MRAPs and New Wheeled APCs for Spain
Western militaries are quickly coming to the realization that the light Land Rover, G-Wagen, and HMMWV type flat bottom vehicles deployed as light troop transports are no longer adequate on a non-linear battlefield with no defined front lines, in a world where the technology for making improvised and professional land mines is proliferating globally. Spain has been late to this realization, and the Ministerio de Defensa has been the target of criticism for that lateness. Spanish soldiers have also been targets: 4 successful land mine attacks in the 16 months leading up to Spain’s MRAP decision had killed 10 soldiers and a translator (6 in Lebanon, 5 in Afghanistan).
In November 2007, with 4 months to go before elections, the situation in Spain shifted. The Spanish Council of Ministers announcement amounted to a major MRAP(Mine Resistant, Ambush Protected) Class I and Class II program for Spain. The program will replace/supplement its VAMTAC (Vehiculo de Alta Movilidad Ta¡ctica, a licensed HMMWV) and recently-acquired Anibal (Land Rover derivative) vehicles by 2009. Over the longer term, Spain will also replace its 6×6 BMR(Blindados Medios de Ruedas = Armored Medium Wheeled) Armored Personnel Carriers. The 575+ vehicle acquisition program is sketched out, the finalists are lined up, and a program to buy wheeled APCs will follow.
While the winners for the first 2 phases are clear, purchase and delivery are taking a long time. The winning vehicles have yet to be deployed to the front lines, and the issue has become a political controversy in Spain. Meanwhile, the government has signed a contract now for RG-51 Mk5E stretched vehicles. They’ve also started deploying the Iveco MLV to Afghanistan…
- Spain’s MRAP Plan & Programs
- Contracts & Key Events [updated]
Spain’s MRAP Plan & Programs
Taken as a whole, the plan provides for an investment of EUR 321 million (about $450 million) to buy 575 vehicles over the 2007-2013 period “in line with the production capacity of the industry”.
The immediate phase involves EUR 14.4 million for 40 mine-resistant vehicles, for delivery between the end of 2007 and the first quarter of 2008. This will be procured outside of the competition by direct negotiation, for rapid deployment abroad.
The first regular phase involving a competition will run from during 2007-2009. The MdD will buy 220 mine-resistant vehicles at a cost of about EUR 143 million, in order to meet current commitments abroad. The plan provides for 120 “MRAP-I/squad” type vehicles (4-5 troops carried) and 100 “MRAP-II/platoon” type vehicles (8-10 troops carried), which should be delivered before the end of 2009. A winner has now been chosen in each of these categories, and deliveries are underway.
In the second phase during 2009-2010, The MdD will invest another EUR 178 million in another 355 mine-resistant vehicles: 275 MRAP-I/squad and 80 MRAP-II/platoon. Deliveries will continue in stages from 2010-2013.
In December 2007, El Pais reported that the MdD was already looking at a set of MRAP finalists:
- MRAP I/squad, carries 4-5 soldiers: Iveco’s MLV/Panther, KMW’s Dingo-2, GD MOWAG’s Eagle IV. Iveco won.
- MRAP II/platoon, carries 8-10 soldiers: BAE/GD RG-31E, RAFAEL’s Golan. Despite El Pais report, the Dingo-2 was actually part of this set, but finished 3rd in testing. The RG-31 Mk5E has reportedly won.
Spain’s MdD has existing relationships with all of the firm’s listed as finalists by El Pais.
Iveco makes the Army’s Centauro heavy wheeled APCs/assault guns. That relationship has now expanded to include its MLV/Panther mine resistant vehicles, which began testing in Spain in 2006. Spain joins Italy, Britain, Belgium, and Norway as MLV customers.
General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas is Spain’s premier military land vehicle firm. They provide the Army’s artillery, its Pizarro tracked IFVs, and its existing BMR 6×6 wheeled APCs and VEC 6×6 cavalry scout vehicles. General Dynamics’ MOWAG subsidiary builds the LAVs used by the Spanish Marines.
MOWAG ‘s Eagle IV is based on a Duro-II truck frame, instead of a Hummer chassis like previous Eagle designs. It has received orders from Switzerland and Denmark, but ranked behind the Iveco MLV in Spain and was not ordered.
The RG-31/31E is manufactured by BAE OMC of South Africa, but it is offered to US and Canadian forces via a partnership involving General Dynamics and a Crown Corporation of the Canadian government. Spanish RG-31E vehicles will be built in partnership with General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas.
RAFAEL equips Spanish forces with a number of products, including the Spike anti-armor missiles recently chosen as Spain’s next generation weapon for troops and helicopters. The Golan has an additional advantage in that it is designed from the outset to withstand hits from high-caliber cannon fire, RPG anti-tank rockets, and advanced EFP(Explosively Formed Penetrator) land mines, thanks to the explosive reactive armor that is an integral part of the vehicle. It finished second in the evaluations, but the competition was not a total loss – RAFAEL’s Samson remote weapons system will equip Spain’s RG-31 Mk5Es.
