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11 Jan 22. Bulgaria receives special forces vehicles. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 21 December 2021 that it had received the first batch of 45 armoured vehicles from Samel-90 for its Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) that day. The MoD said 98 vehicles would be built in 10 different versions, with deliveries to be completed by the end of 2022. The MoD signed the contract for the vehicles with Samel-90 in December 2020. The Bulgarian manufacturer has a joint venture with the UAE-based International Armored Group (IAG), which has the design authority for the vehicles, with final assembly and customisation taking place at Samel-90’s new factory in Samokov, southwest of Sofia. JSOC commander Major General Yavor Mateev told Bulgarian military TV on 21 December 2021 that the first vehicle is intended for major tactical employments, with the up-armoured Toyota Land Cruiser 70 series to be employed when greater mobility is required. He added that both models had undergone major customisation work to meet a specific set of Bulgarian MoD requirements. (Source: Janes)
11 Jan 22. USMC light armored reconnaissance is at a crossroad. The Marine Corps light armored reconnaissance community is at a crossroads as the vehicle-driven force faces new challenges in a more austere, logistics-strapped terrain.
While Marine Corps Commandant Gen. David Berger has stressed the importance of reconnaissance and counter-reconnaissance capabilities for nearly all of the force, one of the key pieces of that puzzle remains in limbo.
Berger’s force design vision that puts the Marines hip-to-hip with the Navy envisions a reconnaissance force that’s “winning the hider/finder competition” in a potential sensor-driven fight with China.
But light armored reconnaissance Marines are still waiting for a new vehicle dubbed the advanced reconnaissance vehicle, or ARV, which has been talked about for more than a decade but remains a drawing board concept in limited budget days. And those Marines are shouldering their mission with a platform that dates back to before many of them were born — the light armored vehicle, which first rolled off the line in 1983.
The state of the Marine reconnaissance element looks to be in high demand but remains in “flux,” Center for Strategic and International Studies Senior Adviser and retired Marine officer Mark Cancian noted in his November budget report.
The service seeks a medium caliber cannon with anti-armor fires capabilities, precision-guided munitions, electronic warfare, extended recon and surveillance command and control suite, active and passive vehicle protection and shore-to-shore water mobility, noted a Congressional Research Service report on the ARV, published in July 2021.
The Navy has asked for more than $48m in its most recent request for research, development and evaluation.
But the program was recommended by officials for re-evaluation in a February 2021 update to Congress. The CRS report also raised the question if funding should be suspended until the Corps decides what its going to do with its LAR companies and the ARV. (Source: Defense News)
11 Jan 22. Troubled Ajax programme document ‘enough to make you weep’, MP says. Defence politicians on “alphabet soup” Ajax programme and police pay comparisons in 2022’s first Defence Questions in the Commons.
Defence politicians faced up to the first round of 2022 questions in the House of Commons, discussing the Ajax programme and an “alphabet soup” of accountability.
Labour’s Nick Smith said the latest document on the troubled vehicle programme is “enough to make you weep”, while Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin maintained there is “progress being made”.
Meanwhile, the Government referenced “subsidised food and accommodation” alongside other allowances and schemes, when addressing a pay gap between certain personnel and police officers after six months’ training.
There were also questions about Afghanistan and concern over former UK employees who have escaped the country and are now hiding in Pakistan. (Source: forces.net)
11 Jan 22. Five step up for Slovak AFV tender with contract set for March. Proposals to meet a Slovak AFV requirement have been submitted by the Czech, Finnish, Romanian, Spanish and US governments, with a contract due to be signed by late March 2022.
The Slovak MoD has received five proposals to supply 76 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs), as it pushes on with plans to retire and replace an ageing fleet of Russian BVP platforms.
