Daily Archives: Oct 26, 2007
Lockheed Martin is pitching the new ‘Distributed Operations’ (DisOps ), a software tool set designed for the platoon level and below, bringing ‘Command Post Of the Future’ style collaboration down to the lowest tactical level. These applications promise to bring real-time command and control, through intra-unit collaboration, and enhance situation awareness to the platoon and squad level. The company demonstrated DisOps as part of its Command and Control On the Move, a mobile C2 operations center demonstrated on a standard, commercial Hummer.
DisOps consists of two types of devices – the ‘DisOps Connect’ and ‘DisOps View’. ‘Connect’ is a software tool set loaded to a standard tablet PC will provide leaders a tool for pre-mission planning and briefing, as well as post mission debriefing and preparation of after-action-reports (AAR). ‘View’ is designed for Personal Digital Assistant (PDA) used for command, control and decision support. Prior to the mission, users will download the mission plans from the ‘Connect’ to their individual ‘Views’. The DPAs use a wireless mesh network to automatically track friendly forces maintaining a detailed, real-time view of the maneuvering ‘blue force’ at the unit level. DisOps View will be carried by squad and fire team leaders, sharing plans, situational pictures and data transfer between all elements. It will display grid-based maps and imagery, superimposed with blue force tracking showing friendly forces in the area, effectively coordinating complex maneuvers, fire support etc. DisOps view will allow squad fire team leaders to draw with a stylus or drag and drop icons on their map to update the squad with situation awareness information. The DisOps network maintains constant flow of data to keep all units up-to-date with situational views at 10 second intervals.
Unmanned Systems at DSEi 07: Among the unmanned systems on display, defense Update picked few of the innovations, displayed at the Harris stand by Dragonfly pictures. Other systems were shown by MacroSwiss and Selex. The later is aggressively marketing several new UAV systems developed under cooperation with the Italian Unmanned Technologies Research Institute (UTRI) and Alpi Aviation. All three platforms are designed for field operation by lower echelon field units, offering ‘over the hill’ and ’round the corner’ intelligence in direct support for combat operations. Another VTUAV is the Damselfly, developed by Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems in the UK. Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) is developed by the company by internal funding. This platform is envisioned as suitable for land and naval operations.
A novel design of an unmanned aerial vehicle, utilizing tandem rotor configuration was introduced by Dragonfly Pictures. The company displayed at DSEi 07 its electrically powered DP-6 Whisper tandem rotorcraft, as part of a comprehensive border surveillance systems solution provided by Harris. The main advantage of this unique design is the low acoustic signature associated with the electrical propulsion and tandem rotor design, enabling the Whisper to remain stealthy, particularly at night and over densely forested or urban terrain.
Selex is marketing several new UAV systems developed under cooperation with the Italian Unmanned Technologies Research Institute (UTRI) and Alpi Aviation. All three platforms are designed for field operation by lower echelon field units, offering ‘over the hill’ and ’round the corner’ intelligence in direct support for combat operations. Another VTUAV is the Damselfly, developed by Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems in the UK. Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) is developed by the company by internal funding. This platform is envisioned as suitable for land and naval operations.
OTUS, a hand launched mini UAV is designed to provide ‘over the hill’ intelligence and improve situational awareness for the lower echelon. The UAV is carried in a backpack, assembled within 10 minutes and can operate for over 60 minutes at a range of about 10 km from the launching point, flying at speeds of 15 – 45 knots. The UAV weighs about 8 kg (GTWO) and carries a maximum payload of one kilogram.
Another product developed under the UTRI cooperation is the ASIO – a mini Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) UAV is a fully automatic, electrically powered VTUAV designed primarily for ‘hover and stare’ battlefield surveillance; forward scout missions and special operations mission support. The ASIO is controlled by a ruggedized common ground control unit carried in a backpack, used for all Selex’ new mini UAVs. An ASIO system including one VTUAV, two camera payloads (day/night or uncooled infrared) and a ground control system weighs around 20 kg. The ASIO weighs 4 kg and carries a payload weighing 500 gram. ASIO can be assembled and prepared for a mission within 10 minutes. Mission endurance is about 40 minutes, operating at speeds of 0 – 25 kt within 10 km from the launching point.
Under a parallel cooperation with the Italian Alpi Aviation, Selex is offering the Strix man-portable aerial vehicle designed for extended operation – in both range, end mission endurance. This Electrically powered flying wing has a span of three meters. Endurance is extended to 90 minutes at an optimal cruise speed of 40 knots. The entire system, comprising an aerial vehicle, three camera payloads, and ground control station is packed into a single backpack weighing 20 kg.
Another VTUAV from Selex is the Damselfly, developed by Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems in the UK. Vertical Take Off and Landing (VTOL) Unmanned Air Vehicle (VTUAV) is developed by the company by internal funding. It demonstrates a unique propulsion system based on a high speed fan coupled to four independently controlled directional nozzles for thrust dispersal. Each nozzle has steerable vanes adding control trim for improved station-keeping and maneuverability. The independently movable are controlled by the flight control system to achieve controlled hovering and transit to forward flight. This propulsion system offers more versatile and survivable operation at low altitude and over cluttered terrain (forest, jungle, ship deck).
