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21 Sep 22. RBSL offers update on the upgrade of Fuchs vehicles. In September 2020, Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL) was awarded a £16m contract to upgrade and sustain the British Army’s fleet of Fuchs (Fox) CBRN reconnaissance vehicles and training simulator.
Ten Fuchs vehicles, originally produced by the Rheinmetall group, were gifted to the British Government during Gulf War 1 (August ’90 – Feb ’91). RBSL secured the contract to replace the Chemical Radiological Nuclear (CRN) mission equipment, address obsolescence issues and provide in-service support.
The work is being led by RBSL’s facility in Telford, West Midlands, UK, with the support of the local supply chain. So far, six vehicles have successfully been converted and delivered to Falcon Squadron, part of 28 Engr Regt who operate the FUCHS vehicle, with the remaining four vehicles on track to be converted by the end of the year.
But the programme hasn’t been without its obstacles and over the last two years, RBSL has had to work closely with Defence Equipment & Support (DE&S), and Falcon Squadron to ensure the UK high-readiness capability has been maintained whilst the programme is being executed. There have also been the usual challenges associated with technology insertion into a legacy platform.
Kevin Davis is the Through Life Manager at RBSL and the Programme Manager for Fuchs. He said that whilst there had been some significant challenges, RBSL together with DE&S and Falcon Squadron had “worked together in a collaborative and pragmatic manner to overcome the issues.”
He added: “There are inevitable difficulties that come with this type of programme and there have been some tough discussions, but all parties have worked to ensure we achieve the common goal.”
“At RBSL, we have been able to engage directly with the end user, working routinely with Falcon Squadron to keep the programme moving. It’s a really great example of how RBSL can work effectively with the end user to solve problems and provide the support required. Falcon Squadron have been really good, engaged and ensured that they have played their part fully. We’re in a much better place now than when we first took on the contract and whilst the programme remains challenging, and will do until we have converted all 10 vehicles, we’re on track to complete the conversion of all 10 vehicles by the end of 2022.”
As part of the work being carried out, RBSL has also implemented a new support contract which includes technical support, provision of spares and repairs, maintenance, training, and design services. The team are also providing engineering authority to support their management of platform safety.
The programme is in line with the UK government’s agenda to provide opportunity to SMEs and level up regional economies, as well as to protect skilled jobs in engineering and manufacturing.
As a result of RBSL’s industrialisation programme and Telford site transformation, in January 2021, Supacat, a SME based in Dunkeswell, Devon, was awarded a contract by RBSL to carry out the physical integration of the chemical and radiological sensing equipment on the vehicles. In addition to this Supacat is also providing technical and logistic support. The contract helps sustain valuable jobs and skills for the UK and the company.
Kevin Davis added: “This contract protects key engineering skills in the UK and offers the opportunity to not only work collaboratively with Rheinmetall – our majority shareholder and Fuchs Design Authority – but also a range of UK SMEs.”
21 Sep 22. Tyron Runflat at DVD 2022. At DVD 2022, Tyron Runflat is highlighting its innovation in developing new run flat solutions and supporting requirements from new and existing customers. Alongside significant business growth for the company in the Baltic region, demand for its full military runflats remains strong among its existing customer base. Earlier this year the company became the first supplier in the UK to begin deliveries of complete wheel/tyre/runflat assemblies using the new Michelin X Force ZL16.00r20 tyre. The deliveries are part of the company’s work on the NP Aerospace-led programme to upgrade the British Army’s Ridgback and Mastiff vehicles under the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Protected Mobility Engineering & Technical Support (PMETS) programme. The team at NP Aerospace is upgrading vehicles by installing an industry leading package of equipment that significantly improves their off-road mobility, as proven by the teams at Operation NEWCOMBE in MALI. As part of the range of new systems, the vehicles will be fitted with Tyron’s complete wheel assemblies consisting of its All-Terrain Rubber Multi-Piece (ATR-MP) runflats, wheel and the Michelin X Force ZL16.00r20 tyre. The ATR-MP will contribute to increased mobility and safety for the vehicle fleet, while also supporting simplified logistics in the field.
The company’s newest innovation, the new All-Terrain Rubber (ATR) EasyFit, is also on display. The new solution is designed to sit between Tyron MultiBands and full ATR-MP and ATR-SP all terrain rubber runflat systems currently supplied widely into the defence marketplace. The ATR-EasyFit aims to fill a significant gap in the market for lightweight rubber runflat solutions on light armoured vehicles on 16” wheels, right through to 22.5” wheels used on military and commercial logistics vehicles.
