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On track: the prototypes of two tracked infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) designs were unveiled in 2005 to meet national requirements in Germany and South Korea. Despite this the worldwide move toward the wheeled armoured fighting vehicle has gained further momentum. Taiwan rolled out a new wheeled prototype that could be followed by up to 1400 production examples.

The significant recent trend launched by the VBCI and the Piranha IV however, and whether tracks or wheels are considered, is to design relatively lightweight hulls that are then dressed up with add-on armour. This enables the hull to be equipped a la carte, damaged elements to be changed and last but certainly not the least, armour to be upgraded as progress is made on protective materials.

Heavyweight Puma

The technology demonstrator for the German Army's new Puma was rolled out in Kassel on 20 December 2005 by Projekt System und Management (PSM), a 50:50-joint venture between Rheinmetall Landsysteme and Krauss-Maffei Wegmann. Company trials are scheduled to continue until May 2006 when the

vehicle will be delivered to the army. Under the terms of a 350 million [euro] contract the demonstrator will be followed by five pre-production vehicles due for delivery between late 2006 and May 2007. The German government is expected in late 2007 to authorise the production of 410 Pumas, worth roughly 3.05 billion [euro], for delivery from 2009. The Puma will replace approximately 2100 Marder 1 IFVs, which entered service in 1971.

At the start of Puma development the German Army rejected two concepts that are shaping the US Army's Future Combat Systems: that improved situational awareness will reduce the need for conventional armour and that vehicles should weigh no more than 18 tonnes so they can be carried by C-130 tactical transport aircraft. The Puma is designed to be carried by the Airbus Military A400M strategic transport aircraft, which enables it to have the highest level of armour protection among the new generation of infantry fighting vehicles with a baseline weigh of 31.45 tonnes at Protection Level A (Airtransportable). This will protect against 14.5 mm attack and at least a ten-kilo landmine blast. If the threat warrants armour modules can be added to the hull and turret to provide Protection Level C (Combat) to defeat hand-held anti-tank weapons, 30 mm ammunition and top attack bomblets. In this configuration the Puma will weight about 41 tonnes. Tracks, their wheels and idlers come off as one module that also carries 450 litres of fuel.

The Puma will carry nine people: a driver, the commander and gunner seated side-by-side in the hull and six soldiers in the rear troop compartment. A remote controlled turret will be armed with the new Mauser Mk 30-2/ABM (Air Burst Munition) 30 mm dual-feed cannon and a 5.56 mm MG co-axial machine gun. Two hundred rounds of 30 mm ammunition, a combination of kinetic energy and ABM rounds, will be carried in the turret bustle and 500 rounds for the 5.56 mm machine gun.

Anticipating future upgrades the Puma's powerpack and suspension have been designed to accommodate a 30% growth in vehicle weight without having to be modified.

Dingo Pack Grows

In December 2005 Krauss-Maffei Wegmann signed a contract with the German BWB procurement agency to deliver a demonstrator of the new stretched 4 x 4 Dingo 2 variant, designated the Dingo 2 GFE Year-end also saw KMW complete an Austrian order for 20 Dingo 2s and deliver the first of more than 200 on order to the Belgian Army.

KMW built 147 4 x 4 Dingo 1 All Protected Vehicles for the German Army between 2000 and 2003. Based on the Mercedes-Benz U-1550L Unimog chassis, it soon proved its worth on peace support operations in Afghanistan and Bosnia. Responding to feedback from the army KMW based the Dingo 2 on the longer Mercedes-Benz Unimog U-5000 series chassis to carry more payload.

A 3.25-metre wheelbase Dingo 2 is able to carry a 3.5-tonne payload and the 3.85-metre variant is able to carry four tonnes. While the Dingo 1 carried six personnel the Dingo 2 carries up to eight including the driver. The Dingo series is designed with a slanted blast deflector floor to protect against land mines, including those with explosive-formed penetrators. The Dingo 2 has a top speed of about 100 km/h, a range of 1000 km and can be carried by a C-130 Hercules aircraft and airlifted by a CH-53 helicopter. The German Army ordered 55 Dingo 2s in 2004 and Austria placed a 13.3 million [euro] order in October 2004 for 20 vehicles. Austria intends to acquire additional vehicles configured for NBC reconnaissance missions.

The Dingo 2 has a small load area at the rear that has the same level of protection as the central crew compartment. On the Dingo 2 GFF configuration the crew compartment is extended to the rear of the vehicle thus providing greater internal volume and increasing the vehicle's capacity to nine passengers. The German demonstrator in the command configuration is intended to replace the army's tracked M113 series command vehicles. Specialised variants are being considered for missions such as weapons carrier, forward observation, medical evacuation, flatbed logistics carrier and radar surveillance. The army has a requirement for between 1000 and 1500 vehicles in this category.

The Belgian Army is the launch customer for the stretched Dingo 2 following a December 2004 order worth 170 million [euro] for 220 Dingo 2s with an option for a further 132 vehicles. Belgian configurations include command, ambulance and radar command and control vehicles. Deliveries under the initial Belgian order are scheduled to continue until 2009.

The Dingo 2 is marketed in the United States and to select Foreign Military Sales (FMS) customers by Textron Marine & Land Systems. In September 2004 the US Department of Defense notified Congress of the proposed $ 99 million FMS sale of 103 Dingo 2s to Israel. However, the proposed sale did not proceed.

Decision for Boxer

The future of the Boxer Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle should be decided in the second half of 2006. Further uncertainty was added to the troubled project when Artec missed the September 2005 deadline to present a revised bid to Occar (Organisation Conjoint de Cooperation en matiere d'Armement), representing the armies of Germany and the Netherlands, for an initial production run of 400 8 x 8 vehicles. The Dutch government noted that if it did not have "sufficient confidence" by year-end it could withdraw from the project. It is already examining four alternative 8 x 8 vehicles: the Giat VBCI, the Iveco/Oto Melara VBC, the Mowag Piranha IV and the Patria AMV.

The revised cost estimate is necessary to allay fears that, following the British Army's 2003 decision to quit the project, production costs will become prohibitively expensive. The German Army needs 1000 vehicles to replace its tracked M113 and wheeled Fuchs Tpz I vehicles while the Royal Netherlands Army is seeking 257 vehicles to replace its wheeled YPRs and tracked M577s. The Hague has allocated 617 million for the first 200 Boxers. The restructured Artec consortium comprises Kraus-Maffei Wegmann (36 %) and Rheinmetall Landsysteme (14%) from Germany and Stork (50%) of the Netherlands.

Since June 2003 twelve Boxer prototypes, four for each of the three nations in the original development programme, have been involved in the trials and qualification programme, which is scheduled to run until mid-2006. The four Dutch and four German prototypes are in five mission configurations--personnel, command post, ambulance, repair and cargo vehicles. Artec has carried out feasibility studies for other versions including IFV, rocket launcher, mortar, ordnance disposal and engineer vehicles.

