Evolution of the Wheel

The armoured fighting vehicle world could not be immune to the overall financial crisis that is hitting the world. Deep budget cuts are impacting defence resources and are leading to the cancellation or delay of some of the major programmes in many industrialised countries. Investments on new products are thus limited, while some new emerging technologies in the field of active armour and camouflage solutions are being tested and integrated, but have yet to be deployed.






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Publication: Armada International
Author: Valpolini, Paolo
Date published: February 1, 2012

Upgrading existing vehicles and carrying out marketing campaigns in those countries that are not armoured vehicles producers is thus the main effort for most companies. Lessons learned in Afghanistan are pointing to higher protection levels, even on newly introduced vehicles, while the advent of remotelycontrolled medium calibre turrets saves the weight that can be used for add-on armour.

Better situational awareness is also needed, especially for urban warfare scenarios, while vehicle digitisation is becoming a must in firsttier countries. If a limited number of new designs are emerging amongst the wheeled vehicle category, the tracked vehicles community is seeing the appearance of 'new' vehicles that are more the result of the merger of upgraded chassis with new turrets rather than totally new designs.

Piranhas

In America, apart from the US Marines' programmes (amphibious vehicles will be part of a specific article in the next issue of Armada), the main focus is currently on the acquisition of new Stryker vehicles with increased protection to better meet current operational requirements, as well as on the upgrade of existing vehicles to improve their performance and extend their service life.

The main programme is the Stryker 'DoubleV Hull' (DVH), which increases the vehicle protection against mines and roadside bombs to Mrap levels. General Dynamics Land Systems has completed blast and reliability tests, the latter with the purpose of demonstrating that the extra 2.26 tonnes did not affect performance and safety, thanks to the adoption of an improved suspension system.

A first contract was issued in July 2010 for 450 DVH new builds, of which 320 had been rolled out by late-October 2011. The first was delivered to the US Army in May and deployed to Afghanistan one month later. The DVH is being produced in seven of the ten variants currently in service, namely Infantry Carrier, Medical Evacuation, Engineer Squad, Fire Support, Command, Mortar Carrier and Anti-tank.

While deliveries of the first 450 should be completed in February 2012, new orders for a further 115 and 177 vehicles were filed in early and late October 2011, final deliveries being forecast respectively for September 2012 and July 2013. These 742 vehicles will allow the US Army to deploy two DVH-equipped Stryker Brigade Combat Teams.

Further improvements might be adopted: Milien Works tested new suspensions based on magnetorheological dampers that instantly adapt to road conditions, the base for a semiactive suspension system that would further improve the Stryker's mobility. A new 520-hp powerpack was tested and the Saab Leds-150 active protection system integrated.

Other derivatives of the Piranha are still actively marketed. In early 2011 US Army Tacom filed an initial FMS contract for 82 LAV Hs aimed at Saudi Arabia. An order for the US Marine Corps was filed in August 2011 for 33 LAV-A2 8 x 8s in four different configurations. The Stryker DVH is also proposed as the base chassis for the US Army AMPV (Armored Multi Purpose Vehicle) programme, General Dynamics considering that the 8 × 8 can be an optimal option to replace Ml 13 support versions still in service. The Stryker is also trying its luck in Central America, where Colombia is looking for an armoured personnel carrier of that class.

Another major business is the LAV upgrade, for which a contract was signed in October 2011 by Canada for improving operational performances of 550 LAV Ills to keep them in service until 2035. Upgrades include the provisions adopted in the DVH plus modification in the automotive and ergonomie fields. The weight will increase from 17.25 to 25 tonnes, requiring the adoption of improved automotive components including a new 450-hp Caterpillar powerpack. The turret will be equipped with an improved fire control system and sights and the access will be eased by wider hatches. The completion of the programme is scheduled for 2017.

General Dynamics is proposing for the Canadian Close Combat Vehicle its Piranha Class 5 coupled to a Rheinmetall Lance modular turret armed with a 30-mm gun. Unveiled at Eurosatory 2010 by General Dynamics European Land Systems, the Class 5 is larger than the Class 4, its payload growing to 15 tonnes over a 30-tonne combat weight, three extra tonnes were preserved as growth potential.

Power-to-weight ratio has increased considerably by a 580-hp MTU 6Vl 99 engine. An Inline Power Generator provides 18 kW of onboard power (28 V DC) and 100 kW export power (400 and 230 V AC). The company is working on a kinetic energy recuperation system that would allow to punch out 750 hp surge power for emergency manoeuvres, though the main objective is to stock energy that can be transformed into electric power to allow the vehicle to carry out silent watch missions of more than 48 hours.

A height-adjustable McPherson strut suspension system improves mobility, maximising ground clearance when needed but also increasing protection against mines. Protection levels were not disclosed, but the Piranha Class 5 adopts the latest available protection against EFP threats and was shown at Eurosatory with the Saab Leds-150 active protection system.

At Idex 201 1, General Dynamics exhibited the Desert Piranha, a version of the Class 5 adapted to the desert environment, equipped with sand tires, improved air conditioning and a new powerpack, developed to answer the Abu Dhabi requirement for an 8 × 8 personnel carrier.

Pandur

Regarding the Pandur, also a General Dynamics product, not much has happened in recent times in terms of sales, although some sources mention a contract for 6 × 6 vehicles from an undisclosed country. The company does not comment on progress made with the deal with Portugal, while deliveries to the Czech Army are now well underway, with 55 Pandur II 8 × 8 KBVPs (Infantry Fighting vehicle), five KBV-VRs (Command Post Vehicle) and two KOT-Zdrs (Ambulance) delivered by late November 2011.

In May 2011 a contract was signed with IAI Tamam of Israel for the acquisition of an undisclosed number of Mini-Pop sensor turrets to be mounted onto the remote-control Rafael Samson 30 turret installed on the KBVP version. Since December 2010 some Czech Pandur Hs have been deployed to Afghanistan and operate within the Czech-led Provincial Reconstruction Team based in Logar. Pandur Hs operating downrange have been equipped with bar-armour to increase protection against RPGs. As for the 6 × 6, Belgium is about to form a new recce unit whose main asset will be the Pandur 6x6 equipped with Thaïes Margot 5000 sensor system mounted on a telescopic mast.

France

France was one of the few Nato countries to have put numerous wheeled vehicles into service since the Cold War era, mostly for missions in former colonies. This left a serious design and production capacity currently subdivided among three major companies: Nexter, Renault Trucks Défense (which includes Acmat) and Panhard.

How long will this scenario remain is anybody's guess, but next June at Eurosatory 2012 the number of corresponding stands might differ from what we are used to seeing. The most probable outcome is that a bigger entity might eat a smaller one. Although no decision has surfaced yet, things are on the move and a rationalisation of the French armoured vehicle production compartment is expected sooner or later.

