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23 Oct 19. Contracts signed for next stage of LAND 400 Phase 3 program. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have confirmed the successful signing of contracts to progress the $10-15bn LAND 400 Phase 3 program. Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia will participate in risk mitigation as part of Defence’s project to acquire infantry fighting vehicles. The risk mitigation activity phase will occur over the next two years, allowing both companies to engage with Defence, as well as clarify, refine and negotiate their tenders. The vehicles will undertake a test and evaluation program including destructive testing at sites across Australia.
Minister Reynolds said the signing of the contracts brings Army a step closer to having world-class infantry fighting vehicle capability.
“This program is a significant investment in Army’s capability – it will make our personnel safer, more effective on operations, and will complement our investment in Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles under LAND 400 Phase 2,” she said.
Both LAND 400 Phase 3 contenders present different options to the Australian Army with a range of capabilities, including:
- Hanwha Defense Systems AS21 Redback: The AS21 will include the capability to integrate active protection systems into an evolved turret system. The Redback will be capable of hosting a crew of 11 (three crew, eight troops), a top road speed of 70km/h, cross country speed of 40km/h, an operational range of 500 kilometres, with an armament consisting of a 40mm autocannon and a single 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
- Rheinmetall Lynx KF-41: The Lynx KF41 will include the capability to support a crew of 12 (three crew, up to nine troops), have a max road speed of 70km/h, a road range of more than 500 kilometres, with an armament consisting of the Lance 2.0 30-35mm autocannon, a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a variety of additional close-in weapons systems.
Minister Price encouraged Australian industry to get behind this project, saying, “Australian industry involvement and Australian workers will be critically important.
“Defence will work with the shortlisted tenderers to ensure small and medium enterprises across Australia have the opportunity to showcase their capabilities.”
LAND 400 Phase 3 is a $10-15bn program, which will recapitalise the Army’s Vietnam-era M113 armoured personnel carrier (APC) force, with a combination of a tracked IFV and tracked APC. Following completion of the RMA, Defence will undertake a detailed evaluation of the shortlisted contenders with a decision on the preferred tenderer to supply the Phase 3 capability presented to government for consideration in 2022. (Source: Defence Connect)
17 Oct 19. Hanwha Defense unveils new amphibious assault vehicle. South Korean company Hanwha Defense has unveiled a scale model of its next-generation tracked amphibious assault vehicle at the 2019 Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX). The Korean Amphibious Assault Vehicle II (KAAV II) is currently being developed for the Republic of Korea (RoK) Marine Corps, said YoungHo Koo, team leader of propulsion and suspension in the Hanwha Defense KAAV II programme group.
The new platform is intended to replace around 200 of the first version of the KAAV currently in operation with the RoK Marine Corps, he said. The KAAV is based on the AAV7A1 amphibious assault vehicle.
Koo said initial development of the KAAV II, which is supported by South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD), is scheduled to be completed by 2022. At that stage Hanwha Defense will hand over to the ADD two prototypes for trials – one for land trials and one for sea trials.
Koo added that second-stage development of the KAAV II will take place between 2023 and 2028, leading to the start of mass production in 2029. Hanwha Defense plans to build the platform at its production facilities in Changwon.
Koo added that the majority of the vehicle will be built by local industry, although the engine and transmission will be imported, at least initially. The engine will be sourced from Germany’s MTU, while Canadian company Kinetics Drive Solutions – a subsidiary of Singapore Technologies Engineering – will provide the transmission. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
22 Oct 19. Rheinmetall signs Risk Mitigation Activity Contract for testing of Lynx KF41 for Australia’s Land 400 Phase 3 program. Rheinmetall is pleased to confirm it has signed the Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) contract with the Commonwealth of Australia for participation in the RMA, including the delivery of three Lynx KF41 Infantry Fighting Vehicles to compete in trials for the AUD 15bn (EUR 9.5bn) LAND 400 Phase 3 program. The RMA contract now signed has a value of AUD 50m (about EUR 30m).
Lynx KF41 is a next generation tracked, networked and highly protected IFV which meets the stringent military requirements of LAND 400 Phase 3, and offers a platform with significant growth potential. The Australian Army needs a networked, protected and enabled IFV for close combat – to close in and defeat an enemy in the most dangerous and lethal environments for Australian soldiers.
