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26 May 23. The UK Ministry of Defence has extended its Protected Mobility Engineering and Technical Support vehicle contact (PMETS) with NP Aerospace to March 2026.
The £63m contract covering more than 2,000 vehicles was awarded to NP Aerospace, global armour manufacturer and vehicle integrator via a competitive tender in March 2019.
Since then, as Engineering Authority for the fleet, and in partnership with vehicle OEMs and industry partners, NP Aerospace has worked on over 140 individual tasks that maintain, sustain and upgrade the vehicle fleet for use on operations.
According to David Petheram, Managing Director & Senior Vice President, NP Aerospace Vehicle Systems, Services & Spares, PMETS tasks range in scale and complexity from lighting systems, software enhancements and communication system upgrades, through to full scale re-engineering programmes.
He said: “Through PMETS we have introduced significant innovations into the fleet such as the Mastiff and Ridgback XC offroad platforms and hybrid demonstrator projects – both of which improve overall capabilities and operational vehicle performance.
“Working closely with industry partners, NP Aerospace is able to maximise through life capability and introduce new innovations that benefit the Armed Forces.”
Read more: Coventry’s NP Aerospace supplies body armour to Ukraine soldiers
NP Aerospace has worked on MOD vehicles for over 20 years, leading complex integrations. The platforms covered under the PMETS contract include Mastiff, Wolfhound, Ridgback, Buffalo, Choker, Foxhound, Jackal, Coyote and RODET.
Key partners include Atkins, HORIBA-Mira and ITS, vehicle OEMs General Dynamics and Supacat, and a variety of technology partners. The prime contracting model with NP Aerospace as engineering authority is fully scalable and can be applied to other platform types and global markets.
The PMETS contract is estimated to have generated in excess of 200 jobs in the UK supply chain, with the team at NP Aerospace providing oversight of all deliverables and managing all activities on the contracts, utilising highly experienced staff in a unique way across the variety of vehicles in the fleet. (Source: Google/https://thebusinessmagazine.co.uk/)
26 May 23. Norwegian defence report hints at new CV90 armoured vehicle order. Norway’s May 2023 publication Future Acquisitions for the Norwegian Defence Sector 2023-2030 identifies a requirement for additional infantry fighting vehicles, with the BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 being the logical choice. Sector 2023-2030, the planned projects include new IFV, reconnaissance and C2 vehicles for the country’s army. The report cites an estimated of NOK2-3.5bn ($182-320m). The vehicles would equip the new 4th Mechanized Battalion and Finnmark Land Defence with planned deliveries between 2026 and 2029. Although no platform is specifically mentioned in the report, Shephard Defence Insight assesses the prime candidate to be the BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90 IFV in its latest Mk IV variant. The CV90 has been in service with the Norwegian Army since 1994, and Norway was the first international export for the Swedish vehicle. Undergoing consistent upgrade programmes since the late 1990s, all of Norway’s 144 CV90s are now at the Mk IIIb standard, with some already undergoing upgrades to Mk IV configuration. Based on a funding allocation in the middle of the cited range of $275m, Shephard Defence Insight models a unit requirement of 25 vehicles. (Source: News Now/Shephard)
5 May 23. Czechia is about to complete negotiations to sign a contract with UK-based defence company, SUPACAT, for 24 High Mobility Transport (HMT) vehicles for their Armed Forces, known in the British Army as the JACKAL series of reconnaissance and long range patrol vehicles. The UK has been producing these vehicles for more than ten years, with contracts delivering on the Prime Minister’s priorities to grow the economy and support UK jobs. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
25 May 23. The Swiss Federal Council Accepts the Decommissioning of 25 Combat Tanks. The Federal Council supports a proposal by the Security Policy Commission of the National Council (SPC-N) to decommission 25 Leopard 2 battle tanks. As she decided during her meeting on May 24, 2023, Federal Councilor Viola Amherd, head of the DDPS [defense ministry], will defend this point of view during the parliamentary deliberations in connection with the message on the army 2023.
At the moment, the army has a total of 134 tanks of type 87 Leopard 2 A4 WE, which were modernized within the framework of the 2006 armament program. It also has 96 other tanks of the same type which have not been renovated and which are immobilized.
On February 23, 2023, two German ministers, MM. Robert Habeck (economy) and Boris Pistorius (defense), have written to the head of the DDPS asking her to resell these disused tanks to Rheinmetall, the German company that produced them. They pledged not to transfer them to Ukraine, but to keep them for Germany or for other NATO or EU partners wishing to supplement their own armament.
On March 28, 2023, a majority of the National Council’s Security Policy Commission requested the decommissioning of 25 tanks as part of parliamentary deliberations on the Message on the Army 2023, it being understood that this decommissioning should not intervene only in the event that the tanks are resold to the company that produced them.
The Federal Council supports this proposal and empowers the head of the DDPS to defend it during parliamentary deliberations on the Dispatch on the Armed Forces 2023.
The needs of the army remain covered
The 134 87 Leopard 2 A4 WE tanks currently in use are not enough to fully equip the army’s six battalions with combat tanks. To do this, a total of 168 tanks would be needed. Therefore, it is necessary to examine whether it is possible to reactivate 34 of the 96 immobilized systems and modernize them for the troops. It is further planned to prepare 12 of them for instruction and to use another 25 for their spare parts and assembly groups. Among the immobilized aircraft, the army must therefore keep 71 87 Leopard 2 A4 tanks for its own needs.
