Lockheed Martin UK (Stand S8-200) has confirmed that reliability growth trials (RGT) of the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP) are now well underway at the British Army's Armoured Trials and Development Unit at Bovington Camp, Dorset.
By the end of August, WCSP vehicles had covered more than 12,000km of road and cross-country trials. They had fired several thousand rounds of 40mm ammunition from a brand-new Lockheed Martin UK turret, armed with the CTAI 40mm Cased Telescoped Armament System and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun coupled to a computerised fire control system (FCS), which includes new day/thermal sights for the commander and gunner.
More importantly, the stabilised FCS, developed by Lockheed Martin, delivers a highly effective fire-on-the move capability under almost all weather conditions.
RGT comprises a combination of qualification and verification (Q&V) activities and battlefield missions. Most notably, the first 20 battlefield missions were completed early in August, marking a significant achievement for the programme and indeed, UK Ministry of Defence AFV programmes. This is the first time such trials had been undertaken since the Challenger 2 MBT in the early 1990s.
According to the UK MoD, entry to the demonstration and manufacture phases of WCSP was approved in July 2011 at a cost of £1.3 billion, with an in-service date of 2020, but this date will now not be met, leading to the start of manufacture negotiations and subsequently a possible further submission to commit to manufacture in early 2020.
The aim of WCSP is to extend the out-of-service date to beyond 2040 and includes the Warrior Fightability & Lethality Improvement Programme, Warrior Enhanced Electronic Architecture and Warrior Modular Protection System.
Lockheed Martin UK has supplied 11 WCSP for the RGT Armoured Trials and Development Unit trials: six FV520 Warrior IFV section vehicles; two FV521 Warrior IFV command; one FV522 Warrior repair; one FV523 Warrior recovery/repair; and one FV524 Warrior artillery observation post vehicle.
Under the original plan it was expected that up to 380 Warriors would be upgraded to the WCSP standard, which would be deployed by the two Warrior battalions in each of the three armoured infantry brigades. The British Army will now form at least two strike brigades and reduce to two armoured infantry brigades, so the number of WCSP is expected to be reduced to perhaps 250 to 280 units.