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17 Mar 22. Ajax Vehicles: Testing PQ.
Question for Ministry of Defence
Mr Kevan Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, when he plans to publish the Millbrook Test Report on AJAX.
17 March 2022
We do not plan to publish the report once trials have completed. The analysis of the report, which includes detailed information about the performance of military equipment could be potentially operationally sensitive However it will help inform the way ahead on Ajax and I will continue to keep the House updated on the outcome of our analysis and the implications of the programme.
BATTLESPACE Comment: Could this be a harbinger of worse to come for Ajax? To fail to publish the Report will only stoke debate in the Press that the MoD has something to hide and the project is terminal?
17 Mar 22. Cuban expertise sees over ten thousand military vehicles serviceable again. The professional and technical services provided to all four SA National Defence Force (SANDF) arms of service by Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces personnel has, among others, seen over R277m spent on repairing and preserving military vehicles, Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) heard. The total number of vehicles involved is 10 673, Brigadier-General BG Mtsweni of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) Logistics Division’s SA Forces Institute (SAFI) outlined in a presentation to the committee earlier this week. His presentation did not give dates, but presumably covers the 10 year life to date of the Cuba/South African defence bilateral agreement.
Maintenance, repair and refurbishment of military vehicles was one of the first outcomes of the bilateral. Under Project Thusano, a name seemingly adopted by the SANDF and Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence (DoD) to cover all Cuban/South African defence related undertakings, Cuban Revolutionary Armed Forces specialist personnel were deployed at vehicle parks and military workshops sited at, among others, Potchefstroom and Wallmannsthal. Their duties included mentoring SA Army Technical Services Corps (TSC) personnel.
Mtsweni’s presentation has it the Cuban connection was part and parcel of “preserving” 1 023 military vehicles and bringing another 9 720 back to serviceability.
Seven thousand seven hundred and fifty-one SA Army vehicles, ranging from Samil trucks through to Mamba personnel carriers, Mfezi ambulances and recovery units are now, according to the presentation, in usable condition.
The SA Navy (SAN) vehicle fleet’s availability is 1 049 better off thanks to the intervention of Cuban military mechanics alongside diesel, electrical and hydraulic specialists. The SA Military Health Service (SAMHS) fleet is 700 more and Special Forces finds itself with 106 serviceable vehicles added to its vehicle numbers. The SA Air Force (SAAF) has 44 more serviceable vehicles thanks to Cuban intervention.
All told, work done on preserving and bringing vehicles back to usable level saw expenditure of R277 625 161.40.
The Cuban contingent was active at any number of SAAF bases and facilities involved in over 19 800 “works”. These include 129 unspecified major and 2 172 light repairs, 440 “support activities to periodic aircraft maintenance”, repair of 52 test benches, 3 800 plus circuit inspections, 5 488 “trainings in testing and repairs”, “85 completed aircrafts” and “maintenance and preservation of 243 aviation bombs”.
The Cuban medical brigade, brought to South Africa as part of the national effort to combat the spread of COVID-19, along with other Cuban military doctors and medical personnel in South Africa were involved in treatment and care of just short of nineteen thousand patients. Procedures performed ranged from taking blood, resuscitation, PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tests, administering drugs, “vein channelling” and processing laboratory studies to “nursing procedures” as well as bathing and feeding patients. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
16 Mar 22. Indonesia Accepts First Batch of Turkey-Developed Kaplan Tanks. Indonesia’s military took delivery of the first batch of Kaplan MT/Harimau medium-weight tanks jointly produced by Ankara-based FNSS and Indonesian company PT Pindad.
This marks the first export of Turkish-developed tank.
Ismail Demir, head of the Presidency of Defense Industries (SSB) of Turkey said the tanks will be produced in both countries and that the contract included technology transfer. He revealed that mass production of Kaplan MT has begun and will continue.
The 30 to 35-ton tank’s turret is currently sourced from Belgium and the two countries have shown interest in developing it domestically.
