Category Archives: Ground Forces

Upgraded Bradley

Soldiers are slated to fire at targets next year using a platoon of robotic combat vehicles they will control from the back of modified Bradley Fighting Vehicles.

An upgraded Bradley Fighting Vehicle, called a Mission Enabler Technologies-Demonstrator, (left) and a robotic M113 surrogate platform. Soldiers are slated to test two MET-Ds and four RCVs for the first time next year (U.S. Army photo)

The monthlong operational test is scheduled to begin in March at Fort Carson, Colorado, and will provide input to the Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Ground Vehicle Systems Center on where to go next with autonomous vehicles.

The upgraded Bradleys, called Mission Enabler Technologies-Demonstrators, or MET-Ds, have cutting-edge features such as a remote turret for the 25-mm main gun, 360-degree situational awareness cameras and enhanced crew stations with touchscreens.

Initial testing will include two MET-Ds and four robotic combat vehicles on M113 surrogate platforms. Each MET-D will have a driver and gunner as well as four Soldiers in its rear, who will conduct platoon-level maneuvers with two surrogate vehicles that fire 7.62-mm machine guns.

«We’ve never had Soldiers operate MET-Ds before», said David Centeno Jr., chief of the center’s Emerging Capabilities Office. «We’re asking them to utilize the vehicles in a way that’s never been done before».

After the tests, the center and Next-Generation Combat Vehicle Cross-Functional Team (NGCV CFT), both part of Army Futures Command, will then use Soldier feedback to improve the vehicles for future test phases.

«You learn a lot», Centeno said at the International Armored Vehicles USA conference on June 26. «You learn how they use it. They may end up using it in ways we never even thought of».

The vehicles are experimental prototypes and are not meant to be fielded, but could influence other programs of record by demonstrating technology derived from ongoing development efforts.

«This technology is not only to remain in the Robotic Combat Vehicle (RCV) portfolio, but also legacy efforts as well», said Major Cory Wallace, robotic combat vehicle lead for the NGCV CFT.

One goal for the autonomous vehicles is to discover how to penetrate an adversary’s anti-access/aerial denial capabilities without putting Soldiers in danger.

The vehicles, Centeno said, will eventually have third-generation forward-looking infrared kits with a target range of at least 14 kilometers/8.7 miles.

«You’re exposing forces to enemy fire, whether that be artillery, direct fire», he said. «So, we have to find ways to penetrate that bubble, attrite their systems and allow for freedom of air and ground maneuver. These platforms buy us some of that, by giving us standoff».

 

PHASE II, III

In late fiscal year 2021, Soldiers will again play a role in Phase II testing as the vehicles conduct company-level maneuvers.

This time, experiments are slated to incorporate six MET-Ds and the same four M113 surrogates, in addition to four light and four medium surrogate robotic combat vehicles, which industry will provide.

Before these tests, a light infantry unit plans to experiment with the RCV light surrogate vehicles in Eastern Europe next May.

«The intent of this is to see how an RCV light integrates into a light infantry formation and performs reconnaissance and security tasks as well as supports dismounted infantry operations», Wallace said at the conference.

Soldier testing for Phase III is slated to take place mid-fiscal 2023 with the same number of MET-Ds and M113 surrogate vehicles, but will instead have four medium and four heavy purpose-built RCVs.

«This is the first demonstration which we will be out of the surrogate realm and fielding purpose builts», Wallace said, adding the vehicles will conduct a combined arms breach.

The major said he was impressed with how quickly Soldiers learned to control the RCVs during the Robotic Combined Arms Breach Demonstration in May at the Yakima Training Center in Washington.

«Soldiers have demonstrated an intuitive ability to master controlling RCVs much faster than what we thought», he said. «The feedback from the Soldiers was that after two days they felt comfortable operating the system».

There are still ongoing efforts to offload some tasks in operating RVCs to artificial intelligence in order to reduce the cognitive burden on Soldiers.

«This is not how we’re used to fighting», Centeno said. «We’re asking a lot. We’re putting a lot of sensors, putting a lot of data in the hands of Soldiers. We want to see how that impacts them. We want to see how it degrades or increases their performance».

