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27 Sep 18. Is this the Marine Corps’ next amphibious combat vehicle? The winner of a contract to develop the Marine Corps new amphibious combat vehicle, the first of its kind in four decades, showcased a potential variant that would give commanders eyes on all areas of the littoral battlefield, on-board drones and targeted hand offs to any ACV in their formations. BAE Systems guided reporters through the interior of the vehicle, on display at this year’s Modern Day Marine Expo in Quantico, Virginia, on Tuesday. The variant isn’t one that the Marines have yet requested, but John Swift, program director for BAE’s amphibious vehicles, said the model was an effort to showcase what’s possible with the new vehicle. Marines selected the BAE version earlier this year over SAIC’s proposed vehicle. Swift noted that decision keeps BAE as the sole company providing such vehicles to the Corps since 1941. They’ve got to build 30 vehicles by the end of next summer, Swift said. Those vehicles will then go through testing before modifications and the composition of the fleet is decided. Marines want at least two variants as production begins in the next two years: a turreted assault vehicle and a command and control vehicle.
As of now, the Corps’ official numbers call for 704 ACVs for the fleet when full rate production begins in 2022. That number is planned to be completed within six years, Swift said.
The composition of the fleet is still undecided, so the initial 30 vehicles delivered for testing will be basic platforms. But that was before an announcement reported by Defense News this week that the survivability upgrade contract for the existing AAV fleet of an estimated 392 AAVs was cancelled. The move is in line with larger National Defense Strategy aims to ramp up modernization by prioritizing money for those programs rather than legacy platforms.
Marine Corps Program Executive Office for Land Systems spokesman Manny Pacheco told reporters at this week’s expo that the early version, or ACV 1.1 outperformed expectations and delivery of the new vehicles would not take much longer than the planned upgrades, which could shorten the calendar. The deliveries were about six months apart, he said. Meaning that the brand-new vehicles would arrives shortly after the upgraded vehicles were planned.
Swift and Pacheco said separately that the ACV 1.1 was able to both launch and recover, meaning return to ship. That wasn’t an expectation until later versions, which sped up the capability development of the new vehicle, giving the Marines other options in how they would pursue modernizing the fleet.
In a question and answer posting about the ACV by the Marine Corps Combat Development Command, officials at the time said they would continue the upgrade program even if the early ACV versions achieved a “self-deployable capability.”
The posting noted that the upgraded AAVs will “address capability gaps that need to be closed as soon as possible.”
It went on to say that the aged AAV fleet also accounts for one-third of the Corps’ lift capacity and “will need to remain operationally effective in the force until their replacements are procured.”
Later in production there’s also interest in building a recovery ACV, Swift said.
The new ACV has a host of differences and capabilities not on the more than 40-year-old AAVs but most immediately noticeable is it is an eight-wheeled vehicle. Gone are the treads of the tracked AAV. When asked about tire performance by reporters, Swift said that in testing the ACV was able to travel another 30 km with three debilitated tires. The same questions and answers list had several reasons for wheels over tracks:
Greater mobility in complex, littoral terrain;
- Increased IED protection (2X).
- Reduced fuel consumption (<1/2 fuel consumption).
- Greater reliability (improved mean time between failure).
- Reduced signature and smaller profiles (a critical survivability factor in a G-RAMM environment).
- Increased dispersion of personnel among more vehicles (a critical risk reduction factor).
- The design margins to allow for a family of vehicles of various configurations (personnel, command, and recovery variants; potentially others ie: indirect-fire, anti-armor in the future).
- Significantly reduced cost.
- Less technological risk.
- Nearer-term availability.
- Greater weight growth and freeboard capacity. (Source: Marine Times)
28 Sep 18. T7 UGV completes Project Starter trials. Harris Corporation’s T7 unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) has completed its acceptance trials at Kineton, Warwickshire, United Kingdom, with production models to be delivered to the British Army in November. Lieutenant Colonel Thornton Daryl Hirst, assistant team leader of Special Projects at the UK’s Defence Equipment and Support (DE&S) procurement organisation, told Jane’s at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) 2018 exhibition and conference that “very stringent testing has been carried out in the UK and collaboratively with Harris in the US”.
