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13 Jan 23. Puma fighting vehicle to return to key NATO mission in first half of 2023 – Berlin. Germany expects to field Puma infantry fighting vehicles for a key NATO mission in the first half of 2023, its chief of defence said on Friday, after Berlin had to withdraw the Puma from the alliance’s quick reaction force due to problems in a drill.
“As soon as we have sufficient vehicles repaired and operational for one company, we will use it for the VJTF,” Eberhard Zorn said, referring to NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF).
Germany this year leads the alliance’s quick reaction unit that constitutes NATO’s first line of response and reinforcement in case of a conflict or heightened tensions with Russia.
“I very strongly expect this (to see the Puma ready for the VJTF) in the first half of the year,” Zorn added.
In December, Defence Minister Christine Lambrecht said Germany would not purchase any more Pumas until they had proven themselves reliable, after several were put out of service during a military drill.
The Puma is an armed, armoured vehicle that carries troops into battle.
Shares in Rheinmetall AG (RHMG.DE), which manufactures the armoured vehicles together with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co (KMW), went down 7% after the minister’s announcement.
For the VJTF, Germany replaced the Puma temporarily with decades-old Marder infantry fighting vehicles – which the more advanced Puma is meant to succeed in future. Germany has vowed to boost defence spending and modernise its military in the wake of the Ukraine war. (Source: Reuters)
13 Jan 23. RAF conducts first blended fuel air-to-air refuelling trial.
The test involved a Voyager aircraft to conduct air-to-air fuel transfer to a Typhoon and Hercules aircraft. The UK Royal Air Force (RAF) has successfully carried out the first air-to-air refuelling test using sustainable aviation fuel (SAF) blended with regular jet fuel.
As part of the latest flight demonstration, an RAF’s Voyager aircraft, an A330’s military variant, performed the air-to-air transfer of fuel to an RAF’s Typhoon fighter jet and a C-130 Hercules tactical transport aircraft.
The latest test builds on the initial SAF flight demonstration with Voyager, which was conducted in November last year.
This initial test involved the use of 100% SAF for the 90-minute-long flight by Voyager. The remaining fuel from this test was blended with the regular fuel at around 46%-48%.
To ensure the safety and effectiveness of the latest test, the RAF team worked in close coordination with Air BP to re-certify the blended fuel in accordance with the required standards.
UK RAF supply project manager squadron leader Evans said: “We have learnt a great deal during this trial and now have confidence in our ability to use blends of SAF now and in the future.
“The trial proved there is no detriment to performance as we strive towards reduced emissions targets. This was a first for both Typhoon and Hercules and we believe that we are the first Air Force to conduct an air-to-air refuel operation with a SAF blend at this level (46%-48%).”
The SAF is made up of waste-based sustainable feedstocks to minimise up to 80% of the lifecycle carbon emissions made by an aircraft, in comparison to traditional jet fuel.
Defence Minister Baroness Goldie said: “With potential benefits for the environment and operational resilience, this important work alongside expert defence industry and scientific teams in the UK is crucial for RAF’s future resilience.”
12 Jan 23. Babcock engineers first 3D metal parts for British Army to tackle obsolescence. The first 3D metal printed parts to be used across the British Army’s active armoured fleets have been manufactured and fitted by defence company, Babcock International Group (Babcock).
The steel components are believed to be the first made in this way by any supplier to the Ministry of Defence (MOD) specifically to tackle the growing challenges of technical and commercial obsolescence.
The major milestone is part of a longer-term global advanced manufacturing investment programme by Babcock, which is developing a capability that could see parts printed anywhere in the world as and when the point of need arises. This could include seeing 3D printers’ onboard vessels at sea or at military sites abroad.
Fitted onto in-service fleets, Titan, and Trojan vehicles, the parts form part of the periscope system to ensure Army crews have visibility of their immediate surroundings.