Lightweight Synthetic Aperture Radar called PicoSAR, designed for UAVs was displayed here by Selex. Weighing only 10 kg, significantly lower than most alternatives, the new X-band radar has a range of 20 km. It offers a broad area or ‘spotlight’ coverage, with typical 1 meter resolution, and the ability to spot moving targets through Ground Moving Target Indication (GMTI) mode. Selex plans to test the new radar on UAVs in 2008.
The Swiss company MarcoSwiss unveiled at DSEi 07 the latest and smallest member of the SpyRobot 4WD family of unmanned Ground Vehicles. Like its bigger brothers, the new Micro Spyrobot 4WDcan be operated by a single person, be thrown through a window, up to or from a second floor, and provide real-time imagery from interiors which could pose a risk to the forces. Measuring only 20cm x 20cm, the robot weighs about one kilogram, carrying two high resolution day/night electro-optical cameras and communications gear. The vehicle uses a special traction mechanism, comprising the ‘flapper wheel’ design, contributing to high speed road, off-road and swimming mobility and effective obstacle negotiation. The robot can climb 45 degree slopes characteristic with rough and rugged terrain. The Micro SpyRobot 4WD can be carried with standard modular load carrying equipment (MOLLE) and is suitable for operation by dismounted troops and special forces.
The larger (5 kg) SpyRobot 4WD UGV is suitable for operations associated with base vehicle support. The SpyRobot is powered by rechargeable lithium polymer batteries sustaining up to eight hours of continuous movement. Sofar MacroSwiss sold the SpyRobot 4WD to customers in the UK, US, Norway and Germany. India, Canada and Singapore expressed interest in the system. The Micro SpyRobot 4WD is also raising significant interest. According to MacroSwiss, the British MoD has acquired the first micro SpyRobot 4WD while the US DoD has down selected it as one of two candidates for evaluation to fulfill a large requirement to equip the 1st Special Forces Group.
Another product launched by MacroSwiss is reviving the World War I trench periscope concept, with 21st century technology. ‘Advanced Combat Camera System (ACCS), an evolutionary improvement of the Giraffe pole camera system, currently in service with the US Marine Corps follows the simple ‘camera on a stick’ solution. ACCS comprises a zoom, daylight color TV camera or a low-light or thermal sensors for night operation coupled with a digital video recorder for intelligence gathering. According to Barry ET Harris, Director of Sales & Marketing at MacroSwiss, the system is particularly effective at close quarter combat situations, in built-up environment where “it has the potential to make the difference between winning and losing”. Camera on a stick type of sensor was tested by Thales UK and the British Army, as part of the FIST system evaluation.
Carl Zeiss develops New Gear for Snipers
Carl Zeiss Optronics unveiled here a prototype of its handheld surveillance and reconnaissance system called Opus-H. This integrated system comprises an uncooled IR and visual channels, a laser rangefinder, a digital magnetic compass and a GPS receiver in a single lightweight package weighing less than three kilograms. The system will be useful for reconnaissance, target acquisition and command & control. Another innovation from Carl Zeiss is aimed at marksmen and snipers, for which the company developed the Sniper Auxiliary Attachment (SAM) module for the 6-24 x 72 telescopic sights. The attachment will provide marksmen to receive critical information without taking their eyes off the target. SAM enables marksmen to receive information while maintain his sight on target. At the touch of a button, they can access information from sensors, rangefinders and setting of the aiming devices, easily determining information on elevation, azimuth settings, temperature and air pressure.
IMC Provides Panoramic, Immersive Vision
Another provider of panoramic vision technology is Immersive Media Corp. (IMC) offering 360 degree vision systems for ‘geoimmersive’ surveillance, mapping, training and situational awareness systems. At DSEi 07 the company emphasized their training applications, providing ‘immersive vision’ for surveillance, post-exercise analysis ad operational pre-planning rehearsal. This unique technology is based on IMC’s proprietary ‘Dodeca’ vision system – a 12-sided, dodecahedron shape camera. The system feeds video to be integrated with digital maps,3D models or aerial photos to simultaneously display fully panoramic vision – 360 degrees lateral and 290 degrees in elevation, showing an interior view inside buildings as well an area under surveillance in an open area. Each object is geo-referenced in space, providing the viewer with accurate positioning and situational awareness. Users can interface with the system via head mounted displays or flat screens.
Missiles at DSEi 07: Among the missile programs at DSEi 07, Defense Update picked some of the most recent developments in the air/ground and surface-to-air domains. MBDA presented a brief introduction of its future missile development, particularly the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM). Advanced air/ground missiles are also being studied, in an effort to provide air forces with more flexible and adaptive effects. Two missiles are currently being studied – the Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR) and Multi-Role Combat Missile (MRCM).
The UK Ministry of Defense is funding an MBDA study of future family of ‘anti-air’ weapons known as the Common Anti-Air Modular Missile (CAMM). The new weapon will utilize the airframe and some of the components used with the Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air Missile (ASRAAM) and introduce advanced and enhanced capabilities for aircraft currently deploying this short range, heat seeking missile. But CAMM will be aimed at more applications than AAM enhancements. By meeting tri-service requirements, the new missile could be used to replace existing weapons such as the land-based Rapier point-defense missile system, and naval Sea Wolf missile. CAMM is expected to be available for deployment from around 2018 onward, coinciding with the planned retirement of the SeaWolf system. Rapier systems are scheduled for retirement by 2020.
