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18 Aug 21. Oshkosh Defense, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oshkosh Corporation (NYSE: OSK), successfully demonstrated the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) based Remotely Operated Ground Unit for Expeditionary (ROGUE) Fires at the Sink at Sea Live Fire Training Exercises (SINKEX) in Hawaii. As part of the demonstration, a Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS) launcher, based on a ROGUE Fires chassis, successfully launched a Naval Strike Missile (NSM) and scored a direct hit on a target at sea.
SINKEX is a component of the U.S. Navy’s Large-Scale Exercise (LSE) 2021, a global event in which Sailors and Marines test and validate the Navy and Marine Corps’ operating concepts.
ROGUE Fires is an unmanned ground vehicle (UGV) that leverages the JLTV’s extreme off-road mobility and payload capacity and Oshkosh’s advanced autonomous vehicle technologies to support Ground-Based Anti-Ship Missile (GBASM) operations. The unmanned technology associated with ROGUE Fires allows the vehicle to operate in teleoperator or leader-follower modes, which protect Warfighters from threats by removing them from the vehicle entirely.
“ROGUE Fires was purpose-built and leverages next-generation capabilities from several proven Oshkosh Defense vehicle platforms and technologies,” said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and Marine Corps Programs. “Much like the JLTV itself, ROGUE Fires is tailorable to the mission at hand. The flexible design allows for the integration of scalable weapon system payloads to offer the combatant commanders flexibility based on the mission’s requirements.”
Since receiving the JLTV production contract in 2015, Oshkosh Defense has worked closely with leading weapon system manufacturers to integrate and test various weapon system payloads and levels of firepower onto the JLTV platform.
“The successful LSE demonstration validates the maturity of ROGUE Fires as a weapons platform and highlights its ability to add significant firepower and capability into the light tactical wheeled vehicle fleet,” Williams concluded.
18 Aug 21. Lithuania presents JLTVs. The Lithuanian Army presented its first batch of Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTVs) at Rukla on 17 August, the Ministry of National Defence (MND) announced on its website later the same day. The Lithuanian MND said it had ordered a total of 200 JLTVs from the US government in 2019. The US Foreign Military Sale includes JLTV equipment, armaments, staff training, purchase and maintenance of spare parts, transportation, and installation of equipment, which along with the vehicles are scheduled to be delivered by 2024.
The first batch of 50 Lithuanian JLTVs was shipped from the United States to Lithuania via Germany. They were received by Lithuanian Armed Forces training units in Rukla and Kazlų Rūda, where dozens of JLTV drivers and 15 mechanics have been trained so far.
The MND said the JLTVs were delivered without turrets, which will be installed soon and be armed with M2 QCB (quick change barrel) 12.7 mm machine guns.
The JLTVs will be assigned to the Lithuanian ‘Iron Wolf’ Mechanised Infantry Brigade and Žemaitija Brigade, with priority given to units assigned to the National Rapid Reaction Force.
Deputy Defence Minister Margiris Abukevičius said the acquisition was “one of the most important steps in the modernisation of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. They will provide better protection of our troops and improve intelligence, artillery, and air support operations. The [JLTVs] were manufactured according to Lithuanian Armed Forces requirements for both national defence and international missions [and will] also improve interoperability between Lithuanian and US forces”. (Source: Jane’s)
05 Aug 21. Netherlands-based Defenture develops Mammoth tactical vehicle for German KSK (Kommando Spezialkräfte) Special Forces Command. BAAINBw, the German Armed Forces procurement organisation providing the Bundeswehr with efficient and safe equipment, awarded Defenture the contract to develop and produce tactical vehicles for the German Kommando Spezialkräfte (KSK, Special Forces Command,) of the Bundeswehr. It concerns the delivery of maximum 80 vehicles in various configurations.
The Kommando Spezialkräfte requires a mobility platform for various operations dedicated and fully developed for specific military end users. Platform of choice is The Defenture Mammoth, a 9 tons vehicle, based on the proven GRF 5.12 platform. This platform is also in use by for example the Dutch Korps Commandotroepen (SOF) and other countries. The modular structure of the all-wheel drive, highly mobile vehicles enables optimal preparation for the intended end use.
The programmes AGF 2 (Medium Special Forces Reconnaissance and Combat Vehicle – Mittleres Aufklärungs- und Gefechtsfahrzeug Spezialkräfte) and UFK (Medium Tactical Special Forces Support Vehicle – Mittleres taktisches Unterstützungsfahrzeug Kommando Spezialkräfte) comprise of the delivery of four prototype vehicles in various configurations. Each platform will be equipped with various systems like, among others, shot detection systems, radios, long and short range EO, weapon mounts and internal communication systems. In close collaboration with industry partners and the Kommando Spezialkräfte, Defenture will tailor the four vehicles and integrate all the required systems. Based on thorough end user testing, final configurations will be set as the start of the assembly of a complete series, comprising of a maximum of 80 vehicles. Together with its industry partners, Defenture will also support the Bundeswehr with service, support and training throughout the complete lifetime of the vehicles.
