21 Dec 20. Hanwha Defense dispatches third Redback IFV prototype to Australia. South Korean company Hanwha Defense announced on 20 December that it has shipped a third Redback infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) prototype to Australia to undergo testing with the Australian Army as part of the service’s Land 300 Phase 3 procurement programme, also known as the Mounted Close Combat Capability requirement.
The firm said that the prototype, which follows two others sent to Australia in July, left the South Korean port of Masan, in South Gyeongsang Province, on 18 December. It is expected to be formally handed over to the Australian Army in mid-January and begin field testing and evaluations from February as part of a Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) set to be conducted in Australia. The RMA trials, which are part of a contract signed in October 2019 worth AUD50m (USD37.6m), will incorporate a range of tests related to lethality, blast and ballistics, transportability, and mobility. The Redback is a modernised and upgraded version of the K21 IFV, which has been deployed with the Republic of Korea Army since 2009. The three Redback prototypes are competing against an equal number of Rheinmetall Lynx KF41 IFVs, the first of which was unveiled by the German company on 10 November. Following the RMA process, the procurement process will move into a final evaluation phase and down-selection of a preferred tenderer, which is expected to be considered by the government in 2022. Initial operating capability of the selected platform is expected between 2024 and 2025. (Source: Jane’s)
21 Dec 20. Wales to play part in delivering new British Army vehicle. A Cardiff-based business has been awarded a £20m contract to provide components for a new armoured fighting vehicle. A company in South Wales will play an integral part in delivering the British Army’s next-generation armoured fighting vehicle, the UK Government has announced. MilDef, which isbased in Cardiff, will provide electronics such as Crewstation PCs, servers and ethernet switches for the Boxer armoured fighting vehicles under a £20m subcontract awarded to them by RBSL and Rheinmetall. The contract is expected to sustain and create around a dozen Welsh jobs and will secure further development of MilDef’s manufacturing facilities in the city over the next 10 years.
Secretary of State for Wales Simon Hart said, “Thousands of jobs in Wales are supported by UK defence expenditure and this latest £20m investment shows our continued commitment to invest in Welsh suppliers – cementing Wales’ place as a defence industry hub. I welcome this investment which comes at a time when the UK’s armed forces are providing crucial support to the NHS, Ambulance Service and Covid-19 testing effort across Wales.”
Director Land Equipment for Defence Equipment and Support, Major General Darren Crook, said, “The British Boxer programme has continued at pace this year despite the significant challenges that 2020 has set us. I am delighted that we are now beginning to see real term benefits to the UK from the investment in the programme and proud that we will be delivering a state-of-the art future capability to our British Armed Forces.”
Duncan Skinner, Chief Sales Officer at MilDef Group, said, “We are delighted to supply high-performance products together with RBSL into one of the UK MoD’s strategic vehicle programmes. MilDef Ltd continues its expansion in the UK defence industry and this contract is an example of the exciting times ahead for the company.”
The UK decided to re-join the Boxer programme in 2018 and since then has committed £2.8bn to deliver over 500 vehicles to the British Army. They will be made up of four variants: an Infantry Carrier; a Specialist Carrier; a Command Vehicle; and an Ambulance.
Much of the fleet is planned to be built in Telford and Stockport by main contractors RBSL and WFEL, supported by a nationwide supply chain that will secure around 1000 jobs nationwide and create an ambitious UK apprenticeship scheme. The aim is to have the first vehicles in service in 2023. (Source: https://www.gov.uk/)
18 Dec 20. OMFV: Army Wants Your Weird Ideas For Bradley Replacement. Want to make a mini-tank that carries two passengers in back? Or put the heavy weapons on one vehicle and the passengers in another? Go for it, the Army’s armor modernization director told industry.
The Army has redesigned its Request For Proposals to replace the Bradley troop carrier to give industry “maximum latitude” to innovate, Brig. Gen. Richard Coffman told reporters this morning. It’s even removed all classified data to let foreign companies participate fully. But one thing will be absolutely mandatory: compliance with a new set of technical standards and interfaces – known as a Modular Open Systems Architecture – that the service is developing for all its future combat vehicles.
Most Infantry Fighting Vehicles on the global market – including the only publicly announced contender, the Rheinmetall Lynx – look a lot like the Reagan-era M2 Bradley: They’re tracked machines with a driver in the hull, a commander and gunner in the turret, and five to nine infantry soldiers in the back, transported under armor protection until they jump out for the final assault.
In previous attempts to replace the Bradley, the Army gave industry rigid requirements, specifying everything from passenger capacity to gun caliber to maximum weight. But the new Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle will be different. While the Army has mandated a crew of two, both sitting in the hull with an unmanned turret, it will let industry’s design teams suggest all the other specs.
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“We’ve got companies out there… that have come and said, hey listen, ‘we don’t want to have to six/eight/10 people in the back. We want to have two, and we want to make a very small vehicle,” said Coffman, the director of Next Generation Combat Vehicles at Army Future Command. “We may need 15 OMFVs to move [a platoon of] 30,” he said, instead of today’s platoon of four Bradleys – and the new RFP would allow that.
“Or maybe they can find an innovative way to move 10 soldiers with only three vehicles and make it small and light and powerful, I don’t know,” Coffman continued. “Perhaps not every vehicle looks the same. perhaps one has the weapon system on it … while another is carrying just the soldiers and gear.”
“We don’t know what each industry partner’s solution will be, but we’re giving them maximum latitude to show us,” he said.