The option for vehicles of this type was previously limited to MultiBands or full, multi-piece runflat systems. The ATR-EasyFit provides a new cost-effective option for this vehicle profile, combining the mobility advantages of the multiband with the shock-absorbing benefit of rubber runflats.
The system has a steel core for strength, with a rubber outer that gives protection against kerb strikes, road debris and uneven terrain. It is based on a carbon ratchet system to reduce weight, and its preconnected cabling design allows it to be fitted without specialist tools and equipment for simple fit and removal in the field. The ATR-EasyFit offers up to 50km runflat capability, allowing the vehicle to maintain mobility during and after a tyre strike event and continue moving to a place of safety with one or more tyres deflated.
21 Sep 22. Supacat delivers upgraded British Army CBRN vehicles to RBSL. UK defence vehicle developer, Supacat, has delivered the first tranche of upgraded British Army Fuchs/Fox CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear) surveillance and reconnaissance vehicles to Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL).
As part of an overall £16m UK MOD contract awarded to RBSL in October 2020 to upgrade and sustain the British Army’s fleet of Fuchs/Fox vehicles Supacat is conducting the physical integration of the latest chemical and radiological sensing equipment, RBSL having completed the engineering work required to upgrade the CBRN vehicles.
Originally designed and developed by Rheinmetall, the British Army’s Fuchs/Fox vehicles were adapted into a protected platform equipped with automatic systems and sensors for detecting nuclear radiation, CBRN agents and other toxic substances. This latest contract will help modernise the fleet further and ensure operational readiness and effectiveness of the UK CBRN reconnaissance fleet.
The contract is the latest collaboration opportunity between Supacat and RBSL as Supacat grows its Engineering Services business to support global primes in the UK and Australia where it operates.
Phil Applegarth, Director of Supacat, said:
“This contract demonstrates how our relationship with RBSL provides comprehensive engineering expertise to the UK MOD, by increased agility through RBSL collaborating with an SME, and sustains high value jobs and skills in the UK”.
“Our engineers are able to bring extensive experience in delivering fully integrated, battle-proven vehicle systems, as demonstrated by the HMT platform (Jackal and Coyote) to maintain this critical UK MOD capability.”
BATTLESPACE Comment: Sources suggest that Supacat is being lined up for a major order from the UK MoD as part of the Lightweight Vehicle programme, for Jackal vehicles.
21 Sep 22. Boxer – running late? Sources close to BATTLESPACE suggest that the UK’s Boxer Programme is already running 5-8 months late due to changing MoD Requirements. These include the need for a new supplier for the commander and gunner’s displays and the integration of a new unique powerpack combination from Renk and MTU.
21 Sep 22. Hobson Industries (Stand OR-35) Launches launch the DEIMOS gunship at DVD. In its stealth format, it will be known as the harbinger of terror. The DEIMOS shown at DVD has an FN .50 calibre machine gun on a ring mount. The protection system is the new lightweight THEMIS armour developed by Hobsons.
The THEMIS Armour System©
The base point for THEMIS is the SNATCH VIXEN CAV 100 S2 glass pod (or similar product), protected with a much-reduced thickness of high hardness steel. Previously the .556 and M193 rounds traditionally took more than 8mm of high hardness armoured steel to achieve. Peter’s knowledge of the physics associated with the ballistic event and the broad understanding of the properties of ballistic materials set about finding a lightweight ballistic protection system. This has been achieved at Stanag Level 1+ at around 50kg m² with the THEMIS armoured pod system and is probably lightest armoured lightweight vehicle in use at this time. The system can also be fitted as an appliqué system for upgrades to current in-service vehicles.
The THEMIS development caught the eye of a UK Government customer and Hobsons was tasked to supply a test vehicle for evaluation. The vehicle was independently ballistically and blast tested to PAS300 methodologies. Vehicle handling characteristics have also been independently validated and certified to PAS301.
“The THEMIS system is a quantum leap in ballistic event management with appliqué armour at around 20.kg² on a CAV100 SNATCH pod upgrade and as a full ballistic solution to Stanag Level 1+ at around 50kg² for new vehicles. The THEMIS armour system© is a result of a combination and understanding of ballistics, physics and knowledge of materials in integration and this opens up areas of ballistic management protection solutions to both new vehicle design and post design for existing in-service light armour protected vehicles.” Peter Hobson continued.
