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16 Jun 21. German Army Marder 1 IFV upgrade moves ahead. The German Army is moving forward with the life-extension programme for its Marder 1 infantry fight vehicles (IFVs), 50 years after the first rolled off the production line. Rheinmetall announced in January 2020 that it had been awarded a EUR110m (USD133m) contract to supply the Germany Army with 78 kits to upgrade 71 Marder 1A5 IFV between 2020 and 2023 to extend their operational lives. The remaining seven kits will be used as spares. As well as the kits, the company will also supply vehicle tool kits and special tools, logistical support, initial stores of spare parts, training, and instruction. Rheinmetall told Janes that the first of these kits will be integrated into a Marder 1A5 IFV at the company’s Unterluss facilities by the third quarter of 2022 for trials. The German Army will install these in the Marder 1A5 IFV. Current Marder 1A5 IFVs are powered a MTU MB 833 Ea-500 6-cylinder water-cooled diesel developing 600 hp, coupled to a HSWL 194 automatic transmission. This gives a power-to-weight ratio of 16.21 hp/tonne as the gross vehicle weight (GVW) of the Marder 1A5 IFV has increased to 37,000 kg due to an enhanced armour protection package (for higher level of protection against mines and improvised explosive devices [IEDs]). A Rheinmetall spokesperson confirmed that the new powerpack consists of this engine upgraded to develop 755 hp, coupled to an upgraded HSWL 194 transmission and fitted with digitised engine electronics, and when fitted will give the IFV a power-to-weight ratio of 20.40 hp/tonne. (Source: Jane’s)
18 June 21. A new member in the family: Rheinmetall Mission Master XT, an extreme terrain autonomous UGV. Rheinmetall proudly announces the release of the Mission Master XT, the latest member of its successful Mission Master family of Autonomous Unmanned Ground Vehicles (A-UGVs). Unlike the Mission Master SP platform, which is already introduced to the market, the Mission Master XT has a diesel-powered engine. Responding to a new set of needs, the Rheinmetall Mission Master XT is highly mobile even in the toughest terrain and capable of carrying impressive payloads. The Mission Master XT was developed by Rheinmetall Canada.
A true companion when the going gets tough
The Rheinmetall Mission Master XT thrives in extreme terrain. It easily tackles ice, snow, and sub-zero weather conditions, as well as sandy, rocky and mountainous topography. Its advanced amphibious capabilities allow it to float and swim while maintaining its full payload capacity. Weighing in at 2217 kg, this powerful A-UGV can carry a 1000 kg payload in all scenarios, allowing troops to transport special equipment to hard-to-reach locations. The diesel-powered engine allows it to travel 750 km without refuelling, while lithium-ion batteries enable up to 6 hours of silent watch operations.
Another remarkable feature of the Rheinmetall Mission Master XT is its continuous tire inflation system, which adjusts the tire pressure as needed based on the terrain. Featuring high endurance and survivability, the A-UGV keeps moving on even with 2 cm-holes in the tires.
Autonomous, intelligent and easy to control
Like the other platforms in the Rheinmetall Mission Master family, the Mission Master XT is optimized to take on dull, dirty and dangerous tasks, allowing soldiers to focus on their core missions more effectively and in greater safety. It is driven by Rheinmetall PATH, a proven autonomy kit (A-kit) that enables a wide range of autonomous driving and navigation capabilities.
The Mission Master family is fully compatible with NATO-standard battle management systems and can be controlled through a variety of teleoperation options. “The most multifunctional of these is a smart tablet developed by Rheinmetall, which allows the operator to control any Mission Master platform and payload through a single interface, a first for the market”, explains Alain Tremblay, Vice-President of Business Development and Innovation at Rheinmetall Canada. “For instance, users can monitor camera feeds or direct a weapon station, then quickly program the platform to navigate itself autonomously to a desired location, all from the same device”, adds Mr Tremblay.
If necessary, this robust, tried-and-tested mechanical platform can operate in manned configuration, with an integrated joystick and emergency seat.
Thanks to its modularity, the Rheinmetall Mission Master XT can take on multiple missions in any situation. The scope of activities the A-UGV can conduct includes logistic transport, surveillance, fire support, rescue, medical evacuation, CBRN detection, communication relay and a multitude of other client-specific requirements. Rheinmetall is committed to maximum operational safety at all times, keeping a human in the loop in all kinetic operations.
A powerful component of Joint All Domain Operations
As enemy capabilities become increasingly advanced, the ability to quickly leverage large amounts of data in order to make informed decisions in the field is more critical than ever. Foreseeable force deployments are likely to take the form of multinational Joint All Domain Operations (JADO) that encompass every dimension of the modern battlefield: land, air, sea, cyber and information space as well as outer space.
Just like the other members of Rheinmetall’s Mission Master family the new Mission Master XT features a unique NATO standard battle management system (BMS) integrated into every platform. This allows each system to process large amount of tactical data. The Mission Master XT thus becomes an integral member of the tactical combat team able to share and exchange information from its vehicle and module sensors to improve the team’s common operating picture. The BMS also uses information in the network from other contributors to improve its own situational awareness with regard to terrain as well as the location of friendly and enemy forces. The built-in BMS allows many Mission Master platforms to operate as an UGV team when carrying out standard military missions in direct support of troops on the ground.
Finally, the Mission Master XT will also benefit from the systematic integration of new artificial intelligence applications, allowing it to evolve and continue contributing to successful outcomes in the complex JADO battlespace of tomorrow.
Renaming of the existing Mission Master
To make room for the newcomers in the Mission
Master family, the existing Mission Master platform now becomes the Rheinmetall Mission Master SP. Named for its role as “silent partner”, the Mission Master SP remains an invaluable asset for dismounted troops in a wide range of missions, including high-risk situations.
17 June 21. More PQs on Ajax.
Ajax Vehicles: Procurement.
UIN 13864, tabled on 10 June 2021
Mr Kevan Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, what steps he plans to take on the AJAX programme, in response to the conclusion of the Millbrook Proving Ground assessment; and if he will make a statement.
16 June 2021
The independent Millbrook trials have been commissioned and are due to conclude next month. The Ministry of Defence will carefully consider the results of the trials to determine what further steps may be required. The Ministry of Defence will not take Ajax into Initial Operating Capability until the Department are satisfied that the capability meets our requirements.
Ajax Vehicles: Procurement
UIN 13866, tabled on 10 June 2021
Mr Kevan Jones
To ask the Secretary of State for Defence, how many AJAX (a) hulls, (b) turrets (c) vehicles have been produced by General Dynamics to date.
15 June 2021
As at the end of May 2021, General Dynamics has completed 263 hulls. 58 turrets have been manufactured under a sub-contract with Lockheed Martin. A total of 107 vehicles have been produced.
BATTLESPACE Comment: The choice of Millbrook, not ATDU for the ‘Trails’ suggest that the problems identified are inherent in the automotive structure of the vehicle which requires the automotive engineering capability resident at Millbrook, which, historically, has been associated with wheeled vehicle engineering, not tracks, so the problem must be serious! The Editor was involved in the approval for the 6×6 Sandringham 6 Land Rover at MIRA in 1980 and to say that ‘and are due to conclude next month,’ appears to be a wish rather than reality. Trials routinely find new problems associated with the original vibration problems such as EMC and last longer than one month. The Ajax Trials Report then has to be published and examined by the Army and DE&S and then the required fix, possibly between £1m per vehicle (£250m budget for the current fleet built?), that is if the fix can be made? Thus, in our view, Initial Operating Capability (IOC), is months if not years away. Puma required a fix which took 12-118 months in Germany at a cost estimated to be £200m. This is going to be a long haul.
16 June 21. MoD was warned of Ajax tank trial risk. Ministry of Defence officials were alerted to problems with its new light tanks programme more than 11 months before it suspended training over fears that equipment was injuring troops.
Jeremy Quin, the defence procurement minister, admitted that at the end of 2019 soldiers carried out pre-trial training on the Ajax armoured vehicles and that there were anecdotal reports of vibration issues. In July last year soldiers reported noise problems, and in September a medical report raised the possibility of injuries from the noise.
However, it was not until November 6 that the training was suspended for four months. Francis Tusa, a defence expert, said: “Bearing in mind the MoD and officers have a duty of care, why the hell didn’t someone stop the trials?”
The Ajax was chosen in 2010, and a contract signed four years later required the first vehicles to be delivered in 2017, but the target was missed.
A report leaked this month revealed that crew carrying out trials on the vehicle were operating under “stringent limitations of use” which meant their time in it was limited to 90 minutes and they could not exceed 20mph.
Crews had said that their hearing was damaged and they had suffered nausea, swollen joints and tinnitus inside the Ajax armoured vehicles.
