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18 Dec 19. Defence Insight: Year in review. The past 12 months have proven to be a particularly eventful year for the armoured vehicle market, with several major contracts finalised, decisions announced and new products unveiled. Not only do these developments reinforce many of the existing trends in the market, but they also provide a glimpse into its future and suggest that it may be entering a period of transition.
Reflecting the continued pre-eminence of the wheeled sector of the market, the trade shows this year were dominated by new wheeled platforms ranging from light, tactical 4×4 protected vehicles to heavier 8×8 IFVs.
A significant number of these platforms emanated from up and coming manufacturers based in countries not typically associated with the production of armoured vehicles, such as the UAE, which demonstrated the imposing Calidus Wahash 8×8 at IDEX in the beginning of the year, and Thailand, where expanded product ranges comprising 4x4s, MRAPs and 8x8s were showcased by Chaiseri and Panus Assembly at D&S in November.
The diversification of the supplier base is a testament to the confidence among OEMs that there will be sufficient demand for these types of platforms in the near future to justify this investment. Moreover, the emergence of smaller enterprises aimed primarily at supplying their local and regional markets points to the importance of local industrial participation, investment and offsets in securing contracts, with governments keen to see their own industrial base profit from major defence programmes.
This has had an especially noticeable effect on the wheeled armoured vehicle market across the globe. Apart from a few government-to-government sales (notably the sale of the Oshkosh JLTV to Montenegro, Lithuania and Slovenia – all countries without an established defence industry), most of the major contracts in this sector stipulated a large degree of local participation, whether it be the British Army’s contract for the Boxer 8×8 or Indonesia’s agreement for PT Pindad to licence-produce the Pandur II 8×8.
Although the flurry of contracts announced in 2019 and the continuation of several ongoing tenders suggests a healthy, growing market in the near-term future, the question of how sustainable this growth will be must also be addressed. With 8×8 platforms set to have a service life of perhaps as many as 40 years, it is possible that the market will not remain large enough to accommodate everyone.
Yet while the wheeled market shows no signs of stalling in the short-term, 2019 was perhaps more remarkable for several milestones in the procurement of new tracked armoured vehicles. Having somewhat neglected their tracked armoured vehicle fleets since the end of the Cold War, Western militaries have begun to seek replacements for legacy platforms that will be more capable in a potential near-peer conflict.
Two major procurement programmes encapsulate the resurgence of activity in the tracked vehicle market: the US Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) and the Australian Army’s Land 400 Phase 3 tender, both of which are intended to select a new tracked IFV.
The former saw a particularly contentious development as the KF41 Lynx, considered to be a favourite among many commentators, was excluded from competing the prototype phase on a technicality, leaving General Dynamics Land Systems as the sole competitor. While this has led to fears of insufficient competition and that the technical requirements may not be feasible, the Army’s decision to stick to its ambitious timetable shows that there is now a sense that new platforms must be procured urgently to address such capability shortfalls.
Conversely, there have been fewer signs of activity in the realm of MBTs, though Russia has carried out numerous deliveries and signed new contracts for export variants of its T-72 and T-90 MBTs. For many militaries, the emphasis continues to be on upgrading ever-diminishing fleets of Cold War-era tanks, as the procurement of new platforms is not forecast until the distant future. Therefore, while there are some requirements for new MBTs in countries such as Oman, the MBT market is not expected to see a dramatic uptick in spending until later in the following decade.
Moving to self-propelled artillery, the market for these systems continued to show strong growth in 2019, though there are also signs of change. Due to the emphasis on expeditionary operations, systems based on wheeled chassis have become more prominent as a result of their greater strategic and operational mobility compared to their tracked counterparts.
Nevertheless, the incursion of wheeled platforms has not entirely displaced traditional tracked systems. For instance, in Europe, one of the most active regions of this market, the first Hanwha K9 Thunder was delivered to Norway this year, Estonia exercised an option for an additional six K9s and Poland took delivery of another battalion of Krabs.
Overall, no sector of the armoured vehicles market has lain dormant during 2019. In terms of value and activity, the wheeled armoured vehicle segment continues to retain its dominant position. However, 2019 also signals a transition toward the procurement of more tracked vehicles, which Defence Insight anticipates could see the balance in the market shift by the middle of the next decade. (Source: Shephard)
19 Dec 19. How a small investment is set to earn a Turkish businessman $4.4bn from tank sales. When businessman Ethem Sancak in 2014 purchased BMC, a troubled armored vehicles maker controlled by the Turkish government, he might have not known how profitable his $200 m investment would become in just a few years. But new information tells a story of how Sancak used a top political connection and international support to further his commercial venture that might eventually net his company $4.4bn.
