31 Mar 21. Supashock enters export agreement and Rheinmetall’s LAND 400 Phase 2. Supashock entered into an agreement to export parts to a European defence program, as well as support Rheinmetall’s LAND 400 Phase 2. South Australia-based Supashock revealed a large expansion to its business on Wednesday afternoon, having secured both an overseas export contract and also an agreement with Rheinmetall on LAND 400’s Phase 2 delivery of the Boxer 8×8.
Supashock confirmed that they have entered into an agreement to export running gear suspension systems in support of a European defence package, valued at roughly $12m. The first phase of the package will see the delivery of 46 suspension systems.
Notably, the running gear will have a revised hydraulic track tensioner, telescopic dampers, support rollers and road wheel arms.
Further, the company has also agreed to team up with Rheinmetall for the delivery of the Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicles. Supashock is expected to produce missile launchers, with the contract valued at $10m. The launcher will be placed onto the Boxer 8×8’s LANCE turret.
Managing director of Rheinmetall Defence Australia Gary Stewart welcomed the ongoing partnership between Supashock and Rheinmetall.
“This is an example of how Rheinmetall contracts will drive future growth internationally and continue to create highly skilled, enduring jobs in Australia, while delivering significant performance improvements to customers in export markets,” Stewart said.
“Supashock is bringing its experience to bear on the design and development work we have conducted on our military vehicles over the past three years.”
Supashock is currently in the process of creating components of a Retractable Anti-tank Missile Platform (RAMP). (Source: Defence Connect)
29 Mar 21. PLAGF’s Xinjiang Military Command inducts new medevac vehicle. Chinese state-owned media revealed on 25 March that a new type of amphibious armoured vehicle configured for medical evacuation (medevac) missions has entered service with the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force’s (PLAGF’s) Xinjiang Military Command. The vehicle appears to be an ambulance variant of the Type 09 family of 8×8 wheeled armoured fighting vehicles (AFVs).
Broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the vehicle can be used to transport up to four severely injured and eight lightly injured personnel, in addition to medical staff.
The occupants are provided with protection from small arms fire and shrapnel, with the vehicle armoured against 7.62 mm rounds from the front and sides. The platform is also reportedly provided with protection against nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) threats.
The video footage showed the vehicle to be equipped with a variety of medical equipment, including electrocardiogram monitors, respirators, and infusion pumps to help conduct on-site treatment of the wounded.
No details were given about the top speed or range of the vehicle, although it is likely that the vehicle has mobility characteristics fairly similar to those of the ZBL-09, which has a maximum speed of 100 km/h and a range of 800 km. However, CCTV did report that the platform can travel for 100 km at a top speed of 40 km/h after its tyres have been punctured by gunfire, indicating the presence of run-flat inserts in the tyres. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Mar 21. US Army to begin receiving SMETs for final testing. General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) will begin delivering ‘robotic mules’ to the US Army in April for final testing, according to the company’s US director of business development Tim Reese. After winning the service’s Small Multipurpose Equipment Transport (SMET) programme last year, the company will begin delivering vehicles to the service next month with plans to move into low-rate initial production (LRIP) sometime between June and September, Reese told Janes on 24 March. If everything goes well, the army will then equip its first unit with the capability later in the year.
“This would be the first time the army has introduced this class of robotic ground vehicles to the infantry brigade combat teams,” Reese said.
“Once the infantry soldiers get their hands on these things, [we] will find interesting ways to use them. Maybe there is a mission that no one anticipated what soldiers in an infantry brigade find the SMET vehicle particularly good for, and that would cause some modifications,” he added.
SMET is envisioned as a capability to carry dismounted soldiers’ water, ammunition, and other equipment and gear. The vehicle is designed to be an unmanned system, but can also be optionally manned, and can carry 1,000lb (454 kg) while also travelling for distances of more than 97 km in 72 hours. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Mar 21. LAND 400: Siemens provides software support to Supacat, Rheinmetall. Siemens to provide Supacat with improved processes for the Land 400 defence program.
Siemens has entered into an agreement with Supacat to provide a suite of software for Supacat and Rheinmetall’s LAND 400 program.
