EDR issue 31

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Issue N° 31 – January / February 2017

Eu r o p e a n D ef en ce R e v i e w

Multirole OPVs: worldwide coastguards and navies future Airbus Helicopters’ Caracal: portrait of a winner 6x6: the intermediate solution Sales of BrahMos missiles may boost India’s arms export Mortars on the move

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Eu r o p e a n D ef en ce R e v i e w

Issue n o. 31


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6x6: the intermediate solution By Paolo Valpolini Airbus Helicopters’ Caracal: portrait of a winner – By Jean-Michel Guhl Multirole OPVs: worldwide coastguards and navies future – By Luca Peruzzi Multi-Role Force Multipliers By David Oliver

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Mortars on the move – By Paolo Valpolini Sales of BrahMos missiles may boost India’s arms export – By Nikolai Novichkov

Publisher: Joseph Roukoz Editor-in-chief: David Oliver European Defence Review (EDR) is published by European Defence Publishing SAS www.edrmagazine.eu

EDR – January / February 2017

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P Oe of the major programmes

in the 6x6 world is the French Scorpion, the Griffon being the future 6x6 personnel carrier of the French Army.

© Paolo Valpolini

6x6: the intermediate solution By Paolo Valpolini An in between wheeled infantry fighting vehicles, which GVW is now around 30 tonnes due to protection and firepower requirements, and light 4x4 vehicles, mostly used as patrol vehicles or light personnel carriers, 6x6 maintain their importance mostly as APCs, although they can also be fitted for other roles. New vehicles and refurbishment programmes are up and running in different parts of the world.



n France two major 6x6 programmes are up and running for the Army, both part of “Scorpion”. They are being developed and will be manufactured by a consortium formed by Nexter Systems, Renault Trucks Defense (RTD) and Thales. Known as Griffon and Jaguar, they are quite different although numerous elements are common to both vehicles. The Jaguar is a 6x6 reconnaissance vehicle fitted with a turret, which is armed with the CTAI 40mm gun using telescopic ammunition, thus it is out of the scope of this article. As for the Griffon, this is an armoured personnel carrier that will replace the current VABs in French Army service. The infantry as an APC, with four sub-variants, five more variants being foreseen, ambulance, artillery observation, command post and engineer and NBC reconnaissance will use it. Modularity will allow shifting from one variant to the other using specialist kits. With a GVW of 24.5t, the Griffon is powered by a Renault MDE8 diesel engine providing 400hp fitted to an automatic transmission. January / February 2017 – EDR

end of Phase 2, in 2035, being 1,720 units. The first of six planned prototypes of the Griffon should be available in 2017, the first production contract for 318 vehicles being also awaited in that same year. The Scorpion programme is split in two phases: Phase 1 will last until 2023, and includes as said 780 Griffons, while Phase 2, which will end in 2035, will include 940 more vehicles of that same type. As for the 81mm mortar carrier, which will be known as MEPAC, this model will be financed under a separate contract that will include a total of 54 vehicles. Of the three companies involved in the Scorpion programme, only Thales is not producing a 6x6 APC, as RTD is strongly proposing its VAB Mk III on the market, while Nexter Systems portfolio features the Titus. RTD, part of the Volvo Group Governmental Sales (VGGS), is proposing on the market an upgraded version of its VAB, which has been around for 40 years already. The French MoD ordered Four thousand vehicles, while over a dozen other nations acquired it, some in the 6x6 version, for a total of over 5,000 vehicles. The VAB Mark 3 combat weight is set at 20 tonnes, with a 4 tonnes payload, the weight increase having been met by a higher engine output, the Renault Dxi7 providing now 340hp. Should a customer need extra power the 400 hp Renault MDE8 can be installed. Longer and wider than its predecessor, 6.7 by 2.65m, the internal volume of the Mk.3 is of 13 m3, the hull providing basic protection as it is designed to be fitted with add-on armour in order to adapt the vehicle to the mission. Payload allows reaching Level 4 ballistic protection maximum mine and IED

M Although it maintains the VAB name, the Mark 3 is a wholly new vehicle compared to the original Véhicule de l’Avant Blindé that entered service some 40 years ago with the Armée de Terre. EDR – January / February 2017



Digitisation being one of the key elements of the Scorpion programme, the Griffon will be fitted with the SICS C2 system, while it will be armed with the T1 RCWS currently under development by RTD and Safran Electronics & Defense, which will be capable to host 7.62 or 12.7mm machine guns or a 40mm automatic grenade launcher. Many of the on-board systems will be acquired in reduced numbers and fitted for pre-deployment training and in operations, the vehicles being also fitted with the SEMBA embedded simulation system. Not much is known about protection, which was one of the weak points of the basic VAB in use with the French Army. A small number of VABs have been enhanced as of 2010 under the Ultima modernisation plan, this in order to improve survivability on the Afghan theatre of operations. It is understood that the armour package should bring the Griffon at the same, if not higher, protection level of the most recent version of the VBCI 8x8 wheeled infantry fighting vehicle in service with the Armée de Terre. The first financing for 318 vehicles is awaited in 2017; Scorpion Phase 1, which will last until 2023, will include 780 Griffons, the total number at the

© MAK Defense

M Produced in the US the Lakota is the American

version of the French VAB Mark 3, powered by a US engine, and has already bagged an export order. protection being Level 3B. Ten soldiers can be hosted in the rear, on energy absorbing seats, accessing the vehicle via a ramp, while the driver and commander access the cabin via two side doors. To cope with the increased need of onboard power the VAB Mark 3 is fitted with a 300A alternator, RTDs’ Battlenet Inside vetronic architecture ensuring maximum flexibility when installing subsystems at customer’s choice. The vehicle roof can host a gun turret up to 90mm, as shown at last Eurosatory where the Mark 3 was exhibited with a CMI Defence CSE 90LP twoman turret; it still has the capacity to transport six passengers plus a crew of two, and can be the ideal direct fire support vehicle for the APC. Another first at the Paris exhibition was the amphibious version of RTD’s 6x6; this is fitted with a trim vane at the front and two ducted propellers at the rear, buoyancy being provided by add-on elements which increase the volume as well as the protection against shaped charges. While the VAB Mark 3 is still awaiting a launch customer, the contract for providing 100 vehicles to Lebanon signed on 2 February 2016 has been discontinued by the sponsor (Saudi Arabia). An undisclosed customer acquired interesting enough the US derivative of the French APC, marketed by 6

Mack Defense and known as Lakota 6x6, during AUSA 2016. The main difference with the Frenchbuilt APC is that the US-made one is powered by a Caterpillar C7 engine coupled to an Allison 35006-speed automatic transmission. The Lakota 6x6 will be assembled in United States and to this end Mack Defense has partnered with JWF Defense Systems. Looking forward, in 2012 the French Direction Générale de l’Armement (DGA) assigned to RTD a “Plan d’Etudes Amont” that is an advanced design plan, to develop the Electer hybrid demonstrator. The vehicle chosen for this demonstration was the VAB 6x6, which was fitted with a parallel hybrid powerpack made of the usual 340hp Renault Dxi7 diesel engine coupled to a 170kW electric power source, which has a weight of about 600kg. The vehicle was delivered to the DGA on 5 February 2015 and has now travelled over 5,000km. In Hybrid mode, travelling over rough terrain, the vehicle has shown a 20% reduction in fuel consumption. Decoupling the thermal engine and travelling on batteries in stealth mode the Electer could reach a maximum speed of 90 km/h, with an endurance of 10 km at 60 km/h in full silent mode. The 170kW provided by the electric power source can also be used in Booster mode, providing over 400kW and giving superior acceleration. Four other working modes are available such as Recharge, the diesel providing recharge of the traction battery, APU with battery enabling silent standby with no onboard January / February 2017 – EDR

the prototypes have been fitted with Nexter’s ARX20 remotely controlled gun system, studies have been made to verify the feasibility of installing the newly developed ARX25, which weight is nearly the double, while Nexter is also considering turreted 30 mm solutions under development at KMW, the other member of the KNDS Group. As for protection, Nexter Systems is evolving its approach; originally developed following STANAG requirements, the company is now looking at other constraints in order to answer the requirements of potential customers that are not bind to the Alliance standards. A new series of firing trials has been carried out in order to verify compliance to other standards mine and IED resistance having also been tested, new operational contexts, different terrains as well as different dummies having been considered. As for marketing a new approach has also been developed. Currently new variants are being designed and proposed, such as CBRN reconnaissance and sampling, UAV/UGV deployment as well as artillery tractor; the latter version is foreseen for towing 155mm or 105mm

N Thanks to its Tatra chassis the Titus has a mobility comparable to that of vehicles fitted with independent suspension at a fraction of the cost.

© Paolo Valpolini

generators providing 3kW for five hours, APU with combustion engine offering 70kW electric power, and Diesel only for travelling in degraded mode. Which will be the future of the VGGS brands, Renault Trucks Defense, Acmat, Mack Defense, Panhard and Volvo Defense, is to be seen, as the Swedish group announced on 4 November 2016 the decision to divest its defence business. In 2013 Nexter Systems unveiled its Titus 6x6 based on a Tatra chassis with swing semi-axles. Still awaiting for a launch customer, numerous contacts are active both in the military and paramilitary worlds. At 23.5 tonnes GVW, propulsion is provided by a Cummins 440hp engine however a 550hp is proposed as option. At that weight ballistic protection is Level 3 according to STANAG 4569; for public order duties this can be reduced, bringing the weight around 19 tonnes, basic protection being Level 1, while growth potential allows to beef up protection to Level 4 if required. As for mines and IEDs, the Titus basic protection is Level 2a/b. Currently two prototypes are available, the original vehicle unveiled in 2013 and an advanced version produced after the first trials. The starting point for the Titus was to produce an evolutive vehicle considering MRAPs weak points in order to develop a high-protected vehicle with considerable mobility at a contained price. One of the strong points of Nexter’s product is the capability to host a turreted direct fire weapon of considerable calibre, something that not many vehicles of this class can do. While

EDR – January / February 2017


O In late 2016 Brazil signed

an incremental contract for over 1,000 Guarans, the 6x6 designed by Iveco DV to fulfil Brazilian Army requirements.

© Elbit Systems

pre-production vehicles and 187 vehicles of the first batch. The first unit to receive the new wheeled APC was the 33rd Motorized infantry Battalion, part of the 15th Mechanised Infantry Brigade, located in Cascavel, Paraná along the border with Paraguay. The Guaraní project aims at transforming motorised units into mechanised, and to modernise existing mechanised units. Following first deliveries some minor upgrading took place, mostly in the air conditioning and cooling systems, retrofit kits having been provided to upgrade delivered vehicles. The recent contract includes the delivery of a first batch of around 20 vehicles that had already been produced by Iveco do Brasil in its Sete Lagoas plant, which were handed over to the Brazilian Army in late 2016. The framework contract includes annual orders

howitzers with the crew safely transported inside the vehicle as well as a good number of ammunition. With the signature of the framework contract by the Brazilian Army Comando Logístico on 22 November 2016 the VBTP-MR programme is now well underway. The contract is for 1,580 Guaraní 6x6 vehicles that will be produced in a 20 years framework, at a pace of around 80 vehicles per year. Until now the Brazilian Army received 16

O German Army Fuchs 1A8

© Bundeswehr

deployed to Mali. Developed in the 1970s this 6x6 has been upgraded, current versions being heavily protected against mines and ballistic threats.


