After a gap of two years due to COVID-19 restrictions, the International Armoured Vehicles (IAV) conference returned to Twickenham, London, between 24th and 27th January 2022 with a high number of delegations and contractors in attendance.
For many years, the emphasis at IAV was on the rapid fielding of Mine Resistance Ambush Protected (MRAP) type vehicles and the upgrading of existing armoured fighting vehicles (AFV) to provide a higher level of protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IED) encountered in Afghanistan and Iraq. MRAP were hardly mentioned at IAV 2022. with many presentations covering the expansion their armies and the upgrading of existing AFVs until new vehicles are developed.
General Dynamics Land Systems (GDLS) UK and Lockheed Martin (LM) UK did not have any stands at IAV 2022. In the case of GDLS UK, this was because of the ongoing problems their AJAX Family of Vehicles (FOV) which are due to replace the remaining members of the Combat Vehicle Reconnaissance (Tracked) FOV of which the SCORPION was first rolled out in January 1969. ESD sources at IAV 2022 indicated that GDLS and all elements of the British Army and MoD are working hard to solve the vibration and quality control problems to allow AJAX to enter service.
While many armies are fielding 8×8 FOV, the Nordic countries of Estonia, Finland, Latvia and Sweden have harmonised their requirements and the Patria Common Armoured Vehicle Systems (CAVS) is already in service with Latvia. Sweden confirmed that it would form additional infantry regiments and that additional BAE Systems Hagglunds CV90 Infantry Fighting Vehicles (IFV) would be upgraded as well as the fielding of more specialised versions including combat support and pioneer plus additional twin 120 mm THOR mortar systems.
The UK confirmed that the RBSL CHALLENGER 3 MBT programme was on track with 148 to be delivered which will consist of an upgraded chassis with a brand new turret armed with a Rheinmetall 120 mm L55A1 smooth bore gun. The MoD have “Challenged the programme to identify options to accelerate equipment delivery dates.”
BOXER Developments at IAV 2022
There were a number of presentations on the ARTEC BOXER (8×8) Multi- Role Armoured Vehicle (MRAV) with 639 examples already delivered to Germany, The Netherlands and Lithuania. BOXER A3 is the latest with a more powerful MTU engine and a gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 38.5 tonnes. Australia has also deployed BOXER but not through OCCAR but through Rheinmetall. BOXER production is now underway in the UK at the facilities of RBSL and WFEL for the British Army who will get 500 fitted with a Kongsberg 12.7 mm Remote Weapon Station (RWS).
The German Army presentation revealed that additional BOXER will be procured in the future including a weapon carrier infantry with potentially a 30mm weapon system, Joint Fire Support Team (Heavy) as well as air defence versions. Deliveries of the PSM PUMA IFV to the German Army continue with earlier versions being upgraded. The German Army LEOPARD 2 MBT fleet is already being upgraded to the LEOPARD 2 A7V, A6(M)A3 and A7A1 (Trophy) standard and there is a potential for further enhancements to bridge the gap until the MAIN GROUND COMBAT SYSTEM (MGCS) enters service in the future. This started off as a French/German programme but other countries are expected to join the programme.
In addition to updates on current AFVs, there were also presentations on improving AFV survivability by installation of active protection systems, fielding future combat vehicles, potentially upgrading existing AFVs with electric drive and expanded use of robotic vehicles on the battlefield.