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19 Nov 20. The US Army is hunting for a new all-electric light recon vehicle. The Army is searching for defense contractors to furnish the service with an off-the-shelf squad reconnaissance vehicle to complement its growing fleet of next-generation ground combat vehicles.

The service on Wednesday published a market survey in search of a fully electric or hybrid-electric tactical vehicle to “inform” the acquisition strategy of its electric Light Reconnaissance Vehicle (eLRV) program.

The eLRV will provide “enhanced mobility, lethality, protection, mission load capacity, and onboard power” for six soldiers to conduct both mounted and dismounted reconnaissance and surveillance missions for Infantry Brigade Combat Teams, according to the market survey.

The ideal vehicle will be transportable via CH-47 or C-130, have a range of more than 300 miles, and come with a medium-caliber weapon system to provide “precision ‘stand-off’ lethality” against both small arms and other light armored vehicles, according to a 2019 Congressional Research Service report.

As Breaking Defense notes, the movement in the long-delayed eLRV program also comes amid a service-wide push to convert gas-powered ground vehicles to electric platforms for both tactical and logistical reasons.

Electric vehicles “accelerate quicker, run cooler, and move quieter than internal combustion ones – advantages that are all especially valuable for stealthy scouts like LRV,” as Breaking Defense put it in October.

In addition, 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.”

The eLRV will also “operate in conjunction” with the service’s next-generation Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) light tank and Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) to “enhance the lethality, mobility, reconnaissance, and security” of IBCTS, according to the market survey.

Those new formations are still a ways off: the Army only accepted its first batch of ISVs in October and won’t conduct its assessment of its two MPF prototypes until January 2021.

And that’s depending on if the Army formally sets aside any funding for the new scout vehicle in the first place. As the 2019 CRS report noted, the service did not actually request any money to fund the eLRV effort in both fiscal years 2020 and 2021

In the meantime, Army officials “were planning to use the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) to serve as the LRV on an interim basis,” according to the CRS report. “From a programmatic perspective, the Army referred to its interim LRV solution as the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle-Reconnaissance Vehicle (JLTV-RV).”

If the Army gets its funding together, the service aims to potentially choose an off-the-shelf tactical vehicle for full production as soon as fiscal year 2025. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/https://taskandpurpose.com/)

19 Nov 20. Turkey in talks with South Korea to salvage Altay tank program. Turkish procurement and military officials as well as teams from a private manufacturer have been negotiating with a South Korean company to recover a program riddled with delays for the production of the country’s first indigenous new-generation main battle tank.

“This program has faced major delays due to failed access to significant components like the engine, transmission and armor,” a procurement official told Defense News. “I am not in a position to give a date for the start of serial production. All I know is we are trying hard to get it moved ahead.”

In 2019, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office included the Altay tank as part of the military’s 2020 inventory in a government document. In an October 2019 speech, Ethem Sancak — a senior shareholder in BMC, which makes the Altay — said the tank would be fielded within 24 months.

It now appears that prediction was too optimistic. The presidential office’s 2021 investment program, released earlier this month, does not even mention the Altay, let alone the tank entering service.

According to a source with knowledge of the Altay program, BMC has been in talks with Hyundai Rotem to solve problems surrounding missing foreign technology for the Altay, which Turkish officials often portray as a fully national, indigenous Turkish tank. The South Korean company previously built public transportation and Bosporus crossing systems in Istanbul, Ankara and Adana as well as light rail systems in Istanbul and Izmir.

“We are hoping our talks will eventually sort out the problems regarding the power pack — [the engine and transmission — that] we will use in the serial production cycle,” the source told Defense News. “We are probably talking about another couple of months of talks before we know which way we are headed.”

He added that BMC is in indirect talks, through Hyundai Rotem, with two South Korean defense technology concerns: engine-maker Doosan and S&T Dynamics, which produces automatic transmissions.

“Ideally a Doosan-S&T power pack will power the Altay if we can iron out differences and licensing issues,” he said.

South Korea has experienced similar problems with its program for the mass production of the K2 Black Panther tank. Its deployment by the Army faced delays due to problems concerning the engine and transmission.

The first 100 units were built with a Doosan 1,500-horsepower engine and an S&T Dynamics automatic transmission. Under a second contract, tanks began to be delivered in late 2016. But after S&T Dynamics’ transmission failed durability tests, South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration announced the second batch would have a “hybrid” power pack consisting of the locally developed engine and the German RENK transmission system.