The Boxer was designed to provide a high level of protection against direct-fire weapons, land mines and artillery fragments. The vehicle's hull is of steel with an applique layer of passive armour. This level of protection comes at a price, as the 33-tonne Boxer is heavier than any other 8 x 8 equivalent and cannot be transported by a C-130. Since the project was launched the British Army has shifted its requirement towards the lighter Future Rapid Effects System family of vehicles.

The Piranha III Saga

Mowag of Switzerland, part of the General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems, received an order for a further 15 8 x 8 Piranha IIIs from the Republic of Ireland to join the 65 already in service.

The Swiss factory is working on a $112 million Danish contract placed in October 2004 for 91 8 x 8 Piranha IIICs in personnel carrier, ambulance, command post and reconnaissance configurations. Following the first delivery in February 2005 Mowag is producing three vehicles a month until the contract is completed in June 2007.

Since the first prototype appeared in 1972 the Mowag Piranha has become the most successful family of 6 x 6 and 8 x 8 fighting vehicles. Following the Canadian Army's selection of the 6 x 6 Piranha I in 1977 more than 8000 vehicles have been bought to equip the armed forces of 17 countries. Many were produced at the General Dynamics Canadian factory in London, Ontario.

The Piranha received the LAV name by which it is widely known when the US Marine Corps selected the 8 x 8 Piranha I for its Light Armored Vehicle project in 1981. The service acquired 758 vehicles from 1983 to 1988 and these have seen extensive service, most recently in Afghanistan and Iraq. The US Marine Corps is planning to order 120 new LAVs with funds expected to be available in late 2006. A Service Life Extension Program is underway to improve sustainability and reliability of the present fleet for another 20 years of service. The Corps is developing a plan to standardise all LAVs to one configuration with a new suspension system, electrically powered turret, additional armour, a fire suppression system and a new engine and transmission. Separate projects are underway to install an Improved Thermal Sight System, enhance the lethality of the M242 25 mm cannon of the LAV-25 variant and upgrade 50 command and control vehicles. The Marines are also planning to install the Delco LAV-25 'saddlebag Tow' turret on 95 anti-tank variants and replace the 81 mm mortar in 50 mortar vehicles with the same 120 mm rifled mortars used in the Expeditionary Fire Support System.

Under a US Foreign Military Sales agreement the Saudi Arabian National Guard received 1117 8 x 8 LAV I vehicles in twelve variants. These included 73 vehicles mounting the BAE Systems, RO Defence 120 mm Armoured Mortar System and 130 assault guns fitted with the CMI Defence CTS two-person turret armed with the Cockerill Mk 8 90 mm gun. GDLS will be keen to repeat this success with the new Saudi Arabian requirement for 260 vehicles.

In August 2004 the Australian Army received the last of 144 second-generation vehicles ordered under Phase 3 of the Australian LAV (Aslav) project. Under a 2004 contract GDLS--Australia is upgrading the 113 Phase 2 Aslavs that were delivered between 1995 and 1997, to match Phase 3 vehicles. The upgrades include a new turret electric drive, enhanced thermal sight with laser rangefinder and an improved fire control system for the 25 mm turrets, the integration of a GPS-based navigation system and an enhanced-suspension system. The project is scheduled for completion in August 2006. The army has fitted bar armour, developed by GDLS Canada, on some of its Aslavs deployed in Iraq and also installed Kongsberg Remote Weapon Stations in the personnel carrier variants.

The Piranha III is the latest generation in production. In addition to the Danish contract Mowag has received orders from Ireland (65 8 x 8 vehicles), Spain (18 8 x 8 vehicles for the marines including personnel carriers fitted with the Cadillac Gage 40 mm/12.7 mm turrets) and Switzerland (36 radio access point vehicles). The Swiss Army already operates 310 6 x 6 Piranha I Tow-armed anti-tank vehicles and 515 8 x 8 Piranha II personnel carriers with the Rheinmetall Landsysteme one-person turret armed with an M2 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. Sweden remains the only customer for the 10 x 10 Piranha Armoured Combat Vehicle with six being used in the command post role and seven fitted with an Ericsson mast-mounted air defence radar. Incidentally, Denmark turned again to Mowag for its patrol vehicle requirement, having placed an order for 85 Eagle IVs in December 2005.

General Dynamics Canada is now producing specialised variants in the final stage of the order for 651 LAV IIIs for the Canadian Army. Earlier phases covered 480 vehicles mounting the LAV 25 two-man turret armed with the ATK M242 25 mm Chain Gun. The last of 33 Tow Under Armour vehicles, equipped with refurbished and upgraded Kvaerner Eureka

Armoured Launching Turrets, is scheduled for delivery in May 2006. Between October 2006 and July 2007 the Army will receive 39 engineer vehicles equipped with a remote weapons station, dozer blade, hydraulic tool system and provision for a safe lane marking system. The latest variant of the LAV planned to enter Canadian service early in the next decade is the Multi-Mission Effects Vehicle (MMEV), which mounts the Oerlikon Contraves Air Defence Anti-Tank System (Adats) on an LAV III chassis. The MMEV is not expected to be operational until 2010.

The New Zealand Army received the last of 105 LAV IIIs in November 2004 to replace its Ml13 APCs and Scorpion fire support vehicles. This will allow the service to deploy and sustain a battalion equipped with 51 NZLAVs.

Mowag completed the first prototype of the larger Piranha IV in 2001 and the second in 2004. The new vehicle offers greater internal volume, higher payload, better armour protection and improved mobility over the Piranha III. The Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force could be the launch customer for the Piranha IV as Komatsu, which has a licence to manufacture the vehicle in Japan, is developing prototypes modified to meet that army's specific requirements. Development work is scheduled to be completed in 2007. An IFV variant is expected to be armed with an externally mounted medium-calibre cannon. Other planned versions include APC, mortar, anti-tank, air defence, command and control, reconnaissance and self-propelled howitzer.

BAE Systems Land Systems also has the rights to manufacture the Piranha IV and is looking for customers in the Middle East. Alvis, now absorbed by BAE Systems, produced more than 320 Piranha II and III vehicles for Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.

Stryker Wins Spurs

The performance of the General Dynamics 8 x 8 Stryker in Iraq since October 2003 has proven its worth; in sharp contrast to early comments from critics of the US Army's 'interim armoured vehicle' choice. The US Army Tacom awarded GDLS a $ 69 million contract in November 2005 to service, repair and modify 265 Strykers, which drove more than six million miles during their two years in Iraq and achieved an operational readiness rate of more than 95 %.