The reactivation of some of these decommissioned tanks aims to develop land troops and responds to a decision of the Federal Council of May 15, 2019 in connection with the report on the future of the Land Forces. It was recognized that in the near future battle tanks would continue to play an important defense role. This was clearly seen during the war in Ukraine. The maintenance program for these tanks will also make it possible, as recommended by the report on the future of land forces, to reinforce two mechanized infantry battalions by granting them each a mechanized company equipped with combat tanks.
Thus, the army needs 71 tanks among the 96 which are immobilized. For the remaining 25 units, no assignment is foreseen; these can therefore be taken out of service and resold without this being done to the detriment of the army.
The Federal Council will decide on the application for an export license
Provided that the Federal Assembly accepts the proposal relating to the decommissioning of tanks submitted by the Security Policy Commission of the National Council, the Federal Council will instruct the DEFR to assess a possible export request and submit it to it. for decision.
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Swiss Department of Defence, Civil, Protection and Sports)
25 May 23. First NZ Bushmasters Ready to Roll. Defence Minister Andrew Little has marked the arrival of the first 18 Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles for the New Zealand Army, alongside personnel at Trentham Military Camp today.
“The arrival of the Bushmaster fleet represents a significant uplift in capability and protection for defence force personnel, and a milestone in the Government’s historic investment in our defence kit,” Andrew Little said.
The 43 Bushmasters are Australian-designed and built vehicles and will replace the New Zealand Army’s ageing armoured Pinzgauers.
“Bushmaster vehicles carry more troops than the armoured Pinzgauer and offer greater blast and ballistic protection to personnel,” Andrew Little said.
“Our soldiers operate in a variety of challenging situations. The Bushmasters are multipurpose vehicles that will boost their ability to help communities here in New Zealand, the Pacific, and overseas – whether they are on peace and security missions, search and rescue, or natural disaster operations.”
December 2017, the Government has invested more than $4.5 billion in 12 major defence capability projects. This includes $102.9 million towards the Bushmaster fleet.
“This Bushmaster fleet was designed specifically for our use. It comes in five different variants to carry out a range of tasks, including mobile communications and command hubs, troop transport, and protected ambulances,” Andrew Little said.
The Bushmasters will also enhance the New Zealand Defence Force’s interoperability with our overseas partners, as many already use them.
“The remainder of the Bushmaster vehicles will arrive in batches throughout 2023. They are being tested and certified for use at Trentham Military Camp, before being sent to their home bases,” Andrew Little said.
Budget 2023 also included investment in world class communications systems to ensure interoperability with our international partners.
(Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ New Zealand Government)
25 May 23. Central European neighbours acquire and enhance CV90 vehicles.
Czechia acquires 246 CV90s and Slovakia enhances its recent procurement with sight and force control capabilities.
Czechia agreed to purchase 246 CV90 Swedish combat vehicles for $2.2bn from the Swedish defence procurement administration (FMV) and BAE Systems Hagglunds on 24 May.
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The following day, Slovakia procured sight and fire control capabilities from Saab for the 152 CV90s it acquired from BAE Systems Hagglunds in December last year.
BAE Systems Hagglunds will develop and delievr Czechia’s CV90s through an industrial partnership with Czech industry. The Czech industrial partners will deliver 40% of the acquisition’s value in development, production and assembly contracts, not included value added tax.
The contract will bolster the local defence sector, granting access to BAE Systems’ global supply chain and expanding opportunities for co-operation.
The CV90 MkIV, the latest generation of the leading infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), has been deployed around the world in coalition operations under both Nato and United Nations mandates. Czechia have now become the ninth user of the platform.
Meanwhile, Slovakia has enhanced the 152 CV90 vehicles with sight and fire control capabilities.
Saab’s sight and fire control capability for tanks and combat vehicles provides precision and a high probability hit rate against ground and air targets.
What does the CV90 bring to Europe’s arsenal?
GlobalData land domain analyst, Tristan Sauer, points out the modularity of the platform. This is a critical feature – exhibited by the Slovakian integration of its new sight and fire capability – that will prove useful amid European mobilisation.
“The CV90 is definitely one of the most reliable and versatile IFV platforms on the current market, with numerous features which make it a prime platform for Nato member states.
“Though it can be considered a ‘legacy’ platform in some respects due to its original design having been fielded during the early 1990s, the CV90 was one of the first platforms designed following the principles of Nato’s Generic Vehicle Architecture (GVA), providing a truly modular armoured platform which could be readily adapted and modified through the integration of various specialised modules and subsystems.
“It is for this reason that the CV90 remains one of the most popular IFV platforms in Nato today, as the system’s inherent modularity has enabled various nations to modernise their IFV fleets based on their individual operational requirements while maintaining a significant level of interoperability and logistical parity with allied forces.”
This is further evidenced by the various CV90 upgrade and modernization packages which have been undertaken in recent years by nations including the Netherlands, Norway and most recently Slovakia, showcasing the continued appeal of this platform within Nato’s ranks of mechanised units.” (Source: army-technology.com)
25 May 23. AM General wins $4.6bn contract for JLTVs. After winning the follow-on production contract for JLTVs in February, AM General will begin production as the new manufacturer. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has awarded AM General with a $4.6bn contract to produce Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs), trailers, kits, and services to support production.
After unseating Oshkosh Defense as the new manufacturer of the JLTV in February this year, AM General will start producing its A2 design for the US Army.
