The CVR(T) is one of the more common western platforms in Ukrainian service it often gets overlooked. So let us take a look at the UK’s most successful modular platform. The British military had traditionally seen great success in the employment of light vehicles in the scout role. Their small size, mobility and speed became defining characteristics for their reconnaissance forces.
Ferret and Saladin
The UK would further evolve the concept through the late 40s to early 50s resulting in the development and subsequent adoption of FV601 Saladin and FV701 ferret scout cars. The Saladin in particular is of interest here.
The Saladins chassis would be utilised in 4 new variants fulfilling differing roles whilst retaining the same mobility of the base chassis. The variants in question are FV603 Saracen APC, FV604 Armoured Command and the FV611 Armoured Ambulance.
This concept would be carried on into the future platforms the UK would procure.
Armoured Vehicle Reconnaissance
As of the late 1950’s calls for the development of a new armoured reconnaissance vehicle grew louder and resulted in a design study. This study was undertaken by a group of experts with a list of requirements from the general staff. An important part of the study was to determine whether the vehicle was to be wheeled or tracked. Tracks had the advantage of cross-country mobility allowing the vehicle to keep up with the IFV’s and MBT’s. Wheels on the other hand allowed for better mobility during monitoring and patrolling operations.
The study was conducted in the vicinity of Chobham Common by the FVRDE (Fighting Vehicles Research and Development Establishment), a Think Tank which has since 1942 focussed on the development of armoured vehicles. The FVRDE changed its name multiple times in the following years and by 1970 it would be known as the MVEE (Military Vehicles and Engineering Establishment).
At the Director Royal Armoured Corps Conference, a list of requirements for the RAC was presented to the attendees. At its core it called for an air transportable armoured fighting vehicle by 1966, a reconnaissance variant by 1968 and a wheeled reconnaissance vehicle by 1975. Further studies however revealed that only 2 out of these 3 concepts met the listed requirements. In the end none of these 3 vehicles would go beyond the initial program stage. Many of their aspect where however carried forward onto the eventual FV100 series.
CVR(T) – Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance tracked
With the lessons and requirement set from the previous failed program a new attempt for creating a tracked reconnaissance vehicle was made. A CVR(W) was also developed but will not be covered within here. Weight and size where of particular consideration with the vehicle not being allowed to be wider then 84 inch (2m 13cm) and have a ground pressure of 5 psi (0,35kg/cm²). Two revolutionary technologies also found their way onto the vehicle.
These being the Hydropneumatic suspension and the vehicles aluminium armour. The first allowed for increased offroad mobility while the latter allowed the vehicle to weigh less. Both were seen as cutting edge in the 1960’s.
Another important decision was that all vehicles in this FV100 series required a name starting with “S”. An initial proposal was “Setter” but this was later changed to the more aggressive sounding “Scorpion”. Such naming conventions are common within the UK’s armed forces with the use of “C” as the first letter in tank names being the most notable one. A more modern example is the use of “A” as the first letter in the names of vehicles in the Ajax family.
The first concept vehicle of the FV100 series where delivered to the troops by Christmas 1965. Known as the TV15000 which already featured a fully operational hull with working powertrain and running gear.
Only 21 months later Alvis Ltd was chosen as the prime contractor for the further development of the project. This was followed by a contract for the delivery of 17 prototype vehicles that where designated as the FV101 Scorpion reconnaissance vehicle. The contract also included 6 additional prototype vehicles of different FV100 configurations. At the time Alvis was building the FV600 series of vehicles for the British army and was thus seen as a reliable partner for the FV100 project.
The first of the 17 ordered FV101 left the Alvis factory on the 23rd of January 1969. The vehicle did not yet have a functional turret but was already submitted to climate testing in Abu Dhabi, Canada and Norway. The last of the initially 23 FV100 series vehicles ordered from Alvis was delivered in May of 1970. The British army then started its trials of the vehicles and by October of that year the FV100 series was accepted for service.
The vehicles approved for adoption where the;
The first production FV101 was delivered in January of 1970 and was handed to the Technical Group Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers with the second vehicle being sent to the School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in February. The UK bought a total of 1.863 CVR(T) family vehicles for its military. The RAF retired its fleet of CVR(T) by the early 1990’s while the army retired the FV101 in 1992. Some of these where retained to be used as OPFOR in training.
- FV101 Scorpion; Fv101 Scorpion; Is the first variant of the CVRT family that was developed featuring a Low pressure 76mm cannon designated L23A1. The vehicle initially had to meet an amphibious requirement but this was dropped further on into its initial service. The vehicle also featured a coaxially mounted FN MAG machine gun known as the GPMG within British service. The last FV101 got retired from UK service by 1990.
- Scorpion 90; Is an upgraded variant of the FV101 armed with the Cockerill Mk3 M-A1 90mm cannon. Primarily intended for the export market, the Scorpion 90 saw success with orders from Indonesia and Venezuela for a total of 201 vehicles.
- Scorpion Kastet; Was a Ukrainian development to offer an unmanned turret for the FV101 armed with a 30mm ZTM-1 automatic cannon, 30mm KBA-17 automatic grenade launcher, 7,62x54R KT machine gun and 2 mounts for Barrier ATGM’s It was primarily developed for Jordan who had been interested in upgrading their fleet of FV101 Scorpions with more lethal armament. However no new information about the vehicle has come to light after 2016.
- FV102 Striker; An ATGM tank destroyer based on the FV100 chassis firing the Swingfire missile from a missile launcher at the back of the vehicle. The Swingfire missile itself has a minimum range of 150m and maximum range of 4km. In total the vehicle carried 10 missiles 5 of which where installed in the launcher with the rest being carried in the hull. Secondary armament consisted of a pintle mounted FN MAG. The last of the 89 Strikers got withdrawn from UK service in 2005.
