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13 Oct 21. Pakistan Army holds induction ceremony for VT4 MBT. The Pakistan Army (PA) has formally inducted the China North Industries Group Corporation (Norinco) VT4 main battle tank (MBT) into service.
Video footage released by the Samaa news channel on 13 October shows several examples of the third-generation MBT being displayed at a commissioning ceremony held a day earlier at Gujranwala – home to the PA’s XXX Corps (30 Corps) and 37th Mechanised Infantry Division – that was also attended by Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa.
Gen Bajwa, who not only witnessed a demonstration of the tank but also examined a ‘dynamic integrated training simulator’, referred to the VT4 as “another symbol of [the] Pakistan–China strategic co-operation and defence collaboration”, adding that “its induction will boost [the] strike capabilities of our formations”. The VT4 is now the most advanced MBT in the PA’s inventory.
No details were provided about the number of VT4s commissioned on 12 October but at least a dozen tanks were shown in the footage. The formal induction ceremony comes after Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media wing of the Pakistani military, revealed on 30 June that the PA had been conducting “post-shipment inspections” of the first batch of VT4s delivered from China, with images emerging of the tank being used in trials. In September 2020 the ISPR confirmed Islamabad’s plans to induct the VT4, noting that MBT “would be employed in [an] offensive role by strike formations [of the Pakistan Army] after induction”. (Source: Jane’s)
13 Oct 21. US Army embraces digital engineering for Bradley replacement. The U.S. Army is using digital engineering to develop its next-generation ground combat vehicles, including the optionally manned fighting vehicle. In its simplest iteration, digital engineering moves the design process from 2D blueprints to 3D virtual models, which can then be plugged into realistic simulations to test performance. At the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference on Oct. 12, Army officials said they plan to use a digital engineering approach to develop the OMFV, which is being designed to replace the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.
“We intend to use digital engineering in a model-based environment, and that is in the next phase, phase 3, where we’re going to award those contracts to design vehicles. We’re currently working through exactly what that looks like, but we want to get to a cloud-based tech stack so we have the ability to get in there and take a look at the designs as they evolve in real time, and then take those designs and the data that comes with them and plug them into models and simulations so that we can run them while they’re still digital, and we can use that technique to avoid costly failures on a test range,” Schirmer said.
While physical testing can’t be entirely eliminated, he added, digital testing can greatly reduce risk throughout the development process.
The Army is still working out how it will implement digital engineering. The service is looking at what cloud environment it will use, whether it wants the model to be hosted by the contractor or the Army, and what sort of contract language it will use.
“There are some hard questions that the Army has to decide early,” Schirmer said.
A draft request for proposals outlining the Army’s digital approach for the OMFV will be issued early next year.
While Schirmer said the third phase will mark the beginning of the service’s digital engineering efforts with the OMFV, the Army’s acquisition plan already uses digital concepts.
First, the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team backed off of its highly restrictive and specific requirements for the platform, replacing it with a far more flexible “characteristic of needs.” That enabled the five teams on contract — Point Blank Enterprises, Oshkosh Defense, BAE Systems, General Dynamics Land Systems and American Rheinmetall Vehicles — to innovate in developing products that will meet the Army’s needs.
“We just received concept deliveries from the five industry teams that are on contract. We’re taking the data from those, plugging them into models, and running them through some simulations to kind of see how they’re performance would be and what impact that would have on the battlefield,” Schirmer said.
Feedback from those simulations will enable the Army to refine requirements, setting up a full and open competition to select three contractors that will build actual prototypes.
“That’s different. That’s not the way we’ve done things in the past,” Schirmer said.
Maj. Gen. Ross Coffman, director of the Next Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team, said that contracting with five teams to produce digital designs has allowed the Army to work more closely with the teams building out their designs than in some previous projects.
“Because they’ve been selected, we can have open, candid and honest one-on-one conversations. We can look them in the eye and say: ‘Hey, let’s explore this trade and see what that does to your vehicle design.’ ” Coffman explained.
If the current design phase was a competition, the Army would have to ensure its communications were uniform and universally shared, Coffman added.
Michael Cadieux, director of the Ground Vehicle Systems Center, said the Army also wants to use digital engineering to develop its robotic combat vehicle. Specifically, he said the service is looking at virtual environments to test and change the robotic system to ensure it works and meets the Army’s needs.
