Issue N° 30 – November / December 2016
Eu r o p e a n D ef en ce R e v i e w
European Mobile ground-based SHORAD: the return
Transparent armour Naval helicopters: Europe’s OEMs look for International exports opportunities Lessons learned from recent engagements of MBTs in Syria and Yemen
Eu r o p e a n D ef en ce R e v i e w
Issue n o. 3 0
European mobile ground-based SHORAD systems: the return – By Jean-Michel Guhl
Transparent armour – By Paolo Valpolini
Naval helicopters: Europe’s OEMs look for International exports opportunities By Andrew Drwiega
Lessons learned from recent engagements of MBTs in Syria and Yemen By Mark Chassillan
France picks German-made HK 416 to replace iconic FAMAS – Jean-Pierre Husson Publisher: Joseph Roukoz Editor-in-chief: David Oliver European Defence Review (EDR) is published by European Defence Publishing SAS www.edrmagazine.eu
EDR – November / December 2016
24 31 3
P MBDA ‘s MPCV is a perfectly affordable combination
of lethal missile (the Mistral 2) and a self-defence 12.7mm machine-gun mounted on a rugged all-terrain vehicle (the RTD Sherpa in this illustration).
European mobile ground-based SHORAD systems: the return By Jean-Michel Guhl Fighting on the move… Just as they were during the Cold war heyday, self-propelled short range air defence systems (SHORAD and VSHORAD) are again becoming essential weapons today, having migrated in less than a human generation from anti-aircraft artillery (AAA) to high precision light missiles. No armed forces can do without them especially when deployed and progressing on foreign soil. 4
or the layman, modern day SHORAD (fixed or mobile) can be seen as an ensemble of specialised anti-air weapons having to cope principally with defence against low-altitude air threats, primarily armed helicopters and any low-flying aircraft engaged in CAS or close air support and now –new to many– unmanned aerial vehicles capable of opportune and stealthy offensive actions. Of course, if richer nations obviously favour the complex and lethal multi layered air defence systems encompassing VSHORAD on the lower end (with AAA and light missiles), plus medium range and long range highly networked anti-ballistic systems, a persistent requirement exists in operation to protect “on the move” at very short range any combat asset likely to come under surprise attacks from the air. In the field November / December 2016 – EDR
shortfall”. For Lt. Gen. Frederik “Ben” Hodges III, the present commander of the US Army in Europe, the biggest concern of the decade is without any doubt about countering snooping unmanned recce air systems or bomb-laden UAVs which presence on the battlefield is now spreading and creating much concern.
A little necessary history In the second half of 1943, as Nazi Germany gradually lost its air superiority on all fronts, its armies were harried by Allied air power ; on the Western front USAAF P-47 Thunderbolts and P-51 Mustangs, or RAF Hawker Typhoons and Tempests
of VSHORAD, not much new system have appeared since the 1980s… with the ubiquitous Toyota pickup truck embarking a MANPADS or heavy calibre machine-gun still being king on the battlefield, notably in asymetrical warfare – as sorely witnessed by early French helicopter losses in Mali in 2013 and growing Russian rotary wings death toll in Syria in 2016. Interestingly enough, only a few month back, the US Army leadership in Europe –which is certainly no more the bellwether it used to be some 25 years ago– has warned that there exists today a growing gap in short-range air defence on the continent. Even the National Commission on the Future of the US Army, in its report released in February 2006, singled out the mission area as having an “unacceptable modernization
M The Gepard anti-aircraft tank was manufactured
four 2cm Flak 38 gun in an open turret was the deadliest AAA system produced during WW2. It stimulated many of the Soviet SHORAD systems of the Cold War.
by Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) for the Bundeswehr. It was delivered to the armed forces of Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands and only remains in service in Brazil, Chile and Romania.
© U.S. Navy
© V. Petrova
M The German Flakpanzer IV Wirbelwind toting
M The 2S6 Tunguska (NATO designation SA-19 Grison) was
M A former Soviet ZSU-23-4 "Shilka"
developed to replace the ZSU-23-4 Shilka self-propelled antiaircraft gun. It is armed with twin 30mm guns –said to have been inspired by the Gepard– and eight 9M331 missiles.
self-propelled radar guided AA system in use with the USMC aggressor training force.
EDR – November / December 2016
armed with bombs and ground to air rockets, brought havoc to Wehrmacht units on the move destroying tanks and convoys by hundreds. The same occurred on the Eastern front under the pounding low-level attacks of red-starred Il-2 Shturmovik. If German single-barrel 20mm guns were found now somewhat inadequate to fight back such a foe due to a limited punch –one or two shells were often not enough to destroy an Il-2– and scoring more hits during a firing opportunity was reckonned to be scarce. However, a single hit from a 37mm gun was usually enough to bring down an Il-2. To fend off this droning threat, the Wehrmacht cobbled together FlaK guns and vehicles. The Sd.Kfz.161/3 Flakpanzer IV "Möbelwagen" (Furniture Van) was an early self-propelled anti-aircraft system mounted on a rebuilt Panzer IV tank chassis. The first of the type, bristling with a quartet of 2cm FlaK 38 guns (Flakvierling), was built in late 1943. These quadruple 20mm cannons, providing 4 minutes of continued fire (3,200 rounds), were greatly feared by Allied pilots, who called them "Hell’s Quad". Concurrently with this weapon system a larger calibre single 37mm FlaK 43 gun was also used on the approximately 300 Möbelwagens produced in total to protect Panzer columns on the march. These were soon superseded by the superior Wirbelwind and the Ostwind Flakpanzer IVs, all credited with a large number of USAAF and RAF victims over France, Belgium and the Netherlands. And this was until the apperance of the last in line: the Kugelblitz FlaKpanzer IV produced in only five copies before the Ruhr region was invaded by
conquering Allied armies. It had a twin MK103 30mm DoppelflaK cannon capable of firing 900 lethal rounds per minute! On the other side, both the US and British industries, as well as the Soviet one, developped during the same time self-propelled multiple AAA platforms using heavy machine-guns. However due to the air superiority of their air arms, these were most often used as direct fire support for advancing ground forces against tanks and other vehicles. Such was the case in the West by the British Army with its Crusader Mk.III/AAT tank or Staghound T17E2 AA armoured car, armed with two M2 12.7mm calibre machine-guns and US Army anti-aircraft systems four M2 12.7mm calibre machine-guns linked together (known as the “Quad Fifty”), often mounted on the back of a M16 GMC half-track. Although of much less power than Germany’s 20mm FlaK systems, they were at least widely available and also used more often to help suppress ground targets. However none of these AAA has had the longevity and international fame of the Swedish (now British) Bofors 40mm which was one N A Finnish soldier pictured checking a quartet of
Maxim anti-aircraft machine-gun on a captured Soviet GAZ-AAA truck in 1941 in liberated Karelia.
anti-aircraft system produced in large number from 1936: the Soviet GAZ-AAA truck fitted with a Maxim PM1910 7.62mm quartet. It was used in great number by the Red Army at the start of WW2.
N Historically the first ever self-propelled
November / December 2016 – EDR
© P. Gushev
M The Russian 9K33 Osa / SA-8 Gecko remains
a very powerful and mobile "all in one" SHORAD system, and possibly one of the best ever designed, although very bulky! The SA-8 was the first mobile air defence missile system incorporating its own engagement radars on a single vehicle. Several Nato nations –Greece, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria– operate it in a modernised variant.
Man-portable and vehicle-mounted V/SHORAD systems The appearance of light ground to air missiles came as a game-changer on the battlefied. Manpads (for man-portable air defence systems) or PZRK, in Russian, are short range surface-to-air missile systems specially designed to be carried and fired by a single individual. True successor of the antiquated © UK MoD
of the most popular medium-weight anti-aircraft systems employed during WW2 by most of the western Allies — as well as by many of the Axis powers ! A small number of these weapons remain in service to this day in quite a few countries, including Brazil. Equipped with two Bofors 40mm in a threeman turret, the 1944-1945 Cadillac-produced M19 Multiple Gun Motor Carriage (MGMC) using a M24 Chaffee light tank chassis impersonated the US Army best self-propelled AAA mean. It equipped several US Army anti-aircraft by the end WW2 and was further used in anger during the Korean war. Its successor, the all-manual M42 Duster, using the same guns based on a M41 chassis, became in the late 1950s the main self-propelled AAA in US Army service. While a relatively capable system for the era it was designed in, by the time it reached widespread service it was obvious it had become ineffective against the high-speed jet-powered targets of the "sixties. This is the main reason why rapid self-propelled guns were then replaced in the US forces by the first generation of mobile short-range ground to air missile systems –like the MIM-72A/M48 Chaparral– at a time countries like the Soviet Union/Russia still widely favoured using the SZU-57-2 "Sparka" (and later the Shilka and Tunguska adding radar guidance), Germany the Flakpanzer Gepard and France the "bitube de 30mm" AMX 13 DCA, all multiple gun AAA systems equipped with a short range detection and tracking radar suite. If many of these self-propelled systems remain in use in some exotic land forces, they nowadays have largely been superseded by light missiles in the larger armies. P A British Army Alvis Stormer vehicle
pictured firing a Starstreak laser-guided surface to air missile.
