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16 June 22. SCORPION programme: the GRIFFON SAN is qualified by the DGA.
In accordance with the framework set by the SCORPION programme, the Sanitary version of the GRIFFON has recently been qualified by the French procurement agency (DGA).
Designed within the GME EBMR (Nexter, Arquus and Thales), the GRIFFON is a modern 24-ton multi-role armoured vehicle (VBMR) integrated into the SCORPION information system. The 1872 GRIFFON planned by the SCORPION programme are being delivered to the Army since 2019. The purpose of the SAN version is to ensure the recovery and evacuation of injured personnel on the battlefield. It provides evacuated personnel and the onboard medical team with greatly improved protection, mobility and conditions for performing medical procedures compared to existing resources. The first GRIFFON SAN are expected in 2023. They will fulfil one of the multiple missions of the GRIFFON MRV, provided by its numerous versions: troop transport, command post, communication relay, artillery observation or the 120mm mortar version (MEPAC), the production order for which was recently notified by the DGA. Deployed since 2021 in the Sahel by the French Army, the GRIFFON is appreciated for its operational qualities, its mobility and its ease of maintenance.
The GRIFFON shares common equipment with the other SCORPION vehicles, such as the vetronics and the SCORPION combat information system (SICS), which offers new communication capabilities and allows the digitisation of the battlefield, as well as the remotely operated turret, which combines observation, protection and combat capabilities, at the heart of collaborative combat. The GRIFFON was developed as part of the SCORPION programme to renew the medium armoured vehicles of the French army alongside the JAGUAR armoured reconnaissance and combat vehicle and the SERVAL light armoured vehicle.
The GME EBMR is delighted with this qualification, which completes the range of capabilities of the GRIFFON. The Nexter, Arquus and Thales teams remain fully mobilised to provide the French Army with the equipment it needs to fulfil the missions it has been assigned today.
16 June 22. Arquus presents its upgraded VAB MK3 integrating new cooperative systems at Eurosatory 2022. The VAB Mk3 is Arquus’ flagship on the 6×6 market. Already in service and combat-proven in various armies around the world, it is a modern APC/IFV that Arquus constantly upgrades to better answer the operational needs of the operators on the battlefield. The VAB MK3 is a very agile and well protected vehicle, which can serve as an APC or an IFV depending on the mission at hand. Its very compact architecture and low silhouette makes it a vehicle very well adapted to high-intensity conflicts against opponents equipped with multiple reconnaissance and aggression solutions. This concept proves once again its validity as modern combat vehicles tend to grow taller and bigger, which increases their visual signature on the battlefield. At Eurosatory 2022, Arquus presents the VAB MK3 in a systems-ready configuration, with a wide array of systems that are highly relevant for modern-day operations and benefit from the close examination of recent combat experience. These systems add up to the native qualities of the VAB MK3, which is a very-well protected, versatile, and very mobile vehicle.
Hornet Stealth Protection The VAB MK3 exhibited on the Arquus booth first demonstrates the Hornet Stealth Protection by Hornet, which ensures the vehicle’s self-protection, as well as collaborative protection for the whole task force. The Hornet Stealth Protection combines a Hornet Remote-Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS), an independent ring mounted on the Hornet and fitted with a GALIX smoke grenade launcher by Lacroix, a Pilar V acoustic gunshot detector by Metravib and finally the Battlenet vehicle and systems sensors and effectors software management system, which links all sensors and equipment and provides with combat and collaborative protection and combat capabilities. Upon detection of a threat, the Stealth Protection System warns the operator and automatically orients the GALIX smoke grenade launcher to face the threat, as well as the Hornet RCWS if the operator elects that option. The smoke grenade launch is then conducted manually or automatically, depending on the selected mode, effectively screening the vehicle from incoming targets. As the GALIX smoke grenade launcher is fitted on an independent ring, the operator can keep focusing on his current mission, either monitoring a sector or firing at a target, while the Stealth Protection System takes charge of the protection of the vehicle from the other threats. The system loads a total of two salvos, to be able to react to two consecutive targets incoming from identical or different directions. This solution can also integrate a laser detector warning system to add further detection and protection capabilities.