The Army isn’t the only Defense Department organization to embrace digital engineering, an approach that has seen various levels of adoption in the commercial world. In his 2020 digital engineering manifesto, former assistant secretary of the Air Force for acquisition, technology and logistics, Will Roper. said that only three programs within the military were fully digital: the T-7A Red Hawk aircraft, the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent weapon system and the Next Generation Air Dominance fighter.
In the year since, however, there’s been a massive uptick in the number of Pentagon-run digital engineering initiatives. While individual programs like the Missile Defense Agency’s Hypersonic and Ballistic Tracking Space Sensor have used digital engineering features, there have also been substantial servicewide efforts to push digital engineering throughout acquisitions. Specifically, the Space Force stated earlier this year that it wants to be the world’s first fully digital service, and it has begun to implement that vision.
Schirmer said the Army looked to the Air Force’s major digital engineering efforts to develop its own approach. That tour is helping the service determine issues like how big of a team it needs to implement a model-based systems engineering program.
The Army likely won’t get it exactly right on the first try, admitted Schirmer, but it would use contractors to fill gaps and adapt its processes over time. (Source: Defense News)
14 Oct 21. Mack Defense seeks to expand military activities. US manufacturer seeks more uses for its M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck chassis. Mack Defense intends to expand its presence in the US tactical wheeled vehicle sector, company executives revealed in a private media briefing during the AUSA annual exhibition on 11-13 October in Washington DC. The company aims to leverage its M917A3 Heavy Dump Truck chassis for an emerging US Army requirement to procure a 40t vehicle in the Family of All Terrain Cranes. Mack Defense aims to sell a modified M917A3 chassis to Manitowoc Crane, which will them mount a crane that it has developed and also serve as prime contractor if successful in the tender. The source selection process is currently underway for the programme, which includes a total requirement for 262 units. The M917A3 heavy dump truck is already a cornerstone vehicle for Mack Defense, after the US Army awarded an IDIQ contract in May 2018 worth up to $296m for 683 trucks in armour-capable and armoured configurations. Approximately 30% of the trucks will be used by active army units while the remainder will be employed by the National Guard and Army Reserve. Following a series of tests, the company received its first production order in November 2020 for 99 trucks: nine for active units and 90 for the Army Reserve. A second order in March 2021 added an additional 56 units. The first production vehicle was handed over on 23 September. The M917A3 is based on the commercial Granite chassis, of which Mack Defense manufactures approximately 15,000 units every year. The M917A3 design utilises 80% of the standard commercial chassis design with 20% being unique elements, ranging from tow pintles to CARC paint.
Mack Defense president and CEO David Hartzell noted that the M917A3 includes a purpose-built armoured cab.
‘The interfaces are all the same between the steering and brake lines,’ he added. ‘So it’s very easy to switch over to make a truck from armour-ready to armoured.’
With a total Army Acquisition Objective of 1,246 units, Hartzell said that the FY2022 budget includes funding of $9.9 m, with potentially more to come following congressional amendments.
Efforts are also underway to maintain the same level of funding for FY2023-FY2025 and Mack Defense is pursuing orders from National Guard and Army Reserve to maintain the production line.
Mack Defense is also engaged in the Canadian Department of National Defence 9.5t Medium Support Vehicle System – Standard Military Pattern programme, which encompasses five vehicle variants on a single commercial truck platform in addition to an armoured protection system.
Looking into the future, Hartzell said the company is interested in further modifications to the M917A3 in order to meet emerging US Army requirements in the Common Tactical Truck programme. This seeks to replace multiple heavy vehicle classes with a baseline design that exploits the latest commercial technologies. (Source: Shephard)
14 Oct 21. Performance upgrade: Rheinmetall presents new high-roof version of the Fuchs/Fox wheeled armoured transport vehicle. Rheinmetall has developed a new version of the Fuchs/Fox wheeled armoured transport vehicle. Featuring a high roof, the new variant of this battle-tested 6×6 vehicle enables a wide array of capabilities covering the full operational spectrum. Designed for maximum mobility, the new high-roof version of the Fuchs/Fox can serve in roles ranging from tactical operations centre to armoured field ambulance. Rheinmetall is presenting a demonstrator configuration of the armoured field ambulance on 14-15 October 2021 at the Congress of the Gesellschaft für Wehrmedizin und Wehrpharmazie, a German NGO dedicated to military medicine and military pharmaceuticals, which takes place in the Rhein-Mosel-Halle convention centre in Koblenz.
