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09 June 22. Finland and Patria support Latvian defence. Patria’s new 6×6 armoured troop-carrying vehicles were deployed with the Latvian infantry on the multinational Exercise Arrow 22, hosted by Finland, during the first two weeks of May. The Latvian vehicles, just 6 months old, were “fighting“ alongside allied Finnish, American, British, and Estonian troops in the Niinisalo training area.
With the Russia-Ukraine war still at boiling point, Finland and Sweden declaring an application for NATO, and Russia threatening everyone in the region, an exercise like this took on a more serious and urgent character than normal. However, not only exercises create security for the countries involved. Political and defence relationships and agreements, and especially joint defence procurements bring allies closer together in common defence activities. What Finland and Patria are doing with Latvia on the 6×6 (CAVS) programme is developing this relationship by linking two countries in a joint operational and logistic partnership.
Exercise Arrow 22 was the coming of age for the Finnish and Latvian collaborative vehicle programme showcasing the Patria 6×6 for the first time in the region. The Latvian experience of the 6×6 so far has been extremely positive. The Latvian troops exercising in Finland were quick to praise the vehicle, not the least, how easy it was to manoeuvre with its all-wheel drive and front two axle steering. The soldiers were also unanimous in their praise about the large internal space designed for continuous operations carrying a full 10-man section and equipment. The Latvians have either not reported a single failure or warranty issue since the first vehicles were delivered six months ago despite their heavy use during training and exercises. This was a clear reflection of the vehicles’ strong heritage and lessons gained by Patria from the combat proven Patria AMV 8×8 already widely used in service.
More operational mobility
The Latvian Armed Forces have long needed an armoured troop-carrying vehicle to improve operational mobility for both the army and national guard units. In response to the international situation the Latvian government have increased the defence budget. This allows the Latvian armed forces to purchase over two hundred 6×6 vehicles from Patria.
Finland and Latvia both recognised they needed a similar vehicle for their armed forces. The Defence Ministers signed a joint agreement in January 2020 to create a high mobility 6×6 type of Common Armoured Vehicle System which could be also adapted for other purposes. After a comprehensive evaluation period Patria Finland was chosen to be the producer. Latvia also demanded security of supply from the procurement in both peace and war. This required a new higher level of agreement between the two countries and provided serious tasks for Patria over and above delivering the vehicle. The project so far has been innovative for both Patria and Latvia in several ways. First agreeing joint R&D program with common requirements of a new vehicle with Patria and creating future logistic processes, second gaining the deep Patria expertise in R&D and military product development, and third by Patria creating a system with Latvian companies to deliver the vehicles with long term guaranteed support.
Common vehicle system creates synergies
The R&D programme has brought good results for both parties. Using the Patria commercial vehicle platform as a start point, Patria and the Latvian Armed Forces agreed what they wanted the common vehicle system to be. This agreement was vital for the Patria engineers so they could design the common vehicle frame and identify the parts and spares needed, as well as developing common support elements. This all aimed to simplify and reduce the costs of production. Once the basic model was agreed each country had to identify what they wanted to be built around the common frame. Then the vehicles had to be tested and qualified to ensure they were fit for purpose.
The future research steps for Patria with the common vehicle are to add capabilities to operate amid varying threats common on international operations, as well as development of medical evacuation and command post variants. Sweden is in the final agreement stages for joining the project, enabling them to utilize already developed versions as well as to bring something new. They will also join the R&D programme. All variants will be available for other allied countries to buy which also reduces the shared research costs.
This project is political at heart and established by participating nations with Patria just the commercial face. The government level Technical Agreement aims at harmonising both defence capabilities and procurement policies to bring added security benefits from close defence cooperation whilst the vehicles are in service. This could be more than 40 years. Other countries joining the project will be participating on the same agreements. This kind of collaborative approach on defence development, procurements and operations stems right from the core of EU Defence and Security policy.
Economic benefits and industrial capabilities
Coincidentally for Latvia the project brings new economic benefits and industrial capabilities. The security of supply organised by Patria is creating new defence industry cooperation inside Latvia enabling working on wider markets. Now much of the metal work for the structure of the vehicle, and the final assembly of the frame including all locally manufactured items are being conducted by Latvian firms. This will benefit Finland and Patria by reduced costs, enhanced security of supply and shared business interests.
Finland today is a key NATO partner, hopefully soon to be member with Sweden. Through the work of Patria, Finland, is binding herself to allied Latvia with common strengths and vulnerabilities in a new and remarkable way. When Finland and Sweden join NATO the Patria 6×6 (CAVS) vehicle project will provide binding political and operational cooperation right across the Baltic Sea region and hopefully further into Europe.
