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.