Quin said on Monday that in 2019, soldiers were invited to do pre-trials training on prototype Ajax variants. “While the on-board sensors did not register any issues, there were anecdotal reports of vibration,” he said. In September last year, a “medical staff report raised the possibility of noise injuries”.
Industry sources said that the medical report was not passed to those doing the trials. MoD sources denied this.
The trials were restarted in March with mitigations such as better headsets. The problems are being assessed and a report is expected next month.
An MoD spokeswoman said: “After a small number of soldiers in Ajax trials reported noise issues, the army took steps to mitigate against the risk to hearing . . . When investigations found definitive concerns, trials were halted.” (Source: The Times)
11 June 21. UK looks to boost Boxer numbers. Additional orders for Boxer armoured vehicles have been indicated by the UK defence procurement minister as he revealed the variant mix of the first batch of 523 Boxers on order for the British Army. The UK is looking to increase the number of Boxer armoured vehicles it is procuring beyond the 523 it has already ordered. (Crown Copyright)
In a written ministerial statement on 9 June, Jeremy Quin confirmed that the UK Ministry of Defence was “looking to enhance and uplift the size of the total UK Boxer order as we work to implement the Integrated Review”.
Quin said, “this may include new variants and partnering opportunities with industry and our allies”.
Ministry sources told Janes on 11 June that the numbers are expected to be firmed up by the British Army’s management board, which is scheduled to meet in the last week of this month. UK Defence Secretary Ben Wallace chairs the board, which is to receive and consider a package of plans to downsize the British Army to 72,500 soldiers, recast its force structure and equipment procurement plans.
“The Army Board is sitting at the end of the month and it will firm up plans announced in the Integrated Review,” said the source. “We are looking to accelerate and increase the Boxer order but we don’t have the detail on numbers and cost yet as we are working that out with industry. The army is still having conversations around variants and requirements. (Source: Jane’s)
14 June 21. China delivers 100 military vehicles to Lebanon. Lebanon’s military has received 60 B80VJ and 40 Sinotruk Howo vehicles as part of military assistance from China.
The delivery ceremony was held at the Logistic Brigade in Baabda on June 11 in the presence of China’s Ambassador to Lebanon Qian Minjian, Chinese military attaché Brig. Gen. Zheng Yuchong and Lebanonese General Inspector Maj. Gen. Milad Ishaq, representing Armed Forces Commander Gen. Joseph Aoun.
The B80VJ is a four-wheel vehicle designed and manufactured by the Chinese company Beijing Auto. It can perform the roles of a command vehicle, utility vehicle and light assault vehicle, and it is expected to increase the mobility of the Lebanese Army. It is capable of carrying a machine gun or a light rocket launcher, but the 60 units sent to Lebanon are not armed.
The Howo is a six-wheel drive military tractor truck produced by Chinese firm Sinotruk.
The vehicles will not go to a specific brigade, but rather divided among units to facilitate transportation and training, a military source with knowledge of the acquisition told Defense News on condition of anonymity.
The source said the aid does not include spare parts for the vehicles.
Asked whether the military aid represents a geopolitical shift from the West to the East, retired Lebanese Army Brig. Gen. Maroun Hitti disagreed with that notice. “There is no conflict arena created by this donation between China and the West,” said Hitti, who previously served as the director of operations and the deputy chief of staff for planning.
He added that, while the vehicles are brand new, the military will eventually have to buy spare parts from China. (Source: Defense News)
14 Jun 21. Brazil to launch tender for modernising Leopard 1A5BR MBTs. The Brazilian Army is seeking to upgrade its Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) Leopard 1A5BR main battle tank (MBT) through a competition for local modernisation. The request for information (RFI) and request for proposals (RFPs) are scheduled to be issued by the Directorate of Materiel, part of the Logistics Command, in 2022 to modernise 116 of the existing 220 MBTs, the army told Janes. The upgrade is part of the 2020–39 Armoured Forces Sub-program of the Army Strategic Program for Obtaining Full Operational Capability. It is meant to address the tank’s obsolescence and extend its lifespan by more than 15 years.
Requirements were formally approved on 12 February 2020 and formal clearance to proceed with the effort was given on 17 December 2020.
The vehicles will principally receive a fully electric turret drive system, commander’s independent sight, modernised EMES 18 fire-control system, driver’s thermal imager, climate control unit, and automatic fire suppression system for the engine compartment.
