abrams
May 13, 2024

Digital Abrams: The M1A2 SEP Program

M1A2 SEP (click to view full) America’s M1 Abrams tanks come in a number of versions. In addition to the M1A1 that is now standard, the US Army is beginning to field its M1 TUSK for urban warfare. It also operates the M1A2 System Enhancement Program (SEP), currently the most advanced standard variant. This Spotlight article covers the M1A2 Abrams SEP upgrade program, and will be updated and backfilled as new contracts are issued and key events take place.
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bradley
May 6, 2024

The US Army's Bradley Remanufacture Program

M3A3 Bradley CFV: Charge! (click to view full) In the 1970s, middle eastern wars demonstrated that tanks without infantry screens were vulnerable to infantry with anti-tank missiles. Unfortunately, armored personnel carriers were easy prey for enemy tanks, and sometimes had trouble just keeping up with friendly tanks like America’s 60+ ton, 50+ mph M1 Abrams. In response, the Americans rethought the armored personnel carrier, taking a page from the Soviet book. They created a more heavily armored, faster “Infantry Fighting Vehicle” named after WW2 General Omar “the soldier’s general” Bradley, and gave it an offensive punch of its own. M2/M3 tracked, armored IFVs can carry infantry – but they also have 25mm Bushmaster cannons, networked targeting sensors, and even TOW anti-armor or Stinger anti-aircraft missiles at their disposal. Bradley puts on wear (click to view full) Even well-serviced vehicles must suffer the pangs of age and wear, however, and the pace of electronics breakthroughs is far faster than the Army’s vehicle replacement cycle. The US Army plans to keep its Bradley fleet for some time to come, and new technologies have made it wise to upgrade part of that fleet while renewing the vehicles. Hence the remanufacture program, which complements […]
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April 24, 2024

Flexible G/ATORs: The USMC's Multi-Mission AESA Ground Radars

G/ATOR diorama (click to view full) The US military’s long run of unquestioned air superiority has led to shortcuts in mobile land-based air defenses, and the US Marines are no exception. A December 2005 release from Sen. Schumer’s office [D-NY] said that: “Current radar performance does not meet operational forces requirements… consequences could potentially allow opposing forces to gain air and ground superiority in future operational areas.” One of the programs in the works to address this gap is the AN/TPS-80 G/ATOR mobile radar system. It’s actually the result of fusing 2 programs: the Multi-Role Radar System (MRRS), and Ground Weapons Locator Radar (GWLR) requirements. When the last G/ATOR software upgrade becomes operational, it will replace and consolidate numerous legacy radars, including the AN/TPS-63 air surveillance, AN/MPQ-62 force control, AN/TPS-73 air traffic control, AN/UPS-3 air defense, and AN/TPQ-36/37 artillery tracking & locating radar systems.
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November 24, 2023

The Fighter Still Remains... The Boxer MRAV APC Family

Boxer MRAV (click to view full) Wheeled armored vehicles have become much more common, but the Dutch-German Boxer stands out from the crowd. Its English acronym is “Multi Role Armoured Vehicle” (MRAV), but rather than being a family of different vehicles, the Boxer will use a single chassis, with snap-in modules for different purposes from infantry carrier to command, cargo, ambulance, etc. The base vehicle has a maximum road speed of 100 km/h (60 mp/h) and an operational range of 1,000 km (600 miles). In its troop carrying configuration, it has a crew of 2 and can carry 10 fully equipped troops. The MRAV is fighting for space in a crowded market, but its principal countries are beginning to give it the front-line credibility it needs to succeed.
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May 17, 2023

Digital Abrams: The M1A2 SEP Program

M1A2 SEP (click to view full) America’s M1 Abrams tanks come in a number of versions. In addition to the M1A1 that is now standard, the US Army is beginning to field its M1 TUSK for urban warfare. It also operates the M1A2 System Enhancement Program (SEP), currently the most advanced standard variant. This Spotlight article covers the M1A2 Abrams SEP upgrade program, and will be updated and backfilled as new contracts are issued and key events take place.
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June 8, 2021

