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18 Sep 18. All set for Challenger 2 Smoothbore Upgrade. In our piece Smooth Bore for Challenger 2? BATTLESPACE UPDATE Vol.20 ISSUE 25 And EUROSATORY EXHIBITION NEWS ISSUE 02, 18 June 2018, we said: ‘There was a buzz around the halls at Eurosatory that the UK MoD had resurrected the Smooth Bore gun requirement for Challenger 2 (C2). The requirement for a smooth bore on C2 has been around for years and has been an on-off debate much of it surrounding costs and the ability to integrate the Rheinmetall 120mm canon into the C2 turret. The Challenger 2 LEP Programme is believed to have been delayed for 6 months with the Smooth Bore Requirement believed to be released in September. Rheinmetall told BATTLESPASCE that they had already undertaken a Smooth Bore study outside LEP and it is achievable within the current turret structure. Integrating the smooth bore 120mm will of course add additional costs as the extended range of the weapon will require a new Fire Control System, sensors and displays. Should Rheinmetall win the Smooth Bore contest against BAE then it is very likely that BAE will sell the Land Systems Division to Rheinmetall, excluding the ammunition business. This will give Rheinmetall the critical mass the Company needs to establish a credible UK Land Systems business to manage the Boxer Programme. Other sources suggest that the UK content of Boxer discussed at the Open Days two weeks ago will give Rheinmetall the export version it needs outside the stringent German Export laws.’
BATTLESPACE sources suggest that the MoD’s DE&S has scoped the addition of a smooth bore gun, Active Protection System (APS) and an armour package to the Challenger 2 LEP, which is currently being assessed by the MoD’s Investment Appraisal Boar (IAB) with an announcement expected on October 25th 2018. The gun mandated is believed to be the Rheinmetall L-55AI 120 Smooth Bore. For the APS Rheinmetall is believed to be offering the Rafael Trophy system as selected by the US Army with Leonardo DRS as Prime whilst BAE Systems has chosen the IMI Iron Fist system as shown on their Black Knight demonstrator at DVD. The improvements include a Safran Paseo commander’s independent sight, Leonardo thermal imager for the gunner, and Leonardo night sight DNVS 4. The enhancements are designed to provide a 24-hour hunter-killer capability through the provision of thermal imagers for the gunner, commander, and driver. The sensor chosen by BAE Systems under competition is the Leonardo Longwave 224×768, a variant of the Merlin detector as manufactured by Leonardo at their Southampton facility. The other bidders are believed to be Thales and Elbit. The world-beating detector was developed as part of the MoD’s Albion Programme The politics involved in this selection are considerable. Do the MoD risk losing a sovereign capability by placing the contact with Rheinmetall, thus ensuring that the Franco-German new MBT slated for 2035 be the natural choice to replace Challenger 2 in 2035 or does the MoD stick with BAE Systems to ensure flexibility of a partner such as GDLS? The Editor asked MG Colin McLean, Director Land Equipment DE&S at today’s MDVD to confirm or deny these rumours. He said that the MoD could not comment given the current negotiations with the Challenger 2 LEP bidders but should there be a requirement for smooth bore and APS seen in the operational capability of the system then it would be considered.
18 Sep 18. Czech Republic, Slovakia eye joint armored vehicle, howitzer acquisitions. Czech Prime Minister Andrej Babis and his Slovak counterpart, Peter Pellegrini, have announced the two countries will cooperate on joint purchases of weapons and military equipment.
“The governments of both countries perceive potential in the field of armament to modernize their armed forces. They also consider cooperation of their defense industries as very promising,” the Czech prime minister’s office said in a statement.
Speaking at a joint session of the two cabinets in the Slovak city of Kosice, Babis noted the Czech Republic produces armored vehicles and Slovakia makes howitzers, owing to which their armed forces could perform joint acquisitions of this gear, as reported by local news agency CTK. France’s Nexter Group and Czech vehicle-maker Tatra Trucks jointly produce the Titus six-wheel drive armored vehicle. Slovakia’s DMD Group makes the Zuzana 2 155mm self-propelled howitzer. Pellegrini said that, as the state of the international security environment continues to decline, the European Union and NATO should increase their focus on fostering defense cooperation among their member states. Babis said this closer defense cooperation format could also include neighboring Poland and Hungary. After years of sluggish spending, Prague and Bratislava both moved to increase their respective defense budgets following Russia’s alleged military intervention in Ukraine’s eastern part and its annexation of the Crimean Peninsula in 2014. (Source: Defense News)
18 Sep 18. Boxer UK update: Boxing clever. This article first appeared in the Jun-Jul 2018 issue of LWI magazine. It has been made available for non-subscribers following its shortlisting by the 2018 Defence Media Awards. Since its inception in the 1990s, the Boxer programme has had highs and lows. By 2015, the vehicle had only secured two customers – lead partner nations Germany and the Netherlands. Three years on, however, and the 8×8 has been selected by several countries and is now enjoying its most successful period so far. The Boxer 8×8 has a long and storied past, something that seems only to occur when European governments attempt to come together to deliver a common defence project. The vision, known in the 1990s as the Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV), was to consolidate armoured platform production in Europe and have a common AFV family across the major regional powers, namely France, Germany and the UK – similar in principle to the Eurofighter Typhoon or A400M.
