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02 Mar 22. Poorly made Chinese tires, a new theory on Russia’s slow advance. An interesting new theory has emerged explaining the slow advance of Russia’s armoured convoy into Ukraine, with online experts suggesting that substandard vehicle maintenance and poorly made Chinese tires have delayed Russian approaches.
A week into the conflict, and theories are abound over the state and speed of Russia’s advance into Ukraine. Late last week, media reports cited former Commander of the Estonian Defence Forces Riho Terras, arguing that Russia would not be able to materially or economically sustain its advance into Ukraine for more than ten days. In his analysis, Terras went as far as to suggest that Russia was rationing three to four days reserves of missiles.
Not all analysis has been so dismissive of Russian military and economic capabilities. Recently, Newsweek reported that Russia “has over $630 billion in hard currency reserves” while senior Russian official Viktor Tatarintsev stated bluntly that Russia “doesn’t give a sh*t” about economic sanctions. Russia has also had the opportunity to battleharden and mature their technology throughout the civil war in Syria.
However, there appears to be a level of consensus that the advance of Russian armour has remained conspicuously slow. The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence provided an intelligence update on the 3rd of March that the Russian convoy was delayed by “staunch Ukrainian resistance, mechanical breakdown and congestion. The column has made little discernible progress in over three days.” Their previous update alleged the existence of “ongoing logistical difficulties. However, there may be new dimensions to the delayed Russian advance: substandard vehicle maintenance prior to the invasion and poorly made Chinese tires. In early March, online experts took to Twitter to analyse images and videos of abandoned Russian vehicles and obscure vehicle formations. Examining imagery of abandoned Pantsir-S1 wheeled gun-missile systems, former quality auditor of US Army tactical vehicles Trent Telenko explained that the Russian military vehicles were insufficiently maintained prior to the invasion of Ukraine.
“When you leave military truck tires in one place for months on end. The side walls get rotted/brittle such that using low tire pressure setting for any appreciable distance will cause the tires to fail catastrophically via rips,” Telenko tweeted.
The result? Russian convoys were unable to release air pressure from the tires – a necessity when driving through heavy mud – and were forced to take main roads to avoid getting bogged. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Mar 22. Iraqi Army returning Russian helicopters to service. Iraq’s defence minister visited Taji Air Base on 1 March to inspect Russian helicopters that have been returned to service, according to the Iraqi Ministry of Defence. The defence ministry released a video showing Minister of Defence Juma Anad Sadoun inspecting Mi-28NE and Mi-35M attack helicopters, as well as Mi-17 utility helicopters. At least 10 helicopters took off during the event.
“We just demonstrated the repair campaign for a number of military helicopters. A short while ago, we flew them at the same time,” the minister said after noting that their serviceability had been very poor. “We are continuing with this campaign and in the near future we are planning to repair a second batch of helicopters, and so forth, until we complete the repair of all broken-down helicopters, and thus increase the overall readiness level to more than 80%.”
Russian sources have reported that Iraq ordered 15 Mi-28NE and 28 Mi-35M helicopters, which began arriving in late 2013 and mid-2014 respectively. (Source: Janes)
02 Mar 22. US Army eliminates BAE Systems from ‘light tank’ competition. BAE Systems delivered its final ‘light tank’ prototype to the US Army in early February, one-and-a-half-years later than anticipated, but the company has now been disqualified from competing due to noncompliance issues, two industry sources with knowledge of the programme separately confirmed to Janes. The decision leaves General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) as the only competitor still vying for the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) contract. Neither the army, BAE Systems, nor GDLS wanted to discuss the state of the MPF programme, all citing the ongoing competition.
“The army cannot comment on the status of individual proposals at this time,” Ashley John, the Public Affairs Director for the army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems, wrote in a 1 March statement to Janes. She noted that the source selection process is still ongoing, and that the army anticipates making a final production selection in mid-2022 and will reach the first unit equipped milestone in 2025. (Source: Janes)
02 Mar 22. BAE Systems Hägglunds outlines BvS10 offer for South Korea. BAE Systems Hägglunds believes the Republic of Korea Armed Forces has a capability gap that the company can fill with its BvS10 armoured all-terrain vehicle.