US Army Moves Ahead with V-Hull Strykers

M1126, post-IED (click to view full) Under current plans, the 8×8 wheeled Stryker armored vehicle will be the future backbone of 8 US Army and 1 National Guard medium armored brigades. The 5th Stryker Brigade from Fort Lewis, WA was the first Stryker unit sent to Afghanistan, deployed in the summer of 2009 as part of a troop level increase. The brigade was equipped with 350 Stryker vehicles. In the first few months of deployment, they lost 21 soldiers, with 40 more wounded, to IED land mines. The losses prompted the Army to examine modifications to their Stryker vehicles, in order to make them more resistant to land mines. One result is the Stryker hull redesign, creating the v-hulled Stryker DVH. The US Army is now on pace to order 2 brigades worth, as it moves toward the end of Stryker armored vehicle production.
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May 26, 2021

Have Guns, Will Upgrade: The M109A7 Paladin PIM Self-Propelled Howitzer

Before: M109 & M992 (click to view full) The USA’s 155mm M109 self-propelled howitzers (SPH) were first introduced in 1962, as a form of armored mobile artillery that could stand up to the massed fire tactics of Soviet heavy artillery and rockets. They and their companion M992 Armored Ammunition Resupply Vehicles (AARV) have been rebuilt and upgraded several times, most recently via the M109A6 Paladin upgrade. In the meantime, the Army has re-learned a few home truths. Artillery arrives in seconds rather than minutes or hours, is never unavailable due to bad weather, and cheaply delivers a volume of explosive destruction that would otherwise require hundreds of millions of dollars worth of bombers and precision weapons. Most combat casualties in the gunpowder age have come from artillery fire, and the US Army will need its mobile fleet for some time to come. So, too, will the many countries that have bought the M109 and still use it, unless BAE wishes to cede that market to South Korea’s modern K9/K10 system, or new concept candidates like the KMW/GDLS DONAR. What to do? Enter the Paladin PIM program.
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May 5, 2021

US Military Adds Heavy Trucks Under FHTV-III

Latest updates: Battle for Oshkosh: Will FHTV re-bid copy FMTV mistake? THAAD on HEMTT (click to view full) In 2009, with its bridge buy of FMTV medium trucks in place, and initial awards for the potential JLTV Hummer replacement designs underway, the next order of business on the US Army’s agenda was a new Family of Heavy Tactical Vehicles multi-year contract: FHTV-III. That multi-billion dollar FHTV-III contract has been awarded – not as a re-compete like FMTV, but as a single-source solicitation. Oshkosh has provided the core of this capability for over 20 yeas now. Its Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Trucks (HEMTT) and their 13-ton payloads are the mainstay of the FHTV fleet, serving in variants that include M977/985 Cargo, M978 Fueler, M982/983 Tractors, and M984 Wrecker/Tow; they also serve as heavy transporters for Patriot and THAAD air defense systems. M1074/75 Palletized Load Systems (PLS) and PLS trailers (PLST) are best known for their automated container/pallet loading arms, and for their Universal Power Interface Kit (UPIK) that can add modules for firefighting, construction, cranes, cement mixing, etc. The M1000/1070 Heavy Equipment Transporters (HET) are flatbeds that can transport a 70-ton Abrams tank – or anything less – in order to […]
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July 10, 2020

Days of the Jackal: Supacat's HMT Vehicles

MWMIK Jackal (click to view full) Britain is part of the general push by western countries to field heavier, mine-protected vehicles, via orders for the Mastiff Cougar variant and its smaller 4×4 Ridgback companion. UK forces are also fielding vehicles like the Land Rover WMIK (Weapons Mounted Installation Kit) that have a very different core concept: firepower and visibility over protection. When deployed in mixed groups with more protected vehicles, and used on open terrain like the plains of southern Afghanistan, ‘the porcupine’ (WMIK) has earned enemy respect and commander requests. The British sought to build on the WMIK’s strengths, while asking for a vehicle that offered both greater firepower, and better off-road mobility. In response, Supacat’s High Mobility Transporter (HMT) was adapted, then adopted, by the British (“Jackal”) and by Australia’s SAS commandos (“Nary”). Success led to more British orders for Jackal 2 and HMT 600 “Coyote” designs, and now Australian Special Forces are adding the new Extenda vehicle to their fleet.
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May 21, 2020

