Sponsored by MILLBROOK
Tel: +44 (0) 1525 408408
22 Mar 19. Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) company, will showcase for the first time its L-ATV Ambulance at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, AL, from March 26-28, 2019. The new L-ATV Ambulance enables Army medics and Marine corpsmen to keep up with the powerful Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) while also offering protection for medical personnel and wounded warriors as they move to, through and away from combat.
“The L-ATV Ambulance is the next generation of ambulance vehicles, designed specifically to protect wounded Warfighters without sacrificing the speed and mobility needed to keep up with JLTVs on the battlefield.” said George Mansfield, Vice President and General Manager, Joint Programs. “In addition to its ability to protect and maneuver with the JLTV in combat operations, the L-ATV Ambulance has the flexibility and payload capacity medics require to transport life-saving equipment, allowing them to safely and efficiently perform their operations on the move.”
With the L-ATV Ambulance’s powerful drivetrain and TAK-4i® intelligent independent suspension system, the vehicle can travel off-road at JLTV speeds while the vastly improved ride quality enables medics and corpsmen to render medical aid while transporting the wounded to combat support hospitals. The L-ATV Ambulance’s rear cab area can hold 4 litters or up to 8 seated patients or a combination of the two. There is also ample storage for any combination of high-use combat medical equipment. Oshkosh Defense leadership will be available at booth #819 to discuss the L-ATV, along with the company’s full portfolio of vehicles, technologies, integration capabilities and aftermarket solutions.
21 Mar 19. ST Engineering positions Bronco to meet Bv206 requirements. Singapore Technologies Engineering (ST Engineering) is positioning its Bronco 3 to address the potential emerging requirements of current Bv206 users, according to Dominic Phoon, vice-president and product director of the Programme Management Office. The Bronco 3 was specifically designed for extreme weather requirements, such as those required by many legacy Bv206 users, Phoon told Jane’s in March at the Ivalo Test Ground in Finland. ST Engineering representatives said the vehicle has been demonstrated to five Bv206 user countries. The vehicle utilises Soucy rubber tracks in widths from 600 to 700mm so that it can theoretically cross 80% of the world’s terrain, according to Phoon. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Mar 19. US Army Contradictions Muddy Humvee-Replacement Plan. The service intends to buy 500 fewer JLTVs next year — but will it still buy the total planned 49,000? Contradictory statements by Army Undersecretary Ryan McCarthyhave left unclear just how many Joint Light Tactical Vehicles the service intends to buy.
On March 11, Army officials told Congress — via the Defense Department’s spending proposal for fiscal 2020 — that they want to shrink next year’s purchase of the Humvee replacements from the planned 3,035 to 2,530, a 16 percent cut.
That same day, McCarthy told reporters at the Pentagon the service is “looking hard at the requirements associated, just how many JLTVs that we need in the program.”
Three days later, the undersecretary talked about the service’s plans to buy fewer of the Oshkosh-made vehicles. “There’s no doubt the Army needs it in the future — just not at the numbers of the original program of record when the requirements of a high-intensity land conflict are considered,” he said March 14 at the Brookings Institution.
That program of record has long had an acquisition objective of 49,099 vehicles. (The Marine Corps plans to buy another 9,091.)
But McCarthy’s next words were confusing. He said the Army plans to cut some $800m from the JLTV program over the next five years, a reduction that “will result in roughly 1,900 fewer vehicles procured over the program life.”
He added, “By 2028, this shift will give the Army a fleet mix of 55,000 Humvees, 49,000 JLTVs, and 800 Infantry Squad Vehicles — more than 100,000 troop transport vehicles in all.”
Because 49,099 minus roughly 1,900 does not equal 49,000, McCarthy’s statements have left Oshkosh executives and outside observers wondering just what’s going on.