“The first four production standard vehicles will be delivered early in November which will enable us to conduct train-the-trainer packages from January onwards,” Lt Col Hirst said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
27 Sep 18. Boxer Skyranger For Air Defence. Rheinmetall has integrated a Skyranger Mk 4 turret equipped with a 35mm Oerlikon revolver gun with the Boxer 8×8 armoured vehicle. With an ammunition stock of 252 rounds, targets up to 4,000m away can be engaged with a cadence of 1,000 rounds/minute. The Boxer can follow the combat troops in surveillance a mission. With X-band or Ku-band radar, the airspace can be monitored and targets can be tracked while on the move. Targets can also be assigned by external search radars or higher command levels. The vehicle must stop for firing. The cannon is equipped with two measuring coils and one programming coil to fire AHEAD ammunition. This makes it possible to measure the current rate of muzzle velocity (v0) of the ammunition and set the exact detonation time depending on the measured target distance. At the target, the projectile ejects 152 or 600 projectiles to destroy targets like, for example, UAV. During a demonstration of the system in cooperation with industrial partners in front of air defence experts at the Ochsenboden proving ground (Switzerland), two UAVs were located, tracked and successfully destroyed by the system. The Boxer Skyranger can enter series production in the foreseeable future and could, for example, cover the need for mobile air defence that the Bundeswehr needs in order to participate in the NATO VJTF. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
27 Sep 18. Borsuk IFV With Rubber Band Track. The established Polish system house Huta Stalowa Wloa (HSW) is developing an infantry combat vehicle under the name Borsuk, which was presented as a prototype at the MSPO in Kielce. For this new vehicle numerous components have already been pre-selected. These include an MTU 600 kW engine, the ZSSW-30 remote-controlled turret with a 30 mm cannon, and the Soucy Composite Rubber Track (CRT). Soucy’s CRT system consists of a continuously sheathed rubber band structure reinforced with a range of composite materials and steel cord, which is up to 50 percent lighter than comparable steel chains. It also reduces vibration by up to 70 percent and noise by up to 13 dB. The Borsuk IFV is an amphibious and quite fast, agile vehicle. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
26 Sep 18. India to up-engine T-72 MBT fleet. The Indian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has approved the procurement of 1,000hp engines for the Indian Army’s (IA’s) T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs) to “enhance their mobility, agility, and acceleration, [as well as] to make them more versatile and effective in the battlefield”, according to the government’s Press Information Bureau (PIB). The Defence Acquisition Council (DAC), headed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, sanctioned the acquisition of 1,000 of the engines on 25 September under the ‘Buy and Make’ category of the MoD’s Defence Procurement Procedure-2016 (DPP-2016). According to the PIB, most of the engines are expected to be made by the state-run Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) following a transfer of technology, which means that a limited number of powerpacks will be acquired in completed form. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
26 Sep 18. Oshkosh Defense Brings JLTVs Packed With Firepower to Modern Day Marine 2018. With its payload capacity and systems integration-minded design, the JLTV can pack a lethal punch with a multitude of remotely-operated weapon configurations. Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) company, showcased three variants of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) at Modern Day Marine Expo 2018. The 4-door JLTV will be outfitted with the Kongsberg Common Remotely Operated Weapon Station (CROWS) with the Javelin Integration Kit (JIK) and .50 Caliber Machine Gun. The 2-door variant will house the Boeing Compact Laser Weapon System (CLWS) and Kongsberg CROWS Low-Profile Remote Weapon Station (RWS) with a .50 Caliber Machine Gun. A third JLTV will be on display in the Kongsberg booth #2825, integrated with a Kongsberg PROTECTOR II RWS with XM914 Lightweight 30mm Cannon, JIK, and 7.62 coax machine gun.
“The JLTV, which is scheduled to be fielded with Marines in 2019, will provide the force with capabilities it’s never seen before in a light tactical vehicle. It’s light, mobile, protected, and flexible enough to accept any combination of weapons systems necessary for each mission,” said George Mansfield, Vice President and General Manager of Joint Programs, Oshkosh Defense. “We are incredibly excited to see this vehicle fielded and in the hands of our Marines.”
According to the Marine Corps, fielding for the JLTV will begin in spring 2019. In all, the Army plans to purchase 49,000 JLTVs and the Marine Corps will purchase 9,091. (Source: ASD Network)
25 Sep 18. New Zealand looks to replace Pinzgauers. New Zealand is reported to be on the hunt to replace its fleet of some 700+ armoured and unarmoured Pinzgauer vehicles supplied by Automotive Teknik. The armoured fleet suffered from considerable weight and performance problems from the start of its service life so it comes as no surprise that the vehicles are being replaced. Mercedes is believed to be one of the bidders for the new fleet. Perhaps the UK MoD will look at buying up the old fleet to fulfill the perceived gap in spares for its fleet now being refurbished by the BAE/Hobson Industries Team.