VBCI

For the time being, the production of the VBCI for the French Army by the Nexter-RTD consortium is well underway, while the request for proposal for the two new vehicles that will replace the AMX-10RC and the Vab, respectively the EBRC and the VBMR, is awaited by year-end. This is part of the Scorpion programme that will bring a considerable change in the French Army posture.

Finally we must not forget the Vab. With upgrades and new model proposals, the type remains one of the important current businesses since more than 5000 units are still in service around the world.

VBCI deliveries reached roughly half of the 630 vehicles ordered by the Armée de Terre. The armoured hull and the turret are provided by Nexter, who is also responsible for the integration, while all the driveline is supplied from Renault. In August 2010 the first ten VBCIs were deployed to Afghanistan fitted in the so-called 'Configuration Opex'. They underwent a weight reduction programme (removing some functions considered useless for Afghanistan) to allow the adoption of Qinetiq North America Last Armor RPGNet and anti-mine V-shaped add-on kits.

This led the French DGA to place a contract to Renault for the study and development phase of a driveline upgrade that will increase the VBCI's gross weight from 28 to 32 tonnes. Nexter and Renault are considering adding some protection to the driveline to increase residual mobility in case of explosion, but more recently France decided to integrate the Javelin on the Vabs deployed in Afghanistan.

Another major issue under discussion is the VBCI logistic support that will follow the initial contract that will soon expire. A possible solution would be a joint-venture between the two producers of the vehicle; that contract should be assigned in 2013. As for the export market, the VBCI definitely aims at the Spanish VBR 8 × 8 as well as at the Canadian Close Combat Vehicle programme, for which Nexter is also offering an adapted turret. The VBCI was also exhibited in an APC version at Idex, the French 8 × 8 also aiming at the UAE bid for such class of vehicle.

VBMR & EBRC

Turning to the VBMR and the EBRC, a selection is expected in 2012 following an international competition that should lead to the delivery of prototypes to the French DGA by late 2012. While some details start to emerge, what seems sure is that a tracked solution has been abandoned in favour of a 6 x 6 configuration with a protection set at Level 4 (to Stanag 4569). This is lower than originally anticipated; a compromise has apparently been reached to maintain a high mobility that would contribute to the overall survivability. Price all taxes included for the VBMR (but without weapons and ancillaries) should not exceed euro one million.

Thus far only Nexter and Panhard have shown some concepts related to the Scorpion programme vehicles, while Renault has kept its designs under wrap. The Nexter XP-2 technology demonstrator includes an in-house-developed driveline, a major difference with the VBCI programme where that key part was the responsibility of Renault. This was seen as a sign of Nexter's willingness to run on its own in the wind of a possible rapprochement of some kind of the two other French potential competitors. However, in early November 2011 Nexter and Renault Trucks Défense announced a co-operation agreement with a view to offering a single answer to the forthcoming French DGA's request for proposals regarding the VBMR.

Back to the XP-2, its maximum width of 2.55 meters allows the vehicle to cope with civilian traffic. The vehicle also complies with environmental and safety regulations, propulsion being provided by Euro 4, 5 or 6 engines. Nexter's driveline design is a key element, as it is configured to provide a sufficient protected volume to its two crewmembers and nine dismounts - all of which will be equipped with the Félin infantry equipment and carrying two days worth of supplies.

Another major reason for keeping width to a minimum stems from a new type of add-on armour on which the company does not expand, only to say that it will afford Level 4 protection. The XP-2 also considers risks that can be encountered during mob control operations, an anti-Molotov extinguishing system having been adopted.

Mobility is guaranteed by the 6 ? 6 configuration, allowing a greater load to be carried at the centre of the chassis, such as a medium-calibre remote control turret, while a 14- to 18-tonne weight would make it compatible with most bridges.

The XP-2 started trials in November 2009 with an interruption in April 2010 to allow its discrete participation at the Eurosatory exhibition, but were resumed in autumn to complete the planned tests on sandy and rough terrain. While the XP-2 remains a technology demonstrator, Nexter will draw on the experience garnered to develop the platform demonstrator that was partly financed by the French DGA under a contract issued in 2010 following the launch of the development phase of the Scorpion programme in February of that same year.

A similar contract, worth less than euroten million, was also assigned to Renault, and both companies are also under contract to deliver two static shells complete with add-on armour for ballistic testing.

Renault has not yet unveiled much on its two designs for the French Army and will await the next Eurosatory exhibition to tell more on that subject, although the announcement of its teaming with Nexter should lead to a common vehicle. The company is working closely with the DGA and the operational users, and claims to have a 'very advanced solution'.

Two of the areas in which Renault worked intensively were the underbelly protection and the ergonomics, the latter was a key issue knowing that eleven soldiers might have to Uve in the vehicle on 40-hour missions. Having built over 4000 Vabs the company intends to position itself as one of the major players for the new contract, especially considering anticipated VBMR numbers. The latest indications point to a total of 19%, with 700 of these in VTT troop transport guise. Renault sources confirm that the company also has an advanced project for the EBRC.

The only company to have unveiled a fullsize mock-up of a possible solution for the EBRC is Panhard, which is ironically the only of the three major French companies not to have received a development contract from the DGA

Known as the Sphynx and unveiled before Eurosatory 2010. this 18-tonne 6x6 boasts an Htype driveline and three steering axles. Three meters wide, it is 5.5 meters long and 1.65 meters high, while its 400-mm ground clearance, coupled to the *V shape and the underbelly armour package combine to yield a 4a/b protection level. Variable-height suspensions would allow setting the ground clearance to between 200 and 600 mm.

Ballistic protection was declared to be Level 4 all round and 5 (25 mm APFSDS) on the frontal arc. but the choice of the French Army to limit it to 4 might allow a considerable decrease in weight, probably between 15.5 and 16 tonnes.

To improve the driver situational awareness the Sphynx features a glass windshield with two small side windows, all produced in transparent ceramics to reduce weight and thickness for better transparency. The Sphynx is equipped with a two-man turret armed with a CTAI 40 mm automatic cannon and two anti-tank missiles adding bios capacity.

Cost control was among the company aims, and cots elements should keep the Sphynx' price close to that of the current ERC-90. As for the VBMR, Panhard will respond to the bid with what company officials defined as a 'breakthrough solution' that will probably be unveiled at Eurosatory.

Vab

Last but not least the good old Vab is still in full service with the Armée de Terre. The service ordered over 4000 such vehicles in many different variants, some 2000 were upgraded in the early 2000s. A series of upgrade programmes have been launched to improve its protection level against some of the most significant Afghan threats in the form of a general vehicle upgrade, the adoption of add-on ballistic kits and remotely operated weapon systems. The latter configuration is known as Vab-Top and is based on the integration of the Kongsberg Protector equipped with side armour for the optronic sensors and the OldB-Metravib Pilarw acoustic fire detection system.

