Germany’s Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) has awarded a consortium, or ARGE, consisting of MBDA Deutschland GmbH and Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH a contract to fabricate, integrate and support testing of a laser weapon demonstrator in the maritime environment. The order value is in the low double-digit million euro range.
Work will be shared out on a roughly equal basis. MBDA Deutschland is responsible for tracking, the operator’s console and linking the laser weapon demonstrator to the command-and-control system. Rheinmetall is in charge of the laser weapon station, the beam guiding system, cooling, and integration of the laser weapon system into the project container of the laser source demonstrator.
The demonstrator is to be fabricated, tested and integrated by the end of the 2021. Trials onboard the German Navy frigate F124 Sachsen are to take place in 2022.
As Doris Laarmann, head of laser business development at MBDA Deutschland, notes, «The contract is an important step on the path to an operational high-energy laser system. Our two companies will apply their respective strengths to make this project a success on behalf of the German Navy. Once it’s installed, the demonstrator will also be used to test important aspects such as the interaction and function of the sensor suite, combat management system and effector as well as rules of engagement».
Alexander Graf, head of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition’s laser weapons programme, and Dr Markus Jung, who leads the company’s laser weapon development effort, both agree, adding that «The contract marks a systematic extension of the functional prototype laser weapon successfully tested in recent years, with the experience gained now dovetailing into one of the most ambitious projects in the field of laser weapon development in Europe».
A breakthrough development in the history of defence technology, lasers engage targets at the speed of light, operating with great precision and producing very little collateral damage. A demonstrator system featuring these capabilities will soon be put to the test under highly realistic operating conditions onboard a German frigate.
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.
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)
NATO member Hungary orders 218 Lynx Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFVs) from Rheinmetall worth more than €2 billion.
Hungary is the first NATO and EU member nation to order Rheinmetall’s newly developed Lynx infantry fighting vehicle. This important contract represents a major breakthrough in the global defence market for the Düsseldorf-based technology group’s innovative new combat vehicle.
The Hungarian Ministry of Defence has awarded Rheinmetall an order to supply tracked armoured vehicles and related products and services with a total value of more than €2 billion. The contractual agreement, which has now been signed in Budapest, encompasses 218 Lynx KF41 infantry fighting vehicles and nine Buffalo armoured recovery vehicles. The contract includes additional products and services such as simulators, training and instruction, plus an initial supply of spare parts as well as maintenance support. The Lynx IFVs will be equipped with a manned 30-mm Lance turret, likewise developed by Rheinmetall.
Looking ahead, Rheinmetall sees further potential orders stemming from this contract. Given an expected service life of several decades, the Lynx will require spare parts and regular maintenance in order to remain operationally ready.
During a first phase of production, Hungary is to receive forty-six Lynx infantry fighting vehicles as well as nine Buffalo armoured recovery vehicles, all built in Germany; delivery is to be complete by the start of 2023.
In the second production phase, an additional 172 Lynx vehicles built in Hungary will meet in full the needs of the country’s armed forces.
To this end, the Hungarian government and Rheinmetall agreed in August 2020 to establish a joint venture responsible for creating a Lynx production facility in Hungary, to be financed by a local company.
As Armin Papperger, chairman of the executive board of Rheinmetall AG, explains: «The Lynx’s market breakthrough is a major success for us. And the fact that we were able to convince Hungary – an important EU and NATO partner – to choose this innovative vehicle makes this success all the greater. In making this forward-looking procurement decision, Hungary’s top political and military officials have demonstrated real leadership. Not only does the move place Hungary at the forefront of European army technology. It reaffirms the Hungarian government’s commitment to being a reliable, more militarily effective partner of its NATO allies, a policy which it is pursuing with systematic energy».
«We greatly appreciate the Hungarian government’s trust in us which this order implies», declares Armin Papperger. «Rheinmetall is very proud to be able to make an important contribution to the sustained expansion of Hungary’s defence technology capabilities in cooperation with local industry. We look forward to working together with our Hungarian friends and partners, and will do everything in our power to assure the long-term success of this venture».
