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Armoured trop transports.

In symmetrical conflicts the concept of armoured troop transport vehicles evolved into that of armoured infantry fighting vehicles, firepower becoming a relevant part of the equation. The asymmetric conflict situations that developed following the end of the Cold War highlighted a need for smaller and cheaper vehicles able to move troops, and keeping them safe from small arms threat, with firepower normally provided by a roof ring-mounted machine gun.

The increasing threat posed by direct fire, RPGs and especially by roadside bombs in turn generated a requirement for Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (Mrap) vehicles to allow patrols to safely move about, while the use of bigger armoured infantry fighting vehicles was limited to some areas due to their dimensions. Since some of the latter are being proposed also as transport vehicles with an overhead weapon station instead of the medium-calibre turret, they can therefore be included in this category.

An example that epitomises current needs is that of the Canadian combat fleet renewal programme: this includes the acquisition of a new Tactical Armoured Patrol Vehicle (TAPV) to replace the Coyote reconnaissance vehicle based on the LAV, as well as the RG-31 Nyala troop carrier.

The number of vehicles to be acquired is 500 units, split between 200 recce and 300 command and control (C2) and troop transport vehicles, with an option for 100 further vehicles. Recce vehicles will have a crew of four; a crew commander, a gunner, a driver and a surveillance operator, while the troop transport will have the same crew less the surveillance operator, and will embark a four-man combat team made of a commander, a rifleman, a grenadier and a light machine gunner.

In September 2009 a letter of interest' was issued, qualified bidders were announced in July 2010. Nine vehicles were considered: the BAE Systems Hag-glunds 6 x 6 Alligator, the BAE OMC RG-31 Mk 5 EM and RG35 RPU the Force Protection Industries Cougar 4x4 and 6 x 6, the Nexter Aravis, the Oshkosh M-ATV, the Textron Mobile Survivable Vehicle (MSV) and finally the Thales Australia Bushmaster through Thales Canada. The Request for Proposal was issued in March of the following year with submissions by July 14.The Alligator and the Bushmaster were subsequently dismissed. A decision is awaited for early 2012, the Initial Operational Capability is expected in 2013.

Interestingly, all the remaining bidders for the TAPV programme belong to the Mrap class. BAE Systems decided to maintain the offer of its RG35 RPU and withdrew the RG-31 Mk 5 EM. Unveiled in mid-May 2011, the vehicle proposed for the Canadian contract is a 4 x 4 version of the RG35 which has a shorter and lower chassis resulting in a lower gross weight at 22 tonnes against the 6 x 6's 33 tonnes, with a payload of nearly nine tonnes and the capacity to host a driver, a commander and eight soldiers in the rear compartment.

The vehicle maintains the Cummins 450-hp engine as well as most of the mechanical components, crew survivability being based on the citadel concept with the vehicle slightly wider than the 6x6 version but affording the same protection level as the 6 x 6 (that is Level 4 and Level 4a/4b respectively against the ballistic and the mine threat).

In mid-February 2011 Oshkosh Defense unveiled the TAPV prototype and announced its teaming with its Ontario subsidiary London Machinery. Developed to provide maximum mobility in the Afghan theatre where other Mraps proved to be too big and heavy and lacking the capability offered by independent suspensions, the M-ATV (for Mrap--All Terrain Vehicle) has a curb weight of 12.5 tonnes for a payload capacity of 1.8.

Powered by a Caterpillar 370-hp C7 engine, its Tak-4 suspensions durability profile is based on a 70% off-road/30% on-road use, which represents typical Afghan involvement. The protection package was developed in cooperation with Plasan North America, the American branch of Plasan Sasa of Israel. The M-ATV in its basic configuration can host four passengers and one gunner.

The Nexter Aravis can carry up to seven troops and, with its 13-tonne combat weight, is one of the most protected vehicles in this category, its citadel being ballistically protected at Level 4 while antimine protection is ensured at Level 4a/4b. Interestingly, the Aravis has a 4 x 2 drive configuration when operating on road, reducing not only fuel consumption but also wear and tear of its mechanicals. The Aravis is currently used by French forces in Afghanistan (mostly engineers), but other potential customers seem to be on Nexter's list, although their names remain confidential.

