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26 Jan 22. UK Future Light Vehicle Requirement. Sources at IAV suggest that the UK MoD is shortly to issue a Requirement for around 800 vehicles for its Future Light Vehicle in 4×4 and 6×6 configuration, to replace or enhance some of the roles currently carried out by the Land Rover Wolf and the Pinzgauer for the airborne forces and 15th Air Assault Brigade and 300 vehicles for the new ranger Battalions. The vehicle will have an applique armour similar to the current WMIK fleet. The vehicle must be able to be underslung from the Merlin helicopter, one reason for the current impasse on the JLTV buy which sources state is still under consideration. Contenders will be the usual suspects, Mercedes-Benz with the new ‘G’ Wagen, Ineos with the Grenadier, AM General with the HMMV Sabre, Jankel with a Toyota, Ricardo with either the Plasan Sandcat or Ford, Oshkosh, Navistar and Supacat.
28 Jan 22. The joint 6×6 vehicle programme proceeds: Finland to order pre-series vehicles. The Finnish Defence Forces has signed the agreement with Patria to acquire Patria 6×6 vehicles as a pre-series related to the joint 6×6 vehicle programme between Latvia, Finland, Estonia and Patria. The pre-series vehicles will be in test use of the Finnish Defence Forces before the final serial order indicated by the Letter of Intent signed at the end of August 2021.
“With pre-series testing, the customer can get acquainted with the vehicle, its usage and operating features comprehensively beforehand, thus ensuring the fluent and effective establishment of operational readiness when the serial order deliveries begin. All three vehicles will be delivered to the customer in summer 2022”, says Jussi Järvinen, Executive Vice President, Finland Division of Patria.
The joint programme is progressing as planned. In Latvia, the first vehicles are already in use and serial production is underway. Finland has made the decision about the pre-series vehicles, and Sweden is preparing to join the programme. The joint 6×6 programme has arose interest and is open to other countries with mutual consent of the participating countries.
27 Jan 22. World’s 1st Autonomous Wolfhound Military Vehicle Demod. ABD Solutions has created the world’s first autonomous Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV) using our retrofittable autonomous driving system. Developed in partnership with NP Aerospace, engineering authority for the UK MOD protected mobility fleet, the vehicle was demonstrated at a defence technology innovation day held at the Horiba HORIBA-MIRA proving ground in the UK.
The system is vehicle-agnostic and consists of market-leading vehicle control robots, object detection and reaction systems and mission planning software. It provides any vehicle with a traditional steering wheel and pedal set up with autonomous capabilities. The system is simple to install and can be driven by a human when in place to increase flexibility.
“The defence industry wants to accelerate the autonomy of its vehicles as it has significant safety and cost benefits,” said Matthew Price, Managing Director of ABD Solutions. “One of the key challenges is maximising the substantial investment already made in the current fleet. Our product enables these legacy vehicles to be automated, today.”
There are several major benefits to automating vehicles in the defence industry; it reduces risk to defence personnel in hostile environments, increases efficiencies within theatre and logistics supply chains and maximises the life and versatility of legacy vehicle platforms and infrastructure.
In practice this enables operations, such as counter-IED, route clearance, demining and general logistics activities, to be carried out without personnel in the vehicles. Using ABD Solutions’ advanced leader-follower algorithms, object detection capabilities and drive-by-wire teleoperation technology a single driver can operate multiple vehicles in convoy, freeing up personnel to carry out more valuable tasks. The automated vehicles can also be precisely controlled to carry out simulated training exercises.
David Petheram, Chief Operating Officer, NP Aerospace, commented: “It is encouraging to witness new generation technology being demonstrated within the protected mobility fleet. The feedback at the defence technology innovation day was very positive regarding the potential benefits that could be realised using the technology.”
ABD Solutions is a member of the AB Dynamics Group, which has been automating vehicles for several decades. It develops and supplies driving robots to the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers, proving grounds and legislative technical services.
“The Group has significant experience automating defence vehicles for development and test purposes,” continues Price. “Now, through ABD Solutions, existing fleets can be automated for use in a variety of operations. We believe this could be a life-saving technology.”
The Wolfhound is a heavy-armoured truck and is part of the TSV fleet, which is used to accompany front line patrols and carry essential combat supplies, such as water and ammunition. It provides troops with increased protection as they support missions in high-threat areas. (Source: ASD Network)
27 Jan 22. Dragón IFV spearheads Spain’s Army 35 transformation programme. The first seven Dragón IFVs will be delivered in 2022. Janes learned details of Spain’s Dragón infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) programme at the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) conference held in London from 24 to 27 January. The IFV was described as the spearhead of Spain’s Army 35 and as the most representative of that transformation programme. Based on Spain’s experience with improvised explosive devices in Lebanon and Afghanistan during the past couple of decades, an important emphasis of the programme is protection, with the IFV featuring NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 4569 levels covering light armoured vehicles. The 33-tonne vehicle has a speed of more than 100 km/h and a range of 500 km. It is air-transportable by A400M. The Dragón will be armed with a Bushmaster II 30 mm gun, with ammunition including airburst munition, plus a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun. The tank hunter version will be armed with Spike LR2 missiles. A decision on whether the turret will be manned or unmanned is expected in 2023. (Source: Janes)
26 Jan 22. BAE, Oshkosh cold weather vehicle prototypes survive Army’s Alaskan tests. After grueling, freezing tests conducted in wintry Alaska, the two prototypes competing for the Army’s new Cold Weather All-Terrain vehicle (CATV) have survived to the next round of selection, a step closer to carrying soldiers in snowy theaters like the Arctic. The prototypes, made by BAE Systems and Oshkosh Defense, along with its partner ST Engineering, are amphibious platforms designed to carry up to nine soldiers in temperatures down to -50 degrees Fahrenheit. One will replace the service’s decades-old Small Unit Support Vehicle.