Eighty turrets were ordered in the first batches of a contract that will run until 2016 for an amount of up to $ 1 00 million. In November 2010 Renault landed a contract for a further protection improvement known as Mined that includes new add-on armour, a V-shaped under-belly deflector, wheel arch add-on protection, the latest Nexter energy absorbing seats together with internal supports for weapons and equipment to avoid them flying around in case of explosion. The order was for about 120 kits, a second contract was filed in August 2011 to cover the remaining of the 400 or so Vabs deployed in Afghanistan.

As part of that contract Renault will also carry out some improvements on the automotive components, namely the suspensions and the braking system for them to cope with the 13- to 15.8-tonne weight increase. This also includes the Félin soldier modernisation equipment adaptation provided by Sagem, the first Vab equipped with the dedicated electrical network and chargers was delivered in early March 201 1.

The vehicles rolling off the assembly line at Limoges are known as 'Ultima* in a standard that includes all the latest upgrades adopted by the Armée de Terre. This however does not mark the end of Vab improvements: a ballistic protection is being developed for the two rear machine gunners with deliveries expected for late 2012. while a passive protection against RPGs is being considered. Renault is proposing these on the international market, since over 10(X) Vabs are operated around the world (Morocco is considered a primary target).

Renault is also exporting powerpacks and drivelines to Indonesia for the locally built Panser 6 × 6 personnel carrier, the latest order for twelve such kits was awarded in July 2011. but further orders are expected. Earlier that year Malaysia showed an interest for the Indonesian-built vehicle, which is very similar to the Vab.

Renault is also proposing the Vab Mk 2. which can reach up to Level 4 ballistic and Level 3a/b mine protection. A further evolution, the Mk 3, resulting from potential customer feedback will be at Eurosatory 2012. The company considers that if its portfolio eventually includes the VBMR and the Vab, they will not harm each other since the former will be in the 20- to 23-tonne range and the other around the 16-tonne mark. Besides, the Vab also maintains an amphibious capability and, in the simplest 44 configuration, would have be about half the price of the VBMR.

Boxer

The German-Dutch Boxer was born as a protected transport vehicle in order to comply with the limitations of the CFE treaty signed at the end of the Cold War. its original name, GTK, standing for Gepanzertes Transport-Kraftfahrzeug.

Today's Boxer is proposed for roles that go beyond those originally considered. With the acquisition of Netherlands Stork PWV, Rheinmetall now owns the majority in the Artec consortium, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has a 36 % stake. Three companies are part of Artec, Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV), Rheinmetall Nederland and KMW.

Production of the 8x8 vehicle is well underway in Germany, with KMW responsible for the production of the 125 armoured personnel carriers and ten driving training vehicles while RMMV is manufacturing the 65 command post vehicles. The follow-on contract for 72 ambulance variants will see RMMV producing 20 such vehicles while the remaining 52 will roll off the Munich assembly lines. Personnel carrier deliveries started in 2009 and were about to be completed at time of writing, while all training vehicles have been delivered.

In 2010 Artec began delivering command posts and ambulances, with deliveries planned respectively for 2013 and 2016. The first Boxers were deployed to Afghanistan in August 2011. Six vehicles were upgraded to the Al standard which includes additional protection against mines and roadside bombs, while the FLW 200 remote control turret was elevated by 300 mm to fully exploit the -15° elevation capability against close targets. This has added two tonnes to the 33-tonne vehicle.

Before the deployment both operational and maintenance crews from the 292 Jägerbattalion underwent extensive training. Five such vehicles are now operating downrange in the Mazar-e Sharif area, with positive feedback from the user. Consequently the Bundeswehr decided that all vehicles would be produced or retrofitted to the Al standard.

From vehicle no. 41 APCs are being delivered as Als. the Occar has started a request for the upgrade of the first 40 vehicles delivered to AO standard. Command posts are being delivered in Al guise from number 17 hence, while two ambulance vehicles were delivered to AO standard. Work is on hold until the Occar gives the green light for Al ambulance productions.

As for the Dutch vehicles, a change in configuration on command post vehicles led to a contract modification that pushed the delivery date to the right until autumn 2012. In total the Netherlands Army will receive 200 Boxers in Ove different versions, namely 60 command posts. 52 ambulances, 53 engineer vehicles, 27 cargo vehicles and command and control/cargo and eight driver training vehicles.

A desert version of the Boxer APC was exhibited at Idex 2011, equipped with sand tyres and improved air conditioning system. However, the major evolution of the vehicle was seen in June 2010 at Eurosatory, where both KMW and Rheinmetall exhibited infantry fighting vehicle versions equipped with different turret solutions. KMW installed the remotely-controlled RTC turret armed with an ATK Mk 44 30- m m Bushmaster cannon, thus retaining the full transport capacity of three crewmembers and eight dismounts.

Rheinmetall showed the Boxer with its Lance modular turret (in the two-man version) armed with the Mauser Mk 30-2 30-mm cannon, the number of dismounts having been reduced by two. Rheinmetall is now proposing the vehicle with the unmanned version of the Lance, the first target is Canada's CCV, where the Boxer IFV will be proposed by the two local companies of the group, Rheinmetall Canada and RMMV Canada. Spain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia are the other countries where bids for the Boxer might soon materialise.

Fuchs

Rheinmetall's second wheeled APC/IFV is the Fuchs 6x6. The German Army upgraded 124 Fuchs' of different versions to the 1 A7 configuration. This includes new axles capable of withstanding a nine-tonne instead of six previously, bringing the vehicles max gross to 27 tonnes, although Rheinmetall considers 23.5 tonnes a realistic upper limit. The curb weight increase to 19 tonnes results from the adoption of Chempro Mexas add-on armour kit, hydraulically assisted steering and air conditioning.

Following deployment to Afghanistan and with the increasing mine and roadside bomb threat, the Bundeswehr placed a series of contracts to upgrade 134 vehicles to the 1A8 standard. Protection, of course, was the main driving factor, and just for that purpose more than 20 mods account for the difference between the 1 A7 and the 1A8 versions. Amongst these are a new floor, new energy absorbing seats and reinforced wheel guards. Additional struts were added in the rear for rigidity.

Rheinmetall delivered 88 vehicles by the end of 201 1 , while 89 more will be delivered by 2013. A contract for eleven vehicles in the ambulance version was signed in early December 201 1 while another order for 32 vehicles is expected in 2012/13. This version weighs 22.7 tonnes, leaving nearly one tonne for further upgrades. Rheinmetall is carrying out a research study to analyse if the Active Defence System could be effectively integrated on the Fuchs 1 A8. Rheinmetall is of course actively marketing its Fuchs 2, which in perspective has a higher growth potential in terms of protection.

