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19 Nov 21. Ajax fixed by 2032? Sources suggest that, as we said last week that the myriad of problems found in the Ajax vehicle are fixable but these fixes will delay entry into service until around 2032. At the same time Babcock is believed to be counting on the need for a warrior Upgrade Programme to fill these gaps.
19 Nov 21. Pakistan resumes armor modernization as terror threat recedes. Pakistan’s armor modernization efforts are maturing amid a refocus toward archrival India and away from operations against the militant group TTP, otherwise known as Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan.
With India having ordered the advanced T-90MS tank, built a large fleet of T-90A tanks and upgraded most T-72M1 tanks, Pakistan is countering with its own acquisition and upgrade programs for new types of vehicles and improved battlefield integration.
Though low-level acquisition continued throughout the TTP campaign, author, analyst and former Australian defense attache to Islamabad Brian Cloughley explained that necessity demanded larger programs be cut back or frozen.
“The expansion of Taliban and other militant activity, particularly in regions along the border with Afghanistan which are inaccessible to heavy vehicles, focused the army on COIN [counterinsurgency]. It was a budgetary decision, backed by tactical pragmatism,” he said. “But it was acknowledged that as counterinsurgency wound down, so could armor programs be reinstituted.”
Pakistani Taliban patrol their then-stronghold of Shawal on Aug. 5, 2012, in the Pakistani tribal region of South Waziristan. (Ishtiaq Mahsud/AP)
The Pakistan Army effectively defeated the TTP-led threat after first launching Operation Zarb-e-Azb (or “Cutting Blow” in English) from 2014 to flush out domestic and foreign terrorists in the ungoverned spaces along the border with Afghanistan.
The TTP and its allies had until then mainly held territory in rugged Waziristan, in the essentially self-governed Federally Administered Tribal Areas that were later absorbed into the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
This was followed by Operation Radd-ul-Fasaad (or “Elimination of Strife”) from early 2017, a combined ongoing military-civilian effort to eliminate terrorist sleeper cells nationwide.
Fencing along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border is also largely complete, restricting the movement of remaining TTP forces.
The Taliban recently retook control of Afghanistan following a U.S. withdrawal from the country. The group subsequently assured Pakistan it will not allow TTP remnants to attack the country.
Though there are occasionally low-level terrorist attacks in Pakistan, the government there has felt confident enough to offer amnesty to TTP members on the condition they lay down arms and surrender.
However, Cloughley said, the Army “has not effected a ‘switch’ from counterterrorism, which as in all armies continues to be a very high priority in asset management, technology and training.”
Still, he added, “the years of emphasis have been productive, and the Army now feels its primary role — continental defense against India — can be allocated more resources than it has been able to commit for the past 20 years.”
What armor upgrades are in the works?
Some of Pakistan’s latest armor developments were revealed during a Nov. 9 visit by Army chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa to state-owned armored fighting vehicles manufacturer Heavy Industries Taxila, or HIT.
Bajwa inspected the upgraded production facilities and ongoing projects, including:
- Newly developed protection measures and remote weapon stations for main battle tanks.
- An indigenously developed 155mm artillery gun barrel.
- Ballistic and improvised explosive device protection for armored fighting vehicles.
- Programs to manufacture, rebuild and upgrade armored personnel carriers and tanks.
Notably, footage of the visit shows the indigenous Viper infantry fighting vehicle and a modernized version of the Type-85APII main battle tank. At one point, a Type-85APII turret is visible with an exposed composite armor module, possibly indicating replacement with a new type.
An industry source with knowledge of HIT’s ongoing programs told Defense News on the condition of anonymity that the Viper was undergoing pilot production. The source also said Ukrainian-supplied T-80UD tanks have been equipped with a new thermal gunner’s sight and a locally developed solid-state autoloader.
The source added that the recently acquired VT-4 tank from China North Industries Group Corporation Limited — commonly referred to as NORINCO — was to form the basis of the future Al-Khalid 2, with existing subsequent Al-Khalid versions upgraded to a similar standard.
