12 Mar 21. Report: Obsolescent and outgunned: the British Army’s armoured vehicle capability. The Defence Committee is today publishing its report “Obsolescent and outgunned: the British Army’s armoured vehicle capability”. The report describes the recent history of the British Army’s armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) capability as “deplorable”, with the Army’s AFV fleet characterised by “increasing obsolescence and decreasing numbers”. The report tells a “woeful story of bureaucratic procrastination, military indecision, financial mismanagement and general ineptitude, which have continually bedevilled attempts to properly re-equip the British Army over the last two decades”. The report states that the UK’s armoured forces are at very serious risk of being both quantitively and qualitatively outmatched by potential peer adversaries. Even under the MoD’s own current plans we are still some four years away from being able to field a “warfighting division”. The report highlights that the Army’s AFV programmes and capabilities have been left vulnerable; weighed against the desire to fund other priorities, such as ‘cyber’ and information warfare, and plagued with uncertainties, most recently due to delays to the Integrated Review. The report concludes that in order to support the retention of heavy armoured capability the UK requires an industrial base and the Committee supports the continuation of procurement and upgrade programmes and the proposal to develop a Land Industrial Strategy.
Chair of the Defence Committee, Tobias Ellwood MP, said, “Over the past two decades the Ministry of Defence has allowed our Armoured Fighting Vehicles capability to atrophy at an astounding and alarming rate. Of the vehicles we do still have, some date back to the early 1960s, when the Morris 1100 was the most popular car and Elvis was the Christmas Number One. A mixture of bureaucratic procrastination, military indecision, financial mismanagement and general ineptitude has led to a severe and sustained erosion of our military capabilities. This will have a profound and potentially devastating impact on our ability to respond to threats from adversaries. The Army’s Armoured Fighting Vehicle programme has been plagued with uncertainties, and the decision to invest in fighting vehicles is too often hampered by uncertainties over what the Army wants them for and pitted against the desire to fund other defence priorities. Whilst the defence landscape is certainly shifting, traditional warfare remains a very real and frightening possibility, and one for which we must be fully prepared. I hope the Government will take these issues into account when implementing the Integrated Review: there is still time to amend the Defence Command Paper and the Defence and Security Industrial Strategy and strengthen our decaying Armoured Fighting Vehicle fleet.
“In a conflict, the capable men and women working for the Armed Forces may find themselves outmatched, reliant on a fleet of outdated and outmoded fighting vehicles. The Government should make no mistake, these failures may cost lives.”
09 Mar 21. SOCOM Shows Interest in Hybrid, AI-Enabled Vehicles. Special Operations Command is experimenting with emerging technologies as it works to bolster its ground vehicle fleet with new capabilities.
The command’s family of vehicles — which features 3,000 platforms — includes the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1, light tactical all-terrain vehicles, non-standard commercial vehicles and mine-resistant ambush protected platforms, said Navy Cmdr. Tim Hawkins, a SOCOM spokesman.
Special Operations Command is currently investing its research, development, testing and evaluation dollars for vehicles in lightweight armor, hybrid-electric systems, advanced situational awareness and autonomy/semi-autonomy, Hawkins said in an email to National Defense. It is seeking technology that maximizes mobility, payload and protection.
Last year, the organization and its industry partner finished production of the Ground Mobility Vehicle 1.1, a highly mobile platform that supports both lethal and non-lethal special ops missions.
The vehicle — which is manufactured by General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems — is “becoming a mainstay of our capabilities throughout the force,” said Col. Joel Babbitt, program executive officer for SOF Warrior, which oversees the command’s vehicle portfolio.
The system offers SOCOM increased mobility including internal CH-47 Chinook transportability, he noted during the 2020 Virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference hosted by the National Defense Industrial Association.
Key capability areas of interest for the GMV include lightweight armor material, improved payloads, storage capacity, vehicle weight reduction, terrain-specific tire alternatives as well as command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance integration cost reductions, according to Babbitt’s slides.
Additionally, the command is currently building two GMV 1.1 hybrid prototypes to explore the usefulness of hybrid-electric technology, Hawkins said.
“We expect to conduct performance testing and gather SOF operator feedback this summer,” he said. “The results will help inform future decisions on whether to invest in outfitting the existing GMV 1.1 fleet with the technology.”
A spokesperson for General Dynamics said the company is not involved in the hybrid-electric prototype effort.
