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22 Nov 19. Decision awaited on Philippine light tanks. The Philippines has still not made a decision on what platforms it will choose for its extant light tank procurement, although contenders believe it is likely to occur by Q1 of 2020 because of budgetary deadlines. In the meantime, several contenders were out in force at Defense & Security 2019 in Bangkok, including Excalibur Army and PT Pindad.
The Philippine project is divided into two components: a tracked and a wheeled light tank both fitted with a 105mm weapon. Shephard understands that contenders for the former include the Hanwha K21-105 from South Korea, the General Dynamics European Land Systems ASCOD 2 (a 120mm-armed version is pictured above) and the PT Pindad Harimau/FNSS Kaplan medium tank.
Meanwhile, there is also a trio of platforms vying for the 8×8 wheeled requirement: Excalibur Army from the Czech Republic with the Pandur II, Iveco with the Centauro II and Otokar in Turkey with the Arma.
Others were invited to respond to an RfI issued by the Philippine Army’s relevant Technical Working Group, but the Maxdefense Philippines blogsite reports that the above six have been shortlisted for the government-to-government deal.
The army realised its need for vehicles with heavier guns after the dust had settled on the battle for Marawi in the southern Philippines, where troops struggled to eject Islamic insurgents from the urban terrain. The army believes a mix of wheeled and tracked vehicles will give the optimal balance of mobility.
According to Philippine procurement laws, a selected piece of equipment must be in service with the source country’s armed forces as well as at least two foreign militaries. According to the above list, PT Pindad’s Harimau would not qualify and nor would Hanwha’s offering given that the IFV version of the K21 is used only by the Republic of Korea Army.
Meanwhile, in terms of 8×8 wheeled platforms, the Pandur II is used by three militaries and soon by Indonesia, while the Centauro has been procured by four nations. The Arma, on the other hand, is used only by Bahrain. This regulation could thus prove pivotal in choosing the eventual winner.
Another issue relates to politics and sanctions. Of all these offerings in both the tracked and wheeled categories, only two turrets are available, either from John Cockerill Defence (formerly CMI Defence) or OTO Melara. The former is on offer for the K21-105, Harimau/Kaplan and Arma, and the Italian Hitfact MkII 105mm turret on the remaining three vehicles.
However, Belgium is known to have imposed tight controls on the export of military equipment to the Philippines because of concerns over human rights abuses. Although a Belgian government official earlier told Shephard that no sanctions existed for the Philippines, the Southeast Asian country is known to be experiencing serious difficulties in obtaining equipment from other Belgian companies.
Shephard believes these above factors may limit the available platforms to just three for the Philippines: the ASCOD 2, Pandur II and Centauro II.
Shephard spoke to Excalibur Army at the Bangkok show, with the Czech concern holding a licence to produce the Pandur II. Jakub Cmuchalek, territory sales director, said his company is cooperating with General Dynamics and that the tender is being led by Elbit Systems. The Israeli company has enjoyed tremendous sales successes in the Philippines, including the refurbishment of numerous M113s with new weapon and digital systems, which must provide some kind of advantage.
A further benefit could be obtained by Manila if the two platforms from the Elbit Systems-led teaming arrangement are selected to equip the army’s Mechanized Infantry Division. That would mean the entire light tank acquisition could be more easily managed.
Shephard understands that the Elbit Systems offer includes 30 vehicles: 18 tracked vehicles, 10 wheeled vehicles and two tracked support vehicles (command and recovery). While the Philippines originally said it wanted 44 vehicles for this Horizon 2 project, its budget of PHP9.484bn ($190m) is certainly insufficient.
The Philippine Army is also procuring a single 105mm tank gunnery simulator, although this seems somewhat premature given that the actual vehicle has not been selected yet. The army is seeking a full-motion simulator for PHP36.2m ($720,000), but it is rather odd that the simulator has been separated from the light tank procurement. Bids were due on 29 August.
Cmuchalek said Excalibur Army had enjoyed other recent sales successes in Southeast Asia as well, including engineering vehicles for Vietnam and a significant number of M3 amphibious bridging systems for Indonesia.
Indonesia’s MoD also signed a $82m agreement with PT Pindad in April to procure Pandur II vehicles fitted with an Ares 30mm unmanned turret (a licenced Elbit UT30 MK2), but PT Pindad is yet to finalise a separate contract with Excalibur Army for local production.
Cmuchalek was unable to disclose how many vehicles this project entails, but Shephard previously reported it was for 22 vehicles. (Source: Shephard)
22 Nov 19. Oshkosh Defense seeks TerraMax growth. Oshkosh Defense is targeting an increasing range of applications for its TerraMax Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) autonomous technology, with the company seeing uses for TerraMax and related offerings beyond logistics and in more strategic capabilities, the company has told Jane’s .