KMW manufactures Spain’s Leopard 2E tanks, in partnership with General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas. Its Dingo 2 did not win the competition, placing 3rd in evaluations.
Finally, the third phase will induct a new generation of wheeled armored personnel carriers into Spain’s army. El Pais’ report specifies “en principio, en version ocho por ocho ruedas- dotados de modulos intercambiables, de forma que la misma plataforma pueda reconvertirse en solo una hora en un vehiculo de transporte de tropas, centro de mando o ambulancia.” (translated: “in principle, an 8×8 wheel vehicle equipped with interchangeable modules, so that the same platform can be converted in just one hour in a vehicle transporting troops, command center or ambulance.”)
If El Pais is correct, some form of local design and production is also a possibility; indeed, the reality of weapons sales on this level is that some form of local offsets and cooperation are a must. Strong wheeled APC candidates include the ARTEC (Stork/KMW) consortium’s modular Boxer MRAV, and GD MOWAG’s Piranha IV-V, due to these firm’s strong relationships and production arrangements in Spain. Other possibilities include GD Steyr’s Pandur II, Nexter’s VBCI, and Patria’s AMV.
Contracts & Key Events
Nov 21/09: Minister of Defence Carme Chacon emphasizes the need for 8×8 armored personnel carriers, and also discusses needing more protected 4×4 vehicles. Spain’s MDE [in Spanish].
Oct 21/08: Spain’s Ministry of Defence (MDE) issues a release discussing the deployment of some Iveco Lince MLVs to Afghanistan. The release says that 17 Linces were initially deployed to Herat, but have been transferred to Qala-i-Naw to work with the Spanish Provincial Reconstruction Team there.
The accompanying photos also show large, crude gun shields up top for the vehicle’s machine gunner. See also June 25/08 entry.
Sept 2/08: General Dynamics announces a EUR 64.6 million ($102 million) contract from the Spanish Government to supply 100 RG-31 Mk5E vehicles for the Army: 85 standard personnel carriers, 10 Ambulances, and 5 Command Post variants. The contract calso calls for integration of Remote Controlled Weapon Station (RCWS) turrets, and ongoing support.
General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas, as prime contractor, will provide program management, engineering and logistic support. BAE Systems Land Systems OMC of South Africa will supply the vehicles as a subcontractor to General Dynamics. Work under the contract is expected to be completed by 2009, but the contract includes an option for a 2nd phase of 80 more vehicles that would involve some manufacturing in Spain
June 27/08: The Spanish Council of Ministers announces their approval of a EUR 75 million contract for 100 RG-31E MRAP vehicles. The contract includes RAFAEL’s Samson family of remotely-controlled weapon stations, as well as vehicle logistics support in theater in Afghanistan and Lebanon. The government says that it hopes to have 40 vehicles delivered by year-end, with the balance to follow in 2009.
The releases and reports mention that the delivery schedule is still being negotiated, and a formal contract with General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas hasn’t been signed yet. Reports expect a contract in July 2008, though defense minister Carme Chacon is currently away on maternity leave. Reports also indicate that the compressed delivery schedule is likely to limit Spanish industrial participation, and lead to a greater percentage of the vehicles being manufactured abroad. CdM notification | Infodefensa.
June 25/08: An Infodefensa story covers the fact that Spain has’t been able to deploy its Iveco MLV Lince light MRAP vehicles in Afghanistan and Lebanon. Apparently the contract award in March 2007 did not include enough spare parts given Afghanistan and Lebanon’s harsh conditions. Operational evaluation also revealed that the machine gunner up top did not have adequate protection, and the defence ministry is reportedly looking for a firm to undertake that work.
Perhaps they might wish to look into American front-line innovations like the Chavis Turret, which could also be retrofitted to Spain’s VAMTAC Hummer derivatives.
June 23/08: The Partido Popular’s Congressional Defence Committee spokesman Beatriz Rodriguez-Salmon demands that the Ministry of Defence “accelerate” the purchase of MRAP vehicles, which had been approved by the Council of Ministers in November 2007. Europa Press.
May 14/08: Spanish defense and security bloggers renew their public campaign for MRAP vehicles, which have been promised since September 2007, under the slogan “MRAPs Para Nuestros Tropas Ya! Complacency Kills. Ni Una Baja as.” (‘MRAP for our troops now!. Complacency kills. No more Deaths’).
