Category Archives: Ground Forces

French Griffon

Nexter, Thales and Arquus, as part of the temporary grouping of companies (GME) EBMR (Engins Blindés Multi-Rôles), presented the 128th GRIFFON planned for 2020 to the French Delegation for Armaments (DGA). Under the terms of the SCORPION program, and despite an unprecedented health crisis that profoundly affected production, the three manufacturers were able to take the challenge and meet their contractual objectives.

Griffon
Nexter, Thales et Arquus succeed in presenting the 128 Griffons planned for 2020

After this step, the last GRIFFONs will have to be submitted to the verification operations carried out by the DGA’s quality department. The vehicles will then be transported to the Canjuers site where the Army will proceed to take them into account; it is then that the DGA will formally receive them. To date, 90 GRIFFON have completed this route, adding to the 92 GRIFFON delivered in 2019. From January 2021, the last vehicles that left the production line in December will join them in the regiments, catching up very early in 2021 with the delay due to the health crisis.

From March 2020, Covid-19 has indeed strongly disrupted the industrial organization of the program. The site of Roanne, where the GRIFFON and JAGUAR are assembled, was forced to suspend its activity from March 20 to 30 in order to allow the installation of a structure adapted to the resumption of the activity under maximum safety conditions. Since then, two teams have been working on the lines in shifts of eight consecutive hours (2×8) to ensure that the lines are operational during these 16-hour days. Closely linked to their government contacts and after consulting their suppliers, the members of the GME quickly reviewed the initial schedule: the 2020 objectives were maintained for GRIFFON; the first deliveries of JAGUAR were postponed to April 2021; and this, while preserving the number of deliveries at the end of 2021.

The year 2020 was marked by the passage of several major milestones for the GME. In September, the DGA notified the third conditional tranche of the EBMR contract, enabling the second batch of vehicles (271 GRIFFON and 42 JAGUAR by 2023) to go into production. In November, the GRIFFON command post vehicle (EPC) was qualified. Thus, among the 128 GRIFFONs of 2020, 35 examples of this new variant were presented to the administration, an additional difficulty that the EPC teams overcame. Finally, the new-generation T1 remotely operated turret that will arm the GRIFFONs was also qualified by the DGA.

Nexter, Arquus and Thales would like to pay tribute to the exceptional commitment of their teams. Their sense of duty and creativity have enabled them to meet the expectations of the French Army and its combatants as best they could, while greatly limiting the impact of the health crisis.

Protected Firepower

General Dynamics Land Systems this month has delivered two Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) preproduction vehicles to the U.S. Army, and two more will be delivered by the end of December.

Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF)
Army receiving final four MPF preproduction vehicles this month

These four vehicles complete the requirement of 12 MPF preproduction vehicles that General Dynamics Land Systems was contracted to produce as part of the Army’s ongoing competition. The previous eight vehicles are undergoing Army and internal testing.

This month’s deliveries come on time to support the Army’s Soldier Vehicle Assessment, despite the challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic.

«General Dynamics has listened to the Army, fully understanding its requirements, and worked closely with program management office throughout this fast-paced effort to deliver systems on time to meet programmed test schedules», said Don Kotchman, Vice President and General Manager of General Dynamics Land Systems U.S. «We are pleased to be able to deliver this capability to the U.S. Army, despite the global pandemic. Our MPF offering is a highly lethal, mobile and survivable direct-fire combat vehicle that can dominate ground threats on the multi-domain battlefield».

General Dynamics Land Systems’ MPF approach leverages both recently developed and battle-tested designs. The highly advanced and powerful combat vehicle is designed to strengthen the Army’s Infantry Brigade Combat Teams.

Land Systems is a business unit of General Dynamics (GD). General Dynamics Land Systems provides innovative design, engineering, technology, production and full life-cycle support for land combat vehicles around the globe. The company’s extensive experience, customer-first focus and seasoned supply chain network provide unmatched capabilities to the U.S. military and its allies.

From Finland to Japan

Patria AMVXP 8×8 vehicles have now been sent from Finland to Japan for test purposes. These vehicles are part of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force’s project called the Next Wheeled Armored Vehicle operating under the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The vehicles will be handed over to the Japanese Ministry of Defense on schedule, and Patria is ready to provide all necessary support to the Japanese in the upcoming tests.