January / February 2017 – EDR


M Awaiting for the Turkish bid FNSS is

proposing its Pars 6x6, here in the fire support version, on the export market. until 2025, delivery time being eight months, and is valid for the next 10 years, each year the final year being moved to the right. The 1,580 vehicles grand total includes 1,033 infantry vehicles; 35 will be fitted with the Ares/Elbit Systems OT30BR remotely controlled gun station armed with an Orbital-ATK Bushmaster Mk44 Bushmaster II cannon, 275 with the Ares Remax RCWS, and 723 with a protected ring mount; delivered vehicles were fitted with Australia’s W&E Platt MR550 ring mount, however for the next batches Brazil intends to qualify other providers and to launch a further bid. The vehicles fitted with weapon stations need extra buoyancy elements that ensure flotation, these being already part of the contract as options. The 547 remaining vehicles will be produced in different variants, command post, communications, 120mm mortar carrier, ambulance and CBRN. Development contracts for those variants should be signed in 2022, the first pre-series vehicles hoping to delivered in 2024. Iveco already started an export marketing campaign, the first success having been obtained in Lebanon, which received 16 Guaraní, together EDR – January / February 2017

with other vehicles. This contract was signed by Iveco DV, Iveco do Brasil being responsible for Latin America. Argentina already tested the vehicle three years ago, and plans to launch an acquisition plan for a vehicle of that category in 2017; both the Army and the Navy expressed an interest in the Iveco 6x6 APC, the overall number being quite limited, probably under the 100 mark. The Guaraní is being exhibited at IDEX 2017 as the company received some request of information from Middle East and North African countries, while some talks in SouthEast Asia are also on going. The Rheinmetall portfolio still includes the Fuchs 6x6; designed in the 1970’s and acquired in numbers by the German Bundeswehr, this vehicle is still in service and in upgraded versions has been deployed to Afghanistan. A first upgrade aimed at increasing protection was carried out in 1998 for 55 vehicles that were deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina. In 2002 the Bundeswehr upgraded 123 Fuchs 1 to the 1A7 standard, adding an IBD Deisenroth Mexas (Modular Expandable Armor System) kit as well as full spall liner and an enhanced mine protection kit. A further upgrade was launched in 2008; the Fuchs 1A8 sees structural changes in the floor and the adoption of an intermediate floor that, together with new seats, ensures much greater protection against mines 9

has already bagged at least one export order. Based on the Fuchs 1, Rheinmetall developed the Fuchs 2, which ensures high protection levels at 23 tonnes maximum weight (the 1A8 is at 22.5t), but with a much higher payload the empty vehicle weighing only 17 tonnes. Powered by a 456hp engine (versus the 320hp of the Fuchs 1), the Fuchs 2 has already been exported to the UAE and Kuwait. In November 2013 Germany approved the transfer of production of the Fuchs 2 to Algeria, that country having signed a deal for the local production of 980 Fuchs II. The first vehicle left Algerian production line in May 2015. The two Turkish main vehicle producers, FNSS and Otokar, are awaiting the finalisation of a bid by the Turkish Army for a 6x6 armoured vehicle; that said, both companies have since started marketing their respective vehicles, FNSS its Pars 6x6 and Otokar its Arma 6x6. At 25 tonnes GVW the Pars is powered by a 480hp engine, located at rear of the driver between the first and second axle, and is fitted with independent double wishbone hydro pneumatic suspension, independent air suspension being proposed as option. © Paolo Valpolini

and underbelly IEDs. The Bundeswehr upgraded a total of 177 vehicles, the package including also some other improvements; these vehicles were of different versions such as command post, personnel carrier, field ambulance, EOD and NBC detection, as well as Route Clearing Package. A further order was filed in December 2016 for 90 more vehicles, which will also be brought to the 1A8 level bringing the total to 267. The contract is worth €135 million and includes command posts, APCs and EOD vehicles, with an option for Joint Fire Support Coordination Team vehicles.

O The Varan is one of the 6x6 vehicles

proposed by the Streit Group, the latest one being the Alligator. 10

January / February 2017 – EDR

© Otokar

M The other contender for the Turkish bid, Otokar’s Arma 6x6

© Paolo Valpolini

M In late 2015 South Korea selected Hyundai

Rotem wheeled vehicles to replace tracked armoured vehicles in rapid deployment formations; some 600 6×6 and 8×8 such vehicles are being acquired. Eight personnel can be carried in the AOC version, a fire support and an NBC recce versions being also proposed. The Pars is fully amphibious, and can reach 8km/h in the water thanks to two water jets. In amphibious operations the payload is reduced from


6,000 to 3,500kg. The Arma 6x6 is lighter, 18.5 tonnes, and can carry two plus eight passengers. It is powered by a 450hp engine and is fitted with fully independent suspensions, based on hydro-pneumatic struts or on telescopic type shock absorber with helical spring. Also amphibious, the Arma 6x6 is in service with the Royal Bahraini Army, which deployed it to Yemen, the Azerbaijan Army having also expressed its interest for the Turkish-made APC. Based on its N35 4x4 personnel carrier Nimr, an evolution of Denel Vehicle Systems’ RG35, the Abu Dhabi armoured vehicle company, developed a 6x6 version. At 24 tonnes GVW, it has a 7,300kg payload (with Level 2 ballistic protection) and can host a crew of two plus ten dismounts, two more seats being also available. Powered by a Caterpillar 600hp engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission, it can speed up to 105 km/h. The N35 6x6 is around 7.2m long, some 1.2m more than the 4x4, access and egress of the crew and dismounts taking place via the right side door, the engine is located on the left behind the driver, and via the rear door. Exploiting the

the new reference of medium-calibre armament system


© Paolo Valpolini

M At IDEF 2015 BMC unveiled the 6x6 version

of its Kirpi protected vehicle, the 4x4 having been actively used in operation. considerable payload protection can be increased up to Level 4 ballistic and Level 4a/b against mines. The Nimr portfolio contains also another 6x6 vehicle, the Hafeet. With a 15 tonnes GVW and a 1,850kg payload, it is powered by a Cummins ISBe 360 that provides 268hp and can carry a maximum of 10 soldiers. Its protection level is not announced but should be quite lower compared to the N35, its role being defined as battlefield taxi. At Eurosatory 2016 the Streit Group introduced a new 6x6, the Alligator, powered by a Cummins 6-cylinder providing 400hp, which is located on the front right, leaving access to the driver compartment from the rear, a side door being also available. The commander is located behind the driver,

four seats being attached on each side in the rear compartment. 6.52m long, 2.82m wide and 2.77m high, the Alligator 6x6 ballistic protection is given as Level 4, no details being available about mine protection as well as on weights. The Streit Group already has in its portfolio the Varan 6x6, with a 20 tonnes GVW and a 2t payload, also at Level 4 protection, which is powered by the same engine, as well as two MRAP-type vehicles, the Fiona and the Typhoon. The former is a Level 3 vehicle powered by a Caterpillar 450 hp engine, the latter being a Level 4 vehicle with up to 14 seats powered by the same 400hp engine of the Varan. J

P Austrian Army Pandur


© Paolo Valpolini

6x6 deployed to Kosovo ; GDELS is still actively marketing this family of vehicles. January / February 2017 – EDR


Whatever the mission, wherever, whenever

N The French Army and Air Force’s special forces were ten years ago

the launch customers of the Eurocopter EC725 Caracal, today renamed Airbus Helicopter H225M. This medium lift helicopter is a twin-engined aircraft which can carry up to 29 seated troops along with two crew, depending on customer configuration. It has seen steady combat action in Afghanistan and in West-Africa with the French Army and Air Force. Here it is seen landing in a forest DZ in service with EH 1/67 from Cazaux.

Airbus Helicopters’ Caracal: portrait of a winner © J.-M. Guhl

By Jean-Michel Guhl


January / February 2017 – EDR

Either referred to as the EC725, H225M or simply Caracal (a familiar name given by the French armed forces to the EC725 Cougar Mk.2 in 2006), on last 27 October 2016 at Itajubá (SP), Brazil, Helibras and Airbus Helicopters opened a new chapter in the history of this rugged multirole utility helicopter – first flown in November 2000 – with the official presentation of the first H225M in full naval combat configuration dubbed UH-15 Super Cougar. N Brazil was the Caracal’s first and largest

© J. Barros / FAB

export customer with a total of 50 H225Ms. Eighteen of which are earmarked for the Força Area Brasileira under the designation of H-36 Caracal.


eveloped and assembled in the state of São Paulo by Helibras (Airbus Helicopters’ subsidiary in Brazil), this new H225M version is designed to meet the requirements of the Marinha do Brasil, with mission capabilities including anti-surface warfare and maritime surveillance. This evolution of the EC725/H225M is built around an in-house Helibras-developed tactical mission system including a US made Telephonics APS-143 surveillance radar installed in a bulged radome under the nose. The APS-143 displays advanced self-protection systems as well as signals intelligence capabilities. Like other helicopter of the Super Puma/ Cougar familiy it can also launch a pair of MBDA/ Avibras AM39 Exocet anti-ship missiles, while the cargo bay accommodates a dedicated sensor operator console providing the mission commander with a comprehensive overview of the tactical situation. An automatic identification system (AIS) will also allow crew members of the UH-15 Super Cougar to gather information on surface vessels cruising off the 5,000km long coast of Brazil. As such the Brazilian UH-15 Super Cougar is the most complex variant of the baseline Caracal. A testimony to the exceptional flexibility of the H225M platform.

EDR – January / February 2017


© Airbus Helicopters

M UH-15 N-701 was the first EC725 delivered

« I am particularly proud to present this new version », said Helibras president Richard Marelli. « This latest and unique version of the H225M is a testimony of the hard work our teams have been doing here in Brazil in close collaboration with Brazilian military customers. It also demonstrates our ability to effectively transfer technology, skills and knowhow to Brazil, and our commitment to support the development of the country’s aerospace industry ». The helicopter unveiled last October in Itajubá will be the first H225M in full naval combat version to be delivered to the Brazilian Navy. This event will take place in 2018, after the end of full military certification trials. Already in service in São Pedro de Aldeia since 2013 in cargo configuration, UH-15 #01 was later flown to Itajubá in order to be transformed for anti-surface combat. Out of the 16 H225Ms earmarked for the Brazilian Navy, half of these rotorcraft will be fitted out for AsuW missions, but five only fully rigged with 16

© J. Barros / FAB

to the Brazilian Navy. It is seen here while undergoing trials with Eurocopter in Marseille in 2010 under the F-ZWBS test registration. If all the Brazilians H225Ms are now manufactured by Helibras in the state of São Paulo, the first 16 aircraft were produced in Marignane.

January / February 2017 – EDR

their anti-surface MBDA/Avibras Exocet missiles. UH-15 #01 is part of a global order for fifty H225Ms for the Brazilian armed forces –the largest single order to this date– 26 of which have already been delivered to the Brazilian Air Force, Navy and Army. Helibras is in charge of the complete assembly of H225Ms in Itajubá, including integration of mission equipment, flight line activities and industrial acceptance. With a planned target to achieve 50% of national content of the H225M programme by 2020, Helibras has developed a local supply chain which includes more than 37 Brazilian companies.

A superb technical achievement © Airbus Helicopters

Let’s point out first that the five-bladed H225M Caracal with Speriflex main rotor is the latest evolution of the successful four-bladed Super Puma/ Cougar family of military helicopters, with more than 500 units delivered worldwide. As of today, M Characterised by its 5-bladed main rotor this H225M

Caracal ready for delivery to the Mexican Air Force displays its optional weaponry: on one side a FN Herstal 12.7mm machine gun pod and on the other a 68mm rocket pod. The helicopter can be fitted with removable armour plating to protect the troops. As can be well seen here, it is powered by a pair of Safran Makila 14A turboshaft engines mounted over the cabin which feature a dual-channel Full Authority Digital Engine Control (FADEC) system for added crew safety. O Inside the cockpit of a Brazilian Air Force H-36 Caracal.

The H225M’s Thales AHCAS “glass cockpit” is one of the most hi-tech ever conceived for an helicopter. It includes an advanced 4-axis autopilot system and Sagem Sigma 50H INS/GPS navigation, among others.