The family of RCVs include three variants. Army officials envision the light version to be transportable by rotary wing. The medium variant would be able to fit onto a C-130 Hercules aircraft, and the heavy variant would fit onto a C-17 Globemaster III aircraft.

Both future and legacy armored platforms, such as the forthcoming Mobile Protected Firepower «light tank», could influence the development of the RCV heavy.

With no human operators inside it, the heavy RCV can provide the lethality associated with armored combat vehicles in a much smaller form. Plainly speaking, without a crew, the RCV heavy requires less armor and can dedicate space and power to support modular mission payloads or hybrid electric drive batteries, Wallace said.

Ultimately, the autonomous vehicles will aim to keep Soldiers safe.

«An RCV reduces risk», Wallace said. «It does so by expanding the geometry of the battlefield so that before the threat makes contact with the first human element, it has to make contact with the robots. That, in turn, gives commanders additional space and time to make decisions».

Networked vehicles

Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly on Thursday, July 4 attended the first handover of Griffon multi-role armored vehicles (Véhicule Blindé Multi-Rôle, or VBMR) on the site of Nexter in Satory (Yvelines), to the General Directorate of Armaments (DGA), which pronounced the vehicle’s technical qualification, and in turn delivered them to the Army.

With the delivery of the first six Griffon 6×6 armored vehicles, the French Army has begun to implement its Scorpion program, which will provide new and improved networked vehicles and unprecedented levels of communication (FR Army photo)

The Griffon is the new VBMR of the Scorpion program, developed to modernize the medium combat capabilities of the Combat Arms Tactical Group (GTIA). Griffon will replace the Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé (VAB). A robust and versatile vehicle, the Griffon will notably improve the protection of soldiers engaged in combat thanks to more efficient armor protection, a remotely-operated turret and latest generation sensors. It will also take part in digitally-enhanced networked combat for which the French Army is preparing.

Commenting the event, the Minister spoke of the Griffon as a «new face of the Army: an exceptional program by its ambition, its coherence and its magnitude […] a true technological and operational leap […] the fruit of nearly 15 years of work» conducted jointly with industry.

These new vehicles, recalled Florence Parly, will allow «our soldiers to keep the advantage on the ground» by offering «unprecedented protection against ballistic threats, mines and improvised explosive devices, one of the main weapons of our opponents in the Sahel».

The Minister also emphasized the interest of the international partners in the Griffon, and noted that together with the Jaguar armored reconnaissance and combat vehicle (Engin Blindé de Reconnaissance et de Combat, EBRC) it also attracted Belgium, which has adopted the French system on which it has based the Belgian Army’s CaMo (motorized capability) next-generation equipment.

Finally, she took advantage of her visit to announce that an additional 150 vehicles will be ordered, bringing the total to 1,872 units by 2030; in parallel, delivery rates will be increased so that fully 50% of the vehicles of the program are delivered to the Army by 2025.

In accordance with the Military Planning Law (LPM) for 2019-2025, a total of 92 vehicles are to be delivered to the Army in 2019. The first deliveries of the Army Griffon vehicles are scheduled for the summer, with the aim of being able to project a Griffon-equipped GTIA as early as 2021.

Air Defense

The Army is now standing up SHOrt-Range Air Defense units, known as SHORAD battalions, and offering a five-week pilot Stinger course for Soldiers in maneuver units.

Two soldiers load Stinger missiles into an Avenger pod on top of a modified Humvee. 72 Avengers were pulled out of mothballs last year to equip two new short-range air defense battalions until the new M-SHORAD Strykers are fielded (U.S. Army photo)

It’s part of a critical effort to defend maneuver units against the threat of aircraft, drones and cruise missiles, said Colonel Mark A. Holler, commandant of the Air Defense Artillery School at Fort Sill.

Most of the SHORAD battalions in the active component were deactivated a decade ago because the U.S. Army needed this force structure to grow maneuver brigade combat teams for counter-insurgency operations, Holler said.

