18 Jun 20. Milrem Robotics revealed Type-X RCV with John Cockerill CPWS II turret. Milrem Robotics and John Cockerill Defense showcased the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle with the Cockerill Protected Weapons Station Gen. II (CPWS II) to select military forces from around the world.
The Type-X vehicle chassis is a revolutionary design for a mobile modular multi-mission vehicle that provides a platform for a family of unmanned armored vehicles. It is the first combat vehicle that is purposefully designed to be unmanned intended to be an integral part of mechanized units.
The Type-X is designed to deploy at a weight below the 12-ton mark for rapid deployment into the combat theater, either by parachute or by heavy lift helicopter.
A combination of augmented Artificial Intelligence (AI) and a remote system operator, the Type-X is a tracked vehicle with armor protection that can supplement troop formations or operate independently, in unmanned formations.
“The Type-X is modular and will accept larger turrets, but current turret designs are optimized for operations under armor,” Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics stated. “The CPWS II is a step in the right direction, as it is designed from the beginning to be a remotely controlled configuration (unmanned) and easy access from the outside of the turret, allowing for reload and maintenance,” Väärsi added.
Simon Haye, the Chief Marketing Officer for John Cockerill Defense adds: “One of the first realistic roles for unmanned fighting vehicles will be convoy defense and perimeter or base defense. The Type-X with the CPWS can be placed in the front and rear of a convoy to provide additional eyes and firepower for the convoy. Rarely does a convoy have available 25mm firepower and given the system is unmanned, tactics like rushing an ambush site, or maneuvering on the enemy’s position are now legitimate options for a convoy under fire. The lead / follow functions of unmanned vehicles is well developed technology and spreading some operator stations through the convoy can provide redundancy and quick response. Further FOB security can now be in the form of a mobile unmanned fighting vehicle. Instead of putting soldiers at risk on the wire, these Guardian Systems can provide relentless observation and the capability to maneuver and disperse an attack instead of just absorbing it.”
The CPWS II is a low profile, light weight turret, with a revolutionary hatch opening and can mount the M242 25mm X 137mm Bushmaster cannon or the 230LF, 30mm X 113mm cannon. The CPWS II is a remotely operated turret, designed to fit onto 4X4 and 6X6 vehicles. It is the revolutionary hatch, which can operate in three modes that makes the turret a desirable selection for unmanned vehicle operations.
The opening roof capability will allow a rapid reloading of the unmanned vehicle from the outside. Equipped with a 360-degree panoramic sight, with CCD, thermal and fused imaging, the CPWS represents a suitable partner to the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle. The turret can come with Anti-Tank Missiles such as Alcotan, MMP, Javelin or SPIKE.
“Eventually, combining self-driving unmanned logistics vehicles with the Type-X and you can reduce the personnel required for a convoy to a few operators, while actually increasing the capabilities of defending the convoy,” Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics said. “This is not just a leap forward in force protection but a force multiplier.”
During the demonstration Milrem Robotics unveiled their Intelligent Functions Kit (IFK), which converts any vehicle into a self-driving or remotely controlled one. Milrem Robotics’ IFK is a modular hardware and software kit providing ROS2 based environment for different functionalities, which can be provided by Milrem Robotics, the customer or a third party. The IFK has been developed for Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS UGV and Type-X but can be adapted to any other vehicle with drive-by-wire integration.
Both companies are excited about the future cooperation. “We are looking forward to developing a wide range of solutions with John Cockerill, as they have experience, not only in the medium caliber range but they are known for their expertise in the 90mm and 105mm cannons.” Väärsi stated.
18 Jun 20. Milrem Robotics led consortium awarded contract to develop a European standardized unmanned ground system.
A consortium led by Milrem Robotics and composed of several major defence, communication and cybersecurity companies and high technology SMEs was awarded 30.6 million Euros from the European Commission’s European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) to develop a European standardized unmanned ground system.
During the project, a modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems will be developed to standardize a European wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads, and algorithms. The prototype system will utilize an existing unmanned ground vehicle – Milrem Robotics’ THeMIS – and a specific list of payloads.
The outcome of the project will be demonstrated in operational environments and relevant climatic conditions as part of participating member states military exercises or at separate testing grounds.
The total cost of the project, titled iMUGS (integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System), is 32.6m euros of which 30.6 million will be provided by the European Commission.
“Robotic and autonomous systems will tremendously enhance defence and military capabilities in the coming years all around the world. iMUGS is an excellent example of how Europe can utilize and develop high-end technologies as a joint effort while avoiding scattering activities and resources,” said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics.