156 H225M Caracals have been ordered by France, Brazil, Mexico, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and Kuwait. A true concentrate of high-tech elements, the Caracal is a rotorcraft pilot’s dream, and it for sure should generate additional orders for Airbus Helicopters over the coming years. As a matter of fact, the recent commercial failure of Airbus Helicopter in Poland with its H225M should not hide a reality : this outcome is above all the result of a simple political setback and that does not question the exceptional qualities of this helicopter widely EDR – January / February 2017


© C. Shang

M The Royal Malaysian Air Force (TUDM)

was the first air arm in Asia to adopt the H225M Caracal. One of its twelve machines is pictured here performing for the crowds during the last Langkawi Air Show. appreciated by the few Polish airmen who were able to test it and most of which came from the very obsolete Mil Mi-8 school. Put into service in France exactly ten years ago, in 2006, the H225M (ex-EC725), alias Caracal, has been ordered so far by eight different countries. The most recent clients being, in 2016, Kuwait and the Republic of Singapore. Considered to be the technological culmination of the SA330 Puma family designed by Sud-Aviation fifty years ago – a very successful twin-engine transport helicopter, which first flight took place in April 1965 and further revived, half a century later, in Super Puma, Cougar, Cougar Mark.II and Super Cougar or Caracal guise – the H225M is a medium transport helicopter with a payload capacity comparable to that of the international bestseller on the market : the Russian Mil Mi-8 and Mi-17 built in over 12,000 copies since 1961. Some eighty H225M have been delivered to this date, and they are today in active service under the colours of Brazil, France, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mexico and Thailand. Outside France where the Armée de l’Air and the Army Aviation share a fleet of 19 Caracals used for special and C-SAR duties (reduced to 18 after 18

the loss, end 2014, of a machine in Burkina Faso), Brazil, which was the first export customers of the Caracal, has on order a fleet of 50 of these machines which are assembled on site at Helibras in Itajubá (São Paulo). Reflecting quite well the complexity of the Airbus Helicopters designations (inherited from the Sud-Aviation and Eurocopter periods), the Brazil military gives three different names to the H225M: H-36 Caracal in the air force, HM-4 Jaguar in the Army (AvEx) and UH-15 Super Cougar in the Navy (AvNa)! A total of 26 machines had been delivered by the end of 2016. The remaining 24 H225Ms should be delivered at a slower pace now due to the budgetary restrictions decided recently in Brasilia. And final deliveries have shifted from 2017 to 2019.

In various world colours The present situation of the world’s H225M Caracal fleet is as follows: • In France, at Cazaux, EH 1/67 «Pyrénées» for the Air Force and, in Pau for the Army Aviation, EOS 3 of the 4th RHFS, indifferently share eighteen H225M today deployed on multiple theatres, from Africa to the Middle East after having first illustrated the rotorcraft’s capability in Lebanon and Afghanistan. • In Brazil, the Air Force (FAB) already flies eight H-36s commissioned with 1°/8° GAv in Belém, Amazonia and with 3°/8° GAv in Campos dos Afonsos, on the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro, two squadrons previously January / February 2017 – EDR



© Natcom - www.natcom.fr - 01 47 30 31 32 - Photos : Sirpa Terre, Mer et Air – DCI



M A French Army Aviation (ALAT) H225M Caracal

test vehicle is seen during an air-to-air refuelling campaign with an Italian Air Force KC-130J tactical tanker. The Lockheed Martin KC-130 tanker derivatives have proved to be the best match for the Caracal once it was shown that the Airbus A400M was not suited for the job. For special operations purposes all H225Ms can be fitted with a telescopic refuelling probe. equipped with AS532 (H-34) Cougars ; s’y ajoutent worth mentioning are also the two VH-36s – or VIPconfigured Caracals used in Brasilia by the GTE in charge of official transportation. On their side, the Land Forces (EB) muster nine HM-4 Jaguars with 1°BavEx in Taubaté (São Paulo) while the Navy (MdB) has on strength seven UH-15 Super Cougars flown by HU-2 in São Pedro de Aldeia (Rio de Janeiro). • In Mexico, which air force has received fifteen H225Ms, these are split between the Fuerza Aérea Mexicana's Escuadrón Aéreo based at BAM#1 in Santa Lucia and 111 Escuadrón Aéreo stationed at BAM#5 in Zapopan. Highly busy in the national fight against the Jalisco drug cartels, they regularly come under fire and a Caracal was even damaged by a RPG-7 hit which killed several commandos onboard. • In Malaysia, twelve H225M have been commissioned with the Royal Malaysian Air Force No.5 Squadron in Labuan, North Borneo. They have taken on the SAR responsibility which had been for long resting on the old S-61A-4 Nuri/Sea Kings, since then transfered for the transport role to the Malaysian Army. 20

• In Indonesia, six Caracals are presently used by Skadron Helikopter 8 at Atang Senjaya air base (Bogor) in the island of Java, a stone throw away from Jakarta. • In Thalande, the 203 Helicopter Squadron from Khok Ka Thiem received between 2015 and 2016 a total of four H225Ms out of eight ordered from Airbus. They should gradually replace the legacy Bell UH-1Hs up exclusively devoted to SAR missions.

A rotorcraft with huge potential If we leave aside the Polish setback, which deprived the group of an expected 50-machine contract, 2016 however will be recalled as a good business year for Airbus Helicopter, as it first bagged a thirty H225Ms order from Kuwait and a further one for sixteen from the Republic of Singapore. The Kuwait Air Force should thus start to receive during 2017 the first of 24 H225M Caracals slotted to replace this country’s remaining legacy SA330 Pumas, plus six others due to be commissioned with the Kuwait National Guard. On her side, the Republic of Singapore Air Force should put her hands on the first H225Ms earmarked to take over the role of the surviving AS332 Super Pumas still on strength with No.125 “Puma” Squadron in Sembawang after three decades. Like an important part of the RSAF Super Puma’s fleet, several Caracals will be permanently deployed in Australia, along with the Cougars of No.126 “Cougar” Squadron stationed at the Oakey Army Aviation Centre in Queensland and, very likely also, on BA120 in Cazaux, France although January / February 2017 – EDR

this information has not been officialy confirmed. Whatever, Singapore’s strong interest for the Caracal is likely to turn soon into a further option for more of these rotorcraft, with a projected uniform fleet of some fifty Caracals in the end. Kazakhstan, already an Airbus client with EC145 and C295 aircraft, was during a short time seen as another likely customer of Airbus Helicopters’ H225M Caracal. A letter of intent had been even signed in May 2012 for that purpose, with some twenty machines under negociation to supersede as many older Mi17 inherited from the Soviet period. These Caracals should have been assembled in-country at Astana. However, due to the important drop in global oil price, this deal never went through. No cash, no machine. Nevertheless a reduced order for only two VIPconfigured H225Ms for governmental use remains likely. India also is in the stop-and-go pipeline. As the Indian Coast Guard would like to purchase 14 Caracals (or as many Sikorsky S-92s) to replace the now quite weary Westland Sea Kings responsible for national SAR. But no final decision has been taken so far. N The H225M is equipped with a full self-defence

© A. Pecchi / Airbus Helicopters

suite including a comprehensive set of sensors. Here an H225M earmarked for the Brazilian Air Force is seen during validation tests in France releasing its complete load of deception flares. The FAB will receive eight C-SAR versions in total, all of which will also be equipped with an integrated suite including laser warning systems (LWS) and radar warning receivers (RWR).

Airbus Helicopter has developped four different cabin configurations for the H225M: a troop transport version for up to 24 or 29 soldiers; a VIP model with comfortable airline seats for 8 to 12 passengers; a Medevac variant capable of carrying 12 stretchers and 4 seated medical assistants; and a full “Combat SAR” with a telescopic air-to-air refuelling probe aswell as a variety of weapons (machine-guns, rockets and cannon). The naval versions of the baseline H225M are all able to carry and launch a pair of AM39 Exocet antiship missiles. Well motorised, fitted with a “full glass cockpit” and a hi-tech avionics suite with INS and a 4-axis autopilot the Caracal also benefits from a very up to date self-defence ensemble and armoured lining capable of defeating light gun fire. Obviously, the Caracal’s career is only beginning. This outstanding rotorcraft being gifted with a very competitive price tag (some EUR20 million unit cost) for a twin turbine 11-tonne helicopter unanimously regarded as a very well designed machine. At this stage, it is interesting to observe that many purchasers of the H225M Caracal have also been long time users of the Puma, Super Puma and Cougar range of rotorcraft. A clear proof that the “commonality” issue so much in vogue with Airbus for her commercial airliners is also very much a lasting trend in the rotorcraft business where it helps in keeping flying and maintenance costs at a decent level. J

EDR – January / February 2017


During last November and for the second time in history, Cazaux air base (BA120) in France, in the Bordeaux region, hosted exercise Salamandre (Salamander), a low-keyed bi-national French and US drill entirely devoted to Combat Search-and-Rescue (C-SAR): namely, the research and fast egress of allied airmen (or agents) downed over or isolated in enemy territory.

© J.-M. Guhl

“Salamandre 2016”: a unique Franco-US C-SAR exercise

M During exercise Salamandre 2016 at Cazaux air base in France, a USAFE HH-60G Pave Hawk performs a formation landing on an improvised DZ along with a French Air Force H225M Caracal. Of note is the in-flight refuelling probe sticking out of the two rotorcraft. 22

January / February 2017 – EDR


very demanding and perillous mission, generally conducted at night in hostile airspace, often very stealthily and in total radio silence, C-SAR is moreover a hard job which requires much professional experience and years of training in order to be successful. With only one option : to get everybody home safe. Indeed, a well executed C-SAR sortie requires a considerable amount of practice and co-ordination between all the actors involved, let them be « slow movers » (like tankers or accompanying tactical cargos) or « fast movers » (like fighter planes providing escort and top cover). Far from the public eyes, in the exacting field of C-SAR recent resounding failures, like those in Somalia, still have a bitter taste to both US and French C-SAR aircrews which had to suffer losses and casualties in vain… A high human and material cost for nothing ! Pinned on top of all human valuable deeds however, C-SAR remains today, within NATO forces at least, a very singular proficiency, one that is fully mastered daily by only two nations : the USA and France. Particularly as, in order to be productive, a C-SAR mission requires important escort and support means combined into a perfectly knit COMAO or Composite Air Operation. All this finely tuned.

Pave Hawks and Caracals During the 3-week long “Salamandre 2016” exercise some 300 personnel and 14 aircraft were reported active, including, three Airbus Helicopters H225M Caracals (ex-Eurocopter EC725) from Escadron d’Hélicoptères 1/67 “Pyrénées” from Cazaux and three Sikorsky HH60G Pave Hawks belonging to the USAFE 56th Rescue Squadron from RAF Lakenheath, England. These six machines were supported daily by a pair of Lockheed Martin MC-130J Commando II tankers from the USAFE 67th Special Operations Squadron, purposely deployed at Orléans air base, but normally stationed at RAF Mildenhall in England. Total US participation amounted to 120 personnel, backed by French Army specialists and men from the NATO Polygone de Guerre Électronique (or Tri-National Multinational Aircrew Electronic Warfare Tactics Facility Polygone) in order to jam radio communications and complicate C-SAR sorties with unexpected adverse cyber and ECM counteractions. Providing increased realism to the drill scenario – that is: to invert the balance of power at a chosen place and at a specific time through the use of airpower in EDR – January / February 2017

order to rescue one single individual, says the book – two Rafale and two Mirage 2000C fighters supplied top cover for all “Salamandre” C-SAR sorties under the protective umbrella of a French Air Force Boeing E-3F AWACS and with the last minute information updates provided in real-time by an Harfang reconnaissance MALE drone despatched from the Cognac-based ED 1/33 “Belfort”. EH 1/67 and 56th RQS have a unique peculiarity: « They are the only one in Europe and in this part of the world to be equipped with rotorcraft capable of being refuelled in flight. And that is why we often train together in order to hone this common and unique asset » reminds lieutenant-colonel Sébastien Alvarez, boss of EH 1/67, the host of the exercise. For this rotorcraft veteran, perfectly fluent in English after having spent several years in the USA as NATO exchange pilot in two USAF HH-60G Pave Hawk squadrons, a better oversight and a proper use of C-SAR is thus highly scrutinised and tested during “Salamandre” for both sides – US and French – to exploit later and pass onto other C-SAR crews.

