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08 Nov 19. Two for the price of one: Why is Australia being charged double for Boxer MIVs?

The United Kingdom’s Ministry of Defence has announced that it has committed to purchase over 500 Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicles for $5.2bn, with first delivery slated for 2023. The only issue is: that’s the same price Australia is paying for just 211 of the vehicles.

The UK officially rejoined the Boxer program last year, announcing its intention to explore options to “modernise its vehicle fleet and meet the Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle requirement”.

“Our men and women of the Armed Forces deserve to have the best equipment to do their job,” said UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace.

“The Boxer vehicle is a leader in its field and I look forward to it arriving in units from 2023.”

The expensive backflip will see the UK receive over 500 of the 8×8 high mobility, network enabled armoured vehicles within four years’ time.

“I am delighted that we have committed to delivering the Mechanised Infantry capability through the purchase of around 500 battle-winning Boxer vehicles for the British Army,” Major General Simon Hamilton, Mechanised Infantry Vehicle Programme lead for the British Army, said about the announcement.

“Boxer completes the suite of platforms to equip our new state-of-the-art STRIKE brigade where, alongside Ajax, Boxer’s low logistic need, extended reach, high mobility, and advanced digitisation will ensure STRIKE is ready for any global scenario.”

Australia chose the Rheinmetall-built vehicle early last year as the recipient of the Land 400 Phase 2 Project tender, with first delivery taking place just over a month ago in Brisbane.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said that the new vehicles, with their high levels of protection, firepower and mobility, will provide a world-class capability to the Australian Army.

“These new vehicles are part of the government’s $200bn investment in our defence capability to ensure the Australian Defence Force is equipped to succeed in our challenging strategic environment,” Minister Reynolds said at a ceremony at Enogggera Barracks in Brisbane in late September.

The federal government estimates that Australian industry will secure about $10.2bn in acquiring and maintaining the fleet over the 30-year life of the vehicles.

Under the company’s offering to the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall will build a majority of the vehicles at the company’s specialised Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence in Queensland.

A total of 12 small businesses across Australia will contribute to the Boxer program, which defence said is “ensuring the delivery of these vehicles is a national enterprise”.

While the acquisition of the Boxers is a positive for both the ADF and Australian industry, both in advancing capability and boosting the local economy, questions have been asked about the price Australia is shelling out for the MIVs, compared to the UK.

On the face of their announcement, the UK is paying around $10m per Boxer vehicle, while Australia is paying closer to $25m a unit.

So why is there such a difference in price?

According to Defence, the simple of it is that the UK’s acquisition is going to cost a lot more than the $5.2bn they’ve announced.

“Australia’s total acquisition project investment of over $5bn reflects whole of life costs in addition to each vehicle unit purchase price,” Defence Connect was told by a Defence spokesperson.

“These whole of life costs include facilities, training, support and other project sustainment costs over the full life of the project.”

Assuming the unit price is lowered to the same “aroundabout” cost of $10m that the United Kingdom is paying, does it really cost more double, per unit, to support the Boxer program?

Well, yes.

Defence has advised in the past that sustainment costs for complex capabilities are usually two to two-and-a-half times the cost of the acquisition, which puts that pricing pretty spot on by itself.

However, Australia’s decision to build the majority of the vehicles locally will also see costs rise, rather than just importing the Boxers.

“The more ‘sovereign’ the support model, the higher the cost,” the Australian Strategic Policy Institute commented (in regards to the F-35 program, but it still holds true for the Boxers).

So just how much will the UK actually pay for the Boxer?

In early 2018, the British Minister for Defence Procurement Guto Bebb said that the program would cost around $8.2bn for procurement and the first 10 years of support costs.

Applying the same level of price across the 30-year estimated lifespan of the Boxer, that figure rises beyond the $10n mark, at least.

Suddenly, the costs begin to align a little more fairly between Australia and the UK.

Digging a little deeper into the UK’s announcement of the purchase, and the reasons for the misleading figures become pretty apparent.

“This contract was signed ahead of the pre-election period due to the strong value-for-money agreement reached with industry and other OCCAR nations, which expires on December 31st 2019, and announced today due to expected market implications. It would be possible for a new government to take a different position,” the release from the British Ministry of Defence read.

“The MOD Permanent Secretary, as the Accounting Officer, considered the value for money implications and, on this basis, determined the most appropriate course of action is to proceed with the contract award ahead of the election.”

