23 Jul 20. Germany’s KMW pitches bridge-launching Boxer vehicle. German tank-maker Krauss-Maffei Wegmann is developing a tactical bridge-launching capability for its Boxer vehicle that the company hopes to sell to its growing customer base.
Executives still consider the module an internal prototype, with more testing planned in the coming months. But the premise of a bridge-launching capability in forces lighter than the heavy, tracked vehicles mostly used for that job today could garner interest, they said.
The German military, Lithuania, the Netherlands, the U.K. and Australia are current or soon-to-be operators of Boxer fleets. The vehicles were developed in a joint venture with Germany’s Rheinmetall.
The rides are modular by design, consisting of base chassis that can be combined with payloads for troop transport, command and control, combat, or medical evacuation, for example.
The new module will be able to deploy two types of bridges: a heavy variant that spans 14 meters and can carry 80 tons, and a longer version of 22 meters certified for 50 tons.
Those weight limits are sufficient for heavy battle tanks and the slightly lighter infantry fighting vehicles, respectively.
KMW officials had planned to debut the new development at the Eurosatory expo in Paris, France, last month before organizers canceled the event due to the coronavirus pandemic. The next chance to display the bridging module for would-be clients will be the U.K.-based DVD2020 conference, sponsored by the British Ministry of Defence, in November, according to the company.
Modifications needed to operate the bridging module with the base version of the Boxer include a new drive output for siphoning power from the main engine to the hydraulic arms used to push the bridge from the vehicle to the ground, officials explained. (Source: Defense News)
17 Jul 20. OMFV: Army Wants Smaller Crew, More Automation. The draft RFP for the Bradley replacement, out today, also opens the possibility for a government design team to compete with private industry.
Army is giving industry a lot of freedom in their designs for its future armored troop transport, letting them pick the gun, weight, number of passengers and more. But there’s one big exception. While the current M2 Bradley has three crew members – commander, gunner, and driver – a draft Request For Proposals released today says that its future replacement, the OMFV, must be able to fight with two.
Fewer humans means more automation. It’s an ambitious goal, especially for a program the Army already had to reboot and start over once.
The other fascinating wrinkle in the RFP is that the Army reserves the right to form its own design team and let it compete against the private-sector contractors. This government design team would be independent of any Army command to avoid conflicts of interest.
If the Army does submit its own design, that would be a major departure from longstanding Pentagon practice. But the Army has invested heavily in technologies from 50mm cannon to automated targeting algorithms to engines, so it’s not impossible for a government team to put all that government intellectual property together into a complete design.
The Army has embraced automation from the beginning of the Bradley replacement program, and that’s been consistent before and after January’s decision to reboot. OMFV’s very name, Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, refers to the service’s desire to have the option to operate the vehicle, in some situations, by remote control – eventually. But an unmanned mode remains an aspiration for future upgrades, not a hard-and-fast requirement for the initial version of the vehicle scheduled to enter service in 2028.
By contrast, the two-person crew is one of the few hard-and-fast requirements in the draft RFP released this morning. It’s all the more remarkable because there few such requirements in the RFP or its extensive technical annexes (which are not public). Instead, in most cases, the Army lays out the broad performance characteristics it desires and gives industry a lot of leeway in how to achieve them.
That’s a deliberate departure from traditional weapons programs, which lay out a long and detailed list of technical requirements. But the Army tried that prescriptive approach on OMFV and it didn’t work.
Last year, in its first attempt to build the OMFV, the Army insisted that industry build – at its own expense – a prototype light enough that you could fit two on an Air Force C-17 transport, yet it had to be tough enough to survive a fight with Russian mechanized units in Eastern Europe. Only one company, General Dynamics, even tried to deliver a vehicle built to that specification and the Army decided they didn’t succeed.
