07 Oct 20. US Army Seeks Electric Scout By 2025. The Light Reconnaissance Vehicle, an off-road truck to scout ahead of airborne and light infantry units, could lead the Army’s move to electric motors. But electrifying heavy cargo trucks, let alone tanks, could take decades.
The Army will brief interested companies Oct. 20 on an electric-drive version of the long-delayed Light Reconnaissance Vehicle and the service’s emerging strategy to convert its gas-guzzling formations to electric power.
The service is working with a non-profit consortium of more than 200 companies and universities developing clean transportation technologies, CALSTART. But the driving logic here is pure Army green, not eco-friendliness. Tactically, electric vehicles accelerate quicker, run cooler, and move quieter than internal combustion ones – advantages that are all especially valuable for stealthy scouts like LRV. They can also run power-hungry high-tech systems, from sensors to lasers, without needing a bulky auxiliary power unit.
Logistically, even if the Army has to recharge its electric vehicles from diesel generators, that would actually get more miles per gallon than putting the same fuel directly into an internal combustion vehicle, because electric motors are much more efficient. So electric power could reduce dependence on long supply lines and vulnerable convoys of tanker trucks, which are prime targets for adversaries ranging from Taliban irregulars to Russian missiles. Army and NATO wargames have shown some alarming vulnerabilities in the fuel supply.
What’s the timeline? “We’d like to see an Electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle by FY25,” said Maj. Ryan Ressler, who’s leading the effort for Army Futures Command. But electrifying the Army’s whole fleet of wheeled vehicles – let alone its heavier tracked vehicles – may take decades, starting with light trucks and gradually working up to heavy armor.
“You’re not going to go straight to an all-electric [fleet]. The battery density is not there for your combat vehicles,” Ressler told me – at least, not yet.
“We would like to see all electric vehicles by 2040,” he said. “There might be potential to have all electric vehicles in the near term, if industry can help.” The Oct. 20 industry day will be the first step toward finding out.
Ressler hopes to have a formal Abbreviated Capabilities Development Document (ACDD) for ELRV approved “in a matter of months,” he told me. “We see this as the first electrified vehicle for the Army ground combat fleet.”
Industry feedback on ELRV – and progress on development, if the program goes ahead – will then inform the long-term strategy for Tactical and Combat Vehicle Electrification across the wider fleet. Ressler’s team is now drafting what’s called an Initial Capabilities Document for TaCVE.
To test those concepts out in practice, he added, “we’re looking at other potential candidates for electrification right now.” High on that list is the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) being built by GM Defense, an air-droppable light truck designed to carry airborne troops from their drop sites to the objective. Electric vehicles’ innate stealth and reduced dependence on fuel supply would be particularly valuable to paratroopers, who operate on the ragged end of long supply lines.
There’s already been work done on an electric Infantry Squad Vehicle. “An electric prototype representative of the ISV proved it could be whisper-quiet, achieve sprint speed immediately, and offered excess power for extended silent watch mode exceeding current objectives,” according to an Army Futures Command white paper.
LRV and ISV are natural partners. The Light Reconnaissance Vehicle was intended to scout ahead of the vulnerable Infantry Squad Vehicles, helping the unarmored transports avoid a lethal ambush. But the Army decided to delay a purpose-built LRV and use the heavier Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) as a stopgap scout. So it looks like LRV may have a second chance at life.
ISV and LRV are both ultralight vehicles, meant to support airborne troops and other light infantry units that can deploy rapidly by air but after that mostly maneuver on foot. But even light infantry brigades have a small fleet of heavy trucks to carry supplies and special equipment. Mechanized units have a host of armored vehicles – 8×8 wheeled Strykers for medium brigades; tracked tanks, howitzers, missile launchers, and troop carriers for heavy brigades – followed by an even larger number of trucks to carry fuel, spare parts, supplies, and other support. There’s already been some progress with these heavier vehicles.
