03 Sep 20. Full-rate production milestone for Hawkei next-gen Army vehicle. Defence Minister Linda Reynolds and Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price have confirmed that the Australian Army’s new Australian-designed and built Hawkei protected vehicle is ready to enter full-rate production at Thales’ Protected Vehicles facility in Bendigo, Victoria.
The vehicle’s production will support more than 200 local jobs in Bendigo as Victoria deals with the current outbreak of COVID-19, as well as more across the national defence industry.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the vehicle has performed exceptionally well throughout comprehensive ballistic and blast testing, meeting Defence’s stringent requirements for protection.
“This is a highly effective capability being delivered in partnership between Defence and industry that builds on Thales’s iconic Bushmaster, which has been highly successful on operations overseas and exported around the world,” she said.
Under project LAND 121 Phase 4, 1,100 Hawkei vehicles and 1,058 associated trailers will be delivered, with the full rate production vehicles expected to commence delivery from mid-2021.
“The Hawkei is a significant enhancement to existing land capability that will provide superior mobility, survivability and communications, while protecting the lives of our soldiers when operating in increasingly lethal and complex environments,” Minister Reynolds explained.
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said the project demonstrates the Morrison government’s commitment to maximising opportunities for Australian defence industry.
“The manufacture and ongoing support of the Hawkei vehicle creates significant long-term opportunities for Australian industry, including potential export opportunities, as we have seen with the Bushmaster vehicles,” Minister Price said.
Senator for Victoria Sarah Henderson said the vehicle’s production is a welcome boost to the Victorian economy, explaining, “Approximately 50 vehicles per month will be manufactured out of the Thales Protected Vehicles facility in Bendigo until mid-2022. The Hawkei’s production will sustain around 210 jobs in Thales’ workforce in Bendigo, and around 180 additional jobs nationwide as part of Thales’ supply chain.”
Eighteen of Thales’ key 25 suppliers are based in Victoria, including:
* Albins Performance Transmissions, based in Ballarat, for the vehicle cross drive, steering rack, castings and shafts;
* Flexible Drive Agencies, based in Oakleigh, for the wiper and gear selector assembly;
* Thomas Warburton, based in Dandenong South, for fasteners and hardware; and
* Gough Transport Solutions, based in Noble Park, for the pneumatic system.
Defence plans to fit a quantity of the Hawkei protected mobility vehicles with the Electro Optic Systems Remote Weapon Stations.
Minister Price added, “This government is investing in the skills and knowledge base of Australia’s defence industry and delivering an internationally competitive and sustainable sovereign defence industry.
Senator Henderson reinforced Minister Price’s statements, explaining the importance the program would have for the Victorian defence industry base, saying, “For many small-to-medium enterprises, work on the Hawkei has provided business continuity and enabled investment in people and facilities, as well as diversification into other Defence projects and adjacent industries.”
The CEATAC radar, designed and built by CEA Technologies in Canberra, is also capable of being fitted onto the Hawkei utility vehicle and trailer.
Manufacturing Hawkei has continued Thales Australia’s long-term relationships with its extensive domestic supply chain, building Australia’s self-reliance and the capability of the broader Australian manufacturing sector.
Analysis of Thales’s supply chain by AlphaBeta Advisers found that in 2019, Thales spent $97m with over 200 Australian suppliers for protected vehicles (Bushmaster sustainment and Hawkei manufacture), supporting 271 direct jobs in the supply chain.
Chris Jenkins, Chief Executive, Thales Australia added, “I want to thank the Australian Defence Force and the Government for backing the Australian designed and manufactured Hawkei. To reach this point we’ve had to come through an incredibly demanding testing process, with the added challenge this year of keeping our facilities operating through the COVID pandemic.”
