Sponsored by TEK Military Seating Limited
25 Jun 21. France awards Leclerc upgrade contract to Nexter. The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, awarded Nexter the mid-life update (MLU) contract for 200 Leclerc main battle tanks on 1 June, French Armed Forces Ministry spokesperson Hervé Grandjean announced at the ministry’s weekly briefing on 24 June. The Leclerc entered service in 1993, and the upgraded Leclerc XLR will serve until it is replaced by the Franco-German Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) in about 2040. The first refurbished tanks will be delivered in 2022, with 50 to be delivered in 2024 and 122 to be upgraded in 2025 and the programme expected to be completed in 2028. The MLU design contract was awarded to Nexter in March 2015. The MLU includes the integration of the Leclerc into the Scorpion system, the French Army’s digital network, and equipping it with the SICS combat information system from Atos and the Contact radio from Thales. This will allow voice and data to be exchanged simultaneously among network subscribers, vehicles (including Griffon, Jaguar, and VBL armoured vehicles), dismounted soldiers, and eventually Tigre (Tiger) Mk3 attack helicopters. The Leclerc XLR will also feature better protection against improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades, as well as an FN Herstal 50-cal remote weapon system (RWS). The MLU will also deal with obsolescence issues, for example the fire-control computer authorising the use of new 120 mm ammunition that is yet to be detailed and retaining the capability of the moving tank to hit static or mobile targets. There are 17 Leclerc DCL armoured recovery vehicles (ARVs) also being upgraded, including the integration of a 50-cal RWS. (Source: Jane’s)
24 June 21. WCSP cancellation outline in NAO Report, points the finger at CT40 and lack of joined up integration. The Ministry of Defence (the Department) and suppliers have faced a range of contract management challenges Programme Stage reached Procurement approach Prime or lead contractor Main contract management issues Warrior armoured vehicle upgrade Cancelled in March 2021, having been in the ‘demonstration’ phase with the prime contractor since 2011. Competitive Lockheed Martin UK (LMUK) The Department’s contracting approach to the work required on the vehicle, notably the fitting of a new turret equipped with a cannon supplied under a separate contract, left it with a challenging task in integrating the contributions of a range of suppliers and providing key components to the lead contractor. The lead contractor and supplier of the cannon were not in a contractual relationship although their work was interdependent. Design delays affected progress from 2011 and the contract with the prime contractor was re-set in 2014. A significant contract amendment followed in 2017 to incorporate integration of the cannon which had only been at the prototype stage at the time of the 2014 re-set. The Department was responsible for delivering the cannon to the prime contractor as Government Furnished Assets (GFA). In evidence to the House of Commons Defence Committee in 2020, LMUK stated that some 80% of schedule delays were related to factors other than its design work.4 The Department stated that it “broadly agreed” with this assessment during the accompanying evidence session. By the end of 2018, the Department’s view was that senior engagement with the prime contractor, new governance procedures, and personnel changes had improved working relationships. The improved working relationships continued during 2019 and 2020. In October 2020, the Infrastructure and Projects Authority (IPA) did not consider the programme ready to proceed to the full manufacture stage. Subsequently, the Department paused progress of the Full Business Case towards approval as part of its consideration of the Integrated Review, prior to cancellation in March 2021. https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Improving-the-performance-of-major-equipment-contracts.pdf
24 June 21. NAO Report comments on Ajax. Ajax armoured vehicle In the demonstration and manufacture phase to deliver since 2010 for delivery of 589 vehicles. Competitive General Dynamics United Kingdom Ltd In 2014, the Department negotiated a deal for the manufacturing contract that accommodated a reduced order size without increase in unit price, in return for granting the supplier a time extension for the demonstration phase. Both the Department and supplier underestimated the complexity of the work involved in developing a range of vehicle types, including gaining safety accreditation. The Department decided to run the design and manufacture phases concurrently in pursuit of substantial savings and to ensure timely delivery of the capability. This ultimately led to a 15-month renegotiation, before a re-baselining of the contract in 2019. The purpose of the re-baselining was to maintain the existing schedule, settle outstanding disputes and incorporate customer changes to requirement, while making some concessions on capability at no additional cost to the Department. Achievement of key milestones remains challenging with the level of resource available to the delivery team. In April 2021, a review by the IPA raised serious concerns about the deliverability of Ajax to the current timetable. The Department told us that it continues to consider Initial Operating Capability (IOC) achievable by the end of June 2021, despite the senior responsible owner’s rating of delivery confidence as ‘red.’ https://www.nao.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2021/06/Improving-the-performance-of-major-equipment-contracts.pdf
25 June 21. Ajax Trials – a month is a long time in politics! (See: BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.23 ISSUE 25, 21 June 2021 More PQs on Ajax) Jeremy Quin answered a PQ and said that ‘The independent Millbrook trials have been commissioned and are due to conclude next month.’ BATTLESPACE now understands that Ben Wallace, Secretary of State for Defence, said to the Select Committee this week that he expected the Trials to last until at least September. Assuming the Trails end at the end of September, the Report will then have to be written and approved internally at Millbrook before it goes to the MoD Customer. We have Christmas creeping up by then, so once the Report is read and its recommendations approved, the required engineering changes to Ajax, which BATTLESPACE understands may be charged to GDUK, will have to eb approved and the required jigs built and parts ordered, which we understand also includes EMC concerns which we highlighted four years ago. So don’t expect to see an Ajax ISD until mid-2022 at the earliest. With the Ajax project red flagged by the NAO, the spectre of outright cancellation remains particularly given the effect on the hearing of drivers, ten of whom are rumoured to have had permanent hearing damage.
