A new breed.
Paolo Valpolini, inputs from Eric H. Biass
Indeed, and more often than not, mobility considerations have brought the seemingly endless increase of weight and dimensions to a halt. The considerable difference between the Afghan terrain, with valleys and narrow tracks, and that of Iraq, with its wide desert tracks, for example, has compelled the US Army to revise its policy towards Mrap vehicles, leading to the Mrap-All Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV), with the aim of packing a similar protection level into a smaller, more agile vehicle that could ensure full mobility to its troops in Afghanistan.
However, in the asymmetrical type of conflicts that now seem to prevail, opponents have no standards: if they realise that a makeshift bomb is not powerful enough, they will put two or more side-by-side to send even main battle tanks toppling over (as has happened). Thus, never by any stretch of imagination will the best armour ever be able to defy the laws of physics. At the most, what armour and internal vehicle layout can do today is limit the damage. The only alternative, or rather additional, solution is to limit vehicle exposure through improved intelligence and sensors, but that is a different story.
Splitting wheeled vehicles into three categories, light, Mrap and heavy, it seems safe to heighten the limit between the first two at around eleven tonnes.
Many of the vehicles born as 'light' are evolving towards that limit, some new ones are appearing at 7.5 tonnes with growth potential, therefore one can assume that today's 'light' is about the double of the original weight of many vehicles of this category.
The JLTV Affair
The major fight armoured vehicle programme currently in the pipeline, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle currently in the technology development phase, is clearly not exempt from risks of cuts and rethinking. The programme should lead to a part replacement of the Humvee fleet currently in service with the US Army and the Marines, but Australia is also taking part in the technology development phase in which it invested 40 million Australian dollars ([euro]28.3 million). The interest shown by India for the JLTV programme in late 2009, which would have led to a wider internationalisation of the programme, did not materialise.
To align its fleet of LTVs the US Army aims at replacing front line Humvees with JLTVs, while current armoured Humvees such as the M1114 and M1151s, most of which will be upgraded, would replace the unarmoured M998, M1025 and M1026 Humvee series. In other words, the entire programme should bring about the 'recapitalisation' of some 50,000 Humvees and the replacement of a similar number by the JLTV.
The US Marine Corps should acquire about 5500 JLTVs and maintain in service a fleet of some 20,000 Humvees. However, at AUSA 2010 some doubts started to emerge about the sustainability of the JLTV programme as it was initially conceived. Army sources confirmed the service's commitment to the programme, however the purchase might be slowed down and the concerned Humvees probably not replaced on a one-for-one basis.
As for the Marines, doubts on the vehicle's gross weight seem to emerge every now and then, resulting from the different priorities set by the two US services, the army looking at survivability while the US Marine Corps, by definition focused on expeditionary force capability, looks at transportability, which in other terms means respect for the original weight and dimensions set for the programme.
Three payload categories are envisaged. The JLTV-A will serve battlespace awareness missions by providing protected and networked mobility to the two services' general command and control purposes. The JLTV-B will be aimed at mounted infantry/combat arms forces, while JLTV-C will be focused on logistics for the transport of wounded personnel, general cargo, ammunition and shelters. The requirements for the different categories of vehicles and trailers are indicated in the table 'JLTV Requirements'.
Following the delivery of seven test vehicles by each of the three selected competing teams, namely BAE Systems and Navistar, the Lockheed Martin-led team comprising BAE Systems Mobility and Protection Systems, and General Tactical Vehicles (the joint venture company of General Dynamics Land Systems and AM General), durability trials are underway at Yuma Proving Ground (Arizona) while performance trials are being carried out at Aberdeen Proving Ground (Maryland), the latter including transportability tests and an evaluation of the vehicles behaviour in urban terrain. Tests are due to be concluded in May 2011.
The JLTV mission profile includes 30% primary roads, 30% secondary roads and 40% cross-country travel, the fuel efficiency benchmark being currently set at 60 mpg (3.92 litres for 100 km), a figure that the US services hope should even be improved. Following the users' evaluation by the US Marine Corps, the Department of Defense should launch another full competition for the engineering manufacturing development phase that would lead to a further downselection, leaving two teams competing, with the award of two engineering and manufacturing development contracts in late 2011 or early 2012.
JLTV Requirements Cat. A Cat. B Cat. C Vehicle payload 3500 (T) - 4000 (O) 4000 (T) - 5100 [lbs] 5100 (O) (T) - 5500 (O) Trailer payload 3400 (T) - 4200 (O) 4200 (T) - 5600 [lbs] 5600 (O) (T) - 10,000 (O) Performance exceed Humvee (all categories Fuel efficiency 60 (T) - 90 (O) (all [mpg] categories Speed [mph] 70 (all categories) Onboard power 15 kW(T) - 20 kW (O) (all gen. categories) Export power 10 kW (T) - 30 kW (O) (all gen. categories) Silent watch 2 hrs (T) - 6 hrs (O) (all categories) Transp. ext. 1x at GVW (T) 1x at GVW (T) 1x at CH-53K GVW (T) 2x at ECC (O) Transp. ext. 1x at ECC (T) 1x at ECC (T) 1x at CH-47F ECC (1) 1x at GVW (O) Transp. ext. 1x at ECC (T) - - MH-47G Transp. ext. 1x at ECC 1x at ECC (T) 1x at CH-53E ECC (1) 1x at GVW (O) Transp. int. 1x at ECC (O) - - CH-47 F and MH-47G Transp. int. 1x at ECC (O) - - CH-53E and CH-53K Transp. int. 2x (T) - 3x (O) 1x (T) - 2x 1x at C-130 (O) GVW (T) 1x at GCVW (O) T = Threshold O = Objective ECC = Essential Combat Configuration = curb weight + 3/4 tank fuel + 2 crew members with personal gear + comm equipment + one day food, water and ammunition supplies GVW = Gross Vehicle Weight = curb weight + payload + B armour kit GCVW = Gross Combined Vehicle Weight = JLTV GVW + GVW of the towed load (1) Excluding JLTV-C Ambulance and JLTV-C Utility with shelter JLTV Sub-configurations Cat. A General Purpose Mobility--four seats US Army/Marine Corps Cat. B Infantry Carrier/Fire Team--six seats US Army/Marine Corps Reconnaissance--six seats US Army C20TM--four seats US Army/Marine Corps Heavy Guns Carrier (MP, Patrol, Escort)--four seats + gunner US Army/Marine Corps ITAS Tow Carrier--four seats US Army/Marine Corps Utility--two seats US Marine Corps Ambulance--three seats + two litters US Army/Marine Corps Cat. C Shelter Carrier/Utility/Prime Mover--two seats US Army/Marine Corps Ambulance--three seats + four litters US Army/Marine Corps
Team Lockheed Martin--which also includes BAE Systems, Alcoa Defense and JWF Defense--has build six company prototype vehicles spanning all payload categories in system test; the last three already include some user feedback, mostly in the ergonomics, maintenance and supportability areas, and are 98% similar to the vehicles provided to the US government.
Company prototypes have totalled over 200,000 kilometres on mobility testing, more than half of which was off-road to simulate mission conditions. As for protection, 24 hulls were blasted in mine and LED tests while over 200 ballistic panels were shot at with high-velocity rounds.
Lockheed Martin has delivered ten JLTV prototypes to the US government for the technology demonstration phase; these are representative of all the payload classes of vehicles, two of them being right-hand drive.
The Lockheed Martin approach to the JLTV is based on a common frame on which different modular cabs are installed. The Cat. A version is the smallest, while Cat. B and Cat. C frames are larger and identical.
Propulsion is also different, with the Cat. A being equipped with a Cummins 4.5-litre high-efficiency diesel engine while the Cat. B and C have a 6.8-litre diesel (Lockheed Martin had proposed a hybrid propulsion solution on its Future Tactical Truck System (FTTS) prototype, but this technology was not deemed mature for deployment as weight and 'sustainment' penalties override the small advantages gained in fuel consumption). All vehicles feature an integrated starter-generator which provides the levels of power required by the services, power being distributed along the vehicle in what is defined as a plug-and-play computer environment, with the onboard network derived from the experience garnered in the Future Combat System programme.