Textron is bidding with its MSV, an upgraded version of the M1117 ASV family aimed at improving payload, internal volume and protection. Gross weight is increased from 14.79 to 17.24 tonnes, resulting in a payload increase from 1.5 to 2.5 tonnes, while a 740-mm wheelbase stretch results in extra internal space. Protection against mines is improved by a partial redesign to incorporate blast deflection surfaces and blowoff nonstructural elements. Ground clearance raises from 460 mm to 635 mm, this via the adoption of 16-inch tyres instead of the hitherto used 14-inch types.

To cope with the increased gross weight while maintaining the same ASV mobility the old 260-hp engine is replaced by the new 365-hp Cummins QSL and the 400-amp alternator can be replaced by a 575-amp unit. The MSV accommodates driver, commander, gunner and four dismounts.

In June 2011 Textron was awarded a Foreign Military Sales contract for up to 440 Medium Armored Security Vehicles for the Afghanistan National Army in nine different configurations. Initial funding of $ 125.9 million covers 240 vehicles.

Born in America around 2004, the Mrap concept led to massive orders, with nearly 26,000 units spread across the US forces. Many of those vehicles are fitted for special purposes, such as road clearing, but most provide a troop transport capability to the deployed units and belong to the Category 1 and Category 2 classes.

BAE Systems was pretty active in the Mrap field with its Caiman, RG-31 and RG-33 to meet Cat. 1 requirements, while the 6 x 6 versions of the Caiman and RG- 33L addressed Cat. 2. Currently the company is proposing a series of vehicles for troop transport duties, mostly developed by its South African OMC arm. The RG-31 Mk 5E version which, at 17 tonnes, hosts driver, eight troops and a 2.4-tonne payload. The 4x4 RG-31 is still actively marketed and BAE Systems particularly looks at the Scandinavian countries and America, the US Army having introduced Mraps as issue vehicles within its battle groups.

The heaviest being proposed is the RG35 6x6 with Level 4 ballistic and Level 4a/4b mine protection, a gross weight of 33 tonnes and a payload capacity of nearly 15. It can seat up to 15 plus the driver. A light platform at 9.5 tonnes with a two-tonne payload, the 4 x 4 RG-34 is offered in some areas such as Southeast Asia and Eastern Europe as an affordable multi-purpose vehicle with accommodation for a two-man crew and six dismounted.

The latest version of the 6x6 Casspir, the Mk 6 in its 6 x 6 configuration, can host driver, commander and 16 troops. At 14.3 tonnes with a 1.8-tonne payload it is offered in the MPVI (Mine Protected Vehicle India) configuration to the Indian Army through Defence Land Systems India, a joint venture between BAE Systems and Mahindra & Mahindra. Unveiled at Defexpo in New Delhi in February 2010, the MPVI has now completed its trials campaign and preproduction has started. The vehicle is also considered a good option for the African market as well as for the United Nations. The Mk 6 is also available in a 4 x 4 configuration.

BAE Systems OMC also proposes an upgrade of its Ratel 6x6 vehicle known as ikiwa, which adds state-of-the-art technology to existing vehicles. In the personnel carrier variant the ikiwa accommodates a driver and 15 soldiers. Grossing at 23.5 tonnes its payload allowance of over nine tonnes offers considerable latitude in terms of protection. The base version provides Level 1 ballistic and Level 2a mine protection, but add-on packages can raise ballistic level up to 5 and mine protection to 3a/3b.

Among Force Protection Mraps, the one that best suits troop transport duties is the Cougar 6x6, which seats a two-man crew plus eight passengers, or six passengers and a gunner. The rear double door allows easy troop access and egress while the crew has its own side doors.

I'lie latest version teatures an independent suspension system and has a gross weight of 30.1 tonnes including a nine-tonne payload. The vehicle is in service in the American and Canadian forces.

British forces use the Mastiff 2 variant, which features a series of improvements such as slatarmour, larger axles, uprated suspensions, additional electrical power (400 amps vs. 200) generation, a new situational awareness system and so forth--all brought in by NP Aerospace in Britain.

