DCI




European Defence Review



Greece and a new European solidarity pact- Joseph Roukoz


Body Protection - François Prins


What Future for Mine Protected Vehicles? - Paolo Valpolini



Grenade Launchers and their Ammunition - Jean-Pierre Husson


The New British Government’s take on defence - Christina Mackenzie


25 Publisher: Editor-in-Chief: Editor UK:

Joseph Roukoz Eric H. Biass David Oliver

European Defence Review issue no. 23

European Defence Review (EDR) is published by European Defence Publishing SAS

EDR - September / October 2015



Greece and a new European solidarity pact


urope is crumbling.

Joseph Roukoz

Given the latest news on the Greek front, this could be the conclusion of our paper. But we’d rather have it as an introduction, just like a warning sign, and an urge to act before it is too late. After months of negotiations during the Greece crisis, and the painful suspense that was caused by the flow of information in our newspapers, television shows, political declarations, we have come to a straight realization: Europe is weak and divided, and its democracy is failing. It is divided and weak, because the European community couldn’t agree on a single exit strategy for Greece. Democracy fails, because only the strongest have imposed their point of view, therefore shedding the light on a two-speed Europe: One that is really looking for an economic solution, and another sly Europe, with below the belt politics of power and domination. But these divisions within the European leadership are a new possibility to reconsider the European project. Since the beginning, Europe was thought as a complex economic system, based on the principle that the more countries engage in economic activity and trade, the more they could prevent new wars, such as the horrendous Second World War that Europe had just been through. This idea grew to become the core of the European philosophy that led to the creation of a single currency for European members. The dream of Europe’s founding fathers has indeed promoted cooperation, prosperity and growth among nations, erasing the unequal economies and rivalries on resources in Europe, and reached for an integrated and unified economy. However, This economic-based model is centered on assumptions and paradigms of the mid twentieth century, which are not relevant anymore. The biggest mistake was done when it was decided that the easiest was to build an economic Europe, and push the complicated political integration to further review. By choosing a punctual solution to a lasting problem, they drew the sketch of what was going to be the European disorder. Our political elites and establishment did not really stop feeding on this problem, since they are completely disconnected from people’s reality, up to the point that they have made European citizens live at the margins of Europe. According to the European parliament itself, the last elections in 2014 have seen the highest abstention rate of more than 57% in Europe, showing that the Europeans are simply not interested. This is mainly due to the fact that European leaders have willingly avoided informing people about European macro policies that legally prevail on national policies, just to avoid domestic issues. The refusal of the European constitution by France and other European countries in 2005 is not as much a rejection of Europe as a constructed ensemble, as an evidence for the lack of pedagogy on the continent. Had European elites informed the populations better, the French would have probably voted yes. There is an enormous misunderstanding of the enlargement of Europe to new economies that are not able to absorb the European economic structures and regulations. For the majority of European citizens that are not sensitized to the subtleties of the European extension, it is truly difficult to understand how countries, that are themselves incapable of respecting the rules of the EU (the debt ratio, among others), can agree to integrate additional problematic economies in the EU. Greece is also a major example of the disaster short-term economic visions can produce. Europeans have


EDR - September / October 2015

Editorial trouble understanding why a country that has never been able to apply the needed reforms, underestimated its debt and had been wasting public funds up to 177% of its GDP (2014) because of corruption, was left unpunished. Since its independence in 1830, and especially since the end of the dictatorship in 1974, Greece failed to establish a modern state with a regulated tax system. The help it has received from both the IMF and the EU has totalized hundreds of billions of Euros. Furthermore, let us not be entirely optimistic about the fact that the Greek government accepted the new European bailout deal that imposes budget rigor and market deregulation. Whatever happens to Greece could have an immediate impact on other economies affected by the crisis in Europe, like Spain and Italy. Even if some efforts had been made in these countries, they are still being observed by the EU, especially since in Spain, the left-wing political party podemos has a growing success in the elections, just as the left-wing Syriza party in Greece who is now in power. In reality, the fact that Europe is unable to manage political orientations among its members, including in times of political, economic and social crisis, shows how weak Europe is. Every single major decision has to be approved by all of the members. This bureaucracy is consuming and exhausting. Just like that, Europeans can’t decide over a migration policy when thousands of illegal immigrants are reaching Europe every day by boat in dramatic sanitary conditions; furthermore, Europeans can’t make up their minds over the attitude to adopt towards Russia and the fate of sanctions imposed on the country, neither do Europeans have a unified vision concerning the wars engaged in the world, in the Middle East, in Africa, they do not agree on the relationship to have with the United States, and the list goes on. A funny expression says that “the more the merrier”. In the case of Europe, a bigger Union implicates more National policies and hence a paralysis of its ability to act when facing major crisis. The European Union may have declared 2013 the European Year of Citizens, most Europeans did not feel attached to the notion of Europe and to what Europe could bring to them. Since the end of the cold war, populist parties in Europe have never been that successful, profiting from a growing economic frustration, and blaming Europe and its single currency for it. As a result, this climate paves the way to other countries, such as the BRICs (Brazil, Russia, India and China). Their economic development and their implementation around the globe have increased in a way that puts European economies to shame. Even Russia, upon whose European sanctions are hurting Europe more than Russia itself, is enjoying a strong collaboration with China and other countries as a replacement. Europeans need a vision and a direction. As far as things are going now, we are leading Europe to a programmed disaster. Our continent is facing a lot of challenges and we need to be up to responding to these global challenges. However, and as cynical as this sounds, the good part of the Greece crisis, is that it has taken such a proportion that it got Europeans to be more interested in their fate. Albeit technical and sometimes difficult to understand, public debates and the media have pushed European citizens to feel concerned about what was going on, and to want Europe to be accountable for what it proposes. Today, our leaders are assisting to an awakening Europe, a Europe of people who want to be informed and take a stand on debates that concern their own fate. This should be the impulse of a new common pact among European nations, a solidarity pact that could foster a wide debate on European future on the regional and national level, involving both policy-makers and citizens. This step could help address fundamental issues and develop responses to the multidimensional crisis we are facing. In the end, the last chance of Europe is its citizens.

EDR - September / October 2015


A typical coalition patrol; all are wearing outer tactical vests but some have additional panels and fittings. (US DoD)

Body Protection

Franรงois Prins

The use of body armour in the modern army is a matter of daily routine and is big business; looks at the system currently in use.


nce upon a time it was the gallant knight who was clad from head to toe in a gleaming suit of metal armour. This protected him from injury in battle and on the tournament ground. Such a suit was expensive, heavy and required a staff of many to dress the knight, and a hoist to get him seated on his horse. It was not the usual garb and only used by a select few; generally the average soldier had to make do with a shield for protection. Some armed forces, such as the Spanish and French did make use of a metal breastplate for officers but these were no match for the sharp arrowhead from the British longbow which easily pierced the material. Other forms of body armour were tried over the centuries and later the use of woven cloth afforded some protection against cuts from a sword but stopping a bullet was another matter. Experiments were carried out and it was not until the middle 1960s that Du Pont in the USA came up with a strong and light material that was capable of deflecting the energy of a bullet.


