The trend: the contest for export orders remains a fierce baffle between the 'usual suspects'--the Pandur and Piranha, bath produced by European subsidiaries of General Dynamics Land Systems--and the 'new kid on the block', the armoured modular vehicle from Patria.
The Belgian Army plans to replace its fleet of Leopard 1 tanks, armoured infantry fighting vehicles and M113 personnel carriers with a family of wheeled cars. The government has allocated about 800 million [euro] to acquire 242 wheeled vehicles in seven variants--assault gun, infantry fighting, personnel carrier, engineer, commando, ambulance and logistics vehicles. A contract for an initial batch of 138 units is expected to be placed early this year and could be followed by a second batch of 81 and a final batch of 23. Bids have been solicited from Iveco, Giat, Mowag, Patria and Steyr.
The Netherlands is examining bids from four manufacturers in case it decides that the cost of the Artec Boxer has escalated prohibitively following Britain's discontinuing its involvement in the project in 2004.
The Patria AMV is the only candidate being evaluated for the South African Army's Project Hoefyster (Horseshoe) under which 264 new 8 x 8s are to be acquired. The Army's demanding specifications, the government's equally demanding offset requirements, the short timeframe to deliver a prototype for evaluation and doubts that the projects would proceed are the primary reasons that deterred other manufacturers from bidding. During the apartheid era the South African Defence Force was a pioneer in the use of wheeled armoured vehicles and the South African industry produced a range of vehicles that saw extensive active service. Patria is part of a consortium that includes Denel, Eads Land Mobility Technologies and BAE Systems Land Systems South Africa-OMC and one that is proposing the Modular Combat Vehicle, an AMV with the LCT-30/35 turret developed by Denel. The two-person hunter-killer turret is armed with a Mk 44 Bushmaster 30 mm chain gun and a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun. The army is planning separate programmes to acquire new armoured personnel carriers (Project Sepula) and tank destroyers (Project Adrift).
A number of Gulf countries are also planning to acquire wheeled armoured vehicles. In mid-2005 Kuwait conducted trials of a BAE Systems Mowag Piranha III, the Patria Armoured Modular Vehicle and the Steyr-Daimler-Puch Pandur II to meet a requirement for 60 8 x 8 armoured vehicles fitted with a 25 mm or 30 mm gun turret. The project is expected to be funded in the 2006 budget. A subsequent order for twice as many vehicles could follow.
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress on 3 October 2005 of a possible $ 918 million foreign military sale to the Saudi Arabian National Guard that includes 144 personnel carrier, 52 command and control, 36 platoon command, 17 ambulance and 12 water cannon vehicles. The National Guard has invited General Dynamics Land Systems, Australian Defence Industries, Steyr and BAE Systems to present candidate vehicles for evaluation in Saudi Arabia.
Out of the limelight Japanese industry is quietly working on a local project that is expected to launch the Piranha IV into production.
America's Armoured Caps
In mid-2005 Textron Marine & Land Systems received a potential $ 500 million contract to build a further 724 M1117 Armored Security Vehicles (ASVs) for the US Army. The contract increased the number of production vehicles ordered by the Army to 1118, including 43 supplied to the Iraqi government. Textron had already hired 700 additional employees and intended to hire another 400 to increase production at its New Orleans facilities to 48 vehicles per month. However, on 29 August production was brought to a standstill when Hurricane Katrina struck the city. Less than three weeks later Textron resumed delivery of vehicles already completed and is now working to resume full production capacity. The Army will undoubtedly be relieved as the ASV has proven effective in Iraq and the service recently designated the vehicle as its 'convoy protection platform'. Whether or not additional platforms will be ordered to fill this new role is unclear at the present.
The ASV was selected in 1995 to provide US Army military police units with a better-protected vehicle than the M1114 Uparmored Humvee and the first were delivered in 1999. The ASV is derived from the Cadillac Gage (bought by Textron) LAV-100/150/200 series of 4 x 4 and 6 x 6 vehicles that entered production in 1963 and have been the subject of constant upgrades; more than 3000 were built, primarily for the export market.
With a crew of four the ASV is fitted with a Textron one-man turret armed with a Mk 19 40 mm automatic grenade launcher and an M2 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. Modular ceramic composite applique armour provides all-round protection against 7.62 mm ball ammunition while the crew compartment, weapon station and ammunition storage areas are protected against 12.7 mm armour piercing (AP) attack. The ASV can withstand a blast of up to five kilos of TNT in the wheel wells.
Textron offers other turret and weapon fits for the export market. Most of the 43 vehicles built for the Iraqi Civil Intervention Force are a stretched version able to accommodate up to ten--the remainder were configured as command vehicles.
More to Come
In this supplement Armada International will examine wheeled and tracked vehicles primarily in the 10 to 30-tonne range. While the experience of US forces in Iraq has shown the value of heavy tracked vehicles in urban operations it has also prompted the development of 4 x 4 AFV designs intended primarily for the convoy escort role. The development of the so-called 'combat truck' will be discussed in a future issue of Armada.
The US Army's Future Combat Systems, the British Army's Future Rapid Effects System and Sweden's Spitterskyddad Enhets Platform (Modular Armoured Tactical System) projects will be the subject of another supplement later this year. Likewise, reconnaissance vehicles and active self-protection systems will be examined in greater detail in future issues of Armada.
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|Title Annotation:||Complete Guide|
|Author:||Biass, Eric H.|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2006|
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