“Our whole organisation has been focussed on delivering Hawkei and its world leading capability to the ADF. I also want to thank all of our Australian suppliers – by backing Hawkei the ADF and the Government are backing the ability of Australian industry to design and manufacture advanced capability in Australia,” he said. (Source: Defence Connect)
02 Sep. 20. BAE Systems’ first production Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle ready for delivery to U.S. Army. The first Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) has driven off the BAE Systems production line to be delivered to the U.S. Army. The AMPV is central to the Army’s modernization objectives and comes in five variants to meet a wide range of missions across the battlefield.
“Finalizing the first AMPV for delivery marks a major milestone for the program and the U.S. Army,” said Bill Sheehy, AMPV program director for BAE Systems’ Ground Vehicles product line. “The AMPV is designed to meet the Army’s missions for the Armored Brigade Combat Teams (ABCT), and lay the foundation for the future of the battlefield.”
Identified by the Army as a top priority for safety and survivability, the AMPV family provides the Army with a highly survivable and mobile fleet of vehicles that address a critical need to replace the Vietnam War-era M113s and maneuver with the ABCT in challenging terrain on the front lines. Under the current low rate initial production contract awarded in 2018, BAE Systems will deliver more than 450 of the highly mobile, survivable, multi-purpose vehicles.
The Mission Command vehicle will be the first vehicle delivered and is the cornerstone of the Army’s ABCT Network Modernization Strategy. It facilitates digital mission command, taking advantage of increased volume, protection, power and cooling capabilities and provides flexibility and growth capacity for command, control, communications and computer capabilities.
The other variants in the AMPV family include:
* the General Purpose vehicle: operates throughout the battle space to conduct resupply, maintenance, and alternate casualty evacuation from point of injury;
* the Mortar Carrier: provides immediate, and responsive, heavy mortar fire support to the ABCT in the conduct of fast-paced offensive operations;
* the Medical Evacuation vehicle: enables immediate treatment or evacuation at the point of injury to either ambulatory or litter casualties;
* the Medical Treatment vehicle: is the first of its kind, serving as an “operating room on tracks” for life-sustaining care to Soldiers suffering from life-threatening injuries.
“The AMPV family of vehicles provides significant power, mobility, interoperability, and survivability improvements for the ABCT,” said Jeremy Tondreault, vice president and general manager of BAE Systems’ Combat Mission Systems. “The AMPV has demonstrated outstanding survivability and force protection as well as flexibility and growth for the future.”
The AMPV has built-in growth to add new capabilities as technology evolves, including enhanced power generation for advanced electronics, and network connectivity. This gives the Army a vehicle to execute today’s missions, with the ability to adapt to future technologies and capabilities.
The AMPV has completed nearly two dozen Army tests and has consistently met or exceeded all of its requirements.
Work on the AMPV program takes place across BAE Systems’ industrial network, which includes facilities in Aiken, S.C., Anniston, Ala., Phoenix, Ariz., Sterling Heights, Mich., and York, Penn.
02 Sep. 20. Australian Boxer CRV program, facility progresses in leaps and bounds. Rheinmetall Defence Australia has shed light on major progress at the company’s new Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence (MILVEHCOE) as the company gears up to commence construction of the first Australian-built Boxer CRV’s for the Australian Army.
The $5.2bn LAND 400 Phase 2 program will see Rheinmetall Defence Australia (RDA) deliver 211 8×8 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles (CRV) as part of the first phase of a broader, multibillion-dollar recapitalisation and modernisation program set to transform the Australian Army.
Under the company’s offering to the Commonwealth, Rheinmetall will build a majority of the vehicles at the company’s specialised MILVEHCOE in Queensland – with the first 25 vehicles will be built in Germany as part of the technology transfer process. Currently, more than a dozen BOXER vehicles are either in production at the MILVEHCOE or have been delivered to Defence.
Gary Stewart, managing director of Rheinmetall Defence Australia, said, “Australian engineers, project managers, welders, technicians, trainers and more are living and working with their colleagues in Germany.