The current RFP, for what’s called Phase II of OMFV, asks only for digital “concept designs,” not fully detailed construction plans: The Army will see how these designs perform in simulations, get feedback from actual combat soldiers, and give industry a chance to make changes. At some point, this refinement process will get into classified data, but by that time the Army expects any interested foreign companies to be able to get the necessary clearances.
Then in 2023, the Army will hold another competition to design (Phase III) and build (Phase IV) actual prototype vehicles. Companies don’t have to win a Phase II concept design award in 2021 to be eligible to compete for the Phase III award in 2023. That said, the Phase II winners will have the advantage of getting to improve their designs with government funding and regular feedback, putting them in prime position for Phase III.
Meanwhile, in parallel, the Army will start drafting its formal requirements for OMFV. But, Coffman promised, it won’t lock those down before it’s gone through multiple rounds of back and forth with industry over multiple years. That’s a stark contrast to traditional programs – including an earlier, cancelled attempt at OMFV – that tried to prescribe strict performance specifications at the start.
“No decision before its time” is a driving principle of the new program, Coffman said. “Previous programs have required the government to be omniscient, and we all know that we’re not omniscient. We can’t predict what’s going to happen in seven years or eight years or nine….so we are not going to put a nail in a single requirement until we have to.”
Instead of strict technical requirements, the Army is specifying broad “Characteristics Of Need” (CON) for its Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle.
But when those requirements are finalized, they will be as binding as on any old-school program. In fact, in some ways, contractors may find the final requirements more restrictive than they’re used to, because the US government has gotten sick of companies selling it proprietary technology that isn’t compatible with other companies’ products and can only be upgraded by the original manufacturer, for a hefty fee. Instead, over the next several years, it will work with industry to develop technical standards and common interfaces that ensure everything works together and new upgrades are simply plug-and-play.
Several sets of standards already exist, such as the VICTORY architecture used on the latest models of the M1 Abrams and the 8×8 Stryker. But they need to be combined, updated, and expanded to handle the technical complexity, not only of OMFV, but of other future Army combat vehicles.
“This is broader than just OMFV,” said Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, who as Program Executive Officer for Ground Combat Systems (PEO-GCS) will run the program. “This is for combat vehicles in general. Tactical vehicles [i.e. trucks] will share an element of this, and certainly robotic systems.”
The Army is already experimenting with Robotic Combat Vehicles, built by various contractors but using common autonomy software developed by the Army. Parts of that RCV “kernel” may be ported over to OMFV to let it operate unmanned in certain missions – hence the “optionally manned” part of the name. But, Coffman said, “we’ll work with industry if they have a better kernel”: That’s one of the things he’s looking forward to finding out in back-and-forth of OFMV concept designs.
It’ll be hard enough developing compatible code and common physical components for use across multiple types of manned and unmanned vehicles. But the Army’s ambitions are bigger than that: In exercises like Project Convergence, it’s experimenting with ways for ground vehicles to share tactical data on targets and threats with long-range artillery and aircraft – and it wants to link in foot soldiers as well.
The Modular Open Systems Architecture, Dean said, must connect OMFV “seamlessly” to the targeting goggles worn by its infantry passengers, a militarized Microsoft HoloLens known as the Integrated Visual Augmentation System. That will allow the foot troops to see through the vehicle’s sensors and get a better sense of the situation before they get out and expose themselves to fire. (Though Dean didn’t say so, this could work in reverse as well: Once the infantry get out, the vehicle crew could see through the built-in cameras in their goggles, giving them a much wider view).
“Our combat vehicles need to be architected in such a way that they can not only connect back to the network, but connect to and can feed the IVAS system,” Dean said. “We’re doing some of that effort on Stryker right now… but OMFV needs to be built with that from the ground up.”
How important is this kind of technical compatibility across disparate systems? It’s so important that the Army will weigh it as heavily as physical performance in evaluating industry proposals.
“Industry’s going to be graded principally on two things,” Dean said. One is their approach to meeting the nine broad “characteristics” – from survivability to mobility to ease of training – laid out for the OMFV itself. The other is “how are they going to incorporate common Modular Open Systems Architecture?”
Companies now have 120 days to submit bids to the government, Dean said. That’s longer than the draft timeline the Army proposed back in July, because companies asked for more time to put together their proposals. (The extra time up front should also cut about two months out of what had been a four-month gap in the original funding plan for 2023). Meanwhile, in January, the Army will formally launch a new public-private consortium – an increasingly common approach – to work on MOSA.
“Industry’s proposals are due back 16th April,” Dean told reporters. “We anticipate contract award in July.” (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
18 Dec 20. Solicitation for Bradley replacement offers flexibility for foreign participation. The request for proposals from industry for the U.S. Army’s optionally manned fighting vehicle, or OMFV, intended to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle, has hit the street and allows for greater flexibility for foreign companies to compete.
In the service’s second stab at holding a competition for OMFV, the Army is driving as much flexibility as it can across the board, from avoiding stringent requirements in favor of loose characteristics and creating a phase for industry to design concepts without much company investment that will form requirements along the way.
The Army’s previous attempt required the delivery of physical bid samples, which hamstrung foreign competitor Rheinmetall of Germany and drove Bradley-maker BAE Systems to avoid the competition. Ultimately, the service received just one bid sample from General Dynamics Land Systems, which forced the Army to rethink the effort and come back with a new approach.
The OMFV competition has foreign industry jumping to join in with new and modernized platforms, and the Army appears to be ditching much of the restrictions that would typically keep them out.
Rheinmetall has already partnered with American firms Raytheon and Textron to solidify its participation in the competition, but many other companies are poised to submit bids to design concepts.