Though he was unable to provide details on the Type-85APII upgrade, Defense News understands it was upgraded along similar lines to the T-80UD.
HIT officials previously told Defense News that the T-80UD and Type-85APII tanks would receive upgrade after undergoing a pilot rebuild, although the Type-85APII fire and gun control systems had already received some attention, and the gunner was already equipped with a thermal sight.
The Type-85APII has also received an upgraded power pack, with some sources now referring to the platform as the Type-85UG.
Future hopes are pinned on the VT-4, with the first delivered in April 2020. It entered service around June 2021.
Though derived from the Type-90II/Al-Khalid, the VT-4 features the improved gun of China’s high-end Type-99A main battle tank and therefore can fire the same rounds with greater penetrative power compared to Pakistan’s other tanks. The VT-4 also has more advanced composite and reactive armor; China’s third-generation thermal imaging systems; more advanced fire and gun control systems; and a Chinese-made powertrain.
Richard Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center, said the VT-4 and related technology will deliver an element of parity between India and Pakistan.
“NORINCO’s VT-4, as a direct purchase or as the basis for the domestically produced Al-Khalid 2, would offer Pakistan a wide array of modern tank technologies competitive with the Russian T-90MS being acquired by India, from powertrain to fire control, high velocity gun, gun-launched anti-tank missiles and active protection systems,” he said.
However, he cautioned, “rough parity may be unsatisfactory for both Pakistan and India, so both likely will seek regular available upgrades or next-generation options.”
Unlike with the original Al-Khalid, Pakistan avoids with its VT-4 a reliance on expensive European sighting systems and the occasionally problematic supply of Ukrainian powertrains. But there is no indication that the Chinese powertrain will replace that shared by T-80UD and Al-Khalid tanks.
The Viper is based on the Saad armored personnel carrier (similar to the American Armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle), featuring additional armor protection and the unmanned Slovakian Turra 30 combat module with a 30mm gun and two anti-tank missiles. It carries a crew of three, plus nine dismounts.
Pakistan’s shift to infantry fighting vehicles comes many years after other major armies, which Cloughley said was unavoidable.
“IFVs are expensive, and their operation requires a great deal of training at all levels, which the Army, of necessity concentrating on counterinsurgency operations, did not want to commit to,” he explained. “The [Pakistan Army] has always wanted IFVs, and now sees the opportunity for a balanced introduction program, taking into account unit training.”
The Army is also sharpening its armored warfare skills, having this year held a series of large-scale exercises to improve integration among the various branches of its ground force, including infantry, mechanized forces, combat aviation, surveillance platforms, air defense and artillery.
Cloughley believes emphasis is also “being placed on maneuvers in the nuclear battlefield, and that closed-down operations are being practiced on almost all exercises.”
“HIT has always been conscious of the importance of developing [nuclear-, biological- and chemical-protected] technology, and crew comfort has received attention,” he said.
While the Army will be relieved its armor modernization program is back on track, Cloughley issued a word of warning: “While I agree that it is very important that the [Pakistan Army] continues to improve interoperability and must upgrade its armored capabilities, it must not lose sight of the COIN imperative, which is a significant aspect of its mission.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Nov 21. GAL and AMMROC sign DLM service contract for UAE AFAD customers. The two entities will partner to perform depot maintenance at AMMROC’S MRO facility in Al Ain, UAE. Integrated aircraft sustainment solutions provider GAL has signed a new depot-level maintenance (DLM) service contract with AMMROC, an EDGE sister entity.
The new long-term service contract will provide in-country capability support to GAL. It will also help lower turnaround times (TAT) and enhance efficiencies for its customers.
GAL is under a performance-based logistics (PBL) contract to provide maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO), and specialised support services to the UAE Air Force and Air Defence (AFAD).
As agreed, AMMROC will support Gal in delivering aircraft, engine and component DLM services for its AFAD customers.
GAL managing director and EDGE Mission Support president Khalid Al Breiki said: “Given the ongoing challenges regarding logistics and supply chains in the prevailing socio-economic landscape, GAL looks forward to enhancing efficiencies with AMMROC’S support, ensuring that our clients in the critical defence space continue to receive the world-class maintenance and allied support they have come to expect.