Since the 1970s US Armed Forces have been issued with body armour and flak jackets made with Kevlar fibre to help protect them from ballistic projectiles and explosive fragmentation. Kevlar is light, comfortable and is five times stronger than steel on an equal-weight basis. Though it helps provide protection from conventional fragmentation and multiple hits from 9mm handguns it is still pliable enough to allow the wearer to move easily. Inserts for military body armour made with Kevlar fibre are also tough enough to help protect against cuts, chemicals and flames. Many armed forces have adopted the use of Kevlar-suits and the development of the strong fibre continues. Though body armour was issued as a matter of course when required it was not until the First Gulf War that body armour was in general use by dismounted troops. Uniforms had changed little from the Second World War and the wearing body armour on a daily basis was not usual. However, with the threat of enemy snipers and the widespread use of IEDs (Improvised ExEDR - September / October 2015

A sniper on the way to a mission in full body armour with all the attachments in place. He wears protective goggles, knee pads and lower body panels. (US DoD)

plosive Devices) which could cause serious injuries, it became normal for troops to go on patrol in full body armour. UN peace-keeping forces standardised on the type of body armour that was required and various manufacturers have adapted various designs to suit particular applications. Essentially, modern body armour consists of an Outer Tactical Vest (OTV) and two Small Arms Protective Insert (SAPI) ballistic plates. The OTV features a carrier shell, and three main ballistic panel inserts (left and right side panels, and a rear back panel), which are made with a finely woven Kevlar KM2 fibre. These two parts of the vest are both bullet and heat resistant. The soft ballistic panels are produced in five different sizes (S-XXL), which are installed into their respective pocket on the OTV carrier shell. The OTV is tested to stop a 9mm 124-grain bullet at 426m/s) with minimal deformation and has to have a V-50 (minimum bullet velocity for EDR - September / October 2015

Body Armour a 50 per cent chance of penetration) of roughly 465m/s. This means that a bullet has to be travelling faster than 500m/s for it to have more than a 50 per cent chance of breaking through the armour panel. Suits also have a PALS webbing grid on the front of the OTV which accommodate the same type of pockets used in the Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment (MOLLE) backpack system. This allows a soldier to tailor-fit his MOLLE and body armour system with China has the capable whichin is now various pouches whichType are99held an extremely entering quantity (US DoD) strong bond. Manyproduction. off-the-shelf (OTS) tactical items can also be accommodated with fixtures on the OTV and the strong large handle on the back just below the collar can be used to drag a wounded person to safety in an emergency. Soldiers in most NATO forces use a similar body armour system and a set of comprehensive instructions are issued to enable the wearer to understand where all the various attachments are located. The standard vest has various additional sections, which are clearly illustrated in the instruction booklet to show where they are to be attached. These include the shoulder guards, cummerbunds, brassards, full and half collars, blanking panels and waistbands. A set of straps for ancillary items is also included. Various pouches, for water bottles, ammunition, smoke grenade, first aid, communications and

A small group goes out of their compound to carry out a routine patrol: all wear upper body armour and carry pouches and/or backpacks. (Franรงois Prins)


A soldier on patrol wearing an OTV with ammunition, water and utility pouches attached. He also carries a backpack and his helmet is fitted with a video-camera. (François Prins)

other items are included and they have to be attached to the vest. Additional armour protection in the forms of shields are also included and these are added as required; they offer protection to the front and back as well as sides. All this adds weight but due to the clever use of modern materials means that the extra armour panels – though still heavy - weigh less than they would have done a few years ago. A modern combatant carries far more equipment than his counterpart of some forty years ago and in standard use the average body armour, in light fighting order, is worn over the combat uniform to offer upper body protection. In complete fighting order, the full collar, brassards, shoulder guards and cummerbunds are worn. Additional neck, throat and groin (for the lower body) protection panels may also be specified and worn in a battle situation. Originally the average body armour systems weighed around 8kg, with the vest weighing 4kg and two plate inserts weighing about 1.8kg each. This was lighter than the previous systems which could weigh more than 11kg. However, due to the increased dangers of IEDs, a newer version of the vital plates and components has been developed. The Enhanced Small Arms Protective Inserts (ESAPIs) and


Enhanced Side Ballistic Inserts (ESBIs) have become available, along with the Deltoid and Auxiliary Protector System (DAPS). These new systems are becoming the standard for forward deployed troops. The E-SAPI plates offer increased protection from 7.62mm high velocity ammunition. The ESBIs is an attachable MOLLE ballistic panel with a pouch for an 8x6 side-SAPI, for protection of the side of the torso/under the arm. DAPS consists of two ambidextrous modular components, the Deltoid (upper arm) Protector and the Auxiliary (under arm) Protector, and provide for additional protection from fragmentary and projectiles to the upper arm and underarm areas. These developments have significantly increased the overall weight of the average body armour which can be in excess of 15kg. On average, each body armour vest costs around $800 but recent developments have brought this price down to around $450.

This shows a UK soldier in full combat body armour with knee guards, half collar brassards and various panels and pouches. (US DoD)

EDR - September / October 2015

A recent assessment of body armour in the UK saw the Defence Equipment & Support organisation (DE&S) issue a voluntary notice in respect of a contract for the Supply and Support of VIRTUS Personal Protective Equipment and Load Carriage System. Project VIRTUS is for an integrated head, torso and load carriage system with the ability for quick release that will form the foundation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). It will be the core component of the Dismounted Close Combat Soldier, which encompasses Soldiers, Marines and Airmen involved on Land, Littoral Manoeuvre and Ground Support to Air Operations. An MoD spokesperson said: “The VIRTUS contract for the supply and support of personal protective equipment and load carriage has now been awarded to SOURCE Vagabond Systems Ltd. This is a multi-year contract to supply an initial 9,000 systems to the British Army.� The new equipment is scalable, meaning that the level of protection can be adjusted to meet the threat level. Trials with the new armour were carried out over the past three years and final tests were held earlier this year on Salisbury Plain in Wiltshire, UK. The UK MoD was pleased with the results of the trials and has ordered the VIRTUS system into full production. The first systems are scheduled to be delivered to the Army in September, 2015. The complete system comprises of the body armour vest and chassis system, helmet and face protection, including ballistic glasses, ballistic goggles and a visor, as well as load carriers which includes a 90L Bergan, 40L daysack and Commander's 40L daysack. Project VIRTUS will bring derivations of these into the core programme and support the current Osprey Mark 4 body armour system now employed in the UK Army. Something that had to be addressed in the past few years was that of female combatants in NATO. Male and female Soldiers had to wear body armour that has been designed specifically for men. However, that has changed in the US where a new type of body armour, designed for women, that is shorter in the torso with customised adjustments specific to the female form has EDR - September / October 2015