- FV103 Spartan; The Armoured Personnel Carrier variant of the CVR(T). The vehicle has a rear troop compartment capable of carrying 3 vehicle crew and 4 dismounts.
- FV103 Spartan 235; From late 1999 the UK Spartan fleet received a life extension program that saw the installation of a more powerful engine, a new night sight and A new Bowman radio system. A number of these would later also receive additional Kevlar armour made by Plasan. For deployment to Afghanistan these also received additional ballistic protection, Cage armour, An EID jammer and the Odin one man turret.
- FV104 Samaritan; An armoured ambulance featuring a raised rear compartment capable of carrying 4 wounded soldiers on stretchers.
- FV105 Sultan; A Samaritan with the rear compartment repurposed as a mobile command post.
- FV106 Samson; The armoured recovery vehicle variant meant to provide maintenance and recovery support to other FV100 series vehicles.
- FV107 Scimitar; An FV101 Scorpion fitted with the 30mm Rardan automatic cannon instead of the 76mm L23A1. Developed shortly after the initial 6 variants of the CVR(T) entered service to fulfil a more active reconnaissance and counter reconnaissance role.
- FV107 Scimitar 235; Deployment of the FV107 to Afghanistan showed the need for several upgrades to the vehicle. These upgrades consisted of an overhaul of the vehicles powerplant and drivetrain. Additionally, a Battery management system and IED jammer where installed. These modifications did require a strengthening of the hull as the vehicles weight increased to 11 tonnes.
- FV107 Scimitar mk2; As UK operations in Afghanistan continued the need for more mine protection became apparent. In 2010 it was decided to build new CVR(T) family vehicles with this threat in mind. This saw the production of FV103 Spartan 235 hulls that where then paired with FV107 Scimitar 235 turrets. Th increased space in the crew compartment offered by the higher roof of the Spartan hull allowed for the installation of the required mine protection.
- Sabre; A FV101 Scorpion fitted with the turret of the FV721 as a way to introduce a vehicle similar to the Scimitar while costing as little as possible.. 138 Scorpions and Foxes where converted into Sabre’s starting in 1995. The UK retired the Sabre after 10 years of service in 2005.
- FV4333 Stormer; The Stormer was originally envisioned by ALVIS as a second generation of the CVR(T) platform. Being a lengthened FV103 featuring a 6th roadwheel and an enlarged troop compartment capable of carrying 7 dismounts.
- In 1992 Alvis participated in the US’s LAV program. 3 Stormer prototypes fitted with the M242 turret which housed a 25mm gun took part in the program trials but lost out to the GDLS LAV-25. Further export of the Stormer remained very limited with the UK only adopting 2 of its variants in small numbers.
- Shielder VLSMS; A variant of the Stromer that has the rear troop compartment removed and replaced by a flat rear section for carrying various cargo. The vehicle was primarily used to transport the Vulcano remote minelaying system.
- Stormer HVM; A Stormer equipped with a short range anti air missile system. This anti air turret can equip 8 missiles of either Starstreak or Martlet. These replaced the Tracked Rapier in UK service.
The CVR(T) enjoyed a successful export career with several other nations adopting the platform (not counting Ukraine). One thing to note is that I have been unable to find a good list of FV100 users with a clear number on the amount of vehicles they have/had.
The following table is therefor not 100% accurate and likely has several mistakes.
It is notable that the second and third largest operators of the CVR(T) platform where Belgium and Iran. Belgium has since retired its fleet of CVR(T)’s in 2005 after which most got sold on the private market or where scrapped. Iran still operates about 80 FV101 and even developed a locally producible clone of the FV101 called the Tosan.
The UK has delivered at least 64 FV100 series vehicles to Ukraine including;
- 35 FV103 Spartan
- 6 Stormer HVM
- 23 FV107 Scimitar mk2
Volunteer donation to Ukraine have on the other hand managed to collect at least 110 vehicles of the FV100 series.
- 41 FV103 Spartan
- 2 FV104 Samaritan
- 22 FV105 Sultan
- 3 FV106 Samson
- 8 Stormer
- 1 Shielder
Ukrainian World Congress;
- 14 FV103 Spartan
- 2 FV104 Samaritan
- 1 Stormer
- 1 Shielder
Petro Poroschenko Foundation;
- 14 FV103 Spartan, FV104 Samaritan, FV105 Sultan
- 1 FV103 Spartan
This means that Ukraine has received at least 174 FV100 series vehicles.
These have seen combat with various units with the 127th TDF brigade in Bakhmut, the 25th Airbourne brigade during the Kharkiv offensive and by the Ukrainian volunteer army, now reformed as the 67th mechanized brigade.
A notable modification that Ukrainian troops make is that on Spartans the normally present GPMG on the vehicle commanders cupola is replaced by a western supplied M2 Browning HMG in homemade mounts.
- Wikipedia – FV102 Striker
- Wikipedia – List of equipment of the Latvian Land Forces
- Wikipedia – Alvis Stormer
- Wikipedia – Tosan tank
- IN DEVELOPMENT: SCORPION KASTET
- Tankograd – British Special N° 9033 Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked Scorpion – Scimitar – Sabre written by Daniel Nowak
- Tankograd – British Special N° 9034 Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked Variants written by Daniel Nowak
- Janes Land Warfare Armoured Fighting Vehicles 2021-2022
- List of heavy weapons donations to Ukraine
- List of Non-governmental donations to Ukraine