24 Jun 21. US Lawmakers question US Army’s decision to cut Abrams upgrade funding and JLTV in FY 2022. US Army leaders are continuing to defend their fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request to include proposed cuts to two ground vehicle programmes: the M1 Abrams tank and the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV).
When the service’s proposed budget was delivered to lawmakers in late May, it included USD981m for the Abrams tank upgrade programme to cover 70 vehicles next year. This is a decrease from the enacted FY 2021 level for USD1.3bn total: USD968mi for 102 platforms, plus an additional USD352m for a separate M1 Abrams modification programme. The latter line item was scrapped in the FY 2022 budget request and funds ‘realigned’ into one pot.
Funds for this merged line item fund upgrades including the M1A2 System Enhancement Program version 3 (SEPv3) configuration, modifying the fielded tank fleet, and managing the industrial base, according to budget documents. Such modifications to fielded tanks includes integration of active protection systems, lethality enhancements, gun tube durability improvements, vehicle smoke, and network upgrades.
“Given the rapid modernisation of Russia and China‘s armoured forces, I have some concerns that the army‘s budget drops significantly below what‘s necessary to modernise the full brigade of Abrams tanks,” Senator Jerry Moran said during a 22 June Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. (Source: Jane’s)
23 June 21. Aselsan unveils new weapons and capabilities for armored combat vehicle. Turkey’s state-controlled military electronics company Aselsan has unveiled the first of what will become an upgraded armored combat vehicle used by the military.
The upgraded vehicle was launched at the 3rd Productivity and Technology Exhibition in Turkey, held June 9-12.
In the first phase of the upgrade program, Aselsan will modernize 133 vehicles, lengthening their life span and survivability, a company official told Defense News on June 18. The official said the upgraded vehicles will be delivered between 2021 and 2023. He was not authorized to say how many of the first batch was already delivered.
The first batch of vehicles is part of a whole convoy of more than 2,000 produced by FMC Nurol Savunma Sanayi between 1989 and 2003 under license from the U.S.-based company FMC Corporation. The vehicles came in four different configurations.
In December 2019, FNSS (formerly FMC Nurol Savunma Sanayi) signed a contract with Turkish defense procurement agency SSB — or Presidency of Defense Industries — to upgrade the armored vehicles, most of which are still in service. Under the program, dubbed ZMA-15, the vehicles will be fitted with high-tech equipment.
One of the new features is the NEFER, an unmanned turret system, which was unveiled with the armored combat vehicle during the exhibition this month.
The NEFER is designed to use both NATO-grade and Russian weapon systems. Turkey is currently facing U.S. sanctions for its purchase of the Russian-made S-400 air defense system. As part of the sanctions, Turkey was kicked out of the U.S.-led, multinational consortium that builds the fifth-generation F-35 fighter jet.
Other upgrades on the ACV include automatic target tracking, a laser warning system, a close-distance surveillance system, a modern cruise system, mine-protected seats, increased ballistic protection and anti-mine protection. (Source: Defense News)
24 June 21. Mack Defense Starts M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck Production. Mack Defense is now producing Heavy Dump Trucks (HDT) at the Mack Experience Center, following an investment of $6.5m to create a dedicated production line at the facility. The investment will help fulfill the Mack Defense M917A3 contract with the U.S. Army, as well as allow the production of other vehicle variants.
“The investment to create a dedicated HDT product line at the Mack Experience Center will increase production efficiencies,” said David Hartzell, president of Mack Defense. “We are proud to continue the fulfillment of our current contract with the U.S. Army and support our armed forces.”
