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29 Oct 21. Roll-out of the first Norwegian Leopard 2 bridge layer LEGUAN at KMW. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) has symbolically handed over the first of a total of six LEOPARD 2-based LEGUAN bridge laying systems to high-ranking representatives of the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) during a roll-out ceremony. Despite the pandemic, delivery of the systems will begin well ahead of the contractually guaranteed date. In addition to the LEGUAN on LEOPARD 2 chassis, LEGUAN training simulators and a peripheral package will also be delivered to the Norwegian customer. Not least because of the performance of the LEOPARD 2 chassis, this system is already under contract with nine user nations. In total, armies from 19 different countries use the LEGUAN bridge laying system on a wide variety of mobility platforms. The Norwegian Army is thus making a major contribution to the future mobility of European NATO forces. The LEGUAN is capable of transporting and laying one bridge in the military load class MLC80 (about 72 tons) with a length of 26 metres, or alternatively two bridges with a length of 14 metres each, all under combat conditions.
28 Oct 21. Autonomous Army vehicle completes road trials. A Defence project to develop a convoy of autonomous vehicles has hit a new milestone. A fleet of modified cargo trucks — jointly developed by the Institute for Intelligent Systems Research and Innovation (IISRI) at Deakin University and Army’s Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office (RICO) — have completed a series of capability tests, progressing to the next phase of the $3.5m project. A five-vehicle convoy of the autonomous leader-follower trucks conducted road trials over a two-week period at Defence’s Trials and Proving establishment at Monegeetta, Victoria.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price lauded the speed of the progress.
“The completion of this assessment within one year of the allocation of the funding demonstrates the strong industry and Defence partnerships in experimentation, prototyping and exploration of autonomous vehicle and new technologies,” Minister Price said.
“These technologies are ‘disruptive technologies’ that provide marked advantages on the modern battlefield by bolstering ADF capability while protecting Australian personnel.
“This is exactly the type of capability that the Morrison government announced in the four new Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities, which will help to build a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defence industry in Australia.”
Army is also working with IISRI and the Australian Road Research Board on a transition of the testing onto public roads.
“There are a number of technical and regulatory challenges to address to get these platforms into common use,” Minister Price said.
“The ongoing efforts will enable Army to navigate these challenges.” (Source: Defence Connect)
27 Oct 21. Here’s when General Dynamics thinks a sale of Abrams tanks to Poland will move forward. Poland announced earlier this year it planned to buy 250 M1A2 Abrams SEPv3 tanks, with hopes deliveries would be made as early as 2022, but General Dynamics chief executive Phebe Novakovic said Wednesday the foreign military sale could go through in roughly two years.
“This is a powerful system for the Poles to have, given their geographic location and their historical experience, particularly with folks, you know, streaming west,” she said during an Oct. 27 call with analysts. “This is an FMS sale; we’re looking at somewhere … maybe in the two-year period.”
Novakovic added the company sees “increased demand signals” from the Czech Republic, Romania, Denmark, Switzerland and Spain as well as the Middle East.
The demand for combat vehicles remain stable in the U.S., Novakovic noted, with orders for a brigade’s worth of Abrams tanks and a half a brigade of Stryker combat vehicles per year.
General Dynamics Land Systems is also hoping to win a contract to build the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) system in the near term. GDLS is competing against BAE Systems for the deal.
Mariusz Błaszczak, Poland’s defense minister, in July said Poland wanted to order the “most modern tanks. Tanks available in the best equipped version, tanks that are combat proven, tanks which were constructed to counter the most modern Russian T-14 Armata tanks.”
The SEPv3 variant of the Abrams tank weighs 73.6 tons and can travel at 42 mph. According to the U.S. Army’s Acquisition Support Center, the development of a SEPv4 variant is ongoing through fiscal 2023.
Brigades in Poland are currently equipped with the Leopard 2A4 and Leopard 2A5 tanks. But the Abrams acquisition is meant to allow Warsaw to replace its outdated Soviet-designed T-72 and PT-91 tanks with a new tracked vehicle.
Błaszczak said delivery of new tanks was expected to begin in 2022. He did not disclose the value of the potential deal, but said it would include logistics, training and simulators for Polish troops.
The potential sale has garnered congressional interest and support. In the House Armed Services Committee’s version of the fiscal 2022 defense policy bill, lawmakers expressed approval of Poland’s decision to purchase the tanks.
