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26 Jul 19. Rheinmetall takes over Canadian robotics specialist Provectus, expanding the Group’s expertise base in autonomous driving. The takeover of the Canadian company Provectus Robotics Solutions Inc. expands Rheinmetall’s technological capabilities in the field of robotics and autonomous driving. In future, both halves of the Group – Automotive and Defence – will benefit from the know-how of the newly acquired robotics specialist. Automation and digitization are among the vital Group-spanning technology clusters which Rheinmetall is systematically working to expand, concentrating knowledge and capacities in order to exploit additional future growth potential. Effective 1 June 2019, Rheinmetall Canada Inc., a subsidiary of the Düsseldorf-based Rheinmetall Group, took over a 100% stake in the Ottawa-based company. Founded in 2010, Provectus Robotics Solutions is a young company specializing in the development of advanced robotic systems and software. Though now owned by Rheinmetall Canada, Provectus will continue to operate under its previous managing director, Paul Rocco.
In recent product presentations, Rheinmetall has generated great interest with its Mission Master unmanned multi-mission vehicle, which is based on Provectus technology, modified for military use by Rheinmetall Canada. Everything points to unmanned ground vehicles playing an increasingly important role in future military operations on land, much like unmanned air vehicles in an aviation context. Some will serve in an unarmed logistic or reconnaissance role; others will function as mobile weapon platforms. “We have already been working closely with Provectus in our unmanned ground vehicle project. This vertical integration gives us a decisive advantage in the field of autonomous mobility technology”, said Stéphane Oehrli, president and CEO of Rheinmetall Canada. “Since this capacity is also a key enabler for the Automotive division, the whole Rheinmetall Group will hence benefit from Provectus’ expertise. The automation of other Rheinmetall mobile platforms is actually an innovation we are already thinking of.” As Paul Rocco from Provectus, explains, “Rheinmetall Canada is the ideal platform for accelerating our growth while simultaneously strengthening our presence in Canada as well as internationally. This is a unique opportunity for the Provectus team to significantly improve our market potential in the world of autonomous driving and to take advantage of new opportunities.” The buyout is part of Rheinmetall’s strategy of positioning itself as a preferred supplier of cutting-edge technology – around the world but particularly in Canada, where the Group is a longstanding, tried-and-tested partner of the country’s armed forces.
Rheinmetall is eager to apply expertise from Provectus Robotics Solutions in implementing ISTAR, a major project of the Canadian armed forces now underway. (The acronym ISTAR stands for Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance.) About Rheinmetall Canada Rheinmetall Canada is the Canadian arm of Germany’s Rheinmetall Group, Europe’s largest supplier of systems and equipment for armed forces and security services. With around 350 employees at locations in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu in Québec and Ottawa in Ontario, Rheinmetall Canada has accumulated over three decades of experience and expertise in developing, integrating and fabricating platform-independent systems.
About robotic solutions from Provectus
Provectus Robotics Solutions Inc. is a global leader in the development of robotic applications for the private and public security sector as well as military and government agencies. The Provectus software package enables key robotic capabilities, permitting the transformation of virtually any ground vehicle into an extremely versatile mobile robotic platform featuring autonomous driving functions.
Unmanned ground vehicles from Provectus have been used in a variety of applications, including to secure territory, in bomb disposal operations, crowd monitoring/crowd control, and in space research. The Mission Master Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) Rheinmetall’s Mission Master opens up a variety of new possibilities for modern military commanders. Depending on the variant, it can take on transport tasks or be used to protect troops deployed on the ground as well as in a surveillance and reconnaissance role. The Rheinmetall Mission Master can be deployed in places that are difficult to access, whether operating autonomously or serving in ‘mule’ mode, faithfully following its human operator. It provides mechanized and non-mechanized forces with an added measure of safety and security, boosting their effectiveness and keeping them as far as possible out of harm’s way. The armed variant minimizes the risk to deployed forces while simultaneously augmenting the combat effectiveness of dismounted troops by providing immediate fire support. In weapon carrier mode, the Mission Master can operate autonomously, performing high-risk missions on the battlefield. Rheinmetall recently unveiled the new Mission Master Protection, which features a weapon station armed with a 0mm rocket launcher, making the vehicle a major force multiplier.
