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30 June 2014

Liebherr Develops Armoured Rescue Crane Vehicle on a 4-Axle Mobile Crane Chassis

Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH, a world market leader for mobile cranes, recently developed an armoured rescue crane vehicle for the German Army, named G-BKF.

The G-BKF is designed to be able to rescue and tow the new generation of armoured command and control (C2) vehicles, armoured transport vehicles, MULTI FSA (swap body vehicles), and wheeled vehicles that are currently in use whilst the operating personnel is being guarded. The G-BKF is also capable of providing tactical infantry cover over long distances, providing repair and handling support and of rescue, recovery and emergency aid deployments.

G-BKF armoured rescue crane vehicle (Graphics: Liebherr)

High Passenger Protection Requirements

The main focus upon order placement was on the protection of passengers. To meet the high requirements in this respect, Liebherr works with Rheinmetall Defence, to produce the armoured drivers cab and armoured crane cab. The armoured drivers cab was extended by 250mm compared to the standard Liebherr drivers cab to provide storage space for the extensive personal protective equipment for the vehicle crew and integrate the military communication equipment.

The armoured drivers cab is a double-thickness steel bulkhead construction. The transparent armour has been enhanced to ensure that it offers ballistic protection and meets the visibility requirements of the Road Traffic Act. The protection has been verified to STANAG 4569/ AEP 55. The crane cab is also armoured and is a composite construction to reduce weight. The composite panels are made using a special design and bolted to a steel bearing structure.

Crane Chassis Similar to Standard Version

The armoured G-BKF rescue crane vehicle is mounted on a 4-axle all-terrain crane chassis (8x8x8), which is similar to the standard version. Despite its weight and size it has excellent off-road properties and manoeuvrability as a result of its large tyres, all-wheel drive and all-wheel steering. The speed-dependent rear axle steering with its 5 steering programs ensures high track stability at high speeds and maximum manoeuvrability. The use of Liebherr's own "D946TI" diesel engine which develops 400kW (544bhp) with the ZF TC-Tronic gearbox with converter and 12 forwards gears and two reverse gears provides plenty of power for towing operations.

Variable Towing and Rescue Modes
In towing mode vehicles up to a load of 16t can be mounted on the lift cradle of the underlift for towing. Military vehicles can be attached to STANAG eyelets using special adapters. Extensive range of accessories means that almost all German Army wheeled vehicles can be towed.

There are two Rotzler Treibmatik winches with tensile forces of 20 kN and 80kN mounted on the rear of the vehicle. These tensile forces can be doubled by using return rollers. The use of both rescue winches together, connected using a control desk, provides a wide range of variations for a massive range of rescue operations. The smaller winch can be moved to the front using the vehicle's own crane for self-rescue purposes. The chassis is fitted with rescue jacks for rescuing a damaged vehicle from difficult terrain.
The rope of the hoist winch over the retracted telescopic boom and the rope of the 200kN rescue winch means that synchronous winching is possible. This means that the damaged vehicle can be raised slightly whilst being pulled by the towing equipment at the same time.


The G-BKF is fitted with a 20.9 m telescopic boom with which it can handle loads of up to 20 tonnes quickly and precisely. That means that the G-BKF is not only suitable for rescue deployments but it can also be used as a mobile crane for medium crane work.

All the crane's control functions, the towing device, the two rescue winches and the jacks can be operated either from a protected position in the crane's cab using the standard crane control stand or from the ground using the standard Liebherr remote control.

As early as the development phase, practical experience from overseas deployments by the German Army was included in the design to ensure that it met all the conditions to provide the requisite performance in full.
Consideration was also given to the development of a family of future armoured mobile crane vehicles for the German Army. Special attention in this respect was given to ensuring that as many components as possible were standard and readily available on the market. One strict criterion was that all the machines must be operated in exactly the same way. This means that there is no difference between the driver's seat and crane operator's stand on the G-BKF, an armoured crane or a standard crane supplied by Liebherr. This allows the amount of training required to be drastically reduced and incorrect operation to be ruled out to a large extent.

