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31 Jan 19. Supacat hosts off road drive day for Motorsport Endeavour. Injured soldiers take back control at the wheel of a Jackal. Some 60 injured soldiers and their partners, coping with both physical injuries and mental health issues, had the chance to take the controls of the world’s most acclaimed special forces vehicles at an event on 24 January organised by Motorsport Endeavour and Help for Heroes and hosted by Supacat at its off road test track in Devon’s Blackdown Hills. The British military vehicle maker provided a range of its high mobility vehicles, including the 4×4 `Jackal` and 6×6 ‘Coyote’ which are part of the British Army’s core fleet. The vehicles were fitted with adapted controls for the day and the Supacat drivers were there to guide them around the track.
Motorsport Endeavour is unique in supporting the psychological recovery of service personnel and veterans through nationwide motorsports events. To date, Motorsport Endeavour has put together over 250 events with in excess of 5,000 servicemen and women experiencing high-octane, adrenaline-rushing motorsport events. Many have made life-long friendships and gained much-needed confidence and life skills, built trust and comradeship, and thus gained a more fulfilling life with positive self-esteem and resilience.
Twenty eight veterans and their loved ones from Help for Heroes’ Plymouth Recovery Centre also took part in the day. Veteran Neil Edwards, who served 21 years in the Royal Corps Signals and was medically discharged in 2017, said it was an amazing day, ‘It’s just a great opportunity to get back in the vehicles you used to work on during operations like in Oman and Afghanistan. It’s just a good all-round muddy adventure. To come to an event like this you do feel appreciated again. Makes you feel worthwhile again.’
Motorsport Endeavour was founded by Graham Raphael, who himself suffered paralysing injuries in 1977. He comments, “By definition service personnel have guts and they gain from many different aspects of these events, which help diffuse their problems. For someone who has lost his sight or a limb, giving them the controls of a vehicle makes them realise life isn’t over. The public may no longer see the coffins passing through Royal Wootton Bassett but the mental and physical challenges continue for them and their families. The carers are `The Forgotten Few` as they are often overlooked, hence we involve them in all our events”.
Nigel Platt, a former Royal Marine and Supacat driver who organised the event, said, “Our aim is to put a big smile on their faces. It gets many of them out of hospitals doing something they never thought they’d be able to do again, and taking back control, which boosts their confidence”.
Supacat has hosted numerous Drive Days for Motorsport Endeavour as part of its commitment to supporting the armed forces community. Last year it was awarded the Armed Forces Covenant Employer Recognition Scheme (ERS) Silver Award for its support to the armed forces community.
31 Jan 19. Nigerian Army inaugurates vehicle production facility. The Nigerian Army appears to have set up a production line for its indigenously developed light off-road vehicle. Nigerian Army Vehicles Manufacturing Company (NAVMC) was formally commissioned by Chief of the Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai on 26 January. The army released a statement saying the NAVMC is located in Rigachikun in Kaduna state and includes a production line for what it identified as the NAC-V vehicle, an assembly plant for the B vehicle, an engine overhaul shop, and a paint shop. It released photographs showing 10 off-road buggies that were the same as the Infantry Patrol Vehicle (IPV) that was unveiled during the first Nigerian Army Research and Innovation Summit held in Abuja in February 2017. The IPV was displayed armed with 12.7mm DsHK and 7.62mm FN MAG machine guns and reportedly weighs 650kg.
It was stated at that time that the Nigerian Army had invested extensive research into developing the IPV to meet its requirements and that several had already been used in counter-insurgency operations in the northeast of the country.
In its coverage of the NAVMC’s inauguration, the News Agency of Nigeria cited Major General Victor Ezugwu, the company’s director, as saying it had produced 50 light combat vehicles in the last two months: an apparent reference to the IPV/NAC-V.
Photographs released by the Nigerian Army also indicated that the facility is modifying Toyota pickups by fitting machine gun mounts and benches for passengers. The News Agency of Nigeria reported that 35 Toyota Buffalo vehicles were inaugurated by Lt Gen Buratai.