The VAB MK3 is also equipped with 360-degree low-light and thermal imaging cameras by Bertin Technologies that provide the crew with a full 360-degree situational awareness and the vehicle with night driving capabilities. The cameras and corresponding screens benefit from a very low response time which facilitate nighttime operations. This array also integrates a thermal mode which switches on extremely quickly, allowing for smooth transitions from one mode to another. The VAB MK3 also integrates a wire solution for drones, provided by French company Arastelle that enables continuous surveillance capabilities while in operations. That solution connects the drone to the VAB MK3’s energy network, thus ensuring a constant supply of power and an air surveillance, which is a major advantage compared to the natural limits of drones, which currently only rely on their own battery. This innovative solution developed by Arastelle and integrated by ARQUUS allows the drone to remain in flight for as long as desired up to an altitude of 100m, reinforcing the surveillance and observation capacity by day and night. This solution offers higher performance than a mast, with a much smaller footprint, while providing additional tactical options for the UAVs deployed, which are also capable of evolving wirelessly to fulfil other missions. This compact system, which can be integrated into all types of new or retrofitted vehicles, will provide ground resources with an aerial capability and enable a micro-UAV to be deployed in 15 seconds with an automated take-off and landing procedure.
Such a system is very well adapted to the needs of infantry squads, which can use their own current drone without having to modify or adapt them. It is particularly relevant in the context of surveillance of a forward operational base or a long-term reconnaissance mission. The Arastelle solution completes the set of systems integrated on the Arquus VAB MK3, providing it with a vision capability beyond direct sight. Virtual Windows All these systems are already qualified and available. On top of them, Arquus adds a solution currently under development by its Advanced Innovation team, which provides with very important gains in terms of observation and situational awareness. At Eurosatory 2022, Arquus presents its virtual windows solution for armored vehicles. This solution aims at projecting the 360° vision from the vehicle cameras, or the vision from the drone, or any video feed directly inside the vehicle thanks to small projectors with very small response time. The virtual windows help with the crew’s situational awareness, by having them being able to see what the surroundings look like, which prevents spatial disorientation during the long operational drives in changing environments, especially right before disembarking. Such a solution also enables all crew members to actively take part in the surveillance of the battlefield, which can be of use for reconnaissance units. It also enables precise on-board briefings, with a display of tactical situations directly on the vehicle’s hull. Information such as cover, general tactical situation, red and blue force tracking are thus much clearer. Virtual windows also enable the complete removal of windows on the vehicle, which reinforces the general structure for more protection, reduces the weight and simplifies production and maintenance operations. The integration of the Virtual Windows by Arquus thus allows for more protection, facilitates the production, maintenance and repair of vehicles, while alleviating the mental load for the operator, who can focus on his mission from inside the vehicle thanks to Battlenet. Arquus’ systems and sensor management system, Battlenet connects all the integrated systems on a plug-and-play basis, thus simplifying all operations inside the vehicle and automatizing some functions, such as smoke grenade launches, target tracking and aiming… It also multiplies the capabilities of vehicles in collaborative combat: automatic information exchange, sharing of tactical situations, red and blue force tracking, collaborative protection and combat… A mature version very adapted to high intensity operations All these integration on the VAB MK3 of ever more efficient systems illustrate Arquus’ ability to respond to changing tactical challenges and provide the armies with sensible solutions which provide actual operational value on the field. The VAB MK3 is thus presented in a configuration that is highly adapted to current conflicts. The Ukrainian crisis has reminded us of the reality of high-intensity operations, where well-protected, highly mobile vehicles are crucial, as well as their ability to identify the enemy before being detected and react as quickly as possible to the most dangerous threats. The VAB MK3 meets these needs perfectly.
15 Jun 22. ISL and ARQUUS sign a cooperation agreement at Eurosatory 2022 exhibition. On Wednesday, 15 June, the French-German Research Institute of Saint-Louis (ISL) and ARQUUS signed a cooperation agreement at the Eurosatory 2022 exhibition in Paris. This five-year agreement will enable ISL and ARQUUS to organise their cooperation more effectively and to establish a long-term partnership.
As European leader for military systems supporting ground mobility, ARQUUS is delighted to partner with ISL which has proven experience in the protection of the armed forces, ranging from the remote detection, localisation and identification of threats up to direct vehicle protection, including robotic systems for reconnaissance and threat response solutions.
Both partners converge on a large number of subjects which are broadly covered by the media, such as electro-mobility or anti-drone systems as well as on less discussed topics which are nevertheless essential for the protection of the armed forces.
Both ARQUUS and ISL attach great importance to innovation. In fields of common interest, they work on complementary technologies which bring real operational advantages, for instance in the domains of artificial intelligence or additive manufacturing. In addition, the European dimension of ISL as a binational research institute is a valuable asset for this cooperation.
ISL and ARQUUS have been working together for many years. This cooperation agreement gives the existing partnership new impetus and seals an ambitious common commitment for the benefit of the armed forces.
17 Jun 22. Scarabée: a reconnaissance and tank killer version for the most demanding missions. Scarabée is a tribute to Arquus’ expertise for designing reconnaissance, scouting and combat vehicles. It is a product thought for export markets, which aims at conquering new markets in the fields of recon, cavalry and high-intensity anti-tank combat. Scarabée is also Arquus’ effort towards the future VBAE (Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement, Armored Vehicle for Engagement Support) program which aims at renewing the French Army’s VBLs, as well as supplying partner European armies with light armor capabilities.