A CMI Cockerill 3105 tower equipped to fire high-pressured 105mm shells provides the tank’s primary firepower while secondary weapon is a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. The tank has a full automatic transmission and is able to carry three crew members — a driver, shooter and commander. With a maximum speed of 70kmph the vehicle’s range is 450km. Ballistic guards protect the tank’s body and the vehicle has add-on armor. In addition, the tank’s belly is guarded against mines. (Source: https://www.defenseworld.net/)
16 Mar 22. GDELS signs agreement to produce armoured vehicles in Romania. The move is expected to ensure subsequent deliveries of the PIRANHA 5 wheeled armoured vehicles. General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) has entered into an agreement to support the production of wheeled armoured vehicles, in Romania. The local arm of the company, GDELS-Romania (GDELS-RO), will create an industrial consortium with Romanian partner C.N. ROMARM Uzina Mecanica Bucuresti (UMB) to set up the capability in the country. The agreement was signed in the Romanian capital of Bucharest, in the newly established vehicle production facility. Romanian Prime Minister Nicolae Ciuca and other officials were present at the event. GDELS signed a contract in 2018 to deliver up to 227 PIRANHA 5 wheeled armoured vehicles to Romania. The company has already delivered 60 locally produced vehicles. The establishment of the new consortium is expected to facilitate cooperation between GDELS-RO and UMB, as well as ensure subsequent deliveries. GDELS-Romania managing director Marinica Mirzu said: “This strategic partnership and cooperation on our PIRANHA 5, one of the most advanced 8×8 wheeled armoured vehicles in the world, demonstrates the clear and strong commitment of General Dynamics European Land Systems to become the leading and most reliable land systems supplier in Romania, and for the Romanian Army.” UMB managing director Mihai Rafiu said: “This consortium agreement between our companies represents a key element of our national security, and makes the PIRANHA 5 programme one of the best examples on how to bring advanced vehicle technology to our country.” Nato Response Force troops were deployed in Romania, after Russia invaded Ukraine. The response force was deployed to strengthen the defensive posture in the eastern part of the alliance. (Source: army-technology.com)
17 Mar 22. USMC and airmen conduct F-35A hot-pit refuel training. The exercise enhanced several aircraft platform skills of personnel in a stimulated operational environment. The US Marine Corps Installations Pacific (MCIPAC) and the US Air Force (USAF) have jointly practiced hot-pit refuelling with the F-35A Lightning II aircraft. In the two-day training at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, the MCIPAC marines and 355th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron airmen took part in the event. The training offered an opportunity to the participating personnel to hone a wide range of aircraft platform skills in a simulated operational environment. During this exercise, the airmen and marines were trained to use single-point refuel pump for refilling the F-35A Lightning II as soon as it lands. The hot-pit refuelling method allows the aircraft to refuel without stopping the engine, which decreases the response time in an operational environment.
355th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron crew chief Air Force staff sergeant Nicholas Williams said: “The goal of this class is to ensure marines fully understand how to refuel an F-35A hot-pit and follow an Agile Combat Employment sustainment mentality. The marines need to know how to refuel hot-pit because if the F-35A lands in the field, marines are the first to respond. When they respond, their goal is to refuel the airplane and possibly fix what is damaged and put the aircraft back in the fight.”
The event also involved training marines in the classroom environment, as well as on the field.
On the first day of the training, marines reviewed various parts of the aircraft along with learning about the safety and danger zones. They also practiced communication through hand-arm signals and used cold pit refuel technique at a parked F-35A jet.
The second day saw the MCIPAC personnel perform two final cold refuels in the aircraft hangers.
Later, a fueller, an aircraft director and an emergency fuel breaker helped to direct the jet, ensuring its safe landing.
Every F-35A jet took around 15 minutes to complete the refuelling before proceeding with their flight.
Marine Corps Air Station Futenma bulk fuel specialist sergeant gunnery Eric Pressman said: “This training will broaden our spectrum to multiple platforms, to include rotary-wing and fixed-wing airframes, not just from the Marine Corps, but also our sister branches, the Air Force, Navy, Army.
“We also hope to use this training with coalition aircraft that come into the air station.” (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 Mar 22. BAE Systems Australia secures funding to expand local aircraft sustainment hub. The prime has pledged to leverage new funding from the NSW government to expand its local aircraft sustainment capabilities and generate new employment opportunities in the Hunter region.
BAE Systems Australia is set to expand its Williamtown base after securing funding via the NSW government’s $250m Jobs Plus Program.
This includes the development of an additional set of regionally focused bays at the aircraft sustainment hub, used to support the management of an F-35 South Asia-Pacific Regional Depot.
These regional bays are tipped to increase export opportunities, attracting overseas aircraft and sustainment contracts from the region.
Deputy Premier and Minister for Regional NSW Paul Toole said the investment would help build the nation’s sovereign defence capability.
“This Australian-first facility will increase the number of international aircraft that can be maintained at Williamtown and make regional NSW more competitive for future defence export opportunities,” Deputy Premier Toole said.
“The NSW government has already invested more than $16m to develop infrastructure and skills in the Hunter region to strengthen its defence and aerospace industry, through the Astra Aerolab Defence Aviation Technology Precinct and the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct.”
The project is tipped to generate 55 maintenance and engineering jobs by 2030 and support 147 indirect jobs by 2024.
“This is a big win for highly skilled jobs in the Hunter, with STEM-focused roles making up 60 per cent of the BAE Systems workforce,” Minister for Enterprise, Investment and Trade Stuart Ayres added.
