10 Dec 20. USMC amphibious combat vehicle reaches full-rate production. The Marine Corps has awarded BAE Systems with a $184m contract to deliver Amphibious Combat Vehicles (ACV) at full-rate production, according to a Dec. 10 company announcement.
The first lot of FRP ACVs amounts to 36 vehicles but is expected to grow to 72 vehicles in early 2021, with the option for 80 vehicles annually over five years. The Marine Corps declared the ACV had met Initial Operational Capability (IOC) requirements on Nov. 13. The FRP decision was delayed due to issues related to the coronavirus pandemic.
“As the ACV enters into service it will be providing highly advanced solutions for conducting maritime-based warfare operations and will play a vital role in the Marine Corps’ complex and challenging missions,” John Swift, director of amphibious programs at BAE Systems, said in the statement. “For BAE Systems, full-rate production validates years of dedication and teamwork in partnership with the Marines to introduce this capability to the warfighter and leave our adversaries on the battlefield at a marked disadvantage.”
BAE, with teammate IVECO Defence Vehicles, of Italy, beat out SAIC for the contract to build ACV following a competitive evaluation period in June 2018. That contract allowed the company to enter low-rate initial production with 30 vehicles expected by the fall of 2019 and valued at $198m.
The ACV offers “force protection capability three times greater” than its predecessor the Assault Amphibious Vehicle, the BAE statement notes. “It provides substantially increased horsepower, with its six-cylinder, 690 horsepower engine, making it capable of land speeds exceeding 55 mph while running extremely quietly. It’s also designed to provide Marines the flexibility to address additional mission roles and future technologies through its modular design,” the statement adds.
The BAE ACV provides space for 13 embarked Marines and a crew of three, which keeps the rifle squad together. The vehicle has a V-shaped hull to protect against underbody blasts, and the seat structure is completely suspended.
BAE is currently under a $67m contract modification awarded in June 2019, according to the company, to develop new variants for the ACV including adding a command vehicle and a version with a 30mm medium caliber cannon. The company notes that the design and development for both have begun.
The Marines plan to field 204 of the vehicles. The total value of the contract with all options exercised is expected to amount to about $1.2bn. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
10 Dec 20. US Army launches design phase for Bradley replacement. The U.S. Army is launching a phase for the concept design of its future Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, which is intended to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
The service held a virtual industry day Dec. 9 for the $4.6bn and plans to release a request for proposals to move into the design phase by the end of the month, according to a Dec. 9 Army statement issued following the completion of the industry event.
Since the service bungled its original attempt to hold a competition for the OMFV program, the Army has reconfigured the effort into one that lets industry dictate much of what is in the realm of the possible.
The Army’s first attempt laid out threshold requirements on a timeline that many in industry did not see as feasible or worth the investment. BAE Systems, which manufactures the Bradley, for instance, decided not to enter. And when only one physical bid sample from General Dynamics Land Systems was turned in by the deadline, the Army went back to the drawing board and came up with a different competitive plan with more flexibility.
Instead of a laundry list of requirements that, when paired together, became unachievable in the timeline, the Army laid out nine characteristics to help shape designs.
The Army plans to request whitepapers and then choose five prime contractor teams to design rough digital prototypes. The service will then award up to three contracts for a detailed design and prototype phase that will include options for low-rate initial production. One vendor will be selected to go into production.
Following the release of a draft request for proposals in July, the Army has taken into account a wealth of industry feedback and incorporated it into its plans for the upcoming phase of competition.
The service plans to spend $4.6bn from fiscal 2022 through FY26 on OMFV so it is turning to industry input earlier and more than ever.
“As we enter Phase 2, the Concept Design phase, for OMFV, inclusive feedback and innovative thinking from industry remains key,” Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the new program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said in the Army statement. “We received tremendous feedback from Industry on the draft RFP released in July, and we have made significant changes as a result of that feedback.”
The RFP for the concept design phase “reflects a reduction in scope and deliverables commensurate [with] the maturity of requirements at the outset, and lays the foundation for subsequent phases with respect to open architecture and modern engineering practices,” Dean said.
The new approach “is novel in the way it maximizes industry innovation while also reducing the burden and cost to industry for participation,” the Army statement notes.
Industry will develop digital designs as requirements mature and before prototypes are built, according to the Army. The designs will also inform the Abbreviated-Concept Development Document (A-CDD) expected to be published in the first quarter of fiscal 2022.
“The A-CDD allows us to make future decisions on the design without overly constricting vendor efforts to innovate,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, who is in charge of Next-Generation Combat Vehicle efforts, said in the statement.
Following the concept design phase, the Army will move into a detailed design phase that will be executed over the course of FY23 and FY24. The entire program will consist of five phases that include designing, prototyping, testing and producing an OMFV.
The prototyping phase will begin in fiscal year 25, according to slides presented at the OMFV industry day. Vehicle testing will begin in FY26 and wrap up in FY27 with a production decision planned for the fourth quarter of FY27. Full-rate production is expected to begin in the second quarter of FY30.
