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02 Jan 20. BAE to Get Green Light for $10bn Howitzer Project. BAE Systems Plc will win U.S. Army approval this month for full-rate production of self-propelled howitzers and ammunition carriers based on improvements in the $10bn program after several years of delays over welding defects.
“BAE has met all requirements to enter into full-rate production and we anticipate that happening” during January, Sam Tricomo, a spokesman for the weapon’s Army program office, said in an email.
The company had been assembling the weapons system since October 2013 under a series of low-rate production contracts during which it produced the vehicles late and with numerous welding defects.
Deliveries were halted for six months in 2017 because of welding flaws that required the return for repairs of 50 of 86 vehicles already delivered. Since then, London-based BAE has invested $200 million in improvements at its factory in York, Pennsylvania, and delivered quality vehicles consistently in the last months of 2019, according to the Army.
“To ensure no break in vehicle production” at the York facility and another in Elgin, Oklahoma, the Army last month extended low-rate production, Tricomo said. “Our confidence in BAE’s ability to deliver has increased month after month as we have seen continuous improvement in quality vehicles at increased production rates.”
Read More: BAE’s $10 Billion Howitzer Project Improves After Years of Flaws
Full-rate production is the most lucrative phase for a contractor. In 2018, the Army increased planned quantities of the howitzer and carriers by 109 vehicles to 689. The Army plans to spend $8.9 billion on vehicle procurement for the Paladin Integrated Management program, or PIM, that consists of the howitzer, which can fire rounds that travel more than 31 miles (50 kilometers), and the ammunition carrier that accompanies it.
About $3.9bn has been appropriated to date.
The 155mm Paladin howitzer and the ammunition carrier are the centerpiece of the Army’s artillery plans as it shifts its focus to countering Russia after 18 years of emphasizing the defeat of terrorists. It’s part of the service’s “Long-Range Precision Fires” capability, which tops its list of modernization priorities.
The weapon is scheduled to be upgraded in the next few years with a new Extended Range Cannon designed to match Russian systems in Europe.
BAE’s factory quality is a priority for the Army because it wants to increase production through 2023, not only for the howitzer system but also the other major military vehicles that BAE builds: the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the Bradley Fighting Vehicle and the M88A2 tank recovery vehicle.
The Army plans to surge production of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle for deployment to Europe as part of the U.S.’s deterrence buildup against Russia.
Defense Secretary Mark Esper was secretary of the Army when he signaled his concern by visiting the York facility in September 2018 to examine the welding process and deficiencies and hear solutions. The program has a strong advocate in Senate Armed Services Chairman Jim Inhofe, an Oklahoma Republican.
Earlier: Army Secretary Sees ‘Steady Progress’ on Visit to BAE Plant
“We are consistently delivering against the agreed-upon schedule,” BAE spokeswoman Alicia Gray said in an email. “This platform brings tremendous capability” and “goes a long way toward addressing the Army’s artillery modernization priority. BAE Systems stands ready for the Army’s green light on full-rate production.”
As recently as April, program officials had been privately pessimistic about BAE’s production capability in their annual Selected Acquisition Report for Pentagon officials and congressional committees marked “For Official Use Only.”
“At this time the Army does not have confidence when BAE will be able to deliver a quality product repeatedly,” according to the document. The “Army chief of staff does not recommend certifying the PIM program until BAE demonstrated the ability to produce quality vehicles on schedule.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Bloomberg)
31 Dec 19. New in 2020: A new robotic mule is headed to help carry the load for grunts. A company recently selected as the winner of a program to create a “robotic mule” for troops to carry a squad’s worth of gear will have the next year to roll out the automated addition to dismounted soldiers.
The Army picked an offering by General Dynamics Land Systems version of the Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport, or SMET, in late 2019.
The $162.4m contract kicks off what eventually will be 624 SMETs for the Army, which are slated to field to units by 2021.
The device takes the load off of soldiers by carrying water, ammunition, batteries and other items for sustaining a squad in remote environments.
The SMET will run both unmanned and optionally manned, be able to carry 1,000 pounds, traveling over a distance of 60 miles in a 72-hour period while also providing 3kw of power while stationary and 1kw while moving for charging equipment and batteries.
The mule can also be tailored to missions such as running remote weapons stations, casualty evacuation and launching unmanned aerial systems or conducting reconnaissance.
Soldiers with 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, New York, and 101st Airborne Division at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, along with Marines from 2nd Marine Division at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, tested the SMET over most of 2019 as part of feedback for the Army eventually choosing the GD Land Systems variant.
The original four in the competition included the MRZR X, based off the Polaris MRZR currently in service with the Marines; the General Dynamics 4×4 Multi-Utility Tactical Transport or MUTT; the Howe and Howe RS2-H1; and the HDT Global Hunter WOLF, or Wheeled Offload Logistics Follower.
The MRZR X is a four-wheeled all-terrain vehicle; the Hunter WOLF is a six-wheeled vehicle that uses a morphed tire/track for traction; and the RS2-H1 is the only tracked vehicle submission.
