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Land 400 Phase 3: Australian IFV

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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.

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I expect this phase to be much more limited than phase 2.

The parameters they set, as well as the shameful way they chose to treat bidders, effectively won Rheinmettal phase 3 as well.

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I'm not really sure about GDELS's overall strategy with the ASCOD 2. They have presented two different configurations in Czech camouflage painting (makes sense, given that the Czech tender is starting earlier), but they never try to maximize the capacity of the chassis.

 

p1693453.jpg

 

The IFV from Eurosatory is based on the ASCOD 35 chassis (ASCOD 2 designed for a maximum gross vehicle weight of 35 tonnes) and seems rather limited protection. The rubber band tracks are limited to STANAG 4569 level 3a, the ballistic protection is below STANAG 4569 level 6 (i.e. it has been claimed to feature protection against 30 mm APFSDS from 1,000 m distance instead of the required 500 m). IMO that places GDELS at a disadvantage compared to the potential offers from BAE Systems, PSM and Rheinmetall. The turret is intriguing and having a hardkill APS and an integrated ATGM launcher is nice, but Australia already rejected the Sentinel II with exactly the same turret configuration, so I don't think that this would be a good option for trying to get a contract in Australia...

 

 

ascod-6711.jpg

 

The older IFV variant offered to the Czech Republic was based on the ASCOD 42 hull (ASCOD 2 hull with 42 tonnes maximum gross vehicle weight), but was limited to just 38 tonnes thanks to (also) relying on rubber band tracks from Soucy Defence. I don't think that the Samson Mk 2 RWS is as advanced as Elbits turret used on the other model, but it recently was said to receive Trophy APS as an optional upgrade offer.

This ASCOD 2 IFV has better protection, including passive armor against RPGs on the upper half of the hull.

 

IMO the CV90 Mk IV is a much more likely candidate to be offered to Australia: the AMV-35 came reasonable close to winning the competition (it got shortlisted, unlike the Sentinel II with Elbit turret and the LAV-CRV from GDLS) and has more potential (1,000 hp engine, more proven components, their own turrets, etc.).

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It has nothing to do with the turret. The Sentinel lost because it did not offer sufficient protection, and was a higher risk option.

 

I think they should have run separate bids for the chassis and turrets, and pay for participation expenses.

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The level of distrust between the consortium partners for Sentinel meant that the first time that the hull was mated to the turret was in Tasmania! It was, both technically & commercially, extremely risky. Thankfully, the Commonwealth had experience with Elbit low-balling a technically-risky bid to win business 😂 

 

Participation expenses were partly paid for the Risk Mitigation Activity participants....but they had to get there first. 

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1 hour ago, 2805662 said:

The level of distrust between the consortium partners for Sentinel meant that the first time that the hull was mated to the turret was in Tasmania! It was, both technically & commercially, extremely risky. Thankfully, the Commonwealth had experience with Elbit low-balling a technically-risky bid to win business 😂 

 

Participation expenses were partly paid for the Risk Mitigation Activity participants....but they had to get there first. 

Maybe. Elbit has a wealth of capabilities to offer even in ground systems, but is not nearly as big as some other participating companies, and was in the process of buying IMI, so the reported losses of tens of millions of dollars for participants, were a bit above its weight.

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2 hours ago, Mighty_Zuk said:

It has nothing to do with the turret. The Sentinel lost because it did not offer sufficient protection, and was a higher risk option. 

  

I think they should have run separate bids for the chassis and turrets, and pay for participation expenses. 

 

The Patria AMV-35 had the same insufficient level of protection (or even less, if the ST Engineering/Elbit proposal to use the turret in an unmanned configuration and use the save weight for more hull armor was considered by the Australian military), yet it was shortlisted. The turret is one of the higher risk components of the Sentinel and therefore was one of the reasons why the offer was rejected instead of the AMV-35.

 

It would be rather odd of the Australian military to say: "one year ago, we didn't like it for being too risky, but now it's perfect for our requirements". If I was a manager of GDELS, I would look for an alternative turret for Australia.

 

2 hours ago, 2805662 said:

The level of distrust between the consortium partners for Sentinel meant that the first time that the hull was mated to the turret was in Tasmania! It was, both technically & commercially, extremely risky. Thankfully, the Commonwealth had experience with Elbit low-balling a technically-risky bid to win business 😂  

 

Are you sure that this was the result of distrust? Given the fact that ST Engineering, the company that supplied the Terrex 3 hull for the Sentinel 2 vehicle, is manufacturing several Elbit components under licence, one should assume that these companies have rather good relationship. IMO it seems that turret and hull were first mated in Tasmina for practical reasons (with the turret probably being made in Israel, while the hull was made in Singapore).

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1 hour ago, SH_MM said:

 

 

It would be rather odd of the Australian military to say: "one year ago, we didn't like it for being too risky, but now it's perfect for our requirements". If I was a manager of GDELS, I would look for an alternative turret for Australia.

 

 

Are you sure that this was the result of distrust? Given the fact that ST Engineering, the company that supplied the Terrex 3 hull for the Sentinel 2 vehicle, is manufacturing several Elbit components under licence, one should assume that these companies have rather good relationship. IMO it seems that turret and hull were first mated in Tasmina for practical reasons (with the turret probably being made in Israel, while the hull was made in Singapore).

 

GDLS (who has brand recognition in Australia thanks mainly due to ASLAV, GDELS won’t appear on literature in Australia) if they bid at all, has the benefit of a more mature turret. Certainly, it’s more mature than Lance 2.0. 

 

My distrust comment is on the back of discussions with several discussions with participants. Not stated openly, but the inference I drew. Considering that both entities are possible competitors globally, I can understand the reluctance to share information. 

 

At the time of the Phase 2 tender close, Australian manufacturing was less of a factor than it has become. The emphasis for Phase 2 was “off the shelf” and ready to go, due to perceived urgency of replacing the ASLAV. The message (at the time) from mating the turret with the hull in Tasmania was “immature, unproven, high risk, and poor partners. Rightly or wrongly. 

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1 hour ago, SH_MM said:

 

The Patria AMV-35 had the same insufficient level of protection (or even less, if the ST Engineering/Elbit proposal to use the turret in an unmanned configuration and use the save weight for more hull armor was considered by the Australian military), yet it was shortlisted. The turret is one of the higher risk components of the Sentinel and therefore was one of the reasons why the offer was rejected instead of the AMV-35.

 

It would be rather odd of the Australian military to say: "one year ago, we didn't like it for being too risky, but now it's perfect for our requirements". If I was a manager of GDELS, I would look for an alternative turret for Australia.

 

It just demonstrated the issue of modern day bureaucracy and the absolute need to do everything "low risk". If you're going to start a tender for vehicles that are only "proven" i.e several years after development phase, and intend to keep it going til final decision for a few more years, you're going to cut 10 years off the vehicle's service, if not more, because it won't be able to compete for long with vehicles that others were developing at the time.

 

This fixation on complete products is a money drain and not sustainable when in wartime.

 

A higher risk approach of single source buy, or tender for development, are higher risk but will more often than not yield far better results.

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Australian procurement is funny like that. Must be “low risk” (is that developmental risk? Technical risk? Manufacturing risk? That’s never stated).....unless it’s submarines (google “SEA 1000” - it’s unbelievable), or aircraft (launch customer for the E-7 Wedgetail, for example). Maybe the land systems procurement guys just aren’t cluey enough to buy anything that’s not off-the-shelf. 

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9 hours ago, 2805662 said:

Australian procurement is funny like that. Must be “low risk” (is that developmental risk? Technical risk? Manufacturing risk? That’s never stated).....unless it’s submarines (google “SEA 1000” - it’s unbelievable), or aircraft (launch customer for the E-7 Wedgetail, for example). Maybe the land systems procurement guys just aren’t cluey enough to buy anything that’s not off-the-shelf. 

Low risk usually means technical risk. e.g engine starting to act up, because none tested it extensively enough to see that in advance.

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Some stuff I have seen:

GD's offer will be based on Ajax, either original British model or the composite-hull Griffin that is competing for MPF. (Person referred to it as "American version", I realise now this probably means GD's Bradley replacement)
Considered cheaper Scania engine when AMV35 looked favourite. Sticking with MTU; Boxer CRV uses the same engine.

uD2Zw2n.jpg

Image comes from GD presentation when they were showing LAV CRV around 2016. Info said its stretched to fit 8 dismounts.

Speculation:

GD = Ajax + Elbit MT30
Rheinmetall = Lynx + Lance

Both turrets have manned/unmanned versions so should be able to switch quickly to Aus preference which I suspect will be manned.

BAE probably won't bid. The budget approach with AMV35 failed and Aus army won't be impressed by the cramped CV90.
 

On 6/15/2018 at 5:33 PM, SH_MM said:

The older IFV variant offered to the Czech Republic was based on the ASCOD 42 hull (ASCOD 2 hull with 42 tonnes maximum gross vehicle weight), but was limited to just 38 tonnes thanks to (also) relying on rubber band tracks from Soucy Defence


They may have said it's Ascod 42 but I'm pretty sure Ascod MMBT is the first non-Ajax 42t. model they have made.

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The sentinal ii was a more realistic solution than procurement could comprehend.

 

Elphinestone tasmania had made about 5,000 underground vehicled over the past few decades. I used to drive a 2900 loader.  The bucket and other components would probably be bissaloy armour plate, the body more general steel.

Vehicle weight empty 50 tonnes

Vehicle weight loaded 67 tonnes

 

Elphinstone Tasmania may not know how to design weapons, but their ability to manufacture off road machines that are tank weight, and used in highly abusive environments was excellent.  

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On 6/16/2018 at 7:50 PM, Mighty_Zuk said:

Low risk usually means technical risk. e.g engine starting to act up, because none tested it extensively enough to see that in advance.

Indeed. The Commonwealth (“CoA”) divides its tender evaluation group into Tender Evaluation Working Groups (TEWG) - technical, engineering, commercial, project management, financial/cost - that report to the Tender Evaluation Board. 

 

As these TEWGs work independently from each other, measuring the aggregation of risks should be covered by the TEB....but this isn’t always captured. Capability risks are also difficult to quantify. 

 

Thankfully, there’s increasing consideration of manufacturing readiness level (MRL) as a measure of maturity. This is assessed in conjunction with technical readiness level (TRL). 

 

So, is an off-the-shelf product “low risk” (delivered on time/on budget)  if it doesn’t deliver the necessary capability? 

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The australian hard rock underground mined are an abusive vehicle environment, rockier than Golan or Afghanistan.  And generally full of sulphide ores that rapidly corrode alumunium etc.  The miners get paid bonus by production, and drive the vehicles rough and hard.   Sure the componentry is designed for serviceability (not arms resistence)  but the general construction of bisalloy high strength and high hardnesd steels, along with diesel and hydraulic expertise, equates to a solid foundation for manufacturing competency.  I doubt that Canberra cares but 67% Australian content implies superior uptime and training results for the users.  Train hard, drive hard, perform well.

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48 minutes ago, Kal said:

What is the likelyhood of singapore bionix ifv apc entry?

 

Doesn’t seem to be on the radar, now. Seems Phase 2 burned some fingers. The UK MoD experience bringing the Bronco/Warthog into service - and promptly retiring them - may also affect the confidence ADF has in ST Kinetics’ platforms? (100% speculation on my behalf)

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14 hours ago, David Moyes said:

GD's offer will be based on Ajax, either original British model or the composite-hull Griffin that is competing for MPF.

 

The Ajax is one very specific vehicle based on  a modified ASCOD 2 hull, which certainly will not be offered. The Ajax uses many special adaptions made to fit the British requirements, is not an IFV (IIRC it can carry only two additional soldiers and utilizes a wrong calibre put into a turret based on Rheinmetall's LANCE system (meaning Rheinmetall could simply block it).

 

The Griffin never had a composite-hull. I somehow started this rumor based on speculations on my blog, but apparently it just looked different because of a new type of paint coating in combination with the poor image quality of the original photos of the vehicle. Apparently the Griffin was/is a mock-up mostly, the prototype presented at AUSA was supposedly making use of an old hull from a prototype of the original ASCOD program, rather than a newer ASCOD 2 hull, which would be used for a production variant.

 

14 hours ago, David Moyes said:

uD2Zw2n.jpg

Image comes from GD presentation when they were showing LAV CRV around 2016. Info said its stretched to fit 8 dismounts.

 

This is an ASOCD 42 hull with Kongsberg MCT-30 turret, the same turret didn't really make an impression when mounted on the LAV (CRV). Please note that this is based on the raised roof variant of the ASCOD 2, rather than the normal variant used for the Ajax. The original IFVs based on the ASCOD 1 (the Ulan and the Pizarro) aswell as the British Ajax all have the low roof line, which is not providing enough interior space to transport dismounts and their equipment while having decoupled seats and a mine protection kit installed. The Ulan and Pizarro therefore do not provide any noteworthy protection against mines, while the Ajax does not carry infantry. For the Australian army and the Czech army, GDELS has only offered variants of the ASCOD 2 with raised roof, as these countries want mine-protected IFVs.

 

14 hours ago, David Moyes said:

BAE probably won't bid. The budget approach with AMV35 failed and Aus army won't be impressed by the cramped CV90.

 

The CV90 Mk. IV however is very far away from being a budget approach. It has the weight reserves, the engine output and the armor kits to have a fair chance.

 

14 hours ago, David Moyes said:

They may have said it's Ascod 42 but I'm pretty sure Ascod MMBT is the first non-Ajax 42t. model they have made.

 

AFAIK the ASCOD 2 PSO technology demonstrator was the first vehicle based on the ASCOD 42 chassis. The British PMRS Ares is based on this vehicle.

 

The ASCOD 2 tested in the Czech Republic exceeded the weight limit of the ASCOD 35 chassis; it has to be an ASCOD 42.

 

8 hours ago, Kal said:

Elphinstone Tasmania may not know how to design weapons, but their ability to manufacture off road machines that are tank weight, and used in highly abusive environments was excellent.   

 

The question is not wether an Australian company could have manufactured the vehicle, but rather if the Sentinel II would have managed to reach the advertised performance. A lot of issues in combat vehicles become only apparent several months or even years after they were designed, so you'll need very though testing or experience gather by another military (that operates said vehicle) in order to be sure that everything will work as promised.

 

4 hours ago, Kal said:

What is the likelyhood of singapore bionix ifv apc entry?

 

The Bionix is not in production anymore, it also would be too small and be unable to compete in terms of armor and firepower. The new NGAFV from the same manufacturer might be offered instead, but it also would only have outside chances.

jt-38890567_-_28_06_2016_-_pixtank.jpg

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My use of "Ajax" was referring to the platform rather than the specific model. Perhaps "Scout SV" may have been a better term but it's never used any more and Ajax has become interchangeable.
People have stated the offer as "Ajax-Based" but it could be confusion over the names and the image shows data ports which thus far are only on the Ajax family.
Who knows where the Intellectual Property rights of ASCOD end and Ajax begin?
 

3 hours ago, SH_MM said:

AFAIK the ASCOD 2 PSO technology demonstrator was the first vehicle based on the ASCOD 42 chassis. The British PMRS Ares is based on this vehicle.

 

The ASCOD 2 tested in the Czech Republic exceeded the weight limit of the ASCOD 35 chassis; it has to be an ASCOD 42.


It would not be the first time a company has up-rated an engine and overloaded the vehicle. GD have shown a habit of re-using ASCOD prototypes and giving them new names.
First Scout SV mock-up was a Pizzaro PT3 with a lance turret, the Griffin was probably using the exact same hull.
ASCOD PSO is just the Scout SV Mobile Test Rig:

jT9PIC0.jpg

As for keeping Warrior that is up in the air. The programme is years behind schedule, way over-budget and rumoured that only a handful are upgradable as the aluminium hulls are worn out.

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So what about the Lance turret? Is that not a requirement? Or are they gonna let them compete as they are and only give an integration contract when the winner is selected or the competition is down to 2?

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