“How the Turks can make use of a proven engine and a failed transmission remains to be seen,” said a London-based Turkey expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Turkey had hoped to power the Altay with the German MTU engine and RENK transmission, but talks with German manufacturers over the past couple of years failed due to a federal arms embargo on Turkey. Germany is one of a number of European governments that have limited exports to Turkey over its involvement in the Syrian civil war.

A similar problem concerns the Altay’s planned armor. Turkey was hoping a French armor solution would be continue to be available following an initial batch of 40 units. But recent political tension between the two countries over hydrocarbon explorations off Cyprus has put this in jeopardy.

The source with knowledge of the Altay program said the armor will now be locally produced under a public-private partnership.

The Altay program dates back to the mid-1990s, but it wasn’t until November 2018 that the Turkish government awarded the tank’s multibillion-dollar contract to BMC. In a competition, the firm defeated Otokar, which had already produced four Altay prototypes under a government contract.

The contract involves the production of an initial batch of 250 units, life-cycle logistical support, and the establishment by the contractor of a tank systems technology center and its operation. As part of the contract, BMC will design, develop and produce a tank with an unmanned fire control unit.

The contract said the first Altay tank is to roll off the assembly line within 18 months. Opposition parties in parliament have slammed the government over delays, but procurement officials claim the 18-month clause will apply after the first unit’s production begins.

The Altay program is broken into two phases: T1 and T2. T1 covers the first 250 units, and T2 involves the advanced version of the tank. Turkey also plans to eventually produce 1,000 Altays, to be followed by an unmanned version.

The deal has proved politically controversy, particularly after the Erdogan administration leased for free a military-owned tank and turret factory by the Marmara Sea to BMC for a period of 25 years.

The move prompted cries of nepotism, as BMC shareholder Sancak was a senior member of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party at the time.

Ozgur Eksi, an independent defense analyst, questioned the choice of assigning a factory by the sea for tank production. “In the event of war, the Altay factory could be an easy target for the enemy fire,” he said. “This program could have been much better planned from a strategic point of view.”

Nevertheless, Eksi added, “there is a political determination to get the Altays into the Army’s inventory. Sooner or later, production will start.” (Source: Defense News)

13 Nov 20. The Czech Army/Ministry of Defence has announced the replacement of its ageing Land Rover Defender* fleet with the Toyota Hilux. The following announcement, auto-translated, has recently appeared on official Czech Army (Armáda České Republiky) social media accounts:-

“We are replacing our veterans! And with proven Hiluxes. We want lower operating costs, we want lower consumption, we want affordable service. We just want a versatile car that can handle it all. Proto Hiluxy!”

The Czechs are just the latest NATO nation to start replacing their legacy military light / medium utility vehicle fleets with slightly militarised, mostly four-door, commercial pick-up trucks and station wagons. Although Land Rover is now producing a New Defender model, its advertised basic price is considerably higher than commercial equivalents being offered to armies by major Japanese and American automobile companies.

*Update ~ We have now discovered this press release by GLOMEX, which only mentions UAZ-469 replacement.

Press Release by GLOMEX, Prague, 06 November 2020: In an open tender by the Ministry of Defense of the Czech Republic for the supply of new multi-purpose off-road passenger vehicles for the needs of the Czech Army, the Czech company GLOMEX Military Supplies succeeded with the most economically advantageous offer in a massive competition of 10 companies. Over the next four years, it will supply the army with up to 1,200 modified Toyota Hilux pick-ups. These will gradually replace the old off-road UAZ off-road vehicles of Soviet production.

The results of the tender were announced by the Ministry of Defense at their press conference today. This is the second major success of the integrator GLOMEX Military Supplies in short time in tenders for the supply of off-road vehicles specfically adapted to the needs of the armed forces. This spring, the Polish branch of GLOMEX MS Polska succeeded in the tender announced by our northern neighbours. It will supply the Polish army with more than six hundred specially modified Ford Ranger XLT cars.