The command also plans to purchase hybrid-electric prototypes of its light tactical all-terrain vehicle in the coming fiscal year, Hawkins added. “The LTATV prototypes will be evaluated by the program office and SOF operators to help inform any future requirements and possible procurement of the technology,” he said.
The LTATV is a Special Operations Command-modified, commercial-off-the-shelf lightweight platform that can be internally transported via V-22s, H-53s and H-47s, according to Babbitt’s slides. There are two variants including a two-seat and a four-seat platform. The vehicle is intended to perform a variety of missions including reconnaissance and medical evacuation.
Last year the General Services Administration awarded a multi-year contract in support of the command for the lifecycle replacement of its LTATV fleet to Polaris with a value of up to $109m.
Polaris offered SOCOM its MRZR Alpha platform, a lightweight vehicle with off-road capabilities that was purpose-built for the command.
Mark Schmidt, manager of defense programs at Polaris Government and Defense, said the company would be providing SOCOM with a hybrid-electric variant of the LTATV in year three of the program.
“We’re really excited to test and field a vehicle like this with Special Operations Forces as it will open up even more operational use cases with a high level of export power and even quieter operational modes,” he said in an email.
The company leveraged work from its commercial product lines as it developed the new vehicle, said Shane Novotny, director of engineering at Polaris Government and Defense.
“The MRZR Alpha is engineered and designed to meet specifications and requirements that greatly expanded on the durability, payload and performance of the current LTATV, the MRZR Diesel,” he said.
The platform has a durable chassis, powerful drivetrain and modular vehicle design, he noted. It features an expanded exportable power system and can carry more payload.
“We’ve also increased the size of the cargo area by 60 percent and added greater functionality through the incorporation of a flatbed design that includes cargo tie-down rails for added adaptability,” he said. “For example, with the tailgate installed and flat, two litters can be secured without any modifications to the second row or its seating capacity.”
The vehicle is powered by an 8-speed automotive transmission and a 4-stroke, 118 horsepower turbo-diesel engine, according to the company.
That provides 200 foot-pounds of torque. Additionally, the four-seat version includes 2,000 pounds of payload, run-flat tires and can reach top speeds over 60 miles per hour.
Earlier this year the company wrapped up the critical design review phase of the program, Schmidt said.
“Our rigorous testing and extensive off-road mission profile field evaluation miles … [have] proven the MRZR Alpha’s performance and durability at extreme heat, in the cold chamber and when operating on desert sand dunes or rocky terrain at elevation,” he said.
Production of the platform will be followed by government durability and user testing, as well as air transportation certifications, he said.
Because the effort is an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract, the number of vehicles is not specified. However, Schmidt said the company could produce 1,500 MRZR Alphas per year on its current production line.
Nick Francis, director of Polaris Defense, said the contract was structured in a way that did not limit the vendor from expanding on the vehicle’s capabilities, which allowed the company to exceed requirements in some areas.
“This was a great approach, because it doesn’t put a limit on a very qualified industry base,” he said.
Previous MRZRs have been outfitted with a variety of payloads including counter-drone systems, direct-fire weapons, ISR systems and autonomy packages. Schmidt noted that with the Alpha’s increased payload capacity, exportable power and physical space, it is easier to
incorporate a variety of payloads.
In year two of the program, testing and delivery will focus on an Arctic mobility package, Schmidt said.
This “includes a full cab enclosure and tracks,” he said. “This will greatly expand the terrain and environments the MRZR Alpha can operate [in], to include snow and ice.”
Planning is also ongoing to outfit the LTATV with autonomous capabilities, Hawkins said. The command is considering purchasing a few autonomous platforms in the coming fiscal year.
“We will then test the prototypes and conduct user evaluations to help determine the usefulness of the technology, which will also help inform any possible future requirements for integrating autonomy into any portion of our fleet,” he said.
Other artificial intelligence efforts include a data-logger system that collects vehicle operational parameters to help advise maintenance efforts, Hawkins said.
“Machine learning is used in this logger to help project managers and logisticians determine when a vehicle will reach the end of its economical usefulness,” he said. “This a key factor when making informed decisions on whether vehicles should be replaced or receive lifecycle extensions.”
Meanwhile, one new vehicle Special Operations Command has indicated it may be interested in pursuing is the Joint Armored Ground Mobility System, or JAGMS.
Currently, no formal acquisition process is planned, Hawkins noted. However, last year the command conducted a market analysis of the industrial base for vendors that could produce such a platform. That report is under review, he said.
