Sponsored by MILLBROOK
Tel: +44 (0) 1525 408408
24 Jan 20. SCORPION: The temporary company grouping awarded for MEPAC contract for mounted mortar systems on the GRIFFON.
On the 30th of December 2019, the French defence procurement agency (DGA) awarded the sixth contract amendment on the SCORPION programme to the consortium formed by Nexter, Arquus and Thales. This latest award, known as MEPAC, covers the delivery of 54 additional Griffon multi-role armoured vehicles (VBMR) equipped with Thales’s 120-mm 2R2M (Rifled Recoiled Mounted Mortar) system, reaching the total number of Griffon vehicles on the SCORPION program to 1,872 in accordance with the Military Planning Law 2019-2025.
Since consultations began in November 2018, the three industry partners have worked together and with the DGA to design a new version of the vehicle concept with artillery capabilities.
This is the first time the French Army will field the 2R2M, which is already in service in four other countries. The mounted mortar system will provide added mobility and precision in front-line combat operations as well as better protection for soldiers. In particular, the Thales system has built its reputation on its semi-automatic loading system and the precision of its rifled barrel, and has been combat-proven in numerous theatres of operations. In addition to structural modifications to the system architecture, this new version will include significant changes to the onboard optronics and the vehicle’s mobility systems.
The rear compartment of the vehicle will be modified to accommodate the weapon system, mortar operators and the mortar rounds needed on the mission. Roof hatches will also be installed to open or close the top of the vehicle as the needs of the battlegroup evolve.
Finally, as for the other versions of the Griffon VBMR, the consortium’s value proposition includes a substantial support and configuration management component.
After qualification of the MEPAC variant, the DGA will take delivery of the first vehicles by the end of 2023, with the remaining deliveries scheduled between 2024 and 2027.
 Consortium status under French law: groupement momentané d’entreprises (GME)
 MEPAC: mortier embarqué pour l’appui au contact / mounted mortar for front-line fire support
 VBMR: véhicule blindé multi-rôle / multi-role armoured vehicles
23 Jan 20. Streetfighter and the future of the Challenger 2. The British Army has revealed details of the Streetfighter II upgrade to the Challenger 2 tank, featuring anti-tank Brimstone missiles, an enhanced camera suite and Elbit System’s IronVision system. The upgrade, which delivers an urbanised Challenger 2 variant, was developed by the Royal Tank Regiment to meet soldiers’ needs and identifies and fills the capability gap between the British Army’s forces and adversaries in urban combat.
Supported by Army HQ, project Streetfighter II is aimed at adding modifications to the existing Challenger II Main Battle Tank (MBT) to improve lethality, situational awareness and infantry-tank cooperation of ground forces.
The vehicle was recently trialled at the UK’s urban operations facility at Copehill Down Village on Salisbury Plain, where the Streetfighter was put through its paces in an urban combat environment testing a range of upgrades from industry partners.
This year Streetfighter demo built on earlier experience of the project that began in 2018 and saw the upgrades showcased to a range of senior military figures and officials from the Defence Science Technology Laboratory (Dstl). (Source: army-technology.com)
21 Jan 20. Ukraine trials 2S22 Bogdana wheeled artillery. The Ukrainian Ministry of Defence (MoD) has started trials of the 2S22 Bogdana, a wheeled self-propelled howitzer (SPH) armed with a 155 mm ordnance. The first trials were conducted with wooden blocks, as opposed to a munition, which is designed to test whether the barrel can handle the necessary pressures. The first trials are expected to be completed by mid-2020, at which point there will be state-run tests. Adoption within the Ukrainian Army is not expected until 2021-22, according to Ukrinform, Ukraine’s national news agency.
Development was initiated following the combat experienced by Ukrainian units facing separatists and Russian forces in 2015. The first prototype was presented in 2018 during the August Independence Day Parade.
