08 Apr 21. Soframe reveals MOSAIC vehicle aimed at France’s VBAE competition. French company Soframe has released details of its offering for the French Army’s new Véhicule Blindé d’Aide à l’Engagement (VBAE) light reconnaissance and support vehicle requirement. Although France has begun to receive the first examples of upgraded models of its Arquus (originally Panhard) Véhicule Blindé Léger (VBL) 4×4 light scout vehicle, called Ultima, its longer-term plans are to field VBAE as part of the SCORPION Phase 3 Networked Enabled Capability (NEC).
VBAE roles are to include intelligence and reconnaissance, engaging targets, and transporting teams carrying the MBDA Medium-Range Missile (MMP) anti-tank guided missile, which is in service in the dismounted role.
Soframe, which is part of the Lohr Group, told Janes that it is developing a wheeled vehicle called the Mission Observation Surveillance Investigation Combat (MOSAIC) to meet the French Army’s requirement.
In a statement, the company said it is “currently setting up an industrial organisation to move ahead. The production of a prototype is being assessed as part of this move”.
MOSAIC will feature a monocoque all-welded body of very-high hardness (VHH) steel with an additional layer of passive armour for a higher level of ballistic protection.
The latter includes “an add-on armour solution notably based on the new in-house developed Tenexium technology based on advanced composite material”, the company said.
To provide a higher level of protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs), MOSAIC’s hull incorporates flue pipes above the wheel arches to channel the blast of the explosion upwards and away from the vehicle. According to the company, the drive train was designed to accommodate, without modification, the components of a full electric/hybrid that would enable a silent mode. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Apr 21. ASTRO America to manage US Army Jointless Hull project. ASTRO America has been selected by the US Army to manage a new effort called the Jointless Hull project.
ASTRO America has been selected by the US Army to manage a new effort called the Jointless Hull project. The initiative will explore the use of metal additive manufacturing (AM) technology to develop a ‘hull-scale tool’ for the US Army.
The Jointless Hull project seeks to deliver enhanced production speeds, minimised production costs, lower vehicle weight and improved survivability. ASTRO America executive director Jason Gorey said: “This is an ideal project for ASTRO America and its highly experienced team.
“This is not a research project for either hardware, software or materials. This is a direct implementation project where we scale existing but advanced methodologies to the required hull-scale size.”
This project is being contracted through LIFT, the US Department of Defense (DoD)-supported national manufacturing innovation institute. The technical programme is being directed by the US Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM), Ground Vehicle System Center (GVSC).
Furthermore, US Army’s Rock Island Arsenal – Joint Manufacturing Technology Center serves as a key partner on this project. Army TPOC for the Jointless Hull project Aaron LaLonde said: “Advanced manufacturing methods that are capable of enabling innovative part designs and concepts have tremendous value in achieving part, component and, ultimately, vehicle concepts to provide warfighters and systems with leading performance advantages.
“This project will scale the benefits of metal additive manufacturing to a size range that will allow the benefits of the technology to be realised on larger system scale parts and enable next-generation vehicle performance.” ASTRO America has already started with the project’s ‘Industry Day’ featuring both machine vendors and vehicle builders. (Source: army-technology.com)
07 Apr 21. Sweden leads European ATV procurement programme. Sweden is leading a joint effort by European BvS10 operators to procure a new all-terrain vehicle (ATV) based on the BvS10. Brigadier General Mikael Frisell, Director Land Systems at the FMV, the Swedish Defence Materiel Administration, told Janes on 31 March that Sweden is providing the central purchasing body for the single-source procurement of at least 500 ATVs from BAE Systems Hägglunds for SEK10–12bn (USD1.2–1.4bn). In addition to Sweden, the countries involved are fellow BvS10 operators France, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. The five countries signed a memorandum of understanding on the joint procurement in March 2020, followed by a statement of intent the next month. Brig Gen Frisell reported that the five nations were harmonising requirements and moving towards an agreement on them so the invitation to tender to Hägglunds could be issued this summer and a draft contract could be ready by early next year, with the final contract award the following summer or autumn. A project office will be established in October and will be staffed by national representatives after the Covid-19 pandemic is over, he said.