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20 Sep 22. RBSL unveils Brimstone-equipped Boxer Overwatch concept demonstrator. RBSL has unveiled the Boxer Overwatch, a Brimstone missile-equipped variant of the Boxer vehicle developed in collaboration with MBDA. RBSL, in co-operation with MBDA, have completed the system design concepts and physical integration activities of Boxer Overwatch in response to British Army’s need for a Mounted Close Combat Overwatch (MCCO) capability, part of its future anti-armour needs known as Battle Group Organic Anti-Armour (BGOAA).
The challenges of the modern battlefield increasingly demand that tactical land forces have the organic capability to engage peer threats of today and tomorrow with precision at range with mass. Boxer Overwatch creates an unmatched anti-armour capability that when used within a combined arms capability, can deliver both Overwatch protection to manoeuvring and advancing forces, or operate as a screening capability to disrupt advancing forces. The rapid and effective engagement of Boxer Overwatch is a key capability of the Heavy Brigade Combat Team.
Brimstone, leveraging significant investments by UK MOD into this state of the art anti-armour weapon system, offers ‘one missile, multi-platform’ versatility and is designed to be integrated onto land vehicles as well as helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft (including fast jets), naval platforms and UAVs. Brimstone’s non-line of sight (NLOS) capability, removes the need for the missile to be mounted on a turret and launched directly at a target. The integration by RBSL and MBDA provides next generation anti-armour coverage to the battle group.
Capitalising on the modularity of Boxer, a dedicated Boxer Overwatch provides the tactical commander with the capability to deliver precision anti-armour effects at long ranges. There is no modification to the Boxer drive module, no reduction in platform mobility and the low profile silhouette is key to survivability.
The salvo launch enables it to achieve co-ordinated effects on multiple targets during a single mission, with an all-weather fire-and-forget capability. Meanwhile ‘true dual-mode’ seeker performance provides the ability to engage single targets with low collateral damage in restrictive engagement scenarios. Brimstone possesses best-in-class insensitive munitions-compliance, fulfilling all mandatory user safety requirements and ensuring greater survivability of platform and operator.
Colin McClean, Managing Director of RBSL, said: “Our collaboration with MBDA demonstrates UK land business working together to deliver as one team for the benefit both of the British Army and the UK Value proposition. As such it is one example of accelerating the realisation of Future Soldier and the recently published Land Industry Strategy.
“Furthermore it highlights once again the benefits of Boxer modularity and the platform’s excellent digital architecture to enable multiple mission systems to be integrated. I am very much looking forward to delivering this capability at pace to British soldiers.”
Chris Allam, Managing Director of MBDA UK, added: “This collaboration with RBSL is a great example of how we can partner to quickly provide the British Army with a UK sovereign capability that can be spirally developed further to meet the needs of Op MOBILISE and to advance Future Soldier.”
20 Sep 22. Otokar aims to increase its exports to Africa. Otokar, Turkey’s global land systems manufacturer, participates in Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) on September 21-25, in City of Tshwane, South Africa. During the exhibition, Otokar will promote its broad land systems product range, including 4×4, 6×6, 8×8 tactical wheeled armored vehicles, tracked armored vehicles and weapon systems.
Stating that Otokar is a registered NATO and United Nations supplier General Manager Serdar Görgüç, said, “Currently, Otokar vehicles are actively used in five continents, including Africa. Our vehicles are widely used by peacekeepers in the continent. We are indeed proud of our vehicles’ success with several United Nations and African Union peacebuilding and peacekeeping missions including MINUSCA, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, UNAMID, UNMIK, UNMIL and UNMISS.
Emphasizing that COBRA II draws attention with its successful performance in Africa, General Manager Serdar Görgüç, continued, “Otokar COBRA II is a combat proven vehicle with its exceptional performance suitable for conventional and asymmetric warfare conditions. We are proud that COBRA II is now successfully serving more than 10 end users worldwide and is known as the best in its class. We strongly believe that the performance of our vehicles are the most important reference for our potential customers, and we stand out with our ability to respond quickly to ever-changing requirements and needs of end users thanks to our design, test, and manufacturing capabilities. In addition to COBRA II, ARMA 6×6 and ARMA 8×8 vehicles will be one of the first choices of different users in Africa in the coming years.”
COBRA II offers high level of protection, payload capacity, and large internal volume. In addition to superior mobility, COBRA II also comes with the capacity to accommodate up to 10 personnel including the driver and commander, offering high protection against ballistic, mine, and IED threats. Delivering high performance in the toughest terrain and climate conditions with high power to weight ratio, COBRA II is operated in different parts of the world, on toughest terrain and climate conditions, and made thousands of miles. Preferred especially for offering a wide range of weapons integration and mission equipment options; COBRA II is successfully in service as personnel carrier, high mobility, medical evacuation, command & control and recovery variants for peacekeeping operations. The modular structure of COBRA II also makes the vehicle a multi-purpose platform suitable for reconnaissance, CBRN reconnaissance, border protection, satellite communication, anti-tank and air defense missions and operated by military, paramilitary and peacekeeping forces.