Arquus has already started working on VBAE, crafting ideas, concepts and technologies as well as finding partners in Europe for that project. Arquus notably takes part in the FAMOUS initiative sponsored by the European Defense Fund. With Scarabée, Arquus has clearly positioned itself as a leader of light armored vehicles, in France as on export markets. Arquus keeps pushing forward to offer new solutions for the future programs.
The Scarabée exhibited at Eurosatory has evolved since its last appearances in le Bourget (2019), the Arquus Day (2020), IDEX (2021) or the Arquus Technoday (2021). It is presented in a reconnaissance & combat version, with a 12.7mm and AKERON Hornet RCWS on top.
First, and to better answer clients’ needs, the sliding doors have been changed and replaced by regular doors, which offer protection to the crew in dismounted combat. That version differs from the air assault & urban combat presented before, which aimed at compacity and increased modularity, even inside a plane.
The Scarabée is also fitted with brand-new cameras from Bertin, which grant it unique night vision & driving capabilities. Paired with the fully-electric mode which offers extremely silent mobility and low thermal signature at low speed, these capabilities redefine the Scarabée as a vehicle very well adapted to night combat. Such capabilities can be further enhanced thanks to collaborative combat modes.
The Scarabée is presented equipped with new, state-of-the-art Michelin tyres, which further increase the vehicle’s stealth and reduce its footprint.
Scarabée also loads another Hornet novelty: the AKERON version, specifically thought for anti-tank combat and developed with MBDA.
The recent combat experience has shown that anti-tank combat capabilities are key in a highly contested, highly intense battlefield. The large number of armored targets, and the rhythm of combat operations call for the integration of multiple anti-tank weapons on armored vehicles, to allow for tank-hunting and collaborative combat capabilities, or to provide with self-defense options in case of an unplanned encounter with enemy assets.
Such a capability is now integrated in the Hornet RCWS, which now offers anti-tank capabilities on top of its native qualities. The AKERON missile is integrated on the side of the RCWS, which preserves the compact size of the Hornet and contributes to its stealth.
16 Jun 22. ARASTELLE and ARQUUS presented an innovative concept of a wired microdrone integrated on a vehicle at EUROSATORY 2022. ARASTELLE presents at Eurosatory its innovative concept of wired power supply for microUAVs, integrated by its partner ARQUUS on a VAB MK 3 vehicle. This innovative solution developed by ARASTELLE and integrated by ARQUUS allows the drone to remain in flight for as long as desired up to an altitude of 100m, reinforcing the surveillance and observation capacity by day and night. This solution offers higher performance than a mast, with a much smaller footprint, while providing additional tactical options for the UAVs deployed. This compact system, which can be integrated into all types of new or retrofitted vehicles, will provide ground resources with an aerial capability and enable a micro-UAV to be deployed in 15 seconds with an automated take-off and landing procedure. ARASTELLE’s wireline power systems are dedicated to the micro-UAV class and offer the ability to convert an existing micro-UAV for captive flight without modification or alteration. With this additional function, operators can exploit the capabilities of their micro-UAVs without any autonomy limit, and benefit from a continuous observation solution at lower cost. This solution is particularly relevant in the context of surveillance of a forward operational base or a long-term reconnaissance mission. The ARASTELLE solution is adapted to the ANAFI USA micro-UAV from the French PARROT group, which already equips the French armed forces and many other governmental organisations and security forces. The ARASTELLE solution completes the set of systems integrated on the ARQUUS VAB MK3, providing it with a vision capability beyond direct sight. The ARQUUS stand is located in Hall 5A – F281.