Sancak was no ordinary businessman. He once declared that he was in spiritual love with Turkey’s Islamist leader, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. He’s served on boards of Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party, which as uninterruptedly been in power in Turkey since November 2002.
After buying BMC, Sancak contacted Erdoğan in quest of a partner to back his new venture. Erdoğan recommended businessman Talip Öztürk, a distant relative of the president. Öztürk invested $100m in BMC to become partners with Sancak.
But still he went back to Erdoğan for additional help. The president brokered a deal in which a Qatari fund would invest $300m to buy a 49.9 percent share in BMC — hydrocarbon-rich Qatar has been Erdoğan’s staunchest regional ally.
Sancak, with the $100m investment from Öztürk, now owned 25 percent of BMC and had already raised $300m for the remaining 75 percent.
Next, Erdoğan’s government allocated approximately 23.7 m square feet worth of public land to BMC for the company’s future investments. Subsequently, BMC defeated two local rivals and won a strategic contract for the initial production of a batch of 250 Altay tanks, the country’s first indigenous tank in the making. Industry sources estimate the Altay contract, which was signed in November 2018 and orders 1,000 units, is worth about $11bn.
In May 2018, the government granted 1.4bn liras (U.S. $236.8m) in incentives to BMC for the Altay program, including tax cuts, pension premium reductions and energy subsidies, among other perks. The government also provided the company with a military tank production and maintenance factory in Arifiye, near Istanbul. The company was only obligated to invest $50 m in return for the right to operate the Arifiye plant for 25 years.
Industry sources say BMC will make a net profit of $1.1bn from the Altay contract, excluding exports. If the company attains its export target of 3,000 units, it’s expected to make a net profit of $4.4bn (excluding potential follow-on orders and repairs, maintenance, and parts).
A solid return for an initial investment of $100m.
Meanwhile, Turkey’s opposition parties are demanding a parliamentary investigation into BMC, but this is unlikely given the Justice and Development Party’s majority (together with its ultranationalist partners) in the legislative branch.
In addition, the Altay program has been struck with critical technology problems that could impact its timeline. President Erdoğan’s office lists the Altay in the military’s inventory as part of a 2020 program list; Sancak has said the tank might instead be ready near the end of 2021.
“I am hoping that the Altay would be at the battlefield within 24 months,” Sancak said in an October speech. Industry sources have said even the 24-month target could be too optimistic.
A procurement official told Defense News that “there are major problems concerning critical parts, like the engine and transmission.”
Western countries, particularly Germany, have been reluctant to share such critical technology with Turkey over political concerns.
The Altay contract involves the production of an initial batch of 250 units, life cycle logistical support, and the establishment by the contractor of a tank systems technology center and its operation.
Also as part of the contract, BMC is to design, develop and produce a tank with an unmanned fire control unit. The contract called for the first Altay tank to roll off the assembly line within 18 months — by May 2020.
The Altay program is broken into two phases: T1 and T2. T1 covers the first 250 units, and T2 involves the advanced version of the Altay. Under the original program, Turkey planned to eventually produce 1,000 Altay tanks, to be followed by an unmanned version of the platform.
“Most Western countries, most notably Germany, are more than reluctant to share engine and transmission technology for the Altay,” said a Turkish government official familiar with the program. “We are still looking for alternative combinations [of engine and transmission].”
Asked if there is an imminent solution to the problem, the official told Defense News: “I cannot say. … All I can say is there is a genuine problem here.” (Source: Defense News)
19 Dec 19. Rheinmetall modernizing a further 21 Bergepanzer 3 armoured recovery vehicles for the Dutch Army, bringing them up to the latest standard. The Royal Netherlands Armed Forces have awarded Rheinmetall an order for the second phase of the modernization of their fleet of Bergepanzer 3-Büffel/Buffalo armoured recovery vehicles. The operational effectiveness of twenty-one vehicles will be upgraded. The order is worth a mid-double-digit euro million figure. Now launched, Phase 2 follows a first order awarded in April 2019, when the Royal Netherlands Army contracted with Rheinmetall for the modernization of four Bergepanzer 3 Büffel/Buffalo ARVs.