The new ATV will be based on the 2022 version of the BvS10. Brig Gen Fisell spoke of a Swedish requirement for 150–200 vehicles: troop transport, logistic, medical, command and control, and probably recovery and support versions. He expected deliveries to the five nations to begin in 2023 and to last a few years, depending on the total number of vehicles ordered, with a life cycle of up 15–20 years, leaving open the possibility of an upgrade during this period. He foresaw industrial co-operation in the five nations but not offsets. (Source: Jane’s)
05 Apr 21. NAMC Selects Oshkosh Defense to Produce New Cold Weather All-terrain Vehicle Prototype. Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK) company, announced today that the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC) has selected Oshkosh Defense and partner, ST Engineering, to participate in the prototype phase for the U.S. Army’s Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV).
The CATV is a new program for a tracked vehicle that operates in extreme cold weather or arctic conditions and is designed to replace the Small Unit Support Vehicles (SUSVs) that have been in service since the early 1980s.
“Oshkosh Defense and ST Engineering bring together an abundance of defense industry and manufacturing expertise to address the U.S. Army’s need for a proven vehicle that can easily maneuver in arctic environments,” said Pat Williams, vice president and general manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps programs. “We are confident that the Oshkosh CATV will enable Soldiers to efficiently move personnel and supplies in the most extreme conditions, and we look forward to getting them into the hands of the end user for testing and evaluation.”
The Oshkosh CATV is derived from the Bronco 3, a member of the proven, highly effective, and reliable Bronco family of vehicles (FoV) by ST Engineering which have been in service in various countries. The Bronco FoV has undergone more than 1,860 miles of performance testing in arctic conditions as well as over 200,000 miles in a theatre of operations on harsh desert terrain. The Oshkosh CATV prototypes will offer built-in mission modularity to accommodate a variety of configurations. A General Purpose vehicle, for example, can be used as a troop carrier, casualty evacuation (CASEVAC) or Command and Control vehicle and can be swapped from one configuration to another in the field within 30 minutes by a two-person crew.
“The new vehicle design will be built with the combined expertise of Oshkosh Defense and draws on the rich heritage of the Bronco family of vehicles, a proven, robust and versatile articulated platform which has been in operation since 2001,” said Lee Shiang Long, President/Head, Land Systems, ST Engineering.
Oshkosh Defense and ST Engineering will deliver two prototypes – one General Purpose and one Cargo vehicle for testing and Soldier evaluation in Q3FY21. The prototypes will be evaluated on payload, mobility, crush resistance, swimming, and transportability. The U.S. Army has announced plans to issue a follow-on production contract for up to 200 CATVs in FY22. (Source: ASD Network)
06 Apr 21. Future Tank: Beyond The M1 Abrams. Manned armored vehicles will have a place even in a world of killer drones, experts agreed. What comes after the M1 Abrams, the Army’s massive Reagan-era main battle tank? “Everything is on the table at this point,” the service’s armor modernization director, Maj. Gen. Richard Ross Coffman, says. He didn’t give many details so I asked experts to speculate.
To my surprise, everyone we talked to, from retired Army tankers and industry experts to drone-loving futurists, agreed that manned armored vehicles of some kind will still have a place in future wars. Why? Human soldiers will still need a way to move about the battlefield under armor protection, and they’ll need it even – or especially – when killer drones swarm the skies. After all, it’s far easier for the enemy to build a drone that can kill an exposed human than one that can penetrate an armored vehicle.
Beyond that baseline, there was little consensus. Some of our sources felt that further upgrades to the M1 Abrams would suffice for the foreseeable future, arguing there’s not – yet – been any radical change in tactics or fundamental improvement in armored vehicle design that would call for an all-new vehicle. Others saw potential for a new kind of tank. And some thought the M1’s replacement shouldn’t be a new tank at all, but a whole family of different vehicles, manned and unmanned, working together as a networked wolfpack.
