An armoured troop carrier based on ST Engineering's range of Bronco vehicles - which has endured improvised bomb attacks in Afghanistan with zero deaths - will soon be tested by the US Army for use in arctic conditions.
American military vehicle manufacturer Oshkosh Defence said in a news release on Monday (Apr 5) that it will partner ST Engineering to produce prototypes for the US Army’s cold weather, all-terrain vehicle (CATV).
This comes after the US Army awarded contracts to two vendors - the Oshkosh-ST Engineering partnership and a team from the British defence company BAE Systems, Defense News reported on Tuesday.
The CATV is a new programme for a tracked vehicle that operates in extreme cold weather or arctic conditions, Defense News said. It is designed to replace the US Army's Small Unit Support Vehicles that have been in service since the early 1980s.
ST Engineering Land Systems head Lee Shiang Long told CNA that the Oshkosh CATV prototypes can be reconfigured internally to accommodate a variety of missions.
"A general-purpose vehicle, for example, can be used as a troop carrier, casualty evacuation or command and control vehicle and can be swapped from one configuration to another in the field within 30 minutes by a two-person crew," he said.
Oshkosh's CATV will be based on ST Engineering's Bronco 3, a member of the Bronco range that has been in service in various countries since 2001.
The Bronco 3 has an "unsurpassed" payload of nearly 6,000kg and a capacity of 388 cubic feet, ST Engineering said on its website, noting that it can "easily accommodate" a payload of soldiers, equipment and cargo to "provide total support" for mission conditions.
"Featuring a completely re-engineered chassis incorporated with a V-shaped hull, it holds the largest capacity in the Bronco family; providing superior man machine interface armoured protection, maximise crew’s operating space and effectively deflects underbelly detonations," the company said.
The Bronco 2, called the Warthog, was customised for the British Army and was deployed in Afghanistan for four years, ST Engineering said. In this period, it clocked more than 320,000km and encountered 30 improvised explosive device attacks with zero fatalities.
The Bronco 1 is in service with the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) and the Royal Thai Army.
TESTING AND EVALUATION
Oshkosh and ST Engineering will deliver two prototypes - one general-purpose vehicle and another cargo vehicle for testing and soldier evaluation in the third quarter of this year.
The prototypes will be evaluated on payload, mobility, crush resistance, swimming and transportability.
According to Defense News, the deadline to deliver prototypes is Jun 14, with testing and evaluation to take place in Alaska at the Cold Regions Test Center from August through the end of December.
The programme will move directly into production once a winner is chosen, Defense News said. The US Army has announced plans to issue a follow-on production contract for up to 200 CATVs in Financial Year 2022.
Mr Lee said ST Engineering has a proven track record in armoured combat vehicles, both wheeled and tracked.
"The Bronco is highly manoeuvrable and amphibious, and has the ability to traverse across difficult terrain, be it swamps, desert, snow or water bodies," he added.
"It has successfully completed winter and summer trials in the Arctic Circle and United Arab Emirates respectively, enduring extreme temperatures ranging from -45 degrees Celsius to 49 degrees Celsius."
This is not the first time that ST Engineering has participated in foreign military equipment programmes.
"ST Engineering has been pursuing growth in international defence, offering our suite of munitions, weapons and platforms," Mr Lee said.
For instance, he said ST Engineering's Next Generation Armoured Fighting Vehicle and Terrex 2 "met the design requirements and were rigorously tested" in the US Army's mobile protected firepower and the US Marine Corps' amphibious combat vehicle programmes, respectively.
"This is a validation of our defence engineering capabilities and ability to deliver a competitive solution," he added.
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