27 juillet 2018 | International, Terrestre

Italy buys new tank — and it’s got much more going for it than its predecessor


ROME — The Italian Army has signed a €159 million (U.S. $186 million) contract to acquire 10 Centauro II wheeled tanks, the first tranche of a planned 136-vehicle order.

Manufactured by a consortium grouping Italian firms Leonardo and Iveco, the Centauro II is faster, more powerful and better protected than the Centauro tank already in service with the Italian Army, which it will replace.

The new 30-ton Centauro features a 120mm cannon, digital communications and a 720-horsepower engine, and is seen by planners as a lightweight tank able to complement the Freccia armored troop carrier on which the Army is basing its new medium brigades.

The new tank’s enhanced digitalization means it will work better with the digital capabilities of the Freccia, and it provides 24 horsepower per ton compared to 19 for the old Centauro.

Generals see the new Centauro as lighter and more flexible than a traditional tank, but with the same destructive power.

The eight wheels of the new Centauro, which make it better suited for peacekeeping operations than a tracked vehicle, extend farther out from the hull of the vehicle than its predecessor to give it greater stability. The new design also means that any mines triggered by the pressure of the tire will detonate further from the hull.

The Iveco-Oto Melara Consortium, or CIO, was established in 1985 on a 50-50 basis between Iveco and Oto Melara, which is now part of Leonardo.

Leonardo said it was responsible for the vehicles’ turret, including observation, targeting and communications systems, and was responsible for a €92 million share of the €159 million contract.


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  • In War, Chinese Shipyards Could Outpace US in Replacing Losses; Marine Commandant

    18 juin 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval, Terrestre

    In War, Chinese Shipyards Could Outpace US in Replacing Losses; Marine Commandant

