Tactical Reconnaissance Armoured Combat
Equipment Requirement (TRACER)
1. TRACER is the name given to the land-based
component of the information, surveillance, target acquisition
and reconnaissance. ISTAR, capability required to meet the land
commander's critical information requirements. We are currently
conducting a series of parallel studies into land-based and air-based
manned and unmanned systems to help determine the optimum balance
of investment into these complementary capabilities. No decisions
have yet been made on the specification or numbers of each type
of platform. As part of the parallel studies, we are conducting
a project definition study on TRACER in collaboration with the
US. This memorandum covers not just TRACER, but the current position
in land and UAV elements of the wider ISTAR programme.
2. The original requirement for Tactical
Reconnaissance Armoured Combat Equipment Requirement, TRACER,
was a direct replacement for the ageing Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance
(Tracked), CVR(T), vehicles to provide a high resolution real
time information gathering capability at extended range in all
conditions. Since then, however, the development of unmanned air
vehicle, UAV, technology promises to deliver a significant portion
of the required capability without the risk to life associated
with deploying troops far forward into enemy territory. Operational
analysis and military judgment show that manned reconnaissance
is still required, however, and studies are currently planned
into the sensors required to deliver the capability and the most
appropriate platform, manned or unmanned, on which to deploy them.
3. The US has a requirement for a land-based,
manned, armoured reconnaissance vehicle, known as the Future Scout
Cavalry System, FSCS, and we decided, therefore, to participate
in a joint Project definition study to further define the TRACER
requirement and to provide the information necessary to inform
the UK's balance of investment decision. A UK/US Combined Operational
Requirement Document was agreed in December 1997 and contracts
signed with two competing consortia on 29 January 1999. The UK
element of the requirement included two possible variants, one
of which would be equipped with a long-term anti-tank guided weapon,
LRATGW, to provide overwatch protection for vehicles deployed
far forward without protection from tanks. The US does not currently
have a requirement for the LRATGW variant, since its armoured
cavalry regiments are normally supported by main battle tanks.
4. The principal trade-offs are between
a manned, land-based capability and an unmanned, air-based capability,
which can only be determined once the parallel TRACER and UAV
studies have reported. Within TRACER, possible trade-offs will
be studied in depth in the operational analysis conducted as part
of the programme. There will be an affordability review 24 months
into Project Definition, which will review capability against
cost and further refine the TRACER requirement. Studies are also
being conducted into the viability of unmanned land vehicles,
which will be taken into account in the wider decision on balance
of investment studies due in 2002.
5. No decision has been taken on the number
of TRACER or UAVs to be procured, pending the outcome of the balance
of investment studies.
6. The Strategic Defence Review, SDR, emphasised
the importance of intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition
and reconnaissance, ISTAR capabilities. It confirmed the importance
of a continued ability to conduct high intensity conflict with
TRACER and/or the UAV capability would be designed to support.
7. TRACER and/or UAV capability would be
used in all phases of war and in operations other than war, where
they would be able not only to provide intelligence, but also
to act as a deterrent, monitor opposing forces, help maintain
freedom of movement and provide a credible offensive capability
by directing direct and indirect fire onto enemy forces. Any equipment
would need to be transportable by strategic transport aircraft.
8. The current capability is provided by
the Scimitar, Striker and Sabre variants of the CVR(T) vehicles
and by the Phoenix UAV. The CVR(T) vehicles were introduced in
1972 and proved to be inadequate during the Gulf war in the areas
of sensors, stealth, survivability, mobility and lethality. CVR(T)
is undergoing a life extension programme, which will improve its
sensors and mobility, but is inadequate to meet the requirements
of the modern battlefield. The out-of-service date for CVR(T)
is about 2015. An ISD will only be confirmed for TRACER and the
UAV capability once a decision has been taken on numbers to be
procured. Currently none of the funds allocated to this programme
beyond Project Definition has been allocated to a specific platform,
land-based or air-based.
9. The initial feasibility study for TRACER,
jointly funded by the MoD and industry, was conducted by three
UK industrial consortia and reported in 1994. A further cost and
risk study allowed the consortia to propose concepts and prices,
address areas of risk and consider candidate technologies for
downstream integration. As the cost and risk study neared completion
in 1996, it emerged that the US had a similar requirement, (see
paragraph 4), and the UK and US decided therefore, to collaborate
on Project Definition studies and subsequently signed an umbrella
Memorandum of Understanding in July 1998. We are currently investigating
opportunities for similar collaboration with the US and other
countries on the UAV elements of the wider ISTAR programme.
10. There is currently no opportunity for
a European collaborative programme on the vehicle element, although
we are continuing to investigate this possibility in the Western
European Armaments Group, and France and Germany have sought observer
status on the TRACER project.
11. Two UK/US industrial consortia have
been formed to participate in the competitive TRACER Project Definition
phase. SIKA International is a joint venture company formed by
British Aerospace and Lockheed Martin, and including Vickers Defence
Systems, with General Dynamics Systems as sub-contractors. LANCER
is a consortium headed by Marconi Land and Naval Systems, formerly
Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd, acting as prime contractor,
and including Alvis Vehicles, United Defense and Raytheon.