Previously, non-armored HDT vehicles started production at Lehigh Valley Operations (LVO), where all Mack Truck Class 8 vehicles for North America and export are assembled. The HDT vehicle was then transported to the Mack Experience Center, where final assembly including the dump body was added.
Production of the HDT trucks at the Mack Experience Center began in Q1 2021. The production line is located in the Mack Experience Center in the former Customer Adaptation Center, where vehicle modifications for Mack trucks occurred. All of that space will be used for production. The Customer Adaptation Center has since moved to LVO. The HDT is based on the civilian Mack Granite® model, one of the top-selling vocational trucks in North America. The M917A3 HDT was spec’d with heavier-duty rear axles, all-wheel drive, increased suspension ride height and other features to meet the U.S. Army needs. Initial deliveries of the Mack Defense M917A3 HDT began in May 2021.
23 June 21. Will the Australian Abrams upgrades weigh heavy on Army capability?
Defence recently made the decision to upgrade its existing fleet of Abrams tanks, but should the Commonwealth have considered alternatives?
Last month, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) approved a US$1.7bn ($2.2bn) Commonwealth government request to purchase M1A1 Tank structures/hulls provided from stock for the production of:
- 75 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams Main Battle Tanks;
- 29 M1150 Assault Breacher Vehicles;
- 18 M1074 Joint Assault Bridges;
- six M88A2 Hercules Combat Recovery Vehicles; and
- 122 AGT1500 gas turbine engines.
The M1A2 SEPv3 Main Battle Tanks will upgrade the existing fleet, with no changes to Royal Australian Armoured Corps force structure.
However, the purchase has been scrutinised by observers, who have questioned the combat application of heavy armoured vehicles in the Australian context, with the Army last deploying tanks in the Vietnam War.
Declan Sullivan, post-graduate in strategic studies from the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre at the Australian National University, weighs in on the debate in a piece published by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
Sullivan notes the challenges associated with deploying the heavier SEPv3 variant of the Abrams tank, particularly in amphibious warfare operations.
“They’re too heavy for our amphibious landing boats and for many of the underdeveloped or degraded roads and bridges in our near region, as well as in large parts of northern Australia,” he writes.
He acknowledges that such platforms play a critical role in supporting infantry, referencing remarks made by retired Major General and Liberal senator Jim Molan, who criticised Australia’s decision not to deploy the tanks in Afghanistan.
However, Sullivan argues that tanks have been stuck in a wider “holding pattern” ahead of the development of next-generation platforms.
“The M1A2 SEPv3 is just the latest in a line of life-extension upgrades for the M1 Abrams platform, which is expected to be in service in the US until at least 2030, with further upgrades planned,” he writes.
Other countries, Sullivan observes, have taken “half-steps” in pursuit of stop-gap solutions.
“The French and Germans are in the early stages of development of a ‘main ground combat system’ to replace their respective Leclerc and Leopard 2 platforms by 2040. It so far appears to be a consolidation of current capabilities but may have an unmanned component,” he continues.
“The British have just announced that they’re upgrading their Challenger 2 tanks to ‘Challenger 3’ status, with improved targeting and data systems, and a NATO-standard smooth-bore cannon, but this will just be a conversion of existing tanks, rather than the development of a new platform.
“Australia’s purchase of upgraded models fits this trend as militaries await development of new technologies and assess the new tactical environment tanks will operate in.”
According to Sullivan, a key component of future heavy armoured platforms would be unmanned capability, pointing to Russia’s reported development of an unmanned version of its T-14 Armata tank and the UK’s facilitation of such technology in its Challenger 3 upgrade.
“Crucially for Australia’s tank purchase, the M1A2 SEPv3 doesn’t have an unmanned capability,” Sullivan adds.
Sullivan continues: “Future tank platforms may be split between different units, with a manned control unit accompanied by unmanned ‘loyal tankmen’ providing most, if not all, of the firepower.
“Such platforms have barely entered the concept phase and do little to solve the current challenge of how to deploy today’s heavy tanks.”
The analyst believes that Australia’s latest tank upgrades, initially scheduled to operate until 2035, could likely extend the platform’s operating life to at least the 2040s.
Despite acknowledging that the tanks should continue to be operated by the Australian Army, Sullivan claims that Defence has “missed an opportunity” to consider lighter alternatives, including tapping into the US Army’s light tank ‘mobile protected firepower’ program, set to deploy its first units by 2025.
“The M1A2 SEPv3 is a continuation of the Army’s tank capabilities: fast, powerful, reliable and overkill and overweight for Australia’s needs, with little room to manoeuvre for future developments,” he adds.
