05 Aug 03. Based on the Leopard 2 main battle tank, the prototype of a groundbreaking new generation of combat engineer vehicles has been handed over by Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH of Kiel, Germany, to the Swiss Army for a two-month trial period. Rheinmetall Landsysteme is a member of the Rheinmetall DeTec group of companies.
Although the project to develop the new Armoured Engineer Vehicle 3 (AEV 3) – known in Switzerland as the “Geniepanzer” – only began in April 2002, the company has already succeeded in providing the Swiss procurement authorities with a prototype version. This extremely short development and production period was made possible only by the spirit of pragmatic, trust-based cooperation between government authorities and industry.
Aside from the Swiss armed forces, a number of other armies are interested in acquiring this leading combat engineering system and in some cases have already initiated relevant procurement programmes.
Rheinmetall Landsysteme GmbH and RUAG Landsystems have formed a consortium to develop, manufacture and market this innovative Armoured Engineering Vehicle, investing industrial funds into its development. A team of experts from both companies worked closely together during development and integration of the prototype, making a material contribution to the rapid realisation of the system.
Based on a Leopard 2 chassis, the AEV 3 represents a technological breakthrough in the domain of heavy combat engineer equipment.
For instance, when it goes into full-scale production the vehicle will be equipped with anti-mine protection features currently being developed for the Leopard 2, adapted to meet the special requirements of the AEV 3, as well as an anti-spall liner.
To defend itself the AEV 3 will be armed with a 12.7mm machine gun and smoke grenade dispensers. To perform its primary mission, it is equipped with a high-performance hinged excavator mounted in the middle position, as well as a dozer system with innovative cutting and tilt angle settings and a Rotzler double-winch system consisting out of two 9t capstan winches. When combined and deployed in multiple traction mode, these are capable of pulling up to 62 tons. By means of a quick-release coupling, the excavator bucket can be exchanged for a number of other devices, including a hydraulic hammer and a tree-gripper. All of these tools are electro-hydraulically controlled and can be operated by the driver by two joysticks.
Adding to the system’s operational virtuosity, the dozer blade can be swapped for a full-width mine plough, meaning that – when equipped with a signature-duplicator and a lane-marking unit – the AEV 3 system is also a fully capable minefield-breaching system.
In every configuration of the system – even when equipped with anti-mine protection features – the AEV 3 will remain within the weight limits of military load class 70 (MLC 70).