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Russian equivalent to the US-made ‘Caddilac One’

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The brand new series of official vehicles in Russia is expected to be released in time for the inauguration following next year’s presidential elections. President Vladimir Putin has familiarized himself with the Russian-made limousine, part of the ‘Cortege’ project, Minister of Industry and Trade Denis Manturov has confirmed.

Speaking to Russia’s Izvestia newspaper, the minister said that the president had personally tested out the new vehicle and that he was left satisfied with the state of the project.

“[Putin] has already familiarized himself with the project and has seen its various stages. He even took ‘Prototype A’ for a drive; there wasn’t enough time to show ‘Prototype B’,” Manturov explained, referring to two of the variants part the new line of vehicles currently under development under the Kortezh (‘Cortege’) project.

The Cortege project, created under Putin’s initiative, has been in development since 2012. In addition to the presidential limousine, the project envisions the creation of a whole lineup of executive cars, including a sedan, a minivan, and possibly an SUV.

Prospective design of the sedan variant of the Cortege project

The vehicles, designed by the Moscow-based Central Scientific Research Automobile & Engine Institute (NAMI), are expected to make their debut during the inauguration ceremony after presidential elections next spring. The Federal Security Service expects to receive the first batch of 14 vehicles by the end of this year for testing and familiarization.

Commenting on the Cortege lineup’s modular design, automotive expert and RIA Novosti contributor Sergei Belousov explained that formal nomenclature notwithstanding, “at NAMI, the project is called the ‘Singular Modular Platform’. The unambiguous name explains a lot: it’s not just about a limousine for the president, but also several other models featuring the same internals. According to available data, the sedans, crossovers and minivans used to accompany the top officials, and placed at the disposal of Russian officials, will be based on the SMP.”

NAMI has partnered with Porsche and Bosch to develop the lineup of vehicles. Porsche is thought to be working on one of the two engines to be made available for the project and is rumored to have developed a modified 4.6 liter V8 turbocharged engine featuring 600 hp and 650 ft-lb of torque. The second engine is an NAMI creation, first shown at the Moscow International Auto Show in 2016. That engine is expected to displace 6.6 liters, and to develop 860 hp and 737 ft-lb of torque.

Cortege vehicles are expected to be equipped with a nine-speed automatic transmission produced by Russian transmission specialist KATE.

Minivan variant of the Cortege project

Sergei Belousov noted that as far as the vehicle’s looks go, the final version has yet to be revealed. However, a schematic of the limousine was published by Rospatent last month. A year earlier, the Russian Patent Office declassified the prospective design of the front panel, showing the generous use of leather and wood, a digital dash, multimedia system, and separate climate control options for the driver, front and rear passengers. All variants of the project are expected to have a common interior design.

About two hundred Cortege vehicles are expected to be built next year, with a total of about 5,000 vehicles slated to roll off the assembly line by 2020. In addition to state purchases for official use, vehicles from the Cortege lineup are expected to be made available to civilians (absent some security features), starting in 2018 or 2019.

It is common practice for countries with an automotive industry to have their top officials travel exclusively in domestically designed and produced vehicles. This is the case in the United States, Japan, China, India, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Italy.

Inside a car designed under the project “Cortege” displayed at the Central Scientific Research Automobile and Engine Institute

This was also the case in the Soviet Union as well, starting in the late 1940s. First Russian President Boris Yeltsin rejected the tradition in 1997 when he switched over from a ZIL to an armored Mercedes-Benz. After the 2012 elections, Vladimir Putin confirmed that he wants to change this state of affairs.

Speaking to the nation during his annual Direct Line press event last month, Putin offered his thoughts on the need for the Cortege project: “A country like Russia must produce a line of cars that the country’s top officials will use. We are working on this. I hope that by the end of 2018 this will materialize, and this will be a line of cars not only for top officials, like limos, but also SUVs, minibuses, hatchbacks, and others – that is, it will be a brand new line of domestically produced cars.”

Last year, the Russian government allocated 3.7 billion rubles (about $61.6 million US) to the project, adding to the 3.6 billion ($60 million) laid out in 2015. The Ministry of Defense has shown interest in an armored version of the SUV variant, which is thought to have been delayed until the limousine, sedan, and escort minivan are completed.