The Army is now reshaping its capability and capacity to conduct large-scale combat operations against a near-peer adversary like Russia or China, he said, so SHORAD units are once again needed. He added the Army was given a «wake-up call» when it observed the conflict in Ukraine.

 

BRINGING BACK AVENGERS

In the 1990s, every Army division had a SHORAD battalion to protect it. In 2017, none of the 10 active divisions had one.

Last year, the Army re-established an active SHORAD battalion in Germany. The 5th Battalion of the 4th Air Defense Artillery Regiment was stood up with Avengers – modified Humvees with a turret on top and two pods of Stinger missiles.

The Avengers were first used by the Army in 1990, but in recent years most had been relegated to the National Guard or stored in depots.

A total of 72 Avengers were pulled out of mothballs last year from Letterkenny Army Depot in Pennsylvania, Holler said. Half are now with the 5-4 ADA and the others are ready for issue at a pre-positioned equipment depot in Germany.

 

GROWING THE FORCE

The plan is to eventually have 10 SHORAD battalions again to defend maneuver units and other critical assets within each of the Army’s divisions, Holler said. These will be stood up incrementally over time, he explained, with the next four between now and 2024.

Eventually these battalions will upgrade from Avengers to the new Maneuver SHORADs on a Stryker platform with two hellfire missiles, a 30-mm chain gun, a 7.62-mm machine gun and four Stinger missiles. The first M-SHORAD prototypes are expected to roll off the assembly line in late July.

The Army is also planning to stand up Indirect Fire Protection Capability, or IFPC units, in both the active component and National Guard to defend fixed and semi-fixed assets at corps and division-level, Holler said.

These battalions, currently fielded with the Land-based Phalanx Weapons System, or LPWS, used to counter rockets, artillery and mortars – also known as the C-RAM system – will eventually transition to a new IFPC capability as well, he said.

 

SOLDIERS QUADRUPLING

The Army currently has 519 positions for Soldiers with the 14P air and missile defense crewmember military occupational specialty. That number is expected to quadruple over the next five years, said Sergeant 1st Class Arianna Cook, senior career advisor for 14Ps at the ADA School.

«We will have one of the fastest-growing MOSs in the Army», Cook said.

Two years ago, the ADA School had only one 14P instructor and most of the students were National Guard Soldiers, as the Guard kept seven Avenger battalions, she said. Now there’s eight 14P instructors at the school just for the new Man-Portable Air Defense System or MANPADS Stinger course.

«We’re making a comeback», Cook said. «That’s kind of where we’re at with our MOS».

 

MANPADS COURSE

Maneuver forces had not seen short-range air defense in a long time, Cook said. So, the first goal of the new course was to show Infantry and Cavalry troops what SHORAD looks like, she explained.

«I spent two years at Fort Benning with 19 kilos, with tankers … none of them had ever heard of short-range air defense», Cook said. «All they knew was Patriot launchers».

So, a MANPADS pilot course was developed in late 2017. The focus was on creating two-man Stinger teams for units rotating into Germany or Korea as an interim solution to provide short-range air defense.

«You can’t flip the switch overnight and fill a critical gap», Cook said.

But since the Army has determined that SHORAD is a critical gap, the ADA School is attempting to fix it as soon as possible with the five-week course.

So far, six brigades have sent 156 Soldiers through the course and the graduates have been awarded the A5 Additional Skill Identifier, or ASI. This means they are certified to operate the Stinger MANPADS missile launcher in two-man teams to defend their unit against enemy aircraft.

The course includes practice in the Stinger Dome where the teams simulate firing at enemy helicopters that fly across terrain on the circular walls. It also includes Identifying Friend or Foe aircraft, or IFF programming with the Sentinel radar that maneuver units have. And it includes instruction on visual aircraft recognition. The course concludes with a tactical employment practical exercise.

Soldiers have completed the course so far from the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, the 173rd Airborne Brigade, the 3rd Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division, the 1st Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division, 1st Brigade of the 1st Cavalry Division and 210th Fires Brigade.