Soldier Battle JTRS: The HMS Radio Set + SANR

PRC-154 with 75th RR (click to view full) The Pentagon’s JTRS (Joint Tactical Radio System) aimed to replace existing radios in the American military with a single set of software-define radios that could have new frequencies and modes (“waveforms”) added via upload, instead of requiring multiple radio types in ground vehicles, and using circuit board swaps in order to upgrade. Trying to solve that set of problems across the entire American military meant taking on a very a big problem. Maybe too big. JTRS has seen cost overruns and full program restructurings, along with cancellation of some parts of the program. JTRS HMS (Handheld, Manpack & Small Form-Fit) radios, for use by the individual solder, have survived the tumult, and are now headed into production. They offer soldiers more than just improved communications, and have performed in exercises and on the front lines. Now, production is ramping up.
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May 4, 2020

TPQ-53 Counterfire Radars: Incoming... Where?

EQ-36 concept (click to view full) Firefinder radars track the path of incoming shells, rockets, mortars, etc., and calculate the point they were fired from. Raytheon’s TPQ-36 radar is specifically designed to counter medium range enemy weapon systems out to a range of 24 kilometers, while the TPQ-37 can locate longer-range systems, and even surface launched missiles, out to 50 kilometers. Michael Yon, embedded with 1-24 (“Deuce Four”) in Mosul, offered a first hand description of counter-battery radars’ effect on enemy tactics in 2005. Better radar technologies offer a number of potential advantages for this role, including wider fields of view and less maintenance. Not to mention fewer disruptive, time-sucking false positives for deployed troops. In September 2006, Lockheed Martin began a contract to deliver their “Enhanced AN/TPQ-36” (EQ-36) radars. Despite the close official name and designation, this was a wholly new radar system, from a different company. Orders have begun to accumulate, along with deployments – and, finally, a less confusing designation change to AN/TPQ-53.
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February 6, 2020

Land Panther: Germany's Tracked Puma IFV

Drivers wanted… (click to view full) Germany has always been known for producing excellent armored vehicles. A combination of features that arguably make it the world’s best tank, and fire sale prices stemming from Germany’s rapid disarmament, have made the Leopard 2 the standard main battle tank in Europe and beyond. The same level of innovation and execution was shown in the late 1960s, when Germany’s Marder became the west’s first Infantry Fighting Vehicle (IFV). Designs like the American M2/M3 Bradley, Sweden’s CV90 family and new SEP, Singapore’s Bionix-II, and Korea’s new XK-21 have stepped far beyond that legacy, however, and even the Russian region has continued to update their BMP designs. Meanwhile, the nature of military operations has changed to emphasize modularity, out of country missions, advanced electronic communications, and strong protection against threats like land mines. The Marders need to be replaced, and this became a priority even within Germany’s limited defense budget. In response, German armored vehicle leaders Rheinmetall & KMW formed a 50/50 joint venture to design and produce a solution that would address these issues, and return Germany to a leadership position in the tracked IFV field. Enter the new Puma IFV – which has […]
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November 12, 2019

WCSP: Mid-Life Upgrade for Britain's Warrior IFVs

Warrior in “Wrap-2” (click to view full) Britain’s MCV-80/FV510 Warrior Infantry Fighting Vehicle was produced between 1984 and 1995. Built of all-welded aluminum construction and armed with the 30 mm Rarden cannon, it was designed to destroy enemy armored personnel carriers at ranges of up to 1,500m, while offering a fast, armored battlefield taxi for up to 7 infantry soldiers. These IFVs were pressurized to protect against Soviet chemical and biological weapons, and included a full range of night vision equipment. They served capably during Operation Desert Storm in 1991, were used to maintain the peace in Bosnia/Kosovo, and have found themselves in very high demand on the post 9/11 front lines. Individual programs have improved some vehicles’ optics, radios, and add-on armor, but keeping the fleet in service until 2035 will require more extensive work. Hence the GBP 1 billion Warrior Capability Sustainment Programme (WCSP). In mid-November 2009, BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin UK submitted their bids, but the decision took almost 2 years. Fielding isn’t expected until 2018, but work proceeds.
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September 25, 2019

