“The basic concept was the creation of a rail along the top of the vehicle to which armour panels could be attached to give protection – the idea being that if you wanted to swap the armour, you just unhooked it and put different types on. But it was very much a scientists’ concept. It needed some engineering realism behind it.
“What we’ve come up with is a more robust system of mounting armour on the vehicle which is easy for the crew to service. The fit of the armour can be managed by the use of the basic tools on the vehicle. Everything is designed to use the same spanner and equipment.”
Brundle says that much work has also gone into the development of a novel ceramic armour with an aluminium backing, that will be used as a spall lining on the upgraded vehicles. “You are never going to have an armour platform which is going to survive against all threats.At present, there isn’t a spall liner in the Warrior turret, so when a hole is created some fragments can manage to get through. The role of the new material is to catch these.”
The new ceramic/aluminium spall liner has been field-tested with very large high-energy projectiles used to punch massive holes through steel armour, says Brundle. “It has real potential to catch fragments and protect the crew.”
Other areas of survivability are also being addressed. A mine blast-resistant seat subsystem has been integrated. The turret seating will be mounted on an elevated mast, with the operator secured in a new five-point harness. The seat can be elevated for head-out observation and it has been fitted with a collapse mechanism for instant retraction.
“In the elevation mechanism, there is shock attenuation for energy absorption,” says Brundle. “The mount absorbs the energy rather than transmitting it to the
Efforts have also been made to improve situational awareness for troops seated inside Warrior. New electronic architecture allows information sharing around the whole vehicle, with cameras relaying multiple views of the outside world.
Bob Armstrong says: “These guys get bounced across the battlefield for a couple of hours and then they get thrown out at the end and they are expected to engage with the enemy. Now we can provide them with situational awareness. There’s a screen in the rear section providing views of what the commander can see and where the cannon is pointing. Before dismounting, soldiers have some form of briefing on what’s outside the green box they have been sitting in for a couple of hours.”
Crew space has also been updated, with the operating environment decluttered through the removal of legacy equipment. “As Warrior is a platform that has been in service some time, it has gradually had items added to it,” says Armstrong. “We’ve cleaned a lot of it out and started again – it’s a more elegant design solution. It’s less cluttered, with more space, and easier operation of the man-machine interface for the control systems.”
Crew comfort has also been considered. At present, the Warrior hull doesn’t have any air cooling. With up to seven troops sitting in the rear compartment in close proximity for several hours, temperatures of up to 70°C have been recorded in Afghanistan. An urgent operational requirement has delivered an environmental control system that can be strapped on the back of the vehicle, but this has limited capabilities. Armstrong says that a more integrated cooling solution that is under development will perform far better.
Testing of the various sub-systems and technologies on the Warrior is now under way. Mine-blast trials have been conducted on the seats, ballistic testing has been carried out on the armour panels and the 40mm cannon has undergone live firing. While there have been no major technical problems, the trials are expected to feed into the construction of the prototype vehicle next year.
On the cannon system, for instance, Armstrong says, “We have needed to look at the gyro stabilisation of the sight-head. That was an issue we’ve sorted as part of the development process. We didn’t hit any problems on the turret vibration testing – predominantly because we went through a lot of analysis work to get to that stage.
“The ammunition handling system integration has been proven as a test rig, and it now needs to be proven repetitively as a battlefield mission to prove the duty cycle. That is going to be the next challenge that we face.”
Lockheed Martin will build a total of 11 demonstration vehicles between 2014 and 2015. It then hopes to secure the main production contract, with the upgrade work likely to be carried out at the facilities of the Defence Support Group in Donnington, Shropshire. “The plan is to carry out the upgrade at the same time as overhaul work at Donnington,” says Armstrong. “That would seem to be a sensible and cost-efficient use of time.”
It is expected that at full production, each Warrior will take between 60 and 90 days for the upgrade to be completed.”