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07 Feb 20. Last call for LAND 400 Phase 3 Australian industry roadshow. Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price has called for the final registrations for an Australia-wide roadshow that will give small businesses in capital cities and selected regional locations the chance to be a part of Army’s biggest project.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the LAND 400 Phase 3 Mounted Close Combat Capability Roadshow is a huge opportunity for Australian industry to pitch their capabilities to shortlisted tenderers.
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.
Minister Price said, “Land 400 Phase 3 will acquire and support up to 450 infantry fighting vehicles to replace the M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers 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.
Defence will conduct the roadshow in March and April 2020 with the two shortlisted tenderers, Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia, to facilitate opportunities for Australian industry involvement in the project.
“Australian industry will be absolutely critical to the success of this project. This is the time to highlight to Hanwha and Rheinmetall the strength and diversity of the Australian defence industry,” Minister Price added.
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.
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 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.
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.
Registrations to participate in the roadshow close on 21 February 2020. Nomination forms are available now to register your interest in the roadshow. These can be found on the LAND 400 website https://www.defence.gov.au/CASG/EquippingDefence/Land%20400.asp (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Feb 20. Defexpo 2020: India’s DRDO displays remotely operated platform to defuse unexploded ordnance. The Research and Development Establishment (R&DE) laboratory of India’s state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) has displayed a remotely operated platform designed to handle and defuse unexploded ordnance.
Called the Unexploded Ordnance Robot (UXOR) the platform, which was exhibited during the 5-9 February Defexpo 2020 exhibition in Lucknow, northern India, has an operating range of 2,000 m line-of-sight and can handle unexploded ordnance of up to 1,000 kg and 1 m in diameter, according to the DRDO.
DRDO scientist Mridu Kant Pathak told Jane’s that the UXOR uses a 7-axis manipulator arm with a 3-axis cutting mechanism that holds the cutting nozzle of an abrasive water jet cutting machine for in-situ munition ‘case entry’.
The grappler mounted on the loader arm is used to handle the larger and heavier ordnance. The sensors on the UXOR include a series of 11 cameras for navigation and operation control, a laser, and an ultrasonic sensor-based system for nozzle alignment.
The complete unexploded ordnance disposal system includes the UXOR and a 6×6 carrier vehicle fitted with a master control station. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Feb 20. Defexpo 2020: India unveils Wheeled Armoured Platform, upgraded Sarath IFVs. India’s defence industry unveiled two new infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs), the Wheeled Armoured Platform (WhAP) and an upgraded variant of the BMP-2/2K Sarath, during the 5-9 February Defexpo 2020 defence exhibition in Lucknow, northern India.
The WhAP IFV, which is powered by a Cummins ISXe 600 turbocharged diesel engine coupled to an automatic transmission, has been developed by the state-owned Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) to meet Indian Army (IA) requirements, and is available in both an 8×8 and an 8×4 configuration.
“The vehicle’s protection meets STANAG 4569 requirements, with actual protection levels depending on the task,” a DRDO official told Jane’s. The modular protection results in the platforms weight varying between 19 and 26 tonnes, with amphibious capability provided at up to 24 tonnes. The WhAP, which can reach a top speed of 100 km/h on land, has a cruising range of up to 500 km.
The WhAP is armed with the manned turret from the BMP-2. “It is the most cost-effective solution for the IA,” said the DRDO official, pointing out that the turret is fitted with a 30 mm 2A42 main gun, a Kalashnikov PKT 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun, and a roof-mounted launcher for the AT-4 Spigot anti-tank missile system.
Meanwhile, India’s state-owned Ordnance Factory Board (OFB) showcased an upgraded variant of the BMP-2 Sarath IFV. Compared with the baseline Sarath, this modernised variant is fitted with new sensor suites featuring thermal imagers and TV cameras for the gunner and commander. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Feb 20. WFEL to manufacture armoured Boxer MIV Vehicles for UK Ministry of Defence’s £2.3bn contract. Under the recently signed £2.3bn contract between UK MoD and ARTEC – the Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall consortium – a significant portion of the manufacture of the 500 Boxer Armoured Vehicles for the Army’s Strike Brigades will take place at KMW’s UK subsidiary, WFEL, creating a substantial number of jobs for both WFEL and its UK-wide supply chain.
The Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicle programme aims to source more than 60% by value of the vehicle content from UK suppliers and these 8 x 8 wheeled vehicles will be supplied in several different configurations, including an armoured personnel carrier, field ambulance, command vehicle and specialist carrier. Delivery of the vehicles is expected to start from 2023 and this order marks the return of the UK to a European Defence Programme, having taken part in the Boxer project while in its infancy. Boxer is now on its way to becoming one of NATO’s standard vehicles.
UK Defence Minister James Heappey said: “Investing in the Boxer programme is a prime example of Defence doing more than ever to level-up the UK economy through employment. By developing our relationship with WFEL, we are also supporting high-skilled jobs across the UK supply chain.
“This partnership ensures we engage with our people from the very beginning, connecting talented apprentices with the valuable roles Defence has to offer.”
As part of the preparations for this significant contract, WFEL has re-energised its Apprenticeship Scheme, with the first of its new Apprentice recruits recently joining the company to follow the path of Advanced Apprenticeships in Engineering Manufacture and keen to be involved in this 10-year contract.
As well as the on-going commitment to new Apprenticeships, WFEL is also actively recruiting for a substantial number of new roles to be based at its Stockport site, whilst engaging with both existing and new suppliers in anticipation of its contribution to both the North West economy and the Northern Powerhouse.
Ian Anderton, Managing Director of WFEL, said, “Our substantial involvement in the Boxer programme allows us to further develop our UK supply chain, in turn creating and protecting valuable UK engineering jobs and developing new skills for our staff and those of our supply chain partners. Working in close partnership with our KMW colleagues, we are both delighted and proud to be part of this transformational project for the British Army, with whom we have worked for many years.”
With over a century of engineering expertise and innovation and an established world leader in rapidly-deployable military bridging, having supplied 43 armed forces around the globe for over four decades, WFEL offers concept design, prototype manufacture and full-scale production of a range of military-grade engineering solutions across the complete spectrum of the defence sector, including vehicle integration and aviation products.
WFEL’s range of mobile bridging systems – including the Medium Girder Bridge and the Dry Support Bridge – provide unrestricted manoeuvre capability and interoperability, can be deployed in minutes and have been used by coalition forces on operations worldwide and in civilian aid operations in disaster zones around the world, being in service with the British Army, U.S. Army and many other NATO forces.
A long-established Prime Contractor to both the UK Ministry of Defence and U.S. Department of Defense, WFEL operates a global sales network through overseas representatives and works directly with international governments and Non-Governmental Organisations.
04 Feb 20. Brazil mulls upgrades for VBTP-MSR Guarani 6×6 vehicles. The Brazilian Army is finalising a series of studies aimed at improving the VBTP-MSR Guarani 6×6 armoured vehicle. The studies are being done by personnel from the army’s technical, administrative, operational, and finance sectors, and are to consider updates and potentially adding new technologies, the army told Jane’s.
The army declined to say if the upgrade studies included the vehicle’s mobility, command and control, survivability, firepower, or habitability. The army said the project’s scope is to be defined after studies are concluded and a decision is made. The effort, known as the Guarani 2.0 project, falls under the aegis of ‘Army Strategic Plan 2020-2023′.
The service is receiving 1,580 6×6s as part of the Guarani programme that purchased the vehicles in November 2016 to complement 203 platforms ordered between 2012 and 2015 from Iveco Defence Vehicles. The vehicle is manufactured at the company’s plant of Sete Lagoas in the State of Minas Gerais.
A total of 424 6×6s were received, the army said. Between 5 and 6 vehicles are produced monthly and about 60 annually, a spokesperson for Iveco Defence Vehicles’ Brazilian operation told Jane’s . Deliveries are scheduled to be completed by 2040.
The programme, which involves other armoured vehicles efforts, contributes to transforming Brazil’s motorised infantry units into mechanised infantry units, and to modernise the mechanised cavalry.