MBDA is also pursuing another precision attack concept known as Selective Precision Effects At Range (SPEAR), a UK Royal Air Force’s (RAF) requirement for the ability to engage mobile relocateable and fixed targets at long stand-off ranges with extreme precision. Initial deployment of network-enabled SPEAR family of missiles is expected around 2015 or later, depending on aircraft platform. SPEAR places much emphasis to enable the air force to maintain operational capability even under restricting, ever changing rules of engagement, associated with asymmetric warfare. SPEAR is expected to operate in day, night and in all weather conditions, carried by aircraft including the Tornado GR4, Typhoon and F-35 Lightning II. Target sets attacked by SPEAR munitions could include semi-hardened buildings such as command posts, mobile air defense units and moving targets, including small 4×4 and light armored vehicles. An important capability required with SPEAR is its ability to discriminate between a moving ‘target’, designated and confirmed by the user, and ‘non targets’ – other moving vehicles similar in shape and size. SPEAR will be very flexible in its targeting which can take place from the platform itself or from a third party, such as a wingman or operator on the ground.
Two years ago Defense-Update covered the progress of the British Loitering Munition Concept Demonstration (LMCD), last year the program assessed the British Army’s artillery needs for Indirect Fire Precision Attack requirement for a low-cost all-weather precise strike capability at long range. In the past two years the program has progressed into a technology assessment program, expected to take place in 2008, eventually leading to full scale development decision within three years. At DSEi 07, a new loitering weapon called “Fire Shadow” was unveilled by Team LM (Loitering Munition), an all-British team headed by MBDA UK. The team also includes Blue Bear Systems Research, Cranfield Aerospace, Cranfield University, Lockheed Martin UK INSYS, Marshalls SV, Meggitt, QinetiQ, Roxel, Selex SAS, Thales UK, Ultra Electronics and VEGA. The Israeli companies that participated in the earlier evaluation phase (RAFAEL which teamed with Ultra and IAI which teamed with MBDA) were eliminated from the teams.
A next generation missile currently designated Multi-Role Combat Missile (MRCM) is also under development as part of a tri-national initiative involving the UK, France and Sweden. The program, previously known as European Modular Munition (EMM) pursue the development of next-generation, precision attack weapon to be carried with attack helicopters, small naval crafts and emerging ground based platforms, such as the family of Future Rapid effects Systems vehicles (FRES). The missile will be employed in Line of Sight (LOS) and beyond Line of Sight (BLOS) engagement profiles, providing precision attack capability at short (~6 km), medium (~15 km) and long (>50) km range. At present, the three nations are funding a three year technology demonstration phase that began in 2006. Under this framework, MBDA and SAAB Bofors Dynamics are formulating a Joint Systems Architecture Study to be launched during autumn 2007. Subsequently, the program is expected to enter development starting 2010. If progress is made according to plans, initial fielding of MRCM product could be as early as by 2014.
High precision lethal effects at much shorter range are enabled by laser guided weapons such as Lockheed martin’s new Direct Attack Guided Rocket (DAGR). The company introduced a quad-launcher carrying four DAGR rockets, compatible with the M299 and M310 ‘smart’ launchers currently associated with Hellfire missiles. Lockheed Martin developed the rocket as a private initiative and plans to offer the new system to its Hellfire customers. These 2.75″/70mm rockets are fitted with semi-active laser guidedance offering performance comparable to that of the precision strike laser guided Hellfire II missile. The DAGR guidance kit provides standard rockets, such as the Hydra-70 and CRV-7 with lock-on before launch and lock-on-after-launch and target handoff capability. The guided rocket also offers advanced features, including enhanced built-in test and laser coding setting from the cockpit. Off-axis capability should increase hit probability and expand the engagement envelope in difficult launch positions, providing additional field of view for angle of attack, moving targets and wind corrections.
Lockheed Martin UK INSYS displayed at DSEi 07 the prototype of the British Army’s Lightweight Mobile Artillery Weapon System /Rocket LIMAWS(R) based on a British Supacat 600 series High Mobility Transporter (HMT) specialty vehicle. The company is expected to build four pre-production vehicles under a forthcoming MOD demonstration and manufacturing contract. The vehicle will be able to carry and launch the M270B1 upgraded MLRS and Guided MLRS (GMLRS) weapons. Each LIMAWS(R) will carry six rockets or a single ATACMS missile, a weapon the British Army is expected to field in the future. It will have the ability to ripple fire GMLRS at up to six independent targets, from level or sloping ground. A loaded LIMAWS(R) will fit internally in a C-130 Hercules, or be lifted by sling load by a CH-47 Chinook, enabling MLRS firepower an unprecedented tactical mobility into areas previously inaccessible to heavy support systems.
The vehicle can be reloaded within minutes by a single soldier. Reloading can be performed on sloping ground and on any surface, operated by a single soldier. The British Army is expected to field 20 LIMAWS(R) units.
Back to the air defense domain, another missile in development is the Starstreak II from Thales Air Defence. The company introduced a new version of the Starstreak surface-to-air missile, called Starstreak II. The new version has an extended range of about 7 km, and increased altitude. The missile’s laser beam guidance has been improved to facilitate interception of smaller targets, including helicopters, low-flying aircraft and UAVs. It can also be employed in direct attack against light armored vehicles. The new missile could be operating from Thales’ multi-mission system (MMS), a vehicle borne multiple launcher system currently deployed with British and South-African armies. Beside air defense weapons, the launchers are configured to carry a number of alternative weapons, including Hellfire, Spike, Javelin or Ingwe ATGMs or a combination of different missiles.