20 Sep 22. New vehicle autonomy system, Indigo Drive, to revolutionise the defence industry.
- Indigo Drive enables personnel to be removed from highly dangerous scenarios
- Existing vehicles to become driverless quickly and cost-effectively
- One system from a single supplier to provide everything needed to autonomise an entire fleet
Leading vehicle automation provider, ABD Solutions, has launched Indigo Drive, a software eco-system that enables any defence vehicle to be quickly and cost-effectively automated.
Indigo Drive can significantly improve the safety of personnel by removing the requirement for drivers in dangerous situations, such as IED route clearance and logistics supply. Research shows that 52% of casualties in combat zones can be attributed to logistics and personnel delivering core supplies and that nearly 50% of US soldiers killed in operation between 2010 and 2020 were caused by IEDs.
“Our solution is unique in that it is vehicle-agnostic and retrofittable, this enables any existing land vehicle to be automated,” said Matthew Price, Managing Director of ABD Solutions. “This allows more personnel to be removed from dangerous situations, significantly increasing safety. On top of this, instead of driving, personnel can focus on much more valuable operational activities, allowing soldiers to be soldiers.”
Secure and certified, as a comprehensive system, Indigo Drive contains everything needed to create driverless fleets. From a user-friendly software interface for route-planning to the technology needed to create movement (such as drive-by-wire and driving robots), to communication (Radio, V2X, GPS/GNSS), obstacle detection (LiDAR, camera, radar) and vehicle health and diagnostics (OBD2, telemetry, sensors), what’s included can be tailored around the specific vehicles and environments.
The modular architecture allows for easy integration with systems already in use, such as fleet management software, meaning creating driverless fleets can be faster and smoother than ever before.
As well as increasing safety, automation reduces emissions and fuel consumption, which has a direct impact on the number of supply operations required. It also provides tactical advantages, such as running in the dark without the use of lights.
Price adds, “We work with our customers to provide tailored solutions for their environment by assessing the level and type of automation required enabling fleet transformation without investment in new vehicles, maximising the return on existing high-value assets.”
The hardware used to provide automation requires only minor modifications to the vehicle and is semi-permanent, allowing it to be moved from one vehicle to another should requirements change or if the vehicle needs maintenance. The equipment is non-intrusive to allow a driver to take control while it is fitted, significantly increasing the vehicle’s operational flexibility.
In a defence environment where tasks are often repetitive, the entire fleet can be synchronised to maximise productivity and efficiency. Task planning software ensures that all the vehicles take the most efficient route, reducing fuel consumption and the time to complete the operation. Vehicles that have the ability to detect obstructions can communicate them to the fleet management system to prevent others from encountering the same issue. Once the obstruction has been flagged the vehicle management system can generate an alternative route or a human can remote into the vehicle to immediately assess the situation.
A critical indirect benefit of vehicle autonomy is the digitisation of information from the vehicle. It creates new data streams that are invaluable to fleet operators. The vehicle’s speed, location, fuel level, diagnostic status, distance to target etc can all be relayed via the vehicle management toolset. Data analytics can automatically process this information to assist with operational decisions, fleet maintenance scheduling and logistics planning.
ABD Solutions used Indigo Drive to create the world’s first automated Wolfhound Tactical Support Vehicle (TSV). It was created in collaboration with NP Aerospace, an engineering authority for the UK MOD protected mobility fleet. The vehicle was demonstrated earlier this year at a defence technology innovation day held at the HORIBA-MIRA proving ground in the UK.
With sales and technical support offices across three continents, ABD Solutions is a global operation. It is a member of the AB Dynamics Group and benefits from its knowledge of developing and supplying thousands of driving robots to the world’s leading vehicle manufacturers, proving grounds and regulatory authorities. The Group has decades of experience in vehicle autonomy and simulation.
“The AB Dynamics Group has been automating vehicles in one way or another for development and test purposes for decades,” continues Price. “Now, through ABD Solutions and the development of Indigo Drive, the defence industry can take advantage of this expertise to automate their existing fleets today.”
ABD Solutions will be showcasing Indigo Drive at DVD2022, one of Europe’s leading defence exhibitions, at UTAC Millbrook, UK, on September 21st – 22nd (Stand C3-413).
