09 Jul 20. UK Mobile Fires Platform to replace AS90 kicks off. A number of companies are considering bidding the UK’s Mobile Fires Platform. BATTLESPACE understands that ARTEC is considering offering the Boxer RCH variant, Hanwha’s Team Thunder bidding a K9 variant whilst BAE is offering the Archer system mounted on a MAN truck for the wheeled version and no doubt Nexter will offer Caesar.
09 Jul 20. UAE K9 howitzer acquisition frozen under German arms embargo. A South Korean bid to sell K9 Thunder self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have been impeded by German restrictions on defence exports to that country, a South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) official told Janes on 7 July.
According to multiple sources privy to the negotiations, Hanwha Defense was to finalise a contract to deliver the 155mm/52-calibre SPH to the UAE in late 2019, but this has yet to happen due to Germany’s moratorium on arms exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
The German defence export ban prevents the K9s from being delivered as they use MT 881 Ka-500 diesel engines made by the German company MTU Friedrichshafen.
The number of K9s the UAE is expected to order has not been confirmed, but Janes sources believe it would be about 20. The UAE Armed Forces currently has 85 M109/L47 tracked and 78 G6 wheeled SPHs.
Chancellor Angela Merkel announced in October 2018 that Germany was freezing defence exports to Saudi Arabia in the wake of the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal al-Khashoggi. (Source: Jane’s)
09 Jul 20. NZ Government to purchase Bushmaster vehicles for its army. The New Zealand (NZ) Government has approved NZD102.9m ($67m) funding for the purchase of a fleet of Bushmaster vehicles for its army.
The funding also covers the procurement of a desktop simulator, support equipment and infrastructure upgrades at Linton Camp, as well as training.
Once delivered, the new fleet of 43 Bushmaster vehicles will replace NZ’s existing armoured Pinzgauers.
Designed by Australia, the Bushmaster NZ5.5 armoured vehicles will provide enhanced personnel protection and carrying capacity.
Deliveries of the vehicles are expected to commence in late 2022. The entire fleet is anticipated to be introduced from late 2023.
NZ Defence Minister Ron Mark said: “The age and lack of protection offered by the old fleet make this another investment in New Zealand Defence Force capability that must be made in order to protect our service people.
“The need to replace the army’s fleet of land vehicles was outlined in last year’s Defence Capability Plan, with the armoured Pinzgauer highlighted as a vehicle type reaching the end of its operational life and prioritised for replacement.
“The NZ Army operates in diverse and challenging environments, so a multi-purpose, highly mobile vehicle has been selected, one that has proven its ability to provide a high level of protection.”
The vehicle will increase the army’s ability to support communities during missions including natural disaster and peacekeeping operations.
In addition to supplementing other vehicles, the fleet will offer new capabilities to the army as a protected ambulance, troop transport, and a command and communication hub.
Currently, the Bushmaster is in service with NZ’s Special Operations Forces, Australia, the US, the UK and Canada.
Mark added: “This is the second fleet of protected mobility vehicles approved for purchase by the government.
“It follows delivery this year of the Polaris MRZR fleet of side by side all-terrain vehicles that were announced last year to replace the quad bikes and other small vehicles used by the NZ Army.” (Source: army-technology.com)
08 Jul 20. Madagascar Armed Forces field new armoured vehicles. The Armed Forces of Madagascar (Tafika Malagasy) displayed their new light armoured vehicles during the 26 June military parade in Antananarivo that commemorated the 60 th anniversary of the country’s independence.
At least six Minerva Special Purpose Vehicles (MSPV) Panthera T4 armoured personnel carriers (APC) participated in the parade with detachments from the army’s Motorized Infantry Battalion, Light Reconnaissance Battalion, and Armoured Support Battalion.
The Panthera T4 is a 4×4 vehicle built on a Toyota Land Cruiser series 79 chassis that has a fully armoured cabin housing a driver and three passengers, including a machine-gunner. It has a rear bed with seating for additional dismounts, who are protected by side-mounted armoured panels. This space can be used to transport cargo once the benches are removed.
According to MSPV, the vehicle’s armour offers CEN1063 BR7 or STANAG Level II protection. It can be powered by a 4.5 litre V8 diesel, 4.2 litre six-cylinder diesel, or 4 litre V6 petrol engines. It is not known which powerplant was chosen by Madagascar.
The T6 version of the Panthera series is in service with Cameroon’s Rapid Intervention Battalions and the Egyptian Army.
The Tafika Malagasy also paraded a dozen armoured Land Cruisers with its Light Reconnaissance Battalion, Multi-Mission Battalion, and Armoured Support Battalion. The air force’s motorised contingent and the navy’s Marine Infantry Battalion column also included several examples.The vehicles had fully armoured cabins that appeared to have room for the driver and three passengers, with a protected weapon station fitted on top. They had unprotected rear beds with seats for four dismounts. (Source: Jane’s)
08 Jul 20. ESTONIAN Special Forces deploying to Mali will be loaned four Jackal armoured vehicles by the UK Ministry of Defence, it is today announced. Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey confirmed the loan, plus a three-week training package, for elite soldiers of the Estonian Armed Forces.