The President of GLOMEX Military Supplies ret. Army Gen. Josef Bečvář says: “In both tenders, we assured our customers that we are ready to supply cars in the required specifications, including special modifications at the most advantageous delivery and price conditions. This excellent success of our company, where I have been in top management since the beginning of 2019, is part of our corporate strategy focused on medium-sized projects of the strategic armament of the armed forces of Central European countries. I am convinced that we will be able to build on this success in other projects and confirm that we are a trustworthy and professional integrator which the armed forces can rely on even at the current problematic time. We earn this reputation mainly due to our experience, professionalism, responsibility, transparency, and reliable long-term partners.“

The Toyota Hilux cars, which will be supplied by GLOMEX Military Supplies, are powered by a 110 kW diesel engine. It is the latest version of the Double Cab with space for up to 5 people after the facelift which was introduced by the manufacturer in mid-2020.(Source: joint-forces.com)

18 Nov 20. BAE Awarded Life-extension Contract for Swiss Cv90 Combat Vehicles. BAE Systems Hägglunds has received a contract from the Swiss Federal Office for Defense Procurement (armasuisse) for the life-extension of the Swiss Army’s CV9030, known as the “Schützenpanzer 2000.”

The life-extension program of the CV9030 will keep the 186 vehicle fleet in service until 2040 and significantly improve the platform’s ability in certain areas.

The improvements are mainly based on previous obsolescence issues in the area of optical, electrical and electronic components. They also include the installation of Active Damping technology which reduces wear and tear, minimizes through-life repair costs, improves speed in terrain and ride comfort. A new improved electronics architecture will support adapting to future technology growth. The vehicles will also be fitted with a 360-degree surveillance system, increasing situational awareness, combat effectiveness, and survivability to enable safer route planning and more rapid targeting.

As part of the contract, BAE Systems Hägglunds, the original manufacturer of the CV90, has already been working closely with Swiss industry to meet the industrial cooperation requirements. The program will involve multiple suppliers based across all regions of Switzerland. Selected companies will produce items such as the next generation of electronic boxes for the CV90s, electrical cables, and mechanical components.

One of these suppliers is RUAG AG, which will provide a new auxiliary power unit in collaboration with BAE Systems. Through its role as the Material Competence Center (Materialkompetenzzentrum), RUAG is fully involved in securing Switzerland’s autonomy and operational readiness, increasing defense capabilities, self-sufficiency, and security of supply while preserving high-skilled jobs and in-country capability.

“We are truly proud to be awarded this life-extension contract by armasuisse. We look forward to further deepening the relationship with our Swiss customer and working together with the Army, as well as national and regional industry for many years to come,” said Tommy Gustafsson-Rask, managing director of BAE Systems Hägglunds. “Together we are making sure this proven vehicle remains modern and capable through 2040 and beyond.”

This new contract is the result of effective cooperation between BAE Systems, armasuisse, and the Swiss Army. BAE Systems and the Swiss defense agencies cooperated on an initial obsolescence study, a prototype contract phase with extensive testing in both Switzerland and Sweden, and adaptations and preparations for serial delivery.

“This successful cooperation leaves us well positioned to start the production and delivery phase of this life-extension program. We are looking forward to delivering a technologically future-proofed platform together with Swiss industry,” said Mattias Strandberg, regional director for BAE Systems Hägglunds.

Switzerland is one of seven European users operating the CV90. The other six are Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Netherlands. With close to 1,300 vehicles in service in numerous variants, the vehicle is combat-proven and designed to accommodate future growth to meet evolving missions. (Source: ASD Network)

19 Nov 20. First UK Manufacture of MoD’s Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicles moves further forward with significant contracts signed.

ARTEC consortium member, KMW, has concluded a further contractual agreement with WFEL for the production over ten years of Boxer Vehicle Drive Module fabricated hulls – together with a further contract for the Assembly, Integration and Test (AIT) of approximately half of the 500 vehicles to be supplied to the British Army, under the £2.3bn contract signed with ARTEC at the end of 2019.  This is another significant milestone for the UK Boxer MIV Programme and for the UK’s military vehicle capability, with the advent of manufacturing a new class of armoured vehicles here in the UK.   This next phase of the Boxer MIV programme also embeds within WFEL welding practices specific to the manufacture of armoured steel hulls for highly protected vehicles, further developing a key skill for the UK Military Land sector.  WFEL is already accredited to International Welding Standards TL2350-0003 and ISO 9606-1 and a number of WFEL personnel have, for many months, been seconded to Germany to learn the intricate details of this specialist skill, under the expert tuition of KMW’s experienced technicians.  On successful completion of their rigorous training, these personnel will play a crucial part in the production of the Boxer Vehicles in North West England.

