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».
Rheinmetall is taking on a key role in equipping the NATO spearhead Very High Joint Readiness Task Force 2023 (VJTF 2023), which will be furnished by the German Bundeswehr. Contracts have now been awarded to a consortium for the «System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» project, in which Rheinmetall’s share comes to over €470 million, including value added tax. Work has already begun and is set to continue through to the end of the VJTF readiness phase in 2024.
On 11 July 2019, the Federal Office for Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-service Support awarded a corresponding contract to ARGE Puma, a consortium consisting of Puma manufacturer PSM Projekt System Management GmbH – a joint venture in which Rheinmetall holds a 50% stake – and Rheinmetall Electronics GmbH. Subcontracting within ARGE will take place shortly.
«System Panzergrenadier» links the Puma infantry fighting vehicle – the mainstay of the German Army’s mechanized infantry – with the modular Future Soldier – Expanded System (IdZ-ES) soldier system, in an advanced, network-enabled warfare environment.
Included in the «System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» package is a comprehensive combat performance upgrade of forty-one Puma infantry fighting vehicles, coupled with additional measures for improving communication between the infantry fighting vehicles and dismounted infantrymen. For Rheinmetall, the total value of this order comes to €258.3 million, including value added tax. The systems will be delivered at the end of 2020/beginning of 2021.
Among other things, the package also encompasses complete logistic support of the VJTF Pumas for a period of five years, i.e. spare parts, special tools and spare parts logistics. Also included is a new generation of digital radios for the infantry fighting vehicles as well as integration of the MELLS multirole light guided missile system, significantly expanding the capabilities spectrum of Puma. New daylight and thermal imaging cameras and a color display feature in the upgrade too. Optimized day and night vision will increase the range of reconnaissance, while simultaneously widening the crew’s field of view. Furthermore, new training resources will enable the unit to train in a highly realistic manner.
Closely linked to the hardware of the new optronic systems and monitors for the infantry fighting vehicles is the contract for development of the «Vision Enhancement, Chassis», which is already underway. Including value added tax, it represents sales of €67.2 million, including value added tax.
Furthermore, Rheinmetall is equipping the mechanized infantry companies of the VJTF 2023 with «TacNet», its Battle Management System (BMS). In addition, an initial lot of ten platoon versions of the «Future Soldier – Expanded System» soldier system will be brought up to modern VJTF 2023 standard. Improved communication between the Puma crew and the dismounted infantry section will result in a continuously updated, uniform common operational picture. This way, Rheinmetall gives mechanized infantry a command-and-control capability that extends from the company commander to the individual rifleman on the ground. These modernization moves will mean incoming orders for Rheinmetall worth €146.5 million, including value added tax.
«System Panzergrenadier VJTF 2023» substantially enhances the fighting strength of the VJTF 2023. At the same time, Rheinmetall views these measures as a template for further modernization and digitization of the Bundeswehr.
Modernizing the command and control capabilities of complete mechanized infantry companies and bringing the IdZ-ES up to VJTF 2023 standard involves modifying the hardware and software. Dispensing with the «electronic backbone» is one key innovation. Others include advanced new radio systems for dismounted troops and infantry fighting vehicles, which result in improved command capabilities as well as enabling secure transmission of large amounts of data.
During development of the new vision systems and their integration into the Puma, an initial lot of five sets of prototype assemblies will be fabricated and integrated into five standard vehicles. These tasks are to be complete by 2021. Verification will then take place at the Bundeswehr’s technical centres by 2023.
Furthermore, digitization of the vision technology will proceed in tandem with implementation of NATO Generic Vehicle Architecture (NGVA) in the Puma. It forms the foundation for the future sensor-to-shooter nexus. Already underway, the networking of sensors and effectors in individual vehicles will soon enable the networking of sensors and effectors in entire units and formations. As a result, the Puma will be one of the world’s first digitized combat vehicles.
Rheinmetall and BAE Systems have today launched a new, independent UK-based joint venture for military vehicle design, manufacture and support – known as Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land (RBSL). Headquartered in Telford in the West Midlands, the joint venture will sustain around 450 jobs across the UK and is well positioned for future growth.
RBSL intends to play a major role in manufacturing the Boxer 8×8 for the British Army’s Mechanised Infantry Vehicle (MIV) programme and other strategic combat vehicle programmes, while also providing support to the British Army’s in-service bridging and armoured vehicle fleets.
Defence Secretary Penny Mordaunt said: «This announcement is a clear vote of confidence in the UK’s defence industry as a world-leader in designing, supplying and supporting military vehicles. This exciting venture clearly demonstrates how Defence sits at the heart of the prosperity agenda. Its benefits will be felt in the West Midlands and across the UK defence supply chain, creating jobs, boosting exports and guaranteeing our technical skills base into the future».
RBSL will draw on Rheinmetall’s broader military vehicle technologies combined with the additional capabilities and systems brought to the Joint Venture by BAE Systems’ Land UK business, such as Trojan, Terrier, Warrior, military bridging and the AS90 self-propelled artillery system. RBSL will have the potential to create hundreds of additional UK jobs, both in Telford and the wider supply chain.
Peter Hardisty, formerly of Rheinmetall UK, has been appointed as Managing Director of the new company. He said: «RBSL is a new business drawing on the significant strengths and expertise of both BAE Systems Land UK and Rheinmetall. Our employees in Telford, Bristol, and Washington (UK) have a valuable skill set and extensive experience in combat vehicle engineering. With new orders, we shall be able to sustain these capabilities and expand over the coming years, seeking new opportunities in the UK and overseas».
The new management team that will lead RBSL into the future also includes Carrie White as Finance Director and Phil Simon as Operations Director, both of whom join from BAE Systems.
Regulatory approval for the joint venture was granted on 13 June 2019.
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.
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.