Companies bid via the internet with two received; it is likely that Oshkosh challenged AM General again for its old seat as the JLTV manufcaturer. Work locations and funding will be determined with each order, with an estimated completion date of 9 February 2028.
That being said, in conversation with the EVP of business development at AM General, John Chadbourne told Army Technology that a manufacturing facility was built for JLTV production on the same site as the company’s Humvee facility in Indiana.
It is curious that the latest contract was competitive depsite AM General’s new position as the JLTV provider to the US Army. However, the DoD specified its intent to encourage lively competition for “the best value determination.
“[T]hat includes retaining the capability of the JLTV today, while ensuring that it can be upgraded in the future with the latest technologies”.
Oshkosh used to produce the JLTV to replace AM General’s ageing Humvee fleet.
The general-purpose JLTV can be armed with a Boeing compact laser weapon system and a Kongsberg Protector LW 30 remote weapon system with an M230LF cannon or a Samson dual-stabilised remote weapon system with M230LF gun.
The utility variant can be installed with a Boeing short-range air defence launcher integrating an M299 launcher with four Hellfire missiles and an M3P.50 calibre machine gun.
The CPRE1080 crew protection system optimises the vehicle safety by integrating advanced engineering techniques. The vehicle offers MRAP-level protection against blasts under the hull. The system requires highly technical expertise. This is a major reason why Oshkosh are currently protesting AM General’s ascendancy to the US Government Accountability Office (GAO), believing the new manufacturer lacks the technical skills required. (Source: army-technology.com)
24 May 23. Panzer bonanza: Czech Republic joins Berlin’s Leopard upgrade push. The Czech Ministry of Defence plans to join an emerging push by Germany to upgrade its fleet of Leopard 2 main battle tanks, eying an order of 70 copies of the vehicle’s newest A8 configuration.
Leaders in Prague have designated Minister of Defense Jana Černochová the point person to negotiate a Czech buy of the weapons, made by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall and known as Kampfpanzer in German, the defense ministry said in a May 24 statement.
The idea is to piggy-back on a German purchase that will initially cover 18 Leopard 2A8 tanks, for $565m, to replace Berlin’s donations to Ukraine, but that could grow over time into a multibillion-euro deal for up to 123 copies, German media reported.
The envisioned Czech investment “paves the way for the Army of the Czech Republic to acquire a top-of-the-line ground platform, which is also in use in a number of European armies and is compatible with other NATO armies,” reads a ministry statement. “In addition, from the joint procedure with Germany, the Czech side promises a significant price reduction, shorter deliveries and the provision of adequate logistical support.”
German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius lauded the prospective Czech participation as a big step towards Chancellor Olaf Scholz’s fabled “Zeitenwende” objective, a wholesale boost of German and European defense capabilities.
Other nations are invited to join the emerging program to achieve lower prices, higher production rates — vendors will almost certainly have to add capacity — and increased commonality on everything from training to sustainment, Pistorius said.
Czech defense officials expect their new tanks by the end of the decade at a cost of “tens of billions of crowns,” said Col. Ján Kerdík, director of the MOD’s Land Forces Development Department. Ten billion Czech krona equals roughly $450m. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
24 May 23. Czech Republic Awards BAE Systems $2.2bn Contract to Acquire 246 CV90s. The Czech Republic has successfully completed negotiations with the government of Sweden, the Swedish defense procurement organization FMV, and BAE Systems Hägglunds to buy 246 CV90 MkIV infantry fighting vehicles in seven different variants. The contract is valued at SEK 22bn ($2.2bn). The agreement provides highly-capable vehicles for Czech soldiers while providing Czech industry a significant role in the program.
“As the ninth member of the CV90 User Group, the Czech Republic and its Army will benefit from this combat-proven infantry fighting vehicle with a leading combination of mobility, firepower, protection, and future growth potential,” said Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, managing director of BAE Systems Hägglunds, in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden. “This contract also represents a significant win for Czech industry that will last for decades.”
The CV90s will be developed and delivered through an industrial partnership with Czech industry to meet the requirements of the Czech Ministry of Defence and the intention of maintaining national sovereignty for the Czech Republic. The Czech industrial partners will be delivering 40% of the acquisition’s value in development, production and assembly contracts, not including VAT.
The program also offers future industrial opportunities that represent significant monetary value well beyond the flow down of contracts to Czech industrial partners. The contract will bolster the local defence sector, granting access to BAE Systems’ global supply chain, expanding opportunities for cooperation, and enhancing local competitiveness.
The CV90 MKIV, the latest generation of the leading infantry fighting vehicle, is an ideal, battle-proven vehicle. CV90 has been deployed around the world in coalition operations under both NATO and UN mandates. The vehicle offers superior tactical and strategic capabilities to target a wide range of ground and airborne targets, and exceptional resilience in any terrain and tactical environment. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
25 May 23. Colombian Army down to half of its APC fleet. The Colombian Army has 28 operational M113A2 armoured personnel carriers (APCs), about half of what it operated 10 years ago, according to army documents viewed by Janes.
Food Machinery Corp – now part of BAE Systems – delivered up to 88 units of the A1 variant in 1977. This stock shrunk to 54 vehicles in service at the beginning of the last decade, and Dynamic Trading Solutions (DTS) upgraded the vehicles to the A2 variant.