EDR – November / December 2016
M Launching the US Navy’s AIM-9D Sidewinder air-to-air missile from a ground platform resulted for the US Army in the Ford-designed MIM-72 Chaparral. The MIM-72A could engage targets flying between 15 and 3,000m (50-10,000ft) altitude and at ranges from 500-6,000m (1,600-20,000ft). It was in US Army battalion use from 1969 to 1997. Main export customer was Israel, one of of which Chaparral systems is pictured here with the four AIM-9D missiles devoid of their IR-guidance kit.
quad-mounted 1910 Maxim AA guns used by the Soviet army in 1939 –adapted to a pintle stand bolted to the platform of a GAZ--AAA lorry– Manpads first appeared on the battlefield in the mid-1960s. Although they were originally developed in the late 1950s, they constituted a true innovation to provide land forces with efficient all-round protection from enemy aircraft attacking at low level, and a clear improvement over traditional AAA (anti-aircraft artillery or Triple-A). Contrary to AAA, Manpads are transportable by a single person, very mobile and easily concealed, yet capable to spark off potentially catastrophic destruction. This is a reason why Manpads have received a great deal of attention as potential terrorist tools likely to be used against civilian or governmental targets, above all defenceless commercial airliners. There exists three main types of Manpads in use today. All related to the type of missile they can fire. Used in clusters, they are also the basic weapon of most existing self-propelled SHORAD systems: • Infrared (IR) missiles which hone in on a heat source, usually the engine or the engine’s exhaust plume of an aircraft. • Command Line-of-Sight (CLOS) missiles, by which the Manpads operator acquires a target visually using an optical sight + radio controls to guide the missile to its target aircraft. • Laser Beam Rider (LBR) systems whereby the missile flies along a laser beam track and strikes the target at the aiming point of the laser in complete synchronization. Of the above three types of light missiles, infrared missiles stand out as the favorite choice for short8
M Typical of Third-World countries’ make-do
combat solutions, a Toyota pick-up truck carrying two Stinger-toting mujahideen is seen on parade near Kabul, Afghanistan. Some 350 Soviet aircraft are said to have fallen victim of these Manpads during the 9-year civil war. Western military analysts credit the Stinger with a kill ratio of about 70%. range (SHORAD) and very short-range air defence (VSHORAD). Their dependable IR seekers are designed to track a strong source of infrared radiation. Infrared missile seekers of the first generation typically used a spinning reticle with a pattern on it modulating IR energy which was then funnelled onto a detector. The patterns used differ from company to company, from nation to nation, and from seeker to seeker, but the principle remains the same. By modulating the signal, the steering logic can tell where the IR source of energy is, relative to the missile direction of flight. All first generation (1G) seekers from the 1960s work that way. In more recent designs (2G), those from the 1970s, the missile optics will rotate and a rotating image is projected on a stationary reticule (a mode called conical scan) or stationary set of detectors which generates a pulsed signal which is then processed by the tracking logic. Most shoulder launched systems from the past century use this type of seeker, as do many short-range air defence systems and air-to-air missiles. Latest generation missiles (3G) use infrared differential ecartometry and shape recognition logic. The next generation, now under development and not expected to be fielded before 2025 to the best, use a much more expensive colour sensitive discriminating systems (4G) taking advantage of staring-plane array detecting photons at particular wavelengths. Prefered killer tools of the VSHORAD sphere are the IR-guided « fire-and-forget » missiles like the European MBDA Mistral, the Russian KBM Igla (NATO « Strela ») and the US Raytheon Stinger ; all of them produced by thousands over the recent decades. To a lesser extent, the Swedish Saab RBS 70 and the Chinese CNPMIEC QW-2 (a copy of the original November / December 2016 – EDR
© Chinese Military Review
M The Bradley-mounted M6 Linebacker short-range air
based on the 8x8 ZBL-09 wheeled APC. This new self-propelled system is made of two quad launchers equipped with TY-90 (Tian Yan) surfaceto-air missile with a 500-6,000m range. The Yitian is guided by a thermal imaging sight and a 3-D X-band radar which can track fighter-sized aircraft from 18km and a cruise-missile target from 8km.
defence system was developed by Boeing to meet the US Army requirements. The new vehicle was intended to counter "on the move" the threat posed by low-flying aircraft, helicopters, cruise missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles to forward armored formations. It has a quadruple launcher with FIM-92 Stinger plus a M242 Bushmaster turret-mounted 25-mm chain gun and coaxial 7.62-mm machine gun.
Soviet Igla) can be added to this trio. The British industry on its part has produced unique laser-beam riding short-range surface to air missiles like the Thales Starstreak, derived from the very successful Shorts Javelin/Starburst family. The Starstreak/ ForceShield tri-headed munition is known to be the fastest short-range surface-to-air missile in the world (Mach 4). All of these weapons have an operational range of some 5 to 8 kilometres and can reach a 5,000 metre altitude with a very high-kill probability. Most recent variants of all the above missiles have hardened seekers capable of deceiving IR or laser countermeasures. However, IR-guided missiles have a large preference with operators all around the world since they remain the most affordable and the less prone to mishandling. Even if radar- and laser-guided missiles continue to be favoured by others. Probably best impersonated by the Russian Tor (NATO SA-15 Gauntlet family) from Almaz-Antey on the upper shelf and MBDA’s MPCV kit mounted on any type of military vehicles on the lower shelf, European-designed SHORAD systems are returning very actively on the world market.
single vehicle, and what a vehicle ! The 6-wheeled allterrain transport BAZ-5937. A true advantage while out in the field where quick deployment of the system is paramount. All versions of the 9K33 feature allin-one 9A33 transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) vehicles which can detect, track and engage aircraft independently or with the aid of regimental surveillance radars. The complete vehicle which can launch a total of six radar-guided Osa missiles is fully amphibious and air transportable. Its road range is about 500km. In a twist of post Cold War history, many such systems, highly updated with Western computers, are today used by some NATO nations with great efficiency.
© EDR file
M The Chinese advanced Yi-Tian SHORAD system
Eastern winds Eastern European countries have designed very interesting self-propelled SHORAD systems using radar-guided missiles. The oldest one still very much in active service is the 9K33. Developped during the peak of Soviet military innovations, the 9K33 (or SA-8 in NATO parlance) was the first mobile air defence missile system incorporating its own engagement radars on a EDR – November / December 2016
M The Tor M1 self-propelled SHORAD designed
by the Russian Almaz-Antey complex is the heaviest AA defence system extant. One of these is pictured in Hellenic Army colours. It uses eight ready-to-fire 9M331 missiles located in a pair of 4-box transportation and launching containers inside of the radar antenna-casing. 9
O The Gibka-S is a new Russian self-propelled AA
missile system to provide the armed forces with VSHORAD capability. The system consists of several launchers plus an automated air defence command and control vehicle. The Gibka-S uses four Verba (or Igla-S optional) IR-guided missiles on a turret fitted to an Tigr 4×4 all-terrain armoured vehicle.
M The fully automated VSHORAD Boeing TWQ-1 Avenger air defence system is the US Army›s premier shoot-on-the-move air defence weapon. Each launcher is fitted with four ready-to-fire Stinger short-range, surface-to-air missiles.
Heaviest and most formidable SHORAD system in service today, the Russian Almaz-Antey Tor M1 and most recent Tor M2U air defence missile systems are armed with no less than twelve 9M331 surfaceto-air guided missiles. The missile’s high-explosive fragmentation warhead and an active proximity fuse allow it to destroy targets moving at speeds of 700m/s and altitudes of 6,000m, within a range of 12km. It can fire targets with a short stop of three to five seconds. The anti-aircraft missile system is based on a 9A331 (GM-5955) tracked combat vehicle, which can travel at a road speed of approximately 65km/h for a range of 500km. It is operated by a crew of four members including a driver, a commander and two operators. The crew cabin is located at the front section and the turret is mounted at the centre of the vehicle. A surveillance radar antenna, fitted at the rear of the vehicle, provides 90° scan coverage. The vehicle is also equipped with a K-band, phasedarray, pulse-Doppler, electronically-steered radar that has a range of 25km. On a much lighter side, KBM in Russia has developed the new Gibka-S self-propelled air defence vehicle designed to operate the 9K333 Verba surface to air missile. The Gibka-S AA missile system is intended to provide the armed forces with mobile short-range air defence capability. The new selfpropelled air defence system consists of launchers based on a Tigr 4x4 wheeled armoured vehicle and 10
automated air defence command and control vehicle. The Gibka-S system uses four Verba (or Igla-S on option) infrared-guided manportable air defence system missiles on a 360-degree rotating turret.The Verba 9K333 (Willow), is a new generation Manpads which entered service with the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation in 2014. Quite of similar design, the recent Polish Poprad is a VSHORAD self-propelled air defence system able to engage aerial targets flying at low to medium altitudes. It is armed with four Mesko Grom missile launchers, although other Manpads types can be used as well. The fire control system is using an electro-optical sensor head with IR camera and laser rangefinder, as well as a NATO compatible IFF system. It is equipped with navigation and data transfer systems in order to be integrated within a complex air defence system. By default, the Poprad is based on Żubr light 4x4 wheeled armored vehicle, but it can be carried by other platforms as well, including armoured personnel carriers. The Grom missile has a range of up to 5,500m and a maximum altitude of 3,500 m. The Polish Armament Inspectorate has confirmed that the Poprad system has also been tested with the new Mesko Piorun missile from ZM Mesko, which is expected will eventually replace the Grom.