“Both BAE and Oshkosh prototype offerings in the OTA [other transaction authority] were deemed successful,” an Army spokesperson told Breaking Defense in a statement. “Therefore they were both offered the opportunity to bid on the RFP [request for proposal] for production.”
A winner is expected to be chosen around the end of June, the spokesperson said.
“The U.S. Army must be capable of operating throughout the arctic region and other ECW [extreme cold weather] locations in all weather conditions in all types of terrain,” reads the competition’s final RFP, released on Jan. 14.
CATVs will have the “capability to conduct Homeland Defense (HD), Defense Support of Civil Authorities (DSCA), and Search and Rescue (SAR) mission sets as well as support year round training,” the RFP states. The CATV program is managed by Program Executive Office Combat Support & Combat Service Support.
The CATV program was a new start program in fiscal 2021 and PEO CS&CSS chose BAE Systems and Oshkosh Defense in April last year for competitive prototyping. BAE Systems submitted its BvS10 Beowulf vehicle, while Oshkosh Defense’s offering is derived from its Bronco 3 vehicle.
“We are evaluating the RFP we received from the U.S. Army, and continue to successfully demonstrate our Beowulf prototype platform in the CATV program evaluation,” a BAE spokesperson said.
Pat Williams, vice president and general manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps programs at Oshkosh Defense, said in a statement that the company also planned to respond to the RFP.
The Army spokesperson did not provide a dollar amount associated with the single-award contract, stating that “we are in a competitive environment, to be determined at down select.” In its FY22 budget request, the Army requested about $16.5 m in procurement funds to buy 10 CATVs, but the Army is looking to buy dozens eventually.
The CATV contract will be for five years, with two one-year options. The service plans to buy 110 CATVs by the end of FY27, with 59 vehicles planned to go to regular Army and 51 earmarked for Army National Guard. In all, the Army hopes to get 163 vehicles by FY32.
The extreme cold weather vehicle will have a general purpose variant, as well as a cargo variant, according to the RFP, and be configurable for casualty evacuation or command and control missions. The vehicle will transport up to nine soldiers outfitted in arctic survival equipment.
(Source: Breaking Defense.com)
26 Jan 22. Challenger 3 Update. Brigadier Nick Cowey Senior Responsible Owner (SRO) of the UK’ MoD’s Challenger 3 project gave an update on the project during the IAV Conference last week, held in Twickenham, London. He said that Challenger 3 will remain in service until 2040 and form part of the UK battle formations including Ajax, Boxer, AH-64E Apache and Long Range Fires. 148 of the existing fleet of 227 Challenger 2 tanks will be upgraded with the remaining hulls slated for export potential. The Omani Challenger 2 tanks are not part of this Programme. He also said that the new turret will be offered for export on other hulls. The first 6 hulls have been delivered to RBSL at Telford where the upgrade to the works continues including new canes and production facilities. The Trials of the first prototype are going well, Cowey told the audience. The L55AI smooth bore 120mm integration has been completed in the turret with new variants of rounds under consideration including the DU Round, for which funding has been allocated given that the current L55A1 does not have approval to fire this round, a decision will be made at the end of 2022. A Tungsten round is also under consideration. The Critical Design Review for the turret and the Trophy APS system will occur in 2022. Challenger 3 will be the first UK armoured vehicle to mount Trophy. The turret has a new GVA, Fire Control computers and displays and LAN. Mobility enhancements has taken place through the Heavy Armour Automated Replacement Programme which also includes Trojan, Titan and CRAAV variants. However in ‘accelerating the programme to the right to 2024,’ the MoD could be opening themselves up to another ‘Ajax,’ moment.
The survivability package includes the new Dstl Epsom armour package. Cowey said that the Challenger 3 programme is a vital part of the new Defence Land Industrial Strategy and will be a pillar for the UK’s involvement in the European Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). The Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) is a project by France and Germany since 2012 to replace their currently deployed Leclerc and Leopard 2 main battle tanks (MBTs). In 2016, the program was in the concept phase which was projected to be completed by 2017. At the 2016 Eurosatory, Rheinmetall presented the MBT Advanced Technology Demonstrator on the basis of a Leopard 2A4 Evolution concept. At the 2018 Eurosatory, KMW+Nexter Defense Systems (KNDS) unveiled the “European Main Battle Tank” (E-MBT), a hybrid combining the hull of a Leopard 2A7 with the lighter, two-man turret of a Leclerc. The previously independent companies KMW and Nexter intended to demonstrate that both could cooperate and jointly develop a next generation tank.