Arastelle is a French company specialising in energy storage, management and transmission solutions for robotic and aerial applications. Our wired power supply solution for micro-UAVs allows easy and quick deployment of these aerial means, which are becoming more and more widespread among professionals, in order to carry out observation missions with no autonomy limit. As an innovative company, Arastelle has joined the European Federation of Security Drones DRONES4SEC and is President of the College “Drones by wire supply”. Arastelle is a company supported by BPI France and the New Aquitaine Region. Press contact:
16 June 22. Arquus and PT Pindad sign a MoU at Eurosatory 2022 to collaborate on future programs for Indonesia. On June 14th, Arquus and PT Pindad signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to establish future collaboration in land systems platform for Indonesia. This MoU covers the development and production of new armored vehicles, as well as corresponding systems and services. With this agreement, both companies agree to turn an exemplary relationship into an official, and larger scale partnership. Arquus and PT Pindad have been running a long-term and successful relationship over the past 15 years. Throughout these years, Arquus has been supplying PT Pindad with major components and parts which have been integrated in Indonesian-made armored vehicles. In the framework of that cooperation, Arquus has notably supplied powerpacks for ANOA 6×6 APC vehicles and BADAK 6×6 IFV, currently serving in the Indonesian Army. Arquus has also supplied rolling chassis for the KOMODO 4×4 multipurpose vehicle. To keep building on this close relationship, Arquus and PT Pindad have decided to sign a MoU to officialize their discussions and establish their partnership. The aim of this MoU is to cooperate in the field of military vehicles and systems to address the current needs of the Indonesian Armed Forces. Such cooperation will cover multi-purpose armored vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, APC and IFV, as well as remote-controlled weapon stations. It could also include development, product qualification, production and assembly, plus aftersales services.
Arquus is very pleased to get closer to its long-term partner with PT Pindad. The new MoU should help in structuring the ongoing and future cooperation between both companies, thus also helping renew Arquus’ commitment to Indonesia and presence alongside the Indonesian National Armed Forces. “The selection of Arquus as a potential first-rank partner of PT Pindad highlights the company’s 15- year long partnership with Indonesian Defense stakeholders, from the Army to the industry. Arquus has always supported Indonesia’s will to develop its sovereign capabilities in land Defense, so it is a privilege for us to be elected as partner” said Emmanuel Levacher, President, Arquus. “Pindad is a national defense industry in Indonesia wants to establish high quality land system platform solution supported by global standard products and components/parts from Arquus. The collaborative products is already acknowledged well not only in Indonesia national level, but also in Indonesian peacekeeping operations around the world” said Abraham Mose, CEO of PT PIndad. On top of its long-running relationship with PT Pindad, and the hundreds of ANOA, BADAK and KOMODO armored vehicles proudly serving daily, Arquus is a major supplier for the Indonesian Army. Arquus has indeed produced and delivered a total of 80 vehicles directly to the Ministry of Defense, including VAB, VBL and Sherpa Light vehicles in various configurations.
14 June 22. Rwanda operating Cobra II armoured vehicles. The Rwanda Defence Force (RDF) released a photograph on 11 June showing a Cobra II 4×4 armoured vehicle made by the Turkish company Otokar deployed in Mozambique.
The RDF did not explicitly identify the vehicle as one of its assets, but the photograph was one of four it released showing a Mozambican delegation visiting Rwandan forces in the northern districts of Mocímboa da Praia and Palma.
Turkey told the UN Register of Conventional Arms (UNROCA) that it exported 49 wheeled armoured personal carriers (APCs) that it did not identify to Rwanda in 2021, which followed 46 in 2017.
The RDF uses Otokar Cobra vehicles, mainly with its UN peacekeeping contingents. With a gross vehicle weight of up to 13,500 kg, the Cobra II weighs nearly twice as much. The APC variant can accommodate up to 10 people, including the driver and commander. (Source: Janes)
14 June 22. Armscor issues tender for military vehicle maintenance and repair. Eyebrows were raised in some quarters when an Armscor tender for maintenance and repair of “various military vehicles” was published last week. One who saw tender ELWS/2022/39 on the defence and security acquisition agency website was Kobus Marais, the outspoken Democratic Alliance (DA) shadow minister for Thandi Modise’s defence and military veterans portfolio.
The tender requirements are for “maintenance and repair of various military vehicles” listing nine different types. They are tow trucks, recovery vehicles, refrigeration trucks, diesel tankers, water tankers, cargo carriers, personnel carrier trucks, firefighting trucks and mobile shower trucks.
“My first reaction was ‘isn’t this what the Cubans are doing?’” Marais told defenceWeb, adding there is both bad and good to be read into the tender.
On the bad side, he said it is simply another component of the disaster that is the South African government’s – and particularly its defence sector’s – “love affair” with the Caribbean Island state.
Turning to the plus side, Marais notes the tender is “probably not all negative”.
In support of his assertion, he said the tender “could be seen” as one step on the road to replacing the Cubans in South Africa under Project Thusano, created by a Cuba/South Africa defence bilateral and in operation since 2015.
“The tender could be interpreted as a way of replacing the Cubans and if so, it is a good move. Armscor is the sole agent of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) to acquire goods and services. Taken on face value, the tender seems a good one.”
He maintains the about 140 Cubans placed at a number of military vehicle parks and workshops cannot do the repair and refurbishment work on vehicles and at the same time transfer skills to SA Army Technical Services Corps personnel.