The signing of these contracts now allows further mobilisation of WFEL’s UK supply chain, including placement of firm orders to procure a variety of the machined and fabricated sub-assemblies necessary for manufacture of the Boxer hulls.

Following extensive Technology Transfer programmes and close collaborations with the ARTEC consortium, WFEL continues to develop a robust UK supply chain with technically capable suppliers.  Detailed discussions with UK fabrication and machining SMEs are now going ahead for the provision of specific Boxer Drive Module hull assembly components.  This further development of WFEL’s supply chain is expected to both sustain and create jobs around the UK.

Additionally, WFEL will further ramp-up its recruitment of yet more specialist Operational and Fabrication personnel.  WFEL expects to create around 120 new long-term jobs at its Stockport site, supporting the UK defence industry and the UK economy.

Ian Anderton, WFEL’s Managing Director, commented, “The Boxer vehicles are amongst the most advanced armoured vehicles in the world and WFEL’s new state-of-the-art Boxer production hall, currently nearing completion, will be one of the most advanced military vehicle manufacturing facilities of its type.  We have already contracted with a number of UK suppliers for the construction, site infrastructure and security facilities for this new production facility.

“The signing of these latest contracts with KMW means that WFEL can confidently move forward to implement the next stages of the UK Boxer manufacturing programme.  In doing so, we are offering a significant number of long-term career opportunities for highly skilled personnel to work on producing these advanced military vehicles, which will provide key defence capabilities for the British Army as part of its Strike Brigade. We look forward to engaging with yet more supply chain partners as we move another step closer to the first of these uniquely modular military vehicles rolling off our production lines and being delivered to the British Army.”

19 Nov 20. Rheinmetall unveils its new Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance system: enhanced situational awareness and frontline fire support.

Rheinmetall’s game-changing Mission Master Autonomous – Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV) family has just gained a new member: the Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance. Equipped with intelligence-gathering technology and a Rheinmetall Fieldranger remote-controlled weapon station (RCWS), the new Armed Reconnaissance module is designed to collect tactical intelligence in the area of operations while providing frontline fire support whenever necessary.

Crewless recon missions maximize troop security

Autonomous robotic vehicles offer countless advantages, including in a reconnaissance context. The Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance is designed to execute high-risk scouting missions and deliver a real-time common operating picture without putting soldiers in danger. Since an enormous volume of data is gathered during missions of this type, Rheinmetall’s new A-UGV is equipped with resilient, highly reliable systems. Its payload consists of long-range EO/IR sensors, a surveillance radar, a 360° full ring camera, a laser rangefinder and a laser designator to identify potential threats. To further enhance the line of sight for the sensors while keeping a concealed posture, the reconnaissance payload is installed on a 3.5-metre expandable mast with a tilting mechanism. This convenient feature allows for increased and safe transportability on any platform, even a CH-53 or CH-47 Chinook.

The Armed Reconnaissance module also features radio-agnostic architecture, which means it can accommodate any type of radio that customers may need. The bidirectional communication system permits clear exchanges with HQ and other A-UGVs, giving commanders greater situational awareness. When engaging enemy forces, the Rheinmetall Fieldranger Light 7.62mm RCWS will provide much more firepower than the usual man-carried section weapon. Engagement of targets is remote-controlled, never autonomous. Safe operation at all times

As with the other modules of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance owes its autonomous functions to the Rheinmetall PATH autonomous kit (A-kit). Proven, agnostic, trusted and highly autonomous, PATH is designed to enable military vehicles to operate in unmanned mode, freeing up soldiers for other duties and keeping them out of immediate danger. The A-kit provides a wide range of teleoperation options for the Mission Master, including a tablet, smartwatch, soldier system, and single-hand controller. These devices enable full access to advanced PATH features such as follow-me, convoy and autonomous navigation modes. Each control mode incorporates multiple layers of protection to ensure that the vehicle operates safely at all times. Moreover, Rheinmetall is committed to keeping a man in the loop in all kinetic operations, assuring that a human decides when to open fire, never a machine.

A comprehensive Mission Master family

The new Armed Reconnaissance module is the latest addition to the modular Mission Master family, widely acclaimed for its all-terrain manoeuvrability and ability to keep troops safe when deployed in harm’s way. The Cargo module can carry over half a ton of supplies, relieving the burden on troops keeping them fresh. The Fire Support modules boost the combat power of dismounted units, while the Rescue module autonomously evacuates casualties and carries specialized equipment for medical interventions in the field. In addition, every single module is equipped with a Blue Force tracking system that is fully compatible with NATO standards.

Like all members of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance version is already networked to the Argus soldier system and Rheinmetall Command and Control Software, which can be installed in any user’s battle management system.

Power of the Wolf Pack

The addition of the Armed Reconnaissance to the Mission Master suite turns Rheinmetall’s groundbreaking Wolf Pack concept into a reality. The Wolf Pack consists of multiple Mission Master vehicles efficiently operating as a team in order to accomplish missions of all types, including zone surveillance, reconnaissance, target position transfer and slew-to-cue. All units communicate with each other and use artificial intelligence to maintain the total situational awareness necessary for carrying out their missions.

A genuine force multiplier, the entire Wolf Pack can be managed by a single operator from anywhere using the LTE network, SATCOM, or military cloud. It is an intuitive concept that enables one operator – rather than multiple uncoordinated operators – to focus on the overall mission rather than managing all the tasks of each A-UGV. As Rheinmetall continues to develop new modules for the Mission Master family, the Wolf Pack’s range of capabilities will only increase, significantly improving the military’s ability to achieve overmatch against increasingly capable enemies.

17 Nov 20. Brazilian Marines pursue additional modernisation capabilities. The Brazilian Navy is exploring ways to modernise the Marine Corps (Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais) and has unveiled a plan to merge three previous modernisation programmes into a new single effort called Programa de Meios de Fuzileiros Navais (PROADSUMUS).

In October the navy began the PROADSUMUS design with the goal of increasing the Fleet Marine Force’s, Riverine Operations Battalions’ and the district’s Marines Groups capabilities by 2040. One goal is to enable the marines to execute a larger spectrum of military operations to better protect the nation’s jurisdictional waters, riverine waters, naval and port facilities, and island, and archipelagos. At the same time, these forces will also be used in support of civil defence roles, as well as peacekeeping and humanitarian relief missions. This push will require the creation of new organisations, infrastructure modernisation, and the acquisition of new equipment, the Marine Corps General-Command recently told Janes. On the materiel side, the service will need to acquire light tanks, 4×4 wheeled armoured vehicles, field towed howitzers, 120 mm mortars, Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG U5000 4×4 trucks, new lightweight non-armoured 4×4s, air defence radar and missile systems, anti-armour, and anti-tank systems. (Source: Jane’s)

17 Nov 20. US Army’s heavy ground robot reaches full-rate production. The U.S. Army’s heavy common ground robot has reached full-rate production, less than a year after FLIR Systems won the contract to deliver the system, the company’s vice president in charge of unmanned ground systems told Defense News in an interview this month.

“We’ve progressed with the U.S. Army through all the milestones on the program and are now at full-rate production on the program. We’re building systems, we’re delivering them, there are systems out at Fort Leonard Wood, [Missouri], right now going through training with troops, and there are more systems in the pipeline to be delivered all the way through next year and further,” Tom Frost said.

“I think what’s remarkable is how quickly the Army was able to run a program to find a very capable, large [explosive ordnance disposal] robot and then get it out to troops as quickly as they did,” he added.

The service award FLIR an other transaction authority contract in November 2019 to provide its Kobra robot to serve as its Common Robotic System-Heavy, or CRS-H. The production contract will run for a period of five years and could be worth up to $109m.

The Army wanted a system that weighs up to 700 pounds and can carry a variety of sensors and payloads that support various missions.

Under the current order, FLIR is delivering 34 systems. But if all options are exercised in the contract, the firm could deliver about 350 robots.

Part of the reason the Army could move so quickly, Frost said, is because Kobra is a commercial product that has already hit the market. But the system’s strength-to-weight ratio is also a selling point, he added.

“The amount that it can lift with its arm, compared to the total weight of the system, is very impressive. The mobility that it has, even though it’s such a big system and can do such heavy-duty lifting and heavy-duty tasks, is still nimble enough to climb up stairs and to climb into the back of an SUV for transport,” he explained.