Testing was delayed by a lack of ammunition, but in October 2019 state-owned company Spetstechnoexport imported a batch of 155 mm artillery shells from Turkish company Makina Ve Kimya Endustrisi Kurumu (MKEK). This purchase enabled the initial trials of the Bogdana to start in December 2019.
Subsequently, it became known that the new project was financed under the State Defense Order. The prime contractor is the Kramatorsk Heavy Duty Machine Tool Building Plant (KZTS), which is responsible for the 155mm ordnance, although 10 other Ukrainian companies are involved. KZTS has only recently become involved in defence manufacturing.
At the October 2019 Arms and Security exhibition in Ukraine, KZTS revealed that the vehicle is based on a KrAZ-63221 6×6 truck chassis, and its gross vehicle weight is 28 tons. It is crewed by five personnel and carries a ballistic calculator and automatic gun laying system that is powered by the Siemens SIPLUS automated data driver. The data from the ballistic computer is displayed on Siemens’s SIMATIC displays. A navigation system is built in, which enables the vehicle to establish its own location and conduct engagements with greater speed. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Jan 20. STRYKER AND VEHICLE PROTECTION UPDATE Colonel Syd Hills, Director, Stryker Warfighter’s Forum, I Corps, U.S. Army. In an upbeat brief at IAV, Colonel Syd Hills, Director Stryker warfare Forum outlined the next stage in the development of the Stryker 8×8. Originally envisaged as a stop-gap solution prior to the introduction of the Future Combat system, Stryker is now established in the inventory following the demise of FCS. The US Army has established the 2nd Cavalry Brigade as the Stryker Experimental Brigade to introduce new upgrades and variants. The upgrade ‘V’ hull solution is entering service with 3 Brigades worth of 330 each receiving vehicles with another 240 slated by 2021. The next stage is the upgunning process to provide a new turret to replace the Cockerill 30mm turret. The new turret will incorporate the ability to load Javelin ATGMs under armour. Another variant is a new 105mm Mobile Gun System to replace the earlier variant. It is estimated that by 2021 30% of the infantry brigades will receive the upgraded vehicles, particularly to meet the new perceived threat on the Eastern European flank.
21 Jan 20. Ajax progress. Steve Bingley, Chief Engineer at GDLS-UK in South Wales gave an upbeat brief on Ajax and its future evolution at IAV. He described AJAX as the first fully-digital AFV which gives the following advantages
- ‘Open’ AFV Electronic Architecture, but also Stable, Secure and Safe
- Growth in response to Threat and Technology advances • Novel approach to AFV Through-Life Capability Management (TLCM) – regular incremental upgrades
Open digital architecture – an enabler for ‘Prototype Warfare’
The expensive Mid Life Upgrade programmes of the past are being scrapped in favour of a continuous digital evolution programme.
Points to Consider
“How do we take the advantage offered by this next generation of Digital AFVs to keep our fleets updated and battle-winning?” Steve Bingley said.
Points to consider:
- Technology Push vs User Pull
- Speed: User need to Industry solution in weeks / months
- Innovation: (non-defence?) Small-and Medium-Enterprises
- Role of Prime Systems Integrator
- MoD funding and industry investment
- UK Prosperity: sustains STEM jobs
Open digital architecture – unlocking the ‘disruptive’ opportunity
Pilot Phase – Intro
Aim: to ‘pilot’ a first AJAX spiral acquisition ‘capability drop’ with the Army, learn the lessons and make this normal business
Context: Digital AFVs imply a different ‘business model’ between Army and
Industry – now need to turn theory into practice
Strand 1: AWE19 Manned-Unmanned Teaming (MUM-T) demo in April 2020
Strand 2: first AJAX spiral acquisition cycle of experimentation Summer 2020
The new Programme to be launched by GDLS-UK is a web based service which allows SMEs to submit upgrade solutions for Ajax which can then be evaluated at the GDSELS battlelab and a contract placed with the SME to take it to the next stage. GDLS-UK will have monthly updates on the system via their web site and regular Innovation Days with new potential suppliers. Competitors will be downselected in 3rd Quarter of 2020. (See: Features GDLS Gives Ajax Update at IAV By Julian Nettlefold)
How do you get involved?