Some 300 are in service with a further 47 Mastiff 2s on their way under the terms of a contract signed in late April 2011 (with deliveries expected by year end). Force Protection's most recent vehicles are equipped with independent suspensions to increase their mobility in view of their use in Afghanistan.

The Navistar Defense International Maxxpro series maintains the live axle configuration, the latest versions of its Maxxpro have a gross weight of 19.7 tonnes with a 2.5-tonne payload, while the Maxxpro Plus pushes those figures up to 24 and 6.3. Both accommodate a two-man crew, a gunner and up to six dismounts. The Plus model is designed to accept additional protection and can even withstand explosively forged projectiles.

While until mid-2009 Oshkosh was not amongst the early Mrap contract winners, things changed dramatically when the American forces deployed in Afghanistan asked for a smaller Mrap able to cope with a terrain on which the vehicles developed for the Iraqi scenario showed disturbing mobility problems. The afore-mentioned M-ATV won the bid and over 8000 units have since been acquired.

They were equipped from the outset with Tak-4 independent suspensions--a clear requirement for off-road driving in a theatre where main pathways infested with roadside bombs need to be avoided. Oshkosh also provides the same suspensions for upgrading its vehicles as well as those of other manufacturers.

Leaving the American scenario for France, Acmat (part of the Renault Trucks Group since 2006), developed the armoured version of its VLRA, which is available with ballistic and mine protection of up to Level 2 and Level 2a. Based on the chassis of the reputed cross-country vehicle, its 9.4-tonne gross weight affords it a 1.5 tonne payload capability at the highest protection level. Powered by a 160-hp engine, the TPK 4.20 BL4 can reach 100 km/h, has a 900-km range and carries a two-member crew plus eight infantrymen.

However, the latest development is the Bastion HD 4x4, the armoured version based on the VLRA-2 that provides a greater payload in the non-armoured versions, a capacity that is transformed into higher protection levels with armour. At 10.5 tonnes gross, the Bastion HD is offered with three different ballistic protection levels, from Level 1 to 3, and with a maximum Level 2a/2b anti-mine protection, payload capacities being respectively two, 1.5 and one tonnes.The vehicle is powered by a 215-hp engine, and the number of occupants remains at two plus eight.

Acmat offers both vehicles either with Euro 5 engines, for the western market, or Euro 2 engines for those nations where the maintenance of electronically managed propulsion systems is still difficult. Both vehicles are equipped with side windows and gunports, access taking place from a rear door for the troops and from the two front side doors for the crew.

Still in France, the Renault Trucks Sherpa Light 4 x 4 in troop transport configuration can carry up to ten soldiers in an internal area of more than ten square metres. With a gross weight ranging between 10.2 and 10.9 tonnes and payload capacities of 1.5 to 2.2 tonnes depending on protection levels, the vehicle is powered by a Euro 5 Renault 215-hp MD-5, but a Euro 3 option is also offered.

The company's portfolio also includes the Sherpa Medium Mrap, a 20 tonner with an internal protected volume of 15 metre3 capable of hosting up to twelve soldiers. Available with 6 x 4 or 6 x 6 drivetrains, this Mrap can be produced in different wheel-bases ranging from 4.5 to 5.85 metres.

In Germany, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann has been receiving a steady flow of orders for its Dingo 2, the last for a further 39 vehicles for the Bundeswehr having been booked in mid-April 2011. In service with Germany, Belgium, Luxemburg, Austria, the Czech Republic and Norway in various versions, sales hover around the 1000 unit mark. The 12.5-tonne troop transport version, or patrol version, can accommodate up to eight soldiers in the 8.2-metre3 safety cell (two crewmembers up front and six men in the back) and has a three-tonne payload capacity.

The Thales Bushmaster was developed following an Australian requirement and the original patrol vehicle, or troop transport version, has now evolved into a number of mission-oriented vehicles. At 15 tonnes gross with a 2.6-tonne payload, the Bushmaster has a remarkable internal volume of 11.2 metre3 and can host up to ten soldiers. Deployed by the Australian Army in Afghanistan since 2005, as well as in Iraq and East Timor, a total of 736 vehicles have been ordered.