Among the vehicles delivered, TV6 is fitted in the so-called C2 On-the-Move variant; this features integrated prognostics, diagnostics and manifest file transfer via WiFi along with a net-centric computing infrastructure with four scalable network processors. These expanded features allow for intra-convoy live video streaming. The company acquired experience in this field when it developed helicopter health monitoring systems.
Ride comfort is ensured by independent double control arm suspensions with 16-inch travel air spring struts. This provides for great ride height adjustment, including reducing the overall vehicle height to less than the 76 inches as required for ship ferrying.
The Lockheed Martin JLTVs adopt a C4I suite, dashboard, diagnostics and integrated electronic technical manuals that were already tested on the FTTS prototype to reduce risks. This however did not deter the company from integrating many innovations, having disclosed 33 inventions and filed 15 patents with two already granted.
BAE Systems is also a centre partner in view of mass production. Alcoa provides aluminium parts that are key in keeping weight under control while maintaining strength and reliability in line with requirements. The Cat. A, a general-purpose vehicle, has a curb weight of 12,650 lb and a GVW of 20,000 lbs, in line with the Marine Corps' requirements, while the same vehicle in the Enhanced Protection configuration unsurprisingly has a marginally higher curb weight of more than 20,000 lbs.
The BAE Systems Team proposal, known as the Valanx, also sees a smaller Cat. A and larger but similarly sized Categories B and C. The monocoque V-hull is produced in armour grade aluminium. The B-kit is made of a mixture of advanced steels plus aluminium laminates for perimeter protection, a titanium underbody against mines and roadside bombs and B-glass for transparent surfaces.
The BAE Systems Navistar vehicle is powered by a Cummins six-litre, 340-hp, V8 diesel coupled to an Allison 2500 six-speed automatic transmission with transfer case. Meritor Protec Series 30 High Mobility independent suspensions feature double control arms with airbag semiactive dampers offering ride height adjustments of between 178 and 610 mm.
Cat. B and C vehicles have steering on all four wheels. An integrated starter-generator provides 20 kW of onboard power and ten kW of exportable power, reaching the objective target in the first case and the threshold in the latter.
The Navistar team handed over the seven prototype vehicles and the four companion trailers to the US Department of Defense in early May 2010; the variants included two Cat. A General Purpose, four Cat. B Infantry Carrier and one Cat. C Utility. These were followed in mid-June by the three right-hand drive vehicles for Australia, namely a Cat. A General Purpose, a Cat. B Command-on-the-Move and a Cat. C Utility. The last, the Enhanced Protection, was to be delivered at time of writing.
General Tactical Vehicles has a common base for all three categories. The vehicles have a V-shape monocoque hull with space frame upper structure. The B-kit, which would be mounted onto the A structure to improve protection, has lateral ceramic applique armour and seg-mented aluminium under body protection, while B-type transparent armour glass would be added to windows.
All are powered by a General Engine Products Optimizer 3200-500 six-litre, twin turbo diesel engine kicking 300 hp, coupled to an Allison automatic six-gear transmission with transfer case. Suspensions are fully independent through short- and long-arm design with semiactive damper with compression fluid. Height control is obviously available. The typical in-line starter-generator provides 20 kW of on board power and ten kW of exportable power.
Two right-hand cars were delivered in mid-July 2010 together with one companion trailer for Australian testing. This delivery followed the seven left-hand prototypes together with four companion trailers to the American services delivered ahead of schedule in late April 2010.
Humvee Upgrade Proposals
Both the US Army and the Marine Corps are looking at a recapitalisation of part of their Humvee fleet, and industry is proposing various solutions to that end. With the Expanded Capability Vehicle II (ECV II) programme cancelled in 2009 a partial fleet capitalisation remains amongst the Department of Defense's plans, but a solution still has to be identified. A request for information was published in January 2010.
The US Marine Corps, for its part, issued a solicitation in 2010 regarding the upgrade of its Humvee fleet's suspensions to improve stability, increase comfort and allow the adoption of heavier armour. Various companies developed advanced suspensions solutions. Lord proposed a magneto-rheological active shock absorber, which according to the company, improved energy absorption by more than 50%, the system absorbing about 60% of peak loads while reducing pitch and roll by 30%.
In September 2010 Oshkosh proposed its Tak-4 independent suspension system. This yields a 14-inch stroke while its 17-inch ground clearance opens the way to the installation of a V-shaped bottom kit to improve mine and roadside bomb blast resistance. The system was stated to restore the original 2500-1b payload capacity while increasing the maximum speed by 40%. The Marines chose the Horstman Compressible Fluid Strut solution that ensures the required payload restoration, improves stability and is easily adaptable to existing vehicles, with full-scale production forecast for early 2011.
As for increased protection, solutions range from new add-on armour kits to monocoque solutions that would replace the whole current crew compartment. The monocoque option would in fact transform the Humvee from an up-armoured into a true armoured vehicle.
Granite Tactical Vehicles and Textron Marine & Land Systems are proposing the Small Combat Tactical Vehicle Capsule (SCTVC). The new armoured cabin features a monocoque V-hull and is slightly wider than the original, while the armour solutions adopted reduce both the weight, compared to the original up-armoured solution, and the centre of gravity (the actual weight has not been disclosed).
Blast attenuation scats, floor pads and other de-coupling solutions reduce the load factor on the occupants in case of under-wheel or under-floor blast, while the energy dispersion obtained by shaping the underbelly considerably reduces the height to which the vehicle rises and thereby the slamdown energy.
One of the problems in the original Humvee is that the transmission and transfer case are inside the crew compartment, and those heavy metal items can become lethal projectiles in case of explosion. As one of the objectives is a bare minimum vehicle automotive element modification, these are isolated by an armoured driveling tunnel. The cell is pre-wired for easy installation of electronic equipment, and includes a front and rear air conditioning system.
The SCTVC is undergoing validation tests and Textron and Granite are awaiting a US Marine Corps request for proposals, and consider that their proposal might also attract the interest from the army.
At AUSA 2010, BAE Systems unveiled its Integrated Smart V (ISV) solution that takes into account not only the crew cell but also the automotive aspect. The monocoque V-hull leverages the RG Outrider development and maintains a 17-inch ground clearance at its centre; the cell includes all the typical decoupling systems to reduce load factors. The BAE Systems solution includes semi-active suspensions and a larger cargo bay at the rear.
The vehicle curb weight of 5.85 tonnes turns out at 6.98 tonnes gross, the difference resulting from the two-man crew, which accounts for some 315 kg, and by the 815 kg remaining payload capacity. A series of potential payload items are proposed and range from a 295-kg gunner protection kit, to a 656-kg perimeter B-kit to further improve ballistic protection, with a 95-kg under-body B-kit to enhance underbelly blast protection as another option. AM General, the original producer of the Humvee, teamed with Plasan Sasa to offer a non-monocoque solution to enhance the vehicle protection.
A new technology unveiled at AUSA 2010 might well bring a revolutionary solution to light armoured vehicles in terms of underbelly protection. Developed by Hardwire under a Darpa contract, it is known as the Structural Blast Chimney and consists of a funnel located in the middle of the vehicle that allows the blast to vent upwards. This is said to not only decrease the under-belly pressure but also to generate an upward jet that creates a downward force on the vehicle to keep it on the ground and thereby reduce accelerations.
Coupled to V-hulls this technology, which is still to be certified but which has already been blast-tested at Aberdeen proving ground, might allow to break the 'iron triangle' of payload, protection and performance.
The Other Americans
Still in under the Stars and Stripes banner, some vehicles that can be considered part of the light armoured vehicle category have been designed and produced by companies normally involved in heavier products, mostly Mraps, and that can be considered 'mini-Mraps'.
