Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Eastern European AFV program updates


The military of Slovakia has chosen the Patria AMVXP (extra payload) as the new 8x8 wheeled vehicle. The AMVXP is an improved variant of the original Armored Modular Vehicle (AMV) with a raised maximum gross vehicle mass of up to 30 metric tons according to Patria's current data sheet, 13 tons of which are payload that can be used for installing heavier armor packages, mission kits or new weapon stations. Other sources mention a larger maximum gross vehicle mass of 31 or 32 metric tons. The vehicle is powered by a 450 kW (603 hp) Scania diesel engine linked to a 7+1 gear automatic transmission. It features a fully independent double wishbone suspension, an integrated terrain control system and a central tyre inflation system.

Patria AMVXP in an APC configuration
The Slovakian Army will use the AMVXP as an infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) fitted with the Turra 30 turret from local manufacturer EVPÚ. This unmanned turret is armed with a 30 mm autocannon - either a Soviet-design 2A42 gun or a Mk-44 Bushmaster II from Aliant Techsystems - a coaxial machine gun and a dual missile launcher for anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). Self-defence is provided by limited amounts of passive bolt-on armor aswell as eight smoke-grenade dischargers. The Turra 30 features a single main optic incorporating a laser rangefinder, a camera and a thermal imager. There is no independent optic for the commander, thus the turret is not enabling operating in a hunter-killer mode. This turret was also offered on the BVP Šakal modernization for the BMP-2.
The unmanned Turra 30 turret will be fitted to the vehicle
The Slovakian military has plans to order a total of 81 AMVXP vehicles, that will be delivered between 2018 and 2024. Prime contractor for the deal is Konštrukta Defence A.S., other contractors include Patria Land Systems and EVPÚ. Previously the country had ordered about thirty AMV vehicles in a variant made under licence by the Polish company Rosomak S.A.. These vehicles also were set to recevie the Turra 30 turret and were nicknamed Scipio; maybe this name will be retained. The deal was canceled for unknown reasons, apparently the Patria AMVXP hulls will be manufactured in Finland rather than in Poland.



227 Piranha 5 vehicles will be operated by the Romanian military in the future.
The Romanian news website hotnews.ro has reported that the German company Rheinmetall is still trying to sell the Agilis vehicle to the Romanian military. Previously there were no details revealed on the state of this program - following the decision of the Romanian government to start the licence production of 227 Piranha 5 vehicles in the Uzina Mecanica Bucuresti plant in Bucarest, a site operated by the state-owned company Romarm, one had to consider that this possibly meant the end of the Agilis.

The Agilis APC is fitted with a Lance MTS turret
Rheinmetall plans the production of about 400 of the Agilis vehicles via the company Romanian Military Vehicle Systems S.A., a joint-venture between Rheinmetall (50%) and the Ministry of Economy (50%) of the Eastern European country. Originally more than 600 Agilis vehicles were planned, but the adoption of the Piranha 5 reduces the required number of new vehicles. The factory of Romanian Military Vehicle Systems S.A. is located in the town of Moreni and would also assemble MAN military truck, if Rheinmetall's bid to provide the next truck system to Romania is successful. The Agilis contains 87% locally manufactured components, some of which are derived from the previous SAUR vehicle projects - the design is said to also include some features from the Dutch-German Boxer vehicle; only the engine, transmission and some parts of the Rheinmetall-designed drivetrain have to be imported. The chassis is expected to be assembled in the Moreni plant. The fact that all intellectual property of the vehicles remains in Romania is one of the reasons why the Agilis could be easily exported to other countries.
The Agilis program could create a further 420 jobs in the Romanian defence industry; 120 jobs in the joint-venture and up to 300 jobs in the Moreni plant. While Rheinmetall is still pushing for the Agilis, the final decision has to be made on the side of the Romanian government. At the end of the year the Romanian Ministry of Finances has to agree with the funding for the Agilis development, which would take some €234 million for a period of three years. The first vehicles could then be delivered in 2020, after a public tender would be held and a contract would have been signed. Local production would last until 2029, if no follow-up contract is signed. The vehicles are then expected to last to 2055 or beyond.

At least six variants of the Agilis are planned
According to current projections, the Agilis 8x8 wheeled vehicle will serve in at least six different variants within the Romanian army. These variants are an armored personnel carrier (APC), which however is expected to be fitted with a 30 mm gun turret and therefore might be considered to be an infantry fighting vehicle instead, a mobile command post variant, a medevac ambulance vehicle, a CBRN variant, a recovery version featuring a 3 metre long crane cabale of lifting a 5 ton heavy object and two 11 ton hydraulic winches, and a mortar variant with a 120 mm mortar located in the rear compartment.

Features of the Agilis
The Agilis vehicle is 8.02 metres long and 2.99 metres wide (excluding the side-view mirrors) while being 2.5 metres tall in the APC variant. The vehicle is powered by a 612 horsepower diesel engine from the German manufacturer Liebheer, that is linked to a ZF transmission. The ground-clearance is projected to be 430 milimetres. The top speed of the Agilis is expected to exceed 100 kilometres per hour on road, while the road range is more than 800 kilometres. The vehicle can climb 60% slope and drive on 30% side-slope. The vehicle is designed with a turn radius of 9.5 metres. The Agilis is an amphibious vehicle, although depending on armor package and mission kit the vehicle might loose this capability.

The Agilis is fitted with modular armor providing a limited amount of protection in the basic configuration.
The vehicle is protected by modular composite armor, although the basic armor package is designed to provide ballistic protection against small arms fire only - earlier sources suggest protection according to the STANAG 4569 level 2 or level 3 standard. The high ride and a composite floor plating are to provide decent protection against mines and improvised explosive devices (IEDs) of unspecified size. While it has not revealed which type of armor is to be used on the Agilis, it seems reasonable to assume that Rheinmetall's own VEHRA (Versatile Rheinmetall Armour) or the AMAP/ProTech composite armor designed by IBD Deisenroth, which is manufactured by Rheinmetall Chempro, is to be used to protect the vehicle. 
While the older Agilis designs saw the APC/IFV variant armed with a 25 mm gun only, the latest suggestions include a 30 mm autocannon with 150 rounds of main gun ammo and a 7.62 mm machine gun with 400 rounds ready-to-fire ammunition for the APC/IFV. These weapons are located in Rheinmetall's two-men Lance Modular Turret System (MTS), which is fitted with two set of SEOSS sights - while the graphics show only a SEOSS for the gunner, the text speaks of an independent optic for the commander aswell. The Lance turret is also offered on the Boxer CRV/IFV and the tracked Lynx IFV. It was chosen a few years ago by the Spanish marines for use on the Piranha IIIC. The digital SEOSS sight includes a two-axis stabilization, a third generation SAPHIR thermal imager, a laser-rangefinder and a daysight CCD camera.
The APC/IFV variant has a crew of three (commander, driver and gunner) and carries seven dismounts. The command post variant has a crew of two and carries five dismounts/further soldiers. All other variants have a crew of four.


As detailed by the Czech military news website/blog Armádní Noviny, the negotiations on buying the Puma IFV are going on. The main German companies responsible for developing and manufacturing the Puma have met with representatives of more than 30 potential Czech partner companies in the Diplomat hotel in Prague to discuss possible work-share and future cooperation in the military vehicle industry. According to PSM Projekt System & Management GmbH, the joint-venture between Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) and Rheinmetall that manages the Puma project, a cooperation in the manufacturing process of the Puma IFV would result in a gain of know-how and could also lead to future cooperations in projects like the Boxer APC, the Leopard 2 main battle tank and the Panzerhaubitze 2000, vehicles that the Czech Army might want to buy in the future.

Puma IFV during the Czech trials.
Czech sources mention that in theory about 35 billion Czech koruna (about €1.3 billion) worth of contracts could be awarded to local companies in case of the Puma being chosen as new infantry fighting vehicle. Given that the Puma supposedly outperformed all other alternatives, the key problem remains the budget - the acquistion of new IFVs is planned to cost only half of the 50 billions Czech koruna (€1.916 billion) budget, but the price for 210 new Puma IFVs, spare parts, training, simulators and other services is understood to exceed this amount of money.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

The market for wheeled 8x8 is not saturated (yet)

There are multiple ongoing procurement programs in Asia and Europe regarding the adoption of modern 8x8 wheeled vehicles for use as ambulance vehicles, armored personnel carriers, infantry fighting vehicles, mortar carriers and other roles. While Australia and supposedly also Japan are looking for a new 8x8 vehicle, Germany is upgrading the Boxer MRAV and adopting further variants. The British Army is requiring the largest number of new 8x8 vehicles, but various Eastern European countries including Bulgaria, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia are also interested in new wheeled combat vehicles. This means that vehicles such as the Advanced Modular Vehicle (AMV) from Patria, Artec's Boxer MRAV (multi-role armored vehicle), the Pandur II and Piranha V from General Dynamics European Land Systems, and "underdogs" on the international market such as the Terrex 3 and the French VBCI might be adopted in larger numbers by the militaries of multiple countries in the near future. The US-based company Textron and a Turkish company are also bidding in some tenders.

