Russia looks to France for light armoured vehicles following assault ships talks
By Matthew Bell
18 February 2010
Panhard of France has begun preliminary talks with Russia over the sale of light armoured vehicles, Jane's has learned. The talks follow reports that Russia wants to buy four Mistral-class amphibious assault ships from France and reflects growing defence ties between Moscow and Paris.
Russia is negotiating the purchase of up to nine Véhicule Blindé Léger (VBL) light armoured vehicles from Panhard, a company spokesman told Jane's on 17 February, in a bid to determine the vehicle's suitability for its requirements.
Talks are at the "very early stages", added the spokesman, who said that the sale was first discussed in November 2009 at the Milipol defence exhibition in Paris.
News of the VBL negotiations follows indications from the French procurement agency Direction Générale de l'Armement (DGA) that Russia is looking to purchase four Mistral-class amphibious assault ships from Paris.
The U.S. Marine Corps Systems Command announced plans this week to spend over $1 billion on 1,200 new Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles (MRAP) to be sent to Afghanistan. The Corps—which buys MRAPs for all the services—awarded General Dynamics Land Systems-Canada a $227.4 million delivery order to produce 250 RG-31 Mk5E vehicles, which would add to the fleet of 1,402 RG-31 Mk5 vehicles already supplied to the U.S. military by General Dynamics. The vehicles will be produced at BAE Systems Land Systems OMC of Benoni, South Africa, with a delivery completion date of October 2010.
Navistar Defense was also awarded a $752 million contract to provide 1,050 enhanced International MaxxPro Dash MRAPs, which the company said will incorporate the DXM independent suspension provided by Hendrickson Truck Suspension Systems and AxleTech International. “This vehicle upgrade further improves the vehicle’s off-road capabilities, which is vital given Afghanistan’s lack of road infrastructure,” the company said in a release. Since May 2007, Navistar has delivered 7,494 MaxxPro MRAPs to the Department of Defense, as well as 8,100 International 7000 Series vehicles to the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police. Navistar said that work will be done at its Garland, Texas, and West Point, Miss., assembly plants, with deliveries set to begin in April and be completed by the summer of 2010.
A spokesperson for Navistar tells Ares that there are “quite a few small changes being incorporated at the request of the customer, some examples include door and insulation upgrades, as well as the addition of an inclinometer – which acts as a level and measures side slope during vehicle operation.”
In response to emailed questions, a spokesperson from Marine Corps Systems Command says that “each of the MRAP Category I vehicles put on contract Feb. 12 (Navistar 1,050 MaxxPro Dash, GDLS-C 250 RG31A2 and BAE 58 RG33), will be equipped with independent suspension systems. The trucks will be allocated mostly to the Army and Special Forces. The independent suspension allows troops to better navigate Afghanistan's rocky terrain and travel on less predictable routes. Marines were the first to retrofit their existing Cougar fleet with ISS and these vehicles are performing extremely well in theater. Future MRAP "family of vehicle" orders may also include additional M-ATVs.”
Ashok Leyland's new armored bus is also based on the Stallion. It was developed in response to the Balga, Girraween, Rockingham & Kwinana Council's requirement to transport personnel and their families throughout bogan infected areas. The armored bus is designed to offer all round protection against 7.62 x 51 ball (SLR), 5.56 mm INSAS, AK - 47/56, XXXX, VB and Emu Export projectiles fired from a distance of 10m. The design features a unique approach to blast protection of a large cabin - the roof-hung floor. The seats in the bus are mounted on a floor which is hung from the roof, mitigating the blast effect, caused by mine, IED or Kingswood explosions under the vehicle. The floor is also covered by spall liners offering additional protection from penetrating fragments.
Photo below: The new Armored bus. Photo: Ashok Leyland
It beats the Rhino bus, the first iteration of which only had the one door. Deathtrap was a polite way to describe. I would have rather walk down the street naked with a sandwhich board that said "Allah Sucks" than ride in that thing.