France Finally Kickstarts Scorpion Land Vehicle Acquisition

Griffon In 2009 France was planning to start delivering by 2015 new multirole armored vehicles to replace a variety of aging infantry vehicles starting, within a large modernization program called Scorpion. But the 2010-14 multiyear budget relied on a number of rosy assumptions that were soon disproved by reality, and the Scorpion program was one of the mismatch’s casualties, along with plans to start working on a second aircraft carrier. Promises were made again in the next 5-year budget plan, while maintenance costs kept increasing to sustain vehicles offering an underwhelming mix of limited protection, autonomy, and mobility. French defense manufacturers also started to sound the alarm as Scorpion became increasingly vital to prevent factory closures. The French DGA defense procurement agency paid heed to their plea and issued a tender limited to national manufacturers. By the end of 2014 the ministry of defense finally initiated the 1st procurement tranche of a program expected to last beyond 2025. On one hand, the expected turnaround from prototype to delivery in 4 to 6 years is tight and will put pressure on contractors, though they started some early conceptual work in 2010. On the other hand this still amounts to a late […]
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July 3, 2019

Digital Raven: Hand-Launched UAV Goes Binary

Latest updates: USAF to use RQ-11Bs at bases worldwide. RQ-11B Raven (click to view full) The RQ-11 Raven is a 4.2-pound, backpackable, hand-launched UAV that provides day and night, real-time video imagery for “over the hill” and “around the corner” reconnaissance, surveillance and target acquisition. Each Raven system typically consists of 3 aircraft, 2 ground control stations, system spares, and related services. The digital upgrades are still designated RQ-11Bs, but they enable a given area to include more Ravens, with improved capabilities. The secret? Using L-band spectrum more efficiently. * Ravin’ bout Ravens: Current Models, and Proposed Upgrades * Contracts and Key Events [updated] * Additional Readings
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February 28, 2019

Double-Jointed & Popular: The Bv Family of Infantry Support Vehicles

A Viking comes ashore The BvS10 is the successor to the wildly popular Bv206, 11,000 of which have been sold to 40 countries around the world – including the USA (M978). Readers may have seen these vehicles elsewhere, too, as a number of Bv206s have post-military careers at ski resorts, in industries like mining and logging, etc. The new BvS-10 is larger and more heavily armored; it’s in use in Britain, France and the Netherlands as a key armored vehicle for their respective Marines, has been bought by Sweden, and is under evaluation elsewhere. International interest includes imitators: Singapore’s Bronco ATTC is a BVS10 competitor, and Finland and Norway have their own local Bv206 variants. What makes this unusual-looking vehicle family and design so popular? They aren’t like Humvees or similar wheeled mainstays. They aren’t full armored personnel carriers, either – they’re armored, but Bv family vehicles can’t take the kind of punishment that a Bradley or LAV can absorb. Instead, the secret to their success lies in a remarkable all-terrain capability, and their ability to fill a rare and critical role: air-portable and amphibious infantry enhancement. These success factors are discussed below, along with contracts and key developments related […]
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January 17, 2019