The Boxer CRV and AMV-35 are being evaluated during the LAND 400 program
A key factor for the developments on the global 8x8 vehicle market might be the decision of the Australian military in the LAND 400 program, which is expected to be made in early 2018. The phase 2 of LAND 400 included four of the most advanced current 8x8 vehicles - variants of the Boxer, the Patria AMV, the LAV 6.0 and the Sentinel (Terrex 3) - i.e. vehicles that are relevant for any military considering to buy a new eight-wheeled armored personnel carrier (APC), infantry fighting vehicle (IFV), or Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle (CRV). Various other vehicles such as the VBCI 2 were initially also offered to the Australian military, but the bids were withdrawn when it became clear that a solution based on military of the shelf (MOTS) components was favored.
Currently only the Boxer CRV and AMV-35 remain in the competition. Based on the prototypes being tested in Australia, it appears that both consortia are betting on very different strategies. While Rheinmetall showcases the Boxer CRV as a very customizable high-end offering including all of the latest gadgets (including active protection system, remotely operated weapon station, anti-tank guided missile launcher, accoustic sniper detection system, laser warners, situational awareness system, etc.), the BAE-Patria joint-venture focuses with the AMV-35 on a more affordable offering, presumably trying to impress with a higher cost effectiveness compared to the Boxer.

The VBCI was already tested in the UK during the FRES project
The British military is considering to buy the Boxer MRAV for the Mechanized Infantry Vehicle (MIV) program, as mentioned by various news sources over the last year. The number of vehicles to be purchased within the £3 billion project is varying by source from just 300 up to 900. While there are several options offered by the arms industry to the UK, the British Army has not yet decided wether it wants an open tender or prefers a direct government-to-government (G2G) deal with Germany for buying Boxers. The advantage of open competition is that the best solution can be found, be it the overall cheapest solution, the most capable vehicle or the jack of all trades. On the other hand the budget of the British Army has shrunken dramatically - and is expected to shrink further thanks to the Brexit - so that English newspapers suggest that an open evaluation of multiple contenders might be too expensive (and with Brexit potentially resulting in additional tolls to be paid also too time consuming). A decision wether to buy the Boxer MRAV or have an open competition is expected at the end of 2017.

By painting a Boxer in the Union Jack pattern, Rheinmetall reminds the UK of the British participation in its development
If the Boxer CRV is chosen by the Australian Army over the AMV-35, this could have positive effects on its chances in the United Kingdom according to German speculations. First of all, there would be greater interoperability between the ground forces of two commonwealth nations, something that is assumed to be desirable. Furthermore the British Army could argue that the Australian tests already have proven the superiority of said vehicle, circumventing open competition in order to rush a vehicle in service. While this in general would also work with the Patria AMV, there are no news reports on the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD) thinking about purchasing the AMV instead of having an open tender.

The Boxer RCH 155 mounts an AGM instead of a mission module
Supposedly the UK is also looking for a self-propelled artillery gun (SPG) variant of the vehicle purchased under the MIV program. The Boxer MRAV is the only modern 8x8 wheeled solution that has been showcased with a 155 mm gun, i.e. the artillery gun module (AGM) from Krauss-Maffei Wegmann (KMW) mounted instead of a mission module. The long L/52 gun barrel of the AGM and the high level of protection provided by the Boxer's drive module makes this solution in some aspects better than the current tracked AS-90 self-propelled gun.
At the DSEI 2017, various manufacturer's presented their potential offers for the MIV program including the Piranha 5 from General Dynamics, the Patria AMV XP, the VBCI from Nexter, and  two different Boxer variants from Artec. Rheinmetall painted one Boxer with the Union Jack, while KMW focused on showcasing the modularity of the vehicle with an IFV variant. Aside of the benefits that the modular design enables, the German companies also mention that the UK would have full intellectual property of the Boxer due to its history (being designed in a multi-national project that used to include the UK), allowing them to create and sell their own vehicle variants without any interference from the Germany.

The Japanese military has presented a prototype of their indigenous 8x8 APC
Supposedly Japan is also interested in adopting a more modern 8x8 vehicle compared to its old and lightly protected Type 96 armored personnel carrier. Mitsubishi has already created and showcased a prototype vehicle based on components from the Type 16 Maneuver Combat Vehicle (MCV). However Japan is known to have a somewhat deep military cooperation with Australia, which is why the country of islands is observing the decisions LAND 400 program - apparently some sources suggest that the Japanese Ground Self-Defence Force (JGSDF) might be interested in having a certain degree of interoperability with the Australian Army.
According to the German website hartpunkt.de, defence industry insider sources claim that the Japanese military requested informations on the performance of the Boxer MRAV, specifically regarding its armor protection and modularity. It is worth mentioning that in July 2017 Germany and Japan signed an agreement for cooperation in the arms industry/technology sector. Back then it was reported that Japan was primarily interested in German protection technology, i.e. technologies regarding special armor and potentially also active protection systems. The Japanese news service Asahi Shimbun specifically mentioned that this technology was meant for a "troop transport carrier" (i.e. an APC or IFV). Negotiations regarding the agreement started already in 2015; both countries agreed to not disclose the exact content of the contract. In September 2017 a German-Japanese military technology forum was held in Tokio, which included more than thirty German defence companies.

The Boxer A1 saw combat in Afghanistan
The Bundeswehr recently decided to upgrade all current Boxers to the new A2 configuration, which features changes to both the drive module and the mission module, such as installing a new satellite communication system, fitting an improved driver vision systems, adopting a new storage arrangement, making changes to the cooling and exhaust system of the vehicle, improved protection and adding a secondary control panel for the FLW 200 remote weapon station. A contract for the upgrade of 124 armored personnel carriers, 72 ambulance vehicles, 38 command post vehicles and 12 driver training vehicles was announced in July 2017. All new Boxers that have been and will be ordered by the German Army will also be delivered as Boxer A2 or in a follow-up configuration.

According to the German website hartpunkt.de, the German Army plans to use the Boxer as base for a heavy vehicle for the joint fire support team (JFST) units. This Boxer JFST variant would be equipped with a high quality sensor package, probably the mast-mounted BAA II surveillance and reconnaissance platform from Hensoldt Optronics, that is already being used on the light JFST vehicle on the Fennek 4x4. Rheinmetall as member of Artec also offers a number of sensor platforms for ground vehicles, such as Vingtaqs II system that is operational with the Norwegian and Malaysian militaries. Alternatively the greater payload and internal volume of the Boxer could be used for a larger sensor package, which could in theory also include a larger ground surveillance radar unit. A Fennek can carry only the equipment for either ground-to-ground coordination or ground-to-air coordination, each Fennek JFST vehicle is hence specialized on either role. The Boxer has enough room to hypothetically carry the equipment for both tasks, although it hasn't been decided if a single Boxer should be used for both roles. The Boxer was chosen over a competiting design based on the PMMC G5. Unlike current JSFT solutions from the UK and the United States, the Boxer is not expected to be fitted with a direct fire gun or anti-tank missiles. There is a requirement for about 20 to 30 Boxer heavy JFST vehicles.

JFST vehicle based on the Fennek 4x4
Currently there are also plans for a fire support variant of the Boxer for the Jäger units, according to Inspector of the Army Jörg Vollmer, who is in charge of the German Army. The plans see the fifth (heavy) company of each battalion receiving Boxers with direct fire guns.
The exact type of armament has not been specified, but given earlier reports it seems likely that the interest is focused around the 30 x 173 mm calibre, i.e. the same MK 30-2/ABM main gun as used on the German Puma infantry fighting vehicle (IFV). The vehicle might as well be fitted with a launcher for the Spike-LR anti-tank guided missile (ATGM).

A so called "PuBo" - Boxer with RCT 30 (Puma turret)
Currently the German military is said to consider different turret options and still has to decide wether a manned or an unmanned system is favored. It is understood that the choice - if the informations regarding a 30 mm calibre are correct - is limited to KMW's Remote Controlled Turret 30 (RCT 30; essentially a Puma turret) and the Lance Modular Turret System from Rheinmetall. Both these turrets have their own unique advantages and drawbacks. The RCT 30 is already in service with the German military and hence provides advantages in regards to training, logistics and spare parts. Furthermore it appears to be more heavily armored than the Lance turret, as it is can be fitted with additional roof armor against shaped charge bomblets; while Rheinmetall manufactures similar armor, there hasn't been a prototype of the Lance turret featuring such improved roof armor. The unmanned nature of the turret makes it smaller and lighter. However unmanned turrets have worse situational awarness than their manned counterparts.

A Boxer with Lance turret being demonstrated at a Rheinmetall facility in Germany
The Lance turret on the other hand is available in either unmanned or manned configuration, but it seems likely that only the latter is being considered, as this was already installed on several Boxer prototypes including the Boxer CRV. It is larger than a Puma turret and also heavier, when fitted with a similar armor package; however in theory it can also adopt larger calibre guns such as the 35 x 228 mm Wotan 35 chain gun. The Lance turret suffers from being fitted with several Rheinmetall-made components, which have not been adopted yet by the German military, albeit the modular construction might allow to change them. For example the turret is fitted with either one or two stabilized electro-optical sensor systems (SEOSS); one for the gunner (and one for the commander respectively), but the German Army relies on optics from Hensoldt Optronics for the Puma and several other combat vehicles.