Lt Gen Buratai also commissioned vehicles that had been refurbished by the NAVMC. The Nigerian Army identified these only as A and B types but released a video showing Otokar Cobra light armoured vehicles, a BTR recovery vehicle, and an MT-LB tracked carrier being tested. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Jan 19. US Army fields first JLTVs to unit at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The US Army has started fielding the first joint light tactical vehicles (JLTVs) to the 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, at Fort Stewart, Georgia. The unit is the first in the army to be equipped with the vehicle and around 500 new JLTVs will be deployed by the end of March.
Joint Program Office, Joint Light Tactical Vehicles project manager colonel Shane Fullmer said: “This programme has been working towards fielding trucks to soldiers for ten years. The entire programme office has been focused on getting soldiers improved tactical mobility, with better off-road, better cross country, higher reliability, more comfort inside the vehicle, and significantly higher protection.”
Prior to delivery of the vehicles, soldiers have undergone training for field level maintenance and new operator equipment.
Deployment of the vehicles with soldiers will run through spring.
The US-Army-led JLTV programme is a top modernisation priority for the service. The new next-generation light tactical vehicle will replace the high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs).
Talking about the vehicle’s numerous comfort features, 10th Engineer Battalion JLTV fielding lead sergeant 1st class Randall Archie said: “There is a tonne of legroom and headroom and it’s easier to get in and out of the vehicle.
“You also don’t have to lean forward in the seat when you wear a CamelBak since the seat is designed with a spot cut out for it.”
In November, Oshkosh Defense received a $1.69bn contract for the delivery of 6,107 JLTVs.
The JLTV will be fielded in two variants and four mission package configurations, which are general purpose, close combat weapons carrier, heavy guns carrier, and a utility vehicle. It will be fielded by both the army and the US Marine Corps.
The modern light protected vehicle features a VICTORY compliant modular, scalable, open architecture system. (Source: army-technology.com)
30 Jan 19. US Army Reserve set to acquire JLTVs for training. Getting out in front of US Army plans to replace Humvees with Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs), the US Army Reserve is set to acquire 60 JLTVs for training in preparation for fielding to the entire force. Speaking with reporters after a 29 January Defense Writer’s Group breakfast, Army Reserve Chief Lieutenant General Charles Luckey said his component is buying a “small set” of 60 vehicles to field at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin. The goal is to provide his force with JLTVs so that soldiers can learn how to operate, sustain, and maintain them.
“The idea, essentially, is for us to learn how to absorb these so that we don’t just … all of a sudden have to ingest thousands of these,” the three-star general told reporters. “I call it ‘lead turning’, but with educating the force on how to sustain, operate, and maintain.”
Oshkosh’s JLTV is intended to replace the army’s Humvees and, according to the plan, the service will begin equipping its first unit with 350 JLTVs in January and complete the fielding in March 2019.
While Lt Gen Luckey said he did not know when the vehicles would be fielded to the Army Reserve component, he wants his units to be ready for the new vehicles and know that the reserve component is invested in providing its soldiers with new equipment. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
30 Jan 19. US Army ramps up Robotic Combat Vehicle development efforts. The US Army is on schedule to begin operational user testing of legacy M113 tracked armoured personnel carriers, converted to armed robotic platforms, later this year with real-world experimentation trials expected to inform future requirements for the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) element of the service’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) programme.
The converted M113s will act as surrogate vehicles for what a next-generation RCV could look like as part of the service’s plans to introduce manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) in ground manoeuvre combat. The army is currently looking at options for a light (L), medium (M), and heavy (H) RCV. The vision for the RCV is to replicate similar capabilities already found in the air domain and enable soldiers to control robotic ground vehicles from a manned platform, reducing risk and increasing stand-off distances for personnel.
The US Army’s Tank Automotive Research, Development and Engineering Center (TARDEC) is leading these efforts, taking legacy M113s and adding appliqué “drive-by-wire” kits to enable teleoperated and autonomous operation.