In a request for information released last year, Special Operations Command said it was seeking industry input about an armored ground tactical vehicle that could transport nine to 11 passengers as well as be internally transported in a C-130 aircraft.
“The government is primarily focused on understanding the marketplace for commercial and non-developmental items and/or commercial items easily modified,” the solicitation said.
Mark Cancian, senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ International Security Program, said many of SOCOM’s vehicle programs are well suited for counterterrorism and counterinsurgency operations, which the command has become known for in the past two decades. However, with the Pentagon emphasizing great power competition with advanced adversaries such as Russia and China, those types of platforms are not as ideal.
The other services are moving “toward armored vehicles because of the higher level of threat,” he said. “SOCOM would have to at least balance its vehicle inventory with some sort of armored vehicle that could operate in a higher threat environment.”
A heavily armored vehicle such as JAGMS could be particularly useful in great power competition, Cancian said.
Meanwhile, Special Operations Command is maintaining its fleet of mine resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, which consist primarily of SOF-modified MRAP all-terrain vehicles and RG-33-A1 platforms.
MRAPs gained fame during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan after being rushed into the field to protect troops from roadside bombs.
“We are actively resetting those at this point in time and managing the obsolescence of them,” Babbitt said.
Areas of interest for the command include active reset operations, obsolescence management and sustainment cost reductions, according to his slides.
One of the largest vehicle programs for the military writ large has been the Army and Marine Corps’ acquisition of Oshkosh Defense’s joint light tactical vehicle. Special Operations Command does not plan to purchase purpose-built JLTVs, Hawkins said, but is currently collaborating with the JLTV Joint Program Office and its user community “to determine the potential configuration and cost of a future JLTV ‘SOF-kit.’”
Babbitt noted that the JLTV will be brought into the SOF fold via the services.
“This is a service-provided solution from the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines to their components within USSOCOM,” he said. “It’s a great capability and will certainly be a mainstay of our capabilities into the future.”
A potential future acquisition opportunity is a lifecycle replacement for the non-standard commercial vehicle fleet in the coming years, Hawkins said.
SOCOM uses the platform — which resembles regular trucks found on highways all over the United States — when they want to blend in with local populations overseas, Babbitt said.
“If you want to look like just another jingle truck, this is what you’re driving, except ours are armored, … much better maintained and can go a lot of places that some of the local vehicles may or may not be able to,” he said.
Capabilities of interest for the current fleet include lightweight armor materials, lightweight vehicle components, C4ISR cost reductions and suspension technology, according to Babbitt’s slides. (Source: glstrade.com/National Defense)
08 Mar 21. At long last, Turkey’s Altay tank finds an engine from South Korea. Turkish armored vehicle-maker BMC has reached an agreement with two South Korean companies for work on the power pack of the future indigenous Altay tank, a senior official with BMC told Defense News.
The source, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the company signed deals with Doosan and S&T Dynamics to supply the engine and transmission mechanism for the Altay.
“These [deals] are the result of a strategic understanding between our companies and countries,” the official said.
A senior defense procurement official in Ankara confirmed “there was a breakthrough agreement” between BMC and South Korean defense companies. He did not elaborate on the terms.
The Altay program has faced delays due to a lack of access to significant components such as the engine, transmission and armor.
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. But the presidential office’s 2021 investment program did not mention the Altay, let alone the tank entering service.
Turkey had hoped to power the Altay with the German MTU engine and RENK transmission, but talks with German manufacturers in recent 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.
In order to bypass German export license restrictions, the South Korean companies will “de-Germanize” some German components in the power pack, sources familiar with the Altay program have 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, some tanks were 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.
Under the latest deals, the South Koran companies will supply the power pack and assist with its integration into the Altay. A test phase will follow, and if all goes well, the Altays may be powered by Doosan and S&T Dynamics within 18 months, the BMC official said. BMC expects to ink more definitive versions of the two deals within a couple of months.
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 was expected 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 controversial, 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. At the time, BMC’s Turkish partner, Ethem Sancak, was a senior member of the president’s ruling Justice and Development Party. He was also known to be one of Erdogan’s closest confidants. (Source: Defense News)
05 Mar 21. Oman launches offset project with University of Arizona. The Omani government has signed an agreement with the University of Arizona’s Eller Executive Education to deliver training to Omani nationals as part of an offset agreement with US armoured vehicle manufacturer Lenco Armored Vehicles.
