Sonntag, 30. August 2015

Yong APC from ROKA

The Republic of Korea Army (ROKA) has been running a program for a new 8 x 8 wheeled APC in the past years. It was announced some time ago that Hyundai Rotem's design was considered the winner.

The 8 x 8 wheeled vehicle from Hyundai Rotem in ROKA camouflage
Defence-Blog.com has posted a number of photographs of the new "Yong" APC from Hyundai Rotem, which will enter service with the ROKA. At least 600 vehicles are expected to enter service until 2020.
Four hatches at the crew compartment allow the dismounts to participate in combat.
The main armament of the photographed Yong consists of a single 12.7 mm M2 heavy machine gun, which is manually operated. The gunner is protected by a gun shield made of steel. This is quite a surprise, considering how many countries have moved to remote weapon stations.
It is safe to assume that a number of different weapons can be mounted on the Yong. Most likely there will also be an option for a 40 mm automatic grenade launcher.
The swim engines (pum-jets?) of the Yong are located at the vehicle rear.
Supposedly the Yong can reach a top speed of up to 100-105 kmph. The vehicle is estimated to have  a total operational range of 600 kilometres. Two swim engines, which appear to be pump-jets, make the vehicle amphibious.
The engine of the vehicle provides an output of approximately 420 horsepower.
The front of the Yong. Note the armor panels.
The Yong is fitted with applique armor panels, which seem to be composite armor. Probably the vehicle utilizes ceramic composite armor similar to MEXAS or AMAP, which are used on the Stryker ICV, Fuchs 1A8, VAB and Boxer. The low weight required to remain amphibious however means that a relatively low level of protection can be achieved only.
It seems that the frontal arc is most likely protected against heavy machine guns (i.e. 14.5 mm API) at short ranges, but the sides and rear are probably not designed for this level of protection.
The seats do not appear to be mounted in a mine protected configuration.
First vehicles are expected to enter regular troop service in 2016.


Boxer IFV trialed in Lithuania

Defence-Blog.com has posted a number of photographs showing the Boxer being trialed in Lithuania.
The configuration of this vehicle is quite interesting, because it mounts the unmanned turret from the Puma IFV, instead of using the LANCE turret from Rheinmetall (which exists in manned and unmanned versions).

The Puma turret seems to be pretty much unmodified. It houses the 30 mm MK-30/2 ABM gun with magnetic coil for programming time-fuzed ammunition, while using the same PERI RTWL-B and EOTS sights with third-generation thermal images as the original Puma.
However the MUSS softkill active protection system is not included. The vehicle also lacks a Javelin ATGM launcher that has been requested by the Lithunian army (although this will be retrofitted most likely).

It is also fitted with the Barracuda MCS camouflage system.

The Boxer IFV is currently one of a staggering 10 contenders for the wheeled IFVs of the Lithuanian armed forces. While the government of Lithuania has not yet chosen on winner, the armed forces already openly said that they favor the German-made Boxer (as previously reported here and at a later time by Jane's IHS).


Dienstag, 25. August 2015

US Army to buy Oshkosh JLTV

So the US Army decided that the Oshkosh submission for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle - a vehicle to replace the aging HMMWV - is to enter production for service with the Army and USMC. The other contenders from AM General and Lockheed Martin.

JLTV enters low rate production

"WASHINGTON (August 25, 2015) -- Today, the U.S. Army awarded the Oshkosh Corporation located in Oshkosh, WI, a firm fixed price production contract for the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV) program. The total contract value, including all options is $6,749,799,374.25. JLTV is an Army-led, joint acquisition program with the U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) intended to close an existing gap in each Services' light tactical vehicle fleet.

"I am tremendously proud of the JLTV program team," said Heidi Shyu, the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Acquisition, Logistics and Technology). "Working with industry, they are delivering major improvements in protected mobility for Soldiers and have succeeded in executing a program that remains on-budget and on-schedule."

The Army selected the Oshkosh Corporation from three competing firms participating in the program's engineering and manufacturing development phase, which began in 2012 and concluded earlier this year. Each vendor delivered 22 prototype vehicles as part of JLTV development, which were utilized as part of an intensive, 14-month competitive test.