The special feature of this concept is the variable uses of the machine. There is not a need for rescue deployments every day but hoisting work is almost always required, whether it involves containers or unloading a truck. An extensive range of accessories ensures that rescue deployments are also possible. The important thing is that the team is familiar with the machine and works with it regularly so that they can carry out their duties quickly and confidently when required.

The G-BKF armoured rescue crane vehicle is flexible and versatile and can be used for a wide range of jobs whilst also being economical in terms of initial outlay and running costs.

Simultaneously pulling with crane winch and rescue winch

Liebherr is one of the leading manufacturers of mobile and crawler cranes. Its range of all-terrain mobile cranes extends from twin axle 35t cranes to heavy duty cranes with a load capacity of 1,200t and a 9-axle chassis. Lattice boom cranes on mobile or crawler chassis have load capacities of up to 3,000t and their universal boom systems and extensive accessories mean that they are used on building sites all over the world.

Liebherr-Werk Ehingen GmbH was founded in 1969. The company has undergone extensive expansion over the last few years to strengthen and expand its global position as the leading supplier of mobile and crawler cranes. Today the Liebherr plant in Ehingen covers a total area of 850,000sqm with 240,000sqm of the site being covered production space. The Ehingen site has a workforce of 3,000. Extensive, global service guarantees the high availability of Liebherr mobile and crawler cranes.

International Opportunities for KC-46A

Boeing delivered over 2,000 tankers in their long history. Today there is a new part of history just at the starting line. At the Everett (near Seattle) production site the first two flight test KC-46A PEGASUS tankers are nearly ready. Here the B767 are built although the “tankerisation” is done at Boeing field. The first aircraft is supposed to leave the production line in the next days. The first airplane will be a B767-2C for certification (amended type certification (ATC) without a bomm, but body tanks, cargo door and floor, tanker system provisions and an enhanced flight deck, while the 2nd (final body join) will be the first “real” KC46A tanker with all refueling systems, military avionics, supplemental type certification (STC) and military certification. Number 3 will be another B767-2C, 4th again a KC-46A.

The 2nd aircraft will be the first KC-47A test tanker (All Photos: AF)

The 1st aircraft to fly is the B676-2C the boom will be removed for test flights.

 Boeing was contracted for 179 tankers on 24 February 2011. The first flight is delayed from original plans and will be in 4th quarter 2014 (B767-2C – KC-46A in 1st Q 2015). Minor problems have come up so far in lab testing – like fuel leaks, software etc. Plans are to deliver the 18th combat ready tanker in 2017 (first initial production is seven tankers). Full rate production allows producing 15-18 tankers a year. The airframe for the KC-46A is a civil Boeing B767-200ER (with -300 wings), Japan and Italy are also using the KC-767 airframe (four machines each – other configuration than the upcoming US KC-46A) as tankers. From outside the machines does not look that different from a civil airliner – just no windows, boom at the tail, cargo hatch and some other smaller items. Taking a civil platform ensures that it can be a cost effective solution. As engines Pratt & Whitney PW4062 are used.

Boom attached to B767-2C but it will be removed for test flights, 5 booms are produced or in production so far.

The provisions on the B767-2C are: New 9G cargo carrier net, larger fire extinguisher capabilities, new oxygen ports recharger station and auxiliary fuel tanks.

The KC-46A will have features and capabilities of a self protection system, cockpit will be armored, refueling receptacle (boom with 1,200 gallon/min), digital glass cockpit, main cargo door with a strengthened cargo floor (max. 29,484kg), a crew rest area, a boom (modernized KC-10 fly-by-wire boom) and centerline drogue system, wing air refueling pods (by Cobham, 400 gallon/min.) with a high resolution camera system at the aft. The fuel operator station is good for two operators (redundant and for education/training). The USAF is only planning with a crew of 3 (2 pilot, 1 operator and space for another 2 relief pilots and 3 relief operators). The screens of the refueling station show 3D images day/night (need 3D eyeglasses).