The company began developing the TerraMax UGV in the early 2000s, creating a modular kit that can essentially transform any tactical wheeled vehicle into a UGV. The system enables a single operator to supervise multiple vehicles at once with beyond line of sight situational awareness, with the vehicles capable of functioning autonomously. It has been integrated onto a range of platforms, including the US Marines Corps’ Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR), the US Army’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV), the MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV) and the Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTV).
The aim is for TerraMax – and new systems spun off from TerraMax – to function as a scalable kit that “can plug and play on any one of our vehicle systems”, said Pat Williams, vice president and general manager of US Army and Marine Corps Programs at the company. He explained that the goal is to create a multimodal autonomous capability where users could choose to control the vehicle remotely, allow it to operate fully autonomously, or operate it manually depending on their needs.
TerraMax was initially aimed primarily at logistics operations, Williams said, removing the need to deploy personnel into harm’s way. It has also been used in route clearance, with M-ATVs pushing a mine roller.
What we’re seeing now is the functionality being transferred to other roles beyond logistics,” Williams said. For example, he pointed to the US Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle – Light (RCVL) competition for which Oshkosh is one of the competitors as well as the medium (RCV-M) version of the vehicle. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
21 Nov 19. Chaiseri extends its vehicle family tree. Thai company Chaiseri brought approximately 15 armoured vehicles to the Defense & Security 2019 exhibition in Bangkok – some of which participated in the opening ceremony – and the total included several completely new members of the maturing First Win family. However, the most significant success for Chaiseri in recent times is the sale of vehicles to a neighbouring country. The Indonesian Army displayed First Win I 4×4 types at an anniversary event on 5 October. Chaiseri could not disclose how many vehicles Indonesia is buying, but Shephard understands from other sources that they are being used by Kopassus special forces.
First Win Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle
One of the new platforms on show was the First Win Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle, which is ideal for infantry and for artillery observers. The 12t vehicle was seen fitted with a mast-mounted sensor from Controp that gives a 20km range. As well as its observation capability, this sensor can integrate with a roof-mounted Elbit RWS via the vehicle’s digitised architecture.
The Armoured Reconnaissance Vehicle has a 300hp rear-mounted engine with the option of amphibious travel should customers choose it. Designed for field use by infantry units, the high-mobility vehicle can accommodate up to six soldiers including the driver. It is 6.02m long, 2.32m wide and 2.5m high with a ground clearance of 500mm.
Kan Koolhiran, managing director at Chaiseri, said the Royal Thai Army (RTA) would begin trials with the new vehicle immediately after the Bangkok show.
First Win AIFV / Armoured Wheeled Amphibious Vehicle
Similar in size is the First Win Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV), although its main difference is that it is designed for amphibious mobility. Powered by rear-mounted propellers, it can move at water speeds of 8km/h, plus it can ford obstacles up to 1m deep. Chaiseri also refers to it as the Armoured Wheeled Amphibious Vehicle (AWAV). Later it will be tested in the sea and is expected to be able to operate in Sea State 2.
The First Win AIFV weighing 11.5t is slightly wider at 2.596m, which should assist with waterborne stability. It is 6.09m long and 2.42m high, and it is powered by a 330hp engine. Again, it can accommodate up to six passengers/crew.
Another new vehicle is the First Win Armoured Light Vehicle (ALV), designed with end-users such as police and security forces in mind. Indeed, Koolhiran said it would make a good replacement for HMMWVs when customers need to update older HMMWV fleets with something possessing greater protection levels.
The ALV is narrower than an HMMWV at 2.15m and it is the most compact member of the First Win family. The 7.2t vehicle measures 5.15m long and 2.3m high. The ALV’s focus is on ballistic protection rather than blast protection.
Given its lighter weight, the ALV is powered by a 215hp engine and it can carry six passengers. Koolhiran said that customers can specify engines, transmissions and axles for the First Win family, with options including Caterpillar, Cummins and Allison.
Chaiseri continues to offer the 9t First Win I (as used by Thailand and Indonesia) and the larger 12.5t First Win II (acquired by Thailand and Malaysia). The Thai company also exhibited an ambulance variant of the First Win II at the Bangkok show, this aimed at existing users as well as the United Nations for peacekeeping duties. Four stretcher patients can be carried in the rear compartment.
Koolhiran also confirmed that his company has successfully completed the upgrade of V-150s for the Royal Thai Marine Corps (RTMC). He could not divulge numbers, but he said so thorough is the upgrade that essentially the only remnants from the original V-150 is the hull. The engine, transmission and internal equipment have all been replaced with First Win innards. The addition of a V-shaped hull meant the V-150 lost its swimming ability.
Chaiseri has already received a contract to upgrade old V-150s for the Royal Thai Air Force, and deliveries will commence in 2020. The RTA is yet to make a decision on the upgrade of its V-150s, however.