“We’ve looked and there’s no, to our knowledge, change to the…approved acquisition objective,” George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs for Oshkosh Defense, said in an interview on Tuesday. “We believe that they will not change their acquisition objective…They may slow things down slightly just to meet other high priorities.”
Oshkosh’s stock price dropped nearly 6 percent after March 11, though it has since regained about 1 percentage point.
Wayne Hall, an Army spokesman, was unable to immediately say whether the overall JLTV project was being trimmed.
Hall also said Army officials met with Oshkosh executives before the budget was sent to Congress “to let them know what the plans are so they weren’t caught off guard when we rolled our budget out.”
Regardless of the final number of vehicles purchased, McCarthy and other senior Army officials said the service is planning to shift funds in the coming years to projects needed more urgently in a near-peer fight.
The Army has plans to slow or kill 93 projects in coming years to fund higher-priority programs it says are needed to compete against Russia and China.
But Mansfield argued the JLTV is well-suited for the near-peer threat.
“We believe that the JLTV actually fits the strategy very well,” he said. “It’s not a Humvee that had a hard time coming out of the wire once the threat changed. We’re very [modular] so we can increase and decrease the protection level of this vehicle.
“We believe we meet the strategy and as we show and introduce new weapons systems on the top of the truck or new mission system modules on the backside of the truck, we believe we have a vehicle that they need in the future for that near-peer threat,” he said.
Congress will have the ultimate say in whether the annual JLTVbuy shrinks, and Mansfield said the company is planning for the truck to enter full-rate production this summer.
“Right now, it doesn’t affect anything,” he said. “It doesn’t affect our personnel or our plants at all. We don’t believe that it will slow down the acquisition too much. It will slow it down slightly.”
In the meantime, the company is working on new configurations for the truck, to include adding cannons and lasers and other electronics, Mansfield touting the truck’s modularity and ability to add levels of armor.
“We’re always looking to put different weapons stations up on top,” he said.
The JLTV was designed to make up for the performance Humvees lost when the military had to add armor to protect soldiers from IEDs and other roadside bombs in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. But now the Pentagon is envisioning decades of competition with Russia and China prompting a shift for the counterinsurgency battles that have dominated the past two decades. The Army chose Oshkosh as its JLTV maker in August 2015. Since then the company has received orders for more than 11,000 vehicles. The U.S. Marine Corps is also buying the vehicle. (Source: Defense One)
20 Mar 19. Multi-Purpose Vehicle Ajban 447A. At IDEX, Nimr Automotive introduced the protected Ajban 447A 4×4 multi-purpose vehicle, a further development of the introduced Ajban 440A. A significant change is the reconfiguration of the powertrain including suspension with weight savings, which allowed a flat inner floor in favour of an increase of the inner volume. It now accommodates five fully-equipped soldiers – facing forward – as well as the driver and commander. Nimr offers two drive variants: Diesel engine with 220 kW or 265kW. This gives the vehicle to reach a top speed of 120km/h. The vehicle in the ten-ton class now offers a payload capacity of four tons, some of which has been used to improve protection. Users can further increase the level of protection for the crew with add-on protection. The prototype at the exhibition, which will be put to the test this summer, was equipped with an M134D Dillon Gatling 7.62mm caliber machine gun in a flat-weapon station. It is possible to use other weapons according to the needs of the users. Other features of the vehicle include interior air conditioning, roof-mounted mine protection seats, central tyre pressure control, a self-sealing tank and a battery management system. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
20 Mar 19. Multi-Purpose Protected Off-Road Vehicle. At IDEX TRB presented the DESPOT a multi-purpose, highly protected off-road 4×4 vehicle, that has been jointly developed by TRB and the Government of Republic of Srpska. DESPOT is a state-of- the-art armored vehicles designed to carry out a vast range of missions from the domain and scope of the police and armed forces. The vehicle’s ballistic protection is according to STANAG 4569 level 2 protection, or optionally level 3. It is also protected from explosions with level 2a and 2b protection under STANAG 4569.