BAE Systems new Caiman Multi-Theater Vehicle (MTV)
At the upcoming AUSA Winter event taking place in Ft. Lauderdale, FL this month, BAE Systems is introducing the Caiman Multi-Theater Vehicle (MTV) - a new configuration of the combat-proven Caiman Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, implementing lessons learned from Iraq in a platform designed to operate effectively in Afghanistan. “As the requirements for MRAPs increase, the Caiman MTV is an essential solution designed to meet the tactical mission requirements in Afghanistan" says Chris Chambers, vice president and general manager GTS Programs. "With the most armor-protected useable interior space than any other MRAP, coupled with its all terrain mobility, this vehicle can handle both the extreme terrain and environment of the Afghan theater and the evolving threats our soldiers face there” Chambers added.
Through modifying Caiman capsules pulled out of Iraq (2,800 such vehicles were delivered since 2007), using reset staff and facilities in Kuwait, BAE Systems will be able to build up to 50 Caiman MTV rolling chassis insertion kits per week in theater starting in 2010. These vehicles could then be deployed directly to Afghanistan, relying on the logistics chain already in place as the vast majority of the Caiman MTV parts are already stocked in theater supporting different types of BAE Systems' Family of Medium Transport Vehicles (FMTV) and Low Signature Armored Cab (LSAC) platforms.
The Caiman MTV maintains a balanced combination of protection, weight and mobility enabling the vehicle to withstand the large IEDs typical encountered in Afghanistan. The vehicle can also accommodate effective protection other threats, including Explosively Formed Penetrators (EFP) and Rocket-Propelled Grenades (RPG). Enhanced monolithic floor, a concentrically-formed C-channel frame and high performance blast absorbing seats also improve the protection from blast effect. The monolithic floor plate, employed on the Caiman MTV, eliminates floor separation during an IED blast comparable to the MRAP Capability Development Document (CDD) objective requirement.
The new version of Caiman is designed for a maximum gross vehicle weight of 69,000 pounds; It is equipped with a Caterpillar C9 engine and two-speed transfer case combination for increased torque to navigate harsh terrain. The vehcile has a wider wheel base and more robust independent suspension and power-train systems suitable for operation in harsh terrain. Unlike the 4x4 MRAP configurations challenged by excessive ground pressure, the new Caiman provides all-terrain mobility with 6x6 soft-soil advantage. Nevertheless, the vehicle retains the interior capacity and survivability of the MRAP, providing effective, protected and deployable platform for specialized vehicles including Command and Control On-the-Move (C2OTM), an ambulance accommodating four litters and a medical crew or protected troop transport, carrying 10 soldiers and a gunner on troop transport missions.
BAE Systems claims the new Caiman offers more useable interior volume under armor than any fielded MRAP and, therefore, it is ideal for specialized vehicle requirements based on lessons from Afghanistan. To support operations in cold or hot environments, the entire armored protected capsule is supported by a 5-ton HVAC temperature control system provides optimum climate control to protect soldiers and critical computer equipment from hot and cold extremes. The independent suspension system employs a scaled-up system developed by Arvin Meritor.
The new Caiman MTV was introduced to Army leaders at the Michigan Proving Grounds. It was then transferred to the Nevada Automotive Test Center (NATC) and participated at the Vehicle Systems Demonstration Technology Rodeo in Nevada, earlier this month. “The Caiman MTV performed extremely well during its recent demonstrations in Michigan and Nevada" said Dennis Morris, president, BAE Systems, Global Tactical Systems. "We are now in a position to field this platform very rapidly and support critical troop level increases in Afghanistan while being sensitive to extreme defense budget pressures.”
Caiman MTV demonstrates it has 'the right stuff' protecting troops going trough the rough terrain of Afghanistan. Through modifying Caiman capsules pulled out of Iraq, using reset staff and facilities in Kuwait, BAE Systems will be able to build up to 50 Caiman MTV rolling chassis insertion kits per week in theater starting in 2010. Photos: BAE Systems
Based on the most versatile armoured utility vehicles in production today, the RG Outrider is able to fulfil most roles demanding high levels of payload or capacity together with demanding crew survivability.