25 Sep 18. WFEL, KMW discuss plans for Boxer bridging module. UK bridging system manufacturer WFEL presented a concept model of a Boxer bridging module for medium-class vehicles at this month’s DVD 2018 exhibition, held on 19–20 September at Millbrook Proving Ground, Bedfordshire. WFEL is working with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), part of the ARTEC consortium that builds the Boxer, on a bridging module for the vehicle. Due to the Boxer’s modular design, the development of a bridging module would enable a standard Boxer to be adapted without the need to design a new platform. The goal is to create the ability to launch a pre-existing 14 m span of bridge, as well as a 22m span that is yet to be designed; both would be able to bear armoured fighting vehicles classified as up to MLC 50 (i.e. up to 50 short tons). On 19 September the UK Ministry of Defence approved planning to proceed that would result in the Boxer fulfilling the UK’s requirement for a Mechanised Infantry Vehicle. Meanwhile, a KMW spokesman said there will be a requirement to integrate its Leguan bridging system onto medium-class vehicles, especially the Boxer. KMW has recently started activities in this regard as a private venture; the concept is complete and design work is under way, with a prototype expected in due course. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Sep 18. New variants of Belrex PCSV developed. ST Engineering’s Land Systems arm and Paramount Group have developed new variants of the Belrex Protected Combat Support Vehicle (PCSV). The Belrex vehicle – commissioned by the Singapore Army – is based on Paramount’s Marauder vehicle. The two companies will collaborate to offer the new family of vehicles to the global market. The ten variants include security, engineer, reconnaissance, logistics, fuel, mortar, medical, signal, maintenance and mortar ammunition carrier. The base platform comes in three basic crew compartment sizes – four, eight and ten. In addition to a remote machine gun and a smoke grenade launcher, the vehicle also has provisions for a suite of C4 systems, enabling co-operative engagement with other land combat platforms as part of a networked force. Classified as Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected class, the four-wheeled armoured vehicle provides motorised infantry combat support and combat service support forces with improved firepower, protection and situational awareness to enhance survivability. The flexible vehicles can be configured to carry combat loads for a variety of combat support and logistical functions. (Source: Shephard)
24 Sep 18. GDMS-UK showcases Hotspot technology demonstrator. General Dynamics Mission Systems-UK (GDMS-UK) presented its Hawk vehicle, a concept demonstrator of the company’s proposal for the United Kingdom’s Hotspot requirement, at the DVD2018 exhibition held at the UK Millbrook Proving Ground in September. The Hawk is based on the United Kingdom’s Foxhound and, according to a senior engineer at GDMS-UK, the concept demonstrator is “due to participate in a British Army exercise in November 2018”, where the systems will be tested operationally. The Hawk can be considered a highly mobile communications hub or hotspot that can provide high-rate tactical services to deployed troops across long distances, and provide a backbone network to connect tactical forces with their command-and-control headquarters. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/IHS Jane’s)
24 Sep 18. OTT Technologies reveals new 6×6 logistics support vehicle. South African company OTT Technologies has completed company trials of its Puma M36 Mk 6A 6×6 logistics support vehicle and officials said production can commence as soon as orders are placed. The platform has a fully enclosed and protected two-person cab, a traditional V-shape bottom for a higher level of protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs). A standard ISO cargo container can be carried on the rear, or it can use a flat-bed version with drop sides and drop tailgate. Its gross vehicle weight is quoted as 21,500kg, with an unloaded weight of 16,000kg. The vehicle is fitted with the latest Mercedes-Benz Zetros drive train with parabolic leaf springs suspension and shock absorbers. It has 14.00 x R20 tyres and a central tyre inflation system is standard; run-flat tyres are optional. It can be supplied in either a left- or right-hand drive configuration and powered steering is standard. The power pack consists of a Mercedes-Benz OM 926LA diesel developing 322hp, which is coupled to an Allison 3500SP six-speed automatic transmission. It has a maximum road speed of 90km/h. The company also confirmed that it has produced a batch of Puma M36 Mk 6A 6×6 recovery vehicles for an undisclosed export customer. That version uses the Ashok Leyland Stallion drive train. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Sep 18. UK takes steps forward in major land system competitions, but budget uncertainty looms. Major procurement programs were top of the mind at the Defence Vehicle Dynamics show, with the UK Ministry of Defence and industry pointing to notable progress for two of the largest system buys on the horizon. And yet, budget uncertainty looms, leaving market executives to question how the British military will fund programs long term.
Recently appointed Defence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew announced that the Ministry of Defence last week issued a request for quotations with the intention of purchasing an initial batch of 500 Boxer mechanized infantry vehicles for the British Army.