“These collaborations reinforce our shared commitment to the sustainability of the UAE’s MRO sector, as well as realise the wider mission of EDGE: boosting regional defence and MRO capabilities through shared synergies while merging resources and expertise.”
In addition, the partners will carry out depot maintenance at AMMROC’s MRO facility in Al Ain in the UAE.
Supporting platforms for airframes, engines and components services are included in the DLM services. (Source: airforce-technology.com)
17 Nov 21. Russia’s Central Military District receives new equipment, including BMPT ‘Terminator.’ Russia’s Central Military District (CMD) has been receiving new equipment in 2021. The CMD announced on the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) website on 10 November that its 90th Guards Tank Division would receive its first company of nine ‘Terminator’ tank support combat vehicles (BMPTs) on 1 December. CMD Commander Colonel General Alexander Lapin reported that new techniques of using the BMPT to support tanks were tested during an exercise in June, which had shown “the tank support combat vehicle is very effective; this vehicle has no equal in terms of firepower in this class”. He spoke of plans for a larger-scale exercise in June 2022 to explore the possibilities of employing a BMPT battalion.
Col Gen Lapin also said the CMD’s 201st Military Base in Tajikistan would receive its first T-72B3M tanks this month. “Today, we have three motor rifle battalions re-equipped with new military equipment … By the end of this year, we will complete the rearmament of the tank battalion; we will receive 30 deeply modernised T-72B3M tanks,” he said. The CMD added that the base had been re-equipped throughout the year with Igla and Verba manportable air-defence systems, Kord machine guns, and AK-12 assault rifles.
The CMD reported on the Russian MoD website on 11 November that it had received 150 weapons, aircraft, and pieces of special equipment in October, equipping units in Irkutsk, Samara, Sverdlovsk, Novosibirsk, and Tyumen regions and in the Perm district. This included upgraded MiG-31 interceptors, a ‘divizion’ (battalion-sized) set of S-300PM2 air-defence systems, Kasta and Nebo-U surveillance radars, and Mustang trucks, tractors, and tankers. (Source: Janes)
16 Nov 21. US Army seeks native data analytics in its logistics systems. The US Army is looking to have native data analytics in its logistics systems to be better prepared for supply chain vulnerabilities. Lt. Gen. Duane Gamble, the deputy chief of staff, G-4, for the Army, said that as the service modernizes its enterprise resource planning systems, it is looking for native data analytics capabilities to avoid what he called “predictable” surprises. Speaking at a Nov. 15 Hudson Institute event supply chain disruptions, Gamble said the military had to modernize enterprise resource planning to help mitigate insecure lines of communication.
Gamble said the pandemic sharpened the Army’s focus on implementing business analytics and intelligence for its current enterprise resource planning systems, but the ultimate goal is to have a system with “cooked in” prognostics that’s part of the enterprise business system, which he said is considered a warfighting system for logistics, to give the Army enterprise, strategic, operational, and tactical levels to do continuous monitoring.
“Let’s not be surprised by the perfectly predictable,” Gamble said, adding that visibility can illuminate vulnerabilities before disruptions are caused, which gives time to mitigate, prioritize and plan, and, when needed, stock up.
Gamble said more resources may not necessarily increase a system’s resilience. “I’m not sure that throwing more money at the problem is the solution,” Gamble said. “I believe that using the tools we have today and in some cases the systems we have today — whether they are complex weapons systems or simple other systems — in a different way based on the insights that data gives us I think will lead us to, maybe, cost reduction.”
Jennifer Bisceglie, CEO of Interos, said supply chain resilience and the transparency that comes with that are the new status quo for business practices and shouldn’t necessarily come with a price tag for the government.
“This should not be if you want supply chain risk [management], it’s going to cost you an extra $1m a year. That’s not what we should be accepting. We should be looking at this as the cost of doing business.”