Siemens’ Teamcenter and NX software will be onboarded to streamline Supacat’s design and engineering procedures, providing these services on one platform. Siemens notes that this software was onboarded within the US Air Force in order to improve their digital processes and equipment management.
Supacat managing director Asia Pacific Michael Halloran outlined that the new agreement will help collaboration between the providers for the LAND 400 tender.
“Implementation of this system allows us to integrate more closely with the Rheinmetall LAND 400 team and that lowers the barriers to the Australian supply chain entering the program,” Halloran said.
Managing director of Siemens Digital Industries Software Samantha Murray outlined that Australia’s defence industry would benefit from the agreement.
“It’s great to collaborate with local Australian companies like Supacat doing innovative work that helps them connect to global supply chains. We’re also excited about helping upskill their staff on world-leading technology. Supacat has been taking giant strides in the areas of defence design and engineering. I commend them on this investment into future-proofing their digital capabilities to global standards,” Murray noted.
(Source: Defence Connect)
29 Mar 21. British Army eyes new RAS strategy. The British Army is in the process of developing a long-term strategy for the introduction and use of robotic and autonomous systems (RASs): an important part of the transformation and modernisation programme outlined in the UK Defence Command Paper published on 22 March.
Speaking at the IQPC virtual Future Soldier Technology conference earlier that month, Lieutenant Colonel Iain Lamont, SO1 Robotics and Autonomous Systems, Future Force Development at Army Headquarters, said that the RAS strategy was still a work in progress and had not yet been officially endorsed. He noted that RAS is one of the army’s four research and development (R&D) themes, the others being artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML), electrification, and networked sensors and effectors.
The stages of development in HMT envisioned in the British Army’s draft RAS strategy. (British Army)
“We’re now working out how to cohere these [four themes] into force output concepts and then into an implementable force plan so that ultimately we can operate and fight differently” he said. “We’re trying to create operational advantage.”
The force plan will flow from the RAS strategy which will culminate in 2035.
Lt Col Lamont explained that a single soldier controlling a single RAS provides limited benefit as it does not generate mass but by leveraging autonomy and AI one soldier could control multiple RAS, thus providing mass and generating operational advantage. However, he noted that autonomy and AI technology cannot be implemented without the data, algorithms, and architectures on which they are built and that they need people to support them. These form three mutually reliant elements of RAS as a capability: technology, data, and people, while secure, robust, and resilient connectivity in a hostile electro-magnetic environment is also essential. (Source: Jane’s)
29 Mar 21. Talking business: General Motors Defense’s military vehicle strategy. Last October General Motors (GM) Defense delivered the first Infantry Squad Vehicles (ISVs) to the US Army, only 120 days after the award of a $214.3m contract award for 649 vehicles. This marks the fist major award and delivery for the General Motors subsidiary since it was re-established by its parent company in 2017.
We caught up with GM Defense vice-president of growth and strategy Jeff Ryder to hear about the company’s plans for the future, including its interest in the recompete of the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, leveraging commercial electric vehicle technology for defence applications, and potential new target markets.
Harry Lye: What advantages does GM Defense get from pulling commercial products into the defence market?
Jeff Ryder: The benefit of having a commercial parent company in General Motors (GM) is that GM Defense can bring proven commercial best practices, such as global manufacturing, engineering, quality, safety and advanced technologies to the defence industry.
While GM Defense will certainly answer any requirements by the US Defense Department when pursuing a contract award, we can also leverage proven commercial technology and processes based on a century of lessons learned to make a proposed vehicle even better.
The roadmap for electric vehicles and autonomy is driven by trillion-dollar markets. For many aspects of military mobility, the commercial sector has simply moved past where the defence industrial base is in terms of technology, subsystems, integrated vehicles, quality performance and manufacturing. That is what makes GM Defense a disruptor in the military mobility market. We can bring forward these advanced capabilities along with the scale of our global supply chain.
GM is a $135bn company and vehicles are our business. Now we’ve returned to building vehicles for the military, with an initial focus on integrated tactical and combat wheeled vehicles, much like the ISV. Building military vehicles from a 90% commercial baseline, like the ISV offers, is a significant head start.