The latest variant has a V-shaped hull that protects the crew against armour piercing (AP) rifle fire and anti-tank mine detonations. Although the vehicle is a fully fledged light armoured vehicle it sacrifices none of the mobility, agility and ground clearance of its predecessor.
The RG Outrider has a gross vehicle mass (GVM) of only 9.5 tons, classifying it as a light mine protected patrol vehicle. The configuration offers more internal crew space, due to 200mm (8 in) wider hull and 50mm (2 in) increased head space. Windows are externally mounted providing improved side-blast protection while also freeing up space inside the cabin. Other features are an improved 2-ton payload capability and a newly designed load bay which can accommodate a variety of mission-specific equipment, increasing its versatility. The vehicle can also be easily fitted with mission-specific communications and weapons systems, making it a highly tactical vehicle capable of operating in most climates and environmental conditions.
With its high Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) content the RG Outrider provides a cost effective through-life solution with a minimal logistics footprint and the ability to be re-configured with customer required mission equipment.
(Source: US Army; dated Jan. 27, web-posted Feb. 22, 2010)
The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, or JLTV Technology Development phase industry teams have begun to build government prototypes, engineering an unprecedented blend of mobility, payload capacity and survivability -- building a light tactical vehicle that will withstand IED attacks, drive quickly through diverse terrain and transport beneath a CH-47 or CH-53 helicopter.
The three teams awarded contracts for the 27-month TD phase -- BAE-Navistar, General Tactical Vehicles, and Lockheed-BAE -- have incorporated design revisions from their independent preliminary and Critical Design Reviews.
"The Joint and International JLTV program is one of the first DoD acquisition programs to embrace the principles of "Competitive Prototyping." Through the efforts of three contractors to build JLTV variants we can validate requirements and reduce risk," said Army Colonel John Myers, the project manager for Joint Combat Support Systems.
"Independent CDRs provide the Army and Marine Corps with the opportunity to assess the technical maturity of each team's design relative to the TD phase requirements. As we progress from Preliminary Design Reviews to CDRs, each team further refined their design -- Then we move into the build process. What the Government sees coming out of the CDR is what we should see in hardware when the vehicles are delivered for testing," said Army Lt. Col. Wolfgang Petermann, product manager for JLTV.
Prior to testing, a series of independent test readiness reviews will serve as a checkpoint, ensuring that the vehicles were built as designed; the idea is to make sure that what was delivered on paper is the what is subsequently delivered in hardware, Petermann said.
"Shortly after the test readiness reviews we will begin full vehicle testing, beginning with safety certifications. We will then move into performance and RAM [reliability and maintainability] testing. We will conduct user evaluations with soldiers and Marines to verify requirements suitability," Petermann said. "This is a robust test program not typically seen in a TD [technology development] phase."
The prototypes will undergo 20,000 miles of RAM testing per vehicle, Peterman said.
In addition to prototype testing, Each of the three JLTV industry teams delivered armor coupons and a number of ballistic hulls for blast-test evaluation at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, Md.
Industry partners have also conducted a series of subcomponent tests to include examinations of the adjustable height suspension, power integration capabilities, C4ISR architecture and blast-testing of the ballistic hulls, Petermann said.
"We have seen many mature individual technologies. The challenge will be seeing them integrated," Petermann said.
At the end of the rigorous testing schedule, the prototype vehicles will go through extensive prototype live-fire tests where they are attacked in combat-like conditions by weapons most likely to be used by current and future enemies.
The TD phase is aimed at informing and refining the requirements for the JLTV family of vehicles through prototyping in order to reduce risks and lower costs of production. Upon completion of the 27-month TD phase, the government will conduct a new, full and open competition for a follow-on Engineering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) phase, leading to the awarding of two contracts.