While sound in theory, in practice the project to build a pan-European armoured vehicle was mired by morphing requirements from partner nations and inevitable political disagreements surrounding manufacturing and workshare. France left the programme in 1999, going on to develop its own 8×8 VBCI, and the UK followed suit in 2003, citing the MRAV’s significant weight, but having no real alternative in place.
What was once seen as an ambitious defence project was scaled down to a joint German-Dutch programme (the latter joining in 2001), which saw the roll-out of the first series production Boxer in 2009.
Turning things around
Now, nearly a decade on, the Rheinmetall/Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) JV ARTEC has delivered over 400 vehicles and added four more countries to its list of potential operators.
Lithuania became the third Boxer partner nation in 2015, selecting an IFV variant of the vehicle known as the Vilkas, and this year has seen Australia and Slovenia select the platform for its respective reconnaissance and mechanised requirements. Most notable, though, was the UK’s announcement in March that it would rejoin the programme, 15 years after the MoD decided it would withdraw from it. The decision confirmed rumours that had circulated for several years that the UK wanted to expedite a sole-source Boxer acquisition as its new Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV), especially after the disastrous attempt to acquire an 8×8 medium-weight platform as part of the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES) in the 2000s.
In April, senior UK officials put more meat on the bones of their proposed acquisition of the Boxer 8×8, outlining how much it will cost and what the proposed workshare was likely to be amongst UK companies. Guto Bebb, the UK Minister for Defence Procurement confirmed the proposed cost of the MIV programme would be in the region of £4.4 billion ($5.83 billion) over the next ten years.
That figure will include procurement of approximately 500 vehicles with integration of UK-specific capabilities, such as C4I and ECM equipment, and support for an initial ten-year period.
One senior British Army source told Shephard that the 500 vehicles will likely include four main variants: APC; ambulance; command; and engineer platforms. He confirmed that there would be no heavily armed IFV variant of MIV. That indicates that the UK will closely follow the operational experience of both the German and Netherlands use of Boxer, which have a similar mix of variants already in service.
That was echoed by Lt Gen Paul Jacques, the MoD’s Chief of Materiel (Land) during the committee meeting, during which he told British MPs that the Germans ‘had been very forthcoming’ in their experience of Boxer and its use in Afghanistan. ‘We have a great deal of confidence; the Germans are good at collecting data and pulling it together and what its actual performance will be. It’s very novel at this stage of an acquisition to have a very thorough understanding of the performance of what you’re buying in detail,’ he added.
Germany is currently in the process of upgrading its Boxer vehicles to the A2 standard.
Value for money
The UK’s cooperation with the ARTEC consortium has also extended to pricing, with German and Dutch costings also being made available to the British government. ‘That enables us to have a very strong confidence in the price that we will pay for the vehicle.’
Negotiations will still take place, with officials noting that the requirement for 500 units could bring the cost down further due to economies of scale.
Jacques also revealed that the Australian Army, which announced in March that it would be purchasing 211 vehicles for A$5.2 billion ($4.09 billion), released its testing data to the British Army after it went through an extensive trial period against the Patria/BAE Systems AMV as part of the country’s Project Land 400 Phase 2. ‘That gives us a mine of data for us to understand, which will shape what we will do in the demonstration phase,’ said the general.
A two-year demonstration phase will see the British Army refine the UK-specific requirements, including the communications fit, ECM equipment, RWS and safety equipment.
Currently, the MIV programme is in its assessment phase, which is seeing industry compete for workshare on the multi-billion-pound effort. This will likely run to the end of 2019 and be followed by a main gate decision that effectively greenlights the project. Jacques noted that for the assessment phase he wanted to have a ‘complete understanding of the architecture of the vehicle’ to take into the demonstration phase.
Bebb told Parliament that purchasing through the Organisation for Joint Armament Co-operation (OCCAR) – the body that runs the Boxer programme – would also ensure price transparency and full intellectual property rights for potential exports. ‘The degree of detail in terms of pricing which is available through OCCAR is certainly significantly more than would happen through a normal competition process,’ he said.
