26 Aug 20. BAE Systems, GDLS behind on ‘light tank’ prototype deliveries to US Army. The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with integration and supply chain issues are preventing BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) from delivering ‘light tank’ prototypes to the US Army on time, Janes has learned.
Each company is under a contract valued up to USD376m to build 12 Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) prototypes with the expectation that they would be delivered between March and the end of August.
“We will not receive all prototype deliveries by the end of August,” Ashley John, the public affairs director for the army’s Program Executive Office for Ground Combat Systems, told Janes on 25 August. “Due to Covid-19 and other supply and integration issues, we expect to be receiving prototypes into Fiscal Year (FY) 2021”, which begin in October.
As of 26 August GDLS had delivered two MPF prototypes to the army, with a third slated to be delivered within days, Vice-President of GDLS Bob Lennox explained.
“Now that the first couple are done, we’re just going to start producing them at a much faster rate,” Lennox added, noting that multiple other prototypes are in various stages of production and testing. If the company can stay on track, it plans to deliver the complete lot in time for the army’s new equipment testing.
“The programme had a highly aggressive schedule to start with and then … we’ve had integration issues that you would expect on first-time vehicle builds and then a little bit of Covid-19 impact,” GDLS’s MPF Programme Manager (PM) Kevin Vernagus added during the 26 August interview.
BAE Systems also acknowledged prototype delivery delays but did not detail how many they have delivered so far. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Aug 20. AMPV delivery delays persist out of BAE Systems’ facility. BAE Systems’ push to overhaul how it produces ground combat vehicles at its York, Pennsylvania, facility is still ongoing but has, in part, contributed to a six-month delay in producing the US Army’s new Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV).
The company is under contract to produce more than 450 low-rate initial production (LRIP) vehicles for the service in five different configurations. Initially, the vehicles were expected to begin rolling off the production line for delivery to the US Army in March but as of late-August that still had not occurred.
“Together with the army, BAE Systems developed a production approach that would allow us to incorporate efficiencies during LRIP that modernise manufacturing and increase the overall throughput of the programme,” company spokeswoman Amanda Niswonger told Janes in an 18 August communication. “This included installing new technology and processes such as a robotic welding, digital X-ray, and advanced machining.”
These changes affected the AMPV LRIP delivery timeline and that was “not reflected in the original delivery schedule” slated to begin in March, she added. The company and service then delayed vehicle deliveries from March until July, and later pushed it back into August.
“The army and BAE Systems formalised the schedule change to gain the advantage of increased throughput just as the coronavirus [Covid-19] hit the United States and impacted manufacturing facilities and supply chains across the globe,” Niswonger explained. “We have worked tirelessly to mitigate the impacts from Covid-19 with our employees, supply network, and customer base to keep our manufacturing sites operational and continue to receive parts as needed. Unfortunately, we could not overcome all the challenges and our first delivery has slipped [another] month.”
As of 25 August, the company had not begun delivering the vehicles to the army. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Aug 20. Taiwan orders 21 additional CM-34 infantry fighting vehicles. Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) revealed on 25 August that it has ordered an additional 21 CM-34 wheeled infantry fighting vehicles (IFVs) to add to the 284 already being acquired for the Republic of China Army (RoCA). Major General Yu Yu-tang, Director of the Armaments Bureau, said the additional IFVs would be assigned to the RoCA’s Military Police Command to help bolster its capabilities.
He also stated that series production of all 305 vehicles is expected to be complete by 2023, pointing out that 32 units were handed over to the RoCA last year. Production of at least 54 more units is due for completion by the end of this year, he added. The MND revealed on 16 April that the RoCA had already used the 8×8 IFV, which is also known as the ‘Taiwan Infantry Fighting Vehicle’, in training manoeuvres, while pointing out that the primary target of the platform will be wheeled vehicles and fortified bunkers.
The 24-tonne CM-34 is the IFV variant of the locally developed CM-32 ‘Cloud Leopard’ family of armoured vehicles. The CM-34 is armed with a stabilised Orbital ATK Mk 44 Bushmaster II 30 mm dual-feed cannon and a coaxial 7.62mm machine gun. Six smoke-grenade launchers are fitted to either side of the turret, which offers protection against 12.7mm heavy machine gun fire. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Aug 20. UK main battle tank fleet not a ‘lost cause.’ Following a report in The Times that military chiefs are drawing up plans to axe the UK’s fleet of main battle tanks (MBTs) and armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs) in favour of attack aviation and cyber capabilities, Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) land warfare research analyst Nick Reynolds told Army Technology this was not the time to declare MBTs as a ‘lost cause and walk away’.