The high-roof Fuchs/Fox demonstrator’s modernized exterior design and greater height are particularly striking. The interior volume now measures twelve cubic metres, with headroom increased to 1.60 metres from the previous 1.26 metres. The armoured field ambulance version of the new high-roofed Fuchs/Fox can carry four wounded personnel, two lying down and two seated. Furthermore, the vehicle is equipped with an advanced 360-degree panoramic vision system. Featuring fusion and a daytime/night-time capability, it is identical to the system used in the Puma infantry fighting vehicle. This substantially enhances the crew’s situational awareness. A NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture-conformant connection to additional sensors or a weapons station is possible, as is the use of virtual reality goggles, which enable the crew to “see” through the armour.
In a manner analogous to the Puma, the Fuchs/Fox is also able to communicate with dismounted forces, including medics in this case, who are equipped with a special variant of the Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES) soldier system. Thanks to uniform command-and-control technology, “Future Medics” will have access to the same situation information as the troops they support.
Moreover, the modernized Fuchs/Fox features a new, more powerful engine, a new transfer case, a new brake system and a digital electrical system. All these things improve the vehicle’s off-road performance and make it easier to operate.
The high-roof Fuchs/Fox demonstrator was developed at the Rheinmetall Landsysteme in Kassel in the German state of Hesse, the vehicle’s birthplace.
Numerous variants of the Fuchs/Fox armoured transport vehicle have formed part of the Bundeswehr inventory ever since 1979, with over a hundred once deployed in Afghanistan. Thanks to its operational versatility and high reliability, the Fuchs/Fox has always been popular with the Bundeswehr. Throughout its service life, the vehicle has been continuously perfected.
To date, some 1,600 Fuchs/Fox vehicles have been built. Today the armed forces of numerous nations place their trust in multiple variants of this tried-and-true system, including armoured personnel carriers, mobile command posts and vehicles specially configured for an NBC detection role.
12 Oct 21. Across Europe, Billions Being Funnelled Into New Armored Vehicle Programs. The United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain could ultimately involve buying in excess of 3,200 new heavy armored platforms, with a price tag of over $11.5bn over the next 15 years.
After years of relying on aging wheeled and tracked land vehicles, a number of key Western European nations are now in the midst of an overhaul of their fleets, with an eye to achieving the right level of mobility, lethality and protection for the service in the modern era.
All told, the efforts in the United Kingdom, France, Germany, Italy and Spain could ultimately involve buying in excess of 3,200 new heavy armored platforms, with a price tag of over $11.5 bn over the next 15 years. And what these nations buy will have to interface with US Army gear and operations for decades to come.
The drama surrounding the British Army’s £5.5bn Ajax reconnaissance vehicle program continues. A Sept. 6 statement from the defense procurement minister, Jeremy Quin, revealed that problems of excessive noise and vibrations in the Ajax vehicles were raised in Dec. 2018, contradicting previous assertions that there was no knowledge of these issues prior to those discovered by the Armoured Trials and Development Unit. Quin added that the “overlapping of Demonstration and Manufacturing phases added complexity, technical risk and safety risk into the programme.”
For its part, prime contractor General Dynamics UK has stated that “Noise and vibration injuries were not raised with GDLS–UK prior to autumn 2020.” It added that whilst it is working with the UK MoD “it does not anticipate that any significant system or chassis modifications are required to address feedback on noise and vibration raised by vehicle Users.”
However, Quin’s statement raised the prospect of design modifications to the vehicle to reduce the impact of vibrations, adding, somewhat ominously, that “it is not possible to determine a realistic timescale for the introduction of Ajax vehicle into operational service with the Army.” The hope is that trials at the Millbrook Proving Ground can “resume imminently” using crew from GDUK in MoD vehicles.
