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09 Oct 23. Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, exhibited AUSA. On display were the highly versatile Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) and the newly modernised FMTV A2 Low-Velocity Airdrop (LVAD).
Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV): The industry-leading team of Oshkosh Defense, Pratt Miller Defense, and QinetiQ recently announced their selection in the Platform Prototype Design and Build phase of the RCV programme.
At AUSA 2023, the Oshkosh RCV is equipped with the Kongsberg CROWS-J RS6 LW 30 Remote Weapon Station and CACI counter-unmanned aircraft technologies (C-UAS) system, to showcase the platform’s versatility and capabilities to support advanced weapon systems through scalable, mission-focused modularity.
Oshkosh Defense will deliver two platform prototypes for testing in August 2024. The Army has announced the intent to select one vendor for Phase II, Full-System Prototype Design and Build, in FY24.
FMTV A2 Low-Velocity Airdrop (LVAD): As the premier manufacturer of medium tactical vehicles, Oshkosh Defense leverages the modernised FMTV A2 to address challenges related to an ageing FMTV LVAD fleet. The FMTV A2 LVAD offers the performance and protection of the FMTV A2 with critical additions including a folding cab that allows the vehicle height to be reduced to 90”, a chassis designed specifically for parachute drop and landing, and the addition of a winch to all LVAD variants.
To date, Oshkosh Defense has delivered two FMTV A2 LVAD prototypes to the US Army for testing, with two additional prototype deliveries planned for late 2023. Since testing began, the prototypes have successfully completed Rollover Protection Structures (ROPS), RIGEX (Rigging Exercises), Roller Loading, and Simulated Airdrop Impact Testing (SAIT). Additional testing is planned into FY24.
“The RCV and FMTV A2 LVAD on display demonstrate Oshkosh Defense’s commitment to working with the US Army to provide next-generation technologies and expertise necessary to meet the ever-changing demands of the battlefield,” said Pat Williams, chief programmes officer for Oshkosh Defense. “As a technology-focused tactical wheel and combat vehicle manufacturer, Oshkosh pushes the boundaries of innovation to design solutions that are purpose-built to exceed requirements and support the Army in its modernisation strategy.” (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
09 Oct 23. Airbus has officially launched the construction of the new A400M maintenance centre in Wunstorf. The traditional groundbreaking ceremony on the site at Wunstorf Air Base, the base for the German Air Force’s A400M military transport aircraft, was held by Airbus Defence and Space CEO Michael Schöllhorn together with high-ranking representatives from politics and the German Armed Forces. Among them were Parliamentary State Secretary to the Minister of Defence Siemtje Möller, Lower Saxony’s Prime Minister Stephan Weil, Germany’s Chief of the Air Force, Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz and Vice President of the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) Ralph Herzog. At the new maintenance centre, around 300 employees will service and maintain A400M aircraft from mid-2027.
“The A400M has been in reliable service for the German Armed Forces for over ten years. To keep it that way, the new Airbus A400M Maintenance Centre Wunstorf is an important step forward: here, we will deepen the cooperation with the German Armed Forces and further improve the availability and operational capability of the A400M. The new maintenance centre will sustainably strengthen the successful cooperation between industry and the German Air Force,” said Mike Schoellhorn, CEO of Airbus Defence and Space.
“Airbus’ decision to establish the new maintenance centre in Wunstorf is far-sighted and correct. Its proximity to the air base and also to Hannover airport will ensure smooth maintenance and operational readiness of the important A400M aircraft. This project marks an important step in securing transport capacities for the security of our country and for aid transports to disaster areas,” said Stephan Weil, Minister President of Lower Saxony.
“The A400M is an indispensable part of the Air Force – whether as a transporter, tanker or in its role as MedEvac. With the A400M, we are supporting Bundeswehr missions and NATO air forces on the eastern flank. Evacuation missions from Kabul or Sudan would not have been feasible without the A400M. Similarly, we use the A400M to provide emergency aid in the event of natural disasters, as recently in Turkey and Libya. Worldwide operational readiness with our A400M fleet – that is only possible together with Airbus,” said Lieutenant General Ingo Gerhartz, Chief of the German Air Force.
300 new jobs, increase in personnel from 2025 onwards: The A400M maintenance centre is being built right next to the air base of Air Transport Squadron 62 (LTG 62) in Wunstorf. The costs for the centre are in the low three-digit million range. Airbus will create 300 new jobs at the A400M maintenance centre in Wunstorf. The search is mainly for aeronautical engineering personnel. According to current planning and depending on the progress of construction, the increase in personnel is to begin gradually from 2025.
Completion planned for 2026, entry-into-service from mid-2027 onwards: Currently, about 20 employees of the construction companies are on site; during peak construction periods, more than 500 employees may be working there. Completion of the A400M maintenance centre is scheduled for the end of 2026. Entry-into-service is scheduled for mid-2027 after approval by the German Armed Forces Airworthiness Office. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
09 Oct 23. The recent IDEB 2023 defence and security expo in Bratislava brought the chance to photograph Slovak Armed Forces Defenders, writes Bob Morrison.
Over the last four decades or so I have had the opportunity to photograph military Land Rovers used by many nations, and indeed it is over two decades since I first photographed this type of vehicle in Czech military service, but although I have worked a number of times with neighbouring Slovakian troops since shortly after Czechoslovakia amicably split into two countries on 31st December 1992 it was only earlier this month that I was finally able to snap their Slovak Army Defenders.
Slovakia was probably the last of NATO countries to convert to the Land Rover Defender, having mostly kept their Soviet era UAZ-469 light utility vehicle fleet running for two decades after achieving independence from neighbouring Czechia, formerly the Czech Republic, though when deployed on some NATO operations they used a small quantity of Mercedes-Benz Geländewagens for commonality. The bulk of their Land Rover utility vehicle fleet, believed to number less than two hundred vehicles, appear to be only slightly militarised Core Model Defender 110 Station Wagons registered for road use around 2012 to 2014. However at IDEB 2023 I was also able to look over, and photograph, both a four-door Defender 130 Double Cab with Quadtech shelter body built by Land Rover Special Vehicles and registered in 2008 and a three-door soft top Defender 110 pick-up with inward-facing bench seating in the rear which was registered in 2016; this was, of course, the last year of production of the original ladder chassis Defender, which was replaced from 2020 by the monocoque construction L663 ‘New Defender’ model.
As is only to be expected of 2007-onwards Model Year Land Rovers, the diesel engine used in the Slovak army vehicles is from the Ford Duratorq (aka Puma) range; the bulge in the bonnet being the external giveaway. From its VIN plate the D130 Double Cab has the earlier 2,402cc engine and I am presuming that the others have the later 2,198cc version, but I have been unable to confirm this as the VIN plate characters (which I snapped for reference) do not extrapolate on the online database. It is not beyond the bounds of possibility that all three models use the 2.4 litre engine for commonality, but I suspect this to be unlikely.
In addition to the three different military Defender models displayed inside the INCHEBA exhibition halls in Bratislava, another Station Wagon was in static attendance outside the halls each day for the duration of the expo and a third example, sporting EUFOR markings, participated each afternoon in the dynamic display by 11th Mechanised Mechanised Battalion. All three D110 Station Wagons had bumper-mounted self-recovery winches, brush guards and raised air intakes (as did the other two models) plus full length roof racks. The D110 Soft Top had a side-hinged rear tailgate and swing-away spare wheel carrier and the D130 Double Cab, which was a specialist CBRN team vehicle, had a roof rack over the four-door cab roof.
Finally, although the ‘New Defender’ is built in Slovakia, at Nitra about 100km east of Bratislava, there was no Land Rover stand at IDEB 2023. To be honest, I did not really expect there to be one as I am increasingly thinking it unlikely that the new version will enter the military market again as a utility vehicle (both on price and complexity grounds). However, I did spot one of the stretched wheelbase (130) versions leaving INCHEBA on the afternoon of the last day and as this model is still comparatively rare I made sure I grabbed a quick snap for the archives. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
13 Oct 23. RAF Lakenheath maintenance facility for US Air Force F-35s. The fuel cell maintenance hangar marks a milestone in enhancing aircraft operations. The Defence Infrastructure Organisation (DIO) and its construction partners, including Mott MacDonald, Jacobs, and KVF35, celebrated the inauguration of an F-35 fuel cell maintenance facility at RAF Lakenheath.
