Thursday, December 31, 2015

Happy new year

I'd like to use this opportunity to wish the few readers of this blog a happy new year. Unfortunately I haven't reached any of my major goals with this blog. It's quite lacking behind my plans in terms of post amount, frequency and quality - but well, it's something. So if you like to read "something", why not this blog.

Happy new year.

The truth about spaced armor on modern tanks and AFVs

A lot of websites and even a number of written books claims that spaced armor is mainly designed to deal with shaped charge weapons such as high-explosive anti-tank (HEAT) ammo, anti-tank missiles and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs).

However in many cases spaced armor is designed to deal with armor-piercing ammunitions such as AP and APDS rounds mainly. This already started during WW2, when spaced armor was first introduced on German Panzerkampfwagen III and IV tanks. The Panzerkampfwagen III Ausf. L received spaced frontal armor by adding a 20 mm steel plate at the hull superstructure and the gun mantlet. This first steel layer was designed to damage or shatter the caps of APCBC ammunition, so that the face-hardned main armor was more effective.

A Panzerkampfwagen III with spaced armor (note the brackets and the spaced 20 mm plate)
In a slightly different form, but still mainly designed to deal with AP ammunition (to be more exact, to deal with 14.5 mm anti-tank rifles), spaced armor was adopted on the late-model Panzerkampfwagen III and IV as Schürzen. A thin 5 mm steel plate or on later models wire mesh was designed to tumble the 14.5 mm AP round, so that it would have a greater cross-section upon impact at the main armor (and hence a lower penetration into the armor).
Panzerkampfwagen IV Ausf. H with spaced armor against anti-tank rifle ammunition

While not adopted on follow-up production tanks in the late 1940s and 1950s, spaced armor was still tested and reintroduced to modern tank design in the late 1960s and early 1970s.
In an attempt of accessing the usefullness of shaped charges against future heavy tanks, the British army decided to trial spaced armor as upgrade option for the Conqueror heavy tank.

Conqueror fitted with spaced armor
The armor consisted of 14 mm thick steel plates of I.T.100 steel mounted on 4 to 8 inches (102 mm to 204 mm) long spacers made of mild steel. The spacers used on the hull had a length of 5.75 inches (146 mm). Furthermore a 20 mm thick steel plate was welded onto the main glacis armor. Six missiles were fired onto the tank (5 American Dart missiles and 1 Malkara), of which only one Dart missile failed to penetrate. All other missiles caused enough damage to kill at least the crew members in the splinter cone.

Meanwhile Germany and the United States were together working on a new main battle tank, known as the MBT-70. The MBT-70 was fitted with spaced armor at the hull front and turret, which used a thicker and harder outer plate than the previously mentioned designs. According to R. M. Ogorkiewicz, the outer plate had a thickness of 40 mm and had a hardness of over 500 BHN, or about twice as much as used on the then-used cast steel turrets. The main armor had greater thickness, but only medium hardness. The outer plate served as disruptor - it's main goal was to shatter or break the impacting penetrator instead of slowing it down by any major amount. This was extremely effective until the late 1970s and early 1980s, because most penetrators used brittle tungsten-carbide cores or steel cores. Supposedly against such ammunition, spaced steel armor utilizing steel plates of different hardness can increase the protection by up to 50% compared to homogenous steel of the same weight. At least it has been claimed by W. J. Spielberger, that the MBT-70 was protected against 105 mm APDS ammunition fired from 800 m distance, while the same ammunition was able to penetrate the 254 mm thick turret of the M60A1 tank even at 1,500 m range - the MBT-70 was designed to weigh 46 metric tons, but in reality ended up 48 metric tons (second generation prototypes), whereas the M60A1 weighs 52 metric tons!
This armor design went - after being used on the Keiler and early Leopard 2 tanks - into series production with the German Leopard 1A3 tank in 1973.

The cut-out section of a Leopard 1 turret side wall shows the spaced armor.
Other armored fighting vehicles have been fitted with spaced armor aswell. The original M2 Bradley used spaced armor in some places - e.g. the side skirts consisted of two 6.4 mm thick steel plates, which like the Panzerkampfwagen IV's Schürzen should make 14.5 mm AP rounds tumble. The Marder 1A3 has been fitted with spaced armor for protection against 30 mm AP(DS) ammunition - at the upper front plate it has a thickness of about 5 - 10 mm and might be made out of harder steel.
The list of modern armored vehicles utilizing spaced armor for protection against AP ammunition is very large and includes vehicles such as the Boxer, several armor upgrades for BTR and BMP, some versions of the Stryker, many different versions of the M113 and the AAV-7.

