The Flensburger Fahrzeugbaugesellschaft FFG is developing a retrofit kit for the WiSENT 2 armoured engineer vehicle, which will give the tank the additional capability to launch tactical battlefield bridges.
For the launch process, only the excavator bucket is placed down using the hydraulic quick coupling of the excavator arm and exchanged for a bridge mount. This excavator arm/bridge interface remains on the bridge as a mobile kit after the launching process and is used for the later resumption of the bridge. The WiSENT 2 can carry and launch tactical short bridges in its role as bridge layer. A remotely controlled weapon station, if installed, can also remain on the vehicle during use as a bridge layer. After deployment, the WiSENT 2 is once again available as a fully-fledged armoured engineer vehicle. The retrofit kit is suitable for all WiSENT 2 that are configured as an armoured engineer vehicle with excavator arm. In addition to the hardware equipment, a software update for the operating software of the tank is necessary. It is intended to implement an automatic launch mode via the software.
At present, FFG is testing a 12-metre short bridge to optimise the processes and explore the limits of the concept. The aim is to complete development in time for the WiSENT 2 with its new bridge laying capability to be presented to the expert public at the Eurosatory 2020 armaments trade fair in Paris.
There is currently no customer order for the WiSENT 2 as a tactical bridge layer. However, Canada has invited tenders for the renewal of its entire battlefield bridge equipment, including short tactical bridges. The Canadian armed forces have therefore expressed great interest in the FFG solution for the use of WiSENT 2 as a bridge layer.
The Canadian Army was the launch customer for the WiSENT 2 armoured engineer vehicle and currently has 18 vehicles in operation. Other WiSENT 2 user nations within NATO are Norway (12 vehicles) and Hungary (5 vehicles). The United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Qatar also use WiSENT 2.