Armored vehicles at DSEi 07: Chrysler is planning to reintroduce the legendary Jeep multipurpose vehicle into military service. At DSEi 07 the company unveiled the new Jeep J8, to be produced in Egypt beginning Spring 2008. “The new J8 marks the brand’s return to vehicle production for military and civilian government use” said Thomas Hausch, vice president international sales at Chrysler. J8 follows the all-new 2007 Jeep Wrangler Unlimited model. The J8 uses a reinforced frame for increased ruggedness, allowing greater payloads of up to 1,339 kb (2,952 lbs). Axles, brakes and suspension use heavy duty components. The vehicle uses Command-Trace four wheel drive system to improve on-road and off-road mobility.
J8 is powered by a 2.8 liter four cylinder turbo-diesel engine producing 118kW (158 hp) and 400 Nm (295 lb. ft) torque. The engine is mated with a five speed automatic transmission. Special hood-mounted shorkel air intake and filtration system is used to improve the vehicle’s off-road performance in desert condition, enduring up to five hour operations in sandstorm and fording water at depth of 76.2 cm (30 inch). J8 is available in a two-door, pickup and four door configuration. The vehicle can be armored and is transportable in light cargo planes and helicopters.
Land Rover Offers a New 6×6 Platform
Land Rover Government & Military introduced a 6×6 prototype of the Land Rover vehicle representing the company’s proposed solution to new operational requirements and growing demand for payload and armoring capacity. Conceived in the 1980s as a specialist vehicle for the Australian defense Forces ‘Perentie’ project, the Land Rover 6×6 was developed to meet Australian requirements for high payload, cross-country vehicle. The vehicle was based on the defender 110 parts, equipped with a unique power train. Over a thousand vehicles were produced in Australia under license. The new vehicle will use the Defender 2.4 liter common-rail diesel engine mated to a six speed manual gearbox and 2 speed transfer box coupled to a permanent 6×6 drive. Its payload is increased to 4 tons, offering more volume for cargo (190 mm wider, 1.4 meter longer). The vehicle has a lower silhouette, offering better concealment and better stability for weapon systems, compared to higher truck-based platforms.
Armored vehicles at DSEi 07: SAAB introduced its latest remotely controlled weapon station called ‘Trackfire’, being developed with private funding since 2004. Sofar only two systems were built and used for testing and demonstration. Originally designed for both land-based and maritime conditions Trackfire can be used on both armored vehicles and naval vessels. At a net weight of 136 kg, Trackfire compares with current medium-weight systems, designed for medium and lightweight automatic weapons.
The system offers a stabilized weapon mount and stabilized optronics, and automatic search and track functions supporting surveillance and target acquisition tasks. Trackfire provides the crew full under-armor operability, including the ability to reload the weapon under armor. The system can be fielded with appliqué armor protection, different optronic packages, and link to on board or remote battle management systems (BMS) or sensor packages. By integrating Trackfire with a Defensive Aids Suite – such as laser and/or acoustic gunshot detectors, the vehicle can provide even quicker response to close-in threats, be it threats against the vehicle or threats against dismounted troops.
Pressing forward with marketing initiatives in all of the strategic markets, Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace announced a teaming agreement with Thales UK, to market and Norway’s Kongsberg Defence and Aerospace have signed a teaming agreement enabling Thales locally produce the Protector remote weapon station for the domestic market. Sofar the only weapon station used by the British Army was the Enforcer, a version of RAFAEL’s Samson RCWS produced under license in the UK by Selex.
At DSEi 07 RAFAEL displayed its expanded family of Samson remotely controlled weapon stations, introducing the ‘Junior’ – lightweight remotely controlled weapon station, designed for installation on light armored vehicles and tanks, where weight and space restrictions limit the use of other systems. Samson Jr. comes at a net weight (unloaded) of about 80-110 kg. (depending on configuration). It is designed to mount 5.56mm or 7.62 mm weapons, such as the M249 and M240 machine guns, offering improved close-in protection and situational awareness. Samson JR is currently evaluated by the IDF for use as a loader’s operated weapon on Merkava Mk 4 tanks. The basic system is not stabilized, but RAFAEL offers the systems with optional enhancements and optronics including stabilization, fire control system, long range observation and laser rangefinder.
New Safety Seats Protect Soldiers from Mines, IEDs
With the growing concern of the effects of blast caused by mine and IED attacks, manufacturers and armed forces are fielding advanced blast-protected seats to protect troops riding in those armored protected vehicles. Seat providers are coming from different disciplines, including the automotive safety (such as Autoflug, specializing in seat belt systems), Plasan Sasa (an armor specialist) and BAE Systems (vehicle manufacturer and armor specialist). At DSEi 07, Exmoor Trim Company launched the Ballista-Tek range of armored seats, combining steel and aramid Kevlar, used for blast and spall protection. An alternative design uses molded Dyneema sections protecting against blast, fragments and small arms (by the armored seat back).
The Dynamic seat developed by Autoflug uses a harness suspending the crew
member without rigid connection to the floor or walls, therefore eliminating the potential transfer of violent shockwaves during a vertical (under belly) or lateral (roadside bomb) explosion. The seat was qualified for the Leopard 2A6 and M-1A1 tanks, for which 600 M1A1 have been ordered by the US Army. A different design called Type-400 was developed by Autoflug for Armored Personnel Carriers. This seat also protects against mines and IEDs using a five-point harness fitted with quick-release buckle allowing rapid vehicle exit. (read more about safety blast protected seats in an upcoming Defense-Update article).