BAE Systems Hägglunds also produces the BvS10 Beowulf, which is a variant equipped with less armour. Darren Restarick, region sales director for BAE Systems Hägglunds and platform manager for BvS10 and Beowulf told Janes that South Korea has not issued a requirement for a programme that may involve the BvS10. However, the company sees an opportunity for the BvS10 with the RoK Armed Forces. The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) operates the Bv206. “The Bv206 is an ageing product, and with ageing products, support over a long period becomes more difficult with obsolescence,” said Restarick. (Source: Janes)
01 Mar 22. US Army activates prepositioned stocks for first time in wake of Ukraine invasion. The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division soldiers deploying to Germany in response to the activation of the NATO Response Force are being outfitted with thousands of vehicles and equipment pieces from Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 for the first time in the program’s history.
Army Prepositioned Stocks-2 are stock piles of equipment and gear waiting for rapidly mobilized units to tap into during international military crises. And for the first time in the 405th Army Field Support Brigade’s APS-2 program history, the unit was tasked with outfitting an entire brigade as soldiers from Fort Stewart, Georgia, deployed to Europe in the past few days.
Prepositioned equipment and rations is a Cold War-era idea that would have helped U.S. forces rapidly respond to a Soviet assault in West Germany without having to wait on their own units’ shipments of gear.
It was a “break-glass” type of preparation. Soldiers would only touch the stocks in case of war, which is why the utilization of APS-2 in the conflict between Ukraine and Russia is historic; It signifies the seriousness of the invasion and the ramifications it may have for Europe and U.S. military members stationed and deployed to the region.
Soldiers from all four battalions of the 405th AFSB worked tirelessly in the first few weeks of February to prep their respective APS-2 sites as tensions with Russia escalated.
“We’ve put a lot of work into planning this out to the smallest of details, and all this planning is helping to make this operation successful,” said Col. Brad Bane, commander of the 405th AFSB. “I’m very proud of our entire team. They’re working tirelessly to execute this complex, no-notice mission.”
Most of the equipment and vehicles currently being drawn are coming from the Coleman work site under the command and control of Army Field Support Battalion-Mannheim. Equipment and vehicles from the ASP-2 draw are in the process of being delivered and handed over at the Grafenwoehr Training Area.
Nearly 7,000 soldiers from Fort Stewart, Georgia, were mobilized Feb. 24 in the immediate wake of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Additional troops in transportation and fire support units also stood up after the response force was activated.
“We are grateful to our allies Canada and the United States for their recent commitments to deploy an additional 7,460 troops, including an armored brigade combat team, artillery units, a naval frigate, and surveillance aircraft, to support this Alliance-wide effort,” Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, head of U.S. European Command and the supreme allied commander of NATO in Europe, said in a Friday statement.
U.S. troops will be assigned to NATO support missions outside of Ukraine as needed. They will join the thousands of troops already spread across Germany and the Baltic states, including Poland, Romania and Hungary.
Included in the equipment issue are tracked vehicles like the M1 Abrams main battle tank and M2 Bradley fighting vehicle. Also included are Paladins, generators, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and more.
Additional equipment from APS-2 will be sent commercially from Mannheim to Grafenwoehr.
“The execution of APS-2 ECHA operations is a complex and challenging task that truly requires a robust team effort to ensure mission success,” AFSB-Germany commander Lt. Col. Rebecca Milkowski said in an Army press release.
The task of organizing and issuing APS-2 was a multi-unit effort, Milkowski said. She cited support given by U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, 7th Army Training Command, 624th Movement Control Team, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 409th Contracting Support Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command and U.S. Army Sustainment Command.
“It is incredible to see so many diverse organizations come together to enable our team to rapidly receive, stage and issue an ABCT’s worth of equipment to 1st ABCT, 3rd Inf. Div. in support of operations here in Europe,” Milkowski said in the release.
