First unveiled by Rheinmetall Defense at Eurosatory 2006, as a wooden mock-up, GEFAS demonstrates a distinctive shape, impressive protection level and innovative, modular design. GEFAS stands for “Geschuetztes Fahrzeug System” or “Advanced Protected Vehicle System”. It is designed to provide high level of protection and will be easily reconfigureable to accommodate various mission specific modules.
The modular design enables mission-optimized configuration of the complete vehicle, Measuring 2.55 meters in width, as wide as a standard commercial truck, Gefas can be transported in military airlift aircraft like the C-130 and A-400M. It will also be able to travel over bridges and on roads, as any commercial vehicle. Gefas will include 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 variants covering a wide weight spectrum from 12.5 to 20 tons, and up to 25 tons with a trailer.
The basic protected vehicle displayed at Eurosatory is configured for convoy protection, patrol and escort missions, accommodating a crew of four. It is armed with remotely operated weapon station and fitted with high level of protection, which comprises the basic armor for the crew compartment, protecting against small arms, fragments, IEDs and mines. Rheinmetall plans to have the first vehicle ready for field demonstrations by the end of 2007.
The vehicle is configured of several modules which can be arranged to address specific mission requirements. The basic configuration consists of a main module, a power module and two axel modules. Forward and rear modules carry the lighting devices. In this version, the power module is located behind the main module, opening a spacious space for transport and payload. The modules are interconnected by common mechanical, electrical and electronic interfaces, to enable rapid reconfiguration of the vehicle. Gefas uses hybrid-electric “drive by wire” system, replacing conventional steering, braking and drive train. The electric drive function control developed by Renk company regulates the vehicle’s driving dynamics. The vehicle uses separate drives for each axel, ensuring residual mobility even when one of the axels is damaged. The fact that the axel modules are identical and interchangeable between vehicles improves logistics and maintenance in forward area. Additional battery pack is used to provide emergency power for residual mobility in the power pack module is inoperable.
The Axel Module module contains the drive unit consisting of two STW electric motors, and associated controls, housed in sealed compartment for additional protection. Each module can be used for front and rear axels, providing all-wheel steering, and efficient, narrow turning radius. Timoney double-wishbone axels are used for independent wheel suspension. Wheels are using run-flat inserts and are connected to a central tire inflation system to ensure optimal mobility over all types of terrain.
The Power Module contains all power generation equipment, including the diesel engine, cooling, filtration and electrical generation and power management units, fuel and exhaust. The power module is designed as a stand-alone replaceable unit. When an engine develops a problem, the whole module is replaced, thus eliminating the time-consuming and complex task of power-pack replacement. MTU and ESW are developing the power module, based on the MTU 4R890 diesel engine, a 10 cylinder version of this engine already powers the Puma infantry fighting vehicle.
The Crew Module is designed to accommodate a crew of two or four combatants. It uses a V shaped structure suspended from the roof of the vehicle to improve safety from mine and IED blasts. The large sloped surfaces at the base and sides are designed to deflect blast wave caused by roadside bombs and mine blasts. Steel and composite armor, developed by IBD provides bulletproof and shrapnel protection. When exposed to high threat levels, appliqué explosive reactive armor (ERA) can also be used. The main module has side doors, rear access ramp, and roof hatches.
Mission Specific Modules include a guided missile platform, made up of two axel modules, a protected, two-man cabin module, mission specific mobile launcher module and rear-mounted power module. A different version is a radar carrier, utilizing a 6×6 platform. The forward section of the vehicle will be similar to the missile carrier but is version will use two axel modules and rear-mounted power module, to provide a 12m flatbed to mount the 12 meter radar mast. An 8×8 configuration is considered for an air defense missile carrier, mounting guns or missile launchers.