No vehicle “cage armor” provides 100% protection, but even 50% effectiveness will save lives. QinetiQ’s Q-Net uses high-tech fabrics to replace metal cage armor, and protect against incoming rockets. In May 2012, QinetiQ North America in Watham, MA received an $11.7 million firm-fixed-price contract for 420 “rocket-propelled grenade defeating nets,” 420 battle damage Q-net kits, and proprietary tubes. Work will be performed in Franklin, MA, with an estimated completion date of Dec 13/12. One bid was solicited, with 1 bid received by the U.S. Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI (W56HAV-12-C-0240).
This isn’t the USA’s first Q-Net purchase. Kits have been created and fielded for HMMWVs, and for blast-resistant RG-31s and M-ATVs, but contracts to date had been handed out through the vehicle manufacturers. That isn’t entirely unreasonable, since any cage armor must be produced as a specific kit that protects a given vehicle type. As for Q-Net…
Just before Canada Day 2006, Canada’s minority Conservative Party government outlined a C$ 1.2 billion (USD $1 billion) RFP for new medium-sized logistics trucks and associated equipment. These Medium Support Vehicle System (MSVS) trucks will become the new backbone of the Canadian Forces’ land transport capabilities, replacing the MLVW (really, US M-35/M-36 designs with some modifications) 1950s designs, built by Bombardier in the 1980s.
The MLVWs are reaching the end of their service lives, and can’t carry all of the extra armor required for survival in places like Afghanistan. This may explain why the Canadian forces in Afghanistan are relying on their HLVW heavy trucks instead, a set of 10-ton capacity Steyr vehicles related to the smaller US FMTV medium truck family.
Under the new plan, the Canadian Forces will purchase up to 2,300 new medium trucks. What are the requirements? The configurations and numbers? Is this a welcome arrival that fills a critical gap? A mistake that will leave Canada out of step with shifting trends? Or a politically-driven move that falls into the “something, and hence better than nothing” category? Or all 3? As of 2012, MSVS has made 1 truck purchase, bought containerized modules, and is still waiting on the contract for front-line military trucks.
Latest updates: Civil war ends; Hydrocarbon output back up; Post-Gadhaffi, France to refurbish Mirage F1s.
SU-35 flight, 2008
After a long hiatus in major arms purchases, and an equally long fall from its status as an ultra-modern Soviet arms client, Libya was among the countries discussed by Forecast International in its review of African defense market opportunities.
Libya’s military has traditionally been Soviet supplied, alongside some equipment from France and Brazil. The demise of the Soviet Union, the 1990s drop in oil prices, and Libya’s pariah status all combined to choke military modernization – but Libya’s new political direction, and the rise in oil prices, were beginning to change that. Widespread reports emerged in 2007 that France and Libya had signed a Memorandum of Understanding covering arms deals worth up to EUR 4.5 billion, including the first foreign sale of the Rafale fighter. Those reports weren’t followed by contract announcements – but 2009 reports and 2010 contracts showed that Russia was willing to fight to keep its old customer. Now, the question is where all of old the players fit in the new Libya, after Gadaffi’s fall:
In early October 2011, BAE Systems Survivability Systems, LLC in Fairfield, OH received a $67.8 million firm-fixed-price contract for Overhead Gunner Protection Kit (OGPK) sub-assemblies. OGPK is an open gunner protection turret, which uses a combination of metal and transparent gunshields to stop small-arms fire. It’s mounted on patrol vehicles like HMMWVs and MRAPs, and won an Army award as #9 of the 10 best inventions of 2007. More recent versions are beginning to include some level of overhead protection. As OGPK kits have gotten heavier, however, they have triggered a companion buy: electric drive kits, to help the gunner move the turret quickly, or move it against gravity when the vehicle is on an incline.
Work will be performed in Fairfield, OH with an estimated completion date of Sept 28/12. One bid was solicited, with one bid received by U.S. Army Contracting Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-11-D-0131).
Working with Britain’s Ministry of Defense, a transatlantic firm named AmSafe has come up with a novel solution to anti-tank rockets: fabric panels mounted on the sides of trucks and armored vehicles. Now, that concept has been extended to a “Quickshield” fabric net that serves as a quick, front-line patch for damaged cage armors.
