Armored vehicles 8x8: Is the market alive?
Al Zubarah, a Qatari version of the French VBCI armored vehicle, equipped with a CTA40 turret, was unveiled at the DIMDEX 2018 exhibition.
The controversy on the theme "wheel or track" is still ongoing and may never end. Modern wheeled vehicles have for the most part the wheel formula 8x8. Large losses from improvised explosive devices determine the need for a higher level of protection, including ballistic, with more powerful weapons in the form of a larger-caliber gun mounted in the turret also becoming increasingly included in the agenda.
Many consider the transition from habitable to non-habitable towers to be the main factor of weight loss, although not all military structures would agree with this choice. The latest offers tend to be 40 rather than 35 tons. How much, however, can eight wheels withstand in order to ensure sufficient mobility?
Some studies show that the 10x10 platform can become viable when approaching approximately 38-40 tons, if mobility will remain a basic requirement and if we don’t want to switch to tracks, including rubber ones. What will happen in the near future - time will tell. It is obvious that today the market for machines in the 8x8 configuration feels quite satisfactory.
At least three major contracts are waiting for signing: one in the UK, one in Australia and one in the USA, respectively, this is Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV), Land 400 Phase 3 and Amphibious Combat Vehicle Phase 1 Increment 1 (ACV 1.1).
In the early stages of the UK participated in the development of Boxer. On the eve of the MIV competition, Rheinmetall emphasized this fact with a special coloring machine.
The extent to which the UK National Security Review (NSCR), conducted from July 2017 to March 2018, and the Defense Modernization Program (MDO), launched in January 2918, and calculated for half a year, will affect the MIV program is not yet clear, but completely It is certain that in less than a decade the third review will shift to the right any program decision that inevitably became part of the NSCR.
Exact numbers were not voiced, the public was content with only a meager phrase "a few hundred." However, it is clear that the vehicles must be deployed in two new shock brigades that can achieve full combat readiness for the 2025 year as part of the formation of the combined forces. According to previous reviews, the 1-I shock team should be ready for the 2023 year, but delays are not excluded.
At the DSEI 2017 fair in London, all potential customers lined up to apply: ARTEC with a Boxer machine, GDELS with a Piranha 5, Nexter with a VCBI and Patria with AMV. All of these companies are teaming up with British partners in order to increase the share of British components in their car if it is chosen.
The US Marine Corps ACV 1.1 program (mentioned three paragraphs earlier) is also awaiting its winner. Two teams are fighting for this contract: BAE Systems has teamed up with Iveco DV and SAIC with Singapore Technology Kinetics. Both provided the 16 Case for the machines as part of the design and preproduction phase. Finishing tests, operational evaluation and firing tests began in the 2017 year and should be completed at the end of the 2018 year, after which the selection will be announced. The program will then proceed to the initial production stage and full-scale mass production. Estimated target purchases make up 204 vehicles, which will equip four battalions with them.
BAE Systems and Iveco DV for the US Marine Corps ACV 1.1 competition offer the further development of the SuperAV 8 x8; This car reached the final with the SAIC / STK Terrex 2 platform
The ACV 1.1 platform will be equipped with a remote-controlled weapon module (DUMV), armed with a 12,7-mm machine gun or an 40-mm automatic grenade launcher. Through the implementation of the ACV 1.1 program, the Corps intends to improve protected land mobility and at the same time expand the space for maneuver in the coastal strip and inland waters due to the good amphibious qualities of the new machine.
While the aforementioned programs should be completed in the near future, the completion of a major project by the Turkish ground forces is scheduled for at least 2020 a year. This platform in the configuration of the BMP is still in the status of a request for information, the transition to the request for proposals is expected no earlier than the end of the 2018-beginning of the 2019 year, and therefore the deadline, the 2020 year, seems too optimistic. Of course, the two main Turkish manufacturers, the companies FNSS and Otokar, with their platforms Pars III and Arma, show great interest in this project.
More recently, the Spanish Marines have shown their interest in 8x8 vehicles. In early 2018, it was announced that 16 tanks M60A3, currently in service, can be replaced by 8x8 armored vehicles armed with a 120 mm gun.
A new version of the AMV machine from Patria, designated XP, was recently chosen by Slovakia. It is worth noting that the car is manufactured under license in several countries.
The decision of the Italian army to deploy two medium brigades equipped with armored vehicles in the 8x8 configuration led to the development of a number of new systems, all of which have a two-line transmission implemented in Centauro. This 105-mm armored vehicle, developed in the 80-ies, participated in most of Italy’s military campaigns of the last decades.