08 June 22. Rheinmetall and KMW set up joint venture for servicing NATO vehicles in the Baltic States. Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) have established a joint venture in Lithuania for providing comprehensive logistical support for combat vehicles belonging to the Lithuanian armed forces as well as those of other NATO nations stationed in the Baltic States. The idea is to take advantage of synergy effects and to promote multinational interoperability between the armed forces and defence sectors of NATO member states. Known as Lithuania Defense Services, the company will commence operations in Jonava in May 2022. The two partners each hold a 50% stake in the joint venture. Sebastian Dietz has been named managing director.
The state-of-the-art maintenance and logistics centre in Jonava occupies a roughly 12,000-square-metre site. Strategically located near Rukla, Lithuania’s largest military base and home to the NATO Battlegroup Lithuania, it has a direct rail link.
One of the company’s main tasks will be to look after the “Vilkas”, Lithuania’s version of the multipurpose Boxer wheeled armoured vehicle. It will also maintain other combat vehicles of the Baltic States and NATO forces deployed in the region during Enhanced Forward Presence rotations. These include other Boxer systems, the Puma infantry fighting vehicle, the Bergepanzer 3 Büffel/Buffalo armoured recovery vehicle, various versions of the Leopard 2 main battle tank, and the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer. As the original equipment manufacturers of all these platforms, Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann possess unsurpassed expertise here. The presence of the partners on location means that NATO units will benefit from shorter reaction times and improved supply chains thanks to expanded capacity in the region.
06 June 22. US Soldiers at Fort Wainwright will officially ditch Stryker vehicles. Army Alaska was officially re-designated as the 11th Airborne Division in ceremonies held Monday at Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson. The Army’s two Alaska-based brigade combat teams will now be renamed the 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat Teams, 11th Airborne Division.
Army Alaska spokesman John Pennell said that the new unit at Wainwright will not be on jump status.
“The airborne brigade at JBER will retain its airborne status but the Stryker brigade up here [at Wainwright] will be turning in their Stryker vehicles and transforming into a light infantry brigade,” he told Army Times.
Soldiers with the 11th Airborne at Wainwright “will be focused on dismounted operations in the extremes that Alaska has to offer,” Pennell said.
Army Secretary Christine Wormuth told senators in May that the changes in Alaska, which will also involve establishing an operational headquarters, are expected to be cost-neutral in the immediate future. Even the manpower added to the upgraded headquarters would come out of the reformed Stryker brigade.
“We will be looking at basically having that division headquarters have sort of the same types of capabilities that you see in the 173rd in Italy, for example,” Wormuth said, referencing the 173rd Airborne Brigade, a strategic response force for U.S. European Command.
Wormuth also said in May that Army Alaska’s Stryker vehicles could be reused elsewhere in the force or cannibalized for spare parts. (Source: Army Times)
07 June 22. Italy nurses EU plans for a common armored fighting vehicle. As armored vehicles grab the limelight amid the war in Ukraine, Italy is working on a three-for-one deal that could see a common platform used for tracked, wheeled and amphibious vehicles.
Backed by the European Union and the brainchild of the Italian Army, the program to build a common platform for an armored infantry fighting vehicle, amphibious assault vehicle and light-armored vehicle could be delivered by 2030.
“The end of this decade is an ambitious yet achievable timeline,” said Lt. Col. Roberto Forlani, an official at the Army’s planning and policy division.
Launched in 2018, the program is part of the EU’s Permanent Structured Cooperation defense and security initiative, which the bloc says offers members “options on how to plan and bridge capability gaps in a collaborative manner.”
Led by Italy, with support from Greece and Slovakia, the project envisages a family of armored infantry fighting vehicles weighing 35-50 tons, depending on the configuration, capable of carrying a crew of three plus a standard infantry team (about six to nine individuals), and featuring a gun ranging from 25mm to more than 30mm, Forlani said.
Thanks to modular design and open architecture, the Italians have drawn up an ambitious list of missions they hope to give the armored infantry fighting vehicle, including anti-tank; mortar carrier; reconnaissance; combat engineer; tactical command post; joint fire support; ammunition and logistics carrier; protected ambulance; recovery; electronic warfare; chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense; and short-range air defense.
But Forlani cautioned that developing a single chassis for tracks, wheels and amphibious use could prove too ambitious. “We are looking at either a standard platform or different platforms that share the maximum subsystem commonality, payload and mission modules.”
