The following is derived from various wanderings, discussions, & tyre kicking, and covers an opinion on the forthcoming Land 400 Phase 3 Request for Tender, and is as per June 2018.
General: Phase 2 will significantly shape participation in Phase 3. Costs for the two bidders that weren’t short listed for the Risk Mitigation Activity (GDLS & Elbit Systems) ran into the tens of millions of dollars. Costs for the losing BAE bid could rightly be assessed as double that. Combined with Rheinmetall’s Phase 2-driven “perceived incumbency”, nobody wants to waste money to be a stalking horse on the Commonwealth’s behalf. There is a plausible risk that only Rheinmetall will bid.
Reorganisation of infantry sections: When Land 400 was conceived, Australian infantry sections consisted of two fire teams of four. This drove the initial “eight dismounts” requirement that has subsequently been relaxed. Now comprising three fire times of three, one of those teams will be the vehicle crew, the other two will dismount, for a total of six dismounts. Recent operational experience has highlighted the need for temporary attachment of specialist personnel, so a platform that has some spare seating could still count for it.
GFE Turrets: One possible tactic that the Commonwealth may seek to use is that of mandating that the Lance Turret, as used on the Phase 2 Boxer CRV, be used as Government Furnished Equipment (that is, purchased from Rheinmetall and provided to suitably configured hulls by competitors). This would simplify the turret training and offer spares commonality across both phases. Perceived savings for “buying in bulk” were (apparently) unable to be realised as Rheinmetall was reluctant to discount its turret. Costs aside, if an offerer has a GFE turret, who owns the systems integration risk? Who does the customer turn to solve potential issues between the turret and the hull when they, the customer, has mandated that particular turret? Commercially, this is a high risk proposition.
Unmanned turrets: Only GDLS offered an unmanned/remote turret for Phase 2, the Kongsberg MCT-30, as has been adopted in small numbers (81) by the US Army to meet an immediate operational need. A bias against unmanned turrets is unlikely to manifest itself in Phase 3 due to the likely presence of the PSM Puma IFV. Of course, that’ll likely to open the door to GDLS bidding the ASCOD fitted with Elbit’s optionally manned/unmanned MT-30 turret....should they decide to bid at all.
Likely bidders: This brings us to the inevitable list of potential bidders and their platforms.
BAE: Unlikely to bid. If they win SEA 5000, that may get them off the bench, as would a requirements set that looks a lot like CV90. In the event that they do bid, the CV90 Mk4 is the most likely platform.
GDLS: More likely to bid than BAE, but still waiting to see what the RFT looks like. (Tellingly?) Their ASCODs at Eurosatory we’re painted for upcoming European opportunities, not in the distinctive Australian disruptive pattern.
Rheinmetall: likely to offer the Lynx and maybe also the Puma. With the reorganisation of Australian infantry sections (see above) the eight dismounts of the KF41 version of the Lynx are less relevant. Still, the modularity of the KF41 demonstrated at Eurosatory 18 definitely left an impression.
PSM: As a JV between KMW & Rheinmetall, Puma may be offered separately (unlikely if the Boxer =\= ARTEC in Australia model is followed). In the event that it is offered separately, its high unit cost, without the associated modularity of Boxer, may be a disadvantage. Also, PSM has no experience with industrial partnerships in Australia: a significant disadvantage.
Hanwha Defense Systems: Korea has been a bit “off” Australian defence opportunities, largely due to the cack-handed way in which the cancellation of the K-9/AS-9 was handled in 2012. The AS-9 was viewed as a loss-leader, primarily as Australia has a reputation of being a discerning (aka difficult) customer. If Hanwha bids their K21, it’ll be interesting to watch.
Whilst no means exhaustive, the above outlines some less-obvious factors currently at play for the 450-vehicle opportunity that is Land 400 Phase 3.
Backstory (skip if you don't like alternate history junk)
The year is 2239. It has been roughly 210 years since the world was engulfed in nuclear war. Following the war, the United States splintered into hundreds of small statelets. While much knowledge was retained in some form (mostly through books and other printed media), the loss of population and destruction of industrial capability set back society immensely.
Though the Pacific Northwest was less badly hit than other areas, the destruction of Seattle and Portland, coupled with the rupturing of the Cascadia Subduction Zone in 2043, caused society to regress to a mid-19th century technology level. However, in the early 2100s, the Cascade Republic formed, centered near Tacoma. The new nation grew rapidly, expanding to encompass most of Washington and Oregon by 2239. The Cascade Republic now extends from the Klamath River in the south to the Fraser River in the north, and from the Pacific roughly to central Idaho. Over time, the standard of living and industrial development improved (initially through salvaging of surviving equipment, by the late 2100s through new development); the population has grown to about 4.5 million (comparable to 1950 levels), and technology is at about a 1940 level. Automobiles are common, aircraft are less common, but not rare by any means. Computers are nonexistent aside from a few experimental devices; while scientists and engineers are aware of the principles behind microchips and other advanced electronics, the facilities to produce such components simply do not exist. Low rate production of early transistors recently restarted.