The Force Protection Cheetah is one of those. The vehicle was proposed for the JLTV programme but was not selected for the demonstration phase, and subsequently failed to be chosen for the M-ATV programme. Its monocoque V-hull provides a high degree of protection against blast, while the ballistic protection can be adapted to customer requirements, with a Level 1 A-Kit and a Level 3 B-Kit, leading to respective gross weights of 7.71 and 10.43 tonnes and payloads of 3.72 tonnes and one tonne. Equipped with height-adjustable independent suspensions, maximum ground clearance turns out at 475 mm, while power responsibility is given to a Cummins ISB engine.
Navistar's MXT-MVA is the intermediate model of the MXT family and its armour package has been designed by Plasan Sasa of Israel. Slightly lighter than the Cheetah at 8.62 tonnes gross, it features leaf spring suspensions with hydraulic shock absorbers and is powered by a Maxxforce D/VT-365 V8 engine with 300 hp on tap. It seats two crewmem-bers plus a maximum of four other passengers on a bench seat, though blast-resistant seats are provided as option.
The standard cabin features four side doors, but a two-door cabin is available with three seats, as well as a two-door extended cabin for five passengers. While the MXT-MVA (IS) falls in the Mrap-type category with its gross weight about 15 tonnes, the lighter version of the Navistar vehicle known as the MXT-MVU (Utility) is similar to the MXT-MVA but is longer and lighter (being less armoured) at 7.19 tonnes gross weight with a higher payload capacity of 2.43 tonnes.
A mix of those vehicles was used as the base for the British Army Husky, of which 262 were acquired; this led to the International Husky which has the dimensions of the MVU but muscled by a more powerful engine, a Maxxforce D6.0L V8 with 340 hp under the loud pedal. The Husky can accommodate four crewmembers under protection from ballistic threats by a Plasan Sasa-developed add-on armour kit of undisclosed level.
However, the MXT family does not feature a V-shaped hull, which is something that attracted criticism in Britain since the British troops are deployed in what is currently considered to be the worst area in terms of mines and roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
Another American light armoured vehicle is the Oshkosh Sandcat, which was adopted by Canada and Sweden, as well as by Bulgaria (which acquired 25) and Israel (where the police acquired 79) - the latter two having received their vehicles in 2010. The Sandcats delivered to those nations were built in different variants, including utility, transport and special forces. The utility version can seat four passengers while the transport version features a rear compartment with two benches for a further four passengers.
Built on an upgraded Ford F chassis, the Sandcat Kit A car--a base-level metal composite hull--can be improved with the adoption of the composite-based Kit B, which brings protection up to Stanag Level 3+ for ballistic, Level 2a for mines and Level 4 for roadside bombs.
At Eurosatory 2010 the company unveiled the Mine-Protected Light Patrol Vehicle (M-LPV) version of its Sandcat, which featured an even greater protection level compared to the previous models thanks to new composite ceramic materials and an improved blast management system. This version has a four-seat layout, with extra space for two more optional seats.
MDT Armor and MDT Protective Industries, respectively the American and Israeli branches of Aerotech Armor Division, have developed the Tiger, which is based on the Dodge Ram 5500HD chassis. Powered by a 350-hp Cummins turbo-diesel engine (one of the most powerful in the light armoured vehicle category) it can carry up to nine passengers, with a payload capacity of 1.5 tonnes as part of an 8.8-tonne gross weight.
The crew capsule features four side doors, one rear door and a roof hatch, and an all-round view through armoured glass windows. The layout sees a three-crew front seat row (for the driver, navigator and commander) and various layout options in the rear, including three to five passengers seating facing forward or two longitudinal three-seats rows. An ambulance version with two or four stretchers is also available.
Protection is provided in the form of a basic armour package plus add-on panels; as MDT Armor specialises in lightweight composites and ceramics. Different levels of protection are available, the Tiger Light having basic floor protection and high-level side protection, while the Tiger Medium, proposed to military forces, has also high-level floor protection against mines (protection levels not disclosed, though). An optional upgrade allows a gross weight increase to 10.4 tonnes, the 3.08-tonne payload capacity permits the installation of reactive armour able to defeat RPGs and explosively-forged projectiles.
Compared to many other vehicles of that kind, the Tiger features a flat floor that makes movement inside the vehicle as well as ingress and egress much easier. A remote-control weapon can be installed on the roof while gun ports in the doors are available as option. At AUSA 2010 MDT Armour announced a teaming agreement with Textron for marketing, design and manufacture of the Tiger Light.
Panhard of France, which developed what can be considered the precursor to many light armoured vehicles in the form of the VBL, is still very active in this specialty and its vehicles are the subject of a constant evolution to adapt them to new situations and missions.
For the company based in Marolles, south of Paris, the concept of protection goes beyond the mere notion of armour to take mobility and stealth parameters into account right from the inception. This is why the vehicles conceived since remain in the stream of the original VBL in spite of higher mine protection levels. Although Panhard does not intend to follow the path of the Mrap-type vehicles developed as a result of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts, the company is fully convinced that a Level 2a/b will be needed in future scenarios.
The 16 countries using its Vehicule Blinde Leger show well how deeply the company is involved on the export market, although its reference customer remains the French Armee de Terre. Pan-hard thus has every reason to be looking forward to the bids that should be issued in the near-mid term.
As part of the Scorpion programme, the VBMR (Vehicule Blinde Multi-Roles) multi-role armoured vehicle contract should be split among two different vehicles, both aimed at combat missions: the VBMR-heavy, which will replace the Vab in French infantry units, and the VBMR-light. Some 1200 of the heavier are expected to be acquired, while the number of VBMR-light should total around 800. The latter vehicle will have a gross weight of around ten to twelve tonnes and Panhard considers that two of its existing products, the PVP-XL or XXL and the VBR, could well match that requirement.
Grossing at twelve tonnes and with a transport capacity of nine (XL) or eleven (XXL) soldiers, the stretched version of the PVP has a three-tonne payload capacity; ballistic protection level can vary from two to four for the crew cell while mine protection can be at level 2a/b or 3a/b, depending on customer requirements.
As for the VBR, this 11.5-tonner with a 2.5-tonne payload capacity can accommodate up to nine men, with protection levels of 3 to 4 ballistic and 2b against mines. The request for proposals is awaited for 2013, but Panhard is already strongly marketing these vehicles on the export market, the VBR not only being regarded as a troop carrier but also as a fire support vehicle due to its ability to carry a medium-calibre turret.
The VBMR is aimed at combat units, but French Army support units should also receive some light armoured cars, a batch of over 2000 five-tonne vehicles (gross weight including a one-tonne pay-oad) are planned to cover their needs. The PVP is being considered for that role, while over 300 7.5-tonne vehicles with a 1.5-tonne payload capacity are needed, mostly in ambulance configuration, hence the presence of an ambulance PVP HD on display at Eurosatory 2010.
Turning to vehicles currently in service, Panhard is looking with interest at a project involving the upgrade of some 300 VBLs (over 1600 are currently in service). Between October 2006 and December 2009 the Armee de Terre received 305 up-armouring kits that were developed following a roadside bomb attack in 2005, of which 129 kits were intended for the VB2L, which is the stretched version ordered by the Armee de Terre for reconnaissance and command post use.
In addition, 69 interfaces for the CB52 turret were installed, including 24 on VB2Ls. These interfaces were used to allow the installation of the protected ring mount formerly installed on Vabs to be put on the VBL when the Vabs received the Kongsberg remote-control weapon station.
Those urgent operational requirements aside, Panhard has proposed a suspension and braking system upgrade to French Army vehicles that also sees the adoption of a double triangle system on the rear axle to allow a payload increase, gross weight being thus nudged upwards from four tonnes to five. This solution is obviously available also to exported vehicles, since over 670 VBLs are in use in 15 other countries, with the car in both Mk 1 and Mk 2 configurations still attracting much interest.
