February 2007 has been an eventful month for the FRES program. Some important milestones were reached, political controversy over the MoD’s medium armored vehicle strategy erupted in the Parliamentary Defence Committee, and the MoD fired back with a response.
EADS, in cooperation with the company Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) of Munich, has developed a multifunctional container for protected personal transport that can accommodate up to 18 people including equipment. TransProtec has undergone a series of blasting tests at Military Technical Centre WTD in Meppen to verify its ability to resist attacks with explosives, sniper fire, shrapnel, and mines. EADS also claims the units provide some resistance to NBC(Nuclear, Biological, Chemical) attacks. TransProtec can easily be transported on different makes of protected trucks, and a hook loading system makes it possible to load and unload the container quickly.
Containerized systems are an emerging military trend. Our own coverage includes other EADS products (vid. the TransHospital), American counterparts like MMIC, and even renewable energy power stations by SkyBuilt et. al. The best collection we’ve found re: containerized military systems in worldwide use, however, is an outside web piece called Think IN the Battle Box. It explores a number of different uses and scenarios for the containerized forces idea, from transportation, to rapid-setup dwellings/bases, to airmobile integration. It’s interspersed with notes from field use and reports of various countries using containerized systems, some highly subjective editorial commentary concerning a number of defense issues, and the systems’ potential as part of a CONOPS (Concept of Operations) in Iraq that has similarities to the new take-and-hold approach. It alternates between hostility-inducing and thought-provoking, but has quite a few interesting ideas and information nuggets buried within.
In recent developments, the German Bundeswehr is now buying ambulance versions of TransProtec, even as EADS sets up an Arkansas facility to make these “deployable shelter systems” available in the USA for disaster relief in hurricane zones, military applications, et. al.
Raytheon Co. in McKinney, TX received a $70.4 million firm-fixed-price contract for production 60 Multi-spectral Targeting System-As (MTS-As) for MQ-1 Predator UAVs, and 5 upgraded MTS-Bs for use on its hunter-killer derivative the MQ-9 Reaper. At this time, $8.6 million have been obligated.
Solicitations began November 2006, negotiations were complete February 2007, and work will be complete August 2008. The Headquarters Aeronautical Systems Center at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, OH issued the contract (FA8620-06-G-4041-0002).
Speck Systems of Hyderabad, India, recently decided to build on its expertise in GIS(Geographic Information Systems) and software, and formed an alliance with Flying Robots of France to manufacture mini and micro UAV solutions. Then their Baaz man-portable, mini Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) was developed even though the Indian Army had not issued any solicitations for such a product. The mini-UAV is about 0.5 m long with a 1.5 m wingspan, and a claimed maximum range/altitude of 10km, maximum speed of 60 kph/ 36 mph, and/or endurance of up to 90 minutes. It has 3-axis, gyro-stabilized day/night cameras from an unspecified manufacturer (though they are partnered with Thales), can be hand or bungee-cord launched, and reportedly requires 20 minutes to assemble.
In response, the Indian Army has stepped outside of bureaucratic norms and invited the company for field trials; the UAV is also lined up for technical demonstration in Thailand, Sri Lanka and South Africa. Speck Systems is reportedly developing a medium altitude long endurance (MALE) UAV counterpart “with a foreign partner.” See full article in the Hindu – though DID notes that Speck appears to be rather older than 11 months. Perhaps The Hindu was referring to the UAV division’s age.
Textron Marine & Land Systems in New Orleans, LA received a $28.4 million modification to a firm-fixed-price contract for Phase II of the Hurricane Katrina Relief Effort for the Armored Security Vehicle Program. This DID article covers many of the extraordinary efforts that were made to restore the building, keep the workforce, and get the M1117 Guardian ASV mine-protected patrol vehicle back into production in order to meet rising US demand.
Work will be performed in New Orleans, LA and is expected to be complete by June 30, 2009. This was a sole source contract initiated on May 9, 2005 by the U.S. Army Tank-Automotive and Armaments Command in Warren, MI (W56HZV-05-C-0470).