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05 May 22. French military receives initial batch of new ‘Serval’ armored vehicles. The French ministry of defense on Thursday received the first four new VBMR ‘Serval’ multi-role armored vehicles, the third ride to be delivered under the nation’s Scorpion program to replace its fighting vehicles.
The 4×4 vehicles, built by Nexter and Texelis under a temporary joint operation, are expected to replace the 1970s-era VAB armored personnel carriers, ministry spokesman Herve Grandjean said during a Thursday press conference. Weighing between 15 and 17 tons, the Servals will be a lighter-armored vehicle dedicated primarily to the Army’s 27th Mountain Infantry Brigade and the 11th Parachute Brigade, he said.
The ministry has ordered 364 Servals to date, and expects to buy 978 vehicles by 2030, per Grandjean. Seventy vehicles are scheduled for delivery in 2022. The contract was finalized in January 2021, via the French military’s procurement agency Direction generale de l’armement (DGA).
French Defense Minister Florence Parly hailed the initial deliveries in a statement, saying that Serval production was moving “at a steady pace.” She first introduced the VBMR – and unveiled its feline name – at the 2018 Eurosatory conference in Paris, and said French forces were waiting “impatiently” for it to arrive.
“In a rapidly changing strategic environment, as war returns to the European continent, the modernization of key equipment is essential for the credibility of the French armed forces,” Parly said in the Thursday statement.
The VBMR is one of four next-generation vehicles being developed under France’s Scorpion program, alongside the larger, 24-ton Griffon armored personnel carrier and its mortar carrier variant MEPAC, as well as the Jaguar reconnaissance and combat vehicle. France expects to procure 1,872 Griffons (including 54 MEPAC variants), 978 Servals, and 300 Jaguars by 2030.
All the vehicles will be connected via a new communications and battlefield management system dubbed the Scorpion Combat Information System (SICS). They are built at Nexter’s facilities in Roanne, in the French Loire Valley.
The Griffon and Serval vehicles will replace France’s aging VAB carriers designed by Renault, while the Jaguar will replace three current vehicles: the Giat-built AMX-10RC, the Panhard ERC vehicle, and the VAB HOT armored personnel carriers.
France began receiving Griffon vehicles in 2019; and the ministry expects 113 deliveries by the end of 2022. The initial Jaguar deliveries began in 2021, and 18 are expected by the end of the year. (Source: Defense News)
04 May 22. US Army ‘defers’ Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium fleet development. US Army soldiers will not be operating a Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M) fleet any time soon after service leaders decided to postpone such a future programme to first focus on developing a fleet of smaller unmanned vehicles, according to Doug Bush, the service’s assistant secretary for acquisition, logistics, and technology.
The service selected QinetiQ North America and Pratt Miller (now acquired by Oshkosh Defense) to build four RCV-Light (RCV-L) prototypes in early 2020, and a Textron Systems, Howe & Howe Technologies, and FLIR Systems team to build four RCV-M prototypes. Once the service received the vehicles it embarked on a testing series designed to lead up to a soldier experiment between June and August 2022.
However, the army has already decided it will move forward with RCV-L development, and an associated ‘full and open’ competition, while also planning to develop a larger fleet. (Source: Janes)
02 May 22. RAAF’s KC-30A conducts AAR flight test with JASDF F-2.
The flight test programme aims to enhance bilateral engagements between both the nations.
The air-to-air-refuelling (AAR) flight test programme was conducted in Japan from 4 to 27 April.
During the test, the tail-mounted advanced refuelling boom system (ARBS) of KC-30A was plugged into a receptacle on both single-seat Mitsubishi F-2A and dual-seat F-2B aircraft.
Using 3D display screens, F-2 crew and a chase aircraft, the refuelling operator monitored the flight tests.
The air refuelling operator uses a fly-by-wire control available in the cockpit of the MRTT to control the KC-30A’s ARBS, which can extend to 19m.
The programme involved nine flights between F-2 and KC-30A aircraft in different weather conditions during the day and night-time.
The JASDF’s aircraft flew in a range of configurations, such as one with the external stores and fuel tanks and one without the external stores.