Do you see electric vehicles as a potential market for GM Defense?
GM’s CEO, Mary Barra, has laid out a company vision of zero crashes, zero emissions and zero congestion. GM is investing $27bn over the next five years towards achieving this vision, and our current annual R&D expenditures are more than the commercial R&D expenditures of the top five US defence companies combined.
We’re committed to launching 30 new electric vehicles globally by the end of 2025, two-thirds of which will be available in the US. While our vision may not directly tie to defence department requirements, those technology advancements will be available to our government and military customers.
The benefits of electrification are many. They include ‘silent drive’ in that the acoustic signature is significantly reduced, ‘silent watch’ in that the thermal signature is significantly reduced, and higher torque and acceleration, which has obvious benefits in a combat situation, not to mention reduction of toxins. Finally, the overall lifecycle economics of battery electric vehicles are better when you include performance and ease of maintenance.
We have the opportunity to drive that transformation in the military because we think of vehicle platforms as modular integrated systems where your battery electric undercarriage is applicable to multiple vehicle configurations. Approaching vehicles with a modular architecture provides optionality for customers and ties well to our commercial supply chain, with the added benefits of lower cost and proven performance.
Part of this is how we engage and inform customers about what we’re able to do for them. The military doesn’t necessarily understand the breadth of the commercial automotive industry – or in our case – specifically what GM has to offer and the capability electric vehicles can provide. GM Defense plans to lead that discussion and bring our technology into government procurement.
We’re not only looking at the defence market from the standpoint of only being a vehicle integrator, but we are also talking to other companies about how we can leverage our battery and fuel cell capabilities as a subcontractor or as propulsion integrator on their military vehicles. We’re open to that, and we’re not limiting ourselves to be a vehicle prime contractor as we create our business pipeline.
Is the US Army’s recompete contract for Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) an opportunity GM Defense is interested in?
Yes. The army is looking for – to use their own words – a premier manufacturer. GM is synonymous with world-class manufacturing and quality, so why wouldn’t we put our best foot forward? We also believe we lead the field when it comes to world-class engineering, manufacturing, quality, safety, commercial best practices, innovation and advanced technology – that’s our legacy.
Following the success of the Infantry Squad Vehicle in the US, do you see GM Defense targeting foreign defence markets as well?
We are currently mostly focused on our US Army customer, along with other Department of Defense entities and special government customers. From a vehicle chassis standpoint, we are marketing our ability to build light tactical vehicles globally, but we’re also interested in other opportunities as a truck or a speciality vehicle provider.
With regard to the ISV, we have early-stage international opportunities, and ultimately, we absolutely want to take the ISV to the global market.
The ISV is very appealing to the global market on many different levels. The vehicle is based off of the Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 and features 90% commercial-off-the-shelf parts, including Chevrolet Performance components. While the initial design is intended to transport a nine-soldier infantry squad and their equipment, we can build variations that include less seating, add cargo storage, or adapt to add weapons mounts, and so on.
Our flexibility to build to requirements, we believe, is appealing to global markets depending on their needs and the mission they want to support.
Can you talk about the potential opportunities GM Defense is targeting in other markets?
We are pursuing speciality vehicle opportunities with civilian organisations, national security government agencies and the global market.
We are looking at border applications with off-road vehicle requirements and mission equipment, in addition to connected vehicle technology and autonomous technology. Think of the vehicles on the border; do they always need to be driven by a border agent, or could they have surveillance by vehicles that are sometimes driven and sometimes autonomous? We see a market there.
There are opportunities with the US Marine Corps, who are going through a transformation to a lighter force. They’re moving away from tanks into lighter vehicles, which is squarely in our wheelhouse.
We are performing undersea battery testing for the US Navy. This could be critical for our business because a greenlight from the navy is akin to the gold standard for safety in the military. A fire at sea is bad; a fire underwater is catastrophic. So, we’re excited about the potential to support that community with our expertise in battery electric applications.
GM has outstanding credentials in battery safety, including applications for unmanned underwater vehicles that are going to be battery-powered or potentially hydrogen fuel cell-powered. We are vertically integrated in the battery life cycle. We conduct testing at every stage of the battery cell and battery pack development, which strengthens our ability to serve the navy and other armed services.