“This will enhance NATO’s ability to deter Russian aggression on its Eastern flank and the Committee encourages the Administration to facilitate this foreign military sale as soon as possible,” the language states.
The committee directed the defense secretary and the Defense Security Cooperation Agency’s director to brief congressional defense committees by the end of the year on the process and timeline to facilitate a sale of Abrams tanks to Poland.
A DSCA notification of approval for a possible sale of Abrams to Poland has not yet been sent to the Hill.
Poland is aggressively modernizing its military capability with a focus on interoperability with U.S. Army and Air Force capabilities.
The country is meeting defense budget targets laid out through the Wales Summit Declaration, which requires NATO member states to spend 2 percent of their gross domestic product on defense, with 20 percent allocated to major equipment research and development and acquisition, according to the HASC’s markup. (Source: Defense News)
25 Oct 21. Turkey, South Korea sign deal for Turkish Altay tank. Turkey and South Korea have signed a letter of intent by which two Korean companies will supply engines and transmission mechanisms for the Altay, Turkey’s indigenous tank in the making.
The deal, penned Oct. 22, came at a meeting of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu and Korean Minister in charge of the country’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration, Kang Eun-ho.
“This is a landmark development for the Altay program,” Cavusoglu announced via Twitter.
Turkish armored vehicles manufacturer BMC, the maker of the Altay, has been negotiating strategic agreements with two South Korean companies for joint work on a power pack for the new tank.
Under the deals, South Korean manufacturers Doosan and S&T Dynamics will supply the engine and transmission mechanism for the Altay.
“The letter of intent elevates the talks from a company-to-company to government-to-government level,” said one Turkish procurement official.
The Altay program has faced major delays due to failed access to significant components like the engine, transmission and armor.
Turkey had hoped to power the Altay with the German MTU engine and RENK transmission, but talks with German manufacturers over the past couple of years failed due to a federal arms embargo on Turkey. Germany is one of a number of European governments that have limited exports to Turkey over its involvement in the Syrian civil war.
Under the deal, the South Koran companies will supply the power pack and assist with integrating it into the Altay. A test phase will follow. If all goes well, BMC officials say, the Altays may be powered by Doosan and S&T Dynamics within 18 months.
BMC won the multibillion-dollar Altay contract in November 2018. The contract involves the production of an initial batch of 250 units, life-cycle logistical support, and the establishment by the contractor of a tank systems technology center and its operation. As part of the contract, BMC will design, develop and produce a tank with an unmanned fire control unit.
The Altay program is broken into two phases: T1 and T2. T1 covers the first 250 units, and T2 involves the advanced version of the tank. Turkey plans to eventually produce 1,000 Altays, to be followed by an unmanned version. (Source: Defense News)
25 Oct 21. General Dynamics Land Systems, Epirus Sign Strategic Teaming Agreement to Enhance Next-Generation Ground Combat Vehicle Fleet.
The companies will collaborate to advance mobile SHORAD solutions and fill capability gaps to defend against drone swarms and other electronic threats. General Dynamics Land Systems, a global leader in providing innovative, high technology and next-generation ground combat solutions to customers, announces today a Strategic Teaming Agreement with Epirus, Inc., a high-growth technology company developing directed energy systems that enable unprecedented counter-electronics effects. GD and Epirus will collaborate to integrate the Leonidas directed energy system and broader high-power microwave technology into the U.S. Army’s Stryker and other manned and autonomous ground combat vehicles for enhanced mobile Short Range Air Defense (SHORAD) capabilities.
“General Dynamics Land Systems continues to evolve the Army’s largest and most reliable ground combat vehicle fleet with next-generation innovation and high-tech solutions,” said Danny Deep, President of General Dynamics Land Systems. “This partnership with Epirus benefits the Army’s Stryker mobile SHORAD formations by offering cutting-edge, counter-electronics and counter-swarm capabilities.”
In addition to Stryker upgrades, the company also is developing a class of robotic combat vehicles that feature modular architecture to maximize scalability and support future mission needs, Deep said.
Leonidas’ integration with Stryker enables a fully mobile counter-electronics solution and electronic attack solution and demonstrates the system’s flexible application programming interface (API) and ability to integrate with existing ground-based, airborne and maritime systems for operation across domains. The system’s open API allows for maximum interoperability to meet the mission needs of multiple customer sets. Leonidas delivers unprecedented power and performance in a dramatically smaller form factor and is the only directed energy weapon with a proven ability to counter swarming drones and execute precision strikes at range.
