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11 Dec 19. USMC integrate upgrades to off-the-shelf UTVs. The USMC announced Wednesday that its Utility Task Vehicles are undergoing safety and performance upgrades.
“We bought the vehicle as a [commercial-off-the-shelf] solution, so it’s not going to have everything we want right from the factory,” said Jason Engstrom, lead systems engineer for the UTV at PEO Land Systems, in a Marine Corps press release.
The changes underway include high clearance control arms, new run-flat tires, floorboard protection, a road march kit, a clutch improvement kit and an environmental protection cover.
Mechanics discovered control arms were getting bent due to rocks in areas the Marines were driving, and sticks were puncturing the floorboards.
The UTV team is also adding covers for driving on hot days and upgraded tires inspired by the offroad racing industry.
UTVs, which the Marine Corps began using in 2017, are equipped with minimal armor to allow infantry to carry ammunition, equipment, provisions or injured personnel. Each UTV is about 12 feet long and can carry up to four Marines or 1,500 pounds of supplies. The vehicles can also fit inside Marine Corps aircraft, like the MV-22 Osprey or the CH-53 helicopter. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/UPI)
10 Dec 19. The Netherlands receive the first Leguan bridge-layers. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) transferred the first two Leguan bridge laying systems to the Dutch Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) during a celebratory handover ceremony. The Netherlands opted for a bilateral procurement approach with Germany in 2016 and ordered a total of eight Leguan CSB (Close Support Bridge) on Leopard 2 chassis, additional equipment and training simulators. The final system will be delivered to the Netherlands in 2021.
10 Dec 19. Croatia to receive M2A2 ODS Bradley IFVs from US. Croatia is to receive M2A2 Operation ‘Desert Storm’ (ODS) Bradley infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) from the US, Defence Minister Damir Krstičević announced in Zagreb on 27 November. Krstičević said 60 vehicles would equip a heavy infantry battalion, with another 24 vehicles for spares, and that they are due to be delivered before the end of 2021. The vehicles will be overhauled and upgraded by Djuro Djakovic Special Vehicles, which Krstičević believes “has great potential for co-operation with the US-based BAE Systems in the establishment of a Bradley vehicle production/maintenance centre for this part of Europe right in Croatia through [the] transfer of knowhow and direct investment by the American partner”.
Krstičević valued the 60 Bradley IFVs at USD2-3m after the upgrade and the US donation of the vehicles at around USD84m, plus a direct grant of USD25m to begin the upgrade. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Dec 19. The British Army’s new tanks are designed for maximum stealth. The Ajax tank hasn’t been forged to wage war. Instead, this armoured fighting vehicle has been purpose-built for stealth. In Greek mythology, Ajax was a great, heroic warrior. Millennia later, the British Army’s state-of-the-art namesake is being readied for the battlefield. But the Ajax tank hasn’t been forged to wage war. Instead, this armoured fighting vehicle has been purpose-built for stealth. “Ajax is a reconnaissance vehicle with firing capabilities,” explains Scott Milne, chief engineer at General Dynamics UK, the defence company behind the vehicle. “It possesses the ability to fight for its information.”
Developed as part of a £4.5bn programme, 589 vehicles will be delivered to the British Army in six variants, with the first batch set to be battle-ready before the end of 2020. From microphones that can accurately locate enemy vehicles, to a laser-warning system that can automatically deploy smoke, Ajax is loaded with technology designed to give it an advantage when in action. “If a sniper’s laser is detected, the crew are alerted to its bearing,” says Milne. “If it’s from the rear, the system will ask the user if they want to move the turret towards the threat, and then deploy the smokes once in range. That can all happen automatically.”
Designing a vehicle that’s resilient enough to withstand mine blasts – while remaining quiet and stealthy – poses its challenges. “You have to deliver a level of survivability, while also catering for human factors to make sure you can fit the smallest woman to the largest male,” Milne adds. “It’s incorporating extremes.” Those extremes include Ajax being fully operational in temperatures from -46 to +49 degrees Celsius, with constant visibility thanks to its thermal imagery technology. Surveillance provided by eight cameras continuously builds up a fully digital, 360-degree view of the surroundings, which can then be shared across the battlefield.
Although the emphasis is on stealth, Ajax is capable of tremendous firepower, too: with a 40mm stabilised automatic cannon and a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. Its armour is easily modified: 12 tonnes can be removed manually in eight hours. The shape of the hull can deflect the effects of a mine blast, keeping those inside safe.