During a press conference in September 2005 Colonel Robert Brown, who commanded the second Stryker Brigade Combat Team in Iraq, credited the Stryker with saving "hundreds of my soldiers' lives". He said 115 rocket-propelled grenades and countless machine gun bullets had failed to penetrate the Stryker's armour. His troops were replaced by the third Stryker brigade, the 172nd Infantry Brigade, in October 2005.

The steel hull will defeat 7.62 mm AP rounds and the ceramic applique armour protects against 14.5 mm rounds and 152 mm airburst. Strykers in Iraq are fitted with 'slat armour', a bar cage around the vehicle's hull intended to detonate RPGs before they reach the vehicle per se. The Stryker is scheduled to be fitted with new reactive armour to directly defeat the dreaded RPGs.

The Army placed a $ four billion contract in November 2000 for 2131 Strykers to equip six Stryker brigades by 2009 and now plans to add a seventh brigade. The present contract has an option for a seventh brigade set of more than 300 vehicles that is valid until 30 September 2006. Deliveries of 328 vehicles to equip the fourth brigade are scheduled to be completed in February 2006 and vehicle deliveries to the fifth brigade began in January 2006. Two-thirds are built at the Anniston Army Depot in Alabama and the remainder at GDLS Canada.

By the end of 2005 a further 350 Strykers had joined the 1000th Stryker that was rolled out on 12 January 2005. A number of other milestones were reached last year. The Stryker Mortar Carrier version B (MCV-B) entered service with the fourth brigade--the 3rd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division--in mid-year. These will replace the MCV-A vehicles from which the mortars have to be dismounted to fire. The MCV-B's 120mm mortar fires through an open hatch and each vehicle also carries a second mortar, an 81 mm at battalion level or a 60 mm mortar at company level, for dismounted fire.

The army is awaiting delivery of the last two Stryker variants planned to enter service--the Mobile Gun System (MGS) and the Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Reconnaissance Vehicle. Armed with a General Dynamics 105 mm cannon in a low profile, unmanned turret the MGS carries 18 rounds of 105 mm ammunition, 400 rounds of 12.7 mm ammunition and 3400 7.62mm rounds. The Canadian Army will receive 66 MGS vehicles to replace its Leopard C2 tanks. The Australian Army decided not to buy the MGS and purchased 59 used M1A1 AIM tanks from the US.

GDLS has built 14 low-rate initial production MGS vehicles for engineering and manufacturing development. To resolve problems with the automatic loading system a new Meggitt/Western ten-round single-drum replenisher has replaced the original two five-round drums design. Production verification testing is expected to lead to a full-rate production decision in 2007.

The US Air Force also received its first Strykers in May 2005, five vehicles transferred from the army, for use by air support crews assigned to the teams. Previously mounted in Humvees the air force vehicles were unable to keep up with the Stryker.

As lead elements in the army's transformation strategy, the Stryker Brigade Teams are designed to have more protection and mobility than a light division while being more strategically and tactically deployable than an armoured or mechanised infantry division. Key to the LAV III selection was the requirement that the vehicle could be carried inside a C-130 for deployment within theatre. To do this the US Air Force waives its requirement for a 14-inch safety aisle around all sides of the vehicle.

Cougar

The US Department of Defense awarded Force Protection of Ladson, South Carolina a $ 45.7 million contract in May 2005 to supply 122 Cougar Joint Explosive Ordnance Rapid Response Vehicles for use by the US Joint Improvised Explosive Device (IED) Defeat Task Force in Iraq. With subsequent modifications and additional orders this contract now totals over $ 92 million. Under an accelerated delivery schedule all vehicles will be fielded by June 2006.

The Cougar H is a family of medium-sized mine-protected vehicles that can be supplied in 4 x 4 or 6 x 6 versions. They can be configured for a wide range of tasks including troop transport (up to 14 in the 6 x 6), explosive ordnance disposal, command and control, artillery prime mover, recovery vehicle and ambulance. The US Marine Corps purchased about 27 Cougars in 2004 for use by its EOD teams in Iraq. The Corps designates the Cougar the Mine Resistance Ambush Protected (Mrap) vehicle and according to one general has a requirement for up to 900. However, the requirement for additional Cougars is unfunded pending Congressional approval of the FY06 Defense Appropriations bill.

The Cougar and the larger mine-protected Buffalo clearance vehicle are based on South African designs that have been improved for manufacture in America. Powered by a 330 hp Caterpillar C-7 diesel engine, the 4 x 4 Cougar has a combat weight of 14.5 tonnes while the 6 x 6 version has a weight of 21.5 tonnes. It can withstand the detonation of 13.6 kg of TNT equivalent under each wheel and 6.8 kg under the hull.

Pandur II

The Portuguese Ministry of Defence became the launch customer for the Pandur II when it awarded Steyr a 365 million [euro] contract in February 2005 for 260 8 x 8 vehicles to equip its Army and Marine Corps. Deliveries will begin in 2007 and continue until 2010.

The Army will receive 105 infantry carrier vehicles (ICV) with 12.7 mm pintle machine guns and seven with a 12.7 mm remote controlled weapon station, 30 IFVs armed with a 30 mm gun, 31 120 mm mortar carriers (MC), 16 command post vehicles (CPV), 15 anti-tank guided missile vehicles, ten ambulances, nine engineer support vehicles, seven communications vehicles and four reconnaissance vehicles. The Marines will receive 13 ICVs, two IFVs armed with a 30 mm remote weapon station, three CPVs and two MCs.

The Pandur II's all-welded steel hull protects against 7.62 mm AP ammunition through a full 360[degrees] and can be increased to withstand attack from 14.5 mm AP ammunition by the addition of passive applique armour. The 6 x 6 Pandur II is offered with a range of turrets that can be armed with weapons as large as a 90 mm gun while the 8 x 8 vehicle can carry a 105 mm gun turret.

Six armies operate the original 6 x 6 Pandur--Austria (68), Belgium (54), Gabon (2 with up to 40 expected to be ordered after the presidential election), Kuwait (70), Slovenia (72 manufactured locally by Sistemska Tehnika under licence) and the US Army (50). Kuwaiti variants include an assault gun fitted with a two-person Cockerill turret armed with a Cockerill 90 mm gun.

The Austrian Army has a stated requirement for 129 Pandur II 8 x 8 vehicles to equip two infantry battalions for international missions and 6 x 6 vehicles in reconnaissance, NBC detection, anti-tank guided weapon and other specialist configurations. The company is optimistic that an order will be placed in 2006/07, although the number may change as a result of the ongoing reorganisation of the armed forces.

Ascod-Ulan

Steyr delivered the last of 112 Ascods, known locally as the Ulan, to the army in 2005. The Ulan operates alongside 40-year old Steyr 4K series tracked vehicles and the army would like approval to acquire specialist Ascod variants. However, a Ministry of Defence official and Steyr indicate that this has a low priority at present.