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Why Russia and China Will Hate America’s New Super Tank

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Advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology — are all key elements of an ongoing upgrade to position the platform to successfully engage in combat against rapidly emerging threats, such as the prospect of confronting a Russian T-14 Armata or Chinese 3rd generation Type 99 tank.

The SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, will include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated onboard networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning receivers and a far more lethal, multi-purpose 120mm tank round, Army developers told Scout Warrior.

The first MIA2 SEP v3 tank, built by General Dynamics Land Systems, is slated to arrive as soon as this month – as part of a delivery of initial prototype vehicles, developers said.

“The Army’s ultimate intent is to upgrade the entire fleet of M1A2 vehicles — at this time, over 1,500 tanks,” Ashley Givens, spokeswoman for PEO GCS, told Scout Warrior.

The first v3 pilot vehicles will feature technological advancements in communications, reliability, sustainment and fuel efficiency and upgraded armor.

This current mobility and power upgrade, among other things, adds an auxiliary power unit for fuel efficiency and on-board electrical systems, improved armor materials, upgraded engines and transmission and a 28-volt upgraded drive system.

“The Abrams has been around since the early 80s, and the original designers were forward thinking to build in the provisions for a continual upgrade. Over the years, there have been significant improvements in sensor capabilities, power generation, mobility, lethality, survivability, armor and situational awareness,” Donald Kotchman, Vice President, Tracked Combat Vehicles, General Dynamics Land Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.

In addition to receiving a common high-resolution display for gunner and commander stations, some of the current electronics, called Line Replaceable Units, will be replaced with new Line Replaceable Modules including the commander’s display unit, driver’s control panel, gunner’s control panel, turret control unit and a common high-resolution display, developers from General Dynamics Land Systems say.

Facilitating continued upgrades, innovations, and modernization efforts for the Abrams in years to come is the principle rationale upon which the Line Replacement Modules is based. It encompasses the much-discussed “open architecture” approach wherein computing standards, electronics, hardware, and software systems can efficiency be integrated with new technologies as they emerge.

Kotchman added that moving to Line Replaceable Modules vastly improves computing capacity, power distribution and fire-control technology for the Abrams.

“The principle difference between the Line Replaceable Unit and Module is modularity. Currently, to initiate a repair or an upgrade of an LRU, you must remove the entire unit from the tank, take it to a test bench and make the changes. Under the Line Replaceable Module concept, internal diagnostics isolates and determines failure at the card level. The card has been constructed such that you can remove it and replace it without damaging it,” Kotchman said. “Similarly, when the new capability is introduced or increased computing power is required, changes can be made at the card level rather than redesigning the entire unit.”

This M1A2 SEP v3 effort also initiates the integration of upgraded ammunition data links and electronic warfare devices such as the Counter Remote Controlled Improvised Explosive Device – Electronic Warfare – CREW. An increased AMPs alternator is also part of this upgrade, along with Ethernet cables designed to better network vehicle sensors together.

The Abrams is also expected to get an advanced force-tracking system which uses GPS technology to rapidly update digital moving map displays with icons showing friendly and enemy force positions.

The system, called Joint Battle Command-Platform, uses an extremely fast Blue Force Tracker 2 Satcom network able to reduce latency and massively shorten refresh time. Having rapid force-position updates in a fast-moving combat circumstance, quite naturally, could bring decisive advantages in both mechanized and counterinsurgency warfare.

The GDLS development deal also advances a commensurate effort to design and construct and even more advanced M1A2 SEP v4 Abrams tank variant for the 2020s and beyond. The v4 is designed to be more lethal, better protected, equipped with new sensors and armed with upgraded, more effective weapons, service officials said.

“The current M1A2 SEPv3 production will transition to the v4 configuration in 2023. The v4 upgrade is currently scheduled to begin production in 2023 with fielding in 2025,” Givens said.

The Army-GDLS deal is also the first contract is for SEPv4 upgrades, which include the Commander’s Primary Sight, an improved Gunner’s Primary Sight and enhancements to sensors, lethality, and survivability.