“Having the support of one of the largest, most innovative and technologically advanced defense contractors further deepens our industry credibility and the market appeal for Epirus’ directed energy product portfolio. With Leonidas integrated into GD’s combat vehicle fleet, we are unlocking new SHORAD and counter-electronics capabilities to equip our warfighters with combat effective systems that dismantle the threats of today and tomorrow. I look forward to continuing our partnership with our General Dynamics Land Systems colleagues and know that, together, we can deliver on our customers’ mission needs,” said Leigh Madden, Epirus Chief Executive Officer.
Epirus delivers directed energy weapons that enable unprecedented counter-electronics capabilities. Epirus’ flagship product – Leonidas – provides a tactical form factor counter-UAS weapon capable of swarm defeat with increased standoff distances, speed-of-light engagements and the absence of issues with magazine depth and capacity. With a constant emphasis on innovation, Epirus is bringing tomorrow’s capabilities to life today to defeat asymmetric threats and deter near-peer adversaries. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
25 Oct 21. Rheinmetall to build and export Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle Test Chassis to United States. Rheinmetall, the largest supplier of military vehicles to the Australian Defence Force has today announced the build and export contract of a Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) Test Chassis to the United States of America from its factory in Redbank Queensland.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director Gary Stewart said the contract was the first of its kind and provided design and manufacturing export work both for the Rheinmetall team and its growing Australian Industry network.
“This is a landmark for Rheinmetall and Australia with the Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle test chassis to be manufactured at the state-of-the-art Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) at Redbank, Queensland and importantly, contributes to the Federal Government’s objectives as set out in the Australian Defence Export Strategy.”
“The Australian manufactured Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle Chassis is a test rig destined for Rheinmetall’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) campaign to showcase advanced automotive capabilities in the Lynx platform,” he said.
Mr. Stewart said the Lynx vehicle export order will be delivered to Rheinmetall in the United States supporting the business’s worldwide activities currently underway in the OMFV competition and the US Department of Defense’s Bradley fighting vehicle replacement program.
“Lynx is a next generation fighting vehicle with unmatched protection and lethality. Rheinmetall has developed a next generation electronic architecture to ensure onboard sensors, systems and effectors are able to be networked into Defence’s broader network architecture.”
“The new test vehicle will demonstrate advanced features of mobility,” Mr. Stewart said.
Mr. Stewart said that the Australian export opportunities for Rheinmetall increased with this contract and provided flow on for Australian Industry Capability (AIC) partners that contribute to the Lynx IFV.
“The AIC partners are the backbone of our Lynx manufacturing in Australia.
We are proud to partner with organisations including:
- Marand Roof module,
- Supashock Running gear,
- MILSPEC Bisalloy Alternator, and Steel and various mechanical and electrical fabrication partner content.”
Mr. Stewart said that while Rheinmetall has announced export of the Lance Turret to Hungary, this would be our first vehicle export from Australia.
The Lynx is a next generation infantry fighting vehicle designed to confront the challenges of future battlefields. The Lynx provides adaptability; survivability and capacity not seen before in a vehicle of this type and is a highly protected IFV built to meet stringent military requirements.
22 Oct 21. US Army’s New Tactical Trucks Will Be ‘Essential Transportation Link’ In The Future. The Common Tactical Truck will be able to connect ports to forward operating positions, maybe with AI. The US Army’s future Common Tactical Truck will be an “essential transportation link” for soldiers on the future multi-domain battlefield, according to service acquisition documents posted online. The common tactical truck would replace several legacy vehicles and give the Army a modernized platform that’s designed to allow the service to take advantage of emerging technologies — so even it won’t be left out of the service’s broader sprint toward multi-domain operations. According to a “Future Operational Concept” laid out in the service’s presentation to industry, the truck will long-haul and local-haul roles transporting cargo across a conflict zone, including deep into the battlefield.
“The CTTs [common tactical trucks] serve as an essential transportation link between Strategic Ports and ‘the Tip of the Spear’ providing the MDO force with ability to deploy, move, and maneuver where and when desired to accomplish the mission,” the slides said.
While trucks may not appear to be a critical enabler of multi-domain warfare, the Army presentations states that the truck will have MDO requirements such as manned/unmanned delivery, AI-enabled operations and maintenance, and the ability to operate in degraded and denied environments.