The Artec’s Boxer was nominated in March as the preferred choice for the requirement after the MoD controversially opted to select the vehicle without a competition. The MoD previously said it would purchase 500 vehicles over a five-year period, with the first Boxers delivered in 2023. Cost is put at £4.4bn (U.S. $5.8bn), although that includes the first 10 years of support.
The British intend to use the Boxers alongside General Dynamics’ new Ajax family of tracked vehicles and other platforms, meant for two strike brigades currently being created by the British Army. Boxer is a German-Dutch program managed through OCCAR. The move announced by Andrew gives the green light for Artec — a joint venture between Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann — to begin signing up British supply chain companies ahead of a final go-ahead decision by the MoD in late 2019.
Artec has signed a memorandum of understanding with a number of companies in the U.K., including Pearson Engineering, Thales and Raytheon as it tries to meet its commitment to perform 60 percent of the manufacturing in the U.K.
Challenger 2 update
Rheinmetall’s program targets in the U.K. are not limited to Boxer. The company is embroiled in a second possible land procurement effort in the U.K. — the update of the British Army’s Challenger 2 main battle tank in a life-extension program. Rheinmetall and BAE Systems, which built the Challenger 2, have conducted competitive assessment phase contracts for the MoD ahead of selection of a winning contractor, who would lead the program starting sometime next year. The assessment phase officially concludes at the end of this year, but both sides have delivered their proposals to the MoD ahead of the Army’ preliminary design review next month. The life-extension program began as a means of combating the obsolescence of several Challenger systems rather than a capability upgrade. But the emergence of the new Russian T-14 tank and the perceived threat by Moscow and other potentially hostile states has driven a more ambitious approach to improve Britain’s tank capability. And industry has responded with options to boost the platform’s capability. Rheinmetall has offered to swap the Challenger’s 120mm rifled gun for a smoothbore weapon, while the BAE-led partnership Team Challenger 2 offered to fit an active protection system. The Army would probably like both, but given the dire state of the defense budget, affording even one of those options is problematic.
“At the moment, the assessment phase excludes the gun and an active protection system. However, Team Challenger 2 [members] have planned in an APS from the start, and it is designed for, but not necessarily with, a system,” said Simon Jackson, the head of land vehicle upgrades at BAE.
The Team Challenger 2 partnership also includes General Dynamics, Leonardo, Qinetiq, Safran and Moog.
“The gun is outside the requirement, but if MoD decide they want a smoothbore, we have already done the work fitting a new gun to Challenger 2 in 2006. It’s not difficult. You need to change turret stowage for the new ammunition and make fire control modifications. It’s not difficult, but it takes time,” Jackson added. “Today, the rifled gun with the Charm 3 ammunition meets the need, but it depends to an extent on how long the Army want to keep Challenger 2 in service as to whether they want a smoothbore or not. It’s also got to be an affordability question.
“It’s not a disadvantage for us; we have fitted a smoothbore on Challenger before. We clearly know all about the interfaces with the turret, which our rivals do not.”
However, Rheinmetall is among the world leaders in 120mm smoothbore weapons. Peter Hardisty, the managing director at Rheinmetall Defence UK, said despite “some challenges, they are completely manageable.”
“We have informed the MoD we have a cutting-edge smoothbore weapon available on the Leopard 2 tank if required,” Hardisty said at the DVD event.
Some analysts wonder if the expected release of an invitation to tender for the program could be delayed so the Army can consider its options for a gun and active protection system.
Some executives Defense News spoke to said they expected the invitation imminently, but Hardisty said he doesn’t expect the invitation to tender until “the first or second quarter of next year.”
Team Challenger 2 made a surprise announcement ahead of the show that it was bringing to DVD a demonstrator vehicle known as Black Night, equipped with a suite of new sighting systems, fire control systems, a laser warning capability and other upgrades meant to keep the aging tank viable through to its current 2035 out-of-service date.
The main item of interest on Black Night was the provision of an Iron Fist active protection system supplied by Israel’s IMI Systems. BAE and General Dynamics each have experience installing the Iron Fist, but Jackson said any active protection system could be fitted.
The MoD is sticking to its request for a makeover for 227 Challengers 2 tanks for now; but like most other defense equipment programs, it’s hostage to possible change caused by budget shortfalls. The MoD’s defense modernization program review may have to balance a significant mismatch between available funds and commitments.
Hardisty believes the Challenger 2 update isn’t especially vulnerable to the review, but added that the review will likely impact a host of vehicle programs required by the Army.
“There is always uncertainty, it’s the nature of the sector. We feel comfortable about Boxer and the mechanized vehicle requirement, and reasonably comfortable about Challenger 2,” he said.
