Army transporter M973 SUSV at the training ground, 1985
The Pentagon continues the Cold Weather All-Terrain Vehicle (CATV) program. Its goal is to find and select a modern tracked carrier for operation in the Arctic. In the coming months, it is planned to receive experimental equipment and begin comparative tests at proving grounds and on real terrain. The best example will replace obsolete technology in the near future.
In the early eighties, the US Army held the SUSV (Small Unit Support Vehicle) competition, the winner of which was the Swedish company Hägglunds (now part of BAE Systems) with a two-link tracked carrier Bv 206. This machine was adopted as the M973 SUSV and at minimum terms became the main transport of the arctic units of the army and the Marine Corps.
By now, the operation of SUSV machines is facing serious problems. The "American" modification of the Bv 206 has already been discontinued, and the cash machines are close to the full depletion of the resource. Repair is difficult due to the lack of required spare parts. The number of active SUSVs has been reduced to the required minimum, and in 2023 FY. they will be written off due to the complete impossibility of continuing operation.
Bronco armored vehicle from ST Engineering
In 2018, the Pentagon launched the Joint All Weather All Terrain Support Vehicle (JAASV) program to find a modern replacement for the SUSV. After a short preparatory work, this program was transferred to a new level and renamed. Since May 2019, the search for new equipment has been carried out within the framework of the CATV project.
In 2019-20. The Pentagon accepted and considered applications from potential participants. Two projects developed by two organizations entered the new phase of the CATV program. The first sample is offered by the American company Oshkosh Defense and Singapore's ST Engineering, and the second is presented by the international BAE Systems, which now includes Hägglunds.
On April 5, it became known that the Pentagon had issued contracts to the two alliances for the production and supply of equipment for comparative tests. An unnamed number of transporters of two models must be handed over to the customer by June 14. The cost of contracts has not been specified, but it is known that for the procurement of equipment under CATV for 2021 FY. $ 9,25 million was allocated. In addition, this year another 6 million will be spent on research and testing.
Comparative tests of two transporters will be carried out in Alaska by one of the army training centers. The events will start in August this year and will run until December. Such a schedule will allow you to test the equipment in different locations and in different weather conditions typical for all seasons.
Immediately after the comparative tests, the process of analyzing the collected data and choosing the best design will begin. The winner of the CATV program will be selected by the end of Q3 FY2022, i.e. no later than mid-summer of the calendar year. After that, a contract for serial production will appear, and by the beginning of 2023 the industry will have to supply the first CATV machines to replace the outdated SUSV.
Current plans call for the purchase of 110 CATV transporters by mid-decade. This is enough to re-equip the arctic units of the army and the ILC. Depending on the progress of production and the results of actual operation, the order can be increased by one and a half times. It is curious that earlier there were also larger numbers, up to 200 units.
One of the contenders for the contract is a multipurpose vehicle from Oshkosh Defense and ST Engineering. The competition sample was made on the basis of the articulated Bronco 3 transporter. The latter has undergone some changes and received new equipment in accordance with the customer's requirements and the standards of the US Army. Two cars will be sent for testing - one will receive a cargo-passenger rear link, and the second will be equipped with a cargo body.
Bronco 3 is a two-link armored personnel carrier with the ability to transport people and goods, as well as provide fire support. The machine with a total length of 8,6 m with a curb weight of 10,2 tons has two hulls on unified chassis. A 325 hp engine is installed in the front housing. and a 6-speed automatic transmission to drive two tracked propellers. The bodies are hinged with hydraulic drives.
The Bronco 3 transporter initially has a bulletproof booking with the ability to install additional protection modules. V-shaped bottoms are also used to protect against mines. In the configuration of the armored personnel carrier, the vehicle can accommodate 12 people: 4 in the front body and 8 in the rear. Installation of the required weapons is possible. Carrying capacity - 6,3 tons.
BAE Systems BvS 10 Beowulf Machine
The armored personnel carrier is able to move on roads at a speed of 65 km / h and swim, developing 5 km / h. Low ground loading allows you to move on sand, deep snow and other difficult surfaces without a serious drop in mobility and flotation.
BAE Systems offers the BvS 10 Beoulf multipurpose transporter for the CATV competition. This is one of the modern options for the further development of the old Bv 206, operated in different countries, incl. in USA. The new BvS 10 differs from its predecessor in increased dimensions, weight and payload. An armored version of such a vehicle has been developed and is being mass-produced.
The BvS 10 has a length of 7,6 m and a mass of at least 8,5 t. The machine is split into two links with its own caterpillar drives and a hydraulic articulation mechanism. The Beowulf is powered by a 275 hp diesel engine. and an automatic transmission with power output to all four tracks.
At the request of the customer, the BvS 10 can be equipped with anti-bullet / anti-fragmentation armor. It is planned to install machine guns of various models and smoke grenade launchers. The front hull can accommodate four people, while the rear hull has eight seats. Transportation of goods of appropriate dimensions is possible.
In terms of basic running characteristics, the BvS 10 is on a par with the Bronco 3 - speed up to 65 km / h on land and up to 5 km / h on water. The existing undercarriage is characterized by low ground loading and provides the highest flotation in a variety of terrains.
Challenges and choices
By mid-June, the two equipment manufacturers must provide the Pentagon with transporters for comparative tests, which will last until the end of the year. They will spend several more months analyzing the accumulated information and choosing a winner.
Beowulf with cab tilted to access the power plant
Which of the two multipurpose vehicles will go to the US Army is unclear. In this case, the American military will have to face certain difficulties. Bronco 3 and BvS 10 are close in their tactical, technical and operational characteristics and are almost equal. In this regard, the customer, when choosing, will have to take into account not only the main tabular characteristics, but also other parameters of various kinds.
Modifications of production vehicles are claiming victory in the CATV program. This means that it will not take long to produce test equipment and then start production for the United States. Thanks to this, the Pentagon can count on the timely completion of all planned work - and the start of re-equipment of parts in 2023.
Thus, the US Army gets every chance to re-equip the Arctic units in a timely manner and in full. The successful outcome of the current CATV competition, despite the limited volume of future purchases, is of great importance for the development of the US military. The new technology will make it possible to maintain or increase the combat capability of the Arctic units, which is especially important given the new US plans for the military and economic development of the region.