That concept of “manned-unmanned teaming” is already being explored by the Army’s Robotic Combat Vehicle program. It’s also central to the Air Force’s Loyal Wingman drones and the Navy’s unmanned “Ghost Fleet,” designed to support manned fighters and warships respectively.
There’s revolutionary potential here to disaggregate traditional weapons platforms. Instead of having gun, sensors, and crew all on one vehicle, you could put, say, your long-range sensors on a drone, your decoys on another (expendable) drone, your main gun on a ground robot, and your human controller in a small, well-armored command vehicle hidden some distance away.
“I would expect to see the bundled capabilities of the M1 gradually broken apart – the requirements and functions of the M1 being spread over multiple systems,” said Dan Patt, a former DARPA official now with thinktank CSBA. “Crewed armored vehicles will be with us for quite some time, [but] the bigger military impact comes from the ability to split apart weapon system functions, take more risks, and experiment with different force combinations in adaptable ways. These changes are ready now.”
Of course, this revolution depends on the network technologies actually working to keep all those humans and robots connected – even in the face of enemy hacking and jamming.
The Drones Of Nagorno-Karabakh
As for the individual armored vehicles, whatever they look like, their survival will increasingly depend on their defenses against enemy drones. That was the bloody lesson of both Russia’s 2014 invasion of Ukraine, in which scout drones pinpointed Ukrainian armored vehicles for devastating rocket barrages, and Azerbaijan’s 2020 offensive in Nagorno-Karabakh, in which armed and kamikaze drones decimated Armenian armor.
How big a change does this portend? Based on the bloody lessons taught Ukraine and Armenia, “I think we’re likely to see technology radically transform the ground warfare environment over the next several decades in ways not seen since World War I,” said Paul Scharre, a former Army Ranger who’s now vice president of the thinktank CNAS. “The persistence and accessibility of drones renders the contemporary – and future – battlefield much more transparent to aerial surveillance and, consequently, attack.”
But there are promising countermeasures already available today, argued Samuel Bendett, an expert on the Russian military at CNA.
“Had the Armenians prepared their tanks for the new type of war that took place last October, their losses would have been far fewer,” he told me. “Much of what we saw in the Nagorno-Karabakh involved older Soviet tanks in the Armenian service that were not well defended against loitering munitions, [which] actually do not pack a big punch.”
By contrast, modern Russian tanks routinely carry reactive armor tiles, which preemptively detonate in the path of incoming warheads; infrared dazzlers, which blind the sensors of anti-tank guided missiles; and active-protection systems, which physically shoot down inbound munitions like a miniaturized missile defense. The US finally began installing an active protection system – the Israeli Trophy – on its Abrams tanks in 2018.
Even without new technology, better tactics can make a difference, argued Thomas Spoehr, a retired Army three-star now at Heritage.
“Right now, UAS with smart munitions and kamikaze drones do seem to command the upper hand. But nothing lasts forever,” Spoehr told me. “Regaining freedom of maneuver for tanks might come more from changes in tactics versus technology.”
A historical parallel is how new man-portable anti-tank missiles savaged Israeli armor in the 1973 war, only to have the Israelis learn to flush the missile teams out with infantry. Likewise, the seemingly unstoppable threat of drones could be countered by new tactics aimed at their weak points, for example intensive jamming of their control links and sensors.
Nothing will make the tank invulnerable to drones – but it’s crucial to remember that tanks have never been invulnerable on any battlefield, popular mythmaking aside. Even in the early days during World War I, German artillerymen quickly learned that the new Allied tanks could be destroyed by existing field guns.
In fact, tanks have never even been the toughest target on the battlefield. (There’s actually a Marine Corps saying, “hunting tanks is fun and easy.”) Historically the hardest thing to kill has been deeply dug-in infantry, from the entrenched defenders of the Western Front to the Viet Cong in their tunnels. But trenches and tunnels are stationary, and once infantry gets out of cover and tries to move, it’s horrifically vulnerable to machinegun and artillery fire.
