Wisent bulls in.


In a somewhat unusual scenario, it is almost hands-down that Rheinmetall has been awarded a contract by the German Army for the manufacture of two 25-tonne multipurpose armoured vehicle demonstrators (other manufacturers had voiced their interest to participate in the competition but have apparently failed to put in their bids).

Named after an extinct European variety of bison, the vehicle is aimed at filling the Class 4 (25-tonne) segment of the German Army's GFF programme. As already reported by Armada, Rheinmetall's proposals for Classes 1, 2 and 3 respectively are the Gavial, the Caracal and the Yak, for which the manufacturer delivered two of each for evaluation tests by the Bundeswehr in 2006. The recent Boxer procurement go-ahead had misled a number of observers to rapidly conclude that this vehicle would fill the Class 4 position. The advent of the Wisent however confirms that another vehicle is to be used to bridge the range gap between the Yak and the Boxer.

The Wisent programme, as with a number of new vehicle programmes in Germany by the way, is moving apace. Rheinmetall has been working on the concept for about 18 months, had received the contract on 19 November 2006 and plans to roll out the first vehicle in 2007. The Wisent is not the adaptation of an existing platform, but an entirely new development based on a rigid--initially 8 x 8--chassis. The final detailed configuration options, however, remain open. For example, currently all four axles are planned to be identical. i.e. all four will be steerable, but for sake of cost reduction some versions may have to be content with only two. In any case, and whatever the final choice might be, all four axles will feature a fully independent...

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