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20 May 20. KMW, Nexter and Rheinmetall get the go-ahead for initial MGCS architecture study. Standing for Main Ground Combat System, MGCS is a joint Franco-German defence project. The programme, to be implemented under German political leadership, is tasked with developing a main combat system to succeed the Bundeswehr’s Leopard 2 and the French Army’s Leclerc starting in 2035.
Making the start of the MGCS procurement programme Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW), Nexter Systems and Rheinmetall AG established an ARGE in December 2019. Now, the partners and the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw), acting in the name of Germany and France, have signed a contract for the “System Architecture Definition Study – Part 1” (SADS Part 1). This contract sounds the industrial starting gun for a MGCS Demonstration Phase.
At the Franco-German Ministerial Council meeting in Toulouse on 16 October 2019, the defence ministers of both nations, Florence Parly and Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer, emphasized their commitment to developing the MGCS.
The ARGE is a German acronym standing for Arbeitsgemeinschaft, or “working group”. Under German law, the ARGE serves as the contractual partner of the procurement authority (BAAINBw) during the first phase of the programme. Officials of the three companies represent the ARGE vis-à-vis third parties.
The aim of the study is to harmonize the final MGCS concepts of the previous phase, to analyse further details, and to propose a common multi-platform architecture. The three contractual partners will assess various aspects of different concepts: technical feasibility in the projected timeframe allotted for the programme; ability to fulfil the operational needs of both armies; efficiency and compatibility with national “systems of systems” (SCORPION for France and Digitization of Land-Based Operations (D-LBO) for Germany). Workshares in the SADS Part 1 are to be distributed equally between France and Germany on a fifty-fifty basis. The first phase of architecture work is expected to last 18 months.
19 May 20. Contract Concluded with Industry on Future Decisive Ground Combat System. With the contract on a system architecture definition study concluded between industry and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBwBundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr), the future German-French Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) has reached its next milestone.
Things are now progressing fast with the Main Ground Combat System. After the Framework and Implementing Agreements have been signed by the Defence Ministers of Germany and France, the focus will now be on the contract with the ARGE consortium of industrial partners consisting of Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann (KMW), and Nexter.
This launches the system architecture study for Main Ground Combat System (MGCS). Nationally-selected concepts are being harmonized to develop a common multi-platform system architecture. The first part of the study is to be completed within 20 months.
The contract is concluded between the participating ARGE companies and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBwBundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) representing both Germany and France.
The contract is equally co-funded by Germany and France. Likewise, the German and French companies will implement equal division of work.
Given the significance of the joint project, a festive signature ceremony would have been most appropriate. However, neither the Framework and Implementing Agreement nor this contract can be signed in person due to the coronavirus situation.
Even such a landmark project must now be signed via mail.
The industrial companies of Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann and Nexter were the first ones to sign. After that, BAAINBwBundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr received the documents for signature.
In accordance with the agreement between the two partner nations, only Germany/BAAINBwBundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr was to sign as the lead nation of the bilateral project.
Replacement for the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks
The Main Ground Combat System project to be implemented under German lead will replace the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks from the mid-2030s.
With this project, Germany and France are sending a strong signal of European defence cooperation: (Source: defense-aerospace.com/German Ministry of Defence)
19 May 20. The 1000th Sherpa. The Arquus teams of Limoges have recently completed the production of the 1,000th Sherpa armored vehicle. It is a major milestone for the Sherpa family, founded in 2006, which has constantly evolved since. It thus joins a very select circle of multipurpose vehicles, 14 years after its first presentation at Eurosatory 2006. Deployed on all theaters of operations and in all configurations, the Sherpa armored vehicles serve daily in a wide range of forces. That milestone crowns the quality of design and production of the vehicles of the Sherpa range, as well as its versatility. In its different versions, the Sherpa can tackle most missions and carry most of the equipment of the Defense and Security forces.
The Sherpa family is currently comprised of four base models: the Sherpa Scout, an armored vehicle for liaison and reconnaissance seating 4 or 5 soldiers, also available in the Station Wagon version; the Carrier, fitted with a bed for troop or systems transport; the APC, for troop protected transport; and the Sherpa Special Forces, designed for missions behind the enemy lines.