The robot can also climb over a Jersey barrier due to a set of flippers on the base.

FLIR made some changes to the system appropriate for military use, Frost said, and worked on small changes based on soldier feedback.

For example, FLIR changed the height of the robot’s camera mast to improve perspective, and made it more robust to survive rollovers. The company also upgraded the camera located on the gripper to have high definition quality.

Meanwhile, the Army and FLIR are pursuing different payloads for CRS-H. The Army required the robot have an open architecture to allow for payloads to easily be integrated. The service is seeking an enhanced robotics payload that would bring in new capabilities to put on top of the CRS-H platform, such as dual-arm manipulation and advanced camera systems.

These payloads will be awarded through separate contracts, Frost said. “We have a lot of technology that applies to those and we will compete,” he said, “but the Army tends to select best-in-class, and because of the open architecture, we can marry those things together and they can be put on our platform.”

Among FLIR’s relevant technology are sensors, artificial intelligence and robotic manipulation, Frost said.

FLIR also provides the Army with a medium-sized unmanned ground vehicle — the Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II. FLIR is delivering the Centaur UGV for that program as well as supplying the Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force with the same capability.

The company announced Monday that the Army, Air Force and Navy have together ordered more than 250 additional Centaur UGVs worth $32m. Over the past year, FLIR has received roughly $97m for more than 750 Centaur robots for EOD teams across all services.

The Air Force is interested in a CRS-H capability, according to solicitation posted in October to Beta.Sam.Gov, a federal contracting opportunities website.

The service wants a commercial system to meet EOD requirements that is highly mobile and equipped with a camera system and manipulator arm with a gripper. The robot should be able to operate in all weather, terrain and environments, have a minimum 800-meter, line-of-sight radio range, with a 3-hour runtime that can fit in a Base Response Vehicle or a Bomb Squad Emergency Response Vehicle, according to the solicitation. (Source: Defense News)

16 Nov 20. Norway – Procurement of New Tanks. The government will buy new tanks and there are two suppliers that are relevant for the delivery of a tank to Norway.

The Storting decided in the Land Power Study (Recommendation 50 S (2017-2018)) that a procurement project for tanks should be initiated, which should be submitted for approval to the Storting in 2021. This was done and the work is ongoing in accordance with the established plan.

It was initially worked out based on nine different concepts. After thorough assessments, they were finally left with two concepts – (1) new tanks or (2) upgrading the current Leopard 2 to a standard that corresponds to brand new tanks, in combination with the acquisition of some brand-new tanks to increase their number.

“We will return to the Storting with proposals on the number of tanks, cost framework and a schedule. In the new Long-Term Plan, we have said that the new tanks will be in place in 2025,” says Minister of Defense Frank Bakke-Jensen.

In the Land Forces inquiries, it was determined that the upgrade planned through project 5050 would not provide sufficient protection against new ammunition that the opponents have, nor would it provide us with sufficient communication so that the tanks could act as part of a whole in the brigade system. This will be taken care of in the new project that is being worked on now.

“Through concept work has been carried out where market analyzes have also been carried out. The work has also undergone external quality assurance. The analyzes have revealed that there are two potential tank types that are relevant for Norway. It stands between German Leopard 2 or South Korean K2 Black Panther. Therefore, the pre-project phase will be continued based on these two candidates,” says the Minister of Defense.

The Ministry of Defense will now conduct a government dialogue with the German and South Korean authorities, among other things, to assess the possibilities for defense industrial cooperation and access to the market for Norwegian products for the supplier countries’ respective defenses.

With the procurement of tanks that the government is planning and will return to the Storting in 2021, Norway will have a modern and improved capacity that will help strengthen its defense capability. (Unofficial translation by Defense-Aerospace.com)(Source: defense-aerospace.com/Norwegian Ministry of Defense)

16 Nov 20. FLIR Secures $32m in Full-Rate Production Orders for Centaur Unmanned Ground Vehicles from US Armed Services. FLIR Systems, Inc. (NASDAQ: FLIR) announced that the United States (U.S.) Army, Air Force, and Navy have collectively ordered more than 250 additional FLIR Centaur™ unmanned ground vehicles (UGV), worth $32m combined. The award is being sourced through the Army’s Man Transportable Robotic System Increment II (MTRS Inc. II) program.