Ukrainian BTR with spaced armor for protection against HMG rounds.

Spaced armor allows achieving a greater level of armor protection per weight, but it does increase the physical size of the vehicle at the same time.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Poland selects Rheinmetall to upgrade Leopard 2

Poland has selected the German company Rheinmetall to upgrade a total of 128 Leopard 2A4 tanks to a new standard (supposedly called the Leopard 2PL). The contract has a value of a total of 2.3 billion Polish Złoty (or about €542 million). Rheinmetall will cooperate with the Polish defence industry conglomerate Polska Grupa Zbrojeniowa SA (PGZ).

Rheinmetall has managed to win a contract against the German company and Leopard 2 manufacturer Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW). A third bidder for the Polish contract was the Turkish company Aselsan, who offered an upgrade similar to their Leopard 2NG (Next Generation) upgrade. It is understood that Aselsan had to withdraw it's offer due to licence issues.

Leopard 2 Revolution as presented in 2010
Rheinmetall has developed the MBT Revolution, which is a modular upgrade for modern main battle tanks such as the Leopard 2. Due to it's modular nature, it's impossible to say which components will be mounted on the Leopard 2PL - however it also allows to easily incooperate Polish-made components, which was a requirement from the Polish officials.
The MBT Revolution package can include additional armor modules (AMAP armor from IBD Deisenroth and Rheinmetall Chempro), optical and fire control systems (Rheinmetall's SEOSS), the improved L55 gun system, active protection systems (such as ROSY and ADS), a remote weapon station, a battlefield management system and situational awareness systems (such as Rheinmetall's SAS).

Leopard 2 Revolution being presented in Indonesia - not all optional components are mounted on this tank
The Leopard 2 Revolution already serves as base for the Leopard 2RI, a version which has been orderedd by Indonesia. The latest version of the Leopard 2 Revolution was nicknamed MBT Technologieträger and was still doing the company's own trials in August of 2015. Unlike previous prototypes, this specific vehicle was fitted with the Active Defence System (ADS, previoulsy known as AMAP-ADS), a new active protection system that provides protection against missiles, RPGs and alson against APFSDS ammunition.

PS: A rendering of the new Leopard 2PL has been posted on Facebook by one of the Polish companies. The tank is fitted with the AMAP turret armor package, but lacks all add-on modules for the hull. No RWS, no APS and no situational awareness system are fitted; from the pure looks of it, the tank also still uses the old PERI R17A1 commander's sight without thermal channel. The shorter L44 gun might be retained.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Thailand's DTI presents new wheeled AFV: the Black Widow Spider

Thailand is developing a new 8 x 8 wheeled armored fighting vehicle, which has been named "Black Widow Spider". It was developed by Defence Technology Institute of Thailand with help from ST Kinetics of Singapore. It is said to incorporate technology from the Irish Timoney Technology Group, who already worked on other Asian wheeled combat vehicles such as the Taiwanese Cloud Leopard and the Singaporean Terrex.
The current version of it was presented on the Defence & Security 2015 military exhibition in Thailand.
The Black Widow Spider
The presented version of the Black Widow Spider is fitted with a remotely operated turret, which appears to be identical to the turret demonstrated on the ST Kinetic's Terrex II infantry fighting vehicle. The turret is equipped with a 30 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II, a 7.62 mm NATO machine gun, optics for the gunner and an independent commander's sight, and a number of smoke grenade launchers.
A number of photographs of the vehicle were already shown on the internet several weeks before the 2015 exhibition. An earlier prototype was presented in 2013, which however was lacking a lot of the features of the current Black Widow Spider, such as the composite armor, the unmanned turret, the splash guard and the propeller blades for amphibious operations.

Older prototype of the Black Widow Spider seeing earlier this year
Side view of the Black Widow Spider
The Black Widow Spider presented at Defence & Security 2015 has a weight of 24 tons including the IFV. It is powered by a 450 hp diesel engine from Caterpillar. The vehicle has an operational range of 600 kilometers. Seating is provided for the driver, the gunner, the commander and up to nine dismounts.
The seats for the dismounts are not attached to the floor, which increases survivability against mines

 The battlefield management system (BMS) of the Black Widow Spider is made by ST Kinetics of Singapore. The composite armor used on the current version of the vehicle (previous prototypes lacked any sort of composite amor) is supplied by the Israel Military Industries (IMI). When fitted with the composite armor from IMI, the Black Widow Spider is protected against 14.5 mm armor-piercing (AP) ammunition in accordance with the NATO STANAG standard 4569. The gun used on the prototype IFV version is like the BMS also manufactured by ST Kinetics.