Starting immediately, Rheinmetall will completely overhaul another 21 Bergepanzer 3 Büffel ARVs of the Royal Netherlands Army, bringing them up to the latest technological and tactical standard. This will extend the service life of these tried-and-tested combat support vehicles – developed by Rheinmetall on the basis of the Leopard 2 chassis – through to the year 2040. The Dutch armed forces will take delivery of the first vehicles at the beginning of 2021.
Modernization work will take place at Rheinmetall locations in Kassel, Germany as well as in Ede in the Netherlands. It will include a complete overhaul of the individual armoured recovery vehicles and a new digital operating concept; the installation of advanced visualization technology; mission packages featuring ballistic and mine protection; and new battlefield recovery equipment together as well as a universal transport platform. Also included in the contract are technical documentation, training and other services.
This service life extension will give the Dutch armed forces a reconfigured state-of-the-art ARV with significant growth potential. New force protection features both on and in the vehicle will keep the crew extremely safe from modern battlefield threats. Cutting-edge visualization systems, digital operating elements and command systems will support the crew while carrying out their tasks. Furthermore, new battlefield recovery equipment will boost the vehicle’s tactical effectiveness. It will be transferred to the rear section of the vehicle. This will let the crew hook up to a damaged Royal Dutch Army vehicle such as the Bushmaster, Boxer, CV 90 infantry fighting vehicle, PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer, Leguan bridge-laying tank, Kodiak combat engineering vehicle or the Leopard 2 main battle tank without having to leave the safety of the fighting compartment, before towing it from the battlefield at high speed in forward gear. In addition, the modified version of the Bergepanzer 3 Büffel ARV will feature a flexible-use universal transport platform mounted on the rear section of the vehicle. To cite just one example, this can be used for carrying equipment for recovering other vehicles. The new equipment has already demonstrated its effectiveness during deployed operations.
This contract confirms the emergence of a new standard for modern armoured recovery vehicles. As recently as December 2018, the Bundeswehr contracted with Rheinmetall to modernize its fleet of Bergepanzer 3 vehicles, ensuring they remain a match for current and future operational scenarios. Similar mission configurations are in service with the armed forces of NATO member Canada as well as Sweden.
Already underway, the service life extension of the Royal Netherlands Army’s armoured recovery vehicles underscores once again Rheinmetall’s comprehensive expertise when it comes to the globe-spanning Leopard 2 family. This expertise extends from maintenance and modernization programmes to advanced armament concepts, and from the production and technical knowledge of the system’s original equipment manufacturer right through to comprehensive technical and logistic support for entire vehicle fleets – including service support during deployed operations. The portfolio of the Düsseldorf-based high-tech group for mobility and security also includes training and simulation solutions for Leopard 2 crews.
18 Dec 19. Oshkosh Awarded $803.9m JLTV Order for Army, Marine Corps, Air Force and Navy. The U.S. Army Contracting Command – Warren has placed an $803.9m order for 2,721 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs). Additional orders from the U.S. Army Contracting Command are anticipated within this fiscal year. This order includes JLTVs for the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Navy. It also includes vehicles for the country of Montenegro via Foreign Military Sale (FMS). The distribution of JLTVs ensures that multiple branches of the United States military have the light tactical vehicle they need to perform missions that support the National Defense Strategy.
“As the threats on today’s modern battlefield continue to evolve, our Warfighters need a highly capable light tactical vehicle that is uniquely suited for mission adaptability,” said George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs for Oshkosh Defense. “The JLTV can accommodate over 100 different mission package configurations without sacrificing mobility or transportability.”
Today’s order also includes 30 JLTVs for the country of Montenegro, among the first NATO allies to receive the vehicle.
About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense is a global leader in the design, production and sustainment of best-in-class military vehicles and mobility systems. As a pioneer of combat-ready vehicle solutions, Oshkosh develops and applies emerging technologies that advance troop safety and mission success. Setting the industry standard for sustaining fleet readiness, Oshkosh ensures every solution is supported worldwide throughout its entire life cycle. Oshkosh Defense, LLC is an Oshkosh Corporation company [NYSE: OSK]. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Dec 19. BAE Systems Receives Order From U.S. Army for Additional M109A7 Self-Propelled Howitzers. The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a $249m contract modification to complete an additional 60 M109A7 self-propelled howitzers that will bring improved artillery capabilities to the Army’s Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCTs).
