A few weeks ago I attended The War & Peace Show; it is the largest show of military vehicles on the planet. Re-enactors, vehicle owners, enthusiasts and aficionados from all over the world gather at the Whitbread hop farm in Kent for five days of displays, trading and discussion. The show website can be found [HERE] and the galleries of previous shows can be found [HERE].My father has been taking me every year since I was about six. Whereas before my enjoyment came from “woo, tanks!” now it is very much about the defence industry gossip that can be ascertained from industry insiders and connected folk about things you will not read about on the news. Below is a mixed bag of thoughts and experiences from the show.
One of the subjects broached was the nature of warfare conducted by the UK. While the defence budget pays for routine costs, while any “unanticipated costs” such as wars, military police actions etc. are paid for out of a separate emergency fund. This fund is used to purchase on demand military hardware. A good example of this would be the Jackal armoured vehicle. The UK MOD purchase these vehicles hundreds at a time to meet the requirements of the mission.Once they are built and flown to the combat theatre, they are used. Surplus vehicles are often then left behind and shipping them back to the UK and subsequently repairing and services an unnecessarily large fleet is actually more expensive than giving them away to the local security forces, then rebuilding new jackals when they are needed again. This has the helpful side effect of getting the local security forces signed up on UK hardware service contracts so they can then maintain the newly gifted hardware. It is estimated that the UK extraction from Afghanistan will leave behind between one and two billion pounds worth of serviceable equipment in this manner.
The UK House of Commons report on the transition out of Afghanistan covers this in section 8.2. The report can be downloaded in full [HERE], references a daily mail article found [HERE]. The relevant passage in the government report is below.
“The Daily Mail reported in May that an initial review by the military has identified 1,200 protected trucks and personnel carriers are likely to be left for the Afghan security forces. It suggests just 700 vehicles have been listed for ‘recovery’ (return to the UK) and there are more than 1,900 protected vehicles in southern Afghanistan. The article suggests the vehicles that could be left behind include Wolfhound personnel carriers, Snatch Land Rovers and Vector armoured personnel carriers.145 Nick Harvey has confirmed the government intends to bring back “all serviceable Mastiff, Ridgeback and Foxhound vehicles from Afghanistan”
Notice how the vehicle sets mentioned by both Nick Harvey and the Daily Mail are mutually exclusive. That is because, despite the normally woeful, bias, misinformed reporting the Daily Mail normally spews out, they are actually on the money with this story. The only thing they neglect to mention is that this is standard practice and has been for at least a decade.
The second point raised was the use of small UGV (unmanned ground vehicles) drones by ground troops. In urban environments lightweight compact UGV’s with cameras can be used for reconnaissance over high walls or around street corners and it was asserted that such drones as seen [HERE] are merely first generation assets. It was discussed that ultra-light vehicles to the point of being storable on a belt, are currently deployed in this high risk recon role. I find this well within the realms of possibility as the tech has been on the development board for over a decade now. Another example of the direction this tech may take in the near future can be found [HERE] and seen below in a video [Fig.2]; in fact prototypes of the Sand Flea are on trial in the Middle East currently.
As for the show itself, there was the usual myriad of vehicles and traders around, and many familiar faces to catch up with. One of the big points of contention among our group, which includes an ex-MOD laser physicist, Chieftain engineer and Westland-Augusta test engineer, ex-special branch police officer and a couple of Chieftain production engineers; were the origin of the below shown deactivated missiles.Now after googling the rolleron (A type of control surface, more [HERE]) serial number, it flagged as a part number associated with the AIM-9 Sidewinder. However no Sidewinder had a fully pointed nose cone. The conclusion is that when the missile was deactivated and the targeting sensors in the nose removed, whoever bought the surplus fitted an entirely aesthetic bodge job nose cone to make it look more like a missile. If any of you out there have any better suggestions please let me know. While rummaging through various traders’ wares, I did stumble across something that I later bought. How to Pay for the War by John Maynard Keynes, 1st edition. The book details how maintaining low interest rates and enforcing compulsory saving through deferred pay could help prevent the large scale inflation that was seen in the First World War. His advice won him hereditary peerage in parliament and his work there led to the setting up of the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and the World Bank. I paid £8.00 for the book but upon further searching it retails anywhere from £50.00 to £450.00 in mint condition. Somewhat of a result I feel.
You can find the complete gallery of images I took [HERE].
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