With an election coming up, a backflip purchase becomes a lot easier to swallow for the public when it’s presented at less than half its actual cost. (Source: Defence Connect)

06 Nov 19. General Dynamics is missing $1.5bn due to a Canadian-Saudi spat. An ongoing diplomatic battle between Canada and Saudi Arabia is hitting American defense firm General Dynamics hard, to the tune of about $1.5bn in missing payments for land vehicles sold to the kingdom.

During the company’s Oct. 23 quarterly earnings call, officials from General Dynamics revealed the roughly $1.5bn in payments Saudi Arabia currently owes for a light armored vehicle contract run through General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada.

More specifically, that figure stems from vehicles delivered to Saudi Arabia that have not been paid for, and the amount has grown quarter by quarter in the last year, according to General Dynamics filings. The number could grow as large as $2.6bn given production that is already underway on vehicles not yet delivered, the company added.

In the quarterly earnings call, General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic acknowledged that “the payments on our international program out of Canada have remained slow,” but stressed that “there no dispute on the fact that it is owed. It’s simply a question of timing, and we are still hopeful that we resolve that by the end of the year.”

Several industry analysts said that amount of delayed payments is unusual, with one analyst, speaking on condition of anonymity, saying the issue is having real impacts on the defense firm.

“It is doing great damage to GD. Most defense primes are up 30 to 60 percent year to date, while GD is only up 11 percent,” the analyst said. “This will be a nail-biter right to the very end.”

Technically Saudi Arabia doesn’t owe General Dynamics anything; military sales are run through the Canadian Commercial Corporation, which acts as a middle man. However, General Dynamics effectively is taking the hit, as CCC can’t pay for the vehicles if the kingdom doesn’t hand over the cash. Notably, the Canadian government last summer moved up its plans to buy its own light armored vehicles, or LAV, handing over a large advance payment to General Dynamics with that contract; while officially unrelated to the Saudi situation, this move was seen by many in Canada as CCC trying to do right by its industry partner.

Saudi Arabia has been a major customer of American-made high-end defense equipment throughout the years. Since the start of fiscal 2017, for example, Saudi Arabia submitted 14 foreign military sales requests for U.S. goods, worth an estimated $26.3bn, a figure which does not capture lower level requests or direct commercial sales, nor weapons purchased from other nations.

According to a Canadian government report, Saudi Arabia was Canada’s largest non-U.S. defense export destination in 2018; the kingdom received approximately $1.3bn in Canadian military exports that year, which makes up for 62 percent of Canada’s total military exports, excluding to the United States.

The LAV deal is the second of its kind signed between General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada and Saudi Arabia, with an estimated 1,400 LAVs going to Riyadh over the previous two decades. Those vehicles are equipped with a variety of weapon systems, ranging from 25mm cannons to 90mm guns.

Frozen relations

In 2014, Canada agreed to a roughly CA$14.8 bn (U.S. $11.3 bn) deal to sell to Saudi Arabia hundreds of the light armored vehicles; the exact quantities of the deal, along with many other aspects of the contract, remain secretive, but media reports suggest finalized deal may be for about 700 vehicles, with more than 200 already delivered. Despite some domestic opposition to Canadian arms sales to Saudi, the deal was upheld by the Trudeau government due to the impact on jobs.

But in August 2018, relations between Riyadh and Ottawa crumbled when Canadian officials issued statements of support for human rights activists that had been detained in Saudi Arabia. In a shockingly fast escalation, Saudi government officials quickly moved to kick out the Canadian ambassador and announced the suspension of any potential new business with Canadian firms, as well as recalling all Saudi students from Canadian universities.

That relationship remains “frozen,” said Thomas Juneau, a professor at the University of Ottawa who previously worked as an analyst with the Canadian Department of National Defence.

That’s important, he added, because of how Saudi Arabia views its defense expenditures. Certainly, there is a national defense aspect to it, but the kingdom also views large defense purchases as a key tool in creating diplomatic ties with nations.

If those diplomatic ties remain frozen, Juneau noted, spending “those bns doesn’t make sense anymore.” In fact, giving a Canadian firm all that money — and the roughly 3,000 jobs associated with it — could even be “counterproductive, to some extent,” he said.