Commenting on the putative plans, MP and Chair of the Defence Committee Tobias Ellwood told Army Technology the UK’s fleet of Challenger 2 MBTs and Warrior AFVs were a ‘critical, yet neglected’ part of the British Army and advocated that service chiefs make ‘strategic decisions not ham-fisted cuts’ when it comes to deciding on the future of the fleet.
The Times quoted a government source as saying: “We know that a number of bold decisions need to be taken in order to properly protect British security and rebalance defence interests to meet the new threats we face.”
Reynolds told Army Technology: “Throughout the War on Terror, the British Army has effectively prioritised integration with the US over integration with the rest of NATO, as well as maintaining its ability to deploy medium-scale forces in an expeditionary capacity on an independent basis, outside of an alliance framework and without the support of allies.
“In the past, the British Army was large enough to meet all of these commitments in a credible fashion (more or less). However, the progressive downsizing of the force has left the British Army and British Armed Forces, in general, having to make choices about which capabilities it can maintain at the expense of others.”
Currently, the UK operates a fleet of 227 Challenger 2 MBTs and 388 Warrior AFVs, both of which have faced problems with delays to life extension programmes that will ensure the continued service of the vehicles into the next few decades. Under the alleged new plans, both would be mothballed.
Specialisation or generalisation
A move to cut the tanks reflects a wider debate around what role the UK Armed Forces should play, whether that is to be able to undertake expeditionary activities of its own volition or to focus efforts on contributing to NATO, instead of focusing solely on sovereign capability.
Reynolds explained that the UK was not the only NATO member experiencing a ‘downsizing issue’, adding that the alliance ‘has long been comprised of multiples national armed forces that are complete armed forces in their own right.’
“However, as these forces shrink, contributing to NATO effectively may increasingly mean that members have to specialise and provide particular capabilities, while divesting themselves of others, in order for the NATO force to be effective,” Reynolds added.
The alternative Reynolds said was that an attempt to maintain independent militaries that were not sufficiently funded would mean a NATO comprised of understrength or ‘notional’ capabilities that ‘that would not function as advertised were they called upon to conduct combat operations at scale’.
Reynolds added: “An MBT and AFV fleet is a difficult capability to justify for expeditionary warfighting, especially given the high cost of maintaining the support and transport capability to rapidly deploy and sustain a heavy armoured force overseas, when a lighter force may well be sufficient for most predicted contingencies.
“Conversely, an MBT and AFV fleet is far more useful in a European/NATO context. However, given that the Germans and other NATO countries plan to maintain large armoured forces for the foreseeable future, there are also strong arguments for specialisation.”
On the topic of force structure, Ellwood said that the UK must first ‘agree what is Britain’s place, role and ambition in a fast-changing world.’
“Operational debates over land vehicles vs helicopters are far too premature when we have not confirmed how, where and when our military might be used,” Ellwood added.
A credibility game
Reynolds said: “Having said all of the above, I actually feel that a credible UK heavy armour fleet will still be invaluable in either an expeditionary or European/NATO capacity.
“Recent experience has shown that lighter forces often suffer even against irregular non-state actors when deployed in an expeditionary capacity, and end up up-armouring significantly in order to maintain their freedom to manoeuvre and operate.”
Many have warned that cutting the UK’s ground component would be a blow to both NATO and the UK’s credibility as an alliance partner. Speaking to The Times former Chief of the General Staff General Lord Dannatt called the option of cutting the MBT and AFV fleet “very dangerous” in light of a resurgent Russia.
Reynolds echoed this adding: “In Europe, a reduction of a British commitment to the ground component would be a great loss to the alliance and a blow to British credibility as a contributing member, no matter what aviation and cyber assets the UK were to bring to the table.”
While capabilities in emerging technologies such as unmanned systems, cyber and space are seen as changing the face of warfare, the need for area denial in Europe and the ability of armoured vehicles to hold ground means they still have a place in modern armed forces.
Reynolds added: “In my view, we are at a critical point where our armoured doctrine needs to adapt to a changing threat environment, but the question of how to employ armour effectively is an open one, and now is absolutely not the time to declare it a lost cause and walk away.
