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07 July 2015

RUSI Land Warfare Conference Recap

The UK’s Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Michael Fallon has called upon the British Army to, “adopt and accommodate,” the higher technology wars of the future, the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) Land Warfare Conference heard earlier this month. Addressing delegates in London on 1 July, Fallon described how the UK was now living in a, “darker world,” emphasising the advent of hybrid warfare and cyber attack. “This has changed the rules of the game,” Fallon asserted.

But we must go further….We can’t defend the country without a strong army and this is why we are maintaining our manifesto pledge to maintain the existing size of the regular and reserve forces and considering what the army’s future role should be?”

Describing ongoing work regarding the UK government’s forthcoming Security and Defence Strategic Review (SDSR), Fallon highlighted three emerging themes regarding the assessment of threats and capabilities required to best deploy the forces for homeland security. Themes included “productivity; innovation; and internationalism.”

Referring to productivity, Fallon described ongoing commitments in Sierra Leone (medical support), Nepal (Humanitarian aid), Iraq (training of Peshmerga forces) and Kabul (mentoring of Afghan National Security Forces) with 46,000 armed forces personnel deploying to 40 countries so far in 2015. “We can’t expect the threat to diminish and we have to work smarter,” he said while promoting the government’s GBP900 million 10-year contract with Babcock to maintain, repair and restore the army’s vehicles and thereby allowing the service to concentrate on delivering effect on the battlefield. Turning his attention to innovation, Fallon described how the 2011 SDSR had recognised how the army had to be more flexible in a multi-threat environment with the introduction of the Army 2020 concept. “We are now seeing that future force emerge, prepared and equipped with a GBP160 million equipment plan allowing us to bring urgent operational requirements such as the FOXHOUND and MASTIFF protected patrol vehicles into service as well as the cutting edge SCOUT vehicle.”

Fallon also revealed that a GBP150 million contract has been signed with CTA International for 40mm cased telescope cannon and airburst ammunition for the SCOUT vehicle. “77 Brigade involves striving to be masters of the narrative, debunking misinformation spread by adversaries. These army pioneers understand you can’t win the war without winning the battle of hearts and minds,” he added.

Referring to the SDSR’s focus on international cooperation, Fallon urged there was “no question of the UK sitting this out. When a gunman can slaughter innocent british tourists on a beach in Tunisia; Islamic State (IS) continues its murderous rampage across Iraq and Syria; large-scale migration from North Africa; and Russian expansion threatening our NATO allies; we have to defend with all our hearts. Global problems like these require global solutions.”

In line with this strategy, Fallon described how the UK was planning to send another 125 troops to boost counter-IED training of Iraq’s security forces and outlined how 3,000 troops had been deployed in eastern Europe as part of NATO Immediate Assurance measures in collaboration with Poland, Latvia and Lithuania. Additionally, he also described efforts to, “step up,” the programme for medical, infantry and logistics training to the Ukrainian armed forces, as well as ongoing commitments to the NATO Very High Readiness Task Force and plans to stand up a Joint Task Force with France in 2016. Referring to ongoing operations against IS, Fallon said: “It will be a long and hard campaign and the measure of success will be how the Iraqi government must be capable of delivering security to the country. IS is a very direct threat to our way of life and our citizens and we are looking at and making an assessment that will help frame the SDSR itself.

Finally, Fallon assured delegates that the UK government would meet NATO expenditure limits (2%  of GDP) in 2015 with planning budgets for 2016 through to 2019 due to be published later this year.

Senior NATO commanders have described the contemporary operating environment and in particular current threats emerging from Russia, China and Islamic State (IS). Speaking on the “Persistent Engagement” and “Applying Land Power” panels at the RUSI Land Warfare Conference, service officials described highly complex and hybrid operating environments, requiring NATO partners to exploit the joint operations concept across the services and connect with other government agencies According to Maj.Gen. Almantas Leika, commander of the Lithuanian Land Force, the threat of Russian armed forces on the country’s eastern border proved the nation state was witnessing “evolving capabilities” with Russian forces now skilled in conducting information operations and propaganda including “strategic surprises” and the “opportunist employment of instruments.” In April, Ukraine released imagery which it said supported claims that Russian special forces were operating in a clandestine capacity in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Lt.Gen. HR McMaster, director, US Army capabilities integration center, described how Russia was conducting a, “limited war for limited objectives.” He highlighted how Russia was using unconventional forces and a very sophisticated campaign of propaganda and political subversion  in order to achieve their strategic objectives.