A mannequin dressed in full body armour offering total body protection, upper and lower, from small arms fire and from any splinters from IEDs etc. (US Marine Corps)

been trialled. Lt. Col. Frank Lozano, the product manager for Soldier Protective Equipment, said one thing he realised quickly from studies was that women generally have narrower shoulders than males. The shoulder area on the new IOTV design was brought in closer to the neck by adding more fabric and opening the area around the armpits. Lozano added that the new design will keep the IOTV from rubbing on the hips, which can cause chafing while walking. Developments in protective plate design will make ballistic protection more comfortable and form-fitting for both female and male Soldiers. Prototypes were distributed to selected female soldiers at Fort Campbell, Kentucky for field testing. "The male size extra-small was too large for 85 per cent of the females, so they weren't getting


Body Armour

The US is the first to address the requirement for female soldiers to have their body armour tailored to fit rather than make use of standard male issue kits; (US Army)

a good fit," said Lynn Hennessey, lead designer for the female body armour prototypes. “When they were sitting down, it was riding up to their chins, because the torso was so long." U.S. Army Sgt. Stacey Coffield, a non-commissioned officer in charge of the brigade Female Engagement Team, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division, was one of the soldiers issued the new armour at Fort Campbell prior to her team's deployment Afghanistan. Coffield and her soldiers put the new gear through its paces on mounted and dismounted patrols throughout Nangarhar province during their seven months in Afghanistan. She said: "We've all gone through our trial run using this vest. The side plates they issued us are a little smaller and a little lighter. They definitely fit a lot better as far as sitting on our hips. The mobility is a lot better; it's a lot lighter and fits better." The waistline, built for the fe-


male form, has fewer Kevlar plates and weighs 25 pounds, five pounds lighter than the original model. The new female body armour has been issued to 24,000 female soldiers in the US and is regarded as a great improvement on the unisex items that they had to endure for many years. As someone said: “Women and not small male soldiers!” Sweden has developed a completely new personalised protection system for its soldiers. It is body armour that can be adapted to the individual, and has the possibility of different levels of protection depending on the mission. The new body armour consists mainly of two different protection vests. One can be used hidden under the uniform jacket, and one can be used for external purposes and has the possibility of adding and attaching other protection devices. "I would say that we now have one of the best body armours there is, just because it is complete and very flexible", says Klas Åberg, project manager at FMV. The new body armour is called Body Protection 12 (KRSK 12) and protects against shrapnel and projectiles. By using different reinforcement protection devices it is possible to customise protection by threat, task, environment and position. To the safety vest can be added neck protection, arm protection and protectors for the groin. It is also possible to adjust the vest so that it can be used on missions involving crowds. It then provides added protection for the

The French Félin programme has seen a total upgrade to the military and the revised body armour has been part of that upgrade. Here soldiers take part in an exercise in an urban setting. (French Army)

EDR - September / October 2015

Body armour comes in a variety of camouflage patterns as seen here for winter forest operations. (US Army)

legs, arms and feet. This means an easier configuration that provides protection against strikes and jabbing. Body armour is always a compromise: mobility and comfort (and thus speed and stamina) are inevitably sacrificed to some degree when greater protection is achieved. This is a point of contention in the U.S. armed forces, with some favouring less armour in order to maintain mobility and others wanting as much protection as is practical. Troops who primarily ride in vehicles generally want the highest practical level of protection from IED's and ambushes, while dismounted infantry often make the case that impaired mobility can prove just as fatal as inadequate armour. There is no easy answer and it is up to the individual and the requirements at the time. An increasingly integrated approach is helping to develop kit adapted to an ever more demanding combat environment. The soldier’s personal equipment is designed to enable him or her to survive, operate and fight in the combat , environment.  EDR - September / October 2015

A soldier in Light Fighting Order with standard OTV fitted with pouches and OPS front panel. (François Prins)


Whatever the mission, wherever, whenever

Afghanistan was the backdrop of the maiden deployment of many European army 8x8 infantry fighting vehicles, as exemplified here by the Italian Freccia. ©Paolo Valpolini

What Future for Mine Protected Vehicles? In fact, the question could be broadened to the entire range of armoured vehicles. Indeed few armies if any currently seem to have a clear idea of what the future holds in terms of requirements for vehicles that will have to fight the next war, or take part in the next peace-keeping operation. In the past decade Iraq and Afghanistan triggered the development of a new category of vehicles, known to the Americans as Mrap, for mine resistant – ambush protected. The huge number of vehicles produced for those two major theatres of operation (especially for their major participant, the United States) has resulted in a large surplus.


hile roadside bombs and other makeshift explosive devices were not new at the time, the extent to which they were used (with a near-industrialised manufacturing process that amply justifies the amputation of the “I” for improvised in the American IED acronym) was. This has led not only to the development of patrol vehicles with highly protected underbellies and sides to fence off those threats, but also to a considerably augmented level of mine protection (at large) on new infantry fighting vehicles – not to mention a notable improvement in the actual intrinsic efficiency of such protection. The Mrap Saga Requests for second-hand vehicles are pouring in from various nations, as exemplified by a reEDR - September / October 2015

Paolo Valpolini

quest for 4,500 units submitted by the United Arab Emirates to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency in September 2014. Many have also to be transferred to Iraq and Afghanistan to beef up the units of those armies that are largely trained by the Coalition. This being said, the aim is not to spill out the whole inventory – more than half of the 16,000+ Mraps acquired in the Iraq-Afghan period will remain in American inventory. These mostly are Oshkosh M-ATVs, the high mobility model developed specifically for Afghanistan to correct the shortcomings of Iraq-related designs. Joining that lot are over a couple of thousand Navistar MaxxPro Dashes and some hundreds of MaxxPro ambulances. In June 2015 Oshkosh Defense was awarded a further contract for M-ATV reset; this contract, for 360 vehicles with an option for further 1,440


Designed to cope with Afghan’s hostile terrain, the Oshkosh M-ATV is the MRAP-type vehicle that will survive in greater numbers in US armed forces service. ©Oshkosh

adds to two contracts placed in August and December 2014 for the respective modifications of 500 and 300 vehicles. The secondary aim of the upgrade contract is to standardise the M-ATV fleet, as over 5,600 are planned to remain in US Army service. The remaining vehicles, mostly Dash models and a minority of ambulances will also remain in service. Turning to the Europeans, their need for mine and roadside bomb protection has mostly been filled with fighting vehicles. Most of the newly adopted vehicles of this kind – particularly the wheeled types – were designed from the outset to cope not only with that threat, but also to embed growth capabilities. On the infantry fighting vehicle front, 8x8s such as the Patria AMV/Rosomak, the Nexter VBCI, the KMW-Rheinmetall Boxer and the Iveco-Oto Melara Freccia – all first fielded in Afghanistan – proved sufficiently mobile and protected against explosive devices. French army reports mention at least two attacks against VBCIs (one of them was hit in the frontright area damaging the first and second axle wheels and tearing off the RPG-Net protection; the vehicle managed to reach the forward operating base, and although no details on how far that one was, the car was operational two hours later). No details on attacks against Boxers have been revealed, other than saying that crews survived the attacks. Turning to the Freccias and the Rosomaks, at least one of each had their frontal area damaged by a bomb, but with no consequences


to their occupants. Standard mines had relatively predictable effects, quite unlike home-made devices. With these any vehicle is vulnerable, it is just a matter of explosive quantity, whether hidden under the road surface or camouflaged along the road (in a parked a vehicle for example). Increased protection is thus required, commanding upgrades even to recently developed vehicles. For example, France has already received a first batch of up-armoured VBCIs in 2015: these vehicles are in the VCI (Véhicule de Combat