“They are there to build a deep understanding of Rheinmetall products and, crucially, acquire the skills and certifications to transfer this expertise and intellectual property to Australia.” (Source: Defence Connect)
01 Sep. 20. Polaris Expands Military Capabilities with All-New Breed of Light Tactical Vehicle. The MRZR Alpha provides superior off-road maneuverability and performance.
Agile, compact and full of power, the MRZR Alpha is the newest light tactical vehicle from Polaris Government and Defense, the largest ultralight tactical vehicle provider for the U.S. military, and a division of global powersports leader Polaris Inc. (NYSE: PII). The MRZR Alpha is Polaris’ 11th military vehicle produced in 12 years and it represents the insertion of cutting-edge off-road vehicle technology for ultimate tactical mobility – derived from research and development investments that keep Polaris in front of the highly competitive off-road vehicle market.
Developed for U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), the MRZR Alpha supports requirements for a longer life-cycle while increasing performance and payload and maintaining internal air transportability. The MRZR Alpha is currently under General Services Administration (GSA) contract through the Light Tactical All-Terrain Vehicle (LTATV) program, which has a value of up to $109m and was awarded on May 29, 2020.
“By following the demanding requirements and feedback from U.S. Special Operations Forces, we’ve created the highest performing MRZR yet – and in the process, established an all-new breed of vehicle that is still internally transportable via V-22 in a more capable package to ensure mission success,” said Nick Francis, director, Polaris Defense. “The MRZR Alpha is powerful and flexible enough for expanded missions, provides more durability to meet an extended life-cycle and is agile in off-road environments to best support operators, yet compact and lightweight for tactical air transport.”
The MRZR’s light weight and off-road capabilities make it ideal for transport via helicopter and operation in terrain that would otherwise be traversed on foot. Since their introduction, MRZRs have been outfitted with counter unmanned aerial systems (C-UAS), direct-fire weapons, high-energy laser systems, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems, tactical aviation ground refueling systems, expeditionary command and control systems, autonomy packages, litters for casualty evacuation and communication equipment. First introduced in 2012, Polaris has continued to enhance the MRZR platform to meet the mission demands of the U.S. military, and over 40 allied forces worldwide – and the MRZR Alpha ups the ante once again.
Beyond infantry support, the MRZR Alpha’s enhanced system design and payload capacity expand its possible mission roles to include indirect fire weapons, explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) systems, network-on-the-move, logistics and missile launch. The MRZR Alpha retains a 1500 lb towing capacity common in the MRZR family, as well as blackout mode and a two-litter capacity. The MRZR Alpha comes in a two and four-seat option, like its predecessors, and now a mission kit provides ROPS for two additional rear-facing seats.
A new chassis provides a larger and more durable foundation for the latest MRZR, which is powered by a high-performance 8-speed automotive transmission and a powerful, yet quiet, 4-stroke, 118 hp turbo-diesel engine. This provides 200 ft-lbs of efficient torque that, when combined with a selectable locker for the 2WD/4WD drive system, delivers superior off-road maneuverability and handling in the most demanding environments, including deep sand. In the cab, there is increased exportable power, more cab space and a greater configurability.
The payload for the MRZR Alpha two and four-seat variants increases to 1400 and 2000 lbs, respectively, and the range at gross-vehicle weight (GVW) increases to 225 miles for expanded mission flexibility. It is heavy-fuel compatible – including DF1, DF2, JP8 and F24 – and can achieve a top speed of over 60 mph to support convoy operations. An expanded off-road profile is made possible with 12 inches of ground clearance at full GVW, high clearance dual A-arm front and rear suspension with payload leveling, and 32-inch, high mobility run-flat tires with bead-lock rims.
The MRZR Alpha can be internally transported by V-22, H-47 and larger aircraft by leveraging toolless ROPS and spare tire stowage. External transportation includes H-60 and larger rotary wing lift assets. Robust tie down and lifting provisions also allow for LVAD, JPADS and HSL certifications.