MBDA, the "Euromissileer" Besides the VL Mica SHORAD which is derived from the very lethal air-to-air Mica all-aspect IR/ EM missile in service today on the Rafale multirole fighter and late Mirage 2000 series, at the heart of the Atlas and MPCV VSHORAD systems the MBDA short range 6km-class surface-to-air missile Mistral is capable of intercepting a wide variety of aerial targets at altitudes exceeding 3,000m, including those with a low infrared signature. It is reported to have a high success rate and a high effectiveness against maneuvering aerial (as well as moving land) targets. The MPCV or Multi Purpose Combat Vehicle is the latest generation of high firepower weapon system for ground-based air defence operations at very short range. Its mission function is to provide air defence units with a simple weapon system combining high mobility, crew protection and high fire power. November / December 2016 – EDR
It comprises a motorised turret mounted on an armoured vehicle. The turret includes electro-optical sensors, a small calibre gun and four ready to fire Mistral missiles which can be operated from a firing console installed inside the vehicle. Integration of this weapon system has been tested/studied on a wide range of high-mobility armoured vehicles and it benefits from all the performance advantages offered by the latest Mistral 2 very short range surface to air missile. The high mobility and short reaction time of only two seconds enhances air defence capabilities against saturating threats. A unit of four MPCVs requires less than 15 seconds to engage up to 16 different targets coming from any direction. The vehicle can be operated on a standalone basis with a single soldier or by a two-man crew including a team leader. The gyro-stabilised day/thermal electro optical sensor suite of the MPCV was developed by Rheinmetall Defence Electronics. It includes television and infrared sights, laser rangefinder and automatic tracker enabling the vehicle to carry out surveillance during day and night. The MPVC is further equipped with a 19-inch TL-248 fire control display incorporating a complete set of operator HMI (human machine interface), 17-inch TX243 commander display including mission recorders for post-mission analysis and training, and fibreoptic link for remote operation in a safe environment. Thales’ VHF PR4G F@stnet battlefield voice/data radio system has been integrated in the MPCV allowing the transmission of voice and data simultaneously in the most hostile and jammed environments. The MPCV’s modular architecture allows the system to be integrated into a coordinated fire control network and to be part of a fully-digitised force. To complete the lethality of the MPCV, MBDA has developed the Licorne : a compact, lightweight C2 capacity dedicated to VSHORAD systems using the Mistral. This highly mobile C2 is derived from the MBDA I-MCP and PCP systems family and is designed to offer a first level of coordination for VSHORAD system and to be a response for lightning raid needs or amphibious or airborne operations. The system offers the possibility to provide all the C2 information close to the decision makers including local air picture, threat evaluation and prioritisation. To provide full surveillance, detection and identification functions the Licorne is drafted to be linked with a large variety of IR sensors and lightweight radars. EDR – November / December 2016
© AMZ Kutno
P The new Polish Pit-Radwar Poprad SHORAD with Grom missiles is capable of fighting aerial targets in any weather conditions, at night or day, at distances of up to 5.5 and altitude up to 3.5 kilometres. It is tailored to be used as an element of an integrated airdefence system.
The vehicle was developed by MBDA in collaboration with Rheinmetall Defence Electronics (RDE). The current MPCV systems are based on Renault Trucks Defense’s Sherpa 3A all-terrain armoured vehicle, but it can be integrated onto other armoured vehicles with a minimum payload capacity of 3t. Final qualification of the MPCV system was pronounced in 2010 after a series of test firings. These tests culminated with a firing demonstration against a number of targets representing a saturating air attack. The first series production MPCV vehicles, on a Soframe chassis, were delivered to the Royal Saudi National Guard in 2013. Ideal and natural complement of the MPCV at brigade level, is the GM 60 tactical air defence S-band phased array antenna radar of the Thales Ground Master family, optimised for air surveillance and target designation of weapon systems from gun to extended SHORAD. Rugged and designed for use in a wide spectrum of missions from mobile warfare to fixed strategic asset protection, it is the first light radar to offer a true search-on-the-move (SOTM) capability enabling to provide armed forces with dynamic situation awareness and one of the world’s best detection performance in the short range segment ; moreover on the most challenging targets, in particular on low signature, low altitude targets (pop-up helicopters, UAV, cruise missiles, etc). Due to provide a protection bubble over land forces on the move, the Ground Master 60 is a turnkey radar station with an instrumented horizontal range of 80km, ceiling up to 25km. It has a minimum detection range of 900 and it can track up to 200 air targets simultaneously with high velocities and manoeuvrability. It is endowed with efficient ECCM capabilities and a frequency agile mode detecting dynamically and tracking jammers in order to select the least jammed frequency. MBDA’s MPCV is only one well designed and cutting-edge SHORAD system in a global market now also considered by the Chinese defence industry always expeditious in producing copies of Europe’s foremost creations. Just wait and see! J 11
O Perlucor is available in multiple
By Paolo Valpolini
ncreasing drivers and crew situational awareness has become a key issue, as asymmetric warfare missions require a better assessment of the situation all around the vehicle, both for operational and safety reasons. The latter are linked to the surrounding scenario, which in many cases sees a combat vehicle moving along urban roads jammed by civilian traffic made of vehicles, motorbikes, bicycles and pedestrians; any accident can have a serious impact on the relationship with the local population, with a negative impact on “hearts and minds” operations. From a strictly military point of view being capable of seeing properly around allows the driver to fully exploit the vehicle performances and the dismounts to fully appreciate the all-round situation, increasing their effectiveness when they debus the carrier. In a more and more virtual world numerous companies are considering digital solutions in the form of what is often known as “transparent armour”, exploiting sensors to provide the driver and crew with sets of images they can “play” with, eventually adding virtual reality features on them to improve driving or operational effectiveness. While wide screens in the soldier compartment of troop transport or infantry fighting vehicles have become quite common, all-virtual driving stations are still being tested, ergonomic considerations 12
being the key factor. On the other hand the use of larger transparent surfaces is increasing. In recent times light armoured vehicles, mostly used for reconnaissance missions, featured wide windscreens and lateral windows. The same applied to MRAPs, this category of vehicles being mostly the result of missions in Iraq and Afghanistan in the early 2000. As for combat vehicles, some companies are considering wide windscreen to improve driver’s and commander’s view of the outside world. Typically the average weight ratio between conventional transparent armour and opaque armour is around 4:1. As armoured glass is always located nearly at the top of the vehicle, the issue is not only the weight per se, as it reduces the payload, but also the centre of gravity, which inevitably rises reducing stability. Moreover conventional transparent armour cannot follow the increasing protection level trend, as issues with light transmission and image distortion grow together with the glass thickness. Another key element in the transparent armour equation is cost: exotic solutions are already available from many manufacturers, mostly based on transparent ceramics, but they remain considerably more expensive than traditional glasses. However to truly appreciate the extra cost we must balance pros and cons: lighter glasses mean either an increased payload or a reduced tear and wear of mechanical components. As thickness is also November / December 2016 – EDR
forms and for different uses, many transparent manufacturers using it for their hybrid solutions.
EDR – November / December 2016
GuS from Germany is one of the major European armoured glass manufacturers for military purposes. In recent times it managed to reduce area weight by over 10%, the thickness being reduced comparably, increasing in the meantime light transmission. Among its latest product the Level 4 glass, which density is now 294kg/m 2 with a thickness of 124mm and a light transmission of 73%, its Level 3 solution being nearly 20% lighter than the previous one, with respectively 177kg/m 2, 86mm and 85%. GuS, which armoured glasses were fitted on many vehicles used by the Bundeswehr in Afghanistan, has also developed a cost-effective “rapid repair” solution that allowed to quickly put back into service those vehicles which transparent surfaces were spoiled by scratches, without replacing the whole windscreen. In 2017 the Lübbeckebased company should unveil a new transparent ceramic-based materiel developed in cooperation with CeramTec (see box), to cope with Level 2 N A conventional glass panel from GuS after being
hit by three shots. In 2017 the company should announce new ceramic based solutions.