Unveiled at Eurosatory 2006, the Sherpa has received unanimous acclaim for its compacity, exceptional mobility and their important payload, which provide the vehicle with high versatility and upgradability. Various forces have quickly acknowledged these capabilities. The NSPA (Nato Support and Procurement Agency) has notably ordered Sherpa vehicles in a communications systems carrier version for the ISAF (International Security Assistance Forces), then deployed in Afghanistan.
Since 2006, Chile, Lebanon and Indonesia have acquired Sherpa vehicles to reinforce their police and security forces’ capabilities. An Assault Ladder version was then developed by Arquus in 2014 to provide with unprecedented capabilities to fight organized crime and terrorism. India, the Brazilian Federal Police, as well as the French GIGN have soon selected that version. Most iconic vehicle, the Sherpa Assault Ladder is deployed on all the Group’s delicate interventions. In 2016, the French Minister of Defence, Jean-Yves Le Drian, announced a contract for 300 Sherpa vehicles to be delivered to Kuwaït. These vehicles have been the highlight of the DGA 2019 show in Kuwaït City.
The Sherpa’s commercial success, in all versions and configurations, has allowed for the foundation and growth of a durable and long-term industrial activity, combining modern methods, long-term expertise and high-quality design. Since 2006, all Sherpa vehicles of the Arquus are produced at the Arquus site in Limoges, with a completely dedicated production line. In 14 years, more than 1,000 Sherpa vehicles of all versions and configurations have rolled out of the production line. The Garchizy plant has also contributed to that industrial organization by providing with the Sherpa’s armored hulls.
2019, the year of all records for the Arquus plant of Limoges, has also been a record year for the Sherpa production line. With more than 200 vehicles produced, the Sherpa has been at the heart of Arquus’ growth. The Arquus plant in Limoges has proved its ability to tackle very sustained rythms, producing up to two Sherpa vehicles per day. These records, set on the plant’s 80th anniversary, illustrate the dynamism and renewing ability of a historic site of the French Defense.
That 1,000th Sherpa milestone crowns the exceptional expertise of the engineers who have designed the Sherpa and have kept developing it, to help him face the threats met on the battlefield and answer the commanders’ tactical needs. It also rewards the quality of the industrial organization created to allow the production and support of proven vehicles, renowned for the quality of their performance and protection.
19 May 20. Rheinmetall extends Bisalloy LAND 400 Phase 2 teaming agreement. Rheinmetall Defence Australia, in partnership with Wollongong-based Bisalloy Steel Group, has announced an extension of its longstanding teaming agreement to support the delivery of Rheinmetall’s Australian manufactured Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV).
Rheinmetall and Bisalloy are currently working together in Australia and Germany to create specialised grades of Bisalloy armour steel for application on the Boxer 8×8 CRVs to be delivered to the Commonwealth of Australia’s LAND 400 Phase 2 program.
Bisalloy is two years into the development of new grades of armour steel in order to meet the exacting protection levels required for each Boxer 8×8 CRV. Once certified, Bisalloy steel will produce the best protection for Australian soldiers to ensure they survive and win in combat.
Bisalloy Steel Group chief executive and managing director Greg Albert said the company was proud to be part of a new military vehicle industry for Australia – and deliver world-class armour steel to the ADF.
“Bisalloy has long worked in partnership with Australian steel producers, defence scientists and manufacturers of military vessels and vehicles to produce what we believe are some of the best armour plate products in the world,” Albert said.
Bisalloy’s new armour steel is in the final stages of German government qualification process.
Rheinmetall Defence Australia managing director Gary Stewart said qualification of Australian steel for the Boxer program would reconfirm Bisalloy’s status as a world-class supplier of armour grade steel.
“Apart from ensuring supply to the LAND 400 Phase 2 vehicles, it will also qualify Bisalloy to work globally with Rheinmetall on future projects, including LAND 400 Phase 3 and other offshore defence programs,” Stewart said.