We are seeing state and non-state threats with the likes of Russia and China using unconventional means to undermine security,” McMaster said. However, referring to any counter-strategies to be engaged by NATO must be able to consolidate any gains made in the future.

Sir Graeme Lamb, Senior Associate Fellow at RUSI described the contemporary operating environment as an “autonomous war,” featuring independent and self-determining actions outside the control of participating NATO nations.

This century is different. We’re connecting but we’re just not informed and in that space you can do a great deal of damage, It’s science fact, not just science fiction with individuals capable of bringing industrial violence to bear,” Lamb explained. “It’s no longer war away from the masses or among the masses. It’s war by the masses!

Finally, Lt.Gen. Timothy Evans, commander of the NATO Allied Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) reiterated that the organisation would achieve Full Operational Capability in 2016- a year before the UK takes over a the ARRC framework nation. Designed to provide a “lead fighting brigade” and with access at anytime to three of 11 NATO Special Operations Forces pledged to the concept, the ARRC is aimed at providing a more flexible command and control (C2) concept of operations for the Alliance. The ARRC will participate in Exercise “Arrcade Fusion” in the Baltic States towards the end of the year, designed to test and develop interoperability amongst various force elements from the NATO Alliance at short-notice and with support of a Joint Task Force headquarters. Arrcade Fusion 2014 comprised theatre-level operations as well as air and sea command integration with land operations.

The commander of the UK Ministry of Defence’s (MoD’s) Joint Forces Command, General Sir Richard Barrons, has outlined a hit list of technology uplifts allowing the armed forces to conduct warfare in the “information age.” Speaking to delegates on 30 June, Barrons paid particular attention to processing power; the military use of space; and unmanned technology. “The nature of warfare doesn’t really change. It is hard, brutal, visceral and irrational. We threaten to use force or apply force,” Barrons explained with reference to ongoing activities to counter IS in Iraq and Syria, Russian competition across NATO boundaries, and nationalistic events in the South China Sea. “But the character of conflict does change over time and as we move into the information age, military capability follows it.”

Specifically, Barrons highlighted three areas which he said the UK armed forces should pay particular focus to. The first included optimal processing power of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data; miniaturisation of sensor payloads; data mining; and the exploitation of open source intelligence (OSINT) and social media.

Second, he called for increased military use of “space” with requirements for higher resolution of satellite and airborne intelligence image intelligence (IMINT); appetite for longer range; improved precision and stealth capabilities; and flexibility in future munition warheads.

Finally, in the realm of unmanned technology, Barrons described the, “evolution of robotics and autonomous systems,” as well as new forms of capability to launch complex weapon systems and sensors.

Hypothesising about a layered ISR approach, he outlined a concept of operation centred around multiple geostationary (GEO) satellites with 0.6m resolution; and ability to house a synthetic aperture radar payload. In the commercial space, he acknowledged developments being made in low earth orbit (LEO) military and nuclear-hardened satellites (capable of withstanding High Altitude Nuclear Electro-Magnetic Pulse threats), each comprising a cheaper alternative with two-year lifespan. Additionally, he called upon hybrid air vehicles and high altitude long endurance (HALE) unmanned vehicles to provide three to four months in loitering capability for communications and ISR support as well as a study as to how air-breathing ISR assets can best operate in an Anti-Access Area Denied (A2AD) environment. “85% of intelligence used is coming from OSINT but we need data scientists and analysts to turn this into visual data and show us how best to use it,” Barrons explained while highlighting how IS hosted Twitter and Facebook profile in 23 different languages.

Discussing cyber warfare, he called for more integration of cyber operations into wider deployment of the armed forces. “Cyber is just another part of full spectrum targeting and part of the interaction of states versus non-states and we need to draw on expertise of civil society,” he stated.