12. An invitation to tender for two firm
price Project Definition contracts was issued to the two consortia
on 9 July 1998. These proposals were evaluated jointly by teams
from both the US and UK. The limited competition meant that NAPNOC,
no agreed price, no contract, procedures were applied. Contracts
were awarded on 29 January 1999. British Aerospace have given
assurances that they will make the arrangements necessary to maintain
effective competition should the proposed merger with Marconi
Electronic Systems take place.
13. Alternative procurement options include
the extent to which the capability could be provided by UAVs.
As far as the possible vehicle element is concerned, two alternatives
to the development of a new vehicle were considered in 1992 and
again in 1997. A market survey off-the-shelf options revealed
that no commercially available solutions to the requirement existed,
or would be likely to exist in the relevant timescale. The possibility
of modifying a number of existing or proposed armoured vehicles,
including the Challenger 2 main battle tank was also considered.
As it was estimated that the platform itself would only account
for around 20 per cent of the system cost, and there was a high
risk of failure to meet the full requirement, this course was
not assessed to be cost-effective. Procurement options for the
UAV element are still being investigated.
14. The TRACER project is directed by a
UK/US Steering Committee and administered by a Joint Project Office,
JPO. The UK has assumed the lead of the JPO for Project Definition,
and was responsible for placing the contracts on behalf of both
nations. The JPO is led from the Defence Procurement Agency's
office at Bristol and has a permanent staff of about 30 military
and civilian acquisition professionals covering a wide range of
disciplines and will also call on the expertise of the Defence
Evaluation and Research Agency. The estimated cost of the UK offices
for Project Definition is some £4 million a year, funded
by the MoD. A satellite project office, funded by the US, has
been set up at the US Army's Tank Automotive and Armaments Command
in Warren, Michigan. All decisions relating to the progress of
the programme must be agreed jointly. There is no commitment by
either nation beyond the current Project Definition stage.
15. The MoU commits both the US and UK to
an equal cost share during Project Definition and Full Development,
although the latter would be the subject of further national approvals.
Supplements to the MoU, taking account of national off-take, would
be negotiated for the production phase if a decision were taken
to proceed with production.
16. It is impossible to assess the market
potential for TRACER or the UAV elements until the projects are
17. Collaboration provides an opportunity
for UK companies to forge links and share technical expertise
with US companies. The TRACER/FSCS MoU with the US sets a goal
of equitable work-share, which is reflected in the proposals received
from industry. The two industrial consortia participating in Project
Definition were the only industrial groupings to come forward
after briefings on the collaborative programme. The industrial
factors for the UAV element have yet to be determined.
18. The TRACER programme embraces several
Smart Procurement features. Greater emphasis is being placed on
risk reduction during Project Definition. The JPO is liaising
closely with all stakeholders, including industry, to reduce timescales
and achieve a better understanding of a complex programme. The
benefits of this approach have already been realised in the evaluation
of tenders for Project Definitiona process which would
traditionally have taken six to eight months has been completed
in four. Increased emphasis is being placed on through-life costs,
with challenging but achievable targets for reliability and in-service
availability. A similar approach will be adopted for the UAV element.
19. The initial feasibility study and the
subsequent cost and risk study allowed TRACER to be defined in
affordable terms by mid-1996. The planned progression to a national
Project Definition phase was delayed because of the emerging possibility
of collaboration with the US. Following detailed negotiations,
Project Definition with the US was approved in July 1998 and contracts
were awarded on 29 January 1999. It will last for 42 months. Each
consortium is to produce a detailed specification for Full Development
and Initial Production in accordance with the agreed pricing strategy;
an assessment of training requirements; a range of demonstrators,
including an integrated demonstrator vehicle; a risk management
plan, supported by an updated risk register; a software integration
plan; a trials and acceptance plan; a project management plan;
a quality plan; a safety plan; and an integrated logistic support
plan. This will then be considered in parallel with similar plans
for the UAV element before deciding whether to proceed to the
20. Contracts for the Tracer Project Definition
study were awarded on 29 January 1999. The next milestone is the
affordability review at the 24 month point of this phase, early
2001, which will further refine the requirement following consideration
of a number of options. Project Definitions should be complete
by mid-2002 and the outcome will be used in the ISTAR balance
of investment study.
21. A reliable estimate of the total cost
of the project is not possible in advance of decisions on the
balance of investment between platforms. Some £10 million
has been spent by the UK on the Feasibility Study phase. The current
estimate of UK costs for Project Definition is £118 million,
costs at 1998-99 prices.
22. During TRACER Project Definition, contractors
will deliver costed options for contractor logistic support for
the first two years in service, the next five years and subsequent
periods. Options may include direct supply of spares to the field
force, and Public/Private Partnership type arrangements for major
spares components, as well as contractorised maintenance support.
A Training Needs Analysis will also be undertaken during Project
Definition. A similar approach will be adopted for the UAV element.
23. To be determined during the balance
of investment considerations in 2002.
24. Project Definition will cover TRACER's
compatibility, interoperability and commonality with other systems.
A similar approach will be adopted for the UAV element.
25. CVR(T) will have been in service for
over 40 years when it is replaced. Options for disposal are likely
to be limited. Disposal options for Phoenix have yet to be determined,
as the equipment has only recently entered service.
26. These issues will be considered further
in Project Definition.