In terms of capability, Jacques pointed out the army had determined that the Boxer is the best protected vehicle in its class, offering the service the best growth potential in terms of weight and power for the MIV’s projected 40-year life. The platform’s modularity, principally the ability to swap out mission modules, was also cited as a key capability for future adaptability.
Boxer vehicles are currently produced in both Germany and the Netherlands by KMW and Rheinmetall, although that manufacturing base will extend to Australia and the UK. ARTEC has promised that 60% of the MIV programme’s value and 100% of final assembly would be in the UK, supporting at least 1,000 jobs. ARTEC has teamed with BAE Systems, Thales UK and Pearson Engineering to support manufacturing in the UK.
There is still a competition ongoing between this trio of companies, said Stefan Lischka, MD of ARTEC, also speaking to the defence committee. He added that there will also be competition for supplying subcomponents, which will make up 90% of the vehicle, amongst Tier 2 companies.
Craig Priday, MD of Pearson Engineering, confirmed during the hearing that his company had been selected for assembly of the Boxer drive modules at its facility in Newcastle. A significant amount of fabrication work is also expected to be carried out by KMW-owned WFEL in Stockport, according to Rheinmetall Defence UK boss Peter Hardisty. He added that he expected a ‘large package’ of module work to be carried out in the West Midlands. Although not named, this is likely to be at BAE Systems’ facility in Telford.
Boxer’s renewed popularity and success could eventually see a revival of the UK’s AFV manufacturing capability, which has steadily waned and ultimately disappeared in the last two decades. (Source: Shephard)
17 Sep 18. Arquus to adapt additional 1,200 unarmored vehicles for French military use. France on Sept. 5 ordered from Arquus a 1,200-strong batch of VT4 Mk2 light tactical vehicles for the French armed forces, the Direction Générale de l’Armement procurement office said. That is the second batch of VT4 four-wheel drive cars ordered by the DGA, which placed an initial order for 1,000 Mk1 units in December 2016. The planned total fleet of VT4 vehicles is 4,380 units, based on a modified version of the Ford Explorer car, for the Air Force, Army, Navy and support services, a DGA spokesman said Sept. 17. The first of a batch of 500 units are due for delivery this year, with a second 500-strong batch to be shipped in 2019, he added. A first shipment of the VT4 will go to the Army, the DGA said in a Sept. 6 statement.
“To effect this, the DGA put in a place a procedure to execute the program in the most timely manner,” the procurement office said. This swift delivery is part of the government’s drive to transform the DGA in acquiring equipment, the office added.
Arquus had said last year that an initial delivery is been expected in 2017.
Arquus adapted the unarmored vehicle “to militarize it and make it meet all demands in terms of payload, weapon integration, notably the Famas and HK416” assault rifles, the company said in a statement. Communications equipment, security systems, air conditioning and comfortable seats were also part of the adaptation.
The Mk1 version will be used for training and street patrols in the domestic anti-terrorist Sentinel operation, while the Mk2 will be equipped for overseas deployments, the company said. Assembly of the latter will start next year. Service is included in the order, with a pledge of 90 percent availability of the total fleet.
Both versions of the VT4 were on display at the Sept. 10-11 Summer defense university event at the military staff college. The VT4 replaces the P4 patrol car, which has been in use since the 1980s. (Source: Defense News)
14 Sep 18. The MIA Motorsport Innovative Capability Pavilion boasts a great line-up. Using the combined marketing appeal of the MIA, Williams Advanced Engineering, RML Group, Prodrive, Graphite Additive Manufacturing, TWI, Danecca in collaboration with Goodfabs, Arrow Precision Engineering and Gibson Technology, we will be flying the flag for the UK Motorsport Industry at this influential defence show. MIA is on on stand C4-504 in Concept 4.
13 Sep 18. Jankel achieves Direct Partnership certification from Mercedes-Benz. Jankel, a world-leader in the design and manufacture of high-specification defence, security and NGO protection systems, has today announced their achievement of Direct Partnership certification from Mercedes-Benz. This announcement coincides with the Defence Vehicle Dynamics (DVD) event taking place on 19/20 September 2018 at Millbrook, where Jankel will be exhibiting their capabilities on stand number OR-12.
The certified Direct Partnership approval comes at the end of an extensive and exhaustive Due Diligence process, where Mercedes-Benz has fully assessed Jankel’s capability to market, sell and support modified Mercedes Benz commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) chassis systems; a significant achievement for Jankel. This partnership arrangement gives Jankel access to otherwise unavailable levels of technical information and support from Mercedes-Benz, as a COTS chassis system OEM, significantly strengthening the offering to the end-user.
Jankel has successfully developed their business model in recent years to become a company that delivers fully engineered tactical and military vehicles, with the benefits of matching a range of highly capable COTS chassis systems, such as those produced by Mercedes-Benz, amongst others.