So the Army started over. It decided heavy armor was more important than air transportability, so it dropped the requirement to fit two OMFVs on a single C-17; now it’ll be satisfied if a C-17 can carry one. In fact, it decided rigid technical requirements were a bad idea in general because it limited industry’s opportunity to offer ingenious new solutions to the Army’s problems, so the service replaced them wherever it could with broadly defined goals called characteristics.
And yet the new draft RFP does include a strict and technologically ambitious requirement: the two-person crew.
Now, since the OMFV is a transport, it’ll have more people aboard much of the time, and when an infantry squad is embarked, one of them will have access to the vehicle’s sensors and be able to assist the crew. But when the passengers get out to fight on foot, there’ll just be two people left to operate the vehicle.
A two-person crew isn’t just a departure from the Bradley. This is a departure from best practice in armored vehicle design dating back to World War II. In 1940, when Germany invaded France, the French actually had more tanks, including some much better armed and armored than most German machines. But a lot of the French tanks had two-man crews. There was a driver, seated in the hull, and a single harried soldier in the turret who had to spot the enemy, aim the gun, and load the ammunition. By contrast, most German tanks split those tasks among three men – a commander, a gunner, and a loader – which meant they consistently outmaneuvered and outfought the overburdened French tankers.
A lot of modern vehicles don’t need a loader, because a mechanical feed reloads automatically. But in everything from the Bradley to Soviet tanks, the minimum crew is three: driver, gunner, and commander. That way the driver can focus on the terrain ahead, the gunner can focus on the target currently in his sights, and the commander can watch for danger in all directions. A two-person crew can’t split tasks that way, risking cognitive overload – which means a greater risk that no one spots a threat until it’s too late.
So how do fighter jets and combat helicopters survive, since most of them have one or two crew at most? The answer is extensive training and expensive technology. If the Army wants a two-person crew in its OMFV, the crew compartment may have to look less like a Bradley and more like an Apache gunship, with weapons automatically pointing wherever the operator looks. The Army’s even developing a robotic targeting assistant called ATLAS, which spots potential targets on its sensors, decides the biggest threat and automatically brings the gun to bear – but only fires if a human operator gives the order.
Now, industry does not have to solve these problems right away. The current document is a draft Request For Proposals, meaning that the Army is seeking feedback from interested companies. If enough potential competitors say the two-man crew is too hard, the Army might drop that requirement. The current schedule gives the Army about nine months, until April 2021, to come out with the final RFP, and only then do companies have to submit their preliminary concepts for the vehicle. The Army will pick several companies to develop “initial digital designs” – detailed computer models of the proposed vehicle – and then refine those designs. Physical prototypes won’t enter testing until 2025, with the winning design entering production in 2027 for delivery to combat units the next year. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
21 Jul 20. USMC Begins Shutdown of All Tank Battalions. The end of the Marine Corps’ tank missions has officially begun. Marines with 1st Tank Battalion recently watched the last of their unit’s tanks depart Twentynine Palms, California. Photos taken of the event show Marines surrounding an oversized flatbed as the tanks were loaded up onto the vehicle and driven away.
Less than two weeks later, Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion, held a deactivation ceremony at Camp Pendleton, California. The unit is the first of several companies with 4th Tanks facing deactivations this summer, Maj. Roger Hollenbeck, a spokesman for Marine Forces Reserve, said.
The changes are part of an aggressive plan the Marine Corps’ top general set in place earlier this year called Force Design 2030. The plan, leaders say, will set Marines up for future fights, defending ships while at sea and operating in hotly contested spots near the shore.
To be ready for those missions, Commandant Gen. David Berger said the Marine Corps must get smaller to get better. That includes cutting all tank battalions and getting rid of the vehicles.
U.S. Marine Capt. Chandler Brown, the executive officer for Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve, with the color guard during the company’s deactivation ceremony on Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California, July 18, 2020 (U.S. Marine Corps/Lance Cpl. Andrew Cortez)
“Remember that our tanks were just weapon systems,” Capt. Mark Rothrock, commander of Alpha Company, 4th Tank Battalion said when the unit deactivated on Friday. “[Tanks are] a damn fine weapon system, but nonetheless, just equipment. You individual Marines were always the key to the company’s success.”