26 Jul 19. GDLS-Australia identifies plans to expand Aussie presence. General Dynamics Land Systems–Australia has announced it will increase its footprint in Australia to support major armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) programs for the Australian Defence Force. In support of this requirement, General Dynamics Land Systems–Australia has committed to creating an AFV Centre of Excellence in support of its LAND 400 Phase 3 tender.
This is closely based on the existing model established for the UK’s AJAX program and will – through the establishment of local manufacturing, integration and test, supply chain management, software development, systems integration and research and development – create in excess of 1,000 direct jobs in Australia, including across a broad spectrum of Australian suppliers.
Kevin Connell, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Land Systems–Australia and Asia-Pacific, welcomed the announcement, saying, “General Dynamics recognises the importance that the Commonwealth of Australia has placed on Australian subsidiaries of large multinational companies providing autonomous, sovereign capabilities, whilst leveraging the strengths of their parent companies, for important Australian Defence Force equipment programs.”
General Dynamics Land Systems–Australia, General Dynamics Mediaware and Hawker Pacific are all Australian companies, owned by General Dynamics Corporation, with significant operations in Australia currently employing more than 600 people.
“With our plans for increasing the General Dynamics Land Systems presence in Australia supporting the major AFV programs, we will further develop our capability and capacity to manage the elements of sovereign industrial capability that are required,” Connell added. (Source: Defence Connect)
25 Jul 19. Germany Supports Mali with Protected Vehicles. German Ambassador Dietrich Becker officially handed over 29 Casspir vehicles to Mali on 16 July 2019. The German Government supports the Malian armed forces with armoured vehicles as well as 4,100 protective vests, 4,300 pairs of combat boots and 2,700 combat helmets. Becker announced that another ten Casspir will follow this year. The vehicles had undergone a general overhaul before being handed over to Mali. Since 2013, the Bundeswehr has been involved in the EU-led training mission EUTM Mali and is currently one of the major providers of troops. Training of the Malian troops on Casspir was already reported in May 2019. Topics were control of the vehicle in the field, including recovery and wheel change, mounting and dismounting of the gunners, convoy training, first aid as well as self-safety and infantry basics. Since its introduction in 1979, the all-wheel drive 4×4 Casspir has been regarded as one of the trendsetters in mine-protected vehicles. Characteristics are the high hull, the V-shaped underbody and the easy repairability. The 2.85 m high vehicle weighs around eleven tonnes and has a ground clearance of 41 centimetres. With a length of 6.9 m and a width of 2.45 m, up to 12 soldiers with equipment can be transported in the protected interior alongside the driver and commander. Powered by a Mercedes-Benz turbo diesel engine with an output of 124 kW, the Casspir reaches a speed of 98 km/h on the road. The vehicle can be armed with 7.62 mm MG or 20 mm cannon. The Casspir has been continuously further developed. In order to increase the load capacity, the vehicle was fitted with a third axle. This meant that up to 18 people could be transported. This version was also the basis of the 6×6-Buffalo, which was one of the first MRAP vehicles (Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected) in the USA twenty years ago. To neutralise IED from the protected cabin, the Buffalo was equipped with a hydraulically operated crane arm. It spread beyond the USA to France, Great Britain, Italy, Mexico and Canada. The first operations of the Malian security forces with the Casspir have been carried out in the troubled region of Mopti for four weeks. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