The vehicle’s primary sight can be automatically locked onto a moving target – without the gunner needing to use manually-controlled crosshairs. Milne says that the technology helps ease the cognitive load on a crew. “Whereas it would normally be up to the user to maintain target, the automatic video tracker will command the sight and turret – therefore, the weapon – automatically. Once you’ve trained the sight where the image is, it’ll lock on and aim onto that target. The whole process is streamlined, helping to reduce thinking and reaction times.” And, in a war zone, that can be the difference between life and death.
Whereas the Army’s current Scimitar tanks – first deployed in 1972 – have to occasionally be called in for servicing, Ajax boasts unique “open” electronic architecture. With elements supplied by F1 racing team Williams, it ensures that any future upgrades can be made without a fundamental redesign – akin to an iPhone software update. It’s one of the reasons that General Dynamics claims Ajax to be significantly more reliable than its sixties-designed predecessor. “If you wanted to plug in the latest sighting system, the hardware will support the upgrade,” adds Milne.
It extends to augmented reality, too. “Ajax’s laser-warning system, acoustic sensors and advanced sighting system provide a detailed, digitised picture of the battlefield,” explains Milne. “With augmentation, you could potentially take the location of a threat, and then overlay it on a video image with data tags.” It sounds similar to a video game arrow, guiding you to a faraway target – and it could become a reality very soon. “It’s technically very straightforward,” adds Milne. “You could scan around and points of interest could be brought to life.”
Warfare is forever changing. And, in the technological arms race, Ajax has been safeguarded against potential cyber threats. Alongside General Dynamic’s ongoing development of unmanned ground vehicles, Milne says that Ajax will also be able to interface with drones. “UAVs will be better in certain circumstances, depending on the operation and terrain,“ he explains. “Images provided could then be shared across the battlefield network.”
Everything has been made with the future in mind. “The general rule will be towards more autonomous type vehicles and unmanned turrets,” says Milne. And as for the present? “Military vehicles keeping pace with commercial technological advancements – that’s what Ajax provides.” (Source: News Now/Wired)
05 Dec 19. SISU’s new GTV 4×4 gets more powerful engine. Finland’s SISU has revealed details of its General Purpose Vehicle (GPV), a variant of the GTP 4×4 armoured vehicle that was released in 2018. The GPV has been modified to carry a more powerful engine and updated transmission, according to a November announcement.
The company said the vehicle uses a “new Mercedes-Benz OM926 engine and Allison automatic transmission”. Jyri Ahonen, SISU’s vice-president of exports, said, “The new General Purpose variant utilises the same updated backbone structure as the APC variant, and these crew bodies, i.e., the General Purpose body and the APC body, are interchangeable.”
The GPV has a cab-behind-engine design, with a central module capable of housing four personnel. There is a load tray at the rear of the vehicle to enable it to carry additional supplies and equipment. The new engine is coupled to an automatic Allison 3500SP transmission, Ahonen told Jane’s. The engine develops 300hp at 2,200 rpm and 1,200 Nm of torque at 1,600 rpm, he added.
According to the user manual for the OM926 LA engine, it is a diesel, six-cylinder, water-cooled design, with direct fuel injection. A turbocharger and intercooler are fitted as standard, as is a cold start system. The cold start system includes a glow plug arrangement fitted in the intercooler, as well as a grid heater. The former protects the starter motor and battery when ambient temperatures are low and reduces the start-up time. The grid heater pre-heats the charge air to the engine and also reduces start-up times and smoke emissions. The OM926 series has an idling speed of 600 rpm and an effective speed of 2,500rpm. The engine and transmission are combined with differential locks in each wheel and an independent suspension system. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Dec 19. Switzerland procures Eagle for TASYS tactical reconnaissance requirement. The Swiss procurement authority, Armasuisse, signed a contract with General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) – Mowag on 18 November to provide 100 Eagle 6×6 protected vehicles for its Taktisches Aufklärungssystem (Tactical Reconnaissance System, TASYS) requirement, the company announced on 5 December.
For the TASYS requirement, the 6×6 version of the Eagle vehicle will be fitted with an 8 m telescoping multi-sensor mast and a suite of equipment for operators to collect, analyse, and disseminate the information from within the vehicle.
The contract value has not been disclosed but the Swiss Armed Forces cited a CHF380 (USD384m) budget allocation for the programme on its website on 25 June, with 63% of this value stated to be invested in local industry and the remaining 37% used for direct and indirect investment abroad. (Source: Jane’s)
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.