Currently, the troops supplied tested in combat conditions in Afghanistan BMP Freccia 8x8, equipped with a tower HITFIST 25. It also developed its specialized versions, for example, anti-tank, mortar and control center. The latter option is qualifying after some changes in the views of the military. At Eurosatory 2016, CIO Iveco-Oto Melara Consortium introduced the new Centauro II self-propelled artillery, armed with a third-generation 120 smoothbore 45 gun with a third-generation rifle gun, which can be replaced with a 105-mm / 52 caliber gun. According to the test results, a lot of improvements were carried out, including a new semi-automatic loader system and an improved periscopic driver observation device. Also, the Air to Surface Identification Device (ASID) was installed in the machine, while the Hitrole DUMV was removed in order to improve the visibility of the commander in the periscope device. All these improvements will be implemented in the first four pre-production machines that will be manufactured by CIO with funding, and then take part in the qualification tests. With the current level of financing, the start of production, which is another seven serial machines, is planned at the end of 2020 or the beginning of 2021. The allocation of another 371 million euros will soon have to be approved, which will make it possible to manufacture 39 machines with appropriate logistic support. They must be equipped with a stern winch, while the gun will be adapted for firing air explosive ammunition; All these improvements will then be implemented on the first Centauro II 11 machines.
As for the wheeled infantry combat vehicles, the above-mentioned Freccia is in service with the Italian army. The CIO concern is already working on its receiver, Freccia Evolution, the prototype of which should be made thanks to the funding allocated in 2016. A part of 325 million euros will be spent on manufacturing over Freccia 30 machines (anti-tank, mortar transporter and control center options) intended for the 2 second brigade, and the other part will be used to develop an Evolution prototype. This will be a much more secure machine (levels of protection remain classified), which will have the same power unit as the Centauro II. Many subsystems, such as the stabilized sight of the operator-gunner and on-board information and control system will also be taken from the Centauro II model. Panoramic sight commander is an improved digital version of the Janus, mounted on the Freccia.
The hull designs incorporate the know-how used in newer projects such as Centauro II and ACV 1.1. The tower is a further development of the tower offered by Spain for its 8x8 program, it will be armed with an 30-mm automatic cannon with selective feed and will be capable of firing an air bomb with ammunition. The gun will have greater range and armor-piercing characteristics compared to Freccia, and the tower has an optimized design with enhanced ballistic and mine protection. The Freccia Evolution variant will have a battle mass of about 36 tons.
The Turkish company Otokar has achieved significant export success with its car Arma 8x8 and expects a national competition for this car
14 March 2018 Australia has announced the selection of a Rheinmetall Boxer CRV (Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle) combat reconnaissance vehicle for Land 400 Phase 2. The press release says that “the multi-billion project envisages the supply of at least 211 machines of the newest generation of Rheinmetall machines, while the official demand is 225 machines. The total cost is estimated at around 4 billion dollars. The Boxer CRV will be equipped with a Rheinmetall Lance turret armed with an 30-mm Mk30-2 / ABM cannon. In order to carry out this project, Rheinmetall is organizing a training center for military vehicles MILVEHCOE (Military Vehicle Center of Excellence) in Queensland that will transfer to Australia advanced technologies in the areas of military machine design, tower systems, survivability sensors, modeling and support for the whole period operation. Rheinmetall selected more than 40 Australian companies to implement this project.
In the Middle East, two major contracts for machines in the 8x8 configuration waited for their fate for some time, while both were approved in the 2017 year, although one is still waiting for the final signature. At the IDEX 2017 exhibition, the UAE announced their choice of a wheeled BMP: the “localized” version of the Arma 8x8 armored personnel carrier developed by the Turkish company Otokar was the winner. The final choice was influenced not only by the characteristics of the machines, but also by the fact that in recent years the country has significantly increased its capabilities in the production and maintenance of such military equipment. Otokar has set up a joint venture Al-Jassor with local Tawazun, which is the main contractor for the program and aims to increase production capacity based on vehicle kits supplied by Turkey as soon as possible. Before the construction of the plant in the UAE is completed, Otokar will supply a number of vehicles from Turkey. The 661 million-dollar contract includes the production of the 400 Rabdan BMP, equipped with a turret from the Russian BMP-3. The machine with a full weight of 28 tons (compared to 24 tons of standard Arma) and the engine power 600 hp floats (movement in the water is provided with two propellers) and at the same time has a reserve of two tons for future upgrades. The BMP variant accommodates a crew of three men and 10 paratroopers and provides a level of ballistic protection Level 4 +.
The Italian consortium CIO completes the qualification tests of the Centauro II armed 120-mm smooth-bore cannon, which will soon enter service with the Italian army.
A separate contract is expected for cars in the basic versions, which may be several hundred. The options are considered: operational control, medium caliber gun mount, engineering, reconnaissance and evacuation. The Turkish Arma 8x8 armored vehicle is already in use in the Bahrain Army, which has purchased the 73 platform.