The battlefield management system in the BWS

The Black Widow Spider is the result of the Wheeled Armoured Vehicle Research and Development Project using the technical abilites and knowledge of the Thai army, the private industry and a number of research institutes in Thailand. The vehicle is an attempt of being less reliant on foreign manufacturers, which have shown to be problematic in some cases (such as the delivery of Ukrainian armor being troubled due to the conflict in the East-Ukraine).
Apparently no official requirement and order was made by the Thai army yet, but this might change after the Black Widow Spider went through field trials.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Belarusian armor upgrades

The Army of Belarus has presented upgraded versions of their main armored fighting vehicles such as the T-72B main battle tank (MBT), the BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and the BTR-80 wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC) as reported by the Russian-language website "Journal of Mordovia". The vehicles are part of the 120th Guards mechanized brigade which was visisted by the Belarusian president/dictator Alexander Lukashenko and a crew from the Belarusian TV channel/show "Arsenal".
The upgraded vehicles being presented for the first time to public
The turret of the BMP-2 shows a large central weakspot were no slat armor is installed
The BMP-2's lower front, turret and sides are fitted with slat armor.
It's unlikely that an RPG fuzes at the highly sloped upper front plate of the hull
The BTR-80's sides and turret are also protected by slat armor
Details of the slat armor installation
The upgrades consist of additional armor protection in form of slat armor, which is designed to crush the warheads of rocket propelled grenades (RPGs) and hence prevent the shaped charge to form a armor-piercing jet. On the T-72B, currently the main tank of the Belarusian army, the slat armor protects the sides and rear of the turret at the places where no Kontakt ERA is mounted.On the BMP-2 and the BTR-80, the slat armor protects the lower front, the turret, the sides and probably also the rear section of the vehicles.
The slat armor mounted at the front section of the BTR-80
The new slat armor upgrade was developed this year following the poor performance of such vehicles in asymmetric warfare in Syria and Ukraine.
Details of the slat armor mounted on the T-72B turret
Details of the slat armor mounted on the T-72B turret
It is not yet known if these armor upgrades will be purchased for the Belarusian army on any larger scale.

Merkava 2 conversion into other vehicles

The Israel Defence Force (IDF) is converting a number of Merkava II main battle tanks (MBTs) to an armored personnel carrier version. The Merkava II MBT originally entered service with the IDF in 1983 as an improved version of the Merkava I tank. It features spaced armor (which subsequently was reinforced with composite armor on upgraded models), a 105 mm M68 tank gun and a 900 hp AVDS-1790-6A  V12 engine in combination with a Renk 304 transmission licence-built by Ashot Ashkelon.

The Merkava II APC is fitted with a fixed superstructure instead of the turret.
If the sources on different internet articles are correct, it was originally planned to base the Namer heavy APC on the older Merkava I and Merkava II tanks. The Namera prototype - which predates the custom-made Namer - was based on the outdated Merkava I.
Namera APC
According to Jane's IHS The IDF wants to use the converted Merkava II vehicles as "battlefield logistics carriers" (sounds like a cargo version), casualty evacuation (armored ambulance) and for use as a command post vehicle. At least two prototypes (one cargo transport vehicle and one casevac vehicle) are planned, of which the first has already been finished.
These new Merkava II variants are to replace the outdated M113 APCs which are still the backbone of the IDF.

Friday, October 16, 2015

M1A2 SEP v3 revealed

The M1A2 SEP v3 has been revealed on the AUSA 2015.

The tank looks rather similar to the earlier models of the M1A2 SEP, only the type and placement of the remote weapon station have been slightly altered.

The M1A2 SEP v3 adds a number of new features to improve the lethality, survivability and networking of the tank. An ammunition data link (ADL) has been added to the tank, which allows the use of programmable ammunition. The tank can utilize new and improved ammunition like the M829E4 and the XM1147 multipurpose round.
Furthermore the foward-looking infrared optics were replaced by a newer generation and the CROWS remote weapon station (RWS) was modified to the CROWS-LP (low profile) version, which allows folding down the RWS in order to decrease overall height of the tank.

The APU has been moved to a place under armor protection (probably into the rear hull section) and the digital screens inside the tank have now a 1080p resolution.

General Dynamics is also offering to upgrade the M1A2 SEP v3 with a German MTU 883 diesel engine, replacing the previous AGT-1500C gas turbine. This move would reduce fuel consumption - and thus reducing the total operating costs by 14%.