The pool needs to be deep because the Army anticipates awarding up to five contracts to design platforms.
“The challenges we’ve typically had in getting foreign participation is we often have a lot of classified material that we release up front, and we have some detailed specification that has very detailed performance requirements that’s classified,” Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the new Army program executive officer for ground combat systems, said in a Dec. 18 press briefing.
Foreign competitors “have to have clearances in place to be able to take that information,” Dean said. This means foreign companies must either be partnered with a prime contractor in the United States, have a subsidiary stateside, or have other clearances that take time to get through the approval process in order to exchange the classified information.
Working through consortiums, which the Army regularly does, also makes it hard for foreign contractors to come through the door, Dean said.
This time, the Army isn’t working with a consortium and is using a more traditional federal acquisition regulation-based contract, according to Dean. Furthermore, he said, classified reports will not be required in order to submit a bid or receive an initial design contract award.
“We’ve eliminated the limitation on primes and, because we don’t have classified information we are providing at the front end, that allows us to share more broadly and gives those companies time if they’re going to continue to play as lead, to establish their facilities, clearances and have the necessary structures in place to receive classified information when we get to that point,” he said.
Dean expects more classified requirements to kick in toward the end of the concept design phase where requirements begin to take shape, which translates to specifications. “Obviously, every company is going to make their own determination about what strengths and partners may bring to the table, whether they want to come in as a sub, whether they want to be prime with a bunch of U.S. subs,” Dean said, “but the response has been very promising.”
He also said there is strong interest from abroad. “I would say that we at least heard from or have participation … from all the major companies in the West capable of doing a full combat vehicle. Companies from Israel, South Korea, Singapore, Germany, in addition to companies both you’re familiar with in the U.S. who’ve [supplied] combat vehicles, but also some companies that operate in the defense space but haven’t traditionally been combat vehicle suppliers,” he said. “We will see how many of them ultimately decide they want to throw their hat in the ring and participate. I think we’ve done what we need to do to make it as open at an initial point.”
Sources following the competition are expecting to see participation from South Korea’s Hanwha, which is in a head-to-head competition in Australia with Rheinmetall to produce a new infantry fighting vehicle.
Germany-based Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has also touted an infantry fighting vehicle option, most recently at the last in-person Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference in Washington, D.C., in 2019.
Belgium’s CMI Defense is also rumored to be forging a partnership with a U.S. prime to participate in the competition.
Now that the solicitation has been posted to Beta.Sam.Gov, companies have until April 16, 2021, to submit a conceptual bid. The Army will award contracts in July, according to Dean, which will kick off 15 months of funded work.
During the phase, industry will work on designs without bending metal that will inform an abbreviated capabilities development document — or an initial set of requirements. Once the design phase ends, the Army will take a pause and then open the competition back up for a more detailed design effort ahead of prototyping, where up to three bids will be selected to proceed. The detailed design phase will be executed over the course of fiscal 2023 and fiscal 2024.
The prototyping phase will begin in FY25, 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)
17 Dec 20. GM Defense begins renovating N.C. facility to build ISVs. GM Defense announced Thursday that it has started renovation of an existing General Motors building to support production of the Infantry Squad Vehicle, an all-terrain troop carrier designed to transport a nine-soldier infantry squad.
The 750,000-square-foot facility is located in Concord, N.C.
Construction at the facility is likely to continue into early spring, with the production line delivering vehicles in April.
“We have tremendous momentum behind our ISV win, featuring a first-of-its-kind tactical wheeled vehicle that gives our Soldiers speed, durability and performance to enhance mission success,” said Tim Herrick, interim president of GM Defense. “GM Defense is responsible for the design, engineering and manufacturing of the ISV. This facility will enable us to meet our customer’s timeline for delivery while continuing our journey to bring commercial technologies and transformative mobility solutions to the defense market.”
The 5,000-pound ISV is based on the 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck architecture and uses 90 percent commercial-off-the-shelf parts, but is engineered to fulfill military requirements and designed to provide rapid ground mobility.
The ISV is light enough to be sling loaded from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and compact enough to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter, and includes a Rollover Protection System for transportability on any battleground.
The facility is slated to manufacture 649 ISVs in support of the production of the 2,065 vehicles GM Defense is contracted to deliver per a $214.3m award awarded to GM Defense in June.
The deal is the first major award since GM created a defense subsidiary in 2017. GM Defense delivered its first ISV to the Army in October. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/UPI)
17 Dec 20. US Army partners with Clemson to create autonomous armored vehicle models. A university in South Carolina is teaming up with the U.S. Army to create models for self-driving military vehicles.
The research project at Clemson University’s International Center for Automotive Research in Greenville will be funded by a $18m grant from the U.S. Department of Defense, the university said Tuesday in a news release.
The money will fund a new center, The Virtual Prototyping of Ground Systems Center, that will serve as the force behind the project’s aim “to develop virtual prototyping tools supporting the rapid transformation of U.S. Army fleets,” the school said. More than 60 Clemson faculty members across multiple engineering departments will be involved in the effort.
University President Jim Clements thanked U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham for their “hard work” to bring the project to life, and said the project will “pave the way for opportunities for our faculty, our students and our state.”
Researchers at the school will partner with the U.S. Army Ground Vehicle Systems Center and the program is envisioned to last several years. (Source: Army Times)
17 Dec 20. European Union awards grant to forge unmanned ground vehicle standard. The European Commission has awarded Estonia and the country’s robotics company Milrem a grant to lead the way on a standard architecture for military unmanned ground vehicles, the company announced.
The deal, worth close to $40m and signed Dec. 11, formally kicks off a pan-European development for a new generation of battlefield ground robots. Named Integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System, or iMUGS, the project uses Milrem’s THeMIS vehicle as a reference platform for creating a “standardized European-wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms,” according to the company.
Also covered by the project is relevant technology in the fields of command and control, communications, sensors, payloads, and algorithms.
The connection to the European Union’s coffers comes through the bloc’s European Defence Industrial Development Programme. Besides Estonia as the lead, Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia and Spain also are part of the iMUGS group, adding a combined €2m (U.S. $2.4m) to the effort.
The countries each bring their relevant national companies to the table, including Safran Electronics & Defense, Nexter Systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl Defence, and Bittium Wireless.
“Estonia has the honor and a great responsibility taking the lead in this project as nothing on a similar scale has been conducted before,” said Martin Jõesaar, chief of the project office in the Estonian Centre for Defence Investment. “Our goal is not only making iMUGS a one-time effort, but to build it into a base project for future developments. Our long-term goal is that each of the modular systems built will pave a way for further innovation in its field.”
While the sums involved in iMUGS are relatively small in the world of defense programs, the effort has the potential to shape the European market for military robotic vehicles. The initiative is a prime example of defense companies like Milrem, some of them years ago, sensing a chance to position their own offerings firmly in the thicket of European defense priorities.
But the THeMIS robot is not the only game in town. Rheinmetall is equally trying to position its unmanned portfolio in the European market, even without EU backing. In the case of its Mission Master vehicle, the intellectual property belongs to the company’s Canadian division, which makes support through EU channels tricky. Still, the vehicle is being tried by the land forces of several countries on the European continent.
According to Milrem, European countries are expected to need thousands of ground robots during the next 10-15 years, creating a market valued in the billions of euros. “With seven participating nations and key industrial players, the unmanned ground system developed during iMUGS is expected to become the preferred European solution for integrating into armed units,” the company claims. (Source: Defense News)
17 Dec 20. General Dynamics European Land Systems awarded CHF 46m follow-on order for 56 PATROL and 1 RECCONAISANCE Open EAGLE 4×4 vehicles. The Danish Ministry of Defense awarded a CHF 46m contract to General Dynamics European Land Systems-Mowag (GDELS-Mowag) to deliver 56 PATROL vehicles and a first prototype of the RECONNAISSANCE Open variant. This second order is part of the Armored Patrol Vehicle (APV) framework agreement, which GDELS-Mowag and DALO signed in June 2017, after the EAGLE 4×4 was selected winner of the APV tender. Deliveries of the 57 vehicles will begin by the End of 2021 and will be completed in 2022.
“We sincerely thank the Danish Ministry of Defense for its continued confidence in ourEAGLE 4×4 vehicle platform, engineering, and industrial capabilities,” said Giuseppe Chillari, GDELS Vice President for Wheeled Vehicles and Managing Director of GDELS-Mowag. “I’m especially proud that Denmark, as a NATO member, is the first nation to order the open top version of our EAGLE 4×4 vehicle. We look forward to delivering the new RECCE Open variant to Denmark for their tests and user trials and we are confident that Denmark will benefit from running a fleet of our vehicles, which is based on a state-of-the-art 4×4 wheeled family concept” Chillari adds.
16 Dec 20. US Army and South Korea’s Hanwha will research projects together. Hanwha, South Korea’s largest defense company, and the U.S. Army have signed an agreement to research and develop defense systems and technologies together, according to a statement from the Asian firm.
The Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA) was signed Dec. 10 by Hanwha Corporation and Hanwha Defense and the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Armaments Center (DEVCOM AC).
Hanwha is the first Korean company to enter into a CRADA with the U.S. Army, according to the statement.
“This is a historic and exciting opportunity,” Ret. U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Bernard Champoux, head of Hanwha’s US defense operations and former 8th Army commander, said in the statement. “It not only acknowledges the quality of the Republic of Korea’s growing defense sector, but also further strengthens the bilateral US-ROK relationship and the Alliance.”
A senior delegation from DEVCOM AC visited South Korea in November 2019 to discuss possible collaboration with Hanwha. “Both parties shared their interest in jointly developing capabilities for the U.S. and other international military markets, with potential commercial spin-off applications,” the statement notes.
The agreement will allow the company and DEVCOM AC to exchange resources, technical expertise and intellectual property.
Efforts may include extensive simulation, modeling and prototyping throughout the design, development and testing of a wide range of defense solutions such as fire armaments systems, ammunition, vehicle and armaments system interfaces, protection systems, propulsion and robotics.
“For Hanwha, this agreement is yet another step in demonstrating its commitment to US defense stakeholders and the US economy by facilitating transfer of technologies that can be incorporated into the American industrial base,” the company states.
Hanwha is hoping to build off the momentum from recent international success including competitive participation in Australia’s LAND 400 and LAND 8116 programs.
Hanwha’s Redback Next-Generation Infantry Fighting Vehicle is a top contender for the LAND 400 competition while its K9 Huntsman Self-Propelled Howitzer has been chosen for Australia’s LAND 8116 program set up to build 30 new howitzers with upgrade plans in the 2030s. Hanwha is teaming up with Kongsberg Defence Australia on the effort.
Australia’s LAND 400 program is an effort to procure a new combat reconnaissance vehicle. Hanwha’s Redback is going head-to-head in trials with Rheinmetall’s KF41 Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Australia will evaluate the offerings in trials over the next year.