The concept of this cost effective vehicle is based on a multipurpose chassis com-bined with modern powertrain with an independent suspension system that provides a high level of mobility in all terrain and weather conditions. DESPOT is 6.05 m long, 2.70 m high and 2.56 wide. The maximum weight is 14 t, and the volume of the passenger cabin is 12 m3, which can comfortably accommodate up to 9 crew members. The vehicle is able to carry a payload of over 3 t. The maximum speed is more than 120 km/h, with the ability to overcome gradients of 50%, lateral gradients of 30%, vertical obstacles of 0.5 m, fording of 1.1 m, with an approach angle of 40° and departure angle of 43°. Engine power is 240 kW, with automatic transmission. It has a driveline system with independent suspension, run-flat inserts, central tire inflation system, anti-lock braking system (ABS) and a wide range of standard equipment. It is able to operate at temperatures ranging from -30°C to +50°C. Of course DESPOT is air conditioned. Two 240Ah – generators supply the vehicle with electricity.
According to the company various weapon stations might be integrated into DESPOT, from manned ring-mount systems to highly advanced remote control weapon stations. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
20 Mar 19. Multi-Purpose Vehicle G-Class MRV. At IDEX, Daimler presented a 4×4 Multirole Vehicle (MRV) of the G-Class. Based on proven components, an open vehicle in the six-ton class was developed for a wide range of tasks. The MRV has a modular design with a multi-part tubular lattice frame so that different rear bodies can be exchanged depending on the task. By replacing the rear module, various superstructures can be mounted, such as ambulance cases for MedEvac (emergency evacuation in action) with the integration of a stretcher to quickly rescue injured persons, box superstructures for electronic observation equipment or with seats for up to six soldiers with equipment. The remaining loading space for equipment and food allows longer patrol missions. Depending on the role, the vehicle can be partially protected.
The frame concept and drive train with a 135kW diesel engine and automatic transmission are based on proven components from the Mercedes-Benz G-Class. This leads to a logistical consistency that makes it possible to service the MRV worldwide via the Mercedes-Benz service network. Thanks to its compact external dimensions, the G-Class can be easily transported both by helicopter and in transport aircraft. For regions and areas of operation with poor fuel quality, the Euro 3 standard is optionally available as a poor fuel variant (conversion from Euro 5 to Euro 3 possible on site). (Source: ESD Spotlight)
19 Mar 19. Warriors revamp three years late and £227m over budget. An armoured vehicle upgrade at the heart of the reorganisation of the army is £227m over budget and three and a half years behind schedule.
Problems with the Warrior infantry fighting vehicles were revealed by Stephen Lovegrove, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Defence, in a letter to the chairwoman of the Commons spending watchdog.
Warrior vehicles are due to form the backbone of two armoured infantry brigades, under plans to restructure the army prompted by cuts to the defence budget.
The US defence company Lockheed Martin was chosen seven years ago to overhaul and fit new gun turrets and stabilising 40mm cannon to the Warrior vehicle, which entered service in 1988. The upgrade should allow accurate fire while in motion, and will add more armour and update electronics.
The vehicles were used in the first Gulf War, Bosnia and Iraq. Soldiers have been killed travelling in Warriors in Iraq and Afghanistan, prompting armour upgrades. However, it has recorded a low combat loss rate overall, making it popular with personnel.
In his letter in January to Meg Hillier, head of the Commons public accounts committee, Mr Lovegrove said Warrior vehicles were “indispensable to delivering a modernised war-fighting Armoured Infantry capability”. His correspondence acknowledged that in its current state the Warrior fleet was suffering “shortfalls in fightability, lethality, survivability, growth potential and safe operation”.