Finally, he hailed the development of robotics and autonomy as two “great advantages” now available to armed forces and urged the British Army to consider options to replace personnel and working dogs in dangerous situations such as Explosive Ordnance Disposal and compound breaches with robotic systems.

The British Army’s Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Nicholas Carter, has called for the UK’s armed forces to “fight smarter” in a contemporary and future operating environment which he described as the “Hot Peace.” Addressing delegates, Carter explained how current warfare appeared “short of war,” with the British armed forces learning “significant” lessons from recent campaigns in Afghanistan and Iraq about the use of land power. “The character of conflict has evolved with anybody now able to look into what we are doing on the battlefield. Enemies are indistinguishable from the population and our success is now judged through [their] perception. We have to get used to the political objectives getting much harder to define with manoeuvres becoming more multi-dimensional than they were,” Carter said while describing integration as the “new operational art” form.

We have to become more adaptable and agile and provide policy makers more options than in the past, with an orchestration of range of different units, not necessarily under our control,” he added.

Describing how greater levels of efficiency could be generated if all instruments of national power were orchestrated together, Carter also stressed the importance of developing relationships and trust with partner nations, highlighting French operations in Mali as a positive example.

Referring to multi-national operations, Carter stressed interoperability as “fundamental” in moving forward, citing the British Army’s 3rd Battalion, The Parachute Regiment, jumping and “properly integrating” with US airborne counterparts in Fort Bragg earlier this year. “Interoperability has to be taken to another level,” he urged.

In the tactical environment, Carter also called for a “new direction,” capable of being scaleable, modular and distributed and able to deploy smaller headquarters which might not need to employ with the full orchestra of assets. “The Divisional-level is essential and the level at which we would fight wars, allowing us to act independently in those circumstances to plan and execute simultaneous tactical engagements,” he continued while describing how the 77th Brigade (formerly the Security Assistance Group) had been expanded to aggregate a new form of warfare through non-kinetic means. The brigade was rebranded in January as part of the Army 2020 concept with a remit to collaborate with cross-government agencies in defence engagement and building stability overseas strategies.

Furthermore, he called for a new approach in handling the numerous and diverse sources of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) information. Referring to the 1st ISR Brigade, also created under Army 2020 and which became operational in September, Carter described how integration of air and land assets must be taken to “another level.”

The ISR Brigade reports to the Force Troops Command with responsibility for all of the army’s ISR capabilities including Electronic Warfare, Signals Intelligence, target acquisition and UAVs.

Referring to the Russian threat on NATO’s eastern border, Carter acknowledged the information battlespace as a very “sophisticated area to operate in” before describing the Cyber domain as a threatre in which anybody could participate.

Dealing with non-state threats, do we need a different solution?” he asked. “We need to be more readier everywhere and require a rather different range of contingencies than we have had in the past.”
Andrew White 

06 July 2015

Jungle Warriors in the Making

Almost 1,800km from the sea and 5,000 from the source of the Amazon river, the 2.2 million inhabitants of the city of Manaus live in the steamy, hot and humid climate that immediately springs to mind on mention of the word Amazon. What better place than this, then, to train and educate Brazil’s jungle warriors? Situated close to the urban sprawl that is the city, the Centro Instrucao de Guerre na Selva (CIGS or Jungle Warfare Training School) is a fifty year old institution that has established itself as one of the world’s leading jungle warfare training facilities.

A sign at the entrance to the Centro Colonel Jorge Texeira, housing the CIGS, welcomes visitors to “The Home of the Brazilian Jungle Warrior,” and offers an integrated series of instructional and educational facilities that sit alongside research and development activities that have already provided insights into the physiological and psychological stresses unique to the jungle environment. CIGS – which is soon to undergo perhaps the most fundamental change in its half century history – is truly a hidden jewel.

Commandant of CIGS, Coronel Alcimar Marques de Araujo Martins, explains that the central structure of training is divided into three main courses: the ‘C’ Course, aimed at Sergeants at the squad and platoon command level; the ‘B’ Course, catering for Lieutenants and Captains at the platoon and company level; and the ‘A’ Course, which provides training for more senior officers at the Major and Colonel commanding companies and battalion levels. The important fact, Alcimar points out, is that the objective of all the courses is “to teach command in a jungle environment” – so in a sense, this is a “train the trainers” approach to developing jungle warfare expertise.

