Two of Europe’s most respected defence companies, Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher, have joined forces to manufacture and market the RS556 modular assault rifle. This German-Austrian cooperation project adds a key item to Rheinmetall’s growing array of infantry products.
The RS556 is based on the highly regarded STM556, which Steyr Mannlicher first unveiled in 2012. Outstanding modularity characterizes this easy-to-use, future-proof 5.56-mm × 45 cal. weapon.
Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher are offering the RS556 assault rifle as a jointly produced product, made in Germany, with a German valued added share of 60%. Among other things, the two partners thus have their sights set on the German market. This innovative weapon is a possible candidate for the new «System Sturmgewehr Bundeswehr»: the German armed forces intend to replace their standard G36 assault rifle with a more advanced system starting in 2019.
Rheinmetall and Steyr Mannlicher each have well over a century of experience in developing and manufacturing infantry weapons. The RS556 project underscores both companies’ commitment to supplying military and security services around the globe with reliable, future-proof, state-of-the-art systems and equipment.
Featuring an adjustable short-stroke gas piston system and rotating bolt, the gas-operated RS556 is based on the tried-and-tested Steyr Mannlicher AUG, or Universal Army Rifle, a design concept that has proven itself in decades of service on every continent.
With a 16″ barrel (406 mm) and a fully loaded, 30-round magazine, the RS556 weighs around 4.2 kilograms, just over 9 pounds. The adjustable-length light-weight stock clicks into seven different positions, meaning that operators can adjust the RS556 to match their individual equipment profile in optimum fashion.
In a matter of seconds and without tools, the hammer-forged barrel can be easily exchanged. This means that the RS556 can be readily modified for various missions.
A number of standard barrel lengths are available (14.5″, 16″, 18″ and 20″); however, customer-specific barrel and rifling lengths can be easily created.
The RS556 features several standard and optional NATO accessory rails with receiver systems designed in accordance with MIL-STD-1913, STANAG 2324 and STANAG 4694. This means that the weapon can be fitted with various optics and night observation devices or laser light modules. A 40mm grenade launcher can also be mounted on the new assault rifle. Moreover, the RS556 is compatible with Rheinmetall’s modular «Future Soldier – Expanded System» (IdZ-ES), and can also be connected to other soldier systems.
A special breech system with an emergency operation feature ensures that the weapon always functions reliably even in extreme operating conditions, e.g. in severely hot and cold environments.
On August 22 the contract of procuring Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) for the Lithuanian Armed Forces was signed at the Ministry of National Defence. 88 IFVs manufactured according to requirements set out by the Lithuanian Armed Forces will be bought for the sum of EUR 385.6 m.
The contract was endorsed by the Lithuanian Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas, managing directors of ARTEC GmbH, the Boxer IFV manufacturer, Stefan Lischka and Christoph Heuman, and Organisation Conjointe de Coopération en matière d’Armement (OCCAR) director Tim Rowntree.
By the contract, combat vehicles manufactured by a German-Dutch consortium with Israeli-made turrets and armed with 30-mm cannons and «Spike LR» antitank missiles are bought for the average price of EUR 4.38 m per one.
Lithuania and the IFV manufacturer agreed that the vehicles will be renamed from «Boxer» to IFV «Vilkas» IFVs to retain the ties with the history of Lithuania and the traditions of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
The first IFVs «Vilkas» are expected to be delivered in late 2017, and the rest would arrive by 2021.
«The signature today crowns the efforts of the Ministry of National Defence to provide the Lithuanian Armed Forces with quality and value for money product. It is a long-term investment into national defence and also a signal that Lithuania takes its security and investments into it seriously», – Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said.
«Today’s contract signature is a key milestone in the delivery of a modern and highly effective armoured vehicle capability to Lithuania. Within less than eight months, our strong joint team from Lithuania, Germany, The Netherlands, the BOXER industry and OCCAR have developed this highly capable and value for money package, which will provide Lithuania with world class capability and flexibility for decades to come. I and my team are honoured to play our role in delivering this vital programme for the defence and security of Lithuania and I am delighted to welcome Lithuania to the OCCAR community», – OCCAR director Tim Rowntree said.
The new IFVs will be distributed to the Lithuanian Grand Duke Algirdas Mechanised and the Grand Duchess Birutė Uhlan Battalions of the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Iron Wolf.
«The IFVs will provide greater mobility, force protection and firepower for the battalions and the entire Brigade. In operational terms, we will not only have the ability to take troops to the battlefield safely, but also to be effective on the battlefield as we destroy armoured and unarmoured targets at the distance of up to 4 km/2.5 miles. In technical term, our units will be better at integration and operation side by side with our allies», – Chief of Defence Lieutenant General Jonas Vytautas Žukas said.
