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23 Jul 21. US Army chooses competitors to design infantry fighting vehicle replacement. The U.S. Army has chosen five teams to compete to design the replacement for its Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle. Point Blank Enterprises, Oshkosh Defense, BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles will all conjure up rough digital concept designs for the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle, the Army announced July 23. The total award value for all five contracts is approximately $299.4m. Oshkosh will work with leading South Korean defense company Hanwha as a partner, according to previous coverage, and the Rheinmetall team also includes Raytheon Technologies, Textron and L3Harris Technologies. Miami-based Point Blank is the only nontraditional company or small business to win a contract. Mettle Ops, a small family-owned, Michigan-based company, had also submitted a bid to design an OMFV concept, and Roush Defense is also believed to have bid. Roughly a year and a half ago, the Army, in its first attempt to hold a competition to replace Bradley, received just one physical bid sample from GDLS by its set deadline in October 2019. Defense News broke the news that the only other entry — the Lynx 41 from a Rheinmetall and Raytheon team — was disqualified because it wasn’t delivered on time to Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland. But the writing was already on the wall that the OMFV’s development schedule and requirements had doomed the program when BAE Systems, which manufactures the Bradley, bowed out of the competition months before the deadline.
Instead of moving forward with just one option, the Army canceled its OMFV competition, and took a step back to come up with a plan that would better foster a robust competition over a more reasonable timeline. The Army not only dropped the plan to require a physical bid sample at the outset, it instead mapped out a five-phased effort that begins with an initial design phase then moves into a detailed design phase, followed by prototyping, testing and production. Those designs will inform the Abbreviated-Concept Development Document (A-CDD) expected to be published in the first quarter of fiscal 2022. And instead of asking for designs as part of the first phase of competition, the Army asked how companies would approach developing designs for an OMFV. The service plans to spend $4.6bn from fiscal 2022 through FY26 on OMFV, so it is turning to industry input earlier and more than ever.
“All the steps from now until the start of phase three [detailed design phase], which is a year from now, are meant to add granularity, inform the requirements process, so that we can get that in the hands of the acquisition professionals and the contracting professionals and we can write a [request for proposals] next year with some really solid and realistic goals and requirements,” Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, who is in charge of the Army’s next-generation combat vehicle efforts, told reporters in a briefing just ahead of the contracts announcement.
Over the course of the next 15 months, the teams will take their initial concepts, share those with the government and “begin a back and forth dialogue between what we see as value in their concepts,” Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, program executive officer for Ground Combat Systems, said during the briefing.
“Some of that will include putting their concepts through modeling and simulation to demonstrate some of the operational value of some of those ideas. We, the government, will refine the requirements and specifications, feed that back out to the industry so they can update their concepts and repeat that cycle. There will be at least two cycles of requirements and specification updates back and forth with industry before the conclusion of the concept design phase at which point we expect the vendors to have highly refined concepts and be ready for actual design.”
Following the concept design phase, the Army will move into a detailed design phase, through another full and open competition, that will be executed over the course of FY23 and FY24. Awards for up to three contracts are expected in the second quarter of FY23.
The prototyping phase will begin in FY25 and vehicle testing will begin in FY26 and wrap up the following year with a production decision planned for the fourth quarter of FY27. Full-rate production is expected to begin in the second quarter of FY30.
In parallel to the concept design phase, the Army will develop an open architecture for OMFV.
An open architecture has risen to the top of the OMFV planner’s list of required capability, particularly after seeing the need to be networked with other capabilities across the battlefield and at the forward edge at Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Grounds, Arizona, over the summer.
The Army established a voluntary consortium in January 2021 that will represent industry, government and academia, in order to develop such an open architecture.
“We’ve shared our initial set of standards for the modular open system architecture” with industry, Dean said, “where they’re providing feedback to us, and we’re iterating on that. That will close midway in this concept design phase so that those final standards can be incorporated into the design concepts that the contractors are completing.”
Overall, to choose the winning teams, the Army graded the bidders in the competition on how they intended to take characteristics and work those into specific requirements and specifications to evolve preliminary concepts, Dean said.
“They could have a concept in mind that they used as the reference for that approach,” Dean said, but the Army was really trying to evaluate how it would use tools to take a broad set of requirements, narrow that into specifics, understand what it means and make tradeoffs.
The proposals had to show how the Army could take its concepts and validate data through modeling and simulation that shows potential designs are more than just slideshow presentations and sketches, but could become a working vehicle, Dean said.
The Army also weighed experience with modular open systems architecture, he said. Bidders had to provide examples where they’ve applied it. “And we actually gave them a specific problem set that said how would you take a modular system approach and integrating a capability around a platform,” Dean said.
The Army also factored in proposal prices and set a ceiling for bids in order to make sure it could award the maximum number of design contracts, according to Dean.
For now the risk of failure in the program is low with a deep pool of teams developing concepts with a great deal of flexibility, according to Coffman.
Yet, “moving forward a year from now, we owe the joint force, the Army, our nation and industry really some refined requirements,” he acknowledged, “and the biggest risk is if we attempt to change those after those decisions are made.
“We have to make an educated decision, have a clear path forward of what is mature, what is yet to be mature. We need to be steadfast, we need to be solid once we make a decision on our requirements. We’re not going to get another bite at this apple.” (Source: Defense News)
22 Jul 21. HoC HCDC Ajax Committee. A reader commented: ‘This scrutiny was as robust as I have ever heard, brutal in places. Mark Francois MP “Rip the plaster off. Cancel it, go for your liquidated damages and move on”. GD (what part is responsible) did not come out well with a confused message set on what is financial risk, technical answers on noise and vibration were inconsistent. The committee also made a side swipe at GD Mission Systems regarding future communication (Land Environment Tactical CIS) which Morpheus is part of another several billions of pound programme that GD are involved.
The confused messages on noise; saying it is the head sets used by the army for radio and crew communication, really! This went on to the engine being powerful, on the move verse static not clarified, or its external noise signature. No mention of suspension, running gear, track patter. Though a suggestion was made that the cracks found were linked to the CT40 firing no mention that many tracked AFVs in development suffer from hull cracking around the sprockets. Summed up as the vehicle does not work, trials suspended and has cost billions so far and could be another Nimrod. In the circumstances the Army defended well, needing the vehicle and the injuries were temporary.
The take away points is the official side Minster DP (Jeremy Quinn) and senior army wish the programme continues, though that could be over ruled by Secretary of State for Defence Bob Wallace. There are significant risks in the programme, financial and Technical, more so for the UK tax payer. Looking in to the short term GD(UK) will have to fix the technical problems before any initial operational capability being declared, this will be key if the programme progresses to full operational capability.
A short diversion on Boxer and Challenger 3 with off the cuff solution engineering on capability gaps.
15 Jun 21. Turkish Armour Aims For Exports. Armoured vehicles designed and manufactured by Turkish companies are now finding their own export markets. For many years the Turkish Land Forces Command (TLFC) deployed large numbers of foreign designed and built armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) including US M48 and M60 main battle tanks (MBTs) and US M113 series of armoured personnel carriers (APC) and variants. More recently large numbers of surplus Porsche Leopard 1 and Krauss-Maffei Leopard 2 MBTs have been supplied by Germany.
Today, Turkey is self-sufficient in all classes of AFVs ranging from MBTs through to tracked and wheeled APCs as well as wheeled vehicles suitable for the internal security vehicle (ISV) role.
In addition to the prime contractors of Turkish AFVs, there are also a number of key Turkish sub-contractors with Aselsan being responsible for fire control systems (FCS) and optronics and MKEK for guns and ammunition.
The two largest AFV contractors in Turkey are FNSS Savunma Sistemleri and Otokar, both of whom have built large numbers of AFVs for the home and increasingly demanding export markets.
In addition to designing AFVs, both of these contractors are involved in the design, development and production of turrets and remote weapon stations (RWS) for their own platforms as well as other export customers.
FNSS Savunma Sistemleri is a joint venture between the now BAE Systems of the USA (49 percent) and the local company of Nurol (51 percent). This company was originally established to undertake production of the Turkish Infantry Fighting Vehicle (TIFV) based on the Armoured Infantry Fighting Vehicle (AIFV) developed in the USA by the now BAE Systems (at that time FMC) which was also adopted by Belgium and the Netherlands. Turkey took delivery of 2,249 TIFV in four basic configurations.
Further development for the export market resulted in the Armoured Combat Vehicle 15 (ACV-15) with the 15 relating to the typical gross vehicle weight (GVW) in tonnes.
Export sales of the ACV-15 have so far been made to Malaysia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
A stretched version of the ACV-15, called the ACV-19, has more volume and payload enabling it to undertake a wider range of battlefield missions. This has been sold to Malaysia (eight fitted with Thales 120mm mortar), Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
FNSS has also been engaged in the upgrading of the M113 series APC to the M113A4 standard. The largest customer has been Saudi Arabia with the work being carried out in country.
The company has also developed two new tracked AFVs as a private venture, the Kaplan 30 New Generation (NG) AFV and Kaplan 20 NG which can both be optimised to meet the end user’s specific operational requirements.
To meet the TLFC need for a highly mobile tank destroyer, FNSS developed the Kaplan 10 and Pars (4×4) platforms which are both amphibious and fitted with a remote controlled turret (RCT) armed with the Russian Kornet-E or Roketsan Mizrak-U anti-tank guided weapons (ATGW).
The company is also producing the Marine Assault Vehicle (MAV) which will be deployed by the new Turkish Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD). It is amphibious, propelled in the water by two water jets positioned either side at the rear. It is fitted with a RWS armed with a 12.7mm machine gun (MG) and a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL).
A total of 27 MAV are being supplied under a contract awarded in 2017 of which 23 are in APC configuration, as well as two command post and two armoured recovery versions.
Under sub-contract to Aselsan, FNSS is providing the Air Defence System Platform for their HISAR surface-to-air missile (SAM) system and the Korkut twin 35mm self-propelled anti-aircraft gun (SPAAG) which have now entered production for Turkey. These leverage from their well-established ACV-15 and ACV-19 platforms.
From Tracks to Wheels
While originally concentrating on tracked AFVs, FNSS has now moved into the wheeled AFV market with the Pars family of 8×8 and 6×6 vehicles.
The first customer was Malaysia which ordered a total of 257 Pars 8×8 in many configurations with first vehicles coming from Turkey followed by local production in Malaysia. Havelsan completed the installation of its AV8 Pars armoured ground vehicle simulator at the KEM Syed Sirajuddin military facility in 2020. The AV8 simulator consists of two trainers, one for advanced driving and the second for operators of the weapon, sensor and turret. Both simulator cabins can be used simultaneously.
The second customer was the Royal Army of Oman who received 172 Pars III of which 145 were in the 8×8 configuration and 27 in the 6×6 configuration.
In 2019 Turkey placed a contract for 100 units, five of which were for the Turkish Gendarmerie with the remaining 95 for the Army, of which 50 are 8×8 and 45 are in 6×6 configuration.
The latest FNSS export development is the Kaplan Medium Tank (MT) which is the result of co-operation between FNSS and PT Pindad of Indonesia who is the launch customer for 18 vehicles. The MT is fitted with the Belgian John Cockerill Defense C3105 turret armed with a 105mm rifled gun fed by an automatic loader with a 7.62mm co-axial machine gun.
The company has also built a batch of 12 Armoured Amphibious Combat Earthmover (AACE) for the TLFC and recently won a contract from the Philippines for an undisclosed number of units, so the production line will start again with first deliveries in 2023.
The company has also supplied the TLFC with the Armoured Amphibious Assault Bridge (AAAB) which is being offered on the export market as the Otter Rapidly Deployable Amphibious Wet Gap Crossing System.
This can be used as a Military Load Class 21 (one unit), MLC 85 (two units) or MLC 120 (three units) in the ferry mode or 12 can be connected together to form a 150m long bridge.
Otokar started designing light AFVs such as the Akrep (Scorpion) 4×4 light reconnaissance vehicle and a 4×4 light APC suitable for the IS role based on a long wheel base Land Rover chassis.
By early 2021 the company had built some 33,000 vehicles, including trucks and AFVs, selling to 36 countries all over the world. The smaller AFVs were followed by the bestselling Cobra (4×4) based on automotive components of the US AM General Expanded Capacity Vehicle (ECV).
The baseline Cobra APC has a crew of two and can carry up to seven dismounts with a variety of roof mounted weapons. There are also more specialised versions, including a reconnaissance and an amphibious variant.
This was followed by a brand new design called Cobra II (4×4) which has more volume and payload and can undertake a wider range of battlefield missions. In 2021 the company launched the Cobra Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) version on the export market which is claimed to combine a high level of survivability and mobility in a modular package. By March 2021, Otokar had built over 4,000 Cobra (4×4) in all versions.
For the export market Otokar developed the Arma in both 8×8 and 6×6 configurations which share 90 percent common components and can be fitted with a wide range of weapons. The 8×8 can be fitted with a wide range of weapons including a two person turret armed with a 105mm gun. The first customer for the Arma 6×6 was Bahrain in the APC configuration with a second customer ordering the 8×8 model.
Further development of the Arma 8×8 resulted in the larger Rabdan for the UAE with the first batch consisting of 100 units fitted with the complete turret of the Russian BMP-3 IFV armed with a 100mm gun (which can also fire a guided projectile), 30mm co-axial cannon and 7.62mm co-axial machine gun.
Production of the Rabdan is now underway in the UAE as Otokar has a joint venture company with Edge of the Abu Dhabi Government and Al Jassor.
As a private venture, Otokar has designed and built the Tulpar IFV (which is called the Safa by the Gulf Cooperation Council) and the more compact Tulpar-S tracked vehicles with the latter being amphibious.
Otokar has not neglected MRAP type vehicles and has developed Kaya I and Kay II as well as the Kale, with all of these being of the 4×4 type. The company is also investing in new technology and has built the prototypes of the Akrep II (4×4) which is being marketed in full electric, diesel and hybrid configurations.
As previously stated, the Turkish Nurol company owns 51 percent of FNSS but then went onto develop the Ejder (6×6) amphibious APC and 70 units were supplied to Georgia, although all marketing of this family of vehicles has now ceased.
Nurol is now concentrating on 4×4 wheeled AFVs with the first of these being the Edjer Yalcin which has been built in significant numbers for the home and export markets.
BMC is a relative newcomer to the AFV domain having built large numbers of trucks for the home and export markets. This provided the basis for the design, development and production of wheeled AFV, especially those optimised for IS type operations.
Otokar was responsible for the design, development and testing of prototypes of the Altay MBT, but the production contract was awarded to BMC who had no experience in the manufacture of highly complex AFVs such as MBTs.
The Altay is a conventional design with driver at front, turret armed 120mm smooth bore gun in the middle and power pack at the rear. It has a computerised FCS with commander and gunner using stabilised day/night sights with an eye safe laser rangefinder. The first production contract for the Altay MBT is for 250 units, with additional orders expected plus more specialised versions.
BMC moved into the design, development and production of MRAP type vehicles, initially for the home market but then for export. The Kipri (4×4) MRAP was supplied first to Turkey but then to export customers include Libya, Qatar and Somalia.
Further development has resulted in a Kipri 6×6 model which offers more volume and payload so enabling it to undertake a wider range of battlefield missions including as an ambulance.
Other BMC MRAP type vehicles include the Vuran (4×4) which can carry nine people and the more compact Amazon (4×4) which can carry seven people.
The Vuran is also used as the platform for the Sungur surface-to-air missile (SAM) system. On the roof is a pedestal with two pods each containing two fire and forget infra-red homing missiles. It has also been fitted with the Aselsan Alkar 120mm turntable mounted mortar fitted with a semi-automatic loading system.
A more recent Turkish AFV contractor is Katmerciler who developed the Hizar (4×4) with the first customer being Turkey. An undisclosed customer in Africa placed a contract worth $20.7m in July 2019.
Overhaul and Upgrade
While the Turkish AFV industry is capable of the design, development and production of a wide range of AFV, tracked and wheeled, the TLFC has extensive facilities for the overhaul and upgrading of AFVs.
It has upgraded the M48 MBTs to the M48T standard and conducted a major upgrade for the M60 to the M60T standard based on an Israeli design and including new armour, power pack, 120mm smooth bore and new computerised FCS.
It also upgraded large numbers of M113 series APC and variants to the diesel powered M113 standard which has the local designation of the M113A2T2. In addition it has converted upgraded M113 to more specialised roles such as Engineering Squad Armoured Vehicle, Ambulance and Command Post vehicles.
The TLFC has also converted Leopard 1 MBT hulls to transport and launch the German Krauss-Maffei Wegmann Leguan bridge system. They are also responsible for the Firtina 155mm/52 calibre self-propelled howitzer based on the South Korean K9 Thunder. Turkey has also designed and built an ammunition resupply vehicle for the Firtina which is based on components from M48 tanks. (Source: Armada)
21 Jul 21. Cracks in Ajax hulls? Mark Francois MP posed a question about possible hull cracking on the Ajax vehicle at the HCDC brief yesterday. Neither GDUK nor the MoD commented on what are, unless, confirmed rumours. However, BATTLESPACE covered these rumours in both Warrior and Ajax some time ago and we understand that the turret rings on both vehicles had to be ‘beefed up,’ to take account of the 20,000lb recoil of the CT40 canon. Mr Francois also asked Jeremy Quin MP, Minister for Defence Procurement, Ministry of Defence and David Williams CB, Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, to confirm or deny that the price of a CT40 round was 10 times that of the 30mm Rarden round. The Minister and Mr Williams avoided an answer saying it was confidential and replied that it would be replied to in due course, he veered the answer sideways saying that one round was the equivalent power of three 30mm rounds. BATTLESPACE has covered the costs of the CT40 ammunition for some time and suggested many times of the extra costs required in fielding non-NATO approved unique ammunition. BAE is the lead on CT40 ammunition, and, like any new system, the ammunition and any new variants have to be developed with up front funding from the MoD customer. With just two customers, the UK and France, the ammunition cost will not be cheap.
20 Jul 21. British Army Hybrids: Up Close With Military’s New Experimental Vehicles. The vehicles, including a Jackal, a Foxhound and a MAN supply truck, are part of the military’s aim to reach net-zero emissions by 2050.
As defence looks to reduce its carbon emissions, the British Army vehicle fleet is being put forward for potential hybrid transformation.
The Jackal, the Foxhound and the MAN supply truck are all part of the experiment at Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.
A major climate change report this year detailed the military’s plans to help the UK reach net-zero emissions while maintaining capability.
Lieutenant Colonel Ed Sutthery, head of British Army Innovation, Research and Experimentation, explained some of the potential benefits if defence turns to the hybrid solutions.
Silent vehicle running to give “greater power demand” could eliminate the need for personnel to turn on the engine in an overwatch position, he said, reducing the risk of compromise.
Once vehicles enter electric mode the only audible noise “is the noise of the wheels on the Tarmac,” he added.
Currently, defence accounts for half of all the Government’s carbon emissions and wants to hit net-zero by 2050.
With this in mind, it has turned to Sheffield-based electric and vehicle manufacturer MAGTEC to strip apart the vehicles for transformation – part of £7m of defence-funded research into hybrid vehicles.
In the reconfigured Jackal, an electric generator takes the place of the standard gearbox while an electric motor is designated to each of the four wheels. With the left and right-hand side wheels capable of moving in opposite directions, the hybrid Jackal can pivot and turn on the spot.
This is “something that only tracked vehicles up to now have been able to do,” said Marcus Jenkins, managing director of MAGTEC.
In addition, the hybrid vehicles can supply power to external sources.
With its engine running, the MAN support vehicle can produce 500 kilowatts of electricity – equivalent to nine generators.
Using only its batteries, the redesigned workhorse of the service has enough energy to keep the average UK home fully powered for 18 days.
