Wednesday, October 11, 2017

SAIC, ST Kinetics and CMI Defence collaborate on light tank variant of Singapore's Next Generation AFV for US Army's Mobile Protected Firepower program

Photo: Courtesy of ST Kinetics

When the United States Army was looking for an airportable 155mm gun, Singapore's defence industry had just the weapon it was looking for - but couldn't say a word as the gun was still classified.

Had the heli-portable 155mm Singapore Light Weight Howitzer (SLWH) entered a shootout with foreign contenders, it might have had an edge as the gun was self-propelled (up to 12km/h) and robustly constructed from aircraft-grade titanium and aluminium alloy. It was the world's only heli-portable 155mm gun with a self-propelled capability

The Project R gun, subsequently known as the Pegasus, was developed to replace the GIAT 105mm LG1 light guns acquired from France under Project F as part of an arms package that also included the AMX-10 light tanks under Project S.

Alas, the M777 Ultra lightweight Field Howitzer from BAE Systems won the day, eventhough the projects to develop both weapons started around the same time in the late 1990s.

Singapore's defence eco-system appears to have learned from this experience.

This past week, a new variant of the Next Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle (NGAFV) that started life under Project B was unveiled. The NGAFV chassis is paired with a CMI Defence Cockerill 3000-series turret armed with a 105mm gun.

The yet-unnamed variant of the NGAFV is the product of a tri-partite collaboration between US-based Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC, it will serve as systems integrator), ST Kinetics (which provided the NGAFV chassis) and CMI Defence (which supplied the 105mm turret). It will be pitched for the US Army's Mobile Protected Firepower (MPF) programme.

This brings to three the number of NGAFV variants shown publicly:
  1. Light tank with 105mm gun
  2. AIFV with a 30mm cannon and AT missile
  3. Armoured Recovery Vehicle
While the 105mm gun armed last century's AFVs, the one sitting on the NGAFV ushers in a new approach to warfighting where the coordinated use of battlefield information derived from various sensors is wielded as a weapon like never before.

In theory, this will allow the NGAFV to sense-make threats at varying distances from the platform. NGAFVs operating in packs and armed with weapons ranging from non-line of sight guided munitions to close-range armaments fired from remotely-operated weapon systems can then be directed to take out the targets.

The cameras that provide an all-round view of the NGAFV enable a change in CONOPS not possible with AFVs not wired up in this manner. They are more than a driving aid. This particular NGAFV variant could prove a potential game-changer, especially when fielded in the vanguard of Armoured Battle Groups assigned for fighting in built-up areas infested with AT munitions.

One hopes that the CONOPS can be shared with the US Army, as it currently has nothing like this in its stable of vehicles.


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NLOS missile carrier. Click here

14 comments:

Locust said...

Arent there 6 to 8 variants/ prototypes? I read that somewhere. The NGAFV is large enough for even a 120mm gun (unlike the Bionix). But my guess is that the 105mm will replace the amx 13 sm1 if there is a requirement.

Locust said...

http://www.monch.com/mpg/news/14-land/2202-us-army-prepares-final-rfp-for-mpf-programme.html

Locust said...

There appears to be some cosmetic changes to the front for the latest model shown at ausa 2017. Perhaps this is the production model look - i like.

Ray Chua said...

This seems to be in response to Indonesia's MT Medium Tank that rolled out on parade this October. Coincidentally, they're using the same class of Belgian turret supplied by Cockerill CMI.

NGAFV looks annoyingly big and bulky, having a gun on its already high-profile makes it look unwieldy with it. Be it 105mm rifled or 120mm smoothbore.

Big question is, what is the intended role of such a combination in the SAF? Having it for fire support only seems like it only justifies another taxpayers overspend. Even if you rule out the strategic advantage it has over L2SG in air portability and terrain cross-country.

It feels like deploying a less capable Bionix to provide the same mission would be more convenient. (My own personal view)

Marksman said...

If you are talking about this specific variant with the 105 gun than i doubt it will be introduced in the SAF. They did not mention anything about the NGAFV with the 105 gun. This is most likely for export. The blog mention how they have learn from that experience which refers to participating in foreign defence programmes. The army is going to use the ngafv equip with the 30mm cannon if you are asking why for this variant the answer is it is replacing m113s. What do you mean a less capable bionix? Like lesser armour protection, range, firepower, maneuverability?

Locust said...

This could not be a responss to indonesias light tank. The ngafv was in planning and development for years. It was only unveiled recently. The ngafv is not just another afv but a highly digitized and networked platform. I do feel it will be introduced in the saf; not in the same mould as the old sm1 though it can/ will perform the latter role. But perhapz in a wolf pack of networked ngafvs consisting of apcs, nlos missile carrierz, light tanks which can take out bigger tanks and snipers on highrise buildings. A new way of fighting.

sepecatgr1a said...

Personally I think that the SAF should not adopt the NGAFV hull/chassis for use in a light tank. A light tank should be designed from the outset with a purpose built tank hull/chassis.
An AFV hull/chassis is designed primarily for the carriage of personnel & it will give a light tank unnecessary additional height and volume. The Indonesian / Turkish light tank is a much more practical design.

Mounting a 120 mm gun is technically possible on a light tank ( up to 30 to 35 tons) but IMHO it will border at the limits of practical tank design & capabilities. Again the Indonesian / Turkish light tank with 105 mm rifled gun is more practical.

Locust said...