The future of the upgrade programme — which is supposed to extend the vehicles’ lifespan from their “out of service” date of 2025 to 2040 — is still in question, however. The upgrade remained the “preferred option” to secure the capability, “subject to the achievement of key trial activities”, but Mr Lovegrove added: “No commitment to manufacture has been made.” The initial cost was £1.3bn, to be completed by March 2020. However, a three and a half year delay and a cost overrun of £227m was forecast, he said.
Warrior vehicles are deployed in Estonia at present as part of the UK’s contribution to the protection of Nato’s eastern flank.
While the UK has acquired 789 Warriors in total since they entered service, only 380 will be upgraded and of those, only 245 will receive new turrets. It is understood that the scale of upgrades was determined by cost constraints.
Francis Tusa, a defence analyst, said: “Without a heavy tracked vehicle to keep up with a heavy tank force, you’re stuffed: you cannot deploy armoured infantry brigades — the tip of the spear — into conflict zones to hit the enemy hard and deliver death at range.
“The Warrior has yet to even pass its reliability trials — a key question is, what happens if it doesn’t pass? How quickly could the UK procure a different heavy armoured vehicle? Bear in mind the MoD’s poor record of procurement in this field.”
An MoD source said: “Money needs to be reinvested into all our armoured vehicle fleet, which is old and has been slightly neglected. It’s not just Warrior, it’s the Challenger 2 tank upgrade and JLTV [the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle]. These programmes really need to be done.”
Nia Griffith, Labour’s defence spokeswoman, said: “The government’s complete failure to manage this programme properly is putting this important capability at risk. We have seen repeated delays and spiralling costs which have led to serious concerns about the affordability of the project.”
A Lockheed Martin spokeswoman said the company “continues to work collaboratively with the MoD on delivering this game-changing capability”.
An MoD spokesman said: “As with any complex weapons programme there have been initial challenges to overcome. However, we have brought this project back on track.” (Source: The Times)
BATTLESPACE Comment: News in today’s Times of the delay and budget increase in the Warrior upgrade programme is of little surprise. BATTLESPACE warned many years ago of the consequences in pressing ahead with the installation of the unproven CT40 canon, already rejected by the USA many years before. The CT40 system was selected sole-source, rejecting the proven ATK Bushmaster 44 30mm canon by an announcement by David Cameron. The bulk of the £122m costs overrun is not down to contractor Lockheed Martin but to the MoD who is responsible for the canon’s development. Engineering a new turret and canon into an ageing combat vehicle was a step too far and another example of the bungled MoD procurement processes.
18 Mar 19. Turkish politician says Qatar has ordered 100 Altay tanks. Qatar has ordered 100 Altay tanks that will be produced in Turkey, Ali İhsan Yavuz, the vice-chair of Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party, told the media on 12 March. He said the first 40 Altays will be delivered to Qatar within the next two years. The Presidency of the Turkish Defence Industries (SSB) signed in November 2018 a multibillion-dollar contract with the Turkish-Qatari armoured vehicles manufacturer BMC to produce 250 Altay tanks. The programme may lead to the procurement of 1,000 tanks in four tranches, the SSB said at the time. He added that the first batch of 250 Altays for the Turkish Land Forces will be produced very quickly. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. US Army details five-year, USD703m NGCV prototyping plans. Over the next five years, US Army leaders want to spend USD703m to develop and evaluate Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCVs) prototypes. In the Trump administration’s fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget request to Congress, the army laid out a five-year funding plan to support NGCV prototyping that it says will help the service focus on “delivering incremental experimental prototypes to the warfighter”, while also demonstrating manned-unmanned teaming (MUM-T) and Robotic Combat Vehicles (RCVs).
“The primary efforts in this line include maturing and experimenting with manned-unmanned teaming (in conjunction with Robotic Combat Vehicle) and maturing and experimenting with a variety of technologies that could potentially be added to the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) or legacy combat vehicles (such as Abrams and Bradley) in future incremental upgrades,” the service said. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Mar 19. Deploying artificial intelligence at the tactical edge for next-gen combat vehicles. Advances in computer processing and networking technologies in the past decade have resulted in a flood of information now being presented to the crews of armoured vehicles. The ability to seamlessly collect, exploit and disseminate sensor data, targeting and navigation information, and audio/video feeds has helped to change the face of warfare but can easily overwhelm the military user.