So the tank was invented in 1916 to restore mobility to the battlefield. Its armor protection allowed it to advance under fire. Its tracks allowed it to cross trenches and other obstacles. Its guns allowed it to destroy enemy weapons that threatened its advance. The primitive tanks of World War I failed to break the deadlock of the trenches, not due to any fault in their armor or weapons, but because their engines proved too unreliable to sustain prolonged advances.
Ever since the blitzkrieg of World War II, however, tanks have been essential tools of battlefield mobility. Even in urban and jungle combat, tanks’ ability to smash through walls and trees while surviving improvised mines allows them to clear paths for the infantry.
Will tanks still be essential and decisive in future wars? Or will they be mere adjuncts to some other, newer weapons system like the swarming drone?
Command Vehicles Or Combat Vehicles?
Even Scharre, the most futuristic-minded expert we spoke to for this story, doesn’t see armored vehicles disappearing entirely. He just doesn’t see them as being the decisive weapon anymore, but a supporting arm.
“I suspect that tanks will not go away completely,” he told me, “but they are likely to go the way of the infantry — as a mopping up force for close-in engagements, rather than the central role tanks have played in ground combat since World War II.”
That central role will shift to ground robots, drones, and long-range missiles, Scharre believes, with the decisive clash often occurring before the humans on opposing sides ever lay eyes on one another. But armored vehicles will still be valuable, especially when humans have to survive maneuvering through a war zone.
“Soldiers will be needed on the battlefield to command-and-control the fight and secure terrain, and they will need to be in armored vehicles to remain protected,” Scharre said. “But the role of armored vehicles is likely to shift, over time, to predominantly command-and-control platforms for a distributed network of air and ground sensors, drones, and robotic platforms.”
Patt, the ex-DARPA official, agreed. “The best replacement for the M1 is likely a customizable multi-domain force package,” he said, combining ground robots, aerial drones, and a manned vehicle “that can pull intel from space when needed, seamlessly call in backup fires, coordinate its own beyond-line-of-sight targeting, and rely on automation in targeting and navigation to multiply the effectiveness of the human crew.” Note that directly engaging targets with a 120mm cannon isn’t on that list.
Other experts saw the value both of robot swarms and of something resembling a traditional main battle tank, with a human crew, heavy armor, and big gun to engage the enemy’s toughest targets within line of sight.
“I see the need to diversify our holdings in [armor] to hedge against technology,” said Spoehr. “I think the replacement for the Abrams is not a single vehicle, but several platforms.”
“Some still look like tanks for direct force engagements, when the threat from UAVs is low or technology has found a better, more reliable counter-UAV solution,” he said. “Other, lightly armored manned platforms launch aerial drones and suicide missiles. Still others are fully autonomous platforms controlled by other manned, heavily protected platforms.”
Tactically, Spoehr said, such a force would operate in three waves: first the drones to take out enemy air defenses and command posts, then ground robots, then finally manned main battle tanks to take out the toughest targets.
But why put a human in your heavy tank? Because, bluntly, remote control remains awkward and autonomous robots remain stupid. Sometimes you need an experienced human in the vehicle, onboard. That way they can use all their senses to understand the situation – the smell of smoke, the sound of the guns, the vibration of the engine — instead of staring at a screen. That way, too, their input can’t be hacked, jammed, or otherwise disconnected.
Other functions can be automated in the near future, but not the ability to command a tank in combat, Bendett told me. “This is not something that can be replaced by a neural network or an advanced algorithm anytime soon, given that no one can truly replicate all the nuances of a tank commander’s experience that may span many years, and even decades.”
“The future replacement for an M1 should be a family of vehicles, [including] a manned, well defended tank … which in turn commands a team of mid-sized, heavily defended UGVs [Unmanned Ground Vehicles] for ISR and combat roles, [plus] drones,” he added. “If the UGVs are unable to accomplish their task for some reason, it would be up to a manned tank with a commander who has extensive experience.”
Upgrade The M1 Or Replace It?
If a manned main battle tank remains necessary, can the M1 Abrams continue to fill that role, or does the Army need a new MBT?
The M1 Abrams could be the centerpiece of the future manned-unmanned armored force, said Bendett. Much as it’s been upgraded in the past multiple times since its introduction in 1980, it just needs to be upgraded again, with counter-drone defenses, electronic warfare, and a command system for the robots.