Bisceglie suggested that vendors would emerge to provide this capability without added costs. “So by the government not getting real specific and prescriptive about this and partnering with industry and saying: this is the outcome I need,” she said, “industry is going to figure it out.” (Source: Defense Systems)
16 Nov 21. UK MoD moves forward with MBT upgrades. The UK MoD has awarded a new contract to Horstman Group to deliver a newly refurbished and upgraded version of its third-generation Hydrogas suspension unit for MBTs. On 15 November the UK subsidiary company of Renk Group, Horstman, announced a new multi-m-pound contract to support the British Army’s armoured fleet. As part of the Heavy Armour Automotive Improvement Programme (HAAIP), Horstman will provide an upgraded version of its Hydrogas external suspension.
Ian Pain, CEO of Horstman Group, said: ‘This was a very competitive contract to win, and we are excited that we were able to secure it.’
He added: ‘This is testament to the engineering, project, and delivery teams who have worked hard through difficult times to prove the HAAIP concept and win this new work.’ Designed to support internal packaging constraints, overcome vulnerability to mine blast and crew exposure to fragmentations resulting from torsion bars, the capability will be fitted into new Challenger 3 MBTs, AS90, Terrier and Challenger Hydrogas vehicles. This announcement follows a previously awarded contract for the German Army in October 2021 to provide immediate supply of its Hydrostrut suspension for Puma Infantry Fighting Vehicles. (Source: Shephard)
17 Nov 21. Rheinmetall Successfully Tests Composite Rubber Track On Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Rheinmetall, the largest supplier of military vehicles to the Australian Defence Force has successfully completed demonstration trials of the Soucy Composite Rubber Track (CRT) system on the Lynx KF41 Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). Rheinmetall Managing Director Gary Stewart said the CRT demonstration confirmed the Lynx IFV was capable of utilising both steel and composite rubber tracks.
“The vehicle was reconfigured from its base steel track system to the CRT, successfully demonstrating vehicle operation on the CRT system and then returned to the base Steel Track configuration with great success.
“The Rheinmetall Lynx IFV has the modularity and flexibility to be operated with both types of track systems, allowing armies to configure the vehicle to meet the operational need.
“This ensures the Lynx IFV can support the benefits of either system.
“In tomorrow’s battlefield, flexibility is key to match vehicle capability to the required threat environment. Lynx with its design for modularity is able to be configured to meet that emergent environment,” he said.
Mr. Stewart said the flexibility of incorporating CRT as a track option on Lynx increased the vehicles’ ability to meet a dynamic threat environment.
With the flexibility of the CRT fitted to the Lynx, the platform can be configured for a lighter all up weight (due to weight saving in track) to allow easier air transportation and to potentially reduce overall running costs through the service life of the vehicles.
“Both track systems have their advantages and while it is for the end user to determine whether a Steel or Composite Rubber track is most appropriate, the flexibility of the Lynx design to be configured with either provides the greatest flexibility to defence,” Mr. Stewart added.
16 Nov 21. Elbit Systems and Roboteam Introduce ROOK: New Multi-payload 6X6 Unmanned Ground Vehicle. Elbit Systems and Roboteam launches ROOK, a multi-payload military 6X6 Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) that features unique design and built-in autonomy suite offering a combination of greater capacity, improved maneuverability and must-have on-field agility that are key for greater mission effectiveness. The ROOK UGV was developed based on the operational experience accumulated through fielding of the 4×4 PROBOT UGV systems in several countries including the U.S., France, Israel and the UK. Watch the ROOK UGV in action here The ROOK was designed from scratch as a robotic UGV platform in compliance with applicable Military Standards, applying Modular Box structure enabling on-field components replacement with no need for qualified technician or OEM lab maintenance, and efficient upgrades and modification without OEM involvement. A built-in TORCH-X Robotic and Autonomous (RAS) application, provides ROOK with full autonomy and the capability to efficiently navigating rough terrain, during both day and night to deliver supplies, evacuate casualties, perform intelligence gathering missions (including by dispatching on-board VTOLs), and operate as a remote weapon system. With self-weight of 1200kg, low center of gravity and ground clearance of 24cm, ROOK is capable of carrying up to 1200kg of payloads while maintaining superior maneuverability and transferability. Full compliance with the UGV Interoperability Profile (IOP) turns ROOK into a multi-payload platform providing users with seamless plug and play payload integration. Using modular hybrid energy configuration of batteries and optional internal generator, ROOK provides operational endurance of up to 8 drive hours and a speed of 30km per hour. ROOK is operated either via the TORCH-X RAS application or through an all-weather 7-inch ruggedized display unit, enabling a single operator to control several unmanned systems.