Leveraging advanced computing technologies in conjunction with recent developments in artificial intelligence (AI), specifically deep learning (DL) and machine learning (ML), promises to solve mission-critical data processing workloads of the armoured vehicle crew.
Today’s multipurpose embedded mission computers employ powerful graphics processing units (GPUs) allowing the use of AI to shift the workloads from man to machine and optimize and enable critical capabilities such as aided target recognition and detection (AiTR/AiTD), shot detection, autonomous mobility, active protection systems (APS), threat detection and identification, and predictive analytics and maintenance.
‘Next-generation platforms create enormous amounts of data which can result in information overload challenges for the warfighter,’ explains Aneesh Kothari, vice-president of marketing for Systel, Inc, which has inserted itself squarely in this segment of the market.
View full-size image.
‘The key is to incorporate the optimal electronics architecture to support the explosion of new functionalities that is taking place through the US Army’s next-gen modernization priorities. We’re able to bring high performance embedded edge computing [HPEEC] solutions to market which take data centre processing capability and bring it to the forward edge in a contested environment.’
Today’s GPUs are designed for massive parallel processing and exponentially dwarf the calculation rates of even the most powerful CPUs, creating the ability to carry out data intensive analytics on sensor data in milliseconds opposed to seconds, minutes or hours.
With the introduction of modern AI, the aim is not to take the human out of the loop but to use autonomous capabilities to scan, detect and assess threats in timeframes measured in milliseconds and present the relevant threat data to the armoured vehicle crews.
‘The concept of manned-unmanned teaming is to reduce the cognitive load on the operator. Modern vehicles are generating an enormous amount of raw data – potentially petabytes of data in real-time speeds,’ Kothari says.
‘How do you seamlessly team man and machine to reduce demand on the vehicle crew and operators, streamline decision making inflection points, and ultimately better protect your assets and maintain tactical advantage? How do you capitalize on human in the loop feedback to autonomous decision engines to improve performance and efficiency of your man-machine teams?’
For applications such as hostile fire or IED detection, protection is provided by these intelligent computing applications, which utilise AI and DL techniques to analyse the feeds from a variety of sensors continuously scanning the environment and producing data around the armoured vehicle much faster than a human operator can process information.
‘AI technologies such as lens tracking and gesture recognition can be harnessed within your edge computing engines by interrogating video and presenting potential threat matrices to the vehicle crew. Another great example is facial recognition. Biometric analysis can be conducted in the background by using sensor data that is already being collected. The data is there, it’s just a question of using it.’
While much of this AI functionality is software based, any solution must be based on high-performance embedded mission computers able to handle the processing requirements, sensor-fusion capabilities and CPU/GPU integration.
Systel has developed its Strike™ series of embedded computers to meet these requirements in a SWaP-, cooling- and cost-optimised single LRU.
The company has also gained the experience of being involved in several AI developments, including the Autonomous Aerial Cargo/Utility System (AACUS) with Aurora Flight Sciences/Boeing and the Pentagon’s Project Maven initiative.
A planning and mission system software package combined with sensor suite, AACUS is designed to autonomously operate a full-scale rotary wing aircraft into and out of austere landing zones.
AACUS enabled cargo unmanned systems are able to plan missions and execute them with minimal human involvement, with the AI determining safe landing areas, landing the aircraft autonomously avoiding obstacles.
Kothari explains that beyond the above examples, the use of AI would likely gain traction across many military modernisation programmes as new embedded computers were introduced and the AI technology was proven.