“Given that context, it’s very, very likely to me that the main reason for that delay is the political context of Canadian-Saudi relations,” he added. “I have a very hard time conceiving of any other dominant reason why Saudi [Arabia] would be so late in the payments. It has to be because of the bilateral relationship context.”

Becca Wasser, a senior policy analyst at the think tank Rand, agreed the spat with Canada likely “pushed this payment lower on their [Saudi Arabia’s] list of priorities.” But she also noted that Saudi Arabia is well-known for its “already slow repayment practices — which have been exacerbated by some of its recent financial overstretch.”

Indeed, the kingdom has built a reputation for slow payments to foreign firms. In addition to General Dynamics, the Wall Street Journal revealed in January that American firm Bechtel was leading a consortium of firms to try to push Saudi Arabia to speed payments for construction work, while U.S.-based Boston Consulting Group was owed $125m in back payments. (Source: Defense News)

06 Nov 19. Russian army receives first fully upgraded T-80BVM tanks. The Russian army has received the first batch of upgraded T-80BVM main battle tanks (MBTs) from JSC Omsk Transport Machine-Building Plant (Omsktransmash), a subsidiary of Rostec’s Uralvagonzavod corporation, the plant’s spokesperson announced on 31 October, without specifying numbers. Omsktransmash director general Igor Lobov said that the upgraded T-80BVM had received a reinforced protection suite comprising modular explosive reactive armour (ERA), a new gunner’s sight, and an upgraded fire-control system. The tank is powered by a multifuel gas-turbine engine with improved fuel efficiency and carries ERA side screens and bar-slat armour.

Analysis

The Russian military had previously received partially upgraded T-80BV MBTs with frontally and turret top mounted modular Relikt ERA, a Sosna-U multichannel sighting system, a TVN-5 driver’s sight, and a DVE-BS wind sensor, among other equipment. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Nov 19. DoD Should Consider Truly Autonomous Weapons: Bipartisan AI Commission.

“The Commission is not glorifying the prospect of AI-enabled warfare, [but] adopting AI for defense and security purposes is an urgent national imperative.”

The US military should adopt artificial intelligence urgently without letting debates over ethics and human control “paralyze AI development,” a congressionally mandated panel says. “In light of the choices being made by our strategic competitors, the United States must also examine AI through a military lens, including concepts for AI-enabled autonomous operations.” (Emphasis ours).

In what will likely be controversial on Capitol Hill, the interim report released yesterday by the the bipartisan National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence is full-throated in its defense of the pursuit of autonomous, AI-driven military systems as not only ethical but essential for future US military operations. Even in the military, some commanders have been publicly reluctant to trust AI — especially for anything related to nuclear weapons.

Notably, nowhere does commission use the phrase ‘human in the loop,’ the language currently favored by the Pentagon to assert that a human would always have ultimate control over any autonomous system.” That phrase, in turn, is an oversimplification of the current Department of Defense policy on autonomous systems, DoD Instruction 3000.9 — which also goes remarkably unmentioned, referenced in a single footnote to one of its 101 pages.

“Ethics and strategic necessity are compatible with one another,” the report says. “Defense and national security agencies must develop and deploy AI in a responsible, trusted, and ethical manner…. Everyone desires safe, robust, and reliable AI systems free of unwanted bias, and recognizes today’s technical limitations. Everyone wants to establish thresholds for testing and deploying AI systems worthy of human trust and to ensure that humans remain responsible for the outcomes of their use. Some disagreements will remain, but the Commission is concerned that debate will paralyze AI development.”

“Inaction on AI development raises as many ethical challenges as AI deployment,” the report continues. “There is an ethical imperative to accelerate the fielding of safe, reliable, and secure AI systems that can be demonstrated to protect the American people, minimize operational dangers to U.S. service members, and make warfare more discriminating, which could reduce civilian casualties.”

The Army seeks a next-generation armed scout helicopter with increased speed, range, survivability and even autonomy – not just a conventional helicopter.

“Adopting AI for defense and security purposes is an urgent national imperative,” is one of the seven consensus-agreed principles agreed to be the commissioners. “The Commission is not glorifying the prospect of AI-enabled warfare,” they write. “But new technology is almost always employed for the pursuit of power. In light of the choices being made by our strategic competitors, the United States must also examine AI through a military lens, including concepts for AI-enabled autonomous operations.”