Friday, October 2, 2015

GD contracted to upgrade tanks intended for Morocco

The US Army has contracted the M1 Abrams manufacturer General Dynamics to overhaul and upgrade150 M1A1 tanks to the M1A1 SA (situational awareness) configuration for a foreign military sales contract with Morocco. Each tank will completely reassembled to a zero-mile condition.
The reported costs of this contract is §358 million.

Deliveries are expected to begin in January of 2017 and end in February 2018.

M1A1 AIM tank
The M1A1 SA is based on the M1A1 AIM (Abrams Integrated Management). Among other features, the M1A1 SA upgrade includes second-generation thermal imaging systems, a far target locator system, enhanced command and control  systems, a tank-infantry phone, a thermal sight for the .50 cal machine gun, an eye-safe laser rangefinder and enhanced systems for the driver's vision.
The M1A1 SA is also fitted with improved armor compared to the M1A1 AIM and M1A1 HA, albeit it is unkown if the Moroccan tanks will be fitted with a downgraded export armor package or not.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Interesting Wiesel 2 vehicle spotted at MDM

During the recent MDM 2015 (Moden Day Marine) event in the United States of America, an interesting version of the Wiesel 2 was presented (and apparently marketed to the USMC) by Rheinmetall.

The vehicle is configured as armored personnel carrier (APC) and seems to provide enough space for six dismounts, a driver and a gunner (although it might be 5 or 7 dismounts, the available photographs are limited).
The most interesting aspect however is the weapons choice. The remote weapon station (RWS) is fitted with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher (in the vehicle shown at MDM there was a mock-up of one of Dynamit Nobel Defence's RGW weapon systems) and a three-barreled 7.62 mm machine gun made by Rheinmetall. It seems to be the externally powered RMG 7.62 machine gun that Rheinmetall first presented in 2013. Unlike gatling-type machine guns (miniguns), the RMG 7.62 does not use multiple barrels to incease the rate of fire (RoF), but rather to increase the longevity of the weapon, while having a RoF of a modest 800 rounds per minute.

It seems reasonable to assume that the weapon station might be modular and able to handle other machine gun systems (such as the MG3 and the M2 Browning) and recoilless weapons (such as the AT-4 or maybe some fire-and-forget systems such as Javelin).


Panzerhaubitze 2000 and other former-German equipment sold to Lithuania

The Lithuianian ministry of defence (MoD) announced on 28th of September 2015 that the army has purchased a total of 53 combat vehicles from Germany. The contract was signed one day later on the 29th of September.

The complete purchase includes:
  • 21 Panzerhaubitze 2000 self-propelled guns 
  • 26 M577 V2 command post vehicles 
  • 6 BPz 2 armored recovery vehicles
The total costs of the deal was €58.3 million, which will be alocated until 2019. €16.2 million were paid for the 53 vehicles, while €42.1 million were paid for modernization, upgrading the new vehicles with communication and mangaement systems as used by the Lithuanian army, and for adjusting military infrastructure for the Panzerhaubitze 2000 as well for training personnel.

The Panzerhaubitze 2000 (PzH 2000) is a self-propelled howitzer equipped with a 155 mm L/52 rifled gun. The chassis is made of armor steel and provides a relatively high level of protection (supposedly equal to the Leopard 1 hull). Additional armor can be mounted on top of the Panzerhaubitze 2000 roof in order to provide adequate protection against counter-battery fire and bomblets. The useage of many Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 military off-the-shelf (MOTS) components reduces the unit price of a PzH 2000.
Compared to the previous 105 mm towed artillery used by the Lithuanian army, the PzH 2000 has more than three times the effective firing range - according to the MoD, the PzH 2000 can accurately engage targets up to 40 kilometers, while the 105 mm howitzers have a range of 11 kilometers.

The M577 V2 command post vehicle is originally an American vehicle based on the M113. The German army bought 220 M577A1 vehicles during the Cold War. The designation M577 V2 seems to be local or it might be a mistranslation of the German NDV2 upgrade, that was applied to several M113-based vehicles. The NDV includes a new and more powerful engine (providing 300 hp output, made by MTU) and a new transmission.

The Bergepanzer 2 (BPz 2) is an armored recovery vehicle based on the Leopard 1 chassis.

The delivery of the first vehicles is expected to begin in 2016, the last vehicles should be received as of 2019.