“The Army fleet lags behind commercial industry in the digitization revolution and is not in a position to take advantage of the rapidly advancing fields of artificial intelligence, machine learning, autonomous operations, driver safety systems, and predictive maintenance, diagnostics, and prognostics,” the Army draft abbreviated specifications documents states. “The CTT FoV should be common with commercial industry and allow rapid integration of future technologies.”
The industry slides also show that the services has its eye on incorporating future technologies beyond MDO-related components like hybridization and electrification.
Common tactical trucks will replace the Army’s Palletized Load System, M915 line haul Truck Tractor and the Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck. Army documents show that CTTs will have five different variants: load handling system, off road tractor, line haul tractor, fueler and cargo.
The service’s primary goal with the CTT is to develop a family of common trucks that use the same components, such as power train, transmission and chassis. Those features would make it far easier for the service to sustain and maintain those vehicles and reduce the complexity of its supply chain.
The service plans to use its rapid prototyping acquisition path to acquire the vehicles. Its draft timeline shows that its request for prototype proposals could be released in the third quarter of fiscal 2022 with an other transaction authority award to begin the prototyping process in the following quarter. Prototype assessment would throughout most of fiscal year 2024.
If the Army continues forward with the new trucks, it wants to take advantage of industry’s latest innovations in driver safety, drive by wire and increased fuel efficiency. The service wants the trucks to provide all classes of supply, containerized cargo, bridging equipment, breakbulk cargo and “various” other missions in the future.
Product Manager Heavy Tactical vehicles at Program Executive Office for Combat Support and Combat Services Support leads the CTT program.
(Source: Breaking Defense.com)
22 Oct 21. UK sets sights on interim strategic sealift capability The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has begun to explore options for a future strategic sealift capability to begin operation in 2025. A request for information (RFI) to inform programme and commercial strategies for a planned interim capability, lasting a minimum of five years and to an updated user requirement, was released on 20 October. This interim capability would succeed the MoD’s existing sealift contract, which expires at the end of January 2024. Strategic sealift provides the MoD with a capability to deploy cargo overseas from the United Kingdom in support of both standing commitments and contingent operations. The UK’s current roll-on roll-off strategic maritime capacity, vested in the four Flensburger RoRo 2700 sealift ships MV Anvil Point , MV Hartland Point , MV Hurst Point, and MV Eddystone , is provided by Foreland Shipping (previously AWSR Shipping Ltd) under the terms of a 25-year private finance initiative (PFI) arrangement running to the end of December 2024. The RFI for a projected strategic sealift interim solution seeks responses from interested parties relating to ship characteristics, classification, capacities, and crew requirements. It also requests information on any previous long-term charter/contract arrangements and the ability to provide ‘surge’ capacity at short notice when required. Formal industry engagement for the interim strategic sealift capability is expected to start in mid-2022. Full operational capability under the new contract is planned for January 2025. (Source: Janes)
29 Sep 21. Chinese Armour on the Move. Today China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) is marketing a number of MBT designs with some of these already in service with the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) with others aimed at the potentialy lucrative export market.
The Chinese land industrial base can offer potential export customers the widest range of equipment for their land forceswithout the stringent export conditions laid down by Western governments to their defence contractors and at competitive prices.
This MBT capability was originally achieved by importing foreign technology but today China is self-sufficient in all aspects of MBT design and production as well as through life support.
The latest Chinese MBT to enter production for the export market is the VT4, previously known as the MBT-3000, with the first export customer being the Royal Thai Army (RTA) who placed the initial contract for 28 in 2016 with first deliveries taking place in 2017. These were followed by another two batches of 10 and 14 units. Other known export customers include Nigeria and Pakistan.
VT4 is a conventional MBT design and has a typical gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 52 tonnes with driver’s compartment at the front, turret in the middle and 1,200hp power pack at the rear.
The hull and turret are of steel armour with added composite armour over the frontal arc and bar/slat armour over the turret rear, but there is an option for the installation of explosive reactive armour (ERA) for increased protection against incoming threat munitions with a high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warhead.
VT4 is armed with a 125mm smooth bore gun, similar to that installed in the Russian Uralvagonzavod T-72/T-90 MBTs, which is fed by an automatic loader located under the turret. This has allowed the crew to be reduced to commander, gunner and driver. The 125mm smooth bore gun’s automatic loader holds 22 rounds of ready use separate loading ammunition, projectile and charge, plus an additional 16 rounds in reserve.