‘It’s easy for AI to become this big black box with an artificial bubble of expectations built around it. We aren’t part of this hype cycle. We view the AI edge ecosystem as made up of fundamental pillars including the engines that run on neural networks and the sensors that generate and provide the raw data needed to feed your deep learning algorithms within a given ecosystem.
‘All of these tools are based on one thing – the edge computing hardware backbone that hosts all of this immense capability. Our sophistication in this space allows us to design and manufacture purpose-built systems that exactly meet the needs of the end user.
‘AI will be a strong component across the board in the US Army’s big six modernization priorities. Whether it’s robotic combat vehicles, manned-unmanned teaming, autonomous cyber defence to harden our tactical networks, AI along with the edge computing architecture needed for tactical deployment is critical.’ (Source: Shephard)
16 Mar 19. Spain cleared to buy American assault amphibious vehicles. The U.S. State Department has cleared Spain to purchase 11 assault amphibious vehicles, built by BAE systems, in a deal that could be worth $107m. The possible foreign military sale notification was posted on the website of the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Friday. Sale notifications are not guarantees of sale, and quantities and dollar figures can often change during final negotiations.
“This proposed sale will support the foreign policy and national security of the United States by improving the security of a NATO ally which is an important force for political stability and economic progress in Europe,” the notification reads. “It is vital to the U.S. national interest to assist Spain in developing and maintaining a strong and ready self-defense capability.”
Spain seeks three types of vehicles in the deal, which will join the 19 AAVs already in use by that country. Included in the proposal are eight personnel carriers, two command vehicles and one recovery vehicle. Also included are “Enhanced Armor Applique Kits (EAAK), spare and repair parts, tools and test equipment, technical data and publications, training and training material,” per the notice. Work will be done at BAE’s locations in York, Pennsylvania, and Anniston, Alabama. The announcement marks Spain’s first FMS request of fiscal 2019. In FY18, the country requested $1.3bn worth of CH-47 helicopters. (Source: Defense News)
16 Mar 19. Is Germany’s Puma combat vehicle still tickling the US Army’s interest? A German Army spokesman confirmed that an event had been scheduled at the Munster tank-training area for Jeffrey White, a deputy to U.S. Army acquisition chief Bruce Jette. White ended up canceling because of a scheduling conflict, the spokesman told Defense News. Officials on both sides of the Atlantic were tight-lipped about the details of the planned visit and whether another date is being explored. It is also unclear which country initiated the contact, though the government interested in another’s hardware would typically lodge the request for a demonstration.
The apparent curiosity by the U.S. Army in the Puma evokes memories from 2010 and 2011, when the German vehicle, still largely in the development stage at the time, was a contender for the now-defunct Ground Combat Vehicle program. Boeing and SAIC, along with the German manufacturing consortium of Rheinmetall Defence and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, had pitched a modified version of the vehicle for the U.S. Army.
Contenders for the new Army vehicle program, NGCV, are still getting into position to pounce on a request for proposals. Rheinmetall this time has teamed with Raytheon to offer the Lynx vehicle, unveiled last June at the Eurosatory trade show in Paris.
News that the Puma is on the Army’s radar brings up the question of how Rheinmetall, a co-developer of the vehicle, would proceed if the Americans were to invite the Puma to join the field of contenders. Another unknown is how Rheinmetall’s stated desire to acquire Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is going play out.
In any event, it remains to be seen how a German tank design will fare in the race for a high-profile U.S. defense program in the age of President Donald Trump’s sour attitude toward Berlin. Trump has repeatedly berated Germany about what he considers lackluster defense spending, and he has threatened to impose tariffs on German cars in retaliation for what he deems unfair trade practices.
Foreign bidders historically have played up their U.S. partnerships in joint bids to appease a bias toward domestic manufacturers in defense programs, with mixed results. Breaking into the domestic ground-vehicles market has turned out to be a particularly hard nut to crack because long-standing Army suppliers like General Dynamics or BAE Systems have deep support on Capitol Hill. (Source: Defense News)
18 Mar 19. Aussie SME to supply critical parts for Rheinmetall LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B trucks. Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Australia (RMMVA) has confirmed the Queensland operations of Victorian steel fabricator Hilton Manufacturing as part of the LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B program.