Land Chief Executive, Tom Newman, said: “This investment in technology allows us to support our customers in a completely different way, at home and deployed on operations. If a component is required and cannot be sourced, we can now find a way to make it.
“As we look to the future of Equipment Support, Additive Manufacturing has significant implications for our customers, and I am delighted Babcock is leading the way in developing this capability.”
Babcock’s Chief Technology Officer, Dr Richard Drake added: “This marks a major milestone in finding solutions for obsolete parts and in tackling resilience in the supply chain – some of the biggest challenges engineering and manufacturing businesses like ours are facing. We’re using disruptive technologies to address that.
“For us, this is part of a growing investment programme around advanced and additive manufacturing, which we can now progress to other areas of our business and that is hugely exciting for Babcock.”
Brigadier Phil Prosser, CBE, Assistant Chief of Staff for Equipment, HQ Field Army: “The fitting of this additively manufactured part represents a key milestone for Defence and the Army. Additive has disrupted industry manufacturing processes and created an agile alternative to traditional mass manufacture. Working together with Babcock we have unlocked a pathway to manufacture certified parts.
“My role in the Field Army is to deliver safe, supported, available and ready equipment to meet Field Army current and future demand to operate, fight and win wars on land. This ability to rapidly manufacture parts will allow our equipment to rapidly deploy on operations, and to stay in the fight for longer. This is battle winning activity and we are committed to this collaboration and will continue to learn at this impressive pace.”
In February, Babcock launched its technology partnership with Plymouth Science Park and unveiled a brand new innovation centre focused on additive manufacturing techniques. It now means the process to print parts that are obsolete or required in low quantity, such as the periscope clamp, can now be completed in days instead of months.
Digital solutions such as additive manufacturing are becoming increasingly significant in the management of complex, critical, legacy, and low volume assets. Printing parts in this way can also ensure companies that need to manufacture at scale can do so in a more sustainable way, using only materials at the point of need.
Dr Drake added: “We won’t stop here. We are now working towards a future where the additive techniques and processes we are putting into place now; will be readily available across any part of the MOD we support.”
Babcock is responsible for the fleet management of over 50,000 vehicles for the British Army ranging from quad bikes and generators to main battle tanks, and weapons from pistols to in-direct artillery.
12 Jan 23. How late is Boxer for the British army? Is it one or two years? The evidence at yesterday’s @CommonsDefence
was a bit ambiguous – was it a bit funny (or should I say , sad) that it took Mark Francois MP to inform the witnesses of the delay? BTW, this gives me no pleasure! As we have just had confirmed the Platforms are running late, But have any of the modules been ordered or are they still in the prototype phase & on that subject do you have any knowledge of the ones that have been ordered. (Source: FrontSprocket/Twitter)
Reader Comment: I heard 27 during the select committee hearing vehicles in service sometime in 2025. The current UK order status is for 628 vehicles in four configurations: an infantry carrier; a specialist carrier; a command vehicle variant; and an ambulance. ARTEC is based in Germany and is the design and configuration control authority for Boxer. The work for the UK programme is shared 50/50 between Rheinmetall and KMW. There are minor variables in the UK build standard, although the design solutions remain within ARTEC’s configuration control and procurement system. For WFEL/KMW – they are to produce the 628 drive modules and 234 Mission modules in 3 versions: infantry carrier, specialist carrier and ambulance. The remainder is being produced by RBSL. The first completed vehicle deliveries are scheduled for Q1 2023 and will comprise around 20 vehicles manufactured in Germany; initial rate production for 2023 is 6 per month. This is not acceptance in to the army, but 72 drive modules are being assembled at Stockport each year on LRIP, plus some mission modules are being manufacture at Telford..
12 Jan 23. Trouble-hit Ajax tank is finally given all-clear to be pressed into service by the Army after passing a series of tests.