Since the first course at CIGS in February of 1967 – which consisted of 31 sergeants – the number of students enrolled in the ‘B’ and ‘C’ Courses has grown to a typical level of 120 students per 10 week course, each of which are held three times per year. Competition for places on the courses is fierce, with some 350 applications for 120 places on the last course, according to Alcimar. The senior officer course is a slightly less intense eight weeks in duration, though the same level of physical and mental stress is applied to students.

Challenging, exhausting and providing a ‘journey into self’ for the successful applicants, the esprit de corps that results from graduating the CIGS is palpable among the staff and alumni. The unique symbols of a graduate include the distinctive gorro headdress, the onça or jaguar badge (the school has a total of nine jaguars ‘on strength) and, perhaps most prized – because the graduate has to purchase it with his own funds – the facao, a sword-knife reminiscent of the medieval falchion and bearing more than a passing resemblance to the modern machete.

The onça possesses strength, agility and intelligence – attributes the school strives to instil and exploit among its students and hence the reason for the creature’s adoption as its de facto mascot, according to Alcimar. The school’s staff also share the animal’s character – some 498 fully committed staff, including 58 officers and sergeants, provide instruction ranging from methods of surviving in a hostile environment to special warfare techniques such as patrolling, river navigation and crossing procedures and individual weapons skills – firing standard weapons in the jungle requires very different skills from those employed in more traditional combat environments.

Alcimar shows justifiable pride in the quality and motivation of the CIGS cadre. “They are selected from among many applicants, they are motivated to succeed, they are experts in the techniques we teach and they are fully committed to supporting and training the students,” he says, going on to explain that the an individual instructor will spend up to 2,500 hours per year in the jungle surrounding Manaus: an average for a student attending one of the ‘B’ or ‘C’ courses runs some 1,100 hours, by comparison.

There are several large training areas in the local area available to CIGS for training. Two of them – the so-called Devil’s Square of 115,000 hectares and the Juma training area of 96,000 – are each well over twice the size of urban Manaus. Students live in the jungle throughout the course, for which the administrative planning schedules show activities and events pretty much 24/7 – many of which are unexpected from the students’ perspective, adding to the desired levels of stress and uncertainty staff seek to inject into the training.

Students become infinitely familiar with the issues of survival in the Amazon jungle: finding food and water from the environment, being aware of the potential dangers of predatory animals, snakes and poisonous plants, being stealthy and covert in movement – the list of issues the student has to keep in mind at all times is practically endless. Which is what makes successful graduation a prize to be relished by the individual. In its history, 5,825 soldiers and officers have graduated from CIGS – and every one of them knows his unique number on that list, as Paulo-Edouardo Ribeiro, a former Colonel who graduated the course in 1991, confirmed.

Of that number of nerly 6,000, a total of 474 officers and NCOs have come from countries other than Brazil. Over 300 have come from neighbouring Latin American nations, but well over 100 have come from Europe (with France dominating the nationalities – though many ‘French’ students are, in fact, from the Légion Étrangère and not necessarily French nationals, therefore) and a significant number from the United States. There is some justification for the assertion that CIGS and the US Marine Corps’ own jungle warfare training facility lead the pack in terms of pre-eminent establishments of their kind across the globe.

Nor does the range of CIGS activities stop at ‘mere’ training: the zoo attached to the facility houses over 200 animals of various sorts, all local to the Amazon jungle and all contributing to the considerable research the centre engages in as well as providing a reference collection for familiarisation. It is open to the local civilian population and apparently well patronised by them – which makes the fact that lack of external funding may well put the facility at risk, given the stresses placed on the Army’s budget currently.

There is hope, however. Plans at the Army Chief of Staff level to make CIGS the centre of one of the planned six integrated warfare training centres around Brazil mean that there are ambitious plans to expand the campus, integrate other training methodologies and facilities with the existing ones, and provide the basis for expanding the crucial contribution CIGS makes to the medical understanding and treatment of uniquely Amazonian ailments.