Over the last 12 months, FLIR has announced multiple orders totaling roughly $97m for more than 750 Centaur unmanned ground systems from the Army, Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps. Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) teams across all services will use the FLIR Centaur to assist in disarming improvised explosive devices, unexploded ordnance, and similar hazardous tasks. Operators can quickly attach different sensors and payloads to the robot to address other missions, including chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) threats.

“We’re tremendously honored that EOD teams across America’s military are relying on our Centaur robot to help them perform dangerous missions with greater stand-off capability,” said Tom Frost, VP and general manager for Unmanned Ground Systems in the Unmanned and Integrated Solutions business at FLIR. “From enabling easy software updates to enhanced electro-optical infrared cameras, controllers, and communication systems, the Centaur can be a game-changer for troops on the battlefield.

“Sharing common technology across EOD units also creates efficiencies for joint service operations, training and sustainment,” Frost added.

In 2017, the U.S. Army selected the medium-sized Centaur robot as its MTRS Inc II solution. FLIR is delivering systems to the Army under that multi-year program of record, which upon award was valued at more than $150m, including options. These latest orders fall under the current ceiling. Since then, other U.S. military branches have opted to deploy the Centaur to their EOD teams as a new or replacement ground robot system.

Centaur is a medium-sized UGV that provides a standoff capability to detect, confirm, identify, and dispose of hazards. Weighing roughly 160 pounds, the open-architecture robot features an advanced EO/IR camera suite, a manipulator arm that reaches over six feet, and the ability to climb stairs. Modular payloads can be used for CBRNE detection and other missions.

Deliveries are expected to begin in the first quarter of 2021. For more on FLIR Systems’ Unmanned Ground Systems platforms,

13 Nov 20. Lawmakers want US Army to quicken purchase of Arctic-capable vehicles. Senate appropriators want the Army to move more quickly to buy vehicles capable of operating in the Arctic, according to its version of the fiscal 2021 defense spending bill released Nov. 10.

“The committee encourages the Secretary of the Army to pursue equipment and vehicles necessary for Arctic and cold weather environments,” bill language stated.

The Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subpanel is adding $8.25m above the president’s FY21 defense budget request for a family of cold weather vehicles in order to speed up procurement.

Focus on the Arctic has increased in recent years as sea ice is receding at 13 percent per decade, opening up economic opportunities but also competition as Russia continues to project power into the Arctic region and China looks to capitalize on investment in minerals, natural gas, ocean fisheries and trade there.

The Defense Subcommittee also wants the Army, no later than 60 days after the bill becomes law, to submit a report to all four congressional defense committees on overland mobility capabilities in the Arctic.

The report should contain a rundown and assessment of current capabilities, requirements and operational challenges for cold weather tracked vehicles as well as an assessment of the current family of cold weather all-terrain vehicle program. The committee asks for the Army to justify its current procurement timeline and what requirements might exist for a joint program.

The Army, in its FY21 budget request, is kicking off a new-start effort that will provide transportation for “up to a 10-soldier element” for emergency medical evacuation, command-and-control capability, and general cargo transportation capable of on- and off-road operations in an Arctic environment “under a wide range of otherwise impassable terrain, to include frozen ice and extreme cold weather conditions,” according to the service’s FY21 justification book.

The Cold-weather All-Terrain Vehicle, or CATV, would support year-round activity from training to homeland defense and security and the Defense Support of Civil Authorities mission.

The CATV will have four variants.

A general-purpose variant would be capable of accommodating no less than nine soldiers plus a driver, equipment and supplies for three days of operations.

The ambulance variant would be able to transport equipment, two caregivers, and no less than two litter patients and four ambulatory patients in addition to a driver.

A command-and-control vehicle would provide space, weight and power to host standard joint communications and common operating picture platforms. The vehicle should be able to be used while on the move and require minimal setup when stopped by six soldiers and a driver.

And the cargo/flatbed variant would be able to carry outsized equipment and cargo that can be loaded with a forklift from either side. The cab should be able to fit the driver and a vehicle commander.

The Army only budgeted for $1m in FY21 to kick off the program, with plans to spend $17m in FY22 to buy 14 vehicles, $23m in FY23 for 18, $29m in FY24 for 22, and $40m in FY25 for 31. The funding in FY21, according to the Army budget documents, would support the refurbishment of CATV test assets. (Source: Defense News)

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