Listed on the ASX and operating for 40 years, Bisalloy is Australia’s only manufacturer of high tensile and abrasion-resistant quenched and tempered steel plate used for armour, structural, protection and wear-resistant steel applications.
Australia’s only manufacturer of impact-resistant, armour and protection grade steels, Bisalloy has a long history of collaboration with the ADF.
Developed in the 1980s for use in the hulls of the Royal Australian Navy’s Adelaide Class frigate, Bisalloy armour steel has since been used in several other local defence projects, including the Bushmaster infantry mobility vehicles.
Bisalloy armour steel has become a leading product for defence applications in Australia and abroad and is specified for hulls in armoured personnel carriers (APC), light armoured vehicles (LAV), Collins Class submarines and the Bushmaster infantry mobility vehicles in Australia, along with many APCs and LAVs worldwide.
The $5.2bn LAND 400 Phase 2 program will have Rheinmetall deliver 211 8×8 Boxer CRVs to the Australian Army.
Under the company’s offering to the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall will build a majority of the vehicles at the company’s specialised Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) in Queensland.
The first 25 vehicles will be built in Germany as part of the technology transfer process, with the remaining vehicles to be built in Australia. Boxer will replace the ageing ASLAV vehicles that have served with the Australian Army in East Timor, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The Army will accept 133 reconnaissance variants of the Boxer, which will be equipped with Rheinmetall’s cutting-edge Lance 30mm automatic cannon turret system, amounts a number of other variants.
Joint venture partners Varley Rafael will supply the Spike LR2 Anti-Tank Guided Missile (ATGM) system for the Boxer CRV. The Spike LR2 is a fifth-generation ATGM system, originally developed as a fire-and-forget system.
The vehicle-mounted extended-range variant has a range of 8 kilometres, while the non-line-of-sight variant can hit targets up to 25 kilometres away. The Boxer CRV will support Australian industry, sourcing specialised armoured steel from Australian steel companies BlueScope Steel and Bisalloy, with engineering support provided by Melbourne-based Supacat Asia-Pacific. (Source: Defence Connect)
18 May 20. HMT Extenda Mk2 joins Canadian NGFV tests. DEW Engineering and Development and Supacat have submitted their High Mobility Transporter (HMT) for the voluntary industry vehicle demonstration of the Next Generation Fighting Vehicle (NGFV) programme for the Canadian Special Operations Forces Command (CANSOFCOM).
The two companies confirmed to Shephard earlier this month that they joined have the demonstration at Canadian Forces Base Petawawa (Ontario) with the Extenda Mk2 version of the HMT expeditionary vehicle.
The NGFV procurement process is currently in the options analysis phase. This project to acquire 55-75 vehicles is estimated to cost between C$100m and C$249m ($70m to $176m).
According to Shephard Defence Insight, other potential contenders in the programme are the Ocelot/Foxhound 4×4 from General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada (GDLS-C), as well as the Sherpa Light 4×4 from Arquus/Mack Defense.
A Department of National Defence (DND) spokesperson explained that Canada intends to acquire 55 to 75 NGFVs to equip CANSOFCOM. This platform will replace the existing fleet of M1113 and M1117 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWVs).
An earlier replacement programme was cancelled in 2010. Although originally anticipated in 2015, an RfI for the NGFV was not released until 2019. An RfP is scheduled to be released in early 2021, followed by a contract awarded in 2024-2025, first deliveries in 2026-2027 and final deliveries in 2028-2029.
The DND spokesperson stressed that the NGFV will be a ‘modern and diverse multi-role vehicle capable of transporting the prescribed equipment and weapons load, ensuring mobility, survivability of the crew and vehicle and sustainment inherently required in the execution of special operations tasks’.
It ‘must have the ability for the crew to engage various adversaries without dismounting from the protection of the vehicle, and also be protected from kinetic attacks from adversaries,’ the spokesperson highlighted.
The HMT vehicle is designed to transport personnel and equipment into deployed zones including directly onto objectives and to support the withdrawal of other assets.