The Belgian Army operates several Piranha DF90 fire support vehicles with 90 mm gun
In theory the German military could choose a lighter or heavier weapon station from various manufacturers. Just looking at the offerings from the two companies involved with producing the Boxer MRAV shows a wide variety of possible alternative armament options. Krauss-Maffei Wegmann showcased the FLW 200+ on the Boxer a few years ago, which is an enhanced variant of the currently used FLW 200 remote weapon station (RWS),  that can accept the 20 mm Rh 202 autocannon with 100 rounds of ammunition. The 500 kilograms heavy FLW 500 RWS can accept 30 mm autocannons such as the M230LF chain gun from ATK, a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and an optional missile launcher. Rheinmetall has developed the Oerlikon Fieldranger 20 RWS, which is armed with a 20 mm Oerlikon KAE autocannon; however this is not chambered in the 20 x 139 mm calibre as the Rh 202, for which the German Army should still have lots of ammunition - instead it uses the slightly less powerful 20 x 128 mm calibre.
Given that the new Boxer variant is meant as a fire support vehicle, one could wonder why the armament choice is supposedly focused on the 30 mm calibre, when other vehicles of the same type are often fitted with larger guns. E.g. the Belgian Army has adopted a number of Piranha IIICs with a 90 mm Cockerill gun for direct fire support, while a Rosomak prototype was fitted with the Cockerill 3105 turret. The Boxer with a much higher maximum gross vehicle weight - the latest available variant can support up to 38.5 metric tons and can be fitted with a 800 horsepower engine - should have no issues accepting a low-profile turret with a 120 mm smoothbore gun (such as the 120 mm L/47 LLR from Rheinmetall).

Aside of the exact turret choice, a number of other questions remain. A key question revolves around the role of the Jäger (light mechanized/motorized infantry) compared to the Panzergenadiere (mechanized infantry). Traditionally only the Panzergrenadiere are making use of infantry fighting vehicles, while the Jäger are limited to "battle taxi" style vehicles, which also affects the doctrines of these units. However putting a gun on an armored personnel carrier (APC) doesn't mean that it has to be employed like an IFV. Another decision yet to be made is focused on wether the Boxer fire support variant will carry a dismount squad or not. If a dismount squad is carried, it needs to be smaller in order to compensate for the ammunition storage, the gun operator(s) and the turret basket (in case a manned turret is chosen). Regardless of the decision, a contractt is not expected to be made before 2019. Then the Boxer fire support vehicles could enter service in 2021. A total of about 100 vehicles is required based on the current amount of German Boxer APCs.

The Vilkas is a Boxer IFV variant with the Samson Mk 2 RWS
The Bulgarian military is planning to purchase about 600 new 8x8 vehicles in several different variants for three new battlegroups. Among the demanded variants are also a mortar carrier and an infantry fighting vehicle. Supposedly the bidding process for this military procurement started already in May, with six vehicles being offered to win contract worth more than €500 million Euro. Artec is offering the Boxer, despite the fact that currently no operator has ordered a mortar carrier variant and not a single prototype of this is known to exist - the modular design however would enable a fast creation of such. It is also not known which turret will be offered for the IFV variant.
While the Boxer MRAV is extremely expensive compared to other solutions - in Lithuania the initial offer was claimed to be more than twice as costly as the Stryker ICV proposed by General Dynamics - the vehicle's superior performance (specifically the higher level of protection) resulted in the Lithuanian Army opting for it. The military prefered the Boxer MRAV, the politicans wanted a cheaper solution. In the end the Vilkas variant of the Boxer, mounting the cheaper and slightly less capable Samson Mk 2 RWS instead of the Puma's RCT 30 turret, was chosen.
General Dynamics European Land Systems (GDELS) offers the Piranha V vehicle family. An IFV variant of the Piranha V fitted with Rafael's Samson Mk 2 RWS was demonstrated on the 27. April at the Military Poligon Tylbleto in Bulgaria. The demonstration lasted three days and included live firing tests with the 30 x 173 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II gun. The Samson Mk 2 RWS features two separate set of sights, a 30 mm autocannon, a coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun and a pop-up launcher for two Spike-LR missiles. It was also fitted to various IFV prototypes provided to the Czech Republic.
 
Patria AMV with 120 mm NEMO mortar system
While KMW as part of Artec is suggesting the Boxer to Bulgaria, the French company Nexter - a joint-partner of KMW - is offering an unknown configuration of the VBCI or VBCI 2. While not produced yet, Nexter already showcased scale models of a mortar carrier variant of the VBCI back in 2013. These models featured a large roof hatch with a two-piece door atop of the rear compartment. Inside the rear compartment an unspecified semi-automatic 120 mm mortar - similar to RUAG's Cobra mortar and the MO 120 mm R2RM from TDA Armaments - is mounted. As IFV the VBCI 2 can be fitted with a 25 mm autocannon in a one-man turret or with a two-man turret mounting a 40 mm CTAS gun. In theory unmanned turrets and other calibres are also available, but they have not been fitted to known prototypes of the VBCI 2.
Patria is offering versions of the Armored Modular Vehicle (AMV), although more details have yet to emerge. The wide userbase of the AMV has resulted in various different variants, so often multiple AMV versions are available for the same role. I.e. there are infantry fighting vehicles based on the AMV mounting the Hitfist turret from Leonardo (after acquiring Oto-Melara), the LCT30 turret from Denel Land Systems, and the BMP-3 turret, while prototypes were equipped with the unmanned MCT-30 turret from Kongsberg, the E35 turret from BAE Systems and the new 40 mm CTAS-armed turret of the Warrior WLIP upgrade. Likewise there are multiple 120 mm mortar variants with the Polish Rak mortar, the NEMO turret and the AMOS turret, while South-Africa has ordered a 60 mm breech-loaded mortar turret for some of its AMVs. 
Supposedly two further competitors are interested in getting a deal for equipping the new Bulgarian battlegroups: Textron and an unnamed Turkish company. There is some confusion regarding Textron here: Textron is not known for offering 8x8 vehicles, although it is not directly specified that a 8x8 vehicle is required. The US company was contracted to deliver about 17 M1117 Guardian armored security vehicles (ASVs) to the East European country in 2014; a further batch of ten vehicles was ordered in mid-2017. According to the Bulgarian news website dnevnik.bg, Textron and Rheinmetall have partnered to offer an unknown 6x6 vehicle for local production in Bulgaria.
As for the Turkish contender, this most likely is either FNSS offering a variant of the Pars or Otokar offering a variant of the Arma. Given the recent political tensions between various European countries and Turkey, it seems unlikely that a Turkish contractor would be chosen - the Czech Republic rejected all Turkish tracked IFVs due to the instable political relations.

The Scipio IFV
Two years ago in 2015, the Slovakian Army ordered about 30 Rosomaks (a Polish variant of the Patria AMV) fitted with the locally made Turra 30 turret from EVPÚ. Apparently the contract was scrapped according to different reports, which is why Slovakia has shown interest in buying a total of about 100 - some sources mention a lower number of only 81 - new 8x8 vehicles. Furthermore a total of 404 modern 4x4 vehicles are required by the army. The official requirements for the procurement project are not known, but they include a larger number of contenders. Deliveries of the first vehicles are expected to start in 2018 and last until 2029; it is however possible that the earlier date is only valid for the 4x4 armored cars.

The Corsac 8x8 is an IFV based on the Pandur II
General Dynamics European Land Systems is understood to offer a variant of the Pandur II. The Pandur II is an evolution of the Austrian-designed Pandur I, that is currently only manufactured in other countries. The militaries of the Czech Republic, Indonesia and Portugal operate various versions of the Pandur II. Due to its relatively low weight - the currently procuded models have a combat weight of only 24 metric tons - the overall level of armor protection is rather limited. While fitting applique armor allowed to meet the STANAG 4569 level 4 requirement for ballistic protection, i.e. all-round protectiton against 14.5 mm AP ammo fired from close range, the protection against mines was rather limited. Only in October 2017, the Czech military annonced that the latest 20 Pandur IIs in the mobile command post variant have managed the qualification for STANAG 4569 level 4b mine protection, after being fitted with the new BOG-AMS-V seats.
Last year GDELS presented a variant of the Pandur II co-developed with the Slovakian MSM Group, which is known as Corsac and features the same Turra 30 turret as the Scipio, mounting a 30 x 165 mm 2A42 autocannon, a coaxial MG and two 9M113 Konkurs (AT-5 Spandrel) ATGMs. However this armament can be replaced by Western alternatives such as the 30 x 173 mm Mk 44 Bushmaster II gun from Aliant Techsystems and Rafael's Spike-LR ATGM.
The Corsac IFV is powered by a 450 hp Cummins ISLe HPCR diesel engine and has a combat weight of only 19.8 metric tons, which is apparently related to the armor package fitted to the prototype. Top speed is quoted as 115 kilometres per hour on roads, but the vehicle is amphibious and can swim at a speed of up to 10 kilometres per hours. The basic ballistic protection reaches only STANAG 4569 level 2, but applique armor kits for level 3 and level 4 are available - the vehicle was never presented without bolted-on add-on armor. The Corsac has room for six dismounts and a crew of two or three. It seems likely that GDELS could offer the same enhancments as found on the Czech Pandur IIs to reach a STANAG 4569 level 4 mine protection.
One of the other two known offers supposedly made to Slovakia includes the Patria AMV, possibly in the same configuration as originally ordered with the Scipio. If these vehicles will also be made in Poland (like the Rosomak and Scipio) or be made in Sweden is currently not known. Artec is offering the Boxer MRAV to the Slovakian Army - again it is unknown which exact variant is offered.

Meanwhile Slovenia is said to intend purchasing about 50 wheeled IFVs for its military. Previously the military of Slovenia ordered a total of 135 AMV vehicles in different variants. The AMV is locally known as Svarun. The order however was halted in 2012, after issues with the funding aswell as other political issues arose, which resulted in only thirty already delivered AMVs becoming operational with the Slovenian Army. Given this fact and that the southern neighbour Croatia is already operating the AMV in larger numbers, it seems likely that the Patria AMV has an advantage over potential competitors. Potentially Artec, General Dynamics, Nexter and ST Kinetics might be interested in competing for the contract.