April 26/08: The Spanish government’s BOE site announces a EUR 24.7 million/ $38.5 million contract with Iveco to deliver 80 new 4×4 MLV/ Lince vehicles. See also Feb 15/08 entry, which covers the approval to negotiate this contract.
Feb 21/08: Europa Press reports that BAE OMC’s RG-31 Mk5E has won the second phase of the Spanish MRAP competition, for a squad level vehicle. The report says that 100 fully-equipped vehicles will be ordered, at a cost of about EUR 100 million ($150 million).
The RG-31 Mk5E is a larger version of the RG-31 in service with a number of militaries and with the UN, and is also one of the USA’s Category II MRAP vehicles, with 610 ordered to date. Spain’s General Dynamics Santa Barbara Sistemas will be the vehicle integrator, and armament will include RAFAEL’s Samson remote weapon system that can be fired from inside the vehicle.
Europa Press reports that RAFAEL’s Golan vehicle came in 2nd in the Spanish evaluations, though the criteria were unspecified. KMW’s Dingo-2 reportedly came in 3rd. Deliveries are expected to begin in 2008, and end in 2009.
Feb 15/08: Spain’s council of Ministers approves the acquisition of another 80 Iveco Lince MLVs. Iveco Spain has already delivered 10 under the 40-vehicle December 2007 order, and the rest are expected before April 2008. This second set of 80 vehicles will be delivered throughout 2008, at which point the 120 vehicle requirement for mine-resistant patrol vehicles will be complete. Government release.
Dec 18/07: The Spanish Goverment’s Official Bulletin confirms the purchase of 40 IVECO MLVs for EUR 12.4 million, which is less than the budgeted amount. There is no news concerning accompanying IED jammers or remote control weapons stations, and reader Pedro Lucio informs us that the first 10 MLV are now in Spain.
Nov 14/07: Europa Press reports that Spain has selected Iveco’s MLV for its EUR 14.4 million, 40 vehicle rush order, joining fellow customers in Belgium, Britain, Italy and Norway. The Spanish armed forces already use Iveco trucks in transport roles.
See “Norway Rush-Orders Mine-Resistant Iveco MLVs” for more details re: the Iveco MLV and its system of mine protection, which goes considerably beyond the standard v-hull approach. The vehicles have yet to be fully tested on the battlefield, however, as deliveries are just beginning from the Iveco Defence Vehicle Division in Bolzano, Northern Italy.
The vehicle will be known as the “Lince” (Lynx) in Spanish service.
Additional Readings & Sources
- Reporting contributed by DID subscriber Pedro Lucio.
- Ejercito de Terra – List of Equipment: Espanol | English. Includes Anibal, VAMTAC/Rebeco, and BMR. The VEC 6×6 cavalry scout vehicles, Centauro heavy wheeled APCs and Pizarro tracked IFV combat vehicles will remain in their niches, accompanied by the Leopard 2E (2A6) tanks.
- Infodefensa (Late Nov/07) – La sudafricana BAE Land Systems ofrece a EspaÃ±a sus vehÃculos antiminas RG-31 Mk5E
- Spanish Council of Ministers (Nov 2/07) – El Consejo De Ministros Aprueba La AdquisiciÃ³n De 40 VehÃculos Blindados Con CarÃ¡cter Urgente
- El Pais (Nov 2/07) – El EjÃ©rcito gastarÃ¡ 320 millones en blindados diseÃ±ados contra minas
- Centre d’Estudis Estrategics de Catalunya (Oct 25/07) – Losing BMRs. Going to MRAP? Some tanks needed?
Mine-Resistant and Scout Vehicles
- DID Spotlight article – General Dynamics Wins MRAP Orders of Its Own. Covers the RG-31 and stretched RG-31E.
- GD MOWAG – Eagle 4×4
- DID – Norway Rush Orders Mine-Resistant Iveco MLVs. The article explains the vehicle’s different approach to mine-resistance.
- KMW – Dingo 2 Wheeled Vehicle. The Bundeswehr recently increased its order. KMW is also offering the larger Grizzly mine-resistant vehicle, which is currently more of a design than a production item.
- DID (March 8/07) – MRAP Advance Purchase #2: Oshkosh, PVI & GD. Explains the features of the RAFAEL/PVI Golan vehicle in detail. See also this explanation of EFP land mines, what makes them different, and the challenge they are posing in Iraq.
- DID FOCUS Article – The Fighter Still Remains: The Boxer MRAV APC Family
- Army Technology – Piranha III / LAV III Wheeled Armoured Vehicles, Switzerland. Also includes some Piranha IV coverage.
- Army Technology – Pandur II 6×6 and 8×8 Light Armoured Vehicles, Austria
- DID Focus Article – VBCI: France’s Wheeled APC
- Army Technology – Patria AMV (Armoured Modular Vehicle) 8×8 Wheeled Vehicle, Finland