LAND 400 PHASE 2 – LAND COMBAT VEHICLE SYSTEM (LCVS) – Part 1

At the 13 February 2013 hearing of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Senator Fawcett asked Lieutenant General David Morrison “Chief of Army, to conclude our discussion.

9th Apr 2013


 LAND 400

LAND 400 PHASE 2 – LAND COMBAT VEHICLE SYSTEM (LCVS) – Part 1

Byline: Geoff Slocombe / Victoria

At the 13 February 2013 hearing of the Senate’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Legislation Committee, Senator Fawcett asked Lieutenant General David Morrison “Chief of Army, to conclude our discussion. You mentioned LAND 400 before and I said I would come back to that. I am interested in your expected life of type for ASLAV.”

Lt Gen Morrison responded “The challenge with LAND 400 is that it is Army's largest project and, at the heart of it, it is about replacing vehicle types, but taking it beyond that to allow for a more modern and capable force. It is not just about parking the ASLAV and replacing it, and then parking the APCs—the M113 AS4s that we have—and replacing those, and then building whatever support and training mechanisms are required. Army wants out of LAND 400 to develop a combined arms fighting system that is linked with other areas of the Army infantry in a way that we may need in the future that we do not have at the moment.”

The current fleet of light armoured vehicles comprising Australian Light Armoured Vehicles (ASLAV) and Armoured Personnel Carriers (APC M113 AS4), together with the Bushmaster Protected Mobility Vehicles (PMV), will be near or at the end of their respective service lives during the 2020s.

Their successors will be light armoured vehicles procured through Project Destrier, by LAND 400 Phase 2 LCVS. Defence has made it clear that this is a completely fresh look at the requirements of mounted close combat.

Will there be a capability gap between end of service of existing light armoured vehicles and the new type(s) of LCVS chosen to replace all of them?

This is unlikely because coexistence between legacy and new vehicle systems at changeover time is a prime support and interoperability consideration for the project staff.

With LAND 400 Phase 2 LCVS expected by DMO to cost over $10 billion, this project is in the same big spending class as the Future Submarines and F35A Lightning II projects.

The intersection of multi-billion dollar Defence Capability Plan (DCP) projects with Defence’s Strategic Reform Program, and real funding cuts by the Government, must cause some sleepless nights for those planning Australia’s future fighting capabilities.

LCVS will provide mounted close combat capability within the Combined Arms Fighting System (CAFS). LCVS will be able to be employed across the full spectrum of conflict in all environments up to and including close combat as part of the combined arms team (CAT). Their survivability will depend on all aspects of protecting personnel, weapons, and supplies, including frequent movement, while simultaneously deceiving the enemy

In Defence’s words “LCVS will be capable of integration with legacy and new equipments in order to contribute to the overall commanders’ situational awareness and combat power as part of a networked capability. LCVS will be characterised by precision lethality, land combat survivability, situational awareness and combat capability integration to deliver a system that enables the successful conduct of sustained close combat against emerging and future threats.”

It is likely that a commitment will shortly be made to acquire around 1,300 Hawkei Lightweight Protected Mobility Vehicles from Thales, since they are the preferred tenderer for LAND 121 Phase 4 Overlander. This $1+ billion fleet will be quarantined from the deliberations of LAND 400 Phase 2, other than for compatibility, support and interoperability considerations..

COMBINED ARMS FIGHTING SYSTEM (CAFS)

The Combined Arms Fighting System (CAFS) includes those force elements, systems and platforms, that are necessary to work together to realise Australia’s Task Organisation principles. LAND 400 LCVS is the lead project for integration within CAFS.

The LCVS project will at IOC deliver vehicles for one armoured cavalry regiment, but ultimately at FOC for three armoured cavalry regiments. Defence’s definition of cavalry is clear “Cavalry is a multi-role combat capability that combines integral firepower, mobility, protection and network communications to achieve effects on the battlefield. Cavalry fights as an integral element of a combined arms team.”

THE PROJECT

Defence’s LCVS Concept of Operations document describes how they plan the LCVS will be operated:

“The LCVS will be part of the wider Combined Arms Fighting System (CAFS), which will include legacy, parallel and future capabilities.

“These will include: the M1A1 Main Battle Tank; Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter; the communications and battle management systems; Land 121 Field Vehicles, Modules and Trailers; the Land 125 soldier combat system; offensive fire support systems; and ADF strategic and tactical lift assets. CAFS will deliver integration of legacy and new equipments.

“The LCVS will allow the close combat force elements to develop clear situational awareness of the battlespace by drawing from, and connecting with, the future CAFS network architecture.

“The close combat force elements will be able to use the sensors and systems of the LCVS to target enemy personnel, platforms, weapon systems and installations with either the integral weaponry or by real time integration with other offensive fire support (sea, land and air based weapon systems). The LCVS may operate with both manned and unmanned sensor systems that can be deployed to extend the knowledge and strike range of the Combined Arms Team.”

There have been two Requests for Information (RFI) – the first in 2006 and the second in June 2010. Information provided by defence firms in response to these RFIs is being used to inform future enquiries and the Draft Request For Tender (RFT).

Regular briefings to industry, for interaction between it and the Integrated Project Team (IPT), are being provided through the auspices of the Land Environmental Working Group (LEWG). The current plan is to give these briefings twice yearly, plus ad hoc one-on-one discussions with industry as required.

There will probably be a Draft RFT issued during 2013 for industry comment ahead of the actual RFT, which must await First Pass Approval.

Probably the greatest challenge for Defence will be to keep this project moving forward in step with the multiple other projects required to implement CAFS. The CAFS Project Management Steering Group is the authority that guides this realisation of combined arms teams (CAT) capable of conducting close combat and of enabling joint land combat by 2030, and integrating them into CAFS.

