OUVS (Operational Utility Vehicle System)


This is the first article by a new contributor, Salvador. Don’t forget, we welcome contributions.

First launched in 2003, The Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) programme is the procurement programme that will replace the RB44, Pinzgauer and Landrover capability. It will, therefore, provide the “backbone” of the Army’s fighting vehicles, just as the current fleet have done so for decades.

This, combined with serious deficiencies that have been highlighted in both Iraq and Afghanistan with these vehicles or vehicles based on these chassis; namely Snatch, Snatch Vixen, LR WMIK and Vector means that it is the single most important vehicle programme for the British Armed Forces and it is crucial that the MoD gets it right.

The UK is not the only nation that is in this position. Many of our allies and in fact most western nations have or are about to start very similar programmes; the US/Australian JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle) and the German AMPV and even more futuristic GEFAS are just a few examples.  All have recognised whilst the Land Rover, G Wagon and HMMWV have their benefits the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have exposed weaknesses that need to be urgently addressed.

The biggest of these is the US/Australian programme; JLTV (Joint Light Tactical Vehicle)

Joint Light Tactical Vehicle

The Joint Light Tactical Vehicle is a U.S. Army, USSOCOM, and U.S. Marine Corps program to replace the current HMMWV with a family of more survivable vehicles and greater payload. In particular, the HMMWV was not designed to be an armoured combat and scout vehicle but has been employed as one, whereas the JLTV will be designed from the ground up for this role.

The JLTV program is related to, but not the same as, the FTTS (Future Tactical Truck System) program. Lessons learned from the FTTS have been fed into the JLTV requirements.

The future family of vehicles will comprise five armoured versions, ranging from infantry combat vehicles, command vehicles, reconnaissance vehicles, and armoured utility vehicles.

Such a design could also be used in place of an armoured personnel carrier or unarmoured trucks.

There are three primary variants of the JLTV, which are categorized by their payload and general mission, and within that category, further variations may exist for specific purposes. All vehicles share some capabilities, while certain configurations may have additional capabilities. All variants are transportable externally by CH-47 and CH-53 helicopters and internally by C-130 aircraft.

Payload Category A

Payload Category A vehicles will fill the role of “Battlespace Awareness” with a payload capacity of 3,500 lb (1,600 kg).

General Purpose Mobility: General Purpose Mobility (JLTV-A-GP) is the only variant in Payload Category A, designed for a general purpose utility vehicle for use by the Army and Marine Corps, with a 4 person capacity. Unlike other variants, a C-130 is capable of transporting two vehicles at a time.

Payload Category B

Payload Category B vehicles will fill the role of “Force Application” with a payload capacity of 4,000–4,500 lb (1,800–2,000 kg).

  • Infantry Carrier: The Infantry Carrier (JLTV-B-IC) has a 6 person capacity, and is designed to carry a fire-team of Army soldiers or Marines. Each service may get a different vehicle, or they may use the same one.
  • Reconnaissance, Scout: Six seat configuration for use by the US Army.
  • Reconnaissance, knight: Six seat configuration for use by the US Army.
  • Command and Control on the Move: Four seat command and control (JLTV-B-C2OTM) configuration for use by the US Army.
  • Heavy Guns Carrier: Heavy Guns Carrier for use by the US Army and Marine Corps for convoy escort, military police, and patrol with four seats and a gunner position.[14]
  • Close combat weapons carrier: Four seat close combat weapons carrier for use by the US Army and Marine Corps.
  • Utility vehicle: Two-seat utility vehicle for use by the USMC.
  • Ambulance: Ambulance configuration for use by the US Army and Marine Corps. 3 seats and 2 litters (stretchers)

Payload Category C

Payload Category C vehicles will fill the role of “Focused Logistics” with a payload of 5,100 lb (2,300 kg).

  • Shelter carrier/utility/prime mover: Two seat shelter carrier/utility/prime mover for use by the US Army and Marine Corps.
  • Ambulance: Higher capacity ambulance configuration for use by the US Army and Marine Corps. 3 seats and 4 litters (stretchers)

Design Requirements

30-kilowatt generator: The vehicle will be designed to generate sustained power (independent of hotel loads and exportable power) with the engine running at idle in addition to when the vehicle is moving.

The trailer: Each JLTV will have a trailer capable of carrying the same payload as its prime mover over the same speeds and mission profile. The trailer will also feature all the same reliability characteristics as its prime mover.[15]

Ammo capacity: Every JLTV will have the capacity to carry two cans of M16 ammo, one can of M203, four cans of M249 and six cans of either MK19, M2, or M60/M240 ammo.[15]

Jam-resistant doors: The vehicle’s jam-resistant doors will allow the passengers to easily escape after the vehicle has taken damage.