Like all Polaris military platforms, the new MRZR Alpha continues a legacy of light tactical military vehicles that are intuitive to operate, easy to maintain, and easy to globally support within an existing worldwide infrastructure of parts distribution and dealer service networks. With the MRZR Alpha, maintenance is simplified through an On-Board Diagnostics interface (OBD-II) for real-time feedback on the status of the vehicle subsystems and a pinpoint diagnostics manual. On board vehicle systems support future condition-based maintenance and guided diagnostics.
Polaris will support the MRZR Alpha worldwide as a global company with over 3,500 dealers and products sold to 120 countries. Polaris has been supplying traditional technical and parts manuals along with in-person training to the military for years – and leveraging corporate resources, Polaris can also offer new training opportunities to the military. Best-in-class online training videos, app-based technologies and computer aided modeling within electronic technical manuals are currently offered to Polaris’ dealers and can be easily adapted to train today’s military technician.
Dedicated Military Field Service Representatives (FSRs) have been teaching operator and maintainer training courses for more than 12 years to the U.S. and its allies. Polaris also provides world-class parts distribution – an established inventory management system allows for proactive management of parts inventory, minimizes lead time for parts and reduces the logistics for supply chain planning and management.
Throughout the 1980s and 90s, the United States military’s rising demand for Polaris off-road vehicles led to Polaris being the first ATV OEM to produce militarized vehicles for U.S. Special Operations Forces and the United States Army. To better serve its military customers, Polaris established Polaris Defense in 2005. Today, Polaris offers full program management and logistics support to manage traditional programs of record for domestic and international customers. Polaris designs, engineers and produces its MV850 ATV, MRZR and DAGOR military vehicles in the U.S.
28 Aug 20. VPK unveils Strela 4×4 light armoured amphibious vehicle. Russia’s Military Industrial Company (VPK) unveiled an amphibious variant of the Strela 4×4 light armoured vehicle at the Army 2020 defence exhibition being held in Kubinka near Moscow on 23-29 August.
VPK director general Alexander Krasovitskiy told Janes on 27 August that Russia has no amphibious vehicles of this class in its inventory. The vehicle has passed factory swimming tests.
He said VPK had built the first two Strelas – the utility vehicle and the amphibious platform – under the self-funded programme. VPK signed a contract for the development of the Strela family baseline utility vehicle, amphibious platform, low-payload vehicle, and buggy.
“The whole family will comprise four vehicles, including two new systems: a multipurpose swimming buggy for airborne soldiers and a soft-skin command-and-control vehicle,” said Krasovitskiy.
The use of new technologies and modular layout give Strela family vehicles the lowest price tag in their class in Russia, while also having the same protection level, manoeuverability, cross-country capabilities, and protection as the heavier Tigr and Atlet.
The Strela’s chassis shares maximum commonality with other VPK systems. For example, the armoured doors and protected windows are interchangeable with those of the VPK-Ural and Atlet vehicles.
The amphibious Strela is 4.7m long, 2.2m wide, and 2.1m high, and weighs 4.9 tonnes. The payload capacity is 800kg. The system is powered by a 2.8 litre/200 hp diesel engine, producing a top road speed of 120km/h, a maximum swimming speed of 7km/h, and a range of 1,000km.
VPK enterprises will mass produce the Strela family of vehicles, while JSC Arzamas Machine-building Plant will be responsible for final assembly. (Source: Jane’s)
26 Aug 20. DROZD Amphibian at ARMY-2020. The St. Petersburg-based Baltic Machine-Building Company presented the DROZD all-wheel-drive amphibious vehicle at the ARMY-2020 forum. Quoted by TV Zvezda, the official television network of the Russian Ministry of Defence, Chief Designer Sergey Tereshenkov said that a prototype of the amphibious car is currently being tested.