More than 600 pieces of equipment were initially drawn from the 405th AFSB’s APS-2 sites in early February, and sent forward to U.S. forces already augmenting military missions in Eastern Europe.
Thousands of pieces of equipment will continue to be drawn and shipped to Grafenwoehr to support 1st ABCT soldiers as their European deployment progresses. (Source: Army Times)
01 Mar 22. Aussie manufacturers support Rheinmetall’s US optionally manned fighting vehicle program. Rheinmetall has partnered with Frontline Manufacturing to develop hulls for the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle, destined for export to the United States as part of the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program. The announcement comes as Frontline Manufacturing invested in a steel folding machine having received support via the Commonwealth’s sovereign defence industry grant. In collaboration with Australian company Bisalloy Steel, the new folding machine enables the company to bend and craft the Lynx hull and engage with the IFV export market.
Gary Stewart, managing director of Rheinmetall Defence Australia, explained that more Australian companies have begun gaining the necessary requirements to build and export defence vehicles with Rheinmetall expecting to undertake manufacturing of the Lynx alongside Australian industrial capability via their Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Queensland.
“Frontline Manufacturing is an Australian success story. Established in 1996, the company worked hard to establish a knowledge-based metal component manufacturing business. In recent years, Frontline Manufacturing has increased its capabilities with the support of companies like Rheinmetall, to offer services including cutting and folding of military vehicle hulls,” Stewart said.
“Employing local workers in specialised trades and working on programs such as the Lynx IFV ensures critical skills are retained in Australia.”
“The Lynx vehicle export order will be delivered to Rheinmetall in the United States supporting the business’ worldwide activities underway in the OMFV competition for the USA’s Bradley fighting vehicle replacement program.
“Lynx is a next-generation fighting vehicle with unmatched protection and lethality. Rheinmetall has developed a next-generation electronic architecture to ensure on-board sensors, systems and effectors are able to be networked into the USA’s Department of Defense’s broader network architecture,” Stewart concluded. (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Mar 22. US Army details plans for ‘full and open’ OMFV competition. Three teams will compete in the next phases of the US Army’s M2 Bradley infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) replacement competition if all goes as planned, according to draft solicitation documents posted on 28 February.
After revamping its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) competition in 2020, the army moved ahead with a new plan that now has five companies – American Rheinmetall Vehicle, BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS), Oshkosh Defense, and Point Blank Enterprises – participating in a concept design phase. This portion of the programme will end around mid-2022 and the army will take a three to five month ‘break’ to evaluate bids from all companies interested in competing in the next two phases of the competition. (Source: Janes)
28 Feb 22. PT Pindad conducts tests on the Harimau medium tank. Indonesia’s PT Pindad conducted firing tests on the Harimau medium tank during late February. The Harimau was tested at the Indonesian Army’s Infantry Education Center. PT Pindad is developing the medium tank in collaboration with Turkey’s FNSS. According to PT Pindad, the test-firing was part of a series of factory acceptance tests (FATs). These trials aimed to ensure that Harimau’s 105 mm turret met the latest design and specification requirements, along with enhancement goals. The test-firing was conducted with a stationary Harimau shooting at a 4×4 m static target that was stationed 1,250 m away. The medium tank fired high explosive plastic tracer and target practice cone stabilized discarding sabot with tracer projectiles. The firing tests included shooting at the front, right, left, and back of the vehicle. The Harimau underwent acceleration and deceleration tests next. The vehicle also went through the parallel beam, embarkation, and embankment tests, as well as other trials. PT Pindad said the latest design enhancements on the medium tank include the front nose angle and increased visibility for the driver. (Source: Janes)
28 Feb 22. Marlborough Communications Limited (MCL) and its technology partner Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) have been awarded a contract to deliver demonstrations of their highly-automated ground and air resupply network, providing innovative capability based on the latest autonomous technology as part of Project Theseus. This contract with Future Capabilities Group within the Ministry of Defence is the second contract win for MCL and IAI, and further cements the positive relationship between the two organisations.
