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31 Aug 18. Taking Low-Risk Approach to Amphibious Combat Vehicle. Instead of grasping for leap-ahead technologies that might derail efforts to acquire a new amphibious combat vehicle, the Marine Corps is pursuing a low-risk path that could deliver a big win for the acquisition community. In June, the program reached Milestone C and the service awarded a $198m contract to BAE Systems for 30 vehicles for low-rate initial production and live-fire testing. The company beat out a team led by SAIC for the final downselect. BAE partnered with Italian firm Iveco for the competition.
“They had a proven platform” that was developed for the Italian military, said John Swift, BAE’s program director for amphibious combat vehicles. “We believed it was low risk, and then fortunately we were able to prove to the Marine Corps that it was indeed low risk.”
The drive train and suspension performed well in reliability testing, he noted. Additionally, the vehicles delivered for the engineering and manufacturing development phase were built in “a production-like environment,” he said. That demonstrated the company’s ability to plan for and then execute the manufacture of the vehicle, and then deliver it on or ahead of schedule, he said. The LRIP contract award was a big win for the company and reestablishes it as the leader in the amphibious vehicle sector, Swift said. It “makes us really the only manufacturer of ground combat amphibious vehicles in the U.S.,” he added. “As far as our strategic portfolio opening for us, this is very profound.”
BAE’s platform is an 8×8 wheeled vehicle that can swim up to 12 nautical miles at speeds of 6 knots. On a paved road, it can drive 65 mph with a range of up 325 miles. It can carry 13 Marines plus a crew of three, with a payload capacity of 7,280 pounds, according to the company.
“It’s a design that has been around a while, it’s just customized for the Marines,” said Jim Hasik, a defense analyst at the Atlantic Council.
The ACV is intended to replace aging amphibious assault vehicles. The Marine Corps wants a platform that can carry seaborne troops onto the beach and then operate ashore.
Increment 1.1 will consist of 204 personnel vehicles. Increment 1.2 is expected to consist of approximately 490 platforms to include personnel, command and control, recovery and gun variants.
“We have hit every milestone and every knowledge point that was levied upon the program … and we hit them on schedule,” Col. Kirk Mullins, program manager for advanced amphibious assault in program executive office land systems, told National Defense in an interview.
Dakota Wood, a senior research fellow for defense programs at the Heritage Foundation who served 20 years in the Marine Corps, said the ACV program is in a good place today.
“The recognition of needing to go with something that was low risk — meaning relatively commercially available — so that you could get a new vehicle into the fleet sooner … was a very good decision,” he said.
Hasik said the underlying automotive technologies for armored vehicles aren’t advancing rapidly, and it was prudent for the Marine Corps not to swing for the fences when it comes to capability.
“When you’re faced with that it makes a whole lot of sense to bunt — to use a baseball analogy — in your efforts to develop a new weapon system … which is what the Marines have done” with the ACV program, he said.
The pursuit of the new platform began after the expeditionary fighting vehicle project was canceled in 2011 due to concerns about cost overruns and reliability. Approximately $3bn had already been spent on the ambitious program when it was terminated.
The Defense Department released a draft request for proposals for the ACV in 2014. In 2015, it awarded BAE and SAIC contracts to develop prototypes, according to the Congressional Research Service.
Angelo Scarlato, the Marine Corps’ ACV product manager, said program officials took note of problems in previous vehicle efforts as they pursued the new platform.
“One of the most important lessons learned … is having stable and achievable requirements,” he said.
Swift said the Marine Corps has done a commendable job in structuring the program and executing it to plan.
“If you look at the other programs [that failed in the past], the requirements weren’t necessarily stable or testable,” he said. “In this program the requirements have never changed or altered, and they tested to what they said they would test to. … That and the open communication with the vendors I think was critical.”
The first iterations of ACV will have a remote weapon station that can carry a .50 caliber machine gun or a Mk 19 automatic grenade launcher. The service is looking at potentially adding a 30 mm cannon to increase lethality, Mullins said.
The ACV has about 15 percent growth margin, he noted. “We have the ability to add a capability to the vehicle as the requirements develop and still maintain its full amphibious capability,” he said.
Swift said BAE will unveil a model of a new variant at the Modern Day Marine conference in September. “We’re kind of looking at what we can do in regards for lethality,” he said. Swift declined to elaborate.
Survivability against explosive devices was a key Marine Corps requirement for the ACV.