“Right now, we are doing integration on the platforms and we are still doing our engineering shakedown and test,” Dr Robert Sadowski, TARDEC’s chief roboticist, told Jane’s .
“Fourth quarter of [fiscal year] 2019 is when weʼre targeting to have these things available for soldiers to test and play with the surrogates,” he added.
Safety testing is expected to take place at Aberdeen Proving Ground between June and August with the Army Test and Evaluation Command (ATEC).
This surrogate project builds on TARDEC’s existing Wingman Joint Capability Technology Demonstration, during which a Humvee was fitted with a remote weapon station and converted for autonomous operations. This platform successfully carried out Scout Gunnery Table VI qualifications at Fort Benning in 2017, which ground combat crews usually complete before they can safely participate in higher-echelon live-fire exercises at section and platoon levels. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
29 Jan 19. The Marine Corps wants three types of amphib vehicles ― including one with a 30mm cannon. The Marine Corps is looking to plus up the firepower aboard its new amphibious combat vehicle with a 30mm cannon. Officials with Marine Corps Systems Command posted a request for information on the government website FedBizOpps on Monday. The ACV will replace the aging assault amphibious vehicle, which entered service in the early 1970s. The Marines want three variants of the ACV ― a command and control configuration, a recovery and maintenance setup and ACVs with 30mm medium-caliber cannons.
The older AAV had space for a 40mm grenade launcher, but in direct vehicle-on-vehicle fighting the 30mm cannon offers fast, high-volume direct fire.
BAE Systems was selected in 2018 to produce the ACV, which is expected to reach initial operational capability by fiscal year 2020. The company has built amphib vehicles for the military since 1941.
The ACV is a chief “connector” from ship to shore for Marine amphibious operations. it will include mine resistant ambush protected-level armor, and able to “negotiate two-foot significant wave height and four-foot plunging surf,” according to Program Executive Office-Land Systems.
The 30mm-cannon arming follows suit with making existing and future ground combat vehicles more lethal. The Army began upgunning its Stryker vehicles with a 30mm cannon, replacing its twin .50-caliber machine guns.
In 2018, the Army also put in place the common remotely operated weapon station for the Javelin missile on the Stryker, keeping soldiers inside the vehicle when firing the missile.
Those upgrades began first in Germany as a counter to increased capabilities in the Russian ground formations.
The Marines have also started upgrading their light armored vehicle, also a decades-old platform, to include a better powerpack, drive train and digitized instrument panels.
Late last year the Corps was still only looking at two ACV variants, according to official postings: the turreted assault vehicle and the command and control version.
At the annual Modern Day Marine Military Expo at Quantico, Virginia, John Swift, program director for BAE’s amphibious vehicles, told Marine Corps Times that they expect to have 30 vehicles built by the end of summer 2019 to go through testing and modifications as the Corps decides the composition of the ACV fleet. Those will be basic testing platforms.
This most recent posting gives some indications of what the Corps needs.
Most recently the Corps was asking for 704 ACVs when full production begins in 2022. Those are expected to be done within six years.
And a previously ongoing contract with another company to perform survivability upgrades on an estimated 392 AAVs was cancelled last year in a move of funding from that program to more rapid modernization priorities. The legacy AAV is a tracked vehicle, while its replacement will be an eight-wheel vehicle. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
28 Jan 19. Serval prototypes completed, exports eyed for running chassis. New prototypes of the French Army’s latest 4×4 Vehicule Blinde Multi-Role – Light (VBMR-L) armoured fighting vehicle (AFV), now named Serval, are to soon be delivered. Following a contract award in February 2018, the first Serval prototype was completed, and additional prototype vehicles are to follow later this year for trials. Following trials with prototype Serval 4×4 vehicles, the first tranche of 108 are to be delivered to the French Army in 2022, 154 in 2023, 112 in 2024, and 115 in 2025, Jean Vandel, director of business development at Texelis, which is supplying the complete running chassis for the vehicle, said at the 2019 IQPC International Armoured Vehicles 2019 conference in London.