Returning to the PVP, a third, but undisclosed, export customer may soon join Chile and Togo amongst its foreign users. Chile has nine and Togo ten that were ordered with a view to equipping their respective small peacekeeping contingents respectively deployed in Haiti and Chad with a vehicle capable of ensuring sufficient mobility and protection. Chile adopted a stretched version capable of accommodating six soldiers plus a two-man crew.
Over 700 PVPs have been delivered to the French Army. The first 299 were powered by an Iveco 80.40, but deemed too weak to feed ancillary equipment. Thus from number 300 hence this was replaced by a beefier Iveco F1C, to provide the higher electrical power required by the installation of jammers, which are much needed downrange. Other minor upgrades were introduced, particularly footrests to isolate the crew from the floor. In September 2008 the DGA ordered 30 protected ring-mounts, which were delivered three months later and installed on vehicles operating in Afghanistan.
A number of PVPs are also deployed in Lebanon. These vehicles are provided in different versions to support units not equipped with the VBL: engineers field a mine clearing and a divers' versions, artillery a version tailored to the Drac drone unit, signals an EW vehicle, while one specific vehicle was developed for maintenance and logistic units. Panhard leverages its Wasp light remotely operated turret, developed with Sagem, to provide an integrated solution that enhances crew self-protection.
A number of new projects are known to be finalised at Marolles, although Pan-hard is keeping its cards up its sleeves in view of Eurosatory 2012.
Over the last five years another French company, Renault Trucks Defense, has developed a completely new range of 7.7 to 11 -tonne tactical and light armoured 4 x 4s known as the Sherpa Light. Formerly known as Sherpa 2 and Sherpa 3, these designations are no longer used. The distinctive features of the Sherpa Light are its all-terrain mobility and huge payload rating.
According to the company, when equipped with purposely-designed add-on armour in the form of ballistic, mine and IED kits, the Sherpa Light does not lose anything in terms of mobility and payload, contrary to older vehicles. Its 60-cm ground clearance further contributes to this mobility and protection against mines and roadside bombs. Powered by a 215-hp Renault engine torquing out 800 Nm at 1200 to 1700 rpm, its emissions are Euro V compliant.
The Sherpa Light family currently includes six versions that share the same driveline to ease maintenance and decrease lifecycle costs, but are available with different wheelbases dimensions, cabs, protection levels, weapon systems and equipment, depending on customers' specific needs.
The first member of the Sherpa Light family is the 'Scout', which is idealty suited for reconnaissance, surveillance, patrol, command and liaison missions with a four- or five-soldier cab and a rear cargo space for all their equipment. The Sherpa Light 'Carrier' is dedicated to logistic missions in difficult terrain. It has a two-man cab and the capacity to transport up to 4.5 tonnes of payload including a ten-foot shelter.
Both the Scout and the Carrier have been ordered by Nato and Renault also secured an order for the Carrier to transport the French Army 'Syracuse IIP satellite communication shelters on the battlefield. Those two versions, along with the Sherpa Light Special Forces, are available with an unarmoured or a fitted for but not with cab, plus different ballistic and mine protection kits.
The three other versions of the Sherpa Light are all fully armoured. The Sherpa Light 'Station Wagon' is very similar to the Scout except that its cab has more protected internal volume and is ideally suited for carrying weapon or mission systems. The Sherpa Light !High Intensity" is a heavily armoured version in order to protect its crew of four to six occupants against ballistic, mine and roadside bomb threats. Last but not least is the Sherpa Light 'APC, the troop transport version of the family with accommodation for two crewmen and eight soldiers, which was selected in 2008 by the French Gendarmerie.
With some 2700 vehicles on order or delivered, the Iveco LMV has so far been one of the most successful light armoured vehicles produced in Europe, and is far from being a static programme. The type is under constant evolution under the thrust of its various customers, with the Italian Army obviously in the lead with 1200 so far ordered. The service, to which it is generically known as the Lince (Lynx), will certainly add new batches in new configurations. Inevitably as we shall see, con-figuration names are far less bucolic.
In Autumn 2010, operational units started receiving the so-called VTLM-1. The VTLM is the basic configuration adopted since 2005, the acronym meaning multi-role light tactical vehicle. The first Italian Army vehicle to be produced to that new standard was number 943, injected into the production line in December 2009 followed by first deliveries in mid-2010 and already earmarked for deployment downrange.
One of the main improvements is in the power distribution plant; while the original vehicle had a two-voltage alternator (12/24 V) the new version features a twice more powerful single-voltage (24 V) unit. Two voltage converters feed separate twelve-Volt lines, one for the engine and the other for ancillaries while the buffering function is entrusted to late-generation Lithium batteries, as they are able to sustain high peak consumption and quickly recharge.
Numerous power points have been installed in the rear compartment to operate jammers, fridges, a blood bank, etc. The armoured panel between the crew cell and the rear compartment features a passage to allow cables for radios and other equipment to run between the two compartments. The protection continuity is ensured by a ballistic labyrinth--a similar solution having been adopted in the British Panther. A switch allows one to shift from buffer batteries to standard batteries in case of main battery failure.
The engine is now electronically screened to avoid interference from the jammers, while the bonnet is also equipped with supports for a satcom aerial. The Italian Army is planning to bring all its existing vehicles, including those that are still worthy of the treatment alter deployment downrange, to the VTLM-1 standard.
A further evolution is awaited with the VTLM-1A, with a gross weight increased by 100 kg to 7.1 tonnes. The 1A adopts a totally new philosophy compared to the original LMV; the latter could be provided as an unarmoured vehicle and was then protected with modular kits according to customer requirements. This solution is abandoned in the 1A in order to save weight and in the consideration that the great majority of the vehicles ordered until now featured a high level of protection.
The new crew cell is therefore monolithic and the roof is configured to receive a remotely controlled weapon station without requiring modification. The cell is also 40 mm taller, and the same height increase has been adopted in the rear compartment, which now has a single-piece side-door. With such modifications and the roof mount raising the centre of gravity, the suspensions have been modified and toughened to cope with the extra induced roll.
Finally, an infrared headlight has replaced one of the fog lights. The Italian Army is close to signing an add-on order for a number of vehicles (about one fifth of those hitherto ordered) in VTLM-1A guise, as a prototype is already available. A further batch may be ordered, but in yet another version known as the VTLM-2, the specifications of which are still in definition phase.
This will feature a cabin derived from that of the VTLM-1A, the automotive components have been improved to cope with a higher 7.5-tonne gross weight. The chassis may be slightly elongated, although no firm decision seems to have been made on this particular point. A VTLM-2 prototype is expected for mid-2012. In fact, anticipation of these versions has already been included in some foreign contracts.
The qualification process of the vehicle developed for Austria, similar to the 1A version but with a 7.5-tonne gross weight, is close to completion, deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2011, with a slight delay on scheduling. Iveco is currently discussing with Norway a further batch of 63 vehicles that might be quite similar to Austria's.
Currently Norway fields 108 LMVs acquired in three different batches (25 + 35 + 48, the latter equipped with a 240 kW alternator) and outfitted for the installation of a Kongsberg Protector weapon station. They are also equipped with EMC protection to lower the engine-induced noise in radio transmission.
In perspective, Norway announced the P5929 programme for the acquisition of armoured wheeled and support vehicles. A contract to the tune of [euro]100 to [euro]150 million is expected in 2013 with deliveries by 2022. This should include more light armoured vehicles as, according to the Norwegian Future Acquisitions document updated in February 2010, [much less than] it will be necessary to reacquire this type of vehicle fairly frequently due to high wear during operations abroad[much greater then].
The multi-year contract with Spain is flowing at a pace of some 50 vehicles per year, while the interest shown from Finland for the Special Forces version seems to be on stand-by, probably due to financing issues. Twenty LMVs per year are being provided to the Czech republic, which also adopted the ambulance version based on the long wheelbase chassis.