Bedfordshire’s experiments will continue until Christmas before the Army itself puts the hybrid concept models to task in field testing. (Source: forces.net)
19 Jul 21. Textron Systems Selected for USMC Advance Reconnaissance Vehicle Pre-Award. Textron Systems Corporation, a Textron Inc. (NYSE: TXT) company, today announced that it has been pre-awarded the United States Marine Corps Advanced Reconnaissance Vehicle (ARV) prototype agreement for its purpose-built CottonmouthTM vehicle. Through the 22-month period of performance, Textron Systems will produce a Cottonmouth vehicle for the Marine Corps that will go through rigorous testing and evaluation. The data gained from the ARV competitive prototyping efforts will be used to inform a USMC decision point in fiscal year 2023.
Built from a clean-sheet design, Cottonmouth is a 6×6 wheeled amphibious reconnaissance vehicle designed to operate within the Marine Corps’ Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations (EABO) construct. Designed to swim in the open ocean and navigate through surf zones, this vehicle possesses the advanced maneuverability critical to enhanced reconnaissance operations.
As a next-generation naval sensor node, Cottonmouth has the ability to strengthen communication to operate and employ a mix of reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition and C4 systems. Equipped with cutting-edge technology, such as teammate Elbit Systems of America’s IronVision™, a “see-through” technology that provides advance visibility and 3600 situational awareness, this vehicle allows the Marine Corps to see beyond line of sight.
“Built from the ground up in less than nine months, the Cottonmouth is a low-risk, mission-oriented solution backed with over 750 miles of data using scenarios representative to the Marine Corps’ mission profile and requirements,” said Senior Vice President David Phillips of Textron Systems. “The Cottonmouth is a testament to Textron Systems’ commitment to the Marine Corps’ vision and needs. We are proud to support the service in this next phase of the competition and look forward to working together.”
Textron Systems responded to the requirement released by the Government through the National Advanced Mobility Consortium (NAMC) and the prototype award will be executed under their Ground Vehicle Systems (GVS) Other Transaction Agreement (OTA). Textron Systems expects to begin these activities in fall 2021, with the prototype delivery expected in the first quarter of fiscal year 2023. Per the requirement, a six-month government evaluation period will follow. (Source: ASD Network/Textron)
19 Jul 21. British committee wants to shake out Ajax’s vibration problems. One of Britain’s key land programs will find itself before the Parliamentary defence committee July 20 with leaders set to quiz top officials from the Ministry of Defence and contractor General Dynamics UK on the causes behind the troubled Ajax armored reconnaissance vehicle program.
Delivery of an operational Ajax family of vehicles is a British Army priority as it seeks to transform the way it equips for a future digital battlefield.
But, the tracked vehicle, an advanced version of General Dynamics Land Systems Ascod platform, has been beset with delivery and technical problems that have drawn criticism from government bodies such as the Infrastructure & Projects Authority and have attracted widespread media reporting.
Last week General Dynamics laid out its side of the story in written evidence delivered to the committee. It acknowledged ongoing vibration and noise issues still need fixing but the company said other technical issues have been repaired and claimed much of the media reporting disparaging the vehicle being “without foundation in fact.”
Referring to the noise and vibration problems, the evidence said “GDLS–UK is working closely with the MoD to fully investigate these reports and identify and address potential causes.”
“This includes working jointly with the MoD and Millbrook [test and validation company], which are undertaking independent vibration trials, in support of a rigorous root cause analysis process,” the written evidence read.
The vehicles’ tactical commanders hand controllers are one of the areas identified as causing a vibration problem. As far as is known, the vibration and noise issues remain unresolved.
For the second time, training on the vehicles has been stopped for health and safety reasons. An MoD spokesperson told Defense News vehicle training remains “paused.”
British defence secretary Ben Wallace joined the criticism of the program last week during a trip to the United States. Wallace told reporters in Washington July 13 that discussion with General Dynamics on fixing the issues on Ajax had gone to the highest levels of the U.S. defense giant.
British procurement minister Jeremy Quin has already spoken to General Dynamics CEO Phebe Novakovic and Wallace said he too planned to discuss the issue with the defense giants boss. As of July 15 that telephone call had not been made, with the MoD spokesperson saying it would be arranged when Wallace returned.
General Dynamics in the United States referred questions to the MoD.
The defence secretary said the problems had to be sorted out by the company and the British Army.
“It’s a troubled program, no one’s hiding that … And we’ve got to fix it. We’ve got to get to the bottom of the problems with it. We, both General Dynamics and the army, have determined they’re going to have to put this right,” he said. “It is a firm contract; the price is a firm price. We’ve already withheld significant amounts of money … It has to be fixed,” he said.
“Fundamentally, we paid for piece of equipment, we expect it to be delivered. And just like any other consumer, we have those rights, and it’s not up to scratch,” Wallace said.
The British Army selected General Dynamics to develop the battlefield reconnaissance vehicle in 2010 and awarded a contract to build 589 vehicles across six variants in 2014. In total the cost of the program to the MoD stands at £4.62bn ($6.29 USD).
In its evidence General Dynamics said that as of the start of this month payments had totaled £2.65bn ($3.6bn USD).