The current armored force of the Cascade Republic consists of three armored brigades. They are presently equipped with domestically produced light tanks, dating to the 2190s. Weighing roughly 12 tons and armed with a 40mm gun, they represented the apex of the Cascade Republic's industrial capabilities at the time. And when they were built, they were sufficient for duties such as pacifying survivalist enclaves in remote areas. However, since that time, the geopolitical situation has complicated significantly. There are two main opponents the Cascade Republic's military could expect to face in the near future.
The first is California. The state of California was hit particularly hard by the nuclear exchange. However, in 2160, several small polities in the southern part of the state near the ruins of Los Angeles unified. Adopting an ideology not unfamiliar to North Korea, the new state declared itself the successor to the legacy of California, and set about forcibly annexing the rest of the state. It took them less than 50 years to unite the rest of California, and spread into parts of Arizona and northern Mexico. While California's expansion stopped at the Klamath River for now, this is only due to poor supply lines and the desire to engage easier targets. (California's northward advanced did provide the final impetus for the last statelets in south Oregon to unify with the Cascade Republic voluntarily).
California is heavily industrialized, possessing significant air, naval, and armored capabilities. Their technology level is comparable to the Cascade Republic's, but their superior industrial capabilities and population mean that they can produce larger vehicles in greater quantity than other countries. Intelligence shows they have vehicles weighing up to 50 tons with 3 inches of armor, though most of their tanks are much lighter.
The expected frontlines for an engagement with the Californian military would be the coastal regions in southern Oregon. Advancing up the coastal roads would allow California to capture the most populated and industrialized regions of the Cascade Republic if they advanced far enough north. Fortunately, the terrain near the border is very difficult and favors the defender;
(near the Californian border)
The other opponent is Deseret, a Mormon theocratic state centered in Utah, and encompassing much of Nevada, western Colorado, and southern Idaho. Recently, tension has arisen with the Cascade Republic over two main issues. The first is the poorly defined border in Eastern Oregon / Northern Nevada; the old state boundary is virtually meaningless, and though the area is sparsely populated, it does represent a significant land area, with grazing and water resources. The more recent flashpoint is the Cascade Republic's recent annexation of Arco and the area to the east. Deseret historically regarded Idaho as being within its sphere of influence, and maintained several puppet states in the area (the largest being centered in Idaho Falls). They regard the annexation of a signficant (in terms of land area, not population) portion of Idaho as a major intrusion into their rightful territory. That the Cascade Republic has repaired the rail line leading to the old Naval Reactors Facility, and set up a significant military base there only makes the situation worse.
Deseret's military is light and heavily focused on mobile operations. Though they are less heavily mechanized than the Cascade Republic's forces, operating mostly armored cars and cavalry, they still represent a significant threat to supply and communication lines in the open terrain of eastern Oregon / southern Idaho.
(a butte in the disputed region of Idaho, near Arco)
As the head of a design team in the Cascade Republic military, you have been requested to design a new tank according to one of two specifications (or both if you so desire):
Medium / Heavy Tank Weight: No more than 45 tons Width: No more than 10.8 feet (3.25 meters) Upper glacis / frontal turret armor of at least 3 in (76mm) LoS thickness Side armor at least 1in (25mm) thick (i.e. resistant to HMG fire) Power/weight ratio of at least 10 hp / ton No more than 6 crew members Primary armament capable of utilizing both anti-armor and high explosive rounds Light tank Weight: No more than 25 tons Width: No more than 10.8 feet Upper glacis / frontal turret armor of at least 1 in thickness Side armor of at least 3/8 in (10mm) thickness Power/weight ratio of at least 12 hp / ton No more than 6 crew members Primary armament capable of utilizing both anti-armor and high explosive rounds
Other relevant information:
Any tank should be designed to operate against either of the Cascade Republic's likely opponents (California or Deseret) The primary heavy machine gun is the M2, the primary medium machine gun is the M240. Use of one or both of these as coaxial and/or secondary armament is encouraged. The secret archives of the Cascade Republic are available for your use. Sadly, there are no running prewar armored vehicles, the best are some rusted hulks that have long been stripped of usable equipment. (Lima Tank Plant ate a 500 kt ground burst) Both HEAT and APFSDS rounds are in testing. APCR is the primary anti-armor round of the Cascade Republic. Either diesel or gasoline engines are acceptable, the Cascade Republic is friendly with oil producing regions in Canada (OOC: Engines are at about a late 1940s/early 50s tech level) The adaptability of the tank to other variants (such as SPAA, SPG, recovery vehicle, etc.) is preferred but not the primary metric that will be used to decide on a design. Ease of maintenance in the field is highly important. Any designs produced will be compared against the M4 Sherman and M3 Stuart (for medium/heavy and light tank), as these blueprints are readily available, and these tanks are well within the Cascade Republic's manufacturing capabilities.
Meanwhile at Eurosatory 2018 :
The Euro Main Battle Tank (EMBT), a private venture project intended for the export market.
Topic to post photo and video of various AFV seen through a thermal camera.
I know that we won't be able to make any comparisons on the thermal signature of various tank without knowing which camera took the image and that the same areas (tracks, engine, sometimes exhaust) will always be the ones to show up but anyway:
Just to see them under a different light than usual (pardon the terrible pun^^)
Leclerc during a deployment test of the GALIX smoke dispenser:
The picture on the bottom right was made using the castor sight (AMX 10 RC, AMX 30 B2)
A T-62 I think between 2 APC: