COLOGNE, Germany — Germany’s Rheinmetall has announced two new deals for high-tech weaponry, featuring ground robots and active protection systems, with the U.K. and Hungary.
The company announced May 19 it will deliver four additional ground robots to British forces by the summer, this time in a fire-support configuration. The order follows a batch a year ago of four Mission Master unmanned ground vehicles in a cargo-carrying variant.
The Mission Masters are Rheinmetall’s flagship product in the emerging market for military ground robots. The company’s Canadian subsidiary markets the vehicles worldwide. Joint venture company Rheinmetall BAE Systems Land will support the latest sale in the U.K.
The new robots will help Britain evaluate unmanned vehicle integration into their ground formations under the Robotic Platoon Vehicle program, according to Rheinmetall. In its latest installment, that program “tests how unmanned vehicles can boost the firepower and capabilities of dismounted combat troops at platoon level,” a company statement read.
The fire-support version of the Mission Master boasts the Rheinmetall Fieldranger Multi remotely controlled weapon station, armed with a fully stabilized 7.62mm gun. According to the company statement, the system requires human approval before firing.
Rheinmetall also announced this week that Hungary will buy its StrikeShield active protection system for the country’s envisioned fleet of Lynx infantry fighting vehicles, also made by the German defense company.
The order, valued at €140 million (U.S. $171 million), intensifies Rheinmetall’s business ties with Hungary, a member of NATO and the European Union. The government there has alienated itself from much of Europe for what rights groups say are anti-democratic leanings and capricious stances against the EU consensus on foreign policy.
Hungary last year became Rheinmetall’s first customer for the Lynx fighting vehicle in a $2.4 billion deal, prompting the company to start building a local production plant.
The StrikeShield kit falls into the category of hard-kill active protection systems, meaning it is designed to intercept incoming projectiles before they can reach the vehicle and harm the crew. Such systems are in high demand worldwide because they promise to keep armor warfare feasible even as sophisticated anti-tank weaponry proliferates.
The company statement describes the system as a “hybrid” setup because it is integrated into traditional armor tiles on a given vehicle’s hull.
Sebastian Sprenger is associate editor for Europe at Defense News, reporting on the state of the defense market in the region, and on U.S.-Europe cooperation and multi-national investments in defense and global security. Previously he served as managing editor for Defense News.