The vehicle was also acquired by the Netherlands, which now fields some 86 vehicles, most of which in the patrol version. The Dutch Army deployed them to Afghanistan while the British Army, which took hold of 24 Bushmasters, deployed most into Iraq. Built from its inception with independent suspensions, the Bushmaster features optimal mobility and can be equipped with add-on armour, the maximum acceptable weight being about two tonnes above the current grow rating.

In Turkey Otokar has developed its own I2.5-tonne gross Mrap, the Kaya, based on the Unimog 5000 chassis. Powered by a 218-hp engine it can seat up to two crewmembers and ten passengers. The company is in advanced talks with two undisclosed countries and looks forward to bag its first contracts by mid-201 1. With the capacity to transport up to nine soldiers in the personnel carrier-configured Cobra based on the Humvee chassis, this car can also be considered a part of the armoured troop transport league in spite of its 1.1-tonne payload capacity over a gross weight of 6.3 tonnes. Some 2000 Cobras have been produced and are in service in twelve different countries, and Otokar strongly markets this vehicle and considers that it still has a considerable growth potential.

Another Turkish company, BMC, developed the Kirpi, an Mrap-type vehicle that can host a three-men crew plus ten armed soldiers. Five hundred such vehicles are on order for the Turkish Land Forces, the first having been handed over to the service in late 2010, while BMC is strongly marketing the Kirpi on the export market.

MDT Armor, teamed with Textron Marine & Land Systems and Arotech, developed the Tiger, based on a commercial Dodge Ram 5500HD 4x4 base. With a capacity of eight to nine seats in the troop carrier variant, the current 8.8- tonne gross (with 1.36-tonne payload) version provides ballistic protection close to Nato Level 3. The Tiger is not designed to provide much mine protection, as it is not aimed to theatres of operation such as Afghanistan or Iraq.

The vehicle nas a wide cabin, winch comfortably seats three abreast in the front seats. Rails on the floor permit changing the seating arrangement aft, the best option being a second row of three and a third of two seats, all looking forward. The car has two doors on each side plus a rear door. Higher density configurations with longitudinal benches can also be adopted, however.

Currently the company is in an advanced stage of negotiation with a military customer while numerous American law enforcement agencies have shown interest in the Tiger. A heavy version, with a 10.4-tonne gross weight equipped with a passive or reactive add-on armour suite and a 2.82-tonne variant has been designed but not yet produced.

In Israel, hatchoi tields two highly protected vehicles, the Xtream and the Wolf, which can carry respectively up to nine and twelve soldiers. The Xlream is definitely the most protected of the two, reaching up to Level 4 ballistic or even RPG/IED protection, while mine protection goes up to 4a/3b, for a gross weight of 16 tonnes including a payload of 4.7 tonnes in a Level 3 configuration.

An xtream light version, with a slightly shorter wheelbase and a ballistic protection up to Level 3 and mine protection Levels 2b/3a, grosses at 9.2 tonnes with a 2.75-tonne payloacl and can carry the same amount of personnel. The Wolf, although a bigger vehicle, is lighter at 8.6 tonnes gross, with protection limited to Level 2 ballistic and Level 1 for mines.

The Ukrainian industry is very active in the armoured vehicle field and is marketing the Dozor-B armoured personnel carrier--a 7.8-tonne gross weight 4x4 that seals a crew of three plus eight passengers.

Nimr Automotive, the United Arab Emirates joint venture between the Tawazun Group and Bin Jabr Group, proposes the Nimr 6x6 armoured troop carrier. This twelve-tonner offers a 3.5-tonne capacity and can carry up to twelve soldiers in Level 1 baseline protection against ballistic and mine threats, with a margin allowing to further increase protection.

The vehicles mentioned so far all feature glass windows and firing ports in the rear, although the glass surface can vary considerably from one model to the other, thus providing more or less good situational awareness to the troops transported in the rear compartment. The great difference between the various models in terms of protection allows customers to choose the vehicle that better fits requirements and pockets.