The recently announced contract award for the Light Troop Transport Vehicle (LTTV) programme in Belgium will see Jankel deliver 199 modified Mercedes UNIMOG vehicles to the Belgium Ministry of Defence (BeMOD). The LTTV contract follows on from Jankel’s contract win in 2015 to supply the BeMOD with over 100 FOX Rapid Reaction Vehicles (RRV); Jankel’s FOX being based on a modified COTS Toyota chassis system.
At DVD, as well as the Mercedes-Benz UNIMOG LTTV, Jankel will be presenting a range of Toyota-based options including a Civilian Armoured Vehicle (CAV) LC200; a Fox RRV-x; and a 6×6 70 series extended chassis Land Cruiser. With the Armoured LC200 CAV, Jankel will be show-casing specialist upgrades delivering higher protection levels, including innovative security and safety technologies.
Dan Crosby, Commercial Director at Jankel said: “Achieving Mercedes-Benz Direct Partnership certification is a huge step for the whole team at Jankel and one we’re exceedingly proud of. As well as enabling us to offer a range of OEM-approved armoured, tactical and utility vehicles based on modified Mercedes-Benz COTS chassis systems, this certification validates our ability to effectively modify other COTS vehicle types to the same exacting standards.” He added: “We’ve achieved a number of significant milestone successes in recent years and we’re looking forward to building on these, whilst continuing to deliver exactly what our customers need”.
13 Sep 18. Alcon selected by Patria as principal supplier of braking systems for their heavy armoured vehicle range. Alcon Components Ltd, the acclaimed global specialist brake and clutch company, has been selected to be the principal supplier of braking components for Patria’s heavy armoured vehicle range. Patria is the global market leader in the production of modern armoured wheeled 8×8 vehicles, supplying seven different customer nations. In addition to the established Patria AMV 8×8 product range, Patria have developed the AMVXP and the Patria 6×6, launched on 11 June at Eurosatory 2018. Alcon braking systems are to be incorporated into both the AMVXP and the Patria 6×6 products, whose unrivalled performance and mobility are setting new standards for all future armoured wheeled vehicles.
Alcon has worked closely with Patria to determine the specific requirement aligned to vehicle specification, usage profiles and operating environment, developing a bespoke system matching the needs of these high performance defence vehicles. With the high-end performance of the AMVXP creating conditions close to that of a rally car in terms of disc and pad temperature cycling, Alcon were required to draw on their pedigree of providing braking solutions for the top echelons of motorsport to develop exclusive caliper and disc mounting concepts; a fusion of those seen on heavy commercial vehicles and high-performance motorsport. Alcon worked using state of the art analysis technology to design performance products whilst remaining within the strict weight targets set by Patria.
Alcon braking solutions have been sought out by some of the world’s finest Special Forces OEMs. Amongst 18 defence and security equipment OEMs currently using or assessing Alcon systems, Supacat, the designers of the Jackal vehicle, BAe, Ricardo and Jankel have turned to Alcon to obtain bespoke braking systems that fully meet the demanding requirements of the challenging, high-performance, modern-day battlefield.
Kari Grön, Senior Vice President Engineering at Patria Land said: “Our top of the range products are used in extreme conditions and they need to deliver the very best performance. In addition to the performance, braking systems are safety critical elements of the vehicle and therefore we have selected Alcon as a reliable partner who can develop the best components to ensure that the braking systems fully meet our demanding requirements.”
Jonathan Edwards, Sales Director at Alcon said: “Alcon’s selection by Patria is an unqualified confirmation of Alcon’s status as a company that provides the finest bespoke braking systems to the global defence market. This project defines our philosophy of working closely with customers to develop a product that specifically meets their requirements.” He added: “In addition to our bespoke products, the recent release of our CIR55 caliper ensures that Alcon can offer the global defence market state of the art, production-ready braking solutions for heavy 8×8 type platforms.”
11 Sep 18. France launches Scorpion studies. The Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA), the French defence procurement agency, announced on 11 September that it had launched studies to prepare three new capabilities of the Scorpion programme. The studies are on the integration of unmanned ground and aerial vehicles into the Scorpion combat system, communication with dismounted soldiers, and management of the greater number of battlefield sensors. TNS-MARS, which groups together Thales, Nexter, and Safran, was notified of the preparatory studies that the DGA said would allow development to start in the next four years. Work on integrating unmanned ground and aerial vehicles into the Scorpion combat system to increase units’ reconnaissance and employment capabilities is scheduled to begin in 2022. The second study aims to give dismounted soldiers the ability to exchange information securely in real time with other soldiers and vehicles, and to increase tactical situational awareness. (Source: IHS Jane’s)
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