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09 Dec 22. Textron Systems Delivers Its Cottonmouth Purpose-Built Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle to the Marine Corps.
Textron Systems Corporation, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, today announced the delivery of Cottonmouth, a vehicle purpose-built for the U.S. Marine Corps’ Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) program. The hand-off of the prototype vehicle occurred 01 Dec 2022 at the Nevada Automotive Test Center (NATC) in Silver Springs, NV.
Created to serve as a Naval Sensor Node supporting expeditionary operations, the Cottonmouth vehicle provides lightweight multi-modal capability for the Marines, consistent with the service’s Force Design 2030 vision. A multi-domain command and control suite integrated into the vehicle as part of the C4UAS Mission Role Variant allows it to coordinate data and serve as the quarterback, or battlefield manager, for the modern battlefield. The amphibious 6×6 platform is equipped for sustained reconnaissance with organic unmanned systems capabilities and multi-spectrum sensors which provide seamless communication between the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
The Cottonmouth vehicle’s smaller footprint allows rapid transport of four vehicles on a Ship-to-Shore Connector (LCAC-100). Supporting the mission of a mobile scout vehicle, the easy-to-deploy platform swims in open ocean and navigates littoral water obstacles such as bays, estuaries, rivers, light surf and handles any terrain.
“Our Cottonmouth vehicle is a completely clean-sheet design that provides transformative reconnaissance capabilities and meets Marine Corps requirements,” said David Phillips, Senior Vice President, Land and Sea Systems. “The vehicle was designed from its inception by listening to customer requirements. Because of its smaller size, the Marines can quickly deploy next generational combat power to the fight and lets commanders meet any mission anywhere.”
The prototype is the second iteration of the vehicle informed by lessons learned from an original Alpha prototype vehicle and approximately 3,000 miles of testing. Textron Systems’ Cottonmouth vehicle has completed contractor verification testing of its mobility, swim capability, vetronics integration and C4UAS mission capabilities. In addition to delivery of the fully integrated ARV platform, the company also delivered a blast hull to the Aberdeen Test Center and a systems integration lab (SIL) to the Naval Information Warfare Center-Atlantic, both of which have been undergoing government evaluation and testing. The prototype vehicle now enters its formal government evaluation phase, expected to last through 2023.
(Source: ASD Network)
09 Dec 22. Patria AMVXP 8×8 vehicle selected by Japan as a new Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier (WAPC) for Japan Ground Self-Defense Force. The Japan Ministry of Defense has announced today that Patria AMVXP 8×8 has been selected for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force as their next Wheeled Armored Personnel Carrier 8×8 vehicle under the WAPC programme. The selection includes manufacturing licence of the vehicles in Japan, with a solid contribution to the local economy and technology development securing the supply and service in Japan. The Patria AMVXP 8×8 vehicles will be replacing the Type-96 8×8 Armored Personnel Carrier vehicles which are currently in service by Japan Ground Self-Defense Force.
“The selection of Patria AMVXP 8×8 and our proven licensing model is great proof of Patria’s capability to deliver the latest technology and to enable local security of supply. Patria AMVXP 8×8 has successfully proven its superior performance, as well as its mobility and protection, in various crisis management missions, and Japan will be the ninth user country of Patria’s AMV vehicle family. Patria has industry-leading experience of licensing and cooperation with local industries in many countries, and we are committed to this in Japan as well. The Japan Ground Self-Defense Force will receive state-of-the-art and high performance Japanese manufactured AMVXP 8×8 vehicles to support critical operations for decades to come”, says Janne Räkköläinen, Senior Vice President of Market Area World at Patria.
Patria has worked for the WAPC programme since 2018 and it has also established a local subsidiary, Patria Japan Ltd., to support its activities in Japan. The next step in the programme is licence negotiations which will start immediately. Patria has a very strong heritage of providing services and high-technology systems engaging successfully with local industries and providing the local security of supply. Patria sees the selection of Patria AMVXP 8×8 as a great opportunity to further develop cooperation in Japan with new services and solutions as well as to establish long-term strategic partnerships with Japan and its industries.
09 Dec 22. Coventry-based NP Aerospace which designs advanced low weight, high performance armour systems for personal and platform, and Supacat which specialises in the design and technology of high mobility defence vehicles, have repurposed a number of IED damaged High Mobility Truck Variant (HMTV) vehicles for UK Ministry of Defence training under the Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) Contract.
The vehicles have been repurposed by NP Aerospace and Devon-based Supacat engineering teams for the Defence School of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (DSEME) in Lyneham. Effectively introducing a simulated training aid that will improve MOD vehicle knowledge and contribute to continued safety improvements.
The initiative has enabled two HMTV Platforms, previously used for training to be returned field Army for operational use and increasing the number of in-service vehicles. The project involved the collection, strip-down, refurbishment and rebuild of three HMTV vehicles to provide five training aids including four static and one mobile skeletonised module. These will be used to assist apprentices and qualified technicians on various courses run by DSEME.
David Petheram, Chief Operating Officer, NP Aerospace, said: “The objective of the UK MOD PMETS Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support Contract is to deliver vehicle upgrades and improvements that drive enhancements in safety and performance capability across the fleet, whilst introducing new innovations and sustaining proven platforms. The new HMTV training aids developed with Supacat are a great example of vehicle reuse and engineering innovation for the benefit of improving expertise and knowledge.”
Phil Applegarth, Director of Supacat, added: “The HMTV platform is a proven platform for use in harsh environments. By refurbishing damaged vehicles and upgrading them with the latest improvements for training, we are able to demonstrate our commitment to ensuring MOD teams are knowledgeable about their equipment, which ultimately keeps crew safe and maximises training or operational availability.”
07 Dec 22. AVNL proposes infantry combat vehicle for Indian Army. India’s state-run Armoured Vehicles Nigam Limited (AVNL) has proposed a Futuristic Infantry Combat Vehicle (FICV) for the Indian Army, the company confirmed with Janes.