Through Project Theseus the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) aims to investigate the potential to apply autonomy to the ordering, planning, and delivery of supplies as well as the ability to increase the flow and efficiency of delivery on the battlefield. This will see MCL and IAI define and deliver an end-to-end, highly automated ground and air resupply network, which is enabled by a logistics information system and operational 24 hours a day, 7 days a week in all conditions. The capability will be facilitated by land and air robotic and autonomous systems (RAS), a mission planner, battlespace management applications and logistics information system to provide tactical last-mile resupply to dismounted forces.
The resupply network will incorporate the REX MK-2 uncrewed ground vehicles to provide robust and reliable means of autonomous delivery, as well as uncrewed aerial vehicles and a mission management command control system with autonomous decision-making capability. The solution will also be tasked through a human-portable user interface system, enabling operator intervention if required. The two companies will also have to deliver improvements to the system throughout the contract, with the improvements and final demonstration taking place in early 2022.
Shane Knight, Managing Director, MCL, said: “We’re proud to be working in partnership with IAI to deliver this innovative capability demonstration to the MoD as part of Project Theseus. Our combined expertise and knowledge of robotic and autonomous systems are crucial to the creation of the ground and air resupply network. This contract is a clear demonstration of the strength of our partnership with IAI, which we are confident will continue to grow and strengthen throughout the delivery of the Theseus project. It also solidifies our position as a major contractor to the UK MoD.”
Boaz Levy, President and CEO of IAI, said: “IAI looks forward to cooperating with MCL to provide this demonstration to the UK MoD as part of Project Theseus. Together IAI and MCL have a superior combined knowledge of autonomous land robotic systems to support advanced ground and air resupply networks. This cooperation with MCL further demonstrates the strength of IAI and the UK defense industries’ collaborations. IAI is proud to collaborate with our UK partner, to supply advanced combat solutions, and further the company’s presence in the region as part of our overarching strategy.”
MCL and IAI were recently awarded a contract to deliver Robotic Platoon Vehicles (RPVs) to Spiral 2 of the UK MoD’s RPV Experimentation Programme.
21 Feb 22. The first batch of new Toyota Hilux EOD [Explosive Ordnance Disposal] trucks has been delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
In February the first batch of Toyota Hilux mine disposal trucks was delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces Juozas Vitkus Engineer Battalion. The new vehicles will replace outdated and worn out Mitsubishi L200 ATVs. According to the contract between the Defence Materiel Agency under the MoD and Autotoja UAB signed last August, the Lithuanian Armed Forces will receive up to 30 vehicles. Designed for explosive ordnance disposal, Toyota Hilux meets the maximum security standard – 5 star Euro NCAP security rating. The new equipment will enable Lithuanian Armed Forces EOD specialists to reach the most remote locations safely and expeditiously to carry out their explosive and mine disposal and other tasks. The remaining part of the vehicles [order] is expected to be delivered to the Lithuanian Armed Forces by March. The project value totals EUR 1.1m. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
25 Feb 22. Babcock brings the armoured Toyota LC300 (Land Cruiser 300) to market in a European first having successfully passed ballistic and blast trials. Babcock, the aerospace, defence and security company, is proud to announce that its armoured Land Cruiser 300 has successfully passed ballistic and blast trials and is now available for pre-order.
Babcock is the first European armourer to market a tested and certified* solution for the vehicle, with units available for delivery in the second quarter of the calendar year, 2022.
The new Land Cruiser 300 Series is a complete redesign of the outgoing 200 Series, which launched in 2007. Toyota’s development objectives are outlined below:
- Inheriting and evolving the Land Cruiser’s essence of “reliability, durability, and off-road performance.”
- Creating a riding experience that enables the driver to drive with ease on any type of road around the world without tiring easily.
Employing its more than 20 years of experience armouring Toyota Sports Utility Vehicles, Babcock used its rapid-prototyping abilities to build upon the Toyota vehicle to produce a robust, safe and affordable armoured Land Cruiser 300 with class-leading payload and low unladen mass. The entirety of the design, development, testing, and manufacturing has been carried out within the UK. The protection package is completely integrated with Toyota’s base vehicle, offering an entirely armoured passenger compartment without internal bulkhead or secondary load space door, to maximise the internal dimensions and user experience.