“My information is we will have Cubans in South Africa until the end of next year and they will not be replaced by others. In the medium term this can be interpreted as good because skills needed to keep military trucks in working condition are available locally,” he said, adding original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), the local defence industry, the private sector and the tertiary technical sector were sources to be tapped.
“Looking at the Reserve Force, the skills and abilities are also available there from both the training and actual work points of view.”
The closing date for interested parties to respond to tender ELWS/2022/39 is 28 June. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
13 June 22. Rheinmetall pitches Panther battle tank as heir to the Leopard. Germany’s Rheinmetall on Monday unveiled its Panther main battle tank at the Eurosatory exhibition here, adding a new angle to the discussion in Europe about a next-generation tank for the continent.
The Panther is the product of the company’s own, years-long development, a risk that appears to have previously paid off with its lighter brother — the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle, which has become a serious contender in acquisition races worldwide.
Weighing in at 59 tons, the fully-digitized Panther features a 130 mm cannon, compared with a 120 mm weapon on the Leopard 2, the German Army’s go-to tank since the 1980s. The larger, heavier projectiles would deliver “over 50% greater effectiveness at significantly longer ranges,” the company said in a statement.
Crewed by three, but with space for a fourth, it also boasts a drone-launching pod as well as launchers for loitering munitions, a type of hovering rocket that can be programmed to wait in the air before swooping down, warhead first, on its target.
Rheinmetall CEO Armin Papperger positioned the new tank as coming at a time when a war of heavy weapons has returned to Europe. “We have seen over the past couple of months what could happen, and what happened in the conflict between Russia and Ukraine,” he said, referring to a battle dynamic in which the tanks fleets of both sides are doing damage and sustaining losses at the same time.
To increase survivability, Rheinmetall built into the Panther its suite of passive, active and top-attack protection systems. Its smaller footprint means the vehicle can pass through tight tunnels while loaded on rail cars, a feat that requires advance preparation for larger tank types, according to the company.
Rheinmetall’s Panther push comes as the German-French defense partnership, entrusted with producing next-generation European weaponry for air and land warfare, is treading water.
For Germany, progress on the Future Combat Air System is inextricably linked to progress on the Main Ground Battle Tank, a futuristic battle tank developed by the partnership of Germany’s Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and France’s Nexter, with Rheinmetall as something of a junior partner.
But the FCAS program is awaiting government intervention to unstick differences on workshare and intellectual property handling between its national industry leaders, Dassault and Airbus Defense.
Should that program fail, experts expect a domino effect that would likely sink the common tank program, which is languishing in the study phase, its concepts still PowerPoint-deep at best.
Papperger, who didn’t take questions at the unveiling ceremony, didn’t say how the Panther would fit into the future European tank market or MGCS plans. But executives at the company’s booth said the new product, and especially the gun technology, could well find its way into the French-German effort as something of the centerpiece for grouping unmanned assets and other weaponry comprising the larger effort.
The FCAS program features a similar approach, called “system of systems” in military parlance, with Dassault claiming ownership of the manned fighter jet at the core.
In addition, company officials said, the Panther could be an attractive option for Leopard-using armies not involved, or interested, in MGCS.
According to Papperger, serial production could begin in two and a half years. (Source: Defense News)
13 June 22. TAG wins Israeli 4×4 light armoured vehicles “AMITAY” competition. The 4×4 light armoured vehicles will help enhance the combat readiness of the armed forces. The Armored Group (TAG) has been selected by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) as the winner of the 4×4 light armoured vehicles (LAV) “AMITAY” competition.
As part of this, the company will provide the LAVs to support the IDF’s mission. Although TAG did not disclose details such as the number of vehicles to be delivered, the company said that it secured a significant order. The armoured vehicles will be procured to enhance the safety and combat readiness of the armed forces.
TAG executive vice-president Beau Gailey said: “These vehicles will be the first line of defence for the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). TAG continues to recognise the seriousness of our business.
“At the core of our business is enabling and protecting soldiers, men, and women in challenging operational conditions, and make sure they return home safely to their family and friends. Our solution was designed with that responsibility at the centre.”
Gailey added: “We worked with prior IDF operators to ensure each and every detail was designed for maximum effectiveness, as well as partnering with our in-country team, led by IAI ELTA.”
Last week, Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced that it had signed an order to manufacture ‘hundreds of combat vehicles’ for the IDF special forces missions.
IAI said it will cooperate with Ido Cohen and TAG to manufacture the Z-MAG and ZD vehicles at the Land Division production line in Be’er Sheva.
Earlier this month, TAG won a $23.2m order to deliver armoured military vehicles to an unnamed Eastern European country.