“Small, but beautifully formed” is a phrase that springs to mind after visiting CIGS. Commitment, expert knowledge, strong motivation and a highly developed sense of esprit de corps are revealed in every comment made by Alcimar and his staff. Perhaps the most telling comment, though, comes from an unidentified soldier in a video shown to demonstrate the Centre’s breadth of activity in the “7.5 million square kilometres of mystery and danger” that is the Amazon basin. “Change is the key to survival….and here we change their DNA.” Words to live by…
Tim Mahon, reporting from Manaus, State of Amazonas, Brazil

26 June 2015

Return to Conventional Ops

After more than a decade concentrating on counterinsurgency (COIN) operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, more conventional warfare is making a comeback, according to senior defence sources. Speaking at the Soldier Technology 2015 conference in London on 24 June, Barry, Senior Fellow for Land Warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) proclaimed the return of artillery and described mature tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) being adopted by Islamic State (IS) fighters in northern Iraq and Syria. “IS captured artillery [from Iraqi security forces] and attacked Ramadi in a sandstorm,” he explained while describing how they had adapted TTPs in order to best concentrate their force elements before attacking the town. He also described how ground reconnaissance units had identified Iraqi government strongholds and gaps in the line through which armoured columns were manoeuvred.

Similarly, Barry outlined how the attack on Ramadi had been preceded by days of indirect fire (IDF) by artillery pieces before an assault was initiated from multiple directions, including tactically place fire support elements designed to counter Iraqi Security Forces rotary-wing assets. During the assault itself, IS fighters used Suicide Vest Improvised Explosive Devices (SVIEDs) and Suicide Vehicle Borne IEDs (SVBIEDs), sometimes mounted on bulldozers and captured armoured vehicles, to breach an entry point before following up with combatants equipped with small arms.

The tactics and capabilities of ‘Combined Arms’ are back,” Barry stated before describing how NATO and coalition partners must consider protection against indirect fire (IDF); equipping of infantry squads with sufficient anti-armour munitions; and an ability to counter the active protection systems of armoured fighting vehicles.

Meanwhile, delegates debated how best to equip infantry platoons and squads in light of an ever evolving operating environment with many advocating a “golf bag” type approach allowing a squad or section to cherry pick the best weapon systems and C4ISTAR (Command & Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance) equipment for particular missions. Barry described how the changing operating environment had begun to reflect in different ideas at the tactical level as to how best to equip and organise infantry force elements in combat: “There needs to be diversity in the infantry squad in relation to size and weapons mix.”

Comparing the 13-strong US Marine Corps (USMC) Squad to smaller 8-10 man teams employed elsewhere in the World, Barry stated: “With modern infantry fighting vehicles, you have to accept you’re going to fit less personnel in them because of the decreasing size, weight and power of the vehicles and the increasing equipment carried by the soldiers.”

Reflecting on lessons learned from operations in Afghanistan, New Zealand Defence Force programme manager for the Network Enabled Army, Phil Collett explained how sections had been overmatched and outmanoeuvred, resulting in a change in weapon calibre. NZDF units operating with 5.56mm Steyr assault rifles were outgunned by Taliban fighters armed with 7.62mm AK47 rifles. This, Collett explained, resulted in the replacement of the 5.56mm Light Machine Gun with a 7.62mm variant as well as the introduction of High Explosive 40mm grenades and Anti-Tank Guided Munitions. “We have to be masters of all trades,” he warned.

But continuing the theme of lethality, Collett said once you’ve upgrade from 5.56mm to 7.62mm and eventually up to .50-cal ammunition, the “next step” is to control joint assets to bring in close air support and rocket, artillery and mortar fires.

We will continue to develop but this suits our current needs and purposes,” he proclaimed.

Elsewhere, Brigadier General Norbert Huber, Director of Armament and Procurement at the Austrian Ministry of Defence called for squads being capable of deploying their own “organic and inorganic” fires, explaining: “This will remain a key to the future role of the infantry section or squad.”

Additionally, he described communications and situation awareness as “key” to future requirements and said software defined radios were a “step in the right direction” although NATO should be looking more at commercial off-the-shelf products.

He also highlighted robotics as a growth area, saying: “If i can reduce the role of the foot soldier and get things done by machines, that is one option we should look into.”

Finally, Huber warned that it was impossible to predict the future character of conflict (FCOC), describing how NATO had failed to foresee events in Crimea and Syria. 

Austrian Ministry of Defence (MoD) Outlines Future Protection Plans

The Austrian Ministry of Defence (MoD) described an emphasis on protection and lethality as it progresses with its soldier modernisation efforts, the Soldier Technology conference heard this week. Speaking at the event in London on 24 June, Johannes Bogner, Soldier Modernisation Programme Manager at the MoD explained how the transformation of the Austrian Armed Forces continued to take shape after its role expanded from an initial focus on homeland defence to operations abroad.

Describing how the country was aiming to be able to deploy an infantry battlegroup, Bogner said: “Protection of our personnel is our top priority, followed by protected mobility. New threats require a broad range of equipment available but the economic crisis means we have budget restrictions for the army.”

The Austrian MoD’s main effort, Bogner said, was to achieve a complete and integrated system capable of net-centric operations while being modular and adaptable in nature.

The challenge is that we have to see the soldier as a human being and not overload him physically or psychologically,’ he continued while describing the wide ranging spectrum of operational scenarios he is coming up against including symmetric and asymmetric warfare in all environments and climates, as well as in collaboration with coalition partners, non-government organisations and in changing cultural settings. Bogner also highlighted requirements to stick to rules of engagement as well as multi-role capabilities of the dismounted soldiers.

Austria’s soldier modernisation effort has been broken down into two programmes, including the Soldier 2018 (formerly Soldier 2015) effort and the Future Soldier (Soldat der Zukunft) concept which anticipates procurement of equipment from 2020 and beyond.

The focus of the Soldier 2018 concept heavily centres around personnel protection including combat helmet, ears and eyes protection, CBRN protection, night vision and body armour. Additionally, it covers a personal role radio and headset as well as lethality focused on .308, .338 and .50-cal sniper rifles; 7.62mm light machine guns; 60mm light mortars; 5.56mm assault rifles; and light ATGMs.

Field trials are conducted in 2013 alongside the Norwegian Armed Forces with further trials intended between 2016 and 2018. This evaluation process will see how all the components fit together and impacts on the tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) and integration issues of the soldier.

Challenges, Bogner said, would likely comprise net-centric capabilities, situation awareness, size, weight and power issues, ergonomics, integration versus modularity and interoperability.

Other areas of interest focus on Image Intensification, Thermal Imaging and holographic weapon sights; laser light modules, back up iron sights, as well as weight of ammunition, protection, sights, uniform and batteries..

The soldier just needs to have the equipment allowing him execute his role,” Bogner said.

Emphasising ongoing cooperation with other international soldier modernisation programmes, Bogner described how such technology was “a key issue” for so many partner nations over the next few years and said the market would see a marked proliferation of such equipment in the battlefield in that period of time.

It is critical to the improvement of the combat effectiveness of dismounted soldiers in the multinational environment,” he added.
Andrew White

PUMA IFV Meeting the Customer's Exacting Requirements

On 24 June 2015 in Unterluess, Germany, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall officially handed over the new PUMA infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) to the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr). The PUMA is produced by KMW and Rheinmetall and is the successor to the MARDER light tank. Critics highlight the tank's weight (over 30t ) and high cost, as the Bundeswehr is scheduled to purchase 350 vehicles. Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, explained at the handover, "it would be hard to find a defence project of this complexity where budgetary limits were adhered so closely; the defence industry never raised the price of the PUMA," not mentioning the extra costs that additional features have cost, which was countered by Papperger by stating: "When, during the course of the project, costs increases occured, these were borne by the contractors." He cemented his argument by saying that, "there are no increased costs realting to the PUMA IFV that can be attributed to the German defence industry." Read full story on the handover and the vehicle here.