Armored vehicles at DSEi 07: DSEi 07 proved a fertile ground for active protection systems (APS) manufacturers. At least three products were on display, more discussed unofficially by exhibitors and developers. The enthusiasm was motivated by the British MOD interest in APS for its FRES program – the future family of combat vehicles, expected to field an APS as part of their protection suite.
At DSEi 07, the Finnish Advanced Modular Vehicle (AMV) 8×8 APC developed by Patria was ‘dressed’ with the AMAP active defense system (ADS) designed by the German IBD Deisenroth Engineering. Weighing about 400 kg, the system incorporates a modular design of multiple defensive elements, integrating the energetic material, laser sensors and activation systems in capsuled modules, installed around the vehicle providing 360° protection against RPGs and other shaped charge threats (The company claims AMAP-ADS also defeats kinetic energy threats as well as IEDs).
The AMV installation on display at DSEi used an armor base plate designed to mitigate the blast effect from transferring to the vehicle’s structure. APAM-ADS is claimed to provide close-range, non-fragmental defeat of threats (possibly by blast effect) therefore minimizing collateral damage, facilitating use in a dense urban environment. In the past IBD disclosed few details about the system’s design, including the use of laser triggered blast effect, but the company did not elaborate on the actual kill mechanism of its defensive solution. The AMV on display at DSEi also included the Remotely Operated Driver’s Vision Enhancer (RODVE2-D), a compact, steerable, panoramic, thermal imager for the driver developed by Thales Canada.
Although launched only a few years ago, the AMV has already won a number of major international competitions and has so far been ordered by Croatia (84), Finland (24 with 120mm AMOS and 62 APCs), Poland (690), Slovenia (135) and South Africa (264).
Another APS on display at DSEi is the LEDS 150 from Avitronics, the South African subsidiary of SAAB. LEDS is a family of countermeasures designed for the protection of land combat vehicles. Earlier versions of the system were limited to ‘signature-management’ and ‘soft kill’, while the more recent configurations, currently in development are added with ‘hard kill’ options. According to Cobus van der Merwe, senior business development executive with SAAB Avitronics, all three capabilities will become an integral part of the protected vehicle, providing hemi-spherical, full spectrum active protection. The system displayed at DSEi 07 on the Piranha III will be tested in Switzerland in December 07. Next year the system is scheduled for evaluation by the US Army, under its Foreign Comparative Test Program. The active protection LEDS is proposed in three versions. SAAB expects LEDS 150, the third level, to become operational on Piranha platforms from mid 2009. LEDS 150 has been designed to defeat rocket propelled grenades and antitank guided missiles (ATGM). The system uses an advanced sensor package associated with two High Speed Direction Launchers (HSDL) , loaded with six ‘Mongoose’ hard kill projectiles each. The system has already demonstrated the capability to defeat 105mm tank rounds and RPG-7 (Rocket Propelled Grenades). A more ambitious system, designated LEDS 200 is in development, to defeat multi-band threats while LEDS 300 will be capable to defeat kinetic energy projectiles and anti-tank missiles at longer ranges.
RAFAEL unveiled at DSEi 07 a lightweight version of the Trophy active protection system, designed for light and medium armored vehicles. It was displayed at the RAFAEL stand mounted on the Golan armored vehicle. Trophy Light is smaller than the original Trophy, designed to protect main battle tanks, weighing about half the Trophy’s weight. The system comprises four flat radar antennae located around the vehicle, designed to cover 360 degrees. The system uses one or two launchers, firing the interceptor projectiles to defeat incoming threats at close range. As with other APS, the active defensive capability is only an element of the vehicle’s entire protective envelope, since such systems are designed to intercept threats (such as RPGs) at a stand-off range, eliminating their most lethal shaped charge penetration capability while the vehicle’s passive armor is required to defeat residual impact by inert threats. At DSEi 07 the Golan vehicle was demonstrated with a new type of hybrid armor called M-TAPS, developed by RAFAEL to offer effective protection from IEDs, RPGs and EFPs. The new armor uses a combination of passive inert and insensitive energetic materials, to provide passive and reactive protection from all types of threats, while Trophy Light could augment these elements by enhancing defensive capability against tandem shaped charge threats.
Armored vehicles at DSEi 07: Following the introduction of the heavily protected Mastiff armored vehicles, the British MOD plans to field, by 2009, 180 additional medium protected patrol vehicles (MPPV) supporting troop transportation, convoys and patrols. Sofar, the Army is using two versions of armored patrol vehicles – the Cougar based Mastiff 6×6 heavy truck, produced in the US by Force Protection International and the light armored 6×6 truck called Vector, produced by BAE System’s subsidiary Pinzgauer. The MoD has not yet committed budget for the MPPV procurement, as most of the immediately available funding has been allocated for the second order of 140 Mastiff vehicles announced in October 2007.
The Minimum requirements for the MPPV call for a wheeled vehicle to operate on road and on rough tracks in urban, semi-urban and rural environments. It should also have a maximum weight of 14 tons, be capable of carrying up to seven troops and provide protection against ballistic, mine, fragmentation and blast threats. Vehicles are expected to mount Bowman radios, Counter-IED jammers, specialist armor and weapon mounts, including protected gunner positions or remotely operated weapon stations.