As well as firing conventional natures of 125mm ammunition, including high-explosive (HE), HEAT and armour piercing fin-stabilised discarding sabot (APFSDS) it can also launch a Norinco GP7 laser guided missile (LGP) which is based on the Russian 9M119 Refleks design.
The GP7 is fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead and with a maximum range of 5,000 metres, enables targets to be engaged beyond the range of the main 125mm armament firing conventional ammunition.
A 7.62mm machine gun (MG) is mounted co-axial with the main armament and there is a roof mounted remote weapon station (RWS) armed with a 12.7mm machine gun with grenade launchers mounted either side of the turret.
Gun control equipment (GCE) is all electric with a computerised fire control system (FCS) and stabilised day/thermal sights for commander and gunner also incorporating a laser rangefinder. This allows stationary and moving targets to be engaged under almost all weather conditions.
The commander’s roof mounted panoramic sight allows hunter/killer target engagements during which the target is first detected by the tank commander who then turns it over to the gunner to carry out the target engagement.
VT4 is also fitted with an air conditioning system, NBC protection system, inertial navigation system (INS) and a global positioning system (GPS).
The export MBT-2000 has a GVW of 48 tonnes and also armed with a 125mm smooth bore gun fed by an automatic loader enabling crew to be reduce to commander, gunner and driver. There is also a roof mounted 12.7mm machine gun and a 7.62mm co-axial MG. Hull and turret are of steel armour with ERA fitted over the frontal arc and bar/slat armour on the turret rear.
Norinco states that it provides stabilised sights for commander and gunner incorporating a laser rangefinder but have not confirmed that the night sights are of the thermal type. The 1,200hp water-cooled turbocharged diesel gives a maximum road speed of up to 69 kilometres per hour (43 miles per hour).
The VT2 is the export version of the Chinese Army Type 96A MBT and is known to have been sold to Bangladesh. It has a GVW of 42.8 tonnes, three person crew and is armed with a 125mm smooth bore gun fed by an automatic loader which carries 22 rounds of ready use ammunition with another 18 rounds in reserve. In addition there is an externally mounted and manually operated 12.7 mm MG and a 7.62 mm co-axial MG.
The gunner is provided with an Image Stabilised FCS and the sight incorporates day/night channels, laser rangefinder and an automatic target tracker (ATT). The hull and turret is of steel armour with an additional layer of composite armour and ERA over the frontal arc.The 800 hp turbocharged diesel is coupled to a manual transmission and gives a maximum road speed of up to 57 km/h.
In addition to marketing these new build MBTs, Norinco is also offering upgrades to older Russian and Chinese MBTs to extend their operational lives and enhance their capabilities.
For the original Chinese Type 59 MBT and its similar Russian T-54/T-55 armed with a 100mm gun, a more modern 125mm smooth bore gun can be installed, as well as a new FCS, upgraded suspension, enhanced protection and a new 750hp or 800hp diesel engine.
China also offers MBT technology transfer with the agreement between China and Heavy Industries Taxila (HIT) of Pakistan being the largest to date. This began with upgrades to the Chinese Type 59 and Type 69 MBTs and progressed to local the manufacture of the Type 85AP followed by the Al Khalid (or MBT-2000), with each stage increasing local content.
Late production Al Khalid have a compact 6TD-2 diesel engine supplied by the Ukraine as Pakistan took delivery of 320 T-80UD MBTs from the Ukraine between 1997 and 1999.
China has also had an MBT assembly/upgrading contract with the Military Industry Corporation (MIC) of the Sudan.
Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) MBTs
The Type 98 MBT used technology from the widely deployed Russian T-72 MBT but was only deployed in small numbers and rapidly replaced on the production lines by the Type 99 MBT which has an enhanced level of survivability due to the installation of modular passive armour over the frontal arc.
The chassis is very similar to that of the Russian T-72 but it has a new turret armed with the previously mentioned 125mm smoothbore gun fed by an automatic loader. There is also a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun and a roof mounted 12.7mm machine gun operated by the commander. A computerised FCS Is fitted with commander and gunner having stabilised day/night sights incorporating a laser rangefinder.
Production of the Type 90 MBT has been completed for the PLA and a version of this is manufactured by the HIT in Pakistan as the Al Khalid. The Type 90 has a GVW of 46 tonnes and like the Type 98/Type 99 is armed with a 125mm smooth bore gun fed by an automatic loader. A computerised FCS is fitted with stabilised day/night sights for the commander and gunner incorporating a laser rangefinder. The hull and turret incorporate advanced armour but it has also been fielded with ERA and a more powerful diesel engine.
Type 85 MBT was the first production Chinese MBT to be armed with a 125mm gun fed by an automatic loader, with a 7.62mm co-axial and 12.7mm roof mounted machine gun. The hull and turret armed of welded steel with applique composite armour. This was exported to Pakistan large numbers and subsequently manufactured/assembled under licence by the HIT.
The Type 80 MBT used a brand new hull fitted with a turret leveraged from the older Type 69 and is armed with a western 105mm rifled gun, 7.62mm co-axial and 12. 7mm roof mounted machine gun. It has a computerised FCS but the sights are of the image intensification type rather than the more capable thermal sights.
In addition to firing conventional natures of 105mm fixed ammunition developed in China, the 105mm gun can also fire the Norinco GP2 LGP fitted with a tandem HEAT warhead, but it has not been confirmed that this is deployed by the PLA for its Type 80 MBTs.
The other two MBTs still deployed by the PLA, in declining numbers, are the Type 69, a further development of the Type 59 which is based on the original Russian T-54 MBT. Both of these are armed with a 100mm gun, 7.62mm co-axial and 12.7mm roof mounted machine gun.
In addition to MBTs, China has developed support vehicles based on MBT platforms including armoured recovery vehicles (ARV), armoured engineer vehicles (AEV) and armoured vehicle launched bridges (AVLB), to name but a few.
To meet potential export customers’ requirements in 2017 Norinco revealed its so called VT5 Lightweight MBT which has a GVW of between 33-36 tonnes and features a hull and turret of welded steel to which a layer of composite and ERA has been fitted over the frontal arc, with bar/slat armour over the rear arc of the hull and turret.
Main armament comprises a 105mm rifled gun fed by an automatic loader which has enabled the crew to be reduced to commander, gunner and driver. In addition to firing conventional natures of ammunition it can also fire the 105mm GP2 laser guided projectile with a tandem HEAT warhead out to a maximum range of 5,000m.
The electronically controlled 1,000hp diesel engine gives a maximum road speed of up to 70km/h (43mph) with Norinco stating an average cross-country speed of 35-40 km/h (21-25mph). The PLA use a version of the VT5 Lightweight MBT under the designation of the ZTQ-15.
Not all the terrain in China is suitable for heavy MBTs and this lead to the design, development and production of two light tanks, the Type 62 and Type 63.
The Type 62 light tank is essentially a scaled down version of the larger Type 59 MBT and has a GVW of 21 tonnes and is armed with an 85mm gun with a 7.62mm co-axial and 7.62mm fixed bow mounted machine gune plus a roof mounted 12.7mm machine gun. This is no longer deployed by the PLA.
The Type 63 light tank is in many respects the Chinese equivalent of the Russian PT-76 light tank and is also fully amphibious being propelled in the water by two water jets located one either side at the rear. It is fitted with a three person turret armed with an 85mm gun, 7.62mm co-axial machine gun and a roof mounted 12.7 mm machine gun.
Some of these were upgraded with a laser range finder mounted above the 85mm gun while other underwent a major upgrade to the Type 63A configuration which is also referred to as the WZ213.
The Type 77 amphibious armoured personnel carrier (APC), which is also referred to as the WZ511, shares many common components with the Type 63 amphibious light tank and in many respects is the Chinese equivalent of the Russian BTR-50PK APC which was phased out of service with the Russian Army many years ago.
The forward part of the hull of the Type 63A has been extended to enhance its amphibious capability and a maximum water speed of up to 7.5 knots (14km/h) is claimed.
All that is required for amphibious operations is erecting the new and larger trim vane at the front of the hull and activating the bilge pumps.
A brand new turret has been installed armed with a 105mm rifled gun coupled to a computerised FCS that includes day/night sights incorporating a laser rangefinder.
In addition to firing conventional ammunition it is believed to be able to fire a GP2 LGP out to a maximum range of 5,000m.
China has also fielded other platforms armed with a stabilised 105mm gun including the VN16 tracked amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) which based on the earlier VN18 tracked AAV in the infantry role and the ST1 (8×8) tank destroyer. (Source: Armada)
21 Sep 21. Australian Army Mobility Surges Ahead. Australia’s military is in the middle of an ambitious plan to modernise its defence forces. Many of these programmes involve updating and enhancing land mobility including the replacement of its logistics and support, tactical and combat vehicle fleets, some of which have been in service since the 1980s.