Deployed by French Army engineers in Afghanistan, the Nexter Aravis has been the first European vehicle of its class to feature all-round Level 4 protection. © Nexter/Yves Debay EDR - September / October 2015

The box visible on the side of this Turkish FNSS Pars 6x6 is one of the elements of the active blast countermeasure system developed by Tencate, which aims at reducing the “jump” of a vehicle hit by an underbelly explosion. ©Paolo Valpolini

d’Infanterie) configuration and saw their gross weight increased to 32 tonnes (from 29). Overall, 95 modified vehicles have been thus far ordered. The Boxer has also evolved, adding protection as feedback from Afghanistan flowed in.

The ABDS was fitted to a Pars 6x6 reconnaissance vehicle, but the plan is to test it with the newly developed Kaplan 20 tracked amphibious vehicle, which has a Level 6 antimine requirement. FNSS is also working with IBD Deisenroth Engineering. This German company has developed a family of products based on new PROTech ceramic materials, the reduced grain size of which increases bonding properties and thereby strength. Other types include High Strength Fiber Reinforced (HSFR) materials against RPG and EFP, and PROTech Natural Fibres, based on graphene-impregnated fibre matrices that considerably increase performances in liners and composite armour packages. According to IBD such new materials can reduce the weight of the overall armour suite of a heavily protected 8x8 vehicle by 43%. In an antimine application weight can be reduced by around 35% (conversely, a considerable protection increase can be achieve for a given weight).

Active Protection Mine protection does not only mean preventing a mine explosion from penetrating the bottom of a vehicle. Mines can use fragmentation, shaped charges or explosively formed penetrators; their blast effect tends to lift the vehicle off the ground, but experience now shows that most injuries to occupants (including fatal blows) result from the vehicle impacting the ground. Systems aimed at reducing the height reached by the vehicle during a mine explosion are being developed and at IDEF 2015, one such system could be seen mounted on a vehicle for the first time. This was on the FNSS stand, and materialised an agreement signed between the Turkish vehicle manufacturer and Tencate, the developer of the Tencate ABDS active blast countermeasure system, which effectively reduces the vertical ac- Europe Now celeration of the vehicle. How it does it has not Between heavy 8x8s and light armoured vehicles, been unveiled by Tencate, although the system the European industry has developed a number The latest MBT to be seen is the Russian T-14 Armata which made its first involves mobile masses together with an inactivaappearance Moscow on 9 of Mayintermediate 2015. (US DoD) solutions that might be considtion system triggered by the blast. ered MRAP-like. The increasing involvement EDR - September / October 2015


Amongst the newly developed mine-protected medium-size vehicles is the Survivor R recently unveiled by Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles. ©Paolo Valpolini

of Europe in Africa and the emergence of new threats in that continent might well allow those vehicles to see their customer base expand. Nexter of France, for instance, has developed the Titus, which is a heavy 6x6 based on a Tatra chassis that combines high mobility and high protection, but at a low price. A few years ago, the same company developed the Aravis – the first vehicle of its class to ensure all-round Level 4 protection – which is in service in France and Saudi Arabia. Still in France, Renault Trucks Defense is proposing a 6x6 VAB Mk.3 to those nations that already operate the older VAB in both 4x4 and 6x6 configurations, the new vehicle featuring a considerable improvement in terms of mine protection. Renault is also proposing its Higuard and Bastion APC, the latter mostly aimed at Africa given its Acamt underpinnings so popular in that continent. Nexter and Renault, together with Thales, have formed a temporary industrial consortium to provide the French Army with the new Griffon and Jaguar vehicles (both 6x6s), the first being an armoured personnel carrier and the other a reconnaissance and combat vehicle. No details have yet been aired regarding mine protection, although “the philosophy” calls for a baseline protection ready to be fitted with addon packages as technology evolves.


In Germany Rheinmetall proposes its Fuchs 2, as well as an upgrade package for the original Fuchs to considerably increase mine protection. Going lighter, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles introduced the Survivor R family in 2014 with mine protection up to Level 4a/3b and a gross weight of 15 tonnes. Its class competitor, the KMW Dingo HD, is based on experience acquired with the Dingos deployed downrange by the Bundeswehr, notably in terms of increased protection levels. Teamed with Iveco DV of Italy, KMW had developed a GFF4 6x6 proposal, but that programme now seems to be dead with no international customer interest so far. On the other hand Iveco DV developed the 4x4 version dubbed “Orso” (bear) by the Italian Army who acquired it for route clearance and ambulance duties. Although developed for support roles, the big numbers forecast when the programme was launched have fallen victim of financial constraints. The Turkish Land Forces acquired the 4x4-configured BMC Kirpi, which has proved its worth in action. It is now joined by the 6x6 version unveiled in May 2015 and by a lighter 4x4 known as the Vuran. The Otokar Kaya 4x4 also falls in this category of vehicles, as does the new , Pars 4x4 by FNSS.  EDR - September / October 2015

Grenade Launchers and their Ammunition

The Belgian FN40GL-S stand-alone module with pistol grip, telescoping buttstock and multiple MIL-STD 1913 mounting rails. (JP Husson)

Jean-Pierre Husson

Grenade launchers, under-barrel and stand-alone shoulder, and their ammunitions are currently experiencing the fastest period of development of infantry small arms. The first grenade round to be adopted by the US Army was in 40 mm calibre, with a semirimmed cartridge case 46 mm long. Today NATO Armed Forces are currently focused on the 40 mm calibre for under-barrel or stand-alone grenade launchers - and also for crew-served automatic grenade launchers (AGLs). However, while the calibre is standard, there are different performance levels. Two dating back to the Vietnam War: the 40 mm Low Velocity (LV), which uses 40 x 46 SR (Semi-Rimmed) ammunition in shoulder-fired, like the famous M79 model, or underbarrel, such as the M203; and the 40 mm High Velocity (HV), which fires 40 x 53 SR rounds from AGLs. Today, the 40 mm LV is currently made in a large range ammunitions (lethal, less-lethal and other natures). In fact, apart from conventional HE and HEDP these include, for exemple, thermobaric HE, airburst HE and anti-divers HE. Non-explosive ammunitions include shot loads, smoke, illuminating and signal flares, a huge range of less-lethal ammunition matching that available in 37 mm riot guns and including both impact and chemical types (the latter for law enforcement use), and even reconnais-


sance projectiles, such as the ST Kinetics 40 mm SPARCS (Soldier Parachute Aerial Reconnaissance Camera System), which can be fired from all LV grenade launchers, providing on-demand and real-time situational awareness to the soldier on the ground. Both 40 x 46 SR and 40 x 53 SR ammunition have become NATO and indeed international standards, with many differ-