Rheinmetall will hold a majority stake and take the lead in the joint venture company to be set up in order to produce the Lynx in Hungary. In the process, Hungary will make a material investment in the project in the form of a newly constructed production facility. The resulting centre of excellence for the development, production and maintenance of armoured vehicles will create an important nucleus for the Hungarian defence industry. This constellation, which involves a local production partner in Hungary, will ensure that a substantial share of the added value deriving from the procurement project takes place in the customer country.
For Hungary, this procurement order represents a big step in its efforts to introduce a new generation of military equipment, with key systems that meet the latest NATO standards. The Lynx is currently competing in similar procurement programmes in the neighbouring Czech Republic as well as in Australia. It is foreseen that a majority of the Lance turrets for the first phase will be produced and supplied from the Rheinmetall Military Vehicle Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.
Lynx – modular, flexible, future-proof
Less than five years elapsed between the initial idea for a new infantry fighting vehicle and the breakthrough order, including formulation of a strategy and the concept and development phases – an impressive feat for an inhouse-financed combat vehicle in a highly demanding market segment where prolonged procurement cycles are the norm.
The Lynx concept embraces a complete vehicle family, consisting of a chassis module and flexible mission kits in numerous variants. This means that the basic vehicle can be configured as an infantry fighting vehicle, an armoured personnel carrier, a command vehicle or field ambulance. Moreover, switching from one configuration to another can be accomplished in a matter of hours. Thanks to the uniformity of the basic vehicle, the system will result in substantially lower lifecycle costs, while simultaneously letting military users adapt to changing tactical requirements and/or leverage new capabilities. Outstanding survivability, mobility and lethality characterize the Lynx, as do excellent growth potential, including in terms of its total weight.
Its spacious interior is unsurpassed by any vehicle in its class, assuring the operational effectiveness of its three crew members and up to nine infantry dismounts.
The Lynx shields its occupants from the full spectrum of battlefield threats, including explosions, Improvised Explosive Devices (IEDs), direct and indirect fire, cluster munitions and antitank guided missiles. With its hard-hitting combat effectiveness and excellent off-road mobility, the Lynx will give tomorrow’s armed forces a decisive edge in complex military operations at every level of intensity in all kinds of environments, overcoming multiple threats and securing favourable outcomes.
With the contract on a system architecture definition study concluded between industry and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw – Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr), the future German-French Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) has reached its next milestone.
Things are now progressing fast with the Main Ground Combat System. After the Framework and Implementing Agreements have been signed by the Defence Ministers of Germany and France, the focus will now be on the contract with the ARGE consortium of industrial partners consisting of Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann (KMW), and Nexter. This launches the system architecture study for MGCS Main Ground Combat System. Nationally selected concepts are being harmonized to develop a common multi-platform system architecture. The first part of the study is to be completed within 20 months. The contract is concluded between the participating ARGE companies and the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw – Bundesamt für Ausrüstung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr) representing both Germany and France.
The contract is equally co-funded by Germany and France. Likewise, the German and French companies will implement equal division of work.
Given the significance of the joint project, a festive signature ceremony would have been most appropriate. However, neither the Framework and Implementing Agreement nor this contract can be signed in person due to the coronavirus situation. Even such a landmark project must now be signed via mail. The industrial companies of Rheinmetall, Krauss-Maffei-Wegmann and Nexter were the first ones to sign. After that, BAAINBw received the documents for signature. In accordance with the agreement between the two partner nations, only Germany/BAAINBw was to sign as the lead nation of the bilateral project.
Replacement for the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks
The Main Ground Combat System project to be implemented under German lead will replace the German Leopard 2 and the French Leclerc main battle tanks from the mid-2030s. With this project, Germany and France are sending a strong signal of European defence cooperation.