25 Jul 19. Spain receives protected Piranha 5 wheeled vehicles. The Spanish Council of Ministers has approved the conclusion of a contract for the procurement of three lots with a total of around 1,000 Vehiculos de Combate a Ruedas (VCR) Piranha 5. The main contractor is Santa Bárbara Sistemas, the subsidiary of General Dynamics European Landsystems (GDELS), which will manufacture the vehicles together with Indra and SAPA. The estimated value of the contract is 2.1 billion euros, distributed in annual instalments ranging from 2019 to 2030. Five pre- series vehicles are already being tested by the troops. In the first batch, 348 Piranha 5 will be procured in 13 different configurations, including the respective components of mission systems (armament, protective
elements, sensors, communication and command systems) and products for logistical support. Delivery is scheduled for 2022. For the second lot with 365 vehicles, the order is scheduled for 2022, while for the third lot with 287 vehicles no schedule is yet known. The Piranha 5 – known as Dragón in Spain – weighs over 33 tons, depending on the equipment. With a length of 8.00 m, a width of 2.99 m and a height of 2.34 m, up to eight soldiers can be transported in the protected cabin, in addition to the regular crew of three. The core of the mobility is Scania‘s 480 kW DC 13 diesel engine, produced under license from SAPA, whose power is trans
mitted via an automatic SW624 transmission from SAPA to eight steered wheels with height-adjustable, hydropneumatic McPherson chassis technology. A 75 kW auxiliary power unit is installed for the continuous supply of electrical energy. The driving range is specified as 1,000 km, the top speed as 100 km/h. The variants of the Dragón under investigation include infantry combat vehicles and command vehicles with 30 mm cannons, engineer vehicles with remote-controlled weapon stations and artillery observers with an observing platform. The Dragón will replace the obsolete fleet of medium protected wheeled vehicles (Blindado Medio sobre Ruedas, BMR), including the 6×6 Pegaso, 4×4 LMV, 4×4 RG31 and also the M113 tracked vehicles, with a single modular vehicle based on an open architecture. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
25 Jul 19. Egypt receives last of 930 MRAPs. Egypt has received 930 surplus US mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicles (MRAPs) and has requested another 1,000, the US Army reported on 19 July. It said the final shipment of 101 MRAPs arrived in Alexandria in May, after which they were taken to a military workshop in Cairo for refurbishment. The sale of the vehicles to Egypt was approved in 2015 and carried under an Excess Defense Articles (EDA) Grant Program. It includes M1232 RG33L, M1233 RG33L heavy armoured ground ambulances (HAGAs), M1237 RG33 Plus, M1220 Caiman, and M1230 Caiman Plus MRAPs, as well as recovery vehicles and training, the report said.
The publicly available EDA database identifies the Egyptian MRAPs as 468 Caimans, 360 6×6 RG-33s, 90 RG-33L HAGAs, and 12 MaxxPro recovery vehicles. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Jul 19. Srboauto’s upgraded Praga VS35 undergoes trials. Serbia’s Srboauto has developed an upgraded Praga VS35 M19 self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG), which has recently completed company trials. Srboauto’s V3S5 makes 72 improvements, many of them minor, to extend the original VS3 vehicle’s operational life and bring it up to NATO standards, according to the company.
The upgrade was developed to meet Serbian armed forces requirements. Milan Banjac, who works in Srboauto’s sales promotion department, said the company expects “a production contract after the prototype tests have been carried out”.
The former Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA) purchased a significant number of then-Czechoslovakian M53/59 twin 30 mm SPAAGs that were widely used in a direct fire ground support role. The actual platform is based on the Praga V3S 6×6 3,000 kg cross-country truck chassis, which first entered production in 1952.
Mounted on the rear of the legacy platform is a power operated turret armed with two 30 mm gas-operated cannons, which fire 30×210 mm ammunition that is still manufactured in Serbia. Each cannon is provided with 50 rounds of ready-use ammunition in a vertical magazine. Turret traverse is powered through 360°, with weapon elevation also powered from -10° to 85°.
Externally, the most significant improvement in the new VS35 is replacement of the original two-door protected crew cab with a new four-door cab that is fully armoured to NATO STANAG 4569 Level 2 standard. The fully enclosed cab is fitted with bullet/splinter proof windows to the front and sides. An Ebersspreher 8kW heater is installed in the crew compartment.