In parallel to the concept design phase, the Army will develop an open architecture for OMFV.
An open architecture has risen to the top of the OMFV planner’s list of required capability, particularly after seeing the need to be networked with other capabilities across the battlefield and at the forward edge at Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, over the summer.
The Army will establish a voluntary consortium beginning in January 2021 that will represent industry, government and academia, in order to develop such an open architecture, according to the statement. (Source: Defense News)
10 Dec 20. New All-Terrain Vehicles for Royal Marines Put to the Test. Royal Marines tested their ability to outfox radar using new all-terrain vehicles to move mortars around Salisbury Plain.
The commandos rolled out CanAm 6×6 vehicles to move mortars and their crews rapidly around the battlefield, avoiding detection and bring down a hail of fire and fury on enemy positions.
Mortars have been a staple of warfare for centuries and they still remain a highly dynamic weapon, which can quickly bring fire support to advancing troops on the frontline.
But they can be vulnerable to increasingly powerful enemy radars which can track them down, prompting a counter-barrage to destroy them if they are too static.
Future Commando Force
As Royal Marines continue to evolve as part of the Future Commando Force modernisation, everything from kit, clothing, weapons and tactics is coming under the microscope.
As part of that, 45 Commando’s Mortar Troop are scrutinising their primary weapon’s vulnerabilities to powerful Mortar Locating Radar and how they can avoid being discovered.
The CanAms kept them on the move, allowing the troop to maintain vital fire support to comrades before rapidly shifting position and setting up again.
Closely monitoring the trials were 53 Battery Royal Artillery, who use specialist radar to pinpoint enemy artillery, working out how long they the mortars could remain in position before being detected and destroyed.
Captain Dale Martin, Officer Commanding of 45 Commando’s Mortar Troop, said, “It is vital that we understand the threats we face on the modern battlefield. Mortars provide essential fire support to commando troops on the ground and are therefore a high-value target for any adversary we may face. By training with the Royal Artillery who are actively seeking to find and neutralise us we can begin to understand how to adapt our tactics, techniques and procedures to counter this threat. The vehicles we are trialling will allow us to increase our mobility on the battlefield therefore increasing our survivability and ability to support friendly forces. One of the keys to Future Commando Force is being agile and lightweight, raiding enemy positions quickly, and destroying high-value targets before moving onto new objectives.”
The commandos tested the CanAm for its utility transporting their mortar lines, taking advantage of the vehicle’s ability to cross rough terrain quickly.
The marines also used the training to compare the CanAm – which looks like a beefed-up quadbike with six wheels – to mortars which are mounted on the commandos’ Viking armoured vehicles from Viking Mortar Section of Armoured Support Group.
They looked at how tactics and techniques differ between the two and how the mortar capability is altered depending on which of the two very different vehicles is used.
Throughout, the commandos used Remotely Piloted Air Systems – in other words a drone – for reconnaissance and target acquisition.
Their Royal Artillery ‘enemy’ also used the drones to find the mortars, giving the commandos an understanding on how better to stay hidden from aerial reconnaissance. (Source: Warfare.Today)
08 Dec 20. Milrem Robotics, designer and manufacturer of the THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicle, is expanding to carry out new development projects. The European leading developer of robotics and autonomous systems Milrem Robotics is expanding and hiring several senior-level engineers as well as establishing competence centres in Europe.
The company’s expansion is fuelled by two main reasons: shifting its focus more on software development due to leading more complex system integration projects and recently receiving two European Union grants. The company is therefore hiring leading engineers, especially in software development. Currently, up to 30 new engineers are needed, however, during next year, the company aims to hire altogether 50 new employees.
“In Milrem Robotics, engineers get the chance to develop world-class technology solutions and lead the implementation of those solutions in Europe,” said Siim Nõmme, Chief Technology Officer at Milrem Robotics. “Although we already have a strong team, we need to grow and bring new talent into the company,” he added.
This summer the European Commission announced that a consortium, led by Milrem Robotics, will be awarded 30.6M EUR from the Commission’s European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP) to develop a European standardised unmanned ground system (UGS). During the project, titled iMUGS, modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems will be developed to standardize a European wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communication equipment, sensors, payloads, and algorithms.
In addition to iMUGS the company recently signed an agreement with the University of Tartu to develop autonomous off-road mobility for unmanned vehicles during a project backed by the EU. The project, that is aimed at the commercial market, specifically for aiding forest regeneration using Robotic Foresters, has four main goals.
- efficient detection and mitigation of natural obstacles found in forested areas.
- efficient operations of multiple UGS’.
- safety of precision proximity operations within close range from obstacles.
- optimised collection and handling of onboard sensor data in combination with remote sensing.
The bigger target is bringing human intervention of UGS’ to less than 20% of all required operations, which is useful in many civilian sectors such as forestry or agriculture.
