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28 Aug 23. Czech Border Guards Deploy to Slovakia with New Titus Command Vehicles. Soldiers of the 71st Mechanized Battalion took delivery of new Titus wheeled armored vehicles this week. Three are in the connecting version, one is a command-staff version. “We have been looking forward to this new technology for a long time, we absolutely need it in order to move the battalion’s communication and command capabilities to a higher level, corresponding to the 21st century,” said the battalion’s liaison chief, First Lieutenant Jan Stoch.
The wheeled armored liaison vehicle (KOVS) will replace the outdated R5 workplace on a modified BVP-1 chassis, the equipment of which is not capable of securing covert communications. “We are now moving from an analog medium to a fully digital one. And at the same time, we can conduct connections at the SECRET and NATO SECRET levels, which is absolutely necessary for our needs,” Stoch highlighted.
The crew of the KOVS consists of four soldiers – the commander of the liaison team, two liaison officers and a driver. They each have their own workstation, several types of state-of-the-art radio stations, a satellite terminal and jammers. The device operates at the battalion command post and ensures completely secure confidential data and phonetic connections with subordinate units and superiors. “With this equipment, we are entering a completely different dimension,” praises the senior sergeant operator Lukáš Adolf. “Digital control simplifies and speeds up work as much as possible. We’re jumping straight from crystal radio to plasma TV,” he explains.
The KOVVŠ, or wheeled armored command-staff vehicle, will replace another museum piece, the MPP40 plant. It is intended to secure the communication of members of the battalion staff during the planning and decision-making process at the command post.
“The old and new vehicles cannot even be compared, the difference is stark,” Chief of Staff Major David Trnečka said during the handover of the new vehicles. “The most significant benefit is the ability to communicate in an international environment. Whatever operation we go on, when we carry out any task with coalition partners, we now have the ability to immediately share all information online.” According to Trnečka, the connection systems are also compatible with units of the integrated rescue system: If, for example, the army were deployed during floods, they can soldiers can communicate directly with the fire brigade or the police through these vehicles. This is a huge step forward, emphasizes Trnečka.
However, modern technology requires perfectly prepared soldiers. Therefore, the crews now face demanding operator training to make full use of the vehicles’ capabilities. “A number of courses are planned either at the Training Command-Military Academy or at our unit. We have to train the drivers, administrators of these stations, their operators, master crypto courses and operate the special power plants that these vehicles are equipped with. We have to manage all this within a few months, because we will take these funds with us to the foreign operation in Slovakia, where we will go at the turn of the year,” adds the chief of staff. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Czech Republic Ministry of Defence)
28 Aug 23. French-German Future Tank Program Heading for September Showdown. The French-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) project to develop a future European tankis heading for a showdown in late September, when the French and German defense ministers are due to meet in Paris to once more review progress on the program, and to discuss the requirements paper they requested from their army chiefs of staff when they last discussed the program in Berlin on July 8.
However, there is a strong chance that the program will finally implode under the combined weight of industry in-fighting and political meddling.
The catalyst for the implosion is likely to be France’s decision to back Italy’s application to join MGCS, which French Defense Minister Sebastien Lecornu is expected to propose to his German counterpart Boris Pistorius at the same meeting. If, as likely, Germany refuses, the program would separate into two, one between France and Italy, possibly with Spain, and another led by Germany and comprising several East European nations, and possibly including Poland.
Italian participation has been discussed since the turn of the decade, but France recently accepted its application, the French website La Tribune reported Aug. 24. For France, “which appears no longer willing to be walked over by Germany in defense cooperation programs,” this would be a “take it or leave it” issue with Germany.
France, which needs a new tank by 2035, is vexed that the program has been mired down by industrial disputes over workshare, as Germany’s Rheinmetall, with the support of some influential members of the Bundestag, tries to muscle in a program that, since its inception, is managed on a 50/50 basis by the Franco-German group KNDS (Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Nexter).