About ABD Solutions
ABD Solutions enables fast and cost-effective automation of existing vehicle fleets in the materials handling, defence, mining and agriculture industries. As part of the AB Dynamics Group, it has access to a global network of simulation, testing, and autonomy expertise. For more information, please visit www.abdsolutions.com.
19 Sep 22. Specialist brake and clutch manufacturer, Alcon, announces £300,000 machine investment to increase production capacity.
Alcon Components Ltd, the acclaimed global brake and clutch company, has today announced a £300,000 investment in new machinery focussed on increasing production capacity to meet the demands of their growing specialist vehicle division. The investment in new machinery will help to service the increasing number of orders being received for volume production braking components from axle manufacturers, military vehicle OEMs and armoured vehicle conversion specialists.
Installed at their Tamworth site and working alongside their existing Northampton production site, Alcon’s new machinery will boost Tamworth’s production capacity and will increase security of supply by spreading the specialist vehicle production work across multiple Alcon sites. The new machinery will primarily be used for volume production in the defence and security sector where Alcon is fast becoming the global braking partner of choice.
This further investment decision comes off the back of some recent milestone successes in the defence and security sector. Alcon is the selected braking partner for Patria’s 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles that are winning multiple orders globally, securing a considerable volume of braking component manufacture for Alcon. Alcon’s armoured vehicle braking kits are also in high demand as the new Toyota LC300 armoured designs are rolled out by the world’s leading armouring companies. Behind the scenes, Alcon are working with a number of premier defence vehicle manufacturers working on global vehicle projects that cannot yet be announced.
Alcon has over 35 years of experience in engineering high-quality and high-performance brakes and clutches for specialist vehicles; from F1, World Rally and prestige performance cars to 60T-plus military armoured vehicles. This, combined with their proven pedigree in rapidly solving the unique braking problems created by the operational demands of the military environment, put them in a strong market position. Alcon braking solutions have been sought out by some of the world’s finest defence industry vehicle OEMs. Alcon braking systems are used by over 20 defence and security equipment OEMs, including Patria, Supacat, BAE, Ricardo and Jankel because Alcon provide bespoke braking systems that fully meet the demanding requirements of the challenging, high-performance, modern-day battlefield.
Jonathan Edwards, Group Sales Director at Alcon said: “As you can see from today’s announcement, we’re continuing to take the defence and security sectors very seriously with ongoing investments made to enable further growth. Our specialist vehicle business, including defence, forms a significant percentage of our turnover and our plan is to expand that further still within the next 3 to 5 years – and that is bearing in mind the fact that the rest of the business is also growing”. He added: “We’re very proud of the fact that multiple armoured vehicle manufacturers and modifiers are contacting us to solve their specific braking problems that occur every time weight is added to any vehicle. We’ve got some fantastic new projects on the go that we’re not yet able to disclose and having added production capacity sets Alcon up to be ready for those, whilst continuing to deliver our current orders”.
25 Aug 22. Jankel’s production programme for their new Light Tactical Transport Vehicle (LTTV) has changed up a gear from LRIP (Low-Rate Initial Production) to delivering vehicles at a rate of more than 15 per month. The production plan aligns with a re-profiled delivery schedule following COVID and recent supply chain constraints. The LTTV programme, awarded to Jankel in February 2018, will deliver 199 British designed and built tactical vehicles based on the Mercedes Benz UNIMOG vehicles to the Belgian Ministry of Defence (BeMOD). Jankel’s LTTV can be viewed at the DVD exhibition at Millbrook, 21-22 September.
In September 2021, Jankel announced the establishment of a new production capability in the UK and in November 2021 it was announced that the programme had passed Preliminary Technical Acceptance (PTA) and had formally entered production. Following a period of LRIP (Low-Rate Initial Production) that coincided with COVID working restrictions, recently, the programme has been gathering pace with vehicle 25 entering production in August. From September onwards, the production rate accelerates further with the delivery of all 199 vehicles set for completion in 2023.
First unveiled at DSEi in September 2019 and also displayed at DSEi in September 2021, Jankel’s LTTV is designed to provide a modular and configurable tactical support vehicle that benefits from unique, removable mission modules that enable the vehicle to be re-roled rapidly for operational platform versatility. The LTTV has 3 core variants for Special Operations support, including an ambulance variant. Alongside a user-configurable, fully integrated suite of military sub-systems that includes a removable ballistic protection kit, a Roll-Over-Protection-System (ROPS), weapon mounts and communications fit, the platform will provide full interoperability with the Fox fleet of tactical vehicles.