Janes learnt that the company is planning to showcase its FICV prototype at India’s Defence Expo 2024.
Anurag Kumar Sharma, general manager of AVNL, told Janes that the FICV – designed and developed by the company – would not be based on a Russian BMP (Boyevaya Mashina Pyekhoty) or any existing infantry combat vehicle (ICV).
According to Sharma, the BMP’s design was based on three key factors – mobility, firepower, and protection. “The FICV’s design idea, however, adds a fourth factor – crew comfort,” Sharma said.
“AVNL’s FICV will have a 600 hp engine with an automatic transmission, whereas the BMP is equipped with a 300 hp engine and a manual transmission,” Sharma added.
In addition to a 30 mm cannon and a 7.62 mm co-axial gun, the FICV will be fitted with a loitering munition (LM) system, a remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS), a fifth-generation anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) system, and a 30 mm automated grenade launcher, Sharma said.
08 Dec 22. The electric car revolution is arriving. Last year US President Joe Biden outlined a target to have 50 percent of all new vehicles sold in the United States zero-emission vehicles by 2030. The goal is ambitious, but achievable, and industry has already been moving aggressively toward electric and hybrid vehicles without government urging. Leading automotive manufacturers like GM and Stellantis (the parent company for Jeep, Dodge, Opel, Fiat, Peugeot, Maserati, and others) have already committed tens of billions of dollars toward developing electric and hybrid vehicles in the next several years. Volkswagen has committed to making electric cars account for 40 percent of its sales by the end of the decade. And Ford announced that in 2023 it will spend more on electric vehicles than internal combustion engine vehicles for the first time in its 119-year history.
There have been so many recent electric and hybrid vehicle announcements that Elon Musk joked he was “waiting for my mom to announce one.” Leaders in the military are clamoring for more electrification of tactical and nontactical vehicle fleets as well. The US military needs to take advantage of this electrification trend and follow fast in adopting the best new technologies. Doing so will not only reduce its reliance on petroleum fuels; it will increase the lethality of the force. However, determining how best to take advantage of electrification requires careful consideration of the full range of electric vehicle options. This is not a binary decision between hastily embracing an all-electric future or stubbornly maintaining a fossil-fuel status quo. Our future military readiness demands that we rise above such harmful simplification of a complex issue and give it the careful consideration it deserves.
Three Kinds of Electric Vehicles
One of the most important nuances often missed is that the term electric vehicles actually covers a range of propulsion systems that fit into three main categories. Each of these has distinct advantages and disadvantages. The first, and most well known, is the all-electric vehicle. In the consumer market, Teslas are examples of all-electric vehicles. This type of electric vehicle has a battery and an electric motor. The battery is charged when the vehicle isn’t in use and it powers an electric motor. These vehicles are completely emissions free, as long as the electricity used to charge them was from renewable sources—though there are environmental concerns about sourcing the raw materials required for battery manufacturing. They drive extremely efficiently, accelerate quickly, and are dangerously quiet. But despite the advantages, the technology is not ready for tactical vehicles because it requires incredibly heavy and bulky infrastructure for power generation and charging—with the exception of niche roles in reconnaissance and small unmanned aviation, which need shorter range and lower acoustic signatures. More innovative applications are arriving every day but the physics of the underlying limits on battery technology are not expected to change any time soon, significantly limiting the potential of all-electric vehicles for tactical use. However, the military has around 170,000 nontactical vehicles, mostly the cars and trucks it uses on military bases, that would be ideal for electrification. The Army has already committed to fielding an “all-electric light-duty non-tactical vehicle fleet” by 2027 after its successful pilot programs and the Marine Corps has been making strides toward electrifying its nontactical wheeled vehicle fleet at some bases and investing in charging stations as a cost-saving measure.
The second type of electric vehicles are parallel hybrids like the Toyota Prius. In parallel hybrids, vehicles have both an internal combustion engine and a battery that are independently connected to the wheels through a mechanical coupling. These vehicles are in a sense more reliable than all-electric vehicles because they have both electric motors and internal combustion engines. Because of this, however, they are also more complicated and do not have the efficiency of a fully electric vehicle. The batteries are also usually too small to power travel over long distances and these vehicles can best be thought of as internal combustion engine vehicles with an assist from batteries to give them higher efficiency.
The third type of electric vehicle is the series hybrid like the Chevy Volt. These vehicles have electric motors that are run either by batteries that can be charged externally or by a petroleum-fueled generator. Series hybrids have all of the efficiency advantages of a fully electric drivetrain but can also be fueled with petroleum if needed. And the ability to charge the batteries from onboard fuel means this type of vehicle’s total energy capacity is much deeper than that of an all-electric vehicle. Series hybrid vehicles recharge their batteries while on the move, rather than requiring the vehicle to be stationary for many hours, as with all-electric vehicles. Since their mobility comes from electric motors, they have all the power and torque benefits of a fully electric vehicle. Series hybrid vehicles should be the next step in tactical ground vehicles for the military. They offer ground forces immediate benefits that contribute directly to enhanced lethality: nearly silent operation, lower fuel consumption through higher efficiency, higher instantaneous torque for towing and acceleration, and fewer maintenance requirements. Having large batteries and efficient electricity generation aboard all tactical vehicles will also enable easier integration with new sensors and especially directed-energy weapons that require the high, instantaneous power output that batteries can provide. Increasing requirements for electrical power at the small-unit level for radios, drones, tablets, lasers, computers, and sensors will demand better distribution of energy than current vehicles can provide.
Hydrogen fuel cells can also be combined with batteries and electric motors. The US Army has experimented with GM’s ZH2 fuel cell–powered truck, which has most of the same benefits as an electric vehicle but runs on hydrogen instead of a battery charge. Fuel cell technology is rapidly evolving alongside battery technology and is another option the military should closely consider for tactical vehicles. The US Air Force already operates prototype hydrogen-fueled, nontactical vehicles in Hawaii. These developments are indicators that series hybrid power train designs are much more future proof than other vehicle architectures, because their petroleum fuel tanks and onboard generators can be configured to run on another fuel (such as hydrogen) or even swapped out with other power generation systems (like fuel cells).