However, Germany is unlikely to accept a third partner as it would necessarily have to give up part of its 50% share in the program. Furthermore, Germany will likely be hostile to the idea since France previously vetoed a German proposal to have Poland join the program, on the basis that new partners could only be considered once the basic design had been agreed.
If, as reported, France intends to give Germany an ultimatum over Italy’s entry, there is a strong possibility that the MGCS will break down into two separate programs, both pursuing different technical solutions capable of attracting additional European partners. Interestingly, while there are many joint programs for military aircraft, helicopters, ships and missiles, there has never been a successful cooperation program to develop a main battle tank.
French-Italian defense ties recovering
Having suffered embarrassing reversals from Germany on several programs over the past five years (Tiger Mark 3, MAWS, MHT missile and more), France now seems to have decided that Italy is a less troublesome, and perhaps a more malleable, partner than Germany has proved to be.
The Italian government of Prime Minister Georgia Meloni also appears to have got over the friction caused by the failed merger between its Fincantieri shipyards group with France’s Naval Group, and since the beginning of the year has invested a substantial amount of money to re-launch French-Italian programs.
In January, Italy and France awarded a joint order for “nearly 700” Aster air-defense missiles, and in July Italy awarded a separate, €700 million order for additional Aster 30 missiles for its air force. In June, Italy joined the Franco-British FMAN/FMC program to develop future anti-ship and cruise missiles, and in early August Italy and France jointly awarded a €1.5 billion contract for the mid-life upgrade of their four Horizon-class frigates, after having agreed in December to jointly update their 16 FREMM multipurpose frigates.
Against this background of resurgent French-Italian defense cooperation, France now wants Italy to join the MGCS program, not only to dilute Germany’s stake and thus its influence, but also to review the workshare arrangements that integrating a new Italian industry partner, Leonardo, would require.
Rome and Paris could be winners
For France, Italy’s joining MGCS would kick-start a program that is being slowed by Rheinmetall’s continuing attempts to muscle in by grabbing workshare from KNDS, the original prime contractor. KNDS is a joint venture between France’s Nexter and Germany’s Krauss Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Rheinmetall’s direct competitor. Paris fears that this would cut into its 50% workshare, which it considers unacceptable, while many members of the German Bundestag, which controls the money, wants to see Rheinmetall play a role in the program.
For Italy, joining the MGCS program would also allow it to prepare the long-term modernization of its tank fleet, which currently comprises about 200 Ariete C1 tanks manufactured in the 1980s by Leonardo’s OTO Melara subsidiary and Iveco. Italy wants to upgrade 125 of them, and in parallel acquire 125 Leopard 2A8 tanks, to meet its medium-term needs, pending the arrival of the MGCS after 2040.
Nonetheless, the French and German defense ministers were at pains when they last met in July to paper over their differences and make optimistic noises, hoping that no-one would notice that there has been no progress on the program since its inception in 2017. But the fact that they tasked their their army chiefs of staff to draft a joint requirement six years after the project was first announced in July 2017 shows how little has ben achieved.
“Frank and decisive discussions with @PistoriusBoris on the battle tank of the future. We want to do it together!
Neither a new Leclerc nor a new Leopard, the #MGCS marks a major technological leap, and will be in service until 2070!”
Despite this unconvincing ministerial statement La Tribune confirmed persistent reports when it posted that “an ocean of mistrust separates the two partners,” both among industry partners and military staffs.
However, time is slipping by for France, which wants the new tank to enter service around 2035, while Germany can afford to wait for a decade longer since it has just ordered new Leopard 2A8 tanks to renew its armored component. For France, MGCS has led to “six years of procrastination. Or six wasted years,” La Tribune added.
Pistorius and Lecornu agreed in July they would meet again at the end of September to review progress on the project, and this is probably when the future of MGCS will be decided.
25 Aug 23. Boeing field-tests augmented reality-based maintenance technology. Boeing has conducted the first field test of an augmented reality (AR)-based maintenance technology it has developed to enable swift repair of deployed aircraft.
The technology, named Augmented Training Operations Maintenance (ATOM), was tested on a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft belonging to the United States Air Force (USAF), Boeing said in a media release on 24 August.