Twelve versions are currently planned: reconnaissance vehicle, troop carrier, 120 mm mortar carrier, recovery vehicle, command-post vehicle, ambulance, air-defence, repair, anti-tank missile carrier, surveillance radar carrier, fire direction centre, and forward-observation vehicle. Development of a mortar variant VBCMrt-MSR (Viatura Blindada de Combate Morteiro-Média Sobre Rodas) is a top priority, with one prototype and 100 production vehicles planned. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Jan 20. Bumps in the Road May Lie Ahead for JLTV Procurement. The joint light tactical vehicle is one of the military’s largest vehicle acquisition initiatives, but budget uncertainty may affect how many platforms the Defense Department ultimately chooses to purchase.
When the Army and Marine Corps originally selected Oshkosh Defense as the winner of the lucrative JLTV program, the Army indicated it would purchase nearly 50,000 platforms and the Marine Corps would pick up about 5,500. The contract was a boon for Oshkosh and was hotly contested among industry as vehicle procurement slumped following the U.S. military drawdown in Iraq and Afghanistan.
But with the Army focusing on its top six modernization priorities, and the Marine Corps intending to become more expeditionary, questions have arisen about what the future holds for the joint light tactical vehicle.
Last year, Army leadership said it planned to cut funding for a number of programs, including the JLTV, as it pursues its top modernization priorities.
George Mansfield, vice president and general manager of joint programs at Oshkosh, said while the Defense Department has slowed down its procurement of the vehicle, it has not altered its approved acquisition objective of 49,099 vehicles.
“I think things will be OK. They have not changed their AAO,” he said in an interview. “They did slow us down slightly in the budget this year … but we’re not scared of anything there.”
Oshkosh utilizes a flexible production line that allows different products and variants to be built off it, so the company is not worried about the slowdown negatively affecting its workflow, he said.
Mark Cancian, a senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, said despite the Army slowing its purchase of JLTVs, the program is safe from termination.
“As a program it’s very solid,” he said. “It’s not going to get canceled. We’re going to buy a lot of them. The question is just how many and how quickly.”
For now, it appears that the program will be continuing at a “fair clip,” he said, and the vehicle will still be important to the service’s overall mission.
“The Army is focused on sustained ground land combat and JLTV fits with that,” he said. “It was squeezed as part of Night Court to free up money for new initiatives, but I don’t get the sense that that the Army … [finds anything about] the concept that is a problem.”
Army leadership coined the term “Night Court” to refer to its process of examining programs across the board to realign funding toward the service’s top modernization priorities.
How the JLTV program will be affected in the upcoming budget cycle remains to be seen. During an event at the Brookings Institution, Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy declined to comment on how the effort would fare in President Donald Trump’s fiscal year 2021 budget request, which is expected to be released in early February.
Retired Army Lt. Gen. Tom Spoehr, director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for National Defense, said the service is under great financial pressure to free up funding for its modernization priorities.
“They’re having to go to places where the money is … [and the] JLTV is a program that has and had a lot of money in it,” he said.
However, it is unlikely that any platforms will be cut in the 2021 budget, he said.
“I would be surprised if when we get the fiscal year ’21 budget, if they have reduced the acquisition objective,” he said. “I think that number is sound.”
While the total procurement may be stretched out, the JLTV still has a bright future, he said.
Improvised explosive devices — which have maimed and killed thousands of servicemembers and civilians in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — are going to continue to be a part of any future battlefield the Army fights in, he said. “We’re going to need more protection than we had with the Humvee,” he added.
However, anytime a program slows down its production rate, that can increase costs, Spoehr said.
“I would like to see the Army buy what they need and then stop the program,” he said. “That would be cheaper in the long run.”
For the Marine Corps, recent comments by Commandant Gen. David Berger may signal that the service intends to curtail its JLTV purchase.
Speaking to reporters at the Reagan National Defense Forum in Simi Valley, California, Berger said the service is looking to divest itself of legacy systems as it works to become more expeditionary following years of land warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“We have to get rid of legacy things in the Marine Corps,” he said. “We’ve got to go on a diet. We’ve got to get back on ship. We’ve got to become expeditionary again.”
The service plans to shuck off large, heavy systems that cannot fit aboard ships and that are expensive. The service also wants to invest more in unmanned platforms. Cancian noted that could be problematic for the joint light tactical vehicle.