Richard Semmens, Operations Director at Jankel said: “I’m very proud indeed of our team and our UK-based supply chain for working so hard to get our LTTV programme where it is today, with vehicles coming off the production line at increasing frequency and being delivered to our BeMOD customer. Throughout the LRIP builds, we have integrated some industry leading production and quality systems tools which ensure our ramp up in delivery will meet the exacting requirements of the customer”.
Andrew Jankel, Chairman at Jankel said: Like anyone else in manufacturing (defence or otherwise) will know, there have been some challenges to face through BREXIT, COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict. Right through that period, here at Jankel we’ve continued to deliver and to export some great UK products and services including our LTTV programme. Indeed, we’re one of a very few UK defence manufacturers that has been continuously delivering and exporting throughout this turbulent period”. He added: “I’d like to thank everyone who has worked with us so closely to help us succeed during this testing period including our suppliers and importantly, our customers. I’ll be the first person to say it’s not been easy but I’m also happy to say we’re succeeding. I’d particularly like to thank our suppliers for their patience, support and agility and I look forward to delivering the rest of the LTTV programme in the coming months. What we’ve put in place to deliver this programme also puts Jankel in a great position to deliver on future UK vehicle build programmes”.
17 Sep 22. Slovenia has announced it intends to withdraw from the Boxer Programme and to reverse the procurement decision with OCCAR. News Release, Ljubljana, 15 September 2022: [auto-translated] The government adopted a decision on the withdrawal of Slovenia from the Boxer programme.
Today, the Government became familiar with the Audit Report on the expediency of purchasing 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles for the needs of the Slovenian Army and concluded that Slovenia will withdraw from the Boxer programme. The Ministry of Defence will inform the Organisation for Cooperation in Joint Armament (French Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement – OCCAR) about this. Editor’s Comments: The decision to buy the German 8×8 mechanised infantry vehicle (see Slovenia Procures 45 BOXER Vehicles) to equip a single battlegroup was formally announced on 17th May 2022 after the vehicle had been selected in 2018 to equip two battlegroups but, following an audit, the political party now in power has decided to cancel. It appears that rather than buying Boxer, which would have been similar to the Lithuanian Vilkas in configuration, the Polish KTO Rosomak version of the Patria AMV is now being considered.
The Slovenian Army is believed to currently field around 120 wheeled armoured infantry vehicles, of which a quarter are Finnish Patria AMV 8×8 models known as SKOV Svarun, ordered in 2012, and the remainder are much older Austrian Pandur 1 6×6 models, known as the LKOV Valuk.
News Release, Ljubljana, 15 September 2022: [auto-translated] The government adopted a decision on the withdrawal of Slovenia from the Boxer programme.
Today, the Government became familiar with the Audit Report on the expediency of purchasing 8×8 wheeled combat vehicles for the needs of the Slovenian Army and concluded that Slovenia will withdraw from the Boxer programme. The Ministry of Defence will inform the Organisation for Cooperation in Joint Armament (French Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement – OCCAR) about this.
By the end of the year, the Ministry will prepare a solution for the formation of the capabilities of the medium battalion combat group and the medium combat reconnaissance battalion. In doing so, it will pursue the goal of saving at least 400 m Euros based on estimates so far. The total cost of purchasing both capacities is estimated at at least EUR 1bn 842m. The Government will inform the Defence Committee of the National Assembly of the decisions adopted today and the audit report on the efficiency of the aforementioned procurement.
The Ministry of Defence began more intensive activities for the implementation of the 8×8 Wheeled Combat Vehicle (WWV) procurement project in 2017. The Ministry informed the Government of the Republic of Slovenia of the progress of the 8×8 WVW purchase process for the construction of the Medium Battalion Battle Group (SrBBSk) at the beginning of 2018. Joining the multinational Boxer programme within the framework of the Joint Armaments Cooperation Organisation was identified as the most appropriate method and procedure for selecting a supplier.
In February 2019, the Ministry assessed that in order to continue the project, it is necessary to carry out activities that will mean a more comprehensive approach to the construction of SrBBSk, and to prepare a basis that will enable the assumption of obligations over a period of several years. Due to the above, the project was temporarily postponed by decision of the Government of the Republic of Slovenia.
The contract for the purchase of 45 BKV 8×8 worth EUR 281.5 m excluding VAT was signed on May 11, 2022 and includes a logistics package, development costs and project management costs. This value does not include the equipment for the C4I communication system, which is estimated to be at least EUR 13.5 m without VAT. Any annual escalation must be added to the total contract value. To reimburse the development costs, Slovenia must pay EUR 7.2 m to other countries and EUR3m for administrative costs.