Belgium launched a bid for remote-control weapon stations to be installed on its LMVs and this might lead to the upgrade of its 440 vehicles. Slovakia selected the vehicle but the contract is still on stand-by, the Portuguese bid is currently stalled, Poland put its programme on stand-by though money might be back soon to allow a slow kick-off, while France is looking at what is available in Europe.
The Netherlands may launch a bid for up to 1200, but this won't happen before 2012. As for Britain, the Operational Utility Vehicle System was put on hold in December 2009 and the programme is not mentioned in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.
An Istar version is also being studied for an Italian requirement, but may well attract the interest of various other countries. This will be based on the long wheelbase chassis, with a short four-door cabin and a rear flatbed for customised payload. The Italian version may be equipped with a Selex Galileo Janus panoramic sight and Austria might decide to order this version.
Much was said about the contract with Russia, as Iveco is currently in the process of setting up a joint venture with Kamaz, the contents of the document are in the definition phase. A specific version will be developed mostly for use by Russian security forces. It will be able to operate down to -45[degrees]C, will have a four-door cabin and a gross weight of 1.5 tonnes, the ballistic protection level has been purposely adapted to the requirement. The number of vehicles might reach around 1700 and be assembled at the Naberezhnye Chelny plant, 900 km east of Moscow.
General Dynamics' Mowag is another major player here, with 900 of its Eagles ordered in different guises around by many countries. At Eurosatory 2010 the company unveiled its new Eagle family, but by no means does this put an end to the production and marketing of the previous Eagle IV model, as the two orders filed by the German BWB in April and July 2010 for 70 would tend to prove. These add to the November 2008 contract for 198 (25 of which were ordered back in July of that year as an urgent operational requirement) as part of the GFF2 programme, and to that for 20 ambulances of November 2009.
Known in the Bundeswehr as the Eagle Bat (Beweglicher ArztTrupp), the protected ambulance version ordered can accommodate one stretcher, the driver, the vehicle commander and two medical attendants. Among the latest orders, 60 vehicles will add to the previous fleet, of these, ten will be painted blue and will be deployed to support the German Federal Police in Afghanistan. Mowag delivered the last vehicle of the batch of 198 in September 2010 three months ahead of schedule; the first vehicle was deployed to Afghanistan in May 2009.
Improving protection, increasing the payload and internal volume as well as improving ergonomics, the new family of Eagles nevertheless maintain the same width, length and height as the previous Eagle IV as well as most of the automotive components, although the gross weight is increased from 8.5 to ten tonnes. The new 4 x 4 version with four-door crew cab can seat four to six soldiers, the internal volume has been increased to 6.5 metres (3) by raising the roof in the forward part of the crew-cell and by moving the cell 150 mm forward to optimise the driver position.
In this configuration the payload has been increased by one tonne to 3.3 tonnes. Ballistic, roadside bomb and anti-mine protection levels remain classified, the only statement being that the vehicle, [much less than]can withstand very large IEDs[much greater then], and that it has, [much less than]an Mrap class mine protection[much greater then], thanks to its integrated mine-protected cab with double V-shaped floor, internal decoupling measures and energy absorbing seats.
Considering that the Eagle IV with add-on protection has Level 3 ballistic and Level 2a mine protection, the new family should have a protection level equal to or more probably greater than that. A utility version is proposed, with a three-metre (3) -volume two-man cabin and a rear transport platform, the reduced armoured volume allows an increased payload of up to 3.6 tonnes.
The 250 hp engine is good for a maximum speed of 110 km/h in high gear while range stands at about 650 km. Mowag is also planning a stretched 6 x 6 version, the length of which will be increased from 5.4 to 6.6 metres while gross weight towers at 14 tonnes, making it hard to consider that version a light vehicle. Two options are offered, one with a four-door crew cab and 6.5-tonne pay-load and the other with a utility two-door cab and 6.8-tonne payload capacity.
According to the company, some new contracts are in the pipeline but no details were given neither on the type of vehicle nor on the potential customers, but what is certain is that it is bidding for the Land 121 Phase 4 contract in Australia, the prime contractor being in that case General Dynamics Land Systems Australia.
Although the Bundeswehr has acquired an initial batch of Eagle IVs, this does not mean that the German industry, historically more active in the heavy vehicles arena, does not have some interesting programmes in the light category as well. The main one is the Armoured Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV), developed by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rhein-metall Defence and aimed, at least initially, at the German GFF 1 and 2 classes of vehicles.
The programme is steadily progressing, the first version developed by the two companies is the heavier one of the two, grossing at 9.3 tonnes with a payload of two tonnes. More specifically, the first to be built is the Type 2a, which is the patrol version with a 5.5-metre (3) internal volume plus one cubic metre of unprotected volume at the back (although there are provisions for armouring this as well).
The self-supporting safety cell is designed to ensure maximum protection from mines, the level is defined as 'heavy' and from IEDs, 'medium', as well as from small arms ballistic threat. The steel welded hull is the responsibility of Rheinmetall while KMW is working on ceramic add-on armour. The purposely-developed chassis is equipped with Boxer-derived independent suspensions with double-traverse control arms and hydraulic dampers. The engine is a 'militarised' Steyr 272-hp six-cylinder diesel mated to an automatic gearbox.
Energy absorbing seats have been made by Konig, and according to Rheinmetall specifications. In Fall 2010 four prototypes were running. Following the manufacturing and initial testing of the first two, the second pair of vehicles was subject to some improvements, particularly in the cooling and braking departments, while some ancillaries were moved in order to avoid stores under the vehicle floor.
The floor itself is attached to the roof and between its surface and the armoured bottom there is a space of about 20 cm. While company tests continued with the two latest prototypes, the first two were updated to the same standards. Moreover, one qualification model was produced to be provided for qualification to WTD91, the BWB proving ground in Meppen, which is responsible for ballistic and blast tests.
Company testing was nearly finished land in-house blast tests have proven very successful, with Level 3a/2b against mines, while the vehicle withstood a blast of 100 kg TNT equivalent at five metres to simulate a roadside bomb explosion. In early 2011 the prototypes will start mobility tests at the WTD41 proving ground in Trier.
In the meantime, the consortium made of the two main land defence companies in Germany is thinking forward, as indeed a fifth seat might be added (at least in the form of an emergency seat, the problem being the required stand-off distance between the seats and the sidewall for lateral protection), while a stretched ambulance is envisaged. KMW and Rheinmetall will bid for the second batch of the GFF2 programme, for which a request for proposals should be published in late 2011. As for the AMPV 1A its development is scheduled for after 2011.
A new German contender in the light armoured vehicle arena is Mercedes-Benz, which developed a family of LAPVs with two of its members extensively based on the G-Class chassis. The LAPV 5.4 offers a 1.1-tonne payload, which, in the basic version with monocoque armour steel body, provides Level 2 ballistic protection and Level 1b anti-mine protection, although part of the payload capacity can be used to increase these levels. It is available as a five-door car with fully armoured passenger and luggage compartments, or a four-door type with unprotected rear body assembly.
Powered by a Mercedes-Benz G 280 CDI engine coupled to a five-speed automatic transmission, with integrated reduction gear and three fully engageable differential locks, it has a range of about 700 km. The Bundeswehr acquired 45 units under the GFF1 programme, the first of which was delivered to the German BWB 9 November 2010. The deployment of the Enok (as it is known to the Bundeswehr) to Afghanistan is planned for early 2011 and the procurement of a further batch of 100 is planned between 2011 and 2012.
As a follow-on to the Enok, Mercedes unveiled the LAPV 6.X concept at Eurosatory 2010. It retains the monocoque hull of the 5.4 but increases mobility and payload capacity thanks to the adoption of newly-developed portal axles with coil-over-air suspension damper units, a central tyre inflation system and a levelling system to adjust ground clearance (at maximum height the 6.X can cross a one-meter-decp water obstacle).
The new suspensions also afford a 6.4-tonne gross weight, which, in turn, allows for the adoption of heavier Level 3 ballistic and Level 2a anti-mine add-on armour as well as some envisaged engine compartment protection. The prototype that was exhibited featured a number of EADS-integrated mission equipment.
