The Redkat Infantry FightingVehicle
| Above: FV844 Redkat Armed Recce Vehicle
on trials with The Volunteer Light Dragoons about to launch a Snapdragon
“The more I see of the Redkat the more I am impressed by its spirit. It just won’t back down, not even to an Afanc twice its size. Considering the situation with the Argentines I can’t help thinking the Redkat makes a pretty good role model for our infant colony.
Field Notes and Personal Diaries, Volume 1
As Wellon has matured as a nation, gradually decreasing its reliance on
While still heavily reliant on the
One project brought in under this initiative was the Family of Wheeled Combat Vehicles procured in the early to mid ‘90s to replace the collection of old wheeled, tracked and hover support vehicles that had accumulated over time in various second line roles. While first-line Wellon forces were scheduled to receive the Rifleman HIFV and Cavalier HBT, second-line units and those operating in adverse terrain such as Wellon’s desert, jungle and arctic regions, required a vehicle of their own, one that was ideally cheap, all-terrain capable and designed and built in Wellon.
The resulting competition was won by the newly established Military Vehicles Division of North Wellon Vehicles of Knightsbridge with their Redkat submission. The result was bitterly contested, going all the way to the Court of Appeals as Woolf Military Vehicles, backed by the regional government of its New Birmingham stronghold, and the not inconsiderable influence of its Grafton Arms parent, charged that the award had been decided on political grounds outside of those acceptable under Wellon tender law, with the primary intent of placing a major procurement in the economically stagnant Wellon Arctic Territories. A second argument of their suit alleged that the whole programme aimed at developing a wider based arms industry was counter to both Wellon law and an artificial subsidy incompatible with Wellon’s politico-economic norms. The dispute was long, legally complex and drew much attention in both the press and parliament, but in the end their Lordships upheld the MoD’s position that they were at liberty to select any supplier who met the tender requirements, even if that meant favouring a new supplier over an established one with a submission of equal quality and a lower tender price.
Despite the controversy raging over its selection, the Redkat moved through
troop trials with no more than the usual number of problems—evidence
that NWV’s extensive headhunting on behalf
of the Military Vehicles Division had borne fruit. Without an established
range of vehicles to draw on for design inspiration NWV were able to
approach the requirement with a clean-sheet design that is practically
unique in modern military vehicle design. Technically an 8X8, the Redkat
is perhaps better considered as two linked 4X4s. The front half of the
vehicle, the Command Module, contains the driver commander and gunner
seated three abreast with the driver’s position in the centre and slightly
forward of the other two seats to ease direct communication between
commander and gunner. Access hatches are located above both Commander’s
and Gunner’s positions. The Command Module is common to all configurations
although in some cases no gunner is carried. The crew workstations use
a standard set of inceptors and displays, reconfiguring the operation
of each as necessary. The driver uses a joystick for control of the
vehicle, but all three positions have standard Commonwealth voice, dataglove, trackball, touchscreen
and neural jack inputs. Crew helmets are the TISS compatible Black Arrow
Integrated Combat Vehicle Helmet and include helmet-HUD functionality
for use when riding head-out. The second,
Both modules have engine bays in the lower-half of the hull, the engines, or more correctly generators, outputting onto a multiply-redundant power-bus feeding electric motors in all eight wheels. The Redkat suffers a less than 5% mobility loss from the loss of any single wheel, 10% from any two wheels on different modules or different sides of the same module. It suffers a 30% loss in mobility from the loss of any three wheels not all on the same side or module, but is theoretically immobilised by any other combination of wheel loss (during the New Africa campaign one Redkat crew from Jameson’s Scouts managed to bring their severely damaged vehicle out of the FEBA despite the loss of four wheels and destruction of the Command Module’s engine bays by swapping all four surviving wheels onto the barely-functional Command Module, powering them from the Mission Module and using the Command Module to drag the wheel-less Mission Module over swampy ground as a sledge).
The fuel-cell engines of the Redkat are an interesting design element. The Command and Mission Module engines are identical units, each further subdivided into four identical sub-units. For all intents and purposes the Redkat has eight engines and the redundancy that goes with them. As part of considerable thought that went into maintenance the sub-units are each mounted on slide-out trays and can be changed-out by two men in no more than ten minutes, fifteen if only a single man is available and he is forced to use the lifting frame built into the hull. With support from an ARV’s powered lifting arm change-outs have been accomplished in as little as five minutes from coming to a halt. As an alternative to the engine sub-units the mounting trays are also capable of mounting a specially designed battery pack for vacuum ops, or even compact internal combustion powered generators if the customer should so choose. The vehicle is pre-plumbed for droppable long-range fuel or oxidiser tanks to be mounted on the sides of the Mission Module allowing extended range or to allow the fuel cells to be used in noxious atmospheres or even in vacuum.