Open digital architecture –Get Involved!
21 Jan 20. Boxer on display at IAV. RBSL showed off the Dutch variant of Boxer at IAV to demonstrate what the UK will be getting for MIV. The Boxer on display was the APC version with a .50 calibre OWS. The UK has chosen for variants, Command Post, 8 man APC, Specialist REME Repair and Recovery vehicle and Command Post in the form of interchangeable modules which takes one hour to change with just 4 bolts and 3 cables involved. The UK has chosen the more powerful 804HP MTU engine with an Alison transmission, which gives an impressive speed of 104kph. RBSL said that the first 100 vehicles will be delivered to RBSL at Telford from Germany with the remainder being assembled at Telford.
21 Jan 20. Challenger 2 LEP on track for end of 2020. Sources at IAV tod BATTLESPACE that the UK@s Challenger 2 LEP is on track to meet Main Gate by November 2020 for 3 demonstrator vehicles followed by 16 pre-production vehicles in the 2023-4 timeframe with 16 production vehicle slated for the 2024 timeframe. A total of 232 vehicles are expected to be upgraded with the new Rheinmetall (now RBSL) turret and smooth bore 120mm gun and new electronics and displays to support the longer range required by the gun up to 8kms. C2 LEP has been split into different strands to ease the funding through the Treasury. The systems and sensors piece is valued at approx. £715m. The Heavy Armour Automotive Improvement Programme (HAAIP), worth about £600m, will provide improvements for the heavy armour fleet including Challenger 2, Challenger Armoured Recovery Vehicle, Titan and Trojan. The HAAIP will deliver a common engine and suspension across all variants which will substantially enhance reliability.
21 Jan 20. US Army ‘Fully Committed To Replacing The Bradley’: Gen. McConville. Four days after the service cancelled its initial solicitation, the Chief of Staff promised a new troop carrier would come. But can industry afford to keep trying?
The Army is rebooting its program to replace the 1980s-vintage M2 Bradley, not cancelling it, the four-star chief of staff insisted this morning.
“Next Generation Combat Vehicle, just last week, we made the decision to cancel the solicitation we had out for the vehicles,” Gen. James McConville told an Association of the US Army breakfast. “We are fully committed to replacing the Bradley Fighting Vehicle in the future. However, like the Future Vertical [Lift] aircraft, we want to drive these before we buy them.
“For industry, that’s the strategy we’re going to take: We’re going to experiment, we’re going to prototype, we’re going to want to see what we have before we’re going to invest a large amount of money in these programs,” he continued. “We found out early in the process, after minimal investments, that our aggressive timeline did not permit industry to meet the requirements. We have taken a tactical pause on solicitations, we’re going to reset the requirements, we’re going reset the acquisition strategy and timeline, and then we’re going to come out and aggressively pursue this critical weapons system that we need for the future.”
Why did McConville choose the Future Vertical Lift effort as the model for success? Well, the general is a helicopter pilot himself, but it’s not just that. Army leaders have repeatedly praised FVL’s progress, because it has two “demonstrator” aircraft – essentially, early prototypes – already flying and showing the new technology works: the Bell V-280 Valor tiltrotor and the Sikorsky-Boeing SB>1 Defiant compound helicopter. (That said, Bell is about a year ahead on testing).
By contrast, only one company responded on time for the just-cancelled Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, General Dynamics Land Systems, and Army leaders have strongly hinted its prototype didn’t meet their requirements. Another competitor, a Raytheon-Rheinmetall team, was disqualified when their prototype missed the delivery deadline. Moving ahead with only a single vendor – and thus no competition – was controversial in Congress and within the Army itself, leading to last week’s decision to cancel the current solicitation and start over.
