Category Archives: Ground Forces

Active Protection

Lockheed Martin and industry partners supported U.S. Army integration of three countermeasures and a cueing sensor into the Modular Active Protection Systems (MAPS) framework for a six-week «rodeo» conducted at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.

MAPS-enabled countermeasures integrated by Lockheed Martin defeat threats in U.S. Army field tests (city road viaduct streetscape of night scene in Shanghai)
MAPS-enabled countermeasures integrated by Lockheed Martin defeat threats in U.S. Army field tests (city road viaduct streetscape of night scene in Shanghai)

In a series of live-fire tests, the MAPS-enabled systems defeated 15 out of 15 anti-tank guided missiles by jamming their signals, causing them to fly off-target.

«The success of the Army’s testing shows the effectiveness of an active protection system that can rapidly refresh with new components to meet specific mission and platform requirements», said Michael Williamson, vice president of Sensors & Global Sustainment at Lockheed Martin.

Lockheed Martin engineers led hardware and software integration of an Ariel Photonics countermeasure into the MAPS framework ahead of the tests. They also supported U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Ground Vehicle Systems Center efforts with BAE Systems and Northrop Grumman in integrating two other countermeasures and a cueing sensor.

Lockheed Martin was awarded the initial MAPS prototype controller contract in 2014 and continues to manufacture and deliver base kits to MAPS stakeholders. The base kit consists of a controller, user interface, power management distribution system, network switch and application software. It provides processing power to MAPS-enabled sensors and countermeasures and directs them in defeating incoming missiles and rockets.

The base kit supports the rapid integration of MAPS framework-compliant sensors and countermeasures to detect and defeat threats targeting MAPS-equipped vehicles. It is designed to protect current combat vehicles, as well as support future vehicle protection system capabilities.

Medium Tactical Vehicles

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on February 27, 2019, that the U.S. Army Tank-automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) has placed orders for 354 Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) A1P2 trucks and trailers at a value of $75 million.

Whether it’s moving troops and supplies, recovering vehicles and weapon systems, or hauling equipment, the highly capable FMTV has proven itself time and time again to be a reliable asset for the U.S. Army
Whether it’s moving troops and supplies, recovering vehicles and weapon systems, or hauling equipment, the highly capable FMTV has proven itself time and time again to be a reliable asset for the U.S. Army

«Whether it’s moving troops and supplies, recovering vehicles and weapon systems, or hauling equipment, the highly capable FMTV has proven itself time and time again to be a reliable asset for the U.S. Army», said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and U.S. Marine Corps Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «Together with the U.S. Army, we have established a robust FMTV program. We look forward to successfully completing the remaining FMTV A1P2 deliveries and seamlessly transitioning to FMTV A2 production without interruption».

Oshkosh Defense was first awarded the FMTV A1P2 contract in 2009 and to date, has delivered more than 38,100 trucks and trailers.

In February 2018, Oshkosh Defense was awarded a production contract for the next generation FMTV, the FMTV A2. Since receiving the award, Oshkosh has started building vehicles in support of Production Verification Testing (PVT), Live Fire Testing (LFT) and logistics development. Oshkosh expects the FMTV A2 program to transition to low rate production in FY21.

Laser weapons

Rheinmetall continues to make steady headway in the world of laser weapons, having recently completed a successful serious of comprehensive trials with a weapon station. In combination with a laser, the weapon station demonstrated its speed and precision in tests conducted in December 2018. The weapon station can be armed with lasers in the 100 kW output power range.

Rheinmetall has tested its laser weapons station mounted on a container, but it also can be fitted to an armored vehicle such as the Boxer 8×8 in service with the German Army (RhM image)
Rheinmetall has tested its laser weapons station mounted on a container, but it also can be fitted to an armored vehicle such as the Boxer 8×8 in service with the German Army (RhM image)

During the tests, which were conducted in Switzerland at the company’s Ochsenboden test centre near Zürich, drones and mortar rounds were successfully engaged at operationally relevant ranges.

The laser weapon station is the latest stage and logical continuation of the process in which Rheinmetall has transformed laser weapon technology into a fully functional weapon system. It consists of four main components: the laser source, beam director with the telescope, and coarse tracker (weapon station).

The mobile weapon station performs the task of mechanically aiming the laser toward the target. Now that a weapon station specially designed to meet the requirements of a laser weapon station has been successfully realized, Rheinmetall has all of the principal assemblies for a future laser weapon system at its own disposal.

The laser weapon station was combined with a beam director – successfully employed in multiple tests – and high-performance Rheinmetall lasers. It is also designed to be combined with a soon-to-be-available 20 kW laser source, likewise made by Rheinmetall.

Equally suitable for ground, air and naval operations, the assemblies are modular and scalable in design, and can be deployed regardless of the threat situation on military platforms of all types.

Among the laser weapon station’s outstanding performance parameters are its extremely accurate mechanical aiming function, coupled with an unlimited, 360° traversing zone and an elevation range in excess of 270°. The system architecture (EN DIN 61508) is closely oriented to the Modular, Automatic and Network capable Targeting and Interception System (MANTIS) air defence system now in service with the Bundeswehr, and thus also offers interfaces for connecting it to higher-echelon air defence systems.

Falcon Weapon System

February 18, 2019, Lockheed Martin, Diehl Defence and Saab announced the Falcon air defense weapon system as the short and medium-range air defense solution for current and emerging threats.

Lockheed Martin, Diehl and Saab unveil collaboration to counter emerging short and medium-range threats with Falcon Weapon System
Lockheed Martin, Diehl and Saab unveil collaboration to counter emerging short and medium-range threats with Falcon Weapon System

Falcon integrates Diehl’s 40-kilometer/25-mile range Infra-Red Imaging System Tail/Thrust Vector-Controlled (IRIS-T) SLM interceptor and vertical launcher, Saab’s 360-degree Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Giraffe 4A radar through Lockheed Martin’s flexible SkyKeeper command and control battle manager. Falcon’s open architecture allows the system to easily integrate into any air operations center.

Threats such as unmanned aerial systems carrying lethal payloads, cruise missiles that can attack from any direction, and fixed and rotary winged aircraft capable of delivering ordnance at extended ranges, demand a technologically advanced solution that Falcon delivers.

«Our international customers are looking for the next generation short and medium range air defense solution. Falcon is threat driven and ready now», said Scott Arnold, Lockheed Martin vice president and deputy for Integrated Air and Missile Defense (IAMD). «Falcon is a great example of working with our customers to identify potential gaps and find rapid-response solutions to take on today’s evolving threats».

The Diehl IRIS-T SLM is a highly maneuverable interceptor fired from a 360-degree vertical launcher with the ability to engage multiple targets simultaneously in all weather conditions. The Saab Giraffe 4A AESA radar offers high discrimination capabilities and leverages gallium nitrate technology to detect and track both fixed and rotary-wing aircraft and drones, while simultaneously featuring an Automatic Sense & Warn functionality. Lockheed Martin’s SkyKeeper command and control battle manager gives commanders unparalleled situational awareness with real-time early warning of incoming threats and optimized engagement solutions for critical decision making. Together these elements make the Falcon weapon system the only integrated short and medium-range missile defense system available in the world with the capabilities required to defeat current and emerging air threats.

Personnel carrier

Paramount Group, the global defence and aerospace company, has unveiled its next generation armoured personnel carrier – the all new Mbombe 4 – that is specially designed for local manufacturing within customer countries, in a move that will boost such countries’ defence capabilities, economic diversification and sustainable growth.

The new 4×4 is the smallest member of Paramount’s Mbombe family, which also comprises 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles which share over 70% of components to reduce through life costs and ensure cost-efficient training and logistics (Paramount photo)
The new 4×4 is the smallest member of Paramount’s Mbombe family, which also comprises 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles which share over 70% of components to reduce through life costs and ensure cost-efficient training and logistics (Paramount photo)

Drawing on the exceptional heritage of the Mbombe 8×8, now in production following its launch in 2016, and the Mbombe 6×6, which has entered service, the Mbombe 4×4 completes the highly advanced Mbombe family of combat vehicles that are designed to optimally meet the increasing demand for outstanding protection, yet versatility in conventional and asymmetric warfare, counter terrorism and peacekeeping missions.

The Mbombe family enables Paramount Group to provide customers with a comprehensive family of 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs), which share over 70% of common components to reduce through life costs and ensures efficient training and logistics. This also presents a unique opportunity for the global market, affording a prospective end-user of all three vehicles significant savings in the areas of maintenance and logistical support.

The vehicle is being fully industrialised to allow for manufacture in customer countries using Paramount’s proven portable manufacturing model.

Paramount Group Founder and Executive Chairman, Ivor Ichikowitz stated: «Mbombe 4 was designed and developed specifically for local manufacturing in customer countries in response to specific market requirements. Paramount specializes in the creation of portable manufacturing facilities through technology and skills transfer, resulting in new local capabilities and sustainable jobs, proven to not only benefit local defence industrial capabilities but economic diversification and growth. Importantly, this model allows for common supply chains and ensures the security of supply».

Displaying a striking new design, packed with the latest technologies and capabilities required for the modern battlefield and ever-evolving threats, the Mbombe 4 offers outstanding levels of protection, mobility and flexibility. The Mbombe 4 will be launched on the first day of IDEX 2019, the largest defence expo in the Middle East, held in Abu Dhabi.

One of the defining characteristics of the new Mbombe 4 is the unique, rear-door ramp design, which has been proven in combat on 6×6 and 8×8 IFVs. The ease of access provided by the rear-door ensures the rapid deployment of the crew while the vehicle is static or on the move.

Paramount Group launches next-generation armored vehicle at IDEX 2019 (Paramount photo)
Paramount Group launches next-generation armored vehicle at IDEX 2019 (Paramount photo)

The platform offers very high levels of ballistic and mine protections (e.g. crew compartment STANAG 4569-Level 3, blast protection STANAG 4569-Level 4a & 4b) and protection against a 50 kg/110 lbs. trinitrotoluene (TNT) side blast or Improvised Explosive Device (IED)/roadside bomb. The applique armour packages can provide higher levels of ballistic protection (up to level 4) and mine protection as required by the customer.

Other key features of the Mbombe 4 include a burst speed of 87 mph/140 km/h, ensuring exceptional levels of mobility, with the vehicle fully operational in winter conditions of -20 Celsius to desert conditions of +55 Celsius. The 16 tonnes Mbombe 4 provides a payload of nearly three tonnes, encapsulating weapon systems, ammunition, crew and supplies.

Ichikowitz added: «There are very few constants to the nature of the asymmetrical warfare that many of our customers across the globe are experiencing. As a result, Paramount is constantly innovating, not only to enhance, but to pioneer the most up-to-date defence technologies in the world. Though each of the Mbombe family of vehicles is equipped for full mission capability and maximum versatility, they share a singular mission – the survival of personnel in the vehicle through the highest levels of protection, mobility and firepower, in order to meet the requirements of armed forces operating in the toughest environments around the globe».

The Mbombe 4 has been designed to accommodate a wide range of payloads and turrets. The onboard mission computer and interface system is able to integrate with both Western and Eastern-made weapon systems. The vehicle is further fitted with the latest generation navigational, crew comfort and security systems, with examples including a driver-assist camera system, winterisation kit, vehicle location and tracking systems, a NATO standard tow-hitch, radios and intercoms systems and a Central Tyre Inflation System (CTIS).

The portable manufacturing of vehicles such as the Mbombe 4 has allowed Paramount Group to manufacture their defense technologies with partners around the world; from Kazakhstan and the dynamic growth of Kazakhstan Paramount Engineering (KPE) to their partnership with Singapore’s ST Engineering and the launch of the Belrex family of vehicles, based on the Marauder, a platform that is also being exhibited at IDEX.

«With the launch of the new Mbombe 4, Paramount is able to offer its customers across the globe one of the most complete land systems ranges in the world. Our customers and partner governments are now able to deploy the most advanced, latest-generation 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 vehicles with a single common logistics train, highly-competitive acquisition costs and the lowest through-life cycle operating costs. The new Mbombe 4 is designed for ‘Portable Production’ and highlights our commitment to supporting our customers in developing domestic defence industrial capabilities. This product also demonstrates our quest for continuous innovation and pushing the boundaries of vehicle design, crew protection, and interoperability. We are very excited by the Mbombe range of products and firmly believe that there is nothing in the world right now that can compete», Ichikowitz concluded.

First anti-tank UGV

MBDA and Milrem Robotics are showcasing the world’s first anti-tank Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) at IDEX 2019, the main defence industry event in the MENA region. The debut of the system’s advanced concept comes only eight months after Milrem Robotics and MBDA announced the start of feasibility studies of the system.

The land combat warfare system is intended to be remotely operated. Soldiers can deploy it while remaining at a safe distance and using a wireless or a tethered connection
The land combat warfare system is intended to be remotely operated. Soldiers can deploy it while remaining at a safe distance and using a wireless or a tethered connection

The joint project integrates the Milrem Robotics THeMIS Unmanned Ground Vehicle with the MBDA IMPACT (Integrated MMP Precision Attack Combat Turret) system fitted with two MMP 5th generation battlefield engagement missiles and a self-defence machine gun. «This combination of two of the most modern technologies in their field is a very good example how robotic warfare systems will bring disruption to the battlefield and make some traditional technologies obsolete», said Kuldar Väärsi, CEO of Milrem Robotics. «Our unmanned land combat system under study together with MBDA will be very efficient in keeping our troops safe and significantly increasing the capability to fight main battle tanks as well as any other ground target», Väärsi added.

The land combat warfare system is intended to be remotely operated. Soldiers can deploy it while remaining at a safe distance and using a wireless or a tethered connection. The system will have a low heat and noise signature so it can stay unnoticed until completing its mission.

«Being delivered to the French Army since the end of 2017, the MMP system is now deployed by the French forces in theatre, where it replaces the Milan and Javelin missiles. With fully digitalized functions of observation, targeting, positioning and guidance, the MMP system is perfectly suited for integration on vehicles, including remotely operated ones», said Francis Bordachar, Military Advisor Land Products at MBDA.

Electronic Warfare

The Army’s newest electronic warfare vehicle was tested at the Army’s toughest training ground, the National Training Center (NTC) in Fort Irwin California in January.

An Electronic Warfare Tactical Vehicle being prepared for test operations at Fort Irwin, California. The new vehicle will allow U.S. Army units to detect and attack in the EMG electromagnetic spectrum at operationally-relevant ranges (Photo by Captain Scott Kuhn)
An Electronic Warfare Tactical Vehicle being prepared for test operations at Fort Irwin, California. The new vehicle will allow U.S. Army units to detect and attack in the EMG electromagnetic spectrum at operationally-relevant ranges (Photo by Captain Scott Kuhn)

Electronic Warfare Soldiers from 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team «Greywolf», 1st Cavalry Division conducted electronic attack and electronic support operations during the month-long exercise using the Electronic Warfare Tactical Vehicle (EWTV).

«Our main purpose was to provide support by denying communications to the enemy, jamming comms», said Sergeant First Class Cristian Holguin, the EWTV team leader. «In addition, we were able to listen in on FM communications from the enemy and detect enemy electronic signatures to use for call for fire missions».

The brigade received the Army’s first dedicated electronic warfare vehicle in September of 2018 in time to test it out during the Brigade’s external evaluation, Pegasus Forge III, at Fort Hood, Texas. The team then provided feedback to the team at the Rapid Equipping Force (REF), which had developed the vehicle.

«It’s like version one of the system. And for being version one it is a very good system», said Holguin. «The folks at REF listened to our feedback following Pegasus Forge and actually were making upgrades to the vehicle as we were on ground at NTC».

According to Staff Sergeant Darron McCracken, an EWTV operator, the shortened timetable between Pegasus Forge and NTC presented a challenge to the team, but they were able to overcome them and help integrate the system fully at the brigade and battalion-levels.

«Initially the battalions were a little skeptical of the system. Not only was it an asset they had to provide forces to help protect, but it’s a pretty big vehicle as well», he said. «But once they saw what it could do and they benefited from its effects, they recognized the benefits of the system».

The near-peer enemy along with the terrain and elements that the Brigade faced at NTC made it an ideal environment to test the EWTV. Once the force-on-force fight was completed, the team conducted situational training that helped further test the capabilities of the vehicle.

«We worked on finding ways to better improve our jamming and detection capabilities», said Staff Sergeant Francisco Becerra, an EWTV Operator. «For instance, we learned by raising the antenna two more inches we were able to getter better lines of bearing. These are things that you can’t necessarily test out in the middle of a fight».

Measuring the performance of the vehicle at NTC was sometimes difficult to do since there was no immediate feedback through real time measures and sensors. According to Holguin it is something that NTC is working to improve, however they were able to validate and measure effects in other ways.

«There are two aspects of performance. Performance of the equipment and performance of the teams themselves», Holguin said. «And I think we’ve accomplished more than we expected for integration and employment; having and using the EWTV validated our position as an effective asset on the battlefield».

Greywolf was the first to test the vehicle in an austere environment against a near-peer foe, but they won’t be the last. The EWTVs belong to III Corps and are being moved to other units so that their teams can test them and add their inputs to improve the system.

«The intent is to take all of the lessons learned and build on it», said McCracken. «Towards the end of the process we will have an SOP, something that is predictable and can be translated across the Army».

When asked if, after testing it out at NTC, they felt it was an effective system, McCracken answered, «Absolutely. Absolutely».

The new vehicle was developed to provide Army Electronic Warfare Teams with the ability to detect and attack in the electromagnetic spectrum from an operationally relevant range at the brigade combat team level. It was developed by the Rapid Equipping Force to give the Army’s Brigade Combat Team a dedicated electronic warfare vehicle.

Heavy Tactical Vehicles

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced on January 8, 2019, that it has been awarded a $232.7 million delivery order from the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command (TACOM) to recapitalize vehicles in the Army’s Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles (FHTV) fleet.

Through recapitalization, vehicles are stripped to the frame rails, rebuilt to the latest configuration and returned to the fleet in zero-mile, zero-hour condition with the same technology, safety features, bumper-to-bumper warranty and life cycle cost advantage of a new vehicle
Through recapitalization, vehicles are stripped to the frame rails, rebuilt to the latest configuration and returned to the fleet in zero-mile, zero-hour condition with the same technology, safety features, bumper-to-bumper warranty and life cycle cost advantage of a new vehicle

Under the contract, Oshkosh will recapitalize a total of 407 Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT) and Palletized Load System (PLS) trucks as well as manufacture 601 new PLS trailers.

The HEMTT and PLS have been in the Army’s fleet since 1981 and 1990 respectively, and Oshkosh has been performing recapitalization services on these vehicles since 1995.

«As the backbone of the U.S. Army’s resupply and distribution system, the HEMTT and PLS vehicles are heavily relied on to carry munitions and other critical supplies across all types of terrains and in all types of environments», said Pat Williams, Vice President and General Manager of U.S. Army and Marine Corps Programs for Oshkosh Defense. «We are proud that the U.S. Army has trusted Oshkosh to provide this cost-effective recapitalization service for over 2 decades», Williams continued. «As the original equipment manufacturer, we know these vehicles inside and out, and we are in the best position to quickly return them to field operations in like-new condition».

Through recapitalization, vehicles are stripped to the frame rails, rebuilt to the latest configuration and returned to the fleet in zero-mile, zero-hour condition with the same technology, safety features, bumper-to-bumper warranty and life cycle cost advantage of a new vehicle.

In total, Oshkosh has recapitalized over 12,500 HEMTTs and 3,000 PLS trucks since 1995.

System Enhancement

The U.S. Army has signed a $714 million delivery order for General Dynamics Land Systems to upgrade an additional 174 M1A1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) to the state-of-the-art M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 (SEPv3) configuration.

U.S. Army Awards General Dynamics Delivery Order to Upgrade 174 Abrams Main Battle Tanks
U.S. Army Awards General Dynamics Delivery Order to Upgrade 174 Abrams Main Battle Tanks

This brings the total of M1A2 SEPv3 tanks ordered by the Army in 2018 to 274 (more than three brigades of tanks).

The M1A2 SEPv3 configuration features technological advancements in communications, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency, plus upgraded armor. The delivery order is part of an Army Requirements Contract signed in December 2017 through which the Army can upgrade up to 435 M1A1 Abrams tanks to the M1A2 SEPv3 configuration.

«We’re proud to help the Army provide world-class combat capability to Armored Brigade Combat Teams», says Don Kotchman, Vice President and General Manager of General Dynamics Land Systems U.S. Market. «This delivery order, along with our previous orders, means our production line will be rolling at a steady rate through 2021».

Work on this delivery order will be performed at Land Systems locations in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and Tallahassee, Florida, and at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio, the only operational tank plant in the country.

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.

Hungarian Leopard

NATO and EU member state Hungary is modernizing its land forces and seeking a European alliance for its equipment.

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann supports the modernization of the Hungarian Army
Krauss-Maffei Wegmann supports the modernization of the Hungarian Army

As part of this modernization process, Hungary signed a contract for the procurement of 44 new Leopard 2 A7+ main battle tanks and 24 new PzH 2000 howitzers with German defense technology company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) on December 19th, 2018.

In addition, Hungary is procuring 12 used Leopard 2 A4 main battle tanks from KMW’s inventories for training purposes. The project represents a further step toward greater interoperability between European armed forces. Hungarian Defense Minister Tibor Benkő emphasized that the contract would strengthen the smooth and extensive cooperation between the German and the Hungarian Armies.

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann, a member of the German-French defense technology group KNDS, leads the European market for highly protected wheeled and tracked vehicles. At locations in Germany, Brazil, Greece, Mexico, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the USA more than 4,000 employees develop, manufacture and support a product portfolio ranging from air-transportable, highly protected wheeled vehicles (MUNGO, AMPV, DINGO, GFF4 and BOXER) through reconnaissance, anti-aircraft and artillery systems (FENNEK, GEPARD, Remote Controlled Howitzer 155, Armoured Howitzer PzH2000, DONAR and AGM) to main battle tanks (LEOPARD 1 and 2), infantry fighting vehicles (PUMA) and bridgelaying systems. In addition, KMW has wide-ranging system competence in the area of civil and military simulation, as well as in command and information systems and remote-controlled weapon stations with reconnaissance and observation equipment. The armed forces of more than 50 nations worldwide rely on tactical systems by KMW.