Meanwhile initial fabrication of hulls for the British Army’s Boxer 8×8 vehicles have started in the UK at WFEL’s facility in Stockport in July. Full rate production will transfer to WFEL and to Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) in 2023 once initial Boxer production is completed by Germany’s ARTEC consortium, which designed and manufactures the vehicle. Rheinmetall, a member of ARTEC, began series production of the UK’s Boxer vehicles at its facility in Germany in June.
Five prototypes and 523 series production Boxers will be delivered under a £2.8bn contract signed with the ARTEC in November 2019. They will be delivered in four variants: APC, equipment support, C4I and ambulance. Trials are expected in June 2022 with acceptance into service of the initial vehicles in 2023.
The next big question is how the UK will replace its cancelled Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) upgrade program. An option being considered is to simply buy more Boxers, potentially a variant fitted with the Kongsberg RT60 turret and Vilkas module.
The UK is also investing in a stopgap effort that involves upgrading 148 of its remaining 227 Challenger 2 Main Battle Tank to the Challenger 3 standard. The UK signed a May 7 deal with RBSL, worth £665 m, for an upgrade package including a new 120mm smoothbore L55A1 main gun, vehicle digitization, survivability improvements and enhanced target acquisition capabilities. RBSL is expected to deliver the upgraded tanks in 2027. It will give Challenger an extra 10 years of service life before a replacement has to be found.
In comparison to the UK efforts, France’s Scorpion armored vehicle procurement program has gone smoothly. The Army decided some time ago it wants a modern fleet of mainly wheeled vehicles and Scorpion is delivering these alongside a mid-life upgrade to its Leclerc MBT.
The Army is modernizing 200 Leclercs to the XLR standard following a June contract signed with Nexter to begin work on the first batch of 50 tanks. The upgrade is due to start in May 2022, with all 200 vehicles to be completed by 2028 to a budget of about €350 m. The XLR standard includes the new SICS combat system, Contact radios, a new commander’s sight, remote-controlled weapons station, additional IED protection, fire control system and armor.
In stark contrast to Ajax, the French Army’s own Jaguar ERBC 6×6 armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle received its qualification in April, including completion of the first test-firing of a MMP medium-range anti-tank missile.
A spokesperson from Nexter, which is building the Scorpion vehicles, told Breaking Defense that the first 20 Jaguars will be presented to the French military by the end of 2021. “These deliveries were expected in April, but delays due to Covid-19 meant deliveries were officially shifted,” per the spokesperson. “Some firings or tests are planned throughout 2022.”
About 300 Jaguar vehicles are on order, with the first 150 due by 2025. This is part of the recent 2019-2025 Military Planning Law that called on the acceleration of deliveries for both Jaguar and the Griffon VBMR 6×6 APCs.
“By the beginning of Sept. 2021, we have delivered about 300 Griffon (mostly in VTT FELIN and EPC variants). 8 variants on 10 expected will be qualified by the end of October 2021,” the Nexter spokesperson said. A total of 1,872 Griffon are to be delivered by 2030. Both Griffon and Jaguar are slated to cost about €1m per unit.
France and Germany are continuing their development of the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) following the signing of an agreement in April 2020 that kick started a systems architecture study. Production of a full system demonstrator is expected in 2024 and series production in 2028. The MGCS MBT will replace the Leclerc and German Army Leopard 2 MBT.
Germany, Italy and Spain
Speaking of Germany: Berlin is upgrading its Puma IFV to the new S1 standard, following a €1.04bn contract signed with the Rheinmetall/KMW joint venture company PSM in June. An initial batch of 154 vehicles will be completed by 2026, and include MELL/Spike anti-tank guided missiles, new optronics, driver situational awareness and SVFuA software defined radios. 40 vehicles were already delivered in April, enough for a Panzergrenadier armoured infantry formation, so that the German Army could lead NATO’s Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF) in 2023.
Meanwhile in Italy, the latest Documento Programmatico Pluriennale planning document that was released in August announced a range of armored vehicle projects to modernize the Italian Army. The main program in the short term is for a new “Sistema di combattimento per la fanteria” — Combat System for the Infantry. The €2.05 bn program is a family of vehicles that includes an IFV and supporting variants including a command post, anti-tank, mortar, engineering, reconnaissance, air defense, medical, ammunition transport and driver trainer. Definition studies are underway, the big costs won’t kick in until 2027-2035.