Another country that announced its choice was Qatar. During his visit, the French president Macron signed a letter of intent in December on potential purchases of the wheeled armored vehicle VBCI (Vehicule Blinde de Combat d'Ifnfanterie) in December 2017. The signature was made on behalf of Barzan Holdings, which is fully owned by the Qatari Ministry of Defense. This long-awaited decision made Nexter’s armored vehicle the only candidate for this contract, signed in March of 2018, with a firm order of 490 machines. Qatar became the first foreign customer for VBCI machines, which had already served in the French army in Afghanistan and Mali. Given the hot climate of Qatar, which will operate the machine, it will be finalized and will receive the designation VBCI 2. It is equipped with a hp 600 diesel engine. in contrast to the engine of the original model with power 550 hp The net weight is 19 tons, the payload capacity of 13 tons and, accordingly, the total weight of 32 tons, 4 tons of tons more than the machine is in service with the French army.
Armored car of the Italian army Freccia in Afghanistan; CIO started developing the Freccia 2 platform, which will be armed with an 30-mm gun
At the DIMDEX 2018 exhibition in March of this year, Nexter signed two memorandums of understanding. The first is about organizing a joint venture with Barzan Holdings, which, after signing the contract, will become a local industrial base for the supply and maintenance of machines manufactured under the Al Rayyan program. The second memorandum with this company and other partners establishes cooperation and starts the process of concluding a contract.
Meanwhile, Norwegian company Kongsberg shared with Barzan also created a new company, known as BK Systems, which will work on masts, as well as digitization and communication tools for Al Rayyan machines. According to some sources, this does not exclude that some machines can be equipped with the uninhabited Nexter T40CT tower, which was presented on one of two VBCI machines on DIMDEX; The second car was equipped with a Kongsberg Medium Caliber Turret with a DUMV Protector installed in a tower configuration on the tower. At the moment there is no information on the number and versions of machines, which, ultimately, will be ordered.
In March, 2018, the Australian Ministry of Defense announced that under the Land 400 Phase 2 program, an Boxhe CRV armored vehicle from Rheinmetall was selected.
As for the ARTEC Boxer machine, Slovenia became its next buyer, joining Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands. The contract was announced at the beginning of 2018, and its final execution is scheduled for the end of that year. Purchases must be made through the organization OCCAR (Arms Purchasing Directorate). New machines will be equipped with two battle groups, each of which will receive an 48 BMP with turrets armed with 30-mm cannons, and 8 self-propelled mortars with 120-mm mortar complexes. With regard to training, an order must include the order of 120 machines, which must be ordered in two batches; first deliveries are scheduled for the end of 2019.
In November 2017, Slovakia announced the choice of a Patria AMV XP 8x8 chassis for its new wheeled BMP. The country intends to purchase a 81 car, which will receive the designation BOV (Bojove Opancierovane Vozidlo - BMP). They will be equipped with an EVPU Turra DUMV armed with an 30-mm 2A42 cannon; Gross vehicle weight is estimated at 28 tons. Tests of the prototype at the customer began in January 2018.
The GEDLS Piranha 5 armored vehicle is successful in the market and is therefore ready to boldly participate in the program of the British army on a new mechanized infantry vehicle.
Ready for work
After some hesitation in 2015, Spain finally chose the Piranha 5 platform as the basis for the development of their Road Propulo de Combate sobre Ruedas 8x8 (VCR 8x8). Currently, five prototype machines are being manufactured in different configurations, deliveries are scheduled for the end of 2018. After an extensive testing program around 2025, the mass production of these machines should begin.
The weight limit of the machine was set within 33 tons, it is equipped with a hydropneumatic suspension of a new generation, the Scania D-13 diesel engine with an 644 horsepower installed. with the possibility of building up 730 HP and automatic transmission SAPA SW-624. The levels of protection, ballistic, anti-mine and against IEDs, remain secret. The machine, capable of operating in a networked environment, is also equipped with satellite communications. The VCR 8x8 armored vehicle is equipped with a video camera system that allows the crew to see everything that happens around the car.
Five prototypes will be used to test and validate various technologies and subsystems. The machine in combat configuration under the symbol D1 will be equipped with a remote-controlled Elbit UT-30 Mk2 turret, armed with an Orbital ATK MK30-ABM Bushmaster II 44-gun and two missiles Spike LR, and the missiles will be installed only on the anti-tank version. The D2 machine will be in the configuration of the company’s control center, equipped with a remote-controlled Rafael Samson Mk II turret with the same weapons as the D1. The D3 machine will be equipped with a SCID Escribano Guardian 2.0 12,7 mm; it will be in the configuration of the control center of the battalion and in the version of the advanced observer with a sensor set mounted on the mast. The D4 reconnaissance version will be equipped with a Leonardo Sistemi di Difesa twin-tower HITFIST with the same 30-mm cannon as on previous machines. Finally, D5 will be used to test sets of protection against bullets, mines and IEDs, as well as tests of a dozer blade installed in front and other special equipment for the engineering version. At the end of 2018, these demonstration vehicles will be delivered to the Spanish Army Legion brigade for testing. The first batch of VCR 8x8, whose production should begin in the next decade, will include 348 machines in 13 configurations.