Automatic fire extinguishing system

Extra spall liner: An extra spall liner will help minimize the perforation effects within a vehicle when the vehicle takes hostile fire.

Armour kits: The JLTV will have two armour kits: the A-kit and a B-kit (which adds additional protection to the A-kit).

A Kit

KE threat: STANAG 4569 Level 1 (7.62 mm 360 degrees, 30 m)

Artillery: STANAG 4569 Level 1 (155 mm HE at 100 m)

Mine blast/IED (centerline): STANAG Level 3 (6 kg (Threshold) 8 kg (objective)).

B Kit

KE threat: STANAG 4569 Level 3 (T); Level 4 (O) (7.62 mm AP to 14.5 mm AP)

Artillery: STANAG 4569 Level 3 (T); Level 4 (O) (155 mm HE at 60 m, 155 HE at 30 m)

Mine blast/IED (centerline): STANAG Level 4a (O) (10 kg)

RPG: (O) Defeat or defend against all or partial types of RPG warheads (3) 360-degree armor protection of personnel against known threats including KE, IED, mine, and RPG (O) when up-armoured with B-Kit.

Tires: The JLTV is planned to be able to run on two flat tires in order to keep going after being attacked by small arms.

Small arms fire induced leaks: The vehicle will be capable of traveling one terrain feature after having endured a single small caliber arms sized perforation to the fuel tank, engine oil reservoir, or coolant system.

Electronic monitoring: The JLTV will be equipped with a diagnostic monitoring system that will electronically alert the operator of equipment failures so that they can be fixed. The electronic monitoring will observe the fuel, air intake, engine, cooling, transmission, energy storage, power generation and vehicle speed as well as other systems.

Krauss-Maffei Wegmann of Munich and Rheinmetall Defense of Düsseldorf have launched a joint programme to develop a highly protected new vehicle family in the 5 to 9-ton weight class. The first of the four-wheel drive Armoured Multipurpose Vehicle (AMPV) systems should be ready for serial delivery by 2011. A life-size mock-up of the vehicle is on show at Eurosatory 2008 for the first time. Completion of the first prototype is planned for 2009.

Responding to Bundeswehr’s current GFF (“protected command and role-specific vehicle”) procurement programme, Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall have decided to develop a family of GFF 1/2-class vehicles which will fully comply with user requirements. The two defence contractors are financing the development project on their own.

The objective of the joint project is to supply the armed forces of Germany and other nations with a vehicle that sets an entirely new standard for mobility, modularity and protection technology; and to safeguard and promote certain technologies vital to German national security.

AMPV Vehicle Family

The vehicle family encompasses two type of series. The agile AMPV 1 is the smaller of the two and makes an ideal liaison vehicle. A higher level of protection and a heavier payload are the primary characteristics of the bigger AMPV 2. However, the entire vehicle family is based on standardized engineering principles and technologies.

Both type of series feature a patrol vehicle with an unprotected floor in the rear section, and an equipment kit carrier with a safety cell extending all the way to the rear of the vehicle.

Also planned is a special patrol version of the AMPV1 that can be airlifted in a CH53 transport helicopter.

Protection and Mobility are the Driving Forces Behind the AMPV

Two of the world’s best-known suppliers of land systems, KMW and Rheinmetall both bring extensive experience from previous programmes to the AMPV development project.

The highly protected vehicle cell is an autonomous armoured steel structure with a spoor liner, while the reinforced undercarriage and reinforced cell structure offer optimum protection against landmines and IEDs. Moreover, add-on armour modules make sure that the various vehicle versions receive the required level of ballistic protection.

Drawing on past experience, the designers of the AMPV family have equipped the vehicles with a robust, high-performance running gear, independent wheel suspension, outstanding spring deflection and high ground clearance – all specifically designed with military requirements in mind. These engineering principles are borrowed from the Boxer programme. Special combat wheels with run-flat tyres assure continued mobility even in critical situations.

A powerful 3.2-liter diesel engine with an output of around 200 kW guarantees excellent performance in all conditions. The vehicles all feature permanent four-wheel drive as well as automatic transmission and automatic differential lock management, relieving the strain on the driver.

The AMPV1 and AMPV2 are both extremely compact, and differ only slightly in height, length and wheelbase.

All vehicles in the AMPV family consist largely of identical components; the workstations in the fighting compartment are also identical, ensuring uniform operation. The advantages in terms of simplified logistics and training are readily evident.

GEFAS Family

First unveiled by Rheinmetall Defence at Eurosatory 2006, as a wooden mock-up, GEFAS demonstrates a distinctive shape, impressive protection level and innovative, modular design. GEFAS stands for “Geschuetztes Fahrzeug System” or “Advanced Protected Vehicle System”. It is designed to provide high level of protection and will be easily reconfigurable to accommodate various mission specific modules.