The defence committee said it opted to hold the one-day session to explore progress on the program in the light of recent reports about the vehicle’s mobility, speed, firing on the move, survivability and noise and vibration problems encountered during testing. Options for acquiring an alternative vehicle are also on the committee agenda.
General Dynamics said in its evidence that there was not a rival as mature as Ajax available. Even if there was, the British are unlikely to have the funds to ditch Ajax and re-enter the procurement field.
It only recently axed the Lockheed Martin UK Warrior infantry fighting vehicle update program, in part due to funding issues.
Quin leads the MoD team giving evidence to the committee. Carew Wilks, vice president and general manager, General Dynamics Land Systems–UK heads up the contractor team.
Perhaps uniquely for a major equipment investigation the MoD’s Surgeon General Major General Timothy Hodgetts is also giving evidence – presumably to address health and safety issues around the noise and vibration problems.
The written evidence from General Dynamics also offered an update on the latest production figures and delivery timetable for the Ajax family, which is assembled and tested in south Wales. The company said Covid had significantly slowed production and it forecasts “the final completion of vehicle deliveries in 2025.”
“As of July 1 production and deliveries has seen the build of 271 armored hulls and 60 turrets. All six variants are in full production and 116 vehicles have been fully built and are delivered, or in the handover process,” the General Dynamics document said. “All the 25 vehicles to meet IOC fleet have already been delivered and been accepted by the British Army, including 12 Ajax variants equipped with the 40mm cannon, which were successfully live fired by the British Army as part of the acceptance process.” (Source: Defense News)
18 Jul 21. Classified Challenger 2 Tank Specifications Reportedly Leaked Online By Gamer. A player of the video game ‘War Thunder’ allegedly posted the document in order to improve the accuracy of the design of the tank online.
The Ministry of Defence (MOD) is reviewing reports that classified information has been leaked online outlining the specifications of the British Army’s Challenger 2 Tank.
A player of the video game ‘War Thunder’, who claimed to have been a real life Challenger 2 tank commander and gunnery instructor, allegedly posted the document in order to improve the accuracy of the design of the tank online.
The website UK Defence Journal said that the player claimed game designers had failed to “model it properly” and the tank needed to be adjusted. To support his argument, the player reportedly posted pages from the official Challenger 2 Army Equipment Support Publication – a manual and maintenance guide.
The player identified the documents as belonging to a tank in Tidworth Garrison in Wiltshire, home barracks of the Royal Tank Regiment which operates Challenger 2 tanks.
Extracts from the documents, some of which were heavily redacted, appeared to show some documents had their “UK RESTRICTED” label crossed out and a stamp of “UNCLASSIFIED” added.
War Thunder is a popular video game in which thousands of players around the world can simultaneously control aircraft, ground vehicles, and warships from the United States, Germany, Russia, Britain, China and other countries.
An MOD spokesperson said: “We take all unauthorised disclosures of information extremely seriously.
“This incident will be reviewed and, if appropriate, an investigation will be launched, and mitigations put in place to prevent reoccurrences.
“We do not comment on leaked documents.” (Source: forces.net)
19 Jul 21. In a couple years, soldiers in Strykers can learn enemy locations before exiting the vehicles. The Stryker armored vehicle hatch dropped. Soldiers scrambled out, aiming immediately at enemy positions as they dismounted.
In the future, soldiers sealed inside Strykers will know where their objective and enemy soldiers are located via virtual pins dropped by other soldiers on mobile devices strapped to their chest. At this demonstration at Aberdeen Proving Ground last month the Stryker teams entered the fight and traversed the battlefield on the way to a mock Islamic State group weapons cache while their locations pinged to soldiers and vehicles across the Stryker brigade.
“When you’re in a fight, things are always moving around. I thought it was very useful to have as a soldier because before you even drop that ramp you know what to expect,” said Sgt. Connor Smith, who took part in the demo.
This is the Army’s battlefield network of the future for Stryker brigades. No longer will soldiers have to scan the battlefield after the hatch falls to find the enemy. Soon, new tactical network tools will show soldiers inside a Stryker where enemy soldiers are positioned before they dismount, marked by other soldiers on the battlefield.
“You know that, ‘Hey I’m positioned this way, my enemy’s right there.’ So if I get out the Stryker, I’m going to aim that way when I get out,” said Col. Garth Winterle, project manager for tactical radios with the Army Program Executive Office Command, Control, Communications-Tactical. “Or the vehicle commander can position the vehicle so I’m not in the line of fire.”
For the last several years, the Army worked to outfit several infantry brigades with dismounted tactical network tools that increase situational awareness and enhance battlefield communication. With that effort nearing completion, the exercise at Aberdeen last month was a critical step in designing how the Army’s new integrated tactical network tools will fit onto Stryker platforms for its next iteration of tactical network tools, known as Capability Set ’23.
“What we see in the Strykers really is really cool because it does fundamentally change how our soldiers see the battlefield,” said Maj. Gen. Anthony Potts, head of Program Executive Office Soldier.
PEO C3T, the Army’s Network Cross-Functional Team and its research partner the C5ISR Center, which makes up the core of the service’s tactical network modernization located at APG, are now working to modify tactical network tools to fit into Stryker vehicles and set a common baseline for future capability sets. That way, the tactical network team doesn’t have to “redesign the whole thing” for each new capability set.