The procurement is expected to improve the combat effectiveness of the armed forces and support its military missions. TAG also partnered with Grey Raven Group for the order. (Source: army-technology.com)
13 June 22. Lessons from Ukraine could help shape Europe’s new tank — if there is one. The burned-out carcasses of scores of Russian tanks in Ukraine have prompted the world to once again write the obituary of the venerable fighting vehicle.
Repeatedly caught by Turkish drones or destroyed by Javelin anti-tank weapons, then towed away by Ukrainian tractors, Moscow’s tanks have proved to be paper tigers, demonstrating to the world these lumbering relics of past wars are no longer relevant.
But some experts warn it’s far too soon to write off the tank, pointing to Russia’s woeful misuse of its tracked vehicles and arguing high-intensity war on land still demands the armor and firepower tanks provide. And now some are worried European plans for a shared main battle tank — the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System with an estimated development cost of €1.5 bn (U.S. $1.6 bn) — will perish thanks to work-share tussles and a renewed focus on quick, off-the-shelf procurements.
“Just as high-intensity warfare is underway in Europe, we cannot lose a program designed to help the survival of European defense,” said Yohann Michel, a research analyst in Berlin with the International Institute for Strategic Studies think tank.
The failures of Russian tanks
Russia has reportedly lost more than 600 tanks in Ukraine, less than three months into the conflict.
In one example of the vehicle type’s failures, a video from March showed mortars and artillery decimating a tank column as it drove through Brovary, on the outskirts of the Ukrainian capital Kyiv.
Released by the Ukrainian military, the video was overlaid with what appears to be the voice of a Russian commander reporting to a superior: “Lots of losses. They waited for us. Head of the convoy got into the ambush.”
While the video ostensibly demonstrated the ineffectiveness of tanks, military experts came away with a different conclusion. They say the video only makes clear tanks are vulnerable if undefended, and Moscow has inexplicably left its tanks in Ukraine brutally exposed.
“In Brovary, a well-trained NATO armored column would have been accompanied by infantry to stop an ambush,” said retired British Army Brig. Ben Barry, a senior land warfare fellow at the IISS think tank in London. “Tanks must be part of a combined arms team. Instead, the Russian tanks have suffered huge losses from [Next generation Light Anti-tank Weapons], Javelins and even Soviet-era anti-tank weapons.
“In the south, the Russians may now use more artillery and mount more cautious offensive operations, but what we have seen so far is poor tactics and training and possibly weakness of leadership.”
American analyst Michael Kofman said infantry support is particularly essential in urban environments.
“The Russian military appears to have dramatically cut the infantry from its units, often with just two to three soldiers available for dismount in infantry fighting vehicles. These are structural issues,” said Kofman, the research program director in the Russia Studies Program at the Center for Naval Analyses.
The result has been evident, thanks to endless images showing Russian tank wreckage in fields and on roadsides, often with the turrets blown off, creating what has been dubbed a “jack in the box” effect.
Sidharth Kaushal, a research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute in London, said Russia has “generally” undertaken combined arms warfare. “But not this time, and it is difficult to explain why we are still seeing tanks without infantry support,” he said.
In terms of tank toughness, Barry argued Russian tanks have thinner armor than Western counterparts, and their explosive reactive armor has appeared to offer little protection in Ukraine.
Kaushal said Russians have a habit of placing an automatic ammunition handling system, known as a carousel loader, beneath the turret of its tanks to save space inside the hull. However, this ultimately creates problems.
“It allows the turret to be lower, which reduces the profile, but that is less of an advantage when you are targeted from above by drones,” he said. “And in that case, the positioning of the ammunition means it can catch fire, which is why we are seeing turrets being blown off.”
Ukraine’s extensive use of cheap Turkish drones has been a game changer in the war, but that does not disqualify the tank, Kaushal said. “Combined teams to protect tanks must offer surveillance and electronic attack and counter-UAV capabilities.”
Apart from tackling drones, Russian tanks needed better intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, said Pierluigi Barberini, a defense and security analyst at the Italian think tank CeSI. “They seemed to lack situational awareness and did not know where the enemy was,” he explained.
‘Wake up and smell the coffee’
This isn’t the first time experts have predicated a premature end to armored vehicles. Some wrote off the tank ever since the introduction of anti-tank guided missiles, such as the Sagger in the 1973 Arab-Israeli Yom Kippur War.
But Kofman believes the tank remains a battlefield necessity.
“They are essential in urban warfare; tanks still offer the best combination of protection, firepower and maneuver on the battlefield in their role,” he said. “Tanks are considered obsolete after every war, but the problems they face are faced by any vehicle.”
Barry said the war has instead offered fresh lessons for tank designers, ones Europe may be considering as it weighs its joint tank effort.
