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12 Aug 22. Reader comment from Ajax vibration issues update (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.24 ISSUE 32, 08 August 2022) ‘I keep wondering if they’ve done testing with the turret system turned off? Lock turret, shut off turret electronics. Run vehicle through performance/mobility tests. Instrument everything. Is there noise and vibration signatures similar or different from fully operational vehicle? I suspect they have, but won’t make any of that public. I still suspect as you indicate. The heavy turret, size of the ring, lack of hull rigidity combined with very high frequency elevation and azimuth electric drives just combine to create this noise/vibration scenario. Additionally, the suspension isn’t well designed. GDELS went cheap on that system. So it doesn’t help matters either.
11 Aug 22. RAF continues roll-out of A400M capabilities with first operational aerial refuelling. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) is continuing the process of rolling out the capabilities of the Airbus A400M C1 Atlas, announcing on 11 August the first operational aerial refuelling of the airlifter.
For the milestone, an A400M received fuel from an Airbus Voyager KC3 tanker via the centreline hose reserved for large aircraft receivers. The airlifter was refuelled 900 n miles southwest of Ascension Island, extending its 4,100 n miles range to accommodate the remaining 2,600 n miles to Mount Pleasant Airfield on the Falkland Islands.
“The execution of long-range air-to-air refuelling by front-line crews is a major milestone for Atlas. The ability of this aircraft to operate at significant range from the UK, demonstrates our enhanced and resilient force sustainment capabilities,” said Wing Commander Stuart Patton, Officer Commanding 30 Squadron. (Source: Janes)
10 Aug 22. Bushmaster Goes Green. The Australian Army is looking to the future, unveiling an ‘electric Bushmaster’; the electric Protected Military Vehicle (ePMV). Assistant Minister for Defence the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP said the ePMV was a key part of Army’s efforts to become Future Ready.
“We have seen great success with Australian designed and built vehicles keeping personnel safe under fire and the new ePMV represents the next innovative stage in that tradition,” Assistant Minister Thistlethwaite said.
“This ePMV brings the benefits of electric vehicles to the battlefield, particularly being quieter than its combustion counterparts, and I look forward to seeing it perform in field trials.”
The ePMV is being showcased at the Chief of Army Symposium, a three day event bringing together Australian-led technology, industry partnerships and innovation.
Assistant Minister Thistlethwaite said the symposium would give Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel and industry partners the chance to get hands-on with the latest technology to support the ‘Future Ready’ Army.
“As we are seeing around the world today, modern military personnel are joined on their missions by machines. This symposium enables Army to work with industry to explore new and emerging technologies,” Assistant Minister Thistlethwaite said.
“It is vital we support the exploration and development of these technologies, creating innovative advantages for the Australian Defence Force while supporting Australian industry and jobs.”
The symposium includes the Army Innovation Day, Army Future Forum, Army Robotics Exposition and the Army Quantum Technology Challenge, bringing together industry, academia and the ADF. It is running from 9-11 August in Adelaide. (Source: ASD Network)
10 Aug 22. Cote d’Ivoire reveals new armoured vehicles. Cote d’Ivoire’s military has unveiled the acquisition of multiple new armoured vehicle types, at a parade celebrating the 62nd anniversary of the country’s independence. Also seen for the first time were unmanned aerial vehicles.
The parade in Yamoussoukro on 7 August revealed the country’s military is operating DCD Springbuck SD vehicles from South Africa, International Armoured Group (IAG) Jaws armoured personnel carriers (APCs) from the United Arab Emirates, WZ-551 6×6 infantry fighting vehicles from China, and Nurol Makina Ilgaz-II armoured vehicles from Turkey. The Armoured Group (TAG) has also supplied BATT UMG and Terrier LT-79 armoured vehicles to Cote d’Ivoire.
Some 20 new Otokar Cobra II light armoured vehicles were displayed during the parade, including an ambulance and a recovery vehicle. The vehicles are attached to Combined Arms Tactical Groups (GTIA) Bolt and Flash, which are intended as a rapid intervention reserve. Several were fitted with electronic jammers to counter remote-controlled improvised explosive devices (IEDs), Janes notes.