“We are excited about the opportunity to continue bringing new howitzers and increased survivability to our soldiers,” said Jeremy Tondreault, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems Combat Vehicles. “The M109A7 positions the Army to execute its current mission with confidence and support its future needs and requirements as long range precision fires evolve.”
The award exercises options on an existing low-rate production contract and includes the completion of an additional 60 M992A3 Carrier, Ammunition, Tracked (CAT) vehicles to accompany the M109A7.
The M109A7 and the CAT vehicle sets provide increased commonality across the ABCTs, and have significant built-in growth potential in terms of electrical power and weight carrying capacity. The vehicle design includes a new chassis, engine, transmission, suspension, steering system, a new high voltage architecture and improved survivability, while the vehicle’s cannon remains the same as that of an M109A6 Paladin.
The M109A7 is supported by the Army as a vital technology enhancement program to maintain the combat capability of its ABCTs. It will solve long-term readiness and modernization needs of the M109 family of vehicles through a critical redesign and production plan that leverages the most advanced technology available today. This state-of-the-art “digital backbone” and power generation capability provides a more robust, survivable, and responsive indirect fire support capability for ABCT Soldiers. The M109A7 is a significant upgrade over the M109A6 as it restores space, weight, and power cooling, while providing significant growth potential for emerging technologies.
The initial contract was awarded in 2017. This most recent order brings the total number of vehicle sets — M109A7 howitzers and M992A3 ammunition carriers — to 156, and the total contract value to $1.16bn.
Work on the M109A7 will take place at several facilities within the Company’s combat vehicles manufacturing network including: Aiken, South Carolina; Elgin, Oklahoma; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and, York, Pennsylvania. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
18 Dec 19. Estonia, Latvia, Finland team up to buy armored troop rides. Two of the three Baltic nations plus Finland have signed a letter of intent to pursue a joint buy for new armored ground vehicles.
Senior defense officials signed the document on Tuesday in Talinn, Estonia’s capital, with the idea of beginning the initial preparatory work that would culminate in an eventual acquisition.
“We agreed to carry out defense-related technical research, and I believe that our cooperation will yield a positive result,” Estonian Defense Minister Jüri Luik was quotes as saying in a statement.
“We have a very positive long-term relationship with Finland in terms of procurement policy, we have bought self-propelled artillery and radar systems together,” Luik added. “Now, we want to extend this cooperation to Latvia, as all three countries share a common interest in armored vehicles.”
All three countries share a border with Russia, which means they have crucial requirements to ferry troops around their respective territories for homeland defense missions.
Some Latvian officials have previously expressed reservations about joint procurements in their neighborhood.
“I think there are many misperceptions on Baltic integration,” Janis Garisons, state secretary for the Latvian Ministry of Defence, told Defense News during a September visit to Washington. “I think this is a little bit of a wrong perception that there is a lot of added value in those common procurements.”
Lithuania’s vice defense minister, Giedrimas Jeglinskas, echoed his colleague’s sentiment when visiting Washington in October.
“Joint procurement, multinational procurement — I don’t think it exists that much in the world,” Jeglinskas told Defense News at the time. “Most of the programs out there are joint development. But when you talk about something like three-country procurement, it has been really hard for us to achieve.”
Lithuania this summer started taking delivery of new infantry fighting for its forces, a variant the Boxer, made by a consortium of Germany’s Rheinmetall and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. The country signed an order for 88 vehicles in 2016 at a price of roughly €386m. (Source: Defense News)
17 Dec 19. Did Congress just cut competition out of the Army’s Bradley replacement program? Congress has cut the Army’s ability to pay for two sets of competitive prototypes for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle program intended to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, according to the fiscal 2020 spending bill’s conference report released Dec. 16.
While the Army requested $205.6m to pay for two competitors to build 14 prototypes each in FY20, lawmakers are reducing the funds for the program by $172.8m, rendering it more difficult, if not impossible, to afford a competitive prototyping effort.
Congressional appropriators also essentially halted the OMFV program until the service shows its work in terms of how it developed requirements and executed its bidding process for the competition, according to the report.
Funds will be withheld until the Army produces its report that includes “the results of the source selection process; an explanation of how program requirements were built, their traceability to the national defense strategy and multidomain operations, and the capability gaps they address,” as well as, “an updated acquisition strategy and program schedule,” an explanation of the cut in the report states.
