The UK's Warrior Mechanised Infantry Combat Vehicle (MICV) is currently armed with the 30mm Rarden cannon in 30x170 calibre, as is the Scimitar Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) or CVRT. This gun led the field when first introduced in the 1970s but has since fallen behind, due partly to its slow rate of fire (exacerbated by its manual reloading, in 3-round clips) and partly because the mounting is not fully power-operated, let alone stabilised, so the vehicle has to stop to fire accurately. Furthermore, various attempts over a long period to introduce APFSDS ammunition failed to meet requirements until recently (when a modified version of the RWM projectile was chosen for the L21A1 loading), so the gun has been limited to APDS. The MoD has therefore established a requirement for a new gun armament for LAFVs which will be stabilised and able to utilise both APFSDS and HEAB ammunition, as well as featuring the latest sensor and defensive aid suites. The first beneficiary was planned to be the Warrior followed by a new reconnaissance vehicle, the FRES SV (Future Rapid Effect System, Specialist Vehicles) better known as the Scout., although priorities have recently changed due to the age of the CVRT and its vulnerability to roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
In 2005 the UK announced its intention of holding a competition for the gun element of the Warrior Fightability and Lethality Improvement Programme (WFLIP - formerly known as WLIP and now renamed Warrior Capability and Sustainment Programme or WCSP), with a calibre of at least 35mm being specified. However, in 2007 this was amend to allow 30mm guns to compete, and three of the four contenders chose to use ATK's 30mm Mk 44 (the marinised version of the Bushmaster II, which it has replaced in production), with a potential upgrade to the Super 40 calibre, as follows:
1. Lockheed Martin Insys (together with Rheinmetall Defence), based on a modified version of the existing Warrior turret.
2. GD-OTS, offering a version of their MK46 turret designed for the USMC's Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.
3. Selex, teamed with OTO Melara to offer their HITFIST turret.
4. CTAI with the 40mm CTWS (which is also being considered for future French Light AFV requirements).
While the traditional manned turret is increasingly being challenged by remotely-operated overhead mountings, demonstrated by the new German Puma MICV fitted with a 30mm Mauser MK 30-2 cannon, WCSP requires a manned turret.
Interestingly, the increasingly sprawling BAE empire could have offered two other alternatives: the CV9035 turret with the 35mm Bushmaster III (with a potential upgrade to 50mm Supershot) and the Bushmaster IV in 40x365R Bofors (although it seems unlikely that the Bushy IV would fit into the Warrior's small turret ring). However, the company decided not to propose these, but to put its full weight behind the 40mm CTWS. Their first turret design was replaced by the MTIP 2, which was first test-fired in autumn 2007.
It was announced in March 2008 that the 40mm CTAS had been selected as the gun to be used in WCSP and FRES Scout, although not necessarily in the BAE turret. GD-OTS dropped out of the WFLIP contest, but Selex Galileo and Lockheed Martin both stated that they would produce turret designs for the 40 CTWS. However, by the end of 2008 Selex had dropped out leaving the competition between BAE and LockMart.
In October 2008 Lockheed Martin UK was awarded a study contract "to develop the performance, cost, time and risk information of a concept two-person turret and mission system for the FRES Scout". Originally the intention was to use the same turret for both WCSP and FRES Scout, but early in 2009 it was decided that FRES Scout would have a new turret optimised for the reconnaissance role. At the same time it was announced that there were two contenders for the FRES Scout chassis: the BAE/Hagglunds CV90 and the GD ASCOD 2,
both of which are tracked vehicles currently in production. BAE proposed a brand new turret design for both FRES Scout and WCSP, with variations to take account of their different roles. LockMart proposed a modified version of the existing Warrior turret for WCSP, although it was not at that time clear which turret they would supply to GD for the FRES Scout.
In March 2010 the MoD announced that GD had been awarded "preferred bidder status" for FRES Scout. This does not mean that they will automatically be awarded the production contract, but it gives them a clear lead - a major blow to BAE. At the same time it was revealed that LockMart would be supplying GD with Rheinmetall Defence's Lance Modular Turret System for this project, with appropriate modifications to accept the 40 CTWS.
In February 2011 the MoD announced that it had rejected the BAE proposal for WCSP, leaving only LockMart in the running with their modified version of the existing Warrior turret. So LockMart has won both competitions, albeit with two entirely different turrets. One consequence of this is that BAE are likely to abandon the UK as a location for making AFVs once current contracts are completed.
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