Where the Military Is Today
The US military is the largest institutional consumer of petroleum fuels on the planet, using as many as 4.2 billion gallons of fuel each year. The military pays a premium for its fuel—the Defense Logistics Agency spent over $9 billion dollars on fuel in 2019. Expenditures went down significantly during the pandemic but in 2022 Congress had to appropriate more money for fuel purchases not once, but twice for a total of $3 billion extra. Furthermore, the ongoing war in Ukraine and OPEC’s commitment to reduce production will keep fuel prices high for the foreseeable future. The price of delivering fuel to remote outposts can cost the Pentagon as much as $1,000 per gallon, according to the Army. And dollars aren’t the only way the military pays for fuel; it also pays for it with the blood of service members. Between 2003 and 2007 one out of every eight casualties in Iraq came as a result of protecting fuel convoys.
The military’s addiction to petroleum fuels is a liability. Convoys are vulnerable to attack by insurgents and enemy forces. Oil tankers in transit can be attacked and fuel refineries targeted. Fuel can also be leveraged as a political tool: in one such case, Pakistan closed a critical border crossing into Afghanistan, keeping convoys full of fuel and bound for the NATO mission idling on the other side of the border. And logistics requirements only increase in large-scale combat operations. A US armored division might require up to half a million gallons of fuel per day. Russian logistics failures and the infamous “40-mile-long convoy” that sat stalled on roads outside of Kyiv further highlight how difficult fuel logistics are. At the same time the use of silent, electric tactical bikes by Ukrainian sniper teams shows how such technologies can make troops more lethal.
In part because of this, the Army is leading the way and investing in pilot programs for electric and hybrid vehicles. The Army’s new Climate Strategy set a 2027 target to field an all-electric light-duty, nontactical fleet and a 2035 target for both a full all-electric nontactical fleet and hybrid tactical vehicles by 2035. To meet these goals Oshkosh Defense has already demonstrated a hybrid Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, while GM has shown off an all-electric version of its Infantry Squad Vehicle and a hydrogen fuel cell–powered version of its Chevy Colorado marketed at the military. BAE has been working on a hybrid Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle for several years.
The Marine Corps also needs to get onboard with hybrid vehicles. The Marine Corps specializes in expeditionary and amphibious operations, which make it even more vulnerable to getting cut off from fuel supplies than the Army. The commandant of the Marine Corps, General David Berger, has repeatedly emphasized that logistics are the “pacing function” for future Marine Corps operations in the Pacific. Other Marine leaders have been even more specific, arguing that “fuel is the pacing commodity.” New Marine concepts like Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations will stress Marine logistics as Chinese military leaders have made clear that they would target US logistics vessels, with fuel shipments certainly included. Reducing sustainment requirements is critical for Marines.
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) is the military’s replacement for the venerable Humvee—officially the high-mobility, multipurpose, wheeled vehicle, or HMMWV—which has been in service for decades. The primary advantage of the JLTV is that it was designed to provide increased protection for troops against improvised explosive devices, but as currently designed, it may not be ideal for future conflicts. The Army and Marine Corps intend to buy as many as sixty-five thousand JLTVs to replace the bulk of their light tactical vehicle fleets in the coming years and the new vehicles are expected to remain in services for decades. For comparison, the HMMWV first entered service in the early 1980s and is expected to remain in service indefinitely, alongside the new JLTV. The ongoing JLTV acquisition is the ideal place to start shifting to hybrid tactical vehicles because of the size of the buy, and because the JLTVs will likely remain in service for a generation or more.
The military should prioritize acquisition of series hybrid JLTVs to take advantage of commercial developments in electric and hybrid vehicles, while simultaneously forging ahead with the development of a hydrogen fuel cell–powered variant. Oshkosh Defense, the maker of the JLTV, has already developed a hybrid model that it claims can improve fuel economy by over 20 percent and eliminates the need for towed generators. Committing to major purchases of hybrid JLTVs is an immediate step the military can make toward improving battlefield lethality and reducing petroleum fuel dependence.
Unfortunately, critics of efforts to electrify military vehicles have decried them as politically motivated and overly focused on climate change, which they argue should not factor into planning to meet the military’s core mission. But they ignore the obvious tactical and financial benefits of electrification. Shifting the military to electric and hybrid vehicles shouldn’t be controversial; it will help make our forces more lethal and save the military money. Yes, it will also help address the climate crisis, but that is just one of the advantages, which also extend to helping wean US forces off their dependence on foreign oil, especially in critical theaters like Europe, where prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine the US military was using the energy equivalent of nearly half a million barrels of Russian oil per year, according to an analysis by Brown University.
But there are real challenges to electrification and hybridization of the military’s ground vehicles. Batteries are obviously a critical component, and they are overwhelmingly manufactured outside the United States and rely on lithium, cobalt and other raw materials that are also largely sourced and refined outside the United States. This creates a weak and brittle supply chain in peacetime and could cut off the defense industrial base from critical supplies completely in a major conflict. Increasing production of consumer electric vehicles will reinforce the critical battery sector but could also compete with production for the military. Several new domestic battery manufacturing plants are projected to open over the next few years, which will be critical for supporting domestic electrification. Similarly, expanding sources of lithium and other key materials are crucial for supporting the electrification of the military’s vehicles. The government needs to aggressively support these two essential industries to make electrification viable for the military.
Battery transport safety is another risk of electric vehicles that needs to be addressed. All services, but particularly the Army and Marines, transport large numbers of tactical vehicles by ship, and even some through airlift. Battery fires add new risks to that movement. However, these ships already transport even more dangerous cargoes like munitions and jet fuel—so establishing safety protocols for vehicle batteries is well within the realm of possible. The Navy has already established a dedicated battery safety office to meet this need.