© P. Valpolini
reduced, it also allows to spare weight on frames. Many vehicles are now produced at a base protection level, with a “B Kit” allowing to increase that level, and this is also true for the transparent portion of the armour; a lighter solution at full protection level allows to avoid the add-on of a transparent uparmour kit, which has a much greater impact than the add-on of the opaque armour kit in terms of performances, optical properties becoming critical, and logistics, the transparent armour package must be handled with more care than opaque ones. Other issues are being addressed by transparent armour manufacturers: among those durability, armoured glass degrade with time and due to their cost the longer their life the lower their impact on the vehicle life-cycle cost, the resistance to outside events such as a sand storms, their capacity to withstand high temperature gradients, due for example to the use of air conditioning in very hot areas. As said, virtual vision has the advantage of all digital systems, thus virtual reality elements can be added; this is however partly feasible also in armoured glasses, projecting for example drivingrelated data as it is now done on commercial cars, as a sort of aviation HUD.
© P. Valpolini
M IBD, the German leader in armour
protection, developed lightweight solutions based on its nano-ceramics. to 4 threats. GuS is also one of the major suppliers of periscopes, most of the European tracked and wheeled armoured vehicles being equipped with its systems. It developed wide periscopes with extended vertical field of view that provide optimal view to the driver and commander, replacing the windscreen while ensuring high protection levels, up to 4 or 5. This allows to considerably reduce cost and weight, a typical Level 4 windscreen weighing over 300 kg while the GuS solution adds only 50kg to the vehicle mass. IBD is one of the major providers of armour solutions, and is fully involved in ceramic technology, especially in nanoceramics. It thus does not come as a surprise that the company, specialised in opaque armour, developed a ceramic-based transparent armour, which has been around for a while but is now in the very final stage of qualification with two different countries. The Level 3 solution has a density of 56kg/m 2 , less than one third compared to conventional armoured glass. The key factor is the special bonding process that allows IBD to assemble the tiles that form the transparent panel, these being then laminated with strong carrier layers. According to IBD, diffraction is lower than in normal armoured glasses, the other optical performances being at least as good. The company 14
M Isoclima of Italy is working not only on
weight reduction but also on ease of replacement, looking at reducing the logistic impact. is constantly working on price reduction issues, the target being to obtain a product 50% more expensive than standard solutions. Saint-Gobain of France is also active in the transparent armour field, both with conventional and ceramic-based solutions. The latter are known with the brand SAFirE and ensure a 65% areal density reduction compared to standard glasses, with over 30% thickness reduction. In Italy Isoclima is currently manufacturing encapsulated glass-based armoured windscreen panels that allow dry mounting; their seal fully stops November / December 2016 – EDR
solvents and humidity, and allows to replace the glass using the same frame. As for performances, the last data available call for a Level 3 at 157-162kg/m2 with a thickness of 9mm, Level 2 being at 125-130kg/m2 and 59mm, however Isoclima R&D might have further improved the protection/weight ratio. Iveco DV is currently using Isoclima glasses on its LMV, MMV and Astra trucks fitted with armoured cabins. According to the company, customers are starting to require also armoured glasses against 12.7mm rounds, the company being able to provide such a protection level with a density of 235kg/m 2 and a thickness of 108mm. Isoclima is also working on ceramic solutions, mostly in cooperation with CeramTec according to EDR Magazine information. The company is developing a glue with the same refraction index of transparent ceramics, in order to make the glue line between tiles nearly invisible. To ensure multi-hit capacity 90 x 90mm tiles are used, the panel being able to withstand up to 12 rounds in a N An Isoclima Level III glass after being
© P. Valpolini
hit by seven 7.62x54R B32 API rounds fired from a Dragunov sniper rifle.
500 x 500mm area. Isoclima aims at reducing mass by 35% and thickness by 40%. However if no resistance to 20mm FSP is required (Fragment Simulating Projectile, used to simulate the threat posed by an artillery 155mm grenade), Isoclima considers that a 50% weight reduction is obtainable. In Israel Oran Safety Glass, OSG in short, is one of the world references in the transparent armour field. The company top of class is the CeraLite, developed in cooperation with CeramTec of Germany. As all ceramic-based transparent armour the CeraLite is made of a number of tiles glued together to form a panel of the right size. According to the Israeli company the Crystallized Materials (CM) technology allows a weight reduction of 50-60%. While a standard STANAG Level 4 glass produced with conventional technology, glass plus polycarbonate, has a density of 284kg/m2, CeraLite goes down to 146kg/m2, nearly 50% less, to which we can add a 40% reduction in the frame weight. It also features better light transmission, thanks to the reduced thickness, and improves NVG performances compared to conventional glasses. When hit, the CeraLite performs better than classic glasses, the “spider” cracking around the impact being reduced, multi-impact performances being also
EDR – November / December 2016
© P. Valpolini
M Kasiglas of Germany proposes all
plastic solutions up to Level 4 that ensure good visibility even after multiple hits. higher. CeraLite has been tested in German and US laboratories, and is currently marketed in parallel to European and American customers. Price remains one order of magnitude higher than that of conventional solutions, although in the last two years it has been reduced by 30%, thus this type of transparent armour is used only when the weight issue is very critical. The new transparent armour is in use with the Israeli Defence Forces in some very specific Special Forces vehicles. The push towards exotic solutions doesn’t stop R&D in more conventional fields. The latest Level 4 solution available from OSG is at 269kg/m2, with a thickness of 122mm, a 5% weight decrease over previous glasses. The company is on board two major US programmes, the JLTV and the M-ATV. EDR Magazine understands that in both cases OSG is providing its ADI solution, which features a non-polycarbonate solution on the inner surface. The spall protector materiel has been developed by OSG in order to have a thermal behaviour close to that of glass; this considerably decreases the delamination problem, one of the key factors which reduces the operational life of a transparent armour. Tests have been conducted at very low and high temperatures, -40°C/70°C, with humidity over 90%; after nearly two years of continuous testing the specimen was still in good conditions. According to the company the ADI can reach a life double than that of conventional armoured glass, considerably reducing a vehicle life cycle cost, although the acquisition price might be marginally higher. As for situational awareness, OSG is developing a touch-screen version of its ScreeneX, 16
which features a built-in digital screen into the windshield, allowing to maximise the spare in the driver’s compartment. In Germany the KRD Group has developed technologies that led to all-plastic transparent armour solutions. Initially its products were marketed through another company, the KRD group having surfaced in the last two years, its products being known with the Kasiglas brand. The company developed a multilayer laminate made of pure high-transparency plastics ensuring over 90% of light transmission. This allows to produce flat as well as curved shapes with unprecedented angles of moulding. Level 2, Level 3 and Level 4 products are proposed, respective densities being 144, 238 and 396kg/m2, thickness being 121, 201 and 330mm. Although thicker than standard armoured glasses, the Kasiglas product ensures higher transparency and maintains a higher visibility even when hit by multiple rounds, where a standard glass would maintain no visibility at all. Comparative trials recently carried out in Italy have shown a Level 3 specimen withstanding six 7.62 x 51mm AP and six 7.62 x 54mm rounds at short range while maintaining a good visibility. Other tests carried out in Germany have shown that the frame and window remain intact after mine or IED-blast, Kasiglas Level 3 panels ensure also EFP coherent and multi-slug resistance in the 0° to 45° arc and RPG 7 resistance at 45°. Multiple hit and high resistance against blast, high energy impacts, EFPs, fragmentation charges, are among the main advantages of all-plastic solutions, weight and thickness being the penalty. In cooperation November / December 2016 – EDR
with the German Bundeswehr KRD/Kasiglas is pursuing a development programme on a hybrid plastic-ceramic solution aiming at putting together the strong points of the two materiel. The study has three aims, verifying the technical feasibility of such a solution, developing a Level 4 solution within reasonable weight and thickness, and developing a weight-saving Level 3 solution. The first point has been proved, and a Level 4 solution at 270kg/m2 has been tested, which maintains most of the blast and IED resistance of the all plastic solution, leaving ceramics to defeat armour piercing projectiles. As for post-multi impact visibility this depends on the energy of the projectiles, the Level
4 protection solution maintaining good visibility after 7.62mm impacts while only some visibility remains after 14.5mm impacts, the performances being lesser than in an all-plastic solution but higher compared to glass solutions. Currently the company is working on integrating its hybrid solution into a vehicle for testing, and is preparing for qualification. The product is considered at TRL 6-7, the final results of the study being forecasted for late 2016, the availability of the hybrid solution being awaited for late 2017-mid 2018. As for the price, this should be around 200% more than all glass solutions. J
© P. Valpolini
The German specialist company based in Lohmar is the key provider for most German and European manufacturers that are developing ceramic-based transparent armour solutions. CeramTec-ETEC developed the Perlucor, a polycrystalline ceramic material that combines the good points of sapphire, a single crystal has a strictly oriented lattice structure with high atomic and ionic binding forces, with those of glass, which features a M Saint-Gobain of France is providing a full more randomly oriented structure and weaker range of conventional transparent solutions to binding forces between its elements. Perlucor the military market. maintains sapphire’s bonding forces but is optically and mechanically isotropic like glass. The latter qualities favour the production process, which allows to reduce costs compared for example to sapphire; according to CeramTec-ETEC cost saving is over 60%. As for weight and thickness, the use of Perlucor in transparent armour solutions allows to save between 40 and 60%. Moreover its high resistance to scratch increases lifetime two to five times. Thus Perlucor has not only applications in transparent armour packages: the company developed the capability to laminate a layer of less than one millimetre M A ceramic based solution proposed by OSG thickness at the front of a glass, increasing of Israel, transparent ceramic being provided lifetime by three to ten times. by Ceramtec-ETEC.