The Swiss SIG Sauer GL-5340 is easily and quickly mounted to the underside of the SG 550, SG 55, and SG 553 rifles. (JP Husson) EDR - September / October 2015

Grenade Launchers

The M320 is designed for attachment to the M16A4 assault rifle, while the M320A1 is designed for attachment to the M4 Carbine. (US Army)

ent guns from a wide variety of nations being designed to use them. The ammunition has also seen much development, with the length of the cartridge cases often varying from the nominal 46 mm and 53 mm. The universality of the 40 mm ammunition means that there are numerous stand-alone and under-barrel launchers made to fire it. The “Thumper” or “Blooper”, both were unofficial nick-names for M79, was the classic single-barrel stand-alone type but this has largely been replaced by under-barrel launcher M203, which

is itself being replaced in the US and other armed forces by more modern under-barrel launchers (UBLs), like AG36/AG-C/EGLM/M320 series from Heckler & Koch, which can fire a wider range of munitions and can be fitted with a stock and sights for the stand-alone role. The initial platform (host rifle) for AG36 was the Heckler and Koch G36 assault rifle, than the latest version AG-C/EGLM (Enhanced Grenade Launcher Module) is a modification which can be mounted on the M16A4 assault rifles and M4 carbines using Picatinny type rails under the forend. In September 2004, the US Army Research and Development Command (ARDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, announced a requirement for a 40mm Grenade Launcher Module (GLM) as an approved Soldier Enhancement Program system item. After the U.S. Army at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, conducted a competitive bidding process for a new 40 mm grenade launching system, in May 2005 Heckler and Koch was awarded a contract to provide the XM/M320 beginning in 2006. The total potential value of the contract was $29 million with a potential purchase of more than 11.000 launchers, day/night sights, and assorted items (tools, parts, and accessories) over the life of the contract. The M320 entered production in Novem-

The German Heckler und Koch M320, designed for attachment to the M16A4/M4 Carbine,can also be used in a stand-alone configuration M320 GLM/Grenade Launcher Module. (US DoD) EDR - September / October 2015


Grenade Launchers

The XM25 Counter Defilade Target Engagement (CDTE) System is an air burst grenade launcher derived from the XM29 OICW. (Us DoD)

ber 2008. The unit was officially fielded in July 2009 at Fort Bragg, North Caroline, by the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division. The M320 is based on the earlier Heckler and Koch AG-C, but with some US Army specific modifications, including a folding foregrip and shorter barrel for a more compact package. The sights had to be reconfigured to shoot accurately with the slightly different ballistics from the shorter barrel length. Development of what was first designated XM320 began as part of the Objective Individual Combat Weapon’s (OICW) Increment 1 (later XM29). The M320 operates in double-action mode, with an ambidextrous safety (in case of misfire, the M320 operator merely has to pull the trigger again), while the M203 used a single-action mode, which cocks the weapon as the barrel is opened. The M320

The Belgium stand-alone launcher grenade FN Hertal FN40GL-S. (FN Herstal)


is designed for attachment to the M16A4 rifle, while the M320A1 is designed for attachment to the M4 carbine. Both weapons are generally referred to only as the M320 and the basic weapon can also be used in a stand-alone configuration (M320 GLM/Grenade Launcher Module), which includes a collapsible buttstock.. On May 2010, testing was being conducted to reduce the size and weight of the Day/Night Sight. Heckler and Koch Defense, Inc. of Ashburn, Virginia, was awarded on 19 May 2010, a $13,700,000 firmfixed-price contract for the acquisition of 5.400 M320A1 grenade launchers and 600 M320 grenade launchers. Work was to be performed in Oberndorf, Germany (50 percent), Columbus, Georgia (30 percent), and Ashburn, Virginia (20 percent), with an estimated completion date of 31 March 2011. The U. S. Army ARDEC began development of a 40 mm airburst fuse in 2011 to improve the ability of grenade launchers M320 to engage targets in defilade. Called Small Arms Grenade Munitions (SAGM), they double the lethality of the standard M433 grenade round by adding a small “smart� fuse sensor that detonates in the air to hit targets in cover or behind obstacles. The airburst function is similar to the XM25 CDTE (Counter Defilade Target Engagement, also known as the Punisher and Individual Semiautomatic Air Burst System), which has an onboard laser system to determine the distance to the target, but SAGM is considered complementary to the XM25 rather than competing against it, as the XM25 pro-

The Belgiun FN Herstal FN40GL developped in concert with the SCAR assault Rifle. (FN Herstal) EDR - September / October 2015

The Ceska Zbrojovka CZ 805 G1 can be mounted on the CZ 805 BREN A1/A2 or used separatly equiped with grip pistol and foldfing shoulder stock. (JP Husson)

vides direct fire while the M320 fires indirectly. Engineers integrated sensors and logic devices to scan and filter the environment and then autonomously airburst the fuse without needing to be told to by the firer, thereby not requiring the soldier to carry extra weapon accessories. SAGM enables soldiers to accurately incapacitate personnel targets in defilade at ranges between 50 to 500 meters. The round is engineered with three firing modes: airburst, point detonation, and self-destruct. A successful demonstration occurred in November 2013. Although the SAGM The Italian Beretta GLX160 developped in concert with the ARX-160 assault rifle for the Italian Army. (JP Husson)

sensor does not need a laser rangefinder or any pre-fire programming sequence, it does require some skill by the user to aim and fire the round correctly so that it can detect the wall or obstruction to detonate in the air. The SAGM is to undergo evaluation in July 2015 and, if successful, it will transition into an official Army program of record by the end of the year. The latest under-barrel and stand-alone grenade launchers included today several models, such the Belgiun FN Herstal GL1 and FN40GL (host weapon F2000 and SCAR respectvively and FN40GL-S stand-alone module)Â ; the Ceska Zbrojovka CZ 805 G1, it can be monted on the CZ 805 BREN A1 assaut rifle and A2 Carbine or use separatly equiped with grip pistol and follfing and removable shoulder stock; the Indian Ordnance Factory Tiruchirappalli/ARDE 40UBGL (host weapon INSAS and AK-47/AKM);

The Italian Beretta GLX-160 in stand-alone configuration with pistol grip and buttstock. (JP Husson)


Grenade Launchers

The Swiss Brügger & Thomet GL-06 stand-alone shoulder-firing weapon. (B&T)

the Italian Beretta GLX-160, developped in concert with the ARX-160 assault rifle for the Italian Army (UBL and stand-alone launcher), the Singapourean ST Kinetics CIS-40GL standalone grenade launcher; the South African Milkor Mk-4 UBGL and the Switzerland Brügger & Thomet GL-06 stand-alone shoulder-firing weapon. When more firepower is required, six-shot revolvers or MGL (Multiple Grenade Launcher), such as the USMC’s M32 (Milkor MGL) are also available from several companies in the world, but at the cost of significant bulk and weight. Among them, we can mention some of the latest models actuellementy available, such the SuperSix MRGL, developed in Souht Africa by Milkor in 2012 (the Super-Six features a new recoil reduction system ad is capable of firing a wide range of LV and MV ammunitions, which enables the user to engage a wider range of tar-