The announcement sees Hilton become one of a growing cohort of trusted local SMEs already supplying components and parts to RMMVA as it delivers more than 2,500 protected and unprotected military logistic trucks and modules to the Australian Army under the LAND 121 Phase 3B program.
To date, Hilton has secured more than $7m of contracts for this project alone. Rheinmetall and Hilton announced the new contract at a signing ceremony held at Hilton’s Queensland manufacturing site.
The Commonwealth last year announced an extension to this successful program by contracting RMMVA to deliver another 1,044 high mobility logistics vehicles, 883 trailers and 748 modules to the Australian Army under LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B. Under this new LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B contract, Hilton will supply range of fabricated steel parts and products for each vehicle. The value of the contract is more than $2m.
“This contract underscores the continued standards of excellence at Hilton and its focus on working side by side with Rheinmetall,” Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart said.
Hilton commenced business in 1976 and now operates from a modern factory in Dandenong in Melbourne’s south east. To meet increased business demands of customers in Queensland, Hilton established a second manufacturing plant at Wacol in Brisbane’s south west.
Hilton managing director Todd Hartley said the work carried out by the company’s 230 employees was growing in regard within Defence circles following the contracts secured with Rheinmetall.
This added significantly to its status as a preferred supplier to major truck manufacturers Volvo, Mack, Kenworth, Mercedes, Iveco and Western Star, Hartley said.
“We congratulate Rheinmetall and the Commonwealth for moving ahead with this new phase for the LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B program and look forward to working with the RMMVA team to deliver the best vehicles for the Australian Army,” Hartley added.
Stewart said Rheinmetall looked forward to announcing future local supply contracts for the LAND 121 Phase 3B/5B program and extending the successful partnership with existing Australian SMEs.
“Australian content is a critical part of Rheinmetall’s industry plan for Australia and will see the involvement of SMEs from around the nation,” Stewart added.
Rheinmetall sets the global standard for excellence in a wide array of disciplines and offers an extensive array of military hardware that delivers mobility, lethality, survivability of troops, reconnaissance capability and networking of national and international systems.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia and New Zealand is a subsidiary of Rheinmetall AG, with offices in Adelaide, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane. (Source: Defence Connect)
15 Mar 19. IP Rights For Robot Tanks: NGCV To Test-Drive New Policy. Army modernization isn’t just buying bigger guns. The devils lie in the smallest contractual details. What does it take to build a tank? You’d probably think of guns, armor, big engines — not wireless chargers or intellectual property rights. But Bruce Jette does think about those things, which is why he’s the head of Army acquisition. The first real test of his new IP policy: the Army’s high-tech Next Generation Combat Vehicle.
The NGCV project, the Army’s No. 2 modernization priority, is developing multiple manned and robotic vehicles. The most urgent effort: replacing the venerable M2 Bradley troop carrier with a new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle that can carry infantry into future battles with better protection, more firepower, and a host of electronic sensors, from mini-drones to an artificially intelligent targeting assistant called ATLAS. They also want the option to run the vehicle by remote control or, in the longer term, with an onboard AI.
But OMFV is only one piece of the Army’s massive modernization drive, and all those pieces have to work together, Jette pointed out at the McAleese/Credit Suisse conference this week.
When soldiers jump onboard the vehicle, for example, why not have it immediately start recharging all their electronics — radios, targeting scopes, the new IVAS augmented-reality goggles, etc. — using wireless inductive chargers? “You sit in the seat, boom! you’re charging,” said Jette, who uses one such system for his own phone.