- Ajax tanks left hundreds of troops injured from their noise during trials
- It led to some being medically discharged from the Army due to hearing loss
- Ministry of Defence wrote cheques for Ajax 12 years ago but not one has entered service
A £5.5bn armoured vehicle which is already six years late, made troops deaf and could not fire on the move is to enter service.
The shambolic Ajax light tank has finally been given the green light after it passed performance tests set by defence chiefs.
Ending months of speculation, procurement minister Alex Chalk confirmed Ajax will go ahead yesterday. High-tech Ajax, which should have entered service in 2017, has been plagued by development glitches.
The vehicles left hundreds of troops injured from noise during trials that led to some being medically discharged from the Army due to hearing loss.
Despite the Ministry of Defence writing cheques for Ajax 12 years ago, not a single vehicle has entered service.
Defence Secretary Ben Wallace last year came under huge pressure to cancel the programme.
When it is finally available it will offer troops a fully digitalised platform for communications and a high-powered 40mm cannon. (Source: Daily Mail)
12 Jan 23. Rheinmetall launches production of new infantry fighting vehicle in Hungary. Rheinmetall’s state-of-the-art Lynx infantry fighting vehicle has reached its latest interim objective: promptly at the start on 2023, low-rate initial production (LRIP) began in NATO member nation Hungary, the vehicle’s first customer. Pre-series production is an important milestone, one which also encompasses fabrication of the Lance medium-calibre turret as well as additional variants of the Lynx. Full-rate production, or FRP, is due to commence in July 2023. Recruitment of qualified personnel and the inflow of technical equipment for the Lynx centre of excellence is now in full swing.
The Hungarian ministry of defence contracted with Rheinmetall in September 2020 to supply combat vehicles and related services worth over €2 bn. In the first production phase, Hungary will take delivery of 46 Lynx IFVs and command & control vehicles as well as nine Bergepanzer 3 Büffel armoured recovery vehicles, all made in Germany. In a second phase, a joint venture in Hungary will produce a further 172 Lynx IFVs and combat support vehicles. The first of these vehicles are to be delivered in 2024. In addition to the armoured fighting vehicles, the scope of supply includes ammunition and logistic services as well as 16 trucks.
A high-tech factory for this innovative fighting vehicle is now under construction in Zalaegerszeg, where it forms part of the ZALAZone industrial complex. It encompasses modern assembly lines, a paint shop, internal logistic systems and an automated warehouse. Other facilities include a powerpack testbed, an EMC chamber, a climate chamber, an underground firing range and a test track. This centre of excellence will not only contribute to maintaining and expanding Hungary’s ability to develop and produce modern fighting vehicles. It also strengthens the country’s economy. Rheinmetall’s new Hungarian colleagues are already working on the new Lynx in Germany, gaining valuable knowledge and skills that will facilitate the transfer of know-how and technology. On 15 October 2022 Rheinmetall handed over the first of a total of 209 Lynx vehicles to the Hungarian armed forces. The Lynx will form the backbone of Hungary’s mechanized infantry corps.
08 Jan 23. The Land Cruiser 70 Series is a third potential UK GSUP (General Service Utility Platform) contender which featured at the DVD 2022 defence expo, reports Bob Morrison. Surprising as it may seem, the latest version of the now near forty year old Land Cruiser J70 / 70 Series is actually seen by some as a serious contender for the UK Forces GSUP programme to replace the 25+ year old, and not manufactured since around 2000, Land Rover TUM (Truck Utility Medium) or Wolf 110 model; although the Land Rover Defender 110 was manufactured until 2016, the TUM version had a different chassis design and was only produced in quantity for the British and Dutch Armed Forces.