Several candidates for the program displayed or discussed their hardware at DSEi 07. One of these was QinetiQ, teamed with specialist vehicle contractor MacNeillie & Son to offer a vehicle based on MacNeillie’s Military Armored carrier System (MACS) design. A different proposal based on the all-composite CAVCAT armored vehicle was presented by NP Armour Systems.
MacNeillie developed the MACS to be adaptable for various military applications weighing 9.5 to 14 tons. The vehicle design started from a ‘clean sheet’ and matured into a prototype within a few months. The vehicle is based on a Mercedes-Benz Unimog commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) high mobility 4×4 powertrain, running gear and components. The basic design uses monocoque armored body shell made of high grade steel, which can be upgraded to accommodate higher protection levels, including appliqué armor, v-shaped hull and wheel arches, to mitigate IED threats. Despite the weight increase derived by the higher protection level, the basic vehicle’s width is maintained within the track, to allow stand-off protection (such as slat armor) to be carried without excessive overhang.
Based on a standard Iveco medium truck chassis which has been in military service for the past 15 years, CavCat uses NP’s CAMAC all-composite armor solution which was first use with the armored Landrover Snatch using the CAV100 suite. CAMAC is designed as an all-composite bulletproof box, offering a high level of protection and structural strength at relatively low weight. The CAMAC provides a modular monocoque construction providing optimal ballistic protection and strength to carry structural loads. Large scale armor components made of laminated composite are molded and bonded together to form the hull, minimizing joint lines and facilitating a stronger, more repellant surface.
BAE Systems Land Systems OMC of South Africa displayed at DSEi the latest version of the RG31 Mk6. The vehicle respresents BAE system’s proposed platform for the MPPV program. Mk6 retains the level of mine protection provided by its predecessors, while adding additional protection against Improvised Explosive Devices (IED). The internal volume and payload capacity were increased by the use of a wider hull and an increase of gross vehicle weight (GVW) to 17 tons.
Thales Australia displayed the Bushmaster armored infantry carrier, currently in use by the Australian and Dutch forces. The standard fit for these vehicles include air conditioning, remotely controlled weapon station and blast protected seats. The vehicle on display at DSEi included several enhancements, such as the new CROWS weapon station from Kongsberg, a series of side and rear looking cameras and laser warning devices providing 360 degrees situational awareness, an acoustic gunshot detection system and additional protection. Bushmaster is one of the vehicles proposed for the British MPPV program. Thales Australia also offers a flat-bed version, configured with an armored cab accommodating three soldiers (including the driver). It can carry a payload of four tons and is designed for a gross vehicle weight of 15 tons.
One of the newcomers at DSEi 07 was the Grizzly from the US company Blackwater. Originally developed to meet the company’s requirements for secure transportation in high threat areas. The vehicle uses a unique ‘diamond hull’ design that consists of a V shaped hull and sloped walls, offering protection against both roadside bomb and under-belly attacks. The vehicle’s armor is made primarily of layered steel plates, combined with air gaps and layered composites to mitigate blast and behind-armor effect.
Armored vehicles at DSEi 07: The British MOD has set a higher priority for the modernization and upgrading 449 of its 786 Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle, and is currently planning to begin fielding the upgraded vehicles by 2010 – 2011 timeframe, about two years ahead of the original schedule. The upgrade will sustain the vehicle’s operability until 2035.
Major upgrading of the British Army Warrior Infantry Combat Vehicle (ICV) is underway at the MoD under the Warrior Capability Sustainment program. Several industry teams are competing for the program, aiming particularly at the weapon upgrade segment known as Warrior Lethality Improvement Program (WLIP) to include improved electronics architecture, introduction of a new low-profile turret and replacement of the current 30mm Rarden cannon. WLIP attracts turret and gun manufacturers due to the significant number of turrets required (449 turrets) and potential cost (about £0.5 billion) and the fact that a similar weapon could also be fielded wit the scout variant of the Future Rapid Effects System (FRES).
Among the teams competing for this program are BAE Systems Land Systems and CTA International (its joint venture with the French Nexter company), General Dynamics, Selex Sensors and Lockheed Martin UK Insys.
The upgrade is expected to sustain the vehicle’s operability until 2035. Several competitors associated with the program displayed their hardware at the exhibition, including Lockheed Martin Insys, BAE systems and Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems.
MoD is evaluating several concepts proposed and demonstrated with under each company’s initiative and funding. Among these was the demonstration of the Manned Turret Integration Program (MTIP) and CTA’s 40mm cannon, firing Case telescoped ammunition. Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems (Selex S&AS) is offering the HITFIST 30 two-man turret from its sister company Oto Melara, both subsidiaries of the Italian Finmeccanica group. The turret is fitted with an ATK MK44 30mm cannon (with growth potential to 40mm) and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun.
According to Andrew Folley, Selex S&AS campaign director, the turret offers a mature (TRL9), low risk solution that will require only minimal modifications. The turret will use enhanced armor protection to meet specific UK requirements, bringing the turret weight up to 3.2 tons. HITFIST is one of the more popular new-generation manned turrets, currently in service with the Italian, Polish and Irish armies. The turret will incorporate independent, stabilized, multi-sensor optronics for gunner and commander, and installations for Bowman radios. At DSEi Selex also demonstrated panoramic thermal cameras, providing the crew 360 degrees ‘see through’ capability day and night.