That means shared turrets, fire systems, sensors, engines, protection systems and communications, he said, “which means less [research and development] costs, common logistics, greater availability of spare parts, and affordable maintenance.”
If commonalities between a family of vehicles helps save cash, he added, making the program multinational through the PESCO initiative was also essential to ensure spreading the investment, increasing production and ensuring common standards among allies to allow better cooperation on the battlefield.
“Using modularity also means each army can customize their vehicle and ensures continuous growth,” he explained, noting that the future of armored vehicles must be multinational to reduce market fragmentation through what he called “interoperability by design.”
The Boxer vehicle program, launched in Germany and ordered by Germany, Australia, the Netherlands, Lithuania and Slovenia, was a good example, Forlani said. “The Boxer expresses its modularity through a large family of vehicles and mission modules. It was a team effort between nations and a joint procurement. We can take this approach forward to develop armored capabilities.”
A challenge facing the Italian-led program is the number of nations now rushing out to procure new off-the-shelf vehicles because of the Ukraine conflict.
Even before the war, Italy was working to renew its Army’s vehicle fleet by upgrading its aging Ariete tanks, procuring new Freccia vehicles, new Centauro wheeled tanks and new amphibious vehicles, and working on a tracked vehicle to replace its Dardo vehicles.
Forlani foresees the chance of convergence with new Italian programs. “We look at a harmonization of standards and an alignment of objectives between the PESCO project and the Italian Army requirement for renewing its national fleet. And we are ready to share our concepts with the other member nations and figure out if they can be a good solution for them too,” he said.
If the program takes off, he added, it could also give a valuable impulse to the Franco-German program for a main battle tank, the Main Ground Combat System, which is currently stalled.
“I think a joint effort to create this family of vehicles could help the teaming of nations to work on a future generation main battle tank,” he said. (Source: Defense News)
09 June 22. Boeing-NATO PROJECT X Challenge Spurs Innovative Ideas for Future Autonomous Capabilities. The joint Boeing – NATO PROJECT X innovation challenge has generated new ideas for autonomous systems to reach inaccessible locations and improve situation awareness. This three-month-long intense rapid-prototyping competition allowed innovators from Dutch universities, including the Technical University of Delft, the opportunity to propose new approaches to supporting the Alliance’s most pressing needs.
Robert Weaver, deputy assistant secretary general for Defence Investment at NATO, highlighted the importance of autonomy and its digital enablers in areas such as data and artificial intelligence.
“Project X sets a benchmark for new and creative ways to engage academia and industry and help Allies develop and adopt emerging technologies at the speed of relevance,”
“This project is a fantastic example of the great potential within such public-private partnerships and the speed of innovation we can achieve if we inspire young innovators to apply a unique and creative approach to tackling tomorrow’s challenges,” said Kim Stollar, managing director, EU & NATO Government Affairs at Boeing International. “We all agree that there is a bright future ahead of all of the PROJECT X participants.”
The two competing PROJECT X teams presented their concepts at an event in May hosted by Unmanned Valley, an autonomous technology incubator in Valkenburg, Netherlands.
“Surrounded by the leading experts from NATO, Boeing, and an incredible team, PROJECT X has given me the opportunity to finally put theory into practice, which resulted in a highly fruitful and rewarding experience that opened up a new range of opportunities,”
said Dennis van Eck van der Sluijs during his team’s final presentation.
Supported by experts from both Boeing and NATO, the two teams, Monarch and Alpha, took two very different approaches.
Team Monarch’s concept consists of a hierarchical model of specialized unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) that can autonomously survey hazardous areas, evaluate risks and prioritize drone positioning. The drones’ three-level network structure facilitates an accurate assessment of dynamically changing environments. This makes the concept suitable for many applications including search and rescue, disaster management, surveillance and target detection.
Team Alpha on the other hand designed a multi-agent drone system that incentivizes UAVs to explore, identify, verify, and resolve targets of interest. The drones prioritize targets to complete the mission in the most efficient way by utilizing the presence of multiple intelligent assets and realizing the concept of egoistic altruism in machines.
Team Alpha’s concept was named winner of the PROJECT X design competition after deliberation from the jury of experts from Boeing, NATO and Unmanned Valley.
PROJECT X is a unique public-private partnership between NATO, Boeing, the Government of the Netherlands, and Dutch industry, developed as part of Boeing’s Industrial Participation program in the Netherlands, with the support of the Dutch Ministries of Defence and Economic Affairs and Climate Policy. It is exemplary of Boeing’s commitment to fostering an ever stronger industrial and innovation partnership with the Netherlands, NATO and other Allied countries across Europe.