As US industry leaps headlong into the electric vehicle market, the military, especially the US Army, is taking early steps on its own electric and hybrid vehicles. They provide clear tactical benefits as well as reducing fuel requirements and, as the technology improves, the benefits will only increase. But the military needs to make sure that it is pursuing the right technology in the right places. Nontactical vehicle fleets, which operate largely from domestic bases and can rely on charging infrastructure at US bases, should be electrified as soon as possible. This is a cost-saving measure with environmental benefits. Tactical vehicles should, starting with the JLTV, be hybridized with series hybrid configurations as they are modernized. The troops that use them will benefit from better local power generation for everything from directed-energy weapons to charging radio batteries, nearly silent drivetrains, less maintenance, and greater efficiency. Switching the military to hybrid vehicles is a lethality measure with logistics benefits. The military will also save money and use less fuel. Failure to electrify the military’s ground vehicles will leave them an anachronism in an age where industry has transitioned to more capable and more efficient technology. It’s time to follow industry and fast track DoD vehicle electrification.
Walker D. Mills is a Marine Corps infantry officer in training to be an RPA pilot. He is a nonresident fellow at Marine Corps University’s Brute Krulak Center for Innovation and Future War and a nonresident fellow with the Irregular Warfare Initiative. He holds a BA in history from Brown University and an MA in international relations and modern war from King’s College in London.
Ryan Wiechens is member of the Technical Staff in the Energy Systems Group at MIT Lincoln Laboratory, a Department of Defense federally funded research and development center in Massachusetts. He leads MIT LL’s development of modular and scalable tactical microgrids, hybrid power systems, and vehicle electrification. He holds a BS in mechanical engineering from Northwestern University and an MS in mechanical engineering from Stanford University.
The views expressed are those of the authors and do not reflect the official position of the United States Military Academy, Department of the Army, or Department of Defense.
06 Dec 22. Babcock achieves contract milestone. Babcock announced the completion of factory acceptance of the first delivery of VR7 Armoured Toyota Land Cruiser 300’s to a major NATO Government customer. The new Land Cruiser 300 Series is a complete redesign of the outgoing 200 Series. Several months of rigorous design, development and testing (which included being shot at over 200 times and explosive devices being detonated next to the vehicle), resulted in successful PAS:300 and PAS:301 certifications. The team has worked tirelessly to ensure we can continue to work towards our purpose of creating a safe and secure world, together, with this next generation of Civilian Armoured Vehicles.
David Coombes, Contract Director – Security, said: “To design, develop, procure, manufacture, test, certify, and productionise in just over 12 months has been a monumental effort by all involved, and we are pleased our customers are happy with the result.”
06 Dec 22. U.S. approves potential sale $3.75bn of M1A1 Abrams tanks to Poland. The U.S. State Department has approved a potential sale of 116 General Dynamics (GD.N) made M1A1 Abrams tanks, other vehicles and munitions to Poland in a deal valued at up to $3.75bn, the Pentagon said on Tuesday. The sale comes just months after Poland was authorized to buy 250 M1A2 tanks by the same maker. With this new option, Poland could elect to buy a mix of the two tank versions as it seeks to modernize its military and adjust to new geopolitical realities following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. The package would include vehicles to recover disabled tanks, eight assault bridges and other vehicles. It would also provide thousands of rounds of advanced munitions including armor-piercing rounds, spares and technical support, the Pentagon said.
The Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of the possible sale on Tuesday. Despite approval by the State Department, the notification does not indicate that a contract has been signed or that negotiations have concluded. (Source: Google/Reuters)
05 Dec 22. Border clearances, faster harbour-rail transport among new EU military mobility goals. The European Union’s (EU’s) newly revised military mobility (MM) plan will focus largely on boosting Europe’s intermodal transport connections, digitalising paper-based national border clearances for troops and materiel, and enhancing Western Europe’s rail connections to Ukraine and Moldova, according to EU officials. Fuel supply chains and space services for Europe’s militaries will also be addressed, they said.
“We plan to integrate the fuel supply chain needs for military transport into the requirements that drive the EU’s infrastructure process,” said Stijn Mols, head of security and defence planning in the European External Action Service, the EU’s foreign policy wing. “We have all seen in Ukraine the problems that emerge when military convoys run out of fuel.”
Mols and other officials addressed their comments at a 29 November hearing on MM by the European Parliament’s Subcommittee on Security and Defence (SEDE). (Source: Janes)
06 Dec 22. DOD Adopting Commercial Technology to Control Unmanned Ground Vehicles. Substantial technical breakthroughs in unmanned ground vehicles have led to their use in high-risk missions, such as reconnaissance, with the goal of reducing dangers for troops and increasing risks for adversaries. The Army partnered with the Defense Innovation Unit to prototype a software package, as well as a process to adapt uncrewed vehicle technology to unmanned ground vehicles.
The Ground Vehicle Autonomous Pathways project will prototype software for the navigation of uncrewed vehicles by fusing data from multiple sensors and allowing teleoperations of unmanned ground vehicles, said Kevin O’Brien, technical director for DIU’s autonomy portfolio.
The use of teleoperators ensures humans are in the control loop.
The project will also provide a technical pipeline to continue rapid development and deployment of autonomous features as they become commercially available, he added.
“There has been a revolution in the techniques and capabilities of uncrewed ground vehicles occurring in the private sector over the past two decades. We’re eager to bring these matured technologies back into the Department of Defense where initial work was inspired by the DARPA Grand Challenges,” O’Brien said, referring to the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency’s unmanned vehicle competitions.
DIU received 33 responses to the Ground Vehicle Autonomous Pathways solicitation. A panel of DOD subject matter experts facilitated a “rigorous and competitive” process that resulted in the selection of two vendors, Applied Intuition Inc. and Kodiak Robotics, he said.
“The DIU CSO process brought new vendors, with significant development and testing experience to raise the floor on autonomy in the DOD,” said Army LTC Chris Orlowski, the product manager for the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle program.