“Now you really need a drone for every tank and a way to keep enemy drones off your back,” he said. “There is no silver bullet yet, but jamming, which has proved effective against improvised explosive devices, is one solution, combined with shooting down drones. Tank designers need to wake up and smell the coffee.”
Barry also noted Russia had not equipped its tanks with active protection systems, which shoot at incoming missiles.
“We need to pay more attention to active protection, meaning [the Israeli-made] Trophy, but also lighter versions since Trophy cannot be used on a vehicle like [an American-made] Bradley [fighting vehicle]. And we should be looking at countering active protection,” he said.
A European land warfare industry executive said many defense contractors are now looking into unmanned tank technology. “Everyone is working on that, possibly using Tesla [driverless] car technology,” he said on the condition of anonymity, as he was not authorized to speak to the press.
But analysts have warned the complexity of urban tank warfare still requires a human presence onboard because negotiating obstacles on the ground and tackling close-up enemy action are far more challenging than unmanned flight.
“Ukraine teaches us that heavy weapons are needed in warfare, and that means tanks will play a part,” said Jean-Pierre Maulny, the deputy director at the French think tank IRIS and a scientific coordinator at its Armament Industry European Research Group.
Europe looks to the next-generation tank
Events in Ukraine may not have proved the tank is dead, but Europe’s much-vaunted Main Ground Combat System initiative, designed to bring together the continent’s fractured and divided tank programs, appears headed that way.
Launched in 2012, the fledgling MGCS program convenes Germany’s Rheinmetall with KNDS, the European land warfare giant created in 2015 by the merger of German firm Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and France’s Nexter.
The program is a response to the frequent complaint from politicians and industry leaders that Europe has 17 tank programs, making the vehicle type a prime example of how to waste money and duplicate efforts.
Almost all European nations operate tanks, even if just a handful in the case of small states. In recent years, the U.K. deployed its Challenger tanks in the Balkans and Iraq.
In early 2020, just as the coronavirus pandemic began sweeping through Europe, the French and German governments announced a 20-month study phase for the platform’s system architecture. The program is the “flagship project for Franco-German cooperation in the land domain,” according to a French Army statement provided to Defense News.
But the program does not appear to be accelerating.
Studies are ongoing to hone the system’s architecture, the statement said, and the launch of the program’s next phase was recently extended to “deepen and consolidate” the various candidate architecture designs. The aim is to complete the studies by 2023 to begin work on a system demonstrator and eventually field a system by 2035. The project aims to “gradually” open up to other partners, the French Army noted.
The French Armed Forces Ministry earmarked €58m in its 2022 budget to fund MGCS-related studies. Germany has agreed to match France’s spending during development.
A spokeswoman in the German Defence Ministry would only say companies are still negotiating among themselves and that “generally” the signature of a follow-on implementing agreement is still on the calendar for 2022.
The irony is the program could peter out because of the war in Ukraine, not despite it, as jumpy nations seek to make quick purchases rather than to wait for lengthy joint development programs to bear fruit.
Poland, which media reports suggested was interested in MGCS, rushed in April to spend about $4.75bn on 250 Abrams M1A2 SEPv3 tanks from the U.S. to counter Russia’s flagship T-14 Armata tank.
Poland “bought Abrams tanks in a hurry because of the war — meaning MGCS could struggle,” according to the European land warfare industry executive.
Maulny noted that defense budgets are growing and that countries are rapidly seeking capabilities. “The MGCS could be shunned as countries buy new Abrams and Leopard tanks which they will not need to replace for years,” he said.
The war in Ukraine has accelerated other quick weaponry purchases and upgrades across the continent, raising fears a host of longer-term joint programs like MGCS will suffer. One example is Italy, where a program to upgrade its Army’s Ariete tanks is gaining attention, as is a plan to replace its tracked Dardo infantry fighting vehicles.
Meanwhile, in Germany, analyst Christian Mölling said Berlin is falling out of love with the MGCS.
“Appetite for the program in Germany has been shrinking, with some feeling that it would involve giving away the crown jewels of the defense industry,” said Mölling, research director at the German Council on Foreign Relations. “A common feeling is: ‘Are we financing French interests?’”
Mölling said the program has been “losing traction” since 2017, when French President Emmanuel Macron and then-German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed to pursue joint defense programs like MGCS and the Future Combat Air System fighter jet.
Interest has diminished even as current German Chancellor Olaf Scholz prioritizes defense spending with a €100 bn boost to procurement, announced in February in reaction to the war in Ukraine.
“Scholz has a different perspective on the defense industry — Merkel was never interested. He understands the economics, and there are long-standing ties between his Social [Democratic] Party and the industry,” Mölling said.
He added, however, that it might only mean MGCS staggering on for a while longer before it’s terminated.