A third LAPV family member was also unveiled at Eurosatory, the 7.X, born this time by Unimog frame and axles while powerpiant and cockpit remain those of the G-Class vehicles. The prototype featured a four-door cabin and an open pickup rear platform. Gross weight was given at 7.5 tonnes, with protection levels similar to those of the 6.X family.
A programme that sparked off the inception of a number of new light armoured vehicles types was certainly the British Army Light Protected Patrol Vehicle (LPPV) programme aimed at seeing the replacement of Snatch Land Rovers that are no match against the increasing effectiveness of roadside bombs in Afghanistan.
In September 2009 three British vehicles lined up for that bid, namely the Zephyr developed by Creation and Babcock Land Systems, the Ocelot by Force Protection Europe and the SPV400 by Supacat. The requirements called for a 7.5-tonne gross weight with at least 1.5 tonnes of payload, a width of less than two metres for a length of six, seats for six passengers and a protection level [much less than] equal to or greater than that of the Mastiff [much greater than]--the latter being a 28-tonne vehicle.
The Zephyr vehicle was built around an eight-passenger composite survival cell surrounded by protection add-ons in terms of ballistic and mine-defeating armour. The baseline protection provided by the Zephyr SRV (Specific Requirements Vehicle) is Level 2a/b anti-mine and Level 3 ballistic and includes a V-shaped belly plate made of ten-mm-thick special steel. Part of the payload can be used to increase protection both in the anti-mine and ballistic fields but the company declined to communicate on the levels reached during blast trials.
To isolate the survival cell from blast accelerations, four rubber dampers interface with the chassis, and passengers are equipped with newly developed energy-absorbing seats. Serviceability was taken into account, the 180-hp engine and fivespeed auto-shifter form a single block that can be removed in 45 minutes. The company is planning to offer a starter-generator option to provide a considerable amount of exportable power. The Zephyr's four-corner independent suspensions are designed to be sacrificed in case of blast.
In late 2009 Babcock decided to withdraw from the competition for strategic reasons; the Zephyr is therefore now a product wholly developed by Creation, the company concentrating on the export market as evidenced by the development of a pre-production left-hand drive 4 x 4. A 6 x 4 version has also been developed, known as the zx3SRV, the original 4 x 4 has now been renamed the zx2SRV. This twelvetonne 6 x 4 has a four-tonne payload capacity and can seat a two-man crew and ten troops if no blast seats are used.
The zx3SRV is currently undergoing what the company defines as 'growth trials'. Creation is considering transforming the free axle to make it electrically powered, possibly with the use of two wheel motors, in order to provide customers with an optional silent drive mode. A three-axle version in a 6 x 6 configuration should be available in early 2011. Team Zephyr is looking at the world market (and at bids such as Canada's Light Tactical Vehicle) and, while over 20 countries have shown interest in the vehicle, the main areas of interest originate from the Middle East, North Africa and the Far East, areas for which Creation is prepared to ensure technology transfer for local production.
The Supacat SPV400 features a composite armour survivability cell developed by NP Aerospace linked to the chassis by four connectors. This configuration allows the cabin to be tilted sideways--left to right--to access the automotive components in the chassis. The latter is made of a front module, cradling the 185-hp power pack based on a Cummins ISBe 4.5-litre turbocharged diesel engine, a rear module carrying the rear axle and a central V-shaped hull in which nestles the Allison 2500 six-speed transmission and the two-speed transfer box. Splitting engine and transmission improves protection but offers the flexibility required for an eventual hybrid propulsion.
Supacat made sure that, in the event of an explosion, no systems included in the V-hull would brake free and hit the floor, thereby transferring energy to it. Both the front and rear modules would be sacrificed in case of blast under the wheels or between the wheels, while in case of a blast under the belly the front and rear modules will remain linked to the main body, thus increasing the weight and reducing the height reached by the vehicle in the upwards thrust.
The SPV400 carries double-wishbone, air-sprung, fully independent suspensions. The composite armour survivability pod is mounted over the central armoured hull, well away from the wheels. The cell provides Level 3 ballistic protection, the combination of the central hull and cell giving a Level 3a/b mine protection level. However, company sources state that the vehicle survived a simulated vehicle-borne bomb in the region of 50 kg, although the distance from the blast was not provided, while some testing with Level 4b mine protection were also carried out with positive results.
The most recent data about the vehicle shows an increased kerb weight of 6.5-tonnes, in other words, half a tonne more than disclosed at DSEi in 2009, which brings gross weight to eight tonnes. This might be a choice of the company to pursue an even higher degree of protection now that the SPV400 is no longer running for the LPPV programme. A noteworthy point is that since both pod and V-hull protection is modular, not only could protection level be increased if and when new materials are available, but weight could also be decreased if the vehicle is operating in lower threat scenarios.
Supacat is currently assembling the seventh prototype, which can be considered a pre-production vehicle. Compared to its six predecessors, of which three were blown up during testing, the new SPV400 features some minor changes in the design of the V-hull, while the composite pod remained unchanged. Some modifications to the automotive components were also made following trials; for example, the headlights were moved from the bumper into the bonnet. Prototype 7 will be exhibited at Idex 2011.
Supacat says that the SPV400 will be ready for production in March or April 2011. The company identified seven countries that have an absolute requirement for a vehicle of this category, and is obviously considering them as the primary targets of its marketing campaign, but declined to name them.
Supacat wants to develop a series of new mission-oriented pods, such as an open-top Wmik, a two-man pod with rear cargo space, as well as ambulance, command and control and recce versions. These should be ready before mid-2011 and will allow Supacat to demonstrate the vehicle's flexibility to potential customers. The SPV400 pod is attached to the chassis by four connectors, it takes a crane and about two hours to replace a pod for a different mission (the only other elements requiring decoupling are the steering, the brakes and the electronics). As for the SPV600 6 x 6, Supacat stated that it would wait a firm order for the 4 x 4 vehicle before moving on to a new stretched version.
On 22 September 2010 the British Ministry of Defence announced that the preferred bidder status for the LPPV programme was awarded to Force Protection Europe's Ocelot, and that an initial 200 vehicles would be acquired following the completion of contract negotiations. The contract was signed 30 November 2010 and is worth approximately [euro]215 million. The first production vehicle should be ready in Q2 2011, the delivery of 35 vehicles for training is expected by late September 2011 and all 200 are to be handed over by spring 2012. The first vehicles should be deployed to Afghanistan in early January 2012.
The Ocelot was designed, developed and built by the European branch of Force Protection, together with Ricardo in Britain. The vehicle features a crew cell that is fixed to the chassis (often referred to as 'the skateboard') with four connectors and is therefore easily interchangeable, allowing the cells to be swapped over between missions. Disconnecting two connectors on the same side allows the cabin to be shifted sideways to access the power pack and all the other automotive components, considerably easing the maintenance task.
To minimise slamdown, the Ocelot deflects as much blast as possible away from the platform while keeping as much weight as possible in the platform. The composite cabin answers the LPPV ballistic protection requirement without add-on armour, and is ready to accept additional armour packages to defeat the RPG and EFP threat. The deep V-shaped hull, the crew cell floor and the decoupling solutions provide a Level 2b mine protection.
The Ocelot has only two points of access, one door on the right for the commander and the door in the rear for the remaining personnel. The PPV version seats six soldiers, two upfront and four aft (the FSV seats four). Curb weight is at six tonnes, which means that the 1.5-tonne payload allows the PPV to transport the two-plus-four soldier complement as well as a roof-mounted remotely controlled self-defence weapon, or a larger calibre weapon on the FSV. The Ocelot has a 193-hp Steyr 3.2-litre diesel engine and a power management system. The digital architecture is from Thales UK.
The Ocelot is amongst the contenders of the Australian Land 121 Phase 4 in the Protected Mobility Vehicle - Light (PMVL) category, and to that end Force Protection reached an agreement with the South Australian Government for producing the vehicle locally, should the Ocelot win. In the first quarter of 2011 Force Protection will deliver two vehicles to Australia, one protected patrol and one in the pick-up type logistic variant equipped with a two-man cabin. Such a configuration might well be of interest to the British Army for the Operational Utility Vehicle System, which might be revised in a form or another as the need for such a category of vehicles remains.
More recently, Force Protection announced its intention to take part in the JLTV engineering and manufacturing phase of the bid, possibly teaming with a strong industrial partner, as the Ocelot matches JLTV Cat. A requirements. The US Marine Corps has shown an interest in the vehicle. Force Protection Europe is working closely with the UK Trade & Investment Defence and Security Organisation to identify new potential markets, particularly in Latin America, the Middle East and North Africa.
The modularity of the vehicle means that less sophisticated and cheaper solutions in terms of protection could be offered should the market require such a move. On the other hand, the company is already thinking of improvements and potential growth margins: a starter generator should be coupled to the transmission as part of an enhancement package, if required, while an increase in the curb weight to enhance protection should bring the Ocelot gross weight to about ten tonnes (but this would require modifying the suspension).
As for now, the company made it very clear that the absolute priority is to deliver the vehicles to Britain within the scheduled timeframe.
Another vehicle of British origin in the same 7.5-tonne class is the TMV 6 x 6. The basic version features an open crew compartment and is therefore not eligible as a light armoured vehicle. However, a version with a fully enclosed cabin is being developed. The vehicle adopts a twin 'V' hull structure made of formers and stringers, the armoured superstructure being mounted on outriggers to minimise blast effect.
The four tonne payload of the open version will of course be reduced in the all-protected cabin with Level 3 against ballistic threats and Level 2a/b against mines obtained using Plasan Sasa's Smart strike face materiel. Power is by virtue of a Cummins 200-hp engine coupled to an Allison 2500SP six-speed automatic transmission with high and low ranges, although TMV is open to adopt a different engine if required by a customer.
The TMV 6 x 6 features fully independent, double wishbone suspensions and air bladders operated by rockers that allow ground clearance adjustment. In off-road driving all three axles steer, a facility that is reduced to the two front axles only on roads. The fully armoured TMV 6 x 6 under development is a three-tonne payload armoured personnel carrier with a 4.5-tonne curb weight and seating provisions for a two-man crew and eight passengers. The vehicle is aimed at an Asian country and will maintain the same dimensions as the open-top special forces vehicle. It will be armed with a 12.7-mm machine gun on a ring mount, although the roof is outfitted to accommodate a remotely controlled weapon station.
In the Slovak Republic, Kerametal has further developed its monocoque Aligator, which is currently in service with the local army in various configurations, among which an NBC reconnaissance vehicle. Known as the Aligator Master, it has a 9.8-tonne gross weight including an eight-tonne payload, which is a considerable increase over the previous model's 6.7 tonnes gross and 1.2-tonne payload allowance.
While the vehicle maintains the same 4.34 metre length, it is slightly wider at 2.39 metres (vs. 2.37 metres) and higher at 2.02 metres (vs. 1.95). The height increase is mostly due to new and bigger tubeless Michelin 335/80 R20 XZL tyres that provide a higher ground clearance (460 mm vs. 390 mm) and thereby considerably improve the effectiveness of the anti-mine detachable V-shaped floor.
The weight increase was only partially compensated by the adoption of a new engine, an MTU 4R106 TD21 4.8-litre four-cylinder intercooled turbo diesel yielding 160-kW (20 kW more than the previous Deutz BF6M 1013) with the power-to-gross weight ratio dropping from 16.4 kW/tonne to 22. Externally, the two vehicles are easily recognised as the Master features a new engine bonnet and three front horizontal air intakes.
The higher payload allowed increasing the number of seats in the basic transport version from six to eight. However, the payload should be used also to further increase the protection level, the Master in the basic configuration ensures a ballistic Level 2 all round and an anti-mine higher than Level 1, although the company does not specify if this is under-wheel or under-belly. The adoption of an add-on armour kit brings the ballistic protection to Level 3, while the modular V-shaped kit increases anti-mine to over Level 2. The Master maintains the amphibious capability of its predecessor, and has a 1.3-metre fording capacity.
In Spain Uro-Vehiculos Especiales' S3 HD (Heavy Duty) version of the Vamtac has a gross weight of 5.8 tonnes and a payload capacity that varies between 1.5 and 2.5 tonnes depending on the protection level chosen. The vehicle is provided in many different versions and is currently in service with the Dominican Republic, Malaysia, Morocco, Romania, Thailand and Venezuela, with Spain remaining obviously the main user with over 1200 vehicles in service.
The most recent version, known as BN3, is more heavily armoured and is powered by a 218-hp Steyr to cope with its 8.5 tonnes gross weight. The armoured cell fixed to the chassis was developed by Uro in conjunction with Composhield of Denmark and is based on the latter's ceramic polymer technology. It provides Level 3 ballistic protection and Level 2a mine protection. Maximum speed is 115 km/h.
In Russia, Arzamas developed the Tigr; a family of vehicles ranging from 7.4 to 8.8 tonnes gross weight offering pay-loads of between 0.9 and 1.2 tonnes. The version more apt for military purposes is the Armoured Special Purpose Vehicle 232014, which can accommodate two crewmembers and four more soldiers in the rear, and can be armed with a Pech-eneg 7.62-mm, a Kord 12.7-mm machine gun or with an AGS-17 30-mm automatic grenade launcher. Powered by a six-cylinder 205-hp engine it is equipped with independent wishbone and torsion bar suspensions.
Many companies all over the world have started to produce light armoured vehicles, albeit with varying degrees of sophistication. The tense situation in Israel has made this country one of the most advanced suppliers of military hardware, vehicles being o exception to that, while its armour specialists are rated amongst the world's top.
Hatehof has become a specialist in highly protected vehicles, three of which with a gross weight below the ten-tonne mark and can thus be considered light. The lightest is the Wolf, which is also the bigger one, which makes it immediately clear that it is also the least armoured, although its ballistic protection reaches Level 2 while anti-mine protection is at up to Level la.
The adoption of the latest Ford chassis led to some changing, such as the marginal increase of its gross weight to 8.7 tonnes. Maximum payload remains at 1.3 tonnes, which allows it to transport up to three crewmembers in the front cabin and up to six in the rear, one seated behind the front seats and looking backwards and the remaining along each side.
Two gun ports per side are available plus another in the back doors while a further one in the front windscreen is available as an option. The crew compartment features two side doors, two more are available for the troops in the back, while an emergency exit is located in the roof. Powered by a 300-hp Ford 6.7-litre engine, it has a range of 500 km. Better rough terrain manoeuvrability through, inter alia, new differentials, is amongst the most recent upgrades. The Wolf has been in service since 2004 with the Israel Defense Force and was also ordered by Peru, although the fate of that order is uncertain. It was also sold to Georgia in ambulance configuration, to Romania in 'fast intervention' configuration, but also to Bolivia, Turkey and the United Nations.
The Hurricane is a tougher vehicle, the prototype of which is being finalised and should soon undergo ballistic and mine blast trials. Its 9.6-tonne gross weight is higher than previously announced (9.2 tonnes), but offers a 2.1-tonne payload capacity when equipped with the A Kit armour that provides a ballistic protection at Level 2. In standard layout it seats a crew of two and three soldiers in the back where an extra two seats can be installed. Two doors per side are normally available, there is also an option for a rear door.
The vehicle retains the five firing ports, two per side and one aft, as well as the roof emergency exit. Powered by a 245-hp Cummins ISB 245 turbo diesel, it has a 700-km cruising range. Forecast mine protection is at Level 2a/b, while a B kit installed on the monocoque hull increases ballistic protection to Level 3. Hatehof is looking forward to future tenders, but does not wish to expand on this subject. The toughest of the family is, however, the Xtream. This is available in a Ligh and a Heavy version, the latter grossing at 16 tonnes, which puts it into the Mrap category. As for the Light, gross and payload figures are the same as the Hurricane, although the engine is a Cummins ISBe 250 with similar output at 245hp. Up to eight soldiers can be hosted in the monocoque hull, which can withstand Level 2b/3a mine blasts, its A-Kit ballistic protection is Level 2. The B-Kit brings this to Level 3, which is the limit for the Light version of the Xtream.
Another Israeli company involved in this field is Saymar, which has developed a light vehicle based on the Toyota Land Cruiser aimed at the paramilitary, though a command version will suit military units. This version can seat up to five or six passengers, while a troop carrier version known as Musketeer-E (Extended) can transport a two-man crew and eight more soldiers in two inward-facing rows along the walls. Ingress and egress of troops lakes place via four side doors.
Standard armour is at protection Level 1, the floor withstanding the blast of anti-personnel mines and hand grenades. Add-on armour can be used to increase ballistic protection to Level 3. The crew can fire individual weapons through firing ports, one in each door, though another one can be fitted in the front windscreen, while a machine gun up to 12.7 mm or a remote-control weapon station can be mounted on the roof. Numerous Musketeers have been sold to undisclosed countries since development work was completed in 2009.
The latest version of the Cobra, developed by Otokar of Turkey in the 1990s, reaches a gross weight of 5.2 tonnes without weapon station and has a 1.1-tonne payload capacity. The Cobra is based on the Humvee ECV (Expanded Capacity Vehicle) chassis equipped with a locally manufactured monocoque all-welded steel hull; this has angled surfaces that further improve protection against ballistic and mine threats. Although Otokar has never unveiled protection levels, addon armour could well improve the basic protection.
The vehicle seats a crew of two plus up to nine passengers, with three seated behind the driver and the vehicle commander, the remaining six seated along each side of the rear compartment, the access via two side and one rear door. The Cobra is available in various versions and can be armed with weapons up to 20 mm. It can be fitted with two hydrojets to provide it with an eight km/h swimming speed.
Versions are currently in service in the Turkish Land Forces Command and Gendarmerie. At least seven other countries have adopted that vehicle, notably Slovenia with ten in CBRN reconnaissance guise, while undisclosed numbers have been sold to Algeria, Bahrain, the Maldives and the United Arab Emirates. The Ministry of the Interior of Georgia has acquired at least 18 Cobras armed with 12.7 NSV machine guns or Mk 19 40-mm automatic grenade launchers. A new vehicle is under construction at Otokar, but details will not be unveiled before the Idef 2011 exhibition that will take place this May in Istanbul.
Moving south, BAE Systems' South African branch has two light armoured vehicles in its catalogue, the RG32 and the RG Outrider. The RG32M mine-hardened armoured patrol vehicle provides Level 1 ballistic and Level 1b mine protection, Level 2 ballistic protection is available with applique armour. Powered by a 181-kW Steyr M16TCA diesel engine, its chassis is carried on portal axels with selectable differential locks and dampened by coil springs on longitudinal arms and double-action hydraulic shock absorbers.
The better-protected RG32M LTV has a longer chassis, the wheelbase being extended from 2.9 to 3.34 metres, a higher curb weight (8.3 tonnes up from 6.5) and Level 2 ballistic protection with Level 2a/b mine protection. This family of vehicles is still attracting customers, as exemplified by the 16 RG32Ms sold to Finland in April 2010 and by the vehicles being delivered to the Irish Army.
The RG Outrider draws on the RG32M LTV design. The adoption of new armour packages decreased the curb weight to 7.6 tonnes while maintaining the same protection level, thus increasing payload figures and mobility. Better still, internal space has been increased by virtue of a widened hull and redesigned load bay. That vehicle was demonstrated in early 2010 to the American armed services.
Another South African company, Ott Armoured Vehicles, has recently unveiled its Puma M26-15 4 x 4 mine-protected vehicle, which is mostly intended as a troop carrier. Based on the Tatra 715 2.5-tonne truck chassis, which ensures worldwide servicing, the Puma M26-15 all-welded steel hull provides Level 1 protection while the V-hull gives an unspecified anti-mine protection.
Maximum seating is for ten personnel; the APC version has a 1+9 configuration while the patrol variant has a crew of six. The latter version can be equipped with a light turret armed with a 12.7-mm or 14.5-mm heavy machine gun. Surveillance-vehicle, command post and ambulance versions are also anticipated, as well as a crowd control vehicle. Available both in right and left-hand drive, the vehicle is mostly aimed at African customers although Ott does not exclude other marketing areas. The Puma M26-15 exists in the form of two prototypes and is ready for production.
Amongst the contenders eyeing the Australian Land 121 Phase 4 programme is a national product, the Hawkei developed by Thales Australia. Drawing on experience garnered with the Bushmaster, the manufacturer has come up with two versions, the Crew Vehicle with five seats and an optional sixth, and the Utility Vehicle, with two seats and an optional third.
The curb weight of the two versions is respectively 6.9 and 6.1 tonnes; the maximum payload has a declared value of 3.1 tonnes depending on the variant (which can be assumed to be that of the two-man cabin), which would bring gross weight to 9.2 tonnes. With independent suspensions on all four corners, the vehicle is designed from scratch to be fully net-centric as its vetronic architecture can easily accept and integrate C4I systems. An in-line starter/generator provides 65 kW of rated power with a 105-kW peak output.
The kitted monocoque hull was developed in co-operation with Plasan Sasa, and can be quickly equipped with a B-Kit to increase protection, actual levels remaining undisclosed. The Hawkei has survived a series of under-belly blast and simulated roadside bomb tests. Boeing Australia is in charge of the integrated logistic support and provides the health systems monitoring.
Powered by a 268-hp engine coupled to a six-speed electronically monitored automatic transmission, the Hawkei has been tested over 20,000 km. The vehicle is on its marks for the Land 121 Protected Mobility Vehicle - Light (Phase 4) Australian bid, with 1300 units at stake, but the Ocelot and Eagle are also drawing out their claws.
The PMV-L programme will include four variants: PMV-L Command, a fourseater with C4I system; PMV-L Liaison, a four-seater used to enable mobility for key personnel; PMV-L Utility, a two-seater vehicle with a tray used as general-purpose light-cargo carrying and PMV-L Reconnaissance, a five- to six-seater to provide mobility for light-infantry-battalion reconnaissance elements. A PMV-L Trailer completes the programme providing additional load-carrying capacity to the PMV-L vehicles. Following the presence of the mock-up at Eurosatory 2010, the Hawkei prototype was shown at the Land Warfare Conference at Brisbane, Australia, in November 2010 and is now available on the international market.
In Abu Dhabi, the Bin Jabr Group developed a whole family of light armoured vehicles known as Nimr. Standard ballistic and anti-mine protection is Level 1, but this can be increased through add-on armour packages. Powered by a 300-hp Cummins ISBe 300 Turbo 6.7-litre engine coupled to an Allison 5-speed automatic transmission with transfer case, it is equipped with independent double wishbone over coil-spring suspension with dual-action hydraulic shock absorbers. The Nimr has been sold to the United Arab Emirates and to Libya, the latter having adopted a Level 3 ballistic and Level 3a anti-mine protection.
In the Far East, Chinese Norinco proposes its VN3, VN4, CS/VP1 and CS/VN1 armoured vehicles with combat weights ranging 5.6 to 9 tonnes and seating capacities of five to twelve. While the VN3 is a high-mobility independent suspension vehicle with a three-plus-two crew and a 5.6-tonne gross weight, the 8.5-tonne CS/VP1 is derived from a truck chassis and can carry up to twelve soldiers. No details have thus far been provided on protection levels.
On the Cover
Respectively known as the Lince and the Panther in the Italian and British armies, the Iveco LMV comes in many variants, including one for special operations, and has emerged as one of the most successful new-generation light armoured vehicles.
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|Author:||Biass, Eric H.|
|Article Type:||Company overview|
|Date:||Feb 1, 2011|
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