One final vehicle on display was an AAV7PA1 that Chaiseri has upgraded to the equivalent of RAM/RS standard for the RTMC. Three units were completed last year, and more will be done in the future with plans to eventually upgrade 18 AAV7s.
Chaiseri has also designed and built a prototype tracked IFV for an undisclosed customer. While Koolhiran could not name the client, he said it is ready for delivery so that user trials can commence. If these are successful, Chaiseri could expect a production contract to be awarded. (Source: Shephard)
21 Nov 19. Jordan testing upgraded Centauros. Star Defence Logistics and Engineering (SDLE) has repaired the first 10 of 80 Centauro armoured fighting vehicles for Jordan and is about to begin delivering third-generation thermal cameras for them under a contract signed in 2018, the Spanish company announced on 21 November. It said the Royal Jordanian Army is currently putting the vehicles through demanding acceptance tests and that the cameras were tested under extreme conditions in the kingdom in August, proving they can detect targets 11 km away. It added that the final maintenance course it is providing for Jordanian technicians will be completed before the end of the year. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
20 Nov 19. Thailand’s DTI set to receive upgraded BTR 3CS AFV. Thales has announced that the first C5I-enabled BTR 3CS armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) will be delivered to Thai Defence Technology Institute (DTI) by the end of December. DTI is a research and development agency operating under the Thai Ministry of Defence (MoD). The agency is procuring the upgraded armoured personnel carrier (APC) to deliver improved capabilities to the Royal Thai Army on the battlefield. According to British publishing firm Jane’s, BTR 3CS is a command version of the Ukrainian BTR-3 8×8 AFV. The vehicle was developed in a collaborative effort involving DTI, Ukroboronprom, Thales and Datagate. Thales is equipping the APC with a computerised, command, control, communications and combat information (C5I) system under a memorandum of agreement (MoA) signed with DTI and Datagate last year. The advanced communications solutions being incorporated into the vehicle will enhance the Royal Thai Army’s battlefield digitisation. Enhancements will enable quick decision-making and deliver an advantage to soldiers on the battlefield. As part of the project, the vehicle will be equipped with integrated digital radio communications with very high-frequency (VHF) combat net radios. The combat platform will also include a battle management system for tactical command and control.
Thales Thailand country director Massimo Marzini said: “Thales supports the long-term ambitions of the Thai Government to grow its capabilities in the digital domain, including moving the country to Thailand 4.0.
“This extends to enhancing the armed forces’ capabilities in the battlefield by equipping them with the high-end communications solutions needed to gain an edge. We continue to enable Thailand to deepen its expertise in digital defence through close partnership with local industry and continued training and transfer-of-technology.”
The company’s C5I system is also expected to provide the potential for incorporation of self-protection, sensors and alert systems.
The upgraded communication capabilities will provide an integrated system to conduct command activities planning, radio communications and tactical information sharing. DTI unveiled a prototype of the upgraded BTR 3CS fighting vehicle at the Defense and Security (D&S) 2019 event. (Source: army-technology.com)
21 Nov 19. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) celebrates 40 years of Leopard 2. In autumn 1979, the Bundeswehr introduced the first system to uniquely combine the combat value criteria of firepower, mobility, protection and commandability. International guests from the military and from industry took part in the ceremony and, during a panel discussion entitled “A European Tank Fleet: First Step Towards a European Army?”, talked about
the future of the Leopard 2. The continuous development and upgrading of the Leopard 2 A4 to the current A7V variant make it even today one of the best main battle tanks in the world, on which a total of 19 nations rely.
21 Nov 19. ECA Group contributes to the TURMA consortium for the European EDIDP programme to develop the military land vehicles of the future As part of the European Commission’s call for tenders (EDIDP), ECA Group is joining the consortium TURMA which stands for « Teaming – Unmanned – Robotic – Manned – Architecture ». ECA Group will participate to this project by providing its recognized expertise in the planning and supervision of robot missions. Building on its expertise in drones systems and its innovation capacities, this project will push the boundaries of robotics and contribute to Europe’s leading position in this promising sector. Within the framework of the call for projects prefiguring the future European Defence Fund (EDIDP), the TURMA grouping brings together 24 SMEs, ETIs, large groups and public institutions from 9 European countries. Coordinated by the Belgian group John Cockerill, its objective is to limit the exposure to dangers of troops deployed in theatres of operations, while increasing their on-ground effectiveness. In practice, the idea is to enable the military to adapt to their mission’s requirements by reversibly transforming all of their armoured vehicles into autonomous or remotely operated platforms, capable of acting independently or in swarms. This ability will be useful, for example, in responding to contaminated environments or extracting an injured person from a hazardous area. This particularly innovative versatility will be made possible by the development of technological, software and physical bricks, which can be integrated both in the tanks currently in service within the various armies or in the future vehicles.