Performance reaches the levels laid down by the original requirements, with the flex-coupling giving a useful increase in traction at some cost in reliability. Any negative maintainability impact of the flex-coupling is generally considered to be more than outweighed by the gains in engine maintainability over more conventional installations. A secondary advantage of the two module design is the ability to ‘mix-and-match’ battle-damaged vehicles to get at least a portion of them back into the field in relatively short order. The flex-coupling can be disconnected or reconnected in as little as fifteen minutes making ‘mix-and-match’ the preferred tactic for forward repair units whenever they have more than one damaged Redkat on hand.
While it is possible to drive a Command Module without an attached Mission Module (and this is in fact the recommended method of mating a Command Module to a disconnected Mission Module), the forward module alone has too short a wheelbase for its height to be entirely stable cross-country and the WEME team certifying acceptance for Controller (Ground) Release insisted that the vehicle be fitted with a governor to limit ground speed to 5KM/H in this configuration. In practise any WEME mechanic and most Redkat crewmen are perfectly capable of removing the governor in only a few minutes.
Springing from the Family of Wheeled Combat Vehicles requirement, the Redkat was always intended to form the basis for an entire family of variants and NWV staffed their design department with the intention of rapidly establishing a complete range of Redkat variants, both to meet the requirements of the MOD and to attract the attention of other customers.
The standard section carrier vehicle, the FV841 carries a driver, commander and gunner in the Command Module and eight dismounts in the rear module. The armament package consists of the Class A1 turret mounting an L647A2 Plasma Gun (the same basic model used on the Bowman combat walker, but with increased rate of fire) and a coaxial VR5 7.5mm MG. Four Green Hunter AVMs are mounted on the side of the turret and a Verlet Defender Point Defence System on the turret roof completes the package. The dismounts are provided with firing ports in the hull side (three to each side) and rear (two). If need be the commander can also fight the turret, but standard practise is for the commander to operate the vehicle sensors with the gunner concentrating solely on weaponry. A Class A2 Turret is also available, replacing the Plasma Gun with a 25mm autocannon for customers who prefer that option.
The Redkat Command Post Vehicle entered service at the same time as the Redkat-IFV in the company command vehicle role, but has slowly been spreading into other roles as additional software packages become available. Redkat-CPs are now standard at both battalion and company level in Redkat equipped units and are also operational in the FAC, Forward Observer and Drone Controller Roles. The FV8411 carries the same Class A1 turret as the FV841, making it difficult to distinguish between the two in combat, but internally the dismounts have been traded for four workstations and a detailed examination will reveal a considerable number of conformal antennae. In theory the vehicle should carry a WEWS network technician and four command staff, but the net-tech is often displaced to one of the support vehicles to give additional space in the cramped rear module, swapping into the Redkat-CP only for problems that can’t be resolved remotely.
The Redkat-APC is a simpler, less expensive vehicle than the Redkat-IFV and actually preceded the baseline vehicle into service by several months. The vehicle mounts the Class B turret with a VR-5 and a co-axial VR-8 30mm AGL in place of the more expensive Class A package. A Verlet Defender is an optional add-on to the Class B turret, which is referred to as the Class B1 with the PDS and Class B2 without. In all FV8412s the turret is controlled by the vehicle commander rather than carrying a specialist gunner. Intended as the baseline for a sub-family of specialist Combat Support vehicles, the roofline of the Mission Module is 0.4M higher than that of the Redkat-IFV giving greater internal volume for the specialist role packages. The baseline APC configuration is referred to as the Mod 0.
The FV8412 has been procured as an armoured logistics vehicle for use by the Wellon Logistic Corps with the troop seats stripped out and a cargo handling system installed, this configuration is referred to as FV8412 Mod 1, the Class B2 Turret is standard. The FV8412 Mod 2 is an armoured ambulance capable of carrying three stretcher cases and three seated wounded along with two med-techs. FV8412 Mod 2s were originally procured without turrets but those vehicles destined for the French Arm have been re-equipped with the Verlet Sentry Remote Weapon Station as the FV8412 Mod 2*. FV8412 Mod 3 is a workshop configuration vehicle for use by WEME, the B2 turret is standard. FV8412 Mod 4 is a more extensive modification into a Combat Engineering Vehicle fitting a rear-mounted dozer blade, shovel arm and various other specialist engineering tools. The B1 Turret is standard, and the flex-coupling is a specially strengthened variant to allow the vehicle to direct the full power of the 8*8 configuration through the dozer blade. As the dozer blade is mounted where the rear ramp would normally be located a hatch on the left-hand side of the Mission Module provides access for the four engineers carried, who function as dismounts as well as equipment operators. RWE mixes Mod 0 and Mod 4 vehicles on a 1 for 1 basis in its field squadrons. Mod 5 is a recovery vehicle for WEME that mounts a lifting arm on the Mission Module roof, the B1 turret is standard.
The Redkat-AT is possibly the most controversial of the basic Redkats as it mounts the indigenous Viperelle Heavy AVM rather than the Skystreak that would have been preferred by a considerable faction within the Army. Nevertheless the Viperelle is proving to be an effective weapon with subtleties of operation the Skystreak lacks. The Class A turret is standard, the Green Hunter being retained for use against close-in, pop-up targets. The troop bay, however has mostly been displaced by a VLS holding eight ready-to fire Viperelles. Two gunners are carried in a reduced troopbay at the front of the Mission Module accessed via a small hatch on the left side of the hull. A portable Viperelle control station is carried, allowing the gunners to deploy forward on foot as needed while still being able to command launch Viperelles without unmasking the vehicle.