Under the agreement, Eller Executive Education will work to create a centre at Oman’s Institute of Public Administration (IPA) to train Omani nationals to become leaders in the country’s civil service. Aims for the project include: training 25 Omani instructors to teach future courses at the IPA; training for 150 targeted employees within the country’s existing civil service; delivering short courses for 80 personnel in higher management positions and management courses for 120 trainee level staff; and enrolling 15 trainees at the University of Arizona to undertake the Advanced Government Leadership programme. The overall project will culminate in the transferring of intellectual property rights for the course to the IPA, which will allow for increased local course delivery.
Lenco Armored Vehicles has supplied the Royal Oman Police with its Bear Cat armoured vehicles for use in a variety of roles, including special operations. Oman’s offset authority, formerly known as the Public Authority for Privatisation and Partnership (PAPP), was transferred into the country’s Ministry of Finance as a subsidiary body in August 2020. The organisation is responsible for agreeing and managing offsets for the Omani military and police. (Source: Jane’s)
04 Mar 21. The British Army could have an AJAX squadron this summer. The British Army’s current schedule should see a squadron of its new Ajax armoured fighting vehicles ready for this summer, allowing it to conduct team level training. The British Army’s current schedule should see a squadron of its new Ajax armoured fighting vehicles ready for this summer, allowing it to conduct team level training.
So far, the British Army has taken delivery of Ares, the troop-carrying variant of General Dynamics’ Ajax family of vehicles.
Army Technology understands that there are currently 12 Ajax vehicles going through the general acceptance testing (GAT) process.
Several of the vehicles have already completed live firing trials and final acceptance testing for some is being completed ahead of initial deliveries to the British Army.
Ajax, and the vehicles’ other variants, are set to replace the in-service Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance Tracked or CVR(T).
The Ajax variant features the CTA International 40mm cannon that is also featured on the turret of the on-going Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP).
The British Army has ordered a total of 589 vehicles across six variants, 245 will be of the turreted Ajax variant. The first Ajax family vehicles were delivered in February 2019 and deliveries are expected to continue through 2025.
As of October last year, GDLS-UK said Ajax had fired 4,200 40mm rounds from the CT40 cannon in trials and that 157 vehicle hulls and 45 turrets had been built.
The company added that 60 of the planned 589 vehicles were completed, with 17 accepted by the MOD and 12 vehicles being put into service.
In a letter to the UK Parliament’s Public Accounts Committee chair Meg Hillier last October, MOD Permanent Secretary Sir Stephen Lovegrove confirmed that Ajax’s initial operating capability (IOC) would be delayed until June this year.
The other variants of the Ajax family of vehicles are the Atlas and Apollo designed for equipment support missions; the Argus engineering reconnaissance platform; and the Athena, a Command and Control (C2) vehicle. (Source: army-technology.com)
06 Mar 21. Swiss 120mm Mortar Piranha Production Starts. After verifying the evidence of compliance with military requirements, Armasuisse has signed the serial production contract with general contractor GDELS-Mowag for the production of 32x 12cm [120mm] mortar systems. RUAG SA supplies the mortars as a subcontractor of GDELS-Mowag.
The troop tests with the prototype of the 12cm  mortar ended in the spring of 2020 and with them, the verification of evidence of compliance with military requirements. The system meets military requirements and is operational in its current form. The conclusions drawn from the troop tests and other technical tests carried out by Armasuisse and its industrial partners will be taken into account for series production.
Start of series production: The signing of the contract marks the start of serial production, which will take place in several phases. The first mortar systems can be handed over to the troops from 2024. In accordance with the Army Message, the acquisition of the other components of the 12cm  mortar project (ammunition, vehicles, ammunition supply equipment) and the necessary adaptations to the level of command vehicles and software will run in parallel.
About the 12cm  mortar project: The Federal Parliament approved the 12cm  mortar project as part of the 2016 Army Message. The overall package includes 32 mortar systems (carrier vehicles and mortars), 12 trucks, ammunition, logistics equipment, as well as adaptation of 16 command vehicles already in service. The carrier vehicle is the Piranha IV 8×8 wheeled armoured infantry vehicle from GDELS-Mowag (who is also the general contractor for the weapon system), the mortar chosen is the Cobra weapon system from RUAG SA. The commitment credit amounts to 404m Swiss francs for the entire project. Due to difficulties with the mortar, the project could not proceed as initially planned. As these difficulties resulted in a 34-month delay, the project planning had to be reviewed in 2018. Since then, the project has been on track.