Under the LAND 400 Phase 3 RMA contract, the Commonwealth will undertake an extensive technical and programmatic assessment of the two bidders over a period of 24 months. The vehicles will be operated by Australian Army personnel and tested in Australian terrain under extreme conditions, undertaking lethality, transportability, mobility, troop assessments, blast and ballistic testing. In parallel, the Commonwealth will work with the two bidders in a structured assessment phase in order to optimise technical capability, growth, value for money and national prosperity.
Rheinmetall is currently delivering 211 Boxer 8×8 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles (CRV) to the Australian Army after the vehicle was selected by the Australian Government following 12 months of RMA trials in 2016-2017. These RMA trials were recognised globally as an exhaustive assessment of the vehicle’s capability and have equipped Rheinmetall with the experience and expertise to deliver the best outcome for LAND 400 Phase 3.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia Managing Director Gary Stewart said the three vehicles designated for RMA trials in Australia would incorporate significant Australian Industry Capability.
“Development, integration and test of the Lynx KF41 vehicles will also take place during RMA at Rheinmetall’s new Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Australia from next year in support of the RMA trials,” Mr Stewart said.
Key vehicle elements of the Lynx KF41 are also being developed and manufactured in Australia by local companies including the alternator (Milspec in Albury), running gear (Supashock in Adelaide) and cables (Cablex in Melbourne).
The modular Lynx KF41 vehicle includes the digital Lance turret with electronic architecture common with the Boxer 8×8 CRV. This will enable the Australian crew to access sensor systems, advanced automatic tracking & targeting capabilities and weapon-integrated battle management all in one connected and enabled platform.
“Should Rheinmetall secure a contract to deliver LAND 400 Phase 3, the Lynx KF41 fleet will be manufactured at the MILVEHCOE, located at Redbank and south west of Brisbane,” Mr Stewart said.
Rheinmetall is already delivering an Australian Industry Network for LAND 400 that builds an industrial capability in Australia. This includes creating high technology enduring jobs for hundreds of Australians by localising design and manufacturing expertise in electro-optics, weapon systems, fire control and sensor systems, turret manufacturing, variant design and manufacture, integration, armour systems, simulation, training and fleet sustainment.
21 Oct 19. The field narrows in US Army’s light robotic combat vehicle competition. The Army has invited four teams to compete to build prototypes for its future light Robotic Combat Vehicle, according to an announcement on the National Advanced Mobility Consortium’s website.
Out of a large pool of white paper submissions, a Textron and Howe & Howe team, a team of Qinetiq North America and Pratt & Miller, HDT Global and Oshkosh were each issued a request for prototype proposal.
The Army plans to procure a light, medium and heavy RCV as part of an effort to bring next-generation combat vehicle capability to the force by 2028.
The RCV-Light competition is being managed by the NAMC. While the Army is the decision maker, the consortium is tasked to execute the competition and is also running the RCV-Medium effort.
The Army is expected to award up to two contracts toward the end of the second quarter of this fiscal year to deliver four non-developmental RCV-L surrogate vehicles for government evaluation, testing and manned-unmanned teaming experimentation over the course of a year.
The RCV-M effort is not far behind the RCV-L as white paper submissions are currently being evaluated for down-select.
NAMC also executed a week-long RCV market research demonstration with the Army at Texas A&M’s RELLIS campus in May in order to better inform requirements. Out of the companies chosen to move forward, only Oshkosh was not present at the event.
At the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference, Textron and Howe & Howe dramatically unveiled their RCV Ripsaw M5, which is based on Howe & Howe’s deep history of building unmanned ground vehicles, but adds technology like scalable armor and suspension and drive options to cope with the challenges expected in the future fight. FLIR Systems is also part of the team, contributing advanced sensors.
“Bringing together Howe & Howe, Textron Systems and FLIR Systems really represents a dream team,” Textron’s CEO Lisa Atherton, said in a statement released at the show. “We formed this team based on our shared focus to serve this customer with disruptive ideas and proven experience, and we are dedicated to meeting and exceeding their requirements through the RCV program.”