The army supply was reduced to 40 and then 32 in recent years, according to army documents shared with Janes. In January 2022 that number was cut to 28 operational vehicles, which were serviced to extend their lifetime at a cost of USD2.9 million, a US-Colombian Army agreement revealed at the time.
The M113A2s, locally called Military Personal Transport-113 (TPM-113), are deployed within three areas: Mechanized Infantry Battalion No 6 with 77% of the available units; Mechanized Infantry Battalion No 5 with 14% of available units; and Army Infantry School for instruction work with 9% available, according to army documents. (Source: Janes)
24 May 23. Germany to buy Leopard tanks, howitzers to make up for Ukraine supplies – source. Germany will buy 18 Leopard 2 tanks and 12 self-propelled howitzers to replenish stocks depleted by deliveries to Ukraine, a member of the parliamentary budget committee which approved the purchase on Wednesday told Reuters.
The tanks order will come to 525.6m euros ($578.58m) while the howitzers have a price tag of 190.7m euros, all of which are to be delivered by 2026 at the latest, said the finance ministry documents meant for the parliament.
The purchase includes an option for another 105 tanks for about 2.9bn euros.
Germany has supplied 18 Leopard 2 tanks to Ukraine since the Russian invasion last year and has said it intends to plug the gap with new tanks as soon as possible.
The 12 howitzers are part of defence ministry plans signed off by the German parliament in March to buy up to 28 howitzers as replacements.
Both the Leopard and the howitzers are jointly manufactured by KMW and Rheinmetall (RHMG.DE). ($1 = 0.9084 euros). (Source: Reuters)
25 May 23. Hungary rebuilds tank forces. Brigadier General Gábor Lőrincz, commander of the Hungarian Defence Forces’ land forces, outlined lessons learned from Hungary’s transition to the Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) at SAE Media’s Future Armoured Vehicles Central and Eastern Europe 2023 conference in Prague. Hungarian forces have received a company of 12 Leopard 2A4 tanks that will be used to train crews and technicians as the country undertakes efforts to switch its MBT fleet from the T-72 to the Leopard 2. The initial 12 Leopard 2A4s will serve as a bridge between the T-72 and the more advanced Leopard 2A7HU that will begin to arrive from 2023 onwards. Forty-four vehicles are on order from Rheinmetall.
Brig Gen Lőrincz said that the tank force will be propelled from using adequate late-Cold War technology to modern systems, which presents immense challenges in training crews and maintainers. The Hungarians are also ordering support vehicles such as armoured recovery vehicles and armoured vehicle-launched bridge platforms, all based on the Leopard 2. (Source: Janes)
23 May 23. Thai marines receive amphibious APCs. Thailand’s Defence Technology Institute (DTI) has delivered an unknown number of locally developed 8×8 amphibious armoured personnel carriers (AAPCs) to the Royal Thai Marine Corps (RTMC).
The DTI, a research and development (R&D) agency under the Thai Ministry of Defence (MoD), said in a social media post on 19 May that the vehicles were delivered during the RTMC’s Combined Arms Live Fire Exercise (CALFEX) at a Royal Thai Navy (RTN) base in Ban Chanthaklem in Chanthaburi’s Khao Kitchakut district. The DTI has named the amphibious vehicle ‘Sea Tiger.’
Janes reported at the vehicle’s unveiling in 2017 that the Thai government had agreed to purchase five initial units of the then-named AAPC. However, the full requirement could reach more than 20, with the RTMC seeking to replace its depleted fleets of US-made AAV7A1s. (Source: Janes)
23 May 23. SA Department of Defence to announce partnership with Embraer. Defence and Military Veterans Minister Thandi Modise said her department hopes to soon publicly announce a partnership with Brazil’s Embraer on the manufacture and repair of aircraft in South Africa.
Modise was speaking in Parliament on Tuesday 23 May during the defence budget vote debate. “We are hoping that soon we will be able to announce, publicly, … the partnership with Embraer of Brazil to manufacture and to repair in South Africa. It would be a boost to our defence industry. It will also enable us to force our own government to put more money in,” she said.
Her comments come two weeks after Brazilian Air Force commander Lieutenant Brigadier Marcelo Kanitz Damasceno told the Brazilian senate’s Foreign Relations and National Defense Committee that Brazil is negotiating with several countries to sell the Embraer KC-390 Millennium tactical transport aircraft, including South Africa.
Damasceno said that South Africa as well as Austria, the Czech Republic, Egypt, India, Rwanda, South Korea, and Sweden are potential buyers for the KC-390, which has already been purchased by Brazil, Hungary, and Portugal.
The KC-390 can transport up to 26 metric tons of cargo at a maximum speed of to (850 km/h). It has a range of 6 000 km.
In February, National Treasury granted the South African Air Force (SAAF) an extra R1 bn towards rejuvenating the “medium air transport capability” of the SAAF. Funding will be spent on the six remaining C-130BZ Hercules in the fleet (the SAAF had nine serviceable examples but two have been written off in accidents and one has been cannibalised for spares).
In January, Chief of the SAAF Lieutenant General Wiseman Mbambo said “in our road going forward, the medium lift capability is right in the centre of our attention. Also, there is a lot of talk around the strategic lift capability. This is not a surprise as to why this capability is being mentioned. The reality we face is South Africa is not in a strategic position. Our location cannot be changed. We need to have very strong legs to connect ourselves to the rest of the continent and the world.”
The SAAF spends millions of rands chartering aircraft to rotate troops and equipment from the Democratic Republic of Congo and Mozambique as it does not have sufficient airworthy transport aircraft.