In the U.S., many close to or directly involved in the Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle competition to replace its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle are keeping an eye on Hanwha as a possible competitor. The Army is expected to release its request for proposals for the competition Dec. 18.
The Army is embarking on its second attempt to hold a competition for the OMFV program after receiving just one bid sample by its deadline. A physical bid sample is not a requirement in the new competitive effort. Sources confirmed to Defense News at the time that Hanwha had seriously considered a bid, but decided against it. BAE Systems also chose not to compete.
Rheinmetall, Hanwha’s LAND 400 direct competitor, is expected to submit a proposal to participate in the OMFV competition with a team of Raytheon and Textron. General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems are also expected to submit proposals.
The Army is also gearing up for a future mobile howitzer shoot-off in 2021. It is unknown whether Hanwha plans to enter the competition, which is expected to have a deep pool of competitors.
The company also demonstrated its BIHO “Flying Tiger” air defense system as a possible Short-Range Air Defense System as the U.S. Army scrambled to develop an interim SHORAD capability in response to an urgent operational need from the European theater just a few years ago.
Hanwha “has its foundation in the development and production of energetics with 68 years of accumulated expertise,” the statement says. “The company is recognized for its modernized production of explosives propellants, and advanced precision guided munitions for the Republic of Korea and numerous allied nations.”
The company is also a “leading combat ground vehicle and weapons systems developer” in South Korea with almost 50 years of technology development and production, according to the statement.
Norway, Finland, Estonia, Poland, India and Turkey have all been customers of Hanwha’s self-propelled howitzer solutions, the statement notes. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
17 Dec 20. Milrem-led consortium receives EU grant to develop European standard unmanned ground system. The European Commission and Milrem Robotics signed a grant agreement during the week of 7 December for the development of the Integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System (iMUGS), the Estonian company announced in a press release on 14 December. Milrem leads a European consortium formed to work on the project under the EU’s European Defence Industrial Development Programme (EDIDP). The other consortium members are GT Cyber Technologies, Safran Electronics & Defense, Nexter Systems, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, Diehl Defence, Bittium, Insta DefSec, (Un)Manned, dotOcean, Latvijas Mobilais Telefons, GMV Aerospace and Defence, and Belgium’s Royal Military Academy.
Milrem said the EUR32.6m (USD39.7m) grant would allow the consortium to begin work on the project. The requirements for iMUGS were set by project leader Estonia and six other countries: Belgium, Finland, France, Germany, Latvia and Spain. The seven countries are contributing EUR2m to the EUR32.6m budget, according to Milrem.
The company said the project would involve the development of a modular and scalable architecture for hybrid manned-unmanned systems to standardise a Europe-wide ecosystem for aerial and ground platforms, command, control and communications, sensors, payloads, and algorithms. Among the areas to be addressed are increasing interoperability and situational awareness and speeding up decision making. Different payloads will be used on Milrem’s existing THeMIS unmanned ground vehicle.
The first demonstration is planned for the second quarter of 2021 in Estonia, followed by others during participating member states’ military exercises or separate testing events.
Concepts for the use of combined manned-unmanned assets will be developed, taking into account the ethical aspects of robotics, artificial intelligence, and autonomous systems. Milrem said the system being developed would be under “meaningful human control”. (Source: Jane’s)
17 Dec 20. KMW involved in iMUGS development contract. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) is part of the European iMUGS (integrated Modular Unmanned Ground System) project. A consortium of 13 companies from seven European countries and the European Commission signed a contract that will receive over EUR 32m in funding.
The research and development contract from the European Defence Industry Development Programme (EDIDP) is driving forward the development and definition of technologies to be used in unmanned systems (Multipurpose Unmanned Ground System, MUGS).
Among other things, KMW will be responsible for the interaction and control of manned and unmanned systems – including drones. For this purpose, mission scenarios will be developed to define the coordinated action of soldier and system.
It is expected that the results of the trials and developments will be demonstrated in the autumn of 2022.
15 Dec 20. COVID Delays Delivery Of BAE’s MPF Light Tank. General Dynamics has already delivered at least two of its Mobile Protected Firepower prototypes to Fort Bragg, but BAE is lagging behind – although it says its MPFs will make the Army’s Jan. 4 deadline to start testing.
The pandemic has disrupted a second BAE Systems armored vehicle program, this time delaying deliveries of prototype Mobile Protected Firepower vehicles to the Army’s 18th Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg.
Earlier this year, problems with COVID and quality control at BAE’s York, Penn. factory delayed delivery of BAE’s Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle – the replacement for the vulnerable, Vietnam-vintage M113 – by several months. Now I’ve learned that COVID has also affected production of the MPF, an air-deployable light-tank, whose prototypes are being built at a BAE facility in Sterling Heights, Mich.
One critical difference? While BAE has already won the contract to produce the AMPV, it’s still competing with archrival General Dynamics Land Systems for the right to build the MPF. The Army plans to build 504 of the light tanks to accompany airborne troops and other light infantry units, which lack the logistical apparatus to support the massive M1 Abrams and often deploy rapidly by aircraft.
, both companies are providing MPF prototypes to troops at Bragg. From Jan. 4 though June, those soldiers will crawl all over the vehicles, learn to operate and maintain them, take them through field exercises, and start developing tactics for the tanks. While this Soldier Vehicle Assessment is not “a formal test event,” as Army officials take pains to emphasize, it’ll definitely play a role in the service’s decision, with a production contract award expected in the second half of 2022.