“Nevertheless, I am forced to concede that there are challenges to overcome, not least in resourcing, for the UK’s heavy armoured force to remain effective, credible and useful.” (Source: army-technology.com)
26 Aug 20. Kalashnikov presents new wheeled chassis for air-defence weapons. Rostec’s Kalashnikov Group unveiled the prototype of its new Spetsialnoye Korpusnoye Kolesnoye Shassi-568 (SKKSh-568) wheeled chassis for surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems as an alternative to mounting them on tracked vehicles at the Army 2020 defence exhibition being held in Kubinka near Moscow on 23–29 August.
JSC Mytishchi Machine-Building Plant (MMZ, now a Kalashnikov subsidiary) launched the development of the SKKSh-568 in 2019. An MMZ spokesperson told Janes the new chassis meets the requirements of both the Russian Ministry of Defence (MoD) and foreign customers. The 8×8 vehicle has ballistic protection and swimming capabilities. “During the creation of the SKKSh-568 we envisaged the development of a whole family of common vehicles to carry various equipment of a customer,” said the MMZ representative.
The enterprise is finalising a test sample of the chassis. The vehicle with the combat module of the Tor SAM system will be handed over for trials in 2021. Serial production of the platform is scheduled to begin in January 2023. The chassis is powered by a Tutaev Motor Plant 650 hp diesel engine, producing a top speed of 80km/h and an average speed on surfaced roads of 60km/h. The platform‘s maximum cruise range is 800 km. Two water jets are mounted in the vehicle’s rear. (Source: Jane’s)
25 Aug 20. General Dynamics European Land Systems awarded €733m (USD $870m) of a €1.74bn contract for 348 Spanish 8×8 combat vehicles.
Program expected to grow to 1,000 vehicles. The Spanish Ministry of Defense today awarded a €1.74bn (USD $2.06bn) contract to a joint venture of General Dynamics European Land Systems-Santa Bárbara Sistemas (GDELS-SBS) and three other companies to deliver 348 8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicles (VCR), their maintenance and life cycle support, as well as support their international commercialization. The GDELS-SBS contract is for €733m (USD $870m). The program is expected to grow to a total of approximately 1,000 vehicles.
General Dynamics European Land Systems was awarded €733m (USD $870m) of a €1.74bn contract for 348 Spanish 8×8 combat vehicles.
The vehicle, named “Dragón” by the Spanish Army, is based on the GDELS 8×8 PIRANHA 5’s combat wheeled vehicle and includes all Spanish national technologies as required by the Spanish MoD. It is expected to be delivered over a seven-year period.
“We sincerely thank the Spanish Ministry of Defense for its confidence in our vehicle platform, our engineering, and industrial capabilities,” said Juan Escriña, GDELS Vice President for Tracked Vehicles & Artillery and Managing Director of GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas. “As a reliable partner, GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas is truly proud to help the Spanish Army protect Spanish soldiers and improve its strategic mobility with state-of-the-art 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles,” Escriña adds.
The GDELS-SBS joint venture (JV) will manufacture the 8×8 VCR at GDELS sites in Trubia and Seville, Spain, with the collaboration of the other Spanish JV members. The JV members include GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas, Indra Sistemas, Sapa Placencia, and Escribano Mechanical & Engineering. The Spanish Ministry of Defense mandated a National Industrial plan in which Spanish industry participation must be no less than 70% of the total program. The JV was established to ensure that all operational objectives and needs of the Spanish Army and the Spanish Ministry of Defense are fully met and to fulfill the requirements of the government’s industrial plan. GDELS-Santa Bárbara Sistemas program participation will involve approximately 650 direct and 1,100 indirect employees. (Source: PR Newswire)
25 Aug 20. Jacobs team to develop semi-autonomous scouting system for British Army. The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has selected a team that includes Jacobs to develop a new system to aid the arm in carrying out vital reconnaissance tasks safely in water.
It launched a ‘Map the Gap’ competition, which tasked the private sector to determine how ‘crossings could be scouted and planned without the need for dangerous reconnaissance missions’.
Jacobs’ 6th Sense data analytics system, which is the main part of the solution, can generate high-fidelity 3D maps of legacy radioactive facilities before they are decommissioned.