At a test fire event on 6 November at the Alkantpan Test Range in South Africa, Rheinmetall demonstrated its extensive expertise in the world of indirect fire. In the presence of international partners and customers, the Düsseldorf, Germany-based defence contractor proved how new technologies can be used to boost the performance of systems that are already in extensive use around the world – those which meet the NATO standards set out in the Joint Ballistics Memorandum of Understanding (JBMoU) as well as non-JBMoU systems. During the event, three new maximum effective range records were set using various guns. A G6 howitzer with a 52-calibre gun achieved the longest range ever attained with a conventional 155-mm artillery round: 76 kilometres/47.2 miles, while the 52-calibre gun of PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer lobbed a shell 67 kilometres/41.6 miles. Finally, a field howitzer with a 39-calibre gun attained a range of 54 kilometres/33.5 miles.
Rheinmetall Waffe and Munition, Rheinmetall’s centre of excellence for cannon technology, showcased the self-propelled howitzer PzH 2000’s main armament in action. Over the past decade, this 155-mm weapons system has proven to be one of the world’s most effective conventional artillery systems, capable of attaining the high rates of fire specified in the JBMoU. Developed and manufactured by Denel Land Systems, the G6 used at the live fire event was a new version designed to attain greater ranges in line with non-JBMoU standards.
Using the celebrated Assegai Velocity Enhanced Artillery Projectile (V-LAP) shell is an example, modular upgrades of the artillery ammunition were on show at the event. The delegations could see for themselves the marked improvement in its performance with respect both to propulsion and range when fired from 39- and 52-calibre guns. Coupled with technologies from Rheinmetall Waffe Munition and Nitrochemie, Rheinmetall Denel Munition artillery shells exceed previous maximum effective ranges when fired from any conventional 155-mm artillery system currently in use.
The maximum range of over 76 km/47.2 miles was achieved with a non-JBMoU-compliant gun. This gun served as evidence of the feasibility of a new howitzer with a range of 83 km/51.6 miles. Working in close cooperation with the German procurement authorities, Rheinmetall plans to develop and manufacture a new 155-mm gun of this type, which will feature a significantly larger chamber and a longer, 60-calibre barrel. The gun should be able to fire existing JBMoU-compliant rounds as well as new ammunition families. On the one hand, these new ammunition types will be optimized with respect to stresses occurring in the new gun, but will also be able to be fired from legacy JBMoU-compliant guns. Here, 83 kilometres/51.6 miles serves as the benchmark, since the course correction fuse necessary for precision at these ranges reduces the attainable range by approximately ten percent. This means that the maximum effective range of 75 kilometres/46.6 miles specified by the German procurement authorities is attainable.
Rheinmetall Norway’s 120-mm Ragnarok motor system and ammunition from RDM round out the Group’s indirect fire profile. This combination lends itself especially well to multipurpose vehicle applications with a rapid-fire capability. It also enables friendly forces to quickly evade counterbattery fire.
The event’s host, the German-South African joint venture Rheinmetall Denel Munition (RDM), welcomed participants from several NATO nations to the event in Northern Cape province on 6 November. As RDM managing director Jan-Patrick Helmsen explains, «Our goal is to be a true partner to the military. That’s why transparent cooperation and trust are so important to us. Tube artillery can provide defensive and offensive fire support. It’s cheaper and faster than rockets or air support, can operate around the clock, and engage targets with great precision using indirect fire anywhere within its range. Of course, range has proved to be a limiting factor in recent years, giving rise to the need for increased operational reach». During the event, Jan-Patrick Helmsen noted that RDM has already been working to extend the range of artillery shells for some time now. «We’re known for the Assegai family and our V-LAP round, the longest-range conventional artillery projectile. The combination of South African technology and German expertise has already resulted in enhanced range, effectiveness and precision. When it comes to artillery, Rheinmetall takes a totally holistic approach», declares Helmsen.
Rheinmetall is taking on an important role in the modernization of the Hungarian Army. The Düsseldorf-based Group is producing the main armament and fire control technology for forty-four Leopard 2 main battle tanks as well as the main armament, fire control technology and chassis for twenty-four PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers. The package also encompasses thirteen HX and TGS logistic trucks. The contract, worth around €300 million, was recently signed. Delivery begins in 2021 and will be completed in 2025.