Harmonising C-SAR techniques For US Major Mark Uberuaga, the 56th RQS “ops chief” leading the USAFE party, the bi-national exercise conducted from Cazaux air base also focused on mutualising US and French C-SAR assets, and on simple ways to harmonise mission implementation as well as their preparation. Much of this move is however a natural and “no-sweat” issue, thanks to common NATO flight and safety procedures which have proved their worth over the past decades. As such, Caracal and Pave Hawk helicopters compare quite well and come as a good match of lift capacities and self-defence systems. « Even if our Caracals still lack Satcom, Link 16 and better guns, these options are nevertheless in the funnel and slotted to be added within reasonable delay. They include addition of side rocket pods, 0.5inch machine guns or a 20mm canon pod, much of which is already available on the Pave Hawk » points Lt-Col. Alvarez. Belonging to different generations – the first Pave Hawks were commissioned in 1982, the first Caracals in 2005 – the two helicopters display very different airlift capacities: with 29 passengers for the Caracal and only 8 for the Pave Hawk, the later’s cabin being also busy with two additional kerosene tanks reported mandatory for the long range C-SAR sorties. However both machines incorporate a massive telescopic air-to-air refuelling 23

P US Air Force

© J.-M. Guhl

para-jumpers pose along with French Air Force special forces commandos in front of a HH-60G Pave Hawk.

probe on the starboard side. An appendix which provides exceptional loitering time as well as the extended range so crucial for C-SAR sorties. Aiming at achieving the best possible interoperability between US and French aviators, “Salamandre 2016” witnessed the presence at Cazaux not only of C-SAR rotorcraft and their crews, but also of USAF “PJs” (para-jumpers) belonging to the 57th RQS and of commandos from the French Air Force CPA 10 and 30 units, all embarked onboard the attending Caracal and Pave Hawk helicopters. In order to continue the comparison of their respective working methods and to maintain their operational capability, “Salamandre” set a scenario for better co-operative flying in realistic tactical conditions, including bad weather and high winds. Which happened to be fully the case, due to a large meteo depression then building on the Atlantic! Both in the US and France, the rescue PJs are trained in combat and medical evacuation (Medevac) and, as such, “Salamander 2016” gave rise to multiple sessions of training focused on treating medical emergencies (on mannequins) as well to practice live gun shooting. Opportunately, this gave the press an opportunity to observe the new German HK416 short barreled assault 5.56mm rifle now gradually replacing the legacy Famas in French military units. A total of 102,000 HK416s has been ordered from Heckler & Koch in Germany to be delivered over the coming years and until 2030.

Changes ahead for this next decade “Salamandre” resulted in some 265 hours of total flying activity mainly distributed between the Caracals and the Pave Hawks which had to log at least a flight each day/night per crew. The drill demonstrated how brilliantly the Caracal crews 24

– mostly veterans from the Afghanistan and Mali combat theatres – excel at operating their machines in the most unlikely places. It is interesting to note that being a joint oufit, EH 1/67 already counts in its ranks several foreign NATO exchange pilots (including a US major), as well as French Navy and French Army Aviation men. As a matter of fact, in 2018, the whole French H225M Caracal fleet, now divided between EH 1/67 in Cazaux and the 4th RHCFS (EOS 3) in Pau, is to be consolidated into a single “joint” squadron of 18 aircraft. Already the “Pyrénées” is losing the last of its old SA330 Pumas to other French Air Force SAR squadrons, in Corsica and in overseas territories. This move is intended to streamline and centralise the Caracal’s logistics as well as to « weld more crews around the DNA of their mission which remains fundamentally joint » insists LtCol Alvarez. As of 2018 as well and a very good thing, EH 1/67 should benefit from the permanent support of two brand-new Lockheed Martin KC-130J tankers based in Évreux (BA 105), and purchased from the USA last year through a fast FMS procedure. Quite in parallel, the aviators of the 56th et 57th RQS are now getting ready to leave for good their historical English air base for a new one in Italy. Under the current reshuffle of existing USAFE units, decision was made recently to reassign these two squadrons to Aviano AB in scenic Venetia where they are due, along with their five HH-60G Pave Hawks, to be placed under the command of the local USAFE 31st Fighter Wing. At a later date, in 2021, the 56th RQS is already earmarked to receive a newer and improved variant of the Pave Hawk : the HH-60W, a much enhanced C-SAR variant of the basic US Army Sikorsky UH60M Black Hawk ordered in 112 copies in 2014 by the USAF. The “Whisky” will feature improved sensors, a different self-defence suite and better V/UHF and Satcom radios. Just all that is needed to set NATO C-SAR to new high standards. J January / February 2017 – EDR

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DCNS believes that the sea is this planet’s future. DCNS is inventing high-tech solutions to sustaiGroup’s success as an advanced technology company with global reach is built on meeting customer nably secure and develop its potential. DCNS is a world leader in naval defence and an innovative player in energy. designs, builds and supports submarines and surface combatants. It also needs by DCNS deploying exceptional know-how, unique industrial resources and an ability to develop proposes services for naval shipyards and bases. Last but not least, DCNS offers a range of solutions innovative strategic partnerships. DCNS designs and builds submarines and surface combatants, in civil nuclear engineering and marine renewable energy.


O The 87m and 1,500t full load

L’Adroit OPV has proved its capabilities in more than four years of availability with French Navy.

© Euvafor Somalia

Multirole OPVs: worldwide coastguards and navies future The recent years’ naval, constabulary, antipiracy and humanitarian operations around the world seas have highlighted the need for both main and smaller navies to induct into service offshore patrol vessel capable to accomplish a wide range of missions. Emerged requirements mandate for flexibility, modularity and lower lifecycle costs in addition to larger platforms, which can withstand high-seas conducting operations with helicopters and UAVs in network-centric environment. The European shipbuilders maintains a strong patrol vessels product portfolio on the international market, which is being analysed in the around and over 50 meters’ segment. 26

© Euvafor Somalia

By Luca Peruzzi

M L’Adroit OPV 90 design is the higher-end family

member of Kership joint-venture between DCNS and Piriou. January / February 2017 – EDR

© Kership


M The Kership 52m and 45,7m OPV models feature

a C-Sharp (Combined-Speed Hull with All-Round Performance) hullforms offering high performance at all speeds. Altesse COMINT systems, Lacroix Sylena decoy launchers and an armament package centred on a 20mm gun and small calibre weapons. The smaller 52m OPV 52 and 45,7m OPV 45 models feature a C-Sharp (Combined–Speed Hull with All-Round Performance) hullforms offering high performance at all speeds. C-Sharp vessels feature increased autonomy, enhanced seakeeping behaviour and improved stability. The 500t OPV 52 has a maximum 25-35 knots speed range and a 2,500nm range at 15 knots. With a 22-crew complement, it can be armed with a 40 or 57mm gun, four Marte antiship missiles a Simbad RC two-Mistrals launchers

© Avotrimage

he French industry is the most prolific in the construction and fitting-out of patrol vessels for navies, constabulary and coast guard bodies. Since 2013, DCNS and Piriou shipbuilder are marketing under Kership joint-venture a range of OPVs from 45 to 90 meters, featuring a panoramic bridge and a Polaris family command management system. The prototype of larger OPV 90, the 87 meters long and 1,500t full load displacement (fld) L’Adroit OPV proved its capabilities in more than four years of availability with French Navy. With a semi-planing steel monohull and pyramidal superstructures with high panoramic bridge surmounted by a single enclosed mast, it is equipped with a two-diesel engines and waterjets, providing a 21 knots maximum speed and 8,000nm range or three weeks endurance. The OPV 90 features a hangar and flight deck for a medium-size helicopter and one ton unmanned air system, as well as a stern launch and recovery area for two RHIB and unmanned surface vehicles. The OPV has a limitedto-30 members crew plus additional accommodation for 29 persons, and has successfully operated at sea with Schiebel Camcopter S100 unmanned rotary-wing vehicle, integrated with DCNS Polaris CMS. The later manages a sensors suite including Terma Scanter surface search radars, Sagem EOMS NG EO multisensory system, navigation radars, Thales communications suite, Vigile LW ESM and

P The Ocean Eagle 43 is an ocean patrol

trimaran with a composite-made hull, providing increased speed and autonomy, while ensuring a good comfort even in moderate to rough sea conditions.

EDR – January / February 2017


© Avotrimage

and two 20 or 12,7mm guns, in addition to two 6.8 RHIBs. The joint-venture and Piriou announced on October 2014 a contract from Gabon Government for a 58.2m OPV 50 model vessel. Working to build a completely new shipyard complex at its Cherbourg historic location, as part of Privinvest shipbuilding group, CMN has widened its product portfolio, introducing both new combatant and patrol vessels. In the latter sector, as part of a wider contract, in 2015 CMN delivered three Ocean Eagle 43 maritime surveillance and intervention vessels, featuring a radically innovative design to Mozambique. The Ocean Eagle 43 is an ocean patrol trimaran with a very slender composite-made hull with two small floats providing reduced fuel expenditures, increase speed and autonomy, while ensuring a good level of comfort even in moderate to rough sea conditions. With a 43,6 metres length and 15.2 metres beam and a max 1,6 metres draught, the trimaran can reach a maximum speed of 30 knots thanks to four Scania diesel engines and features a 3,000 endurance at 20 knots. With 7 members crew and accommodation for additional 8 personnel, the vessel has 7m RHIB stern ramp and platform for a 300kg class UAV such as the Schiebel Camcopter S-100. The Raytheon Anschutz Syntacs 32 integrated bridge system manages both sensors and weapons including a 20 or 30mm remotely controlled gun and two 12.7mm. CMN also offers the well-known OPV and patrol vessel Vigilante family ranging from the 79m CL79 model with round bilge shape

M With a 43,6 metres length and 15.2 metres

© Luca Peruzzi

beam and 1,6 metres draught, the Ocean Eagle 43 trimaran can reach 30 knots and features a 3,000 endurance at 20 knots.

M CMN offers the well-known OPV and patrol

vessel Vigilante family ranging from the 79m CL79 model (here depicted), with round bilge shape hull, helicopter platform with hangar and two 9.5m RHIBs, to the 42m BR42 model. 28

hull, helicopter platform with hangar and two 9.5m RHIBs, to the 42m BR42 model. In the middle stand the Vigilante 700 CL65 model with four propulsion diesel engines offering a 25+ speed and 3,500nm at 12 knots. With a 49-members crew and an armament package including a medium gun and two remotely operated up-to-30mm guns with options, the CL65 can operate two 6.5m RHIB with dedicated A-Frame davit. In 2016, Privinvest group won a shipbuilding and technology transfer program with Angola Government to built 17 patrol vessels to be delivered by CMN, but no details have been provided on the vessels’ specifications. Specialized in the design, building and support of aluminium vessels up to 85m, the French Northern-Atlantic coast-based OCEA shipyard has enlarged its OPV products portfolio, introducing the 58m OPV 190 and 85m OPV 270. The main benefits of aluminium-made hulls compared to steel constructions, include low maintenance, acquisition and operating costs, according to OCEA. Delivered in one example to the Senegalese Navy in October 2016, the 58m long and 9.4m large OPV 190 MkII model is powered by two MTU 16V4000 M73 diesel engines providing a 26 knots maximum speed, a 5,500nm range at 12 knts and a three-weeks endurance. The OPV is equipped with two 7.5m RHIBs on davits, detention area for apprehended suspects and a divers facility. The large rear deck can January / February 2017 – EDR

© Luca Peruzzi

M OCEA has developed the largest

aluminium-hull OPV on the world market: the 84m OPV 270 has been ordered so far in one vessel by an Asian customer.

