The Cougar family of medium-sized blast-protected vehicles is produced in both 4-wheel (formerly Cougar H) and 6-wheel (formerly Cougar HE) layouts. Eventually, the wisdom of using survivable vehicles in a theater where land mines were the #1 threat became clearer, and these vehicles have gradually shifted from dedicated engineer and Explosives Ordnance Disposal (EOD) roles to patrol and route-proving/ convoy lead functions as well. Related variants and blast-resistant designs are also produced in response to country-specific requirements (Wolfhound, Mastiff, Ridgeback, ILAV Badger) and other designs cover different operational needs (Buffalo mine-clearance, Cheetah, Ocelot, and JAMMA patrol vehicles). To date, the firm has received orders from Britain, Canada, France, Hungary, Italy, Iraq, and Yemen; and Poland operates some on loan from the USA. Front line testimonials offer evidence of their effectiveness.
Cougar orders predate the USA’s MRAP program to rush mine-resistant vehicles to the front lines; indeed, the performance of Force Protection’s vehicles on the front lines was probably the #1 trigger for the MRAP program’s existence. This FOCUS article describes Force Protection’s vehicles and corporate performance, which became an issue in recent years. It also covers key events and procurements around the world related to Force Protection’s Cougar (MRAP CAT I & II), Buffalo (MRAP CAT III), and related blast-resistant vehicle families.
It takes more than tanks to make up an armored division. Iraq’s purchases of M1 Abrams tanks has attracted a lot of attention, and SIGIR reports of a deal for M2/M3 Bradley fighting vehicles were noteworthy. But Iraq’s DSCA export requests for its tanks also included a wide variety of other necessary accompaniments: tracked APCs, artillery, heavy transport trucks, and transport. Most were sold as “Excess Defense Articles”, and Iraq received additional equipment beyond those requests.
That equipment is necessary to round out Iraq’s armored formations, and make them a viable force. All of it has be checked out, refurbished as necessary, and then supported in the field. Other items, like M1135 Stryker vehicles for detecting weapons of mass destruction, occupy their own special niches. DID covers the associated requests, contracts, and developments.
The global trend toward mine-resistant vehicles has become unmistakable, and Iraq was the catalyst and proving ground. RG-31s of the US 101st Airborne and Australian Bushmasters were the first examples in Iraq, followed by the M1117 ASVs for American military police, and Cougar and Buffalo vehicles among US Marines et. al. Britain quickly adopted the ‘Mastiff’ Cougar variant for use in Iraq, and in 2007 the US military’s “MRAP” program began surging over 15,000 vehicles of various types into theater. And the Iraqis? Up-armored Hummers were a big upgrade over the Ford commercial pickups some units were using, but by 2006 they knew that they, too, needed a mine-resistant vehicle that could serve as as EOD (Explosive Ordnance Disposal) vehicle, perform patrols in urban areas, and keep their country’s roads clear.
Iraq’s choice featured a familiar vehicle base, but an unfamiliar partnership. Why would BAE Systems bid a Cougar variant, instead of existing BAE products? How has the design evolved since 2006? And what’s the status of production orders and orders so far to Iraq, Yemen, and beyond? Previous discussions, and a new order, shine light on those questions.
Switzerland became a Leopard 2 tank customer under Armament Program 84, with 380 Leopard 2A4 variants delivered as “Pz 87s” from 1987-1993. The Swiss military has been drawing down sharply over the last decade and a half, with many tanks mothballed into storage. With plans for a smaller defense force firmly set, some of those tanks are being converted or sold.
The Swiss recently converted 12 of their tanks to AEV-3 Kodiak/Geniepanzer Armored Engineering Vehicles, as a partnership between Rheinmetall and the Swiss firm RUAG. The type has received export orders, but Leopard 2 tanks aren’t being manufactured any more. Some countries can use stocks of existing Leopard 2 tanks for conversion, but that won’t be true for every customer. Fortunately for the partnership, in November 2010, aramsuisse announced the sale of another 42 tanks to Rheinmetall, for conversion to “protected special vehicles.” The tanks they’re receiving are being delivered without weapons or communications system, which wouldn’t be useful to Rheinmetall anyway. That equipment will be kept by the Swiss armed forces, as spares. Tank deliveries will begin before the end of 2010, per undisclosed sale terms. Swiss government.
One complaint heard about the 8×8 wheeled Stryker armored vehicles in Afghanistan was that they had difficulties with the rough, mountainous off-road terrain. The Canadian forces in particular found that their Strykers’ mobility limitations created unacceptable difficulties.
Another complaint about Stryker vehicles is that upgrades designed to address combat needs have been done in a piecemeal fashion. This has resulted in significant inefficiencies, including having to turn off some systems to operate others.
To address Stryker vehicle limitations and overcome the piecemeal approach to vehicle improvements, the US Army TACOM Lifecycle Management Command has undertaken a Stryker modernization program…
The French DGA procurement agency recently announced [in French] that its 2009 urgences operations (UO, formerly “crash programs”) budget doubled from EUR 131 million in 2008 to EUR 260 million in 2009. This change is in line with a broader international trend, as front-line operations in Afghanistan and beyond reveal limitations in existing equipment, as well as new equipment needs. One change from 2008 was an increased emphasis on naval systems, as 4 of 36 UO programs focused on counter-piracy efforts.
Key 2009 programs included 32 armoring kits for France’s Puma and Cougar medium helicopters, 200 vehicle up-armoring kits, 150 IED jammers, 5 Buffalo mine-clearing vehicles, 60 RWS remote-control turrets for vehicles, The Venus project for on-the-move communication with the Syracuse satellite system, 10 SATCOM on-the-move stations, integration of America’s Remote Operational Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER) ground-to-air communications into 25 Mirage 2000 fighters, and retrofitted IRST optical systems for existing French frigates that allow long-range passive scans, and identification of even small naval targets like pirate vessels.
The 8×8 wheeled Stryker armored vehicle is the backbone of the US Army’s 7 medium armored brigades, with an 8th on the way. The base vehicle is also known as the LAV-III (Canada) and Piranha-III (GD MOWAG Switzerland), but American Stryker family APCs are outfitted with a set of communications and electronics equipment that makes them a unique variant. Stryker program’s production contracts began in 2000; to date, General Dynamics Land Systems in Canada and the USA have delivered 2,988 vehicles to the US military. Now, a $647 million order will add another 352 Strykers to the Army.
Consultation with General Dynamics Land systems has yielded the full breakdown of this Stryker order among all variants…
PC Mechanical in Santa Maria, CA won a $26.2 million firm-fixed price, indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract for repair, overhaul, and preventative maintenance services for civil engineering support equipment at the Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center located at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme, CA (60%) and at the Naval Construction Battalion Center Gulfport located in Gulfport, MS (40%). This contract contains options, which if exercised, will bring its cumulative value to $139.5 million.
DID has more on the types of vehicles that PC Mechanical will repair…
Combat engineering is emerging as an under-appreciated but critical component of counter-insurgency work, with applications that range from restricting the battlefield to building cooperation with civilian populations. Britain is improving its own capabilities, and has just ordered 60 Terrier Armored Engineering Vehicles for the Royal Engineers, under a GBP 300 million ($430 million equivalent) contract with BAE Systems. The vehicles was designed in Leicester and will be assembled in Newcastle, with over 90% of its manufacture supported by companies from across the UK. Terrier will replace the existing Combat Engineer Tractor (CET) beginning in 2011, and will work alongside the Royal Engineers’ heavier Challenger 2 derived TROJAN AEV/AVREs.