The Piranha 5 has already been purchased by Denmark and Spain
The Romanian Army will adopt General Dynamics' Piranha 5. In October 2017 the company announced that an initial batch of 227 vehicles will be manufactured by the Bucharest Mechanical Factory, which is owned by the Romanian state's Romarm Group. For handling the production of the Piranhas, GDELS will create a joint-venture in Romania. The military of the Eastern European country already ordered 43 older Piranha IIICs in five small batches starting in 2008.
It is not known what effect this decision will have on the development of the Agilis, a 8x8 wheeled vehicle to be locally manufactured in Romania. It is/was developed by a joint venture of the Romanian Ministry of Economy and the German company Rheinmetall. A total of 7 variants was to be made, while 80% of the work was planned to be done locally - only the engine and other drivetrain components would be imported. Hundred percent of the intellectual property of the Agilis would belong to the state of Romania, allowing easy export and local upgrades. The plans saw a total of 628 Agilis vehicles - 161 amphibious APCs, 192 heavier armored non-amphibious APCs, 24 medevac/ambulance vehicles, 90 CBRN reconnaisance vehicles, 40 mobile command posts, 75 mortar carriers and 46 recovery vehicles - to be made between 2020 and 2035, with further 4x4 and 6x6 options possible. 

The BTR-4MV1 feautres bolt-on armor modules
The state-owned Ukrainian company UkrOboronProm has presented a new version of the BTR-4 8x8 wheeled vehicle known as BTR-4MV1, which has been developed to NATO standards. This vehicle is designed and manufactured by the Kharkiv Morozov Machine Building Design Bureau and features improved armor protection over its predecessor. The BTR-4MV1 uses modular bolt-on armor that allows the vehicle to reach the STANAG 4569 level 4 and 5 (if desired) - this means the armor can provide allround protection against 14.5 mm AP ammunition and protection against 25 mm rounds along the frontal arc. The new system also allows fitting explosive reactive armor (ERA) to the vehicle in order to resist shaped charge weapons such as the HEAT warheads of rocket propelled grenades (RPGs). The modular nature of the armor elements allows replacing damaged ones, thus reducing the time and costs required to repair a damaged vehicle.

The BTR-4MV1 is armed with a 30 mm autocannon
The weight of the BTR-4MV1 is claimed to have only increased by 2 to 3 metric tons, thus the vehicle would 23-24 metric tons with some more growth potential left. In terms of mobility nothing has changed, the vehicle uses the same suspension, the same German Deutz diesel engine and an Allison transimisison just like the original BTR-4. Due to the usage of low density/high volume armor in some sections of the vehicle, the BTR-4MV1 retains the amphibious capabilties of the original design, reaching a top speed of about 10 km/h in water and 110 km/h on land.
A key difference compared to the BTR-4 can be seen at the vehicle's front. The large windscreens have been eliminated in favor of better armor protection. Commander and driver can now only see the exterior through a number of vision blocks. A number of cameras mounted along the vehicle's surface however provide the crew with a 360° situational awareness. The BTR-4MV1 retains the same weapon station as used on some of the earlier models, including a 30 x 165 mm autocannon, a dual launcher for missiles and a machine gun. There is only one set of optic on the weapon station, therefore the vehicle cannot be used for hunter-killer operations.

Monday, October 9, 2017

Hardkill APS: US Army buys Trophy, Europe is testing systems

On the 29th September 2017, the US Army has decided to purchase an unknown quantity of Trophy systems as urgent material request. General Dynamics Land Systems is responsible for fitting the system to the M1A2 SEP v2 main battle tanks (MBTs) of an Armored Brigade Combat Team (ABCT). It was not revealed yet, if all ninety Abrams tanks of the ABCT will receive the Tropy APS - but it seems rather likely. The Jerusalem Post claims that the system has an estimated costs of about $350,000 USD per tank. By March 2019 all of the M1A2 SEP v2 covered by the contract are expected to have received the Trophy APS. The tanks are planned to be deployed to Europe by 2020.

M1A2 SEP v3 prototype fitted with the Trophy APS
Trophy is a hardkill active protection system (APS) developed by the Israeli company Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. It uses four flat radar panels supplied by the IAI Elta Group to detect incoming anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs) and rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs). Once the vector and velocity of an incoming projectile have been tracked and it reaches the interception distance, a MEFP countermeasure - i.e. multiple explosively formed penetrators - is fired at it, penetrating the projectile mid-air, damaging and detonating its warhead before it strikes the vehicle. Shaped charge warheads as found on the overwhelmig majority of current ATGMs and RPGs loose nearly their complete penetration power when the shaped charge liner is damaged. Studies have shown that a single perforation of the shaped charge liner by a metal fragment reduces the penetration power by more than 70% - the shotgun-like cloud of fragments created by Trophy's MEFP countermeasure should perforate the warhead multiple times and detonate it several metres away from the vehicle, leaving essentially no leftover penetration capacity.

This doesn't necessarily mean that the US Army will adopt the Trophy APS in a larger scale: this is just an urgent material request, the United States still are interested in developing and fielding a common modular active protection system (MAPS) architecture, which is planned to combine softkill and hardkill systems and could make use - due to its modular approach - of multiple different countermeasure types derived from currently available APS designs. It should however be noted that urgent material requests sometimes are used by the militaries of different countries to circumvent longer trials and - in some cases - also competition. However the latter doesn't seem to be the case with the US Army opting for Trophy. The US miltiary has been citing the maturity of the system as a key factor speaking for it. Unlike the other APS types tested by the US military, Trophy has been fitted to operational combat vehicles such as the Merkava 4M MBT and the Namer armored personnel carrier (APC) of the IDF.

Obligatory cheeky "it's like a force field" graphic
Before ordering Trophy, the US Army apparently found some issues when trying to integrate the components of the active protection system into the M1A2 Abrams MBT. A key factor were weight imbalances, which also were affecting the turret's performance as reported by Inside The Army in early September. At the end of August the Trophy APS had only been tested on a stationary tank, however the full tests representing several real-life scenarios including firing at a moving tank were expected to last only 30 additional days.
The Trophy-equipped M1A2 SEP v2 Abrams MBTs are meant for equipping the US Army units in Europe. The advancements of Russian miliary technology and the increased aggression related to the annexion of Crimea has given the US Army a reason to focus on ground vehicles and symmetric conflict capabilties again. Like the Trophy APS, the US Army choose to upgrade a number of Stryker ICV to the new Dragoon variant just to not be outmatched in Europe by the Russian military. Furthermore the basic Stryker ICV variant will be fitted with Javelin launchers, while a number of options are being considered for short-range air defence (SHORAD).

Stryker testbed fitted with the Iron Curtain APS
The US Army is still working on testing the Iron Fist APS from Israeli Military Industries and the Iron Curtain APS, the latter setup was designed by the US company Artis following a DARPA contract. Artis has fitted the Iron Curtain APS to a Stryker vehicle, testing is expected to last until the mid-December, when the US Army will decide wether to purchase this system or install another APS on the Styker - in general the Trophy active protection system is also available for the Stryker and it would be beneficial to reduce the number of new APS types to be purchased by the military, as this would easen up logisitics and lower costs; however Trophy's MEFP countermeasure is considered to be less than ideal for use on APCs and IFVs. The Trophy APS was installed on the M1 Abrams tank earlier due to funding being available already in 2016. 
The United States also planned to test the Active Defence System (ADS) from ADS - Gesellschaft für aktive Schutzsysteme mbH, a joint-venture of the German companies Rheinmetall and IBD Deisenroth Engineering, but didn't have the budget to fund testing of all system at the same time. It is currently not known when or if the ADS will be tested by the US Army - that all depends on the budget. As reported by Defense News, the US Army is still interested in at least another system - understood to be the ADS - but couldn't afford to test four different APS types simultaneously. If the US Army had the budget, it would be testing it now. Rheinmetall approached the US Army after negotiations with the other three contenders were already underway, but demonstrated the system's capabilities multiple times in Europe. In the latest known demonstration, which happened at the end of June in Sweden, the ADS managed to defeat six out of six ATGMs fired at a vehicle. In a previous test in May 2017, two RPGs fired from a very short range were stopped by ADS, while it was proven that the sensors ignore smaller threats such as 7.62 mm bullets.
Rheinmetall suggested to fit the the ADS to the Stryker, but the US choose to test the Iron Fist APS on the Bradley instead. Due to the Bradley's limitation regarding electrical power, available space and weight budget, testing the adoption of the Iron Fist APS - probably in the light configuration - was favored to this plattform.  First proper tests of the Iron Fist APS on the Bradely are still several months away, as the vehicle needs to be upgraded first.

Iron Fist LC launcher
The Netherlands have decided to evaluate the Iron Fist APS for adoption on the CV9035NL IFV. BAE Systems has been contracted to integrate this protective measure into a CV9035 to serve as a prototype, which is expected to be finished in early 2018. This prototype will then undergo testing by the Dutch military, which then might order more Iron Fist systems for at least a part of their active CV90 infantry fighting vehicle fleet, if the results of the testing are positive. At the IDET 2017 defence exposition in the Czech Republic, BAE Systems showcased a CV9030 fitted with the Iron Fist Light Configuration (IF-LC) system for the first time, although this might have been a non-working mock-up. When fitted to the CV9030, the IF-LC APS consisted of two double-barreled launchers for HE-blast grenades, which can defeat ATGMs and RPGs.  