Lockheed Martin Insys unveiled their latest WLIP design at DSEi. The company offers a German turret designed by Rheinmetall, armed with stabilized 30mm ATK MK44 gun and 7.62mm coaxial machine gun. The turret mounts two stabilized sights for the commander and gunner, with an option to add an independent panoramic sight for the commander. The new turret will also be fitted with panoramic vision using multiple cameras installed around it. Installation of Javelin guided missile launchers is optional. If selected for the British Army, the German turret will also be fitted with enhanced armor protection meeting NATO STANAG Level 4 specification. Nigel Morris, Warrior LIP deputy program manager at Insys anticipates that his company’s solution for WLIP will provide the most cost effective and far reaching option available for this program. The new turret is designed to incorporate and reuse major assemblies and components, making the turret very familiar and intuitive to Warrior operators and maintainers. The new controls and displays are logical, intuitive and flexible, requiring minimal modifications to existing Warrior training, documentation and support.
Other modifications are planned for the FV432 Mk3 (Bulldog) armored troop carrier, which has recently received enhanced armor protection. To sustain the heavier load, the vehicle is fitted with Darlington-built B-series Cummins engines 186kW (250hp) engines, extending the vehicle’s service life until 2025. The old FV432 Mk2 also provides a platform for system integration evaluation by Selex S&AS. As part of the company funded Vehicle Systems Integration Lab (VSIL), demonstration and evaluation program, the APC was fitted with integrated electronic, optronic and communications devices providing tactical navigation, situational awareness, mapping and communications. Situational awareness is enhanced both for ‘battlefield awareness’ as well as covering the immediate vicinity of the vehicle and even on board, using multiple, panoramic thermal cameras. These capabilities could be enhanced by sharing situational awareness with dismounted infantry, over a wireless link. The vehicle also uses an integrated weapon system (demonstrating the RAFAEL Mini Samson platform fitted with a 0.5″ Cal heavy machine gun). Further integration currently underway includes hostile fire detection systems.
Armored vehicles at DSEi 07: With a potential value of £16 billion and a potential through-life cost of £50 billion, Future Rapid Effects Systems (FRES) is the largest armored fighting vehicle program in Europe, with up to 3,000 vehicles expected to be procured. The MoD is targeting an initial operating capability in 2012. At present, the competition for the procurement of about 2,000 8×8 FRES Utility Vehicles (UV) is underway toward fielding in 2012. This family of wheeled vehicles will include variants such as a scout vehicle, to replace the current Scimitar, a direct fire platform and maneuver support vehicles (engineer and bridgelayer vehicles). In a follow-on procurement MoD is expected to select a land combat vehicle, troop carrier and mobile gun and mortar carrier systems, based on a different tracked or wheeled platforms.
The three finalists for FRES UV – French Nexter VBCI, German-Dutch BOXER built by Artec and the Swiss made General Dynamics’ / MOWAG Piranha Evolution based on the Piranha V design, participated in intensive trials held this summer. A decision based on the outcome of these tests is expected in November 07.
Artec positions its Boxer as highly attractive for co-production with British manufacturers (Britain was part of the vehicle’s original design). With its modular approach, Boxer enables local production of the rear mission module while utilizing economy of scale in the production of the main chassis.
With vehicle configuration ranging in the 30-36 ton range, Boxer will be air transportable in an A-400M aircraft. Originally, Britain pulled out of the program as the vehicle became too heavy for its requirements. However, since the heavier (more protected) FRES UV is no longer required to be air-transportable in a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, Boxer re-emerged as a candidate for the program.
Piranha also had to add weight to meet the MoD required specs. In the design of Piranha V, MOWAG increased the vehicle’s gross weight to 28 tons, with a design target weight of 30 tons, five tons over the current IV versions. It will use four steerable axles, offering improved maneuverability in urban terrain. While Piranha V seems to be the least mature vehicle of the three optional candidates, General Dynamics UK promotes it as the most attractive for Britain, since the company plans to leverage FRES to establish local production lines in the UK, delivering Piranha V vehicles to the British Army as well as for export. GD UK forecasts a world market for at least 2,000 vehicles over 10 years, on top some 3,000 destined for the FRES program. GD expects the first vehicle to roll out of the Swiss current assembly line in 2009.
One of the key requirements for FRES is the integrated protection suite, incorporating an Active Protection System (APS). At DSEi 07 General Dynamics/MOWAG demonstrated a Pirnha III vehicle fitted with Saab Avitronics LEDS active protection system, which could be included GD’s protection suite for FRES. However, active protection is being evaluated separately as part of the overall FRES program, and is not associated with a specific platform. Another program launched recently is the System of Systems Integration (SOSI), for which Thales UK and Boeing UK were selected.
Armored vehicles at DSEi 07: While British forces are pulled out of the conflict zone in Iraq, the UK Ministry of Defence is not resting as it pursues new armored vehicles programs to improve operational capabilities and troop protection. Three armored vehicle programs dominated this year’s DSEi 07 exhibition – the development and procurement of thousands of future family of armored vehicles known as Future Rapid Effect Systems (FRES), with a potential value of GBP16 billion; the Warrior Sustainment Program, which includes the upgrade of some 450 Warriors Infantry Combat Vehicles at a cost of about half a billion pounds and the procurement of additional 180 Medium Protected Patrol Vehicles (MPPV) at an estimated value of about GBP100 million.