During ballistic and blast trials in February 2022 the vehicle passed testing in compliance with PAS: 300, VPAM BRV2009, VPAM ERV2010, and STANAG 4569 AEP55 Volume 2.
Jason Price, Director, Vehicle Engineering, said: “Babcock is a leading defence contractor with a proven legacy of Toyota SUV armouring. We’ve been able to quickly leverage the full skill-set of our talented and experienced workforce to design and create a dependable vehicle fit for challenging environments. Babcock’s LC300 offering delivers when it matters – when security and safety is paramount.”
*Certification provided by QinetiQ. Testing conducted by Radnor Range. Instrumentation provided by TNO of the Netherlands. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
25 Feb 22. Proposed light tank battalion concept will require more armor crewmen. Army planners are building a new type of battalion for the light tank design that is nearing a decision by service officials and it’s going to require more armor crewmen. The Mobile Protected Firepower battalion concept is becoming a reality but it still faces its share of challenges. Current plans call for the MPF battalion to reside at the division level. It will then farm out companies to each brigade, said Christopher Stone, deputy director of the Army’s capability manager for the infantry brigade combat team. Stone spoke at the 2022 Maneuver Warfighter Conference at Fort Benning, Georgia on Feb. 16.
“The MPF company looks and smells like a tank company,” Stone said.
on the MPF structure await big Army approval, some of which will come from an oversight council meeting in March. The MPF platform decision could possibly come by May. The Army will choose between prototypes built by General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems.
The General Dynamics version is basically a scaled-down Abrams tank with a 105mm cannon. The BAE Systems version is similar to the M8 Buford armored gun system, which was previously developed to replace the M551 Sheridan light tank — once used by units such as the 82nd Airborne Division.
Both companies delivered a dozen prototypes for testing, evaluation and soldier feedback.
The light tanks went through soldier vehicle assessments with the 82nd Airborne Division and gunnery fires in 2021, Army Times sister publication Defense News reported.
The Army had to pair the development of both the platform and the unit as the program moved along. If out of sync, there’s a lot of wasted time and effort.
“The last thing we want to do is give you an MPF battalion. Then you’re waiting six years to receive the platforms,” Stone said.
The concept emerged in earnest from a “statement of need” in 2013 as Army leaders saw gaps in the infantry brigade firepower that could limit maneuver in large-scale combat against peer adversaries, Stone said.
At the time, Stone said, the service was a brigade-centric Army that had scaled down to fight counterinsurgency and counterterrorism wars, shedding some of its heavier assets not needed in those missions.
So direct fire assets and armor were consolidated at the brigade level. But that worked primarily because the units weren’t called upon as often as they will be in a more intense near-peer battle.
Fighting in that setup now would mean one company out of 40 companies being tasked with a quarter of the missions, which is not a sustainable model, Stone said.
So the Army will need to add more armor crewmen to formations.
Current plans for the MPF concept require a company of 64 armor crewmen in each infantry brigade from the MPF battalion. But that’s not the only demand on the armor field, which this concept creates. They’ll also need at least 24 armor maintenance soldiers per brigade to keep the light tanks running.
And leaders don’t want to strip out all of the assets from the brigade to create these positions, so the infantry brigades will retain much of their structure while adding the armor soldiers they need for the new integrated tank/infantry mission, Stone said.
In some units, such as the 1st Cavalry Division and the 1st Armor Division, which contain three brigades, leaders will have options to satisfy the new tank personnel requirements. But others with fewer brigades, such as 25th Infantry Division, don’t have as much personnel depth, according to Stone.
The Army wants to have the first unit equipped by fiscal year 2025, Stone said. Planners want the unit structure in place and a battalion headquarters ready to pair soldiers with light tanks before then.
While changes could occur, the 82nd Airborne Division, the 173rd Airborne Brigade and a not-yet-identified Army National Guard unit will likely be in the first round of fielding, Stone added.
Stone cautioned in his presentation that much of what he shared was still considered pre-decisional.