But for industry, there’s a catch. Those Future Vertical Lift prototypes are only working as well as they do because Bell, Sikorsky, and Boeing have invested far more of their own money in the program than has the Defense Department, by some accounts at a ratio of 4:1. The companies are willing to take a loss on their current contracts – known as the Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstration – for a chance to win the production contract and make their money back over the long-term. And Bell, Sikorsky, and Boeing are big enough to take that bet, because they’re making money on other aerospace programs, including in the civilian market. So, even if they don’t win the Army contract, the technology they developed for it might spin off to other applications.
Ground vehicle manufacturers like General Dynamics Land Systems are in a very different situation. They’re nowhere near as big as aerospace firms, because there’s no civilian market for a multi-ton, heavily armored, heavily armed tracked vehicle. In fact, there’s no military market outside the US Army and a few foreign counterparts. (Even the Marines are looking for something less heavy). GD has spent over $20m on the Bradley replacement – we can’t tell you our source on that, but we’re pretty confident in it – and that’s investment with very little application to any other program.
We know at least one other company that had pursued the Bradley replacement dropped out without making a bid: BAE Systems, which makes the Bradley and is competing with GDLS-UK to build the Mobile Protected Firepower light tank. Two other companies that were considered potential competitors didn’t publicly pursue the program at all: SAIC — which had bid unsuccessfully on other Army and Marine Corps combat vehicles — and Korea’s Hanwha. And Germany’s Rheinmetall, partnered with US-based Raytheon, made a very public push for its Lynx vehicle, only to be disqualified for failing to deliver the prototype on time, which seemed to many observers more like a pretext than a real problem.
The Army still has a chance to make the Bradley replacement program work. But after decades of failed attempts, it has to convince industry it’s worth their time – and money – to try.
Meanwhile Congress is watching with a wary eye, having been repeatedly burned by Army acquisition misfires in the past. “We expect a briefing on the decision later this month,” a Republican staffer for the House Armed Services Committee told us. “Members urged the Army to be cautious given the risk associated with such an aggressive acquisition strategy. The Army has made a tough call. Since this was a middle-tier acquisition rapid prototyping effort, initially we see the logic in the decision, but we’ll have some tough questions at the briefing in a few weeks.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
21 Jan 20. MRV(P), getting there! Oshkosh told BATTLESPACE at the IAV event in London that they are progressing the sale of their JLTV vehicle t the UK and expect to reach Main Gate in 2020. The Ambulance/Command Post variants for which there is a requirement for 264 vehicles is expected t be announced in mid-February in a contest between the GDLS-UK Eagle 6×6 and the Thales Bushmaster. The Eagle has been sold in greater numbers as an ambulance whilst the Bushmaster is favoured by the UK SF.
21 Jan 20. Polish paratroopers receive airdrop-capable vehicles. Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak handed 15 airdrop-capable 4×4 vehicles to the Polish 6th Airborne Brigade in Krakow on 15 January, his ministry reported on its website the same day.
KAFAR, the company supplying the vehicles, said on its website that a PLN33.1m (USD8.7m) contract was signed in December 2019 for the delivery of 55 vehicles and 105 trailers in 2019–22, plus a PLN15.7 option for an additional 25 vehicles and 55 trailers. The Polish Ministry of National Defence (MND) added that the contract includes a logistics and training package. Błaszczak said the vehicles would increase the mobility of the 6th Airborne Brigade, which would use them during exercise ‘Defender Europe 2020’. The 19-nation exercise, which is scheduled to take place in Central and Eastern Europe and Georgia in April–May 2020, will see the largest US troop deployment from the United States to Europe in 25 years. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Jan 20. Russia hands over second batch of T-72 tanks, BRDM-2M ARVs to Laos. Russia has delivered a second batch of T-72 main battle tanks (MBTs) and BRDM-2M 4×4 armoured reconnaissance vehicles (ARVs) to the Lao People’s Armed Forces (LPAF). The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) said that the handover took place during a ceremony to commemorate the 71st anniversary of the founding of the LPAF. The first batch was delivered between December 2018 and January 2019, with a Laotian source telling Jane’s at the time that the LPAF was receiving “several dozen” T-72B1 tanks. The vehicles were unveiled during the 2019 parade marking the 70th anniversary of the LPAF. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Jan 20. Texelis announced that Jean Vandel, Managing Director at Texelis Defence, is presenting on the new Nexter Serval® 4×4 expeditionary combat vehicle at the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2020 conference in London on 21 January. The presentation, ‘Serval®: 4X4 Without Compromise’, provided an update on the programme to deliver the lightweight 4×4 Serval® to fulfil the Véhicule Blindé Multi-Rôle-Léger (VBMR-L) portion of the French DGA’s SCORPION programme.
