As a project LAND 121, is nowhere near as appealing to most as Air Warfare Destroyers, Stealth fighters or Self Propelled Artillery systems.
2nd Nov 2009
As a project LAND 121, is nowhere near as appealing to most as Air Warfare Destroyers, Stealth fighters or Self Propelled Artillery systems. However LAND 121 is a project of great significant for the Australian Defence Force. As a multi phased project riding on AS$3.3 billion, it is the largest land project within the current Defence Capability Plan. The next generation vehicles to be acquired at the conclusion of this project are expected to serve the Australian Army typically between 15-30 years. LAND 121 Project Overlander (Land121) Phase 3 is a multi staged project that seeks to provide the ADF with a family of medium and heavy field vehicles to replace its current fleet of Land Rovers, Unimogs, Macks, heavy Haulers and trailers.
The changing nature of the threat environment, and new and emerging equipment types within the ADF has required a refresh of this project’s initial requirements. Phase 3 is the result of refresh with what was formally 3A and Phase 3B is now Phase 5. One key element of the project has been to acquire protected vehicles and Military Off The Shelf or MOTS vehicles Stage 1 of the trials has been completed ensuring that the contending vehicles conform within Australian Design Rules and that the vehicle is Off The Shelf.
The first down select of two vehicles types is expected to occur in early 2010 and the final bidder due in July 2011. This will see approximately 3600 vehicles, modules and trailers to be acquired under Phase 3 of which 2000 will be Military Off The Shelf trucks. One requirement has been that of vehicle is capable of achieving as a minimum NATO STANAG 4569 the level of protection for occupants of logistic and light armoured vehicles from blast and kinetic threats.
For the Medium / Heavy Capability, both protected and unprotected vehicles will be acquired with the protection offers still subject to on-going consideration by Defence. However in an effort to ensure that Defence obtains the most effective level of ballistic protection commercially available, tenderers were not artificially constrained to only a full cabin or appliqué solution on their vehicle submissions. The effectiveness of the offered design will be a key consideration in the selection of the Medium / Heavy vehicle fleets for the Australian Defence Force.
Medium / Heavy Capability. The vehicle Comparative Evaluation Testing (CET) stage for this capability is now complete with a total of 24 vehicles tested. The vehicles were provided by the competing tenders which are: Thales, BAE Systems, MAN Military Vehicles and Mercedes Benz.
Light / Lightweight Capability. In late October 2009 nine Prototype Mercedes Benz Geländewagen or cross country vehicle-G-Wagon were handed over to project LAND 121 (Overlander). These vehicles will now undergo validation testing within Australia during the first half of 2010. When shipped to Australia these vehicles will undergo acceptance verification and validation testing at various Victorian locations from January 2010 to June 2010. In total Mercedes Benz Australia Pacific will supply 1200 G-Wagons with 315 of them being specialist vehicles. These vehicles will be a mix of four and six wheeled drive capable of being coupled with specialist modules including cargo, ambulance, canine and command post variants. Dual cab 6x6, specialist and surveillance variants are also to be provided. Two and four door station wagons are also being acquired. All vehicles will be fitted for the capacity to accommodate communications equipment (JP 2072) and personal weapons. The G-Wagons will be manufactured with the integrity to support an appliqué ballistic armour kit if required. This ballistic armour kit has been developed through the vehicle Prime Contractor, Mercedes Benz Australia Pacific. The Australian Government and Mercedes Benz Australia Pacific have also signed a 30-year strategic agreement and a service/parts/support contract which will run for an initial 15 years. This support contract has the option for a future extension.
The Medium / Heavy Capability request for tender has indicated that both protected and unprotected vehicles will be acquired. Protection offers are subject to ongoing consideration by the DMO. However, tenders are not constrained to only full cabin or appliqué protection on their vehicles only.
In the Medium / Heavy capability segment Defence will be seeking vehicle in the following classes:
-Medium Weight Cab Chassis (2.5 tonne)
-Medium Weight Tray (5 tonne)
-Medium ILHS (10 tonne)
-Medium Recovery (10 tonne)
-Heavy ILHS (16.5 tonne)
-Heavy Recovery (16.5 tonne)
-Medium & Heavy Truck Tractors (30 + tonnes).
Approximately 3000 trailers will also be acquired with a combination of types and capabilities. Trailers will be acquired for each vehicle type and will include the following types and capabilities:
-Light and Lightweight Trailers (compatible with the G-Wagon vehicles)
-For the Medium / Heavy capability vehicle these will include, Semi trailers, Plant equipment trailers, and Heavy plant transporters.
The Medium / Heavy Trailer component requirement will be more clearly identified once the medium heavy vehicles have been selected.
In general the variants of these trailers will carry general freight, fuel, ammunition, stores, containerised freight, tanks, other armoured Personnel Vehicles, engineer plant and equipment, and specialised equipment modules.
Vehicles currently under trial by the Defence Material Organisation and Army are variants which include tippers, integrated load handling system, truck tractor, tray with crane and truck recovery.