The back story
The Army ended up with only one bidder in the OMFV competition — General Dynamics Land Systems — in October.
Defense News broke the news that another expected competitor — a Raytheon and Rheinmetall team — had been disqualified from the competition because it had failed to deliver a bid sample to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland, by the deadline.
BAE Systems, which manufactures the Bradley, decided earlier this year not compete, Defense News first reported. And, according to several sources, Hanwha also considered competing but decided against the opportunity as well.
“You always want more competition, but this is entirely about how we can meet these requirements so we can have capability that has much greater lethality than we have today and capability than we have today,” Army Secretary Ryan McCarthy told reporters at the Reagan Defense Forum in California earlier this month.
“So requirements are incredibly important. We’ve made dramatic steps as an organization to put the strong leadership in the requirements community and to partner with our acquisition leadership and getting requirements right on the front end prevents you from the catastrophic failures we’ve endured for the last twenty years,” McCarthy added.
With Raytheon and Rheinmetall out because they couldn’t deliver a bid sample on time and the Army’s refusal to grant a 90-day extension, the service has found itself in a tough spot as its competition is essentially no longer a competition.
The inflexibility to accommodate Raytheon and Rheinmetall’s request for an extension to bring its bid sample to the United States from a facility in Germany, according to industry sources, highlights the flaws in the relationship between the Army acquisition community and the new Army Futures Command.
According to several sources, the acquisition side of the house wanted to grant an extension just to keep the program competitive, but the command was dead set on keeping to its schedule.
Because the Army said it was is in a sensitive source-selection evaluation process, it would not legally discuss the details of the competition or its plans going forward in the early days following the bid deadline.
“Over the coming months the source selection evaluation board will conduct its review in accordance with the evaluation criteria stated in the RFP,” an Army statement issued to Defense News on Oct. 7 stated. “The Army intends to award up to two contracts for the [optionally manned fighting vehicle] OMFV [middle-tier acquisition (rapid prototyping)] effort phase in the spring of 2020.”
It’s possible the Army could reverse course before reaching the point where it would award a contract to build prototypes. Alternatively, it might proceed as planned and award GDLS a contract to proceed with building 14 prototypes.
But there could still be an opportunity for companies to join the competition, albeit without the major advantage of funding from the Army to build a series of prototypes. According to the Army statement, after the rapid prototyping phase is completed, the Army plans to release a second “full and open competitive solicitation for Low-Rate Initial Production.”
The Army plans to transition OMFV to a major program of record when it awards a production contract in FY23, which sticks to the schedule on which the service has been unbending.
Essentially, Congress wants a way to get to the bottom of what happened with the Army’s OMFV competition effort and find out what the service is planning to do going forward.
Congressional authorizers are requesting in the recently released FY20 defense policy bill that the Army’s acquisition chief and the Army Futures Command commander in charge of modernization produce quarterly reports — beginning now until Oct. 1, 2022 — that provide an overview of funding for the program including what has been spent and will be spent, a program schedule, the status of technical requirements’ development and approval, technological maturity, testing and delivery, as well as any other matters relevant to the program.
Industry waiting in the wings
According to BAE Systems US-based CEO Jerry DeMuro, industry is watching the future of the program closely as well.
DeMuro told Defense News in an interview at the Reagan forum that the company doesn’t regret its decision not to pursue OMFV as the requirements and schedule were previously laid out, but said it continues to talk to the Army about future opportunities.
“It was a very challenging program,” DeMuro said. “It always comes down to three things: requirements, schedule and funding. The schedule was very, very aggressive especially early on and, at the same time, trying to get leap-ahead technologies. There’s a little bit of dichotomy there.”
Additionally, he said, “the requirements that were being asked for was going to require, in our estimation, significantly more development that could not be done in that time frame and significantly more capital than the Army was willing to apply.”
BAE will continue to watch the program closely, he said.
“We are still in dialogue with the Army and [the Defense Department] and we will see what they decide to do, whether they come back out and try to maybe relax the schedule so that they can get maybe a little bit more technology that they are looking for for next gen.”
