The ILC of the Netherlands during NATO exercises. The fighters have to carry everything they need on themselves. Photo by US Navy
A new family of vehicles is being accepted to supply the Royal Netherlands Navy. To facilitate the work of fighters in the Arctic theaters of military operations, a line of light sleds has been created. They have already passed all the necessary tests, and in the near future they are expected to be tested during the next international exercises.
In accordance with the current defensive strategy of the Netherlands, the ILC units should be able to fully operate in the northern regions of Europe, incl. in the arctic zone. In this regard, the Marines need special uniforms, special equipment, trained equipment of different classes, etc.
During field trips, fighters must carry personal and other weapon, ammunition for it, provisions, water, medicines, etc. All these loads have to be carried on oneself, which gives a significant load. When operating in the Arctic, incl. on snowy terrain, carrying loads and solving the main task are additionally difficult. Hiking and skiing with a heavy load takes energy and makes special demands on the training of fighters - or even threatens the completion of tasks.
New model pulleys and towing belt system. Photo of KMP Netherlands
The way out of this situation is light vehicles, which can be loaded with supplies, leaving only the essentials on the Marines. The ILC of the Netherlands previously used light sleds towed by fighters for this. This idea has been developed, and now a new line of such vehicles is presented.
Recently, the ILC of the Netherlands announced the development and implementation of new models of transport sleds of the "pulk" type (the term "pulka" is also known). Four products are offered with the closest possible design, differing in size and load capacity. In addition, one of the models in the line is not transport, but combat.
The pullets are built on the basis of a volumetric body-bath. A pair of longitudinal runners is fixed on the lower surface, and the upper edge is decorated with a rim with accessories for fastening belts. Several eyes are available for human or sled dog towing. There are also belt loops for carrying. The sleigh is transported using a belt system worn by the fighter. It is connected to the pulka eyes with several cables.
The entire internal volume of the pulk is given for the placement of the payload. The load is secured with straps and, if necessary, covered with a textile awning. The latter protects the load from external influences, and also disguises it against the background of snow. The carrying capacity of the sleigh has not been specified. Probably, it can reach 80-100 kg and mainly depends on the physical form of the fighter-towing vehicle.
"Combat" and transport version of the sleigh. Photo of KMP Netherlands
Four variants of pulkov have been developed with different dimensions and capabilities. The largest has a length of 1,7 m. It is defined as a universal vehicle for transporting any cargo of a squad or platoon of marines. The sleds 1,5 and 1,35 m long are intended for individual use and must carry the loads of specific fighters. Also presented is the so-called. GPMG Pulk of most interest.
These sleds are only 1,2 m long and are distinguished by their design. In the center of their hull is a compact pedestal mount for a single machine gun. Such a pulk is proposed to be used as a towed machine gun for the FN MAG 7,62 mm machine gun and boxes with ammunition belts. In a combat situation, the machine gun is used without removing it from the sled.
Sleigh in the ranks
The Dutch ILC has reportedly purchased the first batch of new sleds. The exact number of such products is not named, but it is said that with their help one of the raid squadrons (a marine company) is fully equipped. The delivery of two more squadron kits is expected next year, which will allow re-equipping one of the battle groups (battalions) of the Marine Corps.
Which of the squadrons received the new materiel and which group it belongs to has not yet been specified. In addition, further plans remain unknown. The Corps has two battle groups, each of which includes three squadrons that need special equipment. Perhaps in 2021-22. new sets of bullets for the second battle group will be purchased. This will allow all units of the ILC to work freely in the Arctic regions.
Transport pulk with a load covered with an awning. Photo of KMP Netherlands
In early 2021, the new sledges will undergo another practical test, this time as part of a joint exercise. Several units of the ILC of the Netherlands will go to Norway for a joint NATO exercise. During these maneuvers, the Marines will have to solve combat missions in the difficult conditions of the Scandinavian winter. They will need various supplies and cargo, and they will no longer have to carry them.
The adoption of the simplest small and light sled looks like a kind of curiosity and can be a reason for jokes. However, the Dutch ILC takes such a novelty very seriously. The pulk has no protection and carries limited cargo - and at the same time it can significantly affect the combat effectiveness of the unit.
Moving cargo from pouches, knapsacks, etc. in pulk significantly reduces the load on the fighter. In addition, it becomes possible to easily pull a larger load on the snow, both on foot and on skis. In addition, the ILC notes that placing a load on a Marine negatively affects his uniform. Due to external objects, clothes built on the basis of modern technologies cannot provide proper ventilation, which negatively affects a person's well-being and physical capabilities.
A certain flexibility is provided. On the pulka you can carry ammunition, provisions, equipment, weapons, etc. It can also be used to transport people, primarily as an ambulance. The sleds are designed to be towed by humans, but sled dogs can be harnessed to them. Foreign practice shows that any snowmobile can carry them.
Russian paratroopers use bullets in exercises in the Arctic. The Netherlands now has the same equipment. Photo of the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation
Of great interest is a pulk with a machine gun mount. This is a fairly convenient version of a movable machine with a squad or platoon support weapon. Such sleds ensure the use of the machine gun in the correct way, keep it stable in position, and also allow you to transport a large ammunition load.
With all this, the announced Dutch sleigh is notable for its novelty. They were built using modern technologies and materials, and also take into account the experience of the ILC and, probably, the armies of third countries. It should be recalled that bullets and other similar products are available in the armies of almost all northern countries, are actively used and bring obvious benefits.
Invisible but important
It is hardly worth recalling that the combat capabilities of a Marine Corps unit or other type of troops are determined not only by the number and caliber of weapons. Logistics and cargo transportation issues are of no less importance, incl. directly at the combat exit. The KMP of the Netherlands plans to address these issues with a new sled of its own design. Despite the apparent simplicity, such products are of great importance.
Bullets of the new family have already been tested and accepted for supply; supplies to the troops have begun. At the beginning of next year, the squadron, which received such equipment, will participate in NATO Arctic exercises. He will have to show his combat capability, one of the components of which will be an inconspicuous but important sled.