The annual International Armoured Vehicles Conference (IAVC) has gained a reputation as the world’s premier international meeting ground for all elements of the armoured community.
Annually attracting over 1000 delegates from over 40 nations, conference attendance spans the full armoured vehicles ecosystem. From military and government leadership to senior industry solution providers drawn from both the major vehicles Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEMs) and the supply chain involved in producing the state-of-the-art technologies integrated into the vehicles of the future.
The theme of IAVC 24 is “Delivering Integrated Armoured Forces for Multi-Domain Operations” and the Army’s senior leadership has turned out in force to address the theme head on.
This year’s conference takes place in the in the context of an ever more dangerous world. Recently the Secretary of State for Defence, Rt Hon Grant Shapps MP, delivered a major speech that set out his vision for the UK to deter threats, lead among allies and defend the UK. He announced that in the first half of 2024, 20,000 service personnel from the Royal Navy, the British Army, and the Royal Air Force will deploy across Europe to take part in Exercise Steadfast Defender 24.
The exercise will see the UK’s Armed Forces join thousands of personnel from 31 NATO allies and Sweden, operating across multiple countries, coinciding with the NATO Alliance’s 75th year.
With the conference being held at the home of England rugby, Twickenham Stadium we can draw some parallels as the Head Coach of England rugby team, Steve Borthwick’s modernises his squad in preparation for the 2027 World Cup.
The Army is modernising right now, we have a plan and throughout this conference many examples of how we are modernising right now will be highlighted.
In his keynote, The Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Patrick Sanders will provide further detail on the deployment that vindicates Op MOBILISE and demonstrates the Army’s commitment to NATO leadership and Euro-Atlantic security through Exercise Steadfast Defender.
He will set out the deployment of 16,000 troops on 11 NATO-facing training events spanning 10 countries. The deployment will include Headquarters Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (HQ ARRC), 3 (UK) Division, 12 Armoured Brigade Combat Team (ABCT), 7 Light Mechanised Brigade Combat Team (LMBCT) as the Vanguard Joint Task Force (Land) (VJTF(L)), and 1 (UK) Division as the Land Component Command ahead of assuming readiness on 1 July 2024.
Land power accounts for 80% of the entire UK contribution, evidencing the centrality of the Land domain to NATO. In many respects, Exercise Steadfast Defender marks the summit of Op MOBILISE, embedding a culture of readiness into the fabric of tomorrow’s Army.
Enhancing the coalition between the UK and her NATO allies, Steadfast Defender will bring NATO nations together and deliver on promises made at the 2023 NATO summit in Vilnius.
Commander Field Army, Lieutenant General Sir Ralph Wooddisse will take the opportunity to update the conference on what we have done to improve the Army’s ability to fight, in the short term that sits under the banner How We Fight 26. He will explain that How We Fight 26, is a major piece of work designed to ensure that the British Army of today is as ready as it can be for conflict in the near term. It is nested within the Army’s longer-term concept for the Future, the Land Operating Concept or Project Wavell, and aims to bring many of those ideas to the boil more quickly than had previously been the case.
Currently in factories across the UK, we have over 1,000 Armoured Fighting Vehicles in production, which is securing jobs, boosting skills, and strengthening the resilience of our Defence industry. To improve our readiness and make it easier to maintain the fleet we are reducing the number of vehicle variants from 38 to 25.
The Ajax programme is on track, successful battlefield trials have covered 22,000km across various terrains, and fired over 2000 CT40 rounds. We expect operationally deployable vehicles to roll off the production line in Merthyr Tydfil at scale in the summer.
At the heavier end of our fleet, the first two Challenger 3 prototype vehicles are being finished for trials right now in Telford, Shropshire and we have also recently taken delivery of two Boxer prototype vehicles for trials. Our first UK-produced Boxer is due off the production line in the spring.
With Ajax, Challenger 3 and Boxer all delivering, we’ll be ready to face a more challenging future with a fleet of modern, digital, advanced armoured vehicles.
There is no doubt that we are living in a far more dangerous age. But the Army believes that a clear vision, an eagle-eyed assessment of threats and doctrine, and enhanced partnerships with allies and industry, we are on course to build the most modern and lethal Army in Europe.
Like the England Rugby team, we are focused on making our Army the best it can be now, and even better in a few years’ time.