In order to ensure safety of aircraft flying in different configurations, engineers and aircrew also ensured the mechanical compatibility of systems between the aircraft.
RAAF air commander air vice-marshal Darren Goldie said: “Our ability to work seamlessly together will ensure we can continue to uphold and reinforce a secure, inclusive, and resilient Indo-Pacific region.
“This flight test programme is the culmination of two years of close cooperation between Australia’s Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) and the JASDF Air Development and Test Wing (ADTW).”
The JASDF and the RAAF have conducted various training exercises together, including Bushido Guardian in Japan and Exercise Cope North in Guam.
Besides, the two forces have coordinated on delivering relief support during natural disasters like in Tonga and Australia.
The programme will also support Japan’s participation in the exercise Pitch Black 2022, which will be held in August this year in the Northern Territory. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
02 May 22. Have surface ships and armoured vehicles passed their peak?
Will surface ships and armoured vehicles still play a critical role in the future battlespace?
Last month, the Commonwealth government gifted Ukraine 20 Thales-built Bushmaster armoured personnel carriers, including two ambulance variants, to support the country’s military campaign against the Russian invasion.
This was in response to a request from President Volodymyr Zelenskyy during his remote address to a joint sitting of Federal Parliament on 31 March.
The request could be seen as a reflection on the continued importance of armoured capability in the modern battlespace despite Russia’s own difficulties deploying heavy combat vehicles to the frontline.
Continued investment in next-generation surface vessels from modern defence forces, including the Australian Defence Force, also suggests the capability would form a key part of future force postures.
However, Andrew Davies, senior fellow at ASPI and former director of ASPI’s defence and strategy program, says both armoured vehicles and surface ships are in “the decline phase of their history”.
Pointing to historical examples of the “significantly reduced utility” of military capabilities, Davies concedes that armoured vehicle and surface combatants could still be useful in future warfighting scenarios, albeit in a limited capacity.
“Strictly speaking, no capability is ever entirely useless. There are probably still occasional circumstances in which the crossbow, horse cavalry charge or 16-inch guns of a battleship would still be effective weapons,” he writes.
“But those instances are so rare that no one sees the benefit of including them in modern force structures.”
He observes that militaries are conservative by nature, stating they tend to preserve capabilities that have deployed successfully in the past.
“So, weapons systems usually don’t disappear overnight; instead, it happens gradually over time,” Davies writes.
“There were several horse cavalry charges during World War II (and many of them were successful), and the last two Iowa Class battleships (the Missouri and the Wisconsin) took part in shore bombardments during the 1991 Gulf War.
“There are just more reliable or cost-effective ways to produce those effects these days.”
To support his thesis on the decline of surface ships and armoured vehicles, Davies flags rapid changes in warfighting trends.
He begins by pointing to the “phenomenal increase” in the swift and precise delivery of lethal force.
“It’s hard to exaggerate how rapid that increase has been — it is well beyond exponential,” Davies continues.
“The result has been a steady, though less mathematically dramatic, decline in the density of combatants on the battlefield, as militaries take a small-target approach through dispersion.”
He goes on to claim tanks and ships are “inherently lumpy”, and would increasingly become a liability as offensive threats evolve.
“Up to now they’ve managed to get by with more or less acceptable loss rates because the offensive weapons they face have generally been just a little too slow in arriving or a little too inaccurate to completely overwhelm the defences,” he writes.
“But it’s also clear that the speed and accuracy of weapons systems are still improving, with the added complication of the ubiquity of drones of various shapes, sizes and lethality.”
Davies claims while it is possible to develop new defensive systems, they “tend to be more expensive than the weapons they are defending against” and can “drive up the unit cost of the platforms they protect” without delivering additional offensive value.
“All of the elements of the calculus weigh against expensive lumpiness,” he adds.
“Like the weapons systems of the past that are now universally agreed to be obsolete, today’s major systems will one day be anachronisms.”
Davies concludes that surface ships and armoured vehicles could become “anachronisms” as early as the 2030s.
“I’m tempted to say that they will not disappear with a bang but will gradually fade away — but there will actually be quite a few bangs in the process,” he writes. (Source: Defence Connect)
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