Retired Master Sgt. Jay Corroccia had a similar message for members of 1st Tanks as that unit’s vehicles rolled away earlier this month.
“Take the standards and the pride you had here and apply it to whatever you do,” he said. “Whether you stay in the Marine Corps or you get out, nobody can ever take Tank Battalion away from you.”
More than 1,300 Marines will have their careers affected by Force Design 2030. Service officials announced in May that four military occupational specialties would be cut because of the changes, and several more would see their billets reduced.
The Marine Corps Reserve, Hollenbeck said, has created a team to help provide any Marines affected by unit deactivations or other changes information on career options. Those options include lateral moves into other fields or transfers to other military branches.
All of 4th Tanks’ six companies, along with its battalion headquarters, are expected to deactivate by the end of 2021, Hollenbeck said.
Tank battalions aren’t the only units deactivating because of Force Design 2030. Several combat logistics regiments, an engineer support battalion, and a Marine wing support group have also cased their colors in deactivation ceremonies this summer.
Lt. Gen. Eric Smith, the head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command, is overseeing many of the Force Design 2030 changes. Tanks leaving the Marine Corps, Smith told Military.com in May, could be sold to foreign militaries or to the Army. The Marine Corps could also sell their parts or store the vehicles, he said.
Smith added that the Marine Corps’ decision to move forward without tanks doesn’t diminish their importance in past missions.
“They were of massive value, I mean huge value, in the past,” he said. “I used them in and around Ramadi and in and around Fallujah [in Iraq]. They’ve paid their dues in blood. These are Marine warriors from the Korean War until now.
“It’s just that for the future fight, [tanks] are of less value than the things that we need most, such as long-range precision fire,” Smith said. (Source: Military.com)
21 Jul 20. Industry set to weigh in on US Army’s latest OMFV plan. The US Army is asking industry to provide feedback on its updated Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) programme before it finalises a solicitation for its fourth and latest attempt at fielding a new infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) to replace its M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle fleet. On 17 July, the service released its OMFV draft request for proposal (RFP) and tasked industry with weighing in by 28 August.
As we continue to progress through the first phase of our five-phased approach for the OMFV programme, communication, inclusive feedback and innovative thinking from industry remains key, Major General Brian Cummings, the army’s programme 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.
This time around, the army said it wants to provide industry with the space and freedom to innovatively design a vehicle. Therefore, the service said it was avoiding “quantifying or prescribing critical levels of performance wherever possible” and that items derived from updated OMFV characteristics are non-mandatory.
“Accurately defining the desired set of capabilities without over-constraining the design is critically important, Brigadier General Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicles Cross Functional Team, wrote in the announcement. The army is committed to open communication with industry to ensure the characteristics and eventual requirements of the OMFV are informed by technological advances.
Earlier this year, the service unveiled nine OMFV ‘characteristics’ starting with the most critical – survivability, mobility, growth, lethality, weight, logistics, transportability, manning, and training.
“Survivability is more important than mobility which is significantly more important than lethality,” the army wrote in the draft document. (Source: Jane’s)
20 Jul 20. BAE Submits Proposal for US Army’s CATV Program. BAE Systems has submitted a proposal to the U.S. Army for the delivery of two prototype vehicles for the Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV) program.
BAE Systems is offering its Beowulf platform as a production ready vehicle capable of operating in arctic environments and in all types of terrain for the movement of personnel and cargo under the most remote and harshest conditions.
Beowulf is an unarmored, highly versatile articulated tracked vehicle for carrying cargo and personnel in either of its two compartments. Its modular design allows it to be reconfigured for multiple missions, including logistical support, disaster and humanitarian relief, search and rescue, and a number of other scenarios.