"With America's Soldiers and Marines in mind, the program team successfully met both Services' requirements for affordable, achievable capability advancements that will make a true difference," said Sean Stackley, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development, and Acquisition). "Today's award brings us a step closer to delivering a flexible vehicle that balances the payload, performance, and protection critical in the operating environments of today and tomorrow."

Low Rate Initial Production is slated to begin in the first quarter of fiscal year (FY) 2016. The Army and Marine Corps will procure approximately 17,000 vehicles under this initial contract, with a decision on full rate production by the Department expected in FY18. Procurement of 5,500 USMC vehicles are front-loaded into the JLTV production plan. Initial USMC operating capability is expected in Fiscal Year 2018 with fielding to Marine Corps complete in FY2022.
The Army anticipates having its first unit equipped in FY2018. Army procurement will last until approximately 2040 and replace a significant portion of the Army's legacy light tactical vehicle fleet with 49,099 new vehicles.

JLTV manufacturing will be performed in Oshkosh, WI with deliveries beginning 10 months after award. A full rate production decision is expected in FY2018. JLTV remains a priority modernization effort for the Army and USMC."


Source: Army.mil

Armored Warfare EA4 mini-rant

One thing that drives me nuts about Armored Warfare is currently the arty system.

Yes, you get an indicator that the arty is shooting at you... but to escape any hit you have to pretty much instantly start driving. That is not a problem for most of those players, who randomly camp at a certain spot and wait for the enemy to appear in front of their crosshair; but if you are actually engaged in combat and can only maneuver to a limited degree without exposing yourself to easy shots of the enemy, you'll get hit.

In my experience the artillery in AW has been quite problematic in EA4 and also the previous versions. The artillery can hit vehicles behind cover to a much larger extend than in WoT, because the firing arc is different. So even if you are sitting behind a large rock which covers even two or three feet above your roof, you'll still get hit and penetrated by artillery.

But even if the artillery misses, you'll still take damage. Because AW has increased spall damage for artillery while nerfing the direct damage (at least this was the case in EA3, I haven't noticed any difference in this aspect in EA4), which means that you'll slowly get blown apart piece-by-piece even when staying in cover - as long as the enemy artillery has nothing better to do.
Loosing 20% of your hitpoints without being directly hit? Not funny.

I think the artillery needs still quite a lot of work. It's current implementation is not fun to play with/against and does remind me way too much of the hated WoT artillery.
The maps are too small for realistic artillery behaviour and the current arcade system is not good from a gameplay point of view.
One problem is that artillery has a much higher impact on certain vehicles than on others. I am not talking about the damage (which will be influenced by armor), but rather on the gameplay. An ATGM-carrying tank destoryer like the FV438 Swingfire will in most cases stay out of the effective viewrange of other vehicles, will still participating at combat. So despite the lack of armor, the Swingfire will be saved from artillery fire. A highly mobile Fox or Wiesel will also not be troubled by artillery. A tank with limited viewrange (compared to the AFVs and TDs) like the Leopard 1 or M48 on the other hand will be punished by artillery even when playing correctly.

At least Obsidian has tried to do things better... so let's hope that they somehow maange to make the artillery a working element in the gameplay.

PS: Probably just frustrated about getting targeted by artillery three games in a row when being unable to maneuver thanks to camping enemies.

T-72B3 composite armor photo

During Tank Biathlon 2015, a T-72B3 has been damaged at the hull front. Photographs of this reveal a few nice details, because Russia does not seem to have any laws preventing the leakage of confidental military stuff (or wasn't the T-72B3's armor made confidental?)...

Damaged T-72B3 tank. The both side portions of the front were damaged.
A closer look reveals the composite armor construction of the glacis (photo was probably mirrored).
The glacis armor follows a different approach than the earlier T-72 and T-72A. Instead of using glass-reinforced plastic as interlayer material between two thick steel plates, the gap between the outermost and innermost steel plates ius filled with an array of thinner steel or composite plates in a spaced configuration.
There are two relatively thin plates followed by two plates which are more than twice as thick. I think it is reasonable to assume (given the construction of the turret armor of the T-72B) that this armor is actually a type of non-explosive reactive armor (NERA/NxRA) and that the inner plates are either composite panels (consisting for example of rubber and steel sandwiches) or that these steel plates are mounted flexible on rubber bolts or coil springs to increase armor protection.