“If I’m coming across a beach … anti-vehicle mines are absolutely a significant potential problem,” Hasik said. “It gets to be a bigger problem when you are looking for long distance road mobility because I can mine the roads. … So protection against landmines is pretty damned important.”
Mullins said the ACV will have comparable, and in some cases greater levels of protection than what is provided by the mine-resistant ambush protected vehicles that were widely used in Iraq to defend against insurgents’ improvised explosive devices.
The Marine Corps is also looking to add active protection systems to thwart enemy projectiles.
“We’re working and aligned hand in hand with the U.S. Army to see if we can realize some of that” on the ACV, Angelo said. “We are committed to that capability.”
Observers of the program have noted that the amphibious combat vehicle is unable to swim long distances, which creates operational challenges against adversaries with anti-access weapons.
“If you’re needing to operate farther away from shore to enhance force protection for your amphibious fleet, you’ve got to have some means of getting your landing force from those ships across a lot of water,” Wood said. “ACV is not going to do that.”
The vehicles will have to be transported via a ship-to-shore connector such as a hovercraft or landing craft utility ship, he said.
Critics of the program have questioned the survivability of the platform when it approaches a heavily defended beach.
“This thing is not designed for Iwo Jima, no question about that,” Hasik said. “It is a vehicle that does allow you to get ashore against comparatively light opposition but it would be a vehicle in which you would not want to embark if you were assaulting a shore against comparatively heavy opposition.”
Nevertheless, choosing that type of platform was the right choice for the Marine Corps because developing something with both heavy armor and an advanced amphibious capability “probably was going to be impossible” to achieve, Hasik said.
Wood noted that the military could use its other weaponry to degrade the enemy’s forces and open up opportunities for the ACV to come ashore safely.
“The critics aren’t accounting for the tactics that would be involved in preparation of the battlefield,” he said. “On land that’s really where [the ACV] hits its stride and … it’s going to be a pretty good asset,” he added.
Mullins touted the vehicle’s ability to operate in a variety of terrains that Marines might encounter, including littorals, forests and urban environments.
“Whether it’s major conventional operations or it’s the low-intensity humanitarian [mission]… it’s going to give the Marine Corps a lot of decision space in how it employs the ACV,” he said.
The service will receive the first deliveries of the LRIP platforms in the spring and summer of 2019. That will be followed by reliability testing, initial operational test and evaluation, and “full-up” system live-fire test and evaluation, Angelo said. The service hopes to achieve initial operating capability in 2020.
Program officials expect to have a critical design review for increment 1.2 in fiscal year 2019.
“We’re not envisioning any structural changes to the ACV 1.2,” Angelo said. “There’s not going to be changes to a lot of the subsystems or components, the electrical systems, the suspension — things like that are going to remain common. It’s just those unique attributes of the mission role variants is really where we need to focus our energy on.”
Mullins noted that the 1.1 and 1.2 personnel variants will have 95 percent commonality.
Planned upgrades include adding an environmental control unit, an inertial navigation system and improved situational awareness for operations in the water. Mullins said he is “100 percent sure” that the modifications will be made successfully.
The Marine Corps expects ACV 1.1 to enter full-rate production in mid-fiscal year 2020. The plan is to have no break in production between increments 1.1 and 1.2, Angelo said.
Full operational capability for increment 1.1 is slated for late-2022. Both increments are expected to be fully fielded by 2027.
Program officials are trying to control costs as they buy large numbers of platforms. The current affordability cap is a $6.5m average unit cost. “We are coming in much lower than that,” Angelo said.
Hasik said the program has realistic goals. “This is a very doable project,” he said. “It’s not a very expensive vehicle and they are buying them over time.”
Wood said a successful ACV program could have major implications for the Defense Department’s acquisition community.
Lawmakers are tired of hearing about program failures, he said, adding that the services need to “post a win” with a successful acquisition program. If BAE is able to deliver the vehicle on time and on cost, and it gives the Marine Corps a better capability than the 40-year-old AAV, it could heavily influence how the services pursue new equipment, he added.