“The commercial sector has invested heavily in this technology, and we are excited to see this in action by leveraging the self-driving technology that is working on American highways today,” Orlowski added. (Source: US DoD)
05 Dec 22. The company Defenture BV was formed specifically to design and build an Air Transportable Tactical Vehicle (ATTV) for the Dutch Special Forces, writes Bob Morrison. The Defenture story started a little over ten years ago when founder Gerard Rond, a Dutch Rally Raid multiple champion and four time competitor in the Paris-Dakar, was in conversation with a high-ranking military officer who told him their Special Forces were undertaking missions in conflict zones with a vehicle not originally designed for the tasks and conditions.
The general said “Our soldiers, doing the most dangerous work, deserve the best gear to do their job.” This set Gerard thinking and he responded: “Give me the order and I promise they will get a vehicle that exceeds all expectations”. Working with friends on the rally and motorsport scene, in 2013 Gerard presented an innovative high performance modular 4×4 platform with 4-wheel steering which was not only capable of fitting inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter and could carry in excess of 1.4 tonnes of payload but also had an operational range of 800km… and it offers ballistic protection too, by using a speedily mounted cassette armour system when needed. The Defenture GRF 5.12 ATTV is known by Dutch Special Forces as the VECTOR.
Defenture is not, however, a ‘one trick pony’ as in addition to already producing 75 VECTORS for the Dutch KCT (Korps Commandotroepen) and Dutch Marines SOF, plus eight more for Switzerland’s Special Forces, the company has a contract with the Netherlands Ministry of Defence for 275 SCORPION 6.6 4×4 military quads. They also have a contract to produce up to 80 of the MAMMOTH, a larger variant of the VECTOR, for the German Armed Forces, but precise details of this vehicle are under wraps with only a company graphic able to be displayed at present. And that is just the projects they are able to talk about for the moment. They also have hybrid and unmanned projects in development.
Carl Schulze and myself, along with our colleague Gerard Van Oosbree from Dutch Defence Press and four other specialist military journalists from Germany, were last week invited to visit the recently expanded Defenture factory in Tiel for a morning of briefings before moving to Gerard Rond’s near 8km long off-road test track where highly realistic KCT driver training is often undertaken. As several well-used customer VECTORS were back in the original assembly bays for scheduled deep maintenance, and as other sensitive work was being undertaken in the new 1,000 square metre production building, we were limited in the amount of internal photography we could take, but there was a Swiss ATTV outside for us to photograph and down at the test track we not only had a VECTOR to play with in the mud until it became too dark for photography, but there was also a Dutch SF vehicle on hand for static shots.
Throughout the course of the day we gleaned so much information that this feature will need to run to several parts, so before I head off for my next assignment here are some pictures of early VECTOR appearances and a couple of company graphics. I plan to continue with the Defenture ATTV Story on my return. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
05 Dec 22. Fake parts: A Pentagon supply chain problem hiding in plain sight. For about half the summer, 18 newly completed F-35 fighter jets sat outside Air Force Plant 4, a Lockheed Martin-operated facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
Instead of flying to military bases around the world, the F-35s were parked while U.S. Defense Department officials tried to untangle the supply chain mess that had stuck them there.
In August, the Pentagon had halted delivery of the aircraft after Honeywell, the maker of a key engine component in the F-35, told Lockheed it had new concerns about the provenance of one part. Specifically, the subcontractor had learned a magnet in the component had been made for years using raw materials sourced in China — a violation of federal procurement rules.
The Defense Department ultimately decided the Chinese alloy didn’t endanger or compromise the F-35, and it granted a waiver in early October for deliveries to resume.
But the high-profile incident spotlighted a quandary for Pentagon leaders, one the department has struggled to address and was warned about for more than a decade: how to keep counterfeit parts and other unauthorized material from sneaking into the department’s sprawling supply chain.
It’s a problem Pentagon officials worry could lead, in a best-case scenario, to poorer equipment performance — or in a worst-case scenario, to the accidental death of troops.
Amid China’s rise as a military rival to the United States and its status as the origin of much counterfeiting in the world, officials and experts say it’s a growing concern.
“Obviously [there are] lives at stake,” said Bryan Clark, a defense analyst at the Hudson Institute who has studied the Pentagon’s supply chain for computer chips.
The Defense Department’s far-reaching network of suppliers makes trying to catch counterfeit, shoddy or otherwise unacceptable parts a daunting task. Pentagon leaders say they are developing new tests to find counterfeit parts, putting a renewed emphasis on reporting when problematic components are found, and encouraging the military and industry to compare notes more often about counterfeit parts they discover.
“The good news is there are tools coming out using artificial intelligence and open source, that we can dive in and maybe find some of these things,” Bill LaPlante, undersecretary of defense for acquisition and sustainment, said in a September news conference after the F-35 deliveries stopped. “But I think it’s going to be a constant issue for us … understanding our supply chain.”
The trouble with counterfeit parts isn’t only the theft of intellectual property, Halimah Najieb-Locke, deputy assistant secretary of defense for industrial base resilience, told Defense News in September. More importantly, they might not work, or could be shoddy or unreliable.
In the case of the June 2020 death of Air Force pilot 1st Lt. David Schmitz, the lack of transparency may have proved deadly. Schmitz died after his parachute didn’t deploy from his malfunctioning ejection seat, which the Air Force Research Laboratory said may have had up to 10 counterfeit and faulty transistors and semiconductor chips.
While the lab said the parts were “suspect,” it noted more analysis would be required to determine if they were truly counterfeit.
Schmitz’s widow, Valerie, has filed a federal civil lawsuit against three defense contractors, seeking to learn through the discovery process whether the components were proved to be fake. The Air Force has declined to comment on this case.
In the midst of a worldwide semiconductor shortage, some Pentagon officials are worried about a potential influx of counterfeit chips — both through vendors seeking to profit from suppliers in a tight spot and through an adversary who’s created a cloned part that’s home to a cyber backdoor.
“There is more incentive than ever to profit off of counterfeit components just by advertising that you have them available within the supply chain when no one else does,” said Nick Martin, director of the Pentagon’s in-house semiconductor supplier, the Defense Microelectronics Activity.
