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FV 430 Series / Bulldog

As of 2012 the most numerous armored vehicle in the British Army was the FV 430 range, which was developed in the 1950s and was not due out of service until 2018. The FV430 series, the British equivalent of the American M113, completed development in the early 1960s, and entered service in 1964. The last FV 430 armoured personnel carriers were delivered to the Army in 196869 and the major components are regularly replaced and improved where necessary.

First introduced in 1962 the FV 430 series of vehicles has developed to fulfil 14 roles including Command Post APC, ambulance, minelayer, recovery and repair vehicle, mortar, radar or troop carrier. NBC proof, it can carry up to 10 men and 2 crew and may be armed with a 7.62mm machine gun or turret mounted L37 machine gun. In the 1960s the estimated costs of the CHIEFTAIN Tank were 90,000 to 100,000, of the Armored Personnel Carrier Type FV 432, 20,000 to 22,000, and the ABBOT Self-propelled Gun, 46,000 to 50,000.

As part of the 1975 defense review the Vixen wheeled reconnaissance vehicle was cancelled and reductions were made in the follow-on orders for the Sultan, Spartan and Samaritan tracked vehicles. This meant that older vehicles, the Ferret scout car and the FV 430 series of armored personnel carriers had to be kept in-service longer than originally planned. Subsequent reductions in the defence budget have not affected the armoured fighting vehicle program.

As of 1980 the Army's FV432 series of vehicles had been in service since the 1960s, and needed to be replaced from the mid-1980s. Two vehicles were considered for this requirement, the mechanised combat vehicle (MCV-80) designed by the British firm GKN-Sankey, and the American infantry fighting vehicle, which would be manufactured under licence in this country. After a careful assessment of the relevant operational, financial and industrial factors, on 14 July 1980 the Secretary of State for Defence decided to select MCV 80 to meet this requirement. The total estimated cost of the replacement program was about 1,000 million and full development will be launched shortly.

The MCV80 was a program to provide the Army with a highly mobile armored personnel carrier and combat vehicle to replace the aging FV430 series fleet. By 1984 a very successful development phase for the basic vehicle, for which GKN Sankey was the prime contractor, was nearing completion and detailed planning for production was being undertaken.

The programmed replacement of Britains armored personnel carrier (APC) force during the 1980s posed a number of problems, not the least of which was cost. Some 2,300 vehicles of the FV432 family were due for replacement and, like the US M113, were outdated. A requirement was laid down for 1,900 MCV8Os to be produced by GKN-Sankey, at a reported cost off 1,000 million (approximately $1.75 billion at that time). Reliable sources indicated, however, that by 1983 this requirement had been revised downward due to fiscal constraints. The discussion was by then one of acquiring perhaps half the original number of MCV80s and other, less expensive, vehicles. It should be noted, however, that even the original requirement for 1,900 vehicles might be inadequate.

Since the FV432 came into service in 1963, less than one third of Britains infantry battalions had been mechanized. The remainder were described as airmobile and would probably be transported to the battlefield in trucks to fight on foot. While the quality and flexibility of Britains airmobile infantry battalions cannot be doubted, many thought it would be preferable to equip those earmarked to reinforce the 1st British Corps in Germany with some form of armored protection.

British concepts of the use of infantry carriers on the battlefield differed from those of many NATO countries in that most commanders saw the FV432 as no more than a battlefield taxi, (an APC in its truest sense) designed to deliver the fighting men to the battlefield. However, even with the addition of a 7.62-mm machinegun turret, the FV432 was not equipped to be aggressive on the battlefield. Perhaps because of the high fighting qualities of the British infantry, commanders had seen little need for a mechanized infantry combat vehicle (MICV). The proposed MCVBO did represent a halfivay house, with its respectable main arma- ment, but without the capability for infantry to fire from within.