As a leading global aerospace company, Boeing develops, manufactures and services commercial airplanes, defense products and space systems for customers in more than 150 countries. The company leverages the talents of a global supplier base to advance economic opportunity, sustainability and community impact. Boeing’s diverse team is committed to innovating for the future, leading with sustainability, and cultivating a culture based on the company’s core values of safety, quality and integrity. (Source: UAS VISION)
07 June 22. Embraer and Aeroplex Sign a MoU to Support the Hungarian KC-390 Aircraft. Embraer and Aeroplex have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to cooperate on a project to qualify Aeroplex as an Embraer Authorized Service Center (EASC) in Hungary. The goal is to support and enable Aeroplex to provide line and intermediate maintenance to the Hungarian Defence Forces’ KC-390 Millennium aircraft.
“This MoU is part of Embraer’s commitment to expand the collaboration with Hungary in the aeronautical field,” said Leonardo Lopes Ferrucci, Head of Embraer Defense & Security Hungary. “The local MRO capability will become an operational advantage for the Hungarian KC-390s support after the entry into service.”
The Hungarian government signed a contract with Embraer for the acquisition of two C-390 Millennium multi-mission transport aircraft, in its Air-to-Air Refueling (AAR) configuration, designated KC-390. The acquisition is part of the process to strengthen the capabilities of the Hungarian Defence Forces. The first aircraft is scheduled to be delivered in 2024.
“We are glad to work with Embraer in this paramount project for the Hungarian Defence Forces,” said Aeroplex’s CEO, Demény Árpad. “While Embraer brings its expertise of more than 50 years supporting aircraft around the world, Aeroplex will apply all our knowledge and diversified portfolio to serve the KC-390 Millennium. I’m sure we’ll learn a lot together.”
The KC-390 for the Hungarian Defence Forces will be the first in the world with the Intensive Care Unit in its configuration, an essential feature to perform humanitarian missions. The aircraft fully meets the requirements of the Hungarian Defence Forces, being able to perform different types of military and civilian missions including Medical Evacuation, Cargo and Troops Transport, Precision Cargo Airdrop, Paratroopers Operations and AAR.
These KC-390 are fully NATO compatible, not only in terms of its hardware but also in its avionics and communications configuration. Furthermore, the KC-390 probe and drogue refueling system means the aircraft can refuel the Hungarian JAS 39 Gripen, as well as other aircraft that use the same technology. In August 2021, Embraer announced the opening of an office in Budapest, the capital of Hungary, with the main objective to foster cooperation in the country. This initiative is part of Embraer’s strategy to establish new partnerships in select markets. Some of the key aspects of this future cooperation are the collaborative efforts with new partners, long-term projects, and investment in reliable dual-use technology. (Source: ASD Network)
03 June 22. Swiss say Germany can freely dispose of Leopard 2 tanks sold back to Rheinmetall. Switzerland’s defence procurement office said on Friday it had given the go-ahead for Germany to freely dispose of Leopard 2 tanks previously sold back to defence group Rheinmetall.
European countries, seeking to replenish their arms stocks after providing weapons to Ukraine, have submitted requests to Switzerland for the transfer of surplus material from previous or current armed forces stocks.
“Germany can freely dispose of Leopard 2 tanks already sold back to the Rheinmetall company twelve years ago, as there are no longer any requirements here,” the procurement office said.
“Mothballed Leopard 2 tanks will not be passed on to Poland; this would require a decommissioning and thus a decision by parliament,” it added. (Source: Google/Reuters)
01 June 22. South Korean military orders new command vehicles from Hyundai Rotem. South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) has signed a deal with Hyundai Rotem to acquire an unspecified number of wheeled command post vehicles (CPVs).
DAPA said on 1 June that the contract – worth KRW55.3bn (USD44.7m) – enables Hyundai Rotem to start mass-producing the CPVs, with deliveries to battalion and higher-level units within the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) and Republic of Korea Marine Corps (RoKMC) to start from 2023.
DAPA said the project to develop the CPVs, the design for which is based on the company’s 20-tonne K808 wheeled armoured vehicle (WAV), started in 2017 and ended in December 2020. It said the total CPV programme will be worth KRW1.5trn, indicating additional future procurements.
The agency added that the vehicle is intended for replacing “tent-type field command posts that take too long to install and dismantle, and cannot protect against enemy firearms, artillery, and chemical threats”. (Source: Janes)
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