Boeing added that the field test was part of the USAF’s ‘Mobility Guardian 2023′ exercise conducted in July, and was supported by personnel from Boeing Australia. The ‘Mobility Guardian 2023′ – held in the Indo-Pacific – was led by the USAF’s Air Mobility Command. The air forces of Australia, Canada, France, Japan, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom also participated in the exercise.
“During the exercise, a USAF maintainer was required to obtain virtual support to troubleshoot a C-17 Globemaster III thrust reverser fault in a simulated semi-contested environment,” Boeing said. (Source: Janes)
24 Aug 23. Babcock International Group (Babcock), the defence company, recently celebrated the completion of the 50th Armoured Toyota LC300 since production started in September 2022. Babcock is an industry leader in this field, producing safe and secure vehicle platforms for those who operate in hostile climates. The engineering facility in the West Midlands has specialised in producing armoured vehicles for over 40 years for major NATO government agencies. With five independently certified armoured vehicle solutions and over 800 civilian armoured vehicles active in service, we play a critical role in international defence and in keeping our customers safe.
The new Land Cruiser 300 Series was launched by Toyota in August 2021 and was a complete redesign of the outgoing 200 Series. The comprehensive whole-vehicle test regime included successfully sustaining hundreds of ballistic impacts of varying bullet calibres, and over 21kg of explosives being detonated at varying distances to simulate a number of attacks.
Managing Director of Engineering and Systems Integration, at Babcock, Chris Spicer said: “The LC300 is Babcock’s most robust civilian armoured vehicle offering comprehensive protection against a range of threats that can occur across the world. The production facility in the West Midlands is scaling up the production rate to ensure we satisfy our customers growing demand. We’re very proud to have produced vehicle number 50! Babcock is a world leader in this field, and no one is closer to our customers, delivering the capability they need, wherever they need it.”
24 Aug 23. BAE Systems renews US contract to produce more Bradley fighting vehicles. The renewed contract has increased in value and will see BAE Systems continue its production of Bradley armoured fighting vehicles until 2025.
The US Department of Defense (DoD) has announced it has modified a long-running contract with BAE Systems to produce M2A4 and M7A4 Bradley armoured fighting vehicles. BAE’s contract to produce Bradley vehicles for the US Army goes as far back as 2018. The DoD tasked the supplier with producing 473 of the same variants at a value of $347.9m. Since then, the DoD has renewed the same contract several times, once in 2019, again in 2022 in a contract worth $31.9m and now in a contract worth $113m.
As usual, BAE will produce the systems in York, Pennsylvania, with an estimated completion date of 31 January 2025. The US Navy will obligate funds from FY22 and 23 for the procurement of weapons and tracked combat vehicles at the time of the award.
Bradley armoured fighting vehicles
BAE Systems is the original equipment manufacturer of the Bradley fighting vehicle. The family performs various roles from transport infantry on the battlefield, to provide fire cover to dismounted troops, and to suppress enemy tanks and fighting vehicles.
The vehicle is in service with the armies of the US, Saudi Arabia and Croatia among others. Since 1981, countries fielded 6,720 Bradley vehicles.
At the beginning of August Elbit America, a subsidiary of Elbit Systems, secured a contract to design and manufacture the gunner hand stations for the Bradley through the Defense Logistics Agency, a move poised to bolster the lethality and survivability of US Army operations.
The US government also donated the vehicles to Ukraine in a military assistance package in January this year. The DoD Press Secretary Brigadier General Pat Ryder said that the tranche will include Bradley vehicles along with other military equipment.
The new Bradley vehicles will help with the transportation of Ukrainian troops in combat zones and provide offensive and defensive capabilities. The vehicles are also expected to enhance the ‘firepower and armour’ capabilities of the Ukrainian military.
