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DESERT WARRIOR UPGRADE IMMINENT

DESERT WARRIOR UPGRADE IMMINENT
By Julian Nettlefold

24 Feb 11. One big potential contract doing the rounds during IDEX was the requirement by Kuwait to have its fleet of Desert Warriors, supplied by GKN Defence after the first Gulf War, upgraded. BATTLESPACE understands that the vehicles have been languishing in barracks after a seven year absence of the supply of spares by BAE Systems following internal disagreements with the Rulers of Kuwait. The availability numbers were not released. The closure of the U.K. Government Contracts Office in Kuwait, opened as part of the Desert Warrior contract, has not helped smooth he path to a much needed upgrade contract.

In 1993, Kuwait purchased 254 Desert Warrior vehicles. Desert Warrior was an export version of the original British Army Warrior adapted for operations in hostile desert conditions. It is fitted with the Delco turret as used on the LAV-25 wheeled IFV, mounting a stabilised M242 Bushmaster 25 mm chain gun with coaxial 7.62 mm chain gun and 2 x Hughes TOW ATGM launchers (one mounted on each side).

BATTLESPACE was told that the original Kuwaiti intention was to build on the excellent relationship with U.S. industry with the M1A1 tank overhaul facility in particular and use FMS to develop a Desert Warrior Program led by Raytheon and including others such as Lockheed Martin and CAT in particular. We understand that, due to lack of U.S. content, the FMS option was shelved ten days ago.

U.K. Limited Solution

A number of companies have expressed interest to UKTI in developing a solution for Desert Warrior once the Statement of Intent and contract requirements are released. Although this is not expected for at least a year to 18 months, UKTI is formulating for an all-British bid believed to be led by Babcock International. Babcock has considerable vehicle expertise having built a number of jackals for the U.K. MoD and has been working on an M113 requirement in Libya, prior to the recent troubles.

Mark Thompson, Business Development Director of Babcock International told BATTLESPACE that he saw Babcock as a key enabler in the Desert Warrior process.

“We have considerable capability in maintaining the British Army Warrior vehicles through our MoD PFI contracts at Borden and Bovingdon. To transition this to Kuwait would be no problem using local specialist firms. We also have considerable expertise on the Hawk Trainer which also requires a number of key equipment upgrades in Kuwait.”

Morri Leland of Lockheed Martin told BATTLESPACE that Lockheed Martin UK’s INSYS facility would be able to provide not only key automotive and drivetrain technology through its Warrior WCSP Programme but also be able to provide a turret solution as developed for WCSP.

Richard LeBlanc of ADVS(UK), told BATTLESPACE that, “We believe we are one of the companies seen as key to this project, given our development and supply of 105 Modular Remote Turrets to Kuwait for its Desert Chameleon Internal Security 6x6 vehicle developed by ADVS in the USA by my brother James. We are working with the UK to develop a solution for Desert Warrior.”

ATK told BATTLESPACE that it expects Kuwait to refurbish the existing M242 Bushmaster 25mm chain guns on the vehicles. ATK is working closely with ADVS(UK) to develop the ADVS(UK) MRT which it had on its stand at AUSA.

ATK and ADVS(UK) Limited have teamed together to develop two remote turret systems as alternatives to the legacy manned turret found on today’s platforms. The Modular Remote Turret (MRT) and the Light Weight Remote Turret (LWRT) provide soldiers with effective platform weight reduction, load under armor capability, and increased ability to carry troops and equipment, all while upgrading lethality. ATK and ADVS introduced this latest technology at AUSA.

The MRT is optimized for ATK’s full suite of medium-caliber chain guns, and allows the end user to equip the coaxial mount with a variety of small, medium, and heavy machine guns. The turret, integrated with ATK’s Advanced Fire Control System (AFCS) and state-of-the-art Electro-Optical/Infra-Red (EO/IR) optics, allows the warfighter to maintain 360-degree situational awareness from safely inside the vehicle. The gun control unit and associated hardware are contained within the turret shell, so the only intrusion into the hull is the man-machine interface. The MRT mounting interface is designed to fit most ground combat vehicles, bringing upgraded capability and firepower without a platform redesign. The LWRT is a purpose-built mount designed for ATK’s Light Weight (LW) 25mm Bushmaster Chain Gun. With the LW25mm Bushmaster, the LWRT gives the warfighter the ability to engage with lethal or non-lethal munitions. The LWRT is ideal for either a stand-alone turret or as a commander’s independent weapon station. The LWRT can be fitted over existing hatches or turret interfaces. ATK’s AFCS provides an easy-to-use, man-machine interface with an operational concept that is readily accepted by today’s warfighter. The LWRT also provides under armor access.

ATK wants to see its Modular Remote Turret on the Army’s future Ground Combat Vehicle, but officials say it can be bolted on most of the Army’s existing combat vehicles to give soldiers more firepower and better protection.

“There are very few turrets out there on the market that will give you a remote weapons station with the capability to load under armor,” ATK, told the Editor at IDEX.

The new MRT protects against 7.62mm armor-piercing ammunition but can be upgraded. It features a main gun section that can house a number of weapon systems such as the M2 .50 caliber machine gun or ATK’s Lightweight 30mm, the cannon on the AH-64 Apache helicopter.

The turret also features a coaxial weapon station alongside the main gun. It can be outfitted with a 7.62mm machine gun. The MRT can also be outfitted with ATK’s Commander’s Independent Weapon Station, a system that can handle weapons systems from 5.56mm to .50 caliber. All weapons are controlled from ATK’s Advanced Fire Control System from inside the safety of the vehicle.

“We designed the 5,000-pound MRT to fit on a whole range of legacy and new vehicles. The MRT will fit onto Stryker wheeled vehicles, M113 armoured personnel carriers, Warrior and FV432 APCs and versions of the Mine Resistant Ambush Protective vehicle. It is particularly suited to the U.K. CVR(T) range of vehicles which will give the U.K. MoD an all-British solution to the burgeoning upgrade market for this range of vehicles.” Richard LeBlanc of ADVS(UK) told the Editor.

Other companies involved in this programme are expected to be Astrum for tracks; CAT for engines; Allison for gearboxes; Thales and Selex for optics, DVEs and sights; Raytheon, TOW Missile upgrade; COMROD antennae; BAE Systems, wheels, sub-assemblies and Design Authority.

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