But there are only so many upgrades the old M1 can take, argued Guy Swan, a retired armor officer now with the Association of the US Army.
“One thing is for sure, we cannot continue to hang more on the M1 Abrams frame,” Swan told me. “The tank, while I believe it’s still the best in the world, is far too heavy to navigate regions of the world where ground forces may have to operate.”
“The future tank can and will indeed be less than 60 tons – a threshold for many roads and bridges – without losing crew protection,” he said, thanks to new active and passive protections. That must include sophisticated “masking” both of its visual appearance and of its infrared and radio-frequency emissions, he said, because in a world of drones, “traditional camouflage is not enough.”
A clean-slate tank design would allow for a new engine, Swan added, preferably a hybrid-electric one that puts less strain on supply lines than the M1’s gas-guzzling turbine. It would also allow for an improved turret, although Swan felt the existing 120mm cannon has plenty of potential with upgraded targeting systems and ammunition.
Others felt more firepower was needed for future wars. “55 to 65 tons, [with] a bigger gun or laser, on-board loitering munitions, [an] unmanned turret, [and] hybrid engine,” wrote one retired officer.
Other sources were more skeptical of new technology – and of the Army’s ability to exploit it. “They are totally unwilling to accept what is doable in anticipation of some magic solution that never seems to become reality,” said one retired industry expert.“[So] they lose momentum and support — and then move on to the next shiny object.”
If you don’t trust the Army to manage a major program, then an upgraded M1 Abrams is the best you can expect. A recent Congressional Budget Office study projected Army spending on armored vehicles through 2050 and predicted that Abrams upgrades would eat a lion’s share of it. “CBO projects that more than 40 percent of the total costs would be for upgrading and remanufacturing Abrams tanks,” the study said, an average of $2bn a year. (Source: Breaking Defense.com)
06 Apr 21. British Army wants more punch in its Boxer vehicle fleet. The British Army is looking at how it can increase the firepower of its new Boxer mechanized infantry vehicles to compensate for the decision to ax the more heavily armed Warrior armored vehicle from its lineup.
“The Army is conducting an analysis on potential lethality enhancements of Boxer vehicles. As outlined in the recent Integrated Review, modernizing our armored capabilities is not replacing ‘like for like’ but integrating our new technologies and ways of operating,” a Ministry of Defence spokesperson told Defense News.
The government brought the shutters down on a program to update hundreds of Warrior infantry fighting vehicles late March as part of its defense, security and foreign policy review, leaving the Boxer armored personnel carrier to help fill the gap left in the armored forces inventory.
“We will no longer upgrade Warrior but it will remain in service until replaced by Boxer, which we expect to happen by the middle of this decade,” the MoD said in a March 22 “Command Paper” announcing the changing shape, size and capability of the military as part of the Integrated Review.
That change in direction has left Britain with some issues to resolve.
Leaving aside the debate over tracks versus wheels — the Warrior has tracks while the Boxer is an eight-wheel drive platform — the biggest disparity between the two vehicles is probably lethality.
A key part of a wider Warrior update program secured by Lockheed Martin UK in 2011 involved installation of a harder-hitting CTA International-made 40mm case, telescoped cannon to replace the slow-firing, unstabilized 30mm gun currently in operation. CTAI is a joint venture involving BAE Systems, Nexter and KNDS.
The update program is years late and over budget. That’s partly due to issues with the government-mandated use of the unconventional CTAI weapon.
The update, known as the Warrior Capability Sustainment Program, has been brought to a close with development and testing virtually complete, but before a manufacturing contract was signed.
Lockheed Martin UK also produces at its Ampthill, southern England, manufacturing site a turret fitted with the same CTAI cannon for the General Dynamics UK-built Ajax tracked reconnaissance vehicles, now being delivered to the Army. Ampthill employs about 900 people, of which some 30 percent work in the turret business.
The future of the turret operation, where Lockheed Martin says it has invested £23m (U.S. $32m) building a center of excellence, is now under scrutiny by the company.