The group is working with the 2nd Calvary Regiment in Vilseck, Germany, to integrate Capability Set ’21 tools onto Strykers and help improve the network design of Capability Set ’23, which undergoes critical design review in April next year.
The service is integrating several new hardware tools onto Strykers, including tactical servers and Wi-Fi capabilities, to improve soldier’s situational awareness. The Army wants Stryker vehicles to connect to each other and dismounted soldiers both on-the-move and at-the-halt. The service plans out outfit 64 vehicles in the 2nd Calvary Regiment with the CS21 gear and is running a communications exercise before the Stryker brigade goes to Saber Junction, a major United States Army Europe and Africa exercise.
Perhaps most importantly, company commanders’ vehicles will have a tool that integrates unclassified and classified data into a single common operating picture, called a small box called a cross-domain solution, a critical new capability for commanders. Winterle said that commanders usually have a secret and unclassified common operating picture, but they have never been integrated.
“[By] actually putting the cross-domain solution on platform, you’re getting that integration right there on the platform for the first time so that the vehicle commander … can now see everything. Vehicle icons, he can see his dismounts,” Winterle said. “He’s got full visibility of where things are so if he has to call for fire or he has to make key decisions on maneuver, or link up to reload his dismounts, he can do that on one screen.”
Network modernization is a top priority for the Army as it prepares for future conflicts against advanced adversaries including China and Russia, and it requested a $537m increase over fiscal 2021 in its 2022 budget request. For FY21, the PEO C3T received $1.76bn for modernization efforts.
Back inside the Stryker, the dismounted soldiers raiding the fake depot appeared as blue dots that moved in coordination with their location on the Joint Battle Command Platform, a command and control tool inside the vehicle. Those soldiers on the ground could mark enemies positions and their weapons cache on their devices, which transferred that information to the JBCP inside the Stryker. While soldiers are inside the Stryker, their own chest devices sync up and receive communications through a Wi-Fi bubble onboard the Stryker.
“With this you can tell where you’re at on the road, it’s directional,” said Sgt. Zach Sheets, one of the demonstrators. “It’s got everything you need to tell what’s going on.”
It’s all part of the Army’s goal of providing its soldiers and commanders with the most up-to-date information on the battlefield to quicken the decision-making process, a critical capability as the Pentagon talks about Joint All-Domain Command and Control, in which commanders and soldiers have the latest information on the battlefield.
When soldiers dismount, they switch their end user devices to transmit through their tactical radios so they remain connected to the tactical network to send out data. Sgt. Shane Smolskis, who participated in the demonstration, said that flipping between the radio connectivity and Stryker Wi-Fi is “pretty simple,” positive feedback for the Army network team focused on making tools easy for soldiers to use.
Another participant, Sgt. Breanna Bowie, added to that: “The newest private in the Army can pretty much use the system.” (Source: Defense News)
19 Jul 21. Rostec to conduct Sprut-SDM1 light tank firing trials. The Sprut-SDM1 light amphibious tank is equipped with a 125mm 2A75 cannon and can hit targets up to 5km. Russia’s Rostec is set to conduct firing trials of the Sprut-SDM1 light amphibious tank on the Black Sea. The move comes after the light amphibious tank completed the first stage of state trials in maritime conditions. Developed by Rostec’s High-Precision Weapons holding company, the Sprut-SDM1 light amphibious tank can hit targets up to 5km away. The tank has a 125mm 2A75 cannon capable of firing armour-piercing sub-calibre, cumulative, high-explosive fragmentation shells and other ammunition. A UTD-29 500-horsepower multi-fuel diesel engine enables the military vehicle to travel with a crew of three members at speeds up to 70km/h on land and up to 10km/h on water.
Rostec Weapons, Ammunition and Special Chemistry industrial director Bekkhan Ozdoev said: “Sprut-SDM1 is not inferior in firepower to tanks such as T-80, T-90, and its mobility on land and water is at the level of BMD-4M.
“The tank is capable of completing complex tactical missions, in particular, reconnaissance, working as part of raid or forward detachments, defence manoeuvres, attacking through water obstacles, amphibious operations, and territory control.
“The main operator or Sprut is the Russian Airborne Forces, but I am sure it will also interest foreign customers.” (Source: army-technology.com)
19 Jul 21. US Marine Corps picks 2 companies to build prototypes for new recon vehicle. The U.S. Marine Corps has chosen Textron Systems and General Dynamics Land Systems to begin contract negotiations to build advanced reconnaissance vehicle prototypes, the service announced July 16. The USMC will also work with BAE Systems to study the possibility of adapting an amphibious combat vehicle to become an advanced reconnaissance vehicle, or ARV. Army Contracting Command-Detroit Arsenal in Michigan will award ARV other transaction authority contracts — which streamline the process for rapid prototyping — with the National Advanced Mobility Consortium if negotiations with Textron and GDLS are successful, said a Marine Corps statement.