Henk van der Scheer, CEO Defenture: “We are very honoured with this prestigious order. Developing and building these vehicles for the German Special Forces is a recognition of all the energy Defenture has put into developing the best vehicle for these specialists over the past years. We look forward to the close cooperation with the Kommando Spezialkräfte, the BAAINBw and our international industry partners”.
The granted contract is Defenture’s next international awarded programme. Earlier programmes have been executed for the Netherlands, Switzerland and Germany. For these countries dedicated lightweight tactical vehicles have been delivered in various configurations. The vehicles in use by these nations are all based on the GRF 5.12 chassis, especially designed for dedicated military use, delivering unrivalled performance under all circumstances. The GRF 5.12 chassis is based on the Defenture Modular Design Principle (DMDP). This technique allows this chassis to be configured into any variant of mission ready configuration in the range of a gross vehicle weight from 3 to 10 tons. The DMDP allows users to achieve the highest level of family formation of vehicle fleets which also contributes to interoperability between user nations.
Defenture’s unique design and process driven manufacturing processes provides opportunities for close cooperation with local partners to ensure strong and sustainable partnerships. Strong partnerships which contributes to local prosperity and economic growth and also minimise lifecycle costs and lead-times. (Source: www.joint-forcescom)
16 Aug 21. Dstl demonstrates British Army UGV capabilities. Autonomous vehicles could provide supplies and support with chemical sensing and weaponry. The UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) demonstrated a range of uncrewed ground vehicles (UGVs) at the Combat Service Support Training and Development Unit (CSS TDU) in Aldershot on 12 August.
Dstl has been researching the potential use of autonomous systems for resupply operations to provide greater capability and utility for the Army with its Joint Tactical Autonomous Resupply and Replenishment (JTARR) project.
Project THESEUS was announced by the Secretary of State for Defence in March 2019, following the progress made by the autonomous ‘last mile’ challenge led by Dstl. A year later, Dstl announced the purchase of five new UGVs. The two contracts, collectively worth £5m, have been awarded to HORIBA MIRA (Viking) and QinetiQ (Titan) to provide a number of UGVs.
Dstl principal technical authority and spokesperson Guy Powell told Army Technology: “We are exploring how much autonomy UGVs can perform, and we want them to do as much as possible.”
Last-mile autonomous resupply could provide vital support for ground troops widely dispersed on the battlefield.
Powell said the UGV platforms have different systems each with different capabilities, and that the best approach may be to choose the appropriate one for individual missions.
Survivability has not received much focus thus far, but Powell said: “These UGVs are expandable to a point, but we still need them to perform the task they intended to and not being taken out by a single bullet.”
Dstl will explore how much armour could be put on vehicles without compromising their performance. “Any additional equipment, any additional armour means we can put less payload on the vehicle,” said Powell, but decreasing detectability is also a factor in survivability.
The works seek to increase understanding of the system’s potentials and limitations, to reduce the risks specific to the acquisition of the JTARR capability, and will also help develop deeper knowledge for the army’s future employment of more advanced autonomous system capabilities. Powell said the current tests should provide all the answers armed forces need until the end of the fiscal year.
The future of the project will largely depend on Dstl receiving further funding.
“Future funding would likely be smaller than the initial one, as the procurement of the vehicles cost the most,” Powell added.
As the next step of the project, within about six months, soldiers will be given UGV platforms like the Viking and Titan to test their competence on the battlefield.
Powell said: “it is about testing the capabilities, rather than these machines themselves.”
Equipment support Sergeant Major Dan Brown added: “It’s not that the British Army will buy 300 of each of these machines [Titan or Viking]. It’s about testing the concept of autonomous UGVs itself.
“We are seeing what the capabilities are that we want, what are the potential capabilities these machines can deliver, and how reliable they are.”
Brown said the army has not explored all options on how to protect the UGVs from spoofing or jamming, but autonomous operation is possible in GPS-denied areas with the Viking.
Brown said of solider sentiment towards the UGVs: “If there is a machine that can do what a human can but take personnel from harm’s way, that’s a fantastic thing.
“If robots can take over certain tasks, soldiers can do other, more vital ones,” Brown adds.
“The concept of resupply is critical. Troops can’t fight without water, food or ammunition. And these [UGV] platforms are very good. It is absolutely realistic to deploy them in the near future.”
The experiments were meant to start in July 2020, but the Covid-19 pandemic has delayed the process and tests could only begin last April.
The lessons learnt from the current experiments are already being fed into future projects, said Powell.
The programme’s next steps will involve chemical sensing, survivability, weaponry and detectability testing. But Powell warned: “We have an idea what we want these machines to do for us, but we have to put reality around it.”
Testing weaponry on the UGVs is not part of the current phase, but when the time comes, those weapons would always be under human control, he emphasised.