Objective and purpose of the project: The Minenwerferpanzer 64/91 were decommissioned in 2010. Since then, combat battalions have no indirect fire support with 12cm mortars. Specifically, this means that the curved trajectory capability in the upper angles group for built-up area combat has been lost. This gap needs to be filled. With the new 12cm mortar, the Army regains this capacity and has a modern, efficient and precise system, which is suitable for interventions in built-up areas.
02 Mar 21. Dutch Replacing DAF YA-4442 With Scania Gryphus. The Dutch military are replacing their iconic but aged DAF YA-4442 truck fleet with the ultra-modern Scania Gryphus 8×8 model as part of DVOW, reports Gerard van Oosbree.
From this week on the iconic DAF YA-4442 4-ton trucks of the Dutch military will be replaced by the ultra-modern Scania Gryphus 8×8. It will take a couple of years before the entire 30+ years old YA-4442 fleet will be completely gone from inventory; replacing more than 2800 vehicles will take until 2026.
The Scania Gryphus is part of the bigger DVOW (Defensiebrede Vervanging Operationele Wielvoertuigen or Defence-wide Replacement Operational Wheeled Vehicles) project that includes all operational wheeled vehicles in the Dutch military. Already completed is the acquisition of the Volkswagen Amarok as a utility vehicle. Still running is the replacement of the Mercedes-Benz 290 Geländewagen by a new MB vehicle and the acquisition of the armoured Iveco MTV which was unveiled at IDEX in Abu Dhabi last week.
Replacing the YA-4442s will be on a one-for-one basis. Units will send their drivers and vehicles to the barracks in Stroe where they will literally swap old for new. Drive into the hall on one side with the old truck, checking if everything that needs to be turned in with the truck is there – such as first aid kits and jump-leads etc. Then checking if the new equipment is all there and drive out of the garage on the other side with a brand-new truck.
The operational units will receive their new trucks in the same configuration as their old ones. If they hand in a cargo version they will get a cargo version back or if it is a command vehicle they will get a new Scania 8×8 with a command container on the back; these containers are manufactured by Marshall Land Systems from the UK. The majority of the new trucks are 8×8 configuration, but some 6×6 and 4×4 versions have also been procured.
On the old trucks the cargo bed or containers were bolted to the chassis. Not so with the new ones. Scania assembles the new trucks at their plant in Zwolle and these are fitted with an attachment system that can hold either two 10-foot or one 20-foot ISO containers. Other companies, like Marshall, build specialised containers or cargo beds that attach to the truck with these standardised ISO fittings.
For operations in conflict zones, the Dutch MoD bought around 300 armoured cabins. When needed, these heavy cabins can easily replace the standard cabins. (Source: joint-forces.com)
01 Mar 21. Defenture Delivers GRF LAUF 20 To Armasuisse. Dutch specialist manufacturer Defenture has announced recent delivery of a GRF LAUF 20 prototype to the Armasuisse defence procurement agency.
Armasuisse, the Federal Agency for Defence Procurement in Switzerland, took delivery of a Defenture GRF prototype vehicle on the 3th of February 2021. The prototype vehicle, called LAUF 20, is based on the GRF vehicle previously delivered to the Dutch Special Forces. This vehicle is characterised by a number of specific technical customer requirements, which were developed and implemented in just a few months through decisive and flexible action by the Defenture team. The GRF platform offers the possibility to implement these developments in a short period of time. Part of the development was the integration of various client communication devices. This integration was carried out entirely by Defenture.
With the delivery of the LAUF 20 to a high-quality focused customer like Armasuisse, the first international delivery contract is a fact for Defenture. The prototype vehicle will be extensively tested over the coming months to meet the functional requirements set by the customer. The aim of these tests is to determine the final configuration in order to be able to place a follow-up order for additional LAUF 20 vehicles with Defenture. This will enable the Swiss Army to be provided with a high-quality light tactical vehicle.
Defenture places high demands on mobility, safety, payload, modular design and also focuses on the lowest possible lifecycle costs. These requirements are combined and integrated at every stage of the design of our vehicles. Defenture vehicles are built from the ground up to be mission-winning assets. A strong lightweight design, impressive construction techniques and dynamic driving characteristics create improved mobility for troops and specialists.
In this challenging project, partly due to the restrictions related to the COVID pandemic, Defenture was able to deliver the vehicle on time, according to the requirements, to the great satisfaction of the customer. (Source: joint-forces.com)