There is “a high probability that JLTV would not fit his vision and therefore would be reduced,” he said. “I don’t see the Marine Corps canceling the program, but I could see them reducing the procurement quantity.”
It is possible that the public will get a first look at how Berger’s vision will play out with the vehicles in the upcoming proposed 2021 budget. However, it may not be until the spring that the plan is fully fleshed out.
Spoehr agreed that Berger’s vision for the Marine Corps may spell bad news for the JLTV within the service.
“They’re not going to drop out of the program,” he said. “They still have a need for that type of vehicle. But given the need to operate from ships, … I think that’s fair to say that they might look to that program and … either stretch it out or reduce their annual projected buys.”
However, Mansfield said the company isn’t concerned. “I think the JLTV actually fits into what Gen. Berger’s … vision is very, very well,” he said.
Mansfield also noted that the Marine Corps has consistently increased how many vehicles it plans to purchase.
“The Marine Corps is signaling to us that they want actually more trucks than we initially thought,” he said.
Oshkosh is working on autonomy packages that could make the joint light tactical vehicle unmanned and increase its utility, he noted.
The company is currently developing and testing technology that could give the platforms such capability, but there isn’t a specific timeline for when those would be ready, he said.
Autonomy does have its challenges, he added. “When you ruggedize it for military use it’s different than Teslas running down a highway in the sun. We’re running in an environment that’s got a lot of dust and mud.”
However, despite what happens with the Army and Marine Corps, Oshkosh is expanding its gaze to the other armed services as well as to allied foreign militaries.
In December, Army Contracting Command in Warren, Michigan, placed an $803.9m order for 2,721 joint light tactical vehicles. That included vehicles for the Navy and Air Force, as well as 30 systems to the country of Montenegro via a foreign military sale.
Mansfield believes there is a great opportunity to continue to sell JLTVs to the Air Force and Navy.
“We’re looking at different modules to put on the vehicles” that could appeal to those services, he said.
Last year, the company debuted two new variants of the platform, a command-and-control unit and an ambulance, which it thinks will be attractive options, Mansfield said.
The company is also looking to expand its presence abroad. It currently has potential foreign military sales on the horizon with Slovenia, Lithuania and the United Kingdom. The deal for 30 platforms to Montenegro has been approved.
“There are quite a few … allied nations that are now looking to buy JLTV and they’re in the process of the FMS system,” he said. “Once we got the full-rate production decision this summer that sort of opened up the gates for foreign military sales, and so we’re seeing a lot of interest there.”
Speaking to National Defense in September during the Defence and Security Equipment International conference in London, Mike Ivy, senior vice president and general manager of international programs at Oshkosh, said the company was eyeing European customers.
“We are working several opportunities, both FMS and direct commercial possibilities here on the continent,” Ivy said.
Oshkosh has demonstrated the JLTV in Sweden and is seeking business with Northern European nations, he noted. “We think that there’s a good deal more interest there.”
However, with a glut of indigenous truck and vehicle manufacturers in the region, there is stiff competition.
“The European market is a very difficult market to crack because there are excellent truck makers and vehicle makers in Europe,” he said.
But Oshkosh is confident that no other manufacturer can match the JLTV’s mobility over complex terrain, the protection offered in the platform’s weight class and its overall reliability, Ivy said.
Spoehr noted that while there has been interest from allied nations in the platform, the JLTV is not an inexpensive system. It is likely that interested parties would purchase dozens, or perhaps hundreds of the vehicles at the most, but that would not be significant enough to drastically lower the price of the system. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
31 Jan 20. OFFSET Swarm Systems Integrators Demo Tactics to Conduct Urban Raid. Researchers integrate swarm tactics and human-swarm teaming technologies in third field experiment. In its third field experiment, DARPA’s OFFensive Swarm-Enabled Tactics (OFFSET) program deployed swarms of autonomous air and ground vehicles to demonstrate a raid in an urban area. The OFFSET program envisions swarms of up to 250 collaborative autonomous systems providing critical insights to small ground units in urban areas where limited sight lines and tight spaces can obscure hazards, as well as constrain mobility and communications.