© Marine Nationale

accept mission modules. With a 34-crew complement and accommodation for additional 35 passengers, the vessel is equipped with surveillance and navigation radars, a Nexeya-provided command-and-control system, Safran Vigy Observer surveillance turret and an armament package including an MSI Defense Seahawk 30 mm gun and two 12.7mm guns. Being the largest aluminium-hull OPV on the world market, the 84m OPV 270 has been ordered so far in one vessel by an Asian customer. With am 83.6 length and 15.4m beam, the OPV 270 base line versions

use conventional diesel propulsion with electric propulsion as an option. Maximum speed range from 20 to 25 knots while range is 8,000nm at 15kts. With a 35-members crew with accommodation for additional 35 people, the OPV 270 features a 360° bridge, 10t helicopter-capable flight deck and hangar for a 5t helicopter and UAV. Two large RHIB are also available while the armament is based on a 20 or 30mm main gun. N In October 2016, Socarenam delivered

the first of two-700t, 61m long light patrol vessel for Guyana and Caribbean Sea operations (Patrouilleur Léger Guyanais, PLG), to be followed by the second in the second-quarter 2017.

© Chilean Navy © Luca Peruzzi © Chilean Navy

M Socarenam has supplied a 54m OPV to

M German Fassmer shipbuilder design of 80m OPV

French customs authority in 2015, anticipated by two 43m OPV in 2007 and 2008, with new 32m vessel on order.

found applications in South America, being selected by ASMAR and COTECMAR shipyards for respectively Chilean and Colombian Navy requirements.

Raidco Marine as prime contractor, designs and markets OPV built by partner shipyards, including Quimper-based Ufast. In addition to the 45m OPV 45 model, of which a first-of-class has been delivered to Senegalese Navy in 2014, Raidco Marine offers an entire OPV family ranging from 40 to 70 metres. The largest OPV 70, which was built at STX France Lorient facilities has been delivered to Royal Moroccan Navy in 2011. The Northern France-based Socarenam shipyard is offering a 15-80 metres range of patrol vessel in collaboration with naval architecture firm Bureau

Mauric. Socarenam entered the international OPV market with the delivery of two 52m and 448t fld vessels to Belgium Navy in 2014-2015. Deployed by Belgium Navy in the North Sea for a range of constabulary duties, these OPVs are equipped with 9m RHIB on davits and a 7.5m RHIB on its after-launch ramp. With a 12 members crew and accommodation for 30 personnel, the twoMTU diesel-based ship propulsion system allows a maximum 21 knots speed. Thales-supplied SEWACO command-and-control system manages sensors and a remotely controlled 12,7mm machine-gun.

P COTECMAR has unveiled in 2016 a new OPV

model based on Colombian Navy requirements called OPV90 MkII with 2,500t fld, 93 meters long and 14m large. Here depicted the OPV80 model in service with Chilean Navy.


January / February 2017 – EDR

© US Navy

Socarenam also supplied a larger version to French customs authority in 2015, anticipated by two 43m OPV in 2007 and 2008. In October 2016, the French shipyard delivered the first of two-700t fld light patrol vessel for Guyana and Caribbean Sea operations (Patrouilleur Léger Guyanais, PLG), to be followed by the second in second-quarter 2017. The 61m long, 9.5m large with a 3.2m draught PLGs feature a twodiesel propulsion system to reach 21 knots and two electric motors for low speeds. Manned by a 24-units crew and accommodation for additional 14 people, the PLGs are equipped with two 7.6m RHIBs, one on davits and the other aft ramp launched and an armament package centred on a Nexter Narwhal 20 mm remotely controlled gun. German Fassmer shipbuilder design of 80 m OPV found applications in South American continent, being selected by ASMAR shipyard for Chilean Navy requirements. With a 1,728t fld, 80,6m length and 13m beam, the OPV 80 design features an x-shaped hull to reduce RCS and a propulsion system based on two Wartsila 12V26 4,080 kW-rated diesel engines, providing a maximum speed of 20kt. With two service and rescue RHIBs and a flight deck with hangar for a 5t helicopter, the Piloto Pardo-class OPV is in service with three vessels, while a fourth is to be delivery in 2017 on a planned class of six units. Enhancements allowed Antarctic water operations and Leonardo 76mm Compact gun instead of 40 mm. Colombian Navy followed with three vessels delivered by COTECMAR shipyard, which has introduced improvement on the latter OPV, based on higher speed, a more capable armament package based on Leonardo 76 mm and M242-ATK 25 mm guns together with a 10t helicopter flight deck and hangar. COTECMAR has unveiled in 2016 a new EDR – January / February 2017

M The defence division of Luerseen is offering an

OPV family ranging from 85 to 95m vessels, which are a further development of the Darussalam-class four vessels OPVs in service with Royal Brunei Navy, here depicted. OPV model based on Colombian Navy requirements called OPV90 MkII with 2,500t fld, 93 meters long and 14m large, with larger endurance, more capable command, control and weapon systems, and a 10t helicopter hangar e flight deck. German Fassmer shipbuilder offer a range of constabulary and combatant OPVs including a new 1,900t and 92,5m OPV 90 version of smaller OPV 80 model, with 27knots speed and 7,500nm range at 12 knots. With the recent acquisition of Blohm+Voss shipyard, Luerseen shipbuilding group has strengthened its product portfolio. The defence division is offering an OPV family ranging from 85 to 95m vessels, which are a further development of the Darussalam-class four vessels OPVs in service with Royal Brunei Navy. With a 1,486t fld, 80m length and 13 beam, these OPV represents a 40-member crew (+18 embarked) and a modular design concept with a stern helicopter flight deck but no hangar, underneath which find accommodation mission modules and a 10m RHIB launch and recovery ramp and stern rescue platform. The two MTU diesel-based propulsion system provides a max speed of 22kt. The armament includes a 57mm Bofors or 27mm MLG27 main gun, two 20mm and 12,7 mm weapons, and 4 MBDA MM40 Block 3 anti-ship missiles. The electron suite is based on Terma C-FLEX CMS and Scanter 4100 surveillance, navigation radars, Thales Sting EO Mk2 FCS, ITT ES 31

P The 1,520t and 88,4m large Comandanti-class

© Italian Navy

have been heavily deployed in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean and its design has been used for Sirio-class and the 1,620t Abu Dhabi-class corvette for the UAE Navy.

3601 ESM and Terma decoy launchers. The 1,840t, 90m long and 13,2m large model differs for enhanced helicopter facilities with hangar and a more powerful propulsion system providing a 24 knots speed and reduced weapon package, while the 1,900t and 95m long larger version features a more populated sensors and weapons package, in addition to two-9m RHIBs. Both German Luerseen and Fassmer shipyards, the latter through TKMS Australia, alongside the Netherlands Damen group, have been selected by the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) for the comparative evaluation process (CEP) phase of the SEA 1180 OPV program. With a winner to be selected in 2017, the SEA 1180 program regards the design, building and maintain of 12 new OPVs for the Royal Australian Navy to replace Armidaleclass patrol vessels. Both ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and Abeking and Rasmussen also provides a range of patrol and combat vessel designs, which for the TMKS has formed the basis for the combatant patrol corvette to be built in cooperation with German Naval Yards Holdings for the Israeli Navy. Fincantieri shipbuilding group products portfolio ranges from the 1,520t fld and 88,4m Cigala Fulgosi or Comandanti-class and 1,580t and 88,6m Sirio-class OPVs to the smaller 50m Saettia family of patrol vessels and the larger 3,600t Coast Guardspecified Dattilo-class OPVs. The 1,520t fld, 88,4m 32

large and 12,2m large Comandanti-class have been heavily deployed in the Mediterranean Sea and Indian Ocean in a wide range of missions and its design have been also selected for Sirio-class as well as the 1,620t Abu Dhabi-class corvette for the UAE Navy. With a two-diesel engine-equipped propulsion system offering a 25 knots speed and active-fin stabilizers, the Comandanti-class OPVs features a flight deck and retractable hangar for AB212/NH90 helicopters. The Leonardo-provided combat system include a latest generation CMS, a 2D search radar, fire control system and EO/IR multisensory turret, dual-band navigation radars (provided by GEM Elettronica) and provisions for an EW suite, while the armament package include a Leonardo 76/62 mm Super Rapid main gun and two 25mm. The Saettia-class patrol vessels are in service in different versions with Italian Coast Guard, Iraqi Navy and Maltese armed forces. The latter has recently awarded a contract to Fincantieri for upgrading its single vessel. The Sirio-class OPV forms the design basis of the four Dost-class SAR OPVs built by Turkish RMK Marine shipyard as the flagship-class for the Turkish Coast Guard and being offered internationally. Fincantieri’s company Vard, through its Canada-based naval architecture and marine engineering subsidiary Vard Marine has been selected by US Coast Guard as part of US Eastern January / February 2017 – EDR

M Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group offers a dual-hull type OPVs

Shipbuilding industrial team to design and construct (by the prime US shipyard) the first series (if all options are exercised) of 9 Offshore Patrol Cutters (OPC) to replace the Medium Endurance Cutters currently in service. The whole program goal is to build 25 OPCs. The new US Coast Guard vessel is based on the Vard 7110 OPC design which notional characteristics include a 109m length and 16,4m beam with a USCG helicopter-capable f light deck and hangar plus 3 RHIBs and a propulsion system capable to provide a sustained speed of 22.5 knots with 60 days’ endurance. The Vard 7090 design is used

© Damen

family, the latest or 2nd generation (OPV-2) featuring the Sea Axe hull shape providing superior seakeeping and sustained high speeds (max 25/26 knots) in high sea states. for the three 90m, 23-knots OPV being built by UK Babcock Appledore shipyard for the Irish Naval Service, which are the second-generation vessels based on the successful 7080 series built at the same shipyard 12 years earlier. Although world-wide known for its family of Stan Patrol vessels, ranging from 13 to 60 plus meters, Netherlands-based Damen Shipyards Group offers a dual-hull type OPVs family, the latest or 2nd generation (OPV-2) featuring the Sea Axe hull shape which is designed to reduce water resistance to enable superior seakeeping, providing sustained high speeds (max 25/26 knots) in high sea states. Both the more conventional (capable up to 23 knots) and the Sea Axe hull platforms feature multi-mission locations – namely the bridge, hangar and bay. Except for the smaller 62 meters and 1,000t OPV model, the family of 75m

© Damen

O The Damen OPV family

members of 75m (1,400t) 85m (1,800t), 95m (2,400t) and 103m (2,600t), feature a multi-mission locations-namely the bridge, hangar and bay. 33

© Navantia

(1,400t) 85m (1,800t), 95m (2,400t) and 103m (2,600t), feature a multi-mission bay capable to accommodate dedicated mission modules, in addition to two 7.5 meters RHIBs, a stern flight deck with hangar capable to store an 11-tonne NH90 helicopter and a Boeing Scan Eaglesize UAV and a command-and-control centre (C2 Centre) located directly behind the bridge to offer faster response and better maritime picture. Damen OPV design has already been selected worldwide and by potential operators, such as the Australian Department of Defence (DoD), the latter mainly for the comparative evaluation process phase of the new 12-vessels SEA 1180 OPV program. Damen is also working in partnership with Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding to deliver two 6711 (67 metres) higherend Stan Patrol family OPVs to the UAE Critical Infrastructure and Coastal Protection Authority (CCPA) under Project Arialah. Spanish Navantia shipbuilding group presents an EEZ and homeland security missions Avante OPV family products portfolio ranging from 45 to

M Spanish Navantia shipbuilding group offers the

Avante 45 to 94 metres OPV family products portfolio, including the combatant Venezuelan Navy-provided POVZEE (Patrullero Oceanico de Vigilancia), here depicted, and BVL (Buque de Vigilancia) OPVs. N The BAE Systems Maritime - Naval Ships 90,5m long

© BAE Systems

and 13,5m large OPV design is in service with different equipment, electronics and weapon packages with Brazilian and Royal Thailand (RTN) Navy.

of 5 River-class Batch 2 OPVs, with deliveries starting in 2017 and based on 90-metres BAE Systems platform but higher displacement and mainly enhanced helicopter capabilities.