“It is nice to see, that the European Defence Fund is efficiently consolidating the requirements of EU member states and the European industry’s capabilities to increase defence capabilities and strategic autonomy. The European industry is determined and ready to provide efficient and deployable technologies already over the next three years in the course of this project,” Väärsi added.
The project is led by Estonia and its technical requirements have also been agreed with Finland, Latvia, Germany, Belgium, France, and Spain who are planning on financing the remaining 2 MEUR of the projects budget.
During the project operational know-how will be gathered and concepts for the combined engagement of manned and unmanned assets developed, while considering the ethical aspects applicable to robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. State-of-the-art virtual and constructive simulation environments will also be set up.
iMUGS will be a cooperation between 14 parties: Milrem Robotics (project coordinator), GT Cyber Technologies, Safran Electronics & Defense, NEXTER Systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl Defence, Bittium Wireless, Insta DefSec, (Un)Manned, dotOcean, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, GMV Aerospace and Defence, the Estonian Military Academy and Royal Military Academy of Belgium.
The objectives of the EDIDP programme are to contribute to the strategic autonomy of the European Union and to strengthen the cooperation between Member States. The priorities include enabling high-end operations of military forces with special focus on intelligence and secured communications and cyber. Actions include development of next generation ground combat capabilities and solutions in Artificial Intelligence, Virtual Reality and Cyber technologies. (Source: https://aerodefenseinternational.com/)
18 Jun 20. Rheinmetall has won another major order for logistic vehicles. Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has entered a framework contract with Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) for delivery of up to 4,000 swap body systems, many of which will feature armoured driver’s cabs. Running from 2021 to 2027 for Rheinmetall the framework contract represents around €2bn in total sales volume. To begin with, the Group will supply the Bundeswehr with an initial tranche of 540 vehicles. Worth around €348m including VAT, they have now been taken under contract.
Of these 540 vehicles, 230 will be protected. Delivery will start early next year, making sure that the Bundeswehr has an adequate number of vehicles in 2023 when Germany takes over leadership of NATO’s spearhead: the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, or VJTF.
The protected swap body systems enhance the survivability and sustainment capability of the Logistics Corps, as well as strengthening its tactical flexibility. Unlike the Unprotected Transport Vehicle (UTF), likewise supplied by RMMV, these systems will be predominately deployed in forward operating areas, where, for instance, they will be used for supplying ammunition to frontline combat units, e.g. artillery batteries.
Assuring excellent off-road mobility, RMMV’s robust, all-terrain-capable HX 8×8 vehicles can be optionally fitted with a protected cab. Standard features include a hook loader developed by the Hiab company, which can quickly lift and set down the accompanying flat racks. In addition, the vehicles can accommodate an interchangeable platform or a container via the standardized 20-foot ISO interfaces. Identical operator interfaces and a high degree of commonality and component uniformity with the UTF vehicle family facilitate training, operations and logistics. Owing to the significant reduction in training time for crewmembers and maintenance personnel as well as the extensive commonality of spare parts and special tools, full utilization can be achieved faster – coupled with greater economic efficiency for the procurement authorities and user alike.
This new order widens Rheinmetall’s lead as one of the world’s foremost makers of logistic systems and vehicles. Since the award of the 7-year UTF framework by BAAINBw on 5 July 2017, 1,250 out of a total of 2271 vehicles have already been shipped. Most of the principal components – the engines, axles, transmissions and build-ons – are made in Germany; assembly of the vehicles takes place at the RMMV plant in Vienna.
Especially when it comes to multinational operations, the extensive global presence of RMMV vehicles offers major advantages with regard to interoperability and logistics. The current circle of user nations includes – among others – the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand and Denmark. Norway and Sweden have also placed substantial truck orders with Rheinmetall.
16 Jun 20. GE to Demo “Risk-Aware” Off-Road Autonomy with US Army.
- Will deliver new capabilities in autonomous navigation by enabling vehicles to find their own way through unstructured environments like forests or heavily wooded areas
- GE’s solution will build in unique risk assessment capability, integrating our novel Humble AI technology to determine certain vs. uncertain travel paths
- Humble AI will be combined with a risk-aware planner to form a complete autonomous navigation system
- GE Research Robotics team to demonstrate their autonomous system in a small ground vehicle at a US Army facility later this year
Aiming to take driverless vehicle technology “off-roading,” the GE Research Robotics Team has been awarded a project with the US Army through its Scalable Adaptive Resilient Autonomy Program (SARA) to develop a new kind of “risk-aware” autonomous technology that enables military ground vehicles to move safely in complex off-road conditions.
