A competition to replace Royal Danish Army M113s, such as these in Afghanistan, is moving into high gear. ()
LONDON and WARSAW — Shortlisted companies vying to meet Denmark’s armored personnel carrier (APC) requirement must now deliver their vehicles to test ranges by mid-April as Europe’s most keenly fought armored vehicle export competition of the year moves into high gear.
The Danish Defence Acquisition and Logistics Organization (DALO) last month winnowed the contender list from eight vehicles to five as it seeks to replace the Army’s aging fleet of M113 APCs.
Like NATO ally Canada, which also has a major armored fighting vehicle procurement tender underway, the Danes are pitting tracks against wheels and estimate both will meet their requirements.
A DALO spokesman dismissed any suggestion that the Danish Army might be thinking of a split buy. “We will only enter into one of the contracts, either tracked or wheel-based,” he said.
The tracks-versus-wheels competition is not a universal trend yet, however.
Poland, which will likely be the venue for the next high-profile armored vehicle contest in Europe after Denmark, plans to use tracks to replace aging Russian and locally built APCs and tanks.
The region’s big three militaries — Britain, France and Germany — have significant programs in various stages of development or production, but the export market is where work-hungry suppliers are pitching much of their efforts.
For the moment, attention is focused on Denmark, where tracked-vehicle suppliers BAE Systems with the CV90 Armadillo, German-based FFG Flensburger with the G5 and General Dynamics European Land Systems’ ASCOD are pitched against eight-wheeled platforms from Nexter with the Véhicule Blindé Combat d’Infanterie and General Dynamics, again, with the Piranha V.
The Danes operate an earlier variant of the Swedish CV90.
The trials, to be held near Oksbol in Denmark, are scheduled to run for 17 weeks, although with a planned break in the middle of the test period. The Danes are not expected to complete the test phase until September.
Between 206 and 450 machines across six different configurations are likely to be purchased by Denmark.
Announcing the down-select, DALO said the Danish military needed an APC with a “high level of protection, a large developmental potential and to be available in six different versions: infantry, command station, engineer, ambulance, mechanic and mortar.”
A winning supplier should be under contract in the first half of next year if the procurement remains on track.
“We are aiming at a first delivery at the end of 2015 and the last ordinary delivery in 2022,” a DALO spokesman said.
As the Danish trials start to weed out the possible winners and losers, European company marketers are increasingly turning their attention to the coming contest to re-equip the Polish Army.
With a requirement for around 1,000 APCs and a further 500 light tanks using the same platform, the Polish competition is easily the biggest European export prospect on the horizon.
The APCs will replace Russian-built BMPs, and the light tanks will replace Russian T-72 and Polish PT-91 main battle tanks under the Polish Defense Ministry’s 10-year modernization plan.
“Our fleet of these vehicles is outdated, and the need to ... purchase new vehicles has been debated for a very long time,” retired Gen. Waldemar Skrzypczak, Poland’s deputy defense minister responsible for the Army’s modernization, told the weekly Polska Zbrojna.
The ministry wants the new vehicles to be manufactured by Poland’s Bumar Group, according to media reports. Yet efforts by OBRUM Gliwice, a research unit owned by Bumar, to develop an indigenous infantry fighting vehicle known as the Anders are effectively dead. Still, some of the technical solutions used to build a prototype could emerge in the design of the winning platform, said one European industry executive.
The executive said that while an indigenous design to meet the requirement remains a key component of any bid, the degree of development will likely be limited by the need for the first vehicles to be delivered in 2018.
Meanwhile, the General Staff of the Polish Armed Forces is finalizing work on the operational requirements for the vehicles, with the emphasis likely to be put on ensuring high mobility and amphibious capability.
To increase its chances of securing the infantry fighting vehicle and tank contracts, Bumar Group last month formed two consortiums with other local defense manufacturers.