And finally, in Spain, production is due to start on its new 8×8 Dragon VCR infantry fighting vehicle. The Army is due to receive 348 of the General Dynamics European Land Systems made vehicles between early 2022 and 2029. The €1.74bn contract by the Spanish MoD was awarded on Aug. 25. Dragon is based on GD’s Piranha V vehicle, with a turret and 30mm gun from Spanish company Escribano included; however, rival company Rafael has protested the turret award. (Source: glstrade.com/Breaking Defense.com)
12 Oct 21. GM Defense pitches new version of Infantry Squad Vehicle. General Motors Defense has turned the U.S. Army’s Infantry Squad Vehicle into a heavy gun carrier, debuting the variant Oct. 11 at the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. The company is delivering ISVs to the Army after it was awarded a $214.3m contract to produce 649 vehicles by the end of fiscal 2024. The service plans to procure a total of 2,065 ISVs. The ISV — based on the company’s 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck — is designed to carry a nine-soldier squad and move them rapidly in and out of battle.
“We’re actually starting to develop out our plan to build variants based on the vehicle,” Steve duMont, GM Defense’s president, told Defense News in an interview before the AUSA event. “We’ve heard repeatedly that there was an interest in a gun carrier variant of this.”
GM Defense took roughly three months to produce the ISV 5 Heavy Gun Carrier version, duMont said.
The gun carrier version on display at AUSA is a five-seater with a .50-caliber gun mounted on top. On the doors, there are access points to mount squad automatic weapons; at the show, the company has M240 squad automatic weapons on the side.
The vehicle on display “could ride along with airborne infantry units to provide additional heavy gun protection,” he said. “You’ll see a vehicle that could be used by special operations forces and, of course, a lot of interest in the ISV from allied land forces around the planet.”
While GM does not yet have a contract for an upgunned variant of the ISV, “we think there’s a lot of growth opportunity on these different variants, and I think what we’re trying to demonstrate is just how quickly and rapidly or efficiently we’re able to modify the vehicle to deliver other capability that is requested by our customers,” duMont said.
GM Defense has a history of making rapid progress. It took three months to configure a new 75,000-square-foot production facility in Concord, North Carolina, for the ISV, and four months to deliver the first production vehicles after it won the ISV deal, duMont said.
It took roughly three months for the company to convert an ISV into a fully electric vehicle, he added.
The company also brought to the show an upgunned version of its electric military concept vehicle and will feature a incorporated unmanned aircraft system that can charge from the fully electric vehicle and perform scouting missions, duMont said.
GM is gearing up for a potential Army competition to develop and build an electric light reconnaissance vehicle. The company plans to base its eLRV design off its Hummer EV chassis. The electric Hummer, which is a 1,000-horsepower vehicle, gets 90 minutes of drive time for 10 minutes of charging.
The Army has not funded the eLRV effort but did include it on a list sent to Congress of items it would want in the fiscal 2022 budget if the service received additional money. Without funding, the Army noted in the document, the service will see delays to the research, design and builds of future eLRV prototypes and the initial prototyping effort for up to four contractors. Congress has yet to pass a budget for FY22 or the defense policy bill. (Source: Defense News)
11 Oct 21. US Army’s light tank competition enters final stretch. Two competing light tank prototypes are moving into a U.S. Army limited-user test, marking the final step before the service chooses just one to build for its infantry brigade combat teams. The service selected General Dynamics Land Systems and BAE Systems in December 2018 to each build and deliver 12 prototypes for the Army’s Mobile Protected Firepower, or MPF, program. The vehicle is meant to give IBCTs improved mobility, protection, and direct and offensive fire capability organic to those units and capable against near-peer and peer threats. The systems earlier this year went through a soldier vehicle assessment with the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, where soldiers were tasked with validating the MPF concept and providing feedback on how the service should develop tactics, techniques and procedures for fighting with this capability.
The two prototypes differ significantly.
GDLS offered a new, lightweight chassis with a high-performance power pack and an advanced suspension, combined with a turret featuring the latest version of the fire control system found in the Abrams main battle tank. The company’s prototypes were assessed at the soldier vehicle assessment over the first half of the year, in line with the Army’s original timeline for the event.