The M32 MGL is a new US Marine Corps adoption of a repeat-fire, portable grenade launcher, based on the patents of the South African Milkor MGL-140 system. (US DoD)


gets than possible with previous launchers and its range reaches a distance of 800 to 1 200 metres); the MSGL Lavina (Avalanche), designed and manufactured by Bulgarian company Arsenal Inc. to fire VOG-25-type caseless russian grenades (these are available in several loadings, including HE-FRAG, HE-FRAG jumping, HE Thermobaric and Flash-Bang); the Serbian Zastava RBG 40mm/6 M11 and the Croatian RBG-6, respectively proposed by Jugoimport-SDPR and Agencija Alan; the RPG-40/Granatnik RGP-40, developped in Poland by Zaklady Mechaniczne Tarnów/OBRSM (Osrodka Badawczo Rozwojowego Sprzetu Mechanicznego) ; the new HTGL

The M32 MGL is a new US Marine Corps adoption of a repeat-fire, portable grenade launcher, based on the patents of the South African Milkor MGL-140 system. (US DoD)

0003 designed and manufactured by Turkish firm Hatsan, presented for the first time in May 2015 during the IDEF. The bulgarian Arcus 40 MGL (Magazine Grenade Laucher) is not a sixshot revolvers model but the three shot tepeater, with the tubular magazine for VOG-25 ammunition in the shoulder stock. In terms of ammunitions, two new performance levels have been introduced in recent years for shoulder-fired launchers. The first of these is the Medium Velocity or MV ammunition, intended to provide a greater effective range than LV plus a larger and more destructive grenade. Cartridge case lengths vary from 46 to 51 mm. EDR - September / October 2015

Grenade Launchers

The Serbian Zastava UBL-40 is intended for integration with Kalashnikov design and also compatible with wide range of assault rifles. (JP Husson)

The first of these were from Martin Electronics, with Rheinmetall also developing MV rounds. The heavier grenades fired at a higher muzzle velocity (240 g to 100 m/s insted of 180 g to 76 m/s) for and result in a maximum ballistic range, about 800 metres, and when fired at shorter ranges have a much flatter trajectory and shorter flight time than LV ammunitions, considerably improving their hit probability. However, the additional recoil can be considerable (about 3 times more), especially in lighter weapons, so the MV ammunition is currently best suited to the solid and heavy six-barrel revolver type launchers. As a result of the recoil problem, some manufacturers, namely Rheinmetall, Arcus of Bulgaria and ST Kinetics of Singapore have introduced what is now usually called Low Velocity-Ex-

The new six-shot revolvers HTGL 0003 designed and manufactured by Turkish firm Hatsan. (JP Husson) EDR - September / October 2015

tended Range (LV-ER) ammunition, which sits in between the low and medium velocity types and is specifically intended for under-barrel or single-barrel launchers. Other manufacturers have followed suit, with Denel developing a 40 x 51 ER-LP (Extended Range-Low Pressure) firing a 200 g projectile at 120 m/s for a range of 800 meters, and Rheinmetall an MV round firing standard 240 g HV grenades at 100 m/s for a range of 700 meters. Made by some many companies in the world, the 40 mm HV grenades are typically about 30 percent heavier than the LV at three times the muzzle velocity, increasing the maximum ballistic range from 400 to over 2.000 metres, but the recoil is several times greater, which means that attempts to design shoulder-fired weapons for this cartridge have so far been unsuccessful, although NORINCO of China recently announced one. In fact, this ammunition is therefore used in crew-served, tripod-mounted, belt-fed launchers (AGLs).

The six-shot RGP-40 developped in Poland by Tarn贸w/Osrodka Badawczo Rozwojowego Sprzetu Mechanicznego ) (JP Husson)

Easter alternatives Beyond NATO, the main suppliers of grenade launchers are Russia and China. The Russian equivalent to the NATO LV ammunitions are the VOG-25 series, another 40 mm of similar performance, but differing technically in being caseless (the propellant is contained within a small element attached to the back of the grenade that travels with it). Like the NATO LV a very wide range of munitions is available for it. The muzzle-loading GP-25 and GP-30 are the standard launchers, but there are also six-shot revolvers, such the RG-6 (official designation


The prototype of the stand-alone launcher granade projected by the Bulgarian Arcus. (JP Husson)

index is 6G30), developed by the TSKIB SOO of Tula, and the interesting BS-1 Tishina (Silence or Quiteness) RGA-86/BS-1M 6S1 Kanarejka (Canary), the both reserved for special operations forces, which are virtually silent when fired. Also “Made in Russia” is the GM-94 stand-alone grenade launcher, with tubular magazine three rounds located above the barrel, that resembles an oversized pump-action shotgun and fires 43 mm VGM-93 ammunition at ranges of up to 600 metres. Relatively recent development of KBP/ Instrument Design Bureau of Tula, the GM-94 is capable of firing non-fragmenting HE (FAE/ Thermobaric), smoke and tears gas canisters, rubber slugs and other non-lethal payloads. Let us open here a brief parenthesis to clarify that the Russian ammunition equivalent to the HV grenades for AGLs, type AGS-17 and AGS30, is the VOG-17 series, which uses a conventional cartridge but differs in being of only 30 mm calibre. However, the projectile is unusually long and similar in weight to the NATO 40 mm HV (the maximum ballistic range was originally

The GPBO-40 is developped in Poland by Zaklady Mechaniczne Tarnów. (JP Husson)


The new Russian KPB GP-30M uses the 40 mm VOG-25 series ammunitions. (JP Husson)

a few hundred metres less than the NATO HV, but recent ammunition developments have seen this increase to more than 2.000 m). Recently, Russian armed forces have introduced into service, apparently for special forces, the 40mm Balkan AGL, that fires unique caseless grenades, much bigger and heavier than the VOG-25 series. Compared to the current Russian 30 mm AGL, the Balkan possess extended maximum range (2,500 meters as opposed to 1.700 meters for VOG-17) and fires heavier grenade which is-

The six-shot revolver RG-6 (official designation index is 6G30), developed by the Russian TSKIB SOO of Tula. (JP Husson) EDR - September / October 2015