The concept provides for a semi-autonomous remote system that can collect the necessary measurements without having to deploy personnel to potential intersection points.
A submersible remotely operated vehicle (ROV) equipped with data sensors, soil sampling tools and sonar equipment will conduct the ground-based research.
The 6th Sense system processes real-time data to aid military engineers in understanding how riverbeds, marshes, and riverbanks can withstand the weight of temporary bridges and armoured vehicles.
The competition was run by the MoD’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) on behalf of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory.
DASA will fund further research and development of the semi-autonomous reconnaissance and survey system.
Jacobs Critical Mission Solutions International senior vice-president Clive White said: “We are looking forward to developing a new capability, which will enable units like the Royal Engineers to carry out vital reconnaissance tasks without putting personnel at risk.
“We often borrow technology and techniques from other sectors to apply in the nuclear industry, so it is good to see this technology transfer process happening going in the opposite direction.
“This is another example of the mutually beneficial relationships we are building with innovative small and medium-sized enterprises.”
Last year, Jacobs and Digital Concepts Engineering, leading the entry that won the competition, paired the 6th Sense data analytics system with an X2 ROV, which helped them win the Innovate UK and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority funded competition.
In May last year, Jacobs secured an estimated $27m contract from the US Army to continue supporting the West Desert Test Center at Dugway Proving Ground (DPG) in Utah, US. (Source: army-technology.com)
24 Aug 20. Vehicle testing begins at Allison Transmission’s newly opened and state-of-the-art Indianapolis facility. Allison Transmission’s Vehicle Environmental Test Center is now available for Allison and its partners to conduct consistent and repeatable testing in real-world and extreme conditions, all in one location. Allison Transmission, the largest global manufacturer of medium- and heavy-duty fully automatic transmissions and a supplier of commercial vehicle propulsion solutions, including electric hybrid and fully electric propulsion systems, recently opened its new Vehicle Environmental Test (VET) center to conduct year-round testing, replicating vehicle environments and duty cycles, compressing product development times and supporting innovation for the industry.
“This facility is a direct reflection of our commitment to advancing new product development technologies and reducing time to market,” said Randy Kirk, Senior Vice President, Product Engineering and Program Management at Allison Transmission. “The VET center will facilitate rapid product development for conventional, alternative fuel and electric vehicles, providing Allison and our customers an efficient and effective tool for next generation innovation and collaboration.”
The 60,000-square-foot facility houses a hot soak chamber, a cold soak chamber, and two chassis dyne-equipped environmental chambers capable of simulating a broad range of duty cycles, environmental conditions from negative 54 degrees to 125 degrees Fahrenheit, altitudes up to 18,000 feet, simulated grades and other on-road conditions. The VET center can accommodate most commercial on-highway, off-highway and wheeled defense vehicle applications, supporting testing for a wide-range of propulsion systems, including conventional powertrains, alternative fuel, electric hybrid, fully electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles. It is located on the campus of Allison Transmission’s global headquarters in Indianapolis, is the only one of its kind in the Midwest and is truly unique in offering this range of capabilities for public use.
“We are excited to have this facility that will provide our customers and partners enhanced capabilities to conduct full-vehicle testing by replicating environments and duty cycles all in one centralized location, allowing them to bring new and innovative technology and vehicle systems to market faster and more efficiently. For players in our industry this translates into a competitive advantage, as innovation drives the industry forward,” said Rohan Barua, Vice President of North America Sales for Allison Transmission.
The VET facilitates immediate evaluation and responses to issues under controlled conditions that ensure the desired operating environments can be isolated, tested, and replicated real time. This capability provides Allison and its partners with a unique advantage in the development of new products. The VET center is equipped to help our engineers, our OEM partners, body builders, suppliers and fleet owners innovate their vehicles, optimize performance and accelerate time to market, by testing safely and confidently in a single, environment-controlled and seasonally independent location.
24 Aug 20. Defence chiefs face battle over plan to scrap tanks. Radical move aims to cut costs and focus on cyberwarfare. Military chiefs have drawn up plans to mothball all of Britain’s tanks under radical proposals to modernise the armed forces.
The move would lead to other military assets being given priority over heavy armour, The Times understands.
The government is examining the controversial idea as the cost of upgrading Britain’s ageing fleet of 227 Challenger 2 tanks, and the 388 Warrior armoured fighting vehicles that support them on the battlefield, has soared.