Russia lying about Armata capabilites?

According to Jane's, the manufacturer of the new T-14 Armata main battle tank, made some very dubios claims about the T-14 Armata.

Vyacheslav Khalitov, the director of the tank manufacturer UralVagonZavod (UVZ), claimed that the T-14 Armata has stealth features like modern aircraft and cannot be detected by radar.

As written by Jane's "... US specialists with many years of experience in the design of current-generation armour and Russian experts on former Soviet programmes that were designed to reduce AFV signatures both expressed doubts."

What to think about this? A radar absorbing stealth tank? Am I the only one who would not see any use of this?
Radars might be used by long range reconnaisance to spot tanks, but on the tactical situation - i.e. on the battlefield - nobody will use radars for detecting tanks... tanks do not have radars, IFVs do not have radars, APCs do not have radars, the infantry doesn't carry radars - hell, even scout vehicles are not equipped with radars. There are ground surveillance systems with high sensitivity thermal detectors, which can spot tanks from 20 or more miles away. So why would they make the tank out of radar absorbing materials?

Rheinmetall's MBT Technologieträger

The MBT Technologieträger is a testbed from Rheinmetall. It is based on the Leopard 2 Revolution with a few more components being tested. According to Autobild.de this upgrade might be ordered by the German army in the near future, as there are 113 Leopard 2A4 tanks that need to be upgraded.

The vehicle is fitted with a long barreled L55 tank gun
The rear of the vheicle is protected by slat armor. Also note the surveillance system.
The vehicle is fitted with an ADS version capable of intercepting APFSDS.
A remote weapon station housing a 0.50 cal machine gun (RMG .50).
The new digital sight of the commander. Looks like the SEOSS sight from Rheinmetall.


Sonntag, 16. August 2015

Russia cheating at Tank Biathlon 2015?

Just stumbled upon this gem at another forum:

The Chinese website Guancha.cn Russia did it's best to manipulate the Tank Biathlon 2015 for an outcome in favor of the Russian army. The following claims were made by the Chinese news website:

  • The Chinese delegation was told that a 40 metres river had to be crossed. As a result the Chinese team went with a total of 50 metres of pontoon bridges to Russia. They were "speakless" when discovering that the river to be crossed had a width of 60 metres.
  • Russian forces also had faulty bridge equipment, but simply ignored the normal rules of crossing a river; they aligned their bridges under sub-ideal conditions directly in the river - their tanks had to wade several meters into the river to enter the bridges.
Russian forces crossing their pontoon bridges
  • During the IFV competition, there were problems with reloading. Not exactly sure what it says in the article (bad translation), but it seems that Russia didn't agree on accounting the higher rate of fire and the higher reload speed of the Chinese IFV.
  • The rules of the NBC trials of the Tank Biathlon were changed, but the Chinese team wasn't informed of any changes. As a result a 45 second punishment was added to the team's time.
  • The amphibious troop transport competition for which the Chinese team brought their ZBD-05 IFVs was canceled without explanation. The Chinese considered their ZBD-05 to be greatly superior to the Russian BTR-80 in this task.
  • The Chinese PLL-05 self-propelled howitzer managed to beat the Russian counterparts, but for reasons of balancing the performance of crew to that of the equipment, a perfomance modifier was used, which resulted in the parity of the performance of both systems.
  • Several "aggressive rule changes" were made during the infantry/paratrooper competitions to negate the poor performance of the Russian soliders.
There are many more claims in the article, but I don't speak Chinese and it's cumbersome to decode what Google Translator outputs...