Rheinmetall has partnered with Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) to carry out the project. In December 2018 KMW won an order from the Hungarian armed forces for forty-four new Leopard 2A7+ tanks and 24 new PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzers. This will make Hungary the 19th Leopard 2 user nation and the eighth nation to opt for the PzH2000.
As well as having design authority, Rheinmetall is the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) of the 120-mm smoothbore technology used in all versions of the Leopard 2 tank.
The same is true of the 155-mm L52 main gun of the PzH 2000 self-propelled howitzer.
Tried and tested around the globe, the Group’s 120-mm smoothbore gun and ammunition have been continuously perfected right from the start. The higher-pressure 120mm L55A1 gun earmarked for the Leopard 2A7+ was successfully qualified at the end of 2017, and already supplied and installed for two Leopard 2 user nations in mid 2018. Moreover, the L55A1 tank gun is capable of firing the programmable DM11 multipurpose round.
In addition, Rheinmetall possesses comprehensive expertise in the field of tracked armoured vehicles, including as an OEM. The Group developed the chassis of the PzH self-propelled howitzer.
The Morrison Government’s multi-billion dollar investment to replace Army’s current fleet of mobility and reconnaissance vehicles is taking another significant step forward, with Hanwha Defense Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia invited to participate in the next stage of evaluation.
The LAND 400 Phase 3 Program will replace the M113 Armoured Personnel Carriers providing the Army with an advanced, world class Infantry Fighting Vehicle capability.
Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC said the Morrison Government is investing in the best possible capability to meet the current and emerging threats of our changing geostrategic environment.
«These advanced vehicles will provide new levels of protection, firepower, mobility and enhanced communications», Minister Reynolds said.
«This project will deliver Australia a brand-new, cutting edge capability. But we will also ensure we are well placed to work together with industry, to grow and develop the capability over the course of its life. When fully delivered the LAND 400 Program will allow Army to successfully sustain mounted close combat operations against emerging and future threats, as part of an integrated Australian Defence Force. I thank all tenderers for their significant effort and the resources invested in supporting Phase 3 of this project».
Minister for Defence Industry, the Hon Melissa Price MP said the LAND 400 Phase 3 program provides an exciting opportunity for Australian industry to contribute to building and maintaining these new Infantry Fighting Vehicles.
«Just as with the Phase 2 Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles, Australian industry involvement and Australian workers are vital to this project», Minister Price said.
«Phase 3 is another important opportunity for Australian industry to deliver leading edge technology for our Australian Defence Force. During the testing-phase Defence will work with the shortlisted tenderers to ensure small and medium enterprises across Australia have the opportunity to showcase their capabilities. The two companies have been assessed as offering vehicles that are best able to meet the requirements of the Army while providing value for money for Defence. However, if at any stage of this process there is a need, Defence can invite other tenderers to participate in the shortlist – to make sure we deliver the capability we need to the Army and the best value for the Australian taxpayer».
The Risk Mitigation Activity will commence later this year. Following its completion, Defence will undertake a final detailed evaluation of the shortlisted tenders.
A decision on the preferred tenderer to supply the Phase 3 capability will be presented to Government for consideration in 2022.
One of the most innovative systems on display at this year’s MSPO exhibition is the latest version of the Mission Master Unmanned Ground Vehicle (UGV) from Rheinmetall, armed with the WARMATE Loitering Munition System. Rheinmetall has partnered with WB GROUP, Poland’s foremost defence contractor in the field of advanced technologies, to provide dismounted troops with high-precision strike capabilities.
As with other versions of Rheinmetall’s flagship autonomous vehicle, this new Mission Master – Protection is based on an 8×8 all-terrain platform capable of performing dangerous missions in hostile weather conditions, with the specific purpose of enhancing combat effectiveness. The integrated WARMATE micro combat Unmanned Air Vehicle (UAV) opens up a range of new offensive and observation capabilities. It is capable of scanning the battlefield, detecting and determining exact enemy positions and, when the decision is made, engaging them. When an attack is aborted, the WARMATE can be recalled, can continue loitering, or be directed at another target.