The modular design enables mission-optimized configuration of the complete vehicle, Measuring 2.55 meters in width, as wide as a standard commercial truck, Gefas can be transported in military airlift aircraft like the C-130 and A-400M. It will also be able to travel over bridges and on roads, as any commercial vehicle. Gefas will include 4×4, 6×6 and 8×8 variants covering a wide weight spectrum from 12.5 to 20 tons, and up to 25 tons with a trailer.

The basic protected vehicle displayed at Eurosatory is configured for convoy protection, patrol and escort missions, accommodating a crew of four. It is armed with remotely operated weapon station and fitted with high level of protection, which comprises the basic armour for the crew compartment, protecting against small arms, fragments, IEDs and mines.

The vehicle is configured of several modules which can be arranged to address specific mission requirements. The basic configuration consists of a main module, a power module and two axel modules. Forward and rear modules carry the lighting devices. In this version, the power module is located behind the main module, opening a spacious space for transport and payload. The modules are interconnected by common mechanical, electrical and electronic interfaces, to enable rapid reconfiguration of the vehicle. Gefas uses hybrid-electric “drive by wire” system, replacing conventional steering, braking and drive train. The electric drive function control developed by Renk company regulates the vehicle’s driving dynamics. The vehicle uses separate drives for each axel, ensuring residual mobility even when one of the axels is damaged. The fact that the axel modules are identical and interchangeable between vehicles improves logistics and maintenance in forward area. Additional battery pack is used to provide emergency power for residual mobility in the power pack module is inoperable.

The Axle Module module contains the drive unit consisting of two STW electric motors, and associated controls, housed in sealed compartment for additional protection. Each module can be used for front and rear axels, providing all-wheel steering, and efficient, narrow turning radius. Timoney double-wishbone axels are used for independent wheel suspension. Wheels are using run-flat inserts and are connected to a central tire inflation system to ensure optimal mobility over all types of terrain.

The Power Module contains all power generation equipment, including the diesel engine, cooling, filtration and electrical generation and power management units, fuel and exhaust. The power module is designed as a stand-alone replaceable unit. When an engine develops a problem, the whole module is replaced, thus eliminating the time-consuming and complex task of power-pack replacement. MTU and ESW are developing the power module, based on the MTU 4R890 diesel engine; a 10 cylinder version of this engine already powers the Puma infantry fighting vehicle.

The Crew Module is designed to accommodate a crew of two or four combatants. It uses a V shaped structure suspended from the roof of the vehicle to improve safety from mine and IED blasts. The large sloped surfaces at the base and sides are designed to deflect blast wave caused by roadside bombs and mine blasts. Steel and composite armour, developed by IBD provides bulletproof and shrapnel protection. When exposed to high threat levels, appliqué explosive reactive armour (ERA) can also be used. The main module has side doors, rear access ramp, and roof hatches.

Mission Specific Modules include a guided missile platform, made up of two axel modules, a protected, two-man cabin module, mission specific mobile launcher module and rear-mounted power module. A different version is a radar carrier, utilizing a 6×6 platform. The forward section of the vehicle will be similar to the missile carrier but is version will use two axel modules and rear-mounted power module, to provide a 12m flatbed to mount the 12 meter radar mast. An 8×8 configuration is considered for an air defence missile carrier, mounting guns or missile launchers.

UK Position (OUVS)
Until recently the UK was in discussions with the US with the intention of combining the two programmes. A Joint US/UK Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)/Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) Working Group, was formed in July 2008, in order to progress the possible joining of these two key programmes. However, in November of 2008; Hansard posted the following:

Mr. Quentin Davies: Defence Ministers have not had any discussions with the US Administration about the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle programme. Since the establishment of the USA/UK Joint Light Tactical Vehicle (JLTV)/Operational Utility Vehicle System (OUVS) Working Group in July 2008, a number of discussions on participation have taken place by officials.

The JLTV capability is a replacement for HUMVEE and performs both a utility vehicle and patrol vehicle role. It therefore goes beyond the requirement for OUVS and the two parties have agreed that there is not enough synergy to warrant collaboration on the acquisition of vehicles at this time. The Working Group does however; continue to share research and development between the two programmes.

I personally find this very surprising, there was enough Synergy to begin the joint JLTV/OUVS working party, so why the split?

The user requirements must be very similar, if not there should be.  I think the reason for the split may have something to do with the end users expectations. I say this as it seems that the US has gone down the route of designing a vehicle or range of vehicles from scratch, as have the Germans with their APMV (Advanced Multi-Purpose Vehicle) and the even more revolution GEFAS (Geschütztes Fahrzeug System) protected vehicle system.