The new deliveries are a substantial boost to Cote d’Ivoire’s army, which previously was known to only operate handfuls of AML-60, AML-90, BRDM-2, ERC-90F4 Sagaie, BMP-1/2, VAB, M-3 Panhard, Mamba and BTR 80 armoured vehicles.
Cote d’Ivoire was also revealed to be operating Delair DT26 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) supplied by France. The Delair DT26X Surveillance can carry out remote or night surveillance missions, thanks to its 10 times optical zoom and infrared sensor. Apparently four were ordered last year by Cote d’Ivoire. DT26s have also been supplied to Niger.
On the naval side, Cote d’Ivoire will be receiving a single P400 patrol vessel from France and two OPV-45 offshore patrol vessels from Israel as it overhauls and expands its navy. Earlier this year it was reported that Cote d’Ivoire will apparently also be receiving helicopters from Israel. Jeune Afrique reported that ten helicopters were purchased in late 2021, including five MD500s and five Agustas supplied by Israeli company TAR Ideal Concepts.
The new acquisitions come after armed groups linked to the Islamic State and al-Qaida increasingly have crossed the border to launch attacks in Cote d’Ivoire, as Islamist extremists seek to expand toward the Gulf of Guinea from their strongholds in Mali and Burkina Faso. Ivorian authorities reported 13 cross-border attacks in 2021, which spurred increased militarization in the north and raised government concern over militants recruiting jobless young people.
The government continues to prioritise its military response and in 2021, President Alassane Ouattara promised to spend 1% of the country’s GDP on equipment to prevent terrorists from entering the country.
Ouattara made clear his twin intentions for security and economic action in the north in his State of the Nation address in April this year. “The government will spare no effort to guarantee the security of people and property and will continue to make the means available to law enforcement, particularly in terms of intelligence, equipment and training,” he said. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
08 Aug 22. US Cavalry troopers and NGCV CFT test different versions of RCV platforms. The 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment ‘Garryowen’ soldiers are evaluating the vehicles for combat operations. US 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment ‘Garryowen’ troopers with 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, have started testing robotic combat vehicles (RCV) at Fort Hood, Texas.
The cavalry personnel are engaged with the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team (NGCV CFT) members to evaluate the various versions of the RCV platforms.
RCVs are expected to take on a key role in future combat operations.
The evaluation exercise started last month and will go on until late summer, reported Eric Franklin, Fort Hood Public Affairs.
As part of the exercise, soldiers are training on the RCVs and testing capabilities to help on-site Army engineers and technicians to collect technical inputs to further develop the vehicles.
The RCV platforms, with non-standard battery-powered systems, are being tested under various battlefield-like conditions. The troopers are also evaluating the vehicles’ capabilities to avoid obstacles and fire weapons while on the move.
Validating the benefits of robots in manned-unmanned formations, the soldiers have also identified new requirements to modernise the RCVs.
NGCV CFT RCV lead major Cory Wallace said: “Soldier feedback is the foundation for every single requirement we’re writing.”
The soldiers will also test a tethered uncrewed aerial system (UAS), a counter-UAS jammer, smoke obscuration module, autonomous drive function and a commonly remote-operated weapon system integrated with crew-served weapons and a Javelin.
The Army is planning additional soldier training and RCV testing sessions over the next 36 months. This will guide the Army in taking decisions on potential procurement and use of the uncrewed systems in combat.
1-7 Cavalry staff sergeant Miguel Albertson said: “We are essentially planning and writing for the future.”
In May 2021, the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) took delivery of the fourth and final RCV (Medium) prototype to be used by soldiers in operational experiments. (Source: army-technology.com)
09 Aug 22. Milrem Robotics delivers the first THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicle to the Spanish Army. The European leading robotics and autonomous systems developer Milrem Robotics has delivered the first THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicle to the Spanish Ministry of Defence. The Ministry, through the Directorate of Armament and Material, awarded the contract for one THeMIS UGV to A.Paukner, S.A., Milrem Robotics’ representative in Spain.
The THeMIS was acquired in the framework of the Scorpion program that was launched in early 2021 to evaluate the capabilities of existing unmanned ground vehicles. During the first phase of the program a list of missions will be defined that can benefit from the usage of unmanned ground systems.