BAE Systems’ design is an updated M8 Buford armored gun system with new capabilities and components. The company experienced some prototype production delays due to the coronavirus pandemic, and it delivered systems months later than GDLS. Soldiers wrapped up that portion of the assessment in early August, according to Jim Miller, BAE’s senior director of business development for combat mission systems, who spoke to Defense News during a recent interview.
While data from the soldier vehicle assessment is not meant to inform the Army’s source selection, it was designed to help assess the concept of using MPFs in an IBCT formation.
“I think the outcome from the soldier assessment, which both contractors completed, is, yes, it is a viable concept. We understand what the support requirements are for an armored platform supporting an IBCT,” Brig. Gen. Glenn Dean, the Army’s program executive officer for ground combat systems, told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference.
“The specific organizational structures will depend on which system wins because they’re a little bit different in size and weight and have slightly different supporting requirements,” Dean said.
Both companies received feedback from the soldiers as well.
While BAE struggled to get its prototypes down to Bragg, once there, “everything went great,” Miller said. “We got really great feedback on the vehicle from the soldiers that operated it.” Soldiers made some minor suggestions, but overall “we had positive feedback about the performance of the vehicle.” (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
11 Oct 21. GDLS displayed second iteration of Tracked Robot 10-Ton. General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) displayed its next iteration of the Tracked Robot 10-Ton (TRX) and a next-generation electronic architecture at this year’s annual Association of the US Army (AUSA) conference.
Company officials provided Janes with an update on technologies and platforms it plans to showcase at this year’s show in Washington, DC, to include updates to the TRX, a platform it is touting as a potential contender for a future army Robotic Combat Vehicle-Medium (RCV-M) competition, as well as an electronic architecture it dubs Katalyst.
Although the army currently has an RCV-M prototype, GDLS has continued to develop the TRX and has been testing it out the five-tonne unmanned platform with various payloads (weighing up to five-tonnes) at different army events ahead of the service’s 2022 RCV soldier experiment. Such events included one at Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri, in September where the tracked, flattop robot donned ‘implements’ to clear rubble out of the way, as well as a mine-clearing line charge (MICLIC) for obstacle reduction and removal vignettes.
“What we learned, in general, is the concept is feasible. You can operate a vehicle at the point of a breach using remote controls, and it works,” the company’s US director of business development Tim Reese said on 4 October. “Everybody would like to do things faster, or lift a heavier load, or push a bigger pile of dirt, or knock over a thicker wall, but I think the good news is that the concept…is viable.” (Source: Jane’s)
11 Oct 21. US Army to kick off Joint Light Tactical Vehicle competition early next year. The U.S. Army is putting the finishing touches on its request for proposals to industry to officially open a competition worth up to $12bn to build more Joint Light Tactical Vehicles. The contest could unseat incumbent Oshkosh Defense, which won the initial JLTV contract in 2015. The Army always planned to conduct a follow-on competition as it reached the end of the initial contract. To prepare, the service incentivized companies participating in the first competition to provide as much technical data as possible. Wisconsin-based Oshkosh has built about 10,000 vehicles and is under contract to build more than 66,000. The contract is expected to amount to roughly $30 bn by 2024. The Army conducted initial market research once the JLTV was approved for full-rate production in 2019. This followed a delay of almost six months related to a series of alterations made to the vehicle in response to soldier feedback. The service then made the decision to move forward with a new competition, holding its first industry day in February 2020, Mike Sprang, the JLTV Joint Program Office’s program manager, told Defense News in an interview ahead of the Association of the U.S. Army’s annual conference. Since then, the office has conducted multiple industry days, released several draft RFPs, updated section elements and answered 400 questions from industry.
“We have an incumbent who’s already built over 10,000 vehicles,” Sprang said. “Any time we anticipate having an effective competition, you have to make industry part of the process to understand what do they need to make business decisions.”
Another update to the draft RFP is expected in October, he noted.