The contract for the first part of the System Architecture Definition Study was signed in May 2020 by the German armed forces’ procurement office on behalf of both nations to a consortium consisting of Rheinmetall, Nexter and KMW (KNDS),] with the aim of assessing different aspects of the programme such as interoperability with national systems, harmonising requirements and defining a multi-platform architecture for the future MGCS. The study is to be conducted over 18 months. The workshare during this phase is split between French and German companies.
The System Architecture Definition Study is part of the Technology Demonstration Phase (TDP), which is to be completed by 2024 and is to be followed by the overall system demonstrator phase (GSDP) until 2028, after which initial production and testing is to occur.
Deployment of the new vehicles and systems is scheduled for 2035, with full operational capability to be achieved by 2040. (Source: Wikipedia)
26 Jan 22. Hanwha ahead in Australia? Sources suggest that the Hanwha Redback is ahead in the competition for the Australian Project Land 400 Phase 3, which is tasked to acquire about 450 tracked IFVs that will replace Australia’s fleet of M113AS4 armored personnel carriers. The Redback, which is named after a venomous spider found in Australia, is up against Rheinmetall’s Lynx KF41 for the program, which is due to announce a winner in 2022. The source suggest that the Lynx has suffered a number of overheating problems with its engine with the suggestion that a fire may have also occurred. In other news, sources also suggest that the Rheinmetall Lance turret is still suffering problems for the $5.2bn LAND 400 Phase 2 program which will have Rheinmetall deliver 211 8×8 Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRV) to the Australian Army.
Under the company’s offering to the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall will build a majority of the vehicles at the company’s specialised Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Queensland.
The first 25 vehicles will be built in Germany as part of the technology transfer process, with the remaining vehicles to be built in Australia. Sources suggest that the turret evaluation has identified as many as twenty five issues of concern. Boxer will replace the ageing ASLAV vehicles that have served with the Australian Army in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.
26 Jan 22. UK Boxers go for 41 tonnes. In a brief during IAV KMW told the audience that the company has successfully trialled the UK Boxer prototype with an increase weight of 41 tonnes. In other news sources suggest that 40 variants mounting a 120mm mortar turret will be purchased with a number of turrets under consideration.
26 Jan 22. New Supacat Coyote variants under development. Sources at IAV told BATTLESPACE that Supacat is developing a 105mm portee, the news we broke during DSEI. The portee will use the same mount as the AM General Hawkeye HMMV system. Given its 6×6 drivetrain the Coyote does not require stabilisers and thus has an ability for rapid ‘shoot and scoot.’ The vehicle will be able to carry up to eight 1o5mm projectiles.
Supacat is also believed to be continuing the development of the Rheinmetall 120mm mortar system on Coyote which it launched at DSEI in 2019. Supacat, Rheinmetall Defence and SCISYS partnered to showcase a new capability for light forces, the ‘High Mobility Integrated Fires Capability’, at DSEi. The partnership demonstrated Supacat’s 6×6 HMT platform mounted with Rheinmetall’s MWS81 mortar system in its first integration on a light vehicle. The target acquisition and integrated fire support platform is networked with SCISYS GVA compliant platform and mission software. Supacat’s highly mobile HMT platforms with their superior off road performance allow users to perform high tempo operations delivering indirect fire for light role forces while the MWS81 mortar capability allows for rapid ‘into action time’. The Vingmate sight provides target acquisition and location during day and night operations, with targets being shared over the battlespace data network enabling Support Weapon effects to be directed precisely onto targets. The SCISYS developed GVA compliant platform and mission software shares data and video around the platform to each crew member’s display and into the battlespace networks, enhancing shared situational awareness and speed of decision making. The displays are supplied by Leonardo.
26 Jan 22. Regis Luther of AM General, global military-grade mobility systems provider, gave an update on the revolutionary HUMVEE NXT 360 light tactical vehicle at the IAV Conference last week, held in Twickenham, London. Through continuous improvement, the company has achieved leap-ahead technology in a redesigned vehicle that offers MRAP-level protection in a truly agile light tactical vehicle. The NXT 360 leverages the existing HUMVEE platform and includes additional enhancements like a long travel suspension, a more powerful engine, and higher foot pounds of torque that make this vehicle rugged and nimble at the same time. Similar to the iconic HUMVEE vehicles, the NXT 360 will have the same versatility to accommodate multiple mission requirements: from 2-, 4- and 6-passenger seating with room for personnel and mission equipment.
In other news QinetiQ entered into a strategic collaboration agreement with automotive manufacturer AM General to accelerate the development of electrification technologies for military vehicles as announced in 2021. The partnership has begun with the development of a hybrid concept of the globally iconic HMMWV (High-Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle often referred to as ‘HUMVEE’) – demonstrating the viability of electrifying military land vehicles to deliver enhanced performance while decarbonising military operations. The collaboration was initiated and its development facilitated by the JV & Partnering (JV&P) Advisory team at Lincoln International, a global investment bank.