The soldiers’ IVAS displays should also connect to the OMFV’s own network to share data, like reconnaissance imagery from the vehicle’s mini-drones. Does that require building a wireless Local Area Network (LAN) inside the OMFV? It’s doable, Jette said, and it can even be made secure. But you need to get all the data-sharing protocols worked out well in advance, then get multiple programs and contractors to comply. That’s part of why Jette has created a Chief Systems Engineer position. (The relevant staff come from, ironically, a vestigial remnant of the long-since-cancelled Future Combat Systems, which had 18 different technologies to connect).
But you don’t just need to get multiple contractors — OMFV, IVAS, radios, network routers — all working together: They’re also all competing with each other, which makes them mighty touchy about protecting their intellectual property.
In fact, Jette said, companies don’t even like to make formal comments on RFPs and Requests For Information, because all those comments are made public allowing their competitors to see what they’re thinking about. (Jette said he’s trying to change this but it turns out to be legally very hard). Companies get outright livid if the government actually gives away their intellectual property — whether intentionally or not. After all, it can be a fatal blow for smaller firms.
So how does the government share enough detail to get everyone to work together, without divulging too much and giving away trade secrets? That’s the tightrope Jette walks in a new intellectual property policy Army Secretary Mark Esper approved Dec. 7.
Guidance on how to implement the new policy is still a work in progress — it feels like it’s being “reviewed 10,000 times,” Jette sighed — but will be ready in time to use the OMFV program as the first test case.
The Office of the Secretary of Defense is considering using the new Army IP policy as a template for the other services, although Jette said the Navy and Air Force were likely to add additional restrictions.
In the new Army IP policy, “it doesn’t say we want to own everything, it just says we want to have access to everything that defines what we’re doing [e.g. interfaces]. The other services are a little bit more interested in having a little bit tighter position.”
For someone so detail-oriented, in fact, Jette is remarkably willing to cede control. In recent years, Congress decentralized a lot of acquisition decision-making to the services, and Jette says he’s been busy delegating further. By law, he personally must make the key decisions on the biggest programs, Acquisition Category (ACAT) I — basically, anything with a total R&D cost over $480m — but everything smaller, he said, “I’m not going to retain any of them.” The Army’s even stooped to copying the Navy by creating a new category, ACAT IV, that lets Jette delegate control of the smallest programs to colonels or lieutenant colonels.
Jette also plans to decentralize Army contracting by giving major commands more in-house contracting expertise. And he’s pruned a library of over 250 acquisition policies down to 82. Actually, he got it all the way down to 54 at one point, Jette said, but the number crept back up.
One area where Jette is not going full-bore? The new Section 804 “middle-tier acquisition” authorities created by Congress. The Army’s definitely using the new streamlined procedure. It’s got eight Section 804 programs in progress, including the IVAS augmented reality targeting goggles. But while Air Force acquisition chief Will Roper seems to feel that programs do best as 804s unless proven otherwise, Jette said, he prefers that Army programs prove they specifically could benefit from 804 status.
That doesn’t mean following the standard process blindly, said Jette, which can lead to review upon review and requirement upon requirement until you get — to take his favorite example of an over-spec’d Army system — “a 12-pound iPad.” But you can avoid that without completely jettisoning the standard process and going all the way to Section 804, Jette said, if you use some often-overlooked but perfectly legitimate waivers to bypass bureaucratic hurdles.
Jette has also overhauled the Army’s Rapid Capabilities Office, which was modeled on an Air Force initiative to accelerate critical high-tech projects but implemented in ways that meant “it wasn’t really functional.”
The reorganized and renamed Rapid Capability & Critical Technologies Office — “I thought it was a goofy name until I realized it was my boss who named it” — will take over three top-priority technologies to start modernization: hypersonic weapons, directed energy (lasers), and space programs. It’ll operate much like a standard Program Executive Office, Jette said, except its head will be a three-star general, higher than any other PEO in the Army, with direct access to top Army leaders, working on the most critical technologies for modernization. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.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.