Both vehicles were branded “obsolete” last year and the argument has been made in the Ministry of Defence that the changing character of warfare demands more investment in cybercapabilities, space and other cutting-edge technologies.
The budget for army kit is already squeezed and the ministry is preparing for its funding to be cut owing to the economic fallout from the coronavirus.
Talks related to giving up the tank are part of the government’s integrated foreign policy, defence and security review, which is due to conclude in November. A government source said last night: “We know that a number of bold decisions need to be taken in order to properly protect British security and rebalance defence interests to meet the new threats we face.”
While options remain on the table to upgrade the Challenger 2 or to buy the German Leopard 2 tank, Britain is already sounding out Nato partners about the proposal to give up heavy armour and overhaul its military contribution to the alliance.
The new offer would focus on taking a leadership role in attack aviation, offering all 50 Apache helicopters to allies along with heavy-lift refuelling and battlefield reconnaissance helicopters, plus training and support facilities. Britain would also offer to contribute brigades that help early entry into theatre as well as cyber, electronic and unconventional warfare capabilities.
British liaison officers have raised the plan in recent weeks with senior personnel within the US army in Europe and Nato’s allied land command in Izmir, Turkey, it is understood. Proposals have also been drawn up to close the British Army’s training base in Alberta, Canada, where it practises heavy armour live-firing drills.
One senior British defence source said that the plan to get rid of the army’s tanks was likely to harm Britain’s leadership role within the transatlantic alliance and its status as a partner of choice for the United States more widely.
“We simply will not be viewed as a credible leading Nato nation if we cannot field close-combat capabilities. It places us behind countries such as France, Germany, Poland and Hungary,” the source said, adding that the move was “dressing up financial pressures as capability choices”.
General Sir Richard Barrons, former commander joint forces command, expressed support for transforming land combat power and said that Britain could lead the way in a modernisation effort. “The future is about manned/unmanned autonomous things [personnel remotely controlling or deploying unmanned equipment]. If you were to recapitalise your land army, you would not simply press on, spending all your money on a small number of manned platforms, because you’ll be putting yourself another generation behind,” he said.
Under the proposal for the army to lose its heavy armour, its Challenger tanks would most probably be placed in deep preservation, leaving the option to bring them out in a crisis. It is understood that the army could afford to upgrade or replace only between 150 to 170 of its tank fleet if it forged ahead with retaining the capability.
A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence said: “Our commitment to Nato is unwavering, and the UK recognises that as a global military power our greatest strength remains our alliances. We are engaging our international allies and industry partners as we develop and shape defence’s contribution to the integrated review.”
The spokesman added that “no decisions have been made regarding troop positioning”. (Source: The Times)
BATTLESPACE Comment: Leaving aside the strategic implications of scrapping the entire armoured vehicle fleet, the industrial implications of this possible move are sever and would put the government head-to-head with the Unions who are urging the approval of both Challenger 2 LEP and Warrior CSP to save jobs. The possibility that Leopard 2 A7 could be purchased instead of C2 LEP has been doing the rounds for some time. But this would mean scrapping the Titan and Trojan engineer vehicles as well as they would be too expensive to retain. Scrapping Warrior CSP has been seen as the most likely COVID sacrificial lamb with the vehicles being converted into the Warrior ABSV vehicle to replace the FV432/6 fleet under ABSV/WR SV which would enable the UK to retain vital defence jobs and maintain the supply chain. It would also enable Babcock to retain its DSG contract as without C2 and WCSP, that would be unprofitable and again lead to job losses.
24 Aug 20. Uncrewed ground vehicles: Digital Concepts Engineering. From Army Warfighting Experiments to Map the Gap, Digital Concepts Engineering has become a key player in the uncrewed systems space. Harry Lye spoke to the company about its work for the British Armed Forces.
In 2015, Digital Concepts Engineering (DCE) developed an uncrewed ground vehicle (UGV) for spraying pesticides in the Peak District with funding from Innovate UK. Three years later, the company used similar technology to control a Warrior infantry fighting vehicle, which resulted in the creation of the UK’s first optionally manned fighting vehicle (OMVF) demonstrator.
DCE’s participation in the British Army’s Army Warfighting Experiment 2018 helped shaped the way the armed forces look at autonomous systems and the implementation of UGVs.