The concept of fully autonomous weapon systems is highly controversial, both in the US and among US allies. As we reported back in August, the International Campaign to Stop Killer Robots nearly doubled its membership over the past year, to 113 NGOs in 57 countries as well as The Vatican and Palestinian Authority. A total of 90 nations have called for negotiations towards some kind of ban.

In addition, an August report by the Congressional Research Service found that there is a widespread consensus at the United Nations that “appropriate levels of human judgement must be maintained” over any lethal autonomous weapon even though there is not agreement on a ban.

The commission’s seven guiding principles were agreed as a method for shaping the robust US debate about the linkage of AI to national defense and military systems, the report explains. Others include making global leadership a national security priority with a robust government investment strategy in order to maintain the US technological edge; investing in domestic STEM eduction and recruiting foreign talent; and maintaining free and open academic research.

The commission stressed, however, that the 101-page report is not final and thus does not make “final recommendations, suggest major organizational changes, or propose specific investment priorities in rank order attached to dollar figures.” The final report is due to Congress in October 2020.

The commission was established by the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act. Chaired by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who also chairs DoD’s Defense Innovation Board, it has 15 members including Bob Work, former DoD deputy secretary who serves as vice chairman.

“The development of AI will shape the future of power,” the report states bluntly. “The nation with the most resilient and productive economic base will be best positioned to seize the mantle of world leadership. That base increasingly depends on the strength of the innovation economy, which in turn will depend on AI. AI will drive waves of advancement in commerce, transportation, health, education, financial markets, government, and national defense.”

It identifies “five fundamental lines of effort that are necessary to preserve U.S. advantages: Invest in AI Research and Development (R&D); Apply AI to National Security Missions; Train and Recruit AI Talent; Protect and Build Upon U.S. Technology Advantages; and Marshal Global AI Cooperation.”

The report explains that the commission’s work so far has focused on four major issues:

  • foreign threats to our national security in the current AI era;
  • how AI can improve the government’s ability to defend the country, cooperate

with allies, and preserve a favorable balance of military power in the world;

  • the relationship between AI and economic competitiveness as a component of national security, including the strength of our scientific research community and our larger workforce; and
  • ethical considerations in fielding AI systems for national security purposes.

Threats posed by AI misuse, the report says, include disinformation that undermine democratic systems; erosion of privacy and civil liberties; increasing cyber attacks; and increased potential for catastrophic accidents.

It also posits the benefits of AI for homeland defense, the Intelligence Community (IC) and the military:

  • For homeland defense, the report says, AI-enable tools can assist with border protections, cybersecurity, protection of critical infrastructure and natural disaster response.
  • For the Intelligence Community, “AI algorithms can sift through vast amounts of data to find patterns, detect threats, and identify correlations. AI tools can make satellite imagery, communications signals, economic indicators, social media data, and other large sources of information more intelligible. AI-enabled analysis can provide faster and more precise situational awareness that supports higher quality decision-making.”
  • On future battlefields, the military “could use AI-enabled machines, systems, and weapons to understand the battlespace more quickly; develop a common joint operating picture more rapidly; make relevant decisions faster; mount more complex multi-domain operations in contested environments; put fewer U.S. service members at risk; and protect innocent lives and reduce collateral damage.”

Of course, if those applications, however appealing, require relinquishing or even reducing human control, the controversy will be intense. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)

05 Nov 19. UK signs Boxer contract. The United Kingdom has signed a GBP2.8bn (USD3.6bn) contract for more than 500 Boxer 8×8 Mechanised Infantry Vehicles (MIVs), the Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced on its website on 5 November. The ministry said the British Army would initially buy a mix of the Boxer armoured personnel carrier, ambulance, command vehicle, and special versions for carrying military equipment.

The vehicles will form part of the British Army’s Strike Brigades. The British Army’s MIV programme lead, Major General Simon Hamilton, said, “Boxer completes the suite of platforms to equip our new state-of-the-art Strike Brigade, where, alongside Ajax, Boxer’s low logistic need, extended reach, high mobility, and advanced digitisation will ensure Strike is ready for any global scenario.”

The UK rejoined the Boxer programme within the Organisation for Joint Armament Cooperation (OCCAR) in March 2018 to meet the British Army’s MIV requirement.