© P. Valpolini
CeramTec-ETEC: transparent ceramics form Europe
November / December 2016 – EDR
© Crown Copyright
O The Royal Navy’s 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS) is assisting the South Korean Navy with its introduction into service of the Wildcat.
Naval helicopters: Europe’s OEMs look for International exports opportunities By Andrew Drwiega
On the first day of Farnborough International Airshow 2016 the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MoD) announced the joint signature of a Strategic Partnering Arrangement (SPA) with Leonardo Helicopters UK, part of Leonardo-Finmeccanica. This was not only to benefit the UK’s armed forces, and particularly the Royal Navy who operates the AW101 Merlin and AW159 Wildcat, but also as a commitment to help boost military helicopter exports in a post-Brexit world. EDR – November / December 2016
he chief of material joint enablers at the MOD’s Defence Equipment and Support, Pete Worrall stated that the MoD “anticipate(s) spending around £3 billion with Leonardo over the next decade to upgrade and support our helicopters.” However the SPA has no contractual or financial value and is a statement of intent. South Korea was Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s first international customer for its AW159 Wildcat. The Republic of Korean Navy (RoKN) was already an operator of Leonardo’s previous upgraded Lynx platform, the Super Lynx 300. However in the South Korea’s Defence Acquisition Program Administration made a decision to procure eight AW159s at the beginning of 2013, a surprise move that saw a rare defeat for the Lockheed Martin/ Sikorsky MH-60R Seahawk. 19
also said that it will procure 30 KUH-1 Surion helicopters from the national Korea Aerospace Industries (KAI). The RoKN crewmen and maintainers operating their new Wildcat received a visit last summer from a British team of personnel taken from the Royal Navy’s 815 Naval Air Squadron (NAS). They were there to assist the Koreans of 627 Squadron in their development of operating and maintenance procedures for the new Wildcat. Reports stated that the benefits of the visit included passing on Lynx-to-Wildcat transition planning knowledge, as well as assisting with lessons learning by the British during their own transition between types. Pressures mounting in the South China Sea created by China’s build up of air facilities on reclaimed islands in order to enforce its nine-dash-line maritime claim N MBDA is continuing its development
of the Sea Venom/ANL over the horizon anti-ship missile for the Royal Navy AW159 Wildcat and the French Navy NH90 NFH.
© David Oliver
The RoKN will operate its AW159s from their new Incheon-class guided missile frigates with one of the main missions being antisubmarine warfare (ASW) using their sonar and active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar to locate and track submarines. The RoKN Wildcats will be armed with Rafael Spike NLOS missiles, a lightweight torpedo, dipping sonar and associated systems. They will also have an Selex ES electronic warfare suite, now part of Leonardo-Finmeccanica’s Electronics, Defence and Security Systems division. The South Korea Navy received its first four Wildcat ASW helicopters in June where, in addition to its ASW role, will also provide capabilities in anti-surface warfare (ASuW), intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) data gathering and transmission, and search and rescue (SAR). The remaining four AW159s are expected to be delivered by the end of the year. Currently, the ROK Navy has a mixed fleet of fixed wing and rotary aircraft including 16 Lockheed Martin P-3C Orions and 23 Lynx helicopters (11 Lynx Mk.99 and 12 Super Lynx Mk.99A). Interestingly, the RoKN has
November / December 2016 – EDR
© David Oliver
P The NH90 Nato Frigate Helicopter (NFH)
is in service with the Italian Navy and is in production for the German Navy designated NH90 Sea Lion.
are one of the reasons behind the announcement by the Philippine government that the Philippine Navy will also acquire two AgustaWestland AW159 Wildcats through a contract worth €100 million ($114 million). Scheduled for delivery in 2018, the contract will include support and training as part of the deal. Again, the Wildcats will be used for multiple mission roles including disaster relief although their main missions will be ASW and ASuW. The total order of AW159 Wildcats to date including the British Army Royal Navy is 72. While not new sales, Leonardo also made an announcement at Farnborough that it had received a contract for the avionics and engine upgrade of five Lynx Mk95 helicopters in service with the Portuguese Navy.
Venomous Missile MBDA is continuing its development of the Sea Venom/ANL over the horizon anti-ship missile for the AW159. This is the result of two combined programmes, the Future Anti-Surface Guided EDR – November / December 2016
Weapon (Heavy) (FASGW (H)) programme in the United Kingdom and Anti-Navire Léger (ANL) in France and is jointly funded by the British and French governments. The Sea Venom is intended to replace the long standing British Sea Skua missile and the French AM39 Exocet. The lightweight of the Sea Venom at around 110kg would also allow it to be carried by the NHI NH-90 NFH as well as the Airbus Helicopter AS565 Panther. There is little current news regarding the programme other than it is still intended to have an in-service date around October 2020.
Airbus H225M Airbus Helicopters received a boost on 9 August with the announcement of a contract signed with the Kuwait Ministry of Defence for the purchase of 30 H225M Caracal multirole utility helicopters backed by a support and service package. Both the Kuwaiti Air Force and the Kuwaiti National Guard will use the H225Ms for a number of mission profiles including naval operations and combat search-and-rescue, as well as medical evacuation and military transportation. The National Guard will create a squadron to operate the H225Ms. 21
In a move targeted at the long running Indian requirement for a host of naval programmes including the Naval Utility Helicopter, the Naval Multi-Role Helicopter and the Reconnaissance and Surveillance Helicopter, Airbus Helicopters has contracted Indian firm Mahindra Aerostructures to make and supply parts for the AS565 MBe Panther which is assembled at Marignane in southern France. This positions Mahindra Aerostructures as the first Indian Tier 1 supplier with the ambition that it will grow and become integral to Airbus Helicopters’ global supply chain. Airbus director Fabrice Cagnat commented that the arrangement would “also lay the ground work for a rapid acceleration in terms of industrialising production in India, in case we are selected for the naval utility helicopter programme.” The formation of a joint venture with Mahindra Defence to target the naval helicopter programmes also holds the incentive that, should the government select the AS565 MBe Panther, Airbus Helicopters will make India the global hub for production of the Panther in partnership with Mahindra Defence. The Panther has a 4-axis digital autopilot; a longrange radar and can carry a combination of torpedoes and depth charges. Orders for the NHI NH90 Nato Frigate Helicopter (NFH) seem to have stalled for the moment. Earlier
in the year the Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency (NDMA) took delivery of its first sonar equipped NH90 NFH, the sixth of 14 ordered by the Royal Norwegian Air Force (RNoAF) that will be based in Bardufoss. The delivery of a sonar equipped NH90 means that it will be scheduled to embark on maritime operations with the Norwegian Coast Guard towards the end of the year. The RNoAF is now awaiting six further NH90 NFHs that are configured for ASW operations.
Further afield Other naval news from Farnborough airshow included an announcement from Kaman Aerosystems of a $39.8 million contract with General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada to begin work on the Peruvian Navy’s SH-2G Super Seasprite programme. Starting with an initial implementation phase, four out of a planned five SH-2Gs will undergo extensive remanufacture and upgrade by Kaman at its Bloomfield, Connecticut site. General Dynamics will undertake the installation of the integrated mission system, which are being prepared for the Peruvian Ministry of National Defense.
P A Royal New Zealand Navy SH-2G Seasprite helicopter
© U.S. Navy
after departing the amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) in the Pacific. Peru will field five ex-New Zealand SH-2Gs by 2018 and Poland is looking to replace its SH-2.
November / December 2016 – EDR
© David Oliver
M Leonardo has delivered the last of 30 upgraded © Crown Copyright
Merlin Mk2 anti-submarine warfare helicopters to the Royal Navy under a £750 million Lockheed Martin UK contract.