The HUMVEE vehicle concept is the first step of a highly ambitious programme in which QinetiQ and AM General are exploring how electrification can transform competitive advantage in the land domain. This collaboration will lay the foundation for further research into electrification capabilities for land vehicles, for example autonomous systems, increased situational awareness through enhanced sensor capability and optical communications.
The new collaboration recognises the need for countermeasures, platforms and situational awareness tools to evolve at an astounding pace in response to changing threats and tactics from adversaries. In addition to this, the growing financial, environmental and human costs of transporting and burning fossil fuels – as well as the critical push towards Net Zero – are forcing governments to seek more sustainable energy sources that create smaller logistical and carbon footprints.
By applying a hybrid electric drive system to defence’s most iconic HUMVEE family of vehicles QinetiQ and AM General are laying the foundations for the future of electric-powered land combat vehicles which will enable the delivery of next generation technologies while driving down carbon emissions in the defence sector.
Due to the restrictions of the pandemic, delivering a physical prototype model has been challenging. However, by using existing collaboration tools, the joint team have created two fully interactive and immersive Virtual Reality models of HUMVEE vehicles showing how QinetiQ’s innovative electric drive technology is integrated with minimal disruption to the vehicle. The two different models can be individually adapted and then compared side by side to immediately see the impact of the changes made. The motors draw power via cables from a battery which can be positioned almost anywhere within the vehicle to give ultimate flexibility over the use of space. The hybrid electric drive system will enable the vehicles to tackle more hostile terrains, while increasing lethality by giving it the ability to conduct extended periods of silent watch and silent running. This includes minimising the vehicle’s acoustic and thermal signatures.
Critically, as the defence industry must accelerate towards Net Zero, QinetiQ’s hybrid electric drive system also provides up to 30% less fuel consumption than purely combustion-powered alternatives, reducing fossil fuel dependency and decreasing emissions on the battlefield. This improved fuel efficiency will also extend the vehicle’s operational range.
Mike Sewart, Chief Technology Officer, QinetiQ said: “Advances in hybrid electric drive systems specifically for military vehicles mean there is now a credible alternative to conventional mechanical designs, revolutionising the way armed forces move and operate on the battlefield while reducing reliance on fossil fuels. This collaboration is a critical step for driving defence into a new age of sustainable, more versatile land combat vehicles, capable of tackling complex threats whilst minimising the impact on the environment. The use of VR immersive technology to co-create an interactive solution has been an important step in the journey we are taking together.”
Regis Luther, Senior Vice President Engineering & Chief Technology Officer at AM General said: “Integrating electric drive technology into the HMMWV is an exciting first step in how we expect to deliver on the battlefields of the future. By working with QinetiQ, we’re looking at innovative ways to meet the future requirements of our customers around the world, for sustainability and performance through electrification.”
Emma Blackley, JV&P Director at Lincoln International said: “We are delighted to have originated and nurtured this complementary relationship over the past months. We are confident that today marks a significant milestone for both parties, powerfully illustrating the value of business collaboration in evolving markets.”
26 Jan 22. Oshkosh Defense, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK), unveiled the first-ever silent drive hybrid-electric Joint Light. Tactical Vehicle (JLTV), the eJLTV.
The eJLTV offers the U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps the same level of performance and protection as the base JLTV with the addition of silent drive, extended silent watch, enhanced fuel economy, and increased exportable power that enables it to be used in combat and reconnaissance scenarios. The eJLTV charges the battery while in use, fully recharging the lithium-ion battery within 30 minutes. This eliminates the need for a charging infrastructure, which remains one of the most significant challenges to the widespread electrification of the tactical wheeled vehicle fleet.
“For many years, we’ve been developing, testing and evolving hybrid-electric variants of our heavy and medium-duty tactical wheeled vehicles,” said John Bryant, Executive Vice President for Oshkosh Corporation and President of Oshkosh Defense. “Now, with the eJLTV, we’re
offering our military customers an affordable way to electrify their light tactical wheeled vehicle fleet without compromising the off-road performance or superior protection necessary in combat
This year, the U.S. Army plans to recompete the JLTV program and issue a follow-on production contract in September 2022. The follow-on contract, valued at $6.5bn, includes
an additional 15,468 vehicles and five order years followed by five options years, extending
production through FY32.
“While the U.S. Army has not requested a hybrid-electric JLTV as part of the JLTV recompete,
the eJLTV proves that Oshkosh Defense has the team and technical capabilities to produce this
highly capable vehicle today,” Bryant concluded.
About the eJLTV:
- Maintains the performance and protection of the proven Oshkosh Defense JLTV
- Improves fuel economy by more than 20%
- Provides battery capacity of 30kWh with opportunity for growth
- Eliminates the need for a towed generator by providing export power capacity of
up to 115kW
Oshkosh Defense and its parent company, Oshkosh Corporation, have a rich history in
electrification and are pushing the boundaries of innovation for customers. One example is the
Oshkosh Defense diesel electric Light Combat Tactical Vehicle (LCTV), from which the
Oshkosh JLTV is derived. The LCTV was the world’s first military vehicle to finish the grueling
SCORE Baja 1000 off-road race. In addition, Oshkosh Defense was awarded the contract to
develop and manufacture the U.S. Postal Service’s Next Generation Delivery Vehicle (NGDV),
which calls for the delivery of between 50,000 and 165,000 vehicles over a period of 10 years and will consist of both zero-emission battery electric vehicles (BEV) and fuel-efficient low-
emission internal combustion engine vehicles (ICE), upgrading the USPS fleet to be increasingly sustainable.