Given that GlobalData accounts that there are currently 1,563 Bradley units within the US Army force structure – 1,420 M2 Infantry Fighting Vehicles and 143 M7 armoured support vehicles – it makes sense that more systems would help Ukraine in its grueling task to repel invading Russian forces. In this context, it makes sense to boost production of these reliable vehicles, especially amid the Ukrainian Armed Forces’ ‘slow but steady’ counteroffensive in the south and east of the country. (Source: army-technology.com)
07 Aug 23. American Rheinmetall’s Electric Hybrid XM30 Combat Vehicle. The US Army Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV), now officially designated the XM30, may utilize electric hybrid power. Allision Transmission announced that it is providing its eGen electric hybrid propulsion for the American Rheinmetall Vehicles (ARV) team’s XM30 candidate.
The eGen is specifically design and developed to fill the performance demands of future combat vehicles like the infantry fighting vehicle and main battle tank. An integrated power-pack, it provides 850kW/1140 hp with eight forward and two reverse gears. Its compact 1.575 X 0.955 X 1.091 m size and relatively low under 2000 kg (4400 lb.) weight offer chassis location advantages. The unit is provided with a 220-kilowatt electric motor allowing optional silent driving and an inverter for vehicle power generation.
According to Allison, eGen Force improves mobility, performance, reduces fuel consumption, extends range, and decreases acoustic and thermal signatures. “This product is more than a transmission – it is a power distribution system with on-board vehicle power and parallel hybrid operation,” said Dana Pittard, Vice President, Defense Programs, Allison Transmission. The eGen will be fit into the Lynx based configuration being offered by the ARV team.
The electric hybrid propulsion is powered by an internal combustion engine, an electric motor(s) and an energy storage system such as batteries. The batteries are charged through regenerative braking and by the internal combustion engine coupled to a generator. This propulsion technology offers features that are highly beneficial in combat vehicles. These include improved fuel economy and range, packaging flexibility that allows for non-traditional vehicle design, lower life cycle costs, and improved mobility performance. Some of the performance enhancements such as significantly improved acceleration and response, as well as, detectable acoustic and thermal signature reduction over conventional propulsion systems could also contribute to improving survivability.
Militaries and tactical vehicle developers have been exploring the possibilities of applying electric hybrid to tactical and combat vehicles for some time. The ever increasing demands for onboard electric power in combat vehicles especially has made the approach particularly attractive. The US Army has been testing a hybrid-electric adaption of Bradley Fighting Vehicle provided in a contact by BAE Systems this year. In addition, the Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office has awarded contracts to integrate hybrid-electric technology on to a Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle. These will be delivered by Gale Banks Engineering in California and Michigan Technological University for the HMMWV and MATBOCK LLC for the hybrid JLTV. Both will be evaluated in 2023.
A consensus appears to be forming in the international tactical and combat vehicle industry regarding the promise of electric hybrids. In the US Oshkosh Defense, AM General and GM Defense are preparing their own electric hybrid solutions. In addition, Germany’s FFG debuted its 8 X 8 Genesis while Arquus has presented it as an option for the Franco-German MBT. Both Turkish combat vehicle developers FNSS and Otokar have shown electric hybrid versions of their vehicle lines. The electric hybrid looks to be the propulsion system of the future. (Source: Armada)
23 Aug 23. HDT Global’s WOLF-X UGV features familiar 30mm armament. US engineering and defence design company HDT Global has displayed an armed “WOLF-X” unmanned ground vehicle at the 15th Ground Vehicle Systems Engineering Technology Symposium in the United States. The up-gunned Army Robotic Combat Vehicle solution developed from HDT Global’s Hunter WOLF load-carrying robotic vehicle was shown at the expo earlier this month in Detroit, USA.
HDT Global has previously identified the Hunter WOLF compact diesel-electric 6X6 skid-steer design as a viable solution for carrying heavy loads (up to approximately 2,200 pounds) across difficult, steep or dense terrain, housing a 30mm autocannon for light infantry support or providing forestry and agricultural applications.
Of particular note, the system on display at the expo features an EOS Defense Systems’ 30mm R800 heavy-duty remote weapon station.
GVSETS brings together approximately 1,800 government, academia, and industry attendees to network and share technical research on enhancing warfighter capabilities. The event is organised by the National Defense Industrial Association in coordination with the Engineering Society of Detroit. (Source: Defence Connect)
23 Aug 23. Further delays to Canadian LAV recce vehicle as first units delivered. Upgraded Light Armoured Vehicle (LAV) 6.0 Reconnaissance vehicles are being delivered to the Canadian Army in August to begin testing, but new delays have pushed the programme to the right, a government official told Janes. The Light Armoured Vehicle Reconnaissance Surveillance System (LRSS) project is designed to replace the Canadian Army’s ageing 141 Coyote reconnaissance vehicles with new systems fitted to the 66 LAV 6.0 platform, known as LAV 6.0 Reconnaissance.
The first five LAV 6.0 Reconnaissance vehicles equipped with the LRSS are arriving at Canadian Forces Base Valcartier, Quebec, to begin Reliability, Availability, Maintainability, and Durability (RAMD) testing. This will last through to late 2023. Additional vehicles will be transported to other army bases through to the end of 2024, a spokesperson from the Canadian Department of National Defence (DND) told Janes.
“Initial Operational Capability (IOC) is planned for fall 2024 [September–November], and Final Operational Capability (FOC) is planned [for] summer 2025 [June–August],” the spokesperson said. This represents a further delay in the project. (Source: Janes)
23 Aug 23. Troop pack replacements on the way as Armscor seeks new APCs.
Lightly modified Toyota Land Cruisers have served as the primary transport for South African Army soldiers on the border protection tasking Operation Corona for just on six years and are now due for replacement.
Progress in this regard is evident from input given by SA Army Director Force Structure Development Plan, Brigadier General Bruce Motlhoki, to what Major Kgaugelo Mmekwa of SA Army Corporate Communication reported was a stakeholder meeting with the South African defence industry (SADI) in mid-July to “foster collaboration and establish clear expectation regarding borderline patrol evaluation”. The SADI/landward force meeting was held at the CSIR (Council for Scientific and Industrial Research) in Pretoria.
The SA Army is the major South African National Defence Force (SANDF) contributor to Operation Corona, providing the 15 companies (sometimes referred to as “sub units”), from its regular and reserve components to maintain South Africa’s territorial integrity along its 4 800 km plus land borders with six countries.
Motlhoki is reported as telling the meeting “amid austerity measures the SA Army is mandated to have a more robust approach”. Replacing the current fleet of troop packs (as the Land Cruisers were named) with “improved vehicles” will enhance border security and safeguarding operations. “The acquisition of new personnel carriers will reduce the potential risk to national security by creating deterrence and stopping cross-border movement in order to have non-porous borders,” the one-star is quoted as saying.
“Functional evaluation” of troop packs offered to replace the Land Cruisers, which were imported from Australia in an SA Army acquisition, by the local defence industry starts on 20 October and ends on 14 November. “Different centres of excellence” will focus on command and control, firepower, mobility, “superior protection”, intelligence and sustainability with driver training concentrating on operator obstructions, tactics and off-road critical mobility.
The personnel carriers offered will be part and parcel of the landward force’s major exercise – Vuk’uhlome – at its Northern Cape Combat Training Centre (CTC) in November. Apart from being on display for close-up inspection they will reportedly also demonstrate capabilities.
When the first soft-skinned Land Cruisers, some sporting chromed wheels as an indicator of their antipodean origin, were taken into service in November 2017, a final figure of 435 vehicles was given. This would see all 15 companies deployed at any one time on border protection with 29 vehicles per company: 18 configured for troop transport, three in logistics configuration, four command and control variants and four ambulances. There is currently no indication of vehicle numbers and configurations needed.
“After a successful acquisition process the new personnel carriers will be utilised at points of entry including the Lesotho borderline, the Mozambique/Swaziland borderline [specified as Ndumo] and the Zimbabwe borderline,” Mmekwa wrote.