AMV

In November 2010, the Swedish Administrative Court confirmed the order for 113 Patria Armoured Modular Vehicles (AMV) that the Swedish Army should start receiving within 2012. Following the completion of that order, which is worth euro250 million, the FMV might well confirm the option for another batch of the same size. Five versions are part of the first order, 74 armoured personnel carriers, ten carriers/command posts, 18 ambulances, four C2 vehicles and seven repair vehicles.

The other good news was the decision by Slovenia to renegotiate with Rotis, the local prime contractor, the contract for the acquisition of 135 AMVs signed in 2006, marked by a series of procedural problems. The Slovenian Army already took delivery of 30 vehicles, named Svarun by the service, ten of which were manufactured by Patria and 20 by Rotis under license. Considering cuts in defence spending the new contract will probably involve a reduced number of vehicles.

The original contract included a fire support version featuring an Elbit Systems UT-30 remote control turret armed with 30-mm cannon and Spyke anti-tank missiles, an armoured personnel carrier version equipped with a Kongsberg Protector turret and a mortar version with a Patria Nemo turreted mortar. Patria AMVs are also being delivered in the Czech Republic, where it is produced under license by Duro Dakovic Special Vehicles (DDSV). The contract is due to be completed within 2012 with the delivery of the 120th locally produced vehicle of the 126 ordered.

The major potential programme remains South Africa's Hoefyster for 264 AMVs produced by Denel Land Systems. Worth approximately euro 770 million, the contract was for what is known as the Badger and including an LCT-30 turret and a breech-loaded mortar for the combat version. The Hoefyster programme has been delayed several times, but South African authorities confirmed in late 2010 that it had not been cancelled, a decision being awaited by late 2011.

Patria is getting the first feedback from the deployment of Polish Army Rosomaks in Afghanistan. No details were unveiled but the company is using lessons learned to concentrate on a series of improvements. Patria is looking at weight savings to further increase payioad and improve mobility. New versions are being developed, such as the Repair and Recovery unveiled at DSEi in 2011, which raised the interest of many users among which the Croatian Army.

The AMV R&R has a crane with a boom reach of five metres. At full boom stretch and 5° angle it can lift up to 2.5 tonnes, increasing to four tonnes at 56°. It is also equipped with a 120kN winch. Combat weight for that version is 27 tonnes, its height with crane being 3.2 meters. According to press sources the AMV should soon be tested in Colombia, where the local army is looking for an 8x8 APC. Patria also aims at the US Marine Corps AMC programme.

Freccia

The Italian Army is involved in a number of programmes aimed at the acquisition of new wheeled combat armoured vehicles produced by the consortium formed by Iveco DV and Oto Melara (CIO). The Freccia 8x8 AIFV is being delivered, the first batch of 50 vehicles in the combat configuration with Oto Melara Hitfist - mm KBA gun has already been handed over to the army.

Since August 2010 an infantry company equipped with 17 Freccia AIFVs is operating in Afghanistan, and following some teething problems the availability has reached what the Italian Army defines as «an optimum level». Logistic support was adapted to that particular scenario, which had caused unexpected wear and tear of some components. The manufacturers kept a maintenance team on site for some months to solve all those issues.

Operationally, the Freccia is used as a firebase and for troop protection. Part of the vehicles feature Selex Galileo Janus 1 independent observation sight. Reports indicate that it is considered a key item as it allows observing without aiming the gun towards the target. The army is awaiting the development of the Janus 2, as Ae current model does not allow the commander to slave the turret to its sight.

The Janus 2 should also be capable of hosting a laser designator and should be installed on platoon and company commanders' vehicle* as well as on all the anti-tank Freccias. The latter has been qualified and 24 such vehicles will be produced as part of the second batch. This tranche includes 71 vehicles in the combat version, of which 50 have already been delivered and will be followed by the anti-tank Freccia that features a Spike launcher on each side of the turret.

A mortar version equipped with the Thaïes 2R2M is also part of Batch 1, with deliveries planned for early 2012. Twelve production mortar carriers are part of Tranche 2, with initial deliveries to commence five months after qualification. As for command posts, some prototypes with raised roof and mast-mounted aerials have been exhibited in the past years. The final version will be totally different though, as the army changed its mind and is now looking for two different types of Command Posts, namely an HQ CP and a Tactical CP.

The HQ CP maintains most of the internal layout of the earlier prototypes, with a driver and six people in the back, but is based on a chassis sans raised roof. As for the Tactical CP, this will be based on a standard Freccia AIFV, but instead of the eight dismounts it will host in the back a command element of three men. It has been included in Tranche 2 and its delivery is planned within 2012.

Tranche 3 is awaiting financing. As with the previous ones it will not draw on the defence budget but will be sponsored by the Ministry of Production Activities. It will include 88 vehicles, 50 combat, eleven anti-tank, eight mortar carriers and 19 command posts (the latter including eleven tactical and eight HQ vehicles) with production spread between 2014 and 2016.

Centauro

The Italian Army and the CIO have launched a programme for replacing the current Centauro: known as 'New Centauro Armoured Vehicle' or Centauro 2, the new vehicle will feature better protection and firepower. The chassis will be a close derivative of that of the Freccia, with at least the same level of protection. New evolutionary armour packages might be installed but no details are available on protection levels.

The Centauro 2 will be fully integrated in the Italian Army digitised battlefield network known as 'Forza NEC and will thus be equipped with the Siccona command, control and navigation system.The chassis will be shorter compared to the current Centauro, as no scout team will be transported in the rear. The target weight is 30 tonnes, which is considered the maximum for maintaining good mobility.

Another target figure is a power- to- weight ratio of 24 hp/tonne, which commands a 720-hp power pack. Power generation will be sufficient for all systems that will be installed on-board such as C4I, Janus 2+ panoramic sight« jammers, etc. Requirements also include the capability of linking to AC/DC external power sources for 'silent watch' operations with the engine stopped.

The on-board power generation will retain a margin for ensuring growth capacity. On the Centauro 2 the main electric-powered item will be the all-electric turret armed with the 120/45mm smoothbore gun, a derivative of the turret adopted on Omani Centauros.

In order to comply with the 30-tonne limit, studies are underway to adopt a carbon-fibre inner structure to support the add-on armour package. Requirements call for a total number of rounds similar to that of the current Centauro, but located in a different way to maximise safety, with ready rounds being stored behind safety walls that should not reduce the reloading speed.