In her budget vote debate address, Modise gave no further details on collaboration with Embraer. She did mention that the Chief of the SANDF “has been instructed to find ways to rejuvenate the SANDF. It is not just about recruiting people, it is also about looking at systems, and upgrading, rejuvenating capabilities, finding ways of preserving and maintaining.” (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
23 May 23. Badger infantry fighting vehicle programme not at risk, Denel says. State-owned defence company Denel has said its contract to supply new generation Badger infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) is not in jeopardy and it will continue to deliver vehicles in terms of its contract.
This comes after the City Press reported that Denel had “jeopardised” the Project Hoefyster contract worth R8 bn by failing to deliver Badgers to the SA Army for more than 10 years, and is now being sued by Finnish defence company Patria for R112 million over contract failure – the Badger is based on a Patria design.
In a statement released on Monday, interim Group CEO of Denel, Mike Kgobe, said reports that Patria is suing Denel for R112 million over the project, are false.
According to Kgobe, Denel reached a settlement agreement on outstanding issues with Patria in December 2022.
“All legal actions by Patria were halted in terms of this agreement and Patria continues to support Denel in the execution of the contract,” he explained.
Kgobe conceded that the contractual and financial difficulties that affected the project in recent years have now been resolved and the programme is continuing, as approved by the Department of Defence.
“The contract is definitely not at risk,” Kgobe stressed.
“We are working closely with Patria, Armscor and other stakeholders to ensure the SANDF receives modern combat vehicles which deliver superior mobility, protection and firepower for our troops.”
The Hoefyster programme, according to Denel, is a critical component of the broader moves to modernise the SANDF and ensure its operational readiness.
Denel in March this year received bns of rands in bailout money from National Treasury, allowing it to restart much of the production at its facilities that have been dormant for years due to the fallout from state capture and mismanagement.
Denel Chief Restructuring Officer Riaz Saloojee told defenceWeb the company is confident it can get Badger production back on track for the South African Army.
Project Hoefyster phase one – for the design and development of five main vehicle variants (Command, Missile, Section, Fire Support, and Mortar) – came into effect in June 2007 with delivery expected in May 2012. This was to be followed by phase two – industrialisation and production of 238 Badgers – with a completion date of November 2023. Armscor was at one point so concerned about Project Hoefyster it recommended cancelling the programme and diverting funds to upgrade Ratels as an interim solution.
To date, nearly R8 bn has been spent on Project Hoefyster, and factoring in VAT, escalation and other costs, Armscor values the project at over R16bn. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
23 May 23. Rheinmetall’s new plant in Zalaegerszeg, Hungary continues to take shape: new street name, Rheinmetall Út, unveiled at official ceremony. A street at the Zalaegerszeg plant of Rheinmetall Hungary Zrt., a joint venture co-owned by Rheinmetall and the Hungarian state, was officially renamed “Rheinmetall Út” at a ceremony on 23 May 2023. Present at the event were representatives from the Group as well as Zoltán Balaicz, the city’s mayor, and other guests of honour. Dr Imke Nora Kellner, CEO of Rheinmetall Hungary Zrt., emphasized how “…our investment here is powering economic growth in the region and creating good jobs for skilled workers at our Hungarian suppliers. In future we’ll be developing, producing and maintaining cutting-edge armoured vehicles, contributing to security and freedom in Europe.”
A modern development, production and testing centre is currently going up at the site, with around 350 new jobs and potential for growth in surface area and technology. The focus is on developing and manufacturing state-of-the-art tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles for the Hungarian armed forces, particularly the new Lynx infantry fighting vehicle. Low-rate initial production began in January of this year. High safety standards protect the plant’s neighbours from noise and hazards, with even the smallest amounts of mostly practice ammunition for function testing kept in secure underground storage facilities, and ballistic testing confined to an underground shooting tunnel. There will be no above-ground ballistic tests or test detonations, nor will test drives take place on public roads in Zalaegerszeg.
The Düsseldorf-based technology enterprise’s numerous local initiatives not only reflect its commitment to the community, but also its strategic goal of achieving Groupwide CO2 neutrality by 2035. As Andreas Baumeier, chief operations officer of Rheinmetall Hungary Zrt., explains, “We take our technological and social responsibilities very seriously, which is why we invest in innovative products and technologies, but also in sustainable operations and in reducing C02 emissions through the use of renewable energy sources.”
Now underway, the first expansion of the plant therefore includes installation of solar panels, and trees have already been planted along Rheinmetall Ùt, with more to follow around the grounds. In future, most company cars will be either electric or hybrid, while vehicles confined to the plant (such as forklifts, logistic, security and pool vehicles) already operate in an environmentally friendly, sustainable manner.
At the end of the ceremony, Michael Stolze, CFO of Rheinmetall Hungary Zrt., noted that “The street name Rheinmetall Út isn’t just an honour for us. It also underscores the cooperative and long-term nature of our working relationship, now and in future. We would thus like to take this opportunity to express our sincere thanks to the local authorities and their representatives for supporting our endeavour!”
23 May 23. Third batch of JLTVs arrive in Lithuania. The Lithuanian armed forces receive 50 joint light tactical vehicles in a running contract that will eventually procure a total of 500. The US Department of Defense (DoD) has delivered 50 additional joint light tactical vehicles (JLTVs) to the Lithuanian armed forces. The delivery is the third batch of JLTVs as part of an agreement signed in 2019 between the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence and the DoD for a total of 200 units.