The winner was and the MUTT is an eight-wheeled vehicle with a flatbed type of configuration. (Source: Defense News)
31 Dec 19. Temporary Company Grouping EBMR Delivered the 92nd Griffon as Planned. On the 24th of December, the temporary company grouping EBMR received an inspection report for the delivery of the 92nd VBMR-GRIFFON from the quality department of the French Defence Procurement Agency (DGA/SQ).
The team consisting of Nexter, Arquus and Thales meets its objectives for 2019, in accordance with the initial purchase notified in 2017 and as defined in the military programming law.
Last summer, in July 2019, the first batch of vehicles was submitted to the French army by the DGA, in [the presence of] French [Armed Forces] minister Florence Parly. As a result, the production of the 92 GRIFFON required less than six months: it represents a real industrial challenge that permits to respond to Land Forces’ requirements.
Since 2015, Nexter, Arquus and Thales’ parties are fully involved, in partnership with the DGA, to achieve the development, qualification and production of the GRIFFON. They work together to conceive a vehicle with a high level of protection, an ultimate ergonomy, a great mobility, an effective weapon system, and finally the last generation of communication system with new functions such as sensors, electronics and algorithms for the collaborative combat. Overall, the SCORPION program plans the delivery of 1 872 GRIFFON to the French army by the temporary company grouping EBMR. 936 vehicles will be presented until 2025 with all the maintenance and logistic support.
The sharing of responsibilities between the members of the temporary company group EBMR:
— Nexter acts as the representative of the grouping. Nexter is in charge of the development and production of the vehicle structure, including the armored hull, NRBC and ballistic solutions, and the interior layout. The mechanically-welded structure of the aluminum cases offers, thanks to high-precision machining and robotic welding operations, the best protection performance to the military. Furthermore, Nexter has the responsibility of the vehicles’ assembly and the integrations in the Roanne industrial site. All the equipment and subsystems supplied by partners and contractors are integrated in this facility.
— Arquus designs and produces the full driveline for the GRIFFON, including all parts and organs that ensure the vehicle’s mobility. This driveline redefines the mobility standards of armored troop transport vehicles and grants the GRIFFON new generation all-terrain capabilities. The GRIFFON is thus able to accompany all other vehicles of the SCORPION program in all conditions. Arquus also designs and produces the GRIFFON’s remote-controlled self-defense systems, which also equip the other vehicles of the SCORPION program. These remote-controlled weapon systems benefit from the most advanced technologies: Full HD video, augmented reality tactical situation view, extended connectivity with the vetronics, which place the RCWS at the heart of collaborative combat.
— Thales brings on board the vehicles all the technologies enabling the use of data and information for the collaborative engagement of the platforms. This includes on-board vetronics, which are based on computers and link all navigation, protection, observation and communication services. The on-board vetronics allows the management and merging of all data within the vehicle.
The CONTACT radio software ensures the networking of forces by providing real-time communication capabilities. (Source: defense-aerospace.com/EBMR)
31 Dec 19. Estonia, Finland, Latvia initiate joint AFV development. Estonian Defence Minister Jüri Luik, Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks, and Finnish Permanent Defence Secretary Jukka Juusti signed a letter of intent (LOI) in Tallinn on 17 December in relation to joint AFV research and development.
“The letter of intent signed today is the beginning of the joint undertaking between Estonia, Latvia, and Finland in acquiring new armoured vehicles. We have agreed to carry out joint research and development,” Luik told local media.
“We have a very positive long-term relationship with Finland in procurement and have bought self-propelled artillery and radar systems together. We want to extend this co-operation to Latvia,” he explained. (Source: Jane’s)
31 Dec 19. US Army soliciting FHTV protection kit proposals. The US Army wants to outfit its Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTVs) with protection kits to better protect soldiers inside.
In an 18 December solicitation, the service announced it is moving ahead with the Department of Defense’s Long-Term Armor Strategy (LTAS) objectives with plans to acquire “enhanced tactical vehicle ballistic protection with armor integrated protection” for its FHTV line.
“Ballistic and integrated armor protection is paramount for troop protection during wartime and in civil disaster environments,” the army wrote. “The concept and use of applique armor packages has been studied and advanced as a method of improving crew protection across the spectrum of combat and tactical support vehicles.” (Source: Jane’s)
27 Dec 19. Congress refutes US Army’s plan to curtail FMTV buy. US lawmakers nearly doubled the US Army’s Family of Medium Tactical Vehicle (FMTV) budget request this year despite service plans to curtail this purchase line in the coming years. In a fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) consolidated appropriations act, lawmakers included USD138m for FMTV procurement, USD66m above the service’s USD72m request. The National Defense Authorization Act for FY 2020 also concurs with the appropriators’ decision. Neither piece of legislation, however, details why lawmakers have opted to rebut the army’s decision to drawdown its FMTV buy. Oshkosh Defense is the prime contractor for the army’s latest FMTV line. (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.