A government furnished command-and-control suite consisting of an L3Harris Falcon III RF-7800V-V51x VHF radio, Thales SOTAS IP intercom, Centro de Desenvolvimento de Sistemas GCB battle management system, and AEL Sistemas CTM rugged tactical computer will be added to the MBTs.
The requirement also includes provisions to add a combat dozer blade, full-width surface clearance device, remote weapon station, and add-on armor protection kit.
Options could add an inertial navigation system, 360° laser warning system, active or passive protection system, auxiliary power unit, situational awareness system, and CBRN defence kit. (Source: Jane’s)
14 June 21. Texelis and CNIM team for new engineer vehicle. France’s Texelis and CNIM have teamed to meet a future French Army requirement for a new combat engineer vehicle called Moyen d’Appui au Contact (MAC).
Texelis has experience developing and manufacturing complete drive lines as well as chassis, and is supplying the complete mobility package for the French Army’s new Serval 4×4 armoured personnel carrier (APC) that is undergoing trials ahead of production at the Nexter Roanne facility. CNIM (Constructions Industrielles de la Meditérranée) has experience supplying the French Army and export customers with engineer equipment, with the most recent order being for supplying 10 Poseur de Travures de l’Avant modular assault bridges that are transported and launched by a 10×10 vehicle.
According to Jean Vandel, managing director for defence at Texelis, “there will be a third member of the consortium, which will be announced in the not too distant future”.
Industry sources expect the French Direction générale de l’armement (DGA) to issue a request for information in early 2022 for the MAC, which will replace the tracked Engin Blindé du Génie (EBG) combat engineer tractor. The exact number of MAC required has not been finalised but could range from 75 to over 100 units, according to industry sources.
The deployed EBG is based on components of the AMX-30 main battle tank, which was phased out of French Army service years ago. A total of 71 EBGs were built at the now Nexter Roanne facility and 54 of these were upgraded to extend their operational lives, with final deliveries in early 2014 under the designation EBG Valorise (EBG Val). (Source: Jane’s)
14 Jun 21 ERRATUM: In our piece ‘Boxer, no work for UK SMEs?’ (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.23 ISSUE 24, 14 June 2021), we said, ‘BATTLESPACE has been contacted by a number of UK SMEs who bid for the Boxer UK content Programme on the invitation of RBSL and Rheinmetall and KME at various Industry Days.’ We should have said KMW not KME and apologise for the error. We thank Jamie Boulet for pointing this out.
07 June 21. Milanion’s upgraded AGEMA UGV was showcased at the Arms and Security 21 trade show in Kyiv on June 15 – 18, 2021. Following a successful show of capabilities at IDEX 2021, Milanion’s unmanned autonomous land and maritime platforms have received a significant surge in global interest, with Ukraine leading the way. Milanion management has responded to this interest by dispatching a team to participate in the Arms and Security 21 exhibition in Kyiv, showcasing the fully amphibious and modular AGEMA UGV.
Engineered for the most demanding missions the AGEMA is simple to operate, affordable, and configured to customer requirements with a range of payloads providing interoperability between systems for a wide range of operational missions.
“As an agile company, Milanion is able to respond with speed to interest from new markets. Ukraine is an important market for us, and our flagship AGEMA UGV is equipped with world-class technologies to provide cutting-edge versatility, security, functionality, and reliability for multi-mission support capabilities” – Davinder Dogra – Milanion, CEO.(Source: joint-forces.com)
09 Jun 21. UK MoD calls in experts to assess ‘serious’ Ajax issues. Independent experts are to assess “serious” vibration issues with the General Dynamics Land Systems-UK (GDLS-UK) Ajax family of armoured vehicles after the company did not report the problem to the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD).
UK Defence Procurement Minister Jeremy Quin told Parliament on 8 June of the move to have Ajax vehicles assessed for vibration by the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.
Quin described the vibration issues as “serious” but revealed that GDLS-UK had not reported the issue from its own company trials. The issue was detected by MoD experts, he said.
Millbrook experts are expected to report back by the end of July, said the minister. They are to place sensors “all over the vehicles to test where the vibration is happening and whether we can isolate it. It may be resolvable quickly; it may not be”.
“We are concerned about vibration,” said Quin. “I have to say that over many thousands of miles of testing General Dynamics has not had the same experience of vibration, but I absolutely trust the reports that have come to me from our service personnel. We are determined to get to the bottom of this. I can assure [Parliament] that we will not take anything into initial operating capability [IOC] until we are satisfied that we are getting the kit that we require.” (Source: Jane’s)
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Contact: David Parkman