Active Defence System fitted to a Leopard 2 Advanced Technology Demonstrator at DSEI 2017
Meanwhile Germany is evaluating the ADS active protection system for adoption on the Boxer APC as confirmed by a company spokesperson at DSEI 2017. While Germany is not known to be planning the adoption of an APS on the Leopard 2 MBT in the near future, a recent thesis paper published by the German Army's Kommando Heer calls for the adoption of an active protection system and new reactive armor, specifically with the capability to protect the roofs of tanks and other AFVs against top-attack ATGMs. ADS features special roof-mounted countermeasures and sensor units to protect against such threats.
One of the Boxer CRVs send to Australia is also equipped with the ADS active protection system in order to provide protection against ATGMs and RPGs. While in tests some of the ADS prototypes were capable to successfully defeat APFSDS projectiles - including some of the latest types according to our informations - the currently offered variants of this APS are not suited to deal with kinetic energy penetrators yet. Most likely the ADS will also be offered as (optional) part of the Challenger 2 lifetime extension project (Challenger 2 LEP), as Rheinmetall - one of the two companies shortlisted to provide an upgrade solution - is also owner of the majority of ADS - Gesellschaft für aktive Schutzsystem mbH. Between May 2005 to December 2006 the UK had a contract with Åkers Krutbruk Protection AB, a Swedish company completely belonging to IDB Deisenroth (the other owner of ADS) for a technology demonstration program of the ADS hardkill active protection system for the FRES. The program was canceled when funding for the FRES was reduced.

Launchers, radars and control panel of the GL5 APS
A few weeks ago, China unveiled the GL5 hardkill active protection system. This system is in general conception rather similar to the Soviet Drozd and the new Russian Afghanit APS types. It consists of four radar panels (one mounted at each corners of a vehicle or the turret of a tank) and four fixed "masts" mounted either at the turret roof or at the sides of the turret. Each mast holds three launcher barrels for the countermeasures, set at slightly different angles. This allows the APS to cover the tank's full 360° azimuth with countermeasures, but it must be noted that the GL-5 hardkill system does not provide the ability to shot down top-attack missiles - its countermeasures cover only 20° in elevation. A single control panel on the inside is used to control the system.

The GL5 APS intercepts an anti-tank missile
The system uses HE-fragmentation grenades capable of intercepting ATGMs, RPGs and HEAT rounds fired from tank guns. The interception point is located about 10 metres (±1.5 m) away from the protected vehicle. The radar has a range of about 100 metres - if a fast flying projectile such as an ATGM enters the area covered by the radar panels, it will be fine tracked by the radar and the computer will calculate its vector. If the projectile would hit the vehicle, the countermeasures are launched at a pre-determined interception point. In the 3D simulations from the Chinese manufacturer, a single countermeasure is launched to defeat an ATGM - in the slow-motion footage from a live-fire test, there are however two countermeasures launched to defeat a single incoming ATGM - this might be an error that still needs to be fixed or a weakness of the system, which might require two countermeasures in some cases.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Russia upgrades BMP-2 and BMD-2 IFVs

The Russian Army has contracted the KPB Tula Instrument Design Burea for the upgrade of 540 old BMP-2 and BMD-2 infanty fighting vehicles (IFVs). The complete scope of the upgrade is not known, but it is confirmed that both vehicles will receive upgraded turrets - or "combat modules" in the official Russian military lingo. The BMP-2 will be fitted with the B05Ya01 Berezhok combat module, while the BMD-2 will receive the lighter Bereg combat module.
In theory further improvements could be part of different contracts with other companies, but it seems unlikely that the Russian Army is interested in adopting a heavier armor package or fitting a new engine to these vehicles - it would require large amounts of additional money, which instead can be invested into the development and manufacturing of the next-generation of armored fighting vehicles (AFVs) including the T-14/15 Armata, the Kurganets-25 and the Bumerang wheeled vehicle.
Last year in 2016, the Russian Army contracted the 163rd Armor Repair Plant to overhaul a small quantity of existing BMP-2 IFVs. Overall the company is set to upgrade a total of 327 BMP-2s in the timeframe from 2014 to late-2018. Other comapnies such as the 103rd, 144th, and 560th Armor Repair Plants are also refurbishing existing BMP-2s, boosting the overall number to at least 586, which means that not all of these vehicles will receive the new turret upgrades from KPB Tula.

BMP-2 with combat module "Berezhok" shown in Russian TV
In 2014 the Algerian Army ordered a total of 340 Berezhok turrets for upgrading old BMP-1s and BMP-2s to a more modern standard. These vehicles - apparently designated BMP-1M and BMP-2M, but not to be confused with the Ukranian BMP-1M upgrade - might also feature a larger powerpack such as the UTD-23 engine with 370 horsepower output, aswell as newer types of ammunition. In 2017 a prototype of the 8x8 Bumerang wheeled vehicle fitted with the Berezhok combat module instead of the Bumerang-BM unmanned turret was demonstrated during a military exhibition, although the latter system is commonly believed to be superior.

The Berezhok turret features multiple weapons and a new FCS
The Berezhok turret upgrades retains the 2A42 autocannon - chambered in the 30 x 165 mm calibre - as main armament, but features enhanced secondary armament and a new state-of-the-art fire control system (FCS). This new fire control system enables the IFV to engage targets while being stationary or on-the-move with a high accuracy, it also enhances the capabilities of the IFV against air-targets such as low-flying helicopters.
The FCS now includes two separate optics for commander and gunner. The gunner's sight is fixed to the turret and stabilized in two planes. It offers different magnification levels, which result in a field of view ranging from 20° to 4° depending on zoom level. The sight also includes a thermal imager, but no performance data regarding its sensor resolution or technological generation have been revealed by KBP Tula. Given that most Russian vehicles upgrades make use of optics from the Belarussian manufacturers, which incorporate Catherine thermal imaging modules from the French company Thales, one should expect a rather high quality. KBP Tula's local competitor, Kurganmashzavod is offering BMP-2 and BMP-3 upgrades incorporating thermal imagers from SAGEM, another French company. The integrated laser rangefinder used in the Berezhok's gunner sight has a minimum range of 200 metres and a maximum range of 10,000 metres. The gunner's sight is also used to guide the laser beam-riding Kornet missiles. According to KPB Tula, the RMS error of the sight's stabilization is smaller than 0.1 milliradian. The optic has a boresight laying angle of -15° to +30° in the vertical plain and an angle from -10° to +10° in the horizontal plain.

The upgrade includes new optics, stabilizers, sensors and computer units
The commander is provided with an independent optic, that can traverse 360°. The sight has an elevation up to +60° and maximum depression of -15°. Like the gunner's sight, the new commander's optic includes different magnification levels, a thermal imager and a laser rangefinder with a range of up to 10,000 metres. The RMS stabilization error of the optic is also claimed to be just 0.1 milliradian. The new fire control system also includes digital displays for the operators, a new ballistic computer connected to several sensors - including a cross-wind and a roll sensor - and an automatic target tracker, which has an accuracy of 0.05 to 0.1 milliradians. According to KBP Tula, this is between three to six times the accuracy a human operator can achieve when trying to track a target with the BMP-2's or Berezhok's systems. The new stabilizers fitted to the main gun have a maximum error of 0.3 to 0.5 milliradians and allow a maximum weapon laying speed of 35 to 60 degree per second.

The Berezhok turret carries 300 grenades, 200 rounds of main gun ammo, 8 ATGMs and 2,000 rounds for the MG
Aside of the coaxial 7.62 mm machine gun (MG), a 30 mm automatic grenade launcher (AGL) with vertical stabilization has been added to turret. This weapon is fixed to the turret rear and therefore cannot be turned independently (unlike pintle-mounted weapons or remote weapon stations). The addition of the AGL is rather odd, given that the 2A42 main gun of the Berezhok combat module should provide similar anti-infantry and anti-structure performance, but it seems likely that the AGL was added for some enhanced indirect fire options against infantry. A total of 300 grenades for the grenade launchers and 2,000 rounds of 7.62 mm ammunition are carried inside the vehicle. The 2A42 autocannon is commonly loaded with 160 anti-armor rounds (most likely AP, APDS or APFSDS) and 40 rounds of high-explosive incendiary ammunition.

The Kornet-EM ATGM has a tandem warhead with high armor penetration
On the left and the right side of the turret, dual-launchers for the Kornet anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) have been added. A total of eight missiles are carried inside the upgraded BMP-2 vehicle, four of which are ready to fire. The launcher is compatible with the 9М133-1, 9M133F-1, 9М133M-2 and 9М133FМ-3 Kornet missiles. The 9M133-1 is fitted with tandem shaped charge warhead to combat heavily armored vehicles such as main battle tanks (MBTs) even along the frontal arc. The armor penetration ranges from 1,000 to 1,200 mm into steel, its tandem charge warhead can defeat explosive reactive armor (ERA). The 9M133F-1 is a variant fitted with a thermobaric (fuel-air) HE warhead that is equivalent to a 10 kilogram TNT charge. Both these missiles have an effective range from 100 to 5,500 metres.
The 9M133M-2 is an improved version of the Kornet ATGM, which is also known as Kornet-EM. It has a longer range - capable of reaching targets up to 8,000 metres - and features an improved tandem charge warhead with a penetration of up to 1,300 mm into armor steel. A thermobaric warhead option is also available.
The 9M133FM-3 missile is fitted with a proximity fuze and a larger rocket engine. Its main purpose is to engage aerial targets such as helicopters up to a range of 10,000 metres. A shaped charge warhead option is not available, the missile is always fitted with a slightly smaller thermobaric warhead equal to a 7 kilograms TNT charge. The 9M133FM-3 missile is either fired in a single shot mode or as a salvo of two in an attempt to overcome active protection systems (APS).