The US Air Force’s ability to keep their F-35 aircraft in peak condition has been boosted with the unveiling of a fuel cell maintenance facility at RAF Lakenheath.
This steel-framed maintenance hangar, complete with support accommodations and provisions for two aircraft, was designed by the KVF35 construction partner—a joint venture between Kier Group and VolkerFitzpatrick. Notably, it maintains architectural continuity with the other structures already in place for the F-35 project at RAF Lakenheath.
The UK MoD awarded the contract to the VolkerFitzpatrick joint venture in 2018 in a £160m ($131m) deal. The construction of the F-35 infrastructure commenced one year later. RAF Lakenheath will be Europe’s first permanent international home for the US Air Force’s (USAF) F-35 Lightning II combat jets.
Behind the US, the UK is the largest participant in the F-35 programme being run by Lockheed Martin Corp, according to GlobalData’s “UK Defense Market 2022-2027” report.
Steve Rix, DIO’s programme director, emphasised the significance of this facility, stating, “F-35s are complex, advanced machines with numerous moving parts that require top-notch maintenance for effective operations. The fuel cell maintenance hangar is an essential component in ensuring the US Air Force’s F-35 fleet remains in peak condition.”
Acknowledging the collaborative effort behind this achievement, Rix added, “We are immensely grateful to the DIO team, Mott MacDonald, Jacobs, KVF35, and our US allies for making this a reality. We are excited to witness this facility in operation.”
Beyond its features, the construction of this F-35 facility also demonstrated a commitment to environmental preservation. The construction team diligently safeguarded local ecology, adjusting schedules to protect rare nesting birds, including their nests and chicks, until they fledged. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
12 Oct 23. Polaris ready to meet the UK LTMP Tactical Vehicle Requirement (See BATTLESPACE Alert, ISSUE 28 – 31 August 2023, UK MoD Eyeing Tactical Vehicle Purchase). Polaris told BATTLESPACE at AUSA that it has the full range of vehicles to meet the UK LTMP Requirement with their MRZR ALPHA, and DAGR range of vehicles.
MRZR ALPHA, the next-generation light tactical off-road vehicle specially designed with revolutionary new capability. Delivering an all new, more durable chassis, high performance 8-speed transmission, high clearance front and rear dual A-Arm suspension, and increased payload. Expanded exportable power and near-future innovation enhance versatility for any mission and DAGOR A1 ultra-light tactical vehicles deliver uncompromised, world-class mobility while fully loaded with 4,000 lb of versatile payload capacity, which includes the option to carry up to 9 warfighters and their gear. Certified internal and external air-transportability, versatile payload capability, and an easy to maintain commercial off the shelf (COTS) design
In August UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) issued two LTMP PQQs industry responses to the potential acquisition of more than 1,000 4×4 and all-terrain vehicles under the Light Tactical Mobility Platform (LTMP) Medium and LTMP Light programme.
According to details contained in two separate pre-qualification questionnaires (PQQ), the LTMP Medium would seek a 4×4 solution, while the LTMP Light would require an ATV-like capability.
The LTMP Medium deal could be worth up to £80.9m ($102.8m), with the Light variant amounting to £10.4m. Closing date for submissions was listed as 25 September.
The LTMP Medium contract would see the procurement of up to 48 so-called Utility Terrain Vehicles (UTV), with potential options within the contract for a maximum of 863 UTVs inclusive of initial procurement.
Desired specifications require the UTVs to be able to accommodate a driver and passenger side-by-side, with a minimum speed of 65kph on the road when towing the platform’s maximum load, while the minimum payload capacity, including personnel, equipment, and stores, would be in excess of 600kg.
An initial support period will be for five years with the option to extend for a further five years in one-year increments. Any chosen supplier would have to provide two sample vehicles plus trailers to use during a trialling period, which would run from February – April 2024.
Similarly, the LTMP Light PQQ calls for the potential supply of up to 156 Light UTVs, with potential options within the contract to reach a maximum of 311 platforms, inclusive of initial procurement.
The LTMP Light platform would need to have a minimum ground clearance of 180mm when fully laden, achieve a minimum speed of 40kph on road when towing a weight of 450kg, and have a minimum payload capacity of 270kg.
The initial support period will be for five years with the option to extend for a further five years in one-year iterations. Two sample platforms would also have to be made available by a potential bidder for the trial date in order to be deemed compliant.
Taking each potential contract to include the maximum number of options, an individual LTMP Medium platform would cost approximately £94,000, while a single Light UTV would cost around £33,000.
Polaris will be arranging a drive day for the Editor prior to DVD.
10 Oct 23. GM Defense LLC, a subsidiary of General Motors (GM) made several announcements during AUSA. GM announced two new versions of its ISV vehicle including a loadbed version to accommodate a Standard NATO two tonne pallet and various weapon systems and a specialist Exportable Power systems vehicle which has ports for various electronic systems for stationary and battlefield applications; the system can ‘charge on the move.’
GM also showed the next iteration of Light Tactical armoured vehicles in hybrid electric and 2.8 (for the hybrid version) and 6.8 litre multi-fuel versions. The Light Tactical Range is in developmental stage with a number of companies vying to armour the vehicle to STANG 2 level. A number of armies including the UK have shown interest in the new vehicle.
GM Defense’s All-Electric Military Concept Vehicle (eISV), was on display, combines the proven and fielded nine-passenger Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) with General Motors’ (GM) commercially available battery electric solution. The eISV’s battery technology provides Silent Watch and Silent Extraction, enhances capability with low acoustic and thermal signatures and serves as an onboard, mobile generation power source for various mission equipment payload packages. The concept vehicle seats up to five passengers and features a cargo box, providing the flexibility to integrate a full range of mission packages and logistics support, including ammunition, food, water and fuel. The concept vehicle also includes a modified integrated Roll Over Protection System (ROPS) constructed from 4130 chromoly steel tubing delivering lightweight, high-strength protection for all passengers. The eISV maintains the rugged, off-road performance, attributes and capabilities of the original nine-passenger ISV, a U.S. Army official program of record specifically designed to meet Soldier requirements. The ISV is based on the award-winning Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck architecture and is comprised of 90 percent Commercial-Off-The-Shelf components, including 11 Colorado ZR2 off-road suspension and chassis upgrades from Chevrolet Performance.
GM Defense also announced a teaming agreement, establishing a framework to collaborate on defense program capture activities. The team is focused on delivering autonomy solutions, battery electrification and other new propulsion technologies, as well as those integrating the full range of Anduril technologies onto GM Defense mobility solutions.
The announcement aligns with the Association of the U.S. Army tradeshow in Washington, D.C. where both companies are showcasing variations of the proven and fielded Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV). In booth 661, hall A, GM Defense will have a four-seat Multi-Mission and Logistics ISV equipped with Anduril loitering munitions. In booth 4315, Anduril is hosting GM Defense’s nine-Soldier ISV, currently fielded to the U.S. Army’s 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, in addition to Lattice, Anduril’s sensor, network, and system-agnostic open software platform, for land systems command and control.
“GM Defense has a strong strategic alignment with Anduril as we are both focused on bringing disruptive new technologies into the defense and government marketplace to deliver innovative solutions for our customers,” said Steve duMont, GM Defense president. “We feel this is a powerful team, and together we can make a strong offering for key U.S. defense programs while assessing other global opportunities.”
With experience in ground vehicle autonomy, sensing, vehicle safety systems and connected vehicle fleet analytics, GM Defense develops solutions based on the advanced technologies of its parent company, General Motors, that help advance warfighter capabilities with some of the most advanced technologies available on the commercial market.