“The THeMIS has already proven itself to 12 countries, seven of which are members of NATO, as a capable, robust and versatile system. We are glad that Spain has joined as the 13th user of THEMIS and chosen Milrem Robotics as a partner to build their robotic and autonomous systems capabilities,” said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.
“A. Paukner, S.A is proud to become the first supplier of a UGV platform to the Spanish MoD within the framework of the ambitious “Escorpion program” devoted to testing and evaluating these unmanned ground systems,” said G. Ingo Paukner, CEO of A.Paukner, S.A.
“The THeMIS UGV is a very powerful, flexible, and easy to deploy multirole platform (also quickly configurable for disaster relief and firefighting missions, if needed) to be incorporated with leading edge Spanish Industry solutions. The combination of technologies provides a solid product and new capabilities to the Spanish Army which could potentially also generate joint business opportunities with other allied Armed Forces. The support and commitment of Milrem Robotics for this project have been outstanding. We are grateful for this support as well for the MoD’s trust in our company and its unmanned systems portfolio,” G. Ingo Paukner added.
“THeMIS provides a robust robotic platform ready to be equipped with several payloads in order to boost experimentation and other R&D activities with a reliable and well-known solution,” said a representative of the Spanish MoD’s program.
The THeMIS UGV is a multi-mission capable system intended to support dismounted troops that can serve as a mule for transporting a squad’s gear or be rapidly converted into a weaponized remotely operated unit to offer force protection.
It is the first system in its size class deployed to a conflict area during the anti-insurgency operation Barkhane in Mali. During the deployment, the THeMIS traversed 1200 km in one of the world’s harshest terrains of lava rock soil and climates climbing to 50 degrees Celsius in the shade. The UGV was operational for over 330 hours.
08 Aug 22. Ajax – poor media management (again) by MoD. When a media void appears the jungle drums start buzzing and conjectures abound about the survival of the Ajax Project. A source told BATTLESPACE that these rumours are wide of the mark and the project has restarted and problems are being ironed out albeit resulting in a delayed ISD for all variants. The DVD Exhibition in September will bring more information to the table.
04 Aug 22. Kasser II MRAP consignment seen in UAE. A production batch of Kasser II mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles was seen when the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) minister of industry and advanced technology visited the country’s defence industries on 1 August.
A short video released by the UAE’s WAM news agency showed the delegation led by Sultan bin Ahmed al-Jabr inspecting at least nine Kasser IIs inside an unidentified facility during the visit to defence companies at Tawazun Industrial Park, which is located in Zayed Military City in Abu Dhabi. Two were numbered as 13 and 14, indicating that at least this many have been produced. It was unclear if they are being made at the facility or undergoing systems integration after delivery.
The Kasser II was unveiled during the IDEX defence show held in Abu Dhabi in February 2021. It has a stated combat weight of 17.2 tonnes, a 400 hp Cummins diesel engine, and can accommodate up to eleven people or nine when fitted with a weapon station. (Source: Janes)
01 Aug 22. Dutch MoD deploys newly leased RoRo ship for first time. The Dutch Ministry of Defence (MoD) has officially put into service its newly leased medium Roll-on/Roll-off (RoRo) ship, named New Amsterdam. The ship, which will be operated by the Royal Netherlands Navy (RNLN) and used to secure strategic sea transport on a permanent basis, departed Eemshaven, bound for the port of Klaipeda in Lithuania, on 25 July, the MoD said in a statement. The ship was loaded with Dutch soldiers participating in NATO’s enhanced forward presence (eFP) battalion as well as containers of supplies for the next rotation of the eFP, it said. New Amsterdam is being leased for ten years from TransProCon, part of the Swedish Orient Line, under a contract signed on 14 January 2022. The MoD had previously opted to rent RoRo ships on an ad hoc basis. However, an increasing scarcity of such ships on the market since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic led to the decision to lease a ship on a longer-term basis to reduce uncertainty. (Source: Janes)
04 Aug 22. US Army ground vehicle lab researches different batteries in quest for electrified fleet. Battery research programs at the Army’s Ground Vehicle System Center will help the Army’s transition to hybrid and electric vehicles allowing quieter, longer duration operations.