“General Dynamics Land Systems will deliver seven prototype M1A2 SEPv4 tanks to the Army. The contract has an initial value of $311 million,” a company statement said.

Advanced networking technology with next-generation sights, sensors, targeting systems and digital networking technology — are all key elements of an ongoing upgrade to position the platform to successfully engage in combat against rapidly emerging threats, such as the prospect of confronting a Russian T-14 Armata or Chinese 3rd generation Type 99 tank.

The SEP v4 variant, slated to being testing in 2021, will include new laser rangefinder technology, color cameras, integrated on-board networks, new slip-rings, advanced meteorological sensors, ammunition data links, laser warning receivers and a far more lethal, multi-purpose 120mm tank round, Army developers told Scout Warrior.

While Army officials explain that many of the details of the next-gen systems for the future tanks are not available for security reasons, Army developers did explain that the lethality upgrade, referred to as an Engineering Change Proposal, or ECP, is centered around the integration of a higher-tech 3rd generation FLIR – Forward Looking Infrared imaging sensor.

The advanced FLIR uses higher resolution and digital imaging along with an increased ability to detect enemy signatures at farther ranges through various obscurants such as rain, dust or fog, Army official said.

Improved FLIR technologies help tank crews better recognize light and heat signatures emerging from targets such as enemy sensors, electronic signals or enemy vehicles. This enhancement provides an additional asset to a tank commander’s independent thermal viewer.

Rear view sensors and laser detection systems are part of these v4 upgrades as well. Also, newly configured meteorological sensors will better enable Abrams tanks to anticipate and adapt to changing weather or combat conditions more quickly, Army officials said.

“Meteorological sensors are being integrated into the fire control system. It provides information into fire control algorithms that help increase the accuracy and precision of your weapon system,” Givens added.

The emerging M1A2 SEP v4 will also be configured with a new slip-ring leading to the turret and on-board ethernet switch to reduce the number of needed “boxes” by networking sensors to one another in a single vehicle.

Advanced Multi-Purpose Round

The M1A2 SEP v4 will carry Advanced Multi-Purpose 120mm ammunition round able to combine a variety of different rounds into a single tank round.

The AMP round will replace four tank rounds now in use. The first two are the M830, High Explosive Anti-Tank, or HEAT, round and the M830A1, Multi-Purpose Anti-Tank, or MPAT, round.

The latter round was introduced in 1993 to engage and defeat enemy helicopters, specifically the Russian Hind helicopter, Army developers explained. The MPAT round has a two-position fuse, ground, and air, that must be manually set, an Army statement said.

The M1028 Canister round is the third tank round being replaced. The Canister round was first introduced in 2005 by the Army to engage and defeat dismounted Infantry, specifically to defeat close-in human-wave assaults. Canister rounds disperse a wide-range of scattering small projectiles to increase anti-personnel lethality and, for example, destroy groups of individual enemy fighters.

The M908, Obstacle Reduction round, is the fourth that the AMP round will replace; it was designed to assist in destroying large obstacles positioned on roads by the enemy to block advancing mounted forces, Army statements report.

AMP also provides two additional capabilities: defeat of enemy dismounts, especially enemy anti-tank guided missile, or ATMG, teams at a distance, and breaching walls in support of dismounted Infantry operations

A new ammunition data link will help tank crews determine which round is best suited for a particularly given attack.

Overall, these lethality and mobility upgrades represent the best effort by the Army to maximize effectiveness and lethality of its current Abrams tank platform. The idea is to leverage the best possible modernization upgrades able to integrate into the existing vehicle. Early conceptual discussion and planning are already underway to build models for a new future tank platform to emerge by the 2030s – stay with Scout Warrior for an upcoming report on this effort.

Active Protection Systems

As part of this broad effort to accelerate Abrams technological advancement into future decades, the Army is fast-tracking an emerging technology for Abrams tanks designed to give combat vehicles an opportunity to identify, track and destroy approaching enemy rocket-propelled grenades in a matter of milliseconds, service officials said.

