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Land warfare vehicles make big Paris debut

LandWarfareBarrie.jpg

 (Allison Barrie.)

Named after a killer fish, killer cat and a killer snake, two Infantry Fighting Vehicles and a new Light Protected Mobility Vehicle, made their debuts in Paris to a lot of buzz.

The five-day biennial Eurosatory show in Paris has been the site of some big reveals this week – particularly in land warfare vehicles.

Piranha

General Dynamics introduced its latest vehicle, the next generation wheeled infantry fighting vehicle, Piranha III+, this year.

The 8x8 vehicle is designed to provide enhanced protection combined with off-road mobility.

The Stryker is the U.S. Army version.

Piranha III+ is beefed up on protection. The original Piranha was twenty-two tons and has now grown into twenty-seven – ten tons of which are the crew, armor, ammunition and weapons.

As vehicles age they tend to become upgraded with additional systems so it’s important to have some flexibility in the amount of weight it can carry.  Otherwise, adding vehicle weight could significantly reduce a vehicle’s speed and maneuverability.

This version is designed with upgrades in mind. The company says it can take on a further ten tons more payload weight without sacrificing performance.

Equipped with a conventional or hydro-pneumatic suspension system for enhanced performance, its top speed is about 70 miles per hour with a range improved from 460 to 620 miles on roads.

Fittingly since it is named after an aggressive fish - a very cool amphibious version of the Piranha III+, with a water speed of up to about six miles per hour, is also on offer.

In addition to the driver, gunner and commander, the vehicle carries up to nine personnel that can egress rapidly through the rear ramp.

Piranha can wield a range of weapons but the one revealed at the show was the Kongsberg Protector M151 remote weapon station armed with a fully stabilized .50 M2 HB machine gun.

This latest addition to the family has the highest level of armor protection against IEDs and mines, like its sibling Piranha V.

The Irish Defence Force says it is upgrading its Piranha III with the Kongsberg Protector remote weapon station and expects its Piranhas will be delivered this September.

In all, there are more than 35 Pirhanha III versions, with an amphibious version underway for Spain and Brazil.

Puma

The new Puma armored Infantry Fighting Vehicle made its debut at Eurosatory this week.

Built by Rheinmetall for the German Army, it’s designed for optimum tactical mobility, maximum crew protection and extreme firepower like its remote-controlled, stabilized turret armed with an air burst munitions (ABM)-capable 30mm automatic cannon.

Puma can handle a range of different terrain from sand dunes and steep loose-surface mountainous trails through to rocky desert streambeds.

It also features decoupled running gear with hydro-pneumatic shock absorber elements and a compact, newly developed 800 kW main engine developed by MTU.

Puma is kitted out for the future of warfare with its network-enabled warfare capability. It has been designed to be compatible with future soldier systems, battle management and digital communications equipment.

The vehicles can also be operated in a training mode, acting as realistic combat simulators for crew and unit training. Up to four vehicles can be networked simultaneously in a training formation.

Its fighting compartment has more than 300 cubic feet of armor protected space.  The space could be utilized for a range of needs, from acting as a mobile tactical operations center and field ambulance to providing armored scouting.

Last year, Puma was put through its paces in extensive hot, dry testing in the deserts of UAE where temperatures reached up to 122 degrees in the shade. In the desert trials both MK30-2/ABM automatic cannon and the MG4 machine gun were put to the test. Live firing was conducted in stationary mode as well as on the move during day and night exercises.

The previous year, it was tested in extreme cold weather in Norway and the company reported that Puma performed very well under all the extreme conditions.

Hawkei

Hawkei is a newborn – a mere three months old- and is making its debut in Paris to a whole lot of ooos and ahhs.

Named after the largest native Australian snake in the Death Adder species – ‘Acanthophis Hawkei’ - rather than the member of  hit 80s TV show “The A Team,” Hawkei is the new Light Protected Mobility Vehicle from French firm Thales.

Hawkei is a highly mobile, highly protected light vehicle designed to protect forces against from threats like IEDs and small arms ambushes.

The vehicle is small in size and light enough to move stealthily, rapidly and safely in high-risk areas. Although small and weighing only about seven tons,  Hawkei can be equipped with a surprising number of weapons and situational awareness systems.

The 4x4 can carry six warfighters in a high level of blast protection, benefiting from advances made by armor solution company Plasan.

Air transportable, the Hawkei can be refitted for specific mission threats by two crewmen in less than 30 minutes.

Hawkei is intended for use as a command or utility vehicle. And there are special forces and a border protection versions are also available.

It uses open architecture so any command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I) system can be fitted, not just the Thales C4I.

Thales has two versions of the 4x4 on display - the first is the original for the Australian Defence Force and the second is the new Hawkei Version 2.2 – the three month-old newborn.

The company says that the vehicle’s debut in Paris coincides with negotiations with Australian Defence Force with a potential contract in 2015. The ADF needs approximately 1,300 new vehicles to replace its current Land Rover fleet.

According to Thales, it is the only dog left in the fight for the ADF contract as two US joint light tactical vehicles (JLTVs) began trials but were eliminated. The company expects both a four-door command variant and a two-door utility variant to be bought by Australia.

Thales seems fairly confident that their Hawkei will also find homes in the UK, the Netherlands and a few other European forces.