“Do you shoot for the stars and try to get something that is at the outer reaches there of what’s technologically feasible?” Wood said. “Or do you … go with something that’s a little bit less advanced but more technologically achievable, and make these incremental advances in force capability instead of trying to bet on revolutionary leaps?” (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
24 Aug 18. Rostec reveals BMP-1AM ‘Basurmanin’ upgrade. Rostec showcased for the first time its BMP-1AM ‘Basurmanin’ during a firepower demonstration at the Army 2018 International Military-Technical Forum held in Russia. The upgraded vehicle addresses most of the weaknesses inherent in the BMP-1 design, and includes a 30 mm cannon as well as an anti-tank weapon, a more powerful engine, and modern mission systems.
The BMP-1AM is armed with the BPPU-1 Modular Weapon System that originally equipped the BTR-80A and BTR-82A. The BPPU-1 is armed with a 2A72 30 mm cannon and 7.62 mm PKTM machine gun, and the former enables the BMP-1AM to engage armoured targets at a range of 2,000 m. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Aug 18. VPK displays upgraded Tigr-M vehicle. The Military-Industrial Company (VPK) is displaying the upgraded Tigr 4×4 armoured vehicle at the Army 2018 defence show in Kubinka, near Moscow, on 21-26 August. The upgrade is based on combat experience gained during operations in Syria. Designated the ASN 233115 Tigr-M SpN, the upgraded vehicle is intended for reconnaissance, escort, patrol, and fire support missions. The ASN 233115 has a monocoque welded three-door hull, providing Level 1 STANAG 4569 protection against 5.56mm and 7.62mm steel core bullets. The vehicle, which has a laden weight of 7,932kg, can carry up to six fully equipped soldiers and has a useful payload of 1,200kg. The ASN 233115 is powered by a 215hp YaMZ-5347-10 multifuel turbocharged diesel engine, producing a top speed of 120 km/h and a range of 1,000km. The upgraded Tigr-M SpN has greater ground clearance than the baseline AMN 233114 Tigr-M, as well as a protected engine compartment. VPK told Jane’s, “Traditional less-protected seats have been replaced by anti-blast ones to increase crew survivability. There is an option to reinforce the windshield and windows with shockproof steel cages. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
06 Aug 18. M88 HERCULES to the Rescue. When a combat vehicle goes over an embankment, sinks into the mud or winds up disabled in battle, the U.S. Army calls on the M88. That’s why it’s known as the workhorse of the Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). For decades it has rescued all types of Army vehicles. And it’s the only vehicle capable of recovering the ABCT’s heaviest vehicles, such as the main battle tank, without assistance from another vehicle. The tracked M88 can lift, winch and tow vehicles in the toughest terrains and most difficult circumstances, to get them back to operations or, if necessary, in for repair. The latest iteration of the vehicle is called HERCULES for a reason. As the vehicles in the ABCT were adapted to address emerging threats, like IEDs, they grew heavier, so the M88 required upgrades to meet the needs of the Army. Today, the M88A1 fleet is being converted to the more capable M88A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation Systems (HERCULES) configuration in a partnership with the Anniston Army Depot (ANAD). The Army recently awarded our company a contract modification worth $114m to convert 36 additional vehicles as part of ongoing conversion to HERCULES.
“The M88 has a long and exemplary history as a recovery vehicle and we’re excited to be a part of its future,” said John Tile, director of Recovery Programs at BAE Systems. “Providing the Army’s recovery fleet is important to getting disabled tanks and our troops out of harm’s way in the most expedient way possible. We’re already looking at ways to retain that capability as the vehicles in ABCT evolve or get even heavier.”
The evolution of the main battle tank is of particular interest to the M88 modernization team because it is one of the heaviest vehicles in the fleet. To keep pace with weight increases in the tank, further modernization of the M88 will be required to continue to rescue stuck or disabled vehicles with a single vehicle. We are already working closely with the Army to understand future recovery needs, and is partnering with others in industry to find the best technologies and solutions available. When any vehicle is disabled, now and in the future, the M88 team wants to ensure the most capable workhorse in the fleet is prepared to respond.
“We are always looking to stay ahead of the curve to ensure the M88 leads the way when getting a vehicle and its crew out of a hazardous situation and to safety,” Tile said. “That’s the M88’s purpose.” (Source: ASD Network)
07 Aug 18. Côte d’Ivoire parades Belarusian Cayman vehicles. Côte d’Ivoire’s Gendarmerie revealed itself to be the first known exporter user of the Belarusian-made Cayman 4×4 light armoured vehicle when three featured in the 7 August independence day parade. It was announced in May 2017 that the Cayman had entered service with the Belarusian military and the chairman of the country’s Military Industrial Committee said in January that at least some had been exported, although he did not reveal the customers. Russia’s Tass news agency reported on 13 July that Caymans were in the process of being delivered to an African state. Designed for reconnaissance, escort, and patrol duties, the vehicle is made by the 140 Repair Plant in Borisov. It weighs about 7 tonnes and can carry a crew of six. A 170 hp D-245 engine made by the Minsk Motor Plant gives it a top speed of 100 km/h on paved roads. Its amphibious capability requires no preparation, with its waterjets giving it a swimming speed of 8 km/h. Its side and rear armour is said to be equivalent to STANAG 4569 Level 1 and its frontal armour equivalent to Level 2. Côte d’Ivoire’s Gendarmerie already operates French VAB and BTR-80 armoured personnel carriers. It also displayed a BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicle on a transporter during the parade. The army, meanwhile, paraded nine new Acmat (now Arquus) Bastion armoured personnel carriers (APCs) in UN colours. Côte d’Ivoire currently has a protection company serving with the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali (MINUSMA), but this was previously seen operating old British-made Saxon APCs. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
14 Aug 18. FNSS readies prototype Pars 4×4 ATV for delivery. FNSS Savunma Sistemleri has confirmed that it will hand over the Pars 4×4 anti-tank vehicle (ATV) prototype to the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) for qualification once company trials have been completed. FNSS was awarded a contract for 260 ATVs in October 2016, with 76 of these vehicles based on the Pars 4×4 design and 184 vehicles employing the tracked Kaplan 10 platform. The design of the Pars 4×4 ATV was approved by the TLFC 15 months later. The company has built an additional example of each vehicle as part of its risk reduction programme in addition to the initial prototype, with these available for company demonstrations. Long lead items have already been ordered to enable production of the Pars 4×4 ATV to commence in 2019 with final deliveries to the TLFC expected in late 2021. While FNSS is the prime contractor for the Pars 4×4 ATV, production platform will be manufactured by wheeled armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) specialist Nurol Makina. The completed prototype will be fitted with FNSS’ Anti-Tank Remote Controlled Turret (ARCT), which is armed with two anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) that are mounted either side of the sighting system. The turret also carries a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun provided with 500 rounds of ready-use ammunition.
Once the two missiles have been launched the vehicle will relocate to new firing positions. Missile reloads are performed manually via the oblong roof hatch. The stabilised sighting system includes a TV camera, thermal camera (mid-wave or long-wave), and laser rangefinder with a maximum range of 10,000m to ensure that targets are engaged within the effective range of the ATGM. Traverse of the ARCT is all electric through 360° with elevation from -25° to +25°. Elevation and traverse is performed at a maximum speed of 60°/s. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
10 Aug 18. Ineos chooses Germany to develop Land Rover Defender successor. Brexit-supporter Ratcliffe faces series of decisions on UK investments. Jim Ratcliffe, the founder of Ineos and a prominent Brexit supporter, has selected German companies to develop his successor to the Land Rover Defender. Ineos wants to branch out beyond its core business in chemicals and industrials into automotive manufacturing, with plans to make a 4×4 vehicle styled as natural replacement for the Land Rover Defender, the iconic off-roader that was retired by Jaguar Land Rover in 2014. For its car foray — called “Projekt Grenadier” after the Grenadier pub in London where Sir Jim conceived the idea — Ineos has already signed contracts with former Mercedes division MBTech for the engineering of the project, as well as Magna for the chassis, suspension and powertrain development. A decision on the ultimate manufacturing location — a toss-up between two UK sites and a number in continental Europe — is expected within months, one of a series of choices for Ineos about whether to invest in the UK. Ineos group director Tom Crotty said that Germany was chosen as the location for engineering work on the vehicle due to the country’s “reliability” when it came to automotive manufacturing, an attribute the Defender was notorious for lacking. “We will have to make a decision on the factory by the end of the year,” said Mr Crotty. (Source: FT.com)
Millbrook, based in Bedfordshire, UK, makes a significant contribution to the quality and performance of military vehicles worldwide. Its specialist expertise is focussed in two distinct areas: test programmes to help armed services and their suppliers ensure that their vehicles and systems work as the specification requires; and design and build work to upgrade new or existing vehicles, evaluate vehicle capability and investigate in-service failures. Complementing these is driver and service training and a hospitality business that allows customers to use selected areas of Millbrook’s remarkable facilities for demonstrations and exhibitions.