The loan will equip Estonian troops as they join the international fight against Islamic terrorism in the Sahel region of Africa, a further example of the UK’s strong partnership with one of its closest NATO allies.
Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said: “Having served with the Estonians in Afghanistan, I’ve seen first-hand the excellence of their Armed Forces and the depth of the friendship between our two nations. With the Jackal 2 the Estonian Armed Forces will be equipped with a proven, battle winning vehicle as they join the international effort to tackle terrorism.”
The Jackals will be help the Estonians navigate unpredictable terrain in the Sahel, where their presence will add to the UK’s impact on the international effort to fight the illegal migration routes into Europe and terrorist groups that operate in the region. Following three years of close collaboration between the UK and Estonian Armed Forces (EDF) on NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence, this loan points to the strength of the two nations’ militaries’ shared objectives and ability to work together. British Army experts will this week finish providing drivers and crew from the EDF with a three-week training course on operating the Jackal 2 at Robertson Barracks in Norfolk. The UK and Estonia have forged a tight-knit defence relationship in recent years, with the UK having led a multinational battlegroup in the country as part of NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) since 2017.
NATO’s eFP in the Baltic States aims to enhance Euro-Atlantic security, reassure our Allies and deter our adversaries. Over 800 British troops deployed in Estonia build understanding and share expertise with their local EDF counterparts on a daily basis with the Royal Regiment of Fusiliers currently providing the bulk of the combat capable force.
Further collaboration between the two countries has seen RAF Typhoons deploy to Estonia for NATO Air Policing in 2016 and 2019, when the jets conducted 21 interceptions of 56 Russian aircraft.
The UK is loaning the Jackal 2 vehicles to the EDF while they await the delivery of their Coyote armoured reconnaissance vehicles. The Jackals will be loaned until March 2021 or earlier if the Coyotes are delivered before then. Boasting a unique air-bag suspension system allowing rapid movement across the roughest terrain, the Jackal has been extensively used by British forces in Afghanistan.
Designated as a “high mobility weapons system”, it is designed to protect personnel against roadside explosions and mine attacks but also has an “open” crew compartment and a gun-ring with 360-degree sweep for excellent observation and agility.
Armed with a general purpose machine gun for crew protection, it can also carry either a heavy machine gun or a grenade machine gun as the main weapons system in the fire support role.
The vehicles are made by Devon-based company Supacat, which employs 130 staff in the South West including five apprentices and two reservists. They have manufactured 72 Jackals with the support of defence company Babcock since MOD placed a £74m contract in 2008 and now provides in-service support for the armoured vehicle. (Source: U.K. MoD)
08 Jul 20. New Zealand Army receives first six Polaris MRZR vehicles. The New Zealand Army has received the first six MRZR D4 all-terrain vehicles ordered from US manufacturer Polaris Government and Defense under the Ministry of Defence’s (MoD) Protected Mobility Capability Project (PMCP).
The lightweight four-seat vehicles, which are powered by a turbo diesel engine, are meant to replace quad bikes and other small vehicles operated by the army, and to provide “improved mobility, safety, and versatility to rapidly deployable mobile forces”, according to the MoD.
It the latest issue of its monthly Army News publication, the service said it had taken delivery of the compact 4×4 vehicles following extensive trials conducted over a two-year period, adding that the army has an option to acquire additional vehicles “in the near future”, including some units for its ‘Counter Explosives Hazard’ project.
The initial six vehicles, which are being issued to the High Readiness Company of the 1st Battalion, Royal New Zealand Infantry Regiment (1 RNZIR), will enter service “shortly”, according to the publication.
The PMCP is aimed at gradually replacing the New Zealand Defence Force’s (NZDF’s) main operational land vehicle fleets, including armoured and non-armoured vehicles. (Source: Jane’s)
07 Jul 20. All Terrain Vehicle for MV-22 of JGSDF. The Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force（JGSDF) has received the All Terrain Vehicle (ATV) as the Light Utility Mobility Vehicle (LUMV) intended for use in the cabin of the MV-22 OSPREY operated by the JGSDF. This is a modified version of the commercial ATV MULE PRO-FXT(EPS) from Kawasaki Heavy Industries, with the JGSDF planning to procure six under a contract worth JPY 77.43m. Evaluation is being led by the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), stationed in the Nagasaki Prefecture.
