17 Jul 20. US Army releases draft RFP for Bradley vehicle replacement. The U.S. Army on Friday issued a draft request for proposals for the preliminary design phase of its delayed optionally manned fighting vehicle, or OMFV, the first major step in a relaunched competition to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
The preliminary phase will be open for 40 days, with the goal of gathering industry feedback ahead of the final RFP, which will come later this year. That final RFP will award of up to five design contracts in June 2021, setting the next stage in the competition.
“As we continue to progress through the first phase of our five-phased approach for the OMFV program, communication, inclusive feedback and innovative thinking from industry remains key,” Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings, the Army’s program executive officer for ground combat systems, said in a statement. “We are looking forward to receiving feedback and learning from industry what’s in the realm of the possible as we continue to develop this truly transformational vehicle for our Soldiers.”
Added Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross-Functional Team: “Accurately defining the desired set of capabilities without over-constraining the design is critically important.
“The Army is committed to open communication with industry to ensure the characteristics and eventual requirements of the OMFV are informed by technological advances.”
The focus on gathering industry feedback should not be a surprise, given the recent history of the program. When the OMFV program was conceived, the Army planned to hold a prototyping competition, selecting two winning teams to build prototypes with a downselect to one at the end of an evaluation period.
But in October, the Army ended up with only one bidder in the OMFV competition — General Dynamics Land Systems — after other competitors dropped out, citing requirements and schedule concerns.
As a result, the Army in January announced it would be relaunching the program to ensure more competition going forward — a decision that led to service leaders taking heat from Congress during testimony in March. OMFV is the first large acquisition effort to come out of Army Futures Command.
The draft RFP, posted on a government contracting website Friday, drives home the point by stating: “To permit industry design freedom and promote innovation, the Army has avoided quantifying or prescribing critical levels of performance wherever possible.”
“We do not want to box industry into a solution,” Cummings said. “We want to incentivize industry as they lean forward and think creatively to bring the Army innovative technologies and solutions necessary to achieve our vision — both in terms of the ability to integrate newer technology we are seeing today and leaving space for future growth on the OMFV platform.” (Source: Defense News)
17 Jul 20. Defence Committee launches inquiry into the procurement and use of Armoured Fighting Vehicles.
Today, the Defence Committee launches its new inquiry into Armoured Fighting Vehicles (AVFs). This inquiry will focus on the procurement and use of AVFs and ask whether more must be done to ensure the Army’s ability to deploy its armoured division.
This inquiry will attempt to understand how the Army envisages employing their AVFs in future operations. Additionally, it will examine the procurement of AVFs, including how much has been spent procuring AVFs over the last 20 years and how many vehicles have been acquired. The inquiry will ask which capabilities have been sacrificed in order to fund overruns in its core armoured vehicles and which key gaps are emerging within the Army’s armoured vehicle capability.
The Committee will ask whether the Army is currently on track to be able to field the Strike Brigades and armoured division in line with the recommendations of the 2015 SDSR, and how flexible the army can be in adapting its current armoured vehicle plans to the results of the Integrated Review. The Committee will ask whether the Army will be able to match the potential threat posed by peer adversaries by 2025.
Additionally, the inquiry will examine the successes and failures of current programmes such as the Warrior CSP and Ajax and ask what lessons were learned from the previous Future Rapid Effect System (FRES) programme. The Committee will ask whether the UK would benefit from a land vehicles industrial strategy and what sovereign capability for the design and production of armoured vehicles the UK retains.
Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said: “Armoured Fighting Vehicles are a critical tool in the Army’s arsenal, yet for years many have voiced concerns around the current fleet’s ability to contend with newer, contemporary models and match rapid advancements in military technology. Unfortunately, the MoD’s attempts to address the issue have repeatedly met with bumps in the road, from overspending and underdelivering, to the stagnation of programmes designed to enhance or replace outmoded vehicles. The Government has been playing catch-up, and this inquiry will attempt to understand the ongoing barriers to modernisation. Modernising must be a priority for the MoD. Deploying an aging fleet leaves personnel vulnerable: the consequences of which may prove lethal. This inquiry will attempt to gauge the current capabilities of the Army’s Armoured Fighting Vehicles and establish whether the fleet is fit for purpose.”
The Committee welcomes written evidence on the following questions:
- Does the Army have a clear understanding of how it will employ its armoured vehicles in future operations?
- Given the delays to its programmes, will the Army be able to field the Strike Brigades and an armoured division as envisaged by the 2015 SDSR?
- How much has the Army spent on procuring armoured vehicles over the last 20 years? a. How many vehicles has it procured with this funding?