In an interactive urban raid scenario, Swarm Systems Integrator teams deployed their assets in the air and on the ground to conduct the DARPA-designed mission, seeking multiple simulated items of interest located in the buildings at the Combined Arms Collective Training Facility (CACTF) at the Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in Mississippi.
The initial phase of the OFFSET swarm’s mission is to gather intelligence about the urban area of operations. In the field experiment scenario, AprilTags – a type of 2D bar code often used in robotics – were placed on and in buildings and throughout the urban environment to represent items of interest requiring further investigation and/or hazards to avoid or render safe. As the swarm relayed information acquired from the tags, human swarm tacticians adaptively employed various swarm tactics their teams had developed to isolate and secure the building(s) containing the identified items. Concurrently, separate subswarms also were often tasked to maintain situational awareness and continue observation of the surrounding environment. The complex scenario is designed to inspire and incentivize such dynamic employment of large-scale heterogeneous robotic teams to carry out these diverse tasks.
OFFSET includes two main performer types: Swarm Systems Integrators and Swarm Sprinters. The integrators, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon BBN, create OFFSET architectures, interfaces, and their respective Swarm Tactics Exchanges, which house tools to help performers design tactics by composing collective behaviors, algorithms, and existing swarm tactics. The sprinters perform focused tasks and deliver additional technologies to merge with system integrators.
In the Camp Shelby experiment, Swarm Sprinters Charles River Analytics, Inc., Case Western University, and Northwestern University demonstrated the ability to integrate novel interactions and interface modalities for enhanced human-swarm teaming, which allows the human operator to use interactions such as gestures or haptic touch to direct the swarm. Carnegie Mellon University and Soar Technology incorporated their developments in operational swarm tactics, such as providing the swarm the capability to search and map a building or automate resource allocation.
“It has been fascinating to watch the Swarm Sprinters, who may not have been previously exposed to realistic operational settings, begin to understand why it’s so difficult to operate in dense, urban environments,” says Timothy Chung, the OFFSET program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “The Swarm Sprinters brought a number of novel technologies they have developed over the last 6-9 months and successfully integrated and tested their developments on physical platforms in real-world environments, which was exciting to see.”
Previous field experiments took place at the U.S. Army’s Camp Roberts in Paso Robles, California, and the Selby Combined Arms Collective Training Facility in Fort Benning, Georgia. Additional field experiments are targeted at six-month intervals. (Source: ASD Network)
03 Feb 20. Poland plans to take part in European tank project – president. Poland wants to take part in a project to create a European tank, President Andrzej Duda told a news conference with France’s President Emmanuel Macron during his Monday visit to Warsaw.
“We are going to talk about our participation in the project to build a European tank. We would like to take part in this project,” Duda said.
Poland and France discussed cooperation in the fields of defence and energy during the visit. (Source: Reuters)
03 Feb 20. Indian K9 Vajra Howitzers with Allison Cross-Drive Transmission Delivered Early to Indian Army. Allison Transmission at DefExpo in Lucknow, India, February 5-9 to highlight benefits of Allison Automatics. Mumbai-based Larsen & Toubro (L&T) recently delivered 51 K9 Vajra-T 155mm/52cal tracked self-propelled howitzers equipped with Allison Automatics to the Indian Army in advance of schedule.
Allison Transmission, the largest global manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic transmissions, produces the Allison X1100-5A3 transmission that was selected by L&T for the howitzer. Delivered ahead of schedule, the remainder of the vehicles are due to arrive by the end of 2020.
“Allison’s X1100 Series™ is a cross-drive transmission specifically designed for either military or heavy-duty tracked vehicles,” said Dana Pittard, Allison Transmission VP Defense Programs. “These transmissions reflect the cutting edge and innovative technology proven for over six decades of work in the defense industry. Our superior reliability and durability in severe duty-cycles is why many military organizations around the world rely on Allison.”
A five-man crew operates the vehicle, powered by the German-made 1,000 hp MTU MT 881 Ka-500 V8 water-cooled diesel engine designed for heavy military equipment. These machines weigh nearly 50 tonnes, have a zero turning radius and can fire projectiles up to a range of 43 km. The strength and unique drivability of the Allison X1100 transmission is ideal for tracked vehicles that must perform in the harshest conditions.