The Army plans to release the RFP in January 2022 and award a contract to one team in September 2022, he said. At one point the Army had considered awarding contracts to two teams, but the service determined “there just wasn’t funding support for dual sources,” he added. With technology advancing and becoming cheaper since the JLTV was first designed, the Army hopes to add several new capabilities to the vehicles. Corrosion protection, for instance, is very important, Sprang said, especially for the Marine Corps. The goal is to move from a 20-year protection level to a 30-year level. For the Army, which uses the vehicles for training and frequently moves them around, improved fuel efficiency is a desired attribute in a new version of the vehicle, Sprang noted. The service set forth in its draft RFP a fuel efficiency improvement goal of 5 percent, and asked for an anti-idle capability.
“Looking at it, we believe that we can actually save on average 15 to 20 percent fuel consumption yearly,” Sprang said.
The Army also plans to include lithium-ion batteries in the base capability of the new JLTV. “We’re saying use that architecture to not have to turn on your engine when you first need radios, when you first need HVAC [heating and cooling], and when the battery is drained to a certain point the engine turns on, charges, then shuts off again,” he said.
The Army wants a next-generation vehicle architecture that can accommodate the power needed for an increase in capability. The service plans to offer incentives to the manufacturer depending on when it’s provided.
“If they provide it within two years, we’ll pay for it, it will be a part of the contract,” Sprang said, but if the manufacturer brings it in on Day One, the Army will issue incentives.
The new JLTV will also incorporate some “driver-centric” technologies, Sprang said, like 360-degree awareness with multiple cameras around the vehicle, blind-spot monitoring, better backup cameras and hill-decline capability.
Other capabilities the program office would like to consider are tactile response features, like a seat that vibrates if the vehicle is getting too close to something or is in a dangerous location, rather than relying on an alarm or a display warning.
Ten years ago, some of these capabilities wouldn’t have worked for a military vehicle, but the commercial industry has driven the price down through its own development efforts, “and now is a good time to look at applications in military vehicles,” Sprang said.
“JLTV is a fantastic platform to get that capability,” he added. “We don’t necessarily require all of it. It’s up to every vendor to decide which ones they’re going to propose as they do their own best-value calculation.”
Sprang said the number of industry engagements as well as the number of companies who have leased current JLTVs to assess them means the program office expects a robust competition.
Navistar, AM General and GM Defense have publicly said they are considering competing for the contract.
Once an award is made, the winner will have 12 months after signing to start delivering vehicles to the Army, Sprang said. (Source: Defense News Early Bird/Defense News)
08 Oct 21. Poland confirms acquisition of 250 US M1A2 SEPV V3 main battle tanks. According to a Tweet published by the Polish Ministry of Defense on October 8, 2021, Poland confirms its plan to acquire 250 M1A2 SEP V3 main battle tanks from the United States and that will enter into service with the 18th Mechanized Division of the Polish army. In July 2021, the Polish Minister of National Defence Mariusz Błaszczak has announced a plan to acquire M1A2 Abrams System Enhancement Program version 3 (SEPv3), the latest configuration of the US main battle tank (MBT), to equip four armored battalions of the Polish army. Previously, Army Recognition has reported that Poland would like to procure 250 M1A2 SEPv3 Abrams MBTs, armored recovery vehicles, command vehicles, mobile bridge systems, and unspecified medical evacuation vehicles. Currently, the Polish army has a total of 142 Leopard 2A4 that will be upgraded to 2PL version 105 Leopard 2A5, 232 PT-91 Twardy, a Polish version of the Soviet-made T-72 and 127 T-72A/T-72M1, including 257 tanks in store. The Polish army includes one armored cavalry division and 3 Mechanized divisions with the 12th, the 16th and 18th armored cavalry divisions. The M1A2 SEPV V3 also called M1A2C is a modernized version of the M1A2 SEPV v2 main battle tank that benefits from a number of upgrades in the areas of survivability, maintainability, full efficiency and network capability. In October 2015, the M1A2 SP V3 was presented for the first time at AUSA defense exhibition in Washington D.C. In September 2018, it was announced that M1A2 SEPv3 and M1A2 SEPv4 variants were being renamed to M1A2C and M1A2D, The change was outlined in an August 15 memo from Maj. Gen. Brian Cummings. Soldiers with 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, were the first to receive the U.S. Army’s newest version of the M1 Abrams Tank, the M1A2C (SEP v.3), Fort