Lockheed officials said one program that could potentially provide work is the British Army’s requirement to boost its 155mm howitzer capability.
“We are tracking the Mobile Fires Platform program very closely despite the initial operating capability date slipping to the end of this decade. We believe there will be a requirement from the MoD to maximize U.K. workshare on the program,” a spokesperson said. “Whilst Lockheed Martin does not have a 155mm solution to offer into the program, we believe that our unique systems design, integration and manufacturing facilities at Ampthill will be critical in ensuring the successful delivery of the capability into service.”
The British Army is in the early stages of the Mobile Fires Platform procurement. Updating the current AS90 tracked howitzer is one option; mounting a 155mm gun on Boxer is another. But there is plenty of other interest from foreign companies like South Korea’s Hanwha Defense with the self-propelled K9 vehicle already bought by Australia.
That’s for the future, though. A more immediate priority appears to be giving Boxer a heavier punch than it has at the moment.
The Boxer variants purchased by Britain — in a £2.3bn deal in 2019 to supply an initial 508 vehicles from Germany’s ARTEC joint venture between Rheinmetall Landsysteme and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann — have much less firepower but were designated for a different role than the Warrior.
Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land — the Rheinmetall-BAE Systems joint venture leading the local Boxer production effort — announced in February it awarded the U.K.-based Thales business a contract to supply 500 Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace-developed Protector RS4 remote weapon stations with a heavy machine gun as the main armament.
Most of the vehicles being purchased by Britain are in an infantry carrier configuration, with ambulance, command and specialist vehicles making up the remainder. The number of vehicles purchased is likely to change. The expectation has always been that Boxer numbers would substantially increase as the platform replaces other vehicles and as new requirements (like the 155mm howitzer) are created.
The Army is working on a detailed analysis to determine the future size, shape and structure of the Boxer fleet.
The Boxer’s rapidly swappable mission modules give the vehicle the flexibility to change roles without necessarily buying matching numbers of platforms.
Part of the solution to more hitting power might be to increase the number of Boxer reconnaissance variants fitted with anti-tank guided missiles. For the moment, the number of reconnaissance vehicles purchased by Britain stands at 50, but the Army is conducting an analysis to determine if more Boxer vehicles within the force should also be fitted with ATGMs.
There are other lethality options as well. ARTEC managing director Stefan Lischka was reluctant to talk about possible British firepower solutions, but he did note that existing customers helped the company develop plenty of options.
“The proven and certified solutions for the U.K. to choose from for the [mechanized infantry vehicle] in order to de-risk and keep pace are increasing, as we have a growing basket of various configurations gained out of the cooperation with other nations operating Boxer,” Lischka said. “Be it firepower or recovery capabilities already contracted, or be it a broad spectrum of mature prototypes for artillery or bridge-laying, Boxer [has an answer].”
The German company has several cannon and missile options available in manned or unmanned turret configurations that could interest Britain.
Australia, with whom the British have close defense ties, is nearing verification of the design of a manned turret with a 30mm cannon installed on a Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicle variant as part of its Land 400 Phase 2 program.
A second export customer, Lithuania, has both a missile and a 30mm cannon on its Boxer variant, known as the Vilkas.
The British MoD has no plan to do so, but it might even be possible, albeit politically risky, to fit the CTAI cannon to a Boxer.
In written evidence late last year to the parliamentary Defence Committee’s inquiry into progress — or rather more accurately a lack of progress — in delivering the Army’s armored vehicle program, Lockheed showed a picture of a turret fitted with a CTAI cannon on a Boxer platform for a potential export customer.
Some analysts think that even if the Warrior update program had gone ahead, Britain would eventually come around to replacing the Boxer’s heavy machine gun with a 30mm cannon to match potential adversaries.
Meanwhile, the Army is also looking at accelerating the production rate of the Boxer, which is currently slated to involve roughly 50 Boxers a year for 10 years — a rate the Defence Committee said was astonishingly slow.
Early vehicle will come off the production line in Germany, but sites in the English towns of Telford and Stockport are set to take over assembly work as local capabilities grow.