What maneuver troops learn at the five-week course is termed «degraded» Stinger operations, Cook said, because firing the missiles from an Avenger system is more accurate.

 

UPGRADED AVENGERS

The Avengers have multiple optics, range-finders and a Forward-Looking Infrared Receiver or FLIR monitor. It’s difficult to see some of the smaller drones with the naked eye, Cook said, whereas radars can pick them up and direct the Avenger turret to lock onto them.

When the Avengers were pulled out of depot storage last year, some were modified with a new «Slew-to-Cue» Avenger Targeting Console. This enables the turret to automatically turn and lock onto targets provided by remote radars, Cook said.

«A Soldier still needs to pull the trigger though», she said.

The remainder of the Avengers that didn’t get Slew-to-Cue last year will receive it as part of an ongoing two-phase Modification Service Life Extension Program known as SLEP, said Holler. All Avenger consoles should be upgraded by the end of September 2020, he said.

The second phase of the SLEP upgrade includes installation of a Mode 5 Identification Friend or Foe, a new fire-control computer, and converting analog communications equipment in the Avengers to digital communications. It also includes a new air-conditioning and heating unit and a new .50-caliber/12.7-mm machine gun. The Phase II upgrades are scheduled to begin in the 4th quarter of FY 2020 and continue through FY 2023, Holler said.

Along with the battalion of Avengers that stood up last year in Germany, the active Army also has four separate Avenger batteries: one in Korea, one at Fort Sill, one at Fort Campbell, Kentucky; and one with the Global Response Force at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.

In addition to Avenger upgrades, proximity fuses are being installed in some of the Stinger missiles, Holler said. Stingers with proximity-fuse warheads will have greater lethality against small drones and unmanned aerial vehicles, he explained.

Cook said Soldiers who hold the 14P MOS actually need to know how to operate three different systems: Avengers, Stinger shoulder launchers and the C-RAM system that shoots up to 90 rounds per second at incoming rockets and mortars.

«We’re one of the only MOS’s in the Army that has to understand and operate three platforms», Cook said.

When the new M-SHORADs come off the assembly line, 14P Soldiers will need to know four platforms, she said.

«It’s a massively-growing MOS», she added.

Mobile Protected
Firepower

Infantry Soldiers are closer to getting their hands on a «light tank» that will boost the firepower of their formations without slowing them down.

The 82nd Airborne Division will test two competing Mobile Protected Firepower vehicles, otherwise known as light tanks, beginning next year; illustrated here is the candidate design from BAE Systems (BAE photo)

The Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) vehicle, part of the Next-Generation Combat Vehicles suite, is currently in competition after two vendors were chosen in December to each build 12 prototypes for under $376 million.

Beginning in March, those prototypes will be put through the wringer in a series of lethality, survivability and mobility tests. A light infantry unit at 82nd Airborne Division will also conduct an assessment later next year to gain Soldier input.

«It will be the first time anybody really puts their hands on it», said David Dopp, the vehicle’s project manager at Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems (PEO GCS). «That’s a real key test».

The Army expects to receive about 500 MPFs, which it will start fielding in fiscal 2025. Each infantry brigade combat team will get their own 14-vehicle company for armor support.

One vendor will be chosen to begin producing the vehicles in fiscal 2022.

The «light tanks» would help infantry Soldiers blast through obstacles, take out machine-gun nests and defend against other armored vehicles.

«Infantry would go out on foot or in a Humvee, but then if they ran into some fortification, a bunker or other vehicles, everything kind of stopped», Dopp said Wednesday at the International Armored Vehicles USA conference. «With MPF, we can break through that».

The «light tank» will be a tracked vehicle with likely a 105-mm cannon and 7.62-mm coaxial machine gun for firepower, he said.

At least two of them would need to fit on a C-17 Globemaster III cargo aircraft, and each vehicle would weigh less than 40 tons, much lighter than an M1 Abrams tank that can weigh 60 tons or more.

«It has better mobility for the infantry than an Abrams tank», Dopp said. «It goes where the infantry goes».