Future Rapid Effects Systems (FRES) is the largest armored fighting vehicle program in Europe, with up to 3,000 vehicles expected to be procured. At present, the competition for the supply of about 2,000 8×8 FRES Utility Vehicles (UV) is underway. These will cover a number of variants, including a scout vehicle which will replace the current Scimitar, a direct fire platform and maneuver support vehicles (engineer and bridgelayers). This will be followed by the acquisition of a land combat vehicle, troop carrier and mobile gun and indirect fire systems (mortar carrier), based on different tracked or wheeled platforms. The three finalists for FRES UV – French Nexter VBCI, German-Dutch BOXER built by Artec and the Swiss made General Dynamics’ / MOWAG Piranha Evolution based on the Piranha V design, participated in intensive trials held this summer. A decision on the outcome of these tests is expected in
Some of the vehicles and technologies associated with FRES were on display at DSEi 07, including the French VBCI 8×8 vehicle, a Piranha III fitted with SAAB Avitronics active protection system and several turrets which could be associated with the upcoming FRES scout configuration. General Dynamics UK also demonstrated a typical internal configuration utilizing synthetic situational display for the driver and commander and individual computer screens for crew members, facilitating ‘virtual windows’ for improved situational awareness.
The British MOD has set a higher priority for the modernization and upgrading 449 of its 786 Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle with modern guns and electronics, and is currently planning to begin fielding the upgraded vehicles by 2010 – 2011 timeframe, about two years ahead of the original schedule. The upgrade is expected to sustain the vehicle’s operability until 2035. Several competitors associated with the program displayed their hardware at the exhibition, including Lockheed Martin Insys, BAE systems and Selex Sensors & Airborne Systems.
Other modifications are planned for the FV432 Mk3 (Bulldog) troop carrier, which has recently received enhanced armor protection. These include an uprated power train, sustaining the heavier loads of the up-armored Mk3. At DSEi 07, Selex also demonstrated an FV-432 fitted with the latest electronics, situational awareness and integrated weapon systems, hinting about how future armored vehicles could be equipped.
Another hot topic at DSEi 07 was the Medium Protected Patrol Vehicle (MPPV), which is part of the British Army procurement agenda for 2008. Following the introduction of the heavily protected Mastiff armored vehicles, the British MOD plans to field, by 2009, 180 additional medium protected patrol vehicles (MPPV) supporting troop transportation, convoys and patrols. Sofar, the Army is using two versions of armored patrol vehicles – the heavily armored Mastiff 6×6 truck, produced by the US based Force Protection International and the light armored 6×6 truck called Vector, produced by Austrian Pinzgauer recently integrated within BAE Systems (through the acquisition of the US based Armor Holdings group). Minimum requirements for the MPPV call for a wheeled vehicle to operate on road and on rough tracks in urban, semi-urban and rural environments. It should also have a maximum weight of 14 tons, be capable of carrying up to seven troops and provide protection against ballistic, mine, fragmentation and blast threats. Vehicles are expected to mount Bowman radios, Counter-IED jammers, specialist armor and weapon mounts, including protected gunner positions or remotely operated weapon stations.
Several candidates for the program displayed or discussed their hardware at DSEi 07. Some of these vehicles were brand new. One of the new entries was QinetiQ, teamed with specialist vehicle contractor MacNeillie & Son to offer an MPPV based on MacNeillie’s Military Armored carrier System (MACS) design.
A different proposal based on the all-composite CAVCAT armored vehicle was presented by NP Armour Systems. Other new candidates include the Blackwater Grizzly, which made its international debut at the show. Other new vehicles at DESi were the latest model of the South African RG31 Mk6 and the Australian Bushmaster, presented here by Thales Australia and Oshkosh. (3)
DESi 07 provided the opportunity for the European debut for the Israeli Golan armored vehicle from RAFAEL. 60 such vehicles are currently in production for the US Marine Corps. The vehicle is also being considered for use by the Israeli army, as an ‘urban patrol vehicle’.
Another vehicle on display was the Cheetah from Force protection. This is the lightest version of FPI’s family of mine protected armored vehicles. Cheetah provides a highly protected alternative for small patrol vehicles, such as the British Snatch (armored Landrover), and up-armored HMMWV. FPI decided to bring the Cheetah to the UK to promote support among MoD in the acquisition of this vehicle as potential replacement for medium protected command and patrol vehicle. Such acquisition could be considered apart from the MPPV procurement, as Cheetah does not comply with the accommodation and load capacity requirements of the MPPV. Other vehicles unveiled at the show include teh J8 from Jeep and a new 6×6 Land Rover.
Other aspects of vehicle protection on display at DSEi 07 included a range of safety seats, designed to improve crew protection in an event of IED or mine attacks. Blast protected seats are becoming indispensable in every new or upgraded mine-protected vehicle program and the choice of seats offered by manufacturers is growing. Other aspects of vehicle protection include the employment of weapons behind armor, using remotely operated weapon stations. Several manufacturers introduced new systems at DSEi 07, and some systems are covered here. Active protection systems are also maturing, and are considered to provide an essential (not exclusive) layer of protection in any future armor solution. Some of the systems displayed at DSEi 07 are covered here.
Topics covered in this review:
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