In 2018, Bloomberg Businessweek reported the Chinese government got a stealth doorway into servers made by the Oregon-based company Elemental Technologies in the form of a tiny microchip.
According to the report, the servers — with chips inserted at factories run by manufacturing subcontractors in China — could be found in Defense Department data centers, CIA drone operations and the onboard networks of Navy ships.
Now, with it often taking as long as two years to obtain some components from approved sources, electronics manufacturers find themselves facing fewer options. The most common counterfeits are not malicious, Martin said, and might simply have had their serial numbers altered to disguise that they’re not suited for military purposes.
“Our DoD weapons systems are long in the tooth in terms of time in the field, and we need to make sure that there’s specific reliability requirements for the components that we put into them,” Martin said. “Counterfeits or even cloned components will compromise the reliability” of equipment.
Counterfeit chips can pass for the genuine article for a while, but they can wear out faster, Clark said. If a chip isn’t coated or hardened correctly, uses substandard materials, or is connected with cheap wires, he explained, then it’s not living up to the standard the military expects — and could potentially endanger service members
“When we talk about these [military] standards, a lot of it is designed to perform the way it’s supposed to, even if it’s kept in service beyond when it was supposed to,” Clark said. “In a commercial product, Apple’s never going to stand behind your iPhone for 10 years; whereas in DoD, that F-16 [fighter jet] is supposed to run for decades.”
The scale of the Defense Department’s supply chain makes keeping an eye on what goes into it a daunting task. Najieb-Locke estimated the department has 200,000 significant suppliers in the defense-industrial base, and scores more subcontractors.
“It’s hard to give a truly firm number … given the fact that we only have visibility so far down the chain,” Najieb-Locke said. “Lockheed can contract with whoever they want to contract [with] for their widget that goes into” what they supply as a prime manufacturer.
Indeed, the F-35′s problem this summer shone new light on the Pentagon’s complex supply chain and how opaque it can be to the department.
The F-35 relies on more than 1,700 suppliers at all levels providing roughly 300,000 parts. The Air Force’s network is even broader; the service said it depends on about 12,000 direct suppliers. But further down the supply chain, the network expands to about 1 m companies.
“One of the lessons of COVID is we [have not] understood supply chains as well as we thought we did,” Andrew Hunter, the service’s acquisition chief, told reporters at a conference in September. “Both COVID impacts and inflation [are] causing people to go back and say: ‘Hey, there’s more complexity in the supply chain than we may have fully appreciated.’ ”
This isn’t the first time the F-35 has had this kind of issue, Hunter said. During the Obama administration, an F-35 part initially manufactured in Scotland was outsourced to China — without the knowledge of Lockheed or the manufacturer of the component that used the part.
“These supply chains are not static,” Hunter said. “It’s a challenge, and it’s a constantly moving target. So it does require ‘ to make sure that our supply chains are resilient, they are secure, and that we know where stuff is coming from and whether they’re compliant.”
An information-sharing push
This summer, the Pentagon adopted a new policy aimed at fixing gaps in reporting suspected counterfeit parts to an unclassified government-industry clearinghouse — an issue the Government Accountability Office identified in 2016.
The 24-page policy would mandate all DoD component chiefs ensure counterfeit and “nonconforming” items are reported within 60 days of being found to a decades-old but little-known program now called the Government-Industry Data Exchange Program, or GIDEP.
Long-standing regulations mandate the Defense Department’s suppliers test and inspect their wares before they’re handed off to the government. Under the new policy, when those suppliers and DoD components find a suspected counterfeit part, that should yield a report to GIDEP.
The policy taps the undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, currently Heidi Shyu, to oversee GIDEP and chair two panels established around it that will have representatives of the military departments, the Defense Logistics Agency and other DoD entities.
The new policy will also bring the Pentagon in line with a 2019 federal acquisition regulation requiring GIDEP reporting and monitoring mandates be written into certain contracts.
“The GAO recommendation [that prompted the policy] was intended to make sure there was a level playing field,” said GIDEP Program Manager Jim Stein. “Industry would share what it knew across industry and government, and the government would share what it knew across government and industry. One benefit of this for industry is the government will start reporting what it should.”
Following a congressional probe, GIDEP participation surged in 2011 but later fell off significantly, GAO found. The watchdog agency said the Army, Air Force and Missile Defense Agency weren’t making any reports, blaming the lack of a central point person and varying approaches to reporting across the department.
According to Stein, the Defense Department has seen counterfeits increase in number and sophistication over the last two decades, with batches of counterfeits increasingly hidden in authentic parts, making them harder to find. But the DoD has also seen vendors grow more vigilant about testing and vetting.
“An example would be if you bought a reel of capacitors,” he said. “Some cases … are that the first 100 on the reel are authentic, and then they start inserting the counterfeits farther back. It makes testing difficult, but then conferences of experts are held, and then that information becomes more widely known.”
Meanwhile, the Defense Department is exploring is a zero-trust policy that would assume no microelectronics are safe and all must be validated. This could mean only allowing microelectronics into the supply chain if testing shows there are no exploits built into them and that they meet all the requirements.
“I don’t need to have its entire back history if I can test it in situ and say, ‘go’ or ‘no-go,’” Clark said.
Indeed, Najieb-Locke confirmed the Defense Department doesn’t require complete visibility throughout the supply chain. As long as a screw works, she said, it doesn’t matter who made it or whether the contractor bought it at a local hardware store.
But in some cases involving crucial systems, she noted, the Pentagon might track suppliers down to the 15th tier or so. In others, such as basic maintenance contracts, the department might only track suppliers to the second tier.
The Pentagon has qualification systems and other safeguards in place to catch these phony parts before they slip into its supply stream, Najieb-Locke said. Suppliers are also supposed to send a test batch first so the defense organization can verify the parts before accepting ownership.
But the Pentagon also has tests to catch counterfeit parts and checks components during maintenance, she said.