The maximum elevation required is 18°, which is slightly more than the current Centauro. The main sights will integrate Gen 3 thermal Turkish Land Forces Command to acquire a 6 × 6 as part of a programme known as OMTTZA (Ozel Maksatli Taktik Tekerlekli Zirhli Arac), This was however put on hold in 2010 and a new Request for Information is expected to be issued in 2012.

Arma

Otokar is the main Turkish armoured vehicle producer, with a portfolio ranging from main battle tanks to light armoured vehicles. In the wheeled fighting vehicle field the company developed the Arma, unveiled at Eurosatory 2010, a 6 ? 6 designed to provide high internal volume and good cross-country mobility.

With the 450-hp engine located on starboard, the driver sits on the opposite front side followed by the commander who has the gunner on his right, while the rear compartment seats seven men. Fully amphibious without preparation, the two hydraulically driven propellers provide a swim speed of eight km/h. No details on protection levels are available, but this all-welded steel vehicle can be equipped with light- and mediumcalibre turrets or remote-control turrets.

The vehicle was fully qualified by the end of 2010, and in December that year Otokar bagged a first contract for an undisclosed country that acquired 20 units in the standard configuration armed with a 12.7-mm heavy machine gun in an open cupola. Deliveries started in 2011. In May 201 1 a second contract was received for an undisclosed number from an anonymous customer, although the contract value points to an estimated 100 vehicles with deliveries starting in 2012.

The Arma 6 x 6 is proposed in various configurations, including an EOD version equipped with a hydraulic arm as exhibited at Idef 2011. Designed with a family concept in mind, the Arma 6x6 has already grown into an 8 × 8 boasting automotive component commonality with the exception of the gearbox. Its extra 1.35 meters offers two more seats and the higher payload allowance is a boon for heavier turrets.

Unveiled in late April 2011, the Arma 8x8 was displayed at Idef 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey equipped with the new Otokar Mizrak-30 modular remotely-controlled turret that can be armed with 20 to 40-mm cannon. Final testing of the 8 8 prototype was completed in September 201 1 , and the vehicle is now ready for production (see title picture). Otokar is looking for customers in all those countries that do not produce vehicles of that category, as the Turkish Land Forces do not have a requirement for such a vehicle in the short-to-medium term.

Pars

The FNSS joint venture was created in 1988 to locally produce the Armoured Combat Vehicle, a derivative of the Ml 13. The company unveiled its Pars (Anatolian Leopard in Turkish) wheeled vehicles in 2OfB. The aim was to develop a family of 4 x 4, 6 x 6, 8 x 8 and 10 x 10 vehicles. The first version was the Pars 8x8.

Two prototypes have been built and demonstrated in at least two countries and since its first appearance the vehicle has been constantly upgraded. It is available in non-amphibious configuration, with a 30-tonne gross weight including a nine-tonne payload, or an amphibious version with a four-tonne gross and payload weight cut, swimming propulsion provided by two water jets.

Compared to most infantry fighting vehicles of its category, the Pars 8x8 features a side-by-side seating front cabin for the driver anc commander who can control the surroundings on their flat screens with imaging provided by the front and rear thermal and CCD cameras, thqugh three front andavo side epfccopes provide direct vision. A network based on Can r/us technology ensures high-speed and high-resolution data transfer throughout the vehicle.

The 500 or a 600-hp powerpack and fully automatic transmission are located centre-left, behind the front cabin, an aisle on the right side linking the front and troop compartment with twelve seals in the APC configuration. An allwheel steering system is used, while the semiautomatic pneumatic computer-controlled active suspension system increases comfort and mobility and allows adjusting ground clearance between 120 and 500 mm. The Pars 8 ? 8 can be transported in an A400M.

Apart from the two prototypes manufactured in Ankara, the first Pars-based 8 ? 8s, although deeply redesigned, will be produced by Deftech in Malaysia where, in late May 2011, a contract was signed for the design, development and manufacture of the vehicle. This design was unveiled at DSA 2010. Denel of South Africa is also part of the team and provides the two-man turret armed with the GI 30 dual-feed linkless cannon that will equip one of the fighting versions, the other one featuring the FNSS Sharpshooter 25-mm one-man turret.

Known as the AV-8, it will be available in twelve different variants and will use drivelines supplied by Turkey. The advanced open vehicle electronic architecture system will be from the Thaies VSys-net and will integrate a battlefield management system, a platform management system, navigation and situational awareness systems.

The forward air controller operations variant will be equipped with Rheinmetall Nordic's Vingtaqs II surveillance and reconnaissance system that provides target co-ordinates at long ranges and includes a laser designator. Deliveries of trial vehicles are planned for 2012, followed by production vehicles between late 2013 and 2018.

FNSS has developed a 6 ? 6 version with a smaller engine offering eight rear seats (a maximum of eleven admissible). Any turret has to be mounted pretty far backwards, between the second and third axle, due to the engine's position. It can be transported in a C- 130H and is amphibious with a four-tonne payload (compared to the six of the non -amphibious version). It was unveiled at Idex in February 201 1 in a personnel carrier version equipped with a Saab Trackfire remotely controlled turret armed with a 12.7-mm M2 HB machine gun.

Ejder

Nurol Makina's Ejder (Dragon) 6x6 APC has seen action in small numbers in the RussianGeorgian war, Georgia being its only known customer, though only a part of the 76 vehicles bought had been delivered at the beginning of the conflict.

TBT

In April 2011 the Romanian Government decided to launch the development of a personnel carrier known as the TBT 8x8 (Transportor Blindât pentru Trope 8 ? 8). An initial development contract was assigned to Uzina Automecanica Moreni, a Rom arm company. Following the governmental decision, the Saur- 3 8x8 became the TBT 8x8, for which UAM is seeking international co-operation for its full development.

This is in its very early stages, but the company has released some provisional data: 7.94 meters long and 2.88 meters wide, with an over-hull height of 2.175 meters. It will have a Level 2 baseUne protection that might increase to Level 3 and Level 3a against ballistic and mine threats. Grossing at 22 tonnes (19 for the amphibious variant), its payload capacity is estimated at three tonnes.

Powered by a 430-kW Euro 3 engine it will reach 105 km/h with a 700-km range at cruise speed, while in the amphibious version, two waterjets afford a ten km/h swimming speed. The TBT 8x8 will have a three-man crew seated in tandem on the left side, while six dismounts access the troop compartment via the rear ramp. The vehicle will feature a remotely controlled turret armed with a 30-mm gun with dual ammunition feed and a Na to-compatible battle management system.

RGs

The wheeled vehicle branch of BAE Systems is its South African OMC division, which has garnered huge experience in this field in the past. The heavier member of the RG family is currently the RG-41, a prototype of which was unveiled at Eurosatory 2010. An 8 ? 8 powered by a 523-hp engine with a 30-tonne gross weight and an eleven-tonne payload capacity, its semi Vshaped hull provides Level 4a/b baseline protection against mines.

