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11 Jul 19. Serbia’s Srboauto developing Kurjak 6×6 APC. Serbia’s Srboauto and South Africa’s ADG Mobility are developing a new 6×6 armoured personnel carrier (APC) called Kurjak (Black Wolf), which will initially be aimed at the export market with the first prototype expected to be completed in about 18 months, according to a company official.

The Kurjak APC will have a hull of all-welded steel armour with an applique passive armour package. The ballistic protection would be to NATO STANAG 4569 Level 4, and mine protection will be to STANAG 4569 Level 4a and 4b, a company spokesperson said at the Partner 2019 International Armament and Military Equipment Exhibition in Belgrade, Serbia. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

10 Jul 19. EDA to launch four-country talks on Leopard 2 upgrade and procurement after industry feedback. The European Defence Agency (EDA) awaits a last round of market feedback from industry before launching final consultations with member states Cyprus, Greece, Romania, and Spain to launch a programme in 2020 to modernise or procure Leopard 2 main battle tank (MBT) fleets. The effort will aim at upgrading to Leopard 2A7 equivalents or acquiring them, according to the agency.

“We’re aiming for maximum commonality among them as they upgrade their MBTs,” an EDA source told Jane’s on 8 July, adding that the programme will involve approximately 200 Leopard tanks, plus a purchase of a new tank battalion by Romania, with all the upgrade work worth “several hundreds” of millions of euros. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

10 Jul 19. Lithuania receives first two Vilkas infantry fighting vehicles. The Lithuanian Armed Forces have received the first two Vilkas infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) during a formal handover ceremony. The official transfer of these vehicles comes after German manufacturer ARTEC delivered the two IFVs last month. Lithuania signed a €385.6m contract with ARTEC and the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) in 2016 to build and deliver a total of 88 Vilkas IFVs.

Vilkas is the designation for the Boxer vehicles in Lithuania. The vehicles are expected to fill a capability gap in the Lithuanian Land Force.

The vehicles will be employed in service by the units of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf – Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised Infantry Battalion and the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalion.

Lithuania National Defence Minister Raimundas Karoblis said: “This is one of the most ambitious projects of upgrading the Lithuanian Armed Forces in the recent years. It will help ensuring the security of Lithuania for several decades to come.

“Such a significant qualitative leap that strengthens our capabilities with modern weaponry matched to our needs demonstrates the responsibility we take the security situation with, the adequacy of our response and our readiness for defence.”

Lithuania chief of defence lieutenant general Jonas Vytautas Žukas stated that the Vilkas will prove to be a significant improvement over the existing M133 armoured personnel carriers.

In addition to the transportation of soldiers, the Vilkas vehicles will be capable of engaging in a battle by neutralising armoured and unarmoured targets at a distance of up to 4km, Žukas observed.

ARTEC has customised the IFVs to suit the requirements of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The vehicles are equipped with Israeli-made remote weapon station turrets, US-made 30mm MK-44S cannons and Israel’s Spike LR anti-tank missiles. In addition, the IFVs feature other integrated specialised equipment and electronic systems. The German company is expected to complete the delivery of all the Vilkas vehicles by the end of 2021. (Source: army-technology.com)

08 Jul 19. US State Dept. OKs possible $2bn Abrams tank sale to Taiwan. The State Department has approved a possible $2bn Foreign Military Sale of M1A2T Abrams tanks to the Taipei Economic and Cultural Representative Office in the United States (TECRO), which represents the interests of Taiwan in the U.S. Congress was notified July 8 of the sale. TECRO requested to buy 108 of the tanks as well as 122 M2 Chrysler Mount Machine Guns, 216 M240 machine guns, 14 M88A2 HERCULES vehicles, 16 M1070A1 Heavy Equipment Transporters and associated rounds, and communications equipment as well as other systems like smoke grenade launchers. General Dynamics Land Systems will build the tanks at Anniston Army Depot, Alabama, and at Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio. The M88A2 recovery vehicle will be built by BAE Systems in York, Pennsylvania. Oshkosh will build the HETs.

The possible purchase of the tanks in Tawain has been uncertain over the past several years. Taiwan originally planned to purchase 200 tanks but then, due to budgetary concerns, dropped the planned number to 120.

Then in the fall of 2017, Taiwan appeared to walk back on its plan to buy surplus M1 tanks, deciding instead that it would locally upgrade the M60A3 main battle tanks already in service. In the summer of 2018, Taiwan then announced its intention to buy 108 of the tanks. China has condemned Taiwan’s move to buy the American tanks among other U.S. weapons systems like fighter jets. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)

05 Jul 19. Russia’s VPK unveils Ural protected utility vehicle. The new VPK-Ural is based on a commercially available 4×4 truck chassis. Russia’s Military-Industrial Company (VPK) has developed the VPK-Ural, its first 4×4 protected utility vehicle based on a commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) chassis.

“This is the VPK’s first effort to develop a COTS chassis-based protected vehicle,” Alexander Krasovitskiy, director general of VPK, told Jane’s.