“Australia isn’t alone maintaining the status quo with its tanks until new technologies and doctrines emerge, but in the complex and challenging new international security environment Australia faces we must be doing more than just treading water.” (Source: Defence Connect)
23 June 21. Delivery of the GTK Boxer vehicles ordered by the Bundeswehr now completed. ARTEC GmbH, on behalf of its parent companies Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall, has officially handed over the last of the Boxer armoured transport vehicles (GTK) ordered to date by the Bundeswehr to representatives of the Federal procurement agency (BAAINBw) and the Ministry of Defence.
The contract for the 2nd batch, which was concluded in December 2015, comprised 131 GTK Boxers and was worth EUR478m. All the experience gained with modifications from the successful Afghanistan mission have been incorporated into this A2 version.
Despite the pandemic, which in some cases had a significant impact on delivery dates, the contractual deadlines were met thanks to the constructive, pragmatic and trusting cooperation between the industry and the customer.
In total, the two parent companies of ARTEC GmbH have delivered 405 Boxer vehicles to the Bundeswehr. Among them were 72 Boxers in the ambulance variant, 65 command vehicles and 256 infantry group vehicles.
The combat upgrade commissioned by the Bundeswehr in 2017 provides for all Boxer vehicles, including those from the 1st batch, to be adapted to the A2 design standard.
Most recently, in February 2021, the corresponding upgrade of a second batch of Boxer command vehicles to the A2 standard was contracted, so that from 2024 the entire fleet of a total of 65 German Boxer command vehicles will be available at the latest level.
ARTEC GmbH was founded in 1999 and is a joint venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann GmbH & Co. KG and Rheinmetall.
The company coordinates series production and serves as the point of contact for all export issues relating to the Boxer. (Source: Defence Connect)
22 June 21. AM General Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Egyptian Ministry of Military Production to Establish a Strategic Automotive Partnership. AM General, global military-grade tactical vehicle and mobility systems provider, signed a memorandum of understanding with the Egyptian Ministry of Military Production (MoMP) to facilitate Egypt’s development of its domestic military automobile industry. The long-term partnership would establish a phased approach to investigate ways in which AM General can collaborate with the MoMP to develop and build tactical vehicles in-country.
“Today’s signing ceremony further solidifies our long-standing relationship with the government of Egypt,” said Andy Hove, AM General President and CEO. “We look forward to applying our manufacturing and design expertise to help grow the Egyptian automotive industry.”
This collaboration will help facilitate the development of a domestic military automobile industry in Egypt. Together with the MoMP, the company will study the feasibility of developing an in-country assembly and manufacturing capability which will enable the MoMP to replace and/or supplement its existing HUMVEE fleet. The study will result in the development of a detailed plan to move forward with partnership agreement. (Source: PR Newswire)
22 Jun 21. Zambian military parades new equipment. The Zambia Defence Force displayed new vehicles and weapon systems, many of them Israeli made, during the Defence Force Day parade on 13 June.
Most notably, amateur video of the parade showed it included six Elbit ATMOS M46 wheeled self-propelled howitzers (SPHs) and six Elbit Spear MK2 self-propelled mortars.
The Zambian howitzers use the 130 mm M-46 gun mounted on a Czech 6×6 Tatra 10-tonne chassis. This is one of a range of ATMOS upgrades Elbit offers for legacy towed artillery, although Zambia appears to be the first known customer for the M-46 variant. The upgrade process typically includes modern navigation, fire control, and command-and-control systems.
The Spear MK2 is a soft recoil mortar fitted with a computerised fire control system paired with an automatic laying and inertial navigation systems for greater accuracy. The Zambian variant appears to be the same as the one adopted by Thailand and uses an Indian Tata Trucks LPTA 713TC 4×4 chassis.
Israeli unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were also on display, with the Zambian Air Force (ZAF) showing three Elbit Hermes 450s: an acquisition it confirmed in 2018. The army meanwhile displayed two smaller Elbit Skylark UAVs.
Previously unseen Israeli-made firearms were also seen being carried by the Zambian Army Special Forces Group in the form of IWI Tavor assault rifles fitted with grenade launchers and Galil sniper rifles. The Zambian Army was already known to use Galil ACE rifles. (Source: Jane’s)
18 June 21. Milrem Robotics Presents the Robotic Combat Vehicle Candidate for US Army’s RCV-M Program. The leading robotics and autonomous systems developer in Europe, Milrem Robotics will present their Type-X Robotic Combat Vehicle designed to meet the US Army’s RCV-M program at this year’s event.
“The Type-X is designed to be upgradable to meet the needs and requirements of various armed forces. That is one of its most unique features,” explained Sverker Svärdby, Head of Systems Engineering at Milrem Robotics. “Thanks to this, the Type-X will fit nicely into to RCV-M program and will be able to support amphibious missions,” Svärdby added.
The Type-X provides equal or overmatching firepower and tactical usage to a unit equipped with Infantry Fighting vehicles and gives mechanized units the means to breach enemy defensive positions with minimal risk to own troops. “Replacing a lost RCV is purely a logistical nuance,” said Svärdby.
The Type-X can be fitted with a cannon up to 50 mm, anti-tank missiles, and a tethered drone for continuous situational awareness.
The vehicle is equipped with intelligent functions such as follow-me, waypoint navigation, and obstacle detection with Artificial Intelligence being part of the algorithms. With the Type-X, Milrem Robotics also introduces a feature called Indirect Drive that allows remote-controlled operations at higher speeds.
The Type-X has been designed with intelligent predictive maintenance combined with a Health and Usage Monitoring System and Line Replacement Unit principle to ensure a low Through Lifecycle Cost and logistic footprint. Also, its hybrid powertrain and rubber tracks will reduce lifecycle costs significantly.
To develop the Type-X RCV Milrem Robotics utilized its knowledge gained from developing its flagship product the THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicle, intended to support dismounted troops, that has already been acquired by eleven countries, seven of which are members of NATO. (Source: ASD Network)
17 June 21. UK details Boxer variants and confirms plans for bigger fleet. The UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) has released more details on what variants of Boxer Mechanised Infantry Vehicles (MIV) it is acquiring and confirmed it is looking to increase the overall size of its Boxer fleet.
The British Army is set to receive 523 Boxer MIVS across four variants; Armoured Personnel Carriers (APCs), Equipment Support, Command, Control, Communication, Computers & Information (C4I), and ambulances.
In its March Defence Command Paper, the MOD said that Boxer would replace the in-service Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle. However, this will be an indirect replacement with Boxer operating alongside Ajax, Challenger 3, and Apache attack helicopters as part of a ‘networked combat system of systems operating concept.’
Responding to a Parliamentary question about details of the Boxer order, Minister for Defence Procurement Jeremy Quin said: “Details of the variants of Boxer currently on order by quantity can be found in the table below.
“The department is looking to enhance and uplift the size of the total UK Boxer order as we work to implement the Integrated Review. This may include new variants and partnering opportunities with industry and our allies.”
While the UK has not ordered a turreted variant of the Boxer, the British Army is analysing potential lethality enhancements that could see an infantry fighting variant of the vehicle procured in the future.
The UK is also currently looking to procure a new mobile fires platform to replace or upgrade the in-service AS90 self-propelled artillery. A potential candidate for the future artillery system could be the Boxer-based Remote Controlled Howitzer 155mm (RCH155) built by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann.
Of its 523 Boxer MIVs, the UK will receive 85 infantry carrying vehicles, 60 engineer section vehicles, 62 recce and fire support vehicles, 28 mortar carriers, and 50 equipment support and repair platforms.
The British Army will also acquire a mix of 123 command and control vehicles and C2-utility vehicles, 19 observation post vehicles, 24 beyond-line-of-sight platforms, 11 electronic warfare & SIGINT (signals intelligence) vehicles and 61 ambulances.
The UK vehicles Remote Weapon Stations will be equipped with a mix of Heavy Machine Guns (HMG), Grenade Machine Guns (GMG) and General Purpose Machine Guns (GPMG).
Some Boxer variants are also expected to be equipped with Javelin anti-tank missiles that will be capable of being fired from under armour.
The configuration of the mortar carrying Boxer is said to be subject to ongoing investigation following the publication of the UK’s Integrated Review. (Source: army-technology.com)
TEK Military Seating Limited
TEK Military Seating Limited is a UK based designer and manufacturer of ProTEK military vehicle seating which offer the highest standards of safety and protection. The ProTEK brand is well respected across the globe for its robust construction, innovative design, built in modularity and cost effectiveness. Our superior products are supported by our experienced team who endeavor to offer unrivalled service to our customers from enquiry, through design and acceptance, to through life support.
From its inception ProTEK seats have been designed around a family of innovative seat frames onto which tested and certified modules can be fitted to create a bespoke solution for the user. These include Blast protection to Stanag 4569 standards, vibration reduction, head and body protection, seat risers and turntables, fore & aft adjustment, and seat back rake along with viable seat dimensions without the need for additional tooling costs.
Contact: David Parkman