DeMuro added that the Army wanted to look at alternatives and what is out there when it comes to a future fighting vehicle, not just have a competition and it wasn’t getting that “just based on the way the acquisition is structured today, so I think when we talk to DoD and, to the Army, all options are on the table and they are trying to sort through that, what can they open to perhaps get more opportunity for industry to participate.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
17 Dec 19. Russia reveals its updated Marker UGV. Russia’s Foundation for Advanced Studies (FPI) has unveiled an updated version of the Marker unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) with a different track configuration as well as a larger body, potentially with the intention to mount larger calibre weapons. The updated Marker UGV was shown with five roadwheels, an idler, a drive sprocket, and two roller returns. A large payload bay area is featured in the rear of the platform with the engine and cooling units to the front. The updated unit can launch a group of small reconnaissance unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to perform tasks individually or together as a group via a cluster launch module. This module was tested on 17 October 2019.
A modular multispectral vision and data processing system, featuring neural network algorithms, supports autonomous operations. Other mission systems include a laser warning system, thermal sensors, day/night infrared (IR) cameras, laser rangefinder, target detection, early warning system, identification, and tracking equipment.
Five UGVs are believed to be in development. Two platforms in a tracked configuration have been tested and a wheeled version is also in development.
Two experimental prototypes of the Marker UGV were tested on 9 July 2019. The project’s first stage, which included trials in coastal areas, was successfully completed on the tracked chassis on 25 July 2019 with tests carried out at the Magnitogorsk test site of robotic systems and complexes (MIP RSK).
The UGV demonstrated automatic routing in urban areas and rough terrain in its first phase of testing. The second stage involved manoeuvre operations, as well as targeting and firing trials, and commenced at the end of July 2019. Further weapon testing is expected to be conducted in the first quarter of 2020 with the UGV engaging targets in “automatic mode”. (Source: Jane’s)
12 Dec 19. US Army Revs Up High-Tech Tank Engine. The 1,000-horsepower Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator could upgrade the M2 Bradley or drive new kinds of manned and robotic vehicles. Just outside Detroit, home of the muscle car, the Army’s put together a powertrain as potent as three Trans Ams strapped together — with an electric stealth mode that sounds more like a lawnmower than a tank. The 1,000-horsepower Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator packs more diesel horsepower in less space than current engines, along with a 160-kilowatt generator that can power advanced electronics – like a drone-killing laser or anti-missile defenses – and even move an entire 50-ton vehicle for brief periods.
Now installed in an M2 Bradley hull for testing, the current version of the APD can move war machines up to 50 tons, but it’s meant to be easily modified for larger or smaller vehicles.
“Each of the pieces can be scaled” up or down, said John Tasdemir, chief of the power & mobility branch of the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (formerly TARDEC) in Warren, Mich. “It could not just fit a Bradley, it could fit a future vehicle, [or] it could fit a legacy vehicle as well.”
Compact enough to fit into the notoriously cramped Bradley, the 1,000-horsepower Advanced Powertrain Demonstrator produces 48 percent more horsepower than the most-upgraded Bradley variant and 67 percent more than the standard 600-hp model. The engine could also fit the turretless utility variant of the Bradley, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, or, with some rearrangement of the components, the M109A7 Paladin howitzer. And since the design is modular, the APD could be scaled down to 500 hp – potentially powering the more tank-like of the Robotic Combat Vehicles the Army’s now developing – or up to 1,500 hp – enough to drive the 70-ton M1 Abrams main battle tank.
Another logical candidate for APD technology is the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle now in development to replace the Bradley. Fitting the new vehicle would require some redesign, said one of Tasdemir’s engineers, Mike Claus, but if they could optimize the APD components for an all-new hull without the awkward compromises of the Bradley, the resulting design could be “way more compact.”
How It Works
Why is it important to be compact? Well, the heaviest part of a combat vehicle is its armor. The weight of the armor, in turn, is the product of its thickness and the surface area it has to protect. The bulkier you make your vehicle – the greater the “volume under armor,” in Army terms – the more tons of armor you need to get the same level of protection.
To make the APD more compact, it needs to be more efficient. To do that, the Army and its contractors went to work on every piece of the powertrain – for example:
- In the diesel engine itself, built by Cummins, the pistons go through a two-stroke cycle instead of the usual four, allowing them to generate more horsepower with less waste heat from the same amount of gas. Historically, two-stroke engines are also highly polluting, which is why they’ve not been widely adopted, but the APD uses cutting-edge emissions controls.