“We are always looking for ways to enhance the protection provided on our combat vehicles and we recognize Active Protection Systems as one of our highest priorities towards this end,” Givens said.

Active Protection Systems, or APS, is a technology which uses sensors and radar, computer processing, fire control technology and interceptors to find, target and knock down or intercept incoming enemy fire such as RPGs and Anti-Tank Guided Missiles, or ATGMs.

Systems of this kind have been in development for many years, however, the rapid technological progress of enemy tank rounds, missiles and RPGs is leading the Army to more rapidly test and develop APS for its fleet of Abrams tanks.

The Army is looking at a range of domestically produced and allied international solutions from companies participating in the Army’s Modular Active Protection Systems (MAPS) program, an Army official told Scout Warrior.

This first appeared in Scout Warrior here.

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Is This a Sneak Peek at the Israeli Army’s New Tank?

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A small armored wedge with a remote-controlled turret: is this what the Israel Defense Force’s future armored vehicles will look like?

The answer is . . . maybe. At a conference in Israel last month, the former chief of the IDF’s Armored Corps showed a simulation of what Project Carmel—the IDF’s effort to develop technology for the its generation of tanks—might produce.

The virtual vehicle is wedge-shaped, with the hull sloping towards the front. The cannon-armed turret is set at the rear of the hull, with a machine gun mounted on top. In one of the screenshots, below the turret there is what seems to be—and your guess is as good as mine—a row of vision ports (you can see other screenshots here and here).

Israel is developing two next-generation armored vehicles. One is the Eitan, the IDF’s first wheeled armored personnel carrier and the chosen replacement for Israel’s fleet of old and poorly armored M113 APCs. Already in the prototype stage, the eight-wheeled Eitan somewhat resembles the U.S. Stryker. The thirty-ton Eitan will be paired with the much heavier Namer, an APC based on the chassis of the Merkava tank.

However, the simulated vehicle displayed at the conference by retired Brigadier General Didi Ben-Yoash, who is heading Project Carmel, is much more of a tank. It would be tracked rather than wheeled like the Eitan, and would weigh thirty-five to forty tons (compared to a sixty-eight-ton M-1 Abrams). With just two crewmen, the vehicle would mostly function autonomously, including “autonomous navigation and driving, target spotting, aiming, independent firing whenever possible plus other features,” according to Israel Defense magazine.

The “cockpit” of the Israeli vehicle will have space for a third crewman to operate drones and standoff weapons. The tank would also have an active protection system, such as Israel’s Trophy, to deflect antitank missiles and rockets. “The future armored platform will be light, agile, small, relatively inexpensive and simple to operate and designed primarily for operation in urban areas with the hatches closed,” Israel Defense said.

The new tank will not replace the current Merkava 4, which is expected to remain in production until 2020. “Rather, it is a research-and-development program aimed at a state-of-the-art, medium-weight combat vehicle,” according to Defense News.

“It won’t be Merkava 5,” an Israeli official told Defense News. “The operational requirement will be something entirely different.”

Much like the United States and its Ground-X Vehicle Technology project, Israel is aiming to develop smaller, lightweight tanks that can operate in urban terrain. In Israel’s case, the IDF is mindful of the lessons of Operation Cast Lead, the 2014 incursion in Gaza that saw Israeli soldiers challenged by a city with narrow streets and crisscrossed by tunnels. Also in line with U.S. thinking, the Israeli vehicle will be heavily networked into battlefield command and control systems.

The Below the Turret Ring blog offers a thoughtful analysis of what’s known about Project Carmel vehicle so far. The Israeli vehicle is considerably lighter than the forty-eight-ton Armata, which is Russia’s next-generation tank. Its active protection system might stop antitank missiles, but its armor won’t stop heavy cannon rounds from tanks such as the T-72. “The closest Russian counterpart to the Carmel might be the BMPT/BMPT-72 Terminator fire support vehicle designed by the Russian company UVZ,” the blog notes.

In that sense, Project Carmel sounds less like a main battle tank that can replace the Merkava or Abrams in a turret-to-turret armored slugfest. A small tank protected by medium armor and armed with an autocannon and missiles, it would seem to have its own niche as an infantry support vehicle.

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