The team told Defense News before AUSA that it planned to submit a version of Ripsaw both for the light and medium variant of the Army’s RCV.
HDT brought its Hunter WOLF to AUSA, and Qinetiq North America announced its partnership with Pratt & Miller at the show.
Qinetiq and Pratt & Miller plan to submit a variant of the Expeditionary Modular Autonomous Vehicle (EMAV) tailored for the Army’s needs. The offering combines Qinetiq’s modular open-architecture control systems with Pratt & Miller’s advanced mobility platform. (Source: Defense News)
21 Oct 19. Kia Motors unveils new 2.5- and 5-tonne trucks. South Korean company Kia Motors Corporation has unveiled 2.5- and 5-tonne trucks to compete in tenders aimed at replacing the Republic of Korea Army’s (RoKA’s) in-service KM250 and KM500 vehicles, respectively.
The new vehicles, both of which were displayed at the 2019 Seoul International Aerospace and Defense Exhibition (ADEX), have a cab-over-engine (COE) configuration; unlike the KM250 and KM500 trucks, both of which are 6×6 and have a bonneted cab. Kia Motors’ new 5-tonne 6×6 truck, which is called the Medium Tactical Vehicle (MTV), has an armoured cabin and armour protected side walls in the rear cargo area. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Oct 19. The US Army Wants to Reinvent Tank Warfare with AI. A new project aims to make the battlefield more “transparent” — while relying on robots and software that “think” in unpredictable ways.
Tank warfare isn’t as easy to predict as hulking machines lumbering across open spaces would suggest. In July 1943, for instance, German military planners believed that their advance on the Russian city of Kursk would be over in ten days. In fact, that attempt lasted nearly two months and ultimately failed. Even the 2003 Battle of Baghdad, in which U.S. forces had air superiority, took a week. For the wars of the future, that’s too slow. The U.S. Army has launched a new effort, dubbed Project Quarterback, to accelerate tank warfare by synchronizing battlefield data with the aid of artificial Intelligence.
The project, about a month old, aims for an AI assistant that can look out across the battlefield, taking in all the relevant data from drones, radar, ground robots, satellites, cameras mounted in soldier goggles, etc., and then output the best strategy for taking out the enemy(s) with whatever weapons available. Quarterback, in other words, would help commanders do two things better and faster, understand exactly what’s on the battlefield and then select the most appropriate strategy based on the assets available and other factors.
Just the first part of that challenge is huge. The amount of potentially usable battlefield data is rapidly expanding, and it takes a long time to synchronize it.
“Simple map displays require 96 hours to synchronize a brigade or division targeting cycle,” said Kevin McEnery, the deputy director of the Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team, said on Thursday at an event at the National Robotics Engineering Center. One goal is to bring that down to “96 seconds, with the assistance of AI,” he said.
“All the vast array of current and future military sensors, aviation assets, electronic warfare assets, cyber assets, unmanned aerial, unmanned ground systems, next generation manned vehicles and dismounted soldiers will detect and geolocate an enemy on our battlefield. We need an AI system to help identify that threat, aggregate [data on the threat] with other sensors and threat data, distribute it across our command and control systems and recommend to our commanders at echelon the best firing platform for the best effects, be it an F-35, an [extended range cannon] or an [remote controlled vehicle],” McEnery said.
Ultimately, the Army is looking for a lot more than a data visualizer. They want AI to help with battle strategy, said Lt. Col. Jay Wisham, one of the program leaders. “How do you want to make decisions based on [battlefield data]? How do you want to select the most efficient way to engage a target, based on probability of hit, probability of kill? Do you have indirect fire assets available to you that you can request? Do you have real assets that you can request? Can I… send you my wingman… or, does the computer then recommend, ‘Red One, our wingman should take that target instead of you for x, y reasons?’ That goes back to that concept of how you make a more informed decision, faster. And who is making that decision could be a tank commander or it could be a battalion commander,” he said.
The Army’s future plans rely a lot not just on AI but also on ever-more-intelligent ground robots. Right now, a single U.S. Army operator can control about two ground robots. The Army’s plans are to get that ratio to one human to a dozen robots. That will require those future ground robots to not just collect visual data but actually perceive the world around them, designating (though primitively) objects in their field of perception. Those robots will have to make decisions with minimal human oversight as well since the availability high-bandwidth networking is hardly certain.