Fuel Operator Station with two operator seats.

Cockpit simulator.

There are international opportunities for the KC-46A, Korea has four tankers in budget and plans to build up a tanker capability for the first time. There is a European consortium (Netherlands, Norway, Poland and Belgium) with plans to procure 3-8 tankers, but Poland is also looking at a national tanker solution. Japan has already four tankers and is planning to get three more for a 2nd squadron; selection is due to 4th quarter 2015. But there is not much place left in production line until 2017. So it is more a long term export issue for Boeing.

Andre Forkert

27 June 2014

Boeing Plans Upgrades (Increments) for P-8

Boeing’s P-8 POSIEDON has already been deployed globally (eight P-8A delivered) and operational with the US Navy (USN). According to Boeing, the company has saved $2.1 billion by comparison to the USN original calculation. Until now, 13 aircrafts have been delivered to the USN. Boeing is moving to full rate production now. The P-8A is the first military aircraft with an industry in-line production, according to Boeing. The P-8A is based on the civilian B-737-800ERX (-900 wings) aircraft (80% commonality to be a cost effective solution). It got a reinforced structure to carry the heavier load, has a weapon bay and is able to fly very low over water. P-8 offers 200ft3 of space with 25% cooling and 67% power growth potential for the future. It has an air refueling option, an extra generator (for future growth). As a USN requirement there is also a deicing capability (wings, tail and rubber nose with spinning radar underneath). It can conduct missions as anti-submarine warfare (ASW), anti-surface warfare (ASUW), shipping interdiction (armed ISR), maritime C3, electronic signals intelligence (ELINT) and Search & Rescue (SAR). One of the USN P-8A took part in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 3MH70.

Over the next 8-10 years there are already some upgrades (increments) planned. Increment 2 (2016) should bring multi-static active coherent acoustics, automated Identification System (AIS) and high altitude ASW weapon capability (HAAWC). Increment 2 is planned to start with Lot 5. Increment 3 (2021) should offer Software Architecture Improvements, Software Enabled to Host Generic Apps, Enables 3rd Party Competitive Prototyping, ASW Upgrades, Network Enabled Weapon and Additional Sensor Upgrades.

A “normal” tactical crew is nine (2 pilots, 1 relief pilot, 2 tactical officer and 3 enlisted operators and 1 relief operator), at board there is space for 21 persons, so two crews or more can be taken aboard. A normal configuration is two observer seats and five operator stations (all sensors can be worked from here) with a sixed station prepared. For communications P-8a has SatCom, VHF, UHF, HF and a steerable Line-of-Sight antennas and radios as well as IR counter measure (DIRCM).

P-8A can use HARPOON & Mk 54 torpedo (not high altitude release) as weapons. The weapon bus is digital and offers other configurations, for example India will use other weapons and more can be integrated later. The P-8A has a weapon bay with five stations (for torpedos) and four stations (each 1,500 lbs) under wings. 126 sonar boys are in stock on board with three pressurized rotary launcher and two single launchers. In addition there is a extra hatch to drop smaller equipment. The aft door can be opened during flight to drop frogmans, Paras or equipment. For a future sensor growth there is also a second bay for another EO/IR gimbal. The P-8 can operate at every altitude up to 21,000 feet.

The first LRIP-3 aircraft (for 11 aircrafts) will be delivered to the USN in July. The second squadron is preparing to get its P-8s later this summer. “This is a super aircraft. Within just three months of arriving for its first-ever deployment, it's already a huge leap forward in capability for the Pacific Fleet, said Admiral Harry Harris, US Pacific Fleet Commander.

International Success

India ordered eight P-8I (India) NEPTUNE with an option for another four. The P-8I variant features two major components that aren't fitted on the P-8A, a Telephonics APS-143 OceanEye aft radar and a magnetic anomaly detector (MAD).