With the additional JLTVS, the Lithuanian Armed Forces will possess 150 vehicles. The total 200 units will arrive by the end of the year.
Next year, implementation of a second contract signed in 2022 for 300 additional vehicles from Oshkosh Defense will begin. In all, Lithuania expects to operate a total of 500 JLTVs.
The JLTV is a cutting-edge light tactical armoured vehicle. The technically advanced vehicles ensure high crew safety and better efficiency in reconnaissance, artillery and air support operations. The purchase not only increases Lithuania’s capability but also builds on the interoperability between the US and Lithuania.
Oshkosh Defense is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the JLTV. In February 2023, the DoD contracted AM General to replace the OEM to manufacture over 20,000 JLTV A2 vehicles. With this, AM General will produce Oshkosh’s own design for the DoD.
Potential Nato standard?
GlobalData intelligence tells us that increasing geopolitical tensions, low-intensity cross-border skirmishes, and standardisation requirements as part of military alliances such as Nato are driving military forces to acquire military land vehicles.
Moreover, tension with Russia amid the war in Ukraine is driving other countries in the European region and across Nato to improve their conventional capabilities with new platforms capable of countering the heavily armored and mechanized formations of the Russian Army.
GlobalData expects the global military land vehicles market to be led by Europe, with a revenue share of 47.4%. As a Nato member, and Baltic nation bordering Russia, Lithuania is a prime example of nation that must procure modern platforms shared by other Nato members. (Source: army-technology.com)
23 May 23. Aerial Refuelling Without Human Intervention. Aerial refuelling is an increasingly vital capability for military force projection, and Airbus-developed technology to automate the in-flight “topping off” of aircraft will revolutionise this process – with wider applications for both the defence and civil aviation sectors.
Disruptive technology for fully autonomous in-flight refuelling – designated Auto’Mate – is being evolved by the Airbus Defence and Space business unit in collaboration with Airbus UpNext, the company’s wholly-owned innovation subsidiary. Airbus UpNext also is pursuing such cross-division projects as pilot assistance technologies to further enhance flight safety and aircraft operational efficiency, along with new propulsion systems and aircraft design to face sustainability challenges.
Last March, a successful Auto’Mate demonstration using an Airbus testbed tanker aircraft and four unmanned drones marked a major milestone for the autonomous in-flight refuelling capability, which will be followed later this year by an even more ambitious flight campaign.
Enhanced safety, reliability and efficiency
By automating in-flight refuelling without the need for human intervention, an aerial tanker can take control of a “receiver” aircraft from several kilometres away and autonomously guide and control it into the proper position to receive fuel, followed by the actual fuel transfer via the tanker’s refuelling probe, completed by a safe separation maneouvre at the operation’s completion.
The in-flight refuelling procedures utilised today require demanding and precise coordination between an aerial tanker’s crew and the pilot of the “receiver” aircraft. By applying autonomous technologies, the process will benefit from enhanced safety, reliability and efficiency. Other advantages are the ability to conduct more effective operations – including the transfer of fuel in very low visibility conditions, and the reduction of training costs for flight crews.
As importantly, the Auto’Mate technology opens the way for aerial refuelling of non-piloted combat air vehicles such as drones, apart from the technologies reuse in remote carriers and “loyal wingman”operations – which are key unmanned elements of Europe’s Future Combat Air System (FCAS). Additionally, Auto’Mate could eventually lead to autonomous aerial tankers without a crew aboard.
Three technological “bricks” for automated aerial refuelling
In evolving autonomous in-flight refuelling, Airbus is focusing on three primary technological bricks:
- Different types of cameras (resolution, field of view), high-precision satellite global positioning, and LiDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) sensors, combined with Artificial Intelligence algorithms;
- Advanced intra-flight communications networks;
- And cooperative control and collision avoidance algorithms.
Airbus is well positioned to take this next step for aerial refuelling, building on its experience in the domain – beginning with its A310 MRTT (Multi Role Tanker Transport) which entered service in 2004, and followed by the new-generation A330 MRTT.
The A330 MRTT positions Airbus as a leader in the multi-role tanker transport sector, having already pioneered such advancements as the use of fly-by-wire control for the refuelling probe and its development of a high-definition 2D/3D digital system for enhanced viewing by the fuelling operators.
A total of 60 A330 MRTTs have been ordered by Australia, France, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Saudi Arabia, Singapore, South Korea, the United Arab Emirates and the United Kingdom, with the aircraft fleet logging thousands of flight hours in the support of military deployments and humanitarian operations. (Source: UAS VISION/Airbus)
22 May 23. Challenger 2 tank triumphs in Nato competition ahead of Leopard and Abrams tanks. The UK’s Challenger 2 tank has blasted away the competition in Nato’s Exercise Iron Spear.
The armoured vehicle competition for main battle tanks, held in Estonia, saw a Challenger 2 tank, from the Queen’s Royal Hussars beat a German Leopard 2 tank, operated by Spanish personnel, and the third-placed American M1 Abrams crew.
Major Anthony Kaulback, Chief of Staff for the enhanced Forward Presence Battlegroup in the country, said the regiment was one of those who had donated Challenger 2 tanks to Ukrainian personnel to use in their fight against Russia.