- What other capabilities has the Army sacrificed in order to fund overruns in its core armoured vehicles programmes?
- How flexible can the Army be in adapting its current armoured vehicle plans to the results of the Integrated Review?
- By 2025 will the Army be able to match the potential threat posed by peer adversaries?
- Is the Army still confident that the Warrior CSP can deliver an effective vehicle capability for the foreseeable future?
- To what extent does poor contractor performance explain the delays to the Warrior and Ajax programmes?
- Should the UK have a land vehicles industrial strategy, and if so what benefits would this bring?
- What sovereign capability for the design and production of armoured vehicles does the UK retain?
- Does it make sense to upgrade the Challenger 2 when newer, more capable vehicles may be available from our NATO allies?
- What other key gaps are emerging within the Army’s armoured vehicle capability?
- Has the Army learned from previous failures such as FRES to ensure new vehicles are acquired effectively?
Form of written evidence:
Submissions should be no longer than 3,000 words. The main body of any submission should use numbered paragraphs. Each submission should contain:
- a short summary, perhaps in bullet point form;
- a brief introduction about the person or organisation submitting evidence, for example explaining their area of expertise or experience;
- any factual information from which the Committee might be able to draw conclusions, or which could be put to other witnesses;
- any recommendations for action by the Government or others which the submitter would like the Committee to consider for inclusion in its report to the House.
Submissions should be in malleable format such as MS Word (not PDFs) with no use of colour or logos. Guidance on submitting written evidence and data protection information is available here: Guidance on submitting written evidence https://www.parliament.uk/get-involved/have-your-say/take-part-in-committee-inquiries/commons-witness-guide/
16 Jul 20. First contract in £2.3bn UK MoD Boxer. MIV Programme awarded to WFEL. The first official sub-contract for a UK company involved in the production of the MoD’s new Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicles programme, has been awarded by a member of the ARTEC consortium to WFEL, a nominated Tier One supplier in the project.
The contract covers the transfer of manufacturing technology from Germany to the UK for the Drive Modules for the Boxer Infantry Carrier, Special Carrier and Ambulance variants and marks a significant milestone after many months of planning, preparation and consultation following the signing late in 2019 of the £2.3bn contract between the UK Ministry of Defence and the ARTEC consortium, for the delivery of over 500 Boxer vehicles to the British Army.
Boxer is a state-of-the-art wheeled armoured vehicle that offers outstanding mobility and protection. Boxer will form an integral part of the British Army’s new Strike Brigade capabilities and shall have a service life of over 30 years. Battle-proven, it is in service across NATO and was recently selected by Australia.
WFEL will play a significant role in delivering the completed Boxer vehicles to the British Army and is undergoing substantial investment in an advanced manufacturing facility at its North West base, to ensure compliance with the stringent manufacturing requirements of these vehicles.
WFEL’s Managing Director, Ian Anderton, commented, “Our teams have been liaising closely with members of the ARTEC consortium, particularly KMW personnel, culminating in the awarding of this contract, which we are delighted to receive. We can now move further forward with developing our own supply chain partnerships around the UK, creating and sustaining high levels of employment and we’re looking forward to eventually seeing these superb vehicles in use with the British Army.”
The UK MoD is already a long-standing customer of WFEL, having been a user of its rapidly deployable MGB Medium Girder Bridge systems for many years.
14 Jul 20. Brazilian Army set to receive first Iveco LMV. The Italian armoured vehicles specialist Iveco Defence Vehicles is poised to begin delivering its first lot of 32 Light Multirole Vehicles (LMVs) to the Brazilian Army in August, a spokesperson for the company in Brazil told Janes on 8 July.
A single 4×4 light armoured tactical vehicle will be delivered to the Army Evaluations Center (CAEx) for a new round of testing later this year. After this initial delivery, an additional 15 vehicles will be handed over in 2021 before the remaining 16 vehicles are delivered in 2022. Two additional buys of LMVs are expected to occur down the road.
The initial 32 LMVs, in a multirole configuration, were purchased under a BRL67.8m (USD12.5m) deal with CNH Industrial Brasil in November 2019 as part of the army’s Light Tactical Armored Multirole Wheeled Vehicle (VBMT-LSR) project. Under the deal, the company also includes technical documentation, maintenance tools, training, and a three-year support package. (Source: Jane’s)
15 Jul 20. New details released on Egyptian MRAP. The ST-100 mine-resistant ambush-protected vehicle (MRAP) made by the Egypt-based International Marathon United Technologies (IMUT) is available in 10 modular variants, including ones armed with Chinese missiles, according to a promotional video from the manufacturer.