GE’s project is one of eight being funded by the U.S. Army’s Combat Capabilities Development Command Army Research Laboratory to advance autonomous, off-road navigation capabilities for military ground vehicles. The Army is looking to enhance autonomous vehicle capabilities to perform safely and reliably in complex battlefield environments such as wooded areas where paths are unstructured, conditions uncertain and for which no maps exist to provide direction.
GE researchers believe one of the big challenges to enabling autonomous, off-road capabilities is developing a system that is risk aware. The key, Shiraj Sen, a Senior Robotics Scientist at GE Research and the Principal Investigator for this program, says is to introduce a little humility into your autonomous vehicle system.
“We will be integrating a new algorithmic approach GE has developed called Humble AI, which will enable our system to decipher known paths from uncertain paths much like a human might do hiking through the forest,” Sen says. “Essentially, GE’s autonomous system will be able to process the information our vision and LIDAR technologies gather to determine where it’s safe to drive and where it’s not safe to drive through highly unstructured environments.”
Sen noted that GE will be leveraging learnings from its application of Humble AI in other major industrial applications such as industrial field service and wind turbine operations where safety and reliably are paramount.
“Over the past few years, GE has successfully field-tested robotics and autonomous systems in a number of domains. As we move toward environments with more uncertainty such as what we’re looking at with SARA, integrating Humble AI concepts makes a lot of sense.”
Sen explained that Humble AI delivers safe control of a system, for example a wind turbine, when it is familiar with a given operating scenario. It is within its so-called “zone of competency.” When the system falls outside the zone of competency and a new operating scenario emerges that the algorithm has never seen, it takes a step back and places the turbine into default safe mode. Following that, our approach estimates the uncertainty in the robot’s machine-learned perceptual models and uses that knowledge to drive robot behavior. We believe that such risk-aware techniques lead to faster operational speed, by virtue of the robot requiring fewer and less-involved human interventions.
“Our objective is safe and reliable autonomy that operates over long distances of rugged, unplanned terrain,” says Eric Spero, SARA program manager. “Integrating a risk-aware planner into our autonomy stack will help our representative autonomous vehicles quickly learn and adapt.”
“Combining Humble AI with risk-aware planning, we could ultimately design an autonomous vehicle navigation system that not only mimics a human’s capacity to assess risk, but also learn on the fly as it navigates unknown or unstructured territory,” Sen said.
The GE Research Robotics Team will be developing their risk-aware autonomous vehicle navigation system in a very iterative process over the next few months. The Team will demonstrate their technology on a small-scale ground vehicle with the Army in November. (Source: ASD Network/General Electric)
17 Jun 20. Collaborative All-Terrain Vehicle to improve the readiness of British and German armed forces. The UK and Germany are moving ahead to improve the mobility of their armies by signing a joint procurement agreement for a Collaborative All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV).
Through this agreement, the two partners intend to share acquisition costs associated with a new tracked platform, as they seek to improve the readiness of their ground forces and improve interoperability.
CATV remains in the assessment phase; officials could neither disclose details of the cost of the vehicles, nor the identity of potential industry partners or models/variants of the platform.
A German MoD spokesperson explained to Shephard that the country intends to procure an initial 140 vehicles, pending approval of the order by the German Parliament.
The first CATVs are planned to enter service with the German Army in 2024, to replace in-service BV206 vehicles that are due to be phased out by 2027. The CATVs will improve interoperability with allied armed forces.
The new vehicle will provide ‘a robust and sustainable platform of high mobility for a great variety of military functions, such as troop transport, material transport, reconnaissance and engineer tasks’, the German MoD spokesperson said.
CATV will enter service with Mountain Infantry Brigade 23 and will enable it to cross difficult terrain, regardless from conditions such as icy or snow-covered ground, according to the spokesperson.
Germany and the UK signed a Statement of Intent on 22 April. Through the joint procurement, the German MoD expects benefits from the economies of scale due to the fact that the national orders will be combined to a larger joint order.
According to the UK MoD, a full business case decision is still needed before it can determine how many vehicles will be procured and when they will enter service.
‘This collaborative programme offers benefits such as economies of scale, shared costs, flexibility and operational interoperability,’ an MoD spokesperson noted.
As in Germany, the CATV will also replace the ageing BV206 fleet in the UK.
The programme is open to participation by other countries. For example, the Netherlands (already a partner in the Boxer programme with Germany, Lithuania and the UK) is likely to join in and Sweden is analysing potential procurement of CATV.
‘On 20 May, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration [FMV] was authorised by the Swedish government to make preparations and negotiate with agencies in the Netherlands, Germany and UK,’ a Swedish MoD spokesperson told Shephard. (Source: Satnews)
16 Jun 20. B-Arms presents BRDM-2MB Bekas reconnaissance vehicle. Russian company B-Arms presented the upgraded BRDM-2MB Bekas 4×4 armoured reconnaissance vehicle during a demonstration at a range in Ruza near Moscow on 9 June.
Chief designer Alexey Butrimov said the deeply modernised Bekas features 6 mm applique armour plates over the most vulnerable points, anti-blast seats, a mine-protected floor, air conditioning, a modernised braking system, a situational awareness system, a new 136 hp diesel engine, and a more ergonomic dashboard.
The BRDM-2MB retains the KPVT 14.5mm heavy machine gun and Kalashnikov PKT medium machine gun in a protected turret. It has a crew of three and can carry two passengers.
Its hull’s sloped armour protects against 7.62mm and 12.7mm bullets, while the frontal arc is designed to withstand KPVT 14.5 mm heavy rounds fired at a range of 300m. (Source: Jane’s)
16 Jun 20. Another 100 VT4 vehicles delivered in Saint-Nazaire. On June 11, 2020, the Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA, French Procurement Agency) has received the eighth batch of the VT4 Mk2 vehicle on the ARQUUS plant in Saint-Nazaire. Including this new batch, 300 VT4 vehicles have been delivered in 2020. As the first batch of vehicles delivered since the official restart of the production activities in Saint-Nazaire, it illustrates ARQUUS’ quick ramping up, as well as its determination to abide by the scheduled delivery planning.
During the COVID-19 sanitary crisis, the deliveries of VT4 vehicles have been continued thanks to a dedicated team onsite, tasked with finishing works and handing over the vehicles to the DGA. That team notably delivered two 100-vehicles batches during the worst weeks of the crisis, at the end of March 2020. These vehicles have thus been handed to the armies, in liaison with the SIMMT (Structure Intégrée du Maintien en condition opérationnelle des Matériels Terrestres, the structure in charge of the maintenance of all the Army equipment), reinforcing the fleets available for domestic operations.
Launched on April 3, the resumption of onsite work has been conducted step by step. About ten collaborators resumed work every day in Saint-Nazaire, in order for each to receive a full training on the new protocols and thus ensure everyone’s safety.
This process has now been completed and the plant has almost recovered nominal production capabilities, as 250 collaborators are back. On top of the production of the VT4, Saint-Nazaire is currently in charge of Industrial Repair Works of TRM2000 trucks for the French Army.
These restarting efforts now fully pay off. The Régiment d’Infanterie de Marine du Pacifique – Nouvelle Calédonie (RIMaP-NC, a French Infantry Regiment posted in the Pacific), has recently received 30 VT4 vehicles, as well as 15 renovated TRM2000 trucks. The VT4 is now ubiquitous in the French forces, including overseas France.
The latest batches of VT4 vehicles take into account the feedback collected on the field since 2018 in order to guarantee a very high level of maturity. The VT4 Standard 2 is a proven, accomplished vehicle, appreciated by all units for its comfort, mobility, security and modernity.
In total, 1,300 VT4 vehicles in all configurations have been delivered to the forces since October 11, 2020 and the very first presentations to the 12e Régiment de Cuirassiers (12th Cuirassiers, based in Olivet). 4,380 VT4 should equip the armies, 3,080 of which are still to be produced in Saint-Nazaire. 3,980 VT4 will be delivered to the Army, and the remaining vehicles will serve in the Armée de l’Air (Air Force), the Marine Nationale (Navy), the Service des Essences des Armées (Military Fuel Service) and the Service Interarmées des Munitions (Ammunition Service).
The VT4 is a light 4×4 vehicle designed for command and liaison. It can accommodate a crew of 5 or 4 FELIN-equipped soldiers. It is thought for domestic operations (Sentinelle operation, training) or foreign deployments in low-intensity conflict zones.
The VT4 Standard 2 includes 350 new references and presents several new evolutions: integration of communication, positioning and navigation systems, extra roof rack, towing bar and blackout lights. The VT4 Standard 2 is also designed to be air transportable, which increases its tactical mobility capabilities.
The VT4 program includes a full package of integrated services, provided by Arquus, with a firm commitment on uptime for the whole fleet.
VT4 production line in Saint-Nazaire
The Arquus e-xpo is open for visit at: e-xpo.arquus-defense.com
15 Jun 20. Jamaica flexes crime-fighting muscle by boosting fleet of Thales Bushmaster Protected Vehicles.
- The Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) is upgrading its fleet of counter-crime equipment with the purchase of 6 state-of-the-art Thales Bushmaster Protected Vehicles.