M The RN Merlin Mk2 upgrade included
new flat screen technology and digital maps for the three rear crew members. The New Zealand Ministry of Defence sold the SH-2Gs to Peru in October 2014. New Zealand in turn had bought 10 newer aircraft when the Australian SH-2G Super Seasprite project fell though. Brian Fava, vice president air and naval systems, General Dynamics Mission Systems–Canada said of the deal: “We are pleased to be teamed with Kaman, the OEM of the highly capable SH-2G on this program. The SH-2G is well suited for the needs of the Peruvian Navy and we look forward to providing remanufactured and upgraded aircraft for the nation’s long-term defense requirements.” Finally the Royal Navy has taken delivery of its 30th and final upgraded Merlin Mk2 helicopter from Leonardo and Lockheed Martin. EDR – November / December 2016
Throughout the last decade, a £750 million contract known as the Merlin Capability Sustainment Programme (MCSP) has resulted in 30 AW101 Mk1 Merlins being transformed into Merlin Mk2 rotorcraft that serve onboard the RN’s warships, primarily in the ASW role. The Mk2’s have received new radars, sonar systems, infra-red cameras as well as large flat, panel displays which provide operators with better situational awareness. The first Mk2 completion was delivered to the RN in November 2012. The RN may also have an interest in the MV-22 sea trials being conducted by the Royal Australian Navy. In coordination with the US Marine Corps (USMC), the landing of an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor onboard HMAS Canberra took place as part of the larger Exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2016. The event involved the Osprey flying several hundred miles from the US Navy Landing Helicopter Amphibious ship, USS America off Oahu. The exercise was the first major international engagement for the RAN’s Landing Helicopter Dock (LHD), MH-60R Seahawk and MRH-90 helicopters. J 23
M The French Leclerc MBT operated © MC
by Emirates army units has proved to be reliable, mobile and very well protected in the Yemen conflict.
Lessons learned from recent engagements of MBTs in Syria and Yemen By Marc Chassillan Tanks are where the enemy is. Despite strong reluctances and constraints when it comes to deploying tanks in urban areas, the fact is that the tank is still the only land system that combines the most devastating firepower, the thickest armour, and the capability to move over complex terrains. If we add a comprehensive set of sensors and optronics package and connections to the battlefield Internet through advanced BMS, a tank is The war machine. No surprise to see then tanks of various kinds and generations to be involved in the most violent actions which occurred recently in Syria and Yemen, and most of the time in cities or built zones. 24
November / December 2016 – EDR
n Yemen the combination of mountainous terrain, combat in the cities and poor doctrine and training have created a situation in which Saudi flaws are instantly exploited by the opposition armed with still highly effective Soviet-era ATGM. The Houthis have destroyed several armoured vehicles, including USsupplied M1 Abrams tanks.
Leclerc versus M1 Abrams
N Saudi M1 tanks suffered heavy losses against
ATGMs fired by Houthis rebels.
Several videos clips released by Houthi rebels, through their official satellite channel Al Masirah TV, have detailled the destruction of Saudi (M1 tanks) and Emirati (BMP3, M-ATV) vehicles in Yemen and in southern Saudi Arabia, and show that even aged weapons like the Fagot/Faktoriya can take out a US tank in a matter of seconds. One of those videos shows 3 Saudi M1A2S (US SEP [System Enhancement Program] Equivalent) being destroyed by an Iranian Toosan ATGM (a Russian 9M113 Konkurs ATGM upgrade). As of March 2016, a total of 6 M1A2S Abrams tanks were destroyed with the crews not surviving. An impressive video shows a Konkurs fired from safe range hitting a standstill M1 on the flank. The tank cooks off in a violent blast nine seconds after having been hit. The
ignition of the munitions drives to a catastrophic kill, demonstrating that the blow-off panels don’t always work. Anti-tank fires don’t always end by the destruction of the target as it was shown in Syria with advanced ERA- protected T-72 and newly engaged T-90. New Russian tanks sent to Syria have been able to survive hits from US-made TOW missiles, although their anti-missile counter-measures have yet to be seen in combat. Even if Syrian officers have been shown how the new T-90 anti-missile system Shtora causes rockets to veer off course only yards from the tanks when fired directly at them. The engagement of Saudi M1A2s was disappointing. The US designed tanks was subjected to frequent track off incidents in deep sand. Its running gear is known to get quickly overheated after travelling over rough terrain under hot temperatures. But the weakest piece of the M1 is its ATG-1500 turbine that has heavily suffered from failures and breaks. Its fuel consumption is still a subject of
EDR – November / December 2016
M The T-72 is offered in many versions
by the Russian UVZ company. It can be fitted with avanced fire control systems. major concern, even for the first oil producer of the planet because the logistic burden is hard to manage without straight operational planning. Air filtration is also an issue in a very dusty environment. The M1 tank cannot be properly operated by an army other than the US Army which is the only one capable of providing it with a huge environment of mobile workshops, resupply convoys, mechanized infantry close protection units and full 3D umbrella. Its main strengths, thermal vision devices and APFSDS rounds, were either poorly used or useless in the Yemeni conflicts. It happened that M1 tanks were captured. Good news or bad news, rebels never turn them against their previous owners whereas T-72 and T-55 are frequently re-used by opponents! 26
In comparison with the noisily and too frequently advertised alleged high performances of the M1, the French Leclerc silently came to a great trade-off between reasonable combat weight, endurance over rough terrains, reliability, fightability, affordable logistic footprint, firepower and crew protection. The Emirates have engaged around 80 Leclerc equipping two battalions in Yemen. Some of them featured the AZUR kit. Many of them ran over mines and IED without suffering heavy damages and in safeguarding their crews. They were hit several times by RPGs which were not able to defeat the armour. They provided efficient long range as well as very short range fires, mainly shooting the Nexter Munitions 120 HE round in urban engagements. In Yemen, Emirati Land Forces had a mitigated record of their armour fleet, happy with Leclerc and furious with BMP-3. The last was called the mobile coffin due to poor armour protection against IED, mines and ATGM, and entire crews were lost. This bad experience may boost the acquisition process of a brand new heavy 8x8. In contrast the global operational performances of the Emirati Leclerc MBTs were carefully scrutinized by their Saudi allies and rumors ran out in 2015 through the defense industry of a potential deal between France and Saudi on Leclerc tanks. Saudi have still in their inventory old French AMX-30 acquired in the late 70’ which have never been replaced, Saudi always postponned the programme and hesitated between Pakistani Al Khaled, French Leclerc, additional batches of US M1A2 and German Leopard 2A6/A7. On the 9th of August, 2016, we learnt that the US State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for 153 “structures” of M1A2S Saudi Abrams main battle tanks and 20 M88Al/A2 Heavy Equipment Recovery Combat Utility Lift Evacuation System (HERCULES), Armored Recovery Vehicles (ARV), various equipment, training and support in a deal worth $1.15 billion. It is anticipated that the “structures” will be combined with depot spares and aggregates, subsystems and pieces removed from worn out and partially destroyed tanks to resurrect “new” tanks. The most plausible explanation of that deal is that US offered the quickest option to recapitalize Saudi armour. Interestingly twenty out of the 153 “structures” are to offset war attrition. Observers underline that this new batch of M1 will not replace the M60/AMX30 fleet. November / December 2016 – EDR
P Several T-72 tanks are used by all
factions engaged in Iraq and Syria. Dozens were captured and returned fire against their previous owners. At the international Eurosatory show held in June 2016 in Paris, Nexter Systems has released information on improvements which can be implemented on its tank: reinforced anti-mines floor protection, new generation of anti-RPG grids, 12,7 RWS, new Sagem PASEO thermal independent commander sight, driver camera, and situational awareness system. Those improvements are proposed to the Emirates which are eager to further put their Leclerc at the highest standards, and they may draw the interests of other potential customers looking for a mature, combat proven and efficient armor asset. Interestingly, an official Emirati land forces delegation was hosted in France to share experience with its French ally. One of the lessons learned from battle in Yemen is that tanks suffered from optics and sights destruction which have been the preferred targets of snipers, rendering the tank blind.