Turkey & South Korea's Altay Tank Project

South Korea’s XK2 (click to view full) Turkey’s tank fleet is currently made up of American M-48s and M-60s, some of which have been modernized with Israeli cooperation into M-60 Sabra tanks, plus a large contingent of German Leopard 1s and Leopard 2s. That is hardy surprising. America and Germany are Turkey’s 2 most important geopolitical relationships, and this is reflected in Turkey’s choice of defense industry partners. The country’s industrial offset requirements ensure that these manufacturers have a long history of local partnerships to draw upon. In recent years, however, a pair of new players have begun to make an impact on the Turkish defense scene. One was Israel, whose firms specialized in sub-systems, upgrades, and UAVs. The other is the Republic of [South] Korea, who has made inroads in the Turkish market with turboprop training aircraft, mobile howitzers… and now, main battle tanks.
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December 10, 2018

Marine APCs: Peregrinations of the EFV to ACV to MPC to ACV 1.1

AAAV/ EFV, swim mode (click to view full) The US Marine Corps’ AAVP7 Amtracs have been their primary ship to shore amphibious armored personnel carrier for a long time; the AAV7A1 was initially fielded in 1972, and underwent a major service life extension program and product improvement program from 1983-1993. The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle was the USMC’s plan to replace the aging AMTRACS (lit. AMphibious TRACtorS), which saw extensive service deep inland during Operation Iraqi Freedom. The personnel version of the new EFVs would carry a crew of 3, plus a reinforced rifle squad of 17 combat-loaded Marines. A high-tech weapons station would provide firepower, via a stabilized ATK 30mm MK 44 Bushmaster cannon with advanced sights to replace the AAV’s unstabilized .50 caliber machine gun. A command variant would carry an array of communications and computer systems and staff personnel. The EFV remained the U.S. Marine Corps’ top land acquisition priority, even as its price tag and development issues cut its buy sharply. Push finally came to shove in 2010, however, as the USMC realized that it simply couldn’t afford the vehicle, or its performance. That begat a new program called the Amphibious Combat Vehicle (ACV), designed to be […]
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October 22, 2018

Navistar's MaxxPro: 1st Place in MRAP Orders

3BCT-101st, Iraq- no Chavis turrets? (click to view full) Navistar subsidiary International Military and Government LLC (IMG) in, Warrenville, IL has won billions of dollars in MRAP program contracts, to produce several variants of its blast-resistant vehicles. The Category I MRUV vehicle’s role is similar to a Hummer’s, albeit with more carrying capacity and much more protection. That has become a staple for IMG’s entry, dubbed the “MaxxPro” by its manufacturer. Their collaboration with an Israeli firm who provides up-armored vehicles for the Marines successfully overcame lukewarm initial interest, but even successful survivors of Aberdeen’s tests where challenged to offer enough protection against the ERP class of land mines that began to appear in Iraq. Nevertheless, the MRAP program became a production race – and Navistar did very well under those competitive terms. In the end the military’s desire for standardization of its fleets exerted something of a gravitation pull on the competition. A July 2007 order vaulted Navistar into 1st place for initial MRAP Program vehicles ordered, but the US Army is divesting many of its vehicles – creating opportunities for foreign buyers…
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July 23, 2018

Oshkosh's M-ATV

Oshkosh M-ATV (click to view full) “The Government plans to acquire an MRAP All-Terrain Vehicle (M-ATV). The M-ATV is a lighter, off-road, and more maneuverable vehicle that incorporates current MRAP level [bullet and mine blast] protection. The M-ATV will require effectiveness in an off-road mission profile. The vehicle will include EFP (Explosively Formed Projectile land mine) and RPG (Rocket Propelled Grenade panzerfaust) protection (integral or removable kit). The M-ATV will maximize both protection levels and off-road mobility & maneuverability attributes, and must balance the effects of size and weight while attempting to achieve the stated requirements.” — US government FedBizOpps, November 2008 Oshkosh Defense’s M-ATV candidate secured a long-denied MRAP win, and the firm continues to remain ahead of production targets. The initial plan expected to spend up to $3.3 billion to order 5,244 M-ATVs for the US Army (2,598), Marine Corps (1,565), Special Operations Command (643), US Air Force (280) and the Navy (65), plus 93 test vehicles. FY 2010 budgets and subsequent purchases have pushed this total even higher, and orders now stand at over 8,800 for the USA, plus another 800 for the UAE.
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