In DID’s July 2005 article covering Belgium’s impending defense purchases, we noted that country’s Armoured Infantry Vehicle (AIV) program to replace its 132 Leopard 1A5BE main battle tanks, as well as its AIFV and M113 armored personnel carriers, with wheeled APCs. The contract was valued at up to EUR 800 million (about $1 billion) for 242 vehicles, in 7 separate versions that would include troop transport, combat engineer, commando, ambulance and logistic support missions. We also noted that a contract would “probably be awarded by the early months of 2006.”
Now a winner has just been selected from among the finalists (GD-Steyr’s Pandur II, GD-MOWAG’s Piranha III/LAV III, Iveco’s Centauro, and Patria’s Armored Modular Vehicle), a contract has been signed with Elbit for electro-optics and a 30mm remote weapons system – and a pair of controversies are brewing, plus a related DID article we can only describe as “Dude, Where’s My Pandur?”
On February 3, 2006, it was reported that 15 of Belgium’s Pandur armored personnel carriers were stolen, together with radio equipment and field kitchens. The equipment was meant for a Beninese battalion that is part of the UN force in the Congo. Thanks to some help from DID’s Benelux reader David Vandenberghe, DID can bring you the details.
In December a ship under the flag of Saint Kitts & Nevis (VRT’s report was incorrect) left the Belgian port of Zeebrugge for Congo, chartered by Geodis under the auspices of the UN. The cargo ship never made it to its destination. Four weeks ago the ship was seized in a port in Equatorial Guinea…
Along with the C-130J’s integration into US forces for the full spectrum of combat and non combat roles (WC-130J model hurricane-hunters, KC-103J aerial refuellers, and EC-130J broadcaster variants are also flying) come the inevitable maintenance and sustainment requirements. The Headquarters Warner Robins Air Logistics Center at Robins Air Force Base, GA recently issued $236.6 million in contracts along these lines.
Lockheed Martin Corp. Maritime Systems and Sensors in Eagan, MN received a $76.1 million ceiling-priced modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/ indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-04-D-0082). It exercises an option for the A-kits, B-kits, installations, and other support equipment required to convert P-3C Orion update II.5 aircraft into the P-3 Anti-Surface Warfare Improvement Program (ASUW-AIP) configuration. Personally, we think ASWIP would be a better program acronym for so many reasons. Work will be performed in Greenville, SC (85%), and Clearwater, FL (15%), and is expected to be complete in February 2007. The Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River, MD issued the contract.
DID has covered this program before, which makes a wide array of modifications to modernize the USA’s aged P-3C Orion fleet in ways that increase its detection and attack punch over sea and land. As DID’s earlier coverage notes, P-3C AIP aircraft have even found themselves in demand over Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan, as well as in their traditional maritime patrol role.
“During the 2003 invasion of Iraq, some of the P-3 AIP (Anti Surface Warfare Improvement Program) reconnaissance aircraft proved useful to marine ground units, but only if the marines put a senior marine officer (usually a colonel) on the P-3s. This insured that the P-3 crew was constantly reminded of what the marines on the ground needed, and the P-3 was not “hijacked” by some other headquarters for a recon mission that was of no use to the marines.
The AIP version of the P-3 has synthetic-aperture radar and electro-optical cameras that provide real time video, day and night, of surface areas. While this capability is useful at sea, the marines have discovered that the P-3 AIP is an excellent recon aircraft to support their ground operations. The P-3s carry enough countermeasures to protect them from portable anti-aircraft missiles, and can stay in the air over a marine unit for ten hours or more at a time. The P-3 has a satellite link and GPS onboard. The land recon versions of the P-3 can carry and use Maverick guided missiles and Harpoon missiles (configured for hitting ground targets). The aircraft also has equipment to detect and identify enemy radars operating in the area. Naturally, such a capable recon aircraft was in great demand, which is why the marines learned that if they could get a colonel on board the P-3, they would basically “own” the P-3 for that flight [because the Colonel was more senior than the controllers, or their superiors, and was outside the chain of command that USAF Generals could reach].”
Small business qualifier Force Protection Industries Inc. in Ladson, SC received an $18.6 million firm-fixed-price contract for Buffalo Mine Protected Clearance Vehicles. Work will be performed in Ladson, S.C., and is expected to be complete by Feb. 28, 2007. This was a sole source contract initiated on Jan. 27, 2006. The U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-06-C-0245).
The Buffalo is related to the Cougar family of V-hulled protected trucks, and incorporates a frontal blades/shovel attachment for dealing with IED land mines. It has seen service with a number of specialty units in-theater, as noted in David Axe’s recent coverage of the North Dakota National Guard’s 164th Engineer Regiment in Iraq. Also known as “The Claw” to some of the local Islamist paramilitary death-squads, it is heavily armored and has an outstanding safety record – but not a perfect one, and the reason why not is a truly classic story…
In democracies, the politicians vote to determine what the armed forces will get. But how many of them really understand life on the other side of the fence? Quite a few, once upon a time. Now, not so many. Australia’s situation is typical: “About 30 years ago, approximately 40% of federal parliamentarians had served in the ADF in some form. When the ADFPP began in 2001, that figure was no more than 5%.”
So they decided to do something very clever to bridge the divide.
Only the British could look at a bunker-buster bazooka and call it an “Anti-Structures Munition.” Anyway, following a rigorous competition which included full test firings of the weapon and soldier trials, a GBP 40 million ($69.7 million at current exchange) contract to deliver these weapons has just been awarded to Dynamit Nobel Defence. Yes, that Nobel, who makes the Panzerfaust family of weapons. This contract includes combat weapons, training systems, and contractor logistic support for the first five years.
No pictures or details were provided by either the company or the UK MoD, except to describe them as “a new shoulder-launched weapon which will allow the British infantry to defeat hardened structures such as buildings or bunkers more precisely and safely, and without recourse to artillery or air support.” No word on whether the weapons will be thermobaric, either, but Minister for Defence Procurement Lord Drayson did say that:
Philips Medical Systems North America in Bothell, WA received a maximum $35 million firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery contract. It extends for their contract for Imaging Systems, Sub-Systems or Components for a fourth option year, to Feb. 11, 2007. Using services are the US Army, Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps, Veterans Administration, and other Federal Civilian Agencies. Proposals were Web-solicited and one responded. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia in Philadelphia, PA issued the contract (SP0200-02-D-8321).