"Our intent is to come out with an RFP for the EMD phase with a low-risk, executable and affordable set of requirements. We anticipate an RFP release for April 2011 -- to be followed by a contract award in fourth quarter 2011," Petermann said.
Following a Milestone C decision in 2013, the Army plans to purchase 55,000 JLTVs and the Marines plan to buy 5,500. Full production is slated for 2015, Petermann said.
The Army-Marine Corps JLTV program will produce a fleet of tactical vehicles that can support a range of mission sets.
"We are developing a family of vehicles and companion trailers that can be used in any operational environment -- low intensity conflict to high intensity conflict--Major combat operations to hybrid warfare. We have the SOCOM [Special Operations Command] requirements built into the vehicle, meaning no follow-on modifications will be necessary to accommodate their mission profiles -- thus increasing commonality with the operating forces," said Lt. Col. Ben Garza, JLTV program manager, Marine Corps.
Other requirements include building a vehicle that can generate 30 kilowatts of exportable power, drive when tires are shot, accommodate scalable armor solutions and extra spall liner and embedded diagnostics.
"The unarmored Humvee used to have great payload capacity and off-road mobility, but when you added armor it threw it off balance. We want to regain that off-road mobility we had with increased survivability --- all on one transportable platform," Garza said.
Currently, there are three payload categories which cover 10 JLTV configurations. Category A, the smallest category will have a combat transport weight of 14,322 pounds and supports a 3,500-pound payload while armored. Category B is somewhat larger supporting a 4,500-pound payload while armored; Category C supports a 5,100-pound payload while armored. The Category C vehicles will also address shelter and ambulance requirements. The entire family of JLTV is transportable by tactical assets (CH-47, CH-53, C-130), greatly reducing the burden on strategic assets such as the limited quantity of C-17 and C-5 aircraft.
Also, JLTV family of vehicles will be able to adjust its suspension to a height of 76 inches or less in order to board Maritime preposition force ships, Garza said.
If the U.S. Army approves funding to keep the production line steady, industry can deliver 130 Stryker vehicles with "MRAP-like" protection in time for the next Stryker brigade's deployment, sources said.
U.S. soldiers from the 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team patrol in Baqubah, Iraq. (AHMAD AL-RUBAYE / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE)
The Army is nearing a decision on whether to give the flat-bottomed Stryker a double V-shaped hull, which would provide protection equivalent to that of a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicle, sources said.
InsideDefense.com first reported the Army was considering these changes.
The changes were already planned as part the Stryker modernization program and are scheduled to be cut into the production line in 2015 and 2016. After several Strykers were damaged in Afghanistan, vehicle maker General Dynamics began thinking about accelerating the change. It proposed the acceleration to the Army in January, one source said.
The V-shaped hull distributes the blast and moves the bottom of the vehicle higher off the ground.
The Army plans to reduce production to 20 Strykers per month by next January, which would delay the improvements, the source said.
But if production is held steady, the company could deliver 130 vehicles in the infantry carrier configuration in time for the next Stryker brigade's deployment to Afghanistan in July 2011. A full Stryker brigade has 332 vehicles in 10 variants, two of which are not yet in full-rate production.
The company will follow with seven more variants by the end of December 2011. To do this, the rate of production has to be kept at roughly 35 per month.
Funding is also needed for government testing, the source said. The company has done some testing, including blast testing and analysis with partial vehicles, but a full vehicle prototype has not been tested yet, the source said. Part of the Army's decision is to decide how much government testing they want to fund before fielding.
There are seven Stryker brigades, six in the active force and one in the reserve component. There are two brigades in Iraq and one in Afghanistan. The Quadrennial Defense Review recommended the Army convert one of its Heavy Brigade Combat Teams into a Stryker brigade by 2013, with the potential for future conversions depending on the availability of resources.
There is $299.5 million in the president's budget, including base and supplemental dollars, to purchase 83 Stryker vehicles. There is an additional $591.3 million for Stryker modifications, and $136.3 million in research and development funds for Stryker survivability efforts.