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27 Dec 19. Spanish Government Cancels €2.1bn Piranha 5 Contract. Spain’s acting Minister of Defense, Margarita Robles, announced on Thursday that the Government will re-compete the €2.1bn contract to produce 348 Vehiculo de Combate sobra Ruedas (VCR) wheeled combat vehicles, after having rejected the offer submitted by Santa Bárbara which breached technical and economic requirements. During a visit to the Spanish Air Force’s Ala 12 fighter wing, Robles explained that the VCR program is going to be opened to public tender so that any company can opt to compete, and emphasized that the Government will give it “the highest priority.”
“This is a program that will not fall into oblivion, but next year we will give it more momentum and more strength,” Robles said, adding that the government deeply feels “that a company like Santa Barbara, has backed down at the last minute, and has not fulfilled the contract.”
“There has been no breach of Santa Barbara Systems because there is no contract, just an offer request,” a company source told Defense-Aerospace.com on Friday. “It cannot be said, therefore, that Santa Barbara Sistemas has backed down. It has presented an offer that responded to the technical requests contained in the specifications and to the economic requirements, and that it what has been rejected.”
“We understand that there is an insufficient budget to cover the scope and the solutions defined in the specifications,” the source added.
Robles reiterated the “firm, clear and unequivocal commitment on the part of the Government” to ensure “that the Army has a safe vehicle, because this will be good not only for the Army, but for Spanish industry and for employment as well.”
The Piranha 5 was selected as the winner of the Army’s Vehiculo de Combate sobra Ruedas (VCR) 8×8 wheeled combat vehicle competition. Spain’s Council of Ministers on July 12 approved the acquisition of 345 of the vehicles at a cost of €2,083.2m euros, but this was only the first phase of a program that ultimately planned to acquire 998 vehicles at a cost of €3,836m.
At the time, the Council of Ministers designated the Santa Bárbara Sistemas company, a wholly-owned subsidiary of General Dynamics European Land Systems, as the main contractor, as it was “the only company with sufficient industrial capabilities to carry out the contract,” and because of national security reasons contract negotiations were to be carried out without the normal publicity requirements. Mowag, the maker of the Piranha 5, is also owned by GD European Land Systems; Indra and SAPA sere selected as the main subcontractors.
It was expected that the negotiations would be completed by year-end, but the Army’s procurement arm, the General Directorate of Armament, rejected Santa Barbara’s offer and considered it “not acceptable” for various technical, operational and economic reasons.
Santa Bárbara Sistemas continues and will continue to look for alternatives to achieve the 8×8 VCR contract,” the company source said, “and is prepared to guarantee the most competitive offer possible in any type of tender,” but also cautioned that re-running the tender, which is not a legal necessity, would, “at the very least, extend the execution deadlines.” (Source: Defense-Aerospace.com)
23 Dec 19. Congress injects millions of dollars to advance next-gen combat vehicle technology. While essentially killing the U.S. Army’s plan to competitively acquire a replacement for the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, Congress in its fiscal 2020 defense spending package is injecting more than $100m to fund the advancement of next-generation combat vehicle technology and is allocated another couple hundred million dollars for technology that will benefit related efforts.
The second top modernization priority is the Army’s next-generation combat vehicle, and the service’s first major move toward modernizing its combat vehicle fleet was to replace the Bradley. But that hasn’t gone according to plan after the Army received only one bid from General Dynamics Land Systems in its optionally manned fighting vehicle, or OMFV, competition to replace the Bradley in October.
While the Army hasn’t said how it plans to proceed, Congress cut $172.8m from the service’s budget request for OMFV, making it appear impossible to fund a competitive prototyping effort.
While the Army considers its next steps to replace the Bradley fleet, it’s not stopping other technology development efforts to improve its current and future combat vehicle fleets. And congressional appropriators are adding $145m into next-generation combat vehicle technology development funds on top of the Army’s request for $379m.