The BMD-2 will receive the smaller Bereg turret with only a single missile launcher and without AGL
The BMD-2 will be fitted with the smaller Bereg combat module, which is required to due to the size and weight limitations of the air-mobile vehicle. The Bereg turret has a weight of less than 1.8 metric tons, while the Berezhok turret has a weight of up to 3.25 metric tons. The weight reduction is only possible, because the Bereg is a one-man-turret, the vehicle commander sits in the hull.
Therefore the Bereg doesn't feature an independent optic for the commander, being unable to carry out missions in the hunter-killer mode - otherwise the fire control system seems to be identical, it also features a cross-wind sensor, a roll sensor, modern stabilizers and an automatic tracking unit. The turret is only fitted with a single dual-launcher for Kornet ATGMs and the total missile stowage is reduced from eight to two. The 30 mm 2A42 autocannon remains the main armament, but no 30 mm AGL is added to the turret rear; however the Bereg turret has 300 instead of 200 rounds of main gun ammunition ready to fire.

The latest version of the CV9030 is the only variant with hunter-killer capabilities
The upgrades of the BMP-2 and BMD-2 enhance the capbilities of the obsolete baseline vehicles by a considerable amount. The original vehicles were rather useless against their more modern Western counterparts, which due to their thermal imagers and digital fire control systems had a big advantage over the BMP-2 and BMD-2. In various aspects these upgraded 1980s IFVs can even outperform much more modern vehicles - for example the commander's panoramic sight of the Berezhok turret is an advantage compared to vehicles such as the ASCOD Pizarro/Ulan, the Marder and all currently operational CV90 variants excluding the latest Norwegian models. Its long range, high penetration power and the ability to target helicopters (with the 9M133FM-3 missile) make Kornet a much better missile system than the older missiles used on some NATO IFVs such as MILAN and TOW. The inclusion of an automatic target tracker in the FCS is a further perk of the Berezhok and Bereg turrets.
However just changing the turret doesn't remove all shortcomings of previously obsolete vehicles such as the BMP-2 and BMD-2. Unless Russia also contracted upgrades for armor protection - the basic BMP-2 isn't even protected against 12.7 mm and 14.5 mm heavy machine gun ammunition at the sides - and mobility, these vehicles will still suffer from various drawbacks.

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Czech Army prefers Puma, searches T-72 replacement and miscellaneous

In August an article on the Czech IFV program was published here. A long period of writing and more recent news from the Czech Republic have made the speculation and information on the possible contenders outdated. The Czech government asked a total of nine contenders to participate in the tender for the BMP-2 replacement. Apparently neither the Šakal IFV or the Wolfdog were considered by the army as proper replacement for the BMP-2s. The following IFVs were seen as possible replacement, which is why the manufacturers were invited to participate in the bidding process for the contract:
  1. BAE System's CV90
  2. General Dynamics European Land Systems' (GDELS) ASCOD 2
  3. The Puma from PSM, a joint venture between KMW and Rheinmetall
  4. Rheinmetall's Lynx
  5. The PMMC G5 from the German manufacturer FFG
  6. Otokar's Tulpar
  7. The Kaplan-20 from FNSS (FNSS is a joint-venture by BAE Systems and Nurol Holding)
  8. The Namer developed by the Israeli Ordnance Corps
  9. Oto-Melara's Dardo
The Italian and Israeli companies did not respond to the Czech request - or at least not until the deadline was over. It must be noted that both the Dardo infantry fighting vehicle (IFV) and an IFV variant of the Namer probably would have lost due to their performance characteristics not matching the standards set by the competitors. By current standards, the Dardo has poor armor, lacking firepower - only a 25 mm chaingun plus outdated TOW missiles - and lower mobility than the other options, while the Namer is too heavy and is fitted with an outdated powerpack, that delivers not enough horsepowers while consuming more fuel than more recently developed diesel engines. The fact that air-transportability and the compability with existing infrastructure might be factors for the purchase of a new IFV makes the Namer a very unattractive option.

The Namer was recently showcased with a new unmanned turret
It also should be noted that at the time of the tender request, the latest version of the Namer fitted with an unmanned turret had not been presented. At that time the only available infantry fighting vehicle configuration of the Namer was limited to a few prototype vehicles fitted with the Samson Mk 1 remote weapon station (RWS). This RWS is also used on the Czech Pandur IIs and features a 30 mm Bushmaster II autocannon, a machine gun (MG) and a launcher for two Spike-LR anti-tank guided missiles (ATGMs). Using this RWS instead of a proper unmanned turret has one major drawback: it is essentially unarmored and can in worst case be disabled by machine gun fire, because the ammunition feed system and parts of the electronics are not covered by any sort of armor.
On the first of August the IDF presented a new IFV version of the Namer fitted with an unmanned turret specifically made for the vehicle. This infantry fighting vehicle would have been far better, but probably was still in development at the time of the request. The turret is not an off-the-shelf option from Elbit Systems or Rafael, but incorporates technologies from multiple companies and is designed by the IDF. It features two set of Elbit System's COAPS sights, the Trophy-MV active protection system from Rafael - a lighter variant of the Merkava's APS known as Trophy-2 during the development - and a relatively wide variety of armament, consisting of a 30 mm Bushmaster II chaingun, a coaxial machine gun, a pop-up ATGM launcher and an internally mounted 60 mm mortar.

The G5 PMMC was rejected by the Czech Republic
Based on the technical specifications of the vehicles, the G5 protected mission module carrier (PMMC) was eliminated before the actual testing of the offers started. It's technical characteristics - the low supported maximum weight of only 26.5 metric tons, the small 560 hp engine and the limited protection options - were too much to be compensated by the lower price point. FNSS' Kaplan-20 "new generation" armored fighting vehicle (NG-AFV) suffered from the same issues, but it also came with a big pile of potential political troubles due to the relations between the EU and Turkey being on a historically low level. Based on the latter factor, the Tulpar IFV from Otokar, which based on weight, armament and protection level might have been considered a serious alternative to the offerings from the established manufacturers, was eliminated together with the Kaplan-20 from the Czech tender.

A Puma IFV climbs a slope during the Czech trials
This meant that only four vehicles - the ASCOD 2, the CV9030 (in two variants), the Puma and the Lynx - remain in the competition. These four vehicles were tested during a longer period of time in the Libava military facility in the Czech Republic. The trials lasted a total of six weeks and included firing trials, high speed driving on roads, traveling cross-country, climbing over walls/barriers, crossing ditches, wading through deep bodies of water and other tests. The first set of static and dynamic firing trials was done against targets in a distance of 700 m, 1,200 m and 1,800 m. An exact list of tests has not been published yet. The performance data of the vehicles was gathered before proper requirements were issued by the Czech ministry of defence, which is a rather uncommon approach.
According to Czech sources, the German Puma IFV indirectly won the evaluation of the Czech Army. While at the time of testing no official requirements were released - a suggestion for possible requirements was scheduled too be send by the army to the Czech ministry of defence (MoD) at the end of August - the Puma proved its "technological dominance" as described by a the Czech website Armádní Noviny. What exactly is meant with this statement is not exactly clear, aside of the Puma apparently outperforming the other contenders. As stated by German sources, the Puma IFV managed to hit "by far" the highest number of targets during the firing trials. It seems likely that the superior level of protection of the Puma is also part of this "dominance", but it is possible that the high power-to-weight ratio in combination with the advanced hydropneumatic suspension allowed the Puma to outrun the competition during some of the mobility trials - in tests by the engine manufacturer MTU, the Puma outrun a Leopard 2 tank.

Puma IFV wading through water as part of the trials
Regardless of what the exact reasons for the Puma outperforming the other vehicles were, the Czech MoD has stated interest in buying this infantry fighting vehicle rather than one of the cheaper offerings, according to Czech websites Armádní Noviny and E15.cz. The Puma is the favored solution, but due to its high unit costs a vehicle with rubber band tracks is also considered as option; given that all three other vehicles - ASCOD 2, CV90 and Lynx - were presented with rubber band tracks, it is not clear what other IFV is meant - in theory one could also create a lighter variant of the Puma with rubber band tracks. A first meeeting was held between the German PSM and the Czech state-owned company VOP CZ to discuss details on a possible Puma purchase. VOP CZ had made agreements with all of the four final bidding companies for a possible deal regarding local assembly and production of components. Aside of PSM, the companies KMW, Rheinmetall, Hensoldt Optronics, MTU Friedrichshafen, Jenoptik Advanced Systems and Dynamit Nobel Defence were also taking part in the talks. PSM supposedly already showed technical documents regarding possible non-IFV variants of the Puma suited for the Czech Army.
The Czech  MoD has allocated a budget of up to 50 billions koruna (€1.916 billion) for the purchase of 210 new IFVs and other vehicle variants based on the same chassis with an option to later order a further 100 vehicles. This would be enough to buy 210 Puma IFVs for the cited unit price, about €7 million according to the Czech sources, but only half the bugdet is actually meant to be used on purchasing the new vehicles. The other half of the budget is meant for logistics, infrastrucutre and training, i.e.it is meant for purchasing spare parts and simulators, setting up training facilities and repair plants. This means currently the Puma is too expensive!

