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04 Aug 21. Oshkosh Defense Receives Order for FMTV A2 As FMTV A1P2 Production Begins to Ramp Down. The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) announced that it has awarded Oshkosh Defense, a wholly owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK), a $152 million delivery order for 541 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) A2 variant.
The FMTV A2 is a modernized version of the FMTV A1P2, which has been in service with the U.S. Army since 1988. Since 2009, Oshkosh Defense has been the leading provider of the U.S. Army’s medium tactical wheeled vehicle fleet, producing over 41,000 FMTV A1P2 and A2 trucks and trailers.
Today’s announced order signifies the continuation of FMTV A2 production orders following successful testing performance and the production ramp-up of A2 as FMTV A1P2 production begins to ramp down. FMTV A1P2 production is expected to end in September 2021.
“For over a decade, the Oshkosh FMTV A1P2 has provided the U.S. Army with multi-purpose transportation in support of line and local haul missions, carrying Soldiers, cargo, and essential equipment,” said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps programs for Oshkosh Defense. “The advanced performance capabilities of the FMTV A2 enhances our Soldiers’ ability to perform their missions safely and efficiently.”
The FMTV A2 offers greater protection levels and increased payload capacity while providing Soldiers with improved ride quality and mobility to keep pace with today’s maneuvering forces. These advanced capabilities position the FMTV A2 as a key enabler to the U.S. Army’s modernization initiatives, including Command Post Integrated Infrastructure (CPI2) and Integrated Fires Mission Command (IFMC).
The FMTV A2 fleet is comprised of 16 models and associated trailers capable of carrying payloads ranging from 3-ton to 10-ton and performing a wide range of duties from supporting combat missions to relief efforts, to logistics and supply operations.
(Source: ASD Network)
05 Aug 21. As the MoD wrestles with the future shape of its armoured vehicle fleet, a reader suggested one way of coming to a sound conclusion for the future fleet structure would be to pose the questions below:
- Which of the following vehicles could the British Army use in the event of a conflict with a peer or near peer adversary?
- Challenger 2 – See Para 7 of – https://committees.parliament.uk/publications/5983/documents/67732/default/
- Number of planned Warrior CSP 249; number of planned AJAX 245 = 494
- Number of 40mm Cased Telescope Weapons ordered 515
- Number of 40mm Cased Telescope Weapons delivered 477 – CTAI Evidence to House of Commons Defence Select Committee – https://committees.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/37867/pdf/
- Warrior CSP has been cancelled,
- What does the Army intend to do with the surplus 40mm Cased Telescope Weapons?
04 Aug 21. General Electric robot navigates uncharted terrain in US Army demo. General Electric’s Research Lab set a little autonomous robot loose in a wooded course in upstate New York in a demonstration for the U.S. Army, and the vehicle scooted quickly along, steering clear of downed branches, crunching over leaf piles and getting tripped up only once when it became wedged between two trees.
The robot paused, attempted a new path and thunked up against one of the trees. It stilled itself again for roughly 10 seconds, as if pondering how to get out of this pickle, then promptly backed up a little at an angle and squeezed through the narrow goal post of trees.
Developing artificial intelligence and autonomy in the realm of self-driving cars has been easier in the commercial world where a large amount of data is available in terms of maps, roads, infrastructure, to plug into systems.
But where the Army often operates, there’s almost none of that predictability.
“Being able to essentially go into a new space, assess where you are, what you are looking at, understanding the uncertainty with which you’re operating under and then behaving accordingly is essentially what we’re driving toward with the SARA program,” John Lizzi, GE Research Lab’s robotics and autonomy tech leader, told Defense News in an Aug. 3 interview.
SARA stands for Scalable Adaptive Resilient Autonomy Program, which is an Army effort to demonstrate “risk-aware” autonomous ground vehicles capable of navigating safely in complex, off-road test conditions.
GE was one of eight funded projects — with all the rest going to academia — by the U.S. Army Research Laboratory in a path to get after autonomous vehicle navigation in complex terrain, where lessons learned and technology could affect next-generation combat vehicles from the Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle to the Robotic Combat Vehicle family.
GE has spent the last year developing technology within the Army-sponsored program.
“In future Army scenarios, autonomous systems will have to reliably plan in the presence of challenging features they encounter while maneuvering in complex terrain,” Eric Spero, the Army’s SARA program manager, said. “Incorporating risk and uncertainty into the autonomy decision-making process enables our testbed platforms to show us what it looks like to plan a direct path instead of taking the long way around.”
Using its “Humble AI” technology, which makes artificial intelligence more human by programming into the robot a sense of its capabilities and limitations, GE was able to give the machine the ability to step back and assess uncertain situations.
The robot has the ability to decipher known and unknown paths when navigating; gathering information using camera data, LIDAR sensing capability, odometry and other measurements to make decisions on which way to go, Lizzi said.
Humble AI has already been tested in the context of, for example, how to safely optimize the energy output of wind turbines. The AI may recognize certain wind patterns but if it encounters new wind forces or weather, it goes into safe mode while deciding how to respond to the new situation.
The company’s work on the AI technology, to include its development effort with the Army, aims to achieve decision-making at human speed or faster, Lizzi said. “I think that is going to be absolutely critical.”
These systems will also need to learn in the moment, he added. “The paradigm today is, I go out in the field, I collect a bunch of data, and then I program my system to function in that understood realm. I think we’re going to get to a point where that paradigm is not going to work anymore, so learning on the fly, learning from limited data, learning from demonstration could be a way in which we deal with that.”
The AI development within the program isn’t happening in a vacuum either. The technology is being integrated with the Army’s core autonomy stack as the program proceeds and will be there to build upon in the future.
And while there is strong applicability to ground robotics, the advances GE has made in AI technology through the ARL program could be useful in variety of spaces, from industrial to commercial across sectors like energy, aviation and healthcare, according to Lizzi. (Source: Defense News)
04 Aug 21. Members of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command (DEVCOM) Armaments Center at Picatinny Arsenal, New Jersey, and Ground Vehicle Systems Center (GVSC) located in Detroit Arsenal, Michigan, joined together on a range at Fort Dix June 30 to perform a live-fire test of a Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M), an experimental prototype under the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team (NGCV CFT).
The tests focused on firing the RCV-M’s XM813 main gun, as well as its M240 machine gun, from an unmanned and wirelessly-operated weapon station.
“We want to look at the integration of a turret, which was provided as government furnished equipment to the effort, onto the platform,” said Mike Mera, an engineer in the Remote Weapons Branch at Picatinny Arsenal.
The RCV-M program is a joint collaboration among the NGCV CFT, Product Manager Maneuver Combat Systems (PM MCS), Product Manager Soldier Lethality (PM SL), and Combat Capabilities Development Command. The RCV-M platform includes products from Textron, Howe and Howe Technologies, FLIR, and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA).
“We’re using high speed cameras to look at the platform, cannon, and turret dynamics,” Mera said. “We’ve got data collection systems downrange to collect the dispersion information, and we’ll evaluate both the performance and quality of the overall integration to make sure expectations are being met.”
The verification exercise ensured the stringent requirements for the turret and host platform were not only met by design, but also in reality.
“Here, we’re evaluating the armaments integration, but the overall expectation is to get these into the Soldiers’ hands and perform some experimentation as part of a regular training regimen down at Fort Hood, Texas, next summer,” Mera said.
Although this system has been in the works for approximately 18 months, this was its first live-fire test.
“To date, there hasn’t been any testing other than in the lab,” Mera said.
The RCV-M armament system’s control station was housed in a Mission Enabling Technologies Demonstrator (MET-D). From there, crewmembers were able to move, shoot and communicate through a mixture of touchscreen panels and physical controls.
“We’ve got personnel from the Armaments Center – both government employees as well as employees of Booz Allen Hamilton,” Mera said. “The Booz Allen folks perform the energetic operations. They’re our gunners and loaders. The government personnel serve in the capacity of the officer in charge of the range – that’s myself, and the range safety officer, as well as other support. We’ve also got folks from the Ground Vehicle Systems Center. They’re supporting the platform, monitoring the overall test, providing a lot of logistic support.”
Several GVSC and Armaments Center officials also visited the range to observe the demonstration, such as Michael Cadieux, director of GVSC, and Mark Ford, Director of the DEVCOM Armaments Center Weapon Systems and Technology Directorate, among others.
Cristian Bara, a GVSC test engineer for the RCV-M and MET-D, said he also came from Michigan to observe how the guns performed from the test plan perspective and to ensure the quality of the systems were where they needed to be.
“These are all prototypes,” Bara said. “This is the first system that we’ve developed where we have a gun of this caliber mounted on the robot, a completely unmanned robot, and that is also controlled from a different location or within the manned combat vehicle; it’s certainly unique.”
The functional check ensures the MET-D and RCV systems communicate properly, messages and data are received on both ends, and the hardware and software also perform as intended.
“The overall goal is to ensure that the systems, technologies and capabilities work as we design them and are being used as intended,” Bara said. “We want to make sure we deliver a solid product to Soldiers because we’re trying to save lives.”
Another observer from Detroit Arsenal, Col. Jeffrey Jurand, Project Manager, Maneuver Combat Systems at PEO Ground Combat Systems, said a robotic platform allows the ability to fight wars without risking the lives of Soldiers.
“We’re taking humans out of harm’s way,” he said. “Although it’s something we’d want to avoid, if the vehicle were to be lost, we’re not losing Soldiers. We can build new vehicles.”
The RCV-M live-fire demonstration took place at Fort Dix on ranges formerly used to train Abrams and Bradley crews in gunnery from manned combat vehicles.
“It is fitting this range is now being used to test and develop the robots that will one day fight alongside them,” said Mera.
“We wanted to do it at Camp Grayling [Michigan] because it’s closer to home, but there are a lot of active units training out there,” Bara said. “Fort Dix was available, and also Picatinny is close. Picatinny is our partner in weapons integration.”
Fort Dix is the common name for the Army Support Activity located at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst. It is located less than two hours south of Picatinny Arsenal. The partnership between the two installations allowed for flexibility in scheduling the range for testing of experimental systems in relevant environmental and training conditions.
05 Aug 21. Boxer Beat. The British Army will acquire eleven new Boxer armoured fighting vehicles for cyber and electronic warfare. These will replace legacy EW platforms supporting the manoeuvre force.
The British Army has moved a step closer to overhauling its electronic warfare posture via a planned purchase of new vehicles. The force will acquire eleven new Electronic Warfare (EW) platforms, according to reports in June. These will be based on the army’s forthcoming ARTEC Boxer wheeled armoured fighting vehicles. The British Army is acquiring 528 Boxers for a variety of roles. This acquisition of these new vehicles is the first major overhaul of the army’s EW posture for two decades. The force’s procurement of mechanised EW to support the manoeuvre force has been fraught with strife.
In 2001 the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) contracted Lockheed Martin to provide a suite of backpack and vehicular EW systems to support the manoeuvre force under the ill-fated Soothsayer programme. Cost overruns of circa $60m spelt Soothsayer’s demise in 2009. Soothsayer was followed by Landseeker. This was to have procured a scalable EW architecture to replace all EW systems used by the army’s 14th Signals Regiment. The 14th Signals Regiment is part of 6th (UK) Division. Headquartered at RAF Upavon, southwest England. The division is responsible for cyber, EW and information operations.
14th Signals Regiment uses SC Jackal wheeled reconnaissance vehicles to provide EW support to the army’s 16th Air Assault Brigade. GKN Sankey FV-439 tracked electronic warfare vehicles provide EW support to the manoeuvre force. Both vehicles are believed to use variants of L3Harris’ Broadshield electronic attack system. The Jackal and FV-439 platforms are expected to be replaced by the Boxer EW variants. Electronic warfare support for dismounted operations is provided by the army’s Roke Resolve backpack EW system.
The army has a doctrinal commitment to integrate cyber and electronic warfare as outlined in its Joint Doctrine Note 1/18: Cyber and Electromagnetic Activities document. This stresses that both cyber warfare and EW will be treated as interdependent. The emphasis reflects a broader doctrinal shift throughout the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) converging these two disciplines. Near-peer adversaries like Russia have a deepening dependence on IP (Internet Protocol) data for battle management, and Command and Control (C2). It makes sense for the alliance to exploit electronic attack as a vector for injecting malicious code into hostile C2 networks to support tactical and operational manoeuvre.
The MOD published its Defence in a Competitive Age paper earlier this year. This outlines UK defence procurement priorities. Within the text was a commitment to spend up to $275m over the coming decade on new EW and signals intelligence capabilities. This money will facilitate “a significant uplift in (the army’s) electronic warfighting capability”.
This $275m will almost certainly comprise funds to be spent on the cyber and EW capabilities equipping the eleven Boxer vehicles. Regarding these capabilities, the MOD has three options: Procure a home-grown system, buy a system off-the-shelf from an ally or enter into a bilateral or multilateral development programme.
Procuring a home-grown system would arguably be the most expensive and time-consuming option. The Soothsayer programme underscored just how costly such an endeavour might be. Another alternative could be to buy a system off-the-shelf from an ally. The US Army is procuring the Terrestrial Layered System for its manoeuvre force. This will be based on a General Dynamics M1133 Stryker variant armoured fighting vehicle. Given the closeness of the UK-US defence relationship, the British Army might be able to piggy-back on a TLS acquisition for its own forces. That said, the TLS equipment would still need to be configured for the Boxer.
The third option is for the UK to collaborate with an ally, or allies, on a bilateral or multilateral acquisition. The Armée de Terre (ADT/French Army) needs to replace its legacy Renault Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (Armoured Vanguard Vehicle) EW variants. The UK and France have a tradition of collaborating on major defence programmes and have similar-sized armies. There is every likelihood that the two forces’ requirements could dovetail. The ADT will also have similar timelines to its British counterparts to get this new capability into service.
Armada contacted the MOD to ascertain the status of the Boxer EW acquisition. We also asked if the EW and cyber warfare equipment fit for these vehicles has been decided. The MOD declined to comment. However, sources close to the EW acquisition in the MOD told Armada that the new EW vehicles are should be delivered between 2024 and 2027. This same timetable will see the retirement of the army’s existing EW vehicles. If the MOD has still to decide on the equipment fit for these vehicles then it must do soon if it is to meet these aggressive schedules. (Source: Armada)
04 Aug 21. The Royal Netherlands Army has deployed Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks tanks abroad, for the first time in 20 years, to Lithuania on eFP duties.
The Netherlands Armed Forces has deployed tanks abroad for the first time in 20 years. The Dutch Leopard 2A6 battle tanks have arrived in Lithuania and will be contributing to NATO’s enhanced Forward Presence (eFP).
The Leopards are part of a Dutch combat team, together with infanteers, engineers and medics. The vast majority of the military personnel deployed was provided by 43 Mechanised Brigade, based in Havelte. CV90 combat vehicles, Boxers, Fennek reconnaissance vehicles and the Buffel armoured recovery vehicle are also deployed.
“This is the most heavily equipped eFP battlegroup to date. A small step for this battlegroup, but a big step for the Royal Netherlands Army”, said the commander of the Dutch troops in Lithuania, Lieutenant Colonel De Borst. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
03 Aug 21. Twiga unveils new armoured personnel carrier. After creating the Mamba-based Nyoka armoured personnel carrier (APC) and 82 mm Mortar and R107 Rocket Weapon Platforms (WPs), Twiga Services and Logistics has launched the larger Nyati APC, which is now in production.
Twiga says the Nyati is a well-protected 4×4 that uses modern main components while keeping unit costs low. It is mine- and ballistically-protected, with standard NATO STANAG Level 2 ballistic protection up to 7.62×39 mm armour piercing rounds; Level 4B blast protection protects up to 10 kg mines under the centre of the vehicle. The vehicle is suitable for a wide range of military, security, peacekeeping and policing operations.
Production is underway under a technology transfer agreement for a launch customer in Africa. Twiga said the customer is developing its indigenous defence industry capability and local manufacture of the Nyati APC is part of this process.
Twiga began development of the vehicle at the end of 2018, partly as an in-house project to meet the requirements of a modern 4×4 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) using South African battle experience, and partly for a potential export customer, according to Damian de Lange, CEO of Twiga. (Source: https://www.defenceweb.co.za/)
03 Aug 21. Defending against attacks on vehicle networks. As the Defense Department steps up research into automated and autonomous vehicles, Army researchers are developing a way to enhance their internal security without undermining performance.
Currently, in-vehicle networking protocols are bandwidth-constrained, difficult to scale and lack common security requirements. That makes it difficult to deliver enough bandwidth and compute power to vehicle components for reliable defense.
In collaboration with an international team of experts, researchers from the Army Research Laboratory (ARL) devised a technique to optimize a recognized cybersecurity strategy known as the moving target defense, which systematically changes multiple system dimensions to increase uncertainty and create complexity for attackers.
DESOLATOR — which stands for deep reinforcement learning-based resource allocation and moving target defense deployment framework – uses machine learning to help the in-vehicle network identify the best way to shuffle the frequency and bandwidth allocation of IP addresses to deliver effective, long-term moving target defense.
“The idea is that it’s hard to hit a moving target,” Army mathematician Terrence Moore said. “If everything is static, the adversary can take their time looking at everything and choosing their targets. But if you shuffle the IP addresses fast enough, then the information assigned to the IP quickly becomes lost, and the adversary has to look for it again.”
DESOLATOR not only defends vehicle networks, but it also does so without generating additional overhead that could slow or degrade performance. Its value add is the use of “fewer resources to protect mission systems and connected devices in vehicles while maintaining the same quality of service,” Army computer scientist and program lead Frederica Free-Nelson said.
To ensure that DESOLATOR took both security and efficiency into equal consideration, the research team used deep reinforcement learning to shape the behavior of the algorithm so it would learn to limit exposure time and the number of dropped packets, for example. As a result, DESOLATOR identifies the optimal amount of network resources that should be allocated each network slice to minimizing packet loss as well as the ideal triggering interval for shuffling IP addresses to limit vulnerability.
“Existing legacy in-vehicle networks are very efficient, but they weren’t really designed with security in mind,” Moore said. “Nowadays, there’s a lot of research out there that looks solely at either enhancing performance or enhancing security. Looking at both performance and security is in itself a little rare, especially for in-vehicle networks.”
Because DESOLATOR is a machine learning-based framework — not limited to identifying the optimal IP shuffling frequency and bandwidth allocation — other researchers can use it to pursue different goals within the problem space, ARL officials said.
“This ability to retool the technology is very valuable not only for extending the research but also marrying the capability to other cyber capabilities for optimal cybersecurity protection,” Nelson said.
(Source: Defense Systems)
02 Aug 21. Kuwait receives first M1A2K tank. A delegation from Kuwait’s Land Force has officially received the first M1A2K main battle tank at a ceremony in the United States, the Kuwait Army General Staff Headquarters announced on 29 July. “The entry of the new tank into operational service soon will represent an enhancement of capabilities and an addition to the combat efficiency of the Kuwaiti Land Force,” it said in a tweet. It released photographs and a video of the tanks to show that it has been fitted with an M153 Protector remote weapon station and the Counter Sniper Anti-Materiel Mount (CSAMM), which enables a .50 cal machine gun to be carried to the front right of the main gun. Both these improvements were noted when the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) announced that Kuwait had requested upgrades for its 218 M1A2 tanks in December 2016. Kuwait subsequently decided to buy additional tank hulls rather than upgrade its existing ones. Other upgrades noted in the original DSCA notification included ‘special armour’, an M1A2 Thermal Imaging System, an AN/PSN-13 GPS receiver, an AN/VAS-5 Driver’s Vision Enhancer, a Rear-View Sensor System, and SINCGARS radios. The first contract for the new Kuwaiti tanks was announced by the US Department of Defense in December 2017. Awarded to General Dynamics Land Systems, it covered the design, development, and production of a “unique” Abrams variant for Kuwait. A contract modification in August 2020 indicated that the delivery schedule had slipped as it gave the new estimated completion date as 30 June 2022. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Jull 21. UAE’s Calidus now producing armoured vehicles. A visit by the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE’s) top defence official to Calidus indicated the company’s Wahash 8×8 infantry fighting vehicle and MCAV-20 are now in serial production.