Rheinmetall-Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) joint venture Artec produces the Boxer in 12 variants for Germany, Lithuania, and Netherlands, and Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) will be involved in the MIV programme in the UK. Even before the UK rejoined the Boxer programme, Artec had signed partnership agreements with BAE Systems, Pearson Engineering, and Thales in anticipation of a deal. Rolls-Royce engines already power Boxers, and Parker-Hannifin, William Cook Engineering, and other British companies supply sub-systems for the vehicle. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

05 Nov 19. The UK MoD announced today that a contract worth £2.8bn has been signed to provide state-of-the-art Boxer 8×8 armoured fighting vehicles to the British Army. The Defence Secretary has announced that the army will receive more than 500 Boxer 8×8 high mobility, network-enabled armoured vehicles to transport troops onto the frontline.

The vehicles will form part of the Army’s Strike brigades, new units set up to deploy rapidly over long distances across varied terrains.

Defence Secretary, Ben Wallace, said: “Our men and women of the Armed Forces deserve to have the best equipment to do their job. The Boxer vehicle is a leader in its field and I look forward to it arriving in units from 2023.”

BATTLESPACE Comment: Its been a long journey but at last, after 28 years, the British Army has the 8×8 vehicle it requires for battlefield mobility. The Boxer is undoubtedly the right choice for the British Army in terms of mobility and supportability and, together with the industrial package headed by RBSL, the BAE Systems, Rheinmetall Company, will bring the required industrial participation and export opportunities from the UK.

05 Nov 19. British Army poised to buy 500 Boxers MIVs. The British Army is poised to buy an initial lot of 500 Boxer mechanised infantry fighting vehicles (MIV) out of a potential total purchase of around 1,500, pending approval from the Treasury. The army displayed the vehicle at is Army Combat Power Demonstration last week and plans to use the vehicles in Strike brigades alongside incoming AJAX vehicles built by General Dynamics.

The order, which could cost up to £1.5bn, will need to achieve Treasury endorsement quickly or face being delayed until after the General Election on 12 December when a new UK Government could decide the fate of the programme. Plans to purchase the vehicle were first floated in 2018 after it was selected for the Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) requirement.

When the UK formally rejoined the Boxer programme the MOD said it expected to field the first vehicles by 2023.

The first 500 vehicles will form a central role in new British Army Strike groups that are modelled on US Stryker Brigades deployed in Europe. The brigades will combine light and heavy vehicles that can cover large areas of territory using combat teams spread across the battlefield.

US Army Stryker brigades use the General Dynamics Stryker to provide flexible tactical response capabilities to a range of threats.

The army favours the Boxer platform due to its increased mission-to-mission versatility, and modularity means the vehicle can perform any number of tasks needed from high-calibre artillery fire to armoured battlefield ambulance or troop transport roles.

This complements the AJAX platform that it would deploy alongside, as AJAX features six different vehicle variants covering reconnaissance to engineering support. The Boxer vehicle will replace the Bulldog, which has been in use since the 1960s, and the Mastiff, which saw extensive use in Afghanistan.

Despite the plans, the possible purchase is not yet approved. Army Technology reached out to the Treasury to see when a decision may be made but it has yet to respond.

Joint venture Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) described the vehicle on Twitter as the ‘new default solution for NATO countries’. A British Army source told Army Technology that the platform benefits the army as risks and rewards are shared across several countries rather than just the UK.

Production of the vehicles for the British Army will be led by Artec, the joint venture formed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles and Rheinmetall Military Vehicles Nederland with the majority of vehicles set to be built in the UK. Artec’s UK partners include BAE Systems, Pearson Engineering and Thales UK.

When initial plans to purchase the vehicles were unveiled last year, then Defence Procurement Minister Stuart Andrew said: “A new 8×8 armoured vehicle is a key part of our British Army’s future, and today marks a big step towards equipping our soldiers with this brand-new troop carrier.”

The British Army has a long stop-start history with the Boxer and was an initial member of the consortium to design the vehicle in the 1990s. The initial programme compromised of France, The UK and Germany, however, the UK dropped out of the programme in 2003 to pursue other platforms.

Australia also operates the Boxer, recently receiving its first of 211 vehicles selected to strengthen its vehicular power as part of the country’s LAND 400 Phase 2 Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability programme.