The upgraded front protected power pack consists of a FAMOS FF103A diesel developing 145hp with a new cooling system coupled to a manual Tatra transmission with five forward and one reverse gears and a two-speed transfer case. This gives an improved top speed and improved power-to-weight ratio. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
25 Jul 19. France to seek new engineer vehicle. The French Direction Generale de l’Armement (DGA) is expected to issue a request for proposals later this year for a new engineer combat support vehicle (ECSV) to replace its tracked Engin Blinde du Genie (EBG) combat engineer tractor, according to a DGA briefing viewed by Jane’s. The French Army received 71 EBGs, with production undertaken at the now-Nexter facility at Roanne, with 54 subsequently upgraded to extend their operational lives and final deliveries in early 2014 under the designation EBG Valorise (EBG Val).
EBG is based on the AMX-30D armoured recovery vehicle (ARV) platform but modified for its specialised role and fitted with a hydraulic winch, front-mounted hydraulically operated dozer blade, and a hydraulically operated jib on the right side (typically fitted with a pincer device). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
BATTLESPACE Comment: There were rumours at the time of the launch of the BAE Systems terrier CET in 2002 that France was interested in joining the programme. Now 17 years later France is ready y=to buy a new vehicle. Whether BAE Systems will be permitted to bid is another mater given EU bidding rules.
22 Jul 19. Polish Modernization of T-72 Tanks. The T-72 tank, for which the contract has been signed, is already in the inventory of the Polish Army, but we all expect, and are working towards, the production of a new-generation tank in Polish factories,” said Mariusz Błaszczak, the Minister of National Defense, after signing a contract for upgrade of T-72 tanks. On Monday, July 22 at Zakłady Mechaniczne “Bumar – Łabędy” S.A. in Gliwice, with the participation of the head of the Defense Ministry and Mateusz Morawiecki, the Prime Minister, the ceremony of signing the contract for the refurbishment and modernization of the T-72 tanks took place.
“We modernize and modify this equipment, which is available in the Polish Army. Thanks to this upgrade, the tanks will be equipped with modern sights, navigation and observation devices as well as modern digital communications. Deep repairs of these tanks will also be carried out,” said the head of the Defense Ministry.
The contract worth PLN 1.75bn ($460m) provides for the refurbishment and modernization of tanks by the domestic armaments industry in 2019-2025.
The Minister of Defense also stressed that the agreement signed today will allow for the preservation of jobs in the “Bumar-Łabędy” plants.
“It is a great satisfaction that we managed to complete this agreement, which gives the opportunity to develop our skills and maintain jobs here in Gliwice for over a thousand employees, partners and subcontractors for Zakłady Mechaniczne Bumar-Łabędy ” said the Prime Minister during the ceremony.
T-72 tanks currently equip, among others, the 20th Mechanized Brigade and the 34th Armored Cavalry Brigade.
Zakłady Mechaniczne “BUMAR-ŁABĘDY” S.A. is a manufacturer of heavy tracked vehicles for military and civilian use. They are part of Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
(Source: defense-aerospace.com/Polish Ministry of Defence; issued July 22, 2019)
23 Jul 19. First Australian Boxer armoured vehicle arrives in Brisbane. The first of 25 Rheinmetall Defence Boxer 8×8 armoured vehicles being built in Germany for the Australian Army arrived in Brisbane in mid-July, sources have told Jane’s .
Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA) declined to comment, but the sources said the drive module of the multi-purpose vehicle (MPV) variant would be joined in early August by a turreted reconnaissance variant.
The platforms are the first two of an initial tranche of 13 reconnaissance platforms and 12 MPVs that are being built in Germany as part of Project Land 400 Phase 2, under which RDA was selected in March 2018 to provide 211 Boxer vehicles between 2019 and 2026 at a cost of AUD3.3bn (USD2.4bn). (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Jul 19. Rheinmetall’s move in the UK nudges European-wide shakeup. The consolidation of Europe’s fragmented armored-vehicles market inched forward this month as Rheinmetall took control of BAE Systems’ U.K. activities in the sector.