Parliamentary Secretary for the Hunter Taylor Martin said the investment would further expand BAE Systems Australia’s local supply chain.
“This investment will increase the number of workers and businesses operating here in the Williamtown Special Activation Precinct, and drive benefits for the entire supply chain through enhanced networking, information exchange and skills development,” Martin said.
BAE Systems Australia CEO Gabby Costigan welcomed the support from the NSW government via the Jobs Plus program.
“The facilities developed here will be a beacon for global F-35 fleets operating within and near our region,” Costigan said.
“BAE Systems Australia will continue working with our supply chain partners in the Hunter Valley to identify and secure new opportunities that build on the solid foundation of leading-edge aircraft support we have developed over two decades at Williamtown.”
This comes just months after BAE Systems secured a US$493m ($687m) contract modification from Lockheed Martin to upgrade and modernise the electronic warfare (EW) system for the F-35 Lightning II.
Specifically, BAE Systems has been tasked with delivering enhanced core hardware for the F-35’s high-performance EW mission system — referred to as AN/ASQ-239 — while also providing engineering support services and test infrastructure.
The upgrades are expected to enable the fifth-generation fighter to rapidly detect and address evolving electromagnetic threats in contested battlespaces by leveraging new sensors and more powerful signal processing. (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Mar 22. Latvia deployed a fleet of former British CVR-T or Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) armour on ALLIED SPIRIT 22 in Germany, reports Carl Schulze. Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22, conducted at the Hohenfels Training Area in Germany, in late January 2022, saw Latvia’s Sauszemes Spēku Mehanizētā Kājnieku Brigāde, a mechanised infantry brigade, being the major training audience. The brigade is the only major regular combat formation of the Nacionālie Bruņotie Spēki (NBS) Latvian Armed Forces. The two mechanised infantry battalions, of the brigade field ex-British vehicles of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) family. One of the two, 2. Mehanizētais Kājnieku Bataljons, saw action during the exercise held in southern Germany.
In 2014 Latvia procured 123 vehicles of the CVR(T) family, worth £39.4m, from the United Kingdom. The Latvian government approved the deal in August 2014 and it was signed by the defence ministers of both countries on 4th September of that year. These vehicles became available following the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review and due to the fact that the British Army was planning to replace its CVR(T) fleet with variants of the fully digitised Ajax multi-role armoured fighting vehicle family.
Prior to being delivered, the vehicles were refurbished and given some upgrades by BAE Systems Land Systems; since 2019 this company has formed part of the German-British joint venture Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). On 4th September 2015 the Latvian Ministry of Defence announced that the first four vehicles had been delivered and that they would be employed for training and familiarisation purposes. Since then the remaining vehicles were delivered in several batches between 2016 and early 2020. In Latvia depot level maintenance support for the vehicles is carried out by Zemgales Remonta Centrs (ZRC) Truck & Trailer Service in Jelgava. This company was selected for the task by BAE Systems Land Systems in 2018.
Latvian CVR(T) Fleet: Latvia procured the following variants of the CVR(T) family: FV103 Spartan armoured personnel carrier; FV104 Samaritan armoured ambulances; FV105 Sultan command post vehicle; FV106 Samson armoured recovery vehicle; and FV107 Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicle. All of these variants were fielded by 2. Mehanizētais Kājnieku Bataljons during Exercise ALLIED SPIRIT 22.
Those vehicles delivered to Latvia belong to the 1,017 that were modernised from 1999 onwards under the British Army Life Extension Programme (LEP). Back then the work was carried out jointly by Alvis Vehicles Limited and the Army Base Repair Organisation (ABRO). The LEP mainly saw the vehicles being fitted with a new 5.9 litre Cummins 6 BTA turbocharged diesel engine that develops 195hp. This engine replaced the old Jaguar XK 4.2 litre J60 No. 1 Mk 100B petrol engine, that was fitted in the CVR(T) fleet since they first entered operational service in 1972, and allowed for more fuel efficiency as well as boosting the road range of the vehicle.
Some of the Latvian CVR(T) vehicles also feature the Mine Blast Protection (MBP) and Ballistic Protection (BP) upgrades that were first introduced by the British Army at the beginning of Operation TELIC in 2003. The Ballistic Protection consists of, in addition to other features, an add-on armour package composed of plates of composite armour including layers of Kevlar and Ceramic. In the case of the FV107 Scimitar armoured reconnaissance vehicles, these are of the type that had their night fighting capabilities upgraded by the implementation of the Battle Group Thermal Imaging (BGTI) programme of the British Army.