Meanwhile the decision for an 8x8 wheeled infantry fighting vehicle has not been made yet by the Lithuanian armed forces. While - as previously reported - the army prefers the German Boxer, other parts of the Lithuanian military and/or government seem to dislike the high unit costs of a Boxer. The total costs supposedly are about €500 milions and the unit costs are supposedly 35% higher than some other alternatives investigated by the Lithuanian army according to an interview of the Lithuanian newspaper DELFI (use google translator).
On the other hand the Boxer with Puma turret (nicknamed PuBo by German officials) is probably the most capable vehicle offered to Lithuania.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Rheinmetall Boxer CRV

Rheinmetall has offered a special version of the Boxer to Australia as participation in the LAND 400 program. The Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV) is a version of the Boxer IFV with Lance Modular Turret System (Lance MTS), a version already showcased earlier in 2012 on the Eurosatory defence expo. Rheinmetall is partnering with Northtrop Grumman in order to increase chances of winning the contract.

The Boxer IFV with Lance MTS as shown in 2012

The Boxer CRV is armed with a MK-30/2 ABM autocannon and an anti-tank missile system, which yet has to be disclosed.  The MK-30/2 ABM gun is chambered in the 30 x 173 mm caliber and is gas-operated. It is dual-belt fed and has been equipped with an additional magnetic coil to allow the use of programmable air-burst ammunition. For this the muzzle velocity of the fire round is measured and via the magnetic coil the timer inside the projectile is set, which should result in a higher precision of the air-burst.
Available ammunition includes armor-piercing APFSDS, KE-TF (air-bust fragmentation against infantry), FAPDIS (frangible armor-piercing) and PELE (Penetrator with Enhanced Lateral Effect) ammunition.
 As secondary armament a 7.62 mm machine gun can be fitted coaxial to the main gun.

The Lance MTS is fitted with two Rheinmetall SEOSS sight units, which both include a day-channel aswell as a third-generation thermal imager. One of the sights is mounted at the front of the turret, whereas the other one is placed on top of the turret. Furthermore the Lance turret might be fitted with  two units of Rheinmetall's Situational Awareness System, which provide a 360° view of the close proximity.
In one trailer from Rheinmetall, the Boxer CRV has been fitted with SAAB's Barracuda Mobile Camouflage System.

The Boxer MRAV (multi-role armored vehicle) is the final result of a program, which originally was iniated by Germany, France and the UK to build a heavily protected common wheeled multi-role platfrom for all three countries. The Boxer is a modular vehicle, allowing to adopt different mission modules on the same chassis. It is well-protected by AMAP composite armor and fitted with a high level of built-in mine and IED protection.

UK to look for Challenger 2 replacement

As reported by the UK-based defence news agency Jane's IHS, the UK is looking for either an upgrade or a replacement for the Vickers Challenger 2 main battle tank.

Following the introduction of the T-14 Armata tank, the British army has questioned the ability of the Challenger 2 - in particular the performance of the L30A1 tank gun with two-piece ammunition - to be suited for future combat operations.

According to Jane's, the British army has already talked to several armored vehicle manufacturers about upgrading the Challenger 2 or replacing the tank.

Monday, September 7, 2015

AMV 35 CRV revealed

Patria and BAE have teamed up to participate in the LAND 400 program from the Australian army.
The LAND 400 seeks for a wheeled vehicle with heavy armor (STANAG 4569 level 6 - protection against 30 mm APFSDS at the frontal arc) in the versions Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV), Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV), Manoeuvre Support Vehicle (MSV) and Integrated Training System (ITS).

The vehicle chosen as part of the LAND 400 program is expected to replace the old M113AS4 IFV (a version of the M113 with 25 mm gun turret) vehicles and replace a number of ASLAVs (a version of the Swiss Piranha).

Illustration of the AMV 35 CRV from Patria - it's a photoshopped image.

The AMV 35 CRV seems to be a normal Patria AMV hull fitted with the turret of the BAE CV9035. The turret is housing an exteranlly-powered 35 mm Bushmaster III autocannon, which offers increased lethality over the more common 25 and 30 mm calibers. A barrel swap allows the usage of larger 50 mm supershot ammunition.
However ammunition stowage is poor compared to smaller calibers. The CV9035 has 2 belts of 35 rounds each loaden in the main gun, which is what should be expected from the AMV 35 CRV aswell. A total of 140 further rounds are stored inside the CV9035, a similar number of additional ammunition might be stored in the AMV 35 CRV.

The turret is a welded steel construction which is fitted with additional modules of composite armor and the SAAB Universal Tank and Anti-Aircraft Sight (UTAAS) fire control system.

The Patria Advanced Modular Vehicle (AMV) is a proven 8 x 8 wheeled vehicle, which has been rather successful on the export market in the past years.

Sunday, August 30, 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 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 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).

Tuesday, August 25, 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."


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 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.