This rapid rise exemplifies the company’s ethos of transferring expertise and technological know-how across different fields to quickly deliver capabilities. Other recent examples of this approach include a self-driving hospital bed and social distancing sensors.
Evolution of the first robotic Warrior vehicle
“The [British] Army approached us at DSEI in 2017 and said, ‘Your literature says you ‘do’ robotics. We are interested in what’s out there for a programme that we’re planning to run called the Army Warfighting Experiment in 2018. We want to understand how robotics will help us on the battlefield of the future.’,” DCE director Lionel Nierop recalls.
“We said, ‘Well, absolutely, we’d love to talk about it. And we’ve got a control system here that you can fit to anything so we can take any of your vehicles and make them robotic.’”
Initially, the army’s interest was in the X-2, a small tracked platform based on the original agricultural project. DCE had more to offer, though, specifically the underlying control system which could be attached to any vehicle to make it robotic.
DCE proceeding through the funding application process with its control technology, but at the time the army was interested in full systems, not isolated capabilities. After some back and forth, Nierop explains, the utility of the control system was eventually recognised when the army asked DCE whether it could be deployed on the Warrior infantry fighting vehicle.
In late 2018, DCE controlled UK’s first optionally crewed Warrior, drawing the attention of teams working on similar projects from the US. Although developments of the optionally crewed Warrior seem to have dropped lower on the army’s list of priorities since then, Nierop says the success of the trial showed the level of transformational capability small companies can deliver when working alongside the armed forces.
“To put that into some sort of context, we were told by a US Army representative that they were particularly interested in what we were doing because the US had been quoted two years and $1.5m to do exactly the same thing on the Bradley infantry fighting vehicle,” Nierop adds. “So the fact that a small British business had turned this around for under £100,000 and in six weeks was making them ask some fairly serious questions about where their money was going.”
The success with the Army Warfighting Experiment resulted in further work with the US on an optionally crewed fighting vehicle, and eventually a recent bid for the Robotic Combat Vehicle Medium programme as part of a consortium between Merill Technology Group, DCE and a UK-based vehicle manufacturer.
Building a robotic combat vehicle
A key factor in the DCE-consortium bid for the Robotic Combat Vehicle programme is the potential mobility offered by a purely robotic system. The consortium’s offering (although still not public) is built around a number of concepts including amphibious capability and the option to tackle horizontal and vertical slopes that a traditional crewed vehicle would not be able to confront.
The programme itself, Nierop says, offers an opportunity to rethink vehicle design. “From our end, the key thing is that often vehicles get built around protection,” he explains. “That’s why OMFV in the US have reappeared so many times. One of the big challenges has always been around survivability, and that’s led to a huge amount of vehicle weight growth.
“Our position is that if you have a vehicle that is optionally crewed or robotic, then you can get away from the survivability issue in two ways. One, for a vehicle that is purely robotic, you can drive down the cost substantially because you don’t actually need to up-armour it.
“Protection can also be reduced; you can look at low-cost weapon stations. Rather than a full calibre turret, you might be looking at something with a lighter weapon and a few anti-tank missiles, meaning you could bring the vehicle in at under £1m and potentially comfortably under that. Whereas if you’re looking at something that’s crewed, you’re probably looking at closer to £5m.”
This presents a question for the future battlefield, and whether it makes sense to prioritise one crewed system, which has the added danger of putting a human in the field, or whether that crewed system could be replaced with five uncrewed vehicles that do the same job.
What’s next for DCE
DCE’s roots were in consulting for the prime defence contractors such as BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, and Alvis Vickers,” Nierop tells us. Over time, this evolved into the core expertise in robotics and control systems that make up the company’s main product offering today.
Now DCE is positioning itself as a close partner of the armed forces while working alongside partners to fill in the gaps of expertise when it comes to technology development.
“We recognise we can’t do everything and we recognise that would not be a sensible approach either,” Nierop says. “So we are trying to stick to our core expertise but are working with other companies who have complementary capabilities, and who are working on other programmes as well. We’re not necessarily dealing with ‘tier ones’.”
The fact that defence budgets are tight, and in the current climate could get tighter, is likely to affect the place DCE carves out for itself in the market. Nierop says the company is looking for investors to expand its operations, while also looking to develop a consortium that could deliver transformational capabilities at a lower cost than traditional defence programmes.