Do I believe the Chinese claims? I am not sure. They are probably exaggerated, but there might be truth in them. Maybe the Chinese are simply "sore loosers" who are trying to find an excuse for their poor performance. However the Chinese claims are not hard to believe, based on what I have heard and read about Russian competitions and the protectionism of Russian defence industry and their army.
I think it's save to assume that the ZBD-05 has better amphibious performance than a BTR-80. The mix-up with the river width might have been a mistake however, just like it could have been a mistake to not inform the Chinese team about changed conditions.

This reminds me of the Canadian Army Trophy - in 1987 the US won with their M1A1 Abrams tanks, but they received heavy criticism from the other competitors? Were the European teams "sore loosers"? I don't think so. The US team did operate with open hatches - as only team. In the conditions of the Cold War, where every tank was expected to operated under full NBC protection (and CAT should simulate the crew and vehicle performance in Cold War) this is for sure bad behaviour.

Source: Guancha.cn (chinese)

Freitag, 14. August 2015

German armor sales process

Recently

The Brazilian armed forces are expecting the final delivery of former German Gerpard self-propelled anti-air guns (SPAAG). Back in Novembre 2011 the Gepard was presented to the Brazilian army, where it managed to score several direct hits against remotely operated model aircraft (with a wingspan just above 1 metre) used by in Brazil to represent airplanes at longer ranges. The previously used 40 mm Bofors gun failed at achieving direct hits and required a larger amount of time and ammunition to destroy the aircrafts.

A total of 32 Gepard 1A2 SPAAG were ordered by the Brazilian army. The last 8th were shipped in the first week of August in Germany and are scheduled to arrive 20 days later in Brazil.
The Gepard is based on the Leopard 1 chassis, which is already operational within the Brazilian army.

Source: Jane's IHS

Meanwhile the Croatian army received the first of 12 Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled guns (SPG). All vehicles are former German ones, which were bought by Croatia in 2014 for 14€ million. The total budget of the Croatian army to buy, support and modernize the Panzerhabuitze 2000s is 41€ million. It is expected that all 12 PzH 2000 will be operating in 2016.

Source: Jane's IHS

Rheinmetall has started working on a 130€ million contract for Lockheed Martin UK. The contract is about the production of 245 turrets for the Scout Specialist Vehicle (or rather it's structure bar many components chosen by the British). The weapon mount is also assembled by Rheinmetall.
The Scout SV is going to use a modified version of Rheinmetall's Lance Modular Turret System (Lance MTS). The structure of the turret is assembled in Germany. It seems to consists of steel, but contains many mounting points for composite armor panels.

Two turret structures for the Scout SV in a Rheinmetall facility in Germany

Source: Rheinmetall

Last but not least, the Royal Netherlands Army took over the first of 60 Boxer command post vehicles on the 31. of July. The command post vehicle will be the third version of the Boxer to enters service with the Dutch army. The engineering vehicle version and the cargo transport version of the Boxer will enter service in 2016.

Source: ARTEC Boxer

Sonntag, 2. August 2015

Tank biathlon 2015

In Russia the "Tank Biathlon 2015" competition will be held this year. Participating are not less than 13 countries:
  1. Angola
  2. Armenia
  3. China 
  4. India
  5. Kazakhstan 
  6. Kuwait
  7. Kyrgyzstan
  8. Mongolia
  9. Nicaragua
  10. Russia
  11. Serbia
  12. Tajikistan 
  13. Venezuela
 Tajikistan and Nicaragua are first time participants in the competition. Except for the Chinese, which will utilize the Norinco Type 96A, all countries will use the T-72. According to Russia Today, the tanks will be in the T-72B3 configuration - this however seems to be questionable, as countries other than Russia do not operate this tank and the crews hence will be less trained on the equipment.

T-72B3 and Type 96A tanks
Each country gets a total of four tanks - one spare vehicle and three for the competition. One run at the tank biathlon will take at least 28 minutes, an increase by 5 or more minutes of the previous year's 23 minute run.

Tank/tank crew competitions have a more than half a century long history. During the Cold War the Canadian Army Trophy was a competition between the NATO forces in West-Germany.
The "Tank Biathlon" is a rather recent competition hosted by Russia. The community of Leopard 2 user countries has the LEOBEN cup.

Source: Russia Today