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GMK

AJAX (well, Apollo) in the Antipodes

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The Australian Army is looking for a family of up to 450 IFV. General Dynamics is offering variants of their Ajax family, complete with new turret. 

 

pV86cXI.jpg

 

Apollo in the background;

 

ViwVjjx.jpg 

 

5HJw0JS.jpg 

 

 

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It's a weird design.... To my eyes, it looks both futuristic and a bit dated, at the same time. Maybe it's the boxy construction. 

 

Cheers. 

 

Chris. 

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Wouldn't look out of place painted in Mephiston Red and full of space marines!

 

Looks good in Aussie camo colours.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

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13 hours ago, fatfingers said:

Looks good in Aussie camo colours.

 

Regards,

 

Steve

I may have played a part in that:

 

aXwSCTF.jpg 

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Looks like the 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster gun again on the ASCOD.  Not really up to the mark any more as an anti-light-armour or fire support weapon.  The 40mm CTWS has nearly 3 times the HE shell weight and a heavier higher velocity APDS.  Which is why the UK overturned the previous decision to use the 30mm more than a decade ago.

 

I imagine that BAES will pitch a CV90 derivative, probably spun off the Dutch version which is the most advanced to date.  That gives them options for a 40mm AA and AMOS mortar variants as well as the low-recoil 120mm gun.  I'm assuming the Aussies want a family and not just an IFV.

 

On assumes that the Germans, flushed with the Boxer success, will pitch a Puma derivative with the same turret and systems as the Boxer.  Lots of logistic, training and capability commonality: $$$ savings.

 

I wonder who else might go for it.  Singapore with Bionix?  S Korea with K21?  Russia with Kurganets?  US is lagging way behind in this race as a Bradley replacement hasn't come to anything.

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3 minutes ago, Das Abteilung said:

Looks like the 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster gun again on the ASCOD.  Not really up to the mark any more as an anti-light-armour or fire support weapon. 

 

I imagine that BAES will pitch a CV90 derivative, probably spun off the Dutch version which is the most advanced to date.  

 

I'm assuming the Aussies want a family and not just an IFV.

 

On assumes that the Germans, flushed with the Boxer success, will pitch a Puma derivative with the same turret and systems as the Boxer.  

 

 

A couple of points: 

30x173mm is the mandated caliber for this phase. This is not the same round (30x170mm) of the old UK RARDEN 30 mm and has a wider range of ammunition natures. The IFV must also have a twin Spike 2 ER capability, which addresses its anti-tank capability. 

 

I honestly think BAE will not bid (their last failed bid cost tens and tens of millions), despite having a Norwegian CV90 at the show. Australia has already rejected the E35 turret that’s in the CV90NL as part of Phase 2. 

 

NAdZfTW.jpg 

 

Puma isn’t being bid as neither PSM nor KMW have a presence. Also, representatives from both companies have said Puma is unsuitable as there are only two variants and the turret is unmanned. Rheinmetall is looking to bid the KF41 Lynx, which is a bit of a napkin panzer:

 

K9ZEoff.jpg

 

 

But, back to AJAX, I think it’s the strongest competitor. 

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Yes, I know that RARDEN was a (foolishly) unique cartridge, and ultimately a dead end.  I worked on the AJAX project (then under the FRES banner) between 2004-8, in which time the armament decision was made and the earlier Mk44 armament decision for WARRIOR was overturned, including kicking off the negotiations with CTAI to licence the CTWS cannon. 

 

Mandating weapons or calibres rather than specifying a target effect might come back to bite them later.  Of course if there has been a project-independent assessment of candidate weapons against desired characteristics including predicted target set survivability growth and that calibre and chambering has been assessed as meeting the growth requirement, then all is good.

 

For example, the UK specified the ability to be able to deal with a predicted up-armoured BMP3 and was clear that a common weapon had to be agreed between WARRIOR and FRES Scout, limited in that case by the small WARRIOR turret ring.  In assessing candidate weapons, CTWS40 was believed to be capable of dealing with the uparmoured BMP3 with a single hit whereas the Mk44 was assessed to need a 9-rd burst.  HE performance was also significantly better.  The proposed 37mm "Supershot" variant of the Mk44 was a dead end, being limited by the 30mm round dimensions to save changing ammunition feeds.  Given an unconstrained choice, the big 40mm Mk4 Bushmaster firing the Bofors round was assessed as the best answer for the UK but could not be made to fit Warrior.  However, the co-axial weapon was oddly specified - as the 7.62mm Chain Gun on the basis of reduced fumes and stoppages, despite supportability issues.

 

Interesting on who may or may not be in the race.  Lynx would be high-risk unless it has systems commonality with Boxer.  Potentially it could use the same turret.  BAES have other armament options on the CV90, with the 30mm Mk44 already being integrated in a different turret on the Mk2 variant for Norway, Finland and Denmark.  The Dutch Mk3 is the most survivable and has the most advanced systems.  Sadly, BAES have had a habit in recent years of offering customers what they have in the box and not what customers want.  That's what ruled them out of the Ajax competition: offering a bits box approach of stuff they already had by cross-breeding the CV90 hull with the already-funded experimental Warrior MTIP turret with little additional development - especially in sensors and electronics.  Then played the political card that if we didn't buy it they'd close down their last AFV production capability in the UK - which they subsequently did.  GD were much more amenable to giving us what we wanted.

 

GD would certainly seem to have the edge with the development that has gone into the ASCOD platform for the UK Scout family, despite its age and the more basic nature of the Uhlan and Pizarro service variants.  Not sold to anyone else in all those years, with CV90 essentially cleaning up.  A renaissance, maybe?

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The calibre was mandated as a result of the Phase 2 result. It would make no sense to select a different calibre system for Phase 3.  For Phase 2, there was no appreciable difference in target effect between the tendered systems - one in 30mm, the other in 35mm. In effect, both met that lethality requirement, which was verified before tender release. 

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Given that these vehicles are replacing a stretched M113 armed with .50 cal the sheer size and technology jump is impressive.  I heard few stories of the challenges getting them into the Adelaide Convention Centre. 

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We're talking low 30s tonnes without add-on armour, up to 40 with: 38 IIRC.  It's a big change for Oz from an APC to an MICV and a quantum leap in technology.  The sensor technology in AJAX is a generational leap for the UK.  I don't know if they ended up with the internal databus and electronic integration that was intended.

 

I saw an Ajax with add-on armour fitted on a low loader on a motorway a few months back, and it was an over-width load complete with escort vehicle!!  It's almost as wide as a Challenger - and we do Recce By Stealth!  The idea of converting some of the 250 or so surplus Warriors as recce vehicles - especially for infantry recce companies in Regiments equipped with WR - was pooh-poohed because they were seen as too big and heavy.  And look what we ended up with: something just as big and just as heavy!  And mech inf recce probably won't get them now as the numbers have dropped from 650 Scout to 250.  Jackals instead.

 

It sounds like Oz has essentially done what the UK did with weapons: mandated a common weapon across 2 related projects and selected it independently.  If 30mm and the Mk44 works for their threat set - and it still works for many others including USMC - then it's not for me to question.  But it does highlight national differences in threat set evolution and the variety of weapon/turret/OWS/platform combinations.  Each new one of which brings new integration risks, development costs and trials.  The Oz Boxer turret on the Lynx hull would be a significant risk reduction, for example.

 

Assuming that the ASCOD pitch wins in Oz, that must surely mean that we will see kits of the Oz and UK versions???  An Oz Boxer must be in the offing somewhere too (please, NOT Revell......)

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