Australia signed an MOU with USN in 2009 to collaborate in Increment 2. The ordered in Feb 2014 eight P-8 with an option for another four to replace their P-3 ORION in 2017/18.

There are discussions with the UK MoD for a possible procurement. Another possible customer is Norway, at the moment a number of countries are doing studies in that area and could need the capabilities P-8 is offering. 24 aircrafts could be produced by Boeing per year, at the moment one is delivered each month.
On the P-8 team are Boeing, NAVAIR, General Electric, Northrop Grumman (P-8A is designed to operate in conjunction with the MQ-4C TRITON Broad Area Maritime Surveillance UAV), Spirit Aerosystems, Raytheon, BAE Systems and cfm.

Andre Forkert

26 June 2014

AH-64 APACHE – Lifesaver at Work

Pre to Farnborough Air Show Boeing showed the capability of the AH-64 APACHE and the AH-6 LITTLE BIRD at their production line in Mesa, Arizona/USA.

Last year production of the AH-64D-model stopped, so from then on only E-models are built. 40 E-aircrafts are delivered so far in 2014 (117 E’s since October 2011 – 48 to international customers). In 2013 the 2,000 APACHE was delivered – so many because all the older models are reframed, when they are upgraded.

The US Army 229th Aviation Regiment is using AH-64E in combat in Afghanistan since March. Since then 1,700 flying hours have been flown. In the Pacific region AH-64E are used since some weeks from US Navy ships to test interoperability. The APACHE is used in 14 countries (Egypt, Greece, Israel, Japan, South Korea, Netherlands, UK etc.), Taiwan and Saudi Arabia (Land Forces – National Guard will be next) are the latest with a lot more countries (e.g. India, Indonesia) in a waiting line, according to Colonel Jeff Hager (US Army). Flight evaluation just completed in Qatar and Indonesia (signed LOA for 8 pieces). The AH-64 APACHE features a spectrum of capabilities for attack and reconnaissance missions.

Future of AH-64

Even if the AH-64E is under production the development is still going on. The capability lot Nr. 4 will be tested in August and after successful passing be integrated in the series production. Lot 4 will see new external fuel tanks, Link 16 integration and some other upgrades. The next step will be capability lot 6 (5 does not exist) with testing in 2017. This will be mostly software upgrades and a new mission processor. The UAV controller (APACHE crew can take control of UAV vehicle and sensors) was already integrated and is operational. In Afghanistan the steering of GRAY EAGLE becomes more and more. The E-model is more lethal (30 mm M230 cannon is now more accurate, capacity 1,200 rounds), more powerful (engine GE-701D shifts up from 2,800 to 3,400 shp), faster (up to 163 mph instead of 140 mph with D-model), can fly higher and the Link 16 will be another capability booster. All other services are already using Link 16 and it is the base for the interoperability. Link 16 will allow to pass targets/targeting information between/from AWACS, ships, ground troops or AH-6/AH-64 to each other (target handover). With the higher speed the APACHE can now follow the MedEvac CH-47 CHINOOK, so fare the CHINOOK had to lower the flight speed. So far not in theater is the new day sensor upgrade (except the new laser). The E-model got also a new transmission and composite rotor blades. Other new features: Modernized Pilot Night Vision Sensores (MPNVS), Modernized Target acquisition & Designation System (MTADS – Day/Night sensors & laser). Nearly all E-models are refurbished older models, with a new airframe, a new fuselage, new wiring and new composites blades, but a lot of the parts are reused (12%) or coming from the fleet (engines). Every 2.5 to 3.5 days an AH-64E is leaving the production line. Boeing is working at 12 assembly positions at the same time. Altogether it takes 42 days to assemble an APACHE. According to Boeing a reused AH-64E has only a third of the costs of a totally new one. At the moment most air frames are produced for Saudi Arabia. At the nose they carry slogan “God Bless You” in English and Arabic. So do the F-15 and TYPHOONS of Saudi Arabia. The Netherlands are just getting an AH-64 Block 1 upgrade (to Block 3), the UK is still flying Block 1 machines.