Over the next six months, as events unfold, Stone’s team will work out plans for units such as 10th Mountain Division, 25th Infantry Division and other high-priority units, he said.
Beyond personnel, Army leaders have other challenges to face, including a limited quantity and serviceability of 105mm ammunition stocks. Leaders also have to find out where to place these light tanks to provide the best use of assets with ease of access for units that haven’t had to accommodate tanks in decades.
“Adding 14 tanks to Fort Benning — not that high of an impact,” Stone said. But a tank company headed to a Guard unit in Wisconsin that’s never had such weapon systems is a different story, he added.
On top of those training, storage and maintenance concerns, the Army will be bound by local environmental questions, which will be demanding in places such as Hawaii, home of the 25th ID, and Alaska.
One solution would be staging equipment at locations other than where soldiers are based.
For example, Stone said, light tanks stored at Fort AP Hill, Virginia, or Fort Stewart, Georgia, could be accessed by soldiers at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The Army would still want to keep the tanks within at least a six-hour drive of the unit using them. The 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for instance, could train with light tanks stored at Fort Knox, Kentucky, which is a two-and-a-half hour drive.
Another item at issue is how to recover vehicles that go down. Right now, the only platform suited for the job is the M88A1 recovery vehicle, which comes in three variants.
Some of the repair parts for the older M88s are obsolete and there is not yet enough M88s to fill the light tank and heavier armor asset needs.
While the operational units will get these assets first in fiscal 2025, the schoolhouse and trainers at Fort Benning’s armor school aren’t expected to bring vehicles on-site until fiscal 2026. Under that plan, they won’t start pumping out trained MPF crewmen and leaders until fiscal 2027, Stone said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Army Times)
25 Feb 22. Hanwha eyes full-scale expansion in Australia. The South Korea-based company has expressed interest in ramping up business operations in Australia, buoyed by its recent receipt of the $1bn LAND 8116 contract. Hanwha Group has announced it is considering new business opportunities in the Australian market off the back of the burgeoning defence partnership between South Korea and Australia. This is reflected by the Commonwealth government’s recent award of the $1bn LAND 8116 contract to its subsidiary Hanwha Defense Australia, for the delivery of 30 AS9 Huntsman Self-Propelled Howitzers and 15 AS10 Armoured Ammunition Resupply Vehicles to the Australian Army. The manufacture of the vehicles is set to be supported by a new Hanwha production facility at Avalon Airport in Geelong, Victoria. Given this enhanced defence partnership, Hanwha Group is in discussions to set up a bilateral business channel with the Victorian government, aimed at addressing potential business co-operation and investment opportunities — dubbed the ‘Hanwha Forum’. A number of Hanwha subsidiaries are expected to promote their respective offerings as part of the forum, scheduled to commence during the first half of this year. This could include leveraging Hanwha’s engineering and construction offering to support complex development projects, as well as leveraging Hanwha’s space and satellite business arms to bolster collaboration on Urban Air Mobility (UAM) and satellite internet services. Meanwhile, Hanwha Defense is considering opportunities to cooperate with the Victorian government for the UK Mobile Fires Platform project by harnessing the new armoured vehicle facility in Geelong. Hanwha is also mulling potential opportunities across ammunition plants, guided weapons, and CCTV camera technology. The company can also offer finance, chemicals and advanced materials to Australian industrial partners.
“Hanwha and Australia have already forged a relationship based on mutual trust and friendship through defence business projects, and I think both parties have much to gain from further co-operation in other business sectors,” Richard Cho, managing director of Hanwha Defense Australia, said.
“The opportunities are significant for the Australian economy with the creation of hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of dollars in economic activity possible.”
In addition to the LAND 8116 contract Hanwha Defense Australia is proposing its Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) for the Commonwealth’s $18-$21bn LAND 400 Phase 3 project to supply the Australian Army with a fleet of up to 450 next-generation vehicles. Hanwha is competing against Rheinmetall Defence Australia, which has proposed its Lynx IFV. The Risk Mitigation Activity is now complete, with a selection announcement imminent. (Source: Defence Connect)
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