16 Nov 21. Damen announces launch of Nigerian Navy’s new landing ship. The roll-on-roll-off landing craft features a dedicated deck space allocated for vehicles.. LST 100 will serve as a major component of power in improving maritime security of Nigeria. Credit: Damen Shipyards Group.
Damen Shipyards has announced the launch of the Nigerian Navy’s new 100m landing ship transport (LST) 100 at Albwardy Damen in Sharjah, UAE. The 100m, roll-on-roll-off (RORO) LST has space for a crew of 32 and 250 Embarked Marine Forces (EMF) staff. The landing craft features a dedicated deck space to house vehicles and a helicopter / uncrewed aerial vehicle (UAV) deck. It also has space for cargo and is equipped with a 25t main crane. Damen noted that the LST will increase the Nigerian Navy’s ability to deploy soldiers, military hardware, and vehicles in support of maritime security operations. It will also support the supply of relief material during disasters or other crisis situations. In addition to serving a key component in improving the maritime security of Nigeria, the vessel will be used to aid during evacuation operations and disaster relief. According to the company, LST 100 is scheduled for delivery next year. In February last year, Damen Shipyards Sharjah officially marked the commencement of the construction on LST 100 landing craft with a keel-laying ceremony. The company is a provider of LST vessels from 40m up to 120m, which can be customised to meet the specific client requirements. Damen said that it was selected for this project due to its shipbuilding record and ability to meet delivery timelines. It was able to launch the vessel as planned, despite the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. (Source: naval-technology.com)
15 Nov 21. German powertrain company makes play in US as combat vehicle competition heats up. German powertrain specialist RENK Group has put down roots in the U.S. through its acquisition of L3Harris Technologies’ combat propulsion systems business, and it’s now making a play to partner with potential prime contractors who are designing replacements for the U.S. Army’s Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
RENK Group acquired L3Harris’ CPS business in a $400m cash deal in July, giving the German company a foothold in the U.S. Now called RENK America, it has opened its Muskegon, Michigan, facility where it plans to build advanced mobility systems. RENK America officially unveiled itself at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., last month.
The 100-year-old German company brings in roughly $1 bn in revenue worldwide each year and has 3,000 employees distributed across Europe, including in the U.K., the Netherlands, France and Switzerland, and in Asia, including South Korea. Its industrial civilian business also has a presence in China and Brazil, RENK Group CEO Susanne Wiegand told Defense News in a recent interview.
Roughly 50% of RENK Group’s business is mobility solutions for combat vehicles — both tracked and wheeled — she said, to include power packs as well as stand-alone engines, transmissions and suspensions. “The whole chassis more or less is under RENK control,” she said.
“We really have a global coverage and footprint in the business: 75% of our revenue is defense, 25% is in the civilian business,” she added.
And to truly solidify what could be a growing business in the states, the company — through its purchase of the CPS business — has established a facility on American soil in the heart of vehicle-manufacturing country. The manufacturing facility exceeds a m square feet, but the company only uses half of that space. The property includes a 300-acre track course to test vehicles.
The CPS business goes back about as far as RENK Group. It has passed through ownership from such well-known companies as Teledyne and General Dynamics prior to L3Harris owning it.
The business was mostly focused on “making and designing engines and transmissions for pretty much every tracked vehicle in the U.S. and on the big side, meaning over 50 tons. We pretty much own the market,” RENK America CEO Ted Trzesniowski told Defense News in the same interview.
These vehicles include Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Multiple Launch Rocket Systems, the Paladin Integrated Management system — or the M109A7 howitzer — and some recovery vehicles.
