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Press commentary: RMMV's logistics vehicles – highly mobile and mission-proven

"Logistics isn't everything, but everything is nothing without logistics:" modern, highly mobile forces depend on reliable resupply. Forty years ago, the Bundeswehr set new standards worldwide with its second-generation ("KAT I") trucks. The HX and SX series developed since then by Rheinmetall-MAN Military Vehicles (RMMV) are among the most widely operated vehicles anywhere.

MULTI A4 FSA im ISAF-Einsatz (Foto: Bundeswehr)

MULTI A4 FSA im ISAF-Einsatz (Foto: Bundeswehr)

Mobility, ruggedness, versatility and functionality are core features of military utility vehicles. They need to be able to handle even the most difficult road and terrain conditions. Today's transport, command and control and special purpose vehicles also have to be able to accommodate different protection solutions. The vehicles of the TG mil series, which are based on commercial off-the-shelf technology with special enhancements, and RMMV’s military off-the-shelf families of the HX and SX series, meet all these requirements.

Military off-the-shelf (MOTS)

Unlike many other comparable vehicles, the HX and SX vehicles are MOTS products. They combine proven and reliable main-series components with technology adapted to military needs to create optimised military vehicles. Examples include the unique cooling-pack configuration, fording depth of 1.5 meters and fully F34-tolerant engines. These trucks are not only designed for maximum robustness, payload, mobility (up to 16.00R20 tyres) and off-road capability, but are deployable at temperatures ranging re from -46°C to +49°C in accordance with STANAG norms. Moreover, they can also be adapted to any other climatic conditions. It is also possible to adapt passive and active protection solutions without extensive conversion.

A look back: KAT I

The roots of the HX and SX vehicles reach back to the 1970s. On 4 December 1975, the former procurement authority BWB commissioned MAN to develop a successor truck generation, the "LKW KAT I mil gl" (= truck, category 1, militarised and off-road-capable). It was designed to be able to follow Leopard 1 and Leopard 2 main battle tanks in off-road terrain, and thus had to achieve mobility class A as defined in the Trier model. These vehicles were delivered from 1976 to 1982. The load capacity classes ranged from five to ten tonnes. These vehicles quickly became known as "5- to 10-tonners", were primarily used as transport vehicles, and are performing faithful service even today.

Changing requirements and new weapon systems called for further development of this vehicle generation, KAT IA1, between 1987 and 1993. These vehicles are also known as "third generation". These vehicles, with load classes between five and 15 tonnes and still powered by KHD engines, were produced in numerous variants as system carriers for vehicle-launched pontoon bridges, assault bridges, folding road slabs and carrier vehicles for Roland and Patriot anti-aircraft systems.

Deployed as front-line vehicles in the Cold War and continuously improved, these transport and special purpose vehicles continue to prove their mettle in the modern Bundeswehr every day. The SX family accompanied the Bundeswehr's transition from a defensive to an operationally oriented army – whether in Somalia, the Balkans or Afghanistan, the highly mobile KAT I mil gl trucks continue to form the backbone of tactical logistics. Today the Bundeswehr operates between 3,000 and 3,500 vehicles of the KAT I series. The forth factory maintenance is planned for 2016, which will extend the vehicles' service life to over 40 years. This figure highlights both the quality and robustness of the KAT I vehicle family, which generations of soldiers have learned to appreciate.

KAT IKAT I A1KAT I A1.1
Delivery1976 - 19821987- 19931994 - 2001
EngineKHDKHDMAN (water-cooled)
4x43,170200-
6x62,160185127
8x82,345800452

Current models

Heavy-duty protected tractor unit (SLT 2 70t FSA) based on the HX81.

Heavy-duty protected tractor unit (SLT 2 70t FSA) based on the HX81.

Between 1994 and 2001, the Bundeswehr took delivery of a number of KAT IA1.1 vehicles, an unprotected series equipped with mechanical transfer, storage and transport integration ("MULTI") gear.

The SX 45-based MULTI A3 FSA and MULTI A4 FSA (with vehicle protection) currently form the protected, highly mobile transport capability of the German logistics command in deployed operations. With 157 SX45 MULTI A4 FSA units delivered to the military since 2009, this series proved itself in Afghanistan, and enjoys high acceptance among the troops. A mountable container with the same protection level as the driver's cab is available for safely transporting up to 18 troops (MuConPers).

A further example for the MOTS concept is the protected Mammut, a heavy equipment tractor (HET) , (SLT 2 70t FSA) based on the HX81. RMMV started developing and testing this vehicle in cooperation with the Bundeswehr in 2009, and twelve units have been delivered since 2012. The Bundeswehr placed a follow-on order for a further seven vehicles in 2015. The Mammut features a highly protected driver's cab with four seats, a remote-controllable weapon station FLW100 and a gross train weight of 130 tonnes. The off-road-capable trailers are manufactured by Doll GmbH in Oppenau, Germany, and are suitable for all current main battle tanks.

The UTF unprotected transport vehicle project

The abbreviation UTF stands for the Bundeswehr’s plan to rejuvenate its KAT I vehicles. RMMV is offering its latest HX vehicle generation, whose systematic ongoing development is based on the latest requirements and mission results.

The engines currently attain at a power level up to 540 HP, always based the proven MOTS approach. However, the main development objective was sustainable design of the chassis to support protective equipment. With the highest front axle load in its class, this vehicle can accommodate driver's cabs that are even better protected and equipped to carry up to three persons. Modular cab protection is possible up to level 2/2a. However, the interchangeable cab concept also permits use of a cab with level 3/3b protection. The cabs can also be equipped with integrated command, control and information systems, links for soldier systems, remotely controllable weapon systems, jammers and rapid smoke protection systems (e.g. ROSY). They can also accommodate the hard-kill active defence system ADS, providing vehicles with active RPG protection.

The HX today represents the future core of a global deployable fleet of high-mobility transport vehicles that can carry protection as needed. Around 10,000 units are currently in service worldwide. Users include the United Kingdom, Denmark and New Zealand. Australia, Sweden and Norway have also placed significant orders with RMMV. The HX family is available in variants ranging from 4x4 to 10x10. Whatever the task – cargo vehicle, tanker, recovery vehicle, system carrier or bridge-layer – this vehicle can handle it. The HX is the natural successor to the Bundeswehr's KAT I vehicles in every respect.

Importantly, the vehicle family concept ensures largely identical operation, maintenance, repair and spare parts, resulting in lower lifecycle costs. RMMV is offering its latest generation of HX vehicles, continuously upgraded to meet the latest requirements and reflect recent mission experience. This superb vehicle series perfectly reflects Rheinmetall's role as Europe's leading high-tech enterprise for security and mobility.

Source: Wehrtechnischer Report, 5/2015 issue

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