“The fact that one of those Challenger 2s has just won a competition as a lethal tank, one of the most lethal tanks in Nato, is really reassuring… for those Ukrainians that will be using them on the battlefield,” he said.
He explained the competition saw the crews and their tanks put to the test to see how many targets could be engaged within a time limit.
“One of the most potent things about the Challenger 2 is that it’s got something called the hunter-killer mode,” he said.
“That means the commander can be independently scanning to acquire targets whilst the gunner is also trying to find targets but in different arcs.”
BATTLESPACE Comment: It was the defeat of Challenger 1 tanks at the same Exercise which caused Mrs Thatcher to demand that Challenger 2 was developed!
22 May 23. The Third Batch of South Korean K2 Black Panther Tanks Was Delivered to the Port of Gdynia by Sea.
The delivery includes 7 K2 Black Panther tanks manufactured in the Republic of South Korea. This is the third batch of K2 tanks to be delivered to the Polish Armed Forces. The beneficiary of all deliveries carried out so far is the 20th Mechanized Brigade. The first batch of 10 tanks was handed over in December last year, while the second batch of 5 tanks was delivered in March this year.
Deliveries of the K2 Black Panther tanks are the result of the executive agreement of August 26, 2022, worth USD 3.37 bn net, concluded between the Armament Agency and Hyundai Rotem, according to which the Polish Armed Forces will receive a total of 180 tanks.
The K2 Black Panther is a South Korean 3+ generation Main Battle Tank. Its main armament is a 120mm smoothbore gun with an autoloader that can use the latest types of ammunition. Auxiliary armament is a 7.62mm machine gun and a 12.7mm heavy machine gun (WKM). The tank’s advanced fire control system ensures high efficiency of fire at long distances.
The armor of the K2 tank, already in the standard configuration, which can be additionally supplemented with active protection systems such as soft kill (VIRSS) and hard kill (KAPS), ensures high ballistic and anti-mine resistance. The drive is a diesel engine with a power of 1500 hp with an automatic gearbox, which ensure high speed and mobility in any terrain. The tank is characterized by a relatively low weight of 55 tons and the use of hydropneumatic suspension.
All contracted K2 tanks will be equipped with a communication system compatible with the one used in the Polish Armed Forces, as well as with the BMS battlefield management system, compatible with the system that M1A2 Abrams tanks will be equipped with.
Changes in the configuration provided for the K2PL version of the tank will include strengthening the armor, retrofitting with an all-round observation system and an active ASOP vehicle protection system, the possibility of using programmable ammunition from another source and the Polish 12.7mm HMG. (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Polish Ministry of Defense;)
19 May 23. Oshkosh submits prototype for US Robotic Combat Vehicle.
Oshkosh claims its RCV proposal leverages artificial intelligence with its extensive manufacturing experience.
Oshkosh Defense has submitted a design proposal for the US Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV), part of the Army’s next generation combat family of vehicles (NGCV) programme. The Congressional Research Service tells us that the Army intended to develop three RCV variants: light, medium, and heavy.
The Army envisions employing RCVs as scouts and escorts for manned fighting vehicles. They would deter ambushes and guard the flanks of mechanised formations.
Operators in NGCSs will control RCVs, but the Army hopes that improved ground navigation technology and artificial intelligence (AI) might eventually permit a single operator to control multiple RCVs or for RCVs to operate in a more autonomous mode.
The RCV programme
On 29 March, the Army requested RCV prototype proposals. It detailed a three-phased effort that selects up to four vendors to deliver test vehicles by August 2024.
After the request, Oshkosh Defense and BAE Systems indicated their interest in the RCV effort. It could result in a contract worth approximately $607m for 211 RCVs.
Oshkosh Defense’s chief programme officer, Pat Williams, states: “The Oshkosh Defense RCV team is pleased to submit [its] proposal for the first phase of the RCV programme.
“We remain committed to being responsive to the needs and requirements of the soldier to provide the most capable, reliable, and maintainable robotic platform.”
The team includes two Oshkosh Corporation subsidiaries: Oshkosh Defense and Pratt Miller Defense, alongside their independent partner, QinetiQ.
Leveraging emerging technologies
Williams added: “The Oshkosh RCV is an evolution of a decade of innovation, development, and testing.
“Our solution is optimised to exceed the performance requirements and is ready now to meet the demanding programme schedule.”
The US Army has acknowledged the demanding requirements of autonomous vehicles since it announced the RCV programme in 2019. In 2020, QinetiQ co-authored a report with the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) on the trustworthiness of AI. The two organisations stated that the technology’s rapid “changes are still not wholly evident across militaries.”
Now, three years later, the Oshkosh team offers the US Army the autonomous RCV it has long anticipated. The company now claims to “exceed [the Army’s] performance requirements.”
The prototype must be able to “employ their autonomous manoeuvre capability to offer [the enemy] threat multiple dilemmas.
“[While also] conducting independent manoeuvre[s] without exposing the human force to direct and/or indirect fire,” as requested by the US Army.
While leveraging emerging tech may already be in the bag, the US Army may dismiss the corporation’s extensive manufacturing experience. It would not be the first time this has happened.
It was on the basis of its experience as the original equipment manufacturer that Oshkosh issued a protest to the Government Accountability Office. The protest refuted the Pentagon for awarding AM General the JLTV contract. (Source: army-technology.com)
18 May 23. Indra launches armoured vehicle training with Pizarro simulators. The delivery of these simulators to the Spanish Army bases will enhance operator training and enable joint tactical exercises closely mirroring actual battlefield missions.