    “Replacing ships lost in combat will be problematic," Marine Commandant Gen. David Berger writes in a forthcoming paper. "Our industrial base has shrunk while peer adversaries have expanded their shipbuilding capacity. In an extended conflict, the United States will be on the losing end of a production race.” By   PAUL MCLEARYon June 17, 2020 at 4:44 PM WASHINGTON: The Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. David Berger, dismisses current Marine and Navy plans for amphibious ships as “obsolete,” and worries that in any conflict, China could replace damaged ships faster than the US in a draft operating concept obtained by Breaking Defense. The warnings are the latest in a campaign waged by the reform-minded Berger to overhaul how the Marine Corps trains and equips to meet the challenges of China and other advanced nations, while working more closely with the other armed services and allies around the globe. In the sharply-worded 22-page document, Berger rejects war plans anticipating a Cold War-style confrontation in which huge ships can creep close to shore free from the threat of precision-guided munitions being launched from batteries deep inland. He calls the current configuration of amphibious ships “the most obvious manifestation of this obsolete paradigm” in a draft document obtained by Breaking Defense. In an unsigned draft of the unreleased report, “Naval Campaigning: The 2020 Marine Corps Capstone Operating Concept,” Berger underlines the need for new thinking about how the Marine Corps and Navy will fight an advanced Chinese military that can control islands, coastlines, and vast swaths of the sea with aircraft carriers, a swelling blue ocean fleet and long-distance precision munitions. The old way of thinking “is also exemplified by our current amphibious warships and maritime prepositioning ships, which are large and built for deployment efficiency rather than warfighting effectiveness,” he writes. “These superb, multipurpose ships are extremely expensive—meaning we’ve never had the desired number.” Berger also raises significant concerns about the United States’ ability to replace any combat losses, even in a short, sharp conflict.  “Replacing ships lost in combat will be problematic, inasmuch as our industrial base has shrunk, while peer adversaries have expanded their shipbuilding capacity. In an extended conflict, the United States will be on the losing end of a production race—reversing the advantage we had in World War II when we last fought a peer competitor.” The stark admission comes as the Navy’s shipyards struggle under the disruptions caused by COVID-19, leading the service to order an emergency call up over 1,600 Reservists to fill labor shortages to do repair work on aircraft carriers and submarines in a desperate effort to get them back out to sea as soon as possible.  Berger takes care not to blame the Navy for building expensive, relatively slow amphibious ships to carry Marines across the globe. “These issues should not be construed as a criticism of our Navy partners who built the fleet—to include the types of amphibious warfare and maritime prepositioning ships the Marine Corps asked for—that was appropriate to the security era within the constraints of finite resources.”   But that era is now over the Corps wants to build a more dynamic “inside force” of smaller ships that can operate within range of Chinese and Russian weapons and pack a potent offensive punch while offering more and smaller targets than the current amphibious fleet. But these small ships won’t replace their bigger cousins — they’ll come in addition to them, creating new issues for both Navy budgets and the limited number of shipbuilders who can produce hulls for the sea service. The ships will also need ports to call home. “One can think of basing forces and lots of smaller vessels in theater, but this raises the issue of where to put everything and doesn’t seem to be a ready solution that replaces divestiture of large ships,” said Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for defense programs at The Heritage Foundation. In recent weeks, the Navy met with shipbuilders to talk about plans for a new class of logistics ship that can operate under fire and resupply Marines deep within the range of enemy precision weapons. The Next Generation Medium Logistics Ship would resupply both ships at sea, as well as small, ad hoc bases ashore.  The ship fits within plans Berger has made to stand up several Marine Littoral Regiments designed to move fast and have their own integrated anti-air and possibly anti-ship weapons. The Corps and Navy are also looking to buy as many as 30 Light Amphibious Warships in coming years, which would be much smaller than the current amphibious ships.  The draft document doesn’t include any those specifics. But Berger has already done that work in previous statements and documents, where he outlined plans: to rethink the role that large amphibious ships play in future; divest of M1 Abrams tanks; cut artillery units; slash helicopter squadrons; and reassess the role F-35s might play in future operations.  Berger has admitted he realizes he needs to undertake this transition within existing budgets, leading him to call for cutting tanks, helicopters, and even some end strength. But for the Navy, Wood said, “I think much of this will be added cost because it must maintain current capabilities (types of ships) while developing new capabilities. It does not have the luxury of getting rid of current before new replacements are ready.” A significant omission in all of these plans is the absence of a larger, coherent naval strategy. The 30-year shipbuilding plan, due to Congress in February, continues to be missing in action. A major Navy force structure review was rejected by Defense Secretary Mark Esper earlier this year.  The force structure review, currently being taken apart by Deputy Defense Secretary David Norquist, is expected this fall.  The Navy’s plans are in such a fluid state that Vice Adm. Stuart Munsch, head of the service’s Warfighting Development office, cited Chinese attention as a reason to decline to give a progress report in a call with reporters earlier this month. “I’m not going to divulge our intentions,” he said. “I’m very conscious that, if I say anything public, I’m an authoritative source and the Chinese will key on what I say, and likewise any kind of public-facing document that we put out as well.” Pressed to explain what the Navy’s strategy for operating in a world with competing great powers looks like, Munsch said, “I’m not sure how you would see that keeping our intentions for warfighting classified is something you would want as an American citizen.” While Berger continues to push out papers and strategies for pushing the Marines into the future, the Navy, which will provide much of the lift he needs, is still at the drawing board.   https://breakingdefense.com/2020/06/in-war-chinese-shipyards-can-outpace-us-in-replacing-losses