“We’ve heard the voice of the customer before saying that, well, they cannot really go and buy product of that complexity from a European provider and put into U.S. vehicles,” Trzesniowski said. “Now that product will be built and owned by a U.S. subsidiary. That changes completely the game, and it’s quite disruptive to the status quo environment in the U.S. in the combat vehicle arena.”
Making a play for OMFV
The formation of RENK America comes at the dawn of the Army’s attempt to replace its Bradley vehicle with an optionally manned fighting vehicle, or OMFV, and the company is talking to all of the potential prime contractors involved in the concept design phase of the program.
The design phase is part of the Army’s second stab at holding a competition for OMFV, which attempts to drive as much flexibility as it can across the board such as primarily avoiding stringent requirements from the start in favor of loose characteristics to guide industry development.
The Army’s previous attempt required the delivery of physical bid samples, which hamstrung foreign competitor Rheinmetall of Germany and drove Bradley-maker BAE Systems to avoid the competition entirely. Ultimately, the service received just one bid sample from General Dynamics Land Systems, which triggered the Army to rethink the effort and come back with a new approach.
The service mapped out a five-phased effort that begins with an initial design phase, then moves into a detailed design phase, followed by prototyping, testing and production.
The OMFV competition has foreign industry jumping to join in with new and modernized platforms or subcomponents. The Army, at this stage, has ditched much of the restrictions that would typically keep foreign competition at bay.
In later phases of the competition, the classification levels will increase, and foreign participation will be harder to achieve. Many foreign companies are preparing for that inevitability by partnering with American firms. Three out of five teams the Army chose to create initial design concepts for the OMFV have foreign companies on their side, or are foreign businesses teaming with American ones.
Rheinmetall has partnered with Raytheon Technologies, Textron and L3Harris to offer up its Lynx 41 combat vehicle. BAE Systems established a partnership with Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems that includes OMFV but goes beyond that single program. Oshkosh has teamed up with South Korean defense company Hanwha.
The other two parties designing for OMFV are General Dynamics Land Systems and nontraditional company Point Blank.
RENK Group already supplies power solutions and components to General Dynamics for its Ajax vehicle program. “We are delivering the program at the moment more than 700 pieces,” Wiegand said.
And Rheinmetall is a long-term customer. RENK supplies components for the Puma combat vehicle and for the first Lynx vehicle order being built for Hungary.
The company is also a BAE Systems customer, and RENK supplies the transmission for the K2 main battle tank manufactured by Hanwha and on order by the South Korean Army.
“They all know us,” Wiegand said of the OMFV participants. The only one of those companies RENK does not already work with is Point Blank, she noted.
While some teams — out of the five who were awarded digital design concept contracts — announced several teaming arrangements, there are others, like GDLS, who are purposefully keeping options open.
In RENK America’s view, no arrangements at this point are exclusive, particularly regarding propulsion systems. Trzesniowski believes that “whoever comes with the best solution and with the highest maturity and the higher integration of new technology, but at affordable price,” will get to be a part of the OMFV solution.
One perk of having a U.S. subsidiary now is that RENK Group can, for example, provide what is an expensive, sophisticated transmission to the U.S. market at an affordable cost because it will be manufactured stateside, Trzesniowski said.
The company’s strategy is to take that newfound affordability and offer it to companies with flexible solutions, such as hybrid options, according to Trzesniowski. “Everything is on the table.”
RENK America is also gearing up to test in 2022 a fully integrated power system including engine, transmission and power generation with Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center in Michigan within an entire combat system prototype.
“We are doing this partially to present to customers of OMFV, but also we have interested parties that would like to see this fully integrated solution ready and not just on PowerPoint,” Trzesniowski said.
The company also hopes to open the door to other international companies trying to do business in the U.S.
“We will be open for some, potentially, licensing if there is a manufacturer or designer from Europe that would like to actually build product in the U.S. and does not have their own footprint — for OMFV, for example,” Trzesniowski said.
“We have the facility, we have skilled people and know how to take any component of propulsion under our roof.” (Source: Defense News)
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