In regard to the communications equipment, the vehicles are fitted with tactical multi-mission radios of the Falcon family manufactured by L3Harris Technologies Inc. Antennae employed with the radios are of the RF-3183-AT multiband vehicular antenna series from the same manufacturer, and RF-3184-AT320 omni-directional centre-fed dipole antennae. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
11 Mar 22. Rheinmetall Ready to Produce New Infantry Fighting Vehicles in Slovakia. Rheinmetall AG of Duesseldorf, Germany, released details today of its plans for a new factory in Eastern Slovakia and a massive investment into the Slovak economy. The company is hoping to supply 152 KF41 Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicles as part of the Slovak Armed Forces’ re-equipment programme. Rheinmetall also revealed names and roles among its nationwide network of Slovak industrial partners, all of whom, like the new factory in Eastern Slovakia, are scheduled to take part in delivering the Slovak Army’s IFV requirements as well as being integrated into the Rheinmetall Global Supply Chain for the Lynx and other military products manufactured for export.
The Slovak Ministry of Defence has budgeted €1.7bn for the replacement of Slovakia’s ageing fleet of Soviet-era BVP-2s. Rheinmetall will re-invest more than half of this sum into the Slovak economy, with the new factory taking responsibility for delivering 80 per cent of the Slovak Armed Forces’ IFV fleet.
New manufacturing plant at Moldava nad Bodvou
The centrepiece of Rheinmetall’s announcement is a new factory at Moldava nad Bodvou, a town of 12,000 inhabitants in Eastern Slovakia.
The facility comprises 12,000 square metres of production lines plus a 15,000 square metre test area. The whole project represents an investment by Rheinmetall of €30m.
The factory initiative has been warmly welcomed by the Mayor of Moldava nad Bodvou, Mr Slavomir Borovsky: „Moldava nad Bodvou sees this is project as a great opportunity to bring further prosperity and economic growth to the town and to contribute to the security of the Slovak Republic. We are interested in supporting Rheinmetall and providing assistance in the construction of their new plant.”
The new factory will become Rheinmetall’s principal centre in the Slovak Republic, responsible for the delivery of 80 per cent of the Ministry of Defence’s new IFVs. It will be the focus of Rheinmetall’s widespread network of Slovak industrial partners, which covers the whole country.
Significant local employment potential
Rheinmetall plans to recruit 150 local people and train them in 2023 and 2024 ready for production to begin in 2025. The jobs are mainly skilled roles in mechanical and electrical engineering.
The Moldava plant will manufacture chassis and turrets for the Lynx IFV as well as handling systems integration, testing and paintwork. It will also be equipped to provide maintenance for the Slovak Armed Forces’ IFV fleet, and is designed to be adaptable to accommodate further requirements from the Slovak army as well as export orders from abroad.
‘This is only the beginning’, said Mr Oliver Mittelsdorf, Executive Vice President Sales Tactical Vehicles. ‘The Lynx is proving a winner in world defence markets and the Moldava factory will provide many more opportunities for future job creation as orders for the Lynx and other products stream in’.
Nationwide network of Slovak industrial partners
Rheinmetall has its eyes on the future and has already established deep-rooted and long-term partnerships with Slovak companies in the defence systems engineering sector. The company has currently identified over 70 potential Slovak industrial partners.
A number of prominent organisations have already been integrated into the Rheinmetall supply chain. Among them are:
CSM Industry at Tisovec, who supplies Rheinmetall with engines, transmissions, cables, roof modules and other specialized components; EVPU at Nova Dubnica, who provide laser warning systems; Ray Service at Zilina, contributing specialized cable systems and electronic assemblies; Kinex at Velka Bytca; VRM at Trencin for Simulations; Aliter Technologies in Bratislava for communication systems; MSM Land Systems at Trencin;; and DMD Group in Dubnica nad Vahom, who are scheduled to become a Joint Venture partner with Rheinmetall in the new Moldava factory.
The joint venture of Rheinmetall with DMD Group and the integration of major partners of the Slovak Defence industry will ensure maximum economic benefit and reduced risk for the Slovak Republic.
Rheinmetall’s industrial integration track-record
Rheinmetall has a proud history of making investments and forging alliances with industrial partners in Central Europe. This began twenty years ago at Usti nad Labem in the Czech Republic, where Rheinmetall is now a major employer and has encouraged the growth of a highly-skilled local workforce. More recently Rheinmetall announced the building of a brand-new factory at Zalaegerszeg in Hungary.
Mr Paul Walf, Head of Corporate Coordination Central Europe for Rheinmetall Group, explains: ‘We have a concrete plan for the creation of a powerful Central European defence industry network, he said. ‘We have been gradually piecing together the components and partners, and it’s working: we are winning orders on world markets which bring direct economic benefits to our employees and partners here at home’.
Walf stresses the strategic nature of this programme: ‘It’s large-scale and long-term’, he says. ‘This combination of Rheinmetall ownership and industrial partnerships is forming a central European complex of interlocking specialists which is already proving capable of challenging the established majors in world defence markets’. (Source: ASD Network)
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