Anduril is a leading provider of advanced defense technologies, artificial intelligence, autonomous systems and integrated defense solutions. “We are thrilled to be working with GM Defense to produce new capabilities for land systems. Advanced software for mission-level autonomy can transform ground systems, and GM Defense will be a critical teammate to deliver next-generation land systems for warfighters around the world,” said Anduril Industries CEO, Brian Schimpf.
GM Defense also showed details of its, newly designed Heavy-Duty Sport Utility Vehicle (HD SUV) which has its armoring built into the original design and manufacturing process, thus diverging from current aftermarket teardown and rebuild practices. The goal is to improve build efficiency, reduce lead time in bringing vehicles into service and provide higher quality performance. Additional long-term value is expected through a five-year, 50,000-mile manufacturer’s warranty and extended vehicle lifespan as compared to the current two-year, 2,000-mile warranty typical of the multi-stage aftermarket armoring process.
GM Defense showed a mock up on a Rheinmetall 8×8 truck of its energy storage unit which will meet the requirements of DIU’s Stable Tactical Expeditionary Electric Power (STEEP) program. STEEP seeks to support tactical microgrid and energy management capabilities in austere locations, reducing logistical requirements and the reliance on fossil fuels as the primary energy source across the DoD. GM Defense has leveraged GM’s advanced electric vehicle propulsion architecture, the Ultium Platform, to deliver a scalable and adaptable energy storage unit that supports the tactical energy requirements of the warfighter. The prototype solution will provide uninterruptable and sustainable power for mission critical equipment, such as command and control, communications, radar and weapons systems in remote areas or where a stable power grid is absent. GM Defense’s STEEP energy storage system will provide intelligent tactical microgrid capabilities that work with hydrogen-powered generators, stationary and mobile battery electric power or existing fuel-powered generators to support efficient power management and distribution.
12 Oct 23. Industry readies for Army’s robotic mule S-MET Increment II prototyping competition.
“The baseline program, so far, [is] going well. It’s a building block,” Doug Bush, the head of Army acquisition, said. But for the next iteration, “What else can you do with that chassis? Weapons? Sensors?”
— The Army hasn’t yet officially announced a competition for the second increment of its small unmanned supply vehicle program, but that hasn’t stopped some industry players from gearing up for a race.
“I know that we’re working on finalizing requirements so we can move,” Doug Bush, the head of Army acquisition, told reporters today at the Association for the United States Army conference.
Several years ago, the Army picked General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) to produce its robotic mule, dubbed the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (S–MET). However, it is now planning an Increment 2 competition and a draft solicitation for a prototyping competition is expected to drop soon.
“The baseline program, so far, [is] going well. It’s a building block,” Doug Bush, the head of Army acquisition, said. But for the next iteration, “What else can you do with that chassis? Weapons? Sensors?”
Steve Rash, who works on GDLS business development, told Breaking Defense today his company is awaiting the draft request and additional details about what the program includes before it decides whether to submit a bid and what design they might use.
“So, what would we do with [S-MET Inc. II]? We don’t know,” Rash said. “We don’t know if it’s continue with Increment I or something else because we don’t have the draft (request for prototyping proposal).”
Other companies attending the Association of the United States Army conference said this week that their plans are solidifying and they’re ready to compete.
For example, Hanwha Defense USA Chief Executive Officer John Kelly said the company is interested in unmanned ground vehicle contests and is preparing to announce a new partnership to compete for the S-MET Increment II.
Teledyne FLIR Defense was also in attendance this year showcasing the six-wheeled M2RV, which a spokesperson told Breaking Defense would be their entrant.
As industry awaits requirement details, Rash said S-MET Increment I deliveries are still ongoing and that by September or October 2024, 675 robots will have been delivered to the Army. That robot is designed to follow alongside soldiers for over 60 miles in 72 hours, while carrying up to 1,000 pounds of supplies and spare gear. It can also provide troops with external power for recharging hardware, like night vision goggles or radios. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
12 Oct 23. Paramount well positioned to take advantage of global surge in armoured vehicle spending. Driven by the Russo-Ukraine conflict, armoured vehicle spending is seeing a global renaissance, and Paramount aims to take advantage of this with its 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 armoured vehicle solutions. By 2035, the armoured vehicle market will see an anticipated $25.6bn investment in 8×8 wheeled vehicles, according to a new report released last month.
“This surge in armoured vehicle spending underscores the changing dynamics of global defence,” said Steve Griessel, Group CEO of Paramount. “Drawing from our three-decade legacy of crafting solutions in the world’s most challenging environments, Paramount’s Mbombe armoured vehicle family exemplifies the innovative, adaptable solutions the world urgently needs.”
Defence Insight’s market report shows forecast spending of $25.6bn on 8×8 vehicle programmes between 2022 and 2035. Notably, the figures for tracked armoured vehicles and main battle tanks are significantly higher, with planned investments of $62.2bn and $84bn, respectively.
The report includes a selection of market opportunities handpicked by Defence Insight’s analyst team, including a $1.8bn Qatari forecast for 2024/25, a $2.8bn Greek forecast for 2026, and a longer-term forecast for a complete French replacement of its currently upgrading Jaguar EBRC 6×6 and Griffon VBMR 6×6 expected to be initiated by the mid-2030s.
In North America, there are focused investments in various programmes, with the US Army prioritising the procurement of tracked vehicles alongside its ongoing Stryker upgrade cycle and Canada progressing with its LAV 6.0 upgrades and orders replacing legacy M113 tracked APCs.
The report further highlights that the Tracks versus Wheels debate endures, particularly in the context of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. As mobility and armour for almost all roles in the land domain become increasingly critical in the wake of the emergence of loitering munitions, future programmes in the large, armoured vehicle role look set to be contested between 8×8 and tracked alternatives.
At the same time, modularity, offering maintenance and cost advantages, has emerged as a pivotal factor. Through leveraging the comparative advantage of cheaper overhead costs, reduced maintenance burden, and improved strategic mobility, the 8×8 market has the potential to contest both tracked IFVs and Medium/Light tanks globally, Paramount said, noting that its Mbombe armoured vehicle family is optimally positioned to cater to these requirements.
“Paramount is not just a manufacturer; we’re evolving into a technology-driven global OEM. With our focus on IP licensing and global partnerships, we’re shaping solutions that the world is looking for today. Through our portable production concept, we’re targeting partnerships in Europe and the UK, strengthening our position as a global leader,” Griessel explained. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
12 Oct 23. Sweden Launches $320m Upgrade of its Leopard 2 Tank Fleet. Tank 122 Becomes Tank 123A. The most extensive upgrade of Tank 122 since the tanks were acquired in the early 2000s will soon begin. 44 tanks are to be renovated and modified and will then be designated Tank 123A.
On behalf of the Armed Forces, FMV has signed a contract with KMW worth approximately SEK 3.5bn (approx. $320m—Ed.) for the modernization of the tank fleet.
“Tanks will be the backbone of the army’s brigades for a long time to come, that is a conclusion we can draw from the ongoing war in Ukraine. The order we are now placing extends the tanks’ lifespan at least into the 2030s,” says Jonas Lotsne, head of FMV’s military equipment business area.
The upgrade includes, among other things, the replacement of basically all electronic components in the vehicle so that the system is in line with other modern Leopard 2s, a new L55 cannon with a greater possibility of programming ammunition, new night sights for the gunner and vehicle commander as well as a night driving camera for the driver and finally new tracks. Deliveries of Tank 123A to the Armed Forces will take place starting in 2026. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Swedish Armed Forces)
12 Oct 23. Sweden Launches Initial Studies for CV9040 Replacement. Preliminary Design for Replacement of Combat Vehicles. FMV has signed a contract with BAE Systems Hägglunds AB to carry out a preliminary design regarding replacement procurement of combat vehicles. The value of the contract is SEK 36m. The contract is a first step in defining the configuration and program for the combat vehicles that will replace the type 9040C combat vehicles that Sweden donated to Ukraine. The goal is for the preliminary design to be completed in time to be able to place a series order of the so-called CV9035 MkIIIC early in 2024.