When APDR asked about linkages to Plan BEERSHEBA and other Army projects, a Defence spokesperson said “It is important that LAND 400 remains abreast of the changes that Plan BEERSHEBA will bring to Army. Army has two staff members embedded within the LAND 400 Integrated Program Team to ensure that coordination is achieved between LAND 400, Plan BEERSHEBA and the Army modernisation process.”

TIMING

The 2012 DCP (Public Version) plans for First Pass Approval to occur FY13/14 to FY14/15, with an open Request for Tender (RFT) to follow shortly afterwards. When APDR checked recently, Defence confirmed this 2013-15 timeframe.

Questioned about complexities with this project, a Defence spokesperson noted “Recognising the size and significance of the LAND 400 project, Defence established an Integrated Program Team (IPT) in 2010. The IPT includes specialist staff from a number of key Defence agencies working collaboratively as a single team. The IPT construct optimises collaboration between the different Defence groups and keeps key stakeholders engaged in the program.”

APDR understands that the IPT is using a Model Based Systems Engineering approach to requirements development as the industry best-practice means of maintaining traceability. This model will also assist cost and capability trade-off decisions during the selection process. LAND 400 will be one of the first Defence programs to undertake the DMO’s new Acquisition and Sustainment Implementation Strategy (ASIS).

The aim is to design and document the strategy for implementing the materiel elements of LAND 400 and assist in the planning process for both the acquisition and sustainment of the LCVS at the same time. The IPT will seek a Military off the Shelf (MOTS) design solution for the LCVS. They will also undertake a staged selection process in line with DMO’s Reduced Cost of Tendering initiative, including an Offer Definition Activity of those platforms short-listed to proceed after RFT evaluation.

All of these approaches are intended to mitigate project risk in the lead up to Government Second Pass consideration, and in so doing help minimise cost and schedule pressures.

So will this methodology affect the proposed LAND 400 Phase 2 timings?

After a long and comprehensive tender evaluation, initial down selection, short listing, trials with proposed contenders, risk reduction activities and parallel contract negotiations, Second Pass Approval could come up to five or six years after the RFT, as early as 2018 or not until 2021.

Initial Material Release could take a further three or four years, for IOC with vehicles for one armoured cavalry regiment another three years later.

FOC should be reached in time for Force 2030 to reach its planned establishment.

NETCENTRIC WARFARE REQUIRES EFFECTIVE INFORMATION AND COMMUNICATIONS TECHNOLOGY (ICT)

A key enabler of a light armoured cavalry unit advancing to contact and then successfully engaging with a resourceful enemy over complex terrain is continuous reliable networked communications ensuring a shared common operational picture for situational awareness and for passage of command and control orders, as well as receiving feedback from individual vehicles.

This imposes stringent requirements on the type of ICT equipment installed to provide bandwidth, functionality, reliability and maintainability while operating in hot, rough, dusty environments, or hot salt-laden atmosphere in a littoral area of operation, with a lot of vehicle vibration.

The success of CAFS will be heavily dependent on getting effective ICT sub-systems integrated into the LCVS. This implies a period of development, ideally with Australian based defence firms which have an excellent track record of supplying ICT equipment in tough environments like the mining industry, defence, shipping, road, rail and air transport.

A brief survey of Australian defence industry capabilities reveals a number of current direct suppliers to Defence like APC Technology, ITT Excelis and Lockheed Martin, among others, who could help meet these requirements.

Elbit Systems’ solutions for LAND 75 Phase 3.4 / LAND 125 Phase 3 BMS set will represent the core of the Australian Army’s future Battle Management Systems capability. It will be integrated in over 1,000 Army vehicles, and equip over 1,500 soldiers


POTENTIAL IMPACT OF DEFENCE WHITE PAPER 2013

The 2009 Defence White Paper (DWP) provided the strategic context for LAND 400 LCVS to deliver mounted close combat capability for the Land Force. It gave high priority to survivability and mobility; sought improved firepower and protection; wanted better networking and integration; because it foresaw the need to operate as combined arms teams and undertake combat in littoral environments.

That DWP identified a requirement for up to 1,100 deployable protected vehicles in order for Army to meet its strategic tasks

With a new DWP due out in mid-2013, what is the likely impact of it on the LCVS project?

Views on the preliminary DWP draft, as expressed by the journalists who have seen it, have focused on the floor level of funding being proposed as 1.5% of GDP, whereas a more realistic level of annual funding for timely completion of most of the high priority DCP projects needs it to be around 2%.

Close combat capability will remain critical so the requirement for LAND 400 Phase 2 platforms should be enduring. However a “big ticket” project like LCVS will be susceptible to available funding influencing the timing and scope of the LCVS project.

The IPT has been supplying options for consideration by the DWP 2013 strategists. If there are changes, they are likely to alter quantities or the priority of various sub-capability introductions, rather than make any major revisions to the platform requirements or the extent of the support systems needed.

COMING IN PART 2

The next part of this article in APDR’s May edition will look at the steps required to move a project from being listed in the Defence Capability Plan (DCP) with a budget in the Forward Estimates to obtaining First Pass Approval from the Government. Then there will be a look at force attributes and capability development principles relevant to the LCVS.

The issue of choosing between wheeled or tracked light armoured vehicles will be examined, with both having merit. Could the Government end up with a mixed fleet?

The single most important element of LAND 400 Phase 2 LCVS is the support system to be put in place. Get this right and there is a good chance of introducing an effective LCVS into service for the mounted close combat role. Get it wrong and expenditure on this $10+ billion project will produce a sub-optimal result.
 

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