Under NGCV technology development, Congress is peppering funding into prototyping energy-smart autonomous ground systems, highly electrified vehicles and autonomous vehicle mobility accounts.
More funding is being applied to additive metals, manufacturing, structural thermoplastics and advanced materials development to make vehicles more survivable on the battlefield.
Additional funding is included for protection from rocket-propelled grenades and improvised explosive devices, and money will go toward modeling and simulation efforts.
Under advanced technology development for NGCV, Congress is adding funding for additive manufacturing to include using it to develop jointless hull technology, hydrogen fuel cells and an ATE5.2 engine.
The Army will also get more money to develop carbon fiber and graphite foam technology as well as advanced high strength and lightweight steels. The service will also fund combat-vehicle weight-reduction efforts, additive manufacturing of critical components and advanced water-harvesting technology.
Congressional appropriators also added funding for Humvee technology development to include augmented reality systems, a health usage monitoring system, autonomy, torque monitoring and automotive enhancements.
More funding was added for NGCV virtual and physical prototyping, too.
While not specifically allocated toward NGCV technology development, Congress also has added $246.4m in ground technology development funding that could apply to future vehicles.
That funding includes more work on additive manufacturing to include cold spray technology, materials research including polymers for lightweight armor, protection against the elements and threats, and alternative power development.
More plus-ups include funding for sensors for underground detection and also urban subterranean mapping technology as well as unmanned aircraft system-mounted hostile threat detection.
While the Army’s plan to field a Bradley replacement may be in flux, the service is also looking further into the future at what could ultimately replace its M1 Abrams tank, for example. The technology development work being done within the service now will help paint a picture of what that future vehicle could look like as well as replacements for other combat vehicles in the fleet. (Source: Defense News)
23 Dec 19. General Dynamics Ajax: The next generation of British Army vehicle power. The Ajax platform is promising to deliver a slew of capabilities to the British Army and modernise its land vehicle fleet. Harry Lye checks out the different variants of the platform and the unique roles they will play in the army’s future.
Building on a common platform – the General Dynamics Ajax – will soon form a key part of the British Army’s mounted potential and deliver what GD calls “best-in-class protection and survivability, reliability and mobility and all-weather Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Recognition (ISTAR) capabilities”.
The British Army has ordered a total of 589 vehicles of six different variants. They will play a key role in the shift in army operations, as the force looks to develop strike brigades similar to US Army Stryker formations.
As the British Army told us, using a base platform with a range of variants means that everything from training to logistics is not only cheaper, but also faster, as “all variants have similar mobility characteristics meaning they can operate in the same environments with ease”.
Here we take a look at the six variants and what they can do.
Ajax: Search and destroy
Ajax is the most lethal variant of the platform, equipped with a 40mm cannon to give its crew of four high-calibre offensive capabilities. In promotional material, General Dynamics describes how the vehicle “will enable the soldier to be at the point of collection of accurate all-weather commander information within a network-enabled, fully-digitised platform”.
The vehicle is designed to draw on the platform’s suite of intelligence and reconnaissance systems to act as much as an ISTAR platform as an offensive force using a “range of leading-edge technologies to provide an optimised survivable, lethal and agile ISTAR platform”.
The British Army said that the platform would support strike brigades by providing medium armoured capability. The army made clear that the platform is a double-edged sword of intelligence and assault at a range of levels from formation to battlegroup as the ‘principal destroyer’ of an adversary’s equipment.
Ares: Transport and surveillance
Whereas the Ajax is designed for reconnaissance and destruction of targets, Ares is focused on the dismounted soldier, getting troops from A to B under the supervision of a mounted remote vision system. The variant’s ISTAR capabilities allow soldiers to leave the vehicle with a clear picture of what’s on the other side of the doors.
This is the central role of the variant as described by General Dynamics. According to the company it “will provide safe transportation of fully-equipped soldiers in a well-protected environment. On dismount, troops will be able to more effectively conduct a variety of tasks, such as dismounted surveillance (including patrols), observation posts and close target reconnaissance.”