Indra, a technology and consulting company, created an armoured tactical training network by installing the first Pizarro simulators.
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Indra, a leader in technology and consulting, has commenced the delivery of Pizarro infantry combat vehicle simulators to Spanish Army bases where these armoured vehicles are currently deployed.
The simulators, designed to complete operator training, comprise a comprehensive simulation network featuring 56 connected compartments. The network will facilitate joint tactical exercises that closely resemble real combat situations.
Each Pizarro vehicle simulator comprises two training compartments: one for the driver and another for the vehicle commander and gunner. Integrating these 56 compartments into the simulation network will enable soldiers to engage in collaborative exercises that prepare them for complex missions.
Serious games software for the simulation
Indra’s simulation system seamlessly integrates with the Army’s existing training platform based on serious games.
This software enables soldiers to interact with various troops, platforms, threats, and scenarios in a virtual field of operations, thus enhancing their readiness for real-world missions.
By leveraging these technologies, the Army can simulate large-scale operations involving thousands of soldiers, hundreds of vehicles, helicopters, and drones.
“The Pizarro vehicle simulator capitalizes on the new technologies linked to virtual reality and gamification and maximizes the communication and interoperability capabilities of the systems”, explains Rafael Junco, Indra’s Simulation Director.
To showcase their innovative solution, Indra will present a Pizarro vehicle simulator at their stand during FEINDEF, the premier Defense and Security sector forum in Spain, held from May 17th to 19th in Madrid.
The simulation system developed by Indra faithfully replicates the two existing configurations of the Pizarro armoured vehicle: Phase I and Phase II. These vehicles are designed for rapid movement on the front lines of combat, carrying a platoon of soldiers.
Moreover, the simulators can be networked with other simulators in different geographical locations, facilitating joint exercises and collaboration with other simulation systems available on the Army’s training platform.
The General Directorate of Armament and Material of the Ministry of Defence and the Army actively participated in developing the Pizarro simulator at all stages, from requirements analysis to final testing and integration into the training network.
Simumak, a subsidiary of Indra, utilized its hardware development expertise to manufacture the simulator cabins, replicating the measurements and functional instrumentation of the actual vehicle. This collaboration has expedited development, enhanced flexibility, and reduced time-to-deployment.
The virtual training provided by Indra’s simulators accelerates mission preparation, closely mimicking real-life scenarios, and offers cost savings.
Maintenance and fuel expenses are reduced by reserving real vehicles for higher-level exercises and actual operations. Indra boasts a range of mission simulation systems that cater to soldiers with different profiles.
Notably, the company has supplied the Ukrainian troops with the full Leopard 2E tank simulation training system and provided the Spanish Armed Forces with fifty Víctrix simulators, enabling soldiers to train with their weapons.
Indra’s expertise extends to simulators for fighter jets, planes, helicopters, and advanced air traffic control systems.
With the installation of the first Pizarro simulators and establishment of the armoured vehicle tactical training network, Indra reinforces its commitment to equipping soldiers with training tools, enhancing their preparedness and effectiveness in the field.
According to GlobalData’s “Spain Defense Market 2023-2028” report, Indra, alongside others, is one of the primary suppliers of the New Generation Fighter -Future Combat Air System.
The Future Combat Air System is a joint program between Spain, France and Germany to provide advanced combat aircraft, drones, and sensor capabilities. (Source: army-technology.com)
19 May 23. BAE, Iveco join forces to market amphibious combat vehicle in Europe. The U.S. branch of BAE Systems and Italy’s Iveco Defence Vehicles (IDV) jointly debuted their amphibious combat vehicle shown in Europe for the first time this week, with executives saying they are ready to respond to Spanish and wider European interest in the technology.
From the inside of an ACV, displayed here at the Feria Internacional de Defensa y Seguridad (FEINDEF) in the personnel-carrier variant, company representatives told reporters that Spain was a strategic choice for its first international appearance.
“This represents the first instance the ACV is shown outside the United States, and we are very pleased that we get to do so in Spain, which is a very important and long-term ally to both the U.S. and NATO,” Marco Collins, vice president of international business development at BAE Systems said.
The ACV is a family of vehicles that has been jointly developed through the strategic partnership between IDV and BAE, and in which Spain has expressed interest. BAE, acting as prime contractor in the United States, has been selected to deliver four different variants to the U.S. Marine Corps.
The troop carrier showcased here is the vehicle’s base platform – a fully open-ocean ride that can carry a total of 13 combat-loaded Marines and a crew of three from ship to shore. Weighing in at 35 tons, it can reach a speed up to 105 km/hour (65 mph) on a paved road.
Nazario Bianchini, head of sales at IDV, told Defense News the two companies would respond jointly to upcoming tenders in Spain and elsewhere in Europe. Concerning industry benefits for Spain, specifically, Nazario pointed out that Iveco is effectively a local partner given its presence in the country with two plants. The Madrid plant alone, which produces the company’s complete range of heavy vehicles, has a workforce of 2,850 employees, he said.
It would not be the first time the Spanish Army looked to IDV or BAE Systems for land and amphibious equipment, as in 2015 the service awarded the Italian manufacturer a contract for the supply of 700 multipurpose military trucks. Additionally, in 2019, the U.S. State Department cleared Madrid to buy 11 assault amphibious vehicles produced by BAE that were to join the ones it already operates. (Source: Defense News)
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