Steyr and Santa Barbara Sistemas, both now members of General Dynamics European Land Combat Systems, developed the Ascod family to meet the needs of the Austrian and Spanish armies. Deliveries of Spain's initial 123 Pizarro IFVs (Spanish designation) and 21 command vehicles were completed in 2002. A second contract for 170 IFVs, five command vehicles, 28 forward observer vehicles, eight recovery vehicles and one combat engineer vehicle was signed in 2003. The 509 million [euro] contract includes funding for development of new variants and extends the project until 2012.

The Pizarro IFV has a crew of three and carries seven in the troop compartment while the Ulan carries eight. The two-person turret is armed with a 30 mm dual feed, gas-operated Mauser Mk 30-2 automatic cannon and a 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. The hull and turret are constructed from all-welded steel armour that defeats 14.5 mm AP rounds over the frontal arc and 7.62 mm all round. Additional ballistic protection can be fitted to defeat up to 30 mm APFDS rounds over the frontal arc and 14.5 mm AP ammunition all round.

The partners have proposed specialist variants that include mortar carriers, anti-tank missile vehicles and the Ascod 105 that could be fitted with a variety of 105 mm turrets such as Oto Melara's 105 Low Recoil Force Turret and the General Dynamics Low Profile Turret.

Horses for Italian Courses

In the 1980s the Italian Army decided to fund the development of two tracked vehicles--the Ariete main battle tank and the Dardo IFV--for its heavy combat forces and two wheeled vehicles, and the Centauro 8 x 8 tank destroyer and the Puma family for its rapid deployment forces.

Between 1991 and 1996 the Consortium Iveco-Oto Melara (CIO) built 400 Centauros for Italy and production of 88 vehicles ordered for the Spanish Army continues. The Centauro is armed with a turret-mounted stabilised 105 mm rifled tank gun that fires standard Nato ammunition. The last 150 vehicles produced for Italy were modified so that the standard 40-round ammunition load can be reduced to enable four troops to be carried in the rear compartment. In standard configuration the 25-tonne vehicle is protected against 20 mm attack over the frontal arc and against 12.7 mm attack all round. If the threat warrants, the Centauro can carry up to three tonnes of additional passive or reactive armour.

The Centauro will be the primary fighting vehicle of the Italian Army's three medium brigades that are now being organised. Five additional Centauro variants are under development: an IFV fitted with an Oto Melara TC-25 Hitfist two-man turret armed with a 25 mm KBA cannon, a 120 mm mortar carrier, a command post, a recovery vehicle and an ambulance. These vehicles will feature a slightly longer and narrower hull than the Centauro. Production of the IFV is scheduled to begin in 2006 leading to the first unit equipped the following year.

For the export market the Centauro is offered with a new turret armed with an Oto Melara 120 mm smoothbore gun, thus becoming the first wheeled AFV to offer the same frepower as the latest generation main battle tanks. Other proposed variants include a gun or missile-armed air defence vehicle, an NBC reconnaissance vehicle, an armoured vehicle-launched bridge and a 155 mm self-propelled gun.

Iveco is building 540 Puma vehicles--320 in 6 x 6 and 220 in 4 x 4 configuration--under the designation Veicolo Blindato Leggero to equip three light brigades. The 4 x 4 reconnaissance vehicles, which carry a four-strong crew, will operate alongside the Centauro in reconnaissance regiments. The 6 x 6 personnel carrier seats seven soldiers. Both variants can be fitted with a range of cupolas and turrets. Specialised Puma variants include 81 mm mortar carrier, command post, air defence vehicle, anti-tank vehicle and ambulance.

The Dardo was developed by CIO to operate alongside the Ariete tank in heavy brigades. The initial production order placed in 1998 covered 196 IFVs equipped with the Hitfist turret for delivery from 2002 until 2004 and prototypes of four specialised variants: anti-tank, 120 mm mortar, command post and ambulance. The last was delivered in 2005. To complete the three heavy brigades additional orders for 300 Dardos, including the specialist variants, are expected.

The standard 23-tonne Dardo carries a commander, driver, gunner and six troops in the rear compartment. The Hitfist turret is armed with an Oerlikon KBA 25 mm dual-feed automatic cannon and a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun. A single launcher for the 3750-metre range Raytheon Tow missile can be fitted on each side of the Hitfist turret and the Esercito's anti-tank vehicles will be delivered in this configuration. The Dardo's hull and turret are of all-welded aluminium armour to which an additional layer of ballistic steel is fitted. The vehicle is powered by the same Iveco 8260 V-6 4-stroke turbocharged diesel engine as the Centauro.

Oto Melara also markets a Hitfist turret armed with the ATK Gun Systems 30/40 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II cannon; this is the turret selected by Poland for the IFV variants of its Patria Armoured Modular Vehicles. Oto Melara has also developed as a private venture the T60/70A turret armed with the 60 mm Oto 60/70 rifled gun. The objective is to produce a weapon that can defeat any AFV short of a tank. CIO has indicated that the Italian Army might include some in its anticipated follow-on order for the Dardo.

Patria's AMV

Finland's Patria Vehicles is poised to continue the early success of its Armoured Modular Vehicle (AMV) with a contract from South Africa. The AMV is also one of two remaining contenders for the Czech 8 x 8 project and has been demonstrated in Brazil, Croatia, Latvia and Lithuania.

The AMV builds on the success of Patria's 6 x 6 XA series--more than 1200 XA-180 and XA-200 vehicles have been built for five customers, and production continues.

With greater mobility, payload and protection that the XA-200 the AMV was designed to serve as the basis for a complete family of vehicles.

In 2002 Poland selected the AMV, then still in development, over the Pandur II and Piranha III to meet the Polish Land Force requirement for a family of 690 wheeled fighting vehicles to equip eight battalions. Poland has ordered IFV (313), APC (125), command and control (81), engineer, ambulance and recovery variants in the 8 x 8 configuration and 32 6 x 6 reconnaissance vehicles. In Polish service the vehicle is called the Rosomak (Wolverine).

On 8 January 2005 Poland's 17th Mechanised Brigade formally received the first AMVs and by year-end 90 vehicles had been delivered. Initial production vehicles were built in Finland at Patria's Hameenlinna facility but production has now shifted to Poland's Wojskowe Zaklady Mechaniczne.

The Polish vehicles are fitted with an Oto Melara Hitfist turret armed with an ATK Mk 44 30/40 mm Bushmaster II and coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun. Poland scrapped its requirement that the 26-tonner be transportable by C-130.

Patria unveiled the first 6 x 6 AMV at the MSPO 2005 exhibition in Poland on 29 August. At 7.1 metres it is 0.6 meters shorter than the 8 x 8 and has a maximum combat weight of 19.5 tonnes.