Patria AMVXP 8×8
Patria AMVXP 8×8 test vehicles on the way to Japan

Patria has been selected as one of the competitors for the new 8×8 Wheeled Armored Personnel Carriers (WAPCs) project. The project has progressed to the test phase after which the Japanese Ministry of Defense will evaluate the vehicles.

Patria is confident that Patria AMVXP meets all customer requirements. With a superior mobility and protection, as well as state-of-the-art modularity, performance and reliability, Patria AMVXP is perfect for any operations in any environment. Patria AMV 8×8 family has been contracted for 1600 vehicles globally.

Patria AMVXP integrated with Elbit Systems MT30MK2

Light Tactical Vehicles

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on December 1, 2020 the U.S. Army Contracting Command, Detroit Arsenal has placed an order for 2,738 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV), 1,001 companion trailers, and associated kits. The Oshkosh Defense JLTVs will be supplied to the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, and U.S. Air Force along with a select group of NATO and non-NATO allies. This is the second largest order of Oshkosh Defense JLTVs, with a contract value of $911 million.

JLTV
Oshkosh Defense Receives $911 Million JLTV Order from US Army

The Oshkosh Defense JLTV is designed for the future battlefield with reconfiguration capabilities to meet the demands of the Warfighter’s evolving mission requirements. It offers the world’s only light tactical vehicle with the protection, off road mobility, network capability and firepower options to maneuver with combat formations.

«The men and women of Oshkosh Defense take great pride in what they do», said George Mansfield, Vice President and General Manager of Joint Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «Designing, building, and delivering the world’s most capable light tactical vehicle, the Oshkosh JLTV, is one of our greatest accomplishments. And we plan to continue building the Oshkosh JLTV for many years to come».

As part of this order, 59 vehicles will be delivered to NATO and non-NATO allies – including Lithuania, North Macedonia, and Brazil. As the industry-leading tactical vehicle manufacturer, Oshkosh Defense takes great pride in working with both domestic and international customers to give the Warfighter a necessary technological edge at the best price. Oshkosh Defense strives every day to meet or exceed our customers’ ever-changing needs with next-generation defense technologies and advanced mobility systems.

Solid Fuel Ramjet

Northrop Grumman Corporation successfully completed multiple rounds of tests on its Solid Fuel Ramjet (SFRJ) tactical engine configuration – a technology to enable long range precision fires, one of the U.S. Army’s key priorities.

Solid Fuel Ramjet (SFRJ)
Projectile concept shows potential to extend munition range to more than 100 km/62 miles

Conducted as part of phase one of the U.S. Army’s XM1155 Extended-Range Artillery Projectile (ERAP) program, the SFRJ tests validated gun-launched survivability and performance predictions, and demonstrated the potential of extending projectile range to more than 100 kilometers/62 miles, which is a significant increase compared to current fielded artillery projectiles.

The XM1155 ERAP program will provide an extended range, guided 155-mm artillery round capable of defeating moving and stationary targets in all terrain and weather conditions. The munition system is being designed to provide multi-domain battlespace dominance against high level targets.

«Successful completion of the rigorous tests of the Solid Fuel Ramjet demonstrates maturation of the technology to survive the very challenging gun-launch environment and significantly extend the range of the U.S. military’s current field artillery with a high level of confidence», said Pat Nolan, vice president, missile products, Northrop Grumman.

Work under the contract will be completed at the Allegany Ballistics Laboratory in Rocket Center, West Virginia, Ronkonkoma, New York; Plymouth, Minnesota; and in partnership with SPARC Research based out of Warrenton, Virginia.

Northrop Grumman solves the toughest problems in space, aeronautics, defense and cyberspace to meet the ever evolving needs of our customers worldwide. Our 90,000 employees define possible every day using science, technology and engineering to create and deliver advanced systems, products and services.

Autonomous Transport

During Project Convergence 20, the Army Futures Command’s capstone exercise of an ambitious project of learning, multiple examples of the most cutting-edge military technology were put through their paces on Yuma Proving Ground’s (YPG) vast ranges.

MUTT
During Project Convergence 20, the US Army evaluated several advanced systems, including the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT), an 8×8 unmanned all-terrain vehicle that will follow a dismounted infantry Soldier carrying a wireless tether (U.S. Army photo)

One of the most rugged was the Multi-Utility Tactical Transport (MUTT), an 8×8 unmanned all-terrain vehicle that will follow a dismounted infantry Soldier carrying a wireless tether.

In addition to its usefulness for lugging heavy gear, or even wounded Soldiers, an armed variant is outfitted with a Javelin anti-tank missile, a .50 caliber/12.7-mm machine gun, and a M4 rifle.