Upon completion, this will not only significntly improve the capabilities of the forces but is projected to increase readiness and reduce maintenance and support burdens. The programmes addressing this need are LAND 121 for support vehicles, LAND 400 for combat vehicles, and LAND 8120 for engineer support platforms. Executed in a series of phases, the programmes have attracted international industry attention while providing opportunities for Australian industry to capitalise on local content requirements to establish new national capabilities to support the force in the future.
The tactical truck fleets of Unimog, Mack and S-liner vehicles are slated to be replaced by new current generation, highly capable, protected, and unprotected, modular prime movers and trailers.
Designated LAND121 Project Overlander it consists of several phases: LAND 121 Phase 3A addresses lightweight/light vehicle and trailers; Phase 3B and 5B for medium and heavy trucks and associated trailers/mission modules; and Phase 4 for light protected mobility vehicles (PMV-L).
Phase 3A is being addressed through the acquisition of Mercedes-Benz G Wagons manufactured in Graz, Austria for Mercedes-Benz Australia/Pacific in Mulgrave, Victoria and matching trailers from Haulmark Trailers in Queensland. The acquisition includes four- and six-wheel models in 11 mission configurations, some of which are provided by GH Varley in New South Wales. They share a common chassis, engine and running gear. The 4×4 has a gross vehicle weight of up to 10,120lbs (4,600kg) with the 6×6 at 14,300lbs (6,500kg). A total of 2,268 G-Wagon all-wheel drive plus 1,921 trailers have been delivered since 2011 completing the force needs.
The medium and heavy truck requirements of Phase 3B are being filled by Rheinmetall MAN through its subsidiary, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia (RMMVA). A 2013 contract saw 2,500 trucks plus 3,000 specialist modules with deliveries through 2020. Integration of mission packages has occurred at their Vehicle Integration Facility in Brisbane. An additional contract under Phase 5B was awarded on 25 July 2018 for 1044 new medium and heavy trucks, 872 modules and 812 trailers. Special modules for water and fuel are manufactured locally by Queensland’s based Holmwood Highgate.
Australia was the first to receive the HX2 series of military trucks, 40 percent of which will be supplied with armoured cabs. They are available in 4×4, 6×6, 8×8 and 10×10 configurations with weights up to 120 tonnes. Mission versions include Heavy Integrated Load Handling (HX-77), Heavy Tipper (HX-77), Medium Tipper (40-M), Tractor (HX-81), Heavy Recovery (45M), Medium-weight Tray with Crane (40M), and Medium-weight Tray (40M). Deliveries to Australia commenced in 2019 and are expected to continue until 2024.
LAND 121 Phase 4 addresses the requirements for light protected vehicles for command, liaison, reconnaissance, and utility tasks. The PMV-L is intended to provide protection against ballistic and blast threats at levels equivalent to the current Thales Bushmaster in a lighter, deployable, and highly mobile system. One of the more challenging criteria was providing for helicopter transport while achieving the required protection. The Thales Hawkei, an Australian developed design, was selected in December 2011 to fill this role.
The 4×4 Hawkei has a curb weight of 1,5432 lbs (7,000kg) with 6600lbs (3,000kg) payload capacity. Its Axle Tech independent suspension provides for good off-road mobility. The vehicle can be externally sling lifted by the Boeing CH-47 Chinook helicopter. Available in both two-door and four-door versions, the plan is to acquire 465 of the former and 635 of the latter as well as 1058 trailers. Equipped with on-board an integral computer system and vehicle Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS), maintenance is intended to become conditions-based rather than schedule-based. The vehicle has been equipped with open stations for light or heavy machine guns and with a remote weapon station. Thales is delivering 1,100 vehicles and trailers by the end of 2021.