The Army announced on Friday that “the first of several” MPF prototypes had arrived at Bragg. Then General Dynamics said on Monday it had delivered 10 of the 12 prototypes it owed the Army, with the last two vehicles coming later this month. BAE, however, only made a statement that “we will deliver a test platform within the week, [in time] to support SVA and get this vehicle into soldier’s hands for evaluation.”
But “delivered” in defense contracting jargon simply means something has been formally handed over to the buyer’s possession, not that it’s been physically shipped to its destination. (For example, Israeli firm Rafael ceremoniously “delivered” its first Iron Dome missile defense battery to the US Army back in September – when the weapons were still physically at its factory in Israel).
So I did a little digging. Pulling together several sources, it became clear that at least two General Dynamics vehicles are now actually at Bragg: One arrived Dec. 10th, the second Dec. 11th. (It’s possible more have arrived by now; we’re checking). But the BAE vehicles weren’t there yet. In fact, as the statement “we will deliver a test platform” implied (emphasis mine), they weren’t even officially handed over to the Army. The reason, I was told, is COVID.
Now, this isn’t a significant setback for the Army program. It’s not even a big problem for BAE’s bid. The military builds plenty of margin into its timelines to try out new equipment – indeed, the Army acquisition system in particularly is notoriously over-cautious and slow. So as long as BAE gets enough vehicles to Fort Bragg for the soldiers to get started on Jan. 4th, the evaluation can proceed as planned. But the delay is one more sign of how the pandemic is disrupting everything. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
16 Dec 20. Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the UK’s Challenger 2 Life Extension Programme (CR2 LEP) had a successful review at the IAC, two hurdles remain in that official sign off by the treasury and Sec of State for Defence approval. The source suggest that IR release is imminent and CR2 is to proceed with 148 upgraded vehicles.
16 Dec 20. Oshkosh buys Pratt & Miller for $115m. Joint Light Tactical Vehicle-maker Oshkosh Defense announced it has agreed to buy engineering company Pratt & Miller, which brings with it artificial intelligence, autonomy and robotics expertise.
Oshkosh said in a Dec. 15 press release that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pratt & Miller in a cash-free, debt-free purchase price of $115m.
The New Hudson, Michigan-based Pratt & Miller will keep its name, team, facilities and branding, according to the statement.
The engineering company founded in 1989 is becoming known for its robotics capabilities and recently won a U.S. Army contract in a partnership with QinetiQ to provide the service prototypes of the light variant of its Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) for evaluation.
Pratt & Miller also won a contract to develop a design to integrate a new weapon system onto a Stryker combat vehicle under the Stryker Medium Caliber Weapons System (MCWS) lethality program. It is partnered with Rafael in the MCWS competition in which government testing of offerings is ongoing. The Israeli government recently expressed enthusiastic interest in mating Oshkosh vehicles with Rafael’s Iron Dome missile defense system.
And it was one of six companies chosen by Army Futures Command to work on ways to improve the currently cumbersome, taxing and sometimes risky munitions resupply system for field artillery units operating M109 Paladin howitzers.
“Pratt & Miller has made significant advances in dynamic growth areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous and connected systems and electrification,” which puts Oshkosh more into the robotics game than ever before.
“We believe combining Pratt & Miller’s engineering expertise with Oshkosh’s innovation and operational strengths will enable us to better serve customers and position our Company for growth,” John Pfeifer, Oshkosh Corporation president and chief operating officer, said in the statement.
“Pratt & Miller’s motorsports heritage has created a culture of speed and agility that has defined our success,” Matt Carroll, the company’s chief executive officer, added.
“Oshkosh is an ideal partner for us to apply that mindset to some of the most significant challenges facing customers today. Together, we expect to grow our decade-long partnership and expand our pipeline of new business opportunities. We look forward to learning from one another and continuing to innovate to bring market-leading products to our customers,” he said.
The buy, which is subject to customary closing conditions, should be complete in the first quarter of calendar year 2021, the statement notes.
The acquisition also could give Oshkosh more leverage in competitions like JLTV re-compete effort which has recently kicked off and the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) program to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. A request for proposal for OMFV is expected to drop by the end of the week. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
15 Dec 20. Oshkosh Corporation to Acquire Pratt & Miller. Strengthens key technologies and strategic growth opportunities. Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE:OSK), a leading innovator of mission-critical vehicles and essential equipment, today announced that it has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Pratt & Miller, which specializes in advanced engineering, technology and innovation across the motorsport and multiple ground vehicle markets, for a cash-free, debt-free purchase price of $115m. Additional terms of the transaction were not disclosed. Pratt & Miller will maintain its name, team members, facilities and branding elements.
Founded in 1989 and headquartered in New Hudson, Mich., Pratt & Miller brings over 30 years of experience solving its customers’ most complex and technical challenges. Led by its world-class engineering and motorsports heritage, Pratt & Miller has made significant advances in dynamic growth areas such as artificial intelligence, robotics, autonomous and connected systems and electrification.
“We look forward to welcoming the Pratt & Miller team to Oshkosh Corporation,” said John Pfeifer, Oshkosh Corporation President and Chief Operating Officer. “We believe combining Pratt & Miller’s engineering expertise with Oshkosh’s innovation and operational strengths will enable us to better serve customers and position our Company for growth.”
“Pratt & Miller’s motorsports heritage has created a culture of speed and agility that has defined our success. Oshkosh is an ideal partner for us to apply that mindset to some of the most significant challenges facing customers today,” said Matt Carroll, Pratt & Miller Chief Executive Officer. “Together, we expect to grow our decade-long partnership and expand our pipeline of new business opportunities. We look forward to learning from one another and continuing to innovate to bring market-leading products to our customers.”