“The Beowulf and its armored sister vehicle, the BvS10, represent the most advanced vehicles in the world when it comes to operating in any terrain, whether it’s snow, ice, rock, sand, mud, swamp, or steep mountainous climbs, and its amphibious capability allows it to swim in flooded areas or in coastal water environments,” said Keith Klemmer, director of business development at BAE Systems. “Beowulf’s versatility and adaptability are truly remarkable and it’s ready to meet the Army and Army National Guard’s mission.”
The Beowulf is based on the BvS10, which is currently in production and already operational in multiple variants with five countries, first going into service with the U.K. Royal Marines in 2005. Leveraging the BvS10 means the Beowulf design is already mature and ready for production. Beowulf also benefits from efficient lifecycle management and routine maintenance and sustainment costs by leveraging common components in the BvS10.
Built by BAE Systems Hägglunds in Örnsköldsvik, Sweden, the Beowulf and BvS10 include several key components from U.S. suppliers, including its engine, transmission and hydraulic system. The CATV Request for Prototypes Proposals was issued by the Army in June through the National Advanced Mobility Consortium.
The CATV program is designed to replace the Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSVs) that have been in service since the early 1980s. Those vehicles are known internationally as the BV206. (Source: ASD Network)
21 Jul 20. US Army seeks to compete as OMFV prime, industry unnerved. Industry is concerned about a potential US Army plan to bid on, judge, and select its own M2 Bradley Fighting Vehicle replacement, and is likening such a measure to a metaphorical self-licking ice cream cone.
During the past few weeks, defence companies have been eagerly awaiting the release of a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the army’s latest attempt to design and field an Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV). Although they were interested in learning more about what the army is seeking this time around, they were also keen to see if a provision was included that enabled the service’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) to also compete as a prime contractor. As several sources suspected, the draft RFP publicly released on 17 July included such provision.
“Potential offerors are notified that a US government entity may submit a proposal as a prime offeror,” the army wrote.
Ashley John, the public affairs director for the army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems, confirmed to Janes on 19 July that the service is exploring options to “leverage its core competencies and compete with industry in the design of a future combat vehicle”. More specifically, she said that the service wanted to use its science and technology community and engineers to “potentially develop” a Bradley replacement vehicle.
As a result, interested vendors now have a flurry of questions over the ethics and legality of such a measure. One industry source that closely collaborates with the service and GVSC told Janes. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Jul 20. Jankel refreshes their brand and launches a new website. Jankel, a world-leader in the design and manufacture of highly specialised defence, security and NGO protection systems, has refreshed their brand and at the same time, launched a new website. The company was founded in 1955 by Robert Jankel and remains family owned. Today, Jankel is a global group of companies comprising of the UK Head Office company, Jankel Tactical Systems in USA and a partnership, Jordan Light Vehicle Manufacturing (JLVM), based in Jordan.
The Jankel brand refresh strengthens its existing position, brought to life in their new strapline: “Driving Mission Success”. This comes at the end of a strategic review that brought to the fore some key elements of the overall company ethos and brand values. Amongst the key findings of that process are: “People” are at the heart of everything Jankel does, customers, staff, suppliers and partners. “Mission Success”; which for Jankel is described as: giving customers not just what they want, but what they really need. “Innovative adaptability”; Jankel’s approach to mission success challenges assumptions, suggests alternative options, channels inspiration and adapts existing technologies. Finally, “engineering pedigree”; Jankel is driven by the same passion for engineering that Robert Jankel had when he first founded the business.
The new website can be viewed here: www.jankel.com. Online, you will find all of the brand elements reflected in the feel and in the content of the new site, with easy access to the full range of products and services, as well as Jankel’s history and news.
As a backdrop to this announcement, Jankel has been enjoying a period of considerable and successful growth in recent years, globally. Major contracts have included the Belgium RRV and LTTV vehicle programmes and Jankel’s ongoing survivability systems, including seats, are seen in use across the industry. Multiple contracts for Civilian Armoured Vehicles (CAVs) have been won as well as other discrete and bespoke orders being received for overall survivability solutions, constantly “driving mission success”.