However, many executives here acknowledge that Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has probably lost his fight for a substantial spending boost. And as Britain’s impending departure from the European Union could damage the economy, the British defense sector is bracing for even tougher times ahead.
An MoD spokesman at the DVD event said the ministry intends to publish the outcome of the defense modernization program review by late autumn.
Some industry executives, however, think it’s more likely the review will be released piecemeal over time to reduce the impact of program and capability cuts. Britain has been in an almost perpetual defense review for the last four years. U.K. defense commentator Howard Wheeldon offered the view last week that a further defense review delaying spending decision is possible next year — a sentiment shared by a number of senior executives at DVD. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
23 Sep 18. US Marine Corps kills amphibious assault vehicle upgrade program. The U.S. Marine Corps has killed its Amphibious Assault Vehicle survivability upgrade program as it turns focus to the future and aligns with the new National Defense Strategy. The service executed a stop work order Aug. 27 to SAIC, which was under contract to perform survivability upgrades to the 40-plus-year-old AAV fleet to include new tracks to enhance mobility as well as increased underbelly armor, blast-mitigating seats, a new engine and transmission along with an assortment of suspension upgrades.
The order “allows [SAIC] to finish the four production control modules that they were building,” Marine Corps spokesman Manny Pacheco said in a statement sent to Defense News. “They have delivered three and we expect the fourth soon.
“All other work will be terminated.”
SAIC has already delivered 10 AAV Engineering and Manufacturing Development versions of the vehicle to the Marines.
The Marine Corps has spent approximately $125m to date on the AAV Survivability Upgrade, or SU, program and has now identified approximately $96m in fiscal 2019 funding that the Defense Department and Congress will have to reprioritize, according to Pacheco.
The idea was to keep the vehicles alive into 2035 as the Marine Corps begins to bring online its new Amphibious Combat Vehicle, or ACV, that would slowly replace the AAVs over time.
But in an effort to “better align programs with the National Defense Strategy and congressional guidance to reduce investment in legacy programs and focus buying power on modernization, the Marine Corps made the decision to divest the AAV SU program,” Pacheco said.
The AAV does not “meet the needs of modern Marine amphibious forcible entry operations,” he said. “Rather than continue to invest in that vehicle that, even in upgraded form, will not provide adequate maneuverability, survivability, or ship-to-shore performance, the Marine Corps believes these funds would be better used elsewhere to support modernization initiatives across the force.”
The decision was also motivated by the expected mobility and survivability demonstrated by the ACV, along with planned lethality, “which will ensure that our Marines have the firepower and survivability to succeed in the future fight,” Pacheco added.
“Reinvestment decisions will be made separately and focus on increasing lethality of the force,” Pacheco explained. “AAV SU divestiture assets may allow us to procure underfunded initiatives in the AAV modification line such as Tactical Communication Modernization and a Remote Weapons Station.”
The stop work order serves as another blow to SAIC, which lost in June a head-to-head competition to build the Marines’ new ACV. BAE Systems was selected to build 30 low-rate initial production vehicles expected to be delivered by the fall of 2019, valued at $198m.
The total value of the contract with all options exercised is expected to amount to about $1.2bn.
But the AAV isn’t likely the only program on the chopping block.
Defense leadership has been saying since last year that it can’t continue to invest in older systems while also focusing on new programs; they have admitted there will come a time when those legacy systems will have to be scaled back to make way for more a modernized capability. The FY20 budget documents and five-year plans from each service have been submitted to the Office of the Secretary of Defense, and it’s likely more examples of efforts to reprioritize funds from old to new platforms will emerge.
The Army has already terminated the Bradley A5 upgrade program in favor of the new Next-Generation Combat Vehicle. That upgrade would have included improvements like a third-generation FLIR, a cross-platform laser pointer, color day camera and an improved laser range finder. And in the FY19 spending bill conference report, the Bradley A4 program took a $160m hit due to a “revised acquisition strategy.”
While SAIC appears to have lost out both on the ACV program and now the AAV SU effort with the Marine Corps, the company is now setting its sights — building off its experience as an effective platform integrator — on the U.S. Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower program. The company, partnered with ST Kinetics and CMI Defence, will integrate CMI’s Cockerill 3105 turret onto an ST Kinetics next-generation armored fighting vehicle chassis as its offering in the Mobile Protected Firepower competition that kicked off with the release of a request for proposals in November 2017. And the company is working on some efforts related to the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle as well, SAIC’s CEO, Tony Moraco, told Defense News in a recent interview. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
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