Category Archives: Ground Forces

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.

Protected Firepower

The U.S. Army has awarded BAE Systems a contract worth up to $376 million for the Engineering, Manufacturing, and Development (EMD) phase of the Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) program and rapid prototyping effort with low-rate initial production options.

BAE Systems awarded development contract for Mobile Protected Firepower
BAE Systems awarded development contract for Mobile Protected Firepower

BAE Systems’ solution combines new technology with proven capability to provide the Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) with a highly agile, armor-protected platform that delivers overwhelming and precise firepower for use across the spectrum of terrains and operations.

«Our offering integrates innovative technology that reduces the burden on the crew into a compact design deployable in areas that are hard to reach», said Deepak Bazaz, director of combat vehicles programs at BAE Systems. «We’re confident our design meets the requirements and the unique capabilities the IBCT needs».

Under the contract, one of two awarded ahead of the Government’s down-select to a final contractor, BAE Systems will produce 12 prototype vehicles during the EMD phase.

The BAE Systems MPF is the result of more than 30 years of research and development for an optimized, rapidly deployable, light combat vehicle designed specifically to support light infantry. The vehicle leverages investments the Army made in the M8 Armored Gun System, including its low-profile design, and proven technologies like the M35 105-mm cannon, and an auto-loading ammunition system that allows the gun to fire at a rate of 12 rounds per minute. The innovative roll-out powerpack design allows for easy access to the engine and transmission without the aid of heavy equipment.

It also integrates scalable armor and innovative survivability subsystems to protect the vehicle and crew from threats on the future battlefield. The vehicle employs situational awareness systems adding to the highest levels of survivability and crew protection. The compact design allows for multiple vehicle deployment on a C-17 Globemaster III and exceeds the Army’s transport requirement and it is sustainable within the IBCT.

Work on the EMD vehicles will take place at BAE Systems’ facilities in Aiken, South Carolina; San Jose, California; Sterling Heights, Michigan; and York, Pennsylvania.

Lithuanian Armed Forces

German enterprise FFG Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft mbH won the call to tender organised by the NATO Support Agency (NSPA) and upgraded 22 M577 armoured personnel carriers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces. The upgraded M577s will be used for command and control of the PzH2000 howitzers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

M577 command and control armoured personnel carriers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces upgraded
M577 command and control armoured personnel carriers of the Lithuanian Armed Forces upgraded

After being awarded the contract the German enterprise hired Lithuanian enterprise UAB Autokurtas to complete part of the work.

«The main work of upgrading the armoured personnel carriers was carried out on Lithuania, therefore part of the resources used to upgrade M577s was received by a Lithuanian enterprise», Director of the Defence Materiel Agency under the Ministry of National Defence Sigitas Dzekunskas said.

By agreement of the companies, the German enterprise gave the Lithuanian enterprise the maintenance technology needed to carry out the work in our country. According to Alexander Erichsen representing FFG Flensburger Fahrzeugbau Gesellschaft mbH, it was the first time the industrial M577/M113 armoured personnel carrier maintenance technology was used in Lithuania.

All the 22 upgraded M577 armoured personnel carriers are planned to be transferred to the General Romualdas Giedraitis Artillery Battalion based in Rukla in 2019.

The total value of the upgrading contract amounts to roughly Eur 1.5 million. Later a new command and control system will be integrated.

Seeking to strengthen fire support and lacking armoured personnel carrier capabilities the Lithuanian Armed Forces procured over 180 M577 armoured personnel carriers in good condition for command, indirect fire support, medical evacuation and training purposes from the German Armed Forces, alongside 21 PzH2000 howitzers and 10 BPZ2 armoured recovery vehicles, in 2015-2016.

$1.69 billion order

Oshkosh Defense, LLC, an Oshkosh Corporation company, announced that the U.S. Army has placed a $1.69 billion order for 6,107 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles (JLTV) and associated installed and packaged kits. Today’s delivery order marks the tenth order under the contract that was awarded to Oshkosh in August 2015.

Enhanced protection and extreme mobility both off-road and in dense urban terrain
Enhanced protection and extreme mobility both off-road and in dense urban terrain

«The JLTV is engineered with industry leading suspension and protection systems, as well as the ability to support a spectrum of mission kits and weapon systems required for the modern battlefield», said George Mansfield, Vice President and General Manager of Joint Programs at Oshkosh Defense. «This vehicle represents a technological leap forward that provides enhanced protection and extreme mobility both off-road and in dense urban terrain».

To date, Oshkosh has delivered more than 2,600 vehicles. Oshkosh expects a Full Rate Production (FRP) decision in December 2018, followed by first Army unit equipped in early 2019.

«The JLTV also features a Vehicle Integration for C4ISR/EW Interoperability (VICTORY) compliant modular, scalable, open architecture system to support rapidly evolving Command, Control, Communications, Computer, Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C4ISR) suites», Mansfield continued. «This provides our Soldiers and Marines a vehicle that is capable of serving as a mobile command center. Today, other vehicles with this level of C4ISR capability are much larger, with little mobility».

The JLTV fills a critical capability gap for the U.S. Army and Marine Corps by replacing a large portion of the legacy uparmored High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle (HMMWV) fleet with a modern light protected vehicle.

Beyond Line Of Sight

EU Defence ministers have endorsed on 19 November the EU BLOS (Beyond Line Of Sight) project amongst a list of 17 defence projects aiming at being implemented in the frame of Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO). Proposed by France and supported by Belgium and Cyprus, the EU BLOS project is the first missile system project to benefit from this new cooperation framework.

The EU BLOS project aims at developing a family of BLOS missiles with back image and man in the loop capabilities
The EU BLOS project aims at developing a family of BLOS missiles with back image and man in the loop capabilities

Promoting a differentiating operational capability for military operations, this project will contribute to a consistent and autonomous European approach in the land combat domain whilst enhancing the qualitative contribution of European nations to the achievement of NATO’s level of ambition. The land combat domain has been recognized since June 2018 as one of the 11 European capability priorities.

The EU BLOS project aims at developing a family of BLOS missiles with back image and man in the loop capabilities. Based on the MMP missile system, this family of products will be fully mastered by European industry, which provides full autonomy of use, security of supply and future evolutions, to the benefit of the 25 PESCO member nations. One of the first priorities of this project will focus on defining a European doctrine of use and its associated concepts of operation. This project will pave the way for the creation of a European users club which will develop the growth potential of the MMP missile system in terms of missile evolutions as well as in terms of integration to a wide range of land and air platforms.

The EU BLOS project will also benefit from the CAMO (CApacité MOtorisée) bilateral strategic partnership between France and Belgium, helping build operational and capability synergies across the armies of both nations.