As things stand, the first production vehicles are forecast to enter trials and training in 2023 for an initial operating capability by 2025. There is, however, work underway to try and speed that up.
Britain is now aiming for full operating capability by 2030, bringing this forward from 2032. (Source: Defense News)
06 Apr 21. Saab and Global Defence Solutions team up to deliver camouflage systems. Saab has partnered up with Global Defence Solutions for the delivery of its Mobile Camouflage Systems.
Saab announced that is has entered into a partnership with Global Defence Solutions (GDS) of NSW for the development and delivery of Mobile Camouflage Systems (MCS) and multispectral camouflage screens.
The MCS has been in use for over a quarter of a century, and has undergone operational use in Mali and Afghanistan having been being employed to reduce the electro-magnetic signature of vehicles.
Managing director of Saab Australia, Andy Keough welcomed the agreement.
“Saab’s partnership with GDS will bring world-class capability into Australian industry with the transfer of our global camouflage technical knowledge and expertise,” he said.
“Australian industrial involvement is critical to the success of our sovereign defence industry and together with GDS, our partnership is another example of creating local capability and new opportunities for Australian industry.”
Saab initially partnered with GDS in 2020 for the JP2060 package.
Laurie Koster, managing director of GDS, commented that the agreement will strengthen Australia’s sovereign defence industry: “We are delighted that Saab has chosen GDS to produce its signature management solutions for Australia. The opportunity to work with a proven and globally recognised signature management product is an exciting step forward for our regionally based New South Wales company.
“Our partnership will provide Australia with a true sovereign capability, to produce, integrate and install signature reduction systems onto combat vehicles.” (Source: Defence Connect)
06 Apr 21. Tata Advanced Systems acquires Tata Motors’ defence business. Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) has concluded its acquisition of Tata Motors’ defence business, the latter firm has announced on the Bombay Stock Exchange. A filing said the acquisition, which was finalised on 1 April, is valued at INR2.277bn (USD31m) and was paid through an ”upfront” lump sum consideration.
The sale includes Tata Motors’ portfolio of logistics vehicles, combat support vehicles, and armoured vehicles for defence, paramilitary, and law enforcement applications.
For the military domain, Tata Motors has also developed in recent years several platforms including amphibious fighting vehicles, mine-protected platforms, and multirole vehicles.
The filing said Tata Motors has supplied its military vehicles to Indian and export customers for several decades and is partnered on “various strategic programmes” including those in India to produce BrahMos cruise missiles and Agni ballistic missiles.
An agreement to support TASL’s acquisition was announced in May 2018. As part of the agreement, TASL also acquired Tata Motors’ aerospace subsidiary – named TAL Manufacturing Solutions – in March 2020 for INR6.25bn.
The Tata Motors filing said the sale of its defence business to TASL is consistent with the Tata Group’s strategy of consolidating its defence activities under a single entity to encourage the expansion of scale and the improvement of synergies.
Accordingly, it said, the sale to TASL will “yield benefits in the form of operational and financial synergies helping deliver better value for both the entities”. (Source: Jane’s)
05 Apr 21. US Army weighs new radio subsystems for OMFV, FVL. US Army network communications and information technology experts are mulling over options on which software-defined radios (SDRs) and other intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) subsystems service leaders will need to integrate into the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) and Future Vertical Lift (FVL) platforms once both the programmes become fully operational.
Senior service leaders are weighing SDR requirements that will aid the OMFV and FVL to integrate into the mesh networks that will populate the army’s Integrated Tactical Network (ITN) and also allow soldiers and air crew to be able to control unmanned systems from their respective vehicles and aircrafts.
“What are the optimum radios that are going to allow that platform to stay connected, control manned or unmanned [assets], and ensure we have the ability for a resilient mesh network that enables that system to connect”, in a contested environment, said US Army Major General Peter Gallagher.
On FVL, army leaders need to ensure that the right software-defined radios “with the ability to extend the mesh network” are employed on the advanced aircraft, and that can also integrate with the platform’s modular, open systems architecture, said Gen Gallagher, who heads the Army Futures Command’s Network-Cross Functional Team (N-CFT).