The UK on the other hand seems to be pursuing the “Off-the Shelf” route. The short-listed contenders for the OUVS has been reported to include the following:

Eagle IV, DURO IIIP (both General Dynamics), a version of the Light Multirole Vehicle already in UK service as the Panther command and liaison vehicle (IVECO), G series UNIMOG (Mercedes), Sherpa (Renault) and Copperhead (Thales). The latter is based on the Bushmaster infantry mobility vehicle, which recently entered limited service with the British Army.

It has been rumoured that the Navistar MXT (i.e. Husky in UK service) has also been offered as part of OUVS.

Until recently the front-runner was rumored to be the Renault SHERPA. There are some fine vehicles in here, namely the Copperhead and the Eagle IV. However, the contrast between these vehicles and those under development by the US and Germany is staggering and illustrates the gulf that exists between the UK and our allies as to what is actually required.

Once again we seem to have an Army that is so conservative and so retarded in its assessment of equipment requirements that OUVS is going to give us another failed vehicle, very similar to the total disaster that was the FCLV (Future Command & Liaison Vehicle) programme which resulted in the next to useless Panther CLV

I won’t bore you with the details of its flawed selection process suffice to say, that of the 401ordered over five years ago a mere 60 odd are to be sent to Afghanistan, the rest are not considered fit for the front-line and will be used for training. What use a training vehicle will be if none (or very little) will ever be deployed in action is beyond my comprehension. The madness that even conceived of a vehicle that would only ever contain high value targets and thus making each and every vehicle a priority target beggars belief!

The other factor that gives rise to concern that this programme is ill defined and losing direction is the recent TSV (Tactical support Vehicle) procurement. TSV was part of a larger £700m order for new armoured vehicles.

This resulted in 3 new vehicles, the Wolfhound (basically a flat-bed version of the Mastiff), the Coyote (the 6×6 Supacat/HMT modified to Jackal 2 standards) and the Husky (which is a militarised version of the International Trucks MXT Pickup).

The concern here is that the Military arm of international Trucks (Navistar) had in fact fielded a version of this vehicle in the use US M-ATV (Mine Resistant and Protected {MRAP} All Terrain Vehicle) programme. This was the US Armed forces programme to find a range of vehicles that gave the same degree of protection as the standard MRAP vehicles but were much smaller/lighter and had much improved mobility and off-road performance. The similarity between the M-ATV programme and the JLTV is confusing as they seem (on the surface to be trying to provide the same functionality). The M-ATV I would say is looking for a smaller vehicle than JLTV, so in that sense you could argue that M-ATV is a subset of JLTV.  The same argument could be made for the OUVS and TSV. Except that the TSV covers range of vehicles from 7 tonnes all the way to 25+ yet the OUVS specification is covered by one of the TSV vehicles and in fact has been offered as a likely contender i.e. the Husky!  These two programmes seem to be conflict with each other and are evidence that the Army still does not know what it wants. The TSV was a knee – jerk reaction to the lack of helicopters as it was an attempt to improve the protection and effectiveness of our land based supply vehicles.

The difference in approach between the British and the US/Germans is stark. It is also somewhat bizarre, as the British Army and the MoD have been saying for years (in defence of their decision NOT to deploy better protected patrol vehicles) that there is nothing that they can buy “off the shelf” that meets their requirements, yet with OUVS that is exactly the route they are taking.

However the US and the Germans were;

Very quick to deploy MRAP as soon as they were available and using designs that already existed (RG31/32/Dingo 1) when we on the other hand were more than happy with unarmoured Landrovers/WMIKs and Pinzgauers. The German government were particularly concerned that their troops had enough MRAPs and the minute the German Army experienced its first attack on a Dingo (where no life was lost), questions were asked in the German parliament and more Dingo’s were immediately ordered.

Very quick to begin work on a new generation of agile protected vehicles and have made considerable progress.

Looking Forward
They say every cloud has a silver lining and perhaps this article from Jane Defence could be it for the British Army.

This is the Universal Engineering Ranger. Claimed to be the New generation of MRAP vehicles, combining the mobility of the Jackal/HMT with the protection of the Mastiff/Ridgebacks.

First thoughts are that this is indeed a very exciting development.

It seems to have similarities with the German GEFAS. The fact that it is a range of vehicles from 4×4 through to 8×8 is interesting. Details are very sketchy but it could provide the basis for the Utility version of FRES.

I say this as I believe that the recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan has made the likes of the Piranha redundant. These types of vehicles cannot provide the degree of mine protection that is now required.

The argument for them was their speed and firepower. With these new generations of MRAPs (like the Ranger/GEFAS and JLTV-M-ATV) now addressing those short-comings maybe this is exactly what is required for the Counter Insurgency operations now and the warfighting for the future 

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