Prior to signing the IFV procurement contract the memorandum of understanding between Ministry of National Defence of Lithuania, the Ministry of Defence of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, and the Federal Ministry of Defence of the Federal Republic of Germany was signed.
Another contract signed by representatives of OCCAR and Lithuania defined the scope, guidelines and authority of cooperation of Lithuania and OCCAR.
Lithuania joined the OCCAR Boxer Programme and authorised OCCAR to supervise execution of the procurement project and conduct qualitative expertise of the «Vilkas» IFVs vehicles bought. As part of the Boxer Programme, Lithuania will benefit from all the advantages offered: smaller development and maintenance costs, sharing technologies, and better interoperability with other participants of the programme.
The Boxer IFVs manufactured by ARTEC, a joint venture of German Krauss-MaffeiWegmann and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles, and Dutch Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles Nederland, were selected for the needs of the Lithuanian Armed Forces as the best value for money choice and as fulfilling additional Lithuanian Armed Forces’ requirements for maximum personnel protection and delivery time.
At Eurosatory 2016 Rheinmetall presented its new Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV) on June 14 to the international public for the first time. Agile, hard-hitting and highly protected, this state-of-the-art tracked armoured vehicle is destined to dominate the modern battlefield, lending itself to operations from peace enforcement to high-intensity combat.
Ben Hudson, Head of Rheinmetall’s Vehicle Systems Division, said «Lynx is an advanced new modular family of vehicles that offers our customers the highest levels of survivability, mobility, lethality and capacity while utilising proven technologies to deliver a compelling value proposition for our global customers. Lynx delivers the capabilities that will allow our customers to fight, survive and win on the battlefields of today and tomorrow».
Cutting edge capabilities
Four core capabilities characterize the Lynx infantry fighting vehicle: firepower, force protection, situational awareness and mobility.
Firepower: Lynx features a Rheinmetall LANCE turret armed with a stabilized, externally powered, airburst-capable automatic cannon (either 30-mm or 35-mm). This enables Lynx to effectively engage targets with high precision at ranges of up to 3,000 meters/9,843 feet – even on the move. Lynx can also be equipped with an antitank guided missile launcher and a secondary weapon station linked to the main optics (main sensor slaved armament). Not only does Lynx have hunter-killer capability, it can operate in killer-killer mode, since the commander and gunner can observe and engage targets independently of each other.
Force protection: With the diesel engine mounted in the forward section and a modular armour concept, the vehicle architecture offers a high degree of protection. The vehicle’s ballistic armour shields Lynx from antitank weapons, medium-caliber ammunition, artillery shrapnel, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs) and bomblets. In addition, a spall liner in the vehicle interior protects the entire crew. Mine and IED protection packages, decoupled seats and the optional hard kill Active Defence System (ADS) significantly boost the vehicle’s survivability.
Situational awareness: The commander and gunner both have access to the Stabilized Electro Optical Sight System/SEOSS, a digital TV – IR optical system with an integrated laser range finder and fire control computer. In the fighting compartment, displays provide the crew with a seamless 360° panoramic view. Rheinmetall’s Situational Awareness System (SAS), featuring automatic target detection and tracking, enhances the hunter-killer capability and minimizes crew reaction time. Emerging threats can be swiftly engaged with Lynx’s main or secondary armament. Laser warning sensors and the Acoustic Sniper Locating System (ASLS) likewise form part of the sensor suite. A combat management system and intercom for tactical communication round out the array of on-board equipment.
Owing to the manned turret, the commander can still lead from the hatch. The gunner and driver each have hatches, too, while two soldiers in the rear of the fighting compartment can also observe the area around the vehicle from an open hatch.
Mobility: Lynx features an excellent power-to-weight ratio and can handle gradients of up to 60 degrees and lateral inclines of more than 30 degrees. It can cross ditches up to 2.5 meters/8.2 feet wide and ford bodies of water up to 1.50 meters/4.9 feet deep. Furthermore, it can climb over one-meter-high/3.3-foot-high obstacles. The vehicle can run on either rubber or light metal tracks.
One vehicle family – one logistics system – one supplier: Rheinmetall
Another characteristic of Lynx is its versatility. For example, the new IFV comes in two versions: the KF31 and KF41 (KF stands for «Kettenfahrzeug», or tracked vehicle in German). Weighing up to 38 tonnes, Lynx KF31 on display at Eurosatory and can seat 3+6 soldiers. Lynx KF41 is slightly larger (44 tonnes) and can carry 3+8 soldiers.