As of 1992 it was planned to replace the majority of the tracked combat vehicle reconnaissance CVR(T) with a new vehicle in the early years of the 21st century; exact quantities would depend upon the results of a feasibility study and developing concept work. An industrial briefing on the new vehicle was held on 16 September 1992 and the project seemed likely to cost around 2 billion. In addition, MoD was considering the replacement of the remaining CVR(T), FV430 series' vehicles and the combat engineer tractor (CET) early in the 21st century. The numbers of these vehicles currently held [in 1992] were:

		FV430 series	2,536
		CVR(T)		1,701
		CET 		  140	

On 22 April 1998 it was announced that, together with Germany and France, the UK intended to develop and produce a family of armored utility vehicles to meet the requirements of all three nations. The UK needed these vehicles to replace FV430, Saxon and Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) utility vehicles. The UK planned to sign a Memorandum of Understanding for the joint program, known in the UK as the Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle, MRAV, covering development and initial production of a total of 600 vehicles.

A surprising problem faced by the military in the aftermath of the Gulf war and Bosnia derived from the fact that, for many years to come, in any fast-moving battle the armored infantry's effectiveness would be restricted by what is only a small element of the infantry's vehicles. It was clear from all the arms exercises that the FV 432, a mortar platform, is very slow. The whole Army had to go as slow as the slowest vehicle, which was the mortar platform. So either it goes without the mortar or everybody slowed down.

Track mileage usage is collated centrally, based on records submitted by each unit and can serve only as an indicator of trends rather than a detailed comparator. Individual vehicle usage may vary considerably depending on operating environments. Annual allocations are used as a planning tool only and a shortfall or excess in the actual total usage is not uncommon.

		Vehicle 	Annual usage (miles)
		Warrior			574,453
		Challenger 1		 71,336
		Challenger 2		144,728
		Saxon			475,127
		FV430 variants		727,475
		CVR(T) variants		898,235

As of 2000 plans were that the vehicles will be progressively replaced between 20062018 by the Future Command and Liaison Vehicle, the Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle, and the Armoured Battlegroup Support Vehicle. The reliability of the power pack varies with environmental conditions and terrain. The vehicles achieve some 3,500 miles between engine failures.

As of 2003 the FV430 fleet consisted of 1,720 vehicles, some 1,400 of which were currently active within Army Units. Other vehicles were held either in Depot, undergoing Base Overhaul, or were employed with trials Units or Contractors. The fleet was planned to reduce to a total of 1,490 by mid-2004. Of the vehicles remaining in service, the oldest entered service on 1 May 1965 and the youngest on 1 February 1975. The average age of the British Army fleet for the FV430 was 38 years. It was then anticipated that FRES would replace the CVR(T) series, Saxon and elements of the existing FV430 series.

The FV 430 family of armored vehicles entered service with the British Army in the 1960s, but regular maintenance and improvements including a new power train have enabled this old workhorse to remain in service into the 21st Century. The FV432 can be converted for use in water, when it has a speed of 6km/h. Properly maintained, it is a rugged and reliable vehicle with a good cross country performance. FV 430 variants remain in service with the infantry, as command vehicles, 81mm mortar carriers, ambulances and recovery vehicles.

A recent upgrade program has seen the delivery of over 100 uparmoured and upgraded FV430 troop carriers (Bulldog). Mechanised infantry use the Bulldog APC as a form of protected mobility to move around the battlefield. Bulldog offers protection against small arms and artillery fire and provides good strategic and cross-country mobility. For counter-insurgency operations the up-armored FV430 provides a similar level of protection to Warrior and the vehicle is able to carry out many of the same tasks as Warrior, thereby relieving the pressure on heavily committed Warrior vehicles in armored infantry battlegroups.

The 155m programme began with an original 85m contract placed with BAE Systems by the UK MoD in October 2005. This covered the upgrade of the engine, transmission and other systems to 500 FV430 series vehicles. A 70 million contract amendment in September 2007 added the upgrade of a further 400 vehicles. The conversion program was scheduled for completion in March 2011. Some 20 vehicles are converted each month at the same time as they receive a major overhaul at DSGs Bovington facility.

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Page last modified: 06-09-2013 18:39:40 ZULU