The Redkat-FS is looked on as something of an orphan-child within the Army. Conceived as a heavily armed variant able to beef-up the fire of Redkat-IFVs, the problem has been finding a place for it within the TOE of existing units. Redkat Mechanized Infantry battalions are allocated six Redkat-FSs. Depending on the battalion those vehicles may be found acting as a recon platoon, as a fire support platoon within the Support Company or even parcelled out on a single vehicle scale at platoon level. The Redkat-FS mounts a turret based on that of the Templer IFV (inevitably referred to as the Class T turret, although the name has no official standing) with the Templer’s 51mm L88A1 MDC, but replacing the L87A2 Heavy Plasma Gun with the L647A2 of the Redkat IFV and adding a VR5 GMG in the space freed up by mounting the smaller plasma weapon. The quad Green Arrow canister of the Class A turret has also been added, with a Verlet Defender completing the weapons array. Ammunition stowage space for the MDC means that the troop bay is reduced to space for four dismounts only.
The Redkat-M represents a compromise between firepower and the weight of the vehicle. The Army would have preferred a vehicle carrying the standard 165mm light gun, but simulation showed there was no practical way for the Redkat to sustain the recoil of the full power weapon while maintaining an acceptable level of mobility. The answer lay in a reduced-power, short-barrelled variant of the 165mm that had been developed for patrol boats and assault craft involved in riverine operations in Wellon’s less-lawful southern coastal regions. Type Classified as the L73 165mm Heavy Mortar, the weapon uses standard 165mm shells with a smaller propellant charge or specially developed light-case shells which take advantage of the reduced firing stresses to incorporate a heavier payload. Even with the smaller weapon, fitting it and an automatic loader into a Mission Module was a tight squeeze and it proved impossible to mount the weapon with 360 degrees of rotation. Instead of a turret the weapon is mounted in a fixed barbette, with the weapon itself capable of slewing 30 degrees either side of the vehicle centreline. A Verlet Defender is mounted on the barbette roof and two gunners are carried in a crew bay at the front of the Mission Module.
The Redkat-AA shares considerable similarities with the Redkat-AT, but replaces the Class-A turret with a unique version mounting twin L647A3 Plasma Guns (a rapid fire variant of the L647A2 with active cooling and a further increased rate of fire), a Verlet Defender and a pod with 4 British Exospace Asp SRAAMs modified for the ground-launched role. 6 Guiscard Aero-27 MRAAMs, again modified for ground-launching, are carried in the VLS (two VLS cells are sacrificed for plasma-cartridge stowage in comparison to the Redkat-AT). The sensor suite is boosted to give greater range in the air-search role although cueing from a networked long-range sensor vehicle is needed to exploit the full range of the Aero-27s. Typically the gunner in the Command Module will operate the turret in a point defence role while the gunners in the Mission Module will control the Aero-27s and manage the onboard sensors and networked data.
The Redkat Drone Launch Vehicle is intended to give infantry battalions their own reconnaissance and attack aviation capability. The Mission Module is entirely given over to the stowage of eight drones in vertical launch canisters, with only a Verlet Defender mounted as defensive armament. The FV8417 is incapable of controlling its own drones and the standard Drone Platoon within Support Companies contains two Redkat-CPs in addition to the two Redkat-Ds. Standard load-out is two Snapdragon recce drones and six Hurricane attack drones.
The Redkat-ARV is a derivative of the Redkat-FS developed at the request of RWAC’s armoured reconnaissance units after their first experience with the Redkat. While the baseline Redkat-IFV was mobile enough for the ARV role the recce specialists judged its armament was too light for a vehicle that would have to operate on its own over extended distances. Selecting the Redkat-FS as the baseline, a joint WMV/RWAC team developed a variant optimised for the long-range scouting role. In comparison with the Redkat-FS the troop bay has been reduced to only three scouts and ammunition stowage for the MDC has been almost halved, but the extra space has been used to accommodate a further two engine modules and additional fuel giving the FV844 the best performance of any Redkat. The sensor suite has been extensively enhanced in comparison with standard Redkats and the comms suite is identical to that fitted to the Redkat-CP. Extended-range drop-tanks are a standard fitting and a Snapdragon recon drone is carried in a canister clipped to the rear of the hull, necessitating the replacement of the rear ramp with a small hatch).
In order to best exploit the endurance of the Redkat-ARV the dismount scouts are usually trained to function as a relief crew, allowing the vehicle to continue to operate with one crew awake in the Command Module while a secondary crew tries to sleep in the Mission Module’s troop bay. The FV844 has just started to enter service with Wellonese armoured reconnaissance units, but strong consideration is already being given to the development of a Mod 1 vehicle mounting either the Viperelle or Skystreak in addition to the current armament. Project start is believed to be imminent, with entry into service scheduled for not later than 2306.
Copyright 2005, David Gillon