BAE Systems is developing an experimental hybrid diesel-electric engine for the M2 Bradley troop carrier. BAE’s experimented with hybrid-electric armored vehicles for decades, company exec Andrew Rosenfeld told me – they once built a hybrid as heavy as an M1 Abrams tank – but the company’s recent boom in civilian hybrid-electric buses has advanced the state of the art. Their engine for the Bradley can move up to 45 tons, and the same basic design could scale larger or smaller to go in a wide range of other vehicles. The hybrid Bradley uses 10 to 20 percent less fuel during a normal mission, he told me, and it can generate 500 kilowatts of power, enough to run an Army field hospital.
On the wheeled side, the Army’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC, formerly TARDEC) converted an Oshkosh cargo truck, the four-axle M977 HEMTT, to hybrid electric drive for a 2019 demonstration. That Tactical Vehicle Electrification Kit cut the HEMTT’s fuel consumption by 15-25 percent, according to the Army Futures Command white paper. TVEK also tripled the truck’s capacity to generate power.
Increased power generation not only allows an electrified vehicle to have more technology on board, like sensors and weapons. Such vehicles could also park, plug in, and power up soldiers’ charging kits, field hospitals, command posts, or radar sites – potentially replacing traditional diesel generators.
“The very concept of what constitutes a vehicle has changed,” the white paper argued. “Electrification has transformed vehicles into sensor platforms, communication nodes, and mobile computational hubs.”
Just as the F-35 fighter is so full of electronics that a former Air Force Chief of Staff called it “a computer that happens to fly,” electrified ground vehicles could become computers that happen to drive – and not just computers, but mobile charging stations as well. Today’s complex and vulnerable supply chain must move large amounts of fuel from refinery to tanker to forward depot to individual vehicles and generators. A future system could be much more decentralized, supplying smaller amounts of fuel to hybrid-electric vehicles, which could then generate power to share with all-electric ones.
Such streamlined logistics could make a life-or-death difference in wartime. The Army’s concept for future combat, Multi-Domain Operations, calls for individual brigades to operate up to seven days without stopping for resupply. That’s unimaginable today. Improving fuel-efficiency of internal combustion engines would make for only “marginal” progress towards the goal, the white paper argued. Truly self-sufficient combat units will require largescale replacement of fossil fuel with electricity, potentially drawn from small, mobile nuclear reactors.
“It’s fundamental to Multi-Domain Operations,” argued retired Lt. Gen. Eric Wesley, who commissioned the white paper when he was Futures & Concepts Center chief for Army Futures Command. He just took on a private-sector job with Flyer Defense, a maker of lightweight off-road trucks that’s now developing an electric-drive vehicle with a small, built-in diesel generator to recharge itself. (This isn’t a hybrid-electric drive, since the diesel doesn’t’ drive the wheels; it just charges the batteries).
“Moving energy on the battlefield is the biggest challenge commanders will have in the future,” Wesley told me. But if you electrify your vehicle, he argued, it can “become more than just a combat vehicle: It becomes an energy node [in] a distribution network, where every vehicle is part of your energy distribution plan.”
Such a decentralized and flexible system, he argues, is much harder for a Russian missile strike to take out than a fuel depot. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Breaking Defense)
07 Oct 20. Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land awarded £16m Fuchs/Fox vehicle sustainment contract. The joint venture company Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) has won a UK MoD contract to upgrade and sustain the British Army’s fleet of Fuchs/Fox CBRN reconnaissance vehicles and training simulator. The order is worth over £16m/€17.5m.
The Fuchs is a 6×6 armoured vehicle with built-in detection equipment for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats. Rheinmetall possesses longstanding experience and wide-ranging expertise in this high-tech field. Thanks to continuous technical advances and performance upgrades, international users of the CBRN Reconnaissance Fuchs/Fox are able to access the very latest in sensor technology. Just awarded, the modernisation contract see the British MOD utilising Rheinmetall’s experience and abilities to assure the future operational readiness and effectiveness of the UK CBRN Reconnaissance fleet.
RBSL will address equipment-related obsolescence issues and upgrade the system with the latest generation of sensing capabilities. Rheinmetall Landsysteme will be drawing on comprehensive technological support from of its centre of excellence for NBC systems technology in Kassel.