Even more exciting, the new Mission Master – Protection features the first ever tube-launched system equipped with several WARMATE UAVs for performing surgical swarm attacks. This dramatically increases the unit’s combat power, while simultaneously augmenting the safety of dismounted troops in close combat operations as the whole system can operate out of the line-of-sight. «The use of micro combat UAVs on our Mission Master UGVs is an incredible opportunity for ground commanders», says Alain Tremblay, Rheinmetall Canada’s vice-president for business development. «Being able to observe hidden targets and conduct precise identification before initiating a surgical strike with minimal collateral damage is a real tactical advantage on today’s battlefield. And since both the Mission Master and the WARMATE are able to conduct certain autonomous operations, it reduces the number of military personal required and lets troops focus on mission success», explains Tremblay.
Operators can command both the UGV and UAV from a mobile ground control station; a modern soldier system such as Rheinmetall Argus; or with Rheinmetall Command and Control Software installed in any user’s battle management system.
Visitors to MSPO 2019 won’t want to miss this opportunity to see for themselves the brand-new version of the Rheinmetall Mission Master – the future of unmanned ground vehicles, on display today.
The RSG60 features innovative design and engineering characteristics which make this indirect fire system very light and easy to handle. A few quick manual adjustments turn the 34.8 lbs./15.8 kg standard infantry version into a commando mortar weighing just 15 lbs./6.8 kg, with no need for tools. This makes the RSG60 a two-in-one solution.
Depending on the ammunition and charges, the standard version can attain ranges of up 10,499 feet/3,200 metres. Equipped with a thirty 11.8-inch-longer/30 centimetre-longer barrel, the range increases by around 1640 feet/500 metres. The commando variant of the RSG60 has a range of around 6,562 feet/2,000 metres.
About 27.6 inches/70 centimetres long, the barrel is made of steel with a carbon fibre over-wrap. This assures the necessary stability at the same time as lower weight, resulting in a barrel that weighs around 30 percent less than a conventional steel mortar. The base plate is made of carbon fibre composite material. The novel design of this indirect fire weapon not only saves space, it can be set up and ready to fire in a matter of seconds. Furthermore, by loosening the retaining bolts, it is possible to separate the RSG60 from the base plate in around thirty seconds, transforming it into lighter-weight commando mortar.
Development of the new mortar began in October 2017 at Rheinmetall Waffe Munition. Rheinmetall’s objective was to augment the Group’s versatile family of 60-mm ammunition and existing Rheinmetall Electronics fire control technology with a matching, future-oriented weapon system. Right from the start, development work therefore focused on low weight, speed and ergonomics.
The RSG60 has repeatedly undergone successful test firing.
Rheinmetall and MBDA Deutschland have agreed to collaborate in the high-energy laser effectors domain. The two companies intend to construct, integrate and test a laser demonstrator for the German Navy’s corvette K130.
Capable of engaging targets at the speed of light with extreme precision and minimal collateral damage, lasers constitute a whole new dimension in defence technology. Now, for the first time ever, this capability is to be investigated under quasi-operational conditions using a demonstrator installed onboard a German corvette. The details and division of responsibilities between the two companies will be determined as soon as the performance specification is made available by the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-service Support, Germany’s military procurement agency.
Looking ahead to the joint project, Peter Heilmeier, Head of Sales and Business Development at MBDA Deutschland GmbH, notes that «cooperation between Rheinmetall and MBDA will be particularly beneficial for the Bundeswehr. Both companies will be leveraging their respective special strengths to make this German Navy project a resounding success».
Werner Krämer, Managing Director of Rheinmetall Waffe Munition GmbH, sums up the venture as follows: «We’re going to be cooperating very closely to put the military potential of laser technology to work for the Bundeswehr, boosting its operational readiness and combat effectiveness. Compared to other countries, too, our two companies possess extraordinary capabilities. Lasers offer new tactical possibilities on land, at sea and in the air. In partnership with the German Navy, we want to press ahead with this new technology».