These Servals are earmarked as part of the Scorpion programme and will replace part of the French Army’s fleet of currently deployed Arquus (previously Renault Trucks Defense) Vehicule de l’Avant Blinde (VAB) 4×4 armoured personnel carriers (APC) and variants.
Another 100 Servals are to be delivered in 2024 and a similar number in 2025 to replace other VABs that are not a part of the French Army Scorpion modernisation programme – the total French Army requirement is for about 2,000 Servals in various configurations.
The Serval 4×4 running chassis comprises the front-mounted powerpack consisting of a Cummins 8.9 litre diesel developing 375hp, cooling system, Allison automatic transmission, transfer box, complete driver’s dashboard, powered steering, fuel system, vehicle electrics, suspension, wheels, and run-flat tyres with a central tyre inflating system (CTIS).
Texelis will send the Serval running chassis to the main Nexter Systems production centre in Roanne, where production of the Griffon 6×6 APC is under way for the French Army, and this will be followed by the Jaguar 6×6 reconnaissance vehicle. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
15 Jun 18. EPLS update. Desider reported in its January issue that the first three Enhanced Palletised Load Systems (EPLS) Mk 3 vehicles have been delivered to the British Army. Earlier this year the Operational Support Vehicle programme (OSVP) team at DE&S agreed a contract to convert 382 HX77 15-tonne MAN Support Vehicles trucks which will replace all the existing Foden and Leyland DAF vehicles. A total of 40 EPLS Mk 3 vehicles are due to be delivered by early 2019, with the final vehicles entering service by the end of March 2021, coinciding with the withdrawal of the legacy DROPS vehicles from operational service. The number of vehicles includes 33 winterised/waterproof versions which will add further capability to operations undertaken by the Royal Marines. The contract has been made possible through positive collaboration between DE&S, MTB UK and Babcock International. MTB UK strips and rebuild the support vehicles before fitting them with EPLS, while Babcock initially inspected the vehicles before the work and undertook the post conversion acceptance testing. EPLS has a number of advantages over DROPS. It is equipped with a container handling unit, which means that it can load an ISO container directly, rather than the container being put on a flat rack. Unlike the original Leyland-DAF DROPS vehicles the truck can be armoured and offers the driver improved safety and situational awareness. (Source: U.K. MoD desider)
25 Jan 19. Underlying nepotism? Military tank factory becomes part of Turkish-Qatari venture. Amid a political controversy over allegations of nepotism, Turkey’s top tank factory has been transferred to a Turkish-Qatari private venture. The factory, established in 1975 and located in the Sakarya province of northwest Turkey, was transferred by a presidential decree to BMC, a joint Turkish-Qatari venture that manufactures armored vehicles.
BMC’s Turkish partner, Ethem Sancak, is a senior member of President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s ruling Justice and Development Party, where he serves on the president’s executive board. He is also known to be one of Erdoğan’s closest confidants.
In the face of criticism and protests from opposition parties and labor unions, Erdoğan is denying the transfer constitutes a case of privatization and claims the deal doesn’t grant BMC ownership of the tank unit, but merely a right to manage and operate it. He also said the factory, under private management, would create thousands of new jobs.
Workers staged a protest in Sakarya on Jan. 19, and their union, Türk Harb-İş, said it would resist the privatization. Earlier, on Jan. 4, Defence Minister Hulusi Akar, formerly chief of the military’s General Staff, visited the factory and pledged that the rights of the workers would not be affected by the transfer.
Akar also said the deal does not represent the sale of the factory to a private buyer. “It means we are only transferring production rights. There is no sale. There is definitely no firing of personnel. Our goal is to increase the productivity of the plant, to upgrade its technology and enable it produce strategic goods. Our goal is to make use of domestic and foreign technological potential rapidly,” he said.
Akar added that the factory, while under new management, would target exports to friendly and allied countries.