In South Africa Reva designs numerous Mraps, with the Reva V Long Wheel Base 4x4 Automatic being certainly the better suited for troop transport as it seats twelve soldiers and offers seven shooting ports and two rotating turrets with hatches. Tipping the scales at 10.4 tonnes gross. it is powered by a 275-hp Cummins set of pistons while its chassis rests front and rear on MAN truck axles.

A much heavier beast is the British Ranger designed and produced by Universal Engineering. The 6 x 6 (4 x 4 and 8x8 are also available) accommodates a three-man crew and six dismounts, all in a peculiar capsule seat system equipped with a quick release latch that turns it into stretcher. The standard protection is Level 4 ballistic and Level 4b+ antimine. Level 4+ ballistic (RPG and 120-mm calibre explosively forged projectile protection being attainable with explosive reaction armour). The powerpack module and the rear wheel stations are designed to blast clear of the vehicle in case of explosion. At 19 tonnes gross weight the Ranger has a six-tonne payload capacity and can receive a 30-mm remotely controlled roof weapon station.

Wheeled Personnel Carriers

Besides Mrap-type vehicles, the armoured troop transport function is also provided by a series of wheeled 6x6 and 8x8 platforms that can be used either in this role or others, such as infantry combat vehicle, by adopting medium-calibre turrets.

The German Boxer under production by Artec, a joint venture between Rheinmctall and KMW, has a crew of three (driver, commander and weapon operator) and can carry eight infantrymen in the rear compartment, providing them with Level 4 ballistic protection and with mine protection against antitank blast mines, the exact level has not been announced. Grossing at 33 tonnes with an eight-tonne payload and offering a protected volume of 14 metres3, the Boxer has three hatches in the roof to allow soldiers to maintain full situational awareness and to interface with locals.

The Boxer is currently entering service with the German and Dutch armies. the personnel carrier version having been ordered only by Germany. The Boxer is one of the competitors for a potential bid in the United Arab Emirates, which has a requirement for an 8 x 8 troop transport armoured vehicle.

The French VBCI, in the same starting blocks for that requirement, rolled for over 1600 km on the desert sand in 2010 during hot weather trials. The Nexter-owned personnel carrier version shown at Idex 2011 had been modified with an improved air conditioning system, new seats with four-points harness and a 360' close-range vision system.The VBCI in the troop transport configuration has an empty weight of about 18 tonnes, a payload capacity of ten and its protected volume of 13 metres3 accommodates up to 14 soldiers.

The General Dynamics Land Systems Europe Piranha 5 is now offered in a Desert Piranha version with a remote controlled weapon station and equipped with a more powerful air conditioning system, sand tires and a new powerpack.

Another contender that might take part in the Emirian bid is the Ukrainian 17.5-tonne BTR-4 8x8 powered by a 430-hp Iveco Cursor CIO. Carrying ten infantrymen and a crew of three when equipped with an overhead weapon station, its grow weight can be increased to 21.9 tonnes with add-on armour. Compared to other 8 x 8s this features generous armoured glass surfaces for the driver and commander to provide good situational awareness when moving in urban or difficult terrain.

Glass windows have been adopted on the latest South African development, the 6 x 6 Mbombe designed by the Paramount Group, not only for the vehicle crew but also for the infantrymen seated in the back. At 16-lonnes accepting an eleven-tone payload. the Mbombe does not feature a V-shaped bottom but still provides optimal mine protection up to Level 4a/4b and Level 4 ballistic protection. The glass windows are protected by a steel cage. The Mbombe can carry a three-man crew and eight dismounts.

While the Italian CIO Freccia 8 x 8 has not yet been proposed in a personnel carrier version, Iveco DV is marketing its amphibious SuperAV 8x8 with cross hairs on the US Marine Corps Marine Personnel Carrier requirement. Gross weight for amphibious operations is 24 tonnes with one more tonne allowed for land operations, with respective payload capacities of nine and ten tonnes. The SuperAV can carry the driver and twelve soldiers and can reach ten km/h in the water.

Brazil decided to develop a new wheeled A PC, and in December 2009 signed a contract worth over[euro]two billion for an amphibious 6x6 vehicle known as VBTP-MR (Viatura Blindada de Transpose de Pessoal--Media sobre Rodas) to be developed by Iveco in co-operation with the Brazilian Army. At 18.3 tonnes gross, the new 'GuaranT can Accommo-date eleven soldiers. The contract covers 2044 vehicles to be produced between 2012 and 2030.

