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28 May 15. Germany looks towards Leopard 2 replacement. Germany is looking towards the eventual successor to the Leopard 2 MBT. The German Ministry of Defence (MoD) is to initiate concept studies for a successor to the Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) before the end of the year. The news was announced by German Defence State Secretary Markus Grübel to Parliament, with Grübel adding that the MoD plans to conduct joint capability studies with France for the project. This bilateral element is hoped to provide some tailwind to the proposed merger between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Nexter to form a new European land-systems powerhouse, prospectively known as KANT [Krauss-Maffei Wegmann And Nexter Together]. The capabilities studies are set to run between 2015 and 2018, with Germany and France reviewing technologies and concepts for the future MBT. Speaking to IHS Jane’s, a source stated that the Leopard 2 successor will include technology from Germany’s Puma infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). According to the MoD, the in-service time of the Leopard 2 ends around 2030. At this time it remains unclear whether the new tank will be an entirely new design or an innovative update of the current Leopard design. That said, the fact that the German MoD refers in-house to the project as “Leopard 2Ax” is a fairly strong indicator of the lie-of-the-land at the moment. German lawmakers asked the MoD back in October 2014 to review and re-evaluate the country’s MBT requirements and to plan for an eventual Leopard 2 successor. Although western European MBT fleets have declined massively since the end of the Cold War, their value has recently been demonstrated by the Ukraine crisis. Indeed, as a consequence of the Ukraine crisis, the German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen decided in April to increase the number of active German MBTs from 225 to 328. Comparatively, West Germany used to operate 2,300 Leopard 2s. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
28 May 15. US Army studies new vehicles, capabilities for the future. The Army is working to develop new vehicles and more capability based on what soldiers need to fight in the future, the service’s top officer said Thursday. Using the new Army operating concept as a base, the service is running 20 warfighting challenges to identify “gaps and seams” in capability and determine how to fill those spaces, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
“It’s an integrated look across all of our branches and all of our centers of excellence, and we’re saying, ‘this is where the gap is,'” Odierno said. “I think we’re coming up with much better solutions and identified near-term, mid-term and long-term gaps we need to invest in. I’m pretty excited about where we’re headed.”
For example, the Army is testing a light vehicle at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, that’s designed to enable airborne troops to move quickly to an objective after they’ve parachuted in, he said. The service also is looking at capabilities such as:
• Mobile protected firepower
• Vertical lift
• An infantry fighting vehicle
• Manned-unmanned systems
• And a “lighter tank-like capability,” Odierno said.
This new process also will enable the Army to develop materiel more rapidly and work more closely with industry, Odierno said.
“I’m hoping in the next two years you’ll start seeing some developments based on this analysis we’ve done, and we will really be able to identify this is what the systems we need,” he said.
Odierno also said this new approach should improve the Army’s procurement track record.
“One of the problems we’ve had in the past with our major programs is that we tried to build the perfect vehicle,” he said. “The requirements were so high they were difficult, they took a lot of time, they were over-budget, and we couldn’t meet them.”
The Army is now “developing requi