In addition to EU projects, Milrem Robotics is establishing competence centres for robotics and unmanned system development. In addition to a well-established subsidiary in Sweden, another was created in Finland and plans are underway to expand to the Netherlands, where the company’s key customer – The Royal Netherlands Army – is located.
Milrem Robotics is the European leading robotics and autonomous systems developer. The company’s flagship product the THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle has altogether been delivered to nine countries of which seven are NATO members, including France, Norway, the UK, and the US. Milrem Robotics recently launched the Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle, intended to support mechanised units. (Source: joint-forces.com)
07 Dec 20. Nexter has delivered the first four regenerated VBCI (Véhicule Blindé de Combat d’Infanterie) armoured infantry fighting vehicles for the French Army. On 4 December 2020, during a visit to the Integrated Structure for Maintaining Land Equipment in Operational Condition (SIMMT) at the Roanne site, Nexter teams presented the first four regenerated armoured infantry fighting vehicles (VBCI). This meeting was also an opportunity to highlight Nexter’s work in fleet support.
Since 2013, the VBCI in-service support contract (MSS) has linked the Nexter industrial prime contractor and the French Army. It is one of the four support contracts in place, alongside the Leclerc, CAESAR and AMX 10RC contracts. Through the VBCI MSS, Nexter provides fixed-price spare parts, equipment repairs, obsolescences monitoring, long-term vehicle configuration management, fixed-price support for the VBCIs present in the training parks (Champagne and Provence) and technical assistance. At the request of the SIMMT, Nexter has been entrusted with a new regeneration service for around fifty VBCIs for the next two years. All the vehicles concerned have returned from external operations or exercises abroad; they have been used in extreme weather conditions, on rough terrain and require numerous interventions.
As of November 2019, an industrial organisation has been set up. A technical condition report will first of all make it possible to identify damage to the vehicles stored in Gien (12th Material Support Base) in order to draw up individual estimates and identify the exhaustiveness of the spares to be replaced. Customer orders then launch the start of the work. The VBCIs are routed by Nexter to the Roanne site for handling. In a workshop dedicated to MCO VBCI activities, the fitters replace the broken or worn components, carry out a complete cleaning and carry out an in-depth repair of the equipment – at NTI level 3 (technical intervention level) – to give it a new lease of life. Then, the machines are subjected to numerous static and dynamic tests comparable to those initially applied at the end of the assembly line, before being presented for verification operations. Arriving in Roanne in June 2020, the first four regenerated VBCIs were presented on time to the administration on November 23, 2020, according to the schedule set jointly with the SIMMT.
Lilian Braylé, Director of Customer Services, emphasises the importance of regenerations for the Roanne site’s activity: “These represent an annual workload of more than 20,000 hours worked, the equivalent of 15 full-time jobs (FTE). Moreover, meeting deadlines within a tight time frame and despite the health crisis is proof of the flexibility and excellence of Nexter’s know-how in terms of MCO.”
General Olivier Cornefert, deputy operations manager for the SIMMT central director, specifies that “in a context of strong operational commitment by VBCIs in the Sahel-Saharan band and in the Baltic countries, Nexter’s industrial response to the SIMMT’s requests has been particularly effective. The regenerations carried out through this market enable infantry regiments to have their major combat vehicles available to continue their training.” (Source: joint-forces.com)
07 Dec 20. Patria delivered AMV 8×8 System Platform vehicle to Saab. Patria delivered Patria AMV 8×8 System Platform vehicle to Saab based on a contract signed last June. The vehicle will be used as a test and development platform for the latest generation of Saab vehicle electronics and video systems, but also for demonstration and marketing purposes. Saab will equip the vehicle with its latest video- and vehicle electronic solutions, connected to C4I systems and other innovations. This AMV 8×8 System Platform vehicle combines the knowledge and experience of two high-tech companies. Patria provides the performance and features of a multi-role armored wheeled vehicles with a top-level mobility, survivability and fire power, while Saab offers durable military electronics that meet severe battlefield requirements. These state-of-the-art features together provides unique added value to the customers in a modern 8×8 vehicle market.
“We are now eager to start using this state-of-the-art vehicle as a test and development platform as well as a demonstrator for marketing purposes showcasing our capabilities. We also look forward to continue the close cooperation with Patria”, says Jörgen Sedsten, CEO of Saab Tactical Electronics AB.
“We are looking forward to seeing the System Platform Vehicle when Saab has performed its system integrations and to start the joint marketing operations of this high technology product. Patria’s AMV 8×8 with modern communication and control systems is an excellent solution for protected, mobile command posts and headquarters for various type of operations”, says Petri Jokinen, VP Sales and Business Development of Patria’s Land business unit.
Patria AMV is a global market leader in modern 8×8 vehicles, and over 1,600 vehicles have been sold to eight nations. Patria AMV provides the performance and features of a multi-role vehicle. It is perfect for any operation in any environment where mobility, survivability and fire power are needed. Patria offers large scale of variants to meet the specific needs of the customers worldwide from hot deserts to arctic conditions.