Carrying a driver plus ten dismounts in APC configuration, the high payload allows it to accommodate any type of turret up to 105 mm. With a two-man medium-calibre turret it hosts a three-man crew and seven dismounts. The overall cabin volume is 14.9 cubic metres; the driver position is connected to the rear compartment via a wide corridor on the left (the engine being on the right).

One of the design choices was to push forward the first axle in order to have a 75° angle of approach to cope with difficult obstacles, a capacity further enhanced by the 16.00 R20 tires that also reduce ground pressure to a minimum with the help of a central tyre inflation system. Width was kept at 2.84 metres to ensure good mobility even in urban terrain. For rough terrain mobility, the vehicle is equipped with enhanced independent suspensions with longstroke hydro-pneumatic struts.

The RG-41 hull is divided in five modules, the frangible part of the sections being located underneath the semi-V shape hull to which the drive train is attached. Crew safety is enhanced by the adoption of BAE Systems Schroth energy absorbing seats.

Prototype no. 1 was tested in South Africa and in the United Arab Emirates' hot climate, which led to a number of smaller changes incorporated into prototype no. 2. This was submitted to four blast tests and was then repaired and exhibited at DSEi 201 1, after which it was submitted to rigorous testing at the Millbrook test track.

BAE Systems OMC is carrying out conceptual work on manned-turret versions (the RG-41 exhibited was equipped with the company's new TRT-25 remotely controlled turret) as well as on an artillery version equipped with 105-mm ordnance. The company considers the Middle East as its primary market in the 2012-13 timeframe, followed in the longer-term by Spain, Britain and Norway. In late 2010 the company underlined its vision for the Land 400 Australian requirement for which the RG-41 has been highlighted as the possible wheeled element.

In South Africa, BAE Systems OMC is pushing for a reopening of Project Hoefyster. which led to the choice of the Patria AMV 8x8 when no vehicle of South African origin fulfilling the requirements was available.

For nations looking for a cheaper combat vehicle, BAE Systems OMC proposes its RG-35 6x6 which can reach an all-round Level 4 protection both against ballistic and anti-mine threats, with a 33-tonne gross weight including nearly 15 tonnes of payload. It provides a 15 cubic-metre protected cabin and can host up to 15 dismounts plus the driver.

The vehicle can be equipped with a mediumcalibre two-man turret; the number of dismounts being reduced accordingly. Compared to the RG41, which has an all-armoured driver compartment, the RG-35 architecture is quite different as it features a front windscreen providing ample situational awareness to the two men seated in the front cabin with access via two side doors.

The engine is located on the left side, leaving an ample passageway on the right. The rear compartment has two long armoured glass windows on each side with a door at right - a sharp contrast with the RG-41 equipped with an optronic situational awareness system and a rear ramp. BAE Systems OMC is currently refining the RG-35 6x6, and in summer 2012 will take it to the UAE for hot- weather trials. The Middle East and Africa are the main marketing areas.

M bom be

Another recent South African entry is the Mbombe, developed by the Paramount Group, unveiled in late 2010. This 6x6 offers good situational awareness thanks to the front windscreen, side driver windows, four side and two rear windows in the cargo compartment. These are all protected by slats to maintain good visibility while reducing the risk of direct hits that might degrade window transparency.

At 27 tonnes with an eleven-tonne payload, it has all-round Level 4 protection and can withstand the explosion of a 50-kg bomb bursting at five metres. Discontinuing the traditional South African deep V- shape hull, its 4a/b level mine protection is afforded by an innovative under-belly energy absorption package. This helps keep the vehicle shape relatively low. its height being 2.34 meters with a ground clearance of 430 mm.

In the personnel carrier version the Mbombe hosts the driver and vehicle commander in front and up to nine dismounts in the rear. The concept demonstrator was fitted with a 30-mm one-man turret, though remotely controlled medium-calibre turrets are envisaged, as are protection upgrades, mainly against RPGs. At Idex the vehicle was exhibited in the Emirates International Golden Group stand, an indicator of a close cooperation with that company. More recently Renault officials talked about a co-operation with Paramount, but no details were given.

BTR

BTR series vehicles are still raising interest around the world; companies like Kharkiv Morozov in the Ukraine and JSC Arzamaz in Russia are being quite active on the market. At DSEi, the former, under the auspices of the Ukrspecexport national export company, showed its BTR-4 and BTR-3E1, the latter apparently again high on the Royal Thai Army shopping list. The service has already bought 96 equipped with a Shturm turret armed with a 30-mm gun and Bar'er anti-tank missiles, some 30 such vehicles having been delivered. A further contract for 121 seems ready to be signed.

Arzamaz iaunched the production of the BTR-82, an upgraded version of the BTR-80 featuring a 300-hp engine, better protection against mines and roadside bombs and a turret that can host either a 14.5-mm machine gun or a 30-mm 2A72 cannon, plus a 7.62 coax MG. the lighter solution giving birth to the BTR-82 while vehicles with the heavier armament are known as BTR-82A.

Asia

Looking at Asia, things have not evolved much. South Korea did not move towards the acquisition of a new wheeled armoured vehicle. Hyundai Rotem KWl and KW2, Doosan Infracore Black Fox and Samsung MPV are still awaiting decisions from the national customer, while no contract has yet materialised on the export market. The same fate is apparently hitting Taiwan Aerospace Corporation's CM-32 Yunpao 8x8.

In Singapore, ST Kinetics is mass producing the Terrex, which became operational in May 2011, the 2nd Battalion, Singapore Infantry Regiment being the first unit equipped with the new vehicle. Tests in Colombia are imminent according to local sources. As for China, its VNl and WMZ551 are still seeking export orders.

Throwing a Track?

The main tracked vehicle programmes in the western hemisphere are those related to the acquisition of a new family of combat vehicles by the US Army, following the cancellation of the Future Combat Systems programme. This has left American ground forces with capability gaps and seen the postponement of the replacement of a number of combat vehicles, such as the Bradley Infantry Fighting Vehicle.

The new programme that should lead to a replacement of most of the US Army's tracked fleet was named Ground Combat Vehicle. Requirements for priority one vehicle, an infantry fighting vehicle, were issued in a revised request for proposals in November 2010, stipulating delivery in 2017. The vehicle should be capable to withstand mines, roadside bombs, RPGs and ballistic threats and accommodate crew plus nine dismounts.

It should be able to operate across the full spectrum of military operations, from conventional to asymmetrical conflicts, whether on open ground or in urban areas. The army set the cost bracket between $9 and 10.5 million apiece (although later figures indicate an $ 11 to 13 million bracket), with an operating cost of $ 200 per mile.