“We are figuring out what those components are going to be,” he added, declining to go into specifics regarding which particular SDR systems the service officials were considering.
However, Gen Gallagher did note that the ongoing evaluation was being executed in conjunction with the service’s Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Cyber, and ISR (C5ISR) Center at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, as well as the command’s Assured-Positioning, Timing, and Navigation (A-PNT) Cross Functional Team. That work is part of a larger effort by service officials to get the programme back on track. (Source: Jane’s)
01 Apr 21. Chinese army operating new tracked EOD robot. Chinese state-owned media revealed on 29 March that the People’s Liberation Army Ground Force (PLAGF) is operating a new tracked explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) robot. Broadcaster China Central Television (CCTV) reported that the remotely controlled robot, which has been in service since 2020 with a nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) defence unit under the PLAGF’s 71st Group Army, is fitted with two arms: one featuring a heavy-duty claw and the other a twin-disruptor mount. (Source: Jane’s)
06 Apr 21. US Army embarks on competitive prototyping journey for Arctic vehicle. The U.S. Army is embarking on a competitive prototyping effort to acquire a new, all-terrain vehicle that can operate in the Arctic, with evaluations to take place in Alaska this year, according to Tim Goddette, the program executive officer of the service’s combat support and combat service support.
The service awarded contracts to two vendors: a team of American firm Oshkosh Defense and the land systems division of Singapore’s ST Engineering; and a team of two BAE System units, Land and Armaments as well as BAE Hagglunds.
They will provide prototypes for a cold-weather, all-terrain vehicle, or CATV, in the second quarter of fiscal 2021, Goddette told Defense News in written responses to questions. The deadline to deliver prototypes is June 14.
These prototypes — currently regarded as test assets — are to undergo extreme cold-weather testing and evaluation in Alaska at the Cold Regions Test Center from August through the end of December.
“This will help inform the downselect process for the production contract,” Goddette said. “Current plans call for the final downselect for the CATV in the third quarter of [FY22].”
The program will move directly into production once a winner is chosen.
The Army needs the CATV quickly to replace its Small Unit Support Vehicle, or SUSV, which is “no longer sustainable,” Goddette said.
The service also needs modern and capable equipment as the Arctic region becomes increasingly important for military operations. The Army released its Arctic strategy last month, which stresses the need to modernize and ramp up presence as Russia and China continue to assert dominance in the region to pursue their economic and geopolitical goals.
The strategy outlines how the Army will generate, train, organize and equip its forces to partner with allies, secure national interests and maintain regional stability.
The CATV is a new-start program in FY21, and its capability development document was signed May 7, 2019. The Army plans to spend $6.6m for research and development, testing, and evaluation in FY21, and $9.25m to procure the new vehicles. This includes an $8.25m congressional plus-up above the service’s budget request as well as $500,000 in foreign comparative testing funds.
The procurement objective is for 110 CATVS, with a total acquisition objective of 163.
The CATV “will provide transportation in extreme cold-weather conditions for up to nine personnel to support emergency medical evacuation, command-and-control capability, and general-cargo transportation,” Goddette said.
The program office has been working with Army Futures Command to iron out the specifics required for the vehicle, but the effort has been underway for some time “to ensure we understand the requirements/desired key capabilities for a modernized cold-weather vehicle,” Goddette noted. “This allows us to execute an accelerated acquisition program to assess, procure, produce, field and sustain such a system.”
The SUSV, which is based on 1960s and 1970s technology and was last procured in the early 1980s, will reach obsolescence in FY23. The CATV will “provide major operational and logistics advantages over the decades-old [SUSV],” Goddette said.
“We are excited to explore the bounds of the systems we will assess in extreme cold-weather, mountainous and high-altitude environments along with industry when we embark on the soldier touch point/user evaluation events later this year,” he said.
“As the Army’s commercial-off-the-shelf and non-developmental item procurement cadre,” he added, “we look forward to celebrating important milestones like [equipping the first unit] with this once-in-several-generations vehicle procurement program.” (Source: Defense News)