Mounted Combat Reconnaissance
LAND 400 Phase 2 is fielding state-of-the-art Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRV) to replace the Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ALAV) in service since 1996. Following a competition with international participation the Rheinmetall 8×8 Boxer was selected. The programme looks to field the initial 25 (Block 1) vehicles manufactured in Germany with Block 2 occurring in the company’s new Queensland facility for a total of 211 vehicles. That first batch of vehicles was delivered in June 2021. The order comprises a number of variants including the reconnaissance (the majority), command and control (15), joint fires surveillance (29), ambulance (11), battlefield repair (11) and (10) recovery versions. The reconnaissance variant has a two-man Lance turret mounting a 30mm automatic cannon, Spike LR2 fire-and forget anti-tank missiles, and the possibility of a turret roof .50 calibre remote weapon station (RWS). A panoramic optical sight with 360-degree situational awareness and automatic target detection and tracking and digital fire control allows hunter- killer engagement. It can carry up to four dismounts.
Other Australian Boxer variants take advantage of the design’s mission module concept, allowing various mission modules to be installed onto a common drive module. The drive module contains the power pack, suspension, fuel system, electrical and driver station. Specific mission modules can be placed into the drive module for different roles. Versions of the modules required by LAND 400 have already been provided to other Rheinmetall/ARTEC NATO users. Those armed with a RWS will initially use the Kongsberg with Block 2 vehicles moving to the R400 HD Mk2 from Australia’s EOS.
All variants share the same emphasis on survivability with modular armour protection against up to medium calibre cannon and artillery fragments as well as mines and IEDs. NATO STANAG 4569 levels of fourto 6/6+ are possible. The Elbit Iron Fist – Light Decouples Active Protection System is also being evaluated. The design isolates the crew from hazards like fuel with triple layer floors, blast attenuating seats. Specific attention is given to achieving the lowest visual, infra-red, thermal, and radar signatures. The engine is thermally decoupled from the hull, actively cooled frontal plates are provided, while the engine exhaust is directed toward the ground. it is powered by an MTU8V199 TE20 720hp engine coupled to the Allison HD4070 7 speed automatic transmission.
Land Combat Vehicle System
The Australian Army has been using the M113 Armoured Personnel Carrier since the mid-1960s. LAND 400 Phase 3 will acquire a replacement Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) and associated manoeuvre support vehicles. Following an initial competition Rheinmetall Defence Australia and Hanwha Defence Australia Defence were down selected and have proceeded to the risk mitigation activity phase which began in October 2019. The final evaluation and selection are expected in 2022. The eventual contract is now understood to be for 400 vehicles with 281 turreted and 119 non-turreted support vehicles with an expected initial operating capability (IOC) of 2024.
The two candidates are the Lynx KF41 from Rheinmetall and Redback from Hanwha. The Lynx is derived from the Puma IFV which entered service with the German Army in 2010. Lynx is designed to address other export markets and has been adopted by the Hungarian Army. The Lynx 41 offered accommodates a crew of three plus eight dismounts and uses the Lance turret. The Lance has an auto-cannon, two side weapon pods which will accept guided missiles, advanced optics, and fire controls. Mission variants being proposed draw from the Lynx chassis. The company suggests that there are areas of logistics and support commonality between the Lynx offering and the Boxer RCV that would offer benefits in manufacturing and field support.
Hanwha’s Redback draws from its development of the K-21 which, as a spokesperson explained, “is specifically designed for Australia’s LAND 400 requirements”. It mounts a 30mm auto-cannon in an Elbit Systems T2000 two-man turret from EOS Systems with hunter-killer sights and advanced fire controls. In March 2021 the company announced its successful integration of both the Rafael Spike anti-tank guided missile and Iron First Active Protection System into the Redback.
Both companies are actively seeking every opportunity to involve Australian industry and maximise local economic value. Three prototype infantry fighting vehicles were delivered from each company team by February 2021 under the risk mitigation activity. One will undergo ballistic and blast testing while the other two will be used for user evaluation and testing. Results of these efforts will be used in the final selection.
Engineer Support Platforms
An equally important aspect of an army’s ability to maintain mobility are its combat engineering capabilities. LAND 8120 Phase 1 was specifically directed toward replacing and modernising the force’s earth moving and off-road material handling equipment. Beginning in 2019 the programme prepared and released a tender for a range of modified commercial off-the-shelf engineer platforms. The list includes 312 items of equipment in 17 groups. The Australian Department of Defence statement on the Request for Tender (LSD/RFT/7161/1) explained: “Defence has finalised the evaluation of these tenders and anticipates signing a contract in Quarter 3 2021 pending Government approval.” Although a bidders list has not been made available, firms that have indicated interest include Babcock Australasia, ECLIPS, FKG Group, Broadspectrum and Scientific Management Associates. (Source: Armada)
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Contact: David Parkman