This vehicle provides lower user fatigue and is robust and well-protected, enabling long-range and enhanced mission duration. Also, it has an airbag suspension to provide stability to fire.
The Extenda Mk2 model — an upgraded version of which was unveiled during the DSEI 2019 trade show — can be converted between 4×4 and 6×6 configuration in hours by adding or removing a third axle module.
In addition, users can select between different levels of protection, seating layouts, payload configurations and an open or enclosed cab.
The HMT can be fitted with NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture to enable the integration of a wide variety of mission systems, including a remote weapon system as well as ISR and C4 systems.
Additionally, this platform is air-transportable in aircraft such as the C-17 Globemaster III, C-130 Hercules and CH-47 Chinook (depending on the configuration of helicopter and vehicle).
Nicky Yeoman, head of marketing and sales operations at SC Group-Global (which includes Supacat), confirmed to Shephard that 950 units of the HMT platform in various configurations are in service with Australia, Denmark, Norway, New Zealand, the UK, the US and another undisclosed customer. (Source: Shephard)
18 May 20. Turkey to start production of new armed UGV. The Turkish Presidency of Defence Industries (SSB) has signed a contract with Aselsan for production of armed UGVs. Experienced manufacturer Katmerciler will produce the UGV platform, which will be delivered to Turkish Land Forces Command. According to the Turkish Defense Industry Directorate, the medium-class UGV will be equipped with a remote weapons station. It will be used for reconnaissance, surveillance and targeting missions. (Source: Shephard)
18 May 20. Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE), a joint venture between the global aerospace and technology business Paramount Group and Kazakhstan partners, has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Industry and Infrastructural Development of the Republic of Kazakhstan to supply the Eurasian nation’s Ministry of Defence with a new batch of 4×4 Arlan armoured vehicles to be delivered in 2021.
The Armed Forces of Kazakhstan has been operating the Arlan for more than three years, with multiple deliveries to the Kazakh Ministry of Defence and law enforcement agencies since August 2016. The in-country-produced, rugged and robust Arlan, the winterized variant of Paramount Group’s “Marauder”, is a mine-resistant armoured platform (MRAP) designed to operate in extreme environments to meet the wide array of mission requirements undertaken by Kazakhstan’s armed forces, such as quick reaction force operations, infantry fire support or long-range border patrol.
The Arlan armoured vehicles are all locally manufactured (up to 70% local content) at the 15,000m2 KPE armoured vehicle production facility in Nursultan, one of the largest and most modern armoured vehicle factories in the region. The facilities, operated by over two-hundred Kazakhstani employees, serve today as a domestic base for the provision of modern equipment to Kazakhstan’s Special Operations Forces and its Ministry of Defense, with the capacity to produce more than two hundred armoured vehicles per year.
John Craig, Executive Chairman of Paramount Land Systems Group, stated, “The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of security of supply during a global emergency. Now more than ever Governments are looking at the indigenisation of industrial capabilities in a bid to reduce exposure to global market volatility and uncertainty. The portable manufacturing model that we have pioneered is designed for the creation of local manufacturing capabilities, anywhere in the world. This model has thrived in Kazakhstan, where we have established a localised hub for indigenous, high-tech manufacturing and high-skills training that has enhanced job creation while supporting the defence capabilities of the nation for future decades”.
The armoured vehicles, which have been supplied to Kazakhstan’s Ministry of Defence, are exemplified by their unique, clean-sheet design and high ballistic protection, yet also by their dynamic mobility (reaching speeds of up to 120km per hour, while traveling up to a distance of 700km) and adaptability to the diverse conditions of Kazakhstan and the greater Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Craig added: “Our Team at Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE) is continuing their steadfast and rapid production of advanced land systems technologies that excel in the extreme conditions and complex requirements of the region. Having been in operation with the Kazakh Armed Forces for more than three years, the Arlan has been tried and tested, and proven for its outstanding protection, ruggedness and mobility.”