«We are testing integrating multiple payloads that will enable a Soldier to do their mission more effectively», said Gerald Jung, mechanical engineer. «Dismounted Soldiers can only carry what’s on their back – now they have a ‘mule’ that can carry much heavier equipment, but that’s still small enough to not restrict their mobility in tight areas».

Perhaps the most interesting payload being evaluated was a tethered unmanned aerial system that can ascend 200 feet above the MUTT and serve a variety of purposes, including use as an electronic signal repeater.

«It can be used for reconnaissance, surveillance, or assessments of battle damage», said Carlos Molina, test officer.

The MUTT can also be outfitted with other payloads: a screening obscuring module that delivers a smoke screen, chemical and biological agent detectors, and an ultra-low light night vision camera that produces full color images.

«You can see and make distinction of objects a lot easier when you have full color», said Jung.

The testing at YPG across six weeks of Project Convergence’s capstone exercise subjected all of the systems to the most intense weather and terrain conditions the Sonoran Desert had to offer, and then some: Yuma experienced nine days of record-breaking heat across the time the demonstration was in progress. The MUTT was put through its paces across rugged, steep, unimproved desert roads and trails fully exposed to the elements as evaluators collected performance data.

«We had several days that were in excess of 115 degrees», said Jung. «That’s without the solar loading – once you put the sun on it, the temperature of the vehicle can exceed 140 degrees. Some of our equipment reached 160 degrees».

«This is a testament to how important it is to test out here», said Molina. «A lot of these systems have never seen the temperatures we have here. When you add the temperature, the dust, the vibration, it is an extremely intense environment».

Each MUTT is expected to be able to carry 1,000 pounds/453.6 kg, operate for 60 miles/96.5 km in 72 hours, and run silently in the field to avoid detection by an adversary, all while being able to recharge Soldiers’ peripheral electronic gear like radios and night vision goggles with onboard power. YPG’s natural environment testing ensures this vital piece of equipment will work as expected wherever in the world it is called upon to serve.

«The YPG personnel have been phenomenal», said Jung. «Whatever we needed, they were able to surge and provide it».

Mission Master

Rheinmetall’s game-changing Mission Master Autonomous – Unmanned Ground Vehicle (A-UGV) family has just gained a new member: The Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance. Equipped with intelligence-gathering technology and a Rheinmetall Fieldranger Remote-Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS), the new Armed Reconnaissance module is designed to collect tactical intelligence in the area of operations while providing frontline fire support whenever necessary.

A-UGV Mission Master
Rheinmetall unveils its new Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance system

 

Crewless recon missions maximize troop security

Autonomous robotic vehicles offer countless advantages, including in a reconnaissance context. The Mission Master – Armed Reconnaissance is designed to execute high-risk scouting missions and deliver a real-time common operating picture without putting soldiers in danger. Since an enormous volume of data is gathered during missions of this type, Rheinmetall’s new A-UGV is equipped with resilient, highly reliable systems. Its payload consists of long-range Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) sensors, a surveillance radar, a 360° full ring camera, a laser rangefinder and a laser designator to identify potential threats. To further enhance the line of sight for the sensors while keeping a concealed posture, the reconnaissance payload is installed on a 3.5-metre/11.5-foot expandable mast with a tilting mechanism. This convenient feature allows for increased and safe transportability on any platform, even a CH-53 Sea Stallion or CH-47 Chinook.

The Armed Reconnaissance module also features radio-agnostic architecture, which means it can accommodate any type of radio that customers may need. The bidirectional communication system permits clear exchanges with HQ and other A-UGVs, giving commanders greater situational awareness. When engaging enemy forces, the Rheinmetall Fieldranger Light 7.62-mm RCWS will provide much more firepower than the usual man-carried section weapon. Engagement of targets is remote-controlled, never autonomous.

 

Safe operation at all times

As with the other modules of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance owes its autonomous functions to the Rheinmetall PATH autonomous kit (A-kit). Proven, agnostic, trusted and highly autonomous, PATH is designed to enable military vehicles to operate in unmanned mode, freeing up soldiers for other duties and keeping them out of immediate danger. The A-kit provides a wide range of teleoperation options for the Mission Master, including a tablet, smartwatch, soldier system, and single-hand controller. These devices enable full access to advanced PATH features such as follow-me, convoy and autonomous navigation modes. Each control mode incorporates multiple layers of protection to ensure that the vehicle operates safely at all times. Moreover, Rheinmetall is committed to keeping a man in the loop in all kinetic operations, assuring that a human decides when to open fire, never a machine.