Released by an unofficial source on 12 July, the IMUT video included computer-generated imagery (CGI) showing how the different mission modules can be changed in 45–60 minutes, with the powerpack being replaced in 25 minutes.
The anti-tank variant has a four-round launcher that raises from the rear compartment and appeared to be armed with the Poly Technologies GAM-102 anti-tank missile that uses an imaging infrared seeker to guide itself to its target. The IMUT video showed the missile being tested from a Dongfeng CSK141 light armoured vehicle but not an ST-100.
The precision attack missile variant was shown with two different types of weapon, one of which was seen labelled as the CM-501GA, another Poly Technologies product. The video included test footage that it said showed the missile hitting a target 41.3 km away with an accuracy of 0.12 m.
The other weapon resembled the CM-501XA loitering munition, which Poly Technologies says has an endurance of 30 minutes and a range of 70 km. Both the CM-501GA and CM-501XA can be carried in the same vertical launcher.
The CGI of the ST-100 mortar variant showed it with an 81 mm automated mortar system that did not appear to match a known Chinese product, although Norinco makes the Type 99 self-loading mortar. (Source: Jane’s)
13 Jul 20. British Army sheds an Afghan war legacy: blast-proof trucks. Nearly 750 armored vehicles purchased by the British Ministry of Defence to combat the threat of roadside bombs in Afghanistan are being axed from the Army’s force structure.
Mastiff, Ridgeback and Wolfhound armored fleets are to be pensioned off in the latest drawdown of vehicles under the Land Environment Fleet Optimisation Plan (LEFOP) by the British Army, MoD procurement minister Jeremy lawmakers this month.
The plan includes the complete deletion of some fleets and the reduction in size of others, as vehicle numbers are right-sized to reflect the needs of the British Army.
Some 733 of the vehicles built by US manufacturer Force Protection, subsequently acquired by General Dynamics, are to go in the latest cull of counterinsurgency-specific rides purchased by the British to provide better protection for troops against improvised explosive devices.
“The Army continues to rationalise its legacy vehicle fleets, work commenced in 2017 under the Land Environment Fleet Optimisation Plan. This work has already removed 2,831 vehicles from service and disposed of a number of legacy vehicle fleets. The next strand of this work seeks to remove several further legacy vehicle types from service, including the disposal of the Mastiff, Ridgeback and Wolfhound fleets,” Quin said in a July 2 written answer to a question asked by a lawmaker.
The vehicles will be disposed of, possibly by sales to foreign defense departments, over the next few years.
The British purchased thousands of armored vehicles, mainly under its urgent rapid procurement scheme for meeting urgent needs, to improve protection for patrol and logistics operations.
With the end of Britain’s Afghan combat campaign in 2014 the vehicles were largely taken into the Army’s core equipment program.
In part that was to ensure the Army had the capability to respond to possible future stabilization operations, but also because the British had prevaricated for so long over buying 8×8 armored personnel carriers and other programs they were short of capability.
Now a slimmed-down British Army finds itself with more vehicles than its force structure requires.
Some of the vehicles removed from service will be replaced with a reduced number of better, modern, digitized platforms such as Boxer, which have broader utility and improved protection.
Britain has purchased 500 Artec Boxer 8×8′s with the first vehicles expected to arrive in Army units in 2023.
Britain’s top soldier, General Sir Nick Carter, the Chief of the Defence Staff, was questioned by the Parliamentary Defence Committee July 7 about whether the counter-IED fleets had a future.
His response? It depends on your view of the world, money and what the government’s upcoming integrated defense review says.
“It’s a question of how you see the world in the future. If you think it is inconceivable that there will be a stabilization operation somewhere round the world, those capabilities can be pushed to one side. The question, of course, is whether you hedge for a stabilization operation in the future and whether you feel you need platforms that are counter-IED-based platforms. A judgment needs to be made in the course of the integrated review as to whether or not you want to keep spending money on keeping them going,” Carter told the committee.
In part that judgement is already taking place without the help of a review which is more likely to hit, rather than enhance, MoD’s already under-pressure budget.
Further reductions in Army personnel numbers are rumored to be one of the options under consideration by the review led by the Prime Minister Boris Johnson and his special advisor Dominic Cummins.
Buffalo ordnance-clearance vehicles, Talisman counter-IED system and Vixen patrol vehicles have already been removed from service, while the Navistar Defense-built Husky protected support vehicle and two versions of armoured Land Rovers are in the process of being axed.
