A very automated DSEi: the ground and sea exhibition in London illustrated the defence industry's lean towards robotics, automation and autonomy, highlighting increasing efforts to keep soldier, seaman and airman out of harm's way.

Author:Keggler, J.
Position:Shows & exhibitions


None of the actual vehicles being evaluated in the Trials of Truth for the utility variant of the British Army's multi-billion pound Future Rapid Effects Systems (Fres) were on hand at DSEi, as the evaluation was in its last days. Nexter displayed its VBCI in the French Army's infantry fighting vehicle configuration. General Dynamics Land Systems' subsidiary Mowag had a Piranha III (sitting before its stand) the company's Piranha IV-based Evolution demonstrator is being evaluated in the Trials of Truth and the company has yet to complete the first prototype of the Piranha V that would eventually prefigure the Fres configuration. The Dutch-German Artec consortium displayed a model of the Boxer Multi-Role Armoured Vehicle. Selection of the winning design was scheduled to have been made in November; shortly before these lines are printed.

The four contenders for the British Army's 500 million [pounds sterling] Warrior Lethality Improvement Programme (Wlip) were pitching their solutions at DSEi. To ensure that the BAE Systems Warrior infantry fighting vehicle remains effective for another 30 years the service wants to replace the 30 mm Rarden cannon in up to 449 vehicles. On offer are:

* the 40 mm Cased Telescope Weapons System developed by the BAE Systems-Nexter CTAI joint venture

* the ATK Gun Systems Mk 44 Bushmaster 30 mm cannon.

* the Oto Melara Hitfist 30 turret (offer made by Selex Sensors and Airborne Systems)

* a turret designed by Rheinmetall (offer made by Lockheed Martin UK Insys)

* the General Dynamics Land Systems Mk 46 turret designed for the US Marine Corps' Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle.

The turret chosen for the Wlip is also expected to be installed on the scout/reconnaissance variant of the Fres family.

VT Shipbuilding unveiled its ocean-capable patrol vessel design which was developed to meet the lower tier of the Royal Navy's Future Surface Combatant (FSC) programme. Under the current plans the programme will consist of three tiers of ships--C1, C2 and C3--to replace the service's Type 22 and Type 23 frigates, mine countermeasures vessels and survey ships. VT derived the 100-metre design with a displacement of about 3000 tonnes from the ocean patrol vessel developed for Oman's Project Khareef. With an endurance of 45 days the ship will be capable of reaching a maximum speed of more than 24 knots and a cruising speed of twelve knots, covering a maximum range of more than 7000 nm. C3 class vessels will be used for a variety of roles including mine countermeasures, patrol duties and survey work. VT's C3 FSC design incorporates a large crane and a flexible 26-metre-long mission deck aft, equipped with a stern ramp for payload deployment/recovery. The design also includes a 16-metre-long flight deck able to accommodate helicopters as large as the RN's EH101 Merlin and a hanger with room enough for a Lynx helicopter. Weapons could include a 76 mm or similar medium-calibre gun forward, a 30 mm gun or Phalanx close-in weapon system port and starboard as well as .50-calibre heavy machine guns, and surface-to-surface missiles. VT has proposed that the Ministry of Defence could lease the C3 FCS vessels in the same manner as its does the RN's River Class ocean patrol vessels also built by VT.

Thales Air Defence has developed a new version of its Starstreak surface-to-air missile to be called Starstreak II, which offers an extended range to beyond seven km, with increased coverage and altitude and improved guidance precision to engage smaller targets such as unmanned air vehicles. Like the earlier missile each Starstreak II releases three line-of-sight laser-beam riding 'hittile' darts after launch that are immune to all known countermeasures. Thales has recently demonstrated the ability of Starstreak missiles launched from the Thales Multi Mission System (MMS) to engage both air and ground targets including armoured vehicles.

Patria Vehicles and IBD Deisenroth Engineering announced that they would collaborate to increase the survivability of Patria's wheeled AMV (Armoured Modular Vehicle), which has now been sold to five countries. The vehicle displayed at the exhibition was fitted with IBD's Amap-ADS (Advanced Modular Armour Protection-Active Defence System), which provides all-round protection against kinetic energy and shaped-charge threats. The partners are also working on integrating the Amap-I for protection against improvised explosive devices. Fully integrated vehicles are expected to be ready within the next two years.

British engineering firm Ricardo announced the formation of its new Defence Systems & Technologies strategic business unit that will include the facilities and expertise of the Ricardo Special Vehicles group and leverage the latest automotive technologies developed throughout the Ricardo group. The company provided an example of this technology when it unveiled a military hybrid systems demonstrator vehicle developed in partnership with L-3 Communications and Magnet Motors. Traction is through independent hub motors, which also provide improved ground clearance and thereby increased survivability. An on-board generator capable of delivering more than 100 kW of electrical power could replace trailer-based generators for functions such as communication.

Oshkosh Truck displayed its contender for the United Kingdom's Future Light Equipment Transporter (Flet) programme, which requires a...

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