The MPF could be a game-changer for infantry units and fill a lethality gap they have had since 1996, when the M551 Sheridan light tank was officially retired without a replacement.

«We haven’t put a ‘tank’ in a light infantry unit for a long time», said Major General Brian Cummings, head of PEO GCS.

Today, an infantry brigade combat team has little to protect itself from an adversary with light armored vehicles, particularly Russia, which the Defense Department considers to be a near-peer adversary.

«In flows a company’s worth of MPFs to help give an armor capability against the threat», Cummings said, «so they’re not just there all by themselves with their javelin missiles».

While the MPF will have some of the latest available technology, autonomous features as well as additional sensors and other improvements could be implemented into it in the future.

«When we get it out there, we’ll start looking to put on those more advanced technologies», Dopp said. «It was all about getting it out there in a hurry».

Military Vehicle

Rheinmetall and BAE Systems have today launched a new, independent UK-based joint venture for military vehicle design, manufacture and support – known as Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). Headquartered in Telford in the West Midlands, the joint venture will sustain around 450 jobs across the UK and is well positioned for future growth.

Rheinmetall has selected this Union Jack-emblazoned Boxer 8×8 armored fighting vehicle to symbolize its new military vehicle joint venture with BAE Systems, prosaically named «Rheinmetall and BAE Systems Land» (Rheinmetall photo)

RBSL intends to play a major role in manufacturing the Boxer 8×8 for the British Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme and other strategic combat vehicle programmes, while also providing support to the British Army’s in-service bridging and armoured vehicle fleets.

Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: «This announcement is a clear vote of confidence in the UK’s defence industry as a world-leader in designing, supplying and supporting military vehicles. This exciting venture clearly demonstrates how Defence sits at the heart of the prosperity agenda. Its benefits will be felt in the West Midlands and across the UK defence supply chain, creating jobs, boosting exports and guaranteeing our technical skills base into the future».

RBSL will draw on Rheinmetall’s broader military vehicle technologies combined with the additional capabilities and systems brought to the Joint Venture by BAE Systems’ Land UK business, such as Trojan, Terrier, Warrior, military bridging and the AS90 self-propelled artillery system. RBSL will have the potential to create hundreds of additional UK jobs, both in Telford and the wider supply chain.

Peter Hardisty, formerly of Rheinmetall UK, has been appointed as Managing Director of the new company. He said: «RBSL is a new business drawing on the significant strengths and expertise of both BAE Systems Land UK and Rheinmetall. Our employees in Telford, Bristol, and Washington (UK) have a valuable skill set and extensive experience in combat vehicle engineering. With new orders, we shall be able to sustain these capabilities and expand over the coming years, seeking new opportunities in the UK and overseas».

The new management team that will lead RBSL into the future also includes Carrie White as Finance Director and Phil Simon as Operations Director, both of whom join from BAE Systems.

Regulatory approval for the joint venture was granted on 13 June 2019.

Multi-Purpose Vehicle

Protolab Oy is pleased to announce the delivery of the first Protolab 6×6 Protected Multi-Purpose Vehicles (PMPV) to the Finnish Defence Forces (FDF). Protolab is delivering four PMPVs to the FDF under a contract signed in 2018. The vehicles are being put through operational testing by the FDF as part of a wider modernisation programme to upgrade and enhance its armoured vehicle fleet.

Despite its deceptively small proportions, the PMPV can carry two crew and ten fully-equipped troops, or a cargo payload of up to 10,000 kg/22,046 lbs. It is narrower than standard combat vehicles, and its 2.55-meter/8.36-foot width makes it suitable for urban operations (Protolab photo)

The Protolab PMPV is exceptionally manoeuvrable and agile and can perform a range of mission roles including patrol, passenger and cargo transport, and command post. Amphibious and medical evacuation (MEDIVAC) variants are also available. The Protolab PMPV is a first of its kind 6×6 armoured personnel carrier developed to meet the mobility, protection and communication requirements of Special Operations Forces and paramilitary security forces.