The preliminary planning enables planning of future production and that orders can be placed for certain components and materials with long lead times. The preparations for future production can thus be done in parallel with the final negotiations on the contract for new combat vehicles.
“Now it is important to gain time and this assignment paves the way for starting production as soon as we sign a final procurement agreement. It is a prerequisite for replacing materiel donated to Ukraine and regaining the ability of the army’s war organization as quickly as possible,” says Jonas Lotsne, head of army materiel FMV. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Swedish Defense Materiel Agency, FMV)
09 Oct 23. Rheinmetall’s Path A-kit – A Platform Agnostic, Next-Gen System That Bings Critical Autonomous Capabilities to Any Vehicle.
- American Rheinmetall brings PATH A-Kit to the U.S. defense market when autonomy matters most
- PATH A-Kit is a ready-now, mature and proven system that turns any vehicle into an autonomous powerhouse
- PATH A-Kit is on display at AUSA on the following booths: Rheinmetall (#1603), Tomahawk Robotics (#4049) and L3Harris Tech
At this year’s AUSA Annual Meeting & Exposition, Rheinmetall showcased its PATH Autonomy Kit (A-Kit) on a variety of platforms to demonstrate the system’s ability to transform any vehicle platform into an autonomous powerhouse. The system can be seen at the Rheinmetall booth (#1603) where it will be displayed on an M5 Ripsaw RCV equipped with Rheinmetall’s 30mm Skyranger turret, and also on partner booths – Tomahawk Robotics (#4049) and L3Harris Technologies (#1725) – where variants of Rheinmetall’s Mission Master unmanned ground vehicle will be on display.
The Rheinmetall PATH A-Kit is a navigation system that enables full autonomous movement of vehicles. It can be rapidly integrated onto existing vehicles or the latest next-generation platforms. It is a core element of Rheinmetall’s exceptional Mission Master family of autonomous vehicles and combines advanced sensors, technology leading algorithms, and real-time data analysis to allow vehicle platforms to operate autonomously in a wide range of operating environments. Fielded and tested on this family of vehicles, but also a wide array of other platforms, the PATH A-Kit is a mature, proven technology that stands out from the competition.
In addition to facilitating fully autonomous operations, the PATH A-Kit software includes wireless technology that is loaded onto a Safe Tablet. The tablet is a modular, configurable device that enables remote operation of any vehicle equipped with the PATH A-Kit, as demonstrated on the Mission Master family of vehicles. The Safe Tablet can be used to control different mission module payloads (surveillance, weapons, cargo, etc.), making it the preferred portable control station for the Mission Master family of vehicles and mission modules they carry.
American Rheinmetall is now bringing ground-breaking advancements in autonomous systems to the U.S. defense market at a critical time with Rheinmetall’s PATH A-Kit, a ready-now, mature and proven solution, with advanced capabilities that ensures future force mobility that is agile, versatile, persistent, reliable, survivable and lethal. (Source: ASD Network)
10 Oct 23. Three Things to Know about the MGCS, the Franco-German “Tank of the Future.” On September 22, Paris and Berlin gave new impetus to the MGCS, their Main Ground Combat System. The result of a collaboration between France and Germany, this major military project aims to revolutionize the landscape of battle tanks and land combat by 2040-2045.
What is MGCS?
Initiated in 2017 at the same time as the SCAF (Future Air Combat System), the MGCS is a Franco-German arms program. It aims to replace the German Leopard 2 tanks and the French Leclerc tanks, while integrating the latest technological advances. Much more than a traditional heavy armored vehicle, the MGCS is designed as a multi-platform system: a tank itself, equipped with a large caliber gun, accompanied by other interconnected complementary modules (a heavy armored vehicle equipped with powerful anti-tank missiles, a natively-robotic support vehicle equipped with laser weapons, drones and other innovative weapons).
The last meeting between Sébastien Lecornu, the French Minister of the Armed Forces, and his German counterpart, Boris Pistorius, on September 22, marked a pivotal step in the development of the MGCS. Accompanied by their army Chiefs of Staff, the two ministers expressed their determination to advance the project, by signing a common road map. The goal? To set in stone their “common operational requirements.”
This step will make it possible to work on the definition of the different technological pillars to be developed and to specify the responsibilities of each State. As the French Minister of the Armed Forces stated, the MGCS program should be operational by 2040-2045.
Why is it the “tank of the future”?
Artificial intelligence. The MGCS will be equipped with major technological breakthroughs such as AI. This will assist crews by providing intelligence support, planning, command and coordination of fires. So much data analyzed which will enable rapid decision-making by command. “Humans will always be in the loop and in fact, at the heart of decisions,” recalls Martial, capabilities architect in charge of the MGCS at the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA).
Hyper connectivity. The operation of the MGCS will also be based on reinforced connectivity allowing tactical information to be shared in real time thanks to an integrated combat cloud. In this way, the different modules (or vehicles) will be able to instantly process, store and distribute tactical data and coordinate their actions semi-automatically to combine effects on the enemy.
“The MGCS is in line with the info-enhanced collaborative approach initiated by the Scorpion system,” explains Delphine, responsible for preparing future land combat systems at the Directorate-General for Armaments ((DGA). Faced with new threats (armed drones, autonomous weapons, cyberattacks, etc.), the objective of the new multiplatform system is to create a combat environment in which combatants understand, decide and act more quickly than the adversary to be more effective and better protected.
What are the main combat capabilities of the MGCS?
Close combat. Capable of firing up to 8,000 meters, the MGCS’ strike force will be increased tenfold. This is twice as much as the current standard of the Leclerc tank. The different modules which accompany the MGCS will increase, through their number, their mobility and their simultaneity, their capacity for aggression on the enemy. “They will also constitute so many dilemmas and surprise effects for adversaries. Which will complicate their decision-making,” believes Delphine.
Observation. The MGCS ecosystem will allow observation up to 10,000 meters away, thus improving target location and anticipation capabilities.
Crew protection. Active camouflage, reinforced armor, countermeasures and neutralizations will be at the heart of the MGCS protection bubble to act against air and land threats. Combined with the mobility allowed by the distribution of weapons and equipment on several distinct platforms (thus making it possible to contain their mass), this bubble will contribute significantly to the protection of combatants.
All of these innovations will occupy a central place in the Titan project which will succeed the Scorpion [army modernization program] from 2040. Its objective: to renew the decisive capabilities of the Army, and further extend the ambition of collaborative air-land combat by integrating with the joint and inter-allied levels. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com/ French Ministry of the Armed Forces; issued Oct 09, 2023)
09 Oct 23. Robot Army of One: Service focuses on single robotic combat vehicle. The U.S. Army has adjusted its pursuit of three robotic combat vehicles of different sizes, instead moving forward with a single size that fits the mission needs and can keep up with crewed combat vehicles, according to the service’s program executive officer for ground combat systems.
“We don’t really need a light or a medium [RCV] as a standalone. What we need is a platform that, depending on the mission payloads you choose, would fill a role or another. So it’s really now about payload,” Maj. Gen. Glenn Dean told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
“That was something that came out of our experimentation at Fort Cavazos [formerly Fort Hood, Texas], with the 1st Cavalry Division” last year, he said.
The Army had decided the heavy capability would be deferred because operating a large-caliber, direct-fire weapon remotely was a “very, very difficult problem,” he noted. The Army did evaluate a heavy capability using old M1113 vehicles.
The service entered the experiment with surrogate light and medium robotic combat vehicles, thinking the RCV light, medium and heavy “were distinct mission roles with distinct platforms,” Dean said.
But “the outcome of the experiment [found] we really need a modular platform that kind of falls in between the two [light and medium],” he added. “It can be a little bit bigger than we were allowing the light to be, but it doesn’t need to be as big as we were expecting the medium to be because what we found is the available options for payloads that exist in the defense industry right now could … fit on that smaller platform.”
The size of the platform allows the RCV to be sling-loaded from a helicopter and transported using palletized load systems. There is also an objective requirement to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopter, Dean noted.
In September, the Army chose four companies to design and build prototypes for the new RCV: McQ, Textron Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems and Oshkosh Defense.
The companies have until August 2024 to build the prototypes and deliver them to the Army for testing and evaluation with soldiers. This marks the first phase of a competition planned to eventually become a program of record.
The companies will first focus on reconnaissance payloads, Dean said. The Army wants each design to incorporate the Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station-Javelin as well as a tethered drone of each company’s choice.
The Army is expected to choose a single winner in the second phase of the competition in fiscal 2025 to deliver up to nine prototypes the following year. The service has a production decision slated for FY27; fielding to the first unit is set for FY28.
The Army will eventually choose more payloads, Dean added. Some other capabilities include smoke to provide screening; electronic warfare technology; counter-drone systems; and chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear sensor detection.
“Imagine the RCV is a robot with a deck, and then what we put on the deck defines what it does,” Dean said. “Of course it’s not just the robot: It’s the communication system, it’s what we call the warrior-machine interface. That’s how the soldiers operate it remotely. And then that’s got to be packaged inside a control vehicle.”
The Army has learned a great deal from QinetiQ-built surrogate RCV-Light systems that went through two National Training Center rotations at Fort Irwin, California, Dean said. The surrogates were used by the opposing force — the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, nicknamed Black Horse — at the center.
“Black Horse has prove[d] tremendously adaptive in how they have employed the robots,” Dean said. “They had robots leading flank attacks with smoke and electronic warfare all employed at the same time. They’ve used them for an economy of force, and we had two robots holding off an entire U.S. infantry company and performing very successfully.”
Lessons from the experimentation are helping the service map out how it might use its robotic capability, “and that ultimately may adjust some of the concepts and some of the requirements that we pursue,” Dean added.
Simultaneously, the Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command is experimenting on payload options using the service’s Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport robotic vehicle.
While the Army is pursuing the RCV for heavy maneuver forces, that Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport vehicle could still be the robot of choice for lighter formations, Dean said. The robotic combat vehicle can keep up with Strykers and Bradleys, whereas the transport vehicle might struggle in the upper speed and range required for those formations.
Squad Multipurpose Equipment Transport “is a very capable, small platform, and we’re seeing a lot of value with experimentation,” Dean noted.(Source: Defense News)
06 Oct 23. AM General Reveals Three New Tactical Vehicles at AUSA 2023.
AM General, the leading manufacturer of light tactical vehicles and mobility systems, featured its mission ready and future driven capabilities to support the Warfighter now and in the future at AUSA.
The company debuted the all new JLTV A2 and Trailer with a Bulk Water System, the HUMVEE Charge Hybrid Electric Vehicle concept, and the HUMVEE Next Generation Shop Equipment Contact Maintenance truck (HUMVEE 2-CT SECM).
The new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV A2) by AM General features an upgraded powertrain, simplified electrical architecture which can accommodate future hybridization, improvements in noise reduction, and improved corrosion protection ove the first-generation model.
The HUMVEE Charge Hybrid Electric Vehicle (HEV) concept is designed to deliver exportable power, silent watch, and silent mobility capabilities with enhanced fuel efficiency in a light tactical vehicle platform.
The HUMVEE Next Generation Shop Equipment Contact Maintenance (HUMVEE 2-CT SECM) vehicle provides forward mobile maintenance, repair, and return of essential equipment to operational condition.
“Participating in AUSA allows us to foster the strong relationships we have forged with our customers and industry partners,” said Jim Cannon, AM General President and CEO. “The show provides an opportunity for us to reinforce our commitment to those who serve to protect us by showcasing innovative solutions and capabilities that support them and their mission.”
AM General will showcase the new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JTLV A2) which features additional enhancements over the first-generation model as well as new exterior design cues. Key changes include an upgraded powertrain, simplified electrical architecture which can accommodate future hybridization, improvements in noise reduction, and improved corrosion protection. Additionally, the company will also display the JLTV-T Trailer which will feature Navistar Defense’s proposed solution for the US Army’s Water Bison program. AM General’s partnership with Navistar Defense on the JLTV-T is a testament to the company’s collaborative spirit and excitement to work with industry leaders to support the Warfighter and their mission.
The company will debut the HUMVEE Charge hybrid electric vehicle (HEV) concept that is designed to deliver exportable power, silent drive/silent watch capabilities, and enhanced fuel efficiency for extended range driving. The three driving modes consist of a diesel internal combustion engine (ICE), a hybrid powertrain that adds the use of an electric motor to the ICE, and an all-electric motor to power the vehicle for different missions from disaster relief to special operations requiring silent mobility. Based off the iconic HUMVEE platform, the HUMVEE Charge has been upgraded with a new semi-active suspension that increases wheel travel by 50%, while providing an increase in gross vehicle weight rating to maintain the rugged qualities for which the platform is famous. The HUMVEE Charge is a plug-in HEV that takes advantage of commercial off the shelf (COTS) components to charge off Level 1 or Level 2/3 fast chargers.
The HUMVEE 2-CT SECM truck will also be displayed at AUSA. As the prime contractor and, in partnership with Rock Island Arsenal, AM General will deliver quality and consistency in the HUMVEE 2-CT SECM manufacturing process by applying its Quality Management System across the entire enterprise which includes production parts suppliers, chassis and shelter production, and integrated vehicle testing. This next generation mobile maintenance platform allows for combat, tactical, ground support, and aviation equipment needed for maneuvering and supporting units to be easily maintained in situational environments. In keeping with the HUMVEE platform’s mantra of going where those who serve go, the ability to allow major combat systems to return to the fight as quickly as possible maximizes operational agility and drives force readiness. Key features include on-board exportable power provided by vehicle power, the NATO slave cable, and the onboard inverter as well as COTS equipment and work tools. Production of the HUMVEE 2-CT SECM began in the summer of 2023. (Source: PR Newswire)
09 Oct 23. Teledyne FLIR debuts vehicle for Army equipment carrier competition. Teledyne FLIR is entering the competition for the Army’s light equipment carrier. The Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport vehicle, or SMET, is intended to carry gear and light payloads to make soldiers in the field more nimble. Four companies competed for the first generation in 2017, and General Dynamics Land Systems won the first two contracts in 2019 and 2020. The program is now entering its second increment.
Teledyne FLIR introduced its prototype, the six-wheeled M2RV, at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. It comes with 38 square feet of cargo space, more than 2,600 pounds of payload capacity, and the ability to move at speeds exceeding 10 mph, according to the company.
The model has two attached payloads. The first is its new R80D SkyRaider, a 10-pound quadcopter drone. The second is its 280-HDEP surveillance system, mounted on the rear of the platform.
Teledyne FLIR built the M2RV with a steel unibody, which increases the strength of the chassis and will suit the rugged environments the SMET will need to navigate, said Chris Brown, a senior systems architect. Such a design also seals everything below the cargo deck, around 3 feet high, he said, allowing the vehicle to ford bodies of water up to that height.
“You really end up [getting] to go wherever a soldier needs to go,” Brown said.
To enter a fight, the M2RV can be sling loaded, or carried by a helicopter, and towed up to 60 mph. With a full tank of fuel and batteries, it has the capacity to run for 100 miles, which is above the Army’s needs for three-day-long, 60- to 70-mile platoon treks, Brown explained.
For the SMET program, the Army initially sought a pure equipment carrier to help reduce the burden on soldiers. Since then, its thinking expanded, with the priority now on the kind of payloads the second increment of the vehicle can carry. The Army is experimenting with different payload options.
GDLS, Hanwha, Rheinmetall and HDT are expected to compete for the second increment, alongside Teledyne FLIR.