 

A comprehensive Mission Master family

The new Armed Reconnaissance module is the latest addition to the modular Mission Master family, widely acclaimed for its all-terrain manoeuvrability and ability to keep troops safe when deployed in harm’s way. The Cargo module can carry over half a ton of supplies, relieving the burden on troops keeping them fresh. The Fire Support modules boost the combat power of dismounted units, while the Rescue module autonomously evacuates casualties and carries specialized equipment for medical interventions in the field. In addition, every single module is equipped with a Blue Force tracking system that is fully compatible with NATO standards.

Like all members of the Mission Master family, the Armed Reconnaissance version is already networked to the Argus soldier system and Rheinmetall Command and Control Software, which can be installed in any user’s battle management system.

 

Power of the Wolf Pack

The addition of the Armed Reconnaissance to the Mission Master suite turns Rheinmetall’s groundbreaking Wolf Pack concept into a reality. The Wolf Pack consists of multiple Mission Master vehicles efficiently operating as a team in order to accomplish missions of all types, including zone surveillance, reconnaissance, target position transfer and slew-to-cue. All units communicate with each other and use artificial intelligence to maintain the total situational awareness necessary for carrying out their missions.

A genuine force multiplier, the entire Wolf Pack can be managed by a single operator from anywhere using the LTE network, SATCOM, or military cloud. It is an intuitive concept that enables one operator – rather than multiple uncoordinated operators – to focus on the overall mission rather than managing all the tasks of each A-UGV. As Rheinmetall continues to develop new modules for the Mission Master family, the Wolf Pack’s range of capabilities will only increase, significantly improving the military’s ability to achieve overmatch against increasingly capable enemies.

The Armed Reconnaissance module is the newest addition to Rheinmetall’s lineup of Mission Master Autonomous – Unmanned Ground Vehicles (A-UGVs)

Computerized canines

Over the last year, Tyndall Air Force Base (AFB) and the 325th Security Forces Squadron have been working with Ghost Robotics to develop a system to enhance security and safety for the base population.

Computerized canines
An unmanned ground vehicle is tested at Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, November 10, 2020. Tyndall AFB is one of the first military bases to implement the semi-autonomous UGV’s (Unmanned Ground Vehicle) into their defense regiment. The semi-autonomous robot dogs will aid in reconnaissance and enhanced security patrolling operations across the base (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1 st Class Tiffany Price)

Tyndall AFB will be one of the first Air Force bases to implement semi-autonomous robot dogs into their patrolling regiment. These computerized canines demonstrated their abilities November 10 at an event attended by Major General Tom Wilcox, Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center commander, and leadership from the 325th Fighter Wing and the Tyndall AFB Program Management Office.

«We are very excited», said Major Jordan Criss, 325th Security Forces Squadron commander. «We are the first unit within the Department of Defense to use this technology for enhanced security patrolling operations».

While these robots walk on all fours and resemble a dog, they are not intended to replace the military working dogs. Instead, they will aid in patrolling operations and, in doing so, allow Tyndall AFB’s defenders to focus their efforts on security actions that require a physical presence.

«These robot dogs will be used as a force multiplier for enhanced situational awareness by patrolling areas that aren’t desirable for human beings and vehicles», Criss said.

Criss explained that the robot dogs will be given a patrol path which will be set and monitored by the Security Forces Electronic Security Sensor System noncommissioned officer in charge.

«We will be able to drive them via a virtual-reality headset within our Base Defense Operations Center», Criss said. «We will be able to see exactly what the robot dog is detecting through its mobile camera and sensor platform if desired, we will also be able to issue verbal commands to a person or people through a radio attached to the dogs».

The semi-autonomous canines allow defenders that would otherwise be patrolling these areas to focus on training, security and overall situational awareness across the base.

«These dogs will be an extra set of eyes and ears while computing large amounts of data at strategic locations throughout Tyndall Air Force Base», Criss said. «They will be a huge enhancement for our defenders and allow flexibility in the posting and response of our personnel».

This technology has the potential to replace and exceed the capabilities of certain static defense equipment especially in a contingency, disaster, or deployed environment. This makes Tyndall AFB, post Hurricane Michael, the perfect home for the Air Force’s newest computerized canines.