To address the front-line threat posed by Rocket Propelled Grenades like the popular RPG-7, BAE’s LROD Cage Armorsteel “cage armors” have been used, as well as BAE’s much lighter aluminum solution. AmSafe’s broader Tarian (Welsh for “shield”) solution has been deployed by British forces, remains in development for new vehicle types, and offers several advantages over cage armor. Not least of which is a 50% weight savings over aluminum, and 85% savings over steel cage options.
In June 2009, Chile’s formal request to buy a variety of artillery-related systems and equip a new mechanized artillery battalion was cleared by the US state Department, and allowed to go forward. The request centered on BAE’s M109 tracked self-propelled howitzer, but it also includes necessities like shells, tracking radars, and accompanying personnel carriers. Chile already operates the M109 self-propelled howitzer, and this order could double its available fleet, to a total of 48.
Chile’s current stock of 24 M109s are the KAWEST version, which were upgraded by Switzerland’s RUAG and sold to Chile at the end of 2004 (Cooperativa.cl, in Spanish). The Swiss upgrades included an L47 gun with 27 km/ 36 km assisted range and 3-round burst capability over 15 seconds, 6 crew members instead of 8, carriage of 40 rounds and 64 charges, improved electrical systems, an integrated inertial navigation and positioning system, day and night capability, and added protection against fire, nuclear EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse radiation), and NBC (Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) threats.
The US military’s Humvee jeeps have demonstrated severe payload and survivability limitations. Nevertheless, they remain a fixture in the fleet, and new orders continue. At one point, the US Marines’ objective was to restrict Hummers to use “inside the wire” of American bases in Iraq. Instead, a sharp reduction in violence within Iraq, and a lower vehicle threat level so far in Afghanistan, have given the HMMWVs a new lease on life. They are still seeing extensive use on the front lines, and the early wear created by the weight of their add-on armor has led to RESET maintenance programs for some Hummers and allied giveaways for others.
By mid-2007, the US Army had about 19,000 HMMWVs serving on the Iraqi front alone. As they wear out and are given away, or are sent to a depot, they must be replaced. Some replacement involves cycling vehicles from other units into theater, but those units must eventually have their lost vehicles replaced, in order to maintain their own readiness rates for deployment. Hence the necessity for ongoing buys of more Humvees, in the absence of a program to provide replacements on a fleet-wide basis. This Spotlight article covers the family’s newest variants, and chronicles the US military’s 2009-2010 purchases.
Sept 21/11: The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency announces Saudi Arabia’s formal request for up to $886 million of equipment to augment the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s existing light artillery capabilities. The Royal Saudi Land Forces already have towed 155mm and 105mm howitzers and support vehicles and systems, and DSCA says they will have no difficulty absorbing these additional howitzers into their armed forces. If a contract is negotiated, implementation of this sale will not require the assignment of any U.S. Government or contractor representatives to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
As a Foreign Military Sale mode purchase, any contract will be managed by a US Army department, probably the Rock Island Arsenal, IL. The specific items requested include:
Latest updates: With SUGV pending wind-down, early materials order for SUGV sets 2-3.
BCTM B-Kit in Hummer
Concerns about cost overruns, vehicle design, and contract structure prompted the Pentagon to cancel the US Army’s Future Combat System (FCS) program in June 2009.
Instead of a single FCS contract, the Pentagon directed the Army to set up a number of separate programs to undertake parts of the FCS program. One of those programs is the Brigade Combat Team Modernization (BCTM) Increment 1. The BCTM Increment 1 capabilities – which include ground robots, UAVs, ground sensors, and vehicle (B-Kit) network integration kits – were planned to be fielded to up to 9 Infantry Brigade Combat Teams beginning in 2011. Now it’s more like 2015 for the 1st brigade, and it will happen without most of the original components.
James Hasik looks at future options for the American super-carrier fleet, and delivers a preliminary cost analysis for various scenarios – including a scenario that involves halting the new CVN-21s after the 2nd-of-class CVN 79, mothballing 2 existing Nimitz Class boats, and dropping to 8 operational carriers.
Today’s video (embedded below): the Panel on Defense Financial Management and Auditability Reform’s hearing last week with the House Armed Services Committee. Among the issues is whether the branches (let alone DoD at large) are able to reconcile their books with the Department of Treasury. Assistant Secretary of the Air Force for Financial Management and Comptroller Jamie M. Morin [PDF bio] says the USAF is now achieving 99.99% accuracy on its 1 million+ records/month ledger.