- The enhanced fleet of 18 vehicles allows the JDF to field larger operations in support of the Jamaican Constabulary Force’s (JCF) crime fighting efforts across the country.
- This purchase of more than 7m euros is a testament to the performance of the Bushmaster in JDF services over the previous five years.
The Jamaica Defense Force (JDF) has bolstered and upgraded its fleet of Thales Bushmaster Protected Vehicles. The purchase of 6 additional Bushmasters, 3 troops carrier and 3 ambulance versions, brings its fleet to 18, significantly strengthening the JDF’s ability to fight crime while simultaneously keeping its soldiers protected and comfortable. This substantial purchase confirms the Bushmaster’s outstanding performance in JDF services over the past five years.
The Bushmaster is an 11-tonne, 4×4 blast and ballistic protected mobility vehicle with a 4-tonne payload. This multifaceted, combat proven vehicle is specially designed to protect and transport up to ten people in extreme environments and hostile territory. The Bushmaster saves lives on and off-road, providing an excellent balance of protection, mobility, space and cost that is well proven in service to many nations around the world.
The new vehicles for Jamaica offer special features including fully integrated Auxiliary Power Units (APUs) that provide power and supplementary air conditioning when the engine is off. This allows static vehicles to maintain a comfortable temperature in the hot Jamaican climate. As the ambulance versions will give soldiers the ability to evacuate and treat injured police officers under the protection of the Bushmaster rather than having to deploy vulnerable unarmored vehicles into dangerous situations.
“Thales’ Bushmaster protected vehicle will lead to enhanced safety and security for Jamaican citizens, helping crime fighters in their crucial mission.” Ruben Lazo, VP Thales in Latin America
15 Jun 20. GDLS secures USD2.5bn contract for US Army Stryker DVHA1. The US Army has awarded General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) with a USD2.5bn contract to produce Stryker Double V-Hull A1 (DVHA1) vehicles.
Service plans call for fielding 331 Stryker DVHA1s to the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division and this new contract covers seven years of work that will be completed by May 2027, according to Ashley John, the public affairs director for the army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems.
“[This contract] includes a new hull configuration, increased armour, upgraded suspension and braking systems, wider tyres, blast-attenuating seats, and a height management system,” John told Janes on 15 June.
In addition to increasing the chassis payload capacity from 55,000 to 63,000 lb, the DVHA1 upgrades include replacing the 350 horsepower Caterpillar C7 engine with a 450 horsepower Caterpillar C9 engine, replacing a 570 amp alternator with a 910 amp alternator capable of supporting electrical power required for future network upgrades, and more, according to the 2019 Director, Operational Test and Evaluation (DOT&E) report.
Meanwhile, the army is also in the midst of a competition to pick a vendor to outfit Stryker DVHA1 vehicles with 30 mm cannons under the Medium Calibre Weapons System (MCWS) effort.
Last year, the army awarded six companies – EOS Defense Systems, GDLS, Kollsman, Leonardo DRS, Pratt Miller, and Raytheon – with contracts valued at up to USD150,000. Each company was also given a Stryker DVHA1 and an XM813 cannon, and tasked with building a ‘production-representative vehicle’ that integrates a government-provided weapon station onto the vehicle. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Jane’s)
01 Jun 20. GDELS-SBS, INDRA, Sapa Placencia and Escribano to collaborate on VCR 8×8 Program. Santa Bárbara Sistemas, Indra Sistemas, Sapa Placencia and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering will constitute a company that will be in charge of executing the VCR 8×8 Program, when the Spanish Ministry of Defense has signed the commitment that allows the constitution of said company.
This company will be in charge of the supply of 348 8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles (VCR), as well as their maintenance and life cycle support, and their international commercialization. These vehicles will be delivered within an estimated period of seven years from the end of the development of the program.
This lady in a wheelchair couldn’t climb the stairs, but watch what happens when she pushes the button
The objective of the four companies through this partnership is to satisfy all the operational objectives and meeting the needs of the Spanish Army as well as the Ministry of Defense and that the VCR 8×8 Program becomes a driving force in the national industry. In this regard, the development of the program involves an ambitious National Industrial Plan, thereby facilitating the authority of design maintainance in Spain and fostering widespread participation by national industry in this, at a percentage of no less than 70%.
The programme will have a special impact in Asturias, Seville, Guipúzcoa and Madrid, where the creation of 650 direct jobs and another 1,000 indirect ones is foreseen.
The programme will additionally generate industrial property for national industry and will allow national sovereignty to be maintained over a product that represents an essential capacity for national defence. (Source: Aerospace Daily & Defense Report)