Both vehicle classes – Lynx KF31 and Lynx KF41 – can be configured for other roles include a command & control, an armoured reconnaissance, repair & recovery and an ambulance.
A high degree of commonality in parts and components is another prominent feature of the Lynx family of vehicles. This simplifies logistic support and has a positive impact on training. Furthermore, customized service support is available worldwide – ranging from training and logistics to in-theatre repairs and technology transfer.
The Lynx family of vehicles highlights once again Rheinmetall’s role as a high-tech enterprise for security and mobility.
Rheinmetall and the German Bundeswehr have successfully tested a high-energy laser effector installed on a German warship operating on the high seas.
To carry out the test, Rheinmetall mounted a 10-kilowatt High-Energy Laser (HEL) effector on a MLG 27 light naval gun.
The test programme included tracking of potential targets, including Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) and very small surface craft. Furthermore, the HEL effector was also tested against stationary targets on land.
Besides the successful mounting of a 10-kW HEL effector on an MLG 27, the test programme demonstrated for the first time the effectiveness of Rheinmetall HEL effector technology in maritime operations. The test programme revealed insights important for the development of future HEL naval effectors.
Having joined forces to form the ARTEC consortium, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) manufactures the Boxer in cooperation with fellow German defence contractor Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) under a bi-national programme, in which Rheinmetall holds a 64% stake.
The HEL variant of the Boxer vehicle shown at IDEX 2015 is equipped with a High-Energy Laser weapon system. HEL Boxer can defeat modern asymmetric aerial threats by neutralizing optics, antennas or radars, ammunition or energy supplies of complete weapon systems without destroying them.
Maximum flexibility and an optimized capability for further upgrades guarantee a quick adaption to changing requirements. Also the protection of the turret is adaptable for a wide range of missions and to face different threats.
According to Agence France Presse, Lithuania said on December 11 it would buy 88 German-made armoured fighting vehicles in its biggest-ever military purchase amid concerns over neighbouring Russia. «We have come to the unequivocal opinion to choose and acquire the Boxer Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV)», said Lithuania’s defence chief Jonas Vytautas Zukas.
Speaking after a meeting of the State Defence Council, he said the Baltic EU and NATO nation had picked the German-made vehicles out of 12 bids. The first vehicles made by the Artec grouping of Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles are expected to arrive in 2017.
Jonas Vytautas Zukas said the price would be disclosed only after the talks with Artec are over, but a government source said the deal could be worth around 400 million euros ($438 million). In its state budget for 2016 approved on Thursday, Lithuania has vowed to raise defence spending by more than a third against this year amid increased concerns over Russia’s actions in Ukraine and military activity in the Baltic area.
In September, Lithuania signed a 16-million-euro deal to buy 21 used self-propelled howitzers from Germany. The United States has meanwhile deployed some military equipment in Lithuania, including its Abrams battle tanks.
The three Baltic States and Poland have also called for a permanent NATO presence in the region to deter Russia but the allies have so far stuck to back-to-back troop rotations.
Combat Weight Maximum
77,162 lbs/35,000 kg
711 hp/530 kW
> 62 mph/100 km/h
27.33 feet/8.33 m
9.81 feet/2.99 m
> 9.65 feet/2.94 m
All around anti-tank mines and anti-personnel landmines, heavy machine gun and artillery fragments
The Emirate of Kuwait has contracted with Rheinmetall to supply it with twelve state-of-the-art armoured NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) reconnaissance vehicles, the 2 NBC-RS «Spürfuchs». Now binding, the order also includes comprehensive support in the form of training, service and spare parts. Delivery of the vehicle commences in 2017. An accompanying technical support agreement contract covers a period of five years, beginning as soon as the first Fuchs/Fox 2 NBC-RS vehicle enters service. The parties to the contract have agreed not to disclose the cost of the order.
The contractor is Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles GmbH (RMMV). Rheinmetall holds a 51% share in the company, which was founded in 2010 and is located in Munich. The remaining 49% is held by MAN Truck & Bus. RMMV is a globally renowned supplier of military wheeled vehicles, with special expertise in the field of NBC reconnaissance technology.
As Pietro Borgo, Managing Director of RMMV and Member of the Executive Board of Rheinmetall Defence, explains, «This important order is a major vote of confidence by an Arab country in Rheinmetall, Europe’s leading supplier of army technology. We greatly appreciate this. By placing this order, Kuwait will soon possess NBC reconnaissance capabilities that are second to none. We are very pleased to be making a decisive contribution here».
The Fuchs/Fox 2 NBC-RS features a comprehensive, fully integrated suite of devices for identifying NBC warfare agents and other hazardous materials, built into a well-protected, high-mobility 6×6 armoured transport vehicle capable of operating in extreme terrain.