ECA Group with its expertise in drone systems will contribute in the planning and supervision of robot missions in order to provide an integrated platform for programming and controlling a fleet of unmanned vehicles. In the field of mine clearance at sea, the group has already developed and marketed UMISOFTTM software suite for mission management and collaboration of drones of different types (surface, submarine, aerial). Relying on this proven and reliable architecture as well as on its expertise in land (UGVs) and air (UAVs) robotics, a new generation of software will be developed to adapt to land patrol missions, urban combat or convoy protection in the event of asymmetric warfare. The system to be developed will integrate new powerful algorithms capable to provide the best solutions on a battlefield, in real time and take into account as much information as possible provided by the drones and sensors.
Particular attention will be paid to the human-machine interface since part of the system’s acceptance and effectiveness will be directly related to its design. The more relevant and unambiguous the information displayed, the more operators will be able to remain focused on the main objectives of the mission. Data communication and securing the entire system against cyber-attacks will also be among the priorities considered. Beyond the military dimension, many elements are also adaptable to civilian applications. By extension, this programme therefore offers that Europe obtain strategic independence in the markets for unmanned land systems, ranging from armoured vehicles to autonomous cars. What the TURMA project offers the European Union is thus a typical example of what defence cooperation shall be today: inclusive with actors of all types and from many countries, useful in developing technological bricks that will benefit the whole industry, economic by adapting to the technologies of the future as well as to existing equipment and practical by strengthening the link between advanced technology and the people it must serve.
18 Nov 19. MHI unveils APC demonstrator for JGDSF’s Type 96 replacement programme. Japanese company Mitsubishi Heavy Industries (MHI) unveiled an 8×8 armoured personnel carrier (APC) demonstrator at the 18-20 November DSEI Japan 2019 defence exhibition in Chiba. The 8m-long and 2.8m-wide demonstrator will be used as the basis for the Mitsubishi Armoured Vehicle that will compete with Patria’s Armoured Modular Vehicle and GDLS’s Light Armored Vehicle (LAV) 6.0 in a series of trials aimed at finding a replacement for the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force’s (JGSDF’s) Type 96 8×8 APCs. MHI’s Mitsubishi Armoured Vehicle, which will be approximately 2.2 m-high and have a gross weight of 28 tonnes, is expected to be operated by a crew of two and be capable of transporting at least nine troops in full combat gear, depending on the requirement, according to MHI. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
18 Nov 19. Thailand unveils BTR-3CS command vehicle. Thailand’s Defence Technology Institute (DTI) – a military research, development and industrial agency under the Thai Ministry of Defence (MoD) – unveiled a prototype of a new command version of the BTR-3 8×8 armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) at the opening day of the Defense and Security (D&S) 2019 show in Bangkok on 18 November. The vehicle is designated BTR-3CS – also known as ACPC-01 (Armoured Command Post Carrier) – and was built through a collaborative programme funded by the DTI and incorporating Ukrainian state-owned defence industrial group UkrOboronProm and local firm Datagate, which assembled the prototype at its facilities in Chachoengsao, south-central Thailand. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
17 Nov 19. Tyron Runflat Ltd has introduced a new All Terrain Runflat (ATR) multi-piece solution to its ATR runflat product portfolio.
Called the ATR-Custom, the new system is designed for vehicles fitted with standard single-piece wheels as an alternative to Tyron Multibands or third-party plastic-type runflats. The two-piece runflat solution does not require a hydraulic press to squeeze the runflat in and out of the tyre, making it field-mountable and demountable and minimising the logistics footprint of armoured vehicles. The ATR-Custom is made of rubber which gives extra protection to off-road 4×4 and military vehicles. Unlike plastic or composite materials, rubber absorbs the shocks encountered with kerb strikes and pot-holes and in the off-road environment, drastically reducing vibration and stresses that can transmit through the runflat to the wheels, suspension, axels and drive shafts. Rubber is far superior, offering a much smoother ride for the vehicle driver and occupants, and a lesser degree of wear and tear on the vehicle. Additionally, as rubber is a compliant material, it prevents damage to the tyre itself caused by impingement between the runflat and the inside of the tyre.
“The ATR-Custom is a new alternative for users seeking a multi-part runflat for military vehicles that do not have multi-piece wheels,” said Richard Glazebrook, Chief Executive of Tyron Runflat Ltd. “We are pleased to introduce this new solution at DSEI Japan, which is a market in which we see great opportunities for growth for our company.”
Tyron is exhibiting its full range of All Terrain Rubber (ATR) Runflats at DSEI Japan on Stand B500, including its patented multi-piece unit, the ATR-MP; and the Carbon-ATR, which reduces the total runflat weight by up to 40% by replacing the steel spine with a carbon fibre one, making it the lightest rubber runflat in the world.
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.