During the event, which was put on by the Army Research Lab, Carnegie Mellon researchers unveiled robotic experiments where ground robots demonstrated that they could collect intelligence, maneuver autonomously and even decipher what it meant to move “covertly,” with minimal human commands. The robot learns and applies labels to objects in its environment after watching humans.
Relying on those sorts of robots will require a deeper dependence on small and large artificially intelligent systems that reach conclusions via opaque, neural networked or deep learning reasoning. Both of these are sometimes referred to as black box learning processes because, unlike straight or simple statistical models, it’s difficult to tell how neural nets reach the decisions that they do. In other words, commanders and soldiers will have to become more comfortable with robots and software that produce outputs via processes that can’t be easily explained, even by the programers that produced them.
The way to develop that trust, said Wisham, is the same way humans develop trust in one another, slowly and with a lot of practice. “Most humans are not as explainable as we like to think… If you demonstrate to a soldier that the tool or the system that you are trying to enable them with generally functions relatively well and adds some capability to them… they will grow trust very, very rapidly.”
But, he said, when it comes to big decision aids, “that will be much harder.”
Anthony Stenz, director of software engineering at Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group, said, “You trust something because it works, not because you understand it. The way that you show it works is you run many, many, many tests, build a statistical analysis and build trust that way. That’s true not only of deep learning systems but other systems as well that are sufficiently complex. You are not going to prove them correct. You will need to put them through a battery of tests and then convince yourself that they meet the bar.’
The surging availability of big data and exascale computing through enterprise cloud architectures is also hastening a new state of neural networks and deep learning solutions, one that is potentially more transparent. “In machine learning, there’s a lot of work going on precisely in this direction,” said Dieter Fox, senior director of robotics research at NVIDIA. “Techniques are being developed [to] inspect these networks and see why these networks might come up with a certain recognition or solution or something like that” There’s also important emerging research in fencing off neural networks and deep learning systems while they learn, including neural networks in robots, “How we can put this physical structure or constraints into these networks so that they learn within the confines of what we think is physically okay.” (Source: Defense One)
19 Oct 19. Hanwha Defense unveils Redback prototype. Hanwha Defense has shown off its prototype of the AS21 Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), which the South Korean company is offering to Australia in its bid for the LAND 400 Phase 3 project. The prototype was unveiled at the Seoul International Aerospace & Defense Exhibition 2019 (ADEX 2019), which is currently taking place in South Korea.
Earlier in the year, Hanwha partnered with EOS Systems to launch its LAND 400 Phase 3 bid, as well as accelerating plans to establish a self-reliant manufacturing base in Australia, in Victoria.
Australia’s LAND 400 Phase 3 program will replace the M113 armoured personnel carriers, providing the Army with an advanced, world-class IFV capability.
The AS21 will include the capability to integrate active protection systems into an evolved turret system. The Redback will be capable of hosting a crew of 11 (three crew, eight troops), a top road speed of 70km/h, cross country speed of 40km/h, an operational range of 500 kilometres, with an armament consisting of a 40mm autocannon and a single 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
“The Redback IFV is a fifth-generation combat vehicle for the Royal Australian Infantry characterised around a design to fight and win against peer competitors. The Redback is a vehicle which has been purpose-built to meet the requirements for the Australian user. Recognising that the solider system lies at the heart of this vehicle, the Redback has integrated active protection systems, comfortable space for eight Australian Infantry dismounts, rubber tracks to improve ride quality, and significant additional growth margins to accommodate additional upgrades and as much kit as the infantry soldier requires,” a statement from Hanwha read following its down-selection for the program. (Source: Defence Connect)
18 Oct 19. Navigation systems that counter jamming and spoofing for Army vehicles, plus some goodies for the dismounted soldier. Over the past few years, the Army’s 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Germany has seen its Stryker combat vehicles up-gunned and upgraded with better firepower and stronger protection. A recent fielding amid follow-on efforts will give that regiment’s soldiers and their supporting rotational brigade protection from invisible threats.
That’s because the Mounted Assured Position Navigation and Timing System, or MAPS, has been fielded to 62 Strykers in the regiment, with another 339 systems expected next year.
Willie Nelson — the director of the Assured Positioning, Navigation and Timing Cross-Functional Team — and Col. Nickolas Kioutas — project manager for PNT — recently spoke with reporters about both the testing, development and fielding of MAPS and its dismounted version, known as DAPS.
The two systems are key for soldiers to not only navigate but also use weapon systems and communications gear in heavily jammed and spoofing environments.
Some of the most contested spaces with those challenges are in Europe.
The first generation of the MAPS system has replaced then seven GPS antennas with just one, anti-jamming-capable GPS antenna that can distribute information across all systems in a vehicle, Kioutas said.
That iteration has anti-jamming capabilities, a robust GPS receiver and a chip-scale atomic clock.
The system has a seven-element array antenna. If it detects radio frequency energy from one direction that’s attempting to jam a signal, then the array shuts off detection from that general direction but continues to scan the sky for the correct radio frequency signals to communicate.
The clock keeps everything in time if the system is jammed for lengthy periods, Nelson said.
The other threat, spoofing, involves an adversary introducing a decoy-type signal. Researchers are working on a capability for the next generation of MAPS that provides both anti-jam and anti-spoof capabilities. Testing that capability is scheduled for next year, with fielding expected by 2021.
Even as the first generation is used by troops, the Army can continue to upgrade the system with new capabilities as it comes off the production line. Army leaders will decide next year if the fully fielded MAPS gear will serve as its first generation with upgrades, or a revamped, second variant, Nelson said.
And it’s not just for Strykers.
The next wave of fielding will go to Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicles, Paladin howitzers and Abrams tanks, which provide the firepower enabled by cavalry formations. And the focus will be to first provide 2nd CR and then the rotational brigade that heads to Europe each year, Kioutas said.
Ultimately, a focused fielding plan will see 20,000 Army vehicles with the new MAPS onboard by 2028, officials said.
For the individual soldiers, the same groups are working on the dismounted version. DAPS does not have an anti-jam capability yet, but it does use the new GPS M-Code signal that has more complicated encryption.
DAPS will replace the existing antenna for the Nett Warrior system, and it is lighter and more effective, Kioutas said.
Nett Warrior is an Android smartphone-based navigation, friendly forces and battlefield chat tool that will connect into the Integrated Visual Augmentation System, a mixed reality goggle expected to tie in communications, navigation, targeting and night vision into an individual soldier’s heads-up display. (Source: Defense News)
18 Oct 19. Ricardo helping US Army improve vehicle readiness. Ricardo Defense announced on 15 October that it is working with the US National Center for Manufacturing Sciences on a collaborative project to demonstrate readiness improvements for the US Army’s tactical wheeled vehicle fleet.
Commencing last month, 30 tactical wheeled vehicles participating in operational training exercises at Fort Irwin, California, are being outfitted with devices that will collect vehicle health, usage and operating data from more than 80 different onboard sensors.
Working in collaboration with the army’s Project Manager Transportation Systems (PM TS) and Army Futures Command (AFC), this data will be provided to the army’s maintainers and engineers in order to help improve the maintenance of ground vehicles.
The objective of the 18-month pilot project, led by PM TS, is to showcase technologies and analytical capabilities that enable predictive maintenance, whereby the vehicle’s condition, configuration and operating history are simultaneously used to predict when failures are likely to occur.
The company says the approach permits more proactive and timely maintenance actions, thus avoiding downtime associated with the vehicle from being taken out of service for repair.
At the core of this effort is the Department of Defense’s strategic initiative known as Condition Based Maintenance Plus (CBM+), which encompasses the enabling technologies, processes and procedures focused on a wide range of weapon systems sustainment improvements. CBM+ supports real-time system sustainment decision-making based on predictive need, rather than set intervals of time.
Ricardo Defense is providing systems architecture, engineering and integration support to ensure that data collected onboard the vehicles is made available not only to the army more efficiently for the performance of maintenance and repair tasks, but also to the AFC engineers for data analysis using high performance computers. (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.