Isnt the turkish/ indo design based on a afv platform as well and lighter then the ngafv? I am not sure if it is correct to say that thr ngafv was not designed to a bona fide light tank as opposed to be a flexible platform with a variety of manisfestations including a light tank. Ditto for the turkidh/ indo design. The difference being that the ngafv is more advanced digitally.

LRD said...

There are comments about having a dedicated chassis for light/medium tanks. IMO, there is no right or wrong answer but just about the trade off. A dedicated designed light tank MIGHT be able to provide a hard hitting chassis however a common platform do also provide some advantages in term of logistic, training and ease of deployment due to the large number of it.

Moreover, modern AFV does has a respectable protection unlike the M113 era (really a "matchbox") and even a dedicated platform like SM1, 25-30mm gun can pierce through it without much difficulty. Hence one need to consider if we need the light/medium tank to have the ability to face off the opponent's tanks or it would be better to leave this job to Leo2SG/ ATGM teams and focus more on tasks like ambush, fire support etc whereby mobility and firepower dominate over protection (like armour).

As for the fire power, many had also wished for 120mm. Though it is true that a chassis design for 30-35 ton can accommodate 120mm without much issue but how will it perform when comes to operation. For example mounting a large gun on a small chassis, like Malaysia Scorpion with 90mm, the recoil will turn the vehicle over easily should it fire side way, IINM. This limit its operation flexibility. Anyway 105mm is a big gun and the shock wave can be felt many meters away. And it is definitely good enough for most modern AFVs and bunkers

Indonesian/ Turkish light tank might be a dedicated design but its high profile and volume does not set it apart from one says CV90105.

Crimson Crusader said...

Personally, I still think that the best choice for Singapore would be the M8 AGS with the 120mm cannon. After all, the M8 was supposed to be purpose-built to fill in the role of the light tank following the retirement of the M551 Sheridan in the US Army and to an extent, the USMC.

Ammo commonality with the Leopard 2SG is also another reason for my choice of gun.

Kenneth Kwok said...

I think the M8 will be too long for our terrian, especially if you are talking about using it the same way we uses our SM1 tanks. We will need something with the engine mounted in front.

But i agree we need 120mm for the overmatch.

Crimson Crusader said...

There is also the fact that the current M8 is considered the lightest in overall weight compared to the other competing candidates, even taking to account Level 3 protection for the M8.

The M8 Thunderbolt and especially the later M8 120 demonstrates the capability of it being able to handle a 120mm cannon, especially lightweight ones that can handle all possible ammo types.

The M8 with Level 1 or 2 protection is also light drop and airdrop capable. Assuming that the SAF is willing to use low-altitude parachute-extraction system (LAPES) techniques for its C-130 Hercules aircraft, the M8 allows for the SAF unparalleled mobility and deployability in critical areas on the battlefield.

Link for M8 120, as shown in Asian Aerospace 2006: http://shyuechou.blogspot.sg/2006/02/asian-aerospace-2006-m8-ridgeway.html?m=1

Ying Goy said...

On comments about this vehicle not suitable for SAF, there is no way this vehicle is commercially palatable if it's host nation does not induct this vehicle into its own service.

Same application as the T50, there is no way other nations will purchase if the Korean Military does not operate itself. All talk of 'Only produce for export market' is not realistic. Name one modern weapon where it enjoys export success where it is not operated on home ground.

Ray Chua said...

When NGAFV first came out, I thought it was an upgrade of M113. From the front under glasis, it looked like the said vehicle with cosmetic armour upgrades to bring it to the 21st century. If SAF is, in fact, planning to have NGAFV fill in the mission objectives and multi-role versatility of that trusty "box carrier". Then I'm all for them fielding it. (360 Cameras kinda reminds me of German Puma AFV)

Btw, does ST build and own every part of this NGAFV Vehicle, or did they only supply the hull? Like how the Bionix engine is a Detriot Diesel and passive armour is IBD made MEXAS and other outsourced subsystems.

I remember in my last comment i mentioned something about fielding a Bionix to the frontlines instead of the NGAFV and said it was less capable. My reasoning is not that NGAFV is superior to Bionix, but considering its advantages in modern info technology to Bionix, this can be seen as better in integrating with the modern warfighter that are sent out. Its debatable, i see NGAFV more as a supplement than a replacement of the Bionix fleets. But considering strategy, Bionix would be the more convenient to field because of the experience with that vehicle.

Sometimes, the decision for Indonesia to have Leopard 2 MBTs before the Medium Tank program baffles me. Especially given their archipelago distribution and soft ground terrain. Also, how many instances can tanks in general be deployed to good effect in forest and jungle terrains where minimum observable distance is sometimes less than a mile or so.

105 vs 120:
Conveniences of 120 are logistical similarity to L2SG but do we really need that kind of firepower? 120 is not cheap either. Fielding 105 means restarting an assembly line of production to support another ammunition type not in SAF inventory even though it has carrying advantages to the more powerful 120. (Pick your poison)

If NGAFV with tank gun is used only for fire support role, air portability would be a must, can the wide NGAFV fit the cargo bay dimensions of C-130? Can C-130 even carry NGAFV base model?

Questions? Questions? MINDEF hasn't been entirely clear on how many to field or what roles will it fulfil. Fire support? Yes. Tank Destroyer? No. Reconnassaince Vehicle? No. I'm being critical because i see the money that could've been used on troop training and logistical abundance being used to shop for more "high tech 3G" gadgets. Unless this purchase fuels our defense industry, then its a pardonable issue.