The US Army’s ground vehicle research lab is working on a collection of new batteries meant to propel the service toward hybrid and, eventually, fully-electric vehicles — ones that will give soldiers more operational flexibility in the field and could eventually power weapons systems.
In a recent interview with Breaking Defense, a lab official described how the service is in the early stages of a multi-decade journey to add hybrid and fully-electric vehicles into its fleet, in part to reduce its climate impact, but also because of electric power’s operational impact. The service’s recent climate strategy laid out plans to hybridize the service’s tactical fleet by 2035, with fully electric vehicles targeted for 2050.
“As we start to go into our tactical vehicles, we believe that those can be electrified pretty easily in that 2050 period of time,” said Laurence Toomey, branch chief for the energy storage team at Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC).
However, the service will have to work incrementally to reach that point, starting with upgrading to Lithium-Ion batteries for some ground vehicles. Current Army vehicles are powered by lead-acid 6T batteries, common to 80-90% of its fleet and a NATO standard power source, according to Toomey. The GVSC is finalizing a 6T Lithium-Ion battery that would replace the lead-acid versions.
The operational benefits of that effort, he said, are the Lithium-Ion batteries allow for “extended” operations with the engine off. The battery will also improve anti-idling capabilities, which allows the on-board electronics to still function while the engine is off.
“What they want to do there is they want to facilitate longer silent watch,” Toomey said. “They want to turn the engine off and conduct longer duration missions without the heat signature and a noise signature from the engine. It also allows us to introduce the first step of our hybridization strategy and that really is anti-idle.”
Toomey said that the battery will be fielded in the “near-term” to programs such as the Stryker, Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and the new Mobile Protected Firepower, which was just awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems.
The challenge for the 6T Lithium-Ion battery is its lower voltage and lack of cooling, limiting it to lower energy operations. So the GVSC is also working on a higher voltage battery, dubbed the Modular High Voltage battery, with an eye on hybrid applications.
The MHV program is targeting a range of 50 to 600 volts and is focused on the next generation combat vehicle program. Toomey said that program is focused on creating a modular, common battery for the Army’s future vehicles.
“Rather than focusing on a specific battery for, say, a specific platform, because we don’t have any platforms quite yet, we’re focusing on developing a common module that can be scaled,” Toomey said.
Conceptually, the MHV battery links 50-volt modules together to scale up to high-voltage power source, up to 600 volts. Toomey said that kind of wattage could be used for operations including silent mobility and electrified weapon systems. Additionally, the batteries will have thermal management.
But there are challenges for that battery as well, including meeting military survivability requirements, such as nuclear hardening, shock and vibration, and extreme operational conditions, Toomey said, which comes with potential financial downsides.
“The concern is going to be that that battery is going to be a fairly expensive technology, because you’re trying to meet the most aggressive tip-of-the-spear type of applications for those combat platforms,” he said.
To find more affordable options, the Army, partnered with the Navy and Defense Innovation Unit, turned to the commercial automotive industry that’s already invested in the high-voltage batteries needed for the larger combat platforms. That effort, called JumpStart for Advanced Battery Standardization, is looking at how the commercial battery technologies can be packaged to meet as many of the military requirements as possible. Instead of militarizing the commercial battery itself, Jumpstart is also exploring strengthening the batteries’ enclosure within the vehicle to address survivability.
Ultimately, which vehicles use the batteries will likely depend on the vehicles’ size.
“The MHV battery may meet more military requirements but will likely be more expensive and is being targeted for our most challenging combat platforms,” Toomey said in a follow-up email. “The JumpStart battery may not meet all military requirements and therefore may not be well suited for the most aggressive combat platforms, [but] the battery should be cheaper and well suited for lighter tactical platforms and other DoD applications (such as Navy and Air Force vehicles).”
In the meantime, according to the GVSC’s energy storage roadmap, it plans to kick off a new battery program in fiscal 2023: the Extreme Energy Hight Voltage battery. The roadmap states that the program will run from FY23-27 and will serve “plug-in and all electric vehicle applications,” while take lessons from the Modular High Voltage program.
Then, down the road, comes fully electrified vehicles.
“That last step will be the all-electric. That’s going to be the one that it would probably take the largest technology improvements to get to the ability to go and have that combat class vehicle,” Toomey said. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
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