The DROZD patrol and reconnaissance amphibian vehicle, according to the designers, can be used both for military and civilian purposes. In the interview with Russian media, Tereshenkov mentioned that DROZD’s modular design means it could be adapted for use by the marines, navy, landing forces, and coastal troops. Its missions could include reconnaissance and special operations, logistics support and medical services. The designer also pointed out its utility for engineering troops, who could use it for setting up pontoon crossings, while possible civilian operators include rescue and fire services as
well as law enforcement agencies. The Chief designer made it clear that the impetus for the design of the amphibian vehicle was to “eliminate Russia’s lag in the field of high-speed planing amphibians”.
Its total weight is 2 tons (to carry a payload of up to 1.5 tons) and its lightweight structure is reportedly achieved through the use of composite materials, especially carbon fibre, which is used to create a load-bearing composite hull. The front wheels of the car are retracted into a horizontal position to increase seaworthiness in conditions up to Sea State 3 (wave height of 1.25 meters).
The amphibian reportedly features a maximum speed of up to 70 km per hour on the water and up to 100 km per hour on land with the power of its 260-horsepower diesel engine delivered via a three-speed automatic transmission. It has high level of cross-country ability and can be used on public roads, off-road, and in the waters of rivers, lakes and seas. Its range on land is stated as 800 km, reduced to 300 km on the water. (Source: ESD Spotlight)
27 Aug 20. Cyborg Dynamics Warfighter UGV development breaks cover. Brisbane-based technology firms Cyborg Dynamics Engineering and BIA5 are using funding from the Australian government to develop an indigenous multirole unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) called the Warfighter.
The company revealed a prototype vehicle on 24 August following 12 months of detailed design and engineering work centring on integrating existing and newly developed systems offered by local defence suppliers.
According the Department of Defence (DoD) in Canberra, Cyborg Dynamics and BIA5 were awarded up to AUD426,150 in matched funding under the Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities (SICP) scheme to support the design, materials and equipment outlays, and testing of the UGV.
The SICP, which is funded by the DoD and delivered by its Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC), aims to boost small- to medium-size enterprises (SMEs) that are developing or supporting capabilities regarded as essential for national defence.
The Warfighter UGV is based on BIA5’s tracked OzBot All Terrain Robot (ATR) chassis. Specifications of the ATR platform was not disclosed by either company but Cyborg Dynamics CEO Stephen Bornstein told Janes on 25 August that the Warfighter can support a payload weight of up to 330 kg and has been designed to carry a wide range of mission systems and payloads to address specific operational requirements.
“We have taken the BIA5 base platform and modified it with a specialised [drive system] for the military applications and added optional power generation for endurance,” said Bornstein. “We have also incorporated a lot of advanced autonomy.” (Source: Jane’s)
27 Aug 20. Kazakh armoured vehicle manufacturing under threat. Kazakhstan armoured vehicle producer Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE) has issued an open letter to the country’s president, Kassym-Jomart Tokayev, calling for the continued acquisition of vehicles from the company following a sudden decline in orders.
The letter, confirmed to Janes by a KPE spokesperson on 27 August, said that orders for the Arlan from the Ministry of Defence for delivery in 2020/21 had been cut from 30 to 11, and that no order for the following year had been concluded. The company noted that the 2017 memorandum of co-operation with the MoD in July 2017 called for 274 Arlan vehicles and 106 Barys armoured fighting vehicles.
Without further orders, the company claims, the facility will face closure in November and go into bankruptcy with a debt of KZT9bn (USD21.3m). Key requirements for ensuring sustainability for the company’s operations, KPE said, included an order for 10 Barys 8×8 vehicles for testing and evaluation, an increase in the Kazakh state defence order for 30 Arlans for 2020/21 and a continuing commitment to that level, and the development and approval of a medium- and long-term strategy for equipping the country’s armed forces with armoured wheeled vehicles.
In a press release sent to Janes , the company also outlined a number of other development programmes that it was working on for the Barys 8×8 and 6×6 vehicles, which included the development of a 120mm mortar carrier variant of the Barys 6×6, the Ansar 30mm and Sunqar 12.7mm remote-controlled weapons stations for the Barys 8×8, and the Shugyla automatic fire-control system. (Source: Jane’s)