Harald Stein, President of the German procurement agency BAAINBw, handing over the "key" to the PUMA infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) to Lt.Gen. Rainer Korff, Commander German Elements Multinational Corps and Basic Military Organisation at the German Army, and Deputy Chief of Army Staff. (All photos via AF)  

According to Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, KMW, his company, and a host of suppliers have, "once again demonstrated their tremendous potential and masterful expertise in making the PUMA reality." The Bundeswehr is very happy to have received the IFV, which has earlier entered active service with the Bundeswehr in order to train the trainers, at a German Army training centre in Munster until the end of this year.

According to Armin Papperger, CEO of Rheinmetall, the outcome of the successful cooperation between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall represents a whole new dimension in armoured vehicle design. "It embodies the outstanding capabilities and unsurpassed competence of the German ground forces technology industry," he boasted.

Papperger sees a bright future for the defence sector, of course only if, "in the future everything necessary for preserving and strengthening the industry will in fact be done," making a very strong political statement. Ambitious requirements took the project to the limits of the technically feasible, he said, "sometimes there were mutually contradictory requirements - maximum protection, the greatest possible combat effectiveness, the lowest possible weight - to mention a few," explaining delays which were due to the complexity of the project.

Six IDZ-ES (GLADIUS soldier modernisation system) soldiers (shown here from the 92 Armoured Infantry Demonstration Battalion, Munster) fit in the back of the PUMA  infantry fighting vehicle (IFV)
Rheinmetall's CEO mentioned that the PUMA's digitised command and control (C2) technology make it easier for the crew to operate the vehicle and its subsystems, simplifying command procedures, and bring the vehicle into the networked operations loop. The vehicle's hydro-pneumatic chassis and high-performance engine make it extremely manoeuvrable, assuring a top speed of 70km/h, making it the perfect battlefield partner for the LEOPARD 2 main battle tank.

Parliamentary state secretary Markus Grübel explained at the handover that the PUMA, "as it stands before us today, does not yet have all the required skills," called out the pending integration of EuroSpike GmbH's (joint venture of Rafael and Rheinmetall) multi-purpose, light guided missile system (MELLS), covering the firm order of initially 311 guided missiles, and moreover containing the option of additional 1,160 Rafael SPIKE LR guided missiles, integrated by Diehl BGT Defence.

Papperger concluded by turning attention to Russia, where earlier this year a prototype of a new Russian tank, the ARMATA T-14, was unveiled. He said that it is remarkable how quickly an interesting debate had unfolded, "specifically, a discussion of the shortcomings in the arsenals of the nations of western and central Europe and the need to develop a possible successor for the LEOPARD 2, and the consequences of our failure to do so in the years following the fall of the Iron Curtain." He cemented that in order to keep an Army equipped with state-of-the-art technology, means, "having to maintain an effective and efficient defence technology industry, and this goes for Germany in particular."

Delivery of all 350 IFVs will take place by 2020. Awarded to PSM GmbH (a joint enture of Rheinmetall and KMW, each holding a 50% stake) in 2004.

Thanks to its newly developed MK30-2/ABM 30mm automatic cannon and programmable ammunition, the PUMA IFV can effectively engage a wide spectrum of targets, even behind cover; and advanced optics, optronics and sensors give the crew maximum situational awareness around the clock, enabling early detection and high precision engagement of emerging threats.

A modular protection system consisting of active and passive components protects the PUMA IFV crew from mines, improvised explosive devices, bomblets, shrapnel and ballistic threats such as shaped charges and kinetic energy rounds.

24 June 2015

PUMA IFV Formally Handed over to Bundeswehr

Today, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall formally handed over the PUMA
infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) to the German Armed Forces (Bundeswehr). Being one of the most advanced systems of its kind anywhere, and one of the world’s most ambitious projects in the field of  army technology the Bundeswehr’s fielding of the PUMAIFV gives its mechanised infantry a new main weapons system that will gradually supersede the MARDER, first introduced over 40 years ago.

The PUMA infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) was handed over to the Bundeswehr today. (Photos via Rheinmetall)

Delivery of all 350 IFVs will take place by 2020. Awarded to PSM GmbH (a joint enture of Rheinmetall and KMW, each holding a 50% stakein 2004, the contract today is worth around €4.3 billion, including separately ordered additional equipment.