Andrew Jankel, Chairman of Jankel Group said: “as we begin to emerge from lockdown, we’re exceedingly proud that our family – which includes all our staff, our customers and our other stakeholders – works together with creativity and focus to deliver high-quality products that last the distance. Our updated strapline captures this perfectly and will see us and our customers into the future”. He added: “please do visit our new website that provides an excellent insight into all aspects of our companies, our products, our services and our news. Stay safe!”.
17 Jul 20. VPK unveils Strela 4×4 tactical armoured vehicle. Russia’s Military Industrial Company (VPK) has developed a concept for a new family of light tactical vehicles on its own initiative, VPK director general Alexander Krasovitskiy told Janes on 15 July.
The Strela (Arrow) 4×4 multipurpose air-transportable armoured platform can be configured as a command-and-control, protected transport, or patrol vehicle. It carries up to eight servicemen, including the driver, depending on the configuration.
The platform uses advanced commercial-off-the-shelf components of the GAZ vehicle family, which Russian industry plans to mass produce. The Strela features a modular design and has only Russian-made subsystems.
”VPK enterprises will produce the vehicle, with JSC Arzamas Machinebuilding Plant responsible for final assembly [and] have the capacity to produce over 500 platforms a year,” said Krasovitskiy.
The 4.7-tonne Strela is 4.7 m long, 2.2 m wide, and 2.1 m high. It is powered by a 2.8-litre 200 hp diesel engine, producing a top road speed of 155 km/h and a range of 1,000 km. It has a five-stage mechanical or six-stage automatic gearbox. The Strela has an independent front suspension and rear spring suspension. (Source: Jane’s)
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)
16 Jul 20. BAE Systems to integrate Hybrid Electric Drive onto a combat vehicle under U.S. Army contract. HED systems also improve automotive performance and provide drive-by-wire mobility to support autonomy in addition to increase power generation.
BAE Systems has been awarded a $32m prototype agreement by the U.S. Army’s Rapid Capabilities and Critical Technologies Office (RCCTO) to integrate a Hybrid Electric Drive (HED) system onto a Bradley Fighting Vehicle. The development program is part of the Army’s effort to increase vehicle efficiency and boost power generation to support integration of future technologies and greater mobility for combat vehicles on the battlefield.
BAE Systems and teammate QinetiQ will use an existing Bradley Fighting Vehicle as the testbed for integrating the HED technology under the Combat Vehicle Power and Energy architecture and mobility capabilities development program. The integration work will begin this summer.
“Integrating a Hybrid Electric Drive system into combat vehicles vastly increases on-board power and provides a significant increase in mobility, lethality options, and range, all of which enable overmatching operational capabilities,” said Scott Davis, vice president of BAE Systems’ Ground Vehicles product line. “BAE Systems has invested and collaborated with industry for more than 40 years to advance HED technology and develop vehicle architectures and demonstrators. A systems approach to vehicle electrification enables break-through capabilities in the current and future platforms our warfighters need to maintain battlefield superiority.”
HED systems also improve automotive performance and provide drive-by-wire mobility to support autonomy in addition to increase power generation. With minor platform modifications, HED technology can be configured for various vehicles including the Bradley, the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle, the M109A7 self-propelled howitzers, and the family of Multiple Launch Rocket Systems.
QinetiQ is developing the electric cross drive transmission (Modular E-X-Drive®), a key component of an HED system for a tracked combat vehicles. The QinetiQ Modular E-X-Drive has been tested and proven in a wide range of tracked vehicles and weight classes over the last decade. The designs have completed extensive lab and vehicle tests, including safety certifications. BAE Systems and QinetiQ have a long-standing relationship in the development of vehicle HED technologies.
The engineering activities of the HED system will primarily occur at the BAE Systems’ Sterling Heights, Michigan, and San Jose, California, facilities. Build is planned to be completed at the BAE Systems’ Sterling Heights prototype shop.