BAE Systems TO LAUNCH ‘LIGHT TANK’ CONCEPT at Eurosatory
By Yvonne Headington
09 May 12. BAE System’s presence at Eurosatory (11 to 15 June 2012) will feature the Company’s bid to meet requirements for light to medium armoured fighting vehicles (AFV). Known as the CV21 (combat vehicle for the 21st Century), this new venture is being specifically developed for the export market. “We believe there is a gap in the market for a vehicle of around the 15 to 20 tonne mark” said BAE Systems’ Jamie Mackenzie during a briefing at the Company’s London headquarters on 8th May.
Mackenzie, from BAE System’s Global Combat Systems division, confirmed that the Company has been considering this ‘market gap’ as a funded private venture since 2011. Mackenzie went on to explain the perceived requirement in terms of an optimised balance between mobility and survivability. At the heavier armoured end of the AFV spectrum mobility is a problem particularly “in areas where your terrain infrastructure is not so good” said Mackenzie. “We need to have the mobility of a CVR(T) but we need to have the survivability of a Warrior”.
The company intends to “soft launch” CV21 at Eurosatory in order to assess market enthusiasm for the venture. A demonstrator is to be built later in 2012 and, if the concept receives sufficient interest, a trials-ready CV21 is planned for next year. Although CV21 is a new design, the programme will build on lessons drawn from the CVR(T) modernisation programme which BAE Systems recently undertook for the MoD. Mackenzie stressed, however, that CV21 “is not a replacement for the CVR(T) in any way, shape or form”. CV21 is to utilise components that were selected for CVR(T) “because they are operationally proven”.
McKenzie told Battlespace that “affordability is absolutely key…..our target price for the chassis will be £1 million”. In terms of market potential, the company is focusing on existing BAE Systems’ customers in the first instance but with possible wider interest from the Far East and Latin America. Mackenzie confirmed that: “If we were to begin building this vehicle tomorrow, we would build it in the UK”.
BAE Systems also plans the first showing at Eurosatory of the RG35 4×4 Reconnaissance Patrol Utility (RPU) variant of the RG35 family of AFV. The RG35, produced by BAE Systems OMC South Africa, has evolved from the 1980s Ratel Infantry combat vehicle and subsequent RG31 V-shaped design Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle. As explained by James Caldwell, Director of European Campaigns (Land and Armaments) the withdrawal of forces from Afghanistan does not mean the end of expeditionary warfare. “For future expeditionary deployments” said Caldwell, “protection against mine and IED strikes is not going to be optional”.
The RG35 family of multi-purpose fighting vehicles aims to combine high protection levels with tactical mobility, incorporating open architecture design and significant role flexibility. The family comprises: the 6×6 11-crew ‘cross-over’ vehicle (which combines MRAP protection, tactical mobility and combat power); the 4×4 nine-crew Supercab (SC) and the seven-crew 4×4 RPU. Describing the RG35 as a “very cost effective solution” for cash-strapped Defence Ministries Caldwell stressed that the vehicles share high levels of component commonality.
The RPU variant has been developed to meet the Canadian Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAP-V) requirement and the way forward for this programme is expected to be announced in June/July 2012. The latest version of the RG35 6×6 vehicle is due by the end of 2012 and a production-ready model of the Supercab is scheduled for early 2013.
In addition, BAE Systems will be displaying the Company’s latest Soldier System developments during Eurosatory, including a power and data distribution ‘backbone’. As explained by Rob Merryweather, Head of Programmes within the Electronic Systems business, the project focuses on how to provide a central inte