The team will also review safety risks and implement a new support contract that includes technical support, provision of spares and repairs, maintenance, training, and design services. The British Army will thus be benefitting from Rheinmetall’s extensive experience in the field of NBC detection vehicles.
The work will be led out of RBSL’s facility in Telford, West Midlands, with the support of a UK supply chain. The programme is in line with the UK government’s agenda to provide opportunity to SMEs and level up regional economies, as well as to protect skilled jobs in engineering and manufacturing.
RBSL has a highly skilled workforce of more than 450 employees based at sites across the UK, including 250 engineers who specialise in key capabilities such as weapon systems, survivability, and lethality. The RBSL team will use their expertise in vehicle integration technology to upgrade and sustain the fleet. Experts from Rheinmetall Landsysteme will supply the necessary expertise in NBC reconnaissance and detection technology.
The upgrades delivered under the contract will provide an increase in interoperability and commonality with a number of the UK’s NATO partners. The vehicles will also provide the British Army with an advanced ability to detect CBRN threats.
Minister for the Armed Forces, James Heappey, said: “With the military landscape rapidly changing, it has never been more important to develop our capabilities and continue to strive for innovation and adaptability.
“This impressive contract award is a strong and positive step to evolve our traditional equipment into nimble and ground-breaking technologies.”
Peter Hardisty, RBSL Managing Director, said: “RBSL looks forward to applying our extensive knowledge and experience with armoured vehicles to the Fuchs programme. The contract protects key engineering skills in the UK, it presents an opportunity to exploit new technology, and it provides the British Army with an enhanced capability.”
“This is also a unique opportunity to work collaboratively with Rheinmetall – our majority shareholder and Fuchs Design Authority – and a range of UK SMEs.”
The German government gave the British Army 11 ex-German Army Fuchs vehicles in 1990 to support ground operations during the First Gulf War.
In the meantime, the Fuchs/Fox is in service with customers worldwide and has proven to be highly effective in numerous operations.
RBSL will now be implementing a number of capability enhancements in the British Army’s Fuchs vehicles, as well as address obsolescence issues and provide in-service support.
06 Oct 20. Beijing North Vehicle Group Corporation unveils lightweight tracked AFV. The Beijing North Vehicle Group Corporation, a subsidiary of the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco), has released video footage showing a new lightweight tracked armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) reminiscent of the German Army’s Wiesel air-transportable vehicle.
In a promotional video released on its WeChat page on 1 October, the company showed the small AFV – the designation of which was not disclosed – being test-driven in September by employees in a plateau area at an undisclosed location.
Several other larger AFVs of multiple types were also shown in the video undergoing tests at different locations.
The video, which was released to mark the 71st anniversary of the founding of the People’s Republic of China, shows that the small tracked AFV features four roadwheels per side, a drive sprocket at the front of the hull, a large idler at the rear, and two return rollers supporting the track. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Oct 20. Hyundai Rotem showcases HR-Sherpa UGV at RoK Armed Forces Day. New unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs) under development by South Korean company Hyundai Rotem were demonstrated at the 72nd anniversary of the Republic of Korea (RoK) Armed Forces Day event held at the RoK Army (RoKA) Special Warfare Command in Icheon, Gyeonggi Province, on 25 September.
Hyundai Rotem said in a 28 September announcement that two of its HR-Sherpa UGVs were used to lead a column of RoKA and homeland security vehicles – which also included one of its wheeled armoured vehicles (WAVs) – and to support security operations at the venue.
The HR-Sherpa is a 6×6 multirole dual-use UGV that is understood to have a weight of 1,800 kg inclusive of a 600 kg payload. The electrically powered is capable of turning on its axis and offers a claimed endurance of 6 hours when cruising at 5 km/h, although it can also attain respective road and cross-country speeds of up to 40 km/h and 10 km/h. Survivability is enhanced with airless tyre technology, which ensures that the UGV remains mobile despite tyre damage.
The vehicle can be equipped with Hyundai Wia’s Remote Control Weapon System (RCWS) for reconnaissance missions. It can also be configured for other tasks, such as fire support, logistics, medical evacuation, and security. (Source: Jane’s)
05 Oct 20. Australian Army begins training with Boxer armoured vehicles. The Australian Army has begun training on the new Rheinmetall Defence Boxer 8×8 armoured vehicles being delivered under the Land 400 Phase 2 programme.
Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said the commencement of training brings the army “a step closer to having world-class combat reconnaissance capability”.
“These vehicles will provide our soldiers with increased protection, lethality, connectivity, and mobility for the next 30 years,” said the minister, pointing out that the Australian Department of Defence has so far accepted delivery of five Boxer vehicles, with an additional vehicle expected by the end the week.
The vehicles are the first of 25 Boxers – 13 multipurpose and 12 reconnaissance variants – that are being manufactured in Germany through to 2021 to meet an early Australian capability requirement for familiarisation and training purposes.
In 2018 Canberra ordered a total of 211 Boxer vehicles for the Australian Army at a cost of AUD3.3bn (USD2.37bn). Production of the remaining 186 platforms – a mix of reconnaissance, command-and-control, joint fires, surveillance, ambulance, and battlefield repair and recovery variants – will begin in late 2020 at a military vehicle centre of excellence under construction by Rheinmetall at Ipswich, southwest of Brisbane. (Source: Jane’s)
02 Oct 20. Opening of Price Offers for the Bulgarian Project for Combat Armored Vehicles for the Land Forces. The price offers of the two companies – General Dynamics (General Dynamics) and Patria (Patria) – admitted to the next stage in the procedure for the implementation of the project for combat armored vehicles of the Land Forces, were opened today, October 2, at the Ministry of defense.
The opening of the offers was attended by the Deputy Minister of Defense Anatoliy Velichkov, the Commander of the Land Forces, Major General Mihail Popov, representatives of the companies, as well as directors of directorates from the Ministry of Defense.
The interdepartmental working group will evaluate the submitted price proposals. Field trials of the proposed vehicles will be carried out to check the compliance of the declared parameters with the tactical and technical requirements set for the mechanized unit (armament and mobility) and the communication and information systems of the armored combat vehicle.
With the participants who have successfully passed the field tests, negotiations will be held to improve the bids, after which they will be ranked in descending order.
The Interdepartmental Working Group will prepare a report to the Minister of Defense on the results of its activities, containing a ranking of the participants, as well as a proposal for selection of a contractor or for termination of the procedure.
The project for investment expenditure (PIR) “Acquisition of basic combat equipment for the construction of battalion battle groups of a mechanized brigade” was approved by a Decision of the 44th National Assembly on 08.06.2018.
On 05.08.2019 a move was made of the procedure for investment project “Acquisition of basic combat equipment for the construction of battalion battle groups from the mechanized brigade”, as a request for a proposal was sent to the companies, potential contractors of the project: Patria, Nexter, General Dynamics and Artec GmbH.
At the beginning of 2019, meetings were held with the four companies, potential contractors of the project, during which issues were discussed regarding technical requirements, evaluation criteria, bid evaluation methodology, industrial cooperation, share of local production and others.
By Order R-153 / 22.11.2019 of the Prime Minister of the Republic of Bulgaria, an interdepartmental working group (IWG) was established to evaluate the received offers under the PIR “, Which started its work on December 18, 2019.
The work on the project for “Acquisition of basic combat equipment for the construction of battalion battle groups from the mechanized brigade”, which is of particular importance for the modernization of the Bulgarian Army, continues. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)
(defense-aerospace.com EDITOR’S NOTE: Bulgaria is holding a competition to acquire 150 modern armored combat vehicles, and has short-listed Patria and the General Dynamics’s Mowag unit. Local press reports claim that both submitted bids significantly exceed the program’s budget, which was fixed at 1.46bn levs (about $870m) by about $300m.
The size of the budget overrun is such that there is a risk that the tender will be canceled outright, according to some reports, which note that the forthcoming visit of Defense Minister Krasimir Krakaczanow to the US to sign a 10-year “road map” of bilateral defense cooperation could lead to the direct acquisition of the US vehicle.)
(Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com) (Source: defense-aerospace.com/Bulgarian Ministry of Defence)
05 Oct 20. Allison Transmission receives innovation award for on-board energy conversion in military tactical vehicles. Allison’s 3200 Specialty Series™ transmission converts mechanical energy from the vehicle’s engine into electrical energy to create a fully integrated generator.
Allison Transmission and Leonardo DRS received the top 2020 Technology Innovators Award from Military & Aerospace Electronics and Intelligent Aerospace for their transmission in the TITAN On Board Vehicle Power (OBVP) system for medium tactical vehicles and heavy-duty trucks. The three-tiered award recognises companies who provide military, aerospace and avionics design solutions.
“Allison is proud to be recognised for our efforts with Leonardo DRS in the development of OBVP technology,” said Ken Adgie, Director of North America and U.S Government Defense Business at Allison Transmission. “The need has grown for adaptive propulsion solutions providing onboard electric power as military vehicles utilise computers, air defence radar and directed energy weaponry. We appreciate this high honour and the confidence the military places in us to provide reliable propulsion systems for use in the most demanding conditions.”
The award-winning solution was developed through a partnership between Allison and Leonardo DRS. The OBVP in the TITAN uses a generator that is fully integrated within the housing of an Allison 3200 Specialty Series™ transmission and installed into the driveline. The OBVP improves agility and reduces logistics costs because vehicles will no longer have to tow a separate trailer mounted generator. When matched with Leonardo DRS generator and power electronics, the system has the capability to produce electrical power for use on- or off-board the vehicle – up to 120 kW when the vehicle is stationary and up to 55 kW – while the vehicle is on the move.
Allison began producing automatic transmissions for tanks and other tracked vehicles in the late 1940s, and later provided transmissions specifically for wheeled military vehicles. Today, Allison continues to reliably move equipment and soldiers worldwide with more than 100 fully automatic applications for tracked and wheeled military vehicles.
The TITAN On Board Vehicle Power (OBVP) system for medium tactical vehicles and heavy-duty trucks, developed by Allison Transmission and Leonardo DRS, uses a generator that is fully integrated within the housing of an Allison 3200 Specialty Series™ transmission. Image can be downloaded here.
About Allison Transmission
Allison Transmission (NYSE: ALSN) is the world’s largest manufacturer of fully automatic transmissions for medium- and heavy-duty commercial vehicles and medium- and heavy-tactical U.S. defense vehicles, as well as a supplier of commercial vehicle propulsion solutions, including electric hybrid and fully electric propulsion systems. Allison products are used in a wide variety of applications, including on-highway trucks (distribution, refuse, construction, fire and emergency), buses (school, transit and coach), motorhomes, off-highway vehicles and equipment (energy, mining and construction applications) and defense vehicles (wheeled and tracked). Founded in 1915, the company is headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, USA. With a market presence in more than 80 countries, Allison has regional headquarters in the Netherlands, China and Brazil with manufacturing facilities in the U.S., Hungary and India. Allison also has approximately 1,500 independent distributor and dealer locations worldwide. For more information, visit allisontransmission.com.
05 Oct 20. Patria AMVXP continues to the second phase of Bulgarian vehicle acquisition program. Patria’s armoured combat vehicle AMVXP has been selected for the second phase of Bulgarian vehicle acquisition program based on a tender phase. The final decision on the actual acquisition will be made after field tests and negotiations. Also, General Dynamics has proceeded to the second phase.
‘This is very good news as it is a sign of the high quality of Patria’s vehicles and level of expertise, as well as customers’ confidence in them. If Bulgaria chooses Patria AMVXP as its future combat vehicle, we are ready for technology transfer and vehicle manufacturing in Bulgaria,” says Jussi Järvinen, President of Patria’s Land Business Unit.
Patria AMVXP is a modular, powerful and robust armoured wheeled vehicle representing the top of its class, with a premium level of protection and mobility on terrain and roads. Patria AMVXP is also available with amphibious capability for amphibious and landing operations. The capabilities of the platform allow the integration of any weapon system. With effective and continuous product development and lifecycle support, the fleet is always up to date.
BATTLESPACE Comment: Sources state that GDELS is the other bidders elected with Piranha 5. The losing bidders were Nexter’s VBCI and Boxer.