The transaction is expected to close in the first calendar quarter of 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.
About Oshkosh Corporation
At Oshkosh (NYSE: OSK), we make innovative, mission-critical equipment to help everyday heroes advance communities around the world. Headquartered in Wisconsin, Oshkosh Corporation employs more than 14,000 team members worldwide, all united behind a common cause: to make a difference in people’s lives. Oshkosh products can be found in more than 150 countries under the brands of JLG®, Pierce®, Oshkosh® Defense, McNeilus®, IMT®, Frontline™, Jerr-Dan®, Oshkosh® Airport Products and London™. For more information, visit oshkoshcorp.com.
®, ™ All brand names referred to in this news release are trademarks of Oshkosh Corporation or its subsidiary companies. (Source: BUSINESS WIRE)
16 Dec 20. Patria AMVXP 8×8 test vehicles on the way to Japan. Patria AMVXP 8×8 vehicles have now been sent from Finland to Japan for test purposes. These vehicles are part of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force’s project called the Next Wheeled Armored Vehicle operating under the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The vehicles will be handed over to the Japanese Ministry of Defense on schedule, and Patria is ready to provide all necessary support to the Japanese in the upcoming tests. Patria has been selected as one of the competitors for the new 8×8 Wheeled Armored Personnel Carriers (WAPCs) project. The project has progressed to the test phase after which the Japanese Ministry of Defense will evaluate the vehicles. Patria is confident that Patria AMVXP meets all customer requirements. With a superior mobility and protection, as well as state-of-the-art modularity, performance and reliability, Patria AMVXP is perfect for any operations in any environment. Patria AMV 8×8 family has been contracted for 1 600 vehicles globally.
15 Dec 20. Mack Defense Partners with XPER for Spare Tire Carrier and Transparent Armor on M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck. Mack Defense is partnering with XPER, Inc. to provide a Spare Tire Carrier (STC) and transparent armor for the Mack® Granite®-based M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck (HDT). XPER is a worldwide leader in transparent and opaque armor solutions, LED lighting and vehicle accessories.
“The U.S. Army has demanding specifications, which is why Mack Defense assembled a world-class team of suppliers to develop a best-in-class vehicle in the M917A3 HDT,” said Jack Terefinko, Mack Defense acquisition program manager. “We’re proud to have XPER on that team, along with their years of experience in developing military-spec equipment.”
Since 2000, XPER has produced a variety of products for the U.S. military. Mack Defense partnered with XPER to bring its expertise to the M917A3 HDT program through the engineering design and creation of the STC and transparent armor. Each component was required to meet very specific demands, including the unique location of the STC and the ability to handle the very large and heavy spare tire.
“In nearly 20 years, XPER has designed more than 50 different products in support of the U.S. military, from the development and implementation of vehicle accessories, to situational lighting and a variety of armor solutions,” said Bill Rosemeyer, senior vice president, XPER. “We’re proud of our relationships with both Mack Defense and the U.S. Army in providing the STC and transparent armor solutions for the M917A3 HDT”.
The U.S. Army awarded Mack Defense a firm-fixed-price $296m contract in May 2018 to produce up to 683 M917A3 HDTs. Based on the commercially available Mack Granite model, the Mack Defense M917A3 HDT has been optimized to meet the demanding requirements of the U.S. Army with heavier-duty rear axles, all-wheel drive, increased suspension ride height and other ruggedized features.
14 Dec 20. KNDS (Amsterdam/The Netherlands) completes a decisive step towards further integration. Five years after the merger of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (Munich, Germany) and Nexter Systems (Versailles, France) under the joint holding KNDS, the Group’s governance is being restructured. With this new structure, the owners of the Franco-German manufacturer of military land systems – the French state holding company GIAT Industries and the German family-owned company Wegmann & Co GmbH – are continuing on the path they forged in 2015: advancing in defined milestones towards the creation of a leader in its field.
The shareholders have decided to streamline the governance structure by establishing a single board of directors replacing the existing supervisory and management boards. After a first phase where the two subsidiaries got to know each other under the management of two Co-CEOS and started building the company, it is time now to enter into the next phase of integration and development. The new structure will enable more efficient and coherent management of the KNDS companies and optimum leveraging of their potential and synergies.
The future board of directors of KNDS will comprise ten members. Nine members will be external appointees without any direct operational responsibilities within KNDS. The tenth member will be the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of KNDS. Unanimously, the shareholders have appointed Frank Haun to assume this role. Frank Haun has served as CEO of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann since 2003. He played a crucial role in designing and building KNDS in 2015 and has been instrumental in the success of the company since 2015 as Co-CEO.
The intention of the two shareholders is that the chairman of the board of directors will be Mr. Philippe Petitcolin, presently CEO of Safran. Mr. Petitcolin will bring to the company his deep and successful experience of industrial operations and international cooperations, including the defence industry. Mr. Petitcolin will take his position on March 1st, succeeding Mr. Christian Jourquin.
The two shareholders will each appoint three of the non-executive members of the board of directors. They will be joined by three independent members appointed by both shareholders, including the chairman of the board of directors.
An executive committee, balanced between France and Germany, will support the board of directors and the CEO in the management of KNDS going forward.
KNDS management also requires new appointments in management positions in the operational companies Nexter Systems and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. The new CEO of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann will be Ralf Ketzel, previously
Chief Business Development Officer of the German company. The new CEO of Nexter Systems will be announced in the coming weeks.
The new KNDS management structure will enter into force from 15th December 2020.