Grenade Launchers

The Russian KBP GM-94 stand-alone grenade launcher, with tubular magazine three rounds located above the barrel, fires 43 mm VGM-93. (JP Husson)

significantly more effective (this new ammunition weigh 450 g and contain 90 g HE which, in conjunction with the maximum range, amounts to a better performance than the NATO AGLs). China has initially adopted the equipment - and calibers - Russian, but has also recently developed its own 35 mm ammunition. There are three different, incompatible series of 35 mm grenades and associated launchers. Two of them are low-velocity types for under-barrel grenade launchers: the caseless DFS-10 round for the QLG-10/ QLG-10A launcher, which is like a slimmed down VOG-25 and has a similar performance (it exists in two versions, which differ in trigger setup, the earlier QLG-10 is designed to be mounted on the Type 95/QBZ-95 assault rifle, while the latter QLG-10A is designed to be mounted on the updated Type 95-1/QBZ-95-1 assault rifle; and the Type 91 UBGL firing plastic-cased ammunition, which is mainly used with less-lethal grenades for riot control. The third 35 mm ammunition is the 35 x 32SR highvelocity DF-87 series, which has a ballistic range of 1.750 metres and is used in two AGL: the belt-fed, tripod mounted QLZ04 and the even lighter, magazine-fed QLZ87, which is available bipod or tripod mounted. But the most interesting weapon using the 35 x 32SR round is the lightweight semi-automatic QLZ87B (now known as QLB06) a gas operated weapon that uses direct gas impingement system. Developped by Poly Technologies Inc, this further evolution of QLZ-87 AGL has a 1.000 meters range against area targets and 600 meters against point targets. This offers a combiEDR - September / October 2015

nation of firepower (6/4 round-drum magazine), range and light weight (only 9,1 kg empty) not approached by anything except the Czech RAG-30, the automatic grenade launcher, which fires 30 mm grenades VOG-17 and is fed from a 5-rounds detachable box magazine located at the top of the housing (the SAG-30 is a semi-automatic variant that fires from a closed bolt). Chinese companies often make products in western calibres for only export, for example the NORINCO LG6, which offers some unique capabilities not available in western systems. It is a multi-shot 40 mm LV launcher weighing less than 5 kg, but has a gas-operated selective-fire mechanism capable of emptying the standard five-round magazine in one second (the LG6 use also detachable drum magazines with capacity of 15 rounds). In 2014 NORINCO has announced two new weapons for the export market, both designated LG5s, which appear to be versions of the QLZ 87 and QLB 06 modified to fire 40 mm HV NATO ammunition and reportedly fitted with muzzle-mounted fuze setters for timed airburst. Furthermore, in February 2011, photos began to appear of a Chinese weapon called the ZH05, which combines the QBZ-03 assault rifle,

The Chinese semi-automatic QLZ87B - or QLB06) is a gas operated weapon that uses direct gas impingement, developped by Poly Technologies. (J Husson)


The Israel Weapon Industries GL 40/40-S is a new standard single shot grenade launcher that integrates with the Tavor assault rifles. (JP Husson)

also known as the Type 03, with a 20Â mm airbust grenade launcher. Rather surprisingly the launcher is a single-shot type with no magazin, that requires each round to be manually loaded and reloaded after every firing. Grenades are pre-programmed and loaded into a manually operated bolt-action. The Future Two other shoulder-fired launchers using precision airburst fuzing: the famous XM25, developed by Alliant Techsystems and Hecker und Koch (the target acquisition/fire control system is developed by L-3 IOS Brashear), which fire the LV 25 x 40B grenade (HEAB, but also Thermobaric, Flechette, AP, etc.); and the Korean DAW (Dual-barrel Air-burst Weapon) K11 of S&T Daewoo (now S&T Motiv), which is in service in Republic of Korea Army and combines a 20 mm grenade launcher with a 5.56 mm assault rifle, so is similar in concept to the abandoned US XM29. The K11 DAW grenade launcher uses 20 x 30 mm ammunitions feed by way of the 6-round detachable box magazine and actuated through bolt-action mechasnism. It weitghs 6,1 kg and has a maximum effective range of 500 metres (20 x 30B ammunition, type HEAB K-167). A most interesting Western launcher project is from Rheinmetall, who have developed a recoil buffering system that enables their powerful 40 mm MV Velan ammunition to be fired from lightweight guns (Velan medium velocity using the infra-red fuze setting and grenades as


the Reinmetall HV ammunition). This is being applied to two launchers; the single-shot Cerberus and the magazinefed self-loading Hydra, which are intended to fire both LV and MV ammunition including precision airburst rounds, with the addition of the Rheinmetall Multi-Ray fire control unit. The Cerberus in either under-barrel or stand-alone form, with a weight of 2,1 kg and 2.8 kg respectively. The Hydra, which can be used in the self-loading mode, the three-position selector having a safe, semi-auto and three round burst (a full auto version being easily developable on customers request), weight will be of about 4 kg empty (different magazines will be available, with 3, 6 and 10 rounds capacity, and a drum magazine for 9 rounds). Recently, 40 mm LV systems have also appeared, from Israel Military Industries (IMI) using inductive fuze setting in a modified launcher as part of their MPRS (Multi-Purpose Rifle System) and from ST Kinetics using remote fuze , setting. 

The Hydra of Rheinmetall can be used in the self-loading mode, the three-position selector having a safe, semi-auto and three round burst. (JP Husson) EDR - September / October 2015

Members of all three services gathered at Kandahar Air base to pay their respects during a service of Remembrance in November 2014.

The New British Government’s Take Christina Mackenzie on Defence During last spring’s election campaign in the United Kingdom defence issues were not high on the agenda. Whenever politicians briefly turned their attention to defence it was usually to talk about the Trident nuclear warheads carried by four Vanguard-class submarines. But those who undertook door-to-door campaigning report that the vast majority of people they spoke to “couldn’t give a toss” about Trident...unless they were hippies or armed forces staff!


lthough the election had been forecast by pollsters as a neck-and-neck race between Ed Miliband’s Labour Party and David Cameron’s Conservative Party (often referred to as the Tories), it was the latter that won 36.9% of the vote, gaining 331 of the House of Commons’ 650 seats and a narrow majority. The Labour Party won 30.4% of the vote, 232 seats.

Most of the seats it lost were in Scotland where it was roundly trounced by the Scottish National Party (SNP), led by Nicola Sturgeon. Labour had held 41 of that nation’s 59 seats, but only managed to hold onto one of them, with the Tories also winning one and the Liberal Democrats another. Thanks to the British electoral system of “first past the post” the SNP won 56 seats

British Parliament he British Parliament is made up of two houses: the House of Lords is the upper house and the House of Commons the lower one. Their work is similar but the 650 members of parliament (MPs) are elected to the House of Commons while the 825 members of the House of Lords are not elected by the public: they are the 26 bishops of the Church of England, 92 hereditary peers and the remainder are life peers appointed by the Queen on the advice of the Prime Minister. The House of Commons alone is responsible for making decision on financial Bills, such as proposed next taxes. The Lords can consider these but cannot block or amend them.