25 Jan 22. HORIBA MIRA confirmed today the successful award of a £3m contact from the MOD’s Future Capability Group to re-supply front line UK forces using an intelligent just-in-time ordering capability delivered by unmanned air and ground vehicles as an integral part of battlefield management applications. The autonomous solution will enhance the speed, efficiency and safety of combat missions. By de-risking troops from battlefield exposure associated with logistical operations, manpower can be better deployed in combat roles and missions can be delivered at greater tempo. This aim is consistent with the ambition set out in last March’s Defence Command Paper, Defence in a Competitive Age, which envisages self-sufficient Brigade Combat Teams able to meet demand by drawing on their own dedicated logistics and combat support units.
AGILE is distinct in the make-up of the companies selected by HORIBA MIRA to deliver the end-to-end solution; rather than large defence contractors, all of AGILE’s expert partners are smaller, UK-based innovators with cutting-edge hardware and software technologies that have the capacity to deliver HM Forces with a competitive advantage. The companies supporting AGILE include automation specialists, Blue Prism, mesh communications experts, DTC Limited and three consortium members providing unmanned aerial systems, including Malloy Aeronautics, Skylift UAV and Vulcan UAV.
HORIBA MIRA is leading the project, with responsibility for integration of the robotic & autonomous battlespace management systems and provision of its VIKING six-wheel unmanned ground vehicle. VIKING is distinct for its performance that allows it to carry payloads of 750kg at speeds of up to 50km/h with high manoeuvrability achieved through its 6-wheel independent suspension and 4-wheel steering. VIKING is powered by a diesel electric parallel hybrid powertrain which delivers 20 km of silent operation and a total range of up to 200km.
VIKING’s highly advanced autonomous operation has been built on HORIBA MIRA’s MACE system that has been in continuous development for 15 years. MACE uses vision-based AI for terrain and object recognition, for mapping, routeing and obstacle avoidance even in GPS-denied environments.
The AGILE solution is hosted on a single mesh network linking multiple air and ground platforms, and is directed through HORIBA MIRA’s battlespace management software which can be controlled by a single user.
The work builds upon previous projects that MIRA has completed with Dstl, the UK’s Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) developing new technology for Autonomous Last Mile Resupply (ALMRS) and Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment (JTAAR). It is a continuation of support for getting the latest technology into the hands of HM Armed Forces through the Defence Transformation Fund.
Andy Maloney, Chief Engineer for UGVs and Defence at HORIBA MIRA said, “This is a fantastic opportunity to capture the ingenuity of a number of leading UK-based companies, and advanced AI-based autonomy that we previously developed with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory and the Defence & Security Accelerator, to create a rapid development and experimentation programme to give the British Army durable advantage through emerging technologies.”
James Gavin, Head FCG at DE&S, said, “Our team used a dynamic commercial approach to stimulate industry and draw in over 50 companies who have key technologies in this area. They then worked with pace and agility to identify three suppliers offering potential solutions from a vast amount of industry specialists.”
25 Jan 22. Jankel secures contract for design and manufacture of crew seating on UK’s Challenger 3 programme. Jankel, a leader in advanced protection systems for military vehicles and their occupants, has won a contract from Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) worth over £2m for the design, development and delivery of 148 vehicle crew seating sets (444 seats) as part of the UK’s Challenger 3 programme.
The contract awarded by RBSL – the prime contractor for the Challenger 3 programme – ensures that the British Army will receive world-class seating designed with high-levels of protection for the Commander, Gunner and Loader.
The seating systems will be designed and manufactured at Jankel’s UK production facility in Rustington, West Sussex, which currently employs c.150 members of staff including skilled technicians, engineering specialists, plus a team of apprentices, graduates and industry placement students.
Jankel estimates that this contract will help to create and/or sustain over 50 jobs. This programme will also help sustain and further develop a variety of skills across the workforce through specialist design, manufacture and fabrication tasks.
The contract will be split into development and manufacturing phases. During the development phase, Jankel will undertake the design, development and integration of the new suite of seats into the Challenger 3 Main Battle Tank, followed by verification through design reviews and rigorous testing. Once the new seating has been fully tested, certified and signed off, the manufacture phase is scheduled to commence in 2025.
Nick Long, RBSL Project Director for Challenger 3, said:
“Having announced the overall Challenger 3 contract award in May 2021, we have mobilised and are making great progress in developing the Challenger 3 solution. This will be a real team effort, with a critical contribution coming from partners like Jankel. It is therefore a pleasure to be announcing this contract award, which helps protect UK skills and manufacturing, as well as prioritises the safety and protection of Challenger 3’s crews.”