Under the deal, BMC will make an initial investment of $40m to $50m to modernize the production unit. BMC plans to convert the military factory into a mass production unit for the Altay, Turkey’s first indigenous, new-generation main battle tank. The plant will be under lease to BMC for a period of 25 years, according to the deal. The lease price for the factory has not been made public.
In 2018, BMC won a multibillion-dollar deal from the Turkish government for the mass production of the Altay. It was designed to replace the Army’s German-made Leopard tanks and the aging American-made M60 tanks. Under the Altay program, Turkey will order an initial batch of 250 units, eventually receiving a total of 1,000 tanks. Turkey also hopes to export the Altay to countries in the Middle East and Asia.
Since the factory opened as part of the Turkish Land Forces Command, it produced equipment such as howitzers, ammunition carriers, day-and-night binoculars, tracks for tanks, and other military carriers. It has also operated as the main unit for tank repairs and maintenance, and it undertook upgrade programs for Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 tanks.
Industry experts say the Altay program, despite strong political support from the Erdoğan government, may face snags if foreign governments block technology needed for the mass production of the Turkish tank. BMC has been negotiating with German companies in hopes of securing know-how for the power pack, including the engine and the transmission for the Altay. Germany has not given the go-ahead to support the Turkish tank program due to political reasons.
In 2016, the German company Rheinmetall formed an international partnership with BMC and Malaysia’s Etika, under the corporate name RBSS, hoping to be a part of the Turkish program and with a view to future exports to Asian countries. In 2014, Sancak acquired BMC from the Turkish government’s Savings and Deposit Insurance Fund for $300m. The company’s former owner had gone into bankruptcy. It was the first time speculation about favoritism for Sancak became a public debate. Allegations gained ground after the Erdoğan government awarded the serial production contract to BMC, despite the Altay having been designed and developed by Otokar, a rival of BMC.
Analysts say German involvement in the program could cause further controversy following the factory’s transfer to a member of Turkey’s ruling political party.
“There has been increasing political reluctance to support the Turkish tank program due to Turkey’s widening democratic deficit over the past years. Berlin would be less eager to take part in a program that now smells worse and shadier,” a London-based Turkey specialist said. (Source: Defense News)
25 Jan 19. UAE cancels Nimr N35 order. The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has cancelled an order for 1,500 4×4 N35 (formerly known as the Jais) mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) that was announced in 2017, according to Fahad al-Mheiri, executive director of business development at the Emirates Defense Industries Company (EDIC), the parent of manufacturer Nimr.
Mheiri told Jane’s at the IQPC International Armoured Vehicles conference in London on 23 January that the contract “did not progress for several reasons” and Nimr was now focused on pushing the 6×6 variant of the N35 “through a maturity growth programme based on user feedback”.
“One of the main aspects is maintainability so that the N35 becomes much easier to maintain in the field and the powerpack more accessible,” he said. He added that the growth programme is expected to take at least a year, at which point the vehicle will probably be presented to the UAE Armed Forces.
The 4×4 N35 is already in service with the UAE Armed Forces alongside the Nimr 4×4 Ajban and 6×6 Hafeet family, which will also be developed further. “When EDIC took over Nimr, one of the main aspects was to revisit the Ajban vehicles,” Mheiri said.
Nimr has addressed 33 feedback points from Ajban users varying from the vehicle’s maintenance requirements, protection, ergonomics, and personnel comfort, he added. “Our Ajban programme is pushing the protection from [STANAG] blast level 2 to level 3a and 3b.” Many of the resulting engineering solutions will also be applied to the Hafeet.
When asked about the Long-Range Special Operations Vehicle (LRSOV), Mheiri said Nimr has received positive feedback from trials carried out for the UAE’s military in the summer of 2018. However, operational experience has led to a change in user requirements with more emphasis now being put on protection. Mheiri anticipates that the LRSOV will in the future be modified to provide similar capabilities but at a lighter weight. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
————————————————————————-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.