The AH-64E APACHE is the most advanced attack helicopter today”, said Mike Burke, Director Boeing Defence Attack Helicopters. Colonel John Lynch (US Army) is expecting to stay the AH-64 in the Post-ISAF mission in big numbers.
The US Army is looking at the Future vertical Lift, but between the end of E-production and the start of the Future Vertical Lift will be a gap, so maybe there will be an F-model to fill that. Boeing is planning to use and maintain the AH-64 fleet up to the 2080s – then it will be 100 years flying!
Andte Forkert

Joint Multi-Role Technology Demonstrator

The JMR (Joint Multi-Role/SB>1 Defiant) presents the first phase (proof of airframe and flight performance) in the US Future Vertical Lift program (medium lift). Phase 2 will start in 2016 and provide mission packages. First flight is planned for a selected team (down selection in 3Q 2014, presentation this week) by 2017. Boeing is working on that since September together with Sikorsky (50% each). The system should deliver high speed cruise without jeopardizing low speed helicopter performance and a Hot/High performance of 6,000 ft/95 degrees. The Boeing/Sikorsky design will have a rigid co-axial rotor design and a push propeller, with a fly-by-wire system that allows full control of rotor RPM. The JMR should have better vertical performance than today’s systems.

Andre Forkert

25 June 2014

Boeing Details LITTLE BIRD Programme

Boeing has been offering the LITTLE BIRD as an Optionally Piloted Vehicle (OPV), which so far flew over 1,700 hours. It is a FAA/Mil certified air vehicle. It demonstrated land and maritime capabilities: takeoff/landings on ships, ISR missions, precision cargo supply, communications/data relay station, manned/unmanned teaming and one of the most recognized feature is the sense and avoid system. It is an autonomous design; do not need a big staff to guide it at the ground. Boeing is offering UAV kits for existing manned helicopters. The system offers a fast conversion and Boeing is going on with a proof of concept in Korea (flight by end of 2014 and the Korea Army just provide a MD-500 DEFENDER for a possible conversion).

Andre Forkert

Boeing Helicopters in Mesa Desert Video


24 June 2014

DVD 2014: GDUK Unveils First SCOUT Specialist Vehicle Pre-Production Prototype

General Dynamics UK (GDUK) today unveiled the first pre-production prototype SCOUT Specialist Vehicle (SV) at DVD 2014 at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire.  The platform, a Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS) variant, showcases the step-change in Armoured Fighting Vehicle capability being delivered to the British Army.

The first SCOUT SV pre-production prototype, a Protected Mobility Recce Support (PMRS) variant. (Photo: GD)

In service, PMRS will provide safe transportation of fully-equipped soldiers in a well-protected environment.  On dismount, troops will be able to more effectively conduct a variety of tasks, such as dismounted surveillance (including patrols), observation posts and close target reconnaissance.  Its extensive capabilities include acoustic detectors, a laser warning system, a local situational awareness system, an electronic countermeasure system, a route marking system, an advanced electronic architecture and a high performance power pack.

GDUK recently completed the Base Platform Critical Design Review (CDR) for the PMRS variant, as part of the SCOUT SV programme. The overarching CDR for the PMRS variant, which will take place this year, will establish the final design of the variant for future production, drawing upon lessons learned from the PMRS pre-production prototype.

Kevin Connell, Vice President at General Dynamics UK - Land Systems, said: “Today marks an important day in the SCOUT Specialist Vehicle programme.   DVD is the perfect place to unveil the first SV pre-production prototype and to demonstrate the capabilities of the PMRS variant, which is just one of a family of world-leading armoured fighting vehicles General Dynamics UK is developing for the British Army.”

Each SCOUT SV platform variant will be a highly-agile, tracked, medium-weight armoured fighting vehicle, providing British troops with state-of-the-art protection. SCOUT SV vehicles are developed upon a highly-adaptable and capable Common Base Platform, maximising commonality in mobility, electronic architecture and survivability that ensures the British Army has a family of world-class platforms.