Andrew Jankel, Chairman at Jankel, said:
“We at Jankel are very proud to have been awarded this contract to support the Challenger 3 programme. Jankel has a long history in innovation and complex problem solving, combined with a deep understanding of how to integrate protection and occupant survivability systems into specialist military platforms. As a global group of companies founded and headquartered in UK, we are extremely pleased that we can bring all that experience and expertise to designing and delivering the best possible seating protection for our British Army’s tank crews of the future.”
24 Jan 22. Lawmakers ask Austin to rush Abrams sale to Poland. Top Republicans on Monday made a push to accelerate Washington’s proposed sale of 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks to NATO ally Poland, which has been pending since last summer, in light of the escalating crisis with Russia. The ranking members of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., and the House Intelligence Committee, Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, with Rep. Lisa McClain, R-Mich., argue expediting the sale, “especially as Russia builds-up forces around Ukraine, would send an important message to both NATO and the Kremlin.”
“Further, helping to equip Poland with the M1A2 tank would serve to displace Soviet-era equipment in the Polish force structure, and thus enhance interoperability with U.S. and NATO forces, while simultaneously strengthening the U.S. industrial base,” the.
Both Poland and Abrams-maker General Dynamics, of Reston, Va., have said they expect the first delivery of the tanks in 2022. After meeting with Austin in October, Polish Defence Minister Mariusz Błaszczak said Austin thought “equipping the Polish Army with Abrams tanks is absolutely justified as it builds interoperability between American and Polish forces.”
“Everything indicates that the first Abrams tanks will be used by the Polish Army next year,” Błaszczak said at the time.
The Defense Security Cooperation Agency has yet to notify Congress the sale has been approved.
Poland, whose brigades are currently equipped with Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5 tanks, is seeking to replace the Soviet-designed T-72 and PT-91 tanks, to counter the most modern Russian T-14 Armata tanks.
The letter comes as tensions soar between Russia and the West over concerns Moscow is planning to invade Ukraine, with NATO outlining potential troop and ship deployments.
Russia has massed an estimated 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, demanding NATO promise it will never allow Ukraine to join and that other actions, such as stationing alliance troops in former Soviet bloc countries, be curtailed. Some of these, like any pledge to permanently bar Ukraine, are nonstarters for NATO — creating a seemingly intractable deadlock many fear can only end in war.
President Joe Biden said last week the U.S. would, in light of NATO’s mutual-defense commitments, boost its troop presence in eastern NATO members like Poland and Romania, if Russia sends more forces into Ukraine.
Stacie Pettyjohn, director of the defense program at the Center for a New American Security, said it’s unlikely the tank sale could be expedited in time to stop a Russian invasion of Ukraine, but providing Poland with the tanks makes sense strategically, to bolster NATO’s defenses in the north.
In a conflict, it’s unlikely Poland would deploy its heavy forces to Ukraine or Belarus, but improving Poland’s ability to defend itself could blunt a potential avenue of attack for Russia. And those maneuverable, protected forces would have a better chance of standing up to Russian artillery.
“If they’re thinking of defending their country and up through the Baltics, being able to maneuver and having heavy forces to interpose themselves between Russian ones, would slow [the Russian forces] down and then let NATO bring its air power in to begin to attrit them,” Pettyjohn said. (Source: Defense News)
21 Jan 22. US Army Sees Progress with Leader-Follower Vehicle Technology. The US Army is attempting to leverage robotics and other capabilities to enable its “leader-follower” concept for vehicle convoys. After years of work, the Army has made strides in developing the technology.
At the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, roadside bombs planted by insurgents maimed and killed servicemembers and civilians alike, targeting vehicle convoys ferrying troops and supplies to bases.
To deal with the threat more immediately, the military invested bns of dollars into uparmored, mine-resistant vehicles that could withstand blasts better. At the same time, it kicked off an ongoing, long-term effort to build autonomous “leader-follow” tech that could cut down on the number of soldiers in harm’s way in future fights as well as free up troops for other tasks.
The service is demonstrating progress. It has tested its leader-follower autonomy software at events such as Project Convergence 2021, where the Army tried out technology that can support its offering for the Pentagon’s joint all-domain command and control concept. Additional work is being conducted at bases such as Fort Polk, Louisiana, and Fort Sill, Oklahoma.
The Army has primarily been using what it calls palletized load systems, or PLS, unmanned follower vehicles, during its experiments, said Maj. Benjamin Hormann, expedient leader-follower project officer at Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center. Soldiers from the 41ST Transportation Company currently own 60 M1075 PLS trucks that are equipped with an autonomy system.
“The unit received new equipment training over two years ago and has implemented a ‘train-the-trainer’ strategy in order to maintain proficiency throughout the year,” he said in an email. “This unit provides real-time feedback to software developers and engineers that get them the capability they want/need very quickly.”
The vehicles are currently using a software version known as LF 1.3.
The Ground Vehicle Systems Center is employing what it calls an “engineering in the dirt concept” where soldier feedback is run through an agile software sprint to develop and update the system every 90 days, Hormann said. Meanwhile, the unit also provides information so requirements and doctrine can be updated.