In early 2006, the Finnish Defence Forces will receive the first four of 24 8 x 8 AMVs fitted with Patria Hagglunds' Amos twin 120 mm mortar turret. The AMV's high payload enables carrying 84 120 mm rounds (amongst which Instalaza Mat120s) and six guided projectiles. The service will also receive its first XC-360 8 x 8 AMV APCs fitted with the Kongsberg-supplied Protector 12.7 mm remotely operated weapon station. These are part of a 2004 96 million order for 62 AMVs for the army's rapid reaction Pori Brigade and should be followed by more AMVs.

New Generation for France

In 2006 Giat expects to complete an export prototype of the 8 x 8 Vehicule Blinde de Combat d'Infanterie (VBCI) that it is developing for the French Army. In mid-2005 the service received a prototype to undertake six months of technical trials and Giat is confident that in 2008 it will deliver the first production example.

The Armee de Terre is committed to an order of 700:550 configured as fighting vehicles (designated the Vdhicule de Combat d'Infanterie, or VCI) and 150 command vehicles (Vehicule Poste de Commandement, or VPC)--to replace its tracked AMX-10Ps and operate them alongside its 406 Giat Leclercs. An initial firm contract was passed in 2003 for the production of a first batch of 54 VCIs and 11 VPCs. Six further production contracts are planned under the [euro] three billion overall project.

The 28-tonne car, designed to be carried by the A400M transport aircraft, has a crew of three--commander, driver and gunner--and carries eight soldiers. It is fitted with a Giat Dragar one-man turret armed with a stabilised M811 25 mm dualfeed cannon and 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. Command variants will be armed with an FN Herstal remote weapon station mounting a 12.7mm heavy machine gun. Add-on titanium armour is fitted to the all-welded aluminium hull to protect it against medium-calibre threats. The DGA has awarded Giat a contract to develop an add-on armour package to protect against RPG-7s and similar hollow-charge threats.

Specialist variants are planned including anti-tank, mortar, engineer and mobile gun system. The latter will likely be armed with a large-calibre cannon fed by a bustle-mounted automatic loader.

Turkish-US Partnership

Turkey's FNSS was formed as a joint venture between United Defense (now BAE Systems) and the Turkish Nurol Group to produce tracked vehicles for the Turkish Land Force Command. As of 27 September 2005 Nurol holds 51% of the company's share and BAE Systems 49%.

FNSS delivered the last of 2249 Armoured Combat Vehicles (ACV), an advanced derivative of the United Defense M113, to the TLFC in December 2004. A further 136 vehicles were sold to the United Arab Emirates and 211 to Malaysia. The IFV variant has a one-man, power-operated Sharpshooter turret armed with a 25 mm cannon and a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun.

FNSS has utilised United Defense's experience with the MTVL, a stretched M113, to develop the ACV--Stretched. The seven prototypes built to date have included vehicles fitted with an M2 Bradley turret modified to carry a 30 mm cannon, an anti-tank turret with four Hell-fire missiles and the Thales Swarm turret armed with a 12.7 mm machine gun. A tracked logistics prototype has also been developed. At the February 2005 Idex exhibition FNSS exhibited an ACV-S fitted with the turret of the Russian BMP-3 IFV under the designation ACV-SW. This version would have a crew of three--commander, gunner and driver--and carry seven troops in the rear compartment.

FNSS also chose Idex 2005 as the venue to unveil the 8 x 8 Pars, which is aimed at Turkish requirements and the export market. The Pars has been developed in co-operation with General Purpose Vehicles (GPV) as part of a modular APC family that includes 4 x 4, 6 x 6, short 8 x 8, long 8 x 8 and 10 x 10 variants. Depending on the vehicle, two to four personnel (including driver and commander) are seated in a front cockpit while ten or twelve personnel are seated in the rear troop compartment.

The vehicle's deep V-shaped hull is designed to deflect the blast from anti-tank mines and individual suspension components are mounted to break free in a blast. The vehicle's all welded steel hull will defeat 7.62 mm AP ammunition and higher levels of protection can be provided if required. Gross vehicle weight ranges from 13.6 tonnes for the 4 x 4 vehicle to 37 tonnes for the 10 x 10 vehicle with a 120 mm gun turret with a higher level of protection.

The vehicles can be fitted with Cat, Deutz, MTU or other powerpacks depending on customer specifications. The Pars 8 x 8 prototype currently has a 530 hp Deutz engine and ZF transmission.

With a top road speed of 100 km/h the series can achieve a range of over 1000 km. The vehicle is also amphibious with a maximum speed of ten km/h.

Turkey has been considering the acquisition of a wheeled fighting vehicle for several years but has yet to launch a project. In 2001 FNSS signed an agreement with the-then Alvis Vehicles (now BAE Systems Land Systems) to co-operate in the production of the 8 x 8 Piranha II if the vehicle is selected. The Piranha II has been demonstrated in Turkey.

In September 2005 FNSS signed an agreement with Oerlikon Contraves to fit the latter's Skyranger Gun System on either the Pars or the ACV-S chassis. The agreement allows local production of the Skyranger turret if the system is selected by the Turkish Armed Forces. In spite of being a novel vehicle, the Pars does not feature in our fold-out chart as many parameters yet need to be defined.

CV90

BAE Systems Land Systems Hagglunds delivered the last of 186 CV9030CHs to the Swiss Army in December 2005. The CV90 is the most widely exported European tracked vehicle of its kind with 1125 ordered to date. The company is now building vehicles for Finland and the Netherlands.

Development of the CV90 began in 1984 to meet the Swedish Army's demanding requirements and the service has since ordered 549 vehicles in several variants. The most numerous is the CV9040 equipped with the Bofors 40 mm L/70 gun. With a crew of three the 22.8-tonne vehicle carries an eight-strong infantry squad in the troop compartment. The other Swedish versions are the 40 mm-armed TriAD (Autonomous Armoured Air Defence) System, the CV90 Forward Observation Vehicle, the CV90 Forward Command Vehicle and the CV90 Armoured Recovery Vehicle. Since 2001 the Army has fitted 55 vehicles with passive armour kits for international operations. The next variant to enter Swedish service will be armed with the Patria Hagglunds twin 120 mm Amos, in fact the Army has 40 chassis in storage for this application. Swedish Amos turrets will have a higher level of ballistic protection, a bustle-mounted automatic loader and a more advanced fire control system than Finnish systems. The CV90/Amos is expected to weigh 27.6 tonnes.

The CV9030, armed with an ATK 30 mm Bushmaster II, was developed for the export market. Norway became the launch customer when it ordered 104 CV9030Ns in 1994 and its army has an unfunded requirement for a further 20 to 30 vehicles. The Swiss CV90s ordered in 2000, for their part, are armed with the ATK Mk 44 30/40mm cannon. Finland ordered 57 vehicles (designated the CV 9030Fin) also armed with the Mk 44 cannon in 2000 and placed a follow-on order in December 2004 for a further 45.

The Royal Netherlands Army became the fifth customer for the CV90 when it signed a 749 million [euro] order on 13 December 2004 for 184 CV9035s to be delivered from 2007 to 2010. Armed with a Bushmaster III 35/50mm cannon the CV9035 is the latest development of the CV90, offering enhanced firepower, survivability, mobility, ergonomics and advanced electronic architecture with implemented C4I systems. The commander has a rotating cupola for maximum visibility and both the commander and gunner have fully stabilised day and night sights with third-generation thermal cameras.

Denmark is the latest customer, having purchased 45 new CV9035s on 16 December 2005. No further details were available at time of writing.

Hagglunds is hoping that Greece will come to a similar decision as it considers the CV90 as one of the options to meet the army's need following the demise of Elbo's Kentaurus design. Denmark is discussing with the Swedish government the acquisition of 50 to 60 CV9040 that may become surplus following cuts to the Swedish Army, although the acquisition of new vehicles has not been ruled out.

Hagglunds developed the CV90120-T armed with a Swiss Ruag 120 mm smoothbore gun on a CV90 chassis for customers seeking the firepower of a main battle tank on a smaller platform. With a combat weight of about 26 tonnes the vehicle could be carried by the Airbus Military A400M transport aircraft. The project remains at the prototype stage.

Wildcat for Urban Fight

Israel Military Industries and American Truck Company (a Terex subsidiary), have jointly developed the 4 x 4 Wildcat APC. IMI analysed the recent urban warfare experiences of the Israel Defence Force and US forces in Iraq and decided there is a need for a vehicle that combines high levels of protection and manoeuvrability, but that yet appears less menacing than other designs.

The Wildcat is based on a new 4 x 4 chassis developed by Tatra, the Czech subsidiary of Terex. The vehicle has three levels of modular add-on ballistic armour protection: the basic level protects against 7.62 mm AP attack, Level 2 protects against 14.5 mm AP and Level 3 is intended to defeat RPGs and "other equivalent shoulder launched missiles", The crew hull is one meter above ground level, providing additional protection against mines and IEDs. IMI claims the Wildcat provides better ballistic protection than the Stryker and equal protection to the M113 APCs that IMI is upgrading for the IDF. The C-130-transportable Wildcat weighs 15 tonnes with Level 3 protection and is able to carry twelve equipped personnel--significantly more than other vehicles in this weight category. The vehicle is equipped with IMI's Wave stabilised remotely operated weapon station and firing ports enable the occupants to fire small arms. The unit cost of the Wildcat is estimated to be between $ 500,000 to $ 600,000. Variants are proposed for the reconnaissance, command and control, medical evacuation, recovery and logistics roles.

Following the IDF's decision not to acquire the Stryker or pursue a Dingo 2 purchase, IMI officials believe the Wildcat is a natural alternative and the IDF plans to evaluate the Wildcat/Level 3 in the second quarter of 2006. IMf and ATC offered the Wildcat for the US Marine Corps' Mine Resistant Armored Patrol vehicle solicitation in 2005 and are now promoting the vehicle to the US Army.

Australia's Bushmaster

The Australian Army is acquiring the ADI 4 x 4 Bushmaster Infantry Mobility Vehicle to fill the gap between light infantry units equipped with softskin vehicles and mechanised battalions equipped with the tracked M113. They will be used to move troops and their equipment at speed over long distances to an area out of direct contact with the enemy where troops will dismount for combat operations. The Bushmaster can transport ten personnel together with rations, ammunition, water and other stores for three days of operations, along with sufficient fuel for 1000 km.

ADI is building 300 Bushmasters for the army and twelve for the Royal Australian Air Force. Since January 2005 ADI has been producing two vehicles per week with the last vehicles expected to be fielded by late 2007. Six variants are being produced: troop carrier, command, ambulance, direct fire weapon, mortar and assault pioneer.

In October ADI unveiled a new company-funded variant intended to provide protection for logistics convoys in situations such as Iraq. The new Armoured Combat Support Vehicle combines the Bushmaster's front cab section with a flatbed rear cargo area and is capable of carrying up to five tonnes of cargo and towing an eight-tonne trailer. A 6 x 6 variant is under development that will be able to carry up to eleven tonnes. As with the standard IMV a machine gun can be fitted at the ring mount on the roof of the cab. ADI is considering developing other variants including dedicated weapons carriers, mine clearance vehicles and engineer vehicles, all of which would offer the same protection levels as the IMV. Oshkosh Truck has signed an agreement with ADI to allow the American company to market and manufacture the Bushmaster.

At the request of the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces a Bushmaster participated in the annual summer trial conducted over a two-week period in mid2004. The Emirates are believed to require about 50 vehicles in this category. Company representatives recently briefed Saudi Arabia on the Bushmaster.

Singapore Wheels and Tracks

Singapore Technologies Kinetics developed its 8 x 8 Terrex AV81 as a private venture in collaboration with Timoney Technology of Ireland. The prototype, first displayed in 2001, has since been joined by two pre-production units. ST Kinetics has offered the vehicle to the Turkish Land Forces Command under the name Yavuz and is optimistic that the Singapore Armed Forces, which now only operates tracked armoured vehicles, will decide to acquire a wheeled platform for overseas missions.

A range of turrets is being offered, such as the two-man, 25 mm cannon turret fitted to its tracked Bionix 25 IFV and a turret armed with a 105 mm low recoil gun. Specialist variants such as command, 120 mm mortar carrier, air defence and anti-tank missile carriers and a 155 mm/52 calibre self-propelled gun can also be developed to meet user requirements.

In the APC configuration the AV81 would carry a commander, driver and a ten-strong infantry section in the troop compartment. With a maximum combat weight of 24 tonnes, depending on the turret and the level of armour protection, the vehicle is designed to be carried by a C-130. The vehicle's hull is of all-welded steel construction to which additional passive armour can be added and the V-shape of the hull floor improves mine blast survivability.

The Bionix was developed by Singapore Technologies Kinetics to meet the requirements of the Singapore Armed Forces for an IFV to operate in conjunction with its fleet of M113 APCs. The first production vehicle, a Bionix 25 IFV, was completed in 1997. This version has a twoman turret armed with an ATK M242 25 nun cannon and 7.62 mm coaxial machine gun. A seven-strong infantry squad is carried in the rear compartment. This was followed into production by the Bionix 40/50 APC which has a cupola armed with a CIS 40 mm Grenade Launcher and a CIS 50 MG 12.7 mm heavy machine gun. The Bionix 40/50 has a crew of three and is able to carry nine infantrymen in the troop compartment. The Bionix 40/50 has a combat weight of 21,500 kg compared to the 23,000 kg of the Bionix 25. The Singapore Armed Forces have reportedly acquired 250 of each model. ST Kinetics also built Bionix recovery and bridgelayer variants for the army.

To allow a larger turret to be carried and increase internal volume ST Kinetics has proposed developing a stretched version. Moving in the opposite direction the company developed a lighter (16,964 kg) version of the Bionix in an unsuccessful bid to win the US Army's medium interim armoured vehicle requirement and was prepared to use this as the basis for the nine variants required by the Army. This is still being offered for export.

Tracks for South Korea ...

The first three prototypes of the Next Infantry Fighting Vehicle (NIFV) for the Republic of Korea Army were rolled out on 17 May 2005 at the Changwon plant of Doosan Infracore Defense Products (previously know as Daewoo Heavy Industries & Machinery). The NIFV is intended to replace the Daewoo Korean Infantry Fighting Vehicle, some 2000 of which have been built for the home and export market since 1985. Despite its designation the heaviest armament of the standard NIFV is a 12.7mm heavy machine gun. The well-armed NIFV mounts a stabilised 40 mm L/70 Bofors cannon, a 7.62 mm co-axial machine gun and twin-launchers for third-generation anti-tank guided missile are fitted on either side of the turret. Neither the manufacturer nor the army has yet confirmed the choice of missile.

With a combat weight of 26 tonnes the NIFV carries a crew of three and a squad of nine soldiers. An applique layer of passive armour protects the vehicle's aluminium hull. This is claimed to provide protection against 30mm armoured-piercing projectiles over the frontal arc, 14.5 mm armour piercing ammunition over the sides and 155 mm shell fragments on the top. The vehicle is said to be available with an attack warning system, but the manufacturer declined to be more explicit. The 40 mm cannon has the capability to engage slow moving helicopters and aircraft. Powered by a 750-hp V-8 diesel engine the NIFV is reported to have a top road speed of 70 kph. Doosan believes the NIFV has 'major' export potential. The vehicle was exhibited for the fist time at the 7th International Defense Industry Fair in Ankara in September.

... and Wheels for Taiwan

Taiwan is poised to begin production in 2007 of up to 1400 8 x 8 CM-32 Yunpao (Cloud Leopard) IFVs. This is being developed locally by a team led by the Combined Logistics Ordnance Research and Development Centre and is based on the earlier 6 x 6 CM-31 design that never went into production. The first prototypes were ceremonially rolled out in front of the Taiwanese president on 11 January 2005. The 22-tonne vehicle is powered by a 450 lap diesel engine which gives a maximum speed of 100 kph and a range of 800 km. Three of the first four prototypes are armed with a 25 mm M242 Bushmaster cannon. The army is planning to acquire a wide range of variants--an assault gun armed with either a 90 mm or 105 mm gun, an APC, a command vehicle, a 120 mm mortar carrier, a missile carrier, an engineer vehicle and an ambulance variant.

Split Thoughts

BAE Systems' Hagglunds consolidated its position as market leader in the field of armoured all-terrain vehicles with orders for 165 new vehicles in 2005.

The company has produced more than 11,000 articulated tracked Bv206 vehicles for some 40 customers. In the late 1980s it developed the armoured Bv206S (combat weight 7000 kg) and in the mid-1990s the larger BvS10 (combat weight up to 11,500 kg). The Bv206S is basically an armoured Bv206. When used as an APC the Bv206S can carry four personnel in the front unit and eight in the rear. All-welded steel armour provides protection against 7.62 mm ball ammunition and shell splinters.

The Germany Army has a requirement for about 500 Bv206S vehicles and had ordered 31 ambulances in 2002 and another 75 vehicles in December 2004--these to equip its Gebirgsjager mountain infantry units. A third order that was worth SEK 330 million was placed in October 2005 for 81 Bv206S vehicles. These will be configured as command vehicles for the army mountain troops and rapid reaction forces.

In July Sweden ordered ten more Bv206S ATVs to add to the 21 already in service. Swedish vehicles have been deployed on peace support operations in Liberia and Kosovo. The Bv206S has also been bought by the armed forces of France (12), Italy (60) and Spain (50) with more orders anticipated.

The larger BvS10 was chosen in 1999 to meet the British Royal Marines requirement for an amphibious All-Terrain Vehicle (Protected) and a contract was placed in 2000 for 108 vehicles in three variants: the basic troop carrying vehicle, a command vehicle and a repair and recovery vehicle. The BvS10 is similar in layout to the Bv206S with two articulated units but offers much improved load capacity. Although deliveries to Britain were completed in 2005 production is continuing following an SEK 570 million contract from the Netherlands to equip the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps. The project ensures the continued close integration of the British and Dutch amphibious forces. Deliveries will continue until April 2007.

Over the past four years the Singapore Armed Forces has fielded an unspecified number of amphibious All-Terrain Tracked Carrier (ATTC) bought from Singapore Technologies Kinetics. The vehicle, known as the Bronco for export purposes, was developed in the late 1990s and follows a conventional layout of two tracked units coupled by an articulated hydraulic joint. The front unit accommodates up to six personnel and the rear unit up to ten. The company has demonstrated ambulance, engineer and resupply variants and is proposing further models for such roles as command and control. Singapore Technologies has since developed a further demonstrator version that enables the two halves to disconnect and operate independently--the rear end on hybrid enginebattery. Very much as in an automatic plugand-play fashion, the vehicles steer differentially once separated.

In 2004 the Finnish Defence Forces conducted extensive trials of both the Bronco and the BvS10. In mid-year it awarded Patria Hagglunds a contract to study technologies for its Future All Terrain Vehicle requirement to replace its unarmoured Patria NA series that are used in a wide range of roles including as weapon carriers. The study is scheduled for completion in March 2005.

Russia Pins Hopes an Turret

Russia's armoured fighting vehicles industry has pinned its hopes for export orders on the new two-man universal turret developed by KBP and which can be installed on Russian-built BMP and BMD hulls and similar vehicles from foreign manufacturers.

The turret was first displayed on the upgraded Kurganmashzavod BMP-3M IFV at the September 2004 International Defence Exhibition of Land Forces in Moscow and has subsequently been demonstrated on the BMD-4 airborne IFV, 8 x 8 BTR-90 IFV and the Turkish FNSS ACV-S chassis.

The BMP-3, which entered Soviet service in the late 1980s, has been exported to the United Arab Emirates (415), Kuwait (118) and Cyprus (43). The most recent customer is South Korea which accepted two batches (30 + 17) of BMP-3s along with other military equipment as partial payment for Russia's debt.