“The new platform integrates components developed by VPK, and the chassis of a Ural-family truck,” Krasovitskiy said, adding that the VPK-Ural is a multipurpose platform that can be configured as an infantry vehicle or a weapon systems carrier. The VPK-Ural weighs 14.5 tonnes and measures 6,500mm long, 2,550mm wide, and 2,800mm high.

The vehicle can transport up to 12 fully equipped personnel when configured as a troop carrier. It is powered by a 360hp YaMZ-536 turbocharged diesel engine, which produces a road speed of 100km/h and a cruising range of up to 1,000km. It is provided with an automatic six-speed gearbox as standard, although this can be optionally changed to a manual five-speed gearbox.

The VPK-Ural has the same leaf spring suspension system as that used on the Ural-53099, and a 0.4m ground clearance. In terms of mobility, the vehicle is capable of handling inclines up to 30° and side slopes up to 20°, fording 1.2m water obstacles, crossing 0.4m vertical obstacles, and trenches of 0.5m.

The vehicle engine compartment and several other mission systems are provided with ballistic protection to GOST R 50963 level 5, which provides protection against 7.62mm ×54R LPS (steel core) Or 7.62mm × 39 PS rounds at 5m.

The crew compartment is armoured to the same standard, but this protection can be upgraded further to GOST R 50963 level 6a, providing protection against 7.62mm × 54R B-32 API rounds at 5m. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Jul 19. Serbia advances Milos UGV development. The Serbian Military Technical Institute has updated its Milos unmanned ground vehicle. The Serbian Military Technical Institute (MTI) has confirmed that the Milos unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) has commenced trials at the Serbian Technical Test Centre and been demonstrated to local and overseas delegations at the Nikinci Military Test Range. The Milos UGV has been developed by the MTI in conjunction with the Special Products Factory Namenska to meet the operational requirements of the Serbian armed forces. Roles envisioned for the vehicle include the support of special forces and reconnaissance troops, particularly in counter-terror operations in indoor and urban environments.

The Milos UGV can be transported by trailer. The MTI demonstrated the vehicle being towed by a 4×4 Land Rover fitted with a retractable mast-mounted day/night sensor pack.

Several pre-preproduction vehicles have been built following the construction of several prototypes. These incorporate improvements, including ballistic protection and the placement of the sensor pod – which was originally fitted in a fixed mount on the right-hand side – to a position above the weapon fit, which enables it to move in tandem with the weapons.

The sensor pack includes a charge coupled device (CCD) day camera with a zoom capability of up to ×30, which MTI claims to be able to recognise a human target at a range of up to 1,000m; a thermal camera with a digital zoom of up to ×4 with a claimed target recognition distance of 450m; and a laser rangefinder with a maximum range of up to 2,000m. There is an additional fixed forward-facing camera pack comprising day and night cameras on the left-hand side of the mount for navigation. The Milos UGV is armed with a 7.62×54mm M86 machine gun (MG), which is fed from a box holding 500 rounds of ready-to-use ammunition on the right-hand side. An ammunition counter is also fitted. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

04 Jul 19. French Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly in Satory for the Delivery of the First Griffons. Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly on Thursday, July 4 attended the first handover of Griffon multi-role armored vehicles (Véhicule Blindé Multi-Rôle, or VBMR) on the site of Nexter in Satory (Yvelines), to the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA), which pronounced the vehicle’s technical qualification, and in turn delivered them to the Army.  The Griffon is the new VBMR of the Scorpion program, developed to modernize the medium combat capabilities of the Combat Arms Tactical Group (GTIA). Griffon will replace the Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VAB). A robust and versatile vehicle, the Griffon will notably improve the protection of soldiers engaged in combat thanks to more efficient armor protection, a remotely-operated turret and latest generation sensors. It will also take part in digitally-enhanced networked combat for which the French Army is preparing.

Commenting the event, the Minister spoke of the Griffon as a “new face of the Army: an exceptional program by its ambition, its coherence and its magnitude […] a true technological and operational leap” […] the fruit of nearly 15 years of work” conducted jointly with industry.

These new vehicles, recalled Florence Parly, will allow “our soldiers to keep the advantage on the ground” by offering “unprecedented protection against ballistic threats, mines and improvised explosive devices, one of the main weapons of our opponents in the Sahel.”

The Minister also emphasized the interest of the international partners in the Griffon, and noted that together with the Jaguar armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle (Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat, EBRC) it also attracted Belgium, which has adopted the French system on which it has based the Belgian Army’s CaMo (motorized capability) next-generation equipment. Finally, she took advantage of her visit to announce that an additional 150 vehicles will be ordered, bringing the total to 1,872 units by 2030; in parallel, delivery rates will be increased so that fully 50% of the vehicles of the program are delivered to the Army by 2025.

In accordance with the Military Planning Law (LPM) for 2019-2025, a total of 92 vehicles are to be delivered to the Army in 2019. The first deliveries of the Army Griffon vehicles are scheduled for the summer, with the aim of being able to project a Griffon-equipped GTIA as early as 2021. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/French Armed Forces Ministry)

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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.

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