- The SAPA drive-by-wire transmission replaces traditional, inefficient mechanisms like pumps with precisely engineered electromagnetic controls called solenoids. The transmission is in fact so attractive to other Army programs that they’re considering installing it even without the rest of the APD powertrain.
- The cooling system replaces traditional filters – which wear out in 20 hours in dusty areas like deserts – with a Donaldson pulse-jet air cleaner that lasts 500 hours and provides much more airflow. Cooling armored vehicles is always challenging, even when they’re not fighting in the desert, because they’re basically metal boxes in which you want to punch as few holes as possible.
- The L3-Harris Integrated Starter-Generator produces 160 kW – many times the current alternator on the Bradley – but doesn’t require its own dedicated cooling system, unlike traditional electronics. That’s because it uses heat-resistant silicon carbide components that can function at 105 centigrade (hot enough to boil water), the same as the engine block.
That electrical power is as important for modern combat vehicles as diesel horsepower. During the Iraq War, the Cold War-vintage Bradleys got upgraded with so many advanced sensors, communications networks, display screens, and radio jammers to deactivate roadside bombs that they couldn’t power everything at once.
Now, worried about Russia’s vast arsenal of RPGs and anti-tank missiles, the Army is pushing to install so-called Active Protection Systems on its armored vehicles, which use compact radars to track incoming projectiles – a big power drain – so miniature missile launchers can shoot them down. And for the near future, the Army is highly interested in high-powered laser and microwave weapons, albeit primarily against fast-moving, fragile targets like drones and rockets rather than heavily armored vehicles like tanks.
The Ground Vehicle Systems Center plans to test the APD powertrain on a stationary Bradley hull through this coming March, by which point they expect to have demonstrated what’s called Technological Readiness Level (TRL) 6. Then they’ll fully integrate the APD into a drivable Bradley, the Advanced Mobility Experimental Prototype (AMEP), which will be tested to TRL 7 or 8 – the highest level possible for a prototype – in 2022. The next year, 2023, the Army will hold the final competition to build the Bradley replacement, the OMFV. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 Dec 19. Ukraine starts work on new CBRN reconnaissance vehicle. Ukraine has started development of a new chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance vehicle based on the Kozak-2M protected mobility vehicle, according to a 10 December report from Army Inform, the Ukrainian Ministry of Defence’s news agency.
The CBRN monitoring equipment was developed by Ukraine’s Sparing-Vist Center and has initiated discussions with the privately owned Practika in order to integrate its system onto Practika’s Kozak-2M protected mobility vehicle, according to Sparing-Vist designer Yuri Bogdanovich.
The goal is to replace Ukraine’s Soviet-era BRDM-2RHB vehicles. Bogdanovich claimed the BRDM-2RHB costs UAH26,236 (USD1,104) per day to operate, as it utilises enzymes derived from animal products to detect CBRN substances. (Source: Jane’s)
13 Dec 19. US Army National Guard to receive 100 aircraft and Humvees. The US Army is set to deliver additional aircraft and High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (Humvees) to the National Guard in the coming years. The national guard will receive 100 aircraft and Humvee units in the fiscal year (FY) 2020. An additional 300 units will be fielded in 2021-24, according to principal deputy to the assistant secretary of the US Army for acquisition, logistics and technology Jeffrey White. He made the announcement during the 23rd National Guard Association of the US Annual Industry Day on 10 December.
The acquisition focuses on total lifecycle management for over 700 programmes of the US Army.
Jeffrey White said: “We’ve adopted the ‘cradle-to-grave’ perspective when evaluating materiel solutions that drive innovation and provides space for continued process improvement. And, the army is delivering modernised capabilities in a balanced and affordable manner.”
Around 64 UH-60M aircraft will be produced for the US Army National Guard for FY2020. The programme also includes 172 for the period from 2021 to 2024.
The army is also planning to make 23 UH-60V aircraft available in 2020 and 132 from 2021-24.
Under the AH-64 Block IIIA remanufacturing programme, Boeing will produce 39 AH-64E aircraft for the National Guard in FY2024.
The army expects the Humvee recapitalisation programme to deliver 85 non-armoured Humvee vehicles for fielding to the active, guard and reserve components in FY2020. The national guard will use these aircraft and vehicles to support their operational needs both at home and abroad. In March, the army awarded a contract to AM General to deliver 739 Humvees to the national guard. (Source: army-technology.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.