Allison Transmission will have senior leaders attending DefExpo in Lucknow, India, February 5-9 discussing more of the benefits an Allison Automatic provides. DefExpo India is an exhibition of new and future defense technology. More than 700 exhibitors attend the show to display their land, sea and air capabilities. Over 70 countries participate in the five-day event. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
03 Feb 20. Acting on behalf of the Polish Ministry of Defence, the Armaments Inspectorate announced that five local and international companies submitted their applications to take part in the technical dialogue procedure. This process precedes all future MoD tenders in Poland. This is the initial stage for the intended eventual delivery of next generation tank destroyers for the Polish Army under the Ottokar-Brzoza programme.
This programme involves a series of next generation tank-destroyers, armed with anti-tank missiles and advanced sensors. These future tank-destroyers will replace the Soviet-era BRDM-2s still in use. Although equipped with 9P133 Malutka-P effectors, these obsolete land systems no longer meet the requirements of the modern battlefield and do not provide enough protection.
The new dialogue phase is actually a second iteration of a first technical dialogue, under which the Inspectorate sought to determine and better define a number of technical requirements for only a tracked vehicle system. This time the dialogue includes wheeled vehicle platforms. Afterward, the results will constitute the basis for launching the Ottokar-Brzoza programme.
Among the participants of this technical dialogue procedure are: AMZ Kutno, MBDA UK, Lockheed Martin Global, and state-owned PGZ – which acts on behalf a number of its subsidiary companies. Of the PGZ state-owned subsidiaries Rosomak (formerly Wojskowe Zakłady Mechaniczne), OBRUM, Huta Stalowa Wola, Jelcz, Wojskowe Zaklady Motoryzacyjne, Wojskowe Zaklady Uzbrojenia are included in this number. Also in this number of dialogue participants is Rheinmetall Defence Polska – a subsidiary of Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH
The companies offering wheeled options include AMZ Kutno and Rheinmetall Defence as are the PGZ and its subsidiaries. PGZ appears to be in a strong position with the addition of wheeled vehicles because of their success selling these to the Polish Army, namely: Krab / K9 (tracked) and the Rosomak (wheeled. 8×8 AMV – Patria joint venture. Tracked or wheeled, there are strong arguments for an indigenous supplier.
However, Lockheed Martin and MBDA-UK are both renown manufactures of combat-proven anti-tank missile systems as well as armoured vehicles. They are most likely to offer integration of its products for the Ottokar-Brzoza programme’s wheeled and tracked platforms.
31 Jan 20. Next-Generation Combat Vehicles “all about the soldier”: US General. US Next-Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) Cross-Functional Team (CFT) director Brigadier General Ross Coffman recently gave an update on the US Army’s plan to replace several vehicles, why they chose to reset the OMFV programme and putting the soldier first.
Speaking at Defence IQ’s recent International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) 2020, Brigadier General Ross Coffman made clear that despite heading up the NGCV programme CFT, ‘vehicles’ were not his priority when it comes to upgrading and enhancing the capabilities of the US land fleet, but rather that the aim of the programme was about giving the warfighters access to the best equipment possible.
Coffman said: “Nothing we’re doing is about vehicles, it has nothing to do with vehicles. On my hierarchy, vehicles come really come right after this person. It is all about the soldier.”
Emphasising, this Coffman tapped into the aims of the wider industry and defence market saying: “That’s what we’re all about industry, academia, the military, the acquisition, the requirements, it’s all about the soldier. And if we keep that in mind that this business becomes fairly simple. It’s getting the best equipment as fast as possible – as long as the budget allows – into his or her hands because the enemy is real.”
In his role, Coffman oversees high-profile programmes to deliver new equipment into the hands of US personnel, including the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle programme to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) designed reduce risk to soldiers, the Mobile Protected Firepower project to fill a US Army capability gap in clearing obstructions between personnel and objectives, and the Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) programme to replace the in-service M113, among others.
Updating the audience on the programmes, and the work of the NGCV programme, Coffman said that the US Army’s aim was not to upgrade to match the capabilities of adversaries but rather to ‘upgrade to overmatch’ and continue the US Army’s dominance in the land domain while ensuring soldiers received the equipment they needed.