An MoD official confirmed to Shephard that bids for the €332m ($376m) government-to-government (G2G) tender were submitted by the Czech Republic, Finland, Romania, Spain and the US. Candidates include AFVs based on a Patria chassis as well as the designs based on the Pandur, Piranha V, Dragon and Stryker vehicles. (Source: Shephard)
10 Jan 22. WFEL and KMW Jointly Award New Contract for Supply of Armoured Steel for UK MoD Boxer Armoured Vehicle Programme. South Yorkshire-based MTL Advanced has been chosen to supply armoured steel for the production of the UK MoD’s Boxer Armoured Vehicle Programme, under a £-multi-million, multi-year contract awarded jointly by WFEL and parent company KMW. The armoured material will be used in the Boxer vehicle hull assembly, which will be fabricated at WFEL’s specialist Manufacturing Centre of Excellence in Stockport. MTL Advanced have invested in excess of £2m in new capital equipment to help support this project and meet increased demand. The new investments have been spread around the various manufacturing cells of the Rotherham business, to provide an enhancement in capacity, in line with the production schedules for the UK Boxer vehicles contract.
In a major boost to the local community, this contract award has contributed to the creation of 30 new jobs at MTL Advanced, who have also welcomed 12 new Apprentices to their Engineering & Welding Apprentice Academy during September 2021, demonstrating MTL’s on-going commitment to train the next generation of Engineers. MTL Advanced says that investing in the next generation of talented engineers is critical to their ongoing success.
The company has also recruited an additional 4 young job seekers as part of the nationwide KickStart campaign and new Graduate schemes have also been brought forward, to upskill MTL’s staff and provide them with further education and career progression opportunities.
MTL Advanced General Manager, Karl Stewart, said: “We are really excited to have been awarded this major contract, which will give us the opportunity to work in partnership with WFEL and KMW on such an important UK Defence project. We look forward to engaging closely with WFEL and KMW’s engineering teams and leveraging our armour manufacturing expertise to help make this Boxer Vehicle programme a great success for the British Army.”
Mr Stewart added: “As a company located at the heart of the Sheffield-Rotherham Advanced Manufacturing corridor, the region that was the cradle of the Industrial Revolution, we are immensely proud to be able to bring such a prestigious multi-year contract to Rotherham for the benefit of our local community.”
This is the latest sub-contract to be awarded by WFEL, a key partner in the manufacture of the Boxer Armoured Vehicles for the British Army, under the $2.3bn contract signed in November 2019 between ARTEC and the UK MoD.
10 Jan 22. USMC to return ACVs to unrestricted waterborne operations. The clearance follows the development of a new tow rope solution to address a towing mechanism issue. The US Marine Corps (USMC) is set to return its Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACVs) to carry out unrestricted waterborne operations. Since September last year, ACV operations have been restricted to land mobility and conducting gunnery and amphibious operations in protected waters. The service had suspended ACV operations in unprotected waters due to a towing mechanism issue. The USMC said that new tow rope technology had been developed to fix the towing issues. The new tracked, fully amphibious ACVs will replace the USMC’s amphibious assault vehicles (AAVs).
USMC Plans, Policies and Operations deputy commandant Lt Gen David Furness said: “Amphibious operations, including the use of amphibious ship-to-shore connectors, is a foundational aspect of Marine Corps operations and is critical to the future force and its ability to remain the nation’s premier expeditionary force in readiness.”
The solution will soon be deployed to all units and training will be provided.
To meet new equipment and training requirements, units will need to finish, authenticate and certify 18 tasks before restarting waterborne operations.
Other requirements include the use of safety boats at operations, sea state evaluations and positive communication.
These tasks were set following an investigation into an AAV accident at San Clemente Island, California, in July 2020, in which eight Marines and one sailor were killed.
Following installation and training with the new technology, units will be given permission to conduct unrestricted ACV amphibious operations in the open ocean and the surf zone.
Last February, the USMC took delivery of the first amphibious combat vehicle command (ACV-C) variant from BAE Systems for testing.
The ACV-C is designed to support command and control (C2) operations by maximising communications and analysis for marines on the battlefield.
10 Jan 22. Australia confirms M1A2 Abrams acquisition. A new fleet of the enhanced armoured fighting vehicles will be delivered to the Australian Army over the coming years, with the $3.5bn order officially approved by the Commonwealth government.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton has announced the government will push ahead with its request to procure 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks under the LAND 907 Phase 2 project following approval from the federal cabinet.
A separate order for 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles (ABVs), 17 M1074 Joint Assault Bridges (JABs), six M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles and 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines as part of LAND 8160 Phase 1 has also been confirmed.
The M1A2 SEPv3 Main Battle Tanks are expected to upgrade the existing fleet, with no changes to the Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure.