Congress in 2018 ordered the Pentagon to create a pilot program to evaluate machine-vision technologies to determine the authenticity and security of microelectronics parts and weapon systems. (Colin Demarest/Staff)
The department is exploring a less-invasive technique that analyzes the emissions from a part when it is pulsed with an electromagnetic signal. Martin said electronic fingerprint-detection equipment is promising because it costs less than $1 m and works in a few minutes or less. But the artificial intelligence needed to perform the comparative analysis still must mature before it can, for example, detect intentionally inserted flaws.
Congress in 2018 ordered the DoD to create a pilot program to evaluate machine-vision technologies to determine the authenticity and security of microelectronics parts and weapon systems. The Defense Microelectronics Activity, which led the pilot program, is due to soon release a public report on its findings.
“For the machine-learning stuff right now, there’s still a considerable amount of work that needs to be done,” Martin said, but it’s “showing a lot of promise.”
The role of contractors
Hunter said the Air Force is watching some defense contractors build new relationships with companies that specialize in supply chain management to improve their visibility.
But at times, the government’s longing for supply chain visibility can conflict with suppliers’ desires to keep their trade secrets.
“How do we get more transparency into second, third, fourth and fifth layer[s] of suppliers?” said Edward Smith, director of F-35 domestic engagement at Lockheed. “Some of that becomes proprietary information for our suppliers, so they don’t have to share that with us because it is proprietary on how they produce their product and get the economic value.”
Beyond the second and third layer of the supply chain, Smith said, the process relies on trust that subcontractors are going to follow the acquisition rules.
“We have to say … we expect you to maintain your supply chain inside of your own IP [intellectual property], and we’re going to respect your IP since you’re a partner on this — and expect [compliance],” Smith said.
Who takes responsibility between industry and the Pentagon for counterfeit parts at the third tier of the supply chain and below is already part of a high-level tug of war, according to Chris O’Donnell, a senior Pentagon acquisition official.
“We’ve heard from the primes that: ‘Hey, you’re not paying us to do that. Do you expect us to do that? Well then, pay us to do that,’ ” O’Donnell said. “And our answer is: ‘No, we sort of, kind of expected you to do that. If it’s your design, and you’re producing it, and you’re responsible for sustainment, that you’re watching out for your supply chain.’ And the answer is, not so much.”
The question snowballs into whether the Pentagon or industry would be responsible for ensuring zero-trust standards are met. Whether the department should even go to a zero-trust approach remains unresolved.
“It’s a big debate,” O’Donnell said. “What we’re saying is we can make these chips anywhere in the world, and because we designed it with zero trust in mind, we’re good to go. I still haven’t pushed the ‘I believe’ button on that.”
Chris Stone, the vice president for supply chain for enterprise operations at Lockheed, said the F-35 incident underscores the need for the company and others to see better into its supply chain.
“We’re moving to a point that in areas we know have more critical risk exposure, how do we get better insights,” Stone said.
And across the defense-industrial base, firms are trying to figure out how to find potential problems.
“Unfortunately, we often get caught flat-footed,” Stone said. “There’s all this data out there. Well, it’s not just about getting all the data; we need to get smart about what the data tells us about risk and how we get humans in the loop.”
Najieb-Locke sees continuous improvement in communication with industry as the best option for catching counterfeit parts before they make their way into the DoD’s ecosystem, more so than tightening up its own processes.
“It’s not really a process of what can we tighten up, as much as … working with industry and our suppliers to make sure we are aware of who is out there counterfeiting their products,” Najieb-Locke said. “And making our acquisition corps aware that, here is a new list of counterfeit products and this is what the counterfeit looks like. So it’s an education regime more than a process. Because if it slips through that check, that means it passed technical viability.” (Source: Defense News)
02 Dec 22. Boxer CRVs make international debut. The armoured vehicles have taken part in an international warfighting exercise for the first time. Two of the Australian Army’s Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRVs) have been deployed at Singapore’s Murai Urban training facility — put to the test for the first time in an overseas training ground.
The vehicles, which left Australian shores aboard HMAS Adelaide for Indo-Pacific Endeavour, were deployed as part of an exercise aimed at testing the integration of armour and infantry with the joint pre-landing force and the ground combat element.
Troop leader Captain Stefano Rankin said the training in Singapore provided personnel with a unique opportunity to train in unfamiliar terrain.
“It’s the first time the vehicles have been deployed overseas and it showcases our capacity to deploy for contingency reasons within our region.
“…It enables us to conduct a wide variety and an increased complexity of tasks and tests our ability to conduct activities in different regions around the world,” he said.
AAF’s Commander Landing Forces, Colonel Doug Pashley, welcomed the opportunity to train abroad.
“These are the world’s best platforms, and our people are fortunate to have the unique opportunity to work with the Boxers in Singapore to give them another perspective and broader hands-on training,” COL Pashley said.
The Boxer CRV’s first international deployment comes just months after the Rheinmetall-built platform — procured under LAND 400 Phase 2 — achieved initial operating capability (IOC).
This followed a test and evaluation process, which included deploying the Boxer during Exercise Sea Raider.
Rheinmetall has been tasked with delivering a total of 211 Boxer CRVs and a further 490 trucks from the company’s Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE), based at Redbank, south-east Queensland.
LAND 400 Phase 2 is scheduled to achieve final operational capability in 2027, after which Rheinmetall would continue delivering sustainment services from its local facility. The Boxer CRV fleet is operated by the Australian Army’s 7th Brigade. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Dec 22. Hanwha Aerospace Demos UGV Performances at US Army Base in South Korea.
- Hanwha Aerospace conducted a technology demonstration of the Arion-SMET unmanned ground vehicle at Camp Humphreys, a US Army Garrison in South Korea
- The US Department of Defense chose Arion-SMET to join the Foreign Comparative Testing program to evaluate its capabilities for US military services
- Hanwha Aerospace is leading the technologies for unmanned ground systems in Korea, with global markets in mind
Hanwha Aerospace has successfully demonstrated the capabilities of its multi-purpose unmanned ground vehicle (UGV), called Arion-SMET, at a U.S. Army Garrison in South Korea, proving the vehicle’s mature robotic and unmanned technologies.