The French Shareholding Agency and Dr Wolfgang Büchele (Chairman of the board of Wegmann) thank the outgoing members of the KNDS supervisory board and the two former Co-CEOs for their work in establishing KNDS over the past five years, especially Stéphane Mayer who will leave his position of Co-CEO after five successful years.
11 Dec 20. Prototype candidates competing to be the new light tank for the U.S. infantry are being delivered to the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, the Army announced in a Dec. 11 statement, where soldiers will help decide which vehicle will prevail.
“Soldiers of the 82nd Airborne will soon get the chance to do something no U.S. infantry soldier has done in 26 years — employ a dedicated mobile, direct fire vehicle platform against hardened positions, dismounted personnel and light armored vehicles,” the statement reads.
The soldier vehicle assessment of two different Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) prototypes for infantry brigade combat teams will start on Jan. 4, 2021 and run through June 2021.
BAE Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems were chosen in December 2018 to each build 12 prototypes of the Army’s future MPF vehicle identified in the service’s ground combat vehicle strategy published in 2015. Infantry Brigade Combat Teams don’t have a combat vehicle that provides “mobile, protected, direct, offensive fire capability,” organic to those units and that is capable against near-peer and peer threats, according to the statement.
GDLS is building a vehicle that takes the United Kingdom’s AJAX chassis and combines it with an M1 Abrams tank turret.
BAE Systems’ design is an updated M8 Buford armored gun system with new capabilities and components.
BAE System will build an M8 Buford Armored Gun System with new capabilities for its prototype for the Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower vehicle. (BAE Systems)
“We are incredibly excited to see the MPF platform entering into this phase,” Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the new program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said in the statement. “MPF represents an innovative and aggressive approach to system acquisition. The beginning of our SVA in January illustrates how hard the teams are working to keep the major events of this program on schedule.”
The MPF will be “an integration of existing mature technologies and components that avoids development which would lengthen the program schedule,” the statement notes. “The priority has always been to field this new critical capability soonest, but the MPF will also be capable of accommodating additional weight and spare electrical power to support future growth.”
The soldiers will put the MPF prototypes through a variety of operational paces and is not considered a formal test. The evaluation will “directly” inform tactics, techniques and procedures for MPF, according to the Army statement.
“Once they are able to begin interacting with these prototypes, I know that our soldiers are going to come up with the best ways to utilize MPF in our light formations,” Brig. Gen. Ross Coffman, who is in charge of Next-Generation Combat Vehicle modernization capability, said in the statement.
The Army is expected to choose a winner and transition to production “near the end of” fiscal 2022, the statement adds.
The first units will get MPF in fiscal 2025. The Army plans to initially build 26 vehicles, with an option to build 28 more and retrofit eight prototypes.
The two solutions are very different from one another. BAE’s offering is smaller — fitting in between the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle and a Stryker in terms of size — while GDLS’ vehicle is bigger, as it’s based on the M1 Abrams chassis.
BAE’s MPF prototype can be transported via a C-130 aircraft. Three can fit on a C-17 aircraft. The Army is requiring the vehicle be C-17 transportable. (Source: Defense News)
11 Dec 20. Thailand acquires aunav.NEXT UGVs. Spanish unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) developer aunav announced in early December that it has delivered seven aunav.NEXT explosive ordnance disposal/chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear (EOD/CBRN) robots to an active counter-terrorism unit in Thailand.
The deal also included seven aunav.VAN command and control (C2) vehicles which can be used to transport the robots.
The aunav.NEXT is equipped with two manipulator arms that enable operators to perform complex operations, resulting in improved inspection of suspect packages and bomb neutralisation.
“aunav.NEXT is the only robot on the market with two synchronised arms. Both can rotate 360º and have a lifting capacity of 250 kg, which results in an effective combination of strength and dexterity in their movements,” Pablo Vázquez, General Director of aunav told Janes.
“Furthermore, its powerful manipulator allows access into a vehicle by deforming the metal bodywork or breaking windows,” he added.
The primary arm of aunav.NEXT is hydraulic and the secondary arm is electric. The robot features a dual traction system combining six high-grip wheels and tracks to aid manoeuvrability through difficult terrain including snow, mud, and sand. It can climb stairs and slopes with gradients of up to 45°. An anti-collision and anti-roll system is also fitted.
The platform features ingress protection rating of IP65 and EAL2+ that prevents dirt or CBRN contamination penetrating into the robot, which enables it to be used in hazardous conditions.
Situational awareness is provided by up to 11 cameras – including a pan-tilt-zoom (PTZ) camera with up to 10× zoom). A thermal camera can be added on request. Distance sensors are incorporated with optional CBRN sensors and sample holders. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Dec 20. Millbrook and UTAC CERAM are joining forces to form a market leading group. We are delighted to announce that we have reached agreement to merge our operations with the French automotive testing group UTAC CERAM. Combining these two businesses will create a market leading vehicle testing & homologation group, with a strong focus on emerging technologies for autonomous, connected and electric vehicles.
This larger global group will have major facilities in the UK, France, the USA and Finland, with a new facility opening in Morocco in 2021. Alongside our major facilities are other international offices in Europe and Asia, giving us a truly global footprint. Together they will have the capability to offer a more extensive and comprehensive range of services. These services will include the delivery of complex certification and testing programmes, testing vehicles and tyres in hot and cold climates, designing and delivering bespoke vehicle solutions, and working with our global brand partners to develop the connected electric vehicles of the future. In what is our 50th anniversary year, combining forces with UTAC CERAM will strengthen Millbrook for the future.