The M88A2 vehicles are to provide additional de-processing and combat vehicle recovery support for the current fleet, while the M1150 ABVs and M1074 JABs deliver new capability to the Royal Australian Engineers.
The ABVs and JABs are tipped to deliver under-armour bridging and breaching capability, helping to increase the effectiveness and survivability of Australian combat engineers and provide increased mobility for the armoured fleet.
“Teamed with the Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Combat Engineering Vehicles, and self-propelled howitzers, the new Abrams will give our soldiers the best possibility of success and protection from harm,” Minister Dutton said.
“The M1A2 Abrams will incorporate the latest developments in Australian sovereign defence capabilities, including command, control, communications, computers and intelligence systems, and benefit from the intended manufacture of tank ammunition in Australia.
“The introduction of the new M1A2 vehicles will take advantage of the existing support infrastructure, with significant investment in Australian industry continuing in the areas of sustainment, simulation and training.”
Chief of Army Lieutenant General Rick Burr AO, DSC, MVO said the acquisition would provide the Australian Army with a “credible land combat capability”, integrated with joint and coalition forces.
“The main battle tank is at the core of the ADF’s Combined Arms Fighting System, which includes infantry, artillery, communications, engineers, attack helicopters and logistics,” LTGEN Burr said.
“Because of their versatility, tanks can be used in a wide range of scenarios, environments and levels of conflict in the region. This system is the only part of the ADF that can successfully operate in medium to high-threat land environments.
“The M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams protection, accurate and lethal fire, mobility and situational awareness cannot be delivered by any other platform. There are no other current or emerging technologies – or combination of technologies – that can yet deliver the capability currently provided by a main battle tank.”
The first vehicles are scheduled to be delivered in 2024, with Initial Operating Capability expected in 2025. (Source: Defence Connect)
29 Dec 21. US legislation moves F-35 sustainment, acquisition away from the Joint Program Office. US legislation signed into law on 27 December directs the Pentagon to transfer all Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Lightning II sustainment and acquisition activities from the F-35 Joint Program Office (JPO) to the US Air Force (USAF) and US Navy (USN). The fiscal year (FY) 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) requires the Pentagon to move all functions relating to the management, planning, and execution of F-35B- and C-model sustainment activities to the USN no later than 1 October 2027. The legislation also directs the Pentagon to move similar F-35A sustainment activities to the USAF in the same time frame. (Source: Janes)
07 Jan 22. Russian air assault division fields tanks with top-attack defence screens. Screens to defend against top-attack weapons have been seen fitted to Russian Airborne Forces (VDV) T-72 tanks during an exercise in Crimea.
The Russian Ministry of Defence’s TV Zvezda posted footage on 24 December 2021 of the exercise involving the 7th Guards Air Assault Division during major manoeuvres on the Opuk training range.
Several of the division’s T-72B3 main battle tanks were fitted with raised mesh screens above their turrets. These screens appear to be designed to defeat top-attack weapons such as the US-made Javelin anti-tank guided weapon or guided missiles fired from unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) by detonating high-explosive anti-tank warheads before they contact a tank’s turret roof.
The top-attack defence screens have been seen fitted to Russian T-72B3s since last summer but this is the first time VDV tanks have fielded the upgrade. (Source: Janes)
11 Jan 22. Philippine Army procures additional land systems from Elbit. The Philippine Army (PA) has confirmed the procurement of more military equipment from Israel’s Elbit Systems.
The PA’s official spokesperson Colonel Xerxes Trinidad told Janes on 10 January that the service took delivery of 12 ATMOS 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled gun systems in late December from Elbit Systems.
He also disclosed that the service has ordered from Elbit Sabrah ASCOD II light tanks and Sabrah Pandur II direct-fire support vehicles.
On 11 January Col Trinidad also told the state-run Philippine News Agency that the PA has also received 15 M125A2 armored mortar carriers equipped with 120 mm mounted mortar systems.
Speaking to Janes, Col Trinidad said the ATMOS guns are scheduled for review by the PA’s Technical Inspection Acceptance Committee this month before formal acceptance into service.
The guns will be operated by the PA’s Army Artillery Regiment and will augment existing capability, including Elbit’s 155 mm M-71 towed gun, 12 of which were delivered to the PA and Philippine Marine Corps in 2017. (Source: Janes)
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