For the British Army this variant will fill two roles, providing reconnaissance while also supporting personnel with firepower and transport capabilities. The army told us that the vehicle will form a key part of “dismounted surveillance, ambushes, and manoeuvre support tasks”.
In addition to this, the variant is designed to have the flexibility to fill in other roles if needed.
Atlas and Apollo: Equipment support
Atlas and Apollo offer largely similar tools to the operator, allowing personnel to perform the equipment support they need to stay mechanised and on the move. The Apollo variant features a crane system to tow vehicles damaged in battle and to move heavy equipment from one place to another.
General Dynamics says the variant acts in a complementary manner to the Atlas, which comes equipped with a recovery package to assist or go where Apollo cannot. By combining the pulling and towing capabilities of the Atlas with the lifting and towing power of the Apollo, the army will be able to move its equipment in any environment.
Argus: Engineering power
Argus is the engineering hub of the Ajax platform, providing the force with information on the terrain they face and the moves of any adversaries.
As General Dynamics puts it: “Argus is a specially-designed platform, based on the Ares variant, which has a primary role to provide the combined arms and engineer commanders with timely and accurate engineering information on the natural and manmade environment.”
The British Army said that the vehicle will provide commanders with “timely and accurate engineer information on the natural and man-made environment”, giving them the information they need to approach an engagement – a role critical to the onward advance of the other Ajax platforms.
Athena: Command and control on wheels
While the other vehicles in the family are designed for specific operational tasks, the Athena is the brains of the operation, acting as a command centre on wheels for the British Army. This variant processes and manages data from the vehicles’ suite of ISTAR capabilities and other sources to act as a moving hub for decision support.
General Dynamics explains that Athena “is fitted with modern, bespoke workstations that provide the ideal operating environment for users”, allowing commanders to manager battlegroups from the frontlines while in the safety of a vehicle.
The British Army told us the medium-armoured vehicle will act as a command and control unit for a squadron. Inside the vehicle is fitted with everything a commander needs to manage the battle. (Source: army-technology.com)
20 Dec 19. Libya brigade gets new armoured vehicles. The 106th Brigade of the Libyan National Army (LNA) faction has received what appear to be Terrier LT-79 armoured vehicles made by The Armored Group (TAG).
At least eight of the vehicles were seen in a video the group released on 9 December showing a parade of its Special Operations Force. All the vehicles had protected weapon stations for 7.62 mm PKM-type machine guns.
Like the ones seen in photographs of the Terrier on the TAG website, the vehicles had no markings identifying their manufacturer or model type.
The company, which also armours civilian cars and makes cash-in-transit vehicles, says it has manufacturing facilities in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Jordan, as well as the United States and Germany.
It states that the Terrier is based on a Toyota Land Cruiser 79 chassis and can carry up to 10 people. It provides protection equivalent to the NATO STANAG 4569 Level 1 in their basic configuration: sufficient to protect those inside from 7.62×51 mm ball ammunition fired at a range of 30m, as well as hand grenades and anti-personnel explosives.
TAG says this can be increased to STANAG 4569 Level 2 with the addition of composites, providing protection from 7.62×39mm armour-piercing rounds. The company did not respond to questions about the possible delivery of its vehicles to the LNA: a move that would be a violation of the UN arms embargo on Libya. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Dec 19. Bulgaria evaluates IFV proposals. The Bulgarian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has reported that it has received four proposals from interested bidders in the competitive procurement of 150 new wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to equip three battalion-size battlegroups for a mechanised brigade.
The proposals submitted by the four bidders – General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDLS) – Mowag, Patria, Nexter, and Rheinmetall-Krauss-Maffei Wegmann joint venture ARTEC – were opened in the ministry on 18 December.
The Bulgarian requirements call for 90 wheeled 8×8 IFVs, armed with a 30 mm gun, in addition to 60 more support vehicles – equipped for roles including reconnaissance, command-and-control, and medical evacuation – that could be in 8×8, 6×6 or 4×4 configuration. (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.