A still from the video released on 29 July shows the UAE’s Minister of State for Defence Affairs Mohammed bin Ahmed al-Bowardi inspecting completed Wahash IFVs at the Calidus Land Systems plant in Al-Wathbah. (WAM News Agency)
The WAM state news agency reported Minister of State for Defence Affairs Mohammed bin Ahmed al-Bowardi’s visit to Calidus on 29 July, saying he was briefed on the company’s vehicles and their production process. It released a video showing Bowardi inspecting a manufacturing facility where at least two completed Wahashs without turrets and another four uncompleted hulls could be seen in addition to two of the models that were displayed during the IDEX show held in February. One of the display models is fitted with the turret used by the UAE’s BMP-3 tracked IFVs, the other with a Serbian-supplied 105 mm gun turret. The Wahash was unveiled at IDEX 2019, prompting speculation it was a new contender for the UAE Armed Force’s 8×8 IFV requirement even though this appeared to have been filled two years earlier when Al-Jasour, which is now part of the Edge group, received an order for 400 Rabdans, a vehicle based on the Arma 8×8 made by Turkey’s Otokar. While no Wahash orders have been announced, the Finnish government approved the export of Sisu axles and Katsa transmissions for several hundred vehicles to Calidus in March 2020. (Source: Jane’s)
30 Jul 21. Katmerciler confirms sales of 118 Hizir vehicles to Kenya. Turkey’s Katmerciler has confirmed the $91.4m sale of 118 Hizir armoured personnel carriers to Kenya.
= On 28 July the company said the contract, signed with the Kenyan Ministry of Defence, will see the vehicles delivered between 2022 and 2023. It is the company’s single largest export deal.
Furkan Katmerci, Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board of Katmerciler, said the Kenyan sale came after two years of effort. Earlier in the year, he said “We believe our exports will continue to rise as more of our vehicles are used in Africa and their visibility increases.”
In January, Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) spokesperson, Colonel Zipporah Kioko, told Kenyan publication The Star that the Department was finalising the deal for the vehicles at a cost of around Sh7.7bn ($69m).
Kenya has been seeking the procurement of new armoured personnel carriers since at least 2020, apparently attracting bidders OTT, The Armoured Group and International Armoured Group. The Star reported that three firms had applied for the tender but only Katmerciler met the user specifications.
According to Capital News, the acquisition was approved on 12 January during a procurement board meeting at the Department of Defence after the board reportedly approved the single sourcing of the vehicles.
The new vehicles are set to be used to replace those lost in combat and “to mitigate shortcomings in force protection, firepower and mobility in a changing security environment.” Kenya has lost a number of APCs in Somalia to al Shabaab militants. It mainly operates Puma M26, Bastion, and WZ-551 APCs.
Kenya’s order comes after Uganda received Hizir vehicles last year. At least 15 vehicles were exported to the country in 2020 in the type’s first export sale.
The Hizir recently entered service with Turkey’s military. It can carry nine personnel, including driver and commander. The vehicle has a gross weight of 16 tons and has a V-hull for landmine and improvised explosive device protection. It is powered by a Cummins six-cylinder diesel developing 400 hp, giving a top speed of 110 km/h and range of 700 kilometres.
The Hizir can be built in a number of configurations, including combat, command and control, CBRN, weapon carrier, ambulance, reconnaissance and border security. It can be fitted with an Aselsan SARP turret with machineguns or an automatic grenade launcher. (Source: DefenceWeb)
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