National Treasury has allocated nearly R1 bn to improve SANDF border security capabilities over the next three years. Major General Thembelani Xundu explained to the Portfolio Committee on Defence and Military Veterans (PCDMV) earlier this year that R700m was allocated for border safeguarding technology in 2024/5 and 2025/26.
In the medium term, troop pack vehicles will be replaced with off-the-shelf vehicles and R500m will be spent in 2024/25 for this. The SANDF wants to replace the troop packs with armoured personnel carriers (APCs), which would serve with all 15 companies on Operation Corona duty. In January this year, Armscor issued a request for information for APCs for an indication of what new vehicles would cost, with responses ranging from R6 m to R18 m each. Armscor planned to request three vehicles for the upcoming borderline test and by the end of the year decide which is best and how many the SANDF can afford.
January’s request for information called for a 2+8 seat APC for counter-insurgency operations with variable ballistic and mine protection, including the ability to defeat an 8 kg mine. The vehicles would replace or supplement Mamba and Casspir vehicles.
In addition to new vehicles, R200m worth of sensor technology will be acquired for Operation Corona in 2025/6 including a geographic information system (GIS) capability (R22.5m); intelligence collection and processing capabilities (R47m under Project Baobab); upgraded Chaka command and control system (R7.2m); Reutech RSR 903 radars (R57m); 60 observation posts (R16m under Project Dominate); 16 quadcopter unmanned aerial vehicles (R16m) and two long range UAVs (R24 m). (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
21 Aug 23. New Technology and New Ammunition: Training on the Bundeswehr’s Latest Battle Tank. “Charlie one, this is Charlie – 12 o’clock at the edge of the forest, riflemen in position, fire!” it sounds from the tank radio. A loud bang, milliseconds later a bright flash of light. Smoke rises above the enemy battlefield. The protective sandbags are shredded, the fighting stand completely destroyed.
What sounds like a battle, or at least an exercise typical of armored or armored infantry units, is the highlight of a technical course at the armored combat troops school in Munster. The tank crews fire on the so-called conversion course in the most modern version of the Leopard 2 main battle tank with the new high-explosive ammunition (HE ammunition).
Gradually, the Leopard 2 A7V will be handed over to the individual battalions of the Panzertruppe. The second inspection of the school carries out the converter course three times a year. Nine participants will have the opportunity to get to grips with the new technology and the new ammunition of the well-known main battle tank. After the course, the servicewomen and men are able to operate the Leopard 2 A7V with its technical innovations and to use the new HE ammunition. As multipliers, they will pass on their knowledge to their comrades in their units after the course.
The new HE ammunition is a real asset and increases the usability of the battle tank. The 120 millimeter projectiles can be tempered. This means that they can be programmed for different application scenarios. The effect on the target depends on the selected fuse setting. Especially in an urban environment, the ammunition increases the tactical value of the main battle tank. This brings great advantages, especially for your own infantry. The various possible uses are practiced intensively on the shooting range with the course participants.
Course by professionals for professionals
“Only professionals take part in this course. They are tactically fully trained and only need to be instructed in the new technology,” says Oberfeldwebel Jens K. He is an experienced tank soldier and leader of the nine-day course. In the first five days, basic training units as well as weapon and equipment training take place. On another three days, the future multipliers have to put what they have learned into practice. Shooting with the new ammunition is both the focus and the highlight of the course. “Of course, these nine days are not enough to become a professional in handling the Leopard 2 A7V main battle tank. You have to continue training after you return to the units,” says Jens K. from experience.
How important is training for the troops?
“V – stands for improvement”, explains the trainer. The new assemblies enable greater efficiency and effectiveness, even at night. Therefore, night shooting is part of the course. Incidentally, international soldiers also take part in this. In addition to Germany, many other countries use the Leopard 2 main battle tank and modernize it according to their ideas. “As a result, the modern assemblies of the Leopard 2 A7V are also installed in versions from other countries and the users then attend this course,” said the senior staff sergeant.
Three courses per year, nine participants each: There are only a few places in Munster for training on the Leopard 2 A7V, Germany’s most modern main battle tank. For this reason, multipliers are trained who bring their knowledge to the troops.