“Start anew” on Bradley replacement
The OMFV programme in its current iteration was recently shelved by the US Army to re-evaluate the requirements of the project, after last year the contract was left with just one bidder, General Dynamics following the disqualification of a joint Raytheon-Rheinmetall team.
Earlier in the year, BAE Systems had also pulled out of the programme, it had offered the CV90 vehicle to the US Army but dropped out in June 2019.
The news of the revised programme was released a week before the conference where Coffman was speaking, with the US Army at the time saying it was looking to revisit “the requirements, acquisition strategy and schedule” of the OMFV programme.
Speaking about the decision to revise the OMFV programme Coffman said: “Bottom line is we made a decision as an army to not cancel the programme, but start anew, and it’s different. Army Futures Command is committed to doing things differently.
“We’ve spent a lot of money in 15 years to get to the point of the decision we made last week. We want to do things differently. We don’t want to continue pouring money down a hole only to find out on the backside that we’re not getting what we want for our soldiers.”
Coffman went on to say: “So for very little money and very little time, the army senior leadership made a decision to stop, go back, and relook from top to bottom the requirements, acquisition strategy, timing, money, and start anew.”
The aim of the contract now is to return a healthy level of competition to ensure that a workable, affordable solution is delivered that meets the yet-to-be-decided new requirements for the vehicle.
The ultimate goal is to deliver an optionally-manned vehicle – controlled either by a human operator or remotely – to manoeuvre dismounted infantry across the battlefield to, as Coffman described it, deliver ‘fresh legs’ to the fight.
The US Army aims for the selected vehicle to be able to maintain pace with the Abrams tank and have the firepower to engage and destroy adversaries IFVs and tanks.
The RCV programme aims to deliver robotic vehicles to the US Army in three different weight categories; light, which is around five to seven tonnes, medium at around ten tonnes, and heavy which will be up to 20 tonnes. Throughout all the variants the Army wants the vehicles to be payload-agnostic, giving them the capability to carry a range of different mission packages depending on the environment they face.
The army recently awarded contracts to Textron and QinetiQ to build four RCVs respectively. So far the awarded contracts cover the light and medium weight categories; the first lot of platforms will be used to inform and develop how to conduct operations with the assistance of robots at a company level and then transfer the lessons learned into concepts to employ at a brigade size.
Talking about the vehicles, Coffman said that the army planned to “determine through experimentation” the best way to employ RCVs into the US’s land forces and operations.
Coffman said of the programme: “There’s a lot of discussions today about what will robots do? What can they do on the battlefield? What can they not do? How many people does it take to operate? For me, it’s very simple. The robot may not save you soldiers, but it reduces the risk to the soldiers that we love.
“It reduces risk on the battlefield in those really nasty places like crossing a wet gap crossing, combined arms breach, the lead into a city – reducing that risk”
The idea for the robots is to have them operate several kilometres in front of a vehicle or infantry formation to detect and engage the enemy force before human personnel are engaged. The idea is that if a robot engages first, the risk is reduced and soldiers and manned vehicles have more time to figure out a plan of action when then advancing into contact with the enemy.
Coffman explained this best saying: “We find the riskiest places on Earth, and we put robots there.” (Source: army-technology.com)
About Oshkosh Defense
Oshkosh Defense is a leading provider of tactical wheeled vehicles and life cycle sustainment services. For decades Oshkosh has been mobilizing military and security forces around the globe by offering a full portfolio of heavy, medium, light and highly protected military vehicles to support our customers’ missions. In addition, Oshkosh offers advanced technologies and vehicle components such as TAK-4® independent suspension systems, TerraMax™ unmanned ground vehicle solutions, Command Zone™ integrated control and diagnostics system, and ProPulse® diesel electric and on-board vehicle power solutions, to provide our customers with a technical edge as they fulfill their missions. Every Oshkosh vehicle is backed by a team of defense industry experts and complete range of sustainment and training services to optimize fleet readiness and performance. Oshkosh Defense, LLC is an Oshkosh Corporation company [NYSE: OSK].
To learn more about Oshkosh Defense, please visit us at www.oshkoshdefense.com.