The SMET will play part of a growing role for ground robotics in the Army. The service recently announced it was moving away from its former framework for the Robotic Combat Vehicle, originally divided into light, medium and heavy models. Now the Army is only seeking one model, somewhere between the light and medium sizes first envisioned.
Over the next decade, such platforms will add distance between manned and unmanned formations on the battlefield, said Dave Viens, vice president of business development at Teledyne FLIR.
“That vehicle might be the first platform that engages the enemy before a manned element does,” he said, citing their model’s unmanned aerial system as an example.
While the Robotic Combat Vehicle may eventually enter the fight alongside Stryker and Bradley vehicles, the SMET platform will likely accompany lighter formations.
The SMET vehicle “is a very capable, small platform, and we’re seeing a lot of value with experimentation,” Maj. Gen. Glenn Dean, the Army’s program executive officer for ground combat systems, told Defense News. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
09 Oct 23. US Army ready to pursue electric light recon vehicle. The U.S. Army is ready to pursue a prototyping program for an electric light reconnaissance vehicle beginning in fiscal 2024, pending funding approval from Congress, the service’s program executive officer for combat support and combat services support told Defense News.
“We’re ready to get working on that program,” Brig. Gen. Luke Peterson said in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. “It’ll be a prototyping effort, and we will learn from that to help inform a fully developed capabilities development document.”
The Army already approved an abbreviated capabilities development document for the eLRV, and Peterson’s office has partnered with the Maneuver Center of Excellence at Fort Moore, Georgia, to develop requirements.
Using some funding in FY22 to get started, the program office conducted market research that included purchasing some commercial electric vehicles in order to test them against an operational mission profile, Peterson explained.
“We took these platforms up to Grayling, Michigan, where we have test facilities, and we put them through their paces,” he said. “The intent of that was to identify what are going to be the operational and/or technical gaps that we need to think about as we solidify this requirement and initiate this program.”
The Army evaluated General Motors’ Hummer EV, a Canoo platform and a Lordstown Motors truck, Peterson explained, describing them as “three disparate vehicles offering different technical solutions.”
The evaluation team is now in the process of preparing a test report, which will feed into the prototyping effort, Peterson added.
At this point, vehicle solutions that could be chosen for the prototyping effort might include both hybrid and all-electric options. “I think we all believe that full electric and today’s battlefield is probably a stretch given the … charging capabilities that would be required,” Peterson said, “but we want to see what industry can do.”
Should the Army choose an all-electric platform, the eLRV would likely be the first to enter the force with that capability.
As part of the Army’s climate strategy it released in February 2022, the service has a goal to modernize its current platforms by adding mature electrification technologies, and field purpose-built, hybrid-drive tactical vehicles by 2035, then move to fully electric tactical vehicles by 2050 to include a charging capability to meet the all-electric fleet’s needs.
Meanwhile, the Army is waiting for an FY24 budget in order to initiate efforts to work on converting some Humvees and Joint Light Tactical Vehicles to hybrid power.
“The president’s budget request reflected funding in order to initiate those efforts,” Peterson said. “From a requirements perspective, our analysis shows that getting after increased fuel efficiency fits within the threshold and objective of the requirements for both of those platforms.”
The Army is engaged in prototyping efforts to hybridize both the Humvee and JLTV through its Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office, or RCCTO. Those vehicles “are in an integration phase right now,” Peterson added. “We hope to get those into testing here sometime next year.”
Those tests will help inform what could be the final potential design for converting the vehicles, according to Peterson.
Beyond that “we are looking at different acquisition strategies, leveraging what we’re going to learn from RCCTO,” he said, plus how it could be matured to a manufacturing readiness level in order to cut hybrid capability into the production line of the vehicles.
Converting the vehicles, Peterson acknowledged, will take significant investment up front.
“JLTV and Humvee, as they stand today, were not purpose-built to be hybrid vehicles. So when you’re adding on capability, how do you integrate that effectively without taking away any of the capabilities for the warfighter? That is the analysis that we are learning from the RCCTO,” he said.
“We’re very excited for our soldiers to get some of those capabilities that will only help increase their operational warfighting capability, their force protection,” he said, “but at the same time we have to make sure they have the power when they need it, so we think a hybrid approach at this phase is probably the right level of maturity to be going after.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
11 Oct 23. US Army crafting new Abrams upgrade plan with GDLS as prime, ‘robust’ subsystem competition.
“Expect to see as the [program manager] comes out with the acquisition strategy, a lot of competition investments,” said Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo.
The Army is still fleshing out its M1 Abrams tank modernization plan, but the tentative strategy is to keep General Dynamics Land Systems as the prime contractor and open up “robust” competitions for subsystems, according to a top service official.
Since the service announced its decision last month to abandon Abrams System Enhancement Package version 4 (SEPv4) development, in favor of a more ambitious upgrade dubbed the M1E3 Abrams, specific details have been slow to emerge, in part, because the program manager is still crafting the new acquisition strategy, Army Under Secretary Gabe Camarillo told reporters Tuesday at the Association of the United States Army conference in Washington, DC.
“It’s an engineering change proposal which, in acquisition speak, is a modification of an existing program. So, it will continue to be a sole-source award to General Dynamics Land Systems,” Camarillo explained.
Going the distance. And then some. Learn more.
“Think about all the components that go into the tank. … Beyond just the chassis and the turret, there are obviously subsystems like the powertrain, the transmission unit, the protection systems, everything else that goes into it,” he later added. “So, you can probably expect to see as the [program manager] comes out with the acquisition strategy, a lot of competition investments.”
While those details get sorted out, the service officials have noted that they want a M1E3 Abrams that is lighter, but with better survivability and a logistics footprint. Maintenance and weight concerns are nothing new, but recently released Army Science Board report dated August 2023 inks out dire concerns about the Army’s ground combat vehicle portfolio, including the Abrams line.
The board, tasked with providing the service with advice and recommendations on a host of technology and business-related topics, reports that the Army must make a $3 bn to $4 bn armor technology modernization investment “now” or “risk mission success in close combat on the 2040 battlefield.
“Regardless of the theater of operations, the lack of an overmatching [main battle tank] capability jeopardizes Army mission success,” the board wrote.
“All of the M1’s advantages in mobility, firepower and protection are at risk,” it later added. “The M1A2 SEP V3&4 upgrades will improve effectiveness but will not restore dominance.”
Camarillo said that report helped compel Army leaders to pivot to the M1E3 and address gaps identified in that report.
“That said, I don’t want to leave you with the impression that our current Abrams tank is not the absolute best tank in the world,” he said. “It is very effective, not just against the range of threats that we see today, but even as they’re emerging, what we want to do is make sure that we are staying ahead of that curve.”
But the M1 Abrams fleet is not the only combat vehicle for which the Army Science Board cited potential challenges. It noted that the service’s armored brigade combat teams are “getting much heavier” now that the new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPVs) that weigh 40 tons are replacing the about 12-ton M113 armored personnel carriers. The future XM30 could tip the scales somewhere between 40 to 55 tons, which is a leap from the legacy Bradley fighting vehicle that weighs in around 27 tons.
Sending those heavier vehicles to the Indo-Pacific is more “difficult” than Europe, the report notes.
“Further, fewer pre-deployment opportunities and fewer ports to support sealift of an armored force are available in the Indo-Pacific than in Europe,” the board adds. “The Indo-Pacific theater has the potential to fundamentally change the requirements for combat vehicles.”
While the Army has not yet rolled out additional changes to its combat vehicle portfolio, Army Futures Command head Gen. James Rainey has been working on a new operating concept that is now with senior leaders. In a recent interview with Breaking Defense, the four-star general said that concept should be in the field within the next year and will drive material changes. Although plans have not been finalized, Rainey contends that the Army’s heavier formations need to lighten up. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
10 Oct 23. Polaris maturing autonomous MRZR Alpha under prototyping effort. Polaris is applying autonomous controls to its latest off-road vehicle as part of an initiative with U.S. Special Operations Command and other customers to create an optionally manned vehicle for resupply, medical evacuations and more in a rugged environment.