Not all the vehicle reductions are related to purchases for missions in Afghanistan and Iraq. Hundreds of MAN SV 6T trucks, a handful of BAE Systems Terrier tracked combat engineering vehicles and a number of Iveco Panther protected patrol vehicles are among other vehicle types set to be reduced in numbers as part of the Army’s plan. (Source: Defense News)
13 Jul 20. UK military vehicles update. The UK Government Infrastructure & Projects Authority published a figure of £1.3bn for Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (LEP) on Thursday.
This figure takes into account a new turret, VAT, MOD and support costs.
The numbers required range from 148 to less than 200, down from the original figure of 227, 3x type 55 Regiments.
The bid from RBSL is expected to be submitted in August.
The Life Extension Programme includes:
- A new turret and smooth bore gun.
- A new Kinetic Energy (KE) Round bought from the US or Germany.
- A new Day/Night Hunter Killer capability which will include greater range requirements for the new round.
- A new upgrade card for the ballistic computer.
- New Frontal Modular Armour (NMA).
- An Active Protection System (APS)either Trophy or Ironfist. Sources suggest that Trophy Medium Vehicle (MV) has been selected. This variant has also believed to have been purchased by Singapore.
- Upgrade of the Base Platform
- War stocks and Rheinmetall ammunition qualification.
The armour and APS need to get through development integration critical design review and the NMA needs to complete development, all this before 2022 Quarter 3 review note proceeds.
CDS General Sir Nick Carter commented last week that the final structure of the UK’s Strike Brigades is predicated on the Internal MoD Review currently being carried out.
Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that to achieve the required upgrades for Challenger 2 LEP and to introduce Ajax and Boxer that severe cuts will be introduced to the legacy fleet including, as reported last week (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.22 ISSUE 27, 05 July 2020, MILITARY VEHICLE NEWS, Out go the MRAPS!) Mastiff, Wolfhound and Ridgback, although not Panther, but to include Husky, FV432 and CVR(T). FV 432, of which there are still 900 in service, is still in use for Brigade Ops for mortar, Command Post and ambulance variants whilst CVR(T) is still in service for a variety of Recce roles.
Should FV 432 and CVR(T) be mothballed or sold, this will impinge on the workload of RBSL and DSG who currently manage the fleets.
Other sources suggest that in addition to the severe cuts being worked up, that Warrior WCSP will not be affordable and an AJAX variant could also go. Warrior would be kept in its current form until 2025 and possibly some variants converted to ABSV. WCSP would be replaced by another variant of Boxer with a Rafael CT40 or 30mm customised turret as chosen by Lithuania.
In the longer term sources suggest that there will be closer cooperation with Germany and the use of more German equipment by the British Army including Puma or the Rheinmetall K41 Lynx.
10 Jul 20. New Chinese 155mm SPH also in service with PLA’s 74th Group Army. The People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF’s) new 155mm wheeled self-propelled howitzer (SPH) – believed to have the designation PLC-181 – has also entered service with an artillery brigade under the PLA’s 74th Group Army.
The PLA-sponsored China Military Online website published on 10 June images showing several vehicles belonging to this group army – which is part of the PLA’s Southern Theatre Command – among which were several units of the 6×6 SPH, which is manufactured by China North Industries Corporation (Norinco) and has the export designation SH-15.
Besides the artillery brigade in the 74th Group Army, the new SPH has been reported to be in service with an artillery brigade in the 75th Group Army – also part of the Southern Theatre Command – an artillery brigade in the 73th Group Army (in the Eastern Theatre Command), and also with an artillery brigade in the Tibet Military District.
The system features an automatic gun-laying system, a semi-automatic ammunition loading system, a digitised control board, and also has room for six personnel in the cabin area (including the driver).
No further details were provided about the 25-tonne SPH or other PLAGF units currently operating the system, which has been in service since at least January 2019. More recently, on 7 July, the state-owned Global Times. (Source: Jane’s)
10 Jul 20. Images emerge of new Chinese truck-mounted countermeasures. Chinese state-owned media have released footage showing a new truck-mounted countermeasures system for the People’s Liberation Army (PLA).
The footage, which was released in June by the China Central Television 7 (CCTV 7) channel, shows two 6×6 trucks, each of which is fitted with two countermeasures launchers mounted on the rear load tray.
Each launcher consists of 36 launch tubes arranged in four rows of nine. The launchers, each of which fire countermeasures rockets deploying obscurants and decoys, can rotate continuously, with the CCTV-7 footage showing that they also have a high angle of elevation.
Unconfirmed Chinese online reports claim that the vehicles are allegedly designed to fire multi-spectral rockets out to a range of up to 6,000 m. These countermeasures rockets are designed to create an obscurant screen of aerosols and decoys to disrupt and degrade the efficacy of electronic reconnaissance and missile guidance systems. (Source: Jane’s)