The participants come from different areas. Tank commanders, company commanders and even battalion commanders sit together in the lecture hall. Oberfeldwebel Erik B. from Pfreimd, a tank commander, is one of the participants. He is enthusiastic: “I enjoy dealing with new technology. I think that this course explains how to use the new assemblies in a great way.” Erik B. is convinced that he will play his part as a multiplier in the introduction of the new main battle tank in the German armed forces. Multiplier training is particularly important for the troops in order to be flexible and profitable in the units, to be able to train on the modern Leopard 2 A7V. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: https://www.defense-aerospace.com/ Bundeswehr)
14 Aug 23. US Army experimenting with weaponised Q-UGV for infantry. The US Army’s ‘robotic dog’ technology development programme is exploring how it could add an infantry rifle as a payload, the service told Janes recently.
The Ghost Robotics-made Vision 60 Quadruped Unmanned Ground Vehicle (Q-UGV) is currently being integrated with different sensors to see how well it can perform reconnaissance and other missions, Bhavanjot Singh, senior scientific technical manager for autonomy and automation for armaments systems at Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), told Janes on 26 July.
However, the service is exploring integrating the robot with a Next Generation Squad Weapon (NGSW), a new Sig Sauer XM7 Rifle, he said during a reception for lawmakers where the robot was displayed.
“The unique capability of the dog is the ability to traverse different types of terrain that wheeled vehicles may not be able to go,” Singh said. Other robotics platforms that the army is developing such as Project Origin robotic combat vehicle are larger and can be used in different formations. (Source: Janes)
21 Aug 23. Lack of maintenance contract grounds SAAF C-208 Caravans. The SA Air Force (SAAF) has had to ground its Cessna 208 Caravan light transport aircraft with age and funding cited as guilty partners.
The high-wing, single-engined aircraft have been in service at Air Force Base (AFB) Waterkloof-based 41 Squadron since 1988 when they were acquired from South African private owners.
The grounding comes as no surprise, with Armscor noting at the end of a maintenance contract in December 2021 the eight-strong Caravan fleet is 40 years old and requires “a midlife upgrade to cater for obsolete avionics”. Concern was also raised as regards funding, with six aircraft catered for and additional funds needed for the remaining two. A new maintenance contract, as per Armscor, was to be adjudicated last April.
Responding to a weekend newspaper inquiry, the Directorate Corporate Communication (DCC) of the SA National Defence Force (SANDF) confirmed the grounding, stating it led to “limited exposure” for aircrew. DCC Brigadier-General Andries Mahapa added the SAAF was “awaiting placement of a product support contract” for the light transports and “recommended” the questioner “reach out” to Minister Thandi Modise’s Department of Defence (DoD) acquisition agency – Armscor.
As far as can be ascertained the C-208 maintenance contract, which expired in December 2021, was awarded to Aircraft Maintenance @ Work and extended by three months to end March 2022.
City Press reported 32 pilots on the strength of the AFB Waterkloof squadron have not flown for “more than two years due to Armscor’s failure to repair and maintain” the C-208s.
It quotes unnamed “military leaders” saying the “non-performance of Armscor rendered the SAAF completely paralysed and a company was recently awarded a contract for maintenance of SAAF equipment, even though it had not met prescribed requirements”. The report further has it: “The terms of the contract were changed and the boards unilaterally waived the 30% localisation requirements [as per broad-based black economic empowerment (BBBEE) regulations], which reversed the transformation programme of the DoD and government.”
The father of a 41 Squadron pilot said the Caravans have been grounded since the beginning of the year with no flying “predicted” for the rest of the 2023 calendar year.
SAAF pilots reportedly have to fly at least once every three months to maintain basic general flying currency. This doesn’t include other operational type currencies such as weapons and night/display flying with individual SAAF directorates (fighter, helicopter and transport/maritime) having own currency requirements.
There was, at the time of publishing, no Armscor response to the City Press report. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
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