94 metres, and including the combatant Venezuelan Navy-provided four POVZEE (Patrullero Oceanico de Vigilancia) and four BVL (Buque de Vigilancia) OPVs. With a 2,250t fld, 98,8m length and 13,6m beam, POVZEE propulsion system is based on four 4,400kW-rated MTU 12V-1163-TB93 diesel engines providing a top speed of 25 knots. Characterized by a stern flight deck and hangar capable to accommodate a 10t helicopter in addition to two RHIBs, the POVZEE is fitted with a Thales-provided TACTICOS CMS and sensor package including SMART-S surveillance radar, Scout navigation radar, STING EO Mk2 multi-sensors and MIRADOR electrooptical fire control systems, Vigile ESM, Altesse COMINT and decoy launchers. With a 52 unitscrew (+40 accommodations), the armament includes a Leonardo 76/62 mm Super Rapid cannon, one Oerlikon 35mm Millennium CIWS and 12.7mm guns, with provisions for anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles. Based on Serviola-class patrol boats design for Spanish Navy, the four Guaicamacuto-class BVL OPV features a 1,720t fld, 79.9m length and 11m beam, flight deck (medium-size helicopters) but no hangar, and a propulsion system centred on two MTU 12V-1163-TB93 diesel engines providing a 20 knots maximum speed. With a 35 units-crew (+29 accommodations), electronics and armament are similar to POVZEE class. Navantia is also offering on the international market the more capable Spanish navy’s Buque de Acciòn Maritima (BAM). Turkish Daersan shipyard has also developed a patrol boat design based on the 57m Tuzla class EDR – January / February 2017


© BAE Systems

M The UK MoD has placed orders for a total

patrol boat for Turkish Navy as well as 65m and 600t patrol vessels with or without flight deck. UK-based BAE Systems Maritime - Naval Ships is proposing 80 metres and 90 metres OPV family which found national and abroad success. The 90,5 m long and 13,5m large OPV design is in service with different equipment, electronics and weapon packages with Brazilian and Royal Thailand (RTN) Navy. The 90 metres design features a 20-metres flight deck without hangar for a 7t helicopters and additional deck space for up to six 20ft ISO containers. With an around 36 personnel crew and accommodation for up to 20 additional personnel, the propulsion system is based on two MAN 16V28/33D 7,350 kW-rated diesel engines, offering a 25+kt maximum speed. The three Brazilian Navy Amazonas class vessels are equipped with a MSI-Defence Systems Seahawk A2 30 mm main gun and two Seahawk A1 25mm guns, Terma Scanter 4100 air/surface surveillance and navigation radars, Ultra Osiris C2 system and one BAE Systems Halmatic Pacific 24 7.8 metres RHIB launched from a starboard davit. BAE Systems signed in February 2016 a contract with Thailand’s Bangkok Dock shipbuilder to support its program to build a second 90-metres OPV for the RTN. The first-of-class Krabi OPV’s combat system includes one Leonardo 76mm Super Rapid main gun, two MSI 30 mm guns and a sensors package with Thales Nederland-provided Variant air surveillance and target indication radar, Lirod Mk2 fire control system and NG Sperry Marine navigation radars. With a December 2016 contract, the UK MoD has placed orders for a total of 5 Riverclass Batch 2 OPVs, with deliveries starting in 2017 and based on 90-metres BAE Systems platform but with differences centred 2,000t fld, a strengthened flight deck for operations with Leonardo Merlintype helicopter and improved services together with additional accommodations (up to 50), a BAE Systems CMS-1 combat system, an automated 30mm DS30M Mk2 and two 7,62mm miniguns. J

N Under a European Defence Agency (EDA) initiative,

the Netherlands, Norway and Poland will operate a fleet of Airbus A330 MRTT aircraft.

© BAirbus

Multi-Role Force Multipliers


By David Oliver

he recent coalition air operations against the so-called “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) in both Iraq and in Syria have again highlighted the importance of air-air-refuelling (AAR) as force multiplier. They have also highlighted the lack of AAR capability among the European members of the coalition with only 60 percent of them owning their own AAR assets, namely Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom. Europe is able to field around 40 tanker aircraft of 10 different types, which when compared with the US resources of over 550 tankers of three types is a clear indication of the European challenges in this field. The European Defence Agency (EDA) has recognized that here is a need for increased AAR capability as well as better and more collective AAR training to harmonize standards and share expertise. With a letter of intent signed by ten Member States in November 2012, Defence Ministers from Belgium, France, Greece, Spain, Hungary, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal and Norway agreed to consider acquiring new multi-role tanker (MRTT) aircraft together. Led by the Netherlands, this agreement had the objective to acquire and operate an MRTT fleet to contribute to reducing the existing shortfalls in the field of AAR and strategic transport while contributing to streamlining the European inventories. The aim was to reach and initial operating capability (IOC) by 2020. However, following European financial instability, defence budgets were reduced and many of the signatories withdrew from the project, 36

leaving only the Netherlands, Norway and Poland. In July 2016 The Netherlands Ministry of Defence notified Parliament of the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with Luxembourg to proceed with the acquisition of a pooled fleet of Airbus A330 Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft, and the signing of a contract paving the way for the delivery of two aircraft with options for up to six more when, as expected, other nations join the grouping. The contract also covers two years of initial support. 

The DA, OCCAR, NSPA, Airbus Defence & Space strongly welcomed the agreement to acquire aircraft for operation by NATO following a process facilitated by the EDA. The A330 MRTT aircraft will be based in Eindhoven in the Netherlands and operated in a similar way to NATO’s C-17 Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) based at Pápa in Hungary with a fleet of Boeing C-17s. One of the original signatories to the 2012 EDA agreement, France placed an order in December 2015 with Airbus Defence & Space for eight additional A330 MRTT aircraft for the French Air Force. The aircraft constitute the second tranche of a multi-year contract for a total of 12 A330 MRTTs signed by the French Ministry of Defence in November 2014 and bring the total of firm orders to nine. The remaining three aircraft are scheduled to be confirmed in 2018 with deliveries of all 12 aircraft before 2025 to replace the French Air Force’s fleet of 14 Boeing KC-135FR tankers. The first A330 MRTT will be delivered in 2018, followed by the second in 2019, and the remainder at a rate of one or two per year. January / February 2017 – EDR

used to conduct a series of dry-contact contacts with a C-295 receiver aircraft, equipped with a palletised AAR kit. N Airbus Defence and Space flew the first

new standard A330 MRTT in 2016 which will be be delivered to France and the EDA programme.

M Airbus Defence and Space has followed its recent

successful demonstration of air-to-airrefuelling between two C295W medium transports with a demonstration of refuelling contacts with a H225M Caracal helicopter.

Meanwhile Airbus Defence & Space is confident of more export sales following the first flight of the new standard A330 MRTT in September 2016. This incorporates a number of enhancements introduced on the basic A330 as well as upgraded military systems. The new standard A330 MRTT features structural modifications, aerodynamic improvements to give a fuel-burn reduction of up to one percent, upgraded avionics computers, and enhanced military systems. The new standard aircraft will be delivered to the French Air Force equipped with a combination of the Airbus Refuelling Boom System (ARBS) and N The palletized AAR kit

installed for flight trials in an Airbus C-295W.

© BAirbus

© BAirbus

M The company-owned Airbus C-295W

EDR – January / February 2017

underwing hose-and-drogue refuelling pods. They can be configured to carry up to 271 passengers as well as the French Morphée intensive care module carrying up to ten patients plus 88 passengers. While Airbus continues to attract new A330 MRTT customers
 the UK’s AirTanker Services took delivery of its fourteenth and final A330-200 aircraft on 13 July 2016 in the UK Future Strategic Tanker Aircraft programme which competed the Royal Air Force (RAF) fleet of nine core and five surge fleet aircraft known as Voyager. However, there has been questions of over capacity of the new tanker fleet and in 2016 one Voyager was refitted with 58 business-class seats to transform it to an aircraft suitable for the additional role of VIP transport suitable for government ministers and the members of the Royal Family, while at least one other has been leased to a commercial airline. The EDA has also highlighted the fact that AAR kits have only been purchased for 18 percent of Airbus Defence & Space A400M tactical transport. The A400M successfully demonstrated simultaneous air-to-air refuelling of two Spanish Air Force F/A-18 fighters in February 2015 during which the A400M performed 74 contacts and dispensed 27.2 tonnes of fuel. However, this success was tempered in October 2015, when Fernando Alonso, head of Airbus Defense & Space’s military aircraft division, admitted that the aerial refueling of helicopters by the A400M was impossible to achieve in the aircraft’s current configuration. As several countries including France had expressed interest in this capability, Alonso said that the company 37

© Boeing

had begun working on a solution to the problem. In October 2015 The French Air Force carried out its first operational in-flight refueling in Africa of a Caracal helicopter from a US Marine Corps KC-130 tanker. Only a month later France requested a Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of four Lockheed Martin C-130J aircraft, including two extended-range KC-130J tankers. In an attempt to find an alternative platform for air refuelling helicopters and extend the capability of its other military transport aircraft, Airbus Defence & Space has successfully demonstrated the AAR capabilities of the C-295 medium transport. In September 2016 a company-owned C-295W equipped with a palletised AAR kit performed a series of dry contacts with a Spanish Air Force C-295 receiver aircraft at various speeds down to 110 kt (203km/hr). The C-295 AAR platform has a particular application in the aerial refuelling of helicopters and Airbus announced helicopter-receiver trials before the end of the year. The modification uses a standard AAR kit fitted to pallets and involves only minimal modifications to the aircraft related to the control systems for hose-anddrogue operations. Although developed mainly for inflight refuelling of helicopters, the C-295 tanker could be used for replenishing other aircraft at up to 265 kt (485 km/hr) and the company has future plans to use the concept for aerial refuelling of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV). The AAR kit may be an attractive solution for European air forces including those of the Czech Republic, Poland and Portugal, all of which operate fleets of C-295 aircraft. While Airbus has taken the initiative in the AAR market, Boeing, having overcome and expensive and protracted development challenges to the US Air Force (USAF) KC-46A Pegasus programme, successfully completed the first flight of the programme’s second KC-46A tanker aircraft on 3 March 2016 and in August the Pentagon cleared production of the aircraft for delivery to operational squadrons. This 38

© Lockheed Martin

M The second Boeing KC-46A Pegasus made its first flight on 3 March 2016, and will be the first fully provisioned KC-46A tanker to carry out air refuelling trials.