The Army showed off its expedient leader-follower technology at the service’s Project Convergence exercise at Yuma Proving Ground, Arizona, this past fall, he said. The annual experiment has been called a “campaign of learning” by officials and is meant to contribute to the Pentagon’s JADC2 effort, which aims to better link sensors and platforms into an operating network.
At Project Convergence, officials employed two versions of its autonomy software and completed more than 3,000 miles of robotics testing, Hormann said. The autonomy system was tested on palletized load system trucks, the cold weather all-terrain vehicle and the logistics vehicle system replacement platform.
The Army plans to test leader-follower technology at Project Convergence 2022 with an autonomous missile launcher demonstrator as part of an effort with Army Futures Command’s long-range precision fires cross-functional team and DEVCOM’s Aviation and Missile Center, Hormann said.
Meanwhile, the service recently completed the final increment of capability improvements for its expedient leader-follower program, he said.
For example, the service merged existing autonomy software with a government-owned Robotic Technology Kernel, he said. RTK is the Army’s library of modular software packages that can be used for common ground autonomy software. The software is based on what is known as the Robotic Open System Architecture-Military.
The most recent increment also developed a feature known as “assembly and disassembly” where autonomous PLS trucks could form into a column formation based on orders from a user, as well as “park” the platforms into a line, whether it be from front-to-back or side-to-side, he added.
Another new capability is a “retrotraverse” feature with trailers, which allows the PLS vehicle to reverse and employs what Hormann called a “pin-and-pin-out function.”
This capability allows “the warfighter to back up an autonomous convoy with a trailer without having to get out and put the trailer traversing table locking pin in,” he explained.
Coming up next for the leader-follower program is Army Test and Evaluation Command safety testing for maturation of its software version 2.0 system.
Over the next two years, the 41st Transportation Company is set to participate in three Collective Training Center exercises with leader-follower technology, Hormann added.
The GVSC and product management office for robotic autonomous systems also plan to further mature the technology’s software and hardware, he noted. This includes increased reliability and further hardening of the system.
The Army is currently using a “buy, try, decide” procurement model and a mid-tier acquisition rapid fielding approach when it comes to acquiring the systems, he said.
“There will be a later decision point to increase capability and mass produce the optionally manned leader-follower system for the PLS program of record,” Hormann noted.
The Army has been working on autonomous military vehicles since 1999, he said. Some of the platforms the technology has been tested on includes Humvees, HX60 tactical trucks, RG-31 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles, medium tactical vehicle replacement systems, M915 tractor trucks, medium tactical vehicles, LMTV light utility trucks and heavy equipment transporters.
More recently, the autonomy hardware and software systems developed through the Ground Vehicle Systems Center include the palletized load system, the cold weather all-terrain vehicle, the high mobility artillery rocket system as well as the Marine Corps’ logistics vehicle system replacement platform and the Corps’ Joint Light Tactical Vehicle Rouge Fires variant, Hormann said.
One company that has been working with the Army on leader-follower technology is Clarksburg, Maryland-based Robotic Research.
In 2018, the Army awarded the firm a three-year, $49.7m contract to provide autonomy kits for large convoy resupply vehicles as part of the expedient leader-follower program. Robotic Research has had its participation extended with various National Advanced Mobility Consortium contract vehicles, said Jim Frelk, the company’s senior vice president. It is currently offering the service technical support on the expedient leader-follower effort.
The organization has been working alongside vehicle manufacturers such as Oshkosh Defense to outfit platforms with its leader-follower autonomy software in places such as Fort Polk, Fort Sill and Camp Grayling, Michigan, for testing. The company provides the autonomy software and Oshkosh provides the drive-by-wire kit for the vehicles, he said.
The company has been working on capabilities such as “safe harbor” features, he noted. Safe harbor functions tell platforms what they should do if there is an attack or breakdown in the systems’ sensors.
Leader-follower technology has matured substantially over the years and is at a point where it can now be deployed, Frelk said. “The basic software … that has been demonstrated, in our opinion, doesn’t have a lot left to do before you begin to deploy it.”
However, there are still some challenges and room for improvement. These include the hardening of sensors and better integration between the vehicles and the onboard equipment, he said.
There are typically seven or eight vehicles in an autonomous convoy, Frelk said. They are all equipped with an autonomy kit and any of the vehicles can take over as the “leader” platform.
“There’s no requirement today that there will be a specific vehicle designated” as the lead platform, he noted.
Robotic Research is also working with the Army, the German Federal Ministry of Defence and Rheinmetall to support leader-follower technology with partner nations.
The U.S. Army wants “to expand this capability and make it interoperable with other vehicles … for convoy operations with allied forces,” he said.
While the Pentagon has shifted its focus from counterinsurgency operations to great power competition with adversaries Russia and China, Frelk said there is still a need for leader-follower technology.
“There is still going to be vulnerabilities to convoy operations and [a desire to] to reduce the number of deaths and improve … the functionality of moving things rapidly,” he said. “Leader-follower is going to be useful.”
Additionally, the autonomy packages that are being tested with the leader-follower program are not just relevant for convoy operations, Frelk said. The program has an impact on other vehicles including combat systems.