In France, Renault now offers the VAB Mk 2, in both 4x4 and 6x6 versions which host two crewmembers and ten soldiers. With respective gross weights of 15.8 and 17.2 tonnes they boast an internal volume of 11.1 metres3. Powered by a 320-hp engine, water propulsion can be added as option. With three tonnes of armour added to the monocoque steel hull, ballistic protection is enhanced to Level 4.

The Turkish Armed Forces launched the Omttza programme, athough it has since been stopped in view of revised requirements. Otokar however, developed the 16-tonne Anna 6x6 which was qualified in 2010. The APC version carries eight soldiers and a two-man crew and is powered by a 450-hp engine while two propellers afford swimming.

While awaiting a lurkisn decision, a first contract with an undisclosed country was signed in late 2010 for 20 vehicles, equipped with an open cupola armed with a 12.7-mm machine gun. The vehicles are currently under production and deliveries will take place within 2011.

In June 2011, Otokar received a second export contract for its Anna 6x6. The deal is worth $ 63.2 million and includes spares and training. The number of vehicles as well as the customer's name remain undisclosed.

The 8x8 derivative, set at 24 tonnes, shares the same components with the exception of the gearbox. Testing will be completed in late summer 2011 and from late September the Arma 8x8 will be ready to take export production orders (no requirement from Turkey).

The same applies to the Pars 8 x 8; a 24.5 tonner developed by FNSS that can host up to 14 soldiers, including the driver. Powered by a 500 or 600-hp engine, it has a payload margin of eight tonnes and is proposed both as a fighting vehicle or personnel carrier, but still looking for a customer.

A smaller 6x6 version was exhibited at Idex 2011 and in urban camouflage at Idef 2011 in Istanbul last Mav. It features a Horstman hydropneumatic suspension, though the independent air suspension system remains available as an option. The 482-hp engine is located behind the driver, leaving an aisle on starboard for the commander and driver to access the rear troop compartment.

The Pars also features all-wheel steering to help manoeuvres in urban terrain. The electronic architecture is based on a Can-bus that allows high-speed data transfer. The Pars 6x6 grosses at 18.5 tonnes with add-on armour, payload rating being four tonnes for the amphibious version (otherwise seven) and aims at the Omtlza contract.

Nurol Makina also proposed its Ejder 6x6 for the Omttza bid. An 18 tonner powered by a 402-hp engine located front right. The Ejder has Level 3 ballistic protection and Level 3b antimine protection provided by the hull V-shape and a 428-mm ground clearance. Swimming is afforded by two water jets. It accommodates twelve soldiers including the crew. Seventy Ejders in the basic APC version were delivered to Georgia by mid-2009.

The last bidder for the Omttza tails in the Mrap category. Known as the Vuran and being developed by Izmir-based BMC, it seats ten including the driver and commander and has a fuel range of 800 km.

In the Far East two South Korean companies have developed similar vehicles. The 16-tonne Hyundai Rotem KW1 6x6 can carry a two-man crew and nine dismounts. Amphibious, it is powered by propellers mechanically linked to the 420-hp engine.

Doosan, for its part, has developed the Black Fox which, in 6x6 guise, has a gross weight of 24 tonnes and an eight-tonne payload capacity with seating for twelve men. Amphibious, it is powered by a 400-hp engine, has all-wheel steering and a variable ground clearance system.

China is also active, particularly with the Norinco WMZ551 6 x 6, a 16 tonner capable of carrying a two-man crew and ten dismounts in the B version, with a 12.7-mm machine gun pintle mounted (one soldier less in the VB1 version with a one-man 12.7 mm turret). Poly Tech nologies proposes its Type 05P, an 11.7- tonne 6x6 which is pretty similar to the French VAB, seating a three-man crew and eight soldiers.
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Title Annotation:Vehicles: armoured
Author:Valpolini, Paolo
Publication:Armada International
Date:Aug 1, 2011
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