At the beginning of June 2022, the Minister of Defence ordered an internal audit review of the feasibility of the BKV 8×8 procurement. As part of the expediency, the internal audit verified whether the purchasing procedures were conducted in such a way that the selection of the Boxer vehicle was economical, that the purchasing process was efficient and that the purchase was successful.
Among other things, it follows from the audit findings that the audit cannot give an opinion on the economy of the purchase of the BKV 8X8 Boxer, since the prices of other vehicles that meet the applicable standards have not been worked out, nor has the feasibility of purchasing them. The audit findings also show that the purchasing process was partially effective.
As part of the audit, it was established that the decision of the Minister of Defence from February 2021 to send Poland a request for an offer for combat vehicles for equipping the SrBBSk and to prepare a request to check the possibility of upgrading the already existing basic vehicles 8×8 (Patrij) with different weapons systems (30 mm cannon, 120 mm mortar, medical vehicle, technical support vehicle, command vehicle and others), was not realised.
The purchase of 45 BKV 8×8 follows the set goals for equipping the medium infantry battalion and contributes to their achievement. Funds are not planned to purchase additional 8×8 BKVs at least up to the minimum requirements by 2026, which may mean that the final operational capability goal for the medium infantry battalion by the end of 2026 will not be met. Funds for the procurement of combat support systems and operational assurance for the medium infantry battalion and the battalion battle group until 2026 are planned, but the procedures for the procurement of the missing combat support systems and operational assurance have not yet begun. The internal audit finds that data regarding the required number and type of 8×8 vehicles for the medium infantry battalion and the medium battalion battle group is inconsistent in terms of both the total number and type of vehicles.
Both in the Resolution on the general long-term development and equipping programme of the Slovenian Army and in the Medium-term Defence Programme, it is foreseen and emphasised, among other things, that we will purchase 8×8 vehicles that have already been tested in operational use, without special major adjustments and additional development for the Slovenian Army. Regarding the provenance of the BKV 8×8 “Lithuania model” in operational use, no clear answer was given during the audit. It was explained that experts from the Slovenian Army and the Ministry met with experts from all countries participating in the Boxer programme, exchanged experiences in the field of vehicle use and maintenance, and that the operational experience of the vehicles on the battlefield was verified from newspaper articles and online publications. OCCAR sites, and Germany used the vehicles in Afghanistan.
It was found that the BKV 8×8, which is the subject of the contract concluded through OCCAR, meets at least the minimum requirements regarding firepower, ballistic and mine protection, as well as manoeuvrability and tactical-technical characteristics requested by the client. Based on data from the investment documentation, the internal audit believes that the most expensive version was chosen in 2018. The internal audit concluded that the documents of investment documentation and materials from 2018, which were prepared for the expert council, which at the Ministry of Defence is responsible for assessing eligibility and monitoring and coordinating the implementation of key investments in the field of defence, deal with four possible types of BKV vehicles 8×8.
In the continuation of the BKV 8×8 procurement process in 2020, despite the changed circumstances, such as a new tactical study, new NATO documents, the process of adopting the 2021 Capacity Goals, possible changes in the BKV 8×8 market, the Ministry did not look for other options, except for joining OCCAR.
According to the internal audit, the decision for higher ballistic and mine protection, which exceeds the minimum requirements, influenced a smaller selection among the BKV 8×8 and consequently a higher price. Due to the above, the internal audit could not give an opinion that the purchase of the BKV 8×8 Boxer was economical, nor could it give an opinion with certainty that the purchase could be carried out with fewer funds, since the data on possible versions of the BKV 8×8 vehicles comes from market research. which was carried out in 2017.
When preparing the materials, the General Staff of the Slovenian Army estimated that EUR 710 m is needed to establish a medium infantry battalion (SrPB) and an additional EUR 332 m to establish all SrBBSk modules, which in total amounts to EUR 1 bn and 42 m. This amount does not include infrastructure, training and asset life cycle costs. As part of the analysis, it is also stated that, as part of the Act on providing funds for investments in the Slovenian Army in the years 2021-2026, EUR 609m is currently planned for this purpose, but in order to complete the equipping of the SrPB and the SrBBSk modules, according to the General Staff’s assessment, to provide at least another EUR 433m.
A cost estimate for the Medium Combat Reconnaissance Battalion (SrBIB) has not yet been made, as no tactical study has yet been produced to define the structure and equipment. Medium Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles are expected to be more expensive than Infantry Medium Combat Vehicles due to the additional requirements. From this, it is estimated that the price for such a battalion will be approximately EUR 800 m, but even these costs do not include infrastructure, training and the life cycle of assets.
The total cost of the acquisition of both capacities is therefore estimated to be at least EUR 1 bn 842 m, but this estimate is probably even on the lower threshold, and it is very likely that the price would increase even more with indexation. Both capabilities can be achieved at a lower cost while pursuing the minimum required performance targets. The greatest savings can be achieved by restructuring SrBBSk and SrBIB.
From the above and on the basis of expert assessments, it can be concluded that the planned purchase of 136 BKV 8×8 to the already existing 30 vehicles is unnecessarily ambitious. We can save at least 400 m Euros by optimising, reducing the purchase of the planned number of BKV 8×8, selecting a possibly cheaper provider and upgrading the existing 30 BKV 8×8.
The Ministry of Defence has so far received an invoice in the amount of EUR 7.2m for the reimbursement of development costs to other countries participating in the Boxer programme, with a currency of 4.8.2022, and an invoice in the amount of EUR 2.533m for the first call-up of operational costs in 2022 with a currency of 1 9. 2022, which has not yet been settled.
The risk of achieving the final operational capacity of the medium infantry battalion, which, according to the internal audit, is not under control, is also represented by personnel problems, so it will be necessary to take measures to improve the situation in the field of personnel as soon as possible.
The internal audit made recommendations for improving operations, including the creation of a comprehensive investment plan for the construction of the entire medium battalion combat group (with a medium infantry battalion and all required modules) and a medium combat reconnaissance battalion, which would be included after the approval of the Ministry’s leadership into the relevant planning documents and would represent the basis for the preparation of investment documentation and the implementation of future procurements for the needs of establishing a medium battalion combat group and a medium combat reconnaissance battalion.
The Ministry has already made an inquiry to OCCAR regarding the possible withdrawal from the Boxer programme and the cancellation of concluded international and civil law documents. From the answer received, it follows that by signing the Agreement, the Republic of Slovenia did not become a full member of OCCAR, that the concluded agreement refers exclusively to the participation of the Republic of Slovenia as a non-member of OCCAR in the Boxer programme, therefore, in the event of a decision to terminate this cooperation, the agreement would become irrelevant.
From the explanations received by OCCAR, it can be concluded that the level of costs may be affected by the current unstable conditions in the world market, which has caused the industry to engage several subcontractors. Thus, OCCAR explains that without coordination with the industry, it cannot provide an accurate calculation of the termination of the contract, estimating that the costs for the Republic of Slovenia will amount to approximately one fifth of the contract value. (Source: www.joint-forces.com)
16 Sep 22. Luxembourg Army to procure 80 CLRVs with NSPA support.
The Army seeks to replace protected response vehicles and high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles.
The Luxembourg Government has announced plans to purchase 80 command liaison and reconnaissance vehicles (CLRVs) for its Army through the Nato Support and Procurement Agency (NSPA).
Apart from enabling Luxembourg to acquire the vehicles, the NSPA will also support CLRV fleet life-cycle support requirements up to end-of-service-life.
The latest move seeks to replace the protected response vehicles and high-mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicle fleet used by the Luxembourg Army.
NSPA general manager Stacy Cummings said: “Luxembourg had engaged NSPA to find the most efficient and effective solution to fulfil Luxembourg’s requirement for a modern ground fleet.
“The capability we have shaped in partnership with Luxembourg fully meets their requirements, in addition to providing interoperability with other Nato nations.”
With high ballistic and mine protection features, the multi-role CLRVs are expected to strengthen the operational capabilities of the country’s armed forces.
The vehicle will be equipped with a remote weapon station and mission equipment based on the French SCORPION programme.
This will enable Luxembourg soldiers to maintain interoperability with global partners.
CLRV’s mission equipment commonality with those used in Belgium and France will also allow cooperation in the field of logistics, reducing fleet support costs.
Luxembourg Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister François Bausch said: “With the support of the NSPA, the Luxembourg Defence will acquire new CLRVs, meeting the latest military standards.
“Three points were essential in this project. First and foremost, the security and protection of our troops during a mission.
“Secondly, to modernise our equipment and thus increase operational capabilities and thirdly, to ensure interoperability within the Army and with our close allies.”
In May this year, Luxembourg signed a letter of intent with the NSPA to support the development of a future surveillance capability. (Source: army-technology.com)
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