  • La Marine recevra ses trois premiers Airbus Dauphin N3 le 1er décembre

    23 novembre 2020 | International, Aérospatial, Naval

    La Marine recevra ses trois premiers Airbus Dauphin N3 le 1er décembre

     20/11/2020 08:45 | Jean-Marc Tanguy Reconditionnés par Héli-Union, les trois premiers Airbus Dauphin N3 rejoindront la base d'aéronautique navale de Hyères, première équipée. Reconditionnés par Héli-Union Ces Airbus Dauphin N3 sont reconditionnés par Héli-Union en France, en Norvège (deux appareils actuellement) et chez Hélidax dans les Landes. Le reste sera ensuite livré à la cadence de trois appareils par an en métropole (Lanvéoc) et outremer (Antilles, Réunion, Nouvelle-Calédonie, Polynésie). Le contrat de location FLIHPER (pour FLotte Intérimaire HélicoPtères EmbaRqués), couvrant dix ans d’exploitation, inclut un objectif de disponibilité extrêmement élevé (supérieur à 90%) que l’industriel dit pouvoir tenir grâce à sa connaissance de l’exploitation de l’offshore. Pas forcément simple avec des configurations différentes, dont certaines très complètes (pilote automatique 4 axes, boule optronique Euroflir 410). MCO partagée Des lots de déploiement sont prévus en ce sens, et Héli-Union interviendra dans le Pacifique pour assurer les visites périodiques de maintenance. Ailleurs, et notamment sur les navires d’emploi de ces appareils, la Marine assurera la maintenance en ligne. Environ 300 heures de vol seront générées par chaque appareil par an. Le contrat couvre aussi la formation initiale des pilotes et mécaniciens. Des QT de navigants ont aussi été assurées par la société dans son centre d’Angoulême. Ce sont des navigants de la Marine qui se chargeront du convoyage. En attendant l'Airbus Guépard A l’issue des dix ans, la Marine disposera de suffisamment d'Airbus Guépard pour pouvoir se passer de ces appareils. Une prolongation sera toujours possible si ce n’est pas le cas. Avec cette location, Héli-Union reconvertit ainsi son parc de Dauphin auparavant utilisés dans l’offshore (à l’exclusion d’un unique appareil), une belle martingale d’avoir réussi à faire d’un passif inutilisé par la crise de l’exploitation pétrolière une flotte de location au profit des Armées. Un exploit également réussi pour les trois H225 destinés à DGA EV. https://www.air-cosmos.com/article/la-marine-recevra-ses-trois-premiers-airbus-dauphin-n3-le-1er-dcembre-23880