Being delivered in cooperation with and under the leadership of Nexter under contracts awarded in 2018, Serval® is a unique new entry to the armoured vehicle market. Designed to meet DGA requirements for a highly strategic and mobile protected vehicle, the Texelis mobility solution delivers exceptional off road mobility with air transportability, whilst simultaneously supporting high levels of protection and a high payload capacity, such as the ability to carry up to ten fully equipped soldiers.
The first test vehicles have already been delivered to the DGA and have successfully passed all test milestones to date. At IAV 2020, attendees will be updated on the vehicle trial programme, introduced to new vehicle capabilities and given insight into how Texelis and Nexter are helping their customers tackle the mobility challenges of the coming decade with an armoured vehicle solution engineered without compromise.
“Serval® is a uniquely innovative solution to the problem of reconciling Mobility, Protection and Payload, designed to meet the needs of the French armed forces for overmatch capability on today’s battlefield and for many decades into the future,” Vandel commented. “With months of supporting the DGA in its testing programme already complete, we know with certainty that the Texelis technology that underpins Serval® will deliver game-changing capabilities to the French forces and the wider 4×4 defence and security armoured vehicle market beyond.”
On the exhibition show floor Texelis will be exhibiting a range of its integrated mobility solutions beyond Serval, including drivelines, axles and reducers for wheeled armoured vehicles – all capable of satisfying exacting mobility and off-road capacity demands.
21 Jan 20. Netherlands deploys PzH 2000 SPHs to Lithuania for first time. The Royal Netherlands Army has deployed Panzerhaubitze (PzH) 2000 self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) to Lithuania for the first time as part of the German-led NATO Enhanced Forward Presence (EFP) battlegroup, the Dutch Ministry of Defence announced on its website on 15 January. The SPHs arrived on 14 January and will spend half a year in Lithuania, mainly to exercise and exchange experience with the Lithuanian army, the ministry said. The PzH 2000s relieved a 220-strong company from 17 Pantserinfanteriebataljon Prinses Irene (Princess Irene Armoured Infantry Battalion). The Netherlands provides up to 270 troops for the EFP in Lithuania under German command and based at Rukla. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Jan 20. Rheinmetall books €110m-contract to extend the service life of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle for the Bundeswehr. The Bundeswehr has contracted with Rheinmetall to carry out new measures for extending the service life of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle. In order to maintain the operational readiness of this tracked vehicle, the drivetrain of 71 Marder 1A5 vehicles will be replaced. During the 2020-2023 timeframe, Rheinmetall will be supplying the German military with a total of 78 conversion kits as well as vehicle tool kits and special tools, logistical support, an initial store of spare parts, and training and instruction. The order is worth around €110m, including value added tax. The service life extension will maintain and expand the capabilities of the Marder, which the Bundeswehr first fielded in 1971. As a first step in replacing the drivetrain, a new powerpack will be installed in all of the vehicles, which will boost the Marder’s engine output from 600 to over 750 HP. The new powerpack will significantly enhance the tried-and-tested vehicle’s responsiveness. Here, the Bundeswehr has opted for a highly advanced, forward-looking new solution proposed by well-known German manufacturers.