The demonstration of the 2-ton UGV took place on November 29 at Camp Humphreys, the world’s largest US military installations located in Pyeongtaek, about 70 kilometers south of Seoul. Hanwha Aerospace and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) have been in conversation for potential collaboration on next-generation UGV technologies for some time.
During the technology showcase, the Arion-SMET proved a variety of unmanned technologies supporting infantry troops in the battlefield, such as remote-controlled and autonomous driving both on paved and unpaved roads; obstacle avoidance; autonomous homing for communications failures; gun-shot source localization; and vehicle/soldier following.
“The Arion-SMET has already proved its outstanding mission capabilities during a ROK Army trial earlier this year under a program to test the performance of weapons systems for overseas exports,” said Executive Vice President Youngwoo Seo at Land Systems Business Group of Hanwha Aerospace. “We will do our best to successfully complete the upcoming FCT, hoping to join U.S. DoD’s fast-track acquisition process in the future.”
In October, the Arion-SMET was chosen one of the ground equipment to be tested by the U.S. military under the FCT program aimed at assessing matured foreign technologies that can fill U.S. forces’ existing capability gaps. It is the first time a Korean-built unmanned ground system is participating in such a field test program. The Arion-SMET (Autonomous and Robotic systems for Intelligence Off-road Navigation – Small Multi-purpose Equipment Transport) is based on a previous 4×4 UGV developed in 2019 from a joint civilian-military project in South Korea.
The 6×6 electric-powered vehicle was built to support infantry operations, such as ammunition transport, medical evacuation, reconnaissance, and fire support. The vehicle can drive up to 100km when fully charged and has a maximum payload capacity of 550kg, significantly improving its combat support and maneuvering capabilities. It is also equipped with an advanced remote-controlled weapons station that can detect/ track enemy soldiers, localize the source of gunfire and fire back in the direction of the gunfire coming from. With these innovative functionalities, the Arion-SMET is optimized for supporting manned and unmanned teaming (MUM-T) operations for infantry troops. (Source: ASD Network)
02 Dec 22. Oshkosh delivers second batch of 50 JLTVs to Lithuania.
The vehicles have been delivered as part of a deal signed between Lithuania and the US in 2019. The Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence (MND) has announced the delivery of the second batch of 50 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) to Lithuania.
The JLTV is manufactured by US-based mission-critical vehicles and essential equipment manufacturer Oshkosh Defense.
The new units were shipped by the company from the Port of Baltimore, in the US.
The JLTV have already arrived at the Lithuanian Armed Forces Depot Service in Mumaičiai, Šiauliai, via the Port of Hamburg in Germany, this week.
The joint light tactical vehicles are currently being assembled by Oshkosh Defense personnel at the Lithuanian Armed Forces depot.
The company representatives will also integrate the Objective Gunners Protection Kit turrets onto the vehicles to prepare them for operational use by the Lithuanian forces.
The new JLTVs will be assigned within the country’s national Rapid Response Force, under the Lithuanian Armed Forces’ Iron Wolf and Griffin Brigades battalions.
Lithuanian Defence Minister Arvydas Anušauskas said: “The Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) installed in part of the JLTVs enables the gunner to control the heavy 12.7mm machine gun from inside the armoured vehicle.
“Daylight and thermal imaging cameras and a laser rangefinder multiply the efficiency of the powerful machine gun.”
The JLTVs are being procured by Lithuania as part of a deal signed between the Lithuanian MND’s Defence Materiel Agency and the US Department of Defense in November 2019.
The contract involves the delivery of 200 JLTVs to Lithuania. The initial tranche of 50 JLTVs was delivered to Lithuania in 2021 and is already in service with the armed forces.
The MND recently signed another contract to procure an additional 300 JLTVs for the military. Delivery of additional vehicles is expected by the end of 2025. (Source: army-technology.com)
05 Dec 22. Paramount begins delivery of first Maatla armoured vehicles.
Launched at the recent Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) exhibition in September, Paramount Group’s new Maatla 4×4 light protected vehicle is being delivered to its first customer in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
Paramount said that full production of the Maatla, which is aimed at the rapidly growing lightweight and more affordable segment of the armoured vehicle market, was underway at the end of September. Two months later, the company revealed that deliveries were underway, with at least six vehicles seen ready for delivery to the DRC.
At the time of its launch, Paramount said the Maatla (meaning Power in Setswana) had already received orders for 50 vehicles from two customers.
The Maatla has been manufactured on a commercial vehicle chassis for proven reliability and low cost. It features “Smart Floor” technology, enabling the seating to be quickly removed and the vehicle to be configured as either an ambulance, command vehicle or customisable for other mission requirements, such as border patrol, military support, policing, or peacekeeping missions. Day/night vision devices and extra sensors can also be fitted to provide 24/7 operability.
The Maatla provides ballistic and blast protections to STANAG 4569 Level 1, and can protect against handguns and other small calibre ball rounds. It also provides underbelly protection against M26 hand grenades or a blast equivalent.
The Maatla can reach a road speed of up to 100 km/h, with a cruising range of up to 600 km when traveling at 80 km/h, and a fording depth of up to 750 mm without preparation. The vehicle is fitted with a 2-speed transfer case and 3 differential locks for difficult terrain. The vehicle can be operated in environments with temperatures ranging from -10°C to + 55°C.
Deon Grobler, CEO of Paramount Land Systems, stated in September that, “We are very excited to diversify our product range, compete in this new class of Light Protected Vehicles, and introduce customers with these requirements into our world beating family of protected vehicles. The Maatla is a light armour, multi-purpose vehicle, offering excellent cross-country performance and reliability. Designed to handle a two-tonne payload, the Maatla offers near infinite-configurability in terms of onboarding mission specific equipment, weapons, and armour scalability.”
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