GCV Teams

One year later the programme is still on hold and its future is uncertain. Criticism came from the Government Accountability Office about the real need for such a vehicle in that timeframe, although this did not stop the army from launching the first step, the Technology Development phase. Originally up to three such contracts were to be passed, however in August 2011 only two contracts were issued, worth a total of $ 890 million split on two teams.

The first is led by General Dynamics Land Systems and includes Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Tognum America (MTU power generation). The second, the BAE Systems-Northrop Grumman team, includes Qinetiq, iRobot, MTU and Saft - the latter, a leading battery specialist, because the team proposes a hybrid drive.

A third team led by Science Applications International Corporation was not selected for this phase although it included Boeing, KraussMaffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall Defence; the two German companies bringing their experience with the Puma, particularly regarding the chassis, powerpack and running gears, while gun, ammunition feed, ballistic and active protection would have been the prerogative of the Americans.

Following its exclusion the SAIC team filed a protest that froze the programme. The protest was however turned down by the General Accounting Office in early December, allowing the US Army to resume work and thereby avoid further delays.

Following a two-year technology development phase that will lead to the preliminary design review, up to two contracts will be awarded for a 48-month engineering and manufacturing development phase that will in turn lead to an early prototype at the end of the first year and to a 'full-up' prototype three years later.

A low-rate initial production contract is scheduled for mid-FY17, the first production vehicle being awaited in late FY 18 with a First Unit Equipped in early FY20 and an initial operational capability in mid-FY20 with a first Heavy Brigade Combat Team. This timeline was established in October 2010, but might be revised following the break caused by the above-mentioned protest. Should the US Army go for the GCV and decide to replace its Bradleys with the new vehicle, production may reach the 1800 mark, just with the IFV variant.

Armored Multi Purpose

The other main tracked vehicle programme in the US Army is the Armored Multi Purpose Vehicle, which aims at replacing the Ml 13. With some 3000 units at stake, the programme has yet to be launched due to financial constraints and above all the choice of tracks versus wheels has not yet been made.

BAE Systems is proposing a solution based on the refurbishment of the Bradleys that are not currently in use and on their re-rolling, which will include the upgrade to the A3 standard, the adoption of new anti-mine kits, turret removal and the adoption of mission-related systems.

Five versions are being offered, heavy mortar carrier with a 120-mm weapon, command and control, general purpose and two medical versions, one aimed at evacuation and one at treatment. Should the about 2000 Bradleys currently not in use be sufficient, new vehicles could be produced to the new standard.

The RDT&E phase would require nearly $ 300 million spread over five years, while the acquisition phase should require around $ 1.6 billion. However, a noteworthy point is that to bridge the gap until the GCV enters in full service, the current Bradley IFV fleet will need a further refurbishment, considering wear and tear from recent operations downrange.

Warrior

Of the two major British programmes, the Scout SV and the Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP), it is the latter that has been assigned first. Lockheed Martin's proposal based on a refurbished turret was selected, the contract award being announced on 25 October 201 1 by the Minister for Defence Equipment, Support and Technology. Phase 1 claims £ 642 million (euro 740 million), while the overall programme value is forecast at £ 1 billion (euro 1.6 billion).

The Lockheed Martin-led Warrior Transformation Team (WTT) includes Ultra Electronics, the Defence Support Group, Scisys, Rheinmetall Defence, Curtiss Wright, Thaïes UK, Moog, Meggitt, CTA International, Westwire. TKE, MTL and Caterpillar UK. The choice for the CTAI 40mm gun using encased telescopic ammunition saves a lot of room inside the turret, which allows the installation of new ve ironies and will improve crew comfort and safety.

The refurbished Warrior features blast-resistant seats and a modular protection system to adapt the protection to conditions (bar armour, add-on passive armour or ERA along the chassis). Situational awareness is provided by a series of external cameras. Increased power needs are addressed by the adoption of an improved generator while an intelligent power management and distribution system optimises consumption.

The WSCP programme will run until 2023, with the Full Operational Capability planned for 2020. Ten vehicles will be used for extensive trials in the 2013-14 period. Some 380 Warriors are involved.

Lockheed Martin is offering elements of the WCSP programme to Kuwait, the Gulf country having acquired 254 Desert Warriors in the early '90s. Kuwait should soon launch a request with a view to bringing back its vehicles to full operational status, but it is not clear whether this will also involve a drastic improvement.

Scout SV

Lockheed Martin's WCSP solution has numerous common subsystems with the General Dynamics UK Scout Specialist Vehicle, Scout SV in short; the reconnaissance tracked vehicle based on the Common Base Platform (CBP) that will be used for other variants, aimed at replacing the ageing CVR(T) fleet.

The General Dynamics proposal was selected in March 2010 and in July a £ 500 million (euro574 million) contract for the design and demonstration phase was assigned. Due to current financial shortcomings the green light has not yet been given to the programme production phase that at best will be delayed, with figures reconsidered.

The Recce Block 1 of the Specialist Vehicle programme includes four variants, Scout Reconnaissance, Protected Mobility Reconnaissance Support (PMRS), Recovery and Repair. The common chassis adopted for the SV family is an evolved version of the Ascod's used in the Ulan/Pizarro (the Austrian and Spanish fighting vehicles). Compared to the original 30 tonnes the new chassis will have a growth potential up to 42 tonnes. Engine is based on the MTU 8V 199 TE21, the latest iteration of which kicks 815 hp versus the Ascod's 721 hp, providing the baseline reconnaissance version with a power-to-weight ratio of 24 hp/tonne considering a 34-tonne initial combat weight.

The SV powerpack is being optimised for hot and dusty working conditions, with the adoption of a self-monitoring and pulse jet air clean filter as well as a double cooling system, while generous electrical power generation provides a 100 % growth capability in terms of subsystem consumption. The vetronics backbone of the SV family is the General Dynamics Core Infrastructure Distribution System that provides a 100 % growth in data and power availability, reducing volume by 60 % and weight by 21 % compared to current systems, while ensuring savings in repair time, training and logistics. The CBP Ethernet open architecture allows information transfer at 20 Gb/sec while on-board storage capacity is six TB, as the Scout variant is, first of all, an intelligence-gathering vehicle.

The turret development and production falls under the responsibility of Lockheed Martin UK and is based on the Rheinmetall Lance turret structure equipped with the CTA International 40-mm cannon (the same as the WSCP's). commander's and gunner's sights are being provided by Thaïes, while Meggitt is in charge of the ammunition handling system. The 1.7-meter diameter luriel ring ensures comfort even when the crew wears body armour and allows the installation of Barco's TX-335S 13-inch crew station display.

The Scout SV commander's sight includes automatic detection and tracking, exploiting targets thermal signature, and has provisions for a laser target designator. Both sights have digital video outputs that comply with the new Vetronics Infrastructure for Video Over Ethernet standard, which allows easy forwarding of images. The Scout SV accommodates a two-plus-foursoldier combat team.