Polaris converted the controls of its MRZR Alpha vehicle to be completely by-wire, meaning either a driver can manually control the vehicle or a user does so digitally with a remote controller or an autonomy package, Polaris’ vice president of government and defense, Nick Francis, told Defense News.
That autonomy package comes from Applied Research Associates, which previously partnered with Polaris for work on an autonomous MRZR X, unveiled in 2018.
During the first phase of this project, Polaris converted its MRZR Alpha to have by-wire steering, braking, shifting and more, while Applied Research Associates integrated its Otonos autonomy package and a host of cameras, lidar and other sensors. Lidar technology sends pulses of laser light to determine the presence, shape and distance of objects.
Matt Fordham, Applied Research Associates vice president, told Defense News his company had been deploying autonomy packages on heavy and off-road vehicles for 30 years.
Francis said both the vehicle and the autonomy package are more sophisticated than the earlier MRZR X effort.
“It was good learnings from the first, and now we’re taking all those learnings and over a decade of technology advancements and experience and putting it into the new MRZR Alpha” autonomous prototype, he said.
In the ongoing second phase, the companies will build prototypes and put them through testing under some basic scenarios — bringing supplies to a point of need in rocky or wooded off-road areas, for example. That work is expected to conclude in the spring, Francis said.
In the third phase, the prototypes will undergo more advanced testing in increasingly complex use cases created by customers to determine how they want to use the vehicle and, therefore, how the controls should be configured.
Francis said the vehicle today can be controlled completely through the autonomy package, using a teleoperator and across the spectrum in between.
He said he couldn’t speak to the government’s plans for how this prototyping work may lead to a program of record, but said generally the work will inform future requirements for light tactical vehicles that could be carried in the V-22, CH-47 and C-130 aircraft.
The effort is “more exploratory at this point, but certainly we’ve demonstrated the ability to put the controls onto a vehicle,” and if a customer were interested in buying the autonomous MRZR Alpha, “it’d be a very short time span for us to offer that capability” off the Minnesota production line.
Polaris declined to disclose the value of the ongoing prototyping work or the full list of customers contributing to the effort.
Francis said there are other manufacturers building unmanned ground vehicles, but what differentiates the autonomous MRZR is its ability to be optionally manned. In some scenarios — retrieving a wounded soldier, for example, where time is of the essence — a human driver could navigate complex terrain faster than the autonomy package. In that case, if an autonomous MRZR were on hand, a solider could pop the vehicle into manned mode and drive to the casualty.
“Having that optionally manned capability in a world of, ‘Hey, we need one vehicle to do more for the cost savings and the reduction in logistics burdens,’ ” is a key sales pitch for Polaris, he said.
The company is also pushing other variants and add-ons for its MRZR Alpha, including an Arctic capability and a high-power variant to power weapons, sensors and more.
While at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference, which runs Oct. 9-11, Polaris is “really just trying to highlight how many different missions can be tackled with one common platform to the Army, Marine Corps and other allied services around the world,” Francis said (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
10 Oct 23. Polaris pitches electric offroad vehicle to meet zero-emission goals. Polaris’ newest all-electric offroad vehicle is on the production line, ahead of a mandate for the federal government to move to zero-emission vehicles in the coming years.
The Ranger XP Kinetic utility vehicle began production earlier this year and is being pitched as a replacement for pickup trucks and other offroad work vehicles on large military bases, in park services departments and in other state and federal government organizations.
Nick Francis, Polaris’ vice president of government and defense, told Defense News many of these organizations are already replacing their on-road vehicle fleets with all-electric vehicles and that Ranger XP Kinetic would complement that ongoing work for the offroad fleets.
“When you look at greening the government, when you look at the need for state and federal organizations to meet their economic and civil goals around electrification, this is the perfect platform for that,” he said.
According to Francis, all-electric vehicles are estimated to require 70% less maintenance than their gas-powered equivalents, thereby reducing their total ownership cost even as they reduce carbon emissions.
But more importantly, they’re being mandated by the government.
President Joe Biden in December 2021 signed an executive order aimed at spurring private investments in zero-emissions energy by requiring the federal government to go green. Included in the order is a requirement for “100 percent zero-emission vehicle acquisitions by 2035, including 100 percent zero-emission light-duty vehicle acquisitions by 2027.”
The U.S. Army two months later released a climate strategy that calls for fielding an all-electric, light-duty, non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2027 — which would include the Ranger XP Kinetic — and an all-electric non-tactical vehicle fleet by 2035.
Army officials acknowledge they’re making good progress on some of the plan’s initiatives but that the electric vehicles effort has been tougher.
Rachel Jacobson, the assistant secretary of the Army for installations, energy and the environment, previously told Defense News that “the auto manufacturers aren’t keeping up because they’ve got such demand for these cars. For our purposes, they haven’t been able to keep up with the amounts that we’ve wished to procure.”
She also noted the Army is struggling to build the charging infrastructure needed for the cars; without the charging stations, the service would have “a parking lot full of [electric vehicles] without charging capacity.” Polaris’ all-electric utility vehicle may get around these challenges. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
09 Oct 23. BAE Systems featured a prototype variation of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) at AUSA 2023. The AMPV Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System (CUAS) prototype, built on the same proven chassis as the existing variants in the family of vehicles, includes External Mission Equipment Package (ExMEP) enhancements that demonstrate the rapid integration of future technologies and capabilities onto the platform. The prototype features the new ExMEP interchangeable top plate, which enhances the proven AMPV hull structure and provides flexibility to quickly integrate other mission equipment. This modular approach allows for the possibility of new turreted variants to the AMPV family of vehicles, to include CUAS. The CUAS prototype features the Moog Reconfigurable Integrated-weapons Platform (RIwP) turret, which is common to the U.S. Army’s Mobile Short Range Air Defense (M-SHORAD) system. The RIwP is a proven, modular, and scalable remote turret, which offers air defense, anti-armor, or multi-mission capabilities via precision medium-caliber and indirect fires. The CUAS variation also includes mission-ready command and control systems beyond what is available on the current AMPV fleet. “The Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle truly lays the foundation of the future of the battlefield for decades to come,” said Bill Sheehy, BAE Systems AMPV program director. “We designed these vehicles with modularity and flexibility, providing an adaptable and ready-for-growth platform. Showcasing the art of the possible with the ExMEP enhancement and CUAS capability at AUSA is just the beginning of opportunities beyond the current family of vehicles. This vehicle will continue to provide the support Soldiers need in battle, no matter the mission.” The AMPV program was awarded a full-rate production contract in August 2023. As the underpinning of the future for the Army and its allies, the AMPV provides significant improvements in power, mobility, interoperability, and survivability for Soldiers. The AMPV CUAS will be on display at booth 925.
09 Oct 23. Curtiss-Wright’s Defense Solutions Division announced that it is ideally positioned to meet increasing DoD requirements for high voltage (up to 750V) power on ground vehicles with its introduction of a high voltage turret drive stabilization system (HV TDSS) for new platform designs or for upgrading legacy motion control systems. High-voltage power can provide significant benefits to numerous next-generation U.S. ground vehicle programs, such as M1E3 Abrams Main Battle Tank Modernization, Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) M10 Booker, Extended Range Cannon Artillery (ERCA), Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) and XM30 Mechanized Infantry Combat Vehicle (formerly OMFV). Using high voltage systems helps to resolve power issues that result from increased turret size and weight. Another advantage of providing HV power on vehicles is the ability to share common converter, distribution, and power management technology across a range of vehicle sizes.
Curtiss-Wright’s new HV TDSS system converts, stores, and controls the platform’s existing continuous low voltage 28V systems to a voltage level up to 750V. The HV TDSS system is ideal for aiming and stabilizing turrets and for rapid direct drive architectures on mobile weapons systems. The system is designed for use in a wide range of applications, including medium caliber cannons and main battle tank turret drive and stabilization systems and high-speed motion control systems (e.g., active protection systems, optical tracking systems, and directed energy weapons).