Initially a vehicle type proposed by Toyota GB Ltd, one of the 19 companies invited in January 1992 to tender for the UK TUL/TUM anticipated replacement of around 6463 leaf-sprung Series III Land Rovers, the Land Cruiser was not one of the three vehicles types eventually called forward for the competitive trials phase of the competition as it was not deemed to fully meet the MoD requirements. Roll forward three decades however, with effectively only the latest versions of the Mercedes-Benz Geländewagen or G-Class and the Nissan Patrol (plus the wider and heavier AM General HMMWV) still being produced out of those proposed by the other 18 original invitees, and the Land Cruiser cannot be overlooked if the MoD is looking to continue down the slightly militarised and comparatively low cost modified commercial utility vehicle route rather than buying a more rugged and consequently more costly bespoke military vehicle such as, to give just two topical examples, the Supacat JACKAL or Defenture VECTOR.
The Land Cruiser 70 Series of 2023, although still essentially a very basic utility truck with a reputation for being reliable and easy to maintain, has evolved slightly from the mid-1980s model variants offered for the UK Truck Utility Light and Truck Utility Medium (TUL/TUM) requirement of 1992 but visually it is very similar. In 1999, fifteen years after production commenced, the leaf-sprung solid front axle was replaced by independent coil suspension (though to this day leaf springs are still fitted at the the rear) and the previously quite distinctive front wing design carried forward from earlier models was dropped. Recent specification changes to safety and emission requirements in Australia, where the 70 Series is a very popular utility vehicle in the outback, and in some other major export markets have meant the Land Cruiser has evolved closer to meeting what were previously more stringent European and US standards so the Toyota vehicle is possibly beginning to look more attractive to more military fleet buyers than it may have been a few years ago. Of course to Third World buyers with low budgets who needed a simple pick-up truck for military use, buying a fleet of Land Cruisers has always been an easy decision… hence also the legions of ‘technicals’ taking stage front in low intensity conflicts around the globe for the last five or six decades, not to mention all those white vehicles transporting NGO medical and aid agency personnel in the same war-torn and crisis-hit theatres.
The Land Cruisers on prominent display at DVD 2022, held on Millbrook Proving Ground back in September, carried the corporate marking of the UK Government contractor Babcock International and were supported by the Toyota Gibraltar sales team. As was probably only to be expected at an expo which had so many potential competitors in attendance, the Babcock team were not announcing their precise plans for the UK GSUP (and/or other potential / forthcoming) light vehicle requirements, but the sales pitch gave the impression that they considered they could fill all and any UK MoD home and overseas needs for small 4×4 utilities by supplying a combination of types such as the Jeep J8 and Land Cruiser. Only time will tell on that score.
The two Land Cruisers attracting attention on the Babcock stand on the Steering Pad display area at DVD 2022 were a five-door J76 Station Wagon and a four-door J79 Double Cab Pick-up Truck. According to the Toyota Gibraltar Stockholdings data sheet for the J76, this 2730mm wheelbase version measures 4720 x 1770 x 1955mm high and maximum cargo space with all but the front seats folded is 1400 x 1525 x 1115mm high. Approach and departure angles are 30° and 25° respectively, ramp breakover is 27°, side slope angle is 41°, ground clearance under the differential is 230mm and fording depth is 700mm. Up to ten occupants, including driver, can be transported two inward facing bench seats are fitted at the rear, but this configuration would probably not comply with UK safety regulations so it is more likely that the rear compartment would be used for cargo and if configured for this the maximum load area would measure 1525mm wide by 940mm deep.
According to the data sheet presented at DVD 2022, the engine fitted to the five-door J76 was the Toyota 1HZ 4164cc in-line six-cylinder diesel producing 129bhp at 3800rpm, but I suspect this would probably not be the option offered for UK GSUP. With this power pack the Gross Vehicle Weight is 3060kg, of which the available payload would be 870kg. No indication of top speed or road range was given, but the fuel tank capacity was listed as being 130 litres. Electrics were shown as being 12 Volt. The French T4 VLTP NP, introduced as an interim purchase to tide over until the Arquus VT4 version of the Ford Everest was introduced, is a slightly militarised version of this vehicle; see French Technamm Masstech T4 VLTP NP for more. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
TEK Military Seating Limited
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Contact: David Parkman