Puma production line in Germany
In order to deal with the high unit costs, different possibilities are examined. PSM is offering to set up a full production line in the Czech Republic, which would reduce costs (e.g. the wages in Germany are on average more than 3.5 times as large as the ones of Czech workes) and would create jobs, resulting in people paying more taxes in the Czech Republic and thus indirectly reducing costs further. All Puma IFVs for the Czech Army could be made within the Czech Republic and if desired even some of the components for the German Army vehicles could be manufactured there - currently some of the cables and sensors for the fire supression system are made in this country already.
Alternatively there is an option of getting financial support for the arms purchase thanks to the new EU Defence Fund, which were created in 2017 after first plans were made a year before. This fund has an annual size of up to €5.5 billion and can be used for research and development, aswell as arms acquisition; EU member countries can request support and submit a project, which then might receive additional money from the fund. Based on speculations on Czech-language websites, it seems that this money can only be spent on equipment from European companies - but all four companies (even GDELS in Madird) - have their headquarters in EU countries.
Last but not least, there are suggestions for buying two different vehicles at once: the Puma would then serve as IFV only, while according to E15.cz either the ASCOD 2 or the Lynx would be used for the support vehicle roles, eg. as an armored ambulance vehicle (MedEvac), as a command post vehicle, as a reconnaissance vehicle and as an armored recovery vehicle (ARV). The drawback of this approach would be the added logistics, infrastucture and training necessary for operating two new vehicle types.

3D model of the Puma's turret with MELLS launcher
In theory would be possible to make all vehicles in Germany, because the initial order for the German Army will be finished in 2020, the same year when the production for the new Czech infantry fighting vehicle is planned to start; by 2024 all new Czech IFVs should be finished according to the army's demands. In such a case the German production lines would never be closed and just continue making the hypothetical Czech Puma model, which is expected to feature several modifications compared to the German varaint (such as local radio units, a machine gun already in use with the Czech Army and other minor differences at least).
While the German Army is expected to place an order for a second batch of Puma IFVs, there is currently no projected schedule for this to happen. The German federal audit office has recommended to wait until the vehicles meet all of the original user requirements, of which many still have to be met - such as the integration of the MELLS Spike-LR launcher and TSWA secondary weapon, which has recently been contracted. Until the second batch is finished, the Marder will continue to soldier on in the German Army side-by-side with the Puma. Therefore up to 200 Marder IFVs will be upgraded with a new night vision system for the driver, a third generation ATTICA thermal imager and a variant of the MELLS launcher for the Spike-LR ATGM.

The Lynx in an IFV version in the Libava military facility
Not mentioned by E15.cz as a possible secondary vehicle to serve alongside the Puma is BAE System's CV90 family of vehicles. In a previous post, we mentioned that this vehicle offers less payload in terms of supported weight and internal volume compared to the other options, which might be the reason for not considering the CV90 as platform. Alternatively it might be related to the procurement costs; while originally designed to be cheap and reliable - the key factors that lead to its widespread adoption, the each successive version of the CV90 became more expensive after adding more technology.
A further aspect speaking against the CV90 might be the lower involvment of the local industry. While always looking for local partners, BAE Systems had kept the production of the hull in its own facilities; only the turret and several sub-components can be made by the industry in the user's country. 

The hulls of all exported CV90s were made by BAE Systems
It is worth mentioning that the CV90 is a great vehicle, but its main advantage doesn't seem to be superior performance. The fact that is has been adopted in so many different countries shows the adaptability of the design, the many different versions also show that an evolution of the concept was possible. The CV90 started its success during a time, when all major Western militaries already had designed and adpoted their infantry fighting vehicles a decade before, thus not offering new high-end solutions too compete against the CV90 on the international market. Vehicles purely meant for export, such as the Panzer unter minimalem Aufwand created by Krauss-Maffei in the 1980s, the TH-495 from Thyssen-Henschel, various main battle tanks from Vickers (Vickers Valiant, Vickers Mk 7) and the GIAT (AMX-32 and AMX-40), have a tendency of not being purchased due to potential issues with logistics, training and the availability of spare parts.
Given the military cooperation between some of the user countries of the CV90, the purchase was to some extend an avalanche - one country choosing to adopt the CV90 resulted in the vehicle having an advantage in the next trials.

Swiss CV9030CH infantry fighting vehicles without applique armor
The CV90 was chosen Switzerland after a total of eight vehicles was considered for the Schützenpanzer 2000 program, three of which - the CV9030, the Marder M12 and the Warrior 2000 - were tested during a period of six weeks in the Alpine country. The Marder M12 was an upgrade to the German Marder IFV, based on a refurbished Marder 1A3 chassis fitted with the E4 turret from KUKA.While achieving a high level of protection and featuring an excellent turret, this offer suffered from the old hull not being upgraded otherwise - the relatively primitive protection solution - spaced steel armor - resulted in a weight of 34.1 metric tons - too much for the original powerpack to keep up with the Leopard 2 (a key requirement from the Swiss Army). A Marder M12 with more powerful engine and/or more weight efficient ceramic armor would have been a better option.

CV90, Warrior 2000 and Marder M12 in the Switzerland
The CV90's hull was received with mixed feelings, some aspects were considered positive, while others were seen negatively. The small hull size was considered as advantageous for survivability - a low profile is less likely to be spotted and less likely to be hit. Also the separation of fuel from the crew compartment, not found on the other offers, and the easy to adapt add-on armor was seen as an advantage of the CV9030. This add-on armor consisted of MEXAS (ceramic) composite modules with a thickness of up to 70 mm (depending on location) and could be mounted within a few hours. Last but not least the running gear with seven roadwheel pairs (instead of six) proved to provide better in deep snow.
The small size of the hull however meant that the vehicle was cramped and ergonomics were poor compared to the Marder and Warrior variants.
The turret of the CV9030 was however the worst one offered, resulting in lower than average firepower. The problems were mostly related to ergonomics and the fire control system (FCS), which wasn't fully digitized. The FCS did not include an independent optic for the commander or a proper auxiliary sight, while relying on a single, outdated first generation thermal imager for night vision.

The Warrior 2000 IFV featured a redesigned hull mated with a turret manufactured by Delco
The Warrior 2000 performed best in the Swedish trials. Its turret - delivered by the US company Delco - was the most advanced turret on offer. Not only featuring modern sights for both commander and gunner, it also included advanced software functions such as fully automatic target tracking. The basic structure of hull and turret of the 31 tons heavy vehicle was made of aluminium, resulting in a relatively light weight given its size. Additional spaced armor - possibly simple steel - is bolted ontop of the aluminium construction for an increased level of protection. The Warrior 2000's larger size resulted in the best ergonomics of all tested vehicles.
Being a new vehicle design - based only to a very limited extend on the British Warrior IFV - the Warrior 2000 suffered from some teething issues which negatively affected the reliability of the vehicle. The manufacturer of the most advanced IFV offered to Switzerland - the British company GKN - told the Swiss Army that all these issues could be fixed, but sold its defence subsidiaries to Alvis plc, the same company that owned the CV90-maker Hägglunds and later became part of BAE Systems. Alvis plc had not much motiviation to keep two different product lines for the IFV market, which ultimately resulted in the end of the Warrior 2000.

The Swiss Army opted for the CV9030 because it offered the best price-to-performance ratio, not because it was the most capable vehicle! Unsatisfied with the original CV9030 tested by the military, a number of changes were demanded before purchasing the CV9030CH. The original engine was replaced by a larger 670 hp Scania engine meeting the Euro II emission standard for trucks, while the hull was enlarged: the hull roof at the dismount compartment was raised by 100 mm, while the vehicle was also stretched by 200 mm in order to reduce the issues with ergonomics. The rear doors were replaced by a single rear ramp for easier entry and exiting of the vehicle by the infantry squad. A second-generation thermal imager was installed into the gunner's sight instead of the outdated previous model. The FCS' computer system was exchanged and local equipment (machine guns, radios, smoke grenade launchers) were fitted to the IFV. Only forty armor kits were purchased, leaving the majority of the vehicles unprotected against medium calibre ammunition.
Further changes were planned - such as adopting a separate optic for the commander for hunter-killer capability - but deemed to be too expensive.

In 2002, Germany tested an ímproved variant of the Swiss CV9030CH, which was fitted with a more extensive applique armor kit including a mine protection plate. Germany had halted the development of the next-generation NGP vehicle family due to the recent developments in assymetric warfare and international peace-keeping/peace-making operations. The NGP was too heavy for air-lifting, being designed with a weight ranging from 51 metric tons (in the base configuration) up to 77 metric tons with a full armor kit.
Several options were evaluated, but in the end the CV9030 was rejected, ending up on the last place of all tested vehicles! The German Army considered the poor protection against anti-vehicle mines, the high weight in relation to its protection level and the low growth potential of the chassis to be key factors speaking against buying the CV90. Because none of the vehicles met the German requirements, the Neuer Schützenpanzer project was started, which reused some of the technologies and concepts of the NGP; later it was renamed multiple times - Panther, Igel and finally Puma.

The CV90 offered for the Scout-SV program
Likewise the UK tested a variant of the CV90 for the Scout Specialist Vehicle (Scout-SV) program, which itself was part of the FRES project of the British Army. BAE Systems decided to reduce the overall size of the CV90 for the Scout-SV offer in order to implement a higher level of protection. According to claims from the manufacurer, this variant of the CV90 met the British protection requirements and had a level of mine protection "equivalent to a MBT". The United Kingdom prefered to buy a number of variants of the ASCOD 2 from GDELS, despite BAE Systems being a local company - the  larger size and greater payload of the resulting vehicle being a key factor.

Why this short recapitulation of the times the CV90 was not chosen? Because its widespread adoption makes some people believe that the vehicle is inherently superior to all other options and buying something else must be related to lies and corruption. BAE Systems created a number of presentations - both in the Czech and in the English language - on the development of the CV90, its advantages and why the Czech Army should buy it instead of the other vehicles. These presentations were available in BAE Systems' online resource center, but after they have been posted in multiple forums, BAE Systems added a password protection for these files. They might not have been meant to be available for the public.