But some analysts argue that if Europe ever needed a focused, money-saving joint tank program like MGCS, the time is now, as tanks do battle in Europe for the first time in nearly eight decades.
Michel, of IISS in Berlin, said canceling the program would be a “stupid” outcome.
“Both France and Germany will need a new tank to take on the new realities of conflict, and it is really important to move now,” he said.
If the program fails, two national programs could emerge, at the cost of interoperability, he added.
“The worst possible outcome is that we waste money and time, then have to buy tanks, possibly from the U.S., which is not good, not even for the U.S. because we get stuck with fewer production options.” (Source: Defense News)
09 June 22. US Navy Accepts Delivery of Ship to Shore Connector, Landing Craft, Air Cushion 104. The Navy accepted delivery of the next generation landing craft, Ship to Shore Connector (SSC), Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) 104, June 9.
LCAC 104’s delivery follows the completion of Acceptance Trials with the Navy’s Board of Inspection and Survey to test the readiness and capability of the craft and to validate requirements.
“These next generation craft provide our Navy and Marine Corps team with essential agility and speed to complete their missions,” said Capt. Jason Grabelle, program manager, Amphibious Assault and Connectors Programs, Program Executive Office (PEO) Ships. “The reliability and flexibility of the LCAC make them an essential asset to the fleet – protecting the maritime domain now and in the future.”
LCACs are built with similar configurations, dimensions, and clearances to the legacy LCAC, ensuring the compatibility of this next-generation air cushion vehicle with existing well deck-equipped amphibious ships.
The LCAC program is currently in serial production on LCACs 105 – 116 at Textron Systems.
As one of the Defense Department’s largest acquisition organizations, PEO Ships is responsible for executing the development and procurement of all destroyers, amphibious ships, special mission and support ships, boats and craft. (Source: ASD Network)
10 June 22. US Lawmakers want Army to set up program to experiment with electrical tactical vehicle operations. House Armed Services Tactical Air and Land Subcommittee lawmakers want the U.S. Army to establish and run a pilot program examining how electric tactical vehicles might operate in the field.
In the Army’s climate strategy released earlier this year, the service laid out a goal to field hybrid electric tactical vehicles by 2035 and all-electric vehicles by 2050. But with that pledge comes a complicated logistics tail for maintaining and recharging them on the battlefield.
The Army also approved a tactical and combat vehicle electrification, or TaCV-E, initial capabilities document in December 2021 that “informs the transition to advancing electrification capabilities and operational requirements generation for the ground vehicles fleet,” according to the subcommittee’s fiscal 2023 authorization mark.
The subcommittee members are “interested if electrification in the near term is achievable for tactical ground vehicles given the evident operational benefits associated with reduced vehicle thermal and noise signature, increased dash speed and reduction in liquid fuel requirements.”
By prototyping and experimenting with TaCV-E, the military could gain a better understanding of what is needed to operate and to inform planning and potential issues, the mark states.
The subcommittee said there is “considerable and apparent” value for the service to enter into Cooperative Research and Development Agreements, also known as CRADAs, with industry partners.
And the Army should establish a pilot program at one of the combat training centers, like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, to experiment and demonstrate “integrated electrification capabilities” to include electric vehicles, mobile fleet charging systems and exportable power generation during operational training exercises, the subcommittee suggests.
Should the language make it into the final FY23 authorization bill, the Army secretary would be required to provide by Jan. 15 a report to the HASC on whether a pilot program would be feasible and what the effort would cost.
As Defense News first reported, the Army is preparing its first-ever operational energy strategy, which is expected by the end of the year. In the strategy, the Army would map out how it manages and distributes power in operations across the battlefield.
The Army is already working with industry in a number of ways, including assessing capabilities at exercises stateside such as the Army Expeditionary Warrior Experiment.
The service is assessing the possibility of fielding a hybrid electric version of several of its vehicles, including the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
Oshkosh, the JLTV’s manufacturer, unveiled earlier this yea, a hybrid version of the vehicle, but the Army does not have a stated requirement for the capability yet. And the service plans in FY23 to decide whether it will pursue a hybrid Bradley.
The most likely candidate to become an all-electric tactical vehicle is the Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle. The Army has looked at a variety of options through demonstrations, but has yet to fund the effort.
Last year, Army Futures Command’s Applications Laboratory picked companies to participate in a cohort to develop ways to power electric vehicles in austere, remote locations.
A separate mark of the FY23 authorization bill would require the Pentagon to set up a pilot program for transitioning entire non-tactical vehicle fleets at certain installations to electric power.
The HASC’s readiness subcommittee wants the secretary of each military department to select an installation for the pilot and submit a plan to make all non-tactical vehicles at that location electric-powered by 2025. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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