Incumbent GDLS — which is the manufacturer of the Light Armored Vehicle-25 currently in service — said it submitted an ARV prototype proposal by the Corps’ May 3 deadline.
Textron said at the time of the solicitation deadline that it would compete with a prototype it already built and drove nearly 750 miles, dubbed “Cottonmouth.”
“General Dynamics Land Systems has aligned with the Marine Corps’ 10-year transformational initiative, a key portion of which seeks to build a 21st-century reconnaissance capability that is highly mobile on land and in the water,” Phil Skuta, GDLS director of business development for U.S. Marine Corps and Navy programs, said in a July 16 company statement. “This innovative, multi-domain capability will be able to control air and ground robotics and provide critical reconnaissance information through onboard and networked sensors.”
Earlier this year, BAE Systems would not confirm whether it planned to participate, but several sources connected to the competition told Defense News they believed the company had submitted a bid. BAE manufactures the Marine Corps’ currently fielded amphibious combat vehicle.
The Marine Corps wanted proposals for the research and development of an ARV prototype as part of its pursuit to replace roughly 600 1980s-era LAV-25s so light armored reconnaissance battalions can function as battlefield managers. The vehicles will need to operate amphibiously.
“A key Fleet Marine Force modernization initiative, the ARV Command, Control, Communications and Computers/Unmanned Aerial Systems will host a suite of C4 equipment, sensors and operate both tethered and untethered UAS,” the Marine Corps statement said.
“The ARV C4/UAS will employ an effective mix of reconnaissance, surveillance, target acquisition, and C4 systems to sense and communicate,” the statement continued. “These systems will enable ARV to serve as the manned hub of a manned/unmanned team and deliver next-generation, multi-domain, mobile reconnaissance capabilities.”
The OTA contract will last 22 months, during which prototypes are built and evaluated. Prototypes are planned for delivery in the first quarter of fiscal 2023. The Marine Corps will spend six months evaluating the prototypes.
The service will consider data from the prototyping effort and the study on possible conversion of the ACV to an ARV, then make a decision on the way forward in FY23.
In its solicitation to industry, the Corps said it “may pursue” a production effort upon successful completion of the prototype project, which could be worth about $1.8bn to $6.8bn over five years. The plan is to build roughly 500 of the vehicles.
The Marine Corps recently pulled almost $100m from Gunner Protection Kits to fund the ARV competitive prototyping phase, according to budget justification documents.
A replacement for the LAV is becoming increasingly necessary, as the existing platform was considered the most accident-prone ground combat vehicle in the Marine Corps from 2015 through 2019, based on a Government Accountability Office analysis. (Source: Defense News)
16 Jul 21. Australian Army lauds lethality of Boxer CRV. A mounted infantry regiment has test the firing capability of the vehicle’s 30mm armament. Personnel from the 2nd/14th Light Horse Regiment (Queensland Mounted Infantry) (2/14LHR [QMI]) have conducted live-fire training with the Rheinmetall-built Boxer 8×8 combat reconnaissance vehicle (CRV), testing the vehicle’s 30mm turret at the Wide Bay Training Area in Queensland.
Lieutenant Stefano Rankin, who is helping manage the Army’s transition from the Australian Light Armoured Vehicle (ASLAV) to the Boxer CRV, lauded the new vehicle’s accuracy and lethality.
“To fire the turret, it’s quite different to what we are used to. It’s very digitised, as opposed to the ASLAV,” LT Rankin said.
“It is a very capable piece of equipment.”
LT Rankin said the fire-control system on the Boxer is “much more advanced” than the ASLAV.
“I managed to hit targets in excess of 2,500 metres,” he added.
The Boxer’s advanced sights reportedly sped up target identification and engagement, supported by accurate firepower.
“From the start — from zeroing straight through to engaging targets — you are almost guaranteed a first-round hit. It’s a significant advantage to the ASLAVs,” LT Rankin continued.
“The accuracy of the weapon system is phenomenal compared to the ASLAV, and you are just able to see targets more clearly through the advanced sighting system.”
Most of the live-fire was conducted from a static position, however, according to LT Rankin, firing on the move would not be an issue.
“The stabilisation system on the Boxer is very advanced,” he said.
“It has technology that calculates the movement of the vehicle to the target as well as the movement of the target to the vehicle.
“This enables us to get first-round hits almost all the time, even when on a battle run.”
Trooper Brett Ward noted the benefits of the live-fire exercise following weeks of theoretical training.
“It was extremely satisfying firing it after being in the classroom for weeks, so to get out here and live-fire it, to get rounds on targets, mostly first time, it’s extremely impressive,” he said.
“Just the incredible accuracy, even from the zeroing of the weapon, getting first-rounds hits with pinpoint accuracy, compared to the ASLAV, was really impressive.”
The first tranche of 25 Boxer CRVs were delivered to the Army in May under the $5.2bn LAND 400 Phase 2 Mounted Combat Reconnaissance Capability project.
Rheinmetall has been tasked with developing a total of 211 Boxer vehicles in different versions, including 131 CRVs, replacing the ASLAV fleet.
The Boxer CRV is expected to achieve initial operational capability in the second quarter of 2022. (Source: Defence Connect)
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