EDR - September / October 2015


Inside Britain’s lower parliamentary chamber known as the House of Commons, or, simply, Westminster, during a debte. The political parties sit opposite each other.

in Westminster’s House of Commons, 50 more than it had held previously, even though it got just 4.7% of the overall British vote. This electoral system also meant that the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP), led by Nigel Farage, got only one seat even though it won 12.6% of the votes, while the Liberal Democrat Party, led at the time by Nick Clegg, won 7.9% of the vote, but only got eight seats and the Greens won 3.8% of the vote, almost as much as the SNP, but got just one seat. So, what were they all saying during the campaign regarding defence? David Cameron, Tory leader and incumbent Prime Minister, promised to increase spending on military equipment by 1% a year in real terms from now until the end of the decade and pledged he would not cut the regular Army any further but made no such commitment for the Navy or Air Force. The Tory manifesto said: “We will maintain a balanced defence budget and give our Armed Forces the equipment they need.” They also stressed they would maintain the Trident programme...although the submarines are based in Scotland. But the SNP, which won every seat but three in Scotland, is strongly opposed to Trident and has said that an independent Scotland would not host the submarines. Although a referendum in September 2014 asking the Scots if they wanted independence was defeated (55.3% “no” compared to 44.7% “yes” with an 84.5% voter turnout), the question has not been laid to rest. The SNP says that were Scotland to gain inde-


pendence sometime in the future it would create a Defence Force of 15,000 and a reserve force of 5,000 and set a defence budget of £2.5m, about 1.7% of GDP. Labour said prior to the election that it would not guarantee defence spending of 2% of GDP, but it too remains “committed to a minimum, credible, independent nuclear capability, delivered through a Continuous At-Sea Deterrent.” UKIP said it was in favour of increasing defence spending to £50bn, would guarantee ex-servicemen and women a job in the police, Prison Service or Border Force, give them priority for social housing and create a Veteran’s Administration. The party is also in favour of replacing Trident with a cheaper “advanced stealth cruise-type missile” that could be delivered by land, sea or air. The Lib Dems also put a priority on improving the way armed forces personnel are treated by giving them better access to healthcare, improved education for their children and placing greater emphasis on mental health support for serving personnel. Formerly a supporter of disarmament, the party now says that when the four Trident submarines retire, they should be replaced by three or less that would not be on constant patrol but only deployed if and when the threat from a nuclear-armed country increased. The Greens had the most extreme and controversial ideas, including abolishing the army and redeploying personnel to “policing fishing quotas, piracy and oceanic environmental regulations,”; leaving NATO; turning US Army bases in Britain into nature reserves; converting the arms industry into producing windturbines; and “immediate and unconditional” nuclear disarmament. These election manifestos give an idea of how the British parliament will vote on defence-related issues, which are a reserved domain of Westminster, the devolved Scottish Parliament and Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies having no powers in this area. It also points to what will be debated on the upcoming Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) expected to be published at the end of this year. EDR - September / October 2015

A Trident II D5 missile fired from a seaborne platform. The missile has a range of over 4,000 nautical miles and an accuracy that can be measured in metres. Each missile is technically capable of delivering up to 12 warheads, enabling a number of different targets to be engaged, and each Vanguard class submarine has 16 missile tubes. The missile is ejected from the submarine by high-pressure gas and only when it reaches the surface does the rocket system actually fire.

EDR - September / October 2015


HMS Vanguard as she returns to HMNB Clyde in Scotland.The boat was the first of the four submarines of her class to be launched, on 4 March 1992 at Barrow. As the name-ship of the class she carried out the first Trident missile test firing in May 1994 and the first operational deterrent patrol in early 1995. She was also the first to undergo her major mid-life refit, from 2002 to 2004, during which she was fitted with the new Core H reactor core, which will provide the power to see her through the rest of her service life.

The new Conservative government has already pledged to meet the NATO target of spending 2% of GDP on defence until at least the end of the decade. The Chancellor of the Exchequer, George Osborne, presenting the government’s first budget since winning the election in May, said that the defence budget would rise by 0.5%


above inflation each year until 2020-21. Over the previous five years, during which the Conservatives formed a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats, defence spending fell to £36bn in 2014, accounting for just 2.1% of GDP, down from for 2.4% in 2010. As a comparison, French defence spending accounted for 2.3% of GDP in 2010 but has only slipped to 2.2% in 2014. Defence spending in Germany stood at 1.2% of GDP in 2014, surprisingly lower even than Denmark (1.3%) or Greece (2.2%), and barely superior to Belgium (1%) or Spain (0.9%).*1 The numbers of British Regular Forces military personnel have fallen from 186,360 in April 2011 to 143,200 on June 1, 2015, according to the Armed Forces Quarterly Personnel Report. The Royal Navy currently has 29,870 personnel, down from 37,660 in April 2011, a loss of 7,790 people and brings the Navy three years ahead of schedule very close to the target of 30,000 for 2018 set by the 2010 SDSR. The Royal Air Force has 31,630 down from 42,460, a loss of 10,830, bringing it well below the SDSR target of 35,000. The British Army has paid the heaviest tribute, also reaching its SDSR target of 82,000 three years ahead of time. Personnel numbers currently stand at 81,700, down 24,540 from the 106,240 who were employed in April 2011, making it the smallest army Britain has had since the mid-19th century. The three services are having to recruit in order to keep the structure and age range in balance and to meet the shortfall. The Ministry of Defence planned to increase the number of reservists in the newly named Army Reserve – formerly the Territorial Army - from 15,000 in 2010 to 30,000 in 2020 but the process has been slow. By April 2015 there were only 21,030 trained reservists, a rise of just over 1,000 in three years. There has been considerable criticism of the 2010 SDSR saying that it was dictated by financial considerations rather than being a strategic assessment of the resources really needed by the armed forces and that the reductions in personnel numbers, outlined above, and cuts to equipment (cancellation of the Nimrod MRA4 EDR - September / October 2015

The Thales Watchkeeper will provide enhanced drone recce capability, enabling British commanders to detect and track targets for long periods, without the need to deploy troops into potentially sensitive or dangerous areas. The system is designed of rapid deployment and operations anywhere in the world and will support the information requirements of all three services.ŠThales

maritime patrol aircraft programme, retiring the Harrier aircraft and HMS Ark Royal, switching to the carrier variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter...) have brought into question the ability of the armed forces to fulfil the tasks expected of them. The Parliamentary Defence Committee has thus called for a complete re-write of the 2010 SDSR, citing new threats that have emerged since 2010 such as a newly assertive Russia and the rise of the Daesh terrorist organisation (known by some as Islamic State), and the end of UK operations in Afghanistan.

MPs have raised concerns about the lack of a maritime patrol aircraft and the government says it is examining maritime surveillance as part of the 2015 SDSR. It may also confirm an order for 13 Type 26 frigates and clarify how many Lightning II aircraft it intends to buy. The SDSR should also clarify investments in air surveillance assets such as remotely piloted air systems (RPAS). Cameron has already announced the second aircraft carrier, HMS Prince of Wales will be brought into service, ending years of un, certainty about its future. 

A Royal Air Force Reaper from 39 Squadron, makes its approach to Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan following a mission. The aircraft, armed with Paveway bombs and Hellfire missiles, was remotely controlled from Kandahar for takeoff and landing and by British troops in Nevada during the actual sortie.

EDR - September / October 2015


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