General Dynamics UK highlighted the hybrid electric powered AHED platform, which is being prepared for testing for the UK FRES program. The same platform is one of the prime candidates for some of the US Army Future Combat Systems manned and unmanned platforms. A different platform, also using hybrid electric propulsion to drive the Advanced Modular Vehicle was displayed by BAE Systems Land Systems. This vehicle designated SEP is offered in wheeled and tracked versions is also expected to undergo evaluation as candidate for the FRES program. Barco introduced its advanced panoramic display concept designed for “closed hatch” operation. The displays can be used as “virtual windscreen”, offering wide viewing area for the combat vehicle’s crew, including integrated, enhanced sensor-based visibility, weapon and sensor cueing, and situational awareness. A different version called Virtus is developed under cooperation with Rheinmetall Wegman, using mini-display showing sensor-fusion by visible and IIR sensors. Virtus is already available for demonstration with the German Boxer.
BAE Systems Land Systems brought the new Panther Command and Liaison Vehicle (CLV) one of seven pre-series production vehicles. The Panther was equipped with a remotely controlled Defender 7.62mm Self-Defense Weapon Station (SDW) equipped with 7.62 machine gun and a day/night sight. The vehicle on display was configured as a command vehicle, equipped with multiple Bowman radios, and situational display for the commander. Other displays are serving the driver’s station and weapon station’s operator. First production Panthers are due for delivery in mid-2006, in time for the vehicle’s entry into service by 2007. Up to 15 variants of the Panther are expected to be used by the British Army, and Royal Air Force Regiment.
Also on display at DSEi 05 was the Eagle IV 4×4 military tactical vehicle developed by MOWAG. So far the company has built some 500 of previous generations of the Eagle. The Swiss company expects Denmark to be the first country to order up to 85 vehicles. The vehicle shown at DSEi 05 was equipped with an Elbit Overhead Remote Controlled Weapon Station (ORCWS), mounting 7.62 mm machine gun. Other features include a battle management system and nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) defense system.
Upgrading and modernization programs for armored vehicles highlighted at DSEi 05 included armor upgrade for CV90, upgunned Challenger 2, modernized AMX10P and more. The potential gun conversion for the British Challenger Mk 2 tank, has been tested with Rheinmetall’s NATO standard L/55 smoothbore cannon. Replacement of the British rifled L30 120mm gun will enable the British Army to standardize its ammunition supplies with NATO and other coalition forces, yet it will require phasing out of some types of ammunition, including squash head (high explosive) projectiles, which are considered efficient against structures and bunkers, a significant capability for contemporary urban warfare. Other modernization programs are pursued for the CV-90 family of vehicles. Another modernization program recently announced is the upgrade of Giat’s AMX10 tracked armored personnel vehicle. The French Army plans to modernize up to 108 vehicles of this type into the AMX10P version under a EUR50m. Modifications will improve the vehicle’s protection with appliqué armor, new suspension system and strengthened gearbox. The vehicles are scheduled to be installed with the SIR battle management system as soon as the new version is released.
BAE unveiled at the show a new up-armored version of the CV-90, while RAFAEL displayed a British up-armored FV-432, equipped with new generation reactive armor modules and an elevated, remotely controlled 30mm gun mount (RCWS-30) designed by RAFAEL. Remotely controlled weapon systems are becoming popular with wheeled armored vehicles, as they provide significant firepower, situational awareness and effective operation in low intensity and urban scenarios by minimizing crew exposure while maximizing firepower effectiveness and precision. In addition to RAFAEL’s RCWS30, other weapon stations on display at DSEi included Elbit System’s ORCWS, externally mounting a 30mm cannon on the Swiss MOWAG Pirhana IV, leaving the entire fighting compartment available for crew stations and storage. Recon Optical introduced its CROWS with a light machine gun and 30 mm cannon.
Heavy ammunition for artillery and tanks was here on display, including smart precision 120mm gun projectiles/missiles from GIAT, Rheinmetall, IAI and ATK. These included a concept of the French Polinege, developed by Giat, the Israeli MBT LAHAT, marketed in Europe under cooperation with Rheinmetall. LAHAT has recently been test launched from a German Army Leopard 2A4 tank.
Other topics covered in this review: