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07 June 19. Perfectly positioned to take advantage of export opportunities: Hanwha Defense Australia. Hanwha Defence Australia has laid down the challenge to its LAND 400 Phase 3 competitors with a focus on taking advantage of Australia’s location, international relationships and emerging industry capabilities to provide Australian and export clients with leading-edge ground combat capabilities.
While Australia’s defence industry has gone from strength to strength in a short period of time – relying solely on domestic consumption is a fateful trap that has previously hindered the sustainable development of Australia’s broader manufacturing industries. Avoiding this pitfall requires a dramatically different approach to the policies that have been used in the past, paired with a growing focus on leveraging the nation’s key economic and strategic partnerships.
The Defence Industrial Capability Plan released in 2018 identifies the government’s long-term vision to build and develop a robust, resilient and internationally competitive Australian defence industry base that is better able to help meet defence capability requirements.
Recognising the importance of the export market, the government established the Defence Export Strategy, which identifies that “Australian industry cannot sustain itself on the needs of the Australian Defence Force alone. New markets and opportunities to diversify are required to help unlock the full potential of Australian defence industry to grow, innovate, and support Defence’s future needs”.
The $10-15bn LAND 400 Phase 3 program to replace the Australian Army’s Vietnam-era M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) force, with a combination of a tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and tracked APC is shaping up to become a prime example for developing a robust export capability for Australia’s domestic defence industry.
South Korean industrial titan Hanwha Defence Australia (HDA) is accelerating its plans to establish a credible, self-reliant Australian manufacturing base in Victoria. While focused on the Redback and LAND 400, there is significant interest in the recent announcement by the Prime Minister for the revitalisation of the K9 Self-Propelled Howitzer program, LAND 8112.
Speaking to Defence Connect, Richard Cho, managing director and vice president, Hanwha Defence Australia, explained Hanwha’s “revolutionary” LAND 400 Phase 3 offering, saying, “One of the key benefits for both Australia and Korea is the proximity of Australian manufacturing centres to potential markets, combined with Korea’s pursuit of an advanced infantry fighting/armoured fighting vehicle, which the AS21 Redback – Hanwha’s proposal for LAND 400 Phase 3 – will serve as the basis for, while the potential offering of the AS-9 self-propelled howitzer to the British Army provides further opportunities for Australian industry.”
Hanwha’s offering, the AS21 Redback is based on the K21 IFV currently in service with the South Korean Army. The Redback variant will be an enhanced version of the standard K21, providing more protection against current ballistic and mine threats, with a larger internal volume to accommodate eight dismount troops and a crew of three soldiers including the driver, commander and gunner.
The modifications developed for the AS21 will also serve as the basis for Korea’s own IFV/AFV program to replace the Korean Armed Forces K21 providing avenues for increased industry collaboration and supply chain integration for Australian industry, which Cho explained was a key focus for both Hanwha and the South Korean government as part of a broader government policy to develop a secondary supply chain.
This essential capability would be manufactured out of the Geelong area; HDA would be seeking to incorporate the K9 and Redback manufacturing line into its planned regional Geelong facility, ensuring hundreds of additional jobs and years of additional guaranteed work for both domestic and global programs.
The growing complexity and increasing commonality of major defence acquisition programs between a number of allied nations – particularly Five Eyes nations like the US, Australia, Canada and the UK – provides avenues for greater diplomatic and economic partnerships to support increased industry capability, strategic dispersal and interoperability.
“Australia’s relationships with the Five Eyes nations in particular is of key importance for Hanwha and it is these relationships Hanwha seeks to support and enhance through the development of a fully integrated Australian defence industrial capability – this is key to supporting Hanwha’s bid for both LAND 400 Phase 3 and LAND 8112,” Cho added. (Source: Defence Connect)
06 June 19. Mortar-equipped CV90 sparks international interest. Sweden’s FMV recently showed off the new CV90 Mortar vehicle (designated the Grkpbv 90) to an audience of representatives from Austria, Czech Republic, Germany, the Netherlands, Norway, South Africa, Switzerland and the US. The demonstration of the new mortar vehicle’s capabilities was carried out on an FMV test site in Karlsborg. With a grenade launcher mounted on the CV90 chassis, the Grkpbv 90 is a response by BAE SystemsHägglunds to a 575m kr ($68m) contract from FMV to install a vehicle-mounted mortar on the Swedish Army’s CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) in December 2016.
The mortar system chosen for the contract was the Mjölner, which has been installed on 40 CV90s to date. The Mjölner consists of two smoothbore 120mm gun barrels capable of 60 degrees of slew in azimuth and elevation from 45 to 85 degrees. It can fire up to 16 rounds per minute, and is compatible with all standard 120mm mortar ammunition.
‘It is gratifying to have such a great international interest in this Swedish-developed system,’ says Mikael Frisell, Head of Army Equipment at FMV. ‘It shows that this is a capability that is needed on the modern battlefield. Now, we hope that what this successful project has delivered will have more users.’
First entering service in the early 90s, the CV90 was developed specifically for sub-arctic climate conditions, offering mobility in snow and wetlands with a capacity for six to eight infantry. About 1,200 vehicles are currently in service with the Nordic countries. (Source: Shephard)
05 June 19. Will the stars finally align to upgrade Britain’s ‘obsolete’ tanks? Britain has fallen behind its allies and potential adversaries in key armored combat vehicle capabilities and must do more to become a force to be reckoned with, Defense Secretary Penny Mordaunt has warned.
“The future may look very different in years to come, but meantime, while armour is relevant it must be capable, and we must be competitive. We have not been,” Mourdaunt told an audience of senior international army chiefs and industry executives at a land warfare conference in here June 4.
The Challenger 2 main battle tank and the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle, two of the key elements of the British army’s battle formations, were both labeled as “obsolete” by a defense secretary who only started the job a month ago but could move on once a new Conservative prime minister is elected in July to replace Theresa May.
“Challenger 2 has been in service without a major upgrade since 1998. During this time the U.S., Germany and Denmark have completed two major upgrades, whilst Russia has fielded five new variants with a sixth pending,” she said.
“Warrior is even more obsolete, and is twenty years older than those operated by our key allies. Since Warrior’s introduction in 1988 the United States and Germany have conducted four major upgrades and Russia has invested in three new variants,” said Mordaunt.
What does she mean by obsolete? In the case of Warrior its best known shortcoming is the inability to fire on the move, and a 30mm cannon that has to be manually loaded with three round clips of ammunition. As it stands, the vehicle is unlikely to scare potential adversaries like the Russians.
The British have been under-invested in combat armored capability for years aside from meeting the urgent operational requirements to counter improvised explosive devices in Afghanistan. Many of those vehicles remain in service, even though the threat has changed. Efforts are finally underway to improve the situation, sparked, in part, by the army’s move to form two armored strike brigades by 2025. That force is planned to include tracked reconnaissance vehicles, an 8×8 mechanized infantry vehicle and a new 155mm artillery system.
General Dynamics UK has started delivering the first of 589 Ajax reconnaissance and support vehicles in what has been touted by the government as the largest armored vehicle investment in three decades.
Germany’s Artec has been nominated as the preferred supplier with its Boxer 8×8, although no contract has been signed yet. A competition on the artillery is getting underway.
Programs to upgrade both the vehicles named as obsolete by Mordaunt are in the works, but there is no manufacturing contract yet for either.
In the Warrior’s case Lockheed Martin UK secured the upgrade development program from the defense ministry in 2011, but is only now undertaking the reliability trials on which a final production contract depends.
At one time the number of hulls to be updated was in the region of 380, but suppliers at a recent Lockheed Martin briefing said that as the British Army has shrunk and budgets got tighter, that figure is now down to around 265 and could go even lower.
As for Challenger 2 upgrades, an assessment phase involving BAE Systems and Rheinmetall has been completed and is now under review. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
04 June 19. FN Herstal and Milrem Robotics deploy weaponized UGV at Estonian military exercise. The THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) equipped with the deFNder® Medium Remote Weapon Station was deployed by Milrem Robotics and FN Herstal in Estonia during Spring Storm 2019, the country´s biggest annual military exercise that was held from April 29 through to May 17, 2019. The UGV carrying a .50 cal (12.7mm) heavy machine gun was being used by soldiers from the Kuperjanov Infantry Battalion who were faced with a variety of different battlefield scenarios, which included defensive and offensive actions. Combat missions were simulated and carried out in rural as well as urban areas.
This is the second time that FN Herstal and Milrem Robotics deployed their joint solution during the Spring Storm in a continuous effort to perfect the force multiplier UGV for end-users.
“We are proud to maintain our partnership with Milrem Robotics by deploying our latest developments in realistic field conditions”, said Igor Klapka, VP Systems for FN Herstal. “For the first time, we are showcasing new ways to control the deFNder® Remote Weapon Station: the operator being mobile with the troops and commanding the weapon thanks to a portable controller and observing via a screen or through display goggles. As always, and more than ever, the human stays in-the-loop.”
“The deployment of the THeMIS UGV at Spring Storm greatly enhanced our combat effectiveness by adding mobility, increasing the effectiveness of combat service support and reducing soldier fatigue. Furthermore, using the UGV as a force multiplier with FN Herstal’s weapon system increased the effectiveness of battleground firepower,” stated lieutenant Lauri Tõnisson from Kuperjanov infantry battalion.
Spring Storm is an annual military exercise with about 10,000 members of the Estonian Defence Forces (EDF), NATO’s Enhanced Forward Presence battlegroup, and a variety of other allied units taking part this year. The military personnel of Belgium, Canada, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Great Britain, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, the United States of America, Ukraine, and Estonia were participating in this year’s exercise.
05 June 19. Rheinmetall launches Mission Master Rescue model at CANSEC 2019.the time of trauma and arrival at a medical facility, according to Rheinmetall. Source: Rheinmetall
Rheinmetall has launched the rescue model of its Mission Master unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) at the CANSEC exhibition, held in Ottawa on 29 and 30 May, according to a company press release.
The Mission Master Rescue can be used to conduct an in-field medical intervention and recover battlefield casualties over long distances, either autonomously or by remote control.
The UGV is capable of carrying all equipment necessary to conduct a successful casualty evacuation, including two stretchers, oxygen masks, and a defibrillator. This would be too much equipment for a single medic to carry, so the UGV can reduce the number of personnel required on the front line, according to the press release.
It also noted that the vehicle can be used in the ‘follow me’ mode, whereby it would travel along with other soldiers while they ensure that the surrounding area is safe.
Rheinmetall also displayed the reconnaissance variant of the Mission Master at CANSEC. The Mission Master – Surveillance, as it is known, is equipped with long-range electro-optical and infrared cameras as well as a radar and laser rangefinder, all installed on a telescopic mast.
The vehicle can be used autonomously to conduct surveillance and reconnaissance of remote locations without potentially exposing additional personnel to hostile fire.
All variants of the Mission Master can be integrated into Rheinmetall’s Argus soldier system, which Canada ordered in 2015 for its Integrated Soldier System Project. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
04 June 19. Russian MoD expands Taifun-VDV 4×4 MRAP roles. The MTR-K recovery vehicle could be fielded in 2020. Source: Russian MoD Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) is set to receive two new specialised vehicles on the chassis of the K-4386 Taifun-VDV 4×4 mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicle, an MoD spokesperson told Jane’s.
A man-portable air-defence system (MANPADS) operator variant and a recovery variant of the Taifun-VDV are being tested, the spokesperson said
“The tests of the MTR-K recovery vehicle are in progress. In 2020 the MoD will begin receiving and fielding the platform,” the spokesperson said. The MTR-K has been fitted with navigation, radiological, and chemical reconnaissance devices, and carries an Orlan-3 unmanned aerial vehicle with a video camera.
“The platform will be operated to bring maintenance teams closer to damage vehicles, evaluate technical issues, and provide some incremental repair works that do not require large involvement of personnel and assets,” said the spokesperson. The MTR-K has a payload capacity of 3,000 tonnes, a top speed of100 km/h, and a range of 800 km. It is armed with a 6P49 Kord 12.7 mm heavy machine gun in a protected mount.
The Taifun-PVO MANPADS operator vehicle is also currently passing through factory tests. “Two vehicles are now being tested in Southern Russia. Once the trials are completed, the acquisition issue will be considered,” the MoD representative said.
The Taifun-PVO has no launching unit and is a transport vehicle designed to carry two or three MANPADS – it is designed for the operators of the Igla, Igla-S, and Verba MANPADS. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
03 June 19. US Army to ask industry for Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light (RCV-L) prototypes. The US Army is moving out with plans to acquire a new Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light (RCV-L) platform, and is asking industry to propose their non-developmental prototypes for upcoming experiments.
In a 31 May notice on the Federal Business Opportunities website, the service announced that it will formally request industry white papers in mid-June and provide additional key prototype proposal deadlines. For now, however, army leaders envision acquiring an “expendable platform” that is transportable via CH-47 Chinook sling load or on C-130 Hercules aircraft that will be combat ready within 15 minutes for reconnaissance missions.
“The RCV-L will support modular mission payloads and enable commanders to tailor the vehicle’s capabilities to each particular mission,” the army wrote. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
31 May 19. Dutch army receives two THeMIS UGVs. Milrem Robotics has delivered two THeMIS UGVs to the Robot and Autonomous Systems (RAS) Unit of the 13th Light Brigade of the Royal Netherlands Army, the company announced on 28 May. The UGVs were delivered as part of the army’s Concept Development and Experimentation Project that looks into how to exploit unmanned platforms to increase combat power and decrease risk to personnel. The THeMIS UGVs were delivered in transport configuration together with initial spare parts and accessories. The company will also provide operator and maintenance training, tactical deployment know-how and life cycle support and upgrades during a two-year period. THeMIS’ capabilities were put to the test after delivery in Scotland during an exercise where the RAS used UGVs for the first time. (Source: Shephard)
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.