“We are not saying that we’ve got all the answers to what they want,” he concludes. “But we are saying that we have some thoughts about that. And that we will work with the MOD, Dstl and the army, and other companies working in the space, to try and produce solutions to those future capability requirements.” (Source: army-technology.com)
20 Aug 20. British Army trialling hybrid-electric drive systems. Following a £3m contract with NP Aerospace, the British Army is to begin trialling hybrid-electric drive systems on Foxhound and Jackal 2 vehicles.
The hybrid technology offers improved power capabilities for both onboard and offboard systems, improves sustainability and offers military advantages through reducing the noise signature of the vehicles.
Work is being led by Coventry-based NP Aerospace, which is working alongside General Dynamics Land Systems UK, Supacat and Magtec who make the vehicles, hybrid-electric drive system and batteries.
Moving towards hybrid technology is seen as a step to reducing the Ministry of Defence’s (MOD) reliance on fossil fuels as it looks to meet the UK Government’s target of net-zero emissions by 2050.
Defence Minister Jeremy Quin, said: “It is vital (that) our armoured vehicles are equipped with the latest technology so we can maintain our battle-winning edge.
“These tests will ensure our Armed Forces have the latest, safest and most efficient technology while continuing to support prosperity across the UK. They represent a potential opportunity to improve our vehicles sustainability and military effectiveness.”
Adopting more environmentally friendly technology is part of the MODs strategy to reduce its carbon footprint.
In a press release, NP Aerospace said: “Developed by Magtec in the UK, the hybrid electric e-drive solution for Foxhound and Jackal is intended to deliver multiple technical and operational enhancements, including (but not limited to); Silent mobility; Enhanced Silent Watch capabilities; Off-board electrical power; Increased onboard power for the insertion of the latest technologies.”
The technology is being trialled under the British Army’s Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) programme, which provides continuous upgrades to the UK’s armoured vehicle fleet.
Commenting on the contract, NP Aerospace chief operating officer David Petheram said: “The Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) programme delivers safety, efficiency and innovation activities across a variety of vehicle platforms, via a collaborative approach.
“The hybrid electric drive project is a significant development that will further extend the technical capabilities of the vehicles and is an important advancement in the incorporation of new technology. It will provide a greater understanding of what hybrid technology could achieve, whilst also looking to the future in terms of integrating additional sophisticated electronics across the PMETS vehicle fleet.”
The hybrid-electric drive project is known in the army as Technology Demonstrator 6 (TD6), which will see the British Army prototype hybrid drives and review their potential defence benefits.
The MOD added: ‘initial stages’ of the hybrid-electric drive project would be showcased at Defence Vehicle Dynamics 20 (DVD20) this November.
The British Army signalled its intention to move away from fossil fuels at last year’s DSEI event. At the time The Chief of General Staff, General Sir Mark Carleton-Smith said that the British Army’s current equipment programme may be the last to rely on fossil fuels.
General Dynamics Land Systems UK Vice President and General Manager Carew Wilks said: “As technology develops to meet the future operating needs of the British Army, the demand for onboard power only increases, and electrification of land vehicles offers an innovative solution.
“Foxhound, the British Army light infantry vehicle of choice, already has an architecture that enables electrification and is a natural choice for this demonstrator. We look forward to demonstrating our e-drive Foxhound in the coming months.”
SC Group-Global CEO Nick Ames added: “Following the work we have done with Exeter University on the All-Terrain Military Platform (ATMP) to give it electric drive and associated control, this piece of work is the natural follow on for us.
“We have the skills and knowledge to work with our project partners in making the well-respected Jackal vehicle “hybrid drive” thereby offering enhanced silent watch, stealth operation and improved power export capabilities for soldiers and their equipment.
“This is a very exciting project and clearly shows the British Army moving towards a non-hydrocarbon future as signalled by Chief of the General Staff at DSEI in 2019. This fits perfectly with our current and future strategy.”
Lieutenant General Richard Nugee who is leading the MOD’s in-the-works Climate Change and Sustainability Review said that the vehicle trials showed how ‘seriously’ the MOD was taking the incorporation of sustainability into its operations.
Nugee’s review is set to be published in December this year will cover the MOD’s NZ50 (net zero 50) strategy and set a baseline for ‘defence’s emissions and carbon footprint.’ (Source: army-technology.com)