Kawasaki’s current MULE PRO-FXT (EPS) uses a 35kw water cooled, 4 stroke petrol engine with a fuel capacity of 30 litres, a maximum speed of 72km/h, minimum turning diameter 4.8m, 4 crew, maximum payload 354kg and a towing Capacity 907kg, conforming to Japanese regulations. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
07 Jul 20. Ineos puts Welsh and Portuguese plants on hold as it eyes French site. Talks to buy Mercedes-Benz factory in Hambach jeopardises 1,000 potential jobs in UK and Portugal. Ineos has put work on its Welsh and Portuguese car plants on hold while it talks to Mercedes-Benz about buying an existing facility in France to make its first vehicle, in a move that jeopardises the creation of up to 1,000 jobs. On Friday, Mercedes-Benz announced it planned to sell its Hambach site, which makes the ultra-compact Smart brand cars and employs 1,600 staff. Jim Ratcliffe’s chemicals giant, which plans to launch its own car brand fronted by the new Grenadier off-roader, on Tuesday said it was interested in purchasing the site, which would bypass the need to build two factories and hire and train staff in the UK and Portugal. “It’s a serious business consideration,” Mark Tennant, Ineos Automotive commercial director, told the Financial Times. He said the talks would take “weeks rather than anything longer”. Construction work was due to begin in Wales and Portugal later this summer, with the plants ready to produce cars by the end of 2021. Under Ineos’ original plans, Portugal would make the body parts, which would then be shipped to Wales and assembled in a new custom-built facility. The potential loss of the two sites is a hammer blow to the 1,000 workers in both countries who had expected to be hired for the project.
The Welsh site is near to the Ford Bridgend engine plant that is closing, providing a lifeline for many of the staff at the facility. When Ineos first considered the Mercedes plant in France as part of its global search to find a car factory, the facility was considered too small, as it was then only making Smart cars. But a £445m upgrade in 2018, allowing it to make sport utility vehicles, means the site would now be suitable to build the larger vehicles planned by Ineos. “Before the SUV investment, which postdates our first look at it, it was just too small,” said Mr Tennant, who added that the prospective French facility would be “ample for our needs”. Recommended AnalysisIneos Group Ltd The rise of Jim Ratcliffe as Ineos expands from smokestacks to cars Ineos plans to make 25,000 Grenadier vehicles a year once production is ramped up, but also has plans for a family of future models based at its Welsh site. Its decision last September to build a new plant in Wales was welcomed by the Unite union, which said it would lead to “both investment and direct jobs at the plant as well as the wider UK supply chain and logistics operations”. The company previously held talks with Ford about using part of its engine plant at Bridgend to make the vehicle, but decided against the move. Its decision to base production at two sites initially raised eyebrows across the industry, because of the costs and complexity of shipping part-finished cars between countries. Daimler, which owns Mercedes, has put the French site up for sale to cut costs and streamline its production network. “An important goal for us is to secure the future of the location,” Mercedes chief operating officer Markus Schäfer said last week. (Source: FT.com)
07 Jul 20. Covid-19: US Army moving forward with RCV experiment. The US Army is launching its first Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) soldier operational experiment at Fort Carson, Colorado, this month after delaying the assessment in March-April owing to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Colonel Warren Sponsler, chief of staff for the army’s Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross Functional Team (NGCV CFT), recently spoke with Janes about plans to begin a multiweek RCV experiment on 7 July. During the platoon-sized exercise, the army will use two manned Bradley-based control vehicles to manoeuvre four RCV surrogates that are based on the M113 armoured personnel carrier chassis.
As of early July, these vehicles were at Fort Carson for a series of prechecks and maintenance, Col Sponsler said during a 2 July interview. Once the service is ready to move forward, the exercise will revolve around reconnaissance and security tasks, and is designed to help the service better gauge how a future RCV-Light (RCV-L) fleet could fit inside the force structure.
“[Soldiers are] going to go through two weeks of training and equipment familiarisation, and then we’re going to execute a live-fire portion giving us an opportunity to evaluate the capabilities of the system to engage targets from remote locations,” Col Sponsler explained.
The control vehicles will conduct automotive tasks while the RCV surrogates, outfitted with Common Remotely Operated Weapon Stations (CROWSs), manoeuvre on to the live-fire range. He noted that the army wants to measure the unit’s “effectiveness” in using RCV surrogates to engage targets in a relevant environment. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Jul 20. Patria reached a new milestone in the capabilities of Heavy Unmanned Ground Vehicles. The development of Patria’s Heavy Unmanned Ground Vehicles has reached a level where the Patria AMV 8×8 vehicle can be operated remotely beyond visual line of sight utilizing 5G and 4G networks. This enables vehicles operation even from longer distances with higher reliability. The demonstration of remote-controlled Patria AMV 8×8 vehicle under 5G network was made in cooperation with the University of Tampere, and it was part of the RemoteFeel project. RemoteFeel is a research project founded by Business Finland, FIMA ry (Forum for Intelligent Machines) and the research parties. Members of the program were given the opportunity to drive a Patria AMV 8×8 vehicle remotely. The demonstration utilized Patria’s Remote Operating Desk (ROD), state-of-the-art user interface containing features, such as augmented reality and haptic feedbacks enabling more authentic remote-driving operations, and the combined stereo camera system developed by the University of Tampere.
Patria has developed its Heavy Unmanned Ground Vehicle system continuously for several years now and is a leading company in area of unmanned capabilities in its business segment. Patria demonstrated first time in public its Unmanned Heavy Ground Vehicle capabilities at European Land Robots Trial (ELROB) by two Patria AMV 8×8 vehicles in Belgium 2018. Patria´s unmanned solution can be integrated to new Patria AMVXP, Patria 6×6 vehicles and to all already delivered AMV 8×8´s without any major changes in the vehicle configuration.