The Scout SV development is well advanced and the prototype exhibited at DSEi 2011 differed from the production version only in terms of armour. The first development turret armed with the CTAI 40 mm successfully fired five months ahead of schedule in May 2011. Its turret was then installed on the PT3 chassis as a riskreduction move, to verify the mating between the two main elements, as the new turret ring is considerably larger than the original one.

The Scout SV successfully passed the SDR in mid-July 2011, and its Mobility Test Rig was to be completed by the end of 2011 to allow de-risk testing on the powerpack, suspensions and automotive elements. The contract includes the production of seven prototype vehicles and four prototype turrets. The first trial vehicle should reach the British Army in early 2013.

CV90

BAE Systems Hägglunds, through the CV90, has acquired long experience in the Afghan theatre. The first CV9030s deployed there belonged to the Norwegian contingent. The increasing roadside bomb threat led Norway to fit its vehicles with an upgraded version equipped with better under-belly protection. Recently a new kit was qualified by a third party, the new add-on armour protection exceeding Level 4a/b.

A Gen. 3 Vehicle Information System (VIS) has also been developed to improve the manmachine interface and provide greater flexibility when adding new vetronics.The development of semi-active suspensions is in its final stage of qualification and ready to be integrated into serial production.

Armadillo

New variations on the CV90 theme were recently unveiled with the insertion of new BAE Systems technologies. At Eurosatory 2010 the company introduced the Armadillo, which already included the aforementioned under-belly protection, but with ballistic protection exceeding Level 5 and a weight of 16 tonnes sans mission module.

The prototype exhibited was equipped with a Bofors-BAE Systems Lemur remotely controlled 12.7-mm heavy machine gun turret and the Saab Leds-150 hard kill active defence system. The mission module was the armoured personnel carrier one, which could accommodate eight, which brings the vehicle combat weight in that configuration to 26 tonnes and leaves a growth margin of nine tonnes since the total upper limit is 35 tonnes.

Command and control, casualty carrier, repair, recovery and mortar carrier modules are being considered as well as a bridge-layer version. Since June 2010 the Armadillo concept has been thoroughly developed and the vehicle is now in the pre-series stage, BAE Systems looking forward to bag a first contract within one year.

Hide and Seek

Also shown at the latest DSEi was 'the Ghost', a CV90120-T version sporting an infrared, radar and acoustic stealth configuration. The infrared concealment device is called the Adaptiv, a camouflage system based on tiles that are individually able to change their temperature according to a pattern estabUshed by the on-board computer, which itself receives the pattern data necessary to blend the vehicle into its background from the vehicle's own thermal camera. Being «coolable» the tiles are also radar absorbent.

The Ghost was also equipped with Soucy rubber tracks, which Norway already uses on its CV90s deployed to Afghanistan. Combat weight is set at 28 tonnes, but trials at 35 tonnes are being carried out to clear these tracks at that weight within 2012. Band tracks reduce the noise by ten dB and bring with them a series of collateral advantages such as a 1.2-tonne weight reduction, increased comfort and reliability.

To further reduce noise, BAE Systems Hägglunds is migrating the hybrid technology adopted on the Sep prototype into the CV90 propulsion system, a major customer has already shown interest in that solution. The CV90 Ghost also featured some other modifications, such as a redesigned nose end, a new driver's hatch ensuring better visibility, as well as the new VIS. The Rheinmetall Rh 120 LLR L/47, which is a halftonne lighter than the standard 120-mm gun, was fitted.

Puma

KMW and Rheinmetall are producing what can be considered the state-of-the-art mechanised infantry fighting vehicle in the form of the Puma. Following the latest German decisions, the new army structure envisages only nine mechanised infantry battalions, thus only 350 Pumas will be needed compared to the original number of 410. The first ten Pumas are currently in production, four having been already assembled, and deliveries to the German Army are planned for 2013 for an initial operational capability one year later. Then the Puma will start replacing the Marder in German service.

Marder

The Bundeswehr upgraded 70 of its nearly 200 Marders to 1 A5 standard, with mine protection, air conditioning and other upgrades aimed at the Afghan scenario. The availability of surplus Marders led Rheinmetall to consider marketing options for those vehicles, and it is offering them with various levels of upgrade and in different configurations ranging from IFV to APC. command and control, logistic and ambulance, up to medium tank armed with a 105-mm gun.

Rheinmetall also proposed a Marder version for the Canadian CCV bid, but opted out when Canada included in the requirements that only new components were accepted. The German company's concept was to propose a vehicle with a highly protected second-hand chassis equipped with a modem turret and fighting systems, for about half the price of a new vehicle. A technology demonstrator was shown at Idex 2011 named Close Combat Vehicle (CCV).

Dedicated to urban warfare, improvements were adopted in all three areas, protection, firepower and mobility, leveraging the capabilities of the Rheinmetall Group and providing a solution at zero-weight increase. Weight savings were obtained adopting an Amap-based armour package provided by IBD Deisenroth/Rheinmetall-Chempro and installing the Lance remotely controlled turret armed with the Wotan 30-mm gun.

Firepower improvements came from the bigger calibre, the dual-feed system and provisions for airburst munitions. The commander sits in the hull, behind the driver, with the gunner at his side, both with the same turret controls. The commander can observe the battlefield through the Seoss P periscope on 360° while the gunner uses the Seoss-S sight. Both systems feature a daylight colour TV camera, a thermal imager and a laser rangefinder. A 15% power increase results from the adoption of a new powerpack.

M113

The ubiquitous Ml 13 has been used for several evolutions and is still marketed under various forms. The following depicts only a few examples of the latest configurations proposed by different compames.

FNSS in Turkey is still marketing the ACV and ACV-S (the "S' stands for stretched) derivatives of the Ml 13 respectively with five and six road wheels. The Turkish ACV programme was at the origin of the FNSS and then FMC, and a considerable number of such vehicles were sold in-country and worldwide. The basic APC weighs 14.5 tonnes and carries a crew of three plus eight dismounts, while the ACV-S IFV with a two-man turret which weighs 18.5 tonnes and hosts six infantrymen.

The Philippines was among the latest IFV customers. FNSS also co-operated with Deftech in Malaysia, the latter producing 211 Adnan ACV, including a version equipped with the FNSS 25-mm Sharpshooter one-man turret. Eight 120-mm Mortar Carriers were also delivered while 48 more ACVs are being delivered under an additional contract.

Israel Military Industries developed a deeply modified Ml 13 version known as Urban Fighter, optimised for asymmetric warfare in urban areas. Its armour package provides Level 4 ballistic protection while slat armour is aimed at defeating RPGs.

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