  • MDA Embarks On A New Generation Of Missile Defense

    24 février 2020 | International, Aérospatial

    MDA Embarks On A New Generation Of Missile Defense

    Jen DiMascio The Pentagon is in the midst of a massive upgrade of its Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, designed to protect the U.S. against an attack by an ICBM. The new Next-Generation Interceptor (NGI) would modernize GMD, arming it with an all-up round that can counter more sophisticated ICBMs. In pursuing the new program, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) will end the planned purchase of 20 current-generation GMD Ground-Based Interceptors (GBI), after already having canceled a key aspect of that system, the Redesigned Kill Vehicle (RKV). While it works on NGI, the MDA also intends to supplement its defense of the U.S. against ICBMs with shorter-range interceptors that provide regional defense. The change in course will not be cheap. GMD itself has cost more than $68 billion over its lifetime. In its fiscal 2021 budget request, the MDA is asking for $664 million in fiscal 2021 for NGI and another $4.3 billion through fiscal 2025.It is an amount that will grow over time and that some worry could pull funding from other urgent priorities, as the type and number of missile threats from other countries evolves to include more sophisticated ballistic missiles and hypersonic weaponry. The MDA is poised to issue a classified request for proposals to sponsor two contractors through a preliminary design review (PDR) of a new interceptor and kill vehicle—the part of the interceptor that defeats an incoming missile while in space. MDA Director Vice Adm. Jon Hill says the agency plans to award contracts by the end of 2020, with the intention of starting testing in the mid-2020s and putting NGIs in silos by 2027, 2028 or beyond. “Right now we’re funded through PDR, and you know there’s plenty of arguments out there that you [have] got to go all the way to the [critical design review (CDR)]. We’ll have that conversation when the time is right,” says Hill. The release of the budget solidifies a plan that has been slowly percolating in the background. Last March, Boeing was put on notice after the RKV—a projectile launched by the GBI booster that is tasked with locating and defeating the incoming ICBM in space—did not meet the needs of its CDR. The Government Accountability Office noted problems with the program meeting its cost and schedule goals “with no signs of arresting these trends.” By August 2019, Mike Griffin, the Pentagon’s top research and engineering official, stopped work on the RKV after the MDA had spent more than $1 billion to develop it, as it was not proving to be reliable. These RKVs were to ride atop the next 20 GBIs, a project overseen and integrated by Boeing, which Congress had approved in 2018 after a spate of North Korean missile tests. In concert with ending the RKV, Congress rerouted that funding to the NGI, and the MDA conducted a review of options for the interceptor. Coming out of that assessment, budget officials say they will not buy the 20 new GBIs as the military embarks on NGI development. New NGIs are so far being planned to be placed in silos that were to be inhabited by GBIs, according to Hill. “The current intention is for the Next-Generation Interceptors to be able to work with both current and future sensor systems,” says MDA spokesman Mark Wright. From a security standpoint, existing GBIs will still protect the U.S. from foreign missile threats, says Hill, but he adds that over time their reliability will begin to fall off. While the NGI program works its way through development, the MDA plans to supplement GMD with a layered network of theater-range systems—the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) and the Aegis Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) Block 2A—to fill any gaps in defending the U.S. from North Korean missile attacks. “What this budget really does for us is it starts to say, ‘Let’s take advantage of these regional systems that have been so successful and are very flexible and deployable,’” Hill says. In 2020, the MDA will test the SM-3 Block 2A missile against an ICBM. “When we prove that we can take out an ICBM with an Aegis ship or an Aegis Ashore site with an SM-3 Block 2A, then you want to ramp up the evolution of the threat on the target side, right? We’ll want to go against more complex threats,” Hill says. That will require upgrading the combat system used by Aegis ships so it can process data from new sensors and engage with a missile. Adding the ability to launch SM-3 Block 2A missiles on ships or from Aegis Ashore sites will give combatant commanders the additional flexibility they have sought, he adds. A future commander could then choose to launch a GBI, THAAD, SM-3 or, when it is ready, NGI. Such an interim solution using regional systems is still far from a reality. The Pentagon is requesting $139 million in its fiscal 2021 budget to “initiate the development and demonstration of a new interceptor prototype to support contiguous U.S. defense as part of the tiered homeland defense effort,” the MDA’s budget materials state. That involves developing hardware and software and conducting demonstrations leading to a flight test in fiscal 2023. One other potential gap in the missile defense architecture is in Pacific-based radars that would have cued GBIs to protect against an attack on Hawaii. The “Pacific radar is no longer in our budget,” Hill says. Today, forward-deployed AN/TPY-2 radars and a deployable (sea-based X-band) radar work with the GMD system in that region. Plus, Aegis ships can be repositioned, he adds. “We realize we need to take another look at that architecture,” he says, which will focus on the Pacific region. Missile defense experts are not unsupportive of the effort to build a new NGI. But they do question whether the cost will leach funding for other important priorities. Frank Rose, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, points out that GBIs are built using 1990s technology and as a development prototype tasked for an operational mission. That means that requirements such as reliability, survivability and suitability were afterthoughts. Despite the sound logic involved in moving toward a new interceptor, “I see a couple of challenges,” he says. That includes that the Pentagon’s budget request was flat for fiscal 2021, a trend likely to continue. In the years ahead, the military will have big bills for its nuclear modernization budget and to recapitalize its conventional forces, which will hit about the time budgets for NGI would need to swell to support procurement of the system. Meanwhile, in the near-to-midterm,  the U.S. is likely to be dealing with a limited North Korean threat. Over time, the threats will grow in number and sophistication. Given challenges with the budget—not to mention technical challenges with developing a successful kill vehicle—Rose wonders if that money could be applied elsewhere. Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction policy at the Arms Control Association, is skeptical the MDA can deliver an NGI on its current timeline. “Congress must be extremely wary of allowing the Pentagon to repeat the mistakes that have plagued the GMD system in the past,” he says. “In particular, the development, procurement and fielding of the NGI should not be schedule-driven but based on the maturity of the technology and successful testing under operationally realistic conditions. Accelerating development programs risks saddling them with cost overruns, schedule delays, test failures and program cancellations—as has been the case with the GMD program and other missile defense programs to date.” The expansion of U.S. homeland missile defense may be viewed as a provocation by Russia and China “and likely prompt them to consider steps to further enhance the survivability of their nuclear arsenals in ways that will undermine the security of the United States and its allies,” Reif says. “The costs and risks of expanding the U.S. homeland defense footprint in this way greatly outweigh the benefits.” But like all proposals, it will be up to lawmakers to decide and is likely to be a point of interest in the year ahead. “This is the single biggest muscle movement in the 2021 budget proposal, and Congress will be scrutinizing carefully whether the administration has a compelling vision and realistic funding stream for the short, medium and long term,” says Tom Karako, director of the missile defense project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. https://aviationweek.com/defense-space/missile-defense-weapons/mda-embarks-new-generation-missile-defense

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