Performance characteristics of the PUMA IFV:

  • Lethality. Thanks to its newly developed MK30-2/ABM 30mm automatic cannon and programmable ammunition, it can effectively engage a wide spectrum of targets, even behind cover.
  • Mobility. The vehicle’s hydro-pneumatic chassis and powerful engine make the PUMA highly manoeuvrable even in the toughest terrain as well as enabling a top speed of 70 km/h. This means it can operate on the battlefield in tandem with the LEOPARD 2 tank.
  • Survivability. A modular protection system consisting of active and passive components protects the crew from mines, improvised explosive devices, bomblets, shrapnel and ballistic threats such as shaped charges and kinetic energy rounds.
  • C4I. Digitised command and control (C2) technology make it easier for the crew to operate the vehicle and its subsystems, simplifying command procedures and bringing the PUMA directly into the networked operations loop.
  • Reconnaissance. Advanced optics, optronics and sensors give the crew maximum situational awareness around the clock, enabling early detection and high precision engagement of emerging threats.

The PUMA IFV has entered active service with the Bundeswehr earlier in order to train the trainers, at a German Army training centre in Munster until the end of this year. A special organisation has been set up in Munster for the PUMA, which provides mechanised infantry companies with three months of initial training in the new vehicle.Once completing a three-month course, units return to their home base with their newly issued PUMAs. In the meantime, the Bundeswehr and PSM have concluded the necessary contracts for maintenance and technical/logistical support.

PUMA "cockpit."

19 June 2015

Textron Systems’ Shadow of Tomorrow

At Paris Air Show 2015, Textron Systems business development manager for unmanned systems Brent J. Philson spoke to MT and explained how the SHADOW M2 has kept what he calls, “the goodness of the SHADOW,” with the new system building on, “a million hour legacy.” Providing 80% commonality with the older SHADOW, Textron Systems’ new tactical UAS is, “payload agnostic,” according to Philson and in comparison to its predecessor it has more space, which can be used to carry additional advanced sensor payloads, this due to an open internal bay in the centre of the aircraft. A second EO/IR FMV sensor, typically in a 10in turret, or SAR can be installed here. Alternatively, the bay can accommodate an auxiliary fuel tank, giving the air vehicle an endurance of 17 hours, or house some of the equipment that is normally fitted in the front of the aircraft. This might occur when SATCOM capability has to be added for BLOS operations. This capability is not found on any of the earlier SHADOW aircraft. A typical SHADOW M2 system would consist of four air vehicles, two of which could be equipped with SATCOM. Wing mounted pods are also available which can carry SIGINT, CBRN detection and other special purpose payloads. If the need arises, the SHADOW M2 can also be weaponised as Textron Systems’ FURY miniature PGM has been tested on both the SHADOW V2 and M2. For this, Textron Systems uses the same Harris (then Exelis) rack as found on the AT-6, now rebranded as WOLVERINE, and the SCORPION jet. Philson indicated that there is a lot of interest for FURY. However, it has not attracted any actual customers yet.

Textron Systems is this week conducting a live demonstration with its SHADOW M2 for the French procurement agency DGA. This is related to Textron Systems bid for the French Army requirement for a follow on to its current Sagem SPERWER tactical UAS. For the bid Textron Systems has joined forces with Airbus Defence & Space with the system being offered under the name ARTEMIS.

Several variants of the SHADOW are in use with the US Army which is right now in the process of deploying 88 V2 upgrade kits. According to Philson, the V2 upgrade includes an IFE (Increased Fuel Efficiency) engine, a rewing package, a TCDL and a high powered launcher.

The US Marine Corps (USMC) too operates the SHADOW and so does the military of Australia. In Sweden, Textron Systems joined forces with Saab. The Nordic country operates the SHADOW 200 with a rewing package. Italy has received the all digital SHADOW V2 and will soon get two more systems. Poland currently has a phased requirement for new UAS for which Textron Systems intends to offer the SHADOW M2 and the AEROSONDE Mk 4.7 small UAS. The latter can support both land based and seabased operations and is now also on offer to both the Netherlands and Denmark as these countries are seeking to recapitalise their tactical UAS inventories.
Pieter Bastiaans