The two land-systems giants pressed the start button July 1, consummating a joint venture agreement that gives the German company a 52 percent stake in a new U.K. operation known as Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land.
Rheinmetall said in a statement accompanying the announcement that it was “continuing to pursue a strategy of industrial consolidation” with the joint venture.
One industry executive, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said: “There are some concerns in the British supply chain, but generally it’s a good deal for BAE, as it brings work into their Telford site; and it’s obviously a very good deal for Rheinmetall, as it gives them a footprint in the U.K. I think it was what the U.K. government were encouraging, as well — they have always been keen to invite in primes with deep pockets.”
A second industry executive here, who also spoke on condition of anonymity, said U.K. armored vehicles have not been a strategic business for BAE for the best part of a decade, after the company lost big competitions to update the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle and to build the new Ajax reconnaissance vehicle fleet to Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, respectively.
Both U.S. companies have invested in armored-vehicle facilities in Britain on the back of the contract wins.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see BAE eventually sell down its stake here,” the second executive said.
BAE continues to operate significant armored-vehicle businesses in Sweden and the United States, and the company has a share of Turkish manufacturer FNSS.
Based at BAE’s Telford site, the joint venture will include the U.K. company’s extensive catalog of British Army in-service vehicles but not its munitions and weapons activities, including the CTAI 40mm cannon joint effort with France’s Nexter.
Notably, the new joint venture should soon provide a potentially significant backlog of new business if, as expected, it secures deals to build a mechanized infantry vehicle and update Challenger 2 tanks for the British Army.
BAE’s armored-vehicles business in the U.K. has been in decline for years, partly because the government pursued open-door procurement largely aimed at breaking the British company’s hold on the market. The strategy has altered the face of the British industry landscape. And the latest joint venture deal effectively puts control of Britain’s entire mainstream armored-vehicle design and manufacturing capabilities in foreign hands, with Rheinmetall joining General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin as the key primes in the British sector.
Supacat, a boutique designer and builder of innovative armored and high-mobility vehicles, now effectively carries the flag for Britain in the sector.
Britain’s open-market policy is in contrast to what happens elsewhere in Europe. Take Italy, for example. While Britain was saying farewell to a domestic champion, Italy’s defense-vehicle industry has been pulled back from the brink by the release of delayed funding following months in which staff were furloughed and facilities were at risk of closure.
Last month the Italian government announced it was freeing up €2.2bn (U.S. $2.5bn) in funding to relaunch two programs — the wheeled Centauro II tank and the VBM Freccia armored vehicle — after the cash was frozen for two years. Both vehicles are manufactured by a consortium of Iveco and Italy’s Leonardo.
An Italian defense source said the consortium would have closed down its Bolzano facility during the 24-month wait for funds were it not for work on amphibious vehicles for the United States.
It’s the sort of difference of approach at the national level that continues to bedevil efforts to restructure armored-vehicle manufacturers across a region that, according to a recent report by the think tank Rand Europe for the European Defence Agency, has 18 major manufacturers in the sector — twice as many as the United States.
“In general, the European defense industry is largely focused on answering to national armament needs,” EDA Chief Executive Jorge Domecq told Defense News. “Of course, we see more and more multinational programs emerging; however, the majority of projects and programs still concentrates on fulfilling short-term national capability requirements. In the mid and long term, we need to overcome the fragmentation of the European defense sector through multinational capability projects.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
21 Jul 19. System Panzergrenadier”: Rheinmetall modernizing Puma infantry fighting vehicle and other equipment for NATO spearhead VJTF 2023. Order volume close to half a billion euros. Rheinmetall is taking on a key role in equipping the NATO spearhead Very High Joint Readiness Task Force 2023 (VJTF 2023), which will be furnished by the German Bundeswehr. Contracts have now been awarded to a consortium for the “System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023” project, in which Rheinmetall’s share comes to over €470m, including value added tax. Work has already begun and is set to continue through to the end of the VJTF readiness phase in 2024. On 11 July 2019, the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-service Support awarded a corresponding contract to ARGE Puma, a consortium consisting of Puma manufacturer PSM Projekt System Management GmbH – a joint venture in which Rheinmetall holds a 50% stake – and Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH. Subcontracting within ARGE will take place shortly.