Also at DVD 2014, GD is showcasing two variants from the OCELOT Family of Vehicles (FoV), based on the highly capable British FOXHOUND vehicle, and the Light Armoured Vehicle Demonstrator (LAV Demonstrator) platform, based on the world-leading technologies of the Canadian Army LAV 6.0.  In addition, GD demonstrates its end-to-end Health and Usage Monitoring System (HUMS) service; whilst Lockheed Martin UK showcases its SCOUT SV Engineering Development Unit (EDU) on GD’s stand.

Balt Military Expo: A World View on Gdansk

Arguably, Poland is the "keystone" in the defence and security of the Baltic Region. This is especially significant when considering recent Russian expansionism, including claims being made on Central European land and sea territories. This is just one of several reasons why NATO nations and others around the world are viewing Poland with great interest.  Another set of issues surround Poland's announcement of continued force modernisation programmes, purchasing processes, and the Polish defence industry's stop-and-start approach to defence exports.
The Balt-Military Expo (biannual) taking place in Gdansk this week addresses regional and national security issues, ranging from protection of critical infrastructures and delivery of blue-light services to the latest naval sonar technologies and ship building  / MRO services. The adjoining conferences and exposition deliver insights and information in a way that make the Baltic region more than "Just the Baltic Region."
This week the NAVAL FORCES  and MILITARY TECHNOLOGY blogs will feature detailed reports on the Balt Military Expo and the innovations and issues discussed here.
We will also provide updates from MAST Eurasia and UDT 2014, with vox populi and human interest elements from these events that highlight NAVAL FORCES multi-role mission within the global naval defence and maritime security community.

20 June 2014

Eurosatory 2014: RUAG is Bringing the Internet to the Field

RUAG Defence – the specialist in tactical communication solutions for Army units and security forces – will demonstrate at Eurosatory the latest set-up of its mobile battlefield communications.

In the combat arena, where flexible and reliable tactical communication infrastructures are a must, effectiveness is the foundation of all mission critical communication. At Eurosatory, RUAG is demonstrating its abilities to link HQs to dispersed units through a secure all-IP network.

In the combat arena, where flexible and reliable tactical communication infrastructures are a must, effectiveness is the foundation of all mission critical communication. At Eurosatory, RUAG is demonstrating its abilities to link HQs to dispersed units through a secure all-IP network. (Photo: RUAG) 

RUAG’s tactical communication experts are highly focused on supporting network enabled operations for defence and security organisations. Based on the Tactical openAccess platform our network equipment such as the Tactical openAccess Node, Tactical LAN Switch and Tactical Power Supply Unit allow military and homeland security organisations to be securely connected, mobile and more effective.

Key to this mobility is the existence of Tactical Telephony Services (TTEL). This allows the building of a distributed telephony system, whereby the directory can be decentralised and support full user and subnet mobility. This makes a user always individually reachable with the same number, wherever they physically are in the network. TTEL provides seamless voice communications across legacy networks be they military Eurocom networks, analogue radio or digital telephone networks and their functionalities, as well as the modern SIP based VoIP networks. Now prioritisation has been added to the features of the TTEL, providing added functionalities to support communications during crisis and emergency operations. The open platform approach of RUAG also provides customers with flexibility through the easier integration of third party applications.

RUAG’s product portfolio is built on proven and state-of-the art technology which has been field tested by several defence forces in military environments and by peace keeping forces in multi-national operations. Today these solutions form the backbone of tactical communication infrastructures that deliver the highest standards of performance and reliability demanded by national and international military, peace-keeping and crisis management operations.

RUAG is an international technology group for aerospace and defence. The head office is in Bern (Switzerland). RUAG has its production sites in Germany, Austria, Hungary, Sweden, and the USA. RUAG employees 7,700 staff worldwide, of which 5,000 are in Switzerland, including 10% trainees.

Eurosatory 2014: Pieter Bastiaans' Photographic Recap of the Show