The PMPV is designed from the ground up with integrated high level mine protection and ballistic protection according to customer-specified blast protection levels of STANAG 4569. The vehicle can be equipped with various customer required weapon systems.

The vehicle can carry two crew and ten fully-equipped troops, or a cargo payload of up to 10,000 kg/22,046 lbs. Narrower than standard fighting vehicles, the vehicle’s 2.55 m/8.36 feet width makes it suitable for urban operations, with advanced mobility both on and off-road. Powered by a Cummins 6.7L multifuel engine and meeting Euro 3 emission levels, the vehicle meets EU truck road regulations qualifying it for registration as a N3G class truck (off-road).

These design features make it an ideal fit for the challenges being faced by modern armies.

«We designed the Protolab PMPV 6×6 to meet the requirements of today’s soldier and today’s asymmetric battlefield», Juha Moisio, Business Development Director, Protolab Oy commented. «With a design approach based around the use of COTS parts with a small proportion of custom-made components, the Protolab PMPV is a cost-effective solution for the range of tasks faced by special operations, security and crisis management forces in the field. We are pleased to see the vehicle progressing well through field trials with the FDF and are getting positive feedback from the customer. We are confident that the Protolab PMPV will become the vehicle of choice for customers looking to replace their existing 6×6 vehicle fleets with a modern, protected and flexible solution».

Protolab Oy specialises in the design, development and delivery of vehicles with high-level, integrated blast and ballistic protection. With a strong design capability, Protolab supports the entire vehicle development cycle, from the initial design through to prototypes and production. Protolab works with a network of key suppliers across Finland and Europe, acting as the design authority, integrator, testing and approval centre, and prime contractor for its customers.

Compact Sniper Rifle

Operational testing of the Army’s newest precision rifle, the Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System (CSASS) began recently, marking one of the final hurdles this system will face prior to fielding.

A Compact Semi-Automatic Sniper System awaits its operator before a post-drop live fire exercise at Gryphon Group Range, N.C. The system is made by Germany’s Heckler é Kock (U.S. Army photo)

Snipers assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division recently participated in airborne infiltration test trials of what could potentially be the Army’s newest sniper system.

«The compact nature of the CSASS is appealing to airborne forces and particularly Snipers who are typically armed with long barreled precision rifles», said Sergeant 1st Class Ross Martin, a Test NCO with the U.S. Army Operational Test Command’s Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD).

«Current sniper systems are equipped with 20-inch barrels, sound suppression systems and full-length stocks that provide accuracy and a stable firing platform required of any precision rifle», said David Parris, a CSASS New Equipment Training (NET) trainer from the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command’s Soldier Weapons Support.

Being a product of battlefield evolution, the CSASS is more geared toward operations in urban environments and operating in and around armored vehicles where traditional length sniper systems can be cumbersome.

«The CSASS will feature a reduction in overall length (with the suppression system attached) and an adjustable stock that provides maneuverability and promotes a stable firing position», said Victor Yarosh of Project Manager Soldier Weapons.

This will provide airborne snipers a more compact load during airborne infiltration operations and provide a precision rifle platform more conducive to their combat environment without reducing their lethality.

Specialist Nicholas Farmer of Orlando, Florida, a Sniper in C Troop, 1st Battalion, 73rd Cavalry Regiment immediately identified the attributes of a more compact precision rifle.

«The CSASS is much shorter and lighter than our current system which will make long dismounted movements and reaction to contact more efficient», he said.

Specialist William Holland from Sylacauga, Alabama, a sniper with 2nd Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment echoed his fellow snipers assessment as, «lightweight and compact makes for a more manageable load during post drop operations».

Prior to testing, Snipers participated in a NET which included familiarization with the system, maintenance, target engagement and zeroing procedures.

The critical task in testing any small arms platform intended for use by airborne forces is ensuring zero retention of the primary optic subsequent to airborne insertion. This is a critical gauge of the paratrooper’s lethality during airfield seizure and other follow on operations.

«This process establishes a baseline for site reticle locations prior to and post airborne insertion», said Lacretia Cook, an instrumentation technician with the ABNSOTD. «Testers can monitor any ‘shift’ in the weapons sight reticle».