“We want to get autonomy to do the movement part of the missions very well, and always have humans do the lethality part.”
He said these UGVs represent the most advanced technology when it comes to ground vehicles, but the automation and computer aspect of the concept still poses challenges to the success of the research.
The autonomous range for resupply tasks is not yet fully explored, but the vehicles have internal navigation systems (INS) on board, and Dstl says capabilities with the autonomous operation in GPS denied areas are very much possible. INS sensors can integrate an internal or external global navigation satellite system (GNSS) receiver for navigation data and velocity.
Powel says: “the Viking’s visual terrain recognition looks at the outside world and characterises the object, while QinetiQ’s stereo vision works very much like human vision.” These are the primary means the UGVs detect their surroundings.
Both UGVs can run on electric battery and in a diesel-electric hybrid mode, which shows the MOD’s commitment to experimenting with greener choices when it comes to future technologies. Credit: Norbert Tarnoczi
Both vehicles can run on an electric battery and in a diesel-electric hybrid mode, which shows the MOD’s commitment to experimenting with greener choices when it comes to future technologies.
The Viking is fast given its six wheels, of which the rear and front pairs can all turn and help with manoeuvres. It is agile and can reach top speeds of 50km/h even in electric mode.
The Titan continuous track limits speed but allows for improved mobility and proves better to overcome obstacles than the Viking.
The Titan is powered by lead-acid batteries, whereas the Viking has lithium-ion batteries. Powell said that although the former is less advanced, is a well-established and reliable technology within the army.
HORIBA MIRA’s UGV offers an integrated cutting-edge AI-based autonomous system, including GPS denied navigation, advanced terrain perception and object recognition. It can carry up to 600kg of supplies and uses a low-bandwidth communication system for command and control.
TITAN’s tracked system is based around a modular mission system software architecture and can carry payloads of up to 750kg. (Source: army-technology.com)
04 Aug 21. Next-Gen Vehicles Show Their Firepower. The two contender vehicles for Australia’s soon-to-be-selected infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) (LAND 400 Phase 3 project) recently conducted a firepower demonstration at Puckapunyal Military Area, showcasing next-level protection, firepower and mobility. Rheinmetall Defence Australia’s KF-41 Lynx and Hanwha Defense Australia’s Redback have been facing off in extensive user-evaluation field trials.
Both companies have delivered three prototype vehicles, which are being tested over the course of this year as part of a two-year risk mitigation activity. A decision on the preferred tenderer will be presented to government for consideration in 2022.
Land 400 Trials Platoon Commander Major Joel Sloane said the vehicles were being tested and evaluated in all weather and in varying terrain to ensure they were fit-for-purpose.
“Our trials have involved literally blowing the vehicles up in order to test how they can withstand a range of firepower and threats,” Major Sloane said.
“We have been testing the Redback and Lynx through a range of tactical scenarios in the field that will be realistic to how they will be employed in the future.”
At the firepower demonstration, both vehicles fired their 30mm main weapon cannon, and co-axial and remote weapon station 7.62mm MAG 58 machine guns, engaging targets at ranges from 300m to more than 2000m.
Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group Head Armoured Vehicle Division Major General David Coghlan said with its next generation protection suite, 30mm cannon, anti-tank guided missiles, and the ability to engage helicopters and drones, either vehicle offered capabilities never before seen in Army.
“These vehicles will provide increased firepower, mobility and, most importantly, protection for our infantry soldiers,” he said.
“We are rapidly approaching the end of the risk-mitigation activity and submission of the short-listed tenderers’ final offers. We will then undertake a final evaluation to identify the preferred tenderer.
“The live-fire shoot showcases the extensive testing and evaluation process we are undertaking to provide confidence that these new vehicles are fit-for-service.”
Each vehicle has a crew of three and can carry six fully armed infantry soldiers into battle. The vehicles are designed to fight alongside the nation’s current and future tank fleet, with commensurate mobility.
Major Sloane said Army had been using the current M113 armoured personnel carriers (APC) since the mid 1960s.
“The APCs have served Army extremely well for many decades. But to be here at the start for what is going to be a vehicle that supports us for multiple generations is something that I am proud to be part of,” he said.
“The best thing about the infantry fighting vehicle is it will allow the infantry corps to contribute more to joint land combat.
“The capabilities and systems on this new vehicle allows the infantry to fight with the vehicle, not just from the vehicle. It allows us to move further in the battle space, under armour, with full situational awareness.”
Individual vehicle craft, tactical manoeuvres, advances and attacks on objectives are just some of the activities the project is putting these vehicles to the test in.
Both companies, should they be successful, have committed to building the majority of vehicles in Australia, with substantial investment in Australian industry capability, supporting Australian jobs, talent and technology.
Valued at between $18.1bn and $27.1bn, the Land 400 Phase 3 project is the largest acquisition project in Army’s history. (Source: ASD Network/Adrian Graves)
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