Infantry Squad Vehicle

GM Defense LLC, a subsidiary of General Motors, is celebrating the first delivery of the Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV) – a light and agile all-terrain troop carrier intended to transport a nine-Soldier infantry squad and their equipment – to the U.S. Army as part of a $214.3 million contract awarded in June. GM Defense will manufacture 649 ISVs and will support the production of up to 2,065 vehicles with additional authorization over eight years. This is the first major award and delivery for GM Defense since the subsidiary was reestablished by its parent company in 2017.

Infantry Squad Vehicle (ISV)
GM Defense Delivers First Infantry Squad Vehicle to U.S. Army

The ISV is based off the award-winning 2020 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 midsize truck architecture and leverages 90 percent proven Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS) parts, including Chevrolet Performance race components. The 5,000-pound/2,268-kilogram ISV was uniquely engineered to fulfill military requirements and designed to provide rapid ground mobility. The expeditionary ISV is light enough to be sling loaded from a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter and compact enough to fit inside a CH-47 Chinook helicopter for air transportability. The COTS parts, combined with the ISV’s innovative Rollover Protection System, will provide agile transportability on the battlefield to support mission success.

«One hundred and twenty days from contract award to delivery is a significant milestone, and I am very proud of the team for this accomplishment», said David Albritton, president of GM Defense. «We’re leveraging General Motors’ engineering prowess and immense manufacturing capabilities to bring transformative solutions to the military vehicle market. Our initial success with the ISV shows our commitment to our customer and highlights our unique right to win in the military mobility market».

«The value we bring to our Army customer is our willingness to listen and adapt», said Mark Dickens, GM Defense chief engineer. «During Soldier testing, the feedback we received was paramount in delivering a vehicle that met Soldiers’ needs, while maximizing safety and performance and taking their comfort into consideration. The production ISV we’re delivering today is an evolution from our original prototype design, and it’s certainly a vehicle that is a source of pride for the team».

GM Defense has a teaming agreement with Ricardo Defense, which will lead the Integrated Product Support for the ISV, including technical manual development, new equipment training, provisioning, total package fielding and field service support.

«The success of the ISV program within 120 days is a true testament to the hard work and determination of a great partnership between GM Defense and Ricardo Defense», said Chet Gryczan, president of Ricardo Defense. «Ricardo Defense is proud to be leading the creation and integration of critical ISV logistics products to ensure a successful transition of the ISV to the Army’s inventory».

GM Defense is driving the future of military mobility by leveraging the best-in-class capabilities of General Motors for unmatched innovation, proven performance and breakthrough life-cycle economics. The ISV will bring world class manufacturing efficiencies, ease of maintenance and a well-established global supply chain to the U.S. Army.

Operational Fires

As Lockheed Martin continues the work with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) to advance the unique hypersonic technologies of its Operational Fires (OpFires) program, the company today announced its initial round of key subcontractors on the program. OpFires seeks to develop and demonstrate an innovative ground-launched system to enable a hypersonic boost glide missile system to penetrate modern enemy air defenses and rapidly engage time-sensitive targets.

OpFires program
Lockheed Martin’s OpFires team is developing a missile with a unique throttleable booster that can defeat targets across the medium-range spectrum

Joining prime contractor Lockheed Martin on the OpFires Phase Three Weapon System Integration program are Northrop Grumman, Dynetics, and Electronic Concepts & Engineering, Inc (ECE).

«The engineering innovation required to deliver this maneuverable and rapid-response solution demands a best-of-industry team», said Steven Botwinik, director of Tactical and Strike Missiles Advanced Programs. «OpFires and its unique throttleable booster make it a versatile platform to launch a variety of payloads over varied ranges and for this reason, OpFires is well-suited to address the Army’s Medium Range Strategic Fires needs».

Specifically, the new subcontractors on the program will support the technology development in the following ways:

  • Northrop Grumman in Elkton, Md., will develop the stage one solid rocket motor;
  • Dynetics in Huntsville, Ala., will deliver the cannister, all up round and fins, and support integration and test; and
  • ECE, a small business based in Holland, Ohio, will provide the booster power pyro module.

Lockheed Martin has played a significant role in the research, development and demonstration of hypersonic technologies for more than 30 years. The corporation has made significant investments in key technology and capability development – including hypersonic strike capabilities and defense systems against emerging hypersonic threats and is supporting all branches of the U.S. military on these hypersonic programs.

The company expects to complete its first live fire in 2021.