The Boxer features a double-V hull to deflect blasts delivered to the underside of the vehicle from mines or Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and features ‘mission modules’ which can be changed in an under an hour to allow the vehicle to complete different missions as is when is needed. Another key aspect of the vehicle is the greater interoperability it would allow with other European militaries and an expanded supply chain which will help drive down costs during manufacturing and maintenance. (Source: army-technology.com)

04 Nov 19. British Army to spend £1.5bn on Boxer vehicles. The British Army is to buy 500 new armoured personnel carriers more than 15 years after dropping out of the international consortium that developed them.

The eight-wheeled Mechanised Infantry Vehicle, known as the Boxer, has been praised for its so-called “mission flexibility”. The modular vehicle can be adapted into various roles including a command post, an ambulance, a troop carrier and an infantry fighting vehicle. Safety features include a V-shaped hull to deflect mines and roadside bombs, and remote-controlled weaponry.

The vehicle was developed from a plan first hatched in the 1990s by the UK, Germany and the Netherlands to develop the next-generation “battlefield taxi”. Britain was said to have “flounced out” of the programme in 2003, however, complaining the proposed vehicle was too big and heavy.

Francis Tusa, editor of Defence Analysis, said the move was viewed dimly at the time by programme partners, given that the UK had made many of the demands that led to additional weight, size and cost. He welcomed plans to buy it now, but said: “It has taken an insanely long time to get to this stage.”

The contract, expected to total at least £1.5bn, was due to be signed last week, but defence insiders said a six-month delay to the project is likely if it is not agreed before Whitehall enters a period of purdah on Wednesday before the general election. Analysts believe the deal may create up to 1,000 British jobs and that about 60 per cent of the value of each vehicle will be made on home soil. The British models will be built by BAE Systems and German-headquartered defence giant Rheinmetall, and delivered in 2023.

Lieutenant-Colonel Robert Page, leader of the British army’s Armoured Trials and Development Unit, praised the Boxers’ mission module flexibility.

Jack Watling, research fellow at the Royal United Services Institute, a think tank, said Boxer will make the army “more deployable, giving them greater mobility and protection. Unlike [British army patrol vehicle] Mastiff, which was bought to protect troops from improvised explosive devices, Boxer is suitable for high-end warfighting”.  (Source: The Times)

04 Nov 19. BAE Systems in unmanned tech demo. BAE Systems has been part of a demonstration for the Australian Army to investigate the potential of integrating autonomous technologies on the future battlefield.

Held at the Majura Training Site, the demonstration saw two M113 operate with installed hardware and software to enable them to operate autonomously. The onboard systems have been designed to comply with the rules of engagement, which require man in-the-loop decision-making.

Future operational scenarios that could be supported by the technology include soldiers being removed from the battlefield, as well as unmanned intelligence gathering and logistics support.

The BAE Systems autonomous technologies used for this project have already supported Australian and UK autonomy programmes such as Taranis, Mantis, Kingfisher UAS demonstrators as well as the Multi-All Terrain Vehicle and Digger UGV demonstrators. The M113 prototype vehicles will be used by the Australian Army to better understand the opportunities to employ autonomy on the battlefield as part of its recently released Robotics and Autonomous Systems Strategy. The vehicles will also be used as test vehicles for technology developed by the recently announced Trusted Autonomous Systems Defence Cooperative Research Centre. (Source: Shephard)

30 Oct 19. Finland receives final batch of Leopard 2A6FIN MBTs. The Finnish Army announced on 25 October that it had received the last of 100 Leopard 2A6FIN MBTs, which were ordered from the Netherlands as Leopard 2A6NLs in 2014 and subsequently upgraded. The tanks were received at Vuosaari Harbour on 25 October.

Along with the Leopard 2A4, the Leopard 2A6FIN has enabled the Finnish Army to expand and develop “inter-branch interoperability between the armour and the infantry,” the press release explained.

Colonel Rainer Peltoniemi, commander of the Häme Armoured Battalion, added that the Finnish Army had begun training with the Leopard 2A6 very quickly, starting in 2016. “It has been excellent to see how these tanks were introduced into operational use in such a short time,” Peltoniemi said, adding that the new vehicles have already provided the Finnish forces with “striking effectiveness.”

The modernised tanks enable the Finnish Army to sustain its fighting capability, as well as meet combat requirements, according to Col Peltoniemi.