To evaluate this performance measure of the CSASS, the ABNSOTD test team employed the organization’s mobile weapons boresight collimator to ensure the snipers’ «pre-mission» zero was not degraded by shock associated with parachute infiltration.

Once this data was collected, snipers conducted a known distance live fire exercise to gauge lethality subsequent to static line and military free fall operations.

For Sergeant Christopher Landrum of Delano, California, the target audience of trained snipers was perfect.

«It’s vital that operational troops are the ones testing the system as they are best suited to recognize system requirements and mission capabilities», he explained.

Sergeant 1st Class Darin Pott, a senior sniper with the 1st Battalion, 73rd Armored Regiment said he would also like to see Soldiers added to the process earlier.

«The Army should involve the sniper community at the earliest possible milestone of development», he said.

«Operational Testing is about Soldiers. It is about making sure that the systems developed are effective in a Soldier’s hands and suitable for the environments in which Soldiers train and fight», said Colonel Brad Mock, Director of ABNSOTD.

«OTC is the U.S. Army’s only independent operational test organization», said Lieutenant Colonel David Dykema, deputy of ABNSOTD’s Test Division.

«We test Army, Joint, and Multi-service airborne and airdrop related warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. Any time Soldiers and their leaders get involved in operational testing», he added, «they have the opportunity to use, work with, and offer up their own suggestions on pieces of equipment that can impact development of systems that future Soldiers will use in combat».

Operational testing began October 1, 1969, and as the Army’s only independent operational tester, Operational Test Command (OTC) is celebrating «50 Years of Operational Testing». The unit enlists the «Total Army» (Active, National Guard, and Reserve) when testing Army, joint, and multi-service warfighting systems in realistic operational environments, using typical Soldiers to determine whether the systems are effective, suitable, and survivable. OTC is required by public law to test major systems before they are fielded to its ultimate customer – the American Soldier.

The Airborne and Special Operations Test Directorate (ABNSOTD) at Fort Bragg, North Carolina – whose lineage traces directly back to the original Parachute Test Platoon of 1940 – is home to the U.S. Army’s only operational test paratroopers, who conduct operational testing for joint airborne contingency and Special Operations Forces in support of the acquisition decision-making process. To provide airdrop certification of all airborne and airdropped equipment, ABNSOTD plans, executes and reports on its operational tests and field experiments, which impacts doctrine, training, organization and materiel.

GaN-based design

Northrop Grumman Corporation demonstrated its in-production, innovative solution for the U.S. Army’s Lower Tier Air and Missile Defense Sensor (LTAMDS) program during an open «Sense Off» competition at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico from May 16 – June 1.

Northrop Grumman’s 360-degree coverage, GaN-based LTAMDs capability was successfully demonstrated to the U.S. Army during a two-week Sense Off at White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico

«Our mature, gallium nitride (GaN)-based design demonstrated an advanced system with our current capabilities aligned with the Army’s requirements», said Christine Harbison, vice president, land and avionics C4ISR division, Northrop Grumman. «Our solution supports the need for rapid deployment with an architecture that allows for significant margin of capability growth to protect our warfighters today and in the rapidly changing threat environment».

Northrop Grumman’s LTAMDS solution demonstrated a mission capable system with growth potential leveraging advanced, affordable, low-risk, in-production and fielded technologies from across the company’s Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) portfolio. The system provides a 360-degree full-sector mission capability. Designed from the outset to meet the warfighters’ current and future needs, Northrop Grumman’s LTAMDS solution aligns with the Army’s top requirements, including speed to field. An embedded logistics capability enables quicker and more affordable modernization and better sustainability over the life-cycle of the program.

Northrop Grumman’s LTAMDS solution builds upon the company’s decades of expertise in sea, land, air and space-based military radar technology and high-performance microelectronics. The company’s offering is the latest Northrop Grumman sensor product to incorporate and use GaN high power density radio frequency components for greater performance.

