After all, I made my promise to my own blog at about 2am on Saturday morning and now it's Sunday morning, so technically speaking I've kept my word to update my blog "tomorrow", even if we all know that wasn't the intended meaning of that post.
I do have a good excuse though in that I've spent the entire day with my nephew, which included such delights as watching about 9 hours of CBeebies, reenacting a boat race, playing horse ride, doing gorilla impressions and sword fighting. Just another normal day for me really...
But now that the little sh.. darling is in bed, and I've finished checking a back log of e-mails (given the easy and cheap access of penis enlargement materials, it's a wonder that the whole of the UK isn't walking around with 3 foot long you know whats), I have the chance to look at some links that I came across this week.The first is actually a video I meant to post last time around when helicopters were all the rage. It's a video of the old XC-142 experimental aircraft from Ling-Temco-Vaught, an aircraft that had a movable top wing with four prop engines attached creating a rather novel method for short take offs and landings. I just love things like this, regardless of whether or not it actually has any relevance to the modern defence debate, though one could argue (because one is in posh mode now, as one has a glass of Amaretto sitting next to one) that it makes an interesting concept design for transporting various cargo supplies to the Queen Elizabeth class carriers. Or it would, if the prototypes were not long dead and buried.
Next up a link to a rather interesting post about the Type 23 Frigate HMS Monmouth, which has been entertaining guests in Qatar. 25 members of 11 different NATO countries dropped in to pay a visit to the ship, as well as visiting three Royal Navy mine countermeasures vessels (HMS Atherstone, HMS Ramsey and HMS Shoreham) in Bahrain, as part of a fact finding tour designed to increase their understanding of NATO's contribution to building security and stability in the region.
And finally, the main event for this evening (morning), another video. This time from British Forces News regarding the fate of the vehicles purchased for Afghanistan as Urgent Operational Requirements (UOR).
For those too lazy to watch the video (shame on you) the essential gist is that the vehicles bought for Afghanistan will all be brought back and integrated into the plans for the Future Force 2020. The only problem with that being that the number of vehicles already purchased won't be enough to cover the whole planned structure, so more orders will likely follow. Here's the basic rundown of what is planned;
-- The Jackal, Coyote and Panther vehicles will be used to mount the light cavalry. For those wondering, Coyote is just a 6x6 version of Jackal that is designed for heavy load carrying and other support roles, and Panther is the name used for the 4x4 Light Multi-role Vehicle built by Italian company Iveco, which is used as a command and liaison vehicle and is built under license by BAE at their facility in Newcastle.
The "Light Cavalry" will be found in the "Adaptable Force" part of Army 2020. Now trying to actually extract anything of use from the official document except for the vaguest details is a bit of a mission in itself, but as far as I can tell the light cavalry will consist of three of the existing armoured corps cap badges, each paired with a TA unit. If anyone can come up with a better answer than that, by all means leave a comment and I'll insert it into the post (or a future one, because editing posts with blogger is like asking someone to remove your fingernails with a pair of pliers while you try and play the piano, and given that I can't play the piano in the first place you can probably imagine what kind of sounds that would create).
-- The "Armoured Cavalry" role will be covered by the new FRES Scout version, presuming that vehicle ever makes into service prior to the sun expanding and burning all life from the planet (of course the CV90 that it was up against came complete with a rather tasty 40mm gun already fitted and.... maybe we'll leave that rant for another day). One armoured cavalry regiment will be attached to each of the three armoured brigades that make up the "Reaction Force" part of Army 2020.
-- Mastiff, Ridgeback, Husky and Jackal vehicles will make up the core components of the "Heavy Protected Mobility Battalions" (Infantry), one of which will be attached to each armoured brigade.
The Mastiff and Ridgeback are both variants of the "Cougar", a 4x4 Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle that was designed and constructed by American manufacturer Force Protection Limited for use by US forces in Iraq. Ridgeback is basically a standard Cougar with extra armour bolted over the back windows and firing ports, in accordance with the long held British doctrine that states that a soldier firing through the rear gun port of a moving vehicle is more likely to waste ammunition than actually hit anything of any use (or words to that effect). It also has UK electronic and communication systems installed. Mastiff is basically the same deal, but it's a 6x6 vehicle and is more often used as a troop carrier, while Ridgeback is designed more for support roles. Some of these vehicles will also furnish the combat support units.
Husky is a 4x4 vehicle built by the inventively named American manufacturer "International Truck". International took their even more creatively named "Military Extreme Truck" design (which is actually a vehicle aimed at the civilian market), and turned it into the only logical next step that such naming conventions would allow; the MXT-MV, or Military Extreme Truck - Military Version. Heaven help us.
Husky is designed basically to be a more survivable version of a Land Rover, which frankly can't be that difficult. With a fully enclosed cabin, some degree of armour protection available to be fitted, and a remote weapon station option, Husky does provide an upgrade of sorts. In Afghanistan it has mainly been used as a light utility vehicle, command post and ambulance, though I struggle to see how you would get a stretcher onto that thing, even on the rear cargo deck.
-- The Paras and Royal Marines will get to keep their Jackals in order to provide them with a bit of extra mobility for their operations. I'm sure they're delighted beyond words about that.
-- And finally the Foxhound light protected patrol vehicle, built by a partnership between Force Protection Europe (based in Leamington Spa) and Ricardo (based in Shoreham, which gets its second mention of the post) will become the mainstay of Protected Mobility battalions (which are different to the light infantry battalions erroneously mentioned in the video, at least according to the armies own 2020 document), which will form part of the "Adaptable Force".
Foxhound is... well, it's foxhound. A 4x4 vehicle designed from the bottom up to improve protection, specifically against mines, when compared to something like the Land Rover or American HMMWV. Foxhound should come in a number of variants, achieved through the use of that most dreaded of modern military buzzwords. No, not "warfighter".
By all accounts Foxhound has actually proved quite popular and seems like a pretty decent vehicle. In addition to that - and more important than mere things like protection, speed, range, versatility, load carrying capacity or crew comfort - it looks pretty bloody awesome. Which is why I'm going to try and find a picture of one that will fit on the back of the blog.
Now if anyone needs me... tough. I'm off to bed. It's gone 4am.