MAN Military Vehicles has in recent years successfully provided the Australian Army with tank transporters for the M1A1 AS AIM Abrams Tanks. On the back of this success they are seeking to provide a variety of highly capable vehicles. These include MAN HX or High Mobility Truck System based upon the MAN civilian TGA and SX Extreme Mobility Trucks. The MAN High Mobility Vehicle or HX and Extreme Mobility SX vehicles have been designed to have an active military service life of up 30 years. Available in 4x4, 6x6 and 8x8 versions most variants have an unprepared fording depth of 75 cm and are capable of a prepared depth of 1.5 m. The long wheel base permits a climbing gradient of 60% depending upon the surface and without a Trailer, Vehicle types on offer in the Medium to Heavy range include the HX 18.330 4x4 (HX 60), HX 26.440 6x6 (HX 58), or HX 32.440 8x8 (HX 77) and HX 43.680 8x8 Tractor (HX 81). Extreme Mobility Vehicles include the SX 32.440 4x4 (SX 45) and the SX 32.440 8x8 Multi 2 IAC 3/3 (Integrated Armoured Cabin) (SX 45). The box structure frame of the SX series ensures that it does not pass on any torsion to carried payloads. This makes these off road all terrain vehicles are highly suitable for carrying sensitive payloads. All HX and SX vehicles have parts, mechanical and driving commonality with the civilian TG range of MAN vehicles.
Already supplying the Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicle version to the Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force (Air Field Defence Guards), Royal Netherlands Army and British Army the Bushmaster has successfully made inroads with LAND 121. Based upon a variant of their successful Bushmaster design and known formerly as Cooperhead is the Australian built single cab Protected Utility Vehicle of which two vehicles have been submitted for evaluation. However Thales submission does not stop with the Single Cab Protected Utility Vehicle design. Teaming with the US based "Oshkosh Defense”, Thales has submitted five variants based on its U.S. Marine Corps Medium Tactical Vehicle Replacement (MTVR) platform for Comparative Evaluation Testing. The MTVR is a heavy duty, all wheel drive, military truck that is capable of carrying 15 tonnes on primary and secondary roads and 7 tonnes off road. Built-in Twenty-First Century technologies are embraced with systems such as the TAK-4® independent suspension and the J1939 databus self-diagnostics and Central Tire Inflation System (CTIS).
The BAE Systems offering comprises of a combination of the Family of Medium Tactical Vehicles (FMTV) which have seen operational success with the US Army, and Scania's international heavy truck capability.
FMTV claims to have set a new worldwide tactical vehicle standards for capability, reliability, mobility and transportability, and continues to boast the
highest percent availability of any vehicle in the U.S. Army tactical vehicle fleet. Since the start of the US program in 1988, BAE Systems has
manufactured over 56,000 FMTV vehicles for US military forces and Government contractors. FMTV is viewed as a fully Military Off The Shelf (MOTS) and its manufacturers claim that it has enjoyed a 94 percent operational readiness rate in combat operations.
Embracing operational and customer demands means that a continuous development to enhance the safety and performance of the medium tactical vehicle range is ongoing. This is a proven commitment with examples ranging from enhanced armouring capability known as Long-Term Armour Strategy (LTAS) to the new Euro V emissions compliant vehicle. Crew survivability has been well demonstrated during recent service within Iraq and Afghanistan.
BAE Systems has teamed with Scania AB for the heavy truck component of LAND 121 Phase 3 with an 8x8 vehicle. Scania, which is a world wide supplier of transport solutions for both commercial and military applications, has a MOTS truck which is used by a number of European defence forces. This vehicle is able to be further enhanced to meet the requirements of Land 121.
Mercedes Benz has long term relationship with the ADF with its Unimog and Actros family of vehicles. More recently this has been extended with modern incarnations of the G-Wagon which were the chosen provider for the Light / Light Weight
Older versions and variants of the famous Unimog or UNIversal-MOtor-Gerät"(universal Motor Machine) currently serve with the ADF. Mercedes Benz is currently offering the U5000 4x4 version in the Medium Weight Cab chassis protected for LAND 121 Phase 3.
For the Medium to Heavy Weight component of Phase 3 Mercedes Benz are offering the following vehicles:
The Mercedes-Benz Zetros is a family of heavy duty trucks, designed for extreme off-road operations. Its design is intended for both for military and civilian applications. This truck was first introduced in 2008. It has been submitted for DMO trials and evaluation in the Zetros 1833 4x4 and the Zetros 2733 6x6 configurations. Based upon the standard production Axor series, it is modified for off-road use. The 4x4 version has a permissible weight of 16.5 tonnes with a three-seater cab located behind the engine. The Zetros 2733 6x6 has a permissible weight of 25 tonnes. Both vehicles can be fitted with various levels of armor for ballistic and mine protection.
The Actros 4151 8x8 is being offered in both a Medium and Heavy format with a Gross Vehicle Weight of up to 41 tonnes. First introduced in 1996, with the Actros II launched in 2002, in layman terms would be referred to as a semi-trailer. These four axel, all wheeled drive vehicles are currently used in all terrain environments in an armoured format by the Canadian Armed Forces within Afghanistan.
Mid 2010, will see the commencement of outcomes that will result in the composition of the future fleet of vehicles to serve with the Australian Army. For what has been widely perceived as a complex and drawn out process the current and ongoing trials will hopefully deliver highly competent, capable, versatile vehicles that will have a long and productive service life. Predicating the Australian Army’s future transport needs is an unenviable tasks. Knowing the precise requirements is somewhat akin to fortune telling or crystal ball gazing. The nature of warfare and an ever changing threat environment indicates that systems and platforms rapidly become unsuitable require substantial modification or reassignment. LAND 121 is an enormous project and as the largest LAND project in the current Defence Capability Plan its tactical importance is such that it cannot be rushed nor at the same time be over hesitant in producing the best possible outcomes.