Sponsored by MILLBROOK
Tel: +44 (0) 1525 408408
16 Jan 20. Ajax deliveries to British Army delayed. Key Points:
- GDLS-UK has missed the target to deliver the first squadron set of Ajax vehicles by the end of 2019
- This will delay training on the new vehicle by the Household Cavalry Regiment
Deliveries of production standard Ajax armoured vehicles to the British Army have been delayed, missing a key target to allow soldiers to start training to use their new vehicles.
The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) confirmed to Jane’s on 15 January that a target for the manufacturer, General Dynamics Land Systems-UK (GDLS-UK), to deliver the first squadron set of vehicles by the end of 2019, had been missed.
The ministry told Jane’s in March 2019 that the first squadron would begin receiving vehicles, comprised of a mix of all six variants, in mid-2019 and the first turret variant fitted with the CTA International 40 mm cannon would be delivered between July and September 2019. It was then intended that the Household Cavalry Regiment would begin training on the vehicles for a year before the declaration of an initial operational capability (IOC) in mid-2020.
To date only six Ares basic troop carrying vehicles, known as the mobility reconnaissance support variant, have been delivered to the British Army Armour Centre at Bovington in Dorset, according to an MoD source. “The seventh Ares vehicle has entered the final stages of testing and will be delivered to the Household Cavalry Regiment in the coming months,” said the source. “No 40 mm turreted Ajax has yet been delivered to the army.”
The first Ajax squadron is expected to require 20-25 Ajax family vehicles, including a mobility reconnaissance support, turreted reconnaissance, command, engineer, recovery, and repair variants before it can declare IOC.
An MoD spokesperson told Jane’s on 15 January, “our target for Ajax initial operating capability remains July 2020”.
BATTLESPACE Comment: Rumours of delays to the Ajax programme have been circulating for some months with weight problems and build standard issues on the Spanish supplied vehicles being quoted from sources as the possible problems.
16 Jan 20. US Army cancels current effort to replace Bradley vehicle. The U.S. Army is taking a step back on its effort to replace its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle after receiving only one bid in its competitive prototyping program, but this does not mean the end of the road for the future optionally manned fighting vehicle, service leaders told reporters Jan. 16 at the Pentagon.
Until now, the Army has been tight-lipped ever since it appeared the competitive effort was no longer competitive, as the service had received only one prototype submission.
“Today the U.S. Army will cancel the current solicitation for the Section 804 Middle Tier acquisition rapid prototyping phase of the [optionally manned fighting vehicle]. Based on feedback and proposals received from industry, we have determined it is necessary to revisit the requirements, acquisition strategy and schedule moving forward,” said Bruce Jette, the Army’s acquisition chief.
“Since its inception, the OMFV program has represented an innovative approach to Army acquisition by focusing on delivering an essentially new capability to armored brigade combat teams under a significantly reduced timeline compared to traditional acquisition efforts. The Army asked for a great deal of capability on a very aggressive schedule and, despite an unprecedented number of industry days and engagements to include a draft request for proposals over a course of nearly two years, all of which allowed industry to help shape the competition, it is clear a combination of requirements and schedule overwhelmed industry’s ability to respond within the Army’s timeline,” Jette said.
“The need remains clear. OMFV is a critical capability for the Army, and we will be pressing forward after revision.”
In October, the Army ended up with only one bidder in the OMFV competition — General Dynamics Land Systems. The service had planned to hold a prototyping competition, selecting two winning teams to build prototypes with a downselect to one at the end of an evaluation period.
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.
A bellwether for what was to come in the prototyping competition happened earlier in the year when BAE Systems, which manufactures the Bradley, decided not compete, Defense News first reported.
And, according to several sources, Hanwha also considered competing but decided against the opportunity.
The CEO of BAE Systems’ U.S.-based business, Jerry DeMuro, told Defense News in a recent interview that the company didn’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.
“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.”
Jette said the Army had a large number of vendors interested in the effort, hosted 11 industry days and had a number of draft requests for proposals on the street, but, he said, “it’s always a challenge for industry. I was on the outside two years ago, and you get an RFP in after the discussions — it still cannot align with what you thought, and that is what you have to respond to is the RFP.”
The acquisition chief believes what happened in this case is there was “a large number interested, they started paring down, which started causing us some uncertainty about the competition, but we still had viable vendors in. And when you get out to actually delivering on those requirements, we had one vendor who had challenges meeting compliance issues with delivery, and the second vendor had difficulty meeting responsive issues, critical issues within the requirement — not knowing how to fulfill that.”
When pressed as to whether GDLS met the requirements with its bid sample, the Army’s program executive officer for ground combat systems, Brig. Gen. Brian Cummings, who was present at the media roundtable along with the Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team leader Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, said the Army could not discuss results and findings regarding the company’s submission.
Several sources confirmed a letter was circulating around Capitol Hill from GDLS to the Army secretary that strongly urged the service to continue with the program without delay.
So now it’s back to the drawing board to ensure the Army gets the prototyping program right.
Jette took pains to stress that the OMFV effort is not a failed program with the likes of Comanche, Future Combat Systems, Crusader or the Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter. “This is a continuing program. This is an initial effort at trying to get to a programmatic solution yielded, input that we needed to evaluate, which said we needed to revise our approach, not abandon the program or that it was a failure.”
Some major failed programs in the past, Jette noted, were canceled after spending large amounts of money and still moving along even though problems were identified as the service proceeded. Crusader cost about $2bn, Comanche about $6.9bn and Future Combat Systems about $19bn, Jette said.
“We’ve spent a very small amount of money in trying to get to where we are, and in fact a good bit of the technology development that was part of the assessment phase is still totally recoverable,” he added.
Army Futures Command chief Gen. Mike Murray told the same group of reporters he is hesitant to call OMFV a program because it’s a prototyping program, not a program of record. “We are still committed to this. This is like a tactical pause,” he said.
The effort so far “gave us a great deal of clarity in understanding what is truly doable,” Jette noted.
Army leaders said they would be unable to estimate how long its renewed analysis on the program might take before proceeding with a new solicitation to industry, or what that would mean for the program’s schedule in its entirety. The original plan was to field OMFV in 2026.
Last month, Congress hacked funding for the OMFV prototyping program, providing $205.6m in fiscal 2020, a reduction of $172.8m, which would have made it impossible to conduct a competitive prototyping effort. What happens to that funding or congressional support for the overall program is unclear. While sources confirmed to Defense News in early October that the failure with the OMFV prototyping effort revealed rifts between the acquisition community and the Army’s new modernization command, Army Futures Command, Jette said while there is a bit of “scuffing here and there” the two organizations are working together “much better.”
Murray added it is his view that the acquisition community and Army Futures Command is moving forward as “one team” with “one goal in mind.” (Source: Defense News)
BATTLESPACE Comment: This announcement will come as little surprise to seasoned BATTLESPACE readers. The fact that BAE Systems declined to bid and then Lynx being exclude were clear signs that all was not well at the OMFV project. Finding the next Bradley is going to be a challenge given that current technology has reached the zenith of its Power to Weight Vs. overall capability. (See Features: The Perennial Problem of MTBF, Power-To-Weight Ratios and Mobility vs. Protection Return To Haunt APC Manufacturers By Julian Nettlefold)
14 Jan 20. Defence announces LAND 400 Phase 3 industry capability roadshow. The Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) has announced an Australian industry capability roadshow for the multibn-dollar LAND 400 Phase 3 program for the Australian Army.
The Mounted Close Combat Capability (LAND 400 Phase 3) project will replace the current M113 armoured personnel carrier with up to 450 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) and up to 17 manoeuvre support vehicles.
This project will provide Australian businesses with the opportunity to help produce and support an advanced world-class IFV for Defence.
Shortlisted tenderers Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia will participate in a Defence-facilitated joint Australian Industry Capability roadshow in March and April 2020.
The roadshow will provide an opportunity for Australian SMEs interested in winning LAND 400 work to pitch their products and capabilities to Hanwha and Rheinmetall.
The roadshow includes Australian capital cities and selected regional locations:
- Sunshine Coast;
- Perth; and
The sequence of roadshows will be announced once demand for each location is identified. This is expected to be by the end of February 2020. Additional regional locations may be added if required.
Following tender close, Defence commenced a three stage tender evaluation process:
- Stage One – Initial screening, detailed evaluation, shortlisting (Q1-Q3 2019);
- Stage Two – Risk mitigation activity (RMA) with shortlisted tenderers (Q4 2019 – Q4 2021); and
- Stage Three – Final evaluation and selection of preferred tenderer (2022).
Stage One of the tender evaluation process has been completed. On 16 September 2019, the government announced that Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia had been assessed as offering vehicles that are best able to meet Defence’s requirements and to deliver a value for money solution, and have been invited to proceed to the next stage of the evaluation.
The next stage of the evaluation process is an RMA that will be conducted over a two-year period. It is designed to allow Defence to work with the shortlisted tenderers to clarify, refine and negotiate their offers and to undertake detailed testing and evaluation of the tendered vehicles.
The RMA will conclude with the two shortlisted tenderers submitting their final offers, which will be the subject of the final evaluation. A decision on the preferred tenderer will be presented to government for consideration in 2022.
LAND 400 Phase 3 is a $10-15bn Army program that will recapitalise Army’s Vietnam-era M113 APC force, with a combination of a tracked IFV and tracked APC.
The two successful tenderers offer a different solution to Army’s request for tender (RFT):
- Hanwha Defense Systems AS21 Redback: The AS21 will include the capability to integrate active protection systems into an evolved turret system. The Redback will, like its BAE competitor, be capable of hosting a crew of 11 (three crew, eight troops), a top road speed of 70km/h, cross country speed of 40km/h, an operational range of 500 kilometres, with an armament consisting of a 40mm autocannon and a single 7.62mm coaxial machine gun.
- Rheinmetall Lynx KF41: The Lynx KF41 will include the capability to support a crew of 12 (three crew, up to nine troops), have a max road speed of 70km/h, a road range of more than 500 kilometres, with an armament consisting of the Lance 2.0 30-35mm autocannon, a 7.62mm coaxial machine gun and a variety of additional close in weapons systems.
Nomination forms are available now to register your interest in the roadshow. These can be found on the LAND 400 website. Nominations close 11.59pm AEDT 14 February 2020. (Source: Defence Connect)
10 Jan 20. Russia’s 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV SPH completes preliminary trials. The first batch of Russia’s 2S35 Koalitsiya-SV 152mm self-propelled howitzer (SPH) has completed its preliminary company trials ahead of factory tests and official trials with the Russian Ground Forces, the Ministry of Defence’s TV Zvezda reported on 31 December.
The report states that the SPH’s 2A88 152 mm/L52 gun was tested in four stages: the first “warm-up” shot, followed by two fired with enhanced charges, after which the howitzer fired four to eight rounds at a single target.
An experimental batch of four vehicles has been produced by UralTransMash, a subsidiary of UralVagonZavod (UVZ). UVZ’s 2018 annual report stated that development of the 2S35’s component parts had been completed, although the TASS news agency reported in 2015-17 that the system would be in service by 2017. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Jan 20. Russian Ground Forces to receive upgraded BMPs and BMPTs in 2020. The Russian Ground Forces will receive BMP-2 and BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) upgraded with the unmanned Epokha and Berezhok combat modules, respectively, as well as BMPT Terminator fire support vehicles later this year, the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) TV Zvezda reported on 5 January.
The RIA Novosti news agency reported in June 2019 that the Epokha combat module, which carries the 2A42 30 mm automatic cannon and four anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs), was being trialed on a BMP-3. The system will replace the existing BMP-3 turret, which carries a low velocity 2A70 100mm gun and 2A72 30mm cannon. (Source: Jane’s)
14 Jan 20. Malaysian Army issues tenders for special forces vehicles. The Malaysian Army has issued requests for bids from locally registered companies for the supply of vehicles for its special forces regiment. The two tenders, which were issued on 9 January, are for 16 special operations vehicles (SOVs) and four rapid intervention vehicles (RIVs) for the service’s Grup Gerak Khas (GGK) or Special Forces Group. According to the documents, the SOVs must enable the GGK to conduct special operations deep in enemy-held territory, and also to “manoeuvre in hostile terrain with great emphasis towards stealth, speed, and fire power”. The vehicles will need to be delivered to the 11th Special Forces Regiment camp in Malacca: the counter-terrorism unit of the GGK. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Jan 20. L&T delivers 51 self-propelled howitzers to Indian Army. The 51st Vajra-T is a variant of the Hanwha Defense K9 Thunder SPH. Indian defence contractor Larsen & Toubro (L&T) has delivered 51 K9 Vajra-T 155mm / 52-calibre tracked self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) to the Indian Army.
The 51st Vajra-T, which is a variant of the Hanwha Defense K9 Thunder SPH, was handed over to Defence Minister Rajnath Singh at the company’s Armoured System Complex (ASC) located in the Indian state of Gujarat.
Spread over 40 acres within L&T’s 755-acre Hazira Manufacturing Complex, the ASC manufactures and integrates advanced armoured platforms such as self-propelled artillery howitzers, future infantry combat vehicles (ficv), future ready combat vehicles (frcv) or future main battle tanks.
It features high-end machinery and automation aids, feeder shops, and a full-fledged mobility test track for acceptance and qualification of armoured vehicles.
In May 2017, L&T secured a Rs45bn ($701.2m) contract from India’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) for the delivery of artillery guns for the Indian Army. Under the contract, the company will supply 100 units of the self-propelled gun systems.
L&T Defence & Smart Technologies senior executive vice-president JD Patil said: “Building platform programmes like the K9 Vajra contribute to the economy with a large multiplier effect and have a significant role in building a national defence industrial base.
“With the experience, track record, capability and infrastructure we have built at the Armoured Systems Complex, we are ready to take on development and build India’s future armoured platforms.”
L&T Defence is currently executing the ‘K9 VAJRA-T’ 155mm / 52-calibre Tracked, Self-Propelled Howitzer Guns programme, which involves the delivery of these systems in 42 months.
The contract also includes an associated engineering support package (ESP) that covers spares, documentation and training and maintenance transfer of technology to the Army Base Workshop.
L&T has developed 14 systems for the K9 Vajra-T gun, including its fire control, direct fire, and ammunition handling systems, as well as auxiliary power packs, air-conditioning, and nuclear, biological and chemical protection gear. (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.