According to the documents, the fifth-generation of the CV90 is protected according to STANAG 4569 level 6 (30 mm APFSDS from 500 metres distance) ballistically and has mine protection meeting the STANAG 4569 level 4a/4b standard - a 10 kg TNT charge located under the track or the hull; this is currently the highest standardized level of mine and ballistic protection. Protection against shaped charges such as RPGs, additional roof armor aswell as active protection systems are available, but not fitted to the CV9030CZ in the Czech trials. 
According to the documents from BAE Systems - the manufacturer of the CV90 - the older versions of the vehicle provide ballistic protection equivalent to STANAG 4569 level 5 "plus" or "plus-plus", while the CV90 Mk III is the only older variant with mine protection, reaching the STANAG 4569 level 3a/3b - this is an expected level of mine protection for such a vehicle, it's the same level of mine protection achieved on the Marder 1A5 IFV and believed to be also equivalent to the that of the Bradley with the BUSK. 
While not related to the Czech IFV procurement plans, the problem remains that there is no official, standardized data for the protection levels "level 5+" and "level 5++". All that is confirmed, is that the ballistic protection requirements for STANAG 4569 level 5 are met and exceeded. A further problem is that there are different volumes of STANAG 4569  and the corresponding AEP-55 standard for the testing procedures. The earliest edition of STANAG 4569 required only protectiton against APDS in order to reach the level 5 of ballistic protection and didn't feature a level 6. The later revisions require protection against APFSDS ammo aswell. So what does "level 5+" and "level 5++" mean? Does it relate to a requirement for protection against 25 mm APFSDS ammo, because the updated standard didn't exist back then? Does it relate to a requirement for protecting against 30 mm APDS ammo or APFSDS ammunition? What exact 30 mm calibre would that be -  30 x 165 mm, 30 x 170 mm or 30 x 173 mm APFSDS? What is the range and the impact angle? Is the STANAG 4569 level 6 simply not mentioned, because it didn't exist at the time these vehicles were designed?

STANAG AEP-55 required armor coverage by protection level
One example of a vehicle exceeding STANAG 4569 level 5, but failing too reach the level 6 requirements for ballistic protection is the Austrian Ulan IFV, a version of the ASCOD with MEXAS applique armor. This vehicle is protected against 30 mm APFSDS of unknown type fired from a distance of 1,000 metres along the frontal 30° degree arc - so essentially +15° and -15° from the vehicle's centerline. While in this case the difference in frontal protection might not be very much, the difference in required side armor is much bigger. Modern 30 x 173 mm APFSDS rounds from manufacturers such as Nammo and Rheinmetall can perforate in excess of 110 mm steel armor at 1,000 metres distance, the estimated penetration at 500 metres would be somewhere in the range of 120-130 mm steel armor. A 29 mm steel plate is enough side armor to stop a 30 x 173 mm APFSDS at a range of 1,000 metres and an impact angle of 15° - effective plate thickness will nearly quadruple at this angle. STANAG 4569 level 6 requires however protection against a 30 x 173 mm APFSDS at at a range of 500 metres and an impact angle of up to 30° - therefore one needs at least a ~60-65 mm thick steel plate or more than twice as much side armor to meet the NATO STANAG requirements! In the end both BAE Systems and the Norwegian Army claim that the latest Norwegian model - on which the CV9030CZ is based - features upgraded armor protection over previously existing CV90 variants and has the highest level of protection of the vehicle versions. Photographs of the fifth generation CV90 and previous models show increased armor thickness - at least at certain places.

The T-72M4Cz is due to be replaced by a new tank
The new Czech IFV is to be manufactured in the timeframe from 2020 to 2025 - in this period of time, the Czech military also plans to replace the T-72M4Cz, probably the most capable T-72 upgrade operational within NATO, with a more capable solution in reponse to the latest Russian tank developments. According to Czech-language sources, there are only two real contenders: the Leopard 2 and the Israeli Sabra tank. The M1A2 Abrams, the South-Korean K2 Black Panther and the Japanese Type 10 main battle tank (MBT) are all in production, but too expensive - the Abrams consumes too much fuel and spare parts, while the huge physicial distance to the Asian countries would negatively affect the price of spare parts and training exchanges. The Italian C1 Ariete, British Challenger 2 and French Leclerc tanks are all out-of-production and made in very limited quantities only.
 
New build Leopard 2 tanks are likely too expensive for the Czech Republic
 The Leopard 2 should be considered the favorite option for a new MBT. The tank is in widespread use and a large number of companies - such as KMW, Rheinmetall, RUAG and Turkish Aselsan - are offering different types of vehicle upgrades. The Leopard 2 has access to various types of technology and can be offered with a number of unique advantages over the Sabra and other existing tanks, such as a long-barreled L55 smoothbore gun from Rheinmetall. With three out of the four neighbour countries operating the Leopard 2, adopting the Leopard 2 MBT would be advantageous for logistics.
However there is a big problem with funding the purchase of Leopard 2 tanks; buying completely new tanks is too expensive. But even buying older tanks and upgrading them to a decent configuration - a 1980s Leopard 2A4 will provide no real performance boost over the T-72M4Cz - might be rather costly. Czech sources speculate about using the EU Defence Fund for purchasing the tanks.
Only about a hundred tanks in a decent condition are left on the market, but aside of the Czech Republic, the militaries of Bulgaria, Croatia and Poland are interested in buying them.This could result in a bidding war, driving prices higher. Alternatively it could be possible to lease Leopard 2 tanks from another European country, but the question remains from whom the tanks would be leased. The neighbours Germany and Poland are increasing their tank fleets, thus unlikely to hand over tanks to the Czech Army.

The M60T is based on the Israeli Sabra upgrade
The Israeli industry was expected to offer the modern Merkava 4 tank, but decided - after investigating the Czech requirements and operational environments - too offer only the Sabra tank, supposedly in its latest version. The Sabra tank is an upgrade of the obsolete M60 tank, which has been adopted in Turkey as the M60T. It must be noted that while the Merkava is only operational in Israel, it has been offered to multiple other countries in the past decades, including Switzerland (early variant - either the Merkava 1 or 2) and Sweden (Merkava 3 during the 1990s); Sweden had very good relations with Israel, sharing tank technology in some cases; e.g. a Swedish delegation was insturcted on the modular armor concept of the Merkava 3, but the tank was still rejected for not being competitive compared to the European and US offers.
The Sabra is a cheaper option compared to the Leopard 2, which might provide beneficial. However due to the fact that it is made by Israeli companies, it might not be possible to use EU money from the defence fund for purchasing the tanks. Depending on variant, the Sabra can be better than the Leopard 2 - at least the old 1980s models without extensive upgrades - in terms of firepower and potentially also in regards to armor protection. It is unlikely that the Sabra can compete with more modern Leopard 2 versions in regards to performance in any important category. The upgraded M60 main battle tank is protected by hybrid armor - a combination of explosive reactive armor and passive composite armor - and sometimes also by the Iron Fist hardkill active protection system from Israeli Military Industries (IMI). The gun is replaced with a 120 mm smoothbore gun, while the Knight III fire control system from Elbit Systems allows the vehicle to be used at night, fire on the move and operate in a hunter-killer configuration. The latest version of the Sabra - the Sabra 3 - is supposedly  fitted with armor derived from the armor modules fitted to the latest variants of the the Merkava series.

The choice of the M60 as base for the Sabra upgrade is questionable. On one hand, the M60 tank is widespread and rather cheap - that's good; on the other hand however the M60 is probably one of the worst tanks for upgrading: it is already rather heavy thanks to the use of thick, but weight-inefficient steel armor, and it is one of the tallest main battle tanks, therefore installing applique armor yields less gain in protection. The tank also lacks proper compartmentation, storing the ammo inside the crew compartment without blow-off panels. The mobility of the Sabra tank is worse than that of a Leopard 2 or other modern MBT due to its poor suspension and small 1,000 hp engine, which isn't really enough for a 60 ton tank.

A light tank variant of the ASCOD 2 offered by GDELS

A further option that is being considered by the Czech Army is buying a light/medium tank based on an IFV chassis. The CV90105 and CV90120-T are well known examples of such vehicles, but there also have been different light tank variants of the ASCOD design. The Lynx could be used as a medium tank according to Rheinmetall representatives and as demonstrated by various Marder light/medium tank projects - the Marder medium tank offered to Indonesia is a prime example. Retired US Colonel MacGregor is suggesting a medium tank variant of the Puma (or an equivalent IFV) for his concept of a Reconnaissance Strike Group; he claims that the possibility of creating a Puma armed with 120 mm smoothbore gun was confirmed by the manufacturers.
The big problem is that such a light/medium tank is not a one-to-one role replacement of the T-72M4Cz; none of these vehicles has enough frontal armor to withstand impacts of large calibre APFSDS ammunition or tandem charge ATGM warheads. In so far buying such a vehicle requires changes in the training and doctrine.


Meanwhile news websites have reported more on the Polish IFV project, after various options were showcased at the MSPO 2017. According to Jane's IHS, the basic steel hull of the Borsuk IFV offers ballistic protection according to STANAG 4569 level 2 only - so essentially the same level of armor protection as the old BMP-1, that is meant to be replaced by the Borsuk. When fitted with ceramic or composite armor modules, the hull protection is boosted to level 4 ballistic protection - which is given the weight of about 30 metric tons a rather unimpressive - some 20 tons vehicle reach this level of protection, but the focus on IED/mine protection and amphibious requirements take their toll from the Borsuk's design. The Borsuk and the older Anders IFV both are fitted with hydropneumatic suspensions based on the hydrops from the British company Horstman. 
While being developed following a contract of the Polish Army, it is not decided that the Borsuk will actually enter service, which is why the Anders, the ASCOD 2, CV90 and Lynx are apparently all also offered to the Polish military.