The Leopard 2A6FIN fleet was ordered from the Netherlands in 2014 for EUR199m (USD273.5m). The tanks have been modified to the 2A6FIN standard, which includes installation of a wideband Intercom and secure packet radio, as well as modified stowage and skirt steps that are better suited to the winter clothing often worn by Finnish soldiers.

The surplus Dutch vehicles were selected as the most economical option to upgrade Finland’s heavy armour fleet. Upgrading the 2A4FIN fleet, which numbers 139 vehicles, was estimated to cost USD5m per vehicle in 2014. Procuring new-build Leopards at the 2A6 or 2A7 standard would have cost at least USD10m per vehicle. In contrast, the ex-Dutch tanks cost around USD2.5m each, including 10 years of spare parts, and an initial ammunition lot. (Source: IHS Jane’s)

30 Oct 19. Taiwan ready to buy A1M2T Abrams tanks from U.S. . Taiwan is prepared to purchase 108 Abrams M1A2T tanks from the United States under a $2.2bn deal, the Taiwanese army chief of staff said. At a question-and-answer session this week before the national legislature’s foreign affairs and defense committee, Lt. Gen. Yang Hai-ming confirmed that Taiwan will sign a letter of offer and acceptance in November.

Committee member Johnny Chaing said at the meeting that the letter from the United States is expected soon. In July, the U.S. Department of State gave its approval of the sale of 108 M1A2 Abrams tanks, 1,240 BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles, 409 FGM-148 Javelin anti-tank missiles and 250 FIM-92 Stinger surface-to-air missiles through the Foreign Military Sales program.

The sale of the Abrams, built in several variants in the United States by General Dynamics since 1979, replace its aging CM-11 Brave Tiger and M60A3 TTS battle tanks. The CM-11 was developed by American General Dynamics and the Taiwanese Army Armored Vehicle Development Center.

The Taiwanese Army and Lockheed Martin, of the 120mm gun on the Abrams (Ed: Licensed from Rheinmetall), are also in talks over a request to transfer 12 pieces of defense technology to Taiwan, Minister of National Defense Yen De-fa said at the meeting. Lockheed Martin seeks to transfer production technology to Taiwan so local contractors can build the gun. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/UPI)

04 Nov 19. Iveco Defence Vehicles to deliver additional amphibious platforms to the U.S. Marine Corps in partnership with BAE Systems. According to the contract for the new generation of Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACV) awarded in 2018, CNH Industrial subsidiary Iveco Defence Vehicles is providing its 8×8 amphibious armored platform design, core components and services. In the frame of the contract recently awarded by the U.S. Marine Corps to the company, BAE Systems, along with teammate Iveco Defence Vehicles, will deliver additional Amphibious Combat Vehicles under a third order for Low Rate Initial Production (LRIP). The award is for the ACV Personnel Carrier variant (ACV-P) and represents an important next step on the path to full rate production.

The ACV is an advanced 8×8 open ocean-capable vehicle that is equipped with a new six-cylinder, 700hp engine, which provides a significant power increase over the legacy fleet currently in service. The vehicle delivers best-in-class mobility in all terrain and has a suspended interior seat structure for 13 embarked Marines, blast-mitigating positions for a crew of three, and improved survivability and force protection over currently fielded systems.

Current low-rate production is focused on the ACV-P variant. Further special variants will be added under full rate production within the ACV Family of Vehicles program. Iveco Defence Vehicles and BAE Systems previously received the Lot 1 and Lot 2 awards.

As a leading provider of protected and integrated mobility solutions to military and civil protection customers, Iveco Defence Vehicles brings proven experience, having designed and built more than 30,000 multi-purpose, protected and armored military vehicles in service today.

01 Nov 19. A concept for the program of the TL1 Robotic Combat Vehicle was displayed for the first time at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) annual meeting last month in Washington. The new Robotic Combat Vehicles are developing as part of Army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle program, which in turn part of the ‘big six’ priorities of the service that also includes long-range precision fires, Future Vertical Lift, the network, air and missile defense, and Soldier lethality. The main goal of the unmanned RCV project – a creation of the next generation of vehicles that are not only more lethal and survivable than current combat platforms but much smaller, lighter, and more fuel efficient. Soldiers in the field need the right equipment to be successful. A tank that is too heavy to cross a bridge or maneuver through rough terrain and high altitudes can have a serious impact on mission success. (Source: Google/https://www.militaryaerospace.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.

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