Continuing our Weekend of Defence Procurement, we’ve bashed the FRES vehicle program enough in the past. Costed at £14bn, meant to deliver a C-130 portable, RPG-tough, wheeled vehicle capable of carrying something equivalent to a tank main gun and providing reconnaissance, big gun, infantry, and utility variants, it’s so far failed to deliver anything at all and its aims are now down to a vehicle that doesn’t fit in a C-130 but might in an Airbus A400M, if they existed, and doesn’t do recce although that’s the first priority. Among other things, they managed to spend more money on “concept work” than Lord “Virus” Drayson did on several hundred actual real armoured vehicles with tracks and guns and radios an stuff.
At the moment, the smart money is on the French NEXTER vehicle – the even smarter money is on the project getting axed, but who expects the MOD to do anything smart? – which is amusing, because the UK was part of the development process 10 years ago but walked out to do FRES. It now looks as if the French aren’t over keen on NEXTER, either. My new favourite blog (FR) sez the French Army just ordered up 180 Vikings, lightweight, articulated tracked vehicles from Sweden. The Royal Marines have used them for years, but they have really come into their own after Drayson bought a wedge of them for Afghanistan; now the French are doing the same.