The Rabdan was chosen by the UAE, as announced at IDEX 2017; is a variant of Otokar Arma 8х8
Another customer of the Piranha 5 machine is Romania, which issued to GDELS in January 2018 a contract worth over a billion dollars for 227 machines that will be assembled in the country at the company UMB (Uzina Mecanica Bucuresti), a subsidiary of ROMARM. The starting buyer of the Piranha 5 was Denmark, which ordered 2016 of the year in January 309 machines in six variants, the first machines were delivered in May 2017 of the year.
Pending a decision on the purchase of their country’s armored vehicles in the 8x8 configuration, FNSS participated in the Malaysian AV-8 program; This car is a modification of the universal wheel armored PARS 8x8. In this program, the main contractor is the Malaysian company DEFTECH (DRB-HICOM Defense Technologies), whose engineers, together with experts from FNSS, modified the machine in accordance with the requirements of the Malaysian army. Over 12 subcontractors participate in this program. In addition to being the main system integrator and responsible for developing the platform design and integrating functional subsystems, FNSS is also a supplier of the Sharpshooter single-seat 25-mm tower installed on the BMP version.
The Malaysian company Deftech manufactures an AV-8 armored vehicle, which is a modification of the FNSS Pars 8x8 platform.
Upon completion of the AV-8 program, the Malaysian army will deploy 257 8x8 machines in 12 in different versions: the aforementioned infantry fighting vehicles, combat vehicle with 30-mm double turret, anti-tank installation, commander version, communication vehicle, reconnaissance version, BMP with 12,7-mm DUMV, sanitary, , mortar transporter, evacuation vehicle, repair shop, and, finally, an RCB reconnaissance vehicle. All machines are equipped with a self-pulling winch, control points are equipped with an auxiliary power unit, as a backup power source. Serial production and deliveries continue to date, and the end of the program is scheduled for the end of 2020.
At IDEF 2017, FNSS showed the latest version of its 8x8 machine, PARS III, which is notable for significant improvements over its predecessor
In addition to the Malaysian AV-8 program, FNSS also fulfills the current contract with Oman for the supply of 172 armored vehicles in the 8xXNNXX and 8x6 configurations, only their ratio remains unknown. All cars will be in the PARS III standard shown at IDEF 6. These machines are equipped with a hydropneumatic suspension, which is installed outside, which allowed to increase the internal volume. At combat weights above 2017 tons, the Deutz engine has the HP 30 power. in combination with a seven-speed automatic transmission ZF is the power unit of the PARS III 550x8. Completely new drive and steering systems were designed to reduce sheathing maintenance to a minimum. Omani PARS III cars will be supplied in 8 variants; Of these, the 14 (for the most part, the 88x8) will be made in the BMP version with a new FNSS Saber tower. The machines are not floating, which allows for a higher level of ballistic protection. Deliveries of cars began in August 8 of the year and at the end of the same year new cars entered the units of the army of Oman. Deliveries must be completed by the end of 2017.
As for the aforementioned Turkish program, FNSS offers the machine in the 8x8 configuration, which follows the PARS Scout 6x6 line currently offered for the 6x6 car competition. The main differences from the PARS 8x8 platform are as follows: a new car is floating (a mandatory requirement of Turkey), an independent height-adjustable hydropneumatic suspension, and a front cabin with an armored windshield that allows the commander and driver sitting side by side to have an 180 ° view.
For the first time, the Israeli army will receive the Eitan wheeled armored vehicle. Currently, the first cars are already coming into service
In August 2016, the Israeli Ministry of Defense announced the completion of the development of a prototype of the promising Eitan wheeled vehicle of the Israeli army, the first of its kind. The armored vehicle of the 8x8 wheel formula will be available in various configurations, while the prototype is an armored personnel carrier equipped with a DUMV with an 12,7-mm machine gun. However, the planned version of the BMP with the 30 / 40-mm cannon, as well as the anti-tank version. A heavier version will have a combat weight of about 35 tons, an 750 hp engine. provides power density 21,4 hp / t in the heaviest version, the maximum speed is 90 km / h. In the configuration, the Eitan BTR transports an 12 man, driver, gunner, commander, and 9 paratroopers who have access to the vehicle through the aft ramp. Protection is provided by a combination of passive armor and an active protection complex. The Eitan armored vehicle was developed by the Merkava Tank Office and will replace most of the M113 tracked armored personnel carriers, which are still in service with Israel. How much Eitan will become part of the export portfolio is not yet known due to the serious competition in the global market.
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