The same “autonomy kit that’s proved out on leader-follower is being deployed on other systems that are weaponized systems,” he said.
“Think of it as a springboard to combat vehicles and other vehicles being able to operate in GPS-denied environments autonomously.”
The basic software stack is portable and can be used with a variety of systems, but different platforms may require separate sensors, he noted.
For example, the autonomy needed for off-road operations will be different compared to on-road ops.
“It’s a tweaking of the system, not a whole new system,” he explained.
Besides working with the Army, Robotic Research also has contracts with other Defense Department components such as the Defense Logistics Agency, Frelk said. Last year, DLA awarded the company a contract to develop an unmanned autonomous guided vehicle to tow loaded carts inside and outside warehouses.
DLA has 20 storage sites and more than 570 warehouses, according to a Robotic Research press release. The development of the AGV could lead to follow-on contracts for as many as 100 vehicles.
The company is also working with the Defense Threat Reduction Agency on counter-weapons of mass destruction efforts, Frelk said.
Meanwhile, in late 2021 Robotic Research completed a $228 m Series A funding round to expand its commercial offerings. That will bear fruit for the military, Frelk said.
“The government gets to benefit from the number of miles that are being driven with similar autonomy capability and the lessons learned there,” he said. (Source: glstrade.com/NDIA)
24 Jan 22. Tyron receives new ATR-Carbon order. Tyron Runflat Ltd has doubled production of its All-Terrain Runflat (ATR) Carbon system as it prepares to deliver full vehicle sets to an international armoured vehicle manufacturer. This second order for the ATR-Carbon system includes full sets for the vehicle prototype, test vehicles and the first vehicle batch. The patented ATR-Carbon is a re-designed version of Tyron’s ATR-Multi-Piece (ATR-MP) runflat. The ATR-Carbon has a carbon fibre spine in place of the ATR-MP’s metal spine, which reduces the total runflat weight by 40 percent – making it the lightest rubber runflat on the market. By helping to reduce the overall weight of the vehicle, the ATR-Carbon improves rotational mass, meeting growing demand for lightweight solutions for military vehicles, particularly hybrid and electric armoured vehicles. It also retains the operational advantages of the original system, enabling vehicles to retain mobility and return safely to base following tyre strike caused by ballistic attack or rapid deflation.
“The biggest challenge for manufacturers of hybrid and electric military wheeled vehicles is the inertia required to accelerate a vehicle from standstill. This can be the greatest drain on the power source, limiting operational range between charges,” Peter Simson, Director, Tyron Runflat, said. “So what we are hearing from the key design and development engineers is the need for innovative solutions to reduce the weight of the vehicle, and in particular the un-sprung mass. The ATR-Carbon is designed to do exactly this.
“As it is 40% lighter than standard systems, that can result in a 250kg unsprung weight reduction on an 8×8 armoured fighting vehicle – that is significant when every kg counts.”
As a multi-piece runflat, the ATR-Carbon does not require a hydraulic press to squeeze the runflat in and out of the tyre, making it field-mountable and demountable and minimising the logistics footprint of armoured vehicles.
Tyron is exhibiting its full range of All Terrain Rubber (ATR) Runflats at IAV 2022, including its patented multi-piece unit, the ATR-MP, currently being delivered for the British Army’s Ridgback and Mastiff vehicle upgrade programme; low-cost ATR Single Piece; and ATR-Custom for vehicles fitted with standard single piece wheels.
18 Jan 22. Lessons from the Ajax Programme. This paper seeks to address the wider issues of how and why the Ajax programme reached its current condition, and points to four early learnings.
The travails of the Ajax programme have been widely publicised in Parliament and the media. This Emerging Insights paper provides an interim analysis of how and why this situation has come about.
It argues that the plight of the programme must be understood in the context of over 15 years of British Army and Ministry of Defence (MoD) failure to follow through on armoured vehicle projects, resulting in a loss of expertise in both the industrial and governmental sectors. It also confirms that the MoD, the Army customer, the procurement body and industry have all contributed to the programme’s shortcomings. The paper identifies four preliminary lessons.
First, it underlines the necessity for government to maintain a drumbeat of orders if it wishes to maintain a national industrial capability in a sector.
Second, if government runs down its in-house expertise, it must rely on corporate claims about what is possible in a period of time for a fixed sum of money. Yet, especially in a competitive context, companies can be driven towards excessive optimism in their offers.
Third, when projects involve an extensive development and production effort, a team approach that brings together suppliers, procurement bodies and customers is likely to work better than arms-length relationships.
Fourth, looking for individuals and bodies to blame does not incentivise transparency and effective lesson identification and learning.
The paper recommends that the planned inquiry focuses on holding to account individuals who were involved not only in recent years but also from the start of the programme, requiring them to identify the decisions they took. There is a need to understand the pressures that directed them to behave as they did so future acquisition programmes can be managed differently. The paper includes key questions for all the parties involved.
Many defence budgets overrun their schedules and budgets, and do not fulfil all their requirements. However, it is rare for an order to go into production that is fundamentally unsafe for its crews and simply not fit for purpose. (Source: RUSI)
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