The ability to provide high-voltage power on platforms is a rapidly growing requirement as high peak power is often needed to accelerate a high-inertia load – such as a turret or a weapons system – to a precise position in the shortest possible time. Previously, the delivery of short bursts of peak power came with an associated risk of damage to the vehicle’s electrical systems.
Curtiss-Wright’s new HV TDSS system eliminates the negative consequences of higher current systems. It leverages the continuous low-voltage power available on mobile platforms to enable the high-voltage energy buffering required for the higher voltage, short-burst peak power. It also allows a controlled flow of regenerative power back into the power architecture (e.g., energy storage or power source). The modular solution includes a DC/DC converter (converts 28V battery voltage up to 750V), an energy storage module (stores the power until needed), and a high-voltage motion controller (controls and delivers the electrical power to the drive systems). An optional load dump protector module protects the turret’s 28V electrical components according to MIL-STD-1275 and DEF STAN 61-5 and includes an inrush current limitation and reverse polarity protection.
The HV TDSS meets IEC 61508, IEC 61800, and ISO 6469 functional safety requirements. The Curtiss-Wright modular TDSS approach enables the customer to assemble the system exactly according to their requirements.
Curtiss-Wright turret aiming and stabilization drive systems are designed to deliver scalable functionality and power adaptability to ground vehicle designers and turret manufacturers. The modular TDSS design enables system integrators to select the exact aiming and stabilization solution that their platform requires – from a manually operated drive all the way up to a highly sophisticated, stabilized drive system – while streamlining enhancements and/or system modification for use on a different platform. The TDSS approach is significantly more cost-effective and flexible than traditional bespoke aiming and stabilization system alternatives. TDSS is designed to make it easy for system integrators to configure only the system that they require now while adding increasing levels of stabilization as their mission evolves. TDSS system components can be easily adapted for use on different ground vehicle turrets to meet dynamic program requirements including performance and precision.
Curtiss-Wright TDSS solutions deliver unmatched target location accuracy and turret stabilization while providing system integrators with an unprecedented level of freedom to define and deploy the exact solution they require, when they require it, with the ability to upgrade and add stabilization functionality as system requirements change. Because the TDSS uses standard system configurations, it speeds system development and enables programs to reach demonstration and production phases more rapidly. The use of preconfigured TDSS system components also reduces the time and costs associated with the requirements definition process.
About TDSS System Components and Configuration Levels
TDSS components include rotary gear drives, linear gear drives, motion controllers, gyroscopes, hand controllers, and system software.
About Curtiss-Wright Corporation
Curtiss-Wright Corporation (NYSE:CW) is a global integrated business that provides highly engineered products, solutions and services mainly to Aerospace & Defense markets, as well as critical technologies in demanding Commercial Power, Process and Industrial markets. We leverage a workforce of approximately 8,400 highly skilled employees who develop, design and build what we believe are the best engineered solutions to the markets we serve. Building on the heritage of Glenn Curtiss and the Wright brothers, Curtiss-Wright, headquartered in Davidson, North Carolina, has a long tradition of providing innovative solutions through trusted customer relationships. For more information, visit www.curtisswright.com.
06 Oct 23. New Zealand Defence Force searches to replace its legacy land vehicles. The NZ Ministry of Defence has launched a market research project to study its options to replace its enduring fleet of Mercedes-Benz Unimog truck vehicles.
Now more than 40-years old, the Mercedes-Benz Unimog truck fleet appears to be reaching the end of its service with the New Zealand’s Defence Force (NZDF) following the launch of a market research project to replace the legacy platform, which the country’s Ministry of Defence described as “a workhorse” in a 6 October press release.
“We are asking for information about commercial-off-the-shelf vehicles, which could replace the existing Unimog trucks and military support utes,” Sarah Minson, Deputy Secretary for Capability Delivery stated. A ‘ute’ is verbal shorthand for utility vehicle.
Besides its Unimog vehicles, the NZDF currently operates 194 active HX58 tactical trucks from Rheinmetall-MAN in 2017 and 326 Pinzgauer trucks from BAE Systems in 2004, according to GlobalData intelligence.
A timeline of NZDF land vehicle fleets
Under the 2019 Defence Capability Plan, the New Zealand Government committed to a range of upgrade and development programmes.
As part of this evolution, the government established the Garrison and Training Support (GATS) vehicles investment among other development initiatives, which the government allocated an indicative capital cost of NZ$100m-$300m ($59.3m-$178m).
The programme will provide the NZDF with modern military vehicles to fulfil certain domestic requirements – ranging from fire appliance, medical response and aircraft refuelling vehicles.
One contract that marked the country’s modernisation programme was a contract awarded to Hamilton-based Action Manufacturing for a fleet of six medical response vehicles, which were later increased to 12. These are based on the Iveco Daily 4×4 and replace the Unimog medical vehicles.
In 2021, NZDF announced that this replacement programme was overdue, leading the government to set up a two-phase roadmap for completion by 2030. Phase one has just ended this year; it involved replacing most of the specialist vehicles. Phase two, which ends in 2030, will oversee the “progressive replacement of the remainder of the GATS fleet,” including the country’s Unimogs.
Among the vehicles NZDF has replaced so far, it has already sold 22 Light Armoured Vehicles (LAVs) to the Chilean Navy in late April 2022. These vehicles were part of a sale of 75 units the New Zealand Government had originally acquired from General Dynamics Canada in 2003.
Seeking a replacement vehicle
In addition to the standard truck requirements, the market research is asking for information, data and pricing about lower emission vehicles – hybrid or electric.
The ministry also asks for information about vehicles with a high fording depth that could drive through flood waters or broken and disturbed ground.
“The replacement vehicles would be used across New Zealand for a wide range of domestic tasks, including extreme weather and disaster response operations, as well as the transport of personnel and equipment,” Minson added. (Source: army-technology.com)
O6 Oct 23. Flyer Defense introduced the Flyer 72 Multi-Purpose Mobile Fire Support System, nicknamed “The Beast,” at the 2023 Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Annual Meeting in Washington, DC.
The specialized configuration is a finely tuned version of the Flyer 72 Heavy Duty ground mobility vehicle, that integrates a range of advanced systems to enhance Counter-Unmanned Aerial Systems (CUAS), radar detection, fire support, and firepower capabilities.
“Its robust design ensures effectiveness in addressing contemporary challenges faced in modern warfare,” said Flyer Defense Founder and CEO, Oded Nechushtan. “This has always been our commitment. To deliver a platform that adapts to the evolving needs of the warfighter.”
Equipped with a remote weapons system, up to 42 rounds of 120mm mortar ammunition, four RPS 42 S-band hemispheric air surveillance radar panels, and cutting-edge anti-drone technology, “The Beast” offers its occupants complete 360° coverage. Its operational capabilities extend beyond detection, enabling it to track and engage both direct and elevated threats.
Featured systems on “The Beast” include:
- Scorpion Shoot and Scoot 120mm Mortar Launcher System
- Leonardo DRS Multi-Mission Hemispheric Radar
- Kongsberg Remote Weapons System
- D-Fend Solutions EnforceAir Anti-Drone System
TEK Military Seating Limited
TEK Military Seating Limited is a UK based designer and manufacturer of ProTEK military vehicle seating which offer the highest standards of safety and protection. The ProTEK brand is well respected across the globe for its robust construction, innovative design, built in modularity and cost effectiveness. Our superior products are supported by our experienced team who endeavor to offer unrivalled service to our customers from enquiry, through design and acceptance, to through life support.
From its inception ProTEK seats have been designed around a family of innovative seat frames onto which tested and certified modules can be fitted to create a bespoke solution for the user. These include Blast protection to Stanag 4569 standards, vibration reduction, head and body protection, seat risers and turntables, fore & aft adjustment, and seat back rake along with viable seat dimensions without the need for additional tooling costs.
Contact: David Parkman