The Danish Ministry of Defense announced the selection of the Swiss Piranha 5 8×8 wheeled APC for the future armored personnel carrier of the Danish Army (Forsvaret).
Piranha 5, developed by Mowag GmbH, the Swiss subsidiary of General Dynamics Europe Land Systems (GDELS) was selected after a thorough evaluation of four candidates. In the final round the Swiss 8×8 APC has beaten the the tracked Swedish Armadillo CV90 from BAE Systems, GDELS ASCOD (recently selected for the British Scout SV program) and PMMC G5 modified M-113. Piranha 5 was one of two wheeled APCs evaluated – the other was its French rival, the 8×8 VBCI from Nexter.
The Danish M-113 replacement program was considered one of the largest procurement of armored vehicles in Europe, evaluating both wheeled and tracked variants ‘head to head’.
Almost all candidates considered by the Danes were new vehicles. Except VBCI, which is in service with the French Army, the Piranha 5, Armadillo and G5 represent new designs. The ‘Protected Mission Module Carrier’ (PMMC) G5 is considered a ‘modified M113’ remanufactured into the G5, based on the design proposed by the German company FFG. However, all three represent model improvements of vehicles currently operational with the Danish Army (CV9035, Piranha IIIC and M-113). The M-113 replacement program was launched in 2011 with a procurement options for 206, 360 or 450 vehicles, in an armored personnel carrier, command vehicle, ambulance, mortar carrier, engineering and technical support variants. The Danish contract requires the supplier to bind to support the fleet over a period of 15 years.
Denmark is planning to order at least 206 vehicles, but according to Danish Defense Minister Nicolai Wammen, the exact number is yet to be determined. Analysts forecast the total number could increase to 450. “With Piranha 5 we have found the armored personnel carrier that can best solve our defense tasks in the future” Wammen said.
The defense department will cancel a planned tender for a new artillery system, thus clearing the necessary funding for the new APCs. Denmark is exploring options to rent or borrow artillery systems from another country to enable its military to retain proficiency operating modern artillery systems. Denmark is operating a battalion of M-109A3 self-propelled howitzers. Potential bidders for that program where Nexter of France, Samsung Techwin from South Korea and Israeli Elbit Systems Soltam.
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According to Danish military sources the protection level offered by the new vehicle is on par with, and in some areas better than the level provided by Mine Resistant Armor Protected (MRAP) vehicles that the Danish forces have used in Afghanistan. “Piranha 5 is flexible and has a strong development potential with a current weight excess of approximately two tons.” Chief of the Danish Army, Major General Hans-Christian Mathiesen said. He added that the new vehicles will be able to deploy to all climate areas that Danish soldiers are expected to operate in, including the arctic, where these wheeled vehicles can operate all year in the wetlands in the coastal areas. The vehicle accommodates 12 soldiers – a crew of three and nine fully loaded troops.
Denmark has been a loyal customer of Mowag for decades. There are currently 118 Piranha IIIC in service, along with Eagle IV protected utility vehicles, and Duro IIIP armored ambulances.
As a NATO member Denmark is maintaining military forces to enable it to contribute to battalion-size forces (typically 300 – 800 soldiers) assisting international operations within NATO and the UN. The Piranha APCs will improve mobility and protection for these forces, as well as improve command, control and battle effectiveness with increased firepower. The new APCs will be configured to support these capabilities the Danish Army is maintaining battalion size operated as ‘reaction combat groups’ under two regimental (brigade) headquarters.
Denmark has operated 738 M-113 since 1962, when the first tracked APCs replaced the WWII M3 halftracks. These vehicles went through several upgrading cycles, the most recent – M113 G4 was carried out during 2009-2012 modernizing 65 vehicles. The G4 variant was deployed specifically to meet the protection requirements of the Afghan theater. Although the stretched vehicle was extended and became more spacious for troops, it was not well prepared to take the increased load, particularly in the hot-high Afghan environment. Even when used on training back in Denmark, the G4 proved unreliable and suffered from frequent failures that required the grounding of the entire G4 fleet, until further modifications are done. Meanwhile, units are equipped with less protected G3 variants (of which 257 were upgraded since 1999). It is currently anticipated that one battalion will be equipped with the G4 by 2016.[/ismember]
As the Danish government require significant offset buying for such significant military acquisitions, GDELS said it has already signed Industry Cooperation agreements with 40 Danish companies of all sizes and has already defined projects in excess of €0.5 billion (3,7 billion kroner) covering all of the technology areas defined in the Danish Government’s Defence Industry strategy.
[ismember]One of these agreements covers the introduction of new automation technology at TenCate’s Vissenbjerg factory, and the commercialization of the TenCate’s Active Blast Countermeasure System (ABDS) technology in Fyn. The system will be developed and certified on the Mowag GDELS Eagle 5 platform.a Another Memorandum of Interest (MOI) was signed with the Danish UAV company Sky-Watch in Støvring, to jointly explore potential areas of cooperation within next generation applications of the UAV technology in the battlefield.[/ismember]