The outcome of a systematic development effort, the vehicles earmarked for Kuwait are the first to feature an additional biological detection capability. This constitutes another major technological advance, made possible thanks to Rheinmetall’s comprehensive, longstanding expertise in this field, in turn underpinning RMMV’s leading position in this segment of the market. When it comes to detecting biological threats, RMMV can supply users not only with the advanced Fuchs/Fox 2 NBC-RS, but – depending on their operational requirements – with a separate biological detection laboratory as well, mounted on the carrier platform of their choice.
Robust and resilient, the Fuchs/Fox wheeled armoured transport vehicle has proven highly effective in crisis regions around the world, with over 1,200 built. Of these, nearly 300 have been configured for NBC reconnaissance operations, performing a vital role in the German Bundeswehr, the US Army and the armed forces of the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, Norway and Saudi Arabia.
In addition, the NBC defence forces of Germany, Switzerland and Sweden all have Rheinmetall-made mobile NBC field laboratories in their inventories, which can be transported to the area of operations by road, rail, sea or air. Around the world, these field laboratories have done an excellent job of identifying radiological, biological and chemical hazards.
In the civil defence realm, Rheinmetall has supplied German fire brigades with 397 NBC detection vehicles. These systems help to make sure that German cities are as well prepared as possible to contend with such threats.
Widening its array of mobile NBC reconnaissance systems, in summer 2014 RMMV unveiled the new «CBRN Survivor R», a 4×4 vehicle jointly developed with Austrian vehicle-maker Achleitner, which features a built-in NBC recce kit.
Fox armoured wheeled vehicle
Foxes are cunning and fast. These attributes of Reynard the Fox are equally true for the versatile and proven armoured transport vehicle called Fox. Thanks to its shrewd design concept, the vehicle can be put to multiple uses. The Fox not only reaches maximum speeds of up to 100 km/h (6×6 drive configuration) but is also highly mobile in difficult terrain.
Already introduced in the 1970s, the Fox wheeled vehicle is today one of the most reliable «workhorses» of the Bundeswehr. The German forces will continue to use around 900 such vehicles in more than 30 different variants (with 16 variants of the 1A8) – many of them having the latest design configuration Fox 1A8 that incorporates modifications based on the experience acquired during many foreign missions. This is, for instance, reflected by the reinforced chassis and power train, high level of protection, new stowage box concept and integration of a remotely controllable weapons station. Although these systems increase the weight of the vehicle to around 20 tons, it has not lost any of its agility.
One particular variant of the Fox is especially well known internationally: the NBC reconnaissance Fox for the detection of nuclear, biological and chemical agents. 102 NBC reconnaissance vehicles are operated by the German NBC corps, 8 of them featuring the 1A8 design status. Great Britain presently has eleven NBC reconnaissance vehicles, Norway and the Netherlands each have six, Saudi Arabia 10 and the UAE 32 such vehicles.
Not only is the vehicle from Rheinmetall: the defence contractor is also responsible for the extensive integration and networking of the many different sensors on board. The vehicle is manned by four persons: the driver, commander, reconnaissance personnel 1 and 2. Numerous civilian forces likewise benefit from Rheinmetall’s expertise in the field of CBRNE defence (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, Explosives). For example, the fire department in North Rhine-Westphalia operates NBC reconnaissance vehicles with Rheinmetall technology.
The production «Fox-house» is in Kassel. In the former Henschel factory, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles today can today offer the systems needed for maintenance, service, modernization – and production of integrated systems including the related carrier vehicle. Thanks to the 2005 order from the United Arab Emirates to deliver 32 modern, fully integrated NBC reconnaissance systems, it was possible to develop the Fox 2 vehicle. The ongoing success of this vehicle demonstrates impressively just how successful the strategy has been. Currently, the first vehicles for Algeria are leaving the factory hall; the North African country will perform final assembly of the vehicles in its own production sites built especially for the purpose.
Double-wheel sampling system – two silicone-coated wheels for the automatic detection (whilst moving) of persistent warfare agents and hazardous adhering to the ground.
Standoff infrared detector capable of detecting volatile chemical substances in the air from a great distance.
«NBC tail» including the tube magazine for transporting samples, the marker trap, glove opening and tongs for manual sampling.
Mass spectrometer (behind the operator’s position) for chemical analysis of samples collected.
Operator’s position with the Rheinmetall software «NBC Inspector» – the heart of the NBC kit in the Fox reconnaissance vehicle.
Central computer system.
FLW 200 remotely controllable weapon station – operated from the armoured interior as a means of self-defence.