Having successfully completed the demonstration phase, the company will deliver its final LTAMDS proposal to the Army in the coming weeks for evaluation.

HET semitrailer

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on May 30, 2019, that the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) has awarded Oshkosh Defense and partner, Broshuis B.V., a contract to produce semitrailers for the Heavy Equipment Transporter (HET). The contract award is in response to an Operational Needs Statement (ONS) from the U.S. Army Europe for a semitrailer that can deliver increased payload capability while gaining European road permissions.

The HET ONS semitrailer delivers increased payload capability while gaining European road permissions

The contract, initially awarded at $13.3M, has a maximum value of $109.8M and calls for 170 semitrailers to be delivered between FY20 and FY21.

The HET was designed by Oshkosh Defense to provide rapid movement of mission-critical equipment including tanks, armored vehicles, and recovery vehicles. Oshkosh Defense has been producing the HET for the U.S. Army since 1976. Broshuis B.V., has over 130 years of experience providing innovative semitrailers for specialized commercial and military transport.

«Oshkosh Defense and our partner, Broshuis B.V., each bring a unique set of skills and experiences to this program», said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «As the OEM of the HET, not only do we understand this vehicle inside and out, but we also have a proven record of success delivering critical vehicle accessories and upgrades that our troops rely on. By combining our experience with the trailer expertise of our partner, Broshuis B.V., we were able to provide the U.S. Army with an efficient, durable semitrailer that can be relied upon to ensure heavy equipment arrives in mission-ready condition».

The U.S. Army’s selection comes after two prototypes successfully completed a 3-month test and evaluation phase at Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. The semitrailers were evaluated on their payload capacity, transportability, loading and unloading efficiency of operational and disabled vehicles, and overall logistics capability.

«We are proud that the U.S. Army has trusted us to produce the HET ONS semitrailer, and we look forward to getting these fielded with our Soldiers in Europe», Williams continued.

 

About the Semitrailer

  • (8) hydraulically controlled power steered independent PL2 pendular axles
  • Compensating hydraulic gooseneck for optimal weight distribution
  • Auxiliary Power Unit (APU) provides independent power
  • Provides storage for tractor and trailer Basic Issue Items (BII) and spare tires

 

About the HET

  • 700 Horsepower/522 kW Caterpillar C18 engine
  • Allison 4800SP transmission
  • Single-speed Oshkosh 30000 transfer case
  • Two 55,000 lbs./24,948 kg winches

Ambulance vehicles

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, will showcase for the first time its L-ATV Ambulance at the Association of the United States Army (AUSA) Global Force Symposium in Huntsville, Alabama, from March 26-28, 2019.

The L-ATV Ambulance enables Army medics and Marine corpsmen to keep up with powerful JLTV while offering protection for medical personnel and wounded warriors as they move to, through and away from combat

The new L-ATV Ambulance enables Army medics and Marine corpsmen to keep up with the powerful Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) while also offering protection for medical personnel and wounded warriors as they move to, through and away from combat.

«The L-ATV Ambulance is the next generation of ambulance vehicles, designed specifically to protect wounded Warfighters without sacrificing the speed and mobility needed to keep up with JLTVs on the battlefield», said George Mansfield, Vice President and General Manager, Joint Programs. «In addition to its ability to protect and maneuver with the JLTV in combat operations, the L-ATV Ambulance has the flexibility and payload capacity medics require to transport life-saving equipment, allowing them to safely and efficiently perform their operations on the move».

With the L-ATV Ambulance’s powerful drivetrain and TAK-4i intelligent independent suspension system, the vehicle can travel off-road at JLTV speeds while the vastly improved ride quality enables medics and corpsmen to render medical aid while transporting the wounded to combat support hospitals.

The L-ATV Ambulance’s rear cab area can hold 4 litters or up to 8 seated patients or a combination of the two. There is also ample storage for any combination of high-use combat medical equipment.

Oshkosh Defense leadership will be available at booth #819 to discuss the L-ATV, along with the company’s full portfolio of vehicles, technologies, integration capabilities and aftermarket solutions.