The BMP-3 carries a 100 mm 2A70 smoothbore gun that fires high-explosive fragmentation ammunition to a maximum range of 7000 metres and is capable of launching 9Ml17M1 Arkan laser-guided projectiles to engage a tank at a range of 5500 metres. A 30 mm 2A42 cannon mounted alongside the main armament can engage targets to a range of up to 4000 metres, and a coaxial 7.62 mm PKT machine gun is provided to engage personnel. An anti-tank guided weapon, such as the KBP 9Kl13 Konkurs, can also be mounted on the turret roof.

The new turret packages these weapons with improved fire control systems and an autoloader that allows a missile to be reloaded in four to six seconds. The vehicle commander is provided with a TKN-A1 day and night sight with laser-pulse illumination, while the gunner is now equipped with a Sozh-M with laser rangefinder, a Vesna-K thermal sight and an Ast-B automatic tracker that improves the ability to accurately fire missiles on the move.

The Russian Army received the first production examples of the turret in 2005 mounted on the tracked BMD-4 (also known as the Bakhcha-U) airborne IFV built by KBP. This represents a significant firepower enhancement as the heaviest weapon on the BMD-3 is the 30 mm cannon. According to the manufacturer the BMD-4 carries four ready AT missiles and four in reserve, 34 100 mm rounds and 18 in reserve and 500 30 mm rounds. The vehicle carries four personnel in the troop compartment. The 13.6-tonne BMD-4 has a maximum speed of 70 km/h on paved roads and 45 km/h on unpaved roads, is propelled in the water by two water-jets and has a maximum road range of 700 km.

As well as the new turret the BMP-4 benefits from the installation of a UTD-32T turbocharged diesel that boosts the 500 hp to 660. The vehicle exhibited at the Idex exhibition in Abu Dhabi in February 2005 was fitted with the Transmash Shtora-1 anti-missile system, although customers can also specify the DBM Arena-E active self-protection system that is fitted on some BMP-3s.

The United Arab Emirates are considering upgrading their fleet of BMP-3s or purchasing new BMP-4s while the Indian Army is also examining modernisation options for its BMP-2s.

The Arzamas 20.9-tonne 8 x 8 BTR-90 is essentially a beefed-up version of the 8 x 8 BTR-80A that was developed to undertake a wider range of missions than earlier vehicles. The first BTR-90s, produced in the mid-1990s, were fitted with the BMP-2 turret armed with a 30 mm 2A42 cannon, a 7.62 mm PKT coaxial machine gun and a roof-mounted anti-tank guided weapon. A 510 hp multi-fuel diesel gives a top speed of 100 km/h and a range of 800 km. The fully amphibious BTR-90 has a maximum speed in water of eight km/h.

Turret for China

The first export customer for the new Russian turret is China, which has fitted it to the prototype of a new tracked IFV that is likely being developed to operate alongside China's new Type 98 MBT. Few details are confirmed as the vehicle has not yet been offered on the export market.

The IFV is one of several new wheeled and tracked types that the Chinese industry is developing for the People's Liberation Army. In 2005 the Army tested the locally developed airborne tracked ZLC-2000. The Army acquired a small number of BMDs from Russia in the mid-1990s and this has clearly influenced the development of the ZLC-2000 series. Significant differences from the BMD include moving the powerpack from the rear to the front and a higher hull--these measures give the ZLC-2000 greater internal volume than its Russian counterpart. The ZLC-2000's turret is armed with a 30 mm cannon and coaxial machine gun and a 3000-metre range Red Arrow 73C launcher can be mounted on the roof. Other variants of the ZLC-2000 series include a command vehicle and tank destroyer that is armed with the 4000-metre-range Norinco HJ-8 ATGW.

Norinco disclosed in 2003 that it was developing an updated version of its 6 x 6 WZ 551 APC. The earlier vehicle, developed in the mid-1980s, serves as the basis for a complete family, including personnel carrier and fighting variants with different turret options, a 120 mm assault gun, anti-armour missile, mortar, ambulance, a 4 x 4 APC and an 8 x 8 122 mm self-propelled howitzer. The WZ 551 has achieved modest export success with sales to Bosnia-Herzegovina, Oman and Sri Lanka.

The new 6 x 6 WMZ 551B has a longer steel hull than the WZ 551, enabling the vehicle to carry a crew of two and ten soldiers in the rear troop compartment in the APC configuration. Other variants offered on the export market include an IFV armed with a. 25 mm cannon, a 100/105 mm assault gun, a 120 mm self-propelled mortar, a command vehicle, an engineer vehicle and an ambulance. Powered by a 320 hp Deutz BF8L413FC diesel engine the WMZ 551B can achieve a top road speed of 100 km/h and eight km/h in water and it has a maximum road range of 800 km.

Muss Protection

The Puma will be the first armoured vehicle to be fitted with the Multifunction Self-protection System (Muss) which is being developed by Eads Defence Electronics. In 2003 a prototype Muss version was installed in a Leopard 2A5 tank which successfully defended itself against various missile threats during trials. The German BWB defence procurement agency has funded the development and tests of the Muss since 1997.

Eads and KMW were awarded a 21 million [euro] contract for the final development, integration, testing and qualification of the Muss on the five pre-production Pumas. A production contract to equip 405 Pumas is expected to be worth up to 200 million [euro].

Four Missile/Laser Threat Alerting System (Miltas) units will be installed on the Puma's turret and linked to an active infrared jammer and a 76 mm grenade launcher. The Muss provides protection in 360 degrees azimuth and 70 degrees elevation and can counter four threats simultaneously.

Eads and KMW are working on a Muss Compact design for installation on the Fennek reconnaissance vehicle, the Boxer and the Leopard 2. The system, which has a target weight of 130 kg, includes a mast unit that carries the four Miltas sensor and infrared jammer units, and eight 76 mm grenade launchers. The munitions will be supplied by the recently formed Rheinmetall Waffe Munition that incorporates Buck Neue Technologien.

Which Stryker is Which?

There are two main Stryker variants--the Ml126 Infantry Carrier Vehicle (ICV with 714 planned) and the Ml128 Mobile Gun System (MGS--204). The ICV has eight additional configurations:

* M1130 Command Vehicle (CV--252)

* M1127 Reconnaissance Vehicle (RV--321)

* M1131 Fire Support Vehicle (FSV--97)

* M1129 Mortar Carrier (MC--241)

* M1134 Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicle (ATGM--75)

* M1132 Engineer Squad Vehicle (ESV--75)

* M1133 Medical Evacuation Vehicle (MEV--118), and

* M1135 NBC Reconnaissance Vehicle (NBCRV--37).
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Title Annotation:Complete Guide
Publication:Armada International
Date:Feb 1, 2006
Words:9785
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