Under a comprehensive development contract, the Marder fleet has already undergone significant modernization. For example, the new MELLS multirole lightweight antitank guided missile system has recently been integrated into various versions of the Marder infantry fighting vehicle, while a new driver vision system, a thermal imaging aiming device and a fire detection and extinguisher system have also been ordered. Series contracts have already been awarded for parts of this service life extension, with performance upgrades now reaching the troops.
First and foremost, these service life extension measures are designed to eliminate known obsolescent elements in the Marder. Here, individual measures can be supplied as modular conversion kits and – as part of planned maintenance operations, for example – integrated in order to assure ready availability of the vehicles.
Awarded to Rheinmetall in December 2019, this Bundeswehr order has the potential to lead to more service life extension measures both at home and abroad. Besides Germany, the armed forces of Chile, Indonesia and Jordan all use the Marder infantry fighting vehicle.
As a system developer and supplier, Rheinmetall has immense expertise and experience with the Marder. The weapons system first rolled off the assembly lines of the predecessor of the company now known as Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH in Kassel. Extremely reliable and battle tested, the Marder is set to serve as an important asset of Germany’s mechanized infantry units for several more years, even though the Bundeswehr is currently taking delivery of the last of 350 Puma infantry fighting vehicles intended to replace it.
20 Jan 20. Malian Army receives new armour. The Malian Armed Forces (FAMa) received a batch of seven Streit Typhoon mine-resistant ambush-protected (MRAP) vehicles that were delivered by an An-124-100 transport aircraft on 16 January. A Malian government statement said the vehicles are the first of 130 that are being procured from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), of which 30 are expected to be donated by Abu Dhabi.
This is the largest order that Mali has placed for armoured vehicles placed to date. The FAMa is already a user of Streit vehicles having received Pythons and Gladiators in 2018. The Typhoon is a 4×4 vehicle with STANAG Level 2 armour as standard, although the manufacturer claims this can be increased to Level 4 if required. It is able to accommodate up to 10 soldiers, including a driver and front passenger. Other sub-Saharan African users of the type include Ghana, Nigeria, and South Sudan. On the following day, the European Union (EU) ambassador in Mali handed over 13 Arquus Bastion 4×4 armoured vehicles, including at least one configured as an ambulance, to the FAMa during a ceremony conducted at the Kati military camp.
The Bastions were procured with EU funds for equipping G5 Sahel Joint Force units and are part of a total of 46 such vehicles provided so far, which are being delivered to other member countries, notably Burkina Faso and Mauritania.
The Bastions received by Mali are the TACOM variant that was first developed for a US government contract for 62 vehicles delivered to Cameroon, Kenya, Tunisia, and Uganda. This has enhanced all-round protection, including improved underbelly armour for increased resistance to mines and improvised explosive devices. (Source: Jane’s)
23 Jan 20. Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Serle, SO1 Lt Forces, Close Combat, Ground Manoeuvre Capability, Army HQ, British Army gave an update and insight into THE ARMY WARFIGHTING EXPERIMENT: AUTONOMOUS WARRIOR during IAV. Nick Serle said that the British Army had used the ‘lessons learnt during AWE 2018 to develop and expand into a further iteration of AWE which includes international participation including the USA, Australia and European countries. A new organisation ‘Tommy Works,’ has been established to manage and fund the development of unmanned vehicles on the battlefield with a budget of £170m over 3 years. Spiral 3 begins in April 2020 which will deal with amongst other requirements multi-mission payloads with or without lethality with UK MoD GFE Software Defined radios, for which TrellisWare and Steatite would seem to be the obvious candidates. This would then be consolidated to a larger requirement culminating in AWE 2 in 2022 which would change the way the Army looks at vehicle survivability and network failures and drop in access to the UGV along with a revised Rules of Engagement.
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.