late 70. The second group was composed of 300 T-72A delivered in 1982. The third group of 252 T-72M1 from former Czechoslovakia. In Syria, this tank is famous for its participation in major battles such Daraya or Jobbar. The Syrian loyalist state placed great confidence in these tanks to the point of engaging them systematically, often against any tactical sense. As for the rebels - and the Islamic state - the capture of a T-72 is considered a sort of treasure and prestige. T-72 master piece of armour in Syria Because of this popularity and massive employment, Syria is the country in which was recorded the highest Syria has acquired just over 700 T-72 in three rate of T-72 destruction. About 300 are still used by batches. The first lot consists of 150 T-72 Ural ordered loyalists and more precisely mainly by the Republican from the former Soviet Union and delivered in the Guard and the 4th Syrian armored division, whose soldiers are mostly from the Alawite origin. A little more than hundred pieces are lined by the various rebel factions. All T-72A were then put to the AV standard, ie equipped with reactive add-on armor kit Kontakt-1, and modernization took place in Syria. Kontakt-1 kits were purchased from a former Soviet republic (possibly Ukraine) and installed by Armenian contractors. The upgrade did not change the designation of the tank, who M Zarha army T-72 tank on the move near Aleppo. T-72 remained T-82 for the Syrian army. In the scope of an agreement with remains the backbone of the Syrian armor. EDR – November / December 2016
the Italian company Galileo Avionica (Selex ES since 2013), 122 T-72 have been upgraded to T-72M1S level with the fire control system Turms-T (Tank Universal Reconfiguration Modular System T) between 2003 and 2006. This system includes a ballistic computer, a wind sensor, a gunner sight and a panoramic commander sight. The Turms-T is the export version of the system in service with Italian Ariete tank, and Centauro B1/AMS 120 cavalry wheeled tank destroyers. This system is also onboard Czech T-72M4. Most of T-72-M1S are used by the Republican Guard on Mount Qasioun near Damascus. Some T-72M1S were observed as they were surveying rebel activity in the villages, such as Macadamia in 2014. The fleet of T-72 suffered more losses than T-55 and T-62 tanks. Destroyed T-72 are replaced in the loyalist Syrian army, by T-55 and T-62, as the Syrian army has significant stocks. Unfortunately, T-72s could not demonstrate their full tactical potential. Though they are precious, they were wasted in situations where simple T-55 or T-62 would have sufficed. Attrition was mainly caused by ambushes where rebels fired modern RPG such as RPG-29 and M79 Osa. Because of their intensive use, many T-72AV got handicapped in combat by the loss of their lateral protection. Indeed, the support nuts are too weak to carry the weight of the reactive armor fitted skirts. It creates a hole on the flank protection. Another defect of the tank is the electric undersized voltage,
but the crews seem to have solved the problem by using generators and amplifiers from the civilian products. Nevertheless crews are globally satisfied. The enormous damages caused by 125mm HE rounds are particularly appreciated, especially in urban areas. Indeed, the blast of ammunition can treat stealth or dissimulated targets and strong points. In terms of mobility, the ability to pass easily over the rubbles is also emphasized. The engine power is considered as sufficient. Armour protection satisfies the users and cases of T-72 (even of the Ural type) withstanding multiple RPG impacts are not uncommon. The Islamic State is by far the faction that aligns the most with thirteen T-72 “Ural” and six T-72AV, all in combat order. In addition, six other Ural T-72 and T-72AV have joined the ranks of the Islamic State after the katiba Liwa Dawood, the largest operator of tank on the rebels side in 2014, joined it. They were seen in the city of Deir-ez-Zor late February 2016. They are often employed as follows: carefully dissimulated, they are installed in the vicinity of the attack point, preferably overnight. Then they are used in support of the infantry assaults or to harass the enemy. They are also used for the preparation of an area as artillery howitzer because its automatic loader allows it to release a burst of six explosive shells in one minute at range in excess 5 000 meters. Another notable operator is the Jaish al-Islam belonging to the Islamic Front. A third major user was Suqur Al Sham.
N The T-55 tank is simple to operate
and to maintain. it is rather popular among rebels and regular armies.
November / December 2016 – EDR
M Turkish M60s are heavily used in northern Syria.
The tank provides fire support and protection in favour of dismounted infantry. Most of the T-72s no longer have their manually operated 12.7mm heavy machine gun superstructure NSVT, because the commander was highly exposed. Therefore, they were rarely used. Thus they were often dismantled and reused on technical 4x4 for example. Locally improved or modified T-72 have been observed on both sides. From the loyalist side, four improvements were implemented. The first improvement consists of several metal parts aligned around the turret and large metal plates on each side of the chassis. They are “enhanced” by empty cases of 130 or 152mm filled with concrete. In some cases, sandbags are also arranged around the turret. The second upgrade includes the installation of anti-RPG grids around the chassis and turret, providing 360-degree coverage. The third upgrade, and the most successful and effective, appeared late in August 2014 near the town of Adra. Tanks with this kit are nicknamed “T-72 Adra”. It was manufactured and tested by the Republican Guard, which confirms its status of elite unit among the remaining loyalist Syrian forces. This kit cannot be mounted on T-72 Urals turret because EDR – November / December 2016
add-on protections hinder the optical coincidence rangefinder; it is mainly mounted on the T-72M1. It comprises additional armour plate on the side skirts, as well as the glacis and around the turret. The set is reinforced with anti-RPG grills and metal chains, offering a 360-degree coverage. Some Adra tanks were sent to fight in Jobar. The latest innovation mounted on loyalist tanks is an infrared jammer. Nicknamed “Mirage 1-1”, this “soft kill” protection system works like Lire installed on the AMX10RCR and VBCI. Appeared in early February 2016, this item was created in response to increase protection against anti-tank systems, hoping that it would be as effective as the TSHU-1-7 jammers equipping T-90s. It is hand-made, and it is doubtful of his ability; however, it has been observed on other vehicles as T-72. Since November 2015, other T-72 models were seen on Syrian territory without officially knowing whether they were operated by the Russian Federation or by the forces of Bashar al Assad. Nevertheless, these vehicles arrived at the same time as the Russian declaration of intervention in favour of the loyalist regime. These tanks are T-72B Obr 87 and 89. T-72B Obr 87 are used by the Syrian 4th Armoured Division. They give an advantage to the loyalist army thanks to dramatic improvements in protection and fire control system compared to T-72AVs. J 29
© FN Herstal
M The Belgian FN SCAR-L was the last finalist with Heckler & Koch's HK 416 for the AIF/FIW programme.
France picks German-made HK 416 to replace iconic FAMAS Jean-Pierre Husson France has chosen the German-made Heckler & Koch HK 416F carbine to replace its iconic FAMAS assault rifle, which has been used by the French Army for over 40 years, a weapon becoming synonymous for its use by French soldiers.
he legendary but old-fashioned FAMAS bullpup, designed in France by the Manufacture d’Armes de SaintEtienne (MAS), will be replaced by the Heckler & Koch HK 416F by 2017, the French Directorate General for Armaments (DGA) announced in a statement on September 23. Heckler & Koch, the German manufacturer, will deliver 102,000 assault rif les 5,56 x 45mm NATO, about half in short barrelled configuration (11inch/279mm), 10,767 grenade launchers 40 x 46mm Low Velocity, ammunition, spare parts, support services and accessories. The value of the contract is estimated to be around €300 million. “The contract contributes to the further strengthening of the November / December 2016 – EDR
© Norwegian Army
M Except France, the Norwegian Armed Forces
are so far the only operator which uses the HK 416 as its standard service assault rifles. solid ties between Germany and France in defence and in the armaments industry in particular,” the DGA statement said, according to German news outlet N-TV. The changeover comes through an award from DGA for the country’s AIF/Arme Individuelle Future program (FIW/Future Individual Weapon) to the consortium of Heckler & Koch France SAS and Heckler & Koch GmbH of Germany. Deliveries by H&K are to begin next year and will be spread out over a 15-year period.
Four other European companies and manufacturers that were competing head to head in the finals of the competition to win the French Armed Forces assault rifle contract and be their next service rifle for the foreseeable future: the Italian company Beretta with the ARX-160A1; the Swiss manufacturer Swiss Arms with the SIG-Sauer 516/MCX; the Croatian manufacturer HS Produkt with the VHS-2 bullpup; the Belgium manufacturer FN Herstal with the SCAR-L, last finalist with Heckler & Koch for AIF/FIW program. Big win for German manufacturer no doubt since they were going right up against FN Herstal which put in the SCAR-L as the competitor. Does that say something about which is better, HK416 or SCAR-L? We prefer not to express an opinion about that, but one thing is sure: there are many people in the French Parliament and French military authorities in that have heartburn over the idea that the guns would not be a domestic product. Remember that the bullpup FAMAS is a design of GIAT, now Nexter Industries, and Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Etienne (FAMAS for Fusil d’Assaut de la Manufacture d’Armes de Saint-Etienne or Assault Rifle from Saint-Etienne Weapons Factory), which as we said earlier, produces almost all of the military armament in-house from invention to manufacturing. The FAMAS was a symbol for the French Army, much like the L85/ SA80 is for the British Army. N The Italian Beretta ARX-160 assault
rifle was also competing for the AIF/FIW programme.
EDR – November / December 2016
M Approximately 400,000 FAMAS assault rifles were produced by MAS for the French Armed Forces.
Never again bullpup?
© Defensie NL
The bullpup assault rifle was developed to answer a number of military issues that armed forces around the globe needed to have answered. Today, some of the armed forces what adopted bullpup assault rifle in the 80’s and 90’s are now going to
traditional style assault rifles. The bullpup concept was popular due to the fact that much armed forces in the world in the 70’s and 80’s were training in the concept of mechanized warfare and being in transport vehicles from armoured troop carriers to helicopters. For these transportation vehicles and the ability to deploy troops efficiently, they needed an assault rifle that was compact, and the bullpup satisfied this need. But now a lot of armed forces are seeing the bullpup as not suiting every need they are hoping to fill. The FAMAS project began in 1967 under the direction of General Paul Tellié and the first prototype was completed in 1971, with French military evaluation of the rifle beginning in 1972. When production problems delayed the general issue of the new rifles, the French Army began searching for an emergency temporary rifle until the FAMAS came into full production. While the Heckler & Koch HK33 was considered, with a batch of 1,200 examples tested, it was ultimately turned down in favour of the SIG SG 540, built under license by Manurhin, until enough domesticallybuilt FAMAS rifles were produced to issue to French
O The German HK 416 was adopted by many
NATO Special Operations Forces. 32
November / December 2016 – EDR
OThe Croatian manufacturer
HS Produkt proposed the VHS-2 bullpup for AIF/FIW programme.
© HS Produkt
built magazines. The FAMAS was also designed around the concept of single-use, disposable bullet magazines; when the limited budget of the French military forced soldiers to reuse disposable magazines over and over, the FAMAS would jam and require immediate attention. MAS would eventually manufacture more durable magazines for the FAMAS that reduced malfunctions. The F1 was followed by the G1 version that included several minor improvements, such as redesigned grips and an enlarged trigger guard for operation with gloves. However, the G1 remained conceptual and was never actually produced. The FAMAS G2 was developed in 1994 to comply with NATO standards by accepting standard NATO magazines (STANAG 4719) and by employing tighter barrel rifling to accurately fire both older 5.56mm 55gr (3.6g) ammunition and new standard
Armed Forces. In late 1978, the French military accepted the FAMAS as their standard-issue assault rifle. After adoption, the FAMAS F1 replaced both the MAS 49/56 rifle and MAT 49 sub-machine gun. Approximately 400,000 FAMAS F1 assault rifles were produced by MAS. While a capable rifle, the F1 had numerous problems to overcome. For instance, many plastic pieces on the rifle easily broke, including critical parts like the cheek riser on the butt stock. The FAMAS was also susceptible to malfunction on occasion because of poorly-
HK 416F/A5 Technical Data (short barrelled version)
Calibre: 5,46 x 45mm
Operating principle: gas operated, short-stroke piston, rotating bolt
Length min./-maxi: 709/805mm
Barrel Length: 279mm (11inch)
Rate of fire: 850 rounds/min
Sight radius: 340mm
Magazine capacity: 30 rounds STANAG magazine
Sights: rear rotary diopter sight and front post, Picatinny MIL-STD 1913 Weight, without magazine: 3,12kg
Magazine, empty: 0.25kg M The winner of the AIF/FIW program, is a further development of the HK416 in 5.56 x 45mm NATO calibre.
EDR – November / December 2016
© Defensi NL
M A Dutch Special Operations Task Group “Scorpion” member looks through a
binocular while his HK 416 sits next to him during operation in Mali. 5,56mm NATO 62gr. (4.0g) ammunition. The G2 also included several other upgrades taken from the G1 model, such as an enlarged trigger guard and improved hand guards made from polymer instead reinforced fiberglass. The Marine Nationale, the French Navy, purchased the FAMAS G2 in 1995 and issued it to their Fusiliers-Marins and Commandos Marine. However, the French Army refused to purchase the G2, preferring to rely on the FAMAS F1 as their primary assault rifle.
HK 416: the winner The HK416 uses a Heckler & Koch-proprietary short-stroke gas system that derives from the HK G36, forgoing the expanding gas system standard in AR-15 rif les (the HK G36 gas system was in turn partially derived from the AR-18 assault rif le). The Heckler & Koch system uses a shortstroke piston driving an operating rod to force the bolt carrier to the rear. This design prevents combustion gases from entering the weapon’s 34
interior – a shortcoming with direct impingement systems. The reduction in heat and fouling of the bolt carrier group increases the reliability of the weapon and extends the interval between stoppages. During factory tests the HK416 fired 10,000 rounds in full-auto without malfunctioning. It also reduces operator cleaning time and stress on critical components. The HK416 is equipped with a proprietary accessory rail forearm with MIL-STD-1913 rails on all four sides. This lets most current accessories for M4/M16-type weapons fit the HK416. The HK416 rail forearm can be installed and removed without tools by using the bolt locking lug as the screwdriver. The rail forearm is “free-floating” and does not contact the barrel, improving accuracy. The weapon has an adjustable multi-position telescopic butt stock, offering six different lengths of pull. The shoulder pad can be either convex or concave and the stock features a storage space for maintenance accessories, spare electrical batteries or other small kit items. The HK416’s barrel is cold hammer-forged with a 20,000-round service life and features a November / December 2016 – EDR
6 grooves 7inch (178mm) right hand twist. The cold hammer-forging process provides a stronger barrel for greater safety in case of an obstructed bore or for extended firing sessions. Modifications for an overthe-beach (OTB) capability such as drainage holes in the bolt carrier and buffer system are available to let the HK416 fire safely after being submerged in water. The winner of AIF/FIW program, is a further development of the HK416 assault rifle in 5.56 x 45mm NATO calibre. The most striking changes compared to its previous versions as well as to market available assault rifle platforms include an improved and toolless gas regulator for suppressor use, a redesigned, user-friendly lower receiver, which allows complete ambidextrous operation of the weapon and ensures optimised magazine compatibility, as well as numerous technical improvements to maximize the
O Heckler & Koch will deliver to the French Armed
Forces 102,000 assault HK 416 rifles, about half in short barrelled configuration. N Norwegian Army soldier women
© Norwegian Army
with HK 416N assault rifle.
EDR – November / December 2016
© Norwegian Army
M Norwegian Army soldier in Afghanistan
with a HK 416N assault rifle.
© Swiss Arms
operator safety, reliability, ammunition compatibility and durability under real operating conditions. Principal features are: – Modified and tool-less gas regulator for suppressor use. – Safety-/Fire selector lever can be set to safe when the hammer is in the cocked or uncooked position. – Over the beach (OTB) capability. – Completely ambidextrous operating controls (bolt catch –magazine release– safety-/fire selector lever and charging handle). – “Winter” trigger guard for use with gloves and cold weather clothing. – Non-stop NATO STANAG 4694 top rail for use of various mechanical and optical sights (including night vision/thermal).
– Redesigned ergonomic pistol grip with storage compartment for field stripping tool. – Enlarged Bolt catch lever and protective barrier against accidental discharge. – “Slim line” Telescopic butt stock. – Optimised receiver geometry, modified assembly interfaces and improved receiver connections. – Receiver extension to stabilise and accomplish drop test criteria under real conditions. – Increased magazine compatibility in accordance with NATO STANAG 4179. – Rifle grenades and interface for grenade launcher 40mm Low velocity as an-add module under the hand guard. Several single units and SOF/Special Operations Forces in the world use le HK 416 4,56 mm NATO or HK 417 7,62 mm NATO, but except France, Norwegian Armed Forces are so far the only operator that uses the HK 416 as its standard service rifles. J
O The Swiss manufacturer Swiss Arms
proposed for the AIF/FIW program his SIG-Sauer MCX.
November / December 2016 – EDR
P The bullpup FAMAS was a symbol
for the French Army for over 40 years.
FAMAS: Action, Design details and Ammunitions
he FAMAS assault rifle is a bullpup configuration, with the ammunition feed behind the trigger. The receiver housing is made of a special steel alloy, and the rifle furniture is made of fiberglass. The rifle uses a lever-delayed blowback action, an action used on the AA-52 machine gun derived from the prototypes built by Army Technical Department during tests having taken place between the First and Second World Wars. Fire mode is controlled by a selector within the trigger guard, with three settings: safe (central position), single shot (to the right), and automatic fire (to the left). Automatic fire can be in three-shot bursts or fully automatic; this is determined by another selector, located under the housing and behind the magazine. The FAMAS G2 weighs 3.8kg (8.38lb). The G1 and G2 have a large, grip-length trigger-guard to allow easy access to the trigger when wearing gloves. Both F1 and G2 models of the FAMAS feature a bipod attached to the upper hand-guard. The FAMAS G2 a “polyvalent hand-guard” which features a standard NATO Accessories Rail, allowing a variety of sights to be mounted, notably red dot sights and night vision units. The FAMAS uses a delayed blowback operating system that functions best with
EDR – November / December 2016
French-specified steel-casing 5.56 x 45mm ammunition. Using standard brass-casing 5,56 x 45mm NATO ammunition employed by other armies can create over-pressure and case ruptures in the FAMAS, which can lead to severe malfunctions. Using incorrectly built ammunition also results in approximately two minor injuries for every million rounds fired from a FAMAS. As a result, the French military has discreetly banned the use of foreign-produced ammunition in all French-issued FAMAS rifles. The FAMAS F1 uses a proprietary 25-round magazine. It has a chrome-lined barrel with 1 turn in 12 inch (1:12inch) rifling and functions best with the 55gr (3.6g) ammunition, M193 type. When using the French made 5.56mm 55gr (3.6g) ammo it has a muzzle velocity of 960m/s (3,150ft/s). The FAMAS G2 uses M16-type, NATOcompatible 30-round STANAG magazines. It has a chrome-lined barrel with 1 turn in 9 inch (1:9inch) rifling and functions equally well with both the older 55gr (3.6g) ammunition, M193 type, and the newer 62gr (4.0g) ammunition SS109 type. When using the French made 5,56mm 62gr (4.0g) ammo it has a muzzle velocity of 925m/s (3,035ft/s).
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