We have a product called the Electric Ground Power Unit (eGPU), which powers flightline aircraft on the tarmac. The existing diesel equipment is inefficient, costly for operations, and requires frequent repairs. Diesel generators also emit greenhouse gases and cause noise pollution, resulting in adverse conditions for the environment and flight-line workers.
Instead of plugging a unit into a diesel generator or running the aircraft engines, you can plug it into a semi-autonomous battery pack of ours that’s quiet, clean and efficient. We are in conversations with the US Air Force about eGPU and what benefits it would bring to the flightline and will work with the other services on similar offerings. We believe there are a number of applications that leverage a mobility and battery-electric capability.
Finally, is there anything else to look out for?
During the Consumer Electronic Show at the turn of the New Year, GM’s CEO mentioned our desire to take advanced battery technology to the moon.
GM went to the moon on the Apollo programme in 1969 with the Lunar Rover, and there is an opportunity to support NASA again on the Artemis mission. NASA’s goal is permanent habitation and mobility infrastructure on the moon, and we would love to help further our nation’s goal for this generation’s lunar mobility aspirations. (Source: army-technology.com)
26 Mar 21. USMC blames 2020 AAV accident on vehicle and human errors. A confluence of mechanical and human failures are the cause of the deadly July 2020 amphibious assault vehicle (AAV) accident that killed eight marines and a US Navy sailor off the Southern California coast, according to the US Marine Corps (USMC).
On 25 March the service unveiled a brief synopsis of its findings into the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit’s (MEU’s) deadly crash and is pinning the blame on a multitude of missteps. More specifically, the service said there was a “lack of training”, the material conditions of the unit’s AAVs were not up to par, there were not enough safety boats in the water, there was a “higher-than-anticipated” sea state, and the personal flotation devices did not provide enough buoyancy at depth.
“The investigation determined the cause of the mishap was a combination of maintenance failures due to disregard of maintenance procedures, AAV crewmen not evacuating personnel when the situation demanded for such actions, and improper training of embarked personnel on AAV safety procedures,” the USMC wrote on 25 March.
On the morning of 30 July 2020, 13 AAVs set out from USS Somerset to San Clemente Island. Once there, one AAV experienced a “mechanical failure”. After a five-hour delay that required some personnel and AAVs to remain on the island, nine AAVs attempted to return to USS Somerset. (Source: Jane’s)
25 Mar 21. USMC deploy with new JLTV following month-long training exercise. The Iwo Jima Amphibious Ready Group and the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit deployed Thursday following a monthlong composite training exercise, the Navy announced.
The 24th MEU is the first East Coast MEU to embark ships with the military’s new Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, a versatile ground transport vehicle now in use by all ground elements in the unit, according to a Navy press release issued Thursday.
The JLTV was developed by the Marines and the Army to replace the Marines’ aging fleet of Humvees.
Its manufacturer, Oshkosh Defense, announced last month that it had produced 10,000th JLTV — and has nearly 10,000 more on order.
“As the nation’s crisis response force, the ARG-MEU team must remain ready to respond at a moment’s notice when crises arise,” Col. Eric D. Cloutier, commanding officer of the 24th MEU, said in the release.
“This exercise gave our team the opportunity to train how we fight across a range of military operations, providing a force-in-readiness to the fleet that is prepared to decisively engage when called upon,” Cloutier said.
During the training exercise, the Blue-Green team responded to simulated attacks by hostile aircraft, ships and submarines in real time.
The exercise included a live-fire raid, in which nearly 100 Marines and sailors converged on targets at the newest range at Camp Lejeune, where the unit is based.
It also included an amphibious assault by a fighting force of nearly 600 Marines and sailors.
The Navy’s release also notes that the Navy-Marine Corps team “took a deliberate approach to maximizing readiness through pre-deployment training while also joining forces to combat COVID-19.”
Military personnel also adhered to a restriction of movement before embarking on the exercise, while continuing to wear masks and observe in other health and safety mitigations.
The units were also among the first prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccines once they were approved for emergency use, the Navy said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/upi)