LONDON - General Dynamics UK has joined forces with European missile maker MBDA to position itself for an upcoming British Army requirement to field an “Overwatch” anti-armor vehicle to support the army’s heavy and deep recce strike brigade combat teams.
The companies are offering the Ares version of the Ajax tracked reconnaissance vehicle already purchased by the Army fitted with a Brimstone missile capability carried in a modular cannister to meet a requirement to strengthen its anti-armor capability.
The teaming effort and the building of a capability demonstrator were announced by the companies July 26.
The Army already has a nascent program, known as Battlegroup Organic Anti-Armour (BGOAA), in the pre-concept phase, which includes the armed overwatch requirement.
Armed overwatch is a priority for the British and likely to be one of the first elements of the wider BGOAA program the military will look to move forward with as the procurement effort ramps up.
Ares is a troop carrying reconnaissance vehicle acquired by the British in a wider 2014 deal with General Dynamics worth £3.5 billion to provide 589 vehicles in the Ajax family.
The principal variant is a scout vehicle armed with a 40 mm case telescoped cannon.
Some 34 Ares vehicles were purchased as part of the deal and deliveries of the variant got underway last year.
In a statement Carew Wilks, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Land Systems–UK, said the vehicle makers “collaboration with MBDA further demonstrates the versatility of the Ajax fleet through the delivery of an ‘Overwatch’ capability quickly and effectively for the heavy and deep recce strike brigade combat teams.”
Brimstone has been widely used by the Royal Air Force in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya as an air to ground weapon. The missile has also been exported.
The latest version of the missile will be a key weapon deployed on the new General Atomic Protector drone purchased by the British to replace the Reaper vehicle.
As far as is known Brimstone has not been purchased to date as a surface-to-surface weapon, but the weapon has been extensively test fired from land in support of maritime development campaigns.
The British are looking to step up their missile equipped armored vehicle capabilities.
Aside from the emerging BGOAA requirement the British are also looking to boost land anti-armour capabilities with a possible purchase of missile equipped Boxer wheeled armored personnel carriers.
The Army is looking at adding more fire power to it’s new Boxer force following the recent decision to axe the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle program.
One option might be to increase the number of Boxer reconnaissance variants fitted with anti-tank guided missiles.
For the moment the number of missile equipped reconnaissance vehicles purchased by the British stands at 50, but the Army is conducting an analysis to determine if more Boxer’s should be fitted with ATGMs.
Andrew Chuter is the United Kingdom correspondent for Defense News.