Despite the Arlan’s advanced protection, the ability to carry extra fuel tanks, water and additional combat supplies, while offering up to a 4,500kg payload, the vehicle can ford at 1.2m while also being capable of climbing grades of 60% and side slopes of 35%.The multipurpose Arlan’s features include a modular design and double-skin monocoque, V-shaped hull structure, able to withstand the debris and dissipating energy of explosions while offering advanced protection against mine blasts. The vehicle provides ballistic protection against 7,62mm and 5,56mm rounds, blast protection against mine explosions of 10kg TNT beneath its hull or beneath any wheel and a 50kg TNT side blast explosion, to protect against roadside bombs and IEDs.
The Arlan’s features further include pre-ignition engine heating and a dynamic temperature control system that can carry personnel safely and comfortably in winter conditions (as low as – 50 degrees Celsius) and summer temperatures (up to 50 degrees Celsius).
The vehicle is further equipped with chemical, biological and radiation (CBR) protection which can address the challenges of radiation dust spread, gas and/or biological attacks, along with filter–ventilation equipment, capable of purifying the air inside its cabin for several hours.
18 May 20. PLAGF units training with new vehicle-mounted EW systems. Chinese state-owned media have released video footage showing People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) units conducting training exercises with two of the vehicle-mounted electronic warfare (EW) systems paraded by Beijing on 1 October 2019: a confirmation that these systems have entered service.
The systems, both of which are mounted on 6×6 Dongfeng Mengshi CSZ181 armoured vehicles and have a crew of four, were shown in a 10 May report by the China Central Television 7 (CCTV 7) channel being operated by a unit within the 78th Group Army of the PLA’s Northern Theatre Command.
Among other things, one of the systems uses two telescopic masts suitable for VHF/UHF/SHF spectrum monitoring and direction-finding, making it capable of communications electronic support measures (ESM).
A screengrab from CCTV 7 footage showing several of the PLAGF’s new vehicle-mounted EW systems during training exercises with a unit within the PLA’s 78th Group Army.
A total of five vehicles were shown in the CCTV 7 report, two of which have been fitted with these masts. It is not entirely clear what EW equipment is part of the system seen on the other three vehicles, but it is possible that this second system may be suitable for radar ESM.
No information was disclosed in the CCTV 7 report about how many of either of these systems, the designation of which was not disclosed, are now in service with the PLAGF.
The recently shown EW systems are two of several new platforms and weapon systems that were displayed by the PLA in a large-scale parade held on 1 October in Beijing to mark the 70th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China. (Source: Jane’s)
18 May 20. RoKA unveils MV-4 unmanned tracked mine-clearance system. The Special Operations Support Brigade of the Republic of Korea Army’s (RoKA) Ground Operations Command (GOC) has adopted DOK ING’s MV-4 mineclearing unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) for operations on the demilitarised zone (DMZ), social media images released by the service in mid-May have revealed. The UGV was showcased for the first time as part of a training demonstration held by the brigade since its establishment in December 2019. South Korea has acquired the DOK ING MV-4 mineclearing UGV. The RoKA promoted a plan in 2018 to introduce two unmanned tracked mine-clearance systems by 2019. A budget of KRW5bn (USD4.1m) was allocated for this programme. The equipment considered for procurement at the time was the Swiss-made GCS-100, the MineWolf Systems (now Pearson Engineering) Minewolf, and the Croatian DOK ING MV-4. The first MV-4 UGV was delivered to the GOC in April. Eight more MV-4s are scheduled to be introduced and will be deployed into mine clearance operation sites within 2020. The MV-4 can be remotely controlled using the associated operator control unit (OCU), which can communicate with the UGV at line-of-sight ranges of 1 km to ensure that the operator remains well out of harm’s way during when buried mines are detonated. The attached electro-optical (EO) camera enables the operator to observe the terrain around the vehicle in real-time. Various tools such as flails can be attached to the front of the UGV to address specific mission requirements. The MV-4, which performs its mine-clearance mission by rotating the flails connected to the chains at high speed, is capable of neutralising mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) that have been buried 30 cm deep. The UGV is constructed from high-strength steel to withstand the shock from anti-personnel and anti-tank mines. (Source: Jane’s)
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