“System Panzergrenadier” links the Puma infantry fighting vehicle – the mainstay of the German Army’s mechanized infantry – with the modular Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES) soldier system, in an advanced, network-enabled warfare environment.
Included in the “System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023” package is a comprehensive combat performance upgrade of forty-one Puma infantry fighting vehicles, coupled with additional measures for improving communication between the infantry fighting vehicles and dismounted infantrymen. For Rheinmetall, the total value of this order comes to €258.3m, including value added tax. The systems will be delivered at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021.
Among other things, the package also encompasses complete logistic support of the VJTF Pumas for a period of five years, i.e. spare parts, special tools and spare parts logistics. Also included is a new generation of digital radios for the infantry fighting vehicles as well as integration of the MELLS multirole light guided missile system, significantly expanding the capabilities spectrum of Puma. New daylight and thermal imaging cameras and a colour display feature in the upgrade too. Optimized day and night vision will increase the range of reconnaissance, while simultaneously widening the crew’s field of view. Furthermore, new training resources will enable the unit to train in a highly realistic manner.
Closely linked to the hardware of the new optronic systems and monitors for the infantry fighting vehicles is the contract for development of the “Vision Enhancement, Chassis”, which is already underway. Including value added tax, it represents sales of €67.2 m, including value added tax.
Furthermore, Rheinmetall is equipping the mechanized infantry companies of the VJTF 2023 with “TacNet”, its battle management system (BMS). In addition, an initial lot of ten platoon versions of the “Future Soldier – Expanded System” soldier system will be brought up to modern VJTF 2023 standard. Improved communication between the Puma crew and the dismounted infantry section will result in a continuously updated, uniform common operational picture. This way, Rheinmetall gives mechanized infantry a command-and-control capability that extends from the company commander to the individual rifleman on the ground. These modernization moves will mean incoming orders for Rheinmetall worth €146.5 m, including value added tax.
“System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023” substantially enhances the fighting strength of the VJTF 2023. At the same time, Rheinmetall views these measures as a template for further modernization and digitization of the Bundeswehr.
Modernizing the command and control capabilities of complete mechanized infantry companies and bringing the IdZ-ES up to VJTF 2023 standard involves modifying the hardware and software. Dispensing with the “electronic backbone” is one key innovation. Others include advanced new radio systems for dismounted troops and infantry fighting vehicles, which result in improved command capabilities as well as enabling secure transmission of large amounts of data.
During development of the new vision systems and their integration into the Puma, an initial lot of five sets of prototype assemblies will be fabricated and integrated into five standard vehicles. These tasks are to be complete by 2021. Verification will then take place at the Bundeswehr’s technical centres by 2023.
Furthermore, digitization of the vision technology will proceed in tandem with implementation of NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture (NGVA) in the Puma. It forms the foundation for the future sensor-to-shooter nexus. Already underway, the networking of sensors and effectors in individual vehicles will soon enable the networking of sensors and effectors in entire units and formations. As a result, the Puma will be one of the world’s first digitized combat vehicles.
19 Jul 19. Abrams Replacement. Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Army’s Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, said the service is conducting two studies to inform plans for replacing its Abrams tanks in the future. “The Abrams still has incredible capability, but we know that if we don’t start looking today for its replacement that, because it’s a multi-year process, we could be behind,” Coffman said. The Army Science Board is currently looking at the issue and Future Command’s CCDC Ground Vehicle Systems Center will take it on in 2020. “This may not be a tank. We need to determine what the enemy is, what we want to destroy that enemy with and how survivable the vehicle needs to be to accomplish that mission. And then we’ll design it around those rather than saying this exactly what it looks like, or that a tank is a tank. It may hover and shoot lasers, as long as it’s decisively lethal I don’t care,” Coffman said. (Source: Defense Daily)
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.