Hood, Texas, July 20, 2020. In December 2020, General Dynamics Land Systems Inc., Sterling Heights, Michigan, was awarded a $4,620,000,000 fixed-price-incentive contract to produce Abrams M1A2 SEP v3 main battle tanks. The main armament of M1A2 SEP V3 includes one 120 mm smoothbore M256 cannon. The tank is also equipped with a Low Profile (LP) CROW (Common Remotely Operated Weapon System) mounted on the roof of the turret. The M1A2 SEP V3 is able to fire the M829E4 (soon to be type-classified as the M829A4) fifth-generation kinetic-energy anti-tank (AT) round. This new round provides heavy-armor defeat capability at extended ranges. It uses a depleted-uranium penetrator and anti-armor design advancements to defeat threat targets equipped with AERA (Advanced Explosive Reactive Armor) and APS (Active Protection Systems). The layout of the M1A2 SEP V3 is similar to the M1A2 MBT with the driver position at the front in the center, the turret is in the middle of the hull and the powerpack at the rear. The tank is fitted with a new armor package inside the turret and the hull to provide better survivability against multiple IED threats. (Source: https://www.armyrecognition.com/)
08 Oct 21. Hanwha Defense’s I-MPUGV prototype begins trials with South Korean army. South Korean company Hanwha Defense announced on 8 October that its recently unveiled “Intelligent, Multi-Purpose Unmanned Ground Vehicle” (I-MPUGV) prototype has begun pilot operations with the 5th Infantry Division of the Republic of Korea Army (RoKA). The six-wheel, artificial-intelligence (AI)-enabled vehicle, which appears to be a more advanced and larger variant of the company’s 1.5-tonne MPUGV prototype, has been undergoing trials with the RoKA since 5 October, noted the company, adding that the army will be testing the UGV’s locally developed remote-controlled weapon system (RCWS) as well as the vehicle’s capability to carry out remote-controlled operations and GPS-enabled autonomous driving. The I-MPUGV prototype, which was unveiled in July, is a two-tonne-class vehicle designed to support infantry units and undertake various duties such as transporting supplies and ammunition, reconnaissance and surveillance, casualty evacuation, and close combat support. As Janes reported, the I-MPUGV will offer increased speed and range on a single battery charge compared with the MPUGV. According to specifications provided by South Korea’s Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA), the new vehicle will be capable of travelling at road and cross-country speeds of up to 40 km/h and 20 km/h, respectively, and will have a range of 100 km on a single charge. It also offers a payload capacity of 500 kg, which is more than twice that of the MPUGV, which can carry up to 200 kg of stores and equipment. (Source: Jane’s)
11 Oct 21. Israeli MoD selects IAI for Carmel armoured fighting vehicle programme. IAI’s AFV solution is based on automatic and autonomous systems. The Israeli Ministry of Defense (IMoD) has selected Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) as the prime contractor for the Carmel future armoured fighting vehicle (AFV) programme. The selection follows a live demonstration of a two-man crew, closed hatches AFV by IAI. The next phase of the Carmel includes the development, integration and demonstration of technologies for a multidimensional combat team. This development will be based on an AFV comprising two crew members operating several systems, alongside integrated autonomous, air, and land platforms. This enables enhancement in the system’s manoeuvrability. During the Carmel demonstration, IAI’s AFV demonstrated that the vehicle can manage the current and future challenges on the battlefield. This AFV solution for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) is based on automatic and autonomous systems that can operate the central subsystems. Through rapid acquisition and effective engagement of targets, the system can locate and destroy time-sensitive targets. In August 2019, Elbit Systems demonstrated its AFV solution for the Carmel future combat vehicle project of the Israeli MoD.
IAI president and CEO Boaz Levy said: “We are very proud that the IMoD and the Land Forces Division selected the Carmel solution presented and developed by IAI. The central principles behind the company’s concept of land combat include intelligence gathering and acquisition of targets in the battlefield, conducted autonomously. The Carmel solution, as demonstrated by IAI, brings to the world of land combat the concept of system of systems championed by IAI, and includes a combination of capabilities, systems, ground-breaking innovation and connection to the world of artificial intelligence as an additional strategic capability the IDF can use in the future battlefield.”
Central technologies that IAI is developing for land manoeuvring forces include command system, situational awareness system, lethality system, mobility system, and operations system. (Source: army-technology.com)
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