M The United States Air Force is looking beyond

the commercial airliner-based MRTTs to the next generation KC-Z such as this Lockheed Martin concept. decision was made in spite of ongoing problems with the tanker’s fly-by-wire (FBW) refueling boom and wing refuelling pods that may delay deliveries of the first 18 production aircraft by almost a year. In September 2016 Boeing was able to announce that Japan had selected the Pegasus to become its lead international customer. The Japan Air Self-Defence Force (JASDF) intends to procure three KC-46A tankers to replace its fleet of four Boeing KC-767J MRTTs by 2020. In Europe both Boeing and Airbus have Turkey in their sights to replace it fleet of KC-135R tankers although as the country counts the costs of last year’s attempted military coup and ongoing terrorist attacks, funding for new MRTTs may be put on hold. While Boeing and Airbus continue to development and market their respective current generation of MRTTs to operate in relatively benign environments, the USAF is looking ahead to a more survivable nextgeneration tanker able to support combat aircraft in increasingly dangerous battle spaces. Lockheed Martin is proposing a small stealthy fuel-efficient, hybrid wing-body aircraft that can take-off and land on short runways for maximum operating flexibility. Last year USAF launched a study of a nextgeneration KC-Z tanker that would be very different from the wide-body, commercially based KC-46A and A330 MRTTs now entering service. As potential adversaries develop sophisticated surface-to-air missiles (SAM) designed to challenge USAF’s ability to penetrate hostile airspace where conventional MRTTs would be increasingly vulnerable. Ahead of an official USAF study on future tanker of 2035 and beyond, that may be small and stealthy, and possibly unmanned, expected to begin this year, industry is primed to respond with new concepts. J January / February 2017 – EDR

Mortars on the move


By Paolo Valpolini

© Paolo Valpolini

mmunition improvements in the mortars’ world is considerably increasing the efficiency of what has been considered for years the infantryman own artillery. Digitalisation has added the capability of firing multiple rounds in a very short time with unprecedented accuracy, fire control systems being adopted to entirely control the firing sequence, often with the exception of loading. Typically a static weapon, the mortar has been embarked on vehicles in order acquire that mobility needed by mechanised or motorised troops. Nowadays infantry formations are more and more operating from light armoured vehicles, thus mortars followed the trend, and new solutions with reduced recoil forces had to be developed to cope with the chassis of such class of vehicles. Turret mounted mortars will not be considered in this article. In the 120mm world one of the latest products is the Cobra, developed by RUAG Defence of Switzerland leveraging the experience acquired with its previous Bighorn. The barrel, recoil brakes and recuperator are the same of the Bighorn, the main changing


having been in the electric drive, which replaces all hydraulic systems, and in the ballistic computer, which is brand new. The Cobra can be provided with two different length of smoothbore barrels, 1,600 and 2,000mm, respective ranges being 7,000 and 9,000m. The recoil force is of 30 tonnes for 30 milliseconds, which allows installing it on two-axis trucks, although most proposals are based on 8x8 vehicles. Overall the Cobra weighs 1,200kg in the basic version, and 1,350kg when the automatic loading system is added. The launch customer is the Swiss Army, the 2016 armament programme including a 404 million Swiss Francs (€370 million) for 32 such systems, to be integrated onto GDELS Piranha 3+ 8x8 armoured vehicles. Since 2009, when its M113based 12cm 64/91 systems were phased out, the Swiss infantry did not had any mobile short range indirect fire support. The Swiss Army chose the 1600mm barrel and the new “12cm 16 Mortar” will be assigned to artillery units. Four self-propelled artillery battalions will receive an 8-mortar battery each, on two fourweapons sections. In action mortar companies or sections could be subordinated to infantry battalionlevel formations, or being kept under the artillery and used as a centralised asset. Mortars will thus be integrated into the INTAFF artillery command and fire system. The contact also includes 36 ammunition transport containers as well as 12 protected logistic trucks. Deliveries are scheduled for 2018-22. A best-seller among vehicle mounted mortars is TDA’s 2R2M, in service with four international customers, Italy, Oman, Malaysia and Saudi Arabia, and selected by France for the MEPAC (Mortier Embarqué Pour l’Appui au Contact). The 2R2M comes with the rifled 120mm tube adopted on the 120RT towed version, its length being 2,000mm, maximum range being 8.2km with standard ammunition, 13km with rocket assisted projectiles and 15km with mortar guided munitions. Fitted with a semi-automatic loading system it requires a three-man team to be O Unveiled at IDEX 2015, RUAG’s Cobra

is a development of the former Bighorn, fitted with all-electric actuators and a new C2 system. January / February 2017 – EDR

N A 2R2M installed on an Italian Army Freccia

© Paolo Valpolini


mortar vehicle pictured in Sardinia during a qualification firing mission.

M A close-up of a 2R2M; TDA is improving the

base model and is developing a version dedicated to the new French mortar carrier. operated. The 2R2M is being improved, the second series featuring some changing that will then be retrofitted on already deployed systems. A further evolution will follow, based on the requirements from the MEPAC version, which is part of the French Army Scorpion programme, the 2R2M being installed on the Griffon 6x6 APC. Safety will be enhanced, reducing the autonomy of the shooter and loader while increasing the commander’s control. TDA, part of the Thales group, is also looking at improvements in the recoil system to allow the installation of the 2R2M on 4x4 vehicles. A software evolution might also be considered, to allow multi-impact operations. EDR – January / February 2017

At Eurosatory 2014 Elbit Systems introduced it’s Spear, a 120 mm autonomous mortar system fitted with a recoil system that reduces recoil forces less than 10 tonnes. Weighing less than one tonne without ammunition, it can be installed on light vehicles such as the HMMWV chassis, this configuration hosting 36 rounds. Muzzle fed, it requires a two or three man crew and is equipped with full digital computerized aiming and navigation system. Based on the second generation of the combat proven vehicle-mounted Cardom mortar system, it has a burst rate of fire up to 15 rounds per minute. Ready to fire in less than 60 seconds, its CEP is less than 30 metres. The Spear raised the interest of the Israeli Defence Forces; as usual Israeli companies do not unveil their customers, but apparently the Royal Thai Army is the first export customer, although numbers remain unknown. ST Kinetics of Singapore developed as private venture the SRAMS (Super Rapid Advanced Mortar System), a 120mm smoothbore automatic mortar system which recoil is reduced to less than 26 tonnes with a 10 rounds per minute maximum rate of fire. Fitted with a 1,800mm long barrel, it has a 45°-80° elevation arc and a ± 40° traverse. A patented blast diffuser reduces muzzle blast overpressure increasing crew safety. The SRAMS weighs less than 1,200kg and has been integrated in the RG-31 Agrab mortar carrier acquired by the UAE, a first batch of 72 having been delivered in late 2014, while a further batch of 26 was ordered later and is currently under delivery. The Agrab has an ammo handling system based on two carousels, each with 23 rounds, an auxiliary power unit being fitted to the vehicle to provide power to the mortar system, the fire control system and the air conditioning unit when the vehicle is 41

© Elbit Systems

M The latest development by Elbit Systems of Israel

is the Spear, which can be installed on light vehicles thanks to its effective recoil damper. stationary. Produced mainly in the UAE it is mostly in service with the country special forces, which used it extensively in Yemen. STK has recently launched an improvement programme aiming at lowering the system weight and at replacing all hydraulics with electric drives, a kit being also under development for firing guided ammunition and ammunition fitted with programmable fuses. In Spain NTGS (New Technologies Global Systems), a recently formed engineering SME, developed the Alakran; instead of reducing the mortar recoil it is based on a hydraulic system that deploys the 120mm mortar at the rear of the vehicle, a large square baseplate unloading recoil forces on the ground. Traverse is ± 60° while elevation goes from 45° to 90°, electromechanical actuators being used to lay the mortar. Aiming is carried out automatically using the computerised MAD 1 (Mortar Aiming Device), shooting tables, GIS systems and target data being stored in the battery commander’s computer which of Norway, a Rheinmetall company, the Vingpos has been designed according to Norwegian requirements and is fitted with an 81mm mortar. 42

© Rheinmetall

P Developed by Vinghøg

is linked by radio to the fire control system. The MAD 1 is fitted with GPS, orientation and elevation sensors. The limited weight of the system allows it to be installed onto a pick-up with a 1.5 tonne payload; when travelling, the mortar tube is stored horizontally on the cargo tray. In late 2016 NTGS and its partner company Everis, which is in charge of the integration, obtained a first export success, an undisclosed country having ordered 100 Alakran 120s that will be installed onto Toyota Land Cruiser 4x4 vehicles. Following the acquisition of Vinghøg of Norway Rheinmetall of Germany unveiled in 2014 an 81mm automated system, designed to meet the requirements of the Norwegian Defence Logistic Organisation and finalised to be installed on the MULTI version of BAE Systems Hägglunds CV90. Known as Vingpos Mortar Weapon System (MWS), it is mounted on a base that allows to remove it quickly from the MULTI vehicle in order to use the chassis for other purposes, 16 such vehicles having been ordered by Norway. One key design criteria was to reduce the maximum force to be transmitted to the vehicle chassis; Vinghøg turned to Weforma Dämpfungstechnik GmbH, a German company specialised in deceleration technology, which provided the two constant force oil dampers with gas spring that reduce the force from 412kN to approximately 100kN, with a recoil length of 90mm. The recoiling mass being of approximately 340kg, the two recoil dampers absorb some 2700 Joules. The mortar used in the Norwegian system is the L16A2, manufactured by then Royal Ordnance, that can be easily removed for maintenance or in case of misfire. The fixation system was also designed to allow easy adaptation of other mortars. Overall the Vingpos MWS weighs less than 1000kg, and when the vehicle is on the move the mortar is carried within the vehicle allowing to close roof hatches. The electrically driven turntable provides a ±90° azimuth direction change, the elevation arc being +45°/+86. Aiming is fully automatic, the Vingpos being equipped with an INS/GPS navigation and positioning system plus motion sensor, which are linked to the Konsberg Odin fire control computer via the Data Distribution Service, the only manual operation being loading. In case of power failure a manual backup allows to operate the mortar in degraded mode. A single soldier, its man-machine interface being a 6.5-inch touch-screen, can operate January / February 2017 – EDR

© Paolo Valpolini

© Thales

M Thales South Africa developed the Scorpion,

M Thales South Africa Scorpion,

a motorised mortar system armed with Denel’s 81mm Long Range mortar.

installed here on a Polaris Ranger 6x6, exhibited at IDEX 2015.

the Vingpos. Besides the Norwegian order Rheinmetall is looking at potential export customers, a 120mm version being considered. In 2012 Thales South Africa unveiled the 81mm Scorpion, its development having been finalised in late 2014. The core of the system is the motorised platform which electric motors ensure elevation and traverse, firing data being provided by a ruggedised tablet-PC while a data radio interface ensures the acquisition of data from a forward observer or a higher echelon command post. Position is provided by a platform that includes a GPS, an inertial navigation unit and an odometer. The Scorpion palletised system is battery powered; reload being provided by the vehicles alternator, the power pack being fitted with a split charger. A mortar team can fire its first round 15 seconds after the vehicle has come to a halt; 20 rounds per minute is considered the maximum rate of fire, ammunition loading being manual, the number of rounds available depending mostly on the platform. The standard weapon is the Denel 81 mm long range mortar, however an 82mm tube can be installed for those armies using Soviet-era ammunition. The recoil absorbing system allows to install the Scorpion onto any light platform, ranging from the 2.5 tonnes Wasp/Hornet airmobile vehicle to bigger off-road vehicles such as Toyota Land Cruiser, Nissan Patrol, Land Rover Defender and HMMWVs. The system, mortar-only or combined mortar-rockets, can also be mounted onto a four-wheel trailer, allowing the towing vehicle to carry a bigger number of ammunition thus ensuring a greater firepower. A specific package was developed for the fire control team, which is fitted with the same navigation system of the mortar platform and with a mast-mounted

sight on which the typical FOO package is mounted, including an angle measurement pedestal, a thermal imager binocular, a laser rangefinder, a camera, a digital magnetic compass and a GPS. The thermal binocular comes usually in the form of a Sophie LR (Long Range), or Sophie MF (Multi-Function), the latter including most of the sensors and allowing target acquisition also when removed from the mast. Following the announcement of a first contract for its Eimos (Expal Integrated Mortar System system) Expal of Spain, part of the Maxam group, in early 2015started to deliver to the customer, which seems to be a Middle East nation. The Eimos combines the 81mm company long range mortar with a platform that allows easy installation on the back of a light vehicle, the system being currently installed on an URO Vamtac 4x4. Driven by electric motors, which allow aiming both in azimuth and elevation, a fire control system proves 4 mil accuracy for both data when using GPS only navigation, integrated INS/GPS halving that value. The hydraulic system reduces recoil forces by over 90%, recoil length being 300 mm; this allows integration into light vehicles without additional stabilization system or supporting legs, minimum adjustments to suspensions being needed on some vehicles. The mortar can be quickly dismounted and used on the ground, three minutes being required to install it back on the platform. Firing data are provided via the Techfire system that allows to control the firing process at different levels, in that case at firing unit one. The systems sold to the launch customer include the Techfire at platform level as well as at upper levels, including fire observers, the bird-like Shepherd-Mil UAV being part of the contract. This 2.8kg UAV fitted with a low light level video sensor allows target acquisition thanks

EDR – January / February 2017


to the geo-location software installed. In the standard version the Eimos includes two ammunition racks each hosting 26 rounds, while six ready-to-shoot rounds are available on the turn-table. The system weight is around 500 kg, depending on configuration, the Eimos being also able to accept the company 60 mm long range mortar. Firing can take place within 10 seconds from vehicle halt, traversing speed being 9 °/s. The system requires a minimum of two crew-members, maximum rate of fire being 25 rounds per minute. The Spanish company is continuing to develop its system, and is delivering the recently unveiled latest version of its Eimos that incorporates some key improvements. A

new platform design reduces time to action for the crew, the system having been integrated on the new URO VAMTAC with 4-crew cabin. A new meteorological station for ballistic calculations improvements was integrated, an upgraded Techfire software adding new functionalities. In its most recent version the Techfire incorporated the Shepherd-Mil that is now capable to act as forward observer. Used by several undisclosed customers worldwide, the Techfire has recently been adopted by two more European customers. Expal is still awaiting an order from the national customer for its Eimos, budget apparently preventing the Spanish defence from ordering the system in this moment. J

US military looking for ADIM The US Army is looking for an expeditionary mortar system which should be modular, capable of being installed on a variety of platforms, automated, as it should carry on wireless remotely-controlled operations, feature a high rate of fire and a zero emplacement time, be flexible, capable to conduct both forward operating bases/combat outposts (FOB/COP) protection as well as mobile operations, and accurate, with computer assisted automated aiming. To this end the US Army Armament Research, Development, and Engineering Center (RDEC) at Picatinny Arsenal is developing the Automated Direct/Indirectfire Mortar (ADIM). It uses a breech-loaded mortar installed into a soft-recoil mount that reduces firing loads by a factor of 8:1, allowing to install it on HMMWV-like vehicles or even trailers. The ADIM is fitted with an enhanced version of the M95 Mortar Fire Control System (MFCS), the Automated Fire Control System – Mortar (AFCS-M), responding to established communication protocols. This allows the fire team to conduct operations remotely under cover, in a sensor-to-shooter 44

mode, and to execute automated tactical missions. Very little emplacement time is required, the AFCS-M being easily integrated with an inertial navigation unit and GPS receiver. The weapon Actuator Control System (ACS) that allows automated operations via electromechanical actuators was developed by Picatinny engineers and is a US Government owned technology.

Fitted with a 20 rounds magazine, the ADIM has a minimum range of 300 metres and a maximum of 6,300m, the elevation arc being –3°/+85° while traverse is on 360°. The weapon can be operated remotely, i.e. in a FOB protection situation, or from within the vehicle, with a cab-mounted MFCS console, a man-in-the-loop being required by US DoD. Beside traditional indirect fire missions, the soft recoil system allows to use the weapon for direct

fire and at low quadrant elevations; this provides an option when engaging counter targets in defilade and at elevated positions, especially at short distances. The overall weight of the system is around 1,000kg. The ADIM was demonstrated in January 2015 during the Army Expeditionary Warfighter Experiment, and fired a total of 174 rounds, all via remote control. Due to interim safety release limitations shoot-and-scoot missions were carried out with simulated fire only. These proved the ability to receive a call for fire, stop the vehicle, initiate the mission, execute automated pointing and firing and resume driving, all in less than 50 seconds. As for fire missions these included also two peculiar types of use, multiple target suppression missions, where one round per target is fired and then target sequence is repeated, and automated search and traverse missions, where multiple rounds are fired into an area surrounding a specified target. With the ADIM the US Army intends to have a mobile and maneuverable system capable to operate in mountainous terrain and unimproved roads such as those encountered in Afghanistan, where heavier systems were unable to adequately support infantry assaults. January / February 2017 – EDR


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© N.Novichkov

BrahMos-A missile

Sales of BrahMos missiles may boost India’s arms export ndia is planning to increase its volume of arms export to USD2 billion in 2019, the Minister of Defence, Manohar Parrikar told at the press conference in New Delhi. “India’s defence industry is driving to the localization of manufacturing, and it allows us to increase the arms export in a rapid manner. In 2014, it reached INR11 billion [USD164 million], INR15.82 billion [USD236 million] in 2015, and INR20.6 billion [USD307.5 million] in 2016,” Parrikar emphasized. According to him, there is a task to increase the volume of India’s defence export to USD2 billion by the end of 2019. The Minister mentioned Vietnam, Mauritius, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Oman, and Afghanistan as actual and potential buyers of the Indian-originated military hardware. India is planning to export bridge laying equipment, missiles, navy combatants, patrol ships, and self-propelled guns to these countries. Previously, New Delhi offered to Hanoi the delivery of Russian-Indian Brahmos supersonic cruise missiles and indigenous Varunashtra antisubmarine torpedoes. “The negotiations with Vietnam are being continued. India’s MoD is believed to have instructed the Brahmos Aerospace company (a joint venture (JV) between India and Russia) to increase production to meet potential orders from friendly countries, especially those in the Asia-Pacific region. Several countries have expressed keen interest in acquiring the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile system”, - a representative of India`s Ministry of Defence (MoD) told EDR. 46

The bringing of the Brahmos air-launched variant in service with the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) Su-30MKI (Flanker-H) multirole fighter jets will increase the export potential of the weapon. “[Potential] foreign customers have revealed their interest in the Su-30MKI fighter and the Brahmos, and we put high commercial hopes on it”, – the CEO & MD of the Brahmos Aerospace JV, Sudhir Kumar Mishra said. N Air-based BrahMos-A missile under fuselage

of the Su-30MKI. © M.Lystseva


By Nikolai Novichkov

© BrahMos Aerospace

M Takeoff of the Su-30MKI with BrahMos-A

© BrahMos Aerospace

missile mockup.

M BrahMos missile launch from mobile

ground mobile system. IAF had asked the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) company in early June 2014 to integrate the Brahmos-A (Air) with the Su-30MKI fighter and initially assigned two aircraft of the type for the modification program. The first modified Su30MKI was handed over to the service in February 2015 to prepare for the trials. Brahmos Aerospace has completed the first captive carriage test of its Brahmos-A supersonic cruise missile aboard a modified IAF Sukhoi Su30MKI multirole fighter on June 25, 2016. Conducted at the HAL test facility in the state of Maharashtra, the trial marks an important step in the development of the missile ahead of a series of flight and firing tests. At present, the flight tests of the Brahmos-A are being continued; the launches of the missiles against a surface moving target and a ground target are to be finished by early 2017. Therefore, all requirements by IAF for the deliveries of air-launched missiles will be met after the completion of the aforementioned trials. EDR – January / February 2017

According to HAL’s Chairman & Managing Director, T. Suvarna Raju, about 40 Su-30MKI fighters are to be modified to carry the Brahmos-A. The air-launched Brahmos – developed jointly by Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya and India’s Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) – is a modified variant of its basic configuration. It features several design refinements, which include a lighter propulsion system (reduced to 2,500kg from 3,000kg) as well as redesigned fins and nose cap. The test’s primary objectives were to demonstrate the integration and carriage of a dummy missile and simulate all the integration activities that will occur in actual flight tests, according to Brahmos Aerospace. The air-launched variant of the Brahmos missiles may be required not only by India, but also by the countries that have already deployed Su30MKI fighters. However, taking in consideration the Brahmos missiles brought in service with Land Forces and Navy, the number of potential foreign customers may be higher. Moreover, the Brahmos Aerospace company has developed and successfully tested a missile intended for submarines. India recently announced that it plans to export its Brahmos missiles to a number of potential customers. At present, the Brahmos is capable of being fired from warships and land-based mobile launchers. The land-attack and anti-ship variants of Brahmos have already been successfully developed and deployed by the Indian Army, Navy and Air Force. The successful integration of the air-launched Brahmos in the IAF in the near future will immensely boost the air power and make it even mightier for taking on the enemy both in the sky and on the ground. While three Brahmos regiments consisting of the advanced Block-III configuration with supersonic steep dive capability have made their way into the 47

e Ae ro sp ac © Br ah M os

P Landing

of the Su-30MKI with BrahMos-A missile mockup.

© BrahMos Aerospace

Army, the government has announced the induction of many more regiments in the Army which will upgrade its air defence capabilities. In 2016, the Government of India also sanctioned induction of additional Brahmos missiles, with steep dive capability and 290-km range, in the Eastern sector to ramp up its capabilities. The weapon’s accuracy in mountain warfare mode was recently re-established in a campaign conducted by the Indian Army in the Eastern Sector in 2015. Speaking to IHS Jane’s at the Defence Services Asia 2016 (DSA 2016) exhibition in Kuala Lumpur, Mishra said that sales of Brahmos cruise missiles, which have been developed for land, sea and air applications, will be strictly governed by New Delhi. “It is for the government of India to come out with a policy for the export of the missile,” he said. “Our defence minister [Manohar Parrikar] is speaking many encouraging words about exports, and I can say, yes, export is very much possible in the near future,” – he said. “The idea is to showcase the missile to potential buyers and we feel that many countries in the region would be interested [in the missile] and would talk with the government of India [about exports]. India has the Look East policy, and this calls for closer collaboration between our countries,” – Mishra added.

M The CEO of the Russian-Indian BrahMos

Aerospace JV Sudhir Kumar Mishra near a BrahMos-A missile mockup. 48

In a bid to support such international sales, Mishra also revealed that Brahmos Aerospace has secured agreements from major submarine designers to supply submarine design and specification data to the company so that it can integrate the missile into their platforms. “With Indian government approval,” he said, “we are ready to integrate the missile into submarines for any potential exports.” Several South-East-Asian and Latin American countries want the Brahmos, or have at least expressed interest in it, particularly for the naval and coastal defence versions. A definite list of such countries, friendly to both India & Russia as stipulated in the Inter-Governmental Agreement, already exists. The company is progressing with its marketing strategy for exporting Brahmos to certain nations. But the decision to export will be taken only after the approval of the government. Once finalized, Brahmos is set to give a major fillip to India’s military export ambition in near future. Brahmos supersonic cruise missile with a fine combination of speed, precision and power, has three times more velocity, 2.5 to 3 times more flight range, 3 to 4 times more seeker range and nine times more kinetic energy than any existing subsonic cruise missiles. The multi-platform, multi-target cruise missile, carrying a conventional warhead weighing 200 to 300kg, is capable of flying up to 290km at a top speed of 2.8 Mach. The Joint Venture, Brahmos Aerospace was formed between India’s DRDO and Russia’s NPO Mashinostroyeniya through a governmentto-government agreement signed in 1998. The company was established with capital of USD250 million with India owning 50.5% of equity and Russia the remaining 49.5% stake. The company has secured agreements to sell